Why Mealtime is Important for a Child’s Speech and Language Development

Everyday routines provide so many great opportunities for speech and language development, especially during mealtime. Grab the 4 techniques below to work on speech and language skills at the table.

Everyday routines such as mealtime, bath time, and bedtime provide so many great opportunities for speech and language development. Routines provide repeated opportunities for learning in a relaxed and enjoyable setting. Remember that speech and language development takes time, so it’s important to be patient and supportive as your kiddo continues to learn and grow. Encouraging them to communicate in any way they can, whether that be through words, gestures or facial expressions, is an important stepping stone in their growth. Below are some ways we can work on speech and language skills during mealtime. 

🥛🧃Offer Two Choices

Ask your child, “Do you want milk or juice?” Hold the items up as you say each one to provide verbal and visual choices. You can also ask questions like, “Do you want a blue plate or pink plate?” Offering your child two choices allows them to learn new vocabulary and use their language skills to make requests. 

👉Create Communication Temptations

Create an environment for your child to initiate conversation during mealtime. For example, if you give your child an empty cup, it will motivate your child to use their language skills to request milk or water. If your child verbalizes a one word response “milk” you can then expand on his/her utterance and say “more milk” to model a two-word utterance. Encouraging them to use more than one word in their responses helps them to ultimately form complete sentences and verbally express their thoughts.  

🗣️Narrate What You and Your Child Are Doing

When you use the same words and phrases with your child during mealtime, they will be exposed to familiar vocabulary which will help build their understanding of language. As you are eating, talk about how the food looks, tastes, feels, and smells! You can model descriptive words such as juicy, sweet, and crunchy! This can also help to expand their vocabulary and learn new concepts. 

🧑‍🍳Involve Your Child in Meal Prep

Preparing meals together gives your child so many opportunities to work on following directions. For example, first we are going to slice the bread and then spread the jelly. Involvement in the kitchen will also give your little one opportunities to use their fine motor skills.

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