Activities For a Late Talker

Below are simple ways to encourage a late talker to talk.

These activities aren’t necessarily complicated or expensive. The most important part is you, the parent, and how you interact and talk with your child. 

My Top 5 Words for a Late Talker

Top 15 "Play" Games To Encourage First Words

Below is a list of common first words and ideas on how to get your child to say them using common toys.

1. All gone: Say “all gone” after eating, playing with blocks, putting toys away

2. Baby: Look at pictures in books, play with baby dolls

3. Book: Point to books, read books, put blocks on top of books

4. Bye-bye: Wave bye-bye to everyone and every animal you see, it even works with toys

5. Car: Move cars around the floor, make them go down ramps, push cars over books

6. Cookie: Say cookie while eating cookies, putting cookies in a jar, count cookies, a doll eats cookies

7. Eat: Say eat while you eat a meal before each bite, feed a stuffed animal

8. Uh – oh: Say “uh-oh” as you drop toys or knock over blocks

9. Shoe: Point to shoes, put shoes on dolls, put toys in shoes

10. Milk: Say milk while drinking, give pretend milk to toy animals

11. Go:  Make ANYTHING go such as cars, blocks, you, animals, I like to start with ready…. set…. GO!!!

12. More: Say more when you want more of something; food, socks, books, laundry, grass

13. Shhh: Put animals, teddy bears, or dolls to sleep by covering them with a blanket and saying “shhh”

14. Bug: Dig for fake or real bugs in sand, point to bugs outside, make plastic bugs crawl around the house

15. Ball: Bounce balls, roll balls, throw balls. Say ball before every turn


Schedule reading time every day (i.e., before bed or after nap). This works on all milestones and is an excellent way to encourage a late talker to talk!

Reading is a VERY important “game” for a late talker! You don’t have to actually read the whole book. Instead, point to pictures, turn pages, name objects etc. 

Ask your 2-year-old to point to objects. Give an example first. Point to a dog and then ask your little one to point to a dog.  

Your main goal when reading isn’t finishing the book but learning language. If you child wants to stay on one page, that is fine! If she wants to skip to the end, that is okay! 

Body Part Game

How to Play: Name body parts while...

  • Changing diapers:. Tickle feet, belly, or nose
  • During bath time: name body parts as you wash them
  • Put stickers on body parts of favorite dolls and teddy bears. Kids LOVE this one!
  • Sing “head, shoulders, knees, and toes”

Have your toddler point to body parts or name them as you go!

Meal Time Games

If your child can work on language during meals, do it! It is functional and easy. If it stresses you or your child out, skip it!

How To Play: During meals where your toddler is eating more than one type of food, offer 2 choices before some bites and wait for a response.

Example: Your child is eating broccoli and chicken

  • Mom: Mom says “broccoli or chicken” as she holds both options in front of the child and waits.
  • Child:  Child just stares at the food.
  • Mom: Mom says “broccoli or chicken” as she slowly shows each option.
  • Child: Child points to chicken
  • Mom: Mom gives her child the chicken as she says “chicken, you picked chicken, yummy!”

In this example, the child did not say chicken. However, if the child repeats the food, give the food immediately. Soon, the child will learn that speaking is more efficient than pointing.

DO NOT TO FRUSTRATE YOUR CHILD BY WITHHOLDING FOOD UNTIL HE OR SHE SPEAKS. Instead, make it fun and do this “game” after every few bites. 

Step-By-Step Guides

Our eBooks might be just what you have been looking for! You don’t have to wait another day. You can help your child right now!

These language development eBooks are written by me, a speech-language pathologist and they are written for you! Each book explains how to implement effective language techniques at home and then provides functional games you and your child can do today! Click below for more info.

And don’t can do this!

How To Talk To Your Child 

Believe it or not, you may be doing this wrong. How you talk to your child is crucial at this age. Read below to learn 2 easy techniques!

1. Use repeat-expand-repeat

Repeat: Repeat any word your child says during play time. 

  • Child says: “Car”
  • Parent responds: “Car”

Expand: Build on the word your toddler said. Keep it simple.

  • Child Says: “Car”
  • Parent expands: “Car go” or “fast car” or “red car go”

Repeat: If your child repeats your expansion, say it again!

  • Parent expands: “Car go”
  • Child repeats: “Car Go”
  • Parent repeats: “Yes, car go!” The more you do it, the easier it will become. 

2. Use 3 Strikes & You Still Win

This technique is fantastic for a child who is a "late talker."

  1. Say a word while holding an object near your mouth (this brings your toddlers' attention to your mouth so he can watch how you say a word) and wait for a response.
  2. If your child does not repeat the word, slowly bring the object toward him but still out of reach and say the word again. Wait for a response.
  3. If he still does not say it, bring the object to your child as you repeat the word for the 3rd time. Actually, give him the object this time. 

Just for a quick refresher, review what is expected of a 2-year old. Sometimes we expect too little and sometimes we expect too much!

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