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Talking Tots Tips: 3 things your little one should be able to do BEFORE they start speaking

Last week my good friend called me to thank me for some recent advice I gave her to help encourage her 2 year old to start talking. She was using the tip in the above video except she was playing, “I Spy”. She pointed to familiar objects as she was driving, “I spy a house”, “I spy a tree”, “I spy a mailbox”. She continued this game every day with her daughter sitting happily in the back babbling along. Well, my friend was really excited to tell me that today all her hard work paid off! They were driving for twenty minutes with her daughter constantly repeating, “MOMMY, I SPYYY,” “MOMMY, I SPY HOUSE,” “MOMMY, I SPY TRRREEEE!” She then asked me, “Now Ryan, how do I get her to stop?” I laughed at my friend but told her, “Hey, the tips worked she is really using her language now!”

1. Give it to me..If your little one has something in her hand, hold out your hand (using a gesture to support your words) and repeat, “Give it to me.” Let your child listen to the direction and then follow through by putting the object in your hand. You can eventually fade that gesture away and just give the verbal command without holding out your hand. A great extension of this activity is to use family members’ names in your directions (i.e. “Give it to Tommy”). This is a great way to improve your child’s ability to follow directions at an early age. Remember, you can start working on this with your child around 9-10 months old! Never underestimate what your child understands, just because they’re not yet using words.

2. Where’s the… You can use common household objects for this and say, “Where’s the ball?” or “Where’s the spoon?”. Have your child look around their surroundings and identify objects. A fun game is to put three common things on the ground in front of your little one (i.e. a cup, a shoe and a ball). Ask your child to find one item at a time and hand it to you.

2. I see…. One last activity you can do is to identify things in your surroundings and say, “I see sky!” or “I see tree!” If your child is not yet pointing, this is a great time to put your hand on top of your child’s and point for her. Pointing to things your child sees or wants is a very important milestone for early language skills. Hopefully, your little one won’t take this game to such an extreme as my friend.

If you want even more tips, check out our Talking Tots classes!


Please feel free to comment with any questions and I will post a video answer.

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Ryan Landinguin

Ryan Landinguin, M.S. CCC-SLP is a certified speech language pathologist and CEO of RL Therapy Group, a multidisciplinary clinic in San Diego, California.

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