Speech Development Blog

How to Improve Your Toddler's Speech Development & Vocabulary

Language development soars at this age as children are using words to express their thoughts and feelings. Language and literacy skills continue to build on each other in a child’s third year. In fact, by the age of 3 the size of a child’s vocabulary is related to later reading skills.


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Grow your toddler’s vocabulary

Language skills grow rapidly in the third year. A typical 2 year old knows 20-200 words and a typical 3 year old knows 1,000 words!

Also very exciting is that between the ages of 2 and 3, most children have learned the language and grammar skills to have a real conversation with you. Your child will be able to put words together into two to three word sentences and by the time they are 3, they should be able to put together three to four word sentences. This is also the age when most children will start asking their first questions. Toddlers this age should also be able to understand two part commands although whether they will or not is another question…

What you can do to grow your toddler’s vocabulary:

Talk together. By talking to your toddler, it helps her learn more complex sentence structures and helps to expand her vocabulary. Talking also helps to develop literacy skills and helps with confidence when it comes to language. Talk to your toddler anywhere: riding in the car, running errands, making a meal, taking a walk. Research shows that talking to children during every day routines increases their vocabulary.

Ask open ended questions. This helps your toddler develop their own ideas and opinions.

Notice the number, size, shape and color of the things around you. Talk about the different colors, size, and shapes all around you and toddler. No matter where you are! Try the supermarket, in books, or with things around the house!

Make up rhymes, sing songs, and recite poems. This helps your toddler develop phonemic awareness, which is the ability to hear and identify different sounds that make up spoken words.

Since pronunciation at this age is not perfect, your toddler still might not say words clearly and they might be hard to understand. A slight lisp and pronouncing some letter incorrectly are common and they may even skip letters. You can help others to understand what your toddler is trying to say and also reduce his frustration by repeating what you know she is trying to say.  Do your part and help your toddler by:

Help your child build and grow her sentences. If she asks, “Daddy go bye-bye?” you can say “Yes, Daddy is going to work”.

Play telephone. Use a toy phone and call your child. Talk about what you did that day together or what you had for lunch.

Empower your child. You may notice that your child is saying no a lot more these days. This is just their way of using language to show their social and emotional development. Saying no becomes an important way to express their feelings and show you how independent they are. What you can do:

Offer toddlers choices. Ask what they would like for a snack and give them at least 2 choices.

Ask them to help out with “big kid” tasks such as putting away clothes or picking up toys.

Encourage them to do things for themselves such as putting on their own shoes.

Celebrate attempts at independence.

Coach them in completing new tasks.

You can help your child grow their vocabulary and help develop their language and pronunciation skills by empowering your child and by introducing them to new things. Reading also has a huge benefit in a toddler’s vocabulary. If you are concerned with the way that your toddler’s language is developing, take the free online Speech Tails speech assessment and see where your child stands amongst his peers and see if he or she would benefit from speech therapy.

Visit http://www.speechtails.com for more speech learning ideas 



Topics: speech development, speech therapy for autism, speech therapy, speech therapy ideas, speech assessment, speech delay, speech therapy for toddlers, speech therapy tips, speech therapy at home, toddler speech development