If you are concerned that your child is not talking enough or that your child does not start interactions with you on their own, it might be a sign that they need more help from you. Often parents are rushed through their days and forget ways to stimulate their child’s language development. Here are some basic ideas on how to increase stimulating language during daily routine activities. Just make sure that the activities you choose are ones that your child enjoys. For example, if bath time is not your child’s favorite thing to do and you just do it quickly to get it over with, don’t pick that one.
1. Bath time
- Place a rubber ducky (or other fun bath toy) out of reach so your child has to look at you to get it or point to it before they get it.
- Label body parts with simple speech while washing them. For example, Say “Wash tummy” instead of saying “Now I’m going to wash your tummy Billy”
2. Feeding time
- Give your child choices. This can be from two choices that he really likes (goldfish crackers or grapes) or from two things in which you know he’s only going to pick one of them (goldfish crackers or pretzels; and you know he doesn’t like pretzels). Let him point to or try to use word approximations for the one he wants.
- Give your child just a little bit of a snack, for example just one goldfish cracker. Then, attempt to get him to request for more snack by using simple words, signs or simply pointing to more and making eye contact with you.
3. Singing Songs
- If your child likes a particular song, pause and see if they will fill in the blanks. For example, sing “Old MacDonald has a farm ….” And pause to see if they try to make the intonations or even the entire sounds of “E-I-E-I-O”. Another way to make it more simple is extend the song and shorten the amount they have to fill in: “Old MacDonald has a farm E-I-E-I” and pause, waiting expectantly for the “O”.
- You can do this same activity with hand movements and pause during the hand movement to see if your child will fill in with a gesture (if words are too hard). For example, sing “The itsy bitsy spider went up” and if you have practiced this song over and over with putting your hands up, wait and see if they will put their hand up.
4. Diaper Changing Time
- You can teach your child the words “off” and “on” during diaper changing. Remember to keep the words and language simple. When you are undoing the diaper say “Diaper off” and when you are putting the new diaper on say “Diaper on”. After practicing this routine over some time (2-3 times or even for 2-3 weeks) pause and see if your child will fill in the words “off” and “on”. They might not be giving you a full word, but a word approximation or vocalization is one more step closer to becoming a full blown talker!
- You can do this same activity with using words such as “wet” and “P.U.” during diaper changing time.
The biggest thing to remember is keeping your language simple, repeating a ton and pausing/waiting in order to give your child an opportunity to respond.
-Kristina Frimmel, M.A. CCC-SLP