The Ultimate Guide to Increasing Your Child’s Vocabulary

How to increase your child's vocabulary

Are you concerned because your little one has yet to speak their first words? Are they not saying as many words as other kids? This is a common concern among parents as those first words are a huge and memorable milestone. We typically hear baby’s first words come anywhere from 9-14 months. If your child isn’t saying words or you have concerns the best option is to contact the early intervention program in your area to get a free screening or evaluation.

Communication is such a huge topic with so much information that I have decided to make this into a short series.  Make sure to subscribe so that you do not miss the upcoming posts on this topic.  In this post I will describe three simple strategies that will allow you to work on communication throughout your daily routines and while playing with your little one.  Each strategy needs to be used consistently in order for it to work.

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The number one thing you can do for your baby from birth on up is to talk to them. Seems simple right? Children need to hear words repeated over and over for them to be able to imitate them. Label the objects that they desire,food they want to eat, and their favorite people again and again.

Imagine that you have decided to learn Spanish (Like me…read more about that here!) If you were to step into a room of all Spanish-speaking people how would you learn the language? How many times do you think you would need to hear a new word to learn it? Now multiply that times 10,000 and that is closer to how many times your child needs to just hear a new word to learn it. (Do not count on the TV for learning language….babies don’t understand it like we do!)

Providing your child with a rich language environment is the best way to encourage language and continue to build their vocabulary all the way through childhood. Here are some examples of simple ways to increase the amount of words your little one is exposed to everyday:

Example 1: When you are at the grocery store talk about what you see and hear. Label everything that you put in your cart. With your little one sitting right there in front of you it makes it a perfect time for them to watch, listen, and learn.

Example 2: Narrate your day. Whether you are making coffee or getting dressed, talk about what you are doing. All of your daily activities provide the perfect opportunity for your little one to learn a new set of vocabulary.

Example 3: Car time is a perfect time to talk! Describe what you are seeing as you drive. Comment on the noises or words your little one is making in the backseat. A 15 minute drive can turn into a huge language lesson.


Hands down children learn best through play. Narrating your child’s play will help them learn the names of their toys and the actions that they are doing. For example, when my son is cutting his playdough into a thousand pieces I talk about what he is doing: “Your cutting your playdough! Chop Chop!” If your little one likes cars I have some great examples in this post HERE.

Notice that I repeat the short fun words multiple times as those are the most fun for children to imitate. Pick three target words that you really want to focus on during a play session so your child hears those words repeated frequently.  For more information on using target words click HERE.


When showing your little one a new object hold it right underneath your chin. This will draw your child’s attention to your mouth and help them to imitate a new word as they are watching you. Slow down your speech just a tad and you will make it easier for them to understand you. This strategy naturally draws your child’s vision up to your face which is what they need to be watching in order to imitate.

Using these three techniques you are helping your child learn new words and providing them with the language rich environment they need to build an extensive vocabulary.  It may work best for you to use all three strategies throughout your day or just focus on one at a time. Being consistent when using any strategy will help you have results sooner.

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How I Taught My Toddler Spanish and You Can Too

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5 Fun Bath Toys that Encourage Development

How to increase your child's vocabulary


About Kayla ONeill

This is me and my beautiful bouncing baby boy! Before my little guy arrived I earned a Bachelor's degree in Special Education Birth to 21 as well as my Masters in Education. For six years I worked as an Early Interventionist serving children and families from birth to age three before becoming a stay at home mom to be with my son.

38 comments on “The Ultimate Guide to Increasing Your Child’s Vocabulary

  1. I love the tips you share here! I especially appreciate your suggestion of holding the item you’re labeling near your chin so the child’s eyes are drawn to your mouth as you are speaking! Thanks for sharing, Kayla!

    God bless,

    • So glad that you found them helpful! It is so fun to watch little ones learn to communicate…sometimes just little things help them the most!

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