Speech is an important developmental milestone for your child. Luckily for us, speech delay in toddlers can be rectified, if noted early enough. It will require some effort from your end as well.
As a parent, you should get concerned when your child has not been able to meet these milestones because there could be an underlying issue.
You should note that different kids hit speech development milestones at different times and you should only get concerned when yours takes longer than expected to develop their language and speech.
The strategies we have analyzed here can be very effective in helping toddlers with speech delays.
What Causes Speech Problems in Toddlers?
There are many reasons your toddler could develop speech delays. Some of these reasons are discussed below.
Autism often affects the ability of the child to speak or communicate. This can be detected in the early stages of child development.
Maybe your child cannot hear. If they have some form of hearing impairment, it becomes hard for them to understand what you are telling them and hence they cannot respond appropriately. This is something that you need to be aware of and cognitive of as your child gets older.
Conditions such as cerebral palsy may cause injury to the brain, resulting in delayed speech development.
Neglect or Abuse
If you neglect your toddler for too long or subject them to abuse, they might develop speech and language delays.
Milestones for Normal Speech Development in Toddlers (to help rule out a speech delay)
*Keep in mind these are general recommendations. All things should be discussed with your child’s Pediatrician.*
Age 2 – 3 months
The baby should respond to you when you smile. They can also coo and make little noises.
Age 6-8 months
The baby starts making babbling sounds and gets easily distracted at new sounds. They should also start responding to their name when you call them.
Age 10 months – 1 year
The baby may start saying one or two words, mostly by repeating one word.
Age 12-16 months
The baby should be able to speak a few words, although they might not be able to form sentences yet. They will also start to understand some of the words you occasionally use when addressing them.
Age 18 months – 2 years
They should start making short sentences that make sense. They will start adding to their vocabulary slowly by asking questions if they come across a word they do not understand.
If your child is in preschool, discuss these milestones with their preschool teacher.
Age 2 – 2.5 years
They can now form comprehensible, and longer sentences. They are also able to identify most of their body parts by now. They can also differentiate between some colors, shapes and sizes.
Age 3-4 years
The toddler can form long sentences and be able to tell stories. They are still adding to their vocabulary at this age. They can sing silly songs and are generally very curious and inquisitive at this age.
Strategies and Exercises to Help Toddlers with Speech Delay
If you feel that your child has not hit the milestones aforementioned for the age, you may consider helping them out using the following strategies.
- Use gestures along with words
When talking to your toddlers, use both words and gestures. Gestures help reinforce what you are saying and makes it easier for the toddler to understand what you are telling them.
- Read books to them aloud
Make an effort to be reading books to your toddler aloud. You can encourage them to repeat what you have said. Books that contain rhyming and repetitive words are best for toddlers.
These books should also be illustrated to make it easier for the toddlers to follow the storyline.
- Listen and talk to your toddler
If your child is talking to you, take your time to listen to them without interrupting them. Always wait for them to find the correct words to express themselves even if it may seem as if it will take forever for that to happen. Fill the sentence only after you are sure that they do not know which words to use.
- Encourage socialization
If there are kids around who can speak better than your child, encourage them to play with the toddler. This will be a faster and better way to learn how to speak.
Your family members should also contribute towards this by encouraging the toddler to speak.
- Encourage them, even when they make mistakes
Remember that they are trying their best to have a conversation and drive a point home. If they make grammatical mistakes, you can let it slide sometimes. Do not criticize them. Be patient with them as long as they are trying. They will get it right eventually.
- Questions, questions, questions
Whenever you are having a conversation with your toddler, lead them on with questions. Ask questions that are open ended, to allow them time to respond and give you their opinion on something.
Every time they ask of something from you, give them choices phrased in form of questions.
- Sing along with your kids
There is a reason why silly songs are so popular with toddlers. The repetitive, rhyming words are easy for them to follow and possibly sing along.
Get songs that stimulate their senses as well, such as memory improvement, improvement of their listening skills and vocabulary. Singing is a much easier way of learning than reading for the toddler.
- Play games with your toddler
Play games that require both movement and sound. For instance, peek-a-boo encourages your toddler to respond to your words and gestures. Soon enough, they will be imitating you.
- Expand on their words
When your toddler says something, expand on what they have told you. For instance, if they say ‘bread’, ask them ‘You want bread?’ and so on. This builds their vocabulary while assisting them learn how to connect words to form a sentence.
- Speech therapy
If you have tried other strategies and nothing seems to work for your child, you should probably try speech therapy. However, always consult a doctor first before this.
Actually, doctors are the ones who are supposed to give you a diagnosis that would recommend your child to see a speech therapist. The earlier you start, the higher are the chances of rectifying this problem.
We hope these ideas help you manage your child’s possible speech delay. We always recommend speaking with your Pediatrician first and foremost.
Keep them up to date on what is going on with your child’s development and what you may be concerned about.
Be your child’s best advocate. Use your parental gut to do what’s best for your child. Share any other suggestions you have to help with a possible speech delay in the comments below.