How to teach your baby to talk



When I am working with a little one (12 -18 months) on expressive language development (that means the sounds/words she is producing-her use of words) the challenge can be getting the little one to understand that I want her to imitate (say) the sound I am  producing.  It is a very hard concept for a child this age to understand and grasp that you want her to repeat what you are saying.

A very simple strategy I use to help her understand sound imitation is to first get her to understand gross motor imitation (imitating a motor movement) and the phrase “you do”.  So I like to start off with simple gross motor directives such as: clap hands, touch head,  or push (maybe pushing open hand on play doh).  The goal is for the little one to understand and imitate the gross motor directive.  So when I am clapping my hands..I am saying “clap hands, you do”.  Now at first of course she may not understand the direction…so hand over hand I will help her to clap her hands.  I will give her this assistance until she is able to understand the direction on her own just hearing the words: “clap hands, you do”.  I follow the same model with all the other gross motor directions indicated above.  What is amazing to me is that once I see that the little one is able to follow a gross motor directive she usually then is ready to follow verbal directive and she is able to make an attempt to imitate sound or words!

I have had the pleasure of working with a little girl named Emma (thank you for allowing me to share part of her story mom and dad).  I have been with her since about September of 2014, she was just about to turn one in October of 2014.  Emma suffered a stroke in utero and this stroke impacted the language area of her brain.  Following the model indicated above the right side of her brain (the non language side) has compensated and she is acquiring language.  Emma is imitating sounds and simple word forms (and more complex sounds-ones I actually would not expect to hear in her repertoire!)  It was great to see that once Emma understood the phrase: you do in reference to a gross motor directive-she was ready to understand sound imitation!

I am in the process of putting together early sounds and words picture cards that you can easily use with your little one to reinforce sound imitation and word production.

Great work Emma!


About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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