speech & language development

How Can I Improve My Child’s Speech & Language Skills? Talk to Them – Early and Often!

Parents of our kids receiving Brecksville speech & language therapy sometimes ask for tips on how to boost their child’s vocabulary and communication skills. One of the best ways? Talk to your kids! A lot!

Research has shown that kids whose parents spoke to them frequently had larger vocabularies and tested higher in cognitive ability. On analysis published by the American Psychological Association tracked parents’ interactions with 107 kids between the ages of 2 and 4 with audio recorders placed in their home (with their consent, of course). Over the course of three days, study authors examined the total number of words each child heard from their caregivers and the diversity of that vocabulary. What they discovered was that the sheer number of words and the greater variation of those words was positively correlated with with kids’ cognitive ability and speech development.

Of course, this doesn’t mean if your child’s speech & language skills are delayed that you aren’t doing your job and talking to the enough. What it means is that all young kids substantially benefit when they’re spoken to early and often. While you may not be able to change their starting point/genetics, it’s clear there is a definite interplay between a child’s environmental experiences and their development.

Although some parents may feel a bit odd speaking to a baby or small child – knowing they can’t understand most of what’s being said – sometimes it’s as simple as narrating your day, and all that you’re doing. “Now mommy is going to walk to the mailbox to see if we got any letters.” “Let’s use the pink soap to wash your hair.” “Our fluffy dog loves going for long walks on his leash!” “Mommy likes to pick the bright, red, shiny peppers.”

Activities to Boost Baby’s Speech & Language Skills

The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) has a whole host of ideas it recommends for encouraging babies to engage and talk.

Some of those include:

  • Saying sounds like “da” and “ba” and “ma” and trying to get your infant to repeat them back to you.
  • Being sure to respond any time your baby laughs or makes a face. If they make a face, make the same one back to them.
  • Give your baby your attention anytime he or she makes sounds. Talk back and pretend you’re having a conversation.
  • Anytime you notice colors or shapes, point them out.
  • Use lots of gestures like pointing and waving.
  • Count the things you’re seeing, touching, or working with.
  • Talk about all the sounds that animals make.
  • Read to your baby. You don’t even have to read every single word (especially if you’re tired of the same books over and over, though repetition can be helpful for kids). Pick large, colorful picture books and point out all the things you see in the picture, label it, ask questions (and answer them if they’re still too young to talk).

Once your child gets to be about 2-years-old, you should be regularly modeling clear speech for your child (eliminate baby talk if possible).

If you have questions about other ways to help kick-start your child’s speech & language skills, our dedicated Brecksville speech therapists are available to help.

Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email

Additional Resources:

Activities to Encourage Speech and Language Development, ASHA

More Blog Entries:

Brecksville Speech Therapy Insight: When Do Babies Learn Their Names? September 2, 2021, Brecksville Pediatric Speech & Language Therapy Blog