Promoting Language Development in Toddlers: Strategies for Effective Communication

Where it all starts

Communication between a baby and a parent or caregiver begins way before they start saying \”Dada\” or \”Mama.\” By age two, you already know what it\’s like for your baby when they are hungry, irritated, scared, or in discomfort. You realize that it started with crying to pointing at things, then reaching out for them before they got vocal, right? 

Why was it important for you to decode baby cries? Crying, being the first communication style of a baby, requires a response, and responding to the exact reason behind the cry is communication. The baby feels heard and encouraged to express himself more whenever he needs something. Decoding baby cries, hence, is the most basic building block of language development in toddlers that you don\’t want to miss.

Let\’s dive deeper!

Speech production precursors

Speech production precursors are different styles of communication that babies use, besides talking, to express their needs. Beyond 12 months, your baby won\’t just sit and cry. Their brain is developing and they are conscious of their surroundings. By this age, your kid can distinguish between faces and point at things that appear attractive to them. 

They may also start throwing in simple words, pointing at things, and noticing other kids around them. You walk into a store and they start pointing at toys or you may find them holding a banana to their ear, jargoning to their imaginary friend. The baby will also hype at baby cartoons and bounce to \”Baby Shark.\”

All these instances show how your baby responds to different situations. They help you understand what they like, dislike, and are thrilled at. Despite being a sophisticated way of communication, speech production precursors may only be as efficient as they should be in steering language development in toddlers if it is well assessed. So take another banana, place it to your ear, and play along, bounce to baby songs along with them, and get them toys that they keep pointing at. 

If you\’re already stressed at the thought of the time investment that these efforts require, hold up! Take a quick skim through this article to learn how to juggle schedules and address your toddler\’s needs without fail.

Over to the gist of the matter!

Tips to Enhance Language Development in Toddlers

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), toddlers are babies whose ages fall between 2 and 3 years old. The agency continues to state that speaking is one of the developmental milestones that a well-growing toddler reaches. By age two, your baby should be able to construct two-word sentences like, \”Mama come,\” name a picture or two and refer to self by at least one name. You couldn\’t wait to see your daughter run around, huh? Now that they do let\’s know how to make them speak out quickly.

Imitate them, and they will do the same

At this stage, your toddler will babble for days on end as long as they are awake and need to keep busy. To show them they are \”making sense,\” babble back at them, take another spoon and hit the table, or clap along. One of the fundamentals of language development in toddlers is approving their communication style before introducing a more complex one.

In this case, once you imitate them, they will also imitate how you speak and start making utterances.

Create opportunities

Language development in toddlers requires more talk time. So, avoid making things too obvious for your kid, like placing toys at the same spot every day. Instead, place them in a different corner that\’s within reach or leave out one piece of a puzzle. If he can\’t find the toys in their usual spot, he will ask for them. Your explanation of where they are will add a new word, \”left corner\” to his vocabulary, and he will know how to navigate a manipulated environment.

This does more good than frustrating your child. Instead, he gets to learn how to ask for and notice things.


As your child is new to many things, they will point at things whose names they don\’t know or have forgotten. For example, if she points at strawberries on the kitchen counter, don\’t just give them to her silently. Say, \”Strawberries? You want some strawberries?\” Such words as strawberries are complex and easy to forget. So keep repeating until she masters them, and hence make gradual steps toward language development.

Embrace positive phrasing

Positive phrasing simply means using positive words instead negative ones. This hugely encourages a child to express their opinions without the fear of being wrong. If a child says that the sky is pink, instead of saying, \”The sky isn\’t pink,\” you may say \”Well, I think the sky is blue, what do you think?\”

The whole point of language development in toddlers is validating any attempts to speak and encouraging them to do it often. If positive phrasing works for us, you can be sure it works for toddlers too.

Practice turn taking

Your main goal is to make the child talk better and as much as they can. Make pauses and let them have a say or act. If telling him a story, you may ask rhetoric or simple questions. Or you may make it as simple as asking him to hand you a piece of puzzle and make eye contact when he does. He may need help in carrying his plastic castle, but just look at you. So you go, \”You need help to move your castle?\”

While taking control of things may be tempting, turn-taking will allow your kid to exploit their communication skills.

Be an adventure guide

Program your mind to see things through the lenses of a toddler. Your child is exposed to new things every day and might not know how to ask about them. However, if you label things, the kid will have a straightforward learning curve. Keep reminding the kid while taking a bath that the bouncy transparent, round things are called bubbles, for instance.

Language development in toddlers is steered by making your child\’s immediate surroundings familiar and navigable. Your toddler\’s world is so small that you can be a fun adventure guide.

Go slow on testing

You might want to ask your toddler questions at the slightest opportunity. Well, a few questions won\’t hurt. But give your toddler a chance to go goofy and make mistakes without correcting or testing them. Let playtime be playtime without getting serious so your kid doesn\’t feel stressed or fear failure.

Remember, testing is a form of criticism, too much of which can make your child feel like they\’re never enough.

Safety first

While this may include childproofing your home, it leans more on the emotional aspect. As your child will quickly adapt to their surrounding, their language development speed will be set by whoever they hang around the most with. Certain experiences that compromise their safety, such as abuse, will shut down your child for the long term.

This calls for a keener eye and surprise visits to your home on your workdays to assess your child\’s safety. Use surveillance cameras to monitor what happens at home when you\’re away.

Slot for singing sessions

Songs strongly impact a child\’s memory and overall emotional development. Start with simple songs like the Itsy-bitsy Spider and other childhood songs that are fun and educative. Tune in to their favourite channel and let your child express the joy of singing what he loves.

Play, play, play!

Play peek-abo at home, ride wagons with them, go on slides, visit the beach, and expose them to different types of fun. Let them connect with the world around them as much as possible. Sometimes your child may need a fellow toddler to play with, so go to amusement parks and let them interact. Such activities are speech-provoking, and your baby will have to cope with the speed of his fellows to communicate well. Just staying around likeminded people creates impartation, and toddlers aren\’t an exception.


Trust the Process!

The responsibility of language development in toddlers majorly lies with the parent. After ensuring that they are constantly in an emotionally safe environment, go ahead to implement the above tried-and-true tips to have a smooth ride through speech development.

Note that language development in toddlers takes time and that one step leads to another. It is a gradual process that requires the right amount of patience. Don\’t fret if your child is still banging the table with their hands and can\’t verbally communicate. He needs a little more time for speech communication because the intent to communicate is still growing. Remember that a baby\’s interests shift with age, and one kid\’s interests don\’t have to be another kid\’s. So leverage what works for yours.

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