Monday, 17 August 2015

Encouraging language development in babies and toddlers - Tips from a Speech Pathologist

Disclosure : For the purposes of the previous giveaway I was gifted a copy of The Speel's ebook, however this post is not connected to the giveaway and is in no way paid. All opinions are my own. 

My koala and I love going to Baby Sensory classes. It helps her development and she also gets to have lots of fun with all the activities and playing with her baby friends. A couple of thing our baby sensory teacher is always reminding us is how crawling helps develop reading ability thanks to the arm cross action movement (or something like that) and the other thing she tells us is the importance of reading!

We read at least 2 books a day, its one of her favourite parts of bedtime routine, but I'm always on the look out for other activities to help her development. A few weeks ago, I ran a little giveaway on a fantastic ebook by Alex from The Speel, an Australian Speech Pathologist, and thought it would be a great idea to get her thoughts on the benefits of encouraging language development in babies and toddlers.

I asked her a few questions and the info she gave me back is fantastic! I love doing some of the activities from her ebook "52 Fun Activities for Speech and Language Development", I'll have to try some more soon!


Me: Tell me a bit about yourself and The Speel?
Alex from The Speel : I’m an Australian Speech Pathologist and I’ve been working with kids of all ages for seven years. I love my job because I get to make a difference in the lives of the kids and their families, and I know that I am empowering them to grow up to become amazing adults. Last year, I started to get a bit restless, and despite loving the kids I was working with, I wanted to reach a wider audience. I started The SpeeL blog – with the view of it being a reliable online source of Speech Pathology information for parents and families globally and to equip everyone with the ability to give kids the right to communicate successfully.
Me: Why do we need to encourage language development in babies and toddlers?
Alex: The latest research is showing us that babies and toddlers have an incredible ability to store new information – they are like sponges – so we need to make the most of the early years. Not only this, we also now know that strong language skills in young children is strongly correlated with more success socially and academically as the child grows.
Me: What are the benefits of play for language development?
Alex: In order to develop strong language skills, children need to develop what we call ‘mental schema’ - this is all of the information that we store for each item and word that we have in our brain. For example, the word ‘cat’ is not stored by itself in the brain, instead children store what a cat looks like, smells like, tastes like (yep, that’s why they lick everything), feels like and sounds like. They also store related information like that they are an animal, they are a pet, and there are big scary cats at the zoo. Playing enables children to add all of this information to their mental schema. Imagine if a child saw a cat on a flashcard but never in real life – they would have a very limited mental schema for the word ‘cat’. In addition, play enables children to role play, develop social skills, understand another person’s perspective and be imaginative.
Me: What kinds of activities can we as parents do to encourage language and speech development? 
Alex: The three main tips that are amazing for children’s speech and language development include:
  1. Involve your child in and add language to every day activities that you do with your child e.g. Shopping, washing, bathing, dressing. These are practical activities with lots of repetitive language.
  2. Turn off the TV when it is not being watched and get on your child’s level so that they can see your face and hear you clearly (you may have to crawl, lay on your tummy or crouch down).
  3. Read books – you probably hear this all the time, but it really is important. Showing an interest in books, reading the same books over and over, and pointing out funny pictures provide fantastic language examples from yourself to your kids.
If you’re struggling to think of activities, check out my new book “52 Fun Activities for Speech and Language” - they are all based on things that you probably have around the house and doesn’t require you to buy expensive educational apps or toys.
'52 Fun Activities for Speech and Language' by Alex Trichilo.
Me: What should we do if we think our child's speech may be under-developed?
Alex: If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, go to your GP, paediatrician or Child Health Nurse first. They see so many children that they would have a strong understanding of the huge range of what is ‘expected’ in kids and would be able to give you an indication of whether you need to seek further advice. You can always pop over to my blog and ask me questions, but keep in mind that it would not replace the opinion of a qualified Speech Pathologist who has actually seen you and your child face to face. Most importantly, don’t panic, don’t blame yourself, and just know that you are doing all the right things by having identified it and seeking advice.

If you want to read more about how to help your child in their language and speech development, head over to The Speel Blog and take some tips from Alex! You can find her or Facebook, Twitter, InstagramYoutube and Pinterest.


Linking with:
Essentially Jess
Honest Mum


  1. Turning the TV off is a biggie around here. My son has unilateral deafness and wears a hearing aid, so we've already been down the road of speech therapy. And we both love books, which is great too!

    1. I agree, turning the tv off is so important! My hubby doesn't even listen if the tv is on, let alone kids with hearing problems already. Books are so great aren't they :)

  2. Those are some great ideas. With both of my girls, I chatted to them constantly from their baby years on. I explained everything I did - putting on your nappy now etc. I think people thought I was crazy, but both girls have very good speech. I don't know if that can be attributed to me or not lol. #teamIBOT

    1. Hehe I did that too! I walk around the house with my koala and tell her what I'm doing.... it is a bit odd to an outside, but I'm sure you're right and it'll help with speech development! You should take lots of credit for your kids I'm sure :)

  3. While my mum was in hospital with me after my birth, she would often talk to me and other people would ask "why are you talking to her, she's just a baby". And mum replied "but she's still a person!". Talking to and with babies and toddlers is so important!

    1. Hehe yes they are people! I hate it when all people say to babies is the goos and gahs. They need to hear real language like the rest of us :)

  4. I always talked to my babies, even when they were in utero. And I read to them a lot. It definitely paid off; they all talked very early.

    1. Sounds like you did a great job preparing them for speech :) I think talking to your babies like a person is so important too.

  5. . Great tips to help their development. Reading from an early age is so so important and I'm enjoying seeing my 2 becoming book worms! X

    1. Yay for your little book worms, it must be great seeing them appreciate reading and books!