August 28, 2017

Child Speech therapy: Encouraging First Words

Creating a language rich environment at home encourages expressive language development in children.  Whether it’s your child’s first word or expansion of vocabulary, below are strategies to implement at hom

At-home strategies:

  • Communicative temptation: Create a scenario to encourage your child to vocalize or gesture towards a desired item. For example, show them a cookie or toy but refrain from giving it to your child until they make a gesture or vocalization for it.
  • Narration: Talk about everything! Name people, objects, and actions throughout your daily routine. Although it may feel strange at first, modeling speech through repetition can increase child’s expressive and receptive language. If your child provides a vocalization or word, expand their output with a longer phrase. When your child says ‘dada’ respond with “yes, daddy is home”.
  • Imitation: Begin by imitating all sounds and vocalization your child makes whether it’s “ah”, “ooo”, or “dada”. Once they hear you imitating their sounds, they might start to imitate you. Continue narrating during each activity and gesturing during appropriate instances to further initiate imitation.
  • Read aloud. Books, books, and more books! If your child cannot sit still during story time, pick out a few vocabulary words on each page and point to the pictures while naming.
  • Start conversations: Even if your child isn’t speaking yet, allow for a response while talking to him or her. Ask questions during play, pause, and answer the question through narration. “What are you doing with the blocks?”….pause…. “You are stacking the blocks”.
  • Sing a song. “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes”, “ring around the rosie”, and “old McDonald had a farm” are all great, catchy songs with repetitive words and gestures for language development.
  • Celebrate each new word. Language development is an exciting milestone for families. Cheer, clap, and smile with excitement for every new word expressed. Rewarding the new word will reassure your child’s attempt at language and encourage further usage of the word.

If by 18 months your child does not say 15 true words, contact your pediatrician. Babies develop at their own unique pace, but the sooner a speech evaluation is completed, the sooner you can help initiate communication. Contact Lumiere Children’s therapy for an evaluation with one of our speech therapist.



4 Fun Ways to Get Baby to Talk. (2014, July 10). Retrieved August 08, 2017, from http://www.parenting.com/article/teach-baby-to-talk

Rosetti, L. (2006).The Rossetti Infant-Toddler Language Scale. LinguiSystems, Inc. Typical speech & language development. Retrieved from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/

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