Any Tips to Help Teach a Toddler to Talk?

Updated on April 21, 2016
A.B. asks from Colorado Springs, CO
10 answers

My son is about 16 months old. He babbles all of the time, but really only has one clear word. I do talk to him all of the time as does my husband, and he is read to daily. Does anyone have any tips to try to help him develop more words? My doctor wasn't too worried that he still isn't very verbal, but I do want to make sure I'm doing all that I can to teach him.

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So What Happened?

I've given my kiddo some time and used some of the tips you all were kind enough to give. He is starting to talk more, patience was I think really the key (as was pointed out). We also ended up getting tubes not too long ago and that too has been amazing! Thanks for all of the help!

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answers from Chicago on

he could be right on target and you don't realize he is saying more then you know -- since I've been working with toddlers so long I hear many more words then parents do usually, toddler words are not always crisply spoken.

that said, to teach him more words just use repetition --- one good example of this, get a bunch of stuffed animals or little people animals or some type of plastic animals, show him one and say, ''cow, this is a cow, say cow... cow says mooo can you say moo'' and keep doing this type of thing over and over, repeating cow and moo, after a while move on to another animal.

Usually about 18 months they have a super huge language explosion where they get multiple new words a day and in a month they can like 100 new words.

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answers from Portland on

One of my sons babbled continuously, but wasn't pronouncing words properly. He could say "up" etc. but it didn't sound quite right. He was the same age as yours.

My sister encouraged me to take him to ENT. My son had passed the hearing test previously, but had fluid in his ears - preventing him from hearing clearly. So while he was babbling, it didn't sound like words because that's how he heard them. So he heard people, but not clearly.

So we had tubes put in, and the very next day my 18 month old son pointed to the sky and said "Helicopter!" clear as a bell. It was amazing.

Has your son had ear infections or many colds? Just something to consider.

Otherwise, just keep doing as you are doing. Some kids really do just talk later - and it's their pace. if he's babbling and engaged with you, it will come in time.

One thing we did to encourage speaking, was when he wanted something like his ball, we'd say "what do you want?" and he'd say something (not clear) and I'd model the word "B-A-L-L". I just kept doing that. Refrain from saying the word yourself until he's given it a shot. Even if it sounds nothing like he word.

Good luck :) Keep us posted.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Reading and talking to/with your son is the primary way to help babies learn to talk. I would add involving him in activities that give him something to say a word about.

Twelve years ago, my grandson, at that age, wasn't saying words. His pediatrician wasn't concerned but suggested having him tested. His mom called the county Educational Service District about getting an assessment.

The (County) Service District is the result of a Federal law commonly referred to "no child left behind." Sorry, I can't remember legal terms.

This law requires the school system to test and provide services for children, from birth on, who may have a disability that would make learning difficult. My grandson was diagnosed with apraxia of speech as well as being on the autism spectrum. He received in home treatment until he was two. Then, he saw specialists in their offices.

I suggest you call and ask if testing would be appropriate. That way you could be reassured he is developing appropriately or if not, start getting help.
My daughter found the phone number by calling the school district office.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Here's some advice I was given by a speech therapist: Repetition is key! When you read a book, rather than trying to get through the book, just pick a few words/pictures on each page and point/say the word. Same thing when you're playing with him, try to focus on each toy and repeat the name of the toy. When you talk to him, keep your sentences short and simple. For instance, play with a ball and keep repeating "ball" as you roll and throw it around. Play with cars and keep saying "car." You get the picture. Whatever you're doing with your son is an opportunity for him to learn new words. Point and say the word repeatedly and do this regularly and consistently.

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answers from Philadelphia on

My oldest just said the normal 3 words at a year and was developing typically. Then about 2 months before turning 2 yo she went from saying a few words to speaking in full sentences and you could have complete conversations with her. She was such a story teller and it was amazing. She was in the gifted program through school and achieved nearly a perfect SAT score on the verbal portion of the test.

I think you should just keep doing what you are doing...talking and reading. I spoke all day long to my girls..."let's count the stairs when we are going, two, three" etc. "now I'm going to change your diaper and snap your, two, three..."here is your red cup" "let's brush your teeth with the purple toothbrush" I also read lots of alphabet books to my girls. When my youngest was about 2 yo she got so excited driving by the Mobile gas station...she started yelling "Mommy, there is my "M" since her name begins with an "M" too. I also used to sing songs to them throughout the day like the days of the week, months of the year, I would count by 2, 5, and 10's. I would talk about the weather, give them an ice cube, let them feel my hot cup of tea etc.

IMHO, I think it is too soon to worry about your child. It sounds like you are doing the right things.

BTW...I highly recommend the book "How to raise a Brighter Child" it is based on the Montessori way of teaching and gives a lot of the tips like the ones I suggested above.

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answers from Norfolk on

Reading to him often and every day is great!
You can also sing and keep talking with him.
Our son didn't really take off with his talking till after his 2nd birthday - and then it was constant chatter chatter chatter!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

We had a speech therapist for our son from 18-24 months. She helped us a lot. Some things she taught us:
Don't just talk and read to him, but be deliberate. Take a simple wooden puzzle with animals and when you do the puzzle, name each animal as you put it in. Be simple. Don't say "Look, here is a dog. The dog says woof". Pick up the puzzle piece, point to the animal, and say "Dog!" as you put it in. Also be repetitive, and do the puzzle a few times in a row each time you do it, with simple naming each time.

Make him try to talk to you. Maybe you know that when he comes and bangs on the refrigerator, it means he wants milk. But don't give it to him based on that. Look at him and say "Do you want milk? Tell momma "MILK". Then he'll probably say some kind of babble, but you repeat back to him the correct words "Yes, milk. Ok. Here is your milk."

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Reading is the best. Labeling things for him as you go about your day is good, too. (Here's the milk, let's pour it in this glass. ===while showing him what you are doing as you go)

The only other thing I would say is be sure you are not using baby talk. Speak like you normally would to another adult.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My kid was a "late talker" too - so first thing, I would say to relax. If the doctor isn't worried and your child is developing in many other areas, then there's probably no problem. Usually kids that are significantly delayed have delays in other areas. But if your child can hear, makes sounds, and does other things, he's just busy! First off, please note all that he DOES do: builds with blocks, climbs, walks, picks up things and feeds himself (fine motor skills), tries to roll or throw a ball, etc.

Next, be sure you aren't doing too much talking! If you fill in for him and anticipate all his needs, he really doesn't have to talk much. All his needs are met without verbal skills.

My son was 16 months and was into the whining stage - pointing at what he wanted or in its general direction, and sort of whining or grunting. Honestly, in frustration with all the annoying sounds as he pointed at a kitchen cabinet, I stared him down and said, "Honey, whatever you want in this world, you may have it, but stop that annoying whining!" (Risky to offer him anything, I know - but I wasn't thinking LOL!) That child looked right at me, and clear as a bell, said, "COOKIE!" Not Mama, not Dada. Cookie. After that, the avalanche of words started and he never stopped. I'm not saying that I "made" him talk - I think it was just fortuitous in many ways...but he was ready.

So I'd say to back off a bit, don't be afraid to say "I don't know what you want", and just wait for it. My pedi told me that he'd be talking by 18 months and if not she'd do some evaluation, but since he was active and growing and developing normally in every other way, she wasn't concerned.

So ask yourself why you are worried, or if you are just frustrated. And ask yourself if you're trying to keep up with other friends who nag you about your child not talking. Are you missing all the fun because you are too obsessed with talking? Believe me, in a year or two, you'll be frustrated that he won't shut up! So enjoy his many accomplishments and skills, and just wait for it.

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answers from Dallas on

At fifteen months or so, I had my sons hearing tested for this reason. You are doing an excellent job with reading to him and talking with him, as long as he understands you, such as "Go get the ball" and he does so, you definitely know he is hearing and understanding you. Little boys take time to become verbal, little girls do so much faster. I am a preschool teacher now, my son is 5 and speaking just fine, by three he was MUCH more clear with his words, before that many of them sounded garbled. Back to me being a teacher, I have seen many children at that age in day to day activities developing normally. Girls speak earlier, that is all there is to it. It isn't until closer to two that you will see big strides in his speech, just keep doing what you're already doing and he will get there. He should have more words my 18 months. Step one, hearing check if you are concerned, but as far as I can tell, he is still well within the normal range, so don't worry!

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