encourage toddler to talk

How to Encourage Toddler to Talk: 7 Tips From a Therapist

Posted on
December 1, 2022
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When building up a child’s speech and language skills, we need to provide a high number of modelling opportunities and ‘teaching’ the understanding of the word before a child can say them with the correct meaning. We want the children to use a word in its correct context and with intent of communicating a meaningful message. In this blog, we'll share top tip tips to create opportunities to foster your child's communication.

Ideas to support core vocabulary and top tips for talking

Early Single Words: Examples Strategies to use these words
Important People: Names of family, friends, pets, teacher Look at photo albums and pictures of people in your family and comment on who you can see. You can ask your child to point to the person in the picture.
Early Social words: Bye-bye, hi, night-night, ok,
no, yes, uh-oh, sorry, wow, oh dear, ta, thank you
Place a picture or character by the front door, when you go to leave the house say bye to the toy and a greeting when you arrive home.
For social words, use clear facial expressions and body language to support the meaning of the word. Such as nod your head for yes and shake for no.
Food and drink: Yummy, food, apple, banana, bread, biscuit,
juice, water, milk, drink,
Provide choices for food and drink. Offer your child something that you know they like versus something they don’t like. When they point or look at the preferred item, model their choice. ‘I want banana’. Eventually, over time you can model the start of the sentence ‘I want…’ (pause) see if your child says the choice they want, if not model the preferred item back to them.
Body Parts: Nose, eyes, mouth, ears, hair, teeth, hand, foot, tummy, fingers, toes Singing nursery rhymes such as ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’, remember to point to each body part as you sing it. Pause on a few occasions to see if your child fills in the gap and labels the body part correctly.
Playing washing the toys, give the dolly or the dinosaurs a bath, with a sponge tell your child ‘wash tummy’, encourage your child to say what you need to wash or dry next.


Socks, shoes, coat, pants, shirt, boots, hat
Cat, dog, horse, sheep, cow, pig, lion, elephant, tiger, monkey, bird, bee, snake
Car, bus, train, boat, bike, aeroplane, truck
When sorting out washing or getting dressed you can comment and talk about what you have found, ‘is it a sock or a hat?’ or ‘mummy is wearing a top and you are wearing your… vest’.
Use books to talk about animals and vehicles. Many children’s books can be very repetitive e.g. the ‘that’s not my…’ series or ‘Dear zoo’. Reading repetitive books and then pausing to allow your child to open the flap and comment on what they can see.  
When out walking with your child, comment and point to things on the road and in the sky e.g. ‘I can see a car’.
Household objects: Door, bed, chair, TV, keys, light, phone, bottle, cup, spoon, fridge, cooker, toilet, clock Set up a situation which encourages your child to speak (comment or request) e.g. – at a mealtime don’t provide cups/ enough of something) – so they have to ask.
If they don’t ask, model the response you need ‘oh no, you need a spoon’. ‘here is a spoon’.
Action words: Fall (down), in, on, go, gone, more, finish, look, open, close, push, turn (on/off), fly, fix, eat, drink, wash, brush, run, sit, cry Say “go” before you kick or roll a ball to your child.
Say “go” before you push your child on the swing.
When playing with your child, comment on what they are doing using only the important key words e.g. ‘teddy is drinking’. Take a picture of your child when they are cutting or drawing or jumping, so that you can talk about these pictures with your child.

top tips for talking
Fostering your child's communication

How do I stimulate my toddler's speech?:

  • Praise all the child attempts at verbal communication. Do not correct the child or make them repeat their errors. Just model back the correct form.
  • Use forced alternative to encourage your toddler to talk e.g. ‘Do you want water or milk?’ or ‘Are you playing with the sand or the water?’
  • Once your toddleris using lots of single words, model for them how to build utterances by repeating back and adding to their single word.  Just add one extra word at a time. For example, if the child says ‘car’ you could say ‘big car’ or ‘red car’.    

If you would like to learn more about the understand and use of language, as well as tips and strategies to foster communication. We offer clinically backed, parent-led Speech and Language Therapy coaching programs. Our first program is focused on developing language, working towards improving understanding and use of language for children aged one to seven years old across six themed sessions, from Body Parts to Animals and more.

Every week, families have access to coaching videos from our Clinical Director and a set of digital exercises such as flash cards, keywords and colouring sheets. After every week of practice, families can book a video call with their dedicated SLP to review their progress and help them reach their targets. We welcome you to book a free 10 minute call with our speech professional, if you would like advice and hear more about our program.

Debbie Cohen
Speech and Language Therapist
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