Your toddler’s journey to speaking fluently is not as simple as a walk in the park. The baby’s journey of language development begins slowly, but steadily. They say words first, which will be music to your ears. Then they say short phrases. Then they say a combination of words, phrases and pointing actions to convey what they want. Then, only then, will he start stringing together all words and phrases together to make simple sentences. Since speaking in sentence is what will finally give way to him speaking fluently, it definitely is an important milestone.
When Can You Expect Your Child To Speak In Sentences?
By the time your child is 1.5-2 years old, he will start saying 2 word sentences like “I go” or “want milk” or “me play”. You cannot expect them to know many 2 word sentences though. Most likely, they will just repeat the same 2-3 sentences again and again. Crying is usually still the biggest way they try to communicate, and it is easier too.
But after your child turns two, she will start adding new words to her favorite 2 word sentences. “I go out” or “Want milk now” or “me play toys”. This will continue for a year. By the time your child is three, she will likely have a good enough vocabulary to string together bigger and more comprehensible sentences. The point is from the time your baby is 1.5 years, you will notice continuous and consistent improvement in the way your child uses words in a sentence.
As we always say, every child is unique. Your child might start saying 2 word sentences before or after he turns 1.5 years. Some kids are just late talkers (read more about it here. There is nothing to worry if your child is 1.5 and has not uttered a sentence yet. All you need to do is relax and talk to your child. The more you talk and interact, the faster will the child pick up words and eventually sentences.
How To Encourage Your Child To Speak In Sentences?
Whether your child is on track with his milestones or not, there are many ways you can encourage him to speak in sentences. Following are a few tips that might help you:
- No interruptions please: When your child is struggling to construct a sentence, it might be very tempting for you to finish the sentence for her. Do not do this. On one hand, your constant interruptions might irritate the child and on the other hand, she might give up on forming sentences on her own
- Interact a lot: The idea is to give your child plenty of opportunities to talk and interact with you and others. As he hears you talk more, he learns how you form sentences in different situations and tries to copy it himself
- Bye-Bye to baby talk: We know how you do not want to stop hearing the baby talk yet. But if you want your child to progress in speech development, then you need to stop the baby talk, and speak to him in a clear way using real words. Read more on baby talking here
- Add words to your baby’s talk: If he is saying “want milk”, then you can say “Oh! You want some milk to drink? I will give you some milk to drink”. When this is repeated many times, the child will learn that “drink” is a word used along with milk. Similarly, whenever you expand his words, he learns new adjectives, conjunctions and different tenses
- Question him: One way to get him to develop his language skills, is to ask him a lot of questions. When you ask them something, and wait for the reply, they feel encouraged to answer your question properly. Make sure you do ask open ended questions (and not something where they can give a yes, no or any other mono syllable answer)
- Give attention: When we said “wait for the reply” earlier, we meant it. Unless you look attentive, your child will not feel encouraged to converse with you. If you are not paying attention, or are preoccupied with other things, your child will get distracted too. Even if you cannot spend too much time with your child, make the time you spend – even though little – worth it
- Use alternative words: When you are trying to expand your child’s vocabulary, keep on using alternative words and thus vary your speech. Slowly, he will learn to say and differentiate between different words, and instinctively start to use them himself
- A toy telephone: Giving a toy telephone to a child is a wonderful way to encourage language development. Pretend play, which is fairly common in toddlers can be put to use here. Your child can make calls to his grandma or Dad who is at work and talk!
Slowly, but gradually, your child will have words and expression for all his needs, and he will be thinking to himself, “Wow! I can tell Mom what I want!!”.