Girl on her first birthday with cupcake
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This month, we are sharing ways to promote speech and language milestones for one-year-olds! One of the biggest milestones for one-year-olds is their first word, but there are other skills we hope to see develop around the 12-month mark as well. For one-year-old milestones, please visit our blog, “Speech and Language Milestones: What to Expect from Your 1-Year-Old.” Here are some ways that you can support your little one at home:

  1. First word: Choosing words with early developing consonant sounds will help your kiddo be more successful with imitating new words! The early developing consonant sounds include: /b, p, m, d, t, n, h, w/. You’ll also want to think of what words are going to be functional! Think about words that match what your child wants to say as well as words that your child needs to say. For example, “eat” is a relatively easy word for little ones to say (i.e. starts with a vowel sound and has the consonant sound /t/), and it’s also extremely powerful! Here are some words to consider: Bottle, bye, up, pop, mama, more, dada, dog, toy, no, night night, hot, hit, water, woah, wow! Remember, repetition is key! The more your child hears a word, the more likely he/she will imitate the word. 

  1. Gestures: We know that motor imitation precedes speech imitation so let’s use fingerplays and songs to help develop motor imitation. If your baby is not yet imitating the gestures from these songs, you can take their teeny tiny hands and show them what to do. It can be super helpful if your baby has someone to watch while you help them with the movements. Once motor imitation has been established, try introducing some simple baby signs. Again, it’s important to think about what is functional! I typically like to introduce signs for “more,” “eat,” “help,” “all done” and “please,” however, it may be really important for your child to be able to request “milk” or a specific toy. You can visit to learn the signs for various words! Another source is Baby Sign Language Dictionary, on Amazon.

  1. Receptive language: Books are a GREAT way to work on building your child’s receptive language. As you read, point to the objects that you are naming or talking about. Books by Karen Katz (e.g. Where is Baby’s Belly Button?, Zoom, Zoom Baby) and the Baby Touch and Feel books by DK are perfect for this age. 

  1. Imitation: Make imitation fun! Start by imitating what your child does (sounds, words and actions). The sillier you are, the more likely he/she will engage with you.
  1. Social Language: Encourage your child to wave (or say) “hi” and “bye” at the grocery store, at the doctor’s office or even at home! Social language games for this age include: 
  • Peek-a-Boo
  • Pat-a-Cake
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  • The Grand Old Duke of York
  • Open, Shut Them
  • Bumpin Up and Down (in my little red wagon) 

If you can, encourage siblings to participate in these games! Babies love the big kids! 

If you have questions about your child’s speech and language development, contact us to schedule a free phone consultation or click the link below to take our Therapist Match Survey. Our experienced team will match your child with an experience speech pathologist based on their unique needs. 

Therapyworks Erin Michelle

Are you interested in services for your child? Founded by Michelle Worth and Erin Vollmer, TherapyWorks provides in-home speech, occupational and physical therapies in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois and teletherapy nationwide.

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