Puppies are perfect for building language!

If you have a small child, one way to support language development is to expand on what they are saying.

The other day we were out walking and I watched a small child (about 18 months) get enthralled by a small dog. He was saying to his family “puppy, puppy” and pointing. Their response was ‘yeah’. He said it again “puppy, puppy” and again “yeah”.

Now I have been there. When you have four kids there is always someone telling you something and you can be a little like “yeppity-yep” and your mind is a million miles away. But they weren’t distracted they were also watching the puppy. They were completely responding to their little one, which was wonderful to observe.

But, the speech pathologist in me sees this moment in time as a golden nugget. These are the moments were you can build your child from one word to two words.

If you are wanting to build your young child’s language. There is no better way than to expand on what they are already saying to you.

Using the above example, to build him from one word to two word phrases the conversation could have gone down like this:
Child: “puppy, puppy” (he was pointing too)
Adult: “Puppy, puppy rolling, puppy rolling on his back, puppy rolling”
Child: “puppy, puppy”
Adult: “gorgeous puppy”

So in this example, you are following his lead, you are adding language and you are engaged in what the researchers call ‘serve and return’ which is great for building brains and language!

Let’s say he was not saying the word ‘puppy’ but he was pointing (he was doing both).
Then you could say:
Child: pointing at puppy (with or without vocalization)
Adult: puppy, puppy, puppy rolling
Child: points to puppy again
Adult: puppy, funny puppy, puppy

So you don’t need anything fancy and special to build language in your children. Just keep an eye out for these golden moments when they are really wanting to share information with you. And build them up from there.

If you are wondering what age to expect your child to start combining words into sentences, I have compiled the typical milestones for communication development from birth to four years, with some tips to build your child’s language at each stage. You can get a copy of it here.