Helping a toddler with a speech delay (activity ideas)

Activites for speech delay

I am a play therapist, so I work with many speech-delayed children birth-age 3.  I work with children daily and helping a toddler with a speech delay is one of the many things that we do, as play therapists.   Today I wanted to share some of my favorite activities that you can do, today, at home, to help your little one to overcome a speech delay.

Try not to have the TV on if you aren’t watching it. The background noise can actually cause more of a delay.

Teach him sign language (it has been proven to help them speak faster) .  I focus on the biggies: more, mine, help, Mommy, Daddy, please, thank you (please & thank you are added in there just to teach your little one good manners!)

Make magnets for your refrigerator that has his favorite things (juice, cereal…) and when he wants something, he can bring that to you. (make sure he can’t choke on them- I use a large flat magnet – one of the free ones that comes to the house with real estate info. on it.   I glue a white sheet of card-stock on it and cut into squares.  I then draw pictures onto them with the things that your child might need: cup, food, bed, favorite toy, etc…  We are trying to ELIMINATE frustration because kids with a speech delay often become frustrated easily.  (wouldn’t you?)

 Spend 40 minutes just “playing with him several times a day. Use simple words “Car fast!” or “Red ball”.  Click the picture below for ideas on what to do when playing with your kids:

Work with simple picture flash cards (or get a flash card app for babies or toddlers- they are free).  Say the name of the object & have them repeat it.   Labeling is HUGE for a child with a speech delay.


- Take a straw & let him blow through it to make a cotton ball move (have the cotton ball on the table). This will help with the muscles needed for speech.







-- Drink with a straw for different textures (water, milk, applesauce, milkshakes)…

-Use silly straws for drinking.









Put some things out of reach that you know your child will want (favorite book, favorite toy) and they will have to ask you for help when getting it. Teach them to come and get you and take you (by the hand) to what he/she wants OR by getting you the magnet off of the fridge (did you read that tip above?)
Show the sign for help and say “Help”.

-PRAISE THEIR EFFORTS!   These are just some things that I practice with my speech delayed clients & that I have done with our own children.
FOR MORE INFORMATION or to contact your local early intervention office, this post might be helpful to you: What Is Play Therapy?  I will point you to the right contacts and help you to get started with your child’s therapy services.

I have also posted about the different nutrition supplements that have been recommended for speech delays.


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Helping a toddler with a speech delay (activity ideas) — 10 Comments

  1. These are great ideas! I would love to invite you to link up at our Share It Saturday linky party. We have lots of creative ideas submitted each week and you would fit right in!

    We also are inviting all contributors to join us on our Share It Saturday Group Pinterest page as a collaborator. It is a great way to have your posts seen by new viewers! The link for the Pinterest page is on our post. Hope to see you there!

    Colleen at Sugar Aunts

  2. Wonderful ideas! As mama to a 25 weeker that had huge speech delays for various reasons, one of which having a trach for 3.5 years and unable to utter a sound, we focused heavily on sign language. This was a HUGE asset when the trach finally came out. She is now 9 and still relies on sign language, along with voicing. But that was one of the best decsions we ever made!

  3. I recommend contacting your local early intervention agency. The evaluation is FREE and all states have the program. Most pediatricians don’t use screening tools and often take the “let’s wait and see” approach. In the meantime, there are plenty of books out there that are parent-friendly, including The Cow Says Moo Ten Tips to Teach Toddlers to Talk (McErlean), Let’s Talk Together (Poland), and My Toddler Talks (Scanloon) are a few. Try; they have everything.

  4. I am a PhD speech-language pathologist with 10 years of clinical and research experience. I strongly encourage families who have children with communication delays to pursue an evaluation by a licensed speech-language pathologist. Early intervention is incredibly important and an actual communication professional can recommend targeted strategies for your unique child. Communication is the foundation of literacy and academic skills, and speech-language pathologists can get your child on the right track!

  5. Hi there! I came across this site while looking up information on my son’s speech delay (due to hypotonia). I bought the Balanced Essentials liquid multivitamin and was curious as to how much your neurologist recommended giving him? He’s 30 months.

    Thanks in advance!

  6. Wonderful page and ideas!

    A little of our story. My son is 10 years old today. But he was born premie, and had Global Delays from the start. I started ASL with him around 1 year old and it was a life saver! We only did basics, and added things as needed or that he was interested in as time passed. But at one point, when he was 2 1/2-3, he said the words, “water” and “doggy” the same way; he said “goggy” for both of these. So if he didn’t sign “water” to me, I would have had a heck of a time knowing he wanted a DRINK, and wasn’t telling me about a doggy!

    Today, at 10, most of his development is that of a 2 year old. He has plenty of vocabulary; enough to get his needs met, thankfully. But we are currently working with a program that will be able to get us a communication assistive device. It may take some time, but it will be covered by insurance, so it will be well worth it!

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