Many families are buying toys for their children since the holiday season is approaching. But which toys should parents buy for their toddlers with a speech delay? Here are our top 10 tips.
1. Toys Without Batteries
Skip the batteries or take them out because you probably don’t want your toy speaking or making noises. Instead, you or your child should be making noises or saying words. If you have a stuffed animal like a dog, model for your child how to "woof woof." If the stuffed animal is already doing that, what incentive does your child have to vocalize anything?
The one exception to the "no battery rule" is a microphone that can record your voice (so cool!), and any other “karaoke” type toy. Because that type of toy can motivate your child to make sounds into it just to hear themselves.
2. Open Ended Toys
What are those toys and how does it help your kids? These are toys that have no beginning, middle or end. These are toys like dolls you can wash and change diapers, cooking sets you can make dinner with, or farms you can where you can take the animals to the doctor or out for a walk. These toys give your speech delayed toddler a way to use the toys in a variety of ways and allow your child creative freedom in how to manipulate and use them.
3. Don't Worry about the “ABC and 123” Toys
Many parents are so concerned with getting ahead in school that they end up trying to teach their kids the ABCs and 123s way too early. Department stores or other big chain stores are always trying to push these toys on us with shelves stacked high full of educational toys or ones that teach numbers, colors or letters. But think about it... how functional will it be for your toddler to know how to say "one, two, three" if they can't ask you for a cup of juice? The language these toys are focusing on is just not functional and therefore not motivating to your speech or language delayed child.
Instead of teaching your toddler how to say their ABCs, try playing with them with pretend food so that you can act out activities you engage in at least three times a day. These wooden foods are ones your toddler would see every day at home or when coming with you to the market. And what is more motivating than getting food when you ask for it. This gives kids with a speech delay a lot of motivation to ask mom or dad.
And by the way, we feel that whether your child has a speech delay or not, we would make the same recommendation.
Today parents have so many options for what to get their kids.
And it can be so difficult to make a decision. But we believe that parents want to make the best choices for their children, not just any choice.
In the end, the BEST choice is YOU. That's right, you are the best toy for your child. Take a few moments each day sing with with your toddler, play patty-cake, talk in a funny voice, read your toddler a bedtime story or just be silly.
What toys are your favorite?
To get help with diagnosis or treatment, or to schedule a free consultation with a speech therapist, please contact me at Speech Therapy that Works.