When your toddler has a speech delay, it may be tough to help build confidence with their communication skills.
Keep a calm, patient, positive attitude. The more time you spend working with your child, the better their speech skills will develop over time!
Don’t let your anxiety make them feel pressured to speak clearly.
We’ve compiled a number of activities, games, toys, and tips for you to make progress today, all in the comfort of your own home.
Our top picks: best toys for speech delayed toddler
Toys are a great way to get your toddler involved, excited, and entertained. Having a calm, positive attitude will make speech easier… for both you and your toddler!
Try these top toys for your speech delayed child:
- Traditional, old-school toys: wood blocks, cars, legos, play dough
- Doll houses, dolls, tea sets, stuffed animals
What’s important is these toys will help your child get the ball rolling with making noises, talking, and speaking. When you join in with them, you’ll encourage language development!
How can I help my toddler with speech therapy at home? Try our top 5 games
If you’re waiting to consult with your pediatrician or speech language pathologist about your child’s speech delay or pronunciation challenges, don’t be worried.
There are a number of activities for you to participate in that may help your child’s speech now. Give these a try and see what works best for you and your child. Here’s our top 5 games for speech therapy at home:
- Goof off: Set the tone to relax and have fun. Get your child giggling with a goofy face, silly noise, or crazy expression. Emphasize a letter sound, maybe the /r/ sound with RAZZLE DAZZLE or /hip/ in HIPPOPOTAMUS! Use a goofy tone and get into it. Try something so crazy you can’t help but laugh! You’ll have them smiling, laughing, or happy and relaxed in no time. They’ll try to repeat you, and in turn, practice these sounds for their own speech. Use the same words over and over, and perhaps mix it up with different words using sounds your child may have difficulty pronouncing properly.
- Play the ping pong ball game: as they drink water or juice from a straw, your child’s mouth muscles will grow stronger. These are the very same muscles used for speech. Get a small ping pong ball and make it a race to see who can blow it through a goal post or down a hallway faster, using only a straw to propel the ball forward. This game can even be a competition between siblings!
- Read and repeat: find a book your child enjoys and read each page aloud to them. If they’re able, they should repeat each sentence or page after you’ve read it aloud. This repetition will be especially helpful to reinforce clear speech, including proper articulation and language comprehension over time. Before you know it, your child will be reading their favorite book to you.
- Bubbles: Another fun game to try, blowing bubbles! Pick up a small bottle of bubbles and have your child blow away. They’ll “workout” their facial muscles used for speech, and have fun watching the bubbles fade away! You can even try this during bath time with a bottle of bubble bath. Repetition is the key to success!
- There’s an app for that: Type “speech therapy” into your App Store and you’ll find many options. Give Otsimo Speech Therapy a try. This app is designed with all kinds of games to entertain your toddler, keeping them engaged in speech activities. The product is ad-free and safe for kids, using a method known as augmentative and alternative communication.
What do speech therapists do for toddlers?
If you’ve never had a speech therapy session before, you may be wondering exactly what to expect.
How does it work? When it comes to sessions, we have a process to ensure a perfect fit for you, your toddler, and your speech language pathologist.
- Your experience begins with an introductory call to determine if we’re a good fit for your needs
- Next, you’ll be matched up with a trained speech pathologist to begin your customized therapy program, targeting your child’s specific speech and language developmental norms, or areas they may be delayed when compared with typically developing children
- Techniques may include signing or typing, analyzing facial muscles to improve speech or articulation, altering tone, and other approaches to help your toddler improve communication skills
- Our sessions take place over Zoom: therapists interact with clients and engage in practice skills, games, repetitions, and other activities to overcome speech challenges
- Therapists will often provide homework for you and your toddler to practice together between sessions, truly integrating you into your child’s speech therapy
- Each client’s program is unique to their specific needs and goals, but most consist of 12-week modules, with two 30-minute sessions each week
- At the end of each module, our team will reach out to ensure you’re on track with your goals and progress
How do I find the right speech therapist for my toddler?
Since this person will be working with your toddler, it’s important to do your own research. Consider the following traits when selecting your child’s speech therapist.
- Personality: is this someone my child will enjoy being around? Are they someone I trust? Do they seem patient, understanding, and kind? Do they love what they do?
- Clarity: is the instructor clear? Do they explain their process? Do you and your child understand what they’re saying, what to expect from each session, and what kind of progress you’re making?
- Experience: Speech language pathologists receive extensive training to work with a variety of people experiencing complex communication disorders — you’ll want to ensure whoever you choose to work with has experience and passion for working with children.
- Schedule: is the therapist available on a schedule that works for you and your family?
When should a toddler start speech therapy?
It’s critical for your child to hit their 1 year old speech milestones. If you’re concerned about their progress, seek professional help.
If you believe your toddler has a speech delay, express your concerns with your pediatrician. They’ll recommend an assessment with a speech language pathologist, an expert when it comes to speech communication.
We encourage you to schedule your introductory call today for a no-pressure consultation on personalized virtual speech therapy for your toddler.