“What dat?” “Mamma, go?” It’s so exciting when children start to express themselves using words. To help your child with her vocabulary, you can help her do what she is already doing. Praise every attempt of new words. What adults do to respond to the child’s communication can accelerate or decelerate their language development.

How to help them develop language skills:

mom dad and toddler at the kitchen cooking together

1. Create opportunities

Pretend to be forgetful. For an example, sing a song and let your child complete the sentence “the wheels on the bus go…” and let her finish. Or, while having snack, you can say “would you like more…” and point to the crackers or cheese.

son and dad talking at the park

2. Imitate

Imitate your toddler’s words and babbling. Your child will feel that she is being heard and this will encourage her to imitate you

dad and toddler daughter playing cars and talking

3. Pointing can be an opportunity

If you toddler points to the book up on the shelf, you can say “The book! You want the book!”. A clever idea here is to take the things out of your toddler’s reach, so he needs to ask for it.

mother and 2 little girls playing doll house and talking

4. Expand the vocabulary

When your toddler says, “green dinosaur” you can say “Yes, big green dinosaur”. Change the tone on the word you want your child to learn. When your child is playing with the doll house, you can say “You are putting the baby to sleep in the crib. The baby is going to sleep”. Model vocabulary and grammar. Help your child to organize her thoughts using words.

mother and daugher drawing and talking

5. Show a response

Respond to all attempts to communicate. This will encourage your child to keep on trying.

6. Ask questions

Take a walk with your toddler and ask about the things around you. “What a cute dog, where do you think it’s going?”. The key here is to ask a question that doesn’t have a yes-or-no answer.

grandma and toddler boy talking

7. Help others understand what your toddlers says

If not understood, children may feel frustrated. You can help repeating after her as: “You want grandma to stop cooking and play with you!”

8.  Give choices

“Would you like an apple juice or an orange juice?”. This will encourage your toddler to say the words.

black and white picture: little boy giving his dad a kiss

9. Talk, talk, talk

Explain everything that you are doing using words. “Dad is going to the grocery store to buy more apple juice”.


Reinforcing good behavior and the use of words will help your child communicate and will motivate her to try new words. Let her feel proud. Create opportunities and you will see how fast and naturally your little one will learn!

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