When your child is an infant you have to do everything for him/her because he/she can't do it alone!  When little Mikey gets a little bigger he can communicate that he wants a certain toy by fussing and pointing toward the toy.  You then hand it to him.  When Mikey is bigger still you pick his snack and open it for him and hand it to him.  Now Mikey is two years old and he doesn't say anything, but you are still getting his drink for him and opening his snack for him.  You are narrating as you go (good job)... so what's the problem?  If you do it for your child, he/she will never HAVE to talk.  You must recognize that you need to start giving your child the opportunities to talk.

Narrating is good - keep doing that (especially if little Mikey is not talking).  However, you need to fade your talking to open up times that you expect Mikey to talk.  The best way to start practicing this skill is at snack time (not meal time).  Make sure its a time that you can focus most of your attention on your child.  If you have older kids (who will also want the snack), then make sure to include them too!  If Mikey is your first child, then include your spouse or any family members that might be close by.  As the old saying goes... "the more, the merrier."

Sit very close to Mikey and first pull out two snacks that you don't mind Mikey having.  Hold them up and ask Mikey, "which snack do you want?  Fish cracker or banana?"  Make sure to pause so Mikey to respond in some way.  If its just pointing, praise that he made a choice and then over emphasize and say, "Fish?  You want Fish?  Good choice!  Let's get fish!"  Now the game can really begin.  Have whomever else is sitting for snack say "Fish please" and immediately hand that child a fish (or whatever snack is being used).  When you come to Mikey encourage him/her to say something.  If no oral response is given, try giving a model and place your hand under your chin and then place your hand under his chin when its his turn to respond.  He won't understand the first time.  Give him a fish and move on.  As you go along, make your wait time a little longer and a little longer.  Don't expect Mikey to say "Fish please" the first day (otherwise, you will be disappointed).  However, first get him to say the "f" sound, progress to "fi", and finally to "fish."  Let's say Mikey has mastered saying "f" to get a fish, this is how you might attempt to extend his utterance:
  • Mom: "What do you want?"
  • Mikey:  "f"
  • Mom:  "Good job!  I like that "f" sound.  Can you say "fi"?" (pause) "Let's all try it" (have everyone say "fi" and everyone gets a cracker) "Ok, Mikey, your turn.  Say "fi"." (now put your hand under his chin)
  • Mikey: "f"
  • Mom:  "Good try.  Say 'i'."
  • Mikey: "i"
  • Mom: "I like that sound!"  (give Mikey the cracker)

The next go round you will want Mikey to say "f" and then "i" and eventually "fi" together.  However, don't make your child work too hard without a reward because frustration will set in and you may hit a dead end.  Stay positive - your child feeds off of your emotions.

Now do you see why I say not to do it at meal time?  That one round of "fish crackers" can take a long time!  And that was only one fish.  Snack time is usually at a time when not much else is happening (and bath time is not coming up), there isn't a lot of set up or clean-up, and when the snack is all gone, the child has to talk again to get another one (natural reward)!!!



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