Toddlers: From Nonverbal to Verbal

 by Mama J.
May 11, 2024

Your child isn’t speaking and everyone keeps telling you that they are not normal. You are blaming yourself and many of the people you come across seem to be judging you as well.

All the while, you’re trying to stay positive so that you can encourage your toddler to use their voice.

It isn’t easy but just because they aren’t using their words just yet doesn’t mean they should be labeled as abnormal.

So, how can we help our tiny humans go from nonverbal to verbal?

Repetition

This was the biggest help with helping our toddler gain the confidence to speak. Repeating words, especially ones that you use every day, gives them a chance to mimic you and speak with you without feeling like they are being put on the spot just repeat a word that you’ve asked for once.

You don’t have to say the word ten times in a row for this to work. You can put more emphasis on the repeated word in a sentence, showing them a visual as well to better make the connection.

Singing

I am no singer, by any means, but putting words to music helped in a way that reciting just didn’t. While it didn’t have the same visual connection that focusing on one word did, it helped to make our toddler more excited about speaking and didn’t put as much pressure to say a single word properly over and over again.

There are plenty of videos on YouTube that connect songs to images but, even without it, songs on their own can be a great bonding activity as well as learning opportunity.

Pretend Play

This can be a difficult concept for us adults but sometimes you just have to play like a toddler. Whether it’s stomping around like a dinosaur, playing with barbies, or pouring water from one cup to another, playing with their favorite toys can spark them to use their voice a little more.

They feel safe when you’re playing games that they enjoy and when they’re in a comfortable environment they are more apt to open up.

This definitely isn’t a complete list of ideas to help you encourage a nonverbal toddler to start speaking but it is a great start and something that has helped our family immensely.

If you have tried a variety of activities to help your child feel comfortable speaking, it might be time to talk to your pediatrician and ask for a referral to a speech therapist. This option isn’t a reflection on you. In fact, getting your child extra help in any area is a wonderful thing that you should not feel bad about.