11 Tips in How to Help You Stimulate Your Young Child’s Speech and Language

From the time a child is born it is imperative that the child is engulfed with sound (voices, songs, change in pitch). The child is learning to tune into their native language; parent’s voice; to communicate.
You can help develop a child’s language through many ways. Below are 11 suggestions:
1. Sing / dance/ chat/ smile/ make funny faces at your baby ALL THROUGH the day.
When: you are bathing; changing the nappy; feeding (bottle/breast feeding); taking the pram out on walks or to the shops.
What Do I Talk About? Point out flowers (have the child smell the flowers/ name the colour of the flower/ use the word ‘pretty’, ‘big’, ’small’. Point to cats/ dogs/ birds and make their associated noise (‘woof’; ‘meow’). Point out cars, trucks, police, ambulance and fire trucks (make the associated noise ‘vroom vroom’, ‘E-oi E-oi’).
Imitate back to your child when they make a noise or smile. Let them hear you making simple sounds such as; ‘mama’; ‘dada’ and ‘baba’. This way they are getting positive reinforcement.
The reason for this is: Children, from a young age, must be provided with sounds and associated meanings. Looking at your face and seeing mouth movements and facial expressions are important parts of their early language development.
2. Sing Nursery Rhymes / dance and sing-a-long to Play School, The Wiggles etc.
When: At home / in the car
What Do I Sing? Nursery Rhymes (e.g. Pat-a-cake; Humpty Dumpty; Round and Round the garden). There are more on the internet!!
Download Play School / Wiggles / Hooley Dooley’s songs through Spotify – this way you save money!!
The reason for this is: It develops their language (grammar/ sentence structure); develops the associated actions (clapping hands); rhyme, vocabulary, comprehension skills.
3. Teach your child greetings and simple manners.
When: At the appropriate time; so the child can make connections as to when to use the expression/ make the action.
What do I need to do? Teaching your child simple greetings and manners such as: blowing a kiss; waving good-bye; saying ‘Hi’ and ‘Ta’. This SHOULD BE DONE in context – that is when you or your partner comes home or leave for work, handing the child a drink
The reason for this is: It enables them to make the link between action and what is happening in the world.
4. Playing with Your Child and Taking Turns.
When: At home (for at least 30 minutes a day); at the park; at the beach.
What Do I Play?
• Rolling / throwing / Bouncing a Ball: Have your child sit opposite you and roll a ball to them. You could start with ‘ready, set, GO’ and then roll it. This way the child is learning language, there is an expectation that something is about to occur, and they look towards it.
• Follow the child’s lead; if the child likes trains – play with the train set; tea parties; Mr Potato Head; Numero etc.
• Playdough; water play; dress up and role play; drawing and painting; craft (glue, paper, glitter, stickers, child safe scissors).
• At the park: use words: ‘1,2,3 weeeeee’- down the slide; ‘up, up, up the stairs’; swing – legs out; legs in; ‘over’ the bridge; ‘next to’; ‘under’
The reason for this is: To develop turn-taking in a positive way; to stimulate language.
5. Simple Words to Repeat Over and Over
When: involve the words in your child’s everyday routine (brushing their teeth; bath time; mealtime; leaving the house) –
What Words should I say?
• Bath time Language: splash, water, bubbles, wash, all clean, flannel, soap, put all the toys in the basket, name the main body parts as they are washed, name the toys in the bath, make their noises (e.g. duck – ‘quack-quack’)
• Meal Time Language: fork, spoon, knife, cut, open wide, all gone, empty, open mouth, more, no more, thank-you, yummy, eat, banana, drink, water.
• Leaving the House: get shoes, put shoes on, ready… let’s go, in the car, open door, in your seat, belt on, bye-bye.
The reason for this is: the more repetition the better as it will become part of their vocabulary and everyday language. Having visual stimulus helps develop context for the language as you are labelling objects at the same time they are using them.
6. Making sounds related to Objects to develop language.
When: At home playing with their toys; in the car; on a walk.
What Noises would I make?
• Say ‘zoom, zoom’ when you and your child are drawing lines quickly over a piece of paper. Then you can each get a toy car and trace over the lines making the same sound. Or get a police/ ambulance or fire truck and make their noise.
• Say: ‘jump, jump, jump’ when on the bed, lounge or trampoline. Or when on the clickety clack bridge at the park.
• Say: “yay’ when clapping hands. Help the child clap their hands and say ‘yay’ with them.
• Say: “beep, beep’ when they ride on the push toys.
• Say: ‘bang, bang’ when hitting a pan, or a toy that has a hammer; or the bottom of a bucket to get the sand out of it.
• Say: ‘in’ as they put sand in the bucket.
• Say: ‘ready, steady go’ when they are about to go down a slide; throw / kick a ball.
• Say: ‘pop’ when they are popping bubbles.
The reason for this is: These are simple words and children can quickly start to use them and make connections to their meanings. Children learn more easily when they are having fun and it is in context.
7. Imitate the speech your child is trying to communicate.
When: Your child is seeking your help for a specific need / request
How should I respond? When your child makes a gesture through noise or body movement (e.g. pointing) to indicate they want something, provide them with the language needed. For example: “Would you like a drink?”. Then say: ‘Drink please mummy’; ‘I will get you a drink”; ‘Do you want a drink?’; ‘Here is your drink’.
Try and model this language at every opportunity through each and EVERY day.
If they want help with putting their shoes on: “Do you want your shoes on?’; ‘I will help you put your shoes on’; ‘Can you help mummy put the shoe on?”; “Shoes on!!”.
Try and repeat the specific word / phrase at least 5 times so that the child can hear the word said correctly and in context. Accept any attempt at the word. Provide lots of praise for all attempts.
The reason for this is: to develop their language so they can communicate their needs and wants more effectively. Reduce the child’s frustration.
8. Read Simple Books
When: before each sleep, before lunch, after lunch, afternoon tea, whenever the child sits in the high chair to eat, before bed.
What Books are great for little children?

• Flap books: for example, “Spot”; “What’s That Noise?”; “Who’s Nose?”
• Plastic books- great for bath-time!
• Books with simple and colourful pictures – that allow children to be able to find animals/ objects easily (e.g. farm and zoo books; animal books) and make their associated noises.
• Nursery Rhymes.
• Fairy tales.
• Books with lots of repetition in them – children will start to join in the chants (e.g. ‘Nickety Nackety Noo Noo’; ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’).
• Dr Suess – children will start to join in with matching rhyming words.
The reason for this is: Books with flaps raise the child’s curiosity. Simple and colourful pictures keep the child’s attention and allows them opportunity to point to objects and make associated noises. Ask questions as you read the book. Can you find the duck? Where is it hiding?
Rhyme is an essential pre-literacy skill and Dr Suess provides fun opportunities for kids to hear rhyme.
Repeated phrases allow children to join in the story. It increases their level of engagement.
Plastic books are great for in the bath and when they are sitting in the high chair.
9. Play Puzzles
When: before each sleep, before lunch, after lunch, afternoon tea, whenever the child sits in the high chair to eat, before bed.
What puzzles are great for little children?
Puzzles with pegs so the children can easily pick up the piece and place it is the correct hole.
Start with a simple 3-piece puzzle and work up to a 10 piece peg puzzle. Instruct the child to take out the pieces. Then ask, “Where does the cat go?’; “Where is the pig… I wonder where it goes?’. ‘Does it fit here?’; ‘Turn the piece around’; “Oh what does the pig say?’
At the end you could say, “Can you find the cat/ pig/ dog?’ and watch their response. Always give gentle and positive feedback.
The reason for this is: To develop their language; associate words to pictures; develop their fine motor skills.
10. Eliminate / reduce background noise
When: playing with your child.
What noises should be eliminated or reduced?
Try and turn off the television, radio, phone, or anything else that will distract your child or yourself from your/their play time.
The reason for this is: your child will not be able to focus on the play or the language that is being directed at them if they are watching the television (or are subject to other background noises) at the same time. Television DOES NOT support language development. IT IS A WORTHLESS babysitter.
11. Include your child in common chores.
When: Hanging out the washing; washing the clothes; washing up; clean the bedroom
How can I include my child in the household chores?
Hanging out the washing: pass me a pair of undies; pass me a green sock, pass me daddy’s shirt; pass me a red and blue peg; pass me two red pegs.
Washing the clothes: AS ABOVE
Washing up: let them dry up (within reason) the different utensils; have them put them away – this helps them sort materials (knives / forks / spoons).
Cleaning the bedroom: use the word ‘pull’ when pulling up the sheet and doona; put the pillow ‘on’ the bed; put the clothes and shoes away (sort the clothes – shirts / socks / shorts).

DO NOT give your child an i-pad or mobile phone to watch videos OR DOWN LOAD APPS in the pretence they are learning.
The reason for this is: Electronic gadgets DO NOT provide language to your child; THEY DO NOT correct your child’s language; it is proving to be impeding negatively on children’s language and fine motor skills; many more children are being diagnosed as having a language delay; they are focussed on a screen and it is HIGHLY ADDICTIVE. This starts at a very young age.