Five ways to promote language development during your child’s bedtime routine from a Clinical Fellow in Speech Language Pathology
My favorite part of my job as a Speech Language Pathologist is to give parents simple ways to promote speech and language during their daily routines. Creative activities and sensory bins are great but you don’t need to do that to promote language development!
Keep reading for 5 very simple things you can do during bedtime routine to increase language development.
- Label body parts: when your baby or toddler is in the bath, label each body part as you wash it. After hearing the same words night after night, your little one will start to identify their own body parts and eventually label them! Body parts are important to teach early to give your little one the ability to tell you if something hurts.
- Verbal routines: using the same phrase every day, at the same time, in the same context. Maybe it’s “bye bye water!” every time when you open the drain. It can also be a sweet lullaby you sing right before bed.
- Incorporate books!: There is a fascinating study (by Logan et al. 2019) that explains that the number of different words kids will have heard by age 5 is based on how often parents read to them. Kids who are read to 1-2 times per week will hear 63,570 words by age 5 and kids that are read to 5 times per day will have heard 1,483,300 words by age 5! That is a difference of a million words! Make reading part of your bedtime routine!
- Give choices where you can: Just make sure that you are labeling each choice. Instead of saying “do you want this one or this one?” say “do you want caterpillar book or bear book?” When you do it this way, they hear a lot more language. Giving choices also gives them a little bit of agency in their day that is usually filled with decisions being made for them.
- Before bed, ask them “What is one thing that made you happy today?” and answer it yourself too!: If you have a baby that is not yet speaking, you can answer for them by saying something like “You loved bubbles today! You were so happy when nana was blowing bubbles!”. This will aid in recalling something about their day and it is such a sweet ritual to start with your child tonight. You will thank me for this one when you begin to hear them come up with their sweet answers.
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