Being a parent means there are many landmarks of your child’s growth and development. Some such as when they take their first steps can make your heart burst. Another moment you’ll always remember is when they say their first word.

We take a look at some of the best, tried and tested ways to encourage your little one to communicate with words.

 

When should babies start talking?

Generally, a 12month baby says one or two words, but sometimes they are ones that only their parents can recognise. On average, babies can say between 5 to 20 words by the time they reach 20 months of age. Parents don’t need to worry if their baby starts to speak later. Some perfectly normal babies develop at different times than other. If you’re still concerned, then speak to your GP for advice.

 

Narrate the day

For babies and toddlers, every day is full of new sights, sounds and experiences. As you go about your daily activities say what you’re doing to your child. For example, during feeding time, describe to them the things they are eating and ask questions regularly such as “would you like some of the carrots now?”, “does that taste good?”, “do you want a drink now?

When walking down the street with them in a pram or going shopping, describe what you are both doing and what you see. This helps toddlers become familiar with words and helps them associate the words with meanings.

 

Read to them often

Of course, your child will be too young to read themselves, but reading is still a very important part of their learning and development. ‘Reading’ a picture book to them each night before bed is a great routine to get in to. Encourage them to say what they see and what they think is happening in the book from the pictures.

 

Play word games

Learning how to talk is much more fun for both your child and you when it’s turned into a game. Your toddler will love a game called “What’s This?”. Whenever you and your little one go somewhere new, like a museum or park, point at something and ask, “what’s this?”. Encourage your child to say the right name for the thing you pointed at. When they get it right, congratulate them and when they get it wrong, correct gently and help them repeat the right answer. Every once in a while, sneak in a new word. If they don’t know it, whisper the answer and let them shout it out. For everything that’s new, explain what it is and how it’s used.

 

These are just some ways to encourage your toddler to start talking. In no time at all, they’ll be forming short sentences and making their thoughts, feelings and wants known.