25 Toys to Get Your Toddler Talking
One of the things people ask me about most often is, How did you get Adeline to talk? or What toys do you like to get your toddler to talk? At 14 months old, Addie was not talking, she was only babbling "mama". We decided to enroll her in speech therapy privately through our insurance and also through our Maryland state early intervention program which is called Infants & Toddlers. At the time, many people told us to wait, and Infants and Toddlers really did not want to add kids for speech until they were two.
With a lot of persistence I got her those services. Before we started therapy we had assessments and even though I knew she was behind her testing results were a pretty big shock to me. At 14 months old, she scored in the 4-6 month old range. Adeline received speech therapy 6x per month for nearly a year and I worked with her daily. As a special educator who primarily worked with little ones with language delays or with autism I had a lot of tricks in my bag, but still needed to expertise of a speech language therapist. With therapy, coupled with a lot of effort and practice, good nutrition, follow through, creating a language based environment, sign language, some great toys, and a motivated Addie Belle we made some incredible gains. This year on her second birthday we redid her testing and at 24 months she scored in the 24-36 month old range! She made almost 20-30 months worth of progress in less than 12 months time. It was pretty exciting and kind of unheard of. Infants and toddlers dismissed her from therapy, and we still see her private speech/language therapist monthly mainly for feeding and to work on any little issues that come up. I decided to come up with a list of my favorite toys to get your toddler talking. I linked the toys to amazon to make it easy to shop.
The best gift or thing you can give to your child to help with their language development is YOU. Your TIME, DEDICATION, ATTENTION, FOLLOW THROUGH, CONSISTENCY, is going to be the thing that makes the most difference. You can have all the toys in the world, but if you aren't playing/talking/reading/ and spending meaningful 1:1 undivided attention with your child, they are not going to make progress.
A few other tips for increasing language during play with your toddler;
Before you start scrolling through my list of toys that will get your toddler talking, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when choosing a toy.
Guidelines for choosing toys
Battery Free: there are exceptions to the rule, but you want your kids to say the words or make the sounds that the toy is making. When playing with a car toy, you want your kiddo to honk the horn and say" beeeep!" If a great toy comes with noises - just ditch the batteries
Open Ended Toys: you want toys that can be used in a variety of way, have no beginning, middle, or end, that can be used over time, and they allow your kiddo to use their imagination.
Traditional Toys: go back to basics and think about what you had when you were a kid; legos, blocks, cars and trucks, farm. etc. keep it simple and old school
Meaningful: choose toys that relate to a meaningful experience for your kiddo; role play like feeding, bathing, dressing
Developmentally Appropriate: think about where your kiddo is developmentally when choosing a toy. If they are two years old, but functioning at a 6-9 month old, choose a toy more appropriate for a 6-9 month old. Meet them where they are!
Encourage Social Interaction: choose toys that can encourage social interaction and take turns; play kitchen, etc.
Don't Worry About Gender: do not stick to gender specific toys - girls need to play with construction toys and every boy needs a doll.
Get them Moving/Go Outdoors: consider toys that get them moving (ride on toy) and think of toys that be used outside; playhouse, water table, etc.
Some "Speechy" terms i use
Many of these terms are used throughout my recommendations of certain toys so I felt it was important to define them.
Expectant Pause: Provide opportunities for your child to use language, without asking them directly to repeat what you say, or to label objects. (E.g. in a book, you might be reading a story to your child where the last word in each sentence rhymes. Once your child is familiar with a book, read the first part of the sentence leaving off the last word, pause and look at your child. Wait for several seconds. If the child responds, praise and keep going. If not, provide the child with an acceptable response (model) and then continue with the story.)
Model: Rather than testing your child’s knowledge, see your job as giving your child lots of models. For example when looking at a book, you can describe the pictures to your child. The length and complexity of your models will depend on the child’s age. For example, if a child is 2 years of age, you might model using 2 – 3 word sentences. Try not to give a model and then expect your child to repeat and take the pressure off your child to ‘perform’.
Expressive Language: the use of words, sentences, gestures, sign, and writing to convey meaning and messages to others.
Receptive Language: means the ability to understand information. It involves understanding the words, sentences and meaning of what others say or what is read.
Joint Attention: shared attention is the shared focus of two individuals on an object. It is achieved when one individual alerts another to an object by means of eye-gazing, pointing or other verbal or non-verbal indications.
Word Approximation: the best consonant-vowel combinations a child is able to produce and most closely resemble the word they are attempting to verbalize. For example, instead of "milk", Addie says "muck". These word approximations serve as functional communication
Verbal Routines: a tool that Speech Language Pathologists use to encourage speech in the late talker. Verbal routines are made up of words that are repeated at a predictable time during an activity One common verbal routine is saying “ready, set, go.” during activities
Symbolic Play: ability of children to use objects, actions or ideas to represent other objects, actions, or ideas as play. A child may push a block around the floor as a car or put it to his ear as a cell phone
I love doing this sort of thing for our readers and I love hearing from you!!! Let me know if you get any of these toys and how it goes, share your ideas, comment below with some toys you love for language, and most of all I hope you have fun! Working with your toddler 1:1 benefits you just as much as it benefits them. Happy Shopping!!!!