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How to Promote Speech in Toddlers

by Kay Ireland, studioD

Between the ages of 2 and 3, your toddler experiences a marked difference in her speech skills. According to MayoClinic.com, the average 2-year-old can say 50 words and create two-word sentences, but by age 3 she can speak 250 words and can create three- and four-word sentences. While all toddlers develop differently, you can use your own speech to help promote your little one's vocabulary and speech development for a more talkative, expressive toddler.

Build on the basic words and phrases your toddler already uses. If your toddler says, "Want milk," you can expand on that rudimentary sentence by saying, "You want some milk in your cup? Let's go get some!" This helps your toddler upgrade to longer sentences and understand the proper phrasing for questions and requests.

Narrate the things you do each day to your toddler. While driving in the car, you can tell her what you see out your window or talk about the ingredients as you make lunch. Your toddler's vocabulary is limited, so the more exposure she has to various words and phrases, the more it encourages her to speak up.

Give your toddler simple choices that require more than just a "yes" or "no" answer. Chances are that your toddler already has the word "no" down pat, so instead of asking, "Do you want a snack?" try, "What would you like for a snack, bananas or peaches?" This requires your toddler to test-drive a new word, rather than relying on her old favorites.

Read books together and name the familiar objects that your toddler sees. Reading is an important part of language development, even if your toddler isn't the one doing the reading. Books -- especially those with familiar characters, rhyming or stimulation through touch, flaps and texture -- help your toddler start talking about the things that she sees. Looking at pictures, pointing out objects and hearing you say new words can promote speech and a love of books overall.

Be patient while your toddler's speech is still developing. While it can be frustrating to hear your child stumble over a word -- and tempting to interrupt and finish the sentence for her -- it robs her of a chance to gain confidence in her new speech skills. When your toddler is talking, listen carefully and be patient with her basic grasp of language. You'll be rewarded with a toddler who is confident and secure in her ability to speak.


  • While all toddlers develop differently, if you have concerns about speech development, talk to your pediatrician. You doctor can examine your child and decide whether or not speech therapy is appropriate.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

Photo Credits

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