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Children's Health

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Speech and Language Development: Helping Your 1- to 2-Year-Old - Topic Overview

These are some things you can do to help your 1- to 2-year-old learn words and say simple sentences:

  • Tell your child what you are doing. Say, "I am changing your diaper" and "I'm washing your face" when interacting with your child. Always speak slowly and clearly to your child. Tell her or him the names of favorite toys and other common objects around the house.
  • To help your child's brain develop, play or read together instead of letting your child watch TV, watch movies, or play games on a screen. When you play or read with your child, leave the TV off. Even a show playing in the background matters. It keeps your child-and you-from focusing on and learning the most from the activity you are sharing.1
  • Read to your child every day from books with colorful pictures, and point to the pictures while you read. Read books that are made of cloth or cardboard so that your child can hold them and turn the pages. Visit the library regularly.
  • Take turns when talking. Ask your child a question and wait for an answer. Let him or her take the lead in conversations. For example, if your child says "da-da-da," repeat it to show that you are picking up on the conversation.
  • Praise your child when he or she correctly labels a familiar object. When your child says "doggie" and points to a dog, reply, "Yes, that is a doggie."
  • Don't imitate your child's unclear speech, constantly correct, or embarrass your child by making him or her repeat unclear words, especially when other people are around. Correct your child in a positive way by rephrasing, repeating, and relabeling.
  • Sing simple songs with your child, such as "Happy Birthday." Encourage your child to talk with others, including other children his or her age.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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