Ten Tips to Encourage Your Child’s Speech and Language Development

August 31, 2020

Learning to communicate is an important and exciting milestone that begins at birth. Your baby’s first sounds and facial expressions will evolve into gestures, words and sentences as he or she learns to communicate!  Here are some tips from Julie Mercadante, a Speech Language Pathologist with Holy City Speech, to help encourage your infant and toddler’s speech and language development:

  1. Babbling: Your child’s speech (articulation) and language skills begin with those early babbles, so have fun imitating and encouraging simple syllables like “mama, dada, papa”.  
  1. Gestures: Use gestures such as waving and blowing kisses to encourage your child to interact with you and others. Pair the words (“hi” and “kiss”) with the gestures to teach the vocabulary.  

  1. Baby Sign Language: One of my favorite tips! Learn a few simple signs and pair them with the respective word when you are playing with or feeding your child. When he or she uses the sign to communicate, it is just as exciting as when your child verbalizes! Learning sign language will not hinder your child’s motivation or desire to communicate verbally.

  1. Songs and Games: Teach and use songs and games to encourage fun language routines and turn taking skills. YOU are your child’s best toy! Examples of songs and games include Peek-a-boo, Patty Cake and blowing bubbles.  

  1. Model, Model, Model!: YOU are your child’s best example! Use simple and short phrases to show your child how you communicate with others. Modeling speech sounds, vocabulary words and sentence structure can also be done during pretend play!

  1. Expansion: When your child uses a word, ADD a couple of words on to what he or she said to help your child build his or her vocabulary. For example, if your child says “car,” you can expand that verbalization to “big blue car”.

  1. Self-talk and Parallel-talk: It may feel like you’re talking to yourself sometimes, but IMMERSE your child in words, phrases and sentences all day long. Comment on everything you and your child are doing and everything you see!

  1. Give Choices: Instead of asking “what do you want?”, give your child two choices. For example, “do you want the apple or the banana?”. This will cut down on his or her decision-making and the language demand being asked of your child. Having the ability to request what he or she wants will also make your child feel successful.  
  2. Don’t say “use your words”; give your child the words he or she needs: This is a tough one, especially when your child is beginning to talk more and more. Do what you can to make him or her successful and the language will emerge when your child is ready.

  1.  Communicating with your child should be fun! Remember that each child develops at his or her own pace. Lots of praise will encourage your child to communicate even more!

If you have any concerns about your child’s speech (articulation), language development or feeding skills, contact Julie Mercadante at Free email screenings are available to the subscribers of Macaroni Kids!

Julie Mercadante, MA CCC-SLP provides your family with virtual pediatric feeding, speech and language evaluations and therapy. With more than twenty years of experience treating children of all ages, Julie is here to help you with all of your child’s feeding, speech and language needs!

For more information about speech and language development, follow Holy City Speech on Facebook and Instagram or check out their website at