3 Tips for Expanding your Toddler’s Language

Enrichment Therapies

June 18, 2019

Are you concerned about your child’s speech development? Do you worry about how your interactions are affecting his or her language skills?

Recently, we’ve had parents asking questions about how to talk to their 16-24 month-olds. We’ve got 3 tips directed towards language expansion in your little ones!

1.) The “One Up” Language Style or Expand
Model language for your child by adding one thing to what they say. This will help your child by exposing them to language just one level above their current level.

Add an adjective: Child says: “Ball”, Adult could say, “Small ball”, “Round ball”, “Red ball”, “Cool ball”, “three balls.”
Use a synonym or antonym of the word your child says: Child says “small ball”, adult could say, “Yes, the ball is tiny.” OR the adult could say, “It’s not big.”
Add an action word: Child says: “Train”, adult could say, “Go train”, “Fast train.”
(Examples taken from MrsSpeechieP)

2.) Verbal Routines
Practicing verbal routines over and over allows your child predictable practice with only a few words. Eventually, you can omit the last word from a sequence and your child can fill in the blank.
Routines encourage spontaneous vocalizations. One of our favorite routines to teach parents can be utilized with bubbles or any type of ball toy. The parent says, “Ready Set..” and WAITS. Eventually, the child will understand that they are to say, “GO!” Repeat this routine over and over. You can also try the verbal routine “one, two..”
Another verbal routine we like to practice utilizes music! Choose a repetitive song and repeat the same steps above. The song “Head, Shoulders Knees and (toes)_” would be a perfect verbal routine!
BOOKS! You can also do these verbal routines with books. Books with repetitive texts allow the children to anticipate what comes next. This allows them to begin to use words to finish parts of the book. The book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle is one of our favorites!

3.) Limit Questions
When you’re playing with your child it is very easy to ask them questions. Asking the question limits your child’s ability to formulate spontaneous language. It is important to make 3-4 statements BEFORE asking your child a question. This encourages your child to foster their spontaneous language skills.
When playing with baby dolls try saying:
“I’m the mommy!”
“Put the diaper on baby.”
“Baby is hungry.”
Rather than asking questions, “Do you want to be the baby?”

Are you reading the blog wondering, well how much should my child be talking? Are my child’s language skills behind?

In these checklists, we have outlined some key language skills that children should be demonstrating by each age. Please keep in mind this list is not exhaustive and if your child is not demonstrating all of the skills on time it does not mean that there is a delay or problem! However, if you feel there is a language concern, consider an evaluation from a speech-language pathologist. At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center we are here to help, early intervention is key!
How much should my one-year-old be talking?
How much should my two-year-old be talking?
How much should my three-year-old be taking?
How much should my four-year-old be talking?

Click here to check out this blog for more info!

How early is too early for speech therapy?
NEVER! We wish parents knew that it is NEVER too early. A parent’s intuition is typically correct. If you have any concerns about your child’s language development take them in for a screening. At Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center we offer free screenings for all of our services: speech, reading, language, writing, math, and dyslexia.

Click here to contact our office to set up a free screening!

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.


740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317



5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131



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