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Before Speech Therapy-What you can do! 12-18 months

Updated on March 1, 2012

How to stimulate Speech and Language-12-18 months

Children learn to communicate as their early experiences of using their voice to get their needs met are rewarded.For example they cry and get fed or picked up.They babble and you babble and smile back.Speech and language continue to develop by listening and attending to our speech.

Help your child develop listening skills

Children must listen to learn and learn to listen.

  • Try to point out sounds around them, such as a clock ticking or a plane flying overhead.
  • Point to the noise source and say "listen." Make the noise with your voice.
  • Talk about the sounds your child makes when she is in the bath, clapping hands or banging pots.

You must also be a good listener. By giving your child your undivided attention you will show her how to listen to others.

Introduce sounds in a fun way

“Can you hear the doggie -woof-woof”or “the car vroom vroom”, so that your child associates sounds with meaning.

Make the sound effects in songs and games."the runaway train went over the hill and she blew whooo whooooooo"

Be a good model

Be comfortable using “parentese” This is where parents use a softer, higher-pitched, affectionate voice. It also includes plenty of repetition and short simplified sentences. “look at the smile””that’s a lovely smile” Have you got windies””Lets get your windies up”

This is easier for babies to decode.

Do not confuse this with “Baby talk” –where a very different word is used-and do not use “baby talk” -“do you want your boba”? Instead say “do you want your “bottle”

Make talking a part of everything that you do together.

All daily routines should be accompanied by speech, feeding, dressing, and washing. e.g. when in the bath talk about body parts” lets wash your arms, now your legs…”

Recognise and create learning opportunities.

Use daily routines and make the most of new events for your child –like going to the supermarket or visiting a friend. This provides your child with a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the world.

Talk about what your child is doing and what’s going to happen next. For example: When in the car talk about where you are going and whom you are going to see.


Get down on the floor and play with your child. Talk to her while playing, using short simple sentences.

Follow her lead. Talk about what’s happening. “Dolly’s going to sleep now.”Shh dolly’s asleep” “let’s turn the light off’.

Talk about spatial relationships “Let’s put her on the bed.” “Put her in her cot”.” Look the brick is under the car”

Sing Rhymes and songs

Sing rhymes and songs especially those with actions. Encourage your child to IMITATE your actions e.g. clap hands, itsy-bitsy spider, peek-a-boo

Play music

Playing music helps children develop listening skills. When you play music, sing along, dance or do the actions - show your enjoyment and your child will have fun too.

Read to your child

It is never too early to enjoy picture books and read to your child.Reading together is an enjoyable experience that will help you to bond with your child. It will also help your child develop, vocabulary and listening skills, and begin to understand visual symbols which will help her to read later on.

However do not ask "whats this"repeatedly.Make it fun. Describe the pictures, carry out the actions, use the voices.Let her join in,anticipate and describe. But follow her lead. If she just want to cuddle up and listen don't force her to participate.

Watch Television or a DVD together.

While watching television is not normally considered an aid to learning speech. However its use is a reality in every household and it can be a very useful tool to expand language if used properly and in moderation.

It can open up a world to a child that she may never experience in real life. However do not leave your child watching alone for long periods, and keep it off when you are doing other activities together.

Watch actively and talk about what’s happening and what’s happened.

Offer choices

Children need to learn that they can control the environment by using their new found speech.Even at this young age they like to feel they have some power.But they still need structure and can get overwhelmed easily.Therefore you should offer choices but limit it to two or three things.

When she is pointing to something ask-“Do you want milk or juice?”

When getting dressed "do you want to wear the red dress or the blue jeans"

Never criticise or expect a performance

Resist the temptation to have your child "perform" for others, unless she enjoys doing so.

She will make lots of mistakes as she works out the sounds and structures of language.Never correct her directly but always be a good model.

When she says "Ted goed away" reply "Yes Ted went away he has to go to school" You're modelling the correct version and expanding the sentence for her.

Praise, praise and more praise

Praise your child for even the smallest accomplishment. Show her how much you enjoy her efforts at communication by responding-whether its her smiles,her babbling,when she imitates you or when she says new sounds or words.

A good website is


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