Craniofacial Anomalies Impede Feeding & Speech Development

Craniofacial Anomalies Impede Feeding & Speech Development

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Craniofacial anomalies represent a varied cluster of defects in the development of both the facial bones and the head. An anomaly means ‘not normal’ or ‘irregularity.’  These anomalies are usually present even at birth (congenital) and feature several variations while others are quite severe and may need surgery.

For a better understanding on how these anomalies affect speech development and feeding, it is essential to establish a proper understanding on specific details about the craniofacial anomalies to establish how they affect such aspects of human body functioning.

Causes of Craniofacial Anomalies

A majority of medical professionals unanimously agree that no single factor can be credited for causing these abnormalities. Alternatively, there are numerous factors which may contribute to them developing among them:

  • Gene combination: A child may get a particular gene(s) combination from either or both parents, as well as a slight alteration in the genes may occur during conception that may result in craniofacial anomalies.
  • Environmental: Exposure to environmental factors may play a vital role in the development of craniofacial anomalies particularly combined with genetic anomalies.
  • Folic acid Deficiency: Folic Acid is a vitamin B component found in enriched grain products, leafy, green vegetables, orange juice, as well as breakfast cereals (fortified). Research outlines women who do not consume adequate or any folic acid amounts during pregnancy are more prone to their babies having particular craniofacial anomalies including cleft palate or cleft lip.

Types of Craniofacial Anomalies

  1. Cleft Palate

It is a condition where the mouth’s roof is unable to close completely, leaving an opening which can broaden into the nose cavity. This cleft can occur on both sides of a palate. Also, it can stretch from the hard (mouth front) to soft palate. It may also include the lip.

  1. Cleft lip

This is an abnormality where the lip is unable to form completely. The extent of this defect can greatly vary, from mild (lip notching) to relatively severe (big opening from a lip up to the nose).

  1. Craniosynostosis

This is a condition where the soft spots (sutures) in an infant’s skull close early on resulting in issues with ordinary skull and brain development. This (premature) sutures closure can also prompt increased pressure within the head resulting in a alteration from normal (symmetrical) appearance of skull or facial bones.

  1. Hemifacial microsomia:

This is a condition where tissues are underdeveloped on a given side of the face therefore primarily affecting the mouth, jaw, and ear (aural) regions. At times, both face sides can be affected and can usually include the skull together with the face.

  1. Vascular malformation:

This is congenital growth or birthmark which comprises blood vessels and can result in aesthetic or functional problems. This defect may involve numerous body systems. It features multiple malformations all labeled in accordance to the blood vessels type affected.  This condition is also called vascular gigantism, arteriovenous malformations and lymphangiomas.

  1. Hemangioma:

This is an unusually developing blood vessel which can either appear as a red (faint) mark, or show in the initial months after being born. It is also called strawberry hemangioma, among other names.

  1. Deformational plagiocephaly:

It is a condition where the head’s shape has a deformed shape because of repeated pressure to a particular region.

Craniofacial Anomalies and Their Effects of Feeding and Speech Development

Children having craniofacial anomalies have some difficulties with their swallowing, feeding, oral motor movements, and speech development. This is a result of the lack of physical structure (since they have a hole between their mouth and nose). The infants have delays when it comes to phonation, articulation, resonance, and respiration primarily because their soft palates are not fully functional.

Infants with incomplete or minimal clefts of the lip can usually show some difficulty with achieving full lip seal on a nipple. An infant with complete or incomplete clefts of the soft palate demonstrates variant challenges in feeding, typified by nasal regurgitation due to inadequate velopharyngeal closure while swallowing or inability to proper negative intraoral pressure during sucking.

This nasopharyngeal regurgitation can usually be reduced or eradicated with positional alterations (upright) as well as by using specialized feeding systems by placing the nipple away from the infant’s cleft while feeding.

Additionally, infants featuring broader clefts of the soft and hard palate show difficulty with extracting liquids since their open palate offer a little surface area to compress the nipple. The ability of the infant to produce adequate compression (positive pressure) and suction (negative pressure) for proper sucking is impaired.

Infants with a cleft lip will perhaps breastfeed or feed using a standard bottle. However, infants having a cleft palate may exhibit difficulties in breastfeeding. As such, they may need special nipples or feeding bottles for feeding.

Children with a medical history of having cleft palate are prone to delays in acquiring speech skills and might even be at risk of delayed early language development – not just because of orofacial incongruity but also because of neurological disorders as well as cognitive problems commonly associated with the craniofacial syndrome. This is usually because their open palate renders them slower in developing phonemes.

This particular delay endures until the open palate has been repaired and in most cases for periods, postoperatively. The articulation problems are usually due to velopharyngeal incompetence/insufficiency (VPI). The abnormal function or structure of the human velopharyngeal valve may result in impaired speech often resulting in compensatory and obligatory errors.

Children with VPI (velopharyngeal insufficiency) cannot touch their soft palates at the back of their throat. This can be either due to the soft palate being unable to move correctly or is too short. This allows sound and air to escape through the nose during communication. Our soft palate needs to move to touch the throat’s back. This subsequently shuts the space between our nose and mouth and is essential for sounds to be produced from the mouth. Some sounds such as ‘n’ and ‘m’ come off our noses. For such sounds to come out, it is essential for soft palates to stay closed.

These children may require surgery to correct the VPI problem or an exclusive device in their mouths to help keep their soft palate closed. Additionally, therapy may be necessary to help them cope with the condition and lead a healthy life.






How Infant Hearing Loss Impacts Speech Development

How Infant Hearing Loss Impacts Speech Development

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Hearing loss is one of the most dominant birth defects in the USA. Statistics indicate that 3 in every 1,000 infants suffer from hearing loss. It is crucial to note that whereas some children might not be born with hearing loss they might subsequently develop it. The severity of the hearing loss varies from one child to the other. Whereas there are some who will only experience partial hearing loss, others are born with complete hearing loss. Despite the levels of severity involved, the unfortunate truth is that hearing loss will affect their ability to develop speech or language. This is because hearing is integral to speech development.

However, there is hope that with early intervention, as early as six months, children who are facing challenges with hearing can be helped. Before looking into how hearing loss might negatively impact a child’s ability to communicate, it is essential to understand the factors that cause hearing loss and the symptoms that parents need to look out for.

What are the causes of infant or childhood hearing loss?

Research has pointed out that there are many factors that can lead to hearing loss. These factors can be categorized into those which are present at birth, known as congenital, or those that are acquired after birth.

To begin with, congenital causes include both genetic and non-genetic factors. However, a higher number of children develop hearing loss due to genetic factors such as autosomal recessive hearing loss or common genetic syndromes such as Treacher Collins or Down Syndrome.

Congenital causes include things such as;

• Factors relating to the mother

Certain diseases during pregnancy might result in hearing loss if the infant also gets affected either during the pregnancy or at birth. This includes viral infections such as herpes, syphilis, German measles, toxoplasmosis among others. It is, therefore, recommended that both the mother and doctors in such cases should keenly observe if the child is showing any symptoms.

Secondly, infants who are born to mothers who used drugs and alcohol during their pregnancy are more likely to develop hearing loss. To add on that, it has been discovered that pregnant women or children who use ototoxic medication might develop hearing problems. Therefore, it is important for pregnant women to keep off from using such medication.

• Premature Birth

This is yet another factor that is likely to cause hearing challenges. Most of the healthy babies have a weight of 3 pounds or more at birth. However, prematurely born babies might not have developed enough to get to such a weight. As such they might have to be given some drugs to boost their respiration. Others might end up being on a ventilator for a prolonged time. These two factors might subsequently cause hearing loss.

• Children who are born with brain disorders are also more susceptible to hearing loss.

Non-congenital factors include;

• Subsequent ear infections. If left untreated for a long time, these infections might lead to a buildup of fluids in the ear which might ultimately cause hearing loss.

• If a child develops infections such as meningitis or whooping cough, there is a possibility that it might cause partial or absolute hearing loss.

• A perforated eardrum might also result in this challenge.

Symptoms of hearing loss

The above are some of the common factors that cause childhood hearing loss. Other than knowing these factors, it is of essence that parents or caretakers should be able to identify the symptoms that point it to the possibility of hearing loss in children. For instance, a newborn who does not respond to loud noises such as a bang of the door might have a hearing problem. Once a child gets older, they should be able to recognize voices or the direction where they are coming from. If your child is unable to do that by the fourth month, you should take him or her to be screened by a professional.

How does hearing loss affect speech development?

Hearing loss affects the development of the essential parts of the brain that aid communication. This is because such children are unable to hear what people around them are saying. These children find difficulty in being able to not only talk but also understand because their brain was unable to learn.

Children who have hearing loss often have a delayed development in their expressive and receptive communication. Given that it impacts the child’s auditory processing, which is crucial for language and speech, they experience challenges building their vocabulary and pronouncing.

Due to the delay in speech development, these children often have difficulty in building language. The other children who do not have hearing challenges are more advanced in vocabulary. Children with hearing loss find it hard to pronounce words that have the /sh/ or /f/ sound. Consequently, most of them leave out such letters. This can make it difficult to make meaning out of what they are trying to communicate because it affects their ability to speak.

As a result of delayed vocabulary, these children also find it hard to understand words that have more than one meaning. In addition, they struggle with words which end in ‘-s’ and ‘-ed’. This factor further affects the development of their speech as such children have difficulty in not only understanding but also pronouncing words that are in past tense or in plural form.

Hearing loss also impacts on the ability to differentiate certain words based on their sound frequencies. Most words have one part that has a high frequency while the other part has a low frequency. For instance, for a word such as jump, the first part /ju/ has a higher frequency compared to the second part. Children who have hearing loss, therefore, experience difficulty in figuring out the remaining part of the word that has a low sound frequency. This further delays their ability to improve their speech.

Lastly, when you consider sentence structures, most of these children have a challenge with compound sentences or passive sentences. They find them hard to comprehend. Due to this factor, children in this category mostly use short and direct sentences.

As stated earlier, early detection of hearing loss is crucial because there are various treatment options that might be of help. For instance, when deemed necessary, they might give such a child a hearing aid or other assistive listening devices. Cochlear implants are also provided as an alternative to hearing aids. These options together with speech therapy can be crucial towards improving speech development.

To sum it up, there are various causes of infant hearing loss such as genetics, viral infections, and premature birth among others. Given that it hinders speech development, it is imperative that such children should receive immediate medical attention so as to find an effective treatment option.

feeding therapy - feeding therapist

Improve Eating Habits with Pediatric Feeding Therapy

By | Feeding Therapy, Parent Education | No Comments

Parents, especially first timers, may be unaware that some infants and toddlers have a difficult time eating—until it happens to their own kid. Such challenges include refusal to eat or avoidance of certain food groups or particular textures. Instead of brushing this off as something they will “grow out of,” parents should seek multidisciplinary care professionals to address the issue.  

One significant reason why parents shouldn’t ignore this kind of behavior is that it can cause developmental and nutritional deficiencies. The latter possibility is obvious: by avoiding certain foods and textures, it’s easy for your child to miss out on important nutrients. As for developmental deficiencies, refusal to eat particular foods can impair their oral-pharyngeal muscles and subsequently the development of their oral skills. 

This article will help to explain some of the methods utilized to increase food intake in children. Let’s dig right into the basics of this therapy, methods utilized, and how it can benefit you and your child. 

Addressing Medical Conditions Behind Refusal to Eat 

A child’s refusal to eat might emanate from medical conditions such as: 

  • genetic syndromes
  • reduced oral motor skills
  • constipation 
  • gastro esophageal reflux  
  • dysphagia 
  • respiratory problems 
  • eosinophilic esophagitis 
  • poor appetite
  • neurodevelopmental disorders 

These challenges can be addressed by working hand in hand with a developmental pediatrician, primary care physician, otolaryngologist, or a gastroenterologist who will first help to identify what kind of issue the child is facing and then recommend a specialist to see and/or help come up with medically accepted management strategies.  

Often times, you’ll get a referral to an SLP who is licensed and qualified to practice feeding therapy techniques in your state.

feeding therapy

Photo by Anton Darius | @theSollers on Unsplash

What is Feeding Therapy? 

More often than not, the first person who handles a child’s feeding disorder is their pediatrician. Treatment, commonly known as feeding therapy, however, can be done by one of several specialists, including a behavioral therapist, occupational therapist, or speech pathologist. 

Engage a Multidisciplinary Feeding Team 

Engaging a variety of specialists to assess and treat a toddler’s feeding disorder is one of the most efficient ways to address the problem. Combining input from medical professionals and licensed therapists is ideal when attempting to diagnose any condition that can lead to feeding difficulties. These same professionals will also likely play a role in carrying out treatment. 

That being said, receiving so many medical opinions at once can be extremely overwhelming for parents. Yes, multiple opinions from medical professionals are beneficial, but another option is seeking advice from one person at a time.

Options for Feeding Therapy 

There are numerous therapeutic techniques and approaches to help improve your child’s appetite and feeding habits. Some of these techniques are formal while others are considered informal. The feeding approach can be oral-motor, sensory, or behavioral based.   Most often, therapists use a combination of these approaches to help your child meet their feeding therapy goals!  Speech therapists create an individualized program catered to your child’s specific feeding challenges. 

Feeding disorders range widely; there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Parents will overwhelm themselves further by trying to solve their child’s disorder on their own, with the help of the internet. 

Finding the Right Feeding Therapist for Your Child 

Fortunately, there are numerous intensive programs across the country designed for children who experience feeding disorders. Please note that feeding programs will vary on length of intervention, treatment, and follow up. These variations are designed and enacted to suit the individual needs of each client. 

Strike a Balance Between Texture Modified Diets and Oral Motor Skills 

A specialist can help parents determine which foods their child should be eating to have successful feeding therapy results. When an infant or toddler is given food considered beyond their oral skill level, they may refuse the food, spit the food out, or throw up.

Taking a Break from Therapy 

Often times the parent or child might require a break, especially if they have complicated medical needs. Children suffering with various conditions should be excused from feeding therapy if needed. 

Your child’s team of medical professionals should help you to ensure your child is getting proper nutrition until they are fit to return to oral feeding.

Engage Caregivers 

Caregivers of the child in therapy, whether they are parents, grandparents, or legal guardians, should be active participants in the proposed feeding techniques. Since children tend to spend more time at home than participating in therapy, it’s vital that caregivers know what techniques to implement on a consistent schedule.

If you are experiencing these types of challenges with your baby or child, speak with a doctor as soon as possible. Addressing these issues early with feeding therapy can make positive outcomes much easier to achieve.

Eating struggles can be very stressful, but with the help of feeding therapy, children with feeding disorders can transition to healthy, balanced eating.


Los Angeles Speech Therapy - speech therapist Los Angeles

Los Angeles: Speech Therapy Can Improve Quality of Life

By | Language Development, Parent Education, Speech Therapy | No Comments

What exactly does a speech therapist do? In a nutshell;

  • Speech therapists aim to assess, diagnose, treat, and even prevent language, speech, communication (social and cognitive), feeding, and swallowing disorders in both children and adults.
  • Qualifications to be a speech therapist include a state license to practice and no less than a Master’s degree.
  • Speech therapists often work directly with children and parents to help integrate treatment methods/progress into everyday life at home.

Speech therapy might seem like it’s solely for those with articulation difficulties (due to lisps or stuttering etc), but it actually aims to alleviate a number of speech and communication problems. This includes both written and spoken forms of communication (e.g. auditory processing disorder, dyspraxia, and dyslexia). The terms speech language pathologist and speech therapist can be used interchangeably.

The Basics

An SLP will first establish the particular language/communication difficulties that their client is experiencing. They will then attempt to identify any underlying cause (like developmental disorder) before finally deciding on the most effective treatment path. Often times, however, parents may receive a diagnosis from a doctor with a referral to a speech therapist. SLPs enable children to improve upon and hone their skills through the use of evidence-based treatment methods.

SLPs Treat Problems Such as:

  • Fluency: Stuttering and difficulty in speech flow
  • Oral feeding difficulties: Problems with drooling, eating, and swallowing
  • Articulation complications: Making mistakes in sounds and unclear speech
  • Voice or resonance issues: Difficulties around quality, volume, and voice pitch

SLPs Provide Relief for:

  • Pragmatic language barriers: Difficulty in utilizing socially appropriate language
  • Receptive language impairments: Difficulty in grasping or receiving language
  • Expressive language difficulties: Difficulty expressing language through speech

SLPs implore treatment techniques based on a child’s specific difficulties, and these methods might encompass:

  • Swallowing & feeding therapy: Lessons revolve around strengthening mouth muscles and might include lip, tongue, and jaw workouts (and sometimes even facial massage).
  • Phonology & Articulation therapy: The SLP focuses on the particular sound/s that are presenting challenges. The lesson might encompass tongue movements (and other mouth formations) to help demonstrate and practice phonology.
  • Language intervention activities: These activities can help children through the use of feedback and modeling. The SLP could introduce books, play-based/pictorial techniques, or even use practice language drills.

Academic qualifications (i.e. at least a masters in speech-language pathology) is not the sole criterion to look for in a speech therapist. You should also take into consideration ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) membership, as it is indicative of having passed the national certification exam.

Licensing qualifications are different in some areas of California, such as Los Angeles. Speech therapy is a significant and necessary part of growing and development for many children and families. It is meant to be carried out by highly qualified and experienced professionals. Melissa Peters, Speech Language Pathologist (M.S.) is qualified and experienced, particularly with speech and feeding therapy for adolescents. Client ages can range from 1 month up to 18 years. 

Los Angeles Speech Therapy - speech therapist Los Angeles

Advantages of Speech Therapy

With speech therapy, your child can build self-confidence through improved communication skills. In the end, they stand to benefit on academic, emotional, and social fronts. Treatment methods can even help to improve reading comprehension skills. Children with complications like dyslexia can learn how to break down the sounds that make up each word they are reading, improving efficiency and understanding.

The earlier speech therapy is started, the better. Studies have supported this in young children experiencing communication and language barriers. Adolescents who begin therapy at a younger age tend to have more positive outcomes later in life. If you think your child is struggling with language production or comprehension, then it is paramount to seek the advice of a professional who can guide you towards the correct treatment resources.

The Results

Depending on your child’s specific needs, the duration of therapy can be anywhere from a few months to a couple of years, with improvement attained slowly but surely. Speech therapy will not have the same outcome for every child. Your therapist should, however, be able to assess your child’s individual needs and curtail treatment specifically for them.

Your therapist will offer you and your child techniques to cope with challenges more effectively. Most likely, he or she will prescribe a set of practice activities to be done at home. This is done with the aim of improving the communication skills that are being worked on in therapy. For more success, both the parents and children should be committed to treatment progress. This can also involve other family, friends, and teachers.

Your child and the therapist must be compatible. An SLP with years of experience is the obvious ideal choice, but some children tend to interact better with younger adults. The choice should ultimately boil down to you and your child’s comfort levels as well as progression with therapy. You should have little to no trouble finding many SLPs in Los Angeles. Speech Therapy is a growing field, and more people are understanding the importance of early intervention with continued treatment.

Points to Remember:

  • Speech therapy is an ongoing process that requires patience with treatment (spanning months or even years).
  • Finding an SLP who has experience with your child’s specific needs can be beneficial.
  • You should be hands-on with the chosen treatment methods, utilizing them at home when applicable.

Los Angeles Speech Therapy: In Conclusion

It can be difficult to choose from the many options available in Los Angeles. Speech Therapy is a very beneficial treatment for children with varying disorders, but choosing the wrong therapist can present setbacks. Make sure you do your research and make it thorough. And always remember, the most important aspect of your child’s treatment will be your unconditional love, support, and encouragement.

sippy cup - straw cup - language development

Bye Bye, Sippy Cup, Hello Straw Cup!

By | Feeding Therapy, Language Development, Parent Education | No Comments

As a speech language pathologist specialized in feeding, I too often see parents using sippy cups for their kids milk, juice, and water intake. One aspect of feeding therapy is developing proper oral motor skills for functional chewing and swallowing.

The sippy cup is great from a parent’s perspective- it reduces spills and leaks, causing less time for parents to be cleaning up after their child! From a speech therapy and oral motor therapy perspective, it’s time to say “bye bye” to the sippy cup. Don’t worry! There’s another great (non-leaking!) type of cup that I suggest parents use-the straw cup.

First, let’s discuss WHY I don’t recommend sippy cups:

  1. Sippy cups foster infantile tongue placement: Sippy cups cause your child’s tongue to be placed forward. As babies grow, their sucking pattern actually changes into a more adult-like pattern. A sippy cup promotes infantile tongue placement, instead of helping your child mature to an adult-like tongue position for drinking.
  2. Infantile tongue placement (may) make it more difficult for your child to say certain sounds: Because sippy cups promote forward tongue placement, some children who use sippy cups may have difficulty producing certain sounds. The sounds sometimes affected by sippy cup use are: s,z,ch,t,d,l.
  3. Infantile tongue position (may) make it difficult for you to understand your child: If children don’t develop a more neutral tongue position, their general speech clarity may be affected. Some children who use a sippy cup for too long may not be able to coordinate their tongue for conversational speech, therefore making it difficult for parents and peers to understand them.

Now, lets discuss why I DO recommend straw cups:

  1. Straw cups are a great workout for our facial and muscles in the oral cavity: Straw cups help children develop the proper cheek, lip, and tongue muscles necessary for chewing and swallowing different textures of foods. Strong and coordinated cheek, lip, and tongue muscles are also necessary for children to develop clear speech! In my practice, feeding therapy often addresses strengthening these muscles.
  2. Straw cups can help your child eat more solid foods: Straw cups help children develop a more advanced tongue position and motor pattern, which is needed for children to eat from a spoon and chew and swallow different textures.
  3. Straw cups promote a variety of sounds: The rounding of lips needed to successfully drink from a straw promotes different sounds in the English language. The “oo, sh, ch, w” sounds all require lip rounding. The straw cup offers great practice for lip rounding for a variety of different speech sounds and much more so than the sippy cup.



Carruth BR, Ziegler PJ, Gordon A, et al. Developmental milestones and self-feeding behaviors in infants and toddlers. J Am Diet Assoc. 2004 Jan;104(1 Suppl 1):s51–56

Morris, S.E., & Klein, M.S. (2000). Pre-feeding skills: a comprehensive resource for mealtime development. Austin, Tx: Pro-Ed.

When To Seek Advice For A Tongue Tie: Feeding & Speech Perspective

By | Feeding Therapy, Language Development, Parent Education, Speech Therapy | No Comments

When To Seek Advice for a Tongue Tie
Melissa Peters, M.S., CCC-SLP

When should you consider feeding or speech therapy if your child has a tongue-tie? Current research indicates that between 4.2% – 10% of children are born with a tongue tie. The medical term for tongue tie is ankyloglossia. Many times, tongue ties are realized soon after birth because of infants having trouble feeding and gaining weight. However, what if your child presents with a tongue tie but had no trouble feeding as an infant? When should you seek a professional opinion about your child’s tongue tie?

If there is no visible effect on your child’s speech or feeding development, than it may not be necessary to get your child’s tongue tie looked out. However, there are some signs and symptoms that may warrant a professional opinion in terms of whether a medical procedure may help your child.

Feeding symptoms that may warrant a second opinion:
1. Long and/or painful feeding on the breast
2. Clicking noises while taking breast or bottle
3. Excessive dribbling when taking a bottle or breastfeeding
4. Poor weight gain
5. Difficulty transitioning to solids or purees from breast feeding



tongue out



Speech symptoms that may warrant a second opinion:
1. Difficulty pronouncing certain sounds
a. The following sounds all need tongue mobility and may be affected by a tongue tie: l, r, t, d, n, th, sh, and z
2. Difficulty understanding your child when they speak. A 3 year old child should be between 75%-100% intelligible by adults (Weiss, 1982).

It is important to remember, that even if your child does display these signs and symptoms, it may not warrant any medical treatment for your child’s tongue tie. Just because your child has a tongue tie does not mean that it is the cause of your child’s speech or feeding symptoms (Webb, 2013). It is important to get a second opinion from medical professionals to determine whether treatment for your child’s tongue tie is necessary. Medical professionals such as speech language pathologists, Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) doctors, pediatricians and pediatric dentists who specialize in tongue tie are a great place to start when determining whether your child would benefit from tongue tie release surgery. Speech language pathologists can help with oral motor and feeding therapy to help relieve some of the symptoms of having a tongue tie.


Webb, Amanda N. et al.International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology , Volume 77, Issue 5 , 635 – 646

Weiss, CE (1982). Weiss Intelligibility Test. Tigard, OR: CC. Publications.The effect of tongue-tie division on breastfeeding and speech articulation: A systematic review.


Baby playing with colorful toys at home. Happy 6 months old baby child playing and discovery.

5 Ways To Enhance Your Child’s Language Development

By | Language Development, Parent Education | No Comments

April 4, 2017

Melissa Peters, M.S., CCC-SLP

5 Ways To Enhance Your Child’s Language Development


1. Play with them

Current research suggests that language development is directly correlated in parent interaction. When parents play with children, they are interacting and modeling language for their child.  Children are smart!  They will start to learn the meaning of new words through play

2.  Keep your language at their level

A simple rule that many speech pathologists use is: keep your language simple. For example, if your child is using one word “car”, keep your phrases at the 1-2 “yes, a red car!” word level when playing with them.  If your child is already combining two words, then model 3-4 words throughout play.

3.  Follow your child’s lead

If your child is interested in a certain book, then start talking about it! Always follow your child’s interests.  Following your child’s lead in terms of what toys to play with is important so that they are motivated to listen to what you are saying!

4.  Talk about everything

Although it may sound simple, parents who narrate every day are helping their child build their receptive and expressive language. Talking about everything AS you are doing it is important.  For example, during bath time, you can narrate each step.  “The tub is filling up with water.  Time to wash your body!  Now let’s rinse off your hair.”

5.  Sing!

Singing helps your child learn new words. The patterns and rhythms in songs help children identify and use new words on their own.  A fun thing to do is to “pause” and have your child fill in the correct word to a song- this will help them become confident in using new words!