Be Your Toddler’s Best Teacher

Stacey Seybold Hiller, M.S., CCC-SLP is an industry expert in speech, language and feeding skills in children.

The process of language development is astonishing.  Frequently, in less than 3 years, children go from absolutely no language skills, to a vocabulary of more than 300 words. Why do some children sail through this process so much easier than others?  There are a variety of reasons, but the type of stimulation children receive at home can make a big difference.  The tried and true methods are still very valuable-reading to your children as much as possible, and LIMITING TIME IN FRONT OF THE TV (yes, even the “educational” stuff).  However, there are more things that you can do.

  • Be the color commentator:  Give a running verbal description of what you and your child are seeing/experiencing.  Give them words to go with what is happening around them.  For example, “There goes a truck.  It’s a big truck!  There is a motorcycle behind it.  It is loud!  That car is blue. I am making meatloaf. This is the dryer.”
  • Do not be afraid to use baby talk!  It is called that for a reason.  Any small child will turn toward a speaker who is using a “baby” voice.  We want them to listen to our words, so make your voice sound unusual.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Only talk in 1-2 word sentences when your child is developing language.  Even at the dinner table.  “Beans hot!”  “More meat.”  “Drink milk.”  If you would feel odd speaking to an another adult is this manner, then you are probably doing it just right for your baby/toddler.  The correct grammar will come later.
  • Let them hear you talk!  Keep your children around you when you are talking to others.  Put their high chair at the table during family meal time.  Let them observe you interacting with others.  The earlier children understand that meal time is family time, the more they will benefit from all the skills and lessons that the dinner table can produce.


Stacey Seybold Hiller has practiced pediatric speech pathology for more than 18 years.  Both she and her husband felt they were ready for a career change, so they recently opened Dream Dinners in Indianapolis with a partner.  Now she can further her passion for healthy family meals around the table at home!