. Milestone Moments: Speech Tips for 18-24 Months

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Milestones

Speech and language development is key at this stage in your child's life. As a parent, you are beginning to really understand what your child is asking for and that can feel liberating. Follow these tips from one of our speech therapists to expand your child's ability to communicate with you!

 

  • Understanding/Using verbs
    • If you're a parent that loves to cook or bake have your little one help you. This is a great opportunity to practice a) imitating motor movements/actions b) understanding action words and c) using action words (verbs). For example, if you're making a cake (yum), give your little one a "pretend" bowl and spoon. While you're "STIRRING," (verb) model this movement while talking out loud (keep it simple and SHORT). For example, "momma is stirring" or "(Child's name) is stirring" or "STIR." After your stir, then model "POUR." After you put it in the over, model "cook" or "bake." When it's "all done," serve everyone a piece and model, "eat." This sounds like a lot of work (not sure if you actually want to put that part in lol...) but children learn BEST through hands on experience!!! 
    • If you don't love to cook, that's fine too. You can model other verbs through different hands on activities. For example, playing outside (e.g., on your mark...get set... "run" (verb) or if you have a trampoline "jump" (verb), with a ball -- "throwwwww"). While in the house, hold hands and model "walk" or "we are walking" (make sure you're actually walking) or "march" or "we are marching" (go marching down the hall) or "hop." etc.  
  • Expanding your child's utterances
    • If you're 18-24 month old is primarily engaging, responding, etc. with 1-word utterances (e.g., "dog" or "cup") model back to your little one the longer, more appropriate (for age) grammatically correct phrases. For example, if your little one reaches and says "cup" model back "I want cup."
    • If your child is able to imitate you, encourage him/her to say this back to you. (Accept any approximation at his/her attempt at saying both words -- "I want cup").
    • If your little one is not at a point where he/she is able to imitate you yet (or imitate both words or all), just model the phrase to him/her (I want cup) and then reward by giving him/her the cup.
    • If you're child is primarily using 2-word phrases (e.g., want cup) do the same thing, but model the 3-word phrase (e.g., I want cup).
  • Identifying pictures
    • Books are a great activity to target this. Don't always feel that you have to read the book start to finish in the way it's intended. Follow your child's lead. If he/she points to the lion (if it's an animal book), say "Rawrrrrrr there's a lion." Then, see if you can incorporate, "Where is the elephant?" (depending on what kind of theme book you are using).
    • If this is a new activity for your kiddo, you likely will need to use, what we call, "hand over hand" assistance. This means you "show" him/her with his/her hand by touching the picture. Praise their success, even if it was with help from you (e.g., "Yay you found elephant"). Incorporate loud, exciting emotions throughout the activity (e.g., when you're about to turn the page).
    • Favorite book recommendations: "The Big Book of Exclamations" by Teri Peterson
  • Naming Body parts
    • If your kiddo is not picking up body parts, incorporate fun singing/song activities. My favorite song to use is the classic, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes (and eyes and ears and mouth and nose). First, practice by just  singing it and your child trying to imitate you (if he/she is at a developmental point where he/she can imitate). If they can't imitate you, touch your head (in the song) use hand over hand assistance (and slowly fade).
    • After your child gets good at this, practice where he/she has to finish the song. For example, you sing "head shoulders knees and......" Wait for your child to bend down and touch "toes." Then you sing, "and eyes....and...." etc.
For other great tips for a child at the 18-24 month stage, visit our Milestones Blog, or watch a video about these milestones at our Milestones Videos page.