Speech and Language Development: Helping Your 1- to 2-Year-Old

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These are some things you can do to help your 1- to 2-year-old learn words and say simple sentences.

  • Tell your child what you are doing.

    Say, "I am changing your diaper" and "I'm washing your face" when interacting with your child.

  • Involve your child in conversations.

    Talk about the names of favorite toys and other common objects around the house.

  • Play and read together.

    To help your child's brain develop, play or read together instead of letting your child watch TV, watch movies, or play games on a screen. When you play or read with your child, leave the TV off. Even a show playing in the background matters. It keeps your child—and you—from focusing on and learning the most from the activity you are sharing.

  • Read to your child every day.

    Choose books with colorful pictures. Point to the pictures while you read. Read books that are made of cloth or cardboard so that your child can hold them and turn the pages. Visit the library regularly.

  • Speak slowly and clearly to your child.
  • Take turns when talking.

    Ask your child a question and wait for an answer. Let him or her take the lead in conversations. For example, if your child says "da-da-da," repeat it to show that you are picking up on the conversation.

  • Praise your child.

    Praise your child when he or she correctly labels a familiar object. When your child says "doggie" and points to a dog, reply, "Yes, that's a doggie."

  • Be positive when you correct your child.

    Don't imitate your child's unclear speech or constantly correct your child. And don't embarrass your child by making him or her repeat unclear words, especially when other people are around. Correct your child in a positive way by rephrasing, repeating, and relabeling.

  • Sing with your child.

    Sing simple songs with your child, such as "Happy Birthday." Encourage your child to talk with others, including other children his or her age.


Current as of: October 24, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.