3 Tips to Get Your Toddler to Use Phrases

July 5, 2023

Parents often ask, "My little one says lots of words, but how do I get them to start combining words?" I am all too familiar with that scenario, so here are some tips to help your child bridge the gap from words to sentences.

1. Make Sure Your Child is Using at Least 50 Words Independently

This typically happens around 24 months (or earlier). If not, that's a sign they aren't ready to combine words! So let's back up and encourage more single words by trying the following:

  • Point to objects and name them, encouraging your child to repeat the name. For example, point to a car and say "car," then encourage your child to say "car" as well.
  • Repeat your child's words to show that you understand what they are trying to communicate. This can also help reinforce their vocabulary.
  • Describe what you're doing as you do your daily activities, using simple language that your child can understand. For example, say, "I'm making breakfast" while cooking in the kitchen.
  • Read books with your child, pointing to pictures and naming objects. You can also ask your child questions about the story to encourage their participation.
  • Sing simple songs with your child that include repeated words or phrases. For example, "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" is a great song for building vocabulary.
  • Provide your child with toys and activities that encourage language development, such as blocks, puzzles, and pretend play sets.

2. Model a Variety of Word Types 

It's essential to model various word types when helping your child build their language skills. Here are some examples of different word types and how you can use them:

  1. Nouns name people, places, things, or ideas. Use nouns to label objects and identify people and places (ball, Grandma).
  2. Verbs express action or state of being (walking, cooking).
  3. Adjectives describe nouns or pronouns. Use adjectives to help your child describe the world around them (big tree, red apple).
  4. Adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Use adverbs to explain how something is done or how someone feels (running quickly, feeling happy).
  5. Prepositions show the relationship between nouns or pronouns and other words in a sentence (book on the table, walking to the park).
  6. Pronouns take the place of nouns. Use pronouns to avoid repeating the same noun over and over. For example, "She is playing with her toys" instead of "Julie is playing with Julie's toys."

3. Model Two Word Phrases Frequently  

Modeling two-word phrases frequently is a great way to encourage your child to combine words and build language skills. 

By frequently modeling different combinations of words, your child is more likely to imitate and eventually use them independently. Encourage your child to repeat the phrases back to you, and praise them for their efforts. With consistent practice and encouragement, your child will gradually build their language skills and use more complex phrases and sentences.

Mom speaking to toddler in phrases

Continue Encouraging Your Toddler

When your child is empowered to communicate their needs more effectively, you can have a smoother and more enjoyable parenting experience. At Raising Little Talkers, there are many tips and strategies to help your child move from saying words to phrases. If you'd like to learn more, join my free workshop, where I discuss communication milestones and different methods for helping children during each developmental stage. My goal is not just getting your kids to speak but helping them discover their voice in life. 

Cheers to your toddler talking soon,

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