I have noticed that most of the children I work with are extremely entertained with handheld screens and devices.  As the numbers of smartphones, tablets, electronic games, and other handheld screens in homes continue to grow, the more I’ve noticed increased screen time for infants before they even begin to talk.  Does this mean children are at higher risk for speech delays? Recent research has reported an association between handheld screen time and increased risk of expressive language delay! How can we prevent this?

Here are some helpful tips to elicit Language Development in the home or while running everyday errands:

  • “Parallel Talk” is when you talk about what your child is doing, seeing, touching, etc. It is important to use child-friendly words such as “in”,”on”, and “go”.

“You have the ball! Wow! You threw the ball! Good throw”

  • “Self-Talk” is when you talk about what you are doing, seeing, touching, etc. This is similar to being the narrator of your own story

“I’m washing dishes. Time to dry, I’m all done!”

THE GROCERY STORE is a fantastic way to target early developing speech sounds and words. For example, take the produce section. There are so many different types of colors, vegetables, and fruit to work on with your children for categorization and describing. Early developing sounds include /M,B,Y,N, W, D, P, H/. Try to take into consideration “self-talk” and use simple language to describe parts of the grocery store. “Let’s reach up up up for the apple” is a great example of targeting /P/ productions in multiple positions of words. Another fun idea in the grocery store is to complete a scavenger hunt down the aisles. Here is a tip: make a list at home, go through the list with your child and have them help you find your food items. If you want Macaroni and Cheese, what aisle should you walk down to find it? The Pasta or Baking section? Have your children help describe what you see when shopping!

CHORES at home are a great for beginning language development sounds. Infants begin to produce vowels first, which is why you typically see infants imitate “OOO” and “eee”. Targeting these vowel sounds help develop oral motor range of motion and increase muscle strength. Children then begin to babble by putting their lips together for /M, P, B/ sounds. When pouring milk for your baby, look at your child and put your lips together to model “Milk” with both lips touching. This assists with oral motor coordination to developing  language skills.


  • Do not expect your child to repeat what you say
  • Self-talk and parallel talk should not be a non-stop narration of everything your child is doing
  • Keep your language simple and child-friendly (short phrases “throw ball”, “washing dishes”, instead of “right now I am washing dishes”)
  • These strategies are meant to encourage a child and model that language is meant to be used.