Toddler milestone: Talking
You can help your child’s language skills along by providing a rich and nurturing communication environment. The most important things to do:
- Talk. Research shows that parents who talk to their baby play a critical role in their child’s language development. You don’t need to chatter nonstop, but speak to your child whenever you’re together. Describe what you’re doing, point things out, ask questions, and sing songs. (Although some baby talk is okay, resist the temptation to coo and babble. Your child will learn to speak well by listening to you speak well.)
- Read. Reading to your child is a great way to expose him to new vocabulary, the way sentences are put together, and how stories flow. But don’t just read the words – ask your child to find things in the illustrations or tell you what happened to the characters.
- Listen. When your child talks to you, be a good listener – look at her and be responsive. She’s more likely to speak up when she knows you’re interested in what she’s saying.
When to be concerned
By 24 months:
- Doesn’t respond to simple directions
- Doesn’t pretend with her dolls or herself (like brushing her hair or feeding her doll)
- Doesn’t imitate the actions or words of others
- Can’t point to named pictures in a book
- Can’t join two words together
- Doesn’t know the function of common household objects (like a toothbrush or fork)
You’re the best person to gauge your child’s speech development. If he’s showing any of the signs listed below and you feel concerned, it’s a good idea to discuss the possibility of a language delay or hearing problem with your child’s doctor.
If it seems necessary, your doctor will refer your child to a pediatric-speech-language pathologist for an evaluation.