Tag: my child isn’t talking

How Can I Get My Child to Talk?

Learning to talk is a complex task!  It’s no wonder some kids take awhile to get started.  Most of us think of talking as just saying words but it involves much more than that. 

Would you like to help your child say their first words? 

Try out some of these tips.

Play with your child

A child must possess certain cognitive abilities before they are able to communicate. Laura Mize, SLP and author of Teach Me to Talk, suggests building blocks to a child’s first words include the ability to understand cause and effect and comprehend object permanence. Does your child understand that their actions can cause something to happen? Playing with toys such as Jack in the Box, Busy boxes, and musical instruments will help teach these skills. Try playing games such as peek a boo, and hide and seek to build object permanence. Through these activities your child will learn that they can use words or actions to cause an adult to do something for them. 

Engage your child

In order for a child to imitate your words or actions, you must be able to get their attention. You can gauge your child’s ability to attend by answering the following questions: Does your child attend to your face? Will your child try to play with you? Does your little one enjoy being with people?

It is necessary to get your child engaged before you begin to model gestures or words for them.

Look for things they are interested in and follow their lead. Get down on their level, use exaggerated facial expressions, try a sing -songy voice, and exaggerate your actions so you are impossible to miss! 


Copying movements and sounds is one of the most important steps for developing words.  Start with getting your child to imitate movements (i.e. waving, clapping, banging on objects, throwing a ball).  Pair a sound with an action; such as “boom boom while hitting a drum, or “whee” when going down a slide. These types of copying should eventually  lead to imitation of real words and phrases. 

Baby signs

Signs have been shown to help reduce a child’s frustrations, build bonds between parent and child, and bridge the communication gap before your child is able to talk .  Signing will not deter language development.  Choose baby signs that are functional and versatile such as “milk”, “eat”, “mom”  and “dad”.  Keep in mind that just as kids’ first words don’t always sound perfect, neither will their signs be perfect.  Reward their efforts!

Model appropriate language for your child

Children typically learn the meaning of words before they say the word.  Talk to your toddler throughout the day using simplified language to label objects, and to describe what’s  going on around them. Imitate their attempts to “talk”,  to teach them the back and forth nature of communication.

Read to your child

Reading to your child will help build key language skills.  Choose books with large, colorful pictures and actions.  Label each word while pointing to each one. Help your child to begin pointing  to them as you read.  Choose books that have predictable text such as Brown Bear Brown Bear. or 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed and omit predictable words, giving your child an opportunity to “fill in the blank”. 

If you continue to have concerns about whether your child’s language is progressing appropriately, BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy,  offers free screenings by certified Speech-Language Pathologists.  Check out our website for Parent and Child Classes, which  provide a fun learning environment for you and your child to practice new language strategies.


Written by: Sheila Trout M.A.; CCC-Speech-Language Pathologist

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Child in a speech therapy session with therapist

Language Development in Children

Language development is a key component of childhood.  We are teaching our children the rules of language from the moment they are born.  But what should you do if your child is not crushing their language milestones?  When families come to Talk and Groove or for a free screening at BDI Playhouse, our speech language pathologists often send them home with a few tweaks to their home environment before recommending an evaluation.  None of our recommendations require purchasing of toys or materials because we want it to be a natural part of your routine!  Here are the top 3 recommendations we make!


Withholding highly motivating items is a common strategy used to encourage language development through requesting.  There are many ways children can use body language to request an item.  Children can communicate a request through simple eye gaze, pointing, and dragging you to the item they want.   However, what happens when a child cannot get past pointing for something they want?  We withhold.  Withholding the desired object sets you up to model and have your child request the item, through verbalization or sign.  However, the key is to read your child for the best opportunity to do so.  If your child is already “edgy” or “on the brink of a meltdown”, now is not the time to withhold in order to teach your child to use a sign or verbalization.  We have the rule of 3 tries.  Let your child try to imitate 3 times before moving back to an easier attempt to avoid frustration.  For example, if you child has progressed to sign cookie and you are trying to get her to say “cookie”, after 3 tries, accept the sign and try again later!


This is a pretty harsh word for a fabulous technique but the word gets a lot of giggles out of our parents.  Sabotaging your child for language development means taking an everyday activity and letting your child problem solve using language.  An example of sabotaging your child would be to only give them a few cheerios in order to create the opportunity to ask for “more cheerios”.  Another example would be to put their favorite toys inside a clear box or bag that requires assistance in “opening”.  The beauty of sabotaging is that you can start with simply signing open all the way to creating phrases and sentences “Mama, open the box please”.   

Take a trip

As much as we wish that this tip means you should get on an airplane and fly to Europe, it truly is as simple as taking a trip outside of your “normal day”.  Think about your day-to-day life and all that your child is exposed to.  Now, think about a “trip” that could be new.  It could be as simple as walking to a different neighborhood and watching for dogs.  Take a trip to a pond and see if there are any ducks.  Drive around looking for buses and trucks!  

Language Development is such an amazing experience to witness and be a part of.  We are eager to see if these 3 techniques were successful for you and your child!  If you would like some more personalized ideas or need additional help with putting these techniques to use, please reach out and schedule a free screening with one of our skilled Speech Language Pathologists.  We’d love to be a little part of your journey! 


Written by Jessica Keenan, MA, CCC-SLP/L, CLC