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My toddler is not talking yet…

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How do I teach him some words?

So your beautiful little baby has grown into an adorable toddler.

You’ve been playing the guessing game of what they need and want for at least a year and you are so looking forward to their first words. 

When will your toddler start to use words?

On average kids begin using their first words at around 12-18 months of age. 

My toddler is frustrated and yells and cries when I don’t understand…

When words don’t come fast enough children often get frustrated and use behaviour to communicate their wants and needs. Toddlers will commonly yell, squeal, point and gesture to get their needs met. Sometimes toddlers might appear to be speaking their own language babbling away but not using recognisable words. 

It can be frustrating for both the parent and child when they can’t get their message across and it can be hard to know what to do to help them.

My son thought “squealing” was the best way to get more food, until the word “ta” came along to the rescue. It’s incredible how powerful and meaningful one word can be. The word “ta” along with other first words such as “more” “done” “mine” “go” “up” are power words! They are words that can be used in a variety of ways for a range of purposes therefore having the biggest impact on decreasing their frustration.

How can I teach my toddler words?

Most kids will use words when they are ready if we are providing the right supports. Many toddlers are ‘late talkers’ and need additional support to help develop their communication. Speech Pathologists have a wide range of strategies to share on how you can help your toddler develop language, here are just a few examples…

1. Use signs 

When you are talking to your child use your hands to help add meaning. This will help your toddler learn the meaning of words and give them another way to get their message across.

My toddler is not talking yet… » toddler not talking yet

Our speech pathologists can help you learn a few simple signs to get you started. 

2. Repeat power words often

Emphasise and repeat words you want your child to use such as “eat,” “drink,” “more,” “go,” and “stop.” Repeat the keyword at every opportunity during the day in a variety of ways. 

It’s important to choose words that are powerful and can be used in a variety of ways, such as actions not numbers and nouns. 

3. Read picture books

My toddler is not talking yet… » toddler not talking yet

Use picture books and posting cards to encourage both new and familiar words. For example, my little boy loves birds, ducks and dogs, so we have books featuring these animals. Making and looking at your own photo books with your toddler is another way to encourage communication.

4. Build on words they already use

If your toddler uses one sound in their babble, help them learn other words that begin with that sound.  My little boy loves the “d” sound so we started with “Dad” then “dog” “ta” (which sometimes sounds like da), then “duck.”

My toddler is not talking yet… » toddler not talking yet

Need some help?

I hope these tips help your little one to begin using their first words.

If you feel a little lost, stuck and frustrated that things aren’t progressing with your toddlers speech get in touch and one of our speech pathologists would love to help. 

We love upskilling families with strategies to support their child’s communication development. 

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