Every mama dreams of the day her little one will say his or her first words! While every mom secretly wishes it to be “Mom” or “Mama”, we all know it almost always ends up some random word like “dog” or “car!”
If your little one hasn’t yet reached the milestone where they are using words and language to communicate, we are sure you are concerned. Some children are late talkers or might have a speech delay, so they might just need a little more help than other children to start communicating.
A late talking child is one whose language development and communication skills are not progressing the way they should be. That does not necessarily mean he or she has a language disorder, learning problem, or autism. A lot of children with speech and language delays grow out of it. Some require speech/language therapy along the way, but there is no way to know this no. Meanwhile, don’t worry; there are a lot of home remedies you can try or even start speech therapy at home to help your child start saying those words you have been waiting to hear.
What Does “Late Talker” Mean?
Typically, when babies use less than ten words by the age of eighteen months or less than eighty words by the time they are two, it is considered that the child might be a late talker and has delayed speech or language problems.
A late talking child does not necessarily have a language or speech disorder; it could simply mean they are a late bloomer. If your toddler is a late talker, there is a high probability they will grow out of it and catch up with other children their age in a year or so.
There is no way to know if your child will grow out of it with just home remedies or if he or she will need to see a speech-language pathologist. If you do notice that your child has a developmental delay, then it is first recommended to have a developmental evaluation done by your pediatrician. Some kids have language delays due to hearing problems or ear infections. It could even be because of an oral impairment or autism spectrum disorder, so get a complete check-up done with your child’s pediatrician or a speech-language pathologist to rule out any of these problems before you begin with any home remedies for your child’s speech.
Home Remedies For Late Talking Child
If you are waiting to go for that complete evaluation or you want to try things at home because you feel that your child is just taking his or her sweet time before they start talking nonstop, then give these home remedies a try.
They can really help your child develop language, bond with you, expand vocabulary and learn new words.
Self-talk is the most basic and simple activity you can do without any materials to help late-talking children. It basically means talking out loud about what you can see and what you are doing, feeling, and hearing. Talk about everything.
Suppose you are cooking in the kitchen. Talk about what you are making and the ingredients you are using, or even narrate the steps as you are doing them. The key here is to keep your child involved and introduce them to new words through everyday situations. You could go for a walk and talk about what you see around you: trees, birds, dogs, etc.
The key here is to keep the sentences short or to speak in phrases so that it helps your child in their language development. Try phrases like “I see a tree. I see a dog. I like apples.” If your child has only been saying one word at a time, then starting with two-word phrases will help. Mix them with the one word that they are already saying or are familiar with. Repetition is the key to helping with language skills and development.
This is very much like self-talk but instead, the strategy in parallel talk is to talk about everything your child is doing. You are speaking from the child’s perspective. You can talk about their actions, their feelings, or what they can hear, anything to teach them more about words and help their language development.
If they are building a tower using blocks, you can tell them, “Your tower is so big,” or when they are eating you can tell them, “You are eating your favorite food today.” When you talk about objects or activities around them, the chances are your child will be more interested in what you are saying and grasp it better. This will help develop their vocabulary easily.
Music is known to have healing powers. Some children are even known to sing before they talk and that’s the magic of music. The rhythm of music can make more sense to children than the rhythm of speech, in some cases. You can make your little one listen to good music every day; make it into a ritual and play their favorite song every day in the morning. This can be a thing that you do together and, at the same time, something that helps your little one learn to speak and eventually sing those lyrics.
It’s not necessary to stick to children’s songs or nursery rhymes; you can introduce your child to other forms of music as well. Experiment and see what they like. Your child might surprise you by choosing the Beatles over Coco Melon!
Music is also used by therapists who have helped a lot of children with learning problems as well.
Sign language has shown amazing results in speech and language development with late-talking children. It is an alternate form of communication that serves as a great medium to get your child talking. You can start by learning some basic signs using online tutorials or books (try Baby Signs by Linda Acredolo) and then teaching them to your child. Tell them every time they want to ask or say something, they can use the signs.
Once your child starts using signs as a form of communication, you should imitate them and follow them up with the word it represents. Eventually, you will see that your baby will abandon those signs and use their words to communicate effectively.
Play to Talk
It’s no secret that children love to learn through play. It is the best and most effective way to teach kids anything. If you have a late-talking child, then set aside some time every day for play that will help your late-talker learn new words.
Studies have shown that guided play, wherein you take your child’s lead and play along with them, is very effective in speech development. You can use everyday situations or activities that your little one is doing to exchange words and information to teach them words and prompt them to repeat after you. Using play to help develop a child’s speech is a fun and interesting way to develop their speech and language without facing any resistance.
When you have a late talker at home, using questions or a line of questioning to prompt them to talk will mostly only annoy and shut them down further. This is because kids with speech delays will also face performance anxiety and throwing questions at them will not help at all.
Instead, a supportive, polite, and effective way to make your child speak is using declarative or modal statements. Suppose your child is eating yogurt, then instead of asking them, “Do you like your yogurt?” you should use a declarative statement like, “You are eating blueberry yogurt. Blueberry is my favorite flavor.”
This might not necessarily prompt your child to give you a response; however, it initiates new ideas and can start a conversation. The results might not be immediate but over some time, when you practice this consistently, you will see that conversations will start to flow.
Giving your late talker choices is a great way to prompt them to develop their language skills. It’s as simple as giving your child an option to choose from their favorite toy or favorite book. Ask them what they would like to do and while doing so, call out the name of objects clearly. This might prompt them to respond with the name of the object, but if it doesn’t and they simply point to what they need, you must comply with it and hand over whatever they asked for. This is important to build trust and a bond with your little one. If, instead of handing over the book or toy that they asked for, you push them to respond with the words, it might just push them further away from actually using words to communicate.
Try to provide choices in everyday tasks and activities and do this consistently and when handing over whatever they choose, make sure you repeat the name of the object. This will reinforce the words and maybe next time they will reply.
Read Books Everyday
Books are the best gift you can give your child. Whether you have a late talker or not, reading books to babies and toddlers is a great way to develop their language skills.
When you read out loud, you introduce your child to a diverse range of words that you might not use in everyday activities. This will greatly help them in speech and language development. Reading books also develops their imagination and allows them to create and share things with you.
It is a great way to have a conversation with your child as well. You can discuss what is happening in the story and what your child likes or dislikes about it, and you can even share your insights as to your favorite character or incident. This will make your child feel comfortable and is a great way to initiate conversations and prompt your little one to use words to express their feelings.
If you have a late talking child, they may have differences in sensory processing as well. This is very common in children with speech disorders such as childhood apraxia of speech. That’s why using sensory-rich activities can be of great help during speech therapy.
You can create your own sensory-rich activities during playtime to make it a fun experience for your little ones. Use edible playdough, cotton balls, or DIY zip lock watercolor bags. These textured toys and surfaces are known to help develop sensory skills, bridging the gap and eventually helping children with their communication skills.
Home Remedies as Speech Therapy
When your child is a late talker, it can be stressful, especially at social events or family gatherings where everyone might put undue pressure on your child to speak. This can be frustrating for the child and you and it is completely understandable.
Reach out to your pediatrician if you have any doubts about your child’s speech development. They might recommend going for speech therapy practice or visiting a speech-language pathologist to get your child the necessary help. Your pediatrician might also recommend that you wait it out as your child might just be a late bloomer. If that’s the case, then trying these home remedies would greatly benefit your child.
Finally, speech therapy has been known to greatly help children with language delays and receptive language disorders. Give your child some time and take a breather. Your little one might actually start talking nonstop in no time!