Sparking the Progress of Baby’s Speech Development

By admin
July 05, 2018


Little baby taking a bath

In the May/June 2018 issue of Well-Being, with the help of Susannah Silvia, Speech Language Pathologist and Clinical Director for Beyond Therapy for Kids, we shared commonly accepted guidelines for the normal development of a baby’s speech and language skills and offered milestones to help parents track their child’s progress. Once parents know the verbal tasks their child should be mastering as they grow, they can play a proactive role in helping them reach those goals by simply talking, reading and singing during everyday activities. Not only is it effective in sparking baby’s language development but also helps to build parent-child bonds, and makes the daily routine more fun.

According to Ms. Silvia, there are a number of activities a caregiver can use to improve language stimulation in and out of the home. In therapy, a speech language pathologist’s goal is to provide families with practical strategies to facilitate language growth during their daily natural routines. Following are a few professional word prompts parents can use to encourage speech.

Yellow rubber duck for bath timeBath Time:

  • Following directions: “Give me your duck.”
  • Identifying toys: “Which one is the duck?” when paired with another toy.
  • Identifying body parts: “Touch your nose.”
  • Naming toys: “What is this called?”
  • Modeling sounds: Splash! Pshhh, pop pop pop!
  • Modeling words: (nouns) tub, water, bubbles, soap, towel, shampoo, body parts, various toys; (verbs) wash, dry, pour, pop, blow, brush; (core words*) in, out, all done, all gone, more, want, up, down
  • Expand single words into phrases: Time for bath. Take a bath. Fill it up. Wash face. In cup. Water out. Water on. All done. Get out. Bye bye water. Toys in.
  • Most children love the bath. They are not only contained in the tub, which will improve attention skills but they can use a variety of toys and containers to stimulate language. Bubbles, bath toys, bath colors, and bath fizz balls are all special items only for bath time. They serve as great reinforcements to make bath time special.


  • Following directions: “Give me your socks.”
  • Identifying clothing: “Which one is the sock?” when paired with another item.
  • Identifying body parts: “Touch your foot.”
  • Naming clothing: “What is this called?”
  • Modeling sounds: ZZZZip! UP UP arms.
  • Modeling words: (nouns) various clothing items and body parts; (verbs) stand, sit, button, zip, brush, put on, take off, tie; (core words*) in, out, all done, all gone, more, want, up, down, off, on, mine
  • Expand single words into phrases: Let’s get dressed. PJs come off. Put your head in. Pants on. Arm in. Arms up. Shirt on. All done.

Sometimes we are rushing to leave the house, making this routine not our favorite time to address language development. Instead of the morning routine, try these techniques at nighttime or just while putting on socks and shoes to stimulate language growth.

Outside Play:

  • Following directions: “Open the door.”
  • Identifying toys: “Which one is the ball?” when paired with another outdoor toy.
  • Naming toys: “What is this called?”
  • Modeling sounds: Brrum for car, animal sounds for outdoor pets, brrr its cold!
  • Modeling words: (nouns) door, car, coat, hat, store, cart, tree, flower, grass, dog, cat, truck, bus, rain; (verbs) knock, open, close, walk, run, ride, drive, hold, go; (core words*) in, out, all done, all gone, more, want, mama, up, down, go, stop
  • Expand single words into phrases: Time to go. Open door. In the car. Ready, set, go. Hold hand. All done. In the bag. Get coat. Get shoes. Go go go. Hi dog. Hi cars. Bye cars. Close door. Hi daddy. Hi mama. Red light. Let’s go.

Car time is a great time for your child to learn new words. Turn off the DVD and talk with your child about events on the street such as a man walking or a fire truck driving fast. Your child is required to be in his car seat so his attention will be higher than playing at home.

Meal Time:Baby is eating

  • Following directions: “Get a cup.”
  • Identifying items: “Which one is the spoon?” when paired with another utensil.Naming toys: “What is this called?”
  • Modeling sounds: Yumm! MMM! BRrr cold! HHHH hot!
  • Modeling words: (nouns) spoon, fork, cup, plate, bowl, fridge, bottle, juice, milk, water, various food names, napkin; (verbs) sit, pour, stir, clean, eat, drink, bite, cut, wash, blow; (core words*) in, out, all done, all gone, more, want, mama, up, down
  • Expand single words into phrases: Time to eat. Wash hands. Cold juice. More please. In the sink. Sit down. Pour it. All done. Want more? My spoon, Juice in. My cup. Wipe hands.

Mealtime is a great time for requesting food items. Wait for your child to request his favorite snack by giving him just one small piece or tempting him by placing the food item out of reach.

Story Time:

  • Following directions: “Turn page.”
  • Identifying pictures: “Touch the cow?”
  • Naming pictures: “What is this?”
  • Modeling sounds: Environmental sounds and animal sounds in the book.
  • Modeling words: open, turn page, close, various actions and nouns in book
  • Expand single words into phrases: Turn page. Open book. Close book. Look at that! Get book. My book. Bye pictures.
  • Ask questions that are not yes and no questions. Try what and where questions such as “What is the boy doing? Or “Where is the boy?” to encourage single words and phrases.

mother reads to baby book in bedSometimes realistic pictures compared to cartoon pictures are easier to name and identify. Board books with thick pages are easier for a child to hold and turn. Colorful pages with only a few pictures will hold your child’s attention. You don’t have to read the words! Describe the pictures and act out the story. It’s fun to cuddle with your child during story time but try sitting face to face so he can look at your mouth when you speak. Point to your mouth when you speak to encourage imitation and eye contact.

*Core words are words that can be used in any daily routine and make up about 80% of early language inventory.


Susannah Silvia, MCD CCC SLP, Speech Language Pathologist, and Clinical Director at Beyond Therapy for Kids in Ridgeland, received her BA in communication disorders from Louisiana State University and her Master’s in Communication Disorders from LSU Health Science Center. She has over 10 years of pediatric experience in a variety of communication disorders, and was one of Beyond Therapy’s first speech pathologists to treat babies in the community through MS Early Intervention Program, First Steps.

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