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Toddlers And Talking

February 19, 2014, 6:13 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Toddlers And Talking

A recent study shows children from more affluent, professional families hear millions more words before they start school than lower-income students. This so-called "word gap" may start appearing at as young as 18 months.

Two-year-old Zoe Brendtro seems to be learning new words every day. To encourage her language development, her parents simply talk to her as much as possible.

"I've made a point of trying to talk about everything we're doing and everything we see," Zoe's father Dan Brendtro said.

While you might spend money on flash cards or learning tools, Family Life Educator Misty Barber says the best thing you can do is follow the Brendtro's method.

"You want to go based on what they're interested in, so they are going to learn more. The flash cards aren't going to be as meaningful to them as something they are playing with," Barber said.

When talking to your toddler, don't use baby talk, talk slowly and be descriptive.

"You can say, 'That's a kitty,' but then you talk about it being a soft kitty or the dog was barking loud. Use those words. That's going to add to their vocabulary," Barber said.

If your toddler wants to pretend like they're cooking or going to the grocery store, that pretend play can actually help with their language development.

"Make sure they have those items out that they can play with. Dolls or food are types of things because more language will happen in their pretend play because they are adding lots of imitations, so they are imitating those words that they have heard," Barber said.

Barber also says if your toddler is a little behind the curve, don't worry. In no time, they will be talking.

"Last summer, we started noticing how fast she was picking up language, so we kept track of all her words on a post-it note. We ran out of room," Dan said.

You want to start having conversations with your baby as soon as they're born. Barber says babies start to understand words at eight to 12 months old.

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