7 Simple Tips to Teach Vocabulary to Your Toddler

Amazingly simple toddler speech delay parenting tips to help build your child’s vocabulary! Read them now!

Looking for simple ways to teach vocabulary to your toddler, especially when you’re dealing with a speech delay? We have you covered! As a parent, you wait with baited breath for your baby’s first word. Will it be “Mama,” “Dada,” or something else entirely? Once that first word comes out, for most kiddos, it’s only a matter of time before others will follow. Even if your toddler’s speech is not delayed, you may be curious what you can do to increase your toddler’s vocabulary. If your toddler’s speech is delayed, keep in mind that for most typically developing children, they comprehend words sooner than they can make the speech sounds to say the words themselves.

Related: Get Help From the Experts with These Toddler Speech Delay Videos

7 Ways to Teach Vocabulary to Your Toddler

Get in the habit of practicing speech and vocabulary with your child each day. The more you do, the more natural it will become, and your child will be talking up a storm in no time!

  1. Talk to your toddler as much as you can. It may feel silly to talk non-stop, but that is one of the best things you can do to help your child’s speech develop. Describe what you’re doing throughout the day – starting with how you insert the coffee filter, scoop the coffee, pour in the water, and press the button. During the bath, name each body part as you wash it. Pretend you’re in a cooking show while you make dinner and explain what you’re doing (stopping to allow your little one to smell the ingredients and talking about how each item smells).
  2. Don’t use baby talk. I’m not referring to parentese (which actually has been shown to be good for your baby’s language development). I am talking about actual baby talk – calling items by incorrect names (such as calling a bottle a “ba-ba”). Baby talk does not benefit your baby; it is important for their vocabulary development that you use the proper words for items.
  3. Invest in vocabulary books. There are some fantastic vocabulary books out there, with a great variety of words and subjects. Look for the ones that have real photos rather than animated pictures – the real photos help your toddler make the connection when they see an item in real life. Don’t worry if the vocabulary seems too advanced – you’ll be surprised what your toddler picks up! We had one vocabulary book focused on animals with some really obscure ones that I didn’t even know, but my son sure was able to tell people what a budgerigar was!
  4. Repeat, and repeat again. Repetition is key at this age. Use a new vocabulary word often and make a few connections with it. For example, “Oh look – there’s a squirrel! Do you see the squirrel’s bushy tail? Look how quickly the squirrel scampers up the tree! Bye, bye Mr. Squirrel!”
  5. Use descriptive language. In the squirrel example above, adding in “bushy” when describing his tail helps your toddler see what bushy means – the opportunity would have been missed if you just said “do you see the squirrel’s tail?” You also could have said, “the squirrel runs up the tree, but “scampers” is so much more descriptive of what a squirrel does!
  6. Play games. Kids love games – when learning is fun, they will retain so much more! When you are in the car, play “I spy” with your toddler. At first, she may not be able to name the things she sees, but she’ll get there quickly.
  7. Read every single day. The single most important thing you can do to develop your child’s language skills is read to him. Make reading part of your daily routine, and stick to it. Some kids love books and want to hold and look at them, but that’s not enough – make sure they hear you reading aloud to them every day.

Your toddler’s language skills are emerging, and before long, you’ll start to see your effort pay off. Don’t worry – the constant questions will start soon enough!

What tricks have you used to teach vocabulary to your toddler? Share in the comments!

17 thoughts on “7 Simple Tips to Teach Vocabulary to Your Toddler”

  1. Great tips! I have definitely done all of these with my kids. But they have minds of their own and still started talking only when they had decided they were good and ready. Like with everything!

  2. Removing baby talk is very important. I also think reading is definitely helpful for them to get used to hearing and learning bigger words too!

  3. My kids never stop talking! The endless babbling has allowed for them to have pretty large vocabularies. I think reading to them constantly played a big part in that.

  4. It’s such a great time to start “inculcating” those reading habits to our little ones. The results with my daughter were excellent. She loves to read, has a very vocabulary than I do!

  5. Mary Fitzgerald Edwards

    Reading is so very important. We started reading to our babies as soon as they were born. We were told to avoid “baby talk” – but really couldn’t resist ;) But we always had books in the house and always read!

  6. Reesa Lewandowski

    I have a lot of friends who don’t talk to their babies because they say they don’t know what to talk about! I used to just talk to my babies all day long. As a SAHM who else was I going to talk to LOL!

  7. These are all fabulous ideas, especially the tip about reading to your child. We did bedtime stories when my kids were little and all three of them read well above grade level now.

  8. These are really good tips for parents looking to improve their kid’s vocabulary. I actually just got done reading to my granddaughter.

  9. meagan goepferich

    We used to talk to ours the same way we would talk to anyone. Children are amazing at listening and observing what we don’t say. We focused on avoiding all baby talk.

  10. These really are great tips. I used to talk to all three of my kids non-babyish from a young age, probably right after they started crawling pretty much. All had varying levels of speech, as in when they started to talk and such but overall I think your tips will work great!

  11. Saving money, working, loving dogs we have so much in common. I think the vocab tips you gave were awesome and would be a great help to anyone with a newborn or toddler.

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