5 tips for boosting language with your toddler at snack time
We often get asked by parents “how can encourage language development with our toddlers at snack time?”
- Comment on what your child is doing using simple, short phrases. E.g. “mmm eat cookie”. Try to remember to use a variety of words, not just the names of the food.
- Introduce some words that describe, such as hungry, thirsty, tired, all gone, more, hot, cold, yummy, yucky, crunchy, dirty, etc.
- Make language fun! Try to be animated with your voice, facial expressions and gestures. E.g. rub your tummy while saying “mmm yummy yogurt”.
- Offer a small piece and wait. E.g. Offer only one slice of apple or one gummy ber. This creates the opportunity for your child to ask for more.
- Give your child choices. E.g. do you want a banana or an orange? Try to explicitly show them the choice while you are labelling the item.
Example of a fruit snack:
- Give your child a choice of a banana and an apple “do you want BANANA (explicitly showing the banana) or APPLE (explicitly showing the apple)”. Stress on the names on the items as you hold them in front of your child
- If your child hasn’t starting using words yet, label the item they reach for or point to, e.g “apple” and hand them the desired foo
- If your child is using words, wait (about 10 seconds+) for them to name the item they want and if they are already doing this, try to encourage them to use a phrase to request, e.g. “I want apple”
- Prepare the fruit in front of them and talk about what you are doing. E.g. “peel banana”, “cut apple”, etc
- Then give your child 1-2 pieces of the fruit. This will encourage them to ask for the remaining pieces later, i.e. another opportunity to request
- Encourage the use of the word “more” and, again, to increase to phrases, try the “I want more” phrase or “more apple/banana”
- Talk about what your child is doing or looking at, e.g. “yummy apple” or “eat banana”
- When your child has finished the the fruit, comment on that too. E.g. “all gone” or “no more apple”