The most important thing you can do to promote language development is to turn off the television and talk to your child. Use short, simple sentences, but do not use baby talk. Try to talk a level above what your child is using. If he is using mostly two-word phrases, then use three- to four-word sentences. Speak a little more slowly than you normally do to enable him to hear and process what you are saying.
Read to Your Child
After talking to your child, spending time reading aloud is an excellent way to promote language development. Read a story that your child enjoys, and stop a few times to ask her to point out certain pictures. This helps to promote receptive language skills and also works to increase her vocabulary. Reading aloud is also an excellent way to spend time with your child before bedtime or at the end of a day.
If you have concerns about your child’s language development, don’t panic. If your 18-month-old is using fewer than 15 words, you should mention it to your child’s pediatrician. Many physicians take a “wait and see” approach. They may ask you to try some simple language development activities for a few months and see if things improve. Often they do, and all some children need is a few more months to develop.
Ask for Help
If you have tried the “wait and see” approach with your child and are not seeing enough improvement in his language skills, then it is time to call in an expert. Ask your physician for a referral to a speech language pathologist (SLP) who can evaluate your child and design a program that will help to improve his speech.