Music is an incredibly powerful way to build language skills in your toddler. You notice that children (even those who are not yet verbal) often light up (smile, clap, dance, sway, etc.) as soon as they hear music. A few quick tips will help you capitalize on this interest and motivation to make an impact on their speech and language skills!


Choose a Simple Song

  • The best way to begin is to choose a simple, common song that your child seems to really enjoy. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Row, Row Your Boat are great places to start.
  • Sing the song slowly while your child is engaged and making eye contact with you (if you only get through one verse, it is just fine).
  • Sing the song the same way a few times in a row, so your child begins to understand the rhythm and intonation in the song.


Incorporate Movement

  • Rocking, hand motions, and dancing are great ways to keep your child engaged during music time.
  • If you are using hand motions (such as in Itsy Bitsy Spider), sing the some once while you complete the motions. Then, sing the song again, taking your child’s hands in yours to teach the corresponding motions.


Pause… Allow Time for Your Child to Participate

  • Learning new songs is fun for your child, but we need to ensure that he or she is receiving enough processing time!
  • As mentioned previously, go slowly while singing, this will give your child time to process the new song.
  • Add pauses in the song and continue eye contact with your child to show him that it’s his turn to use his words to sing!
    • i.e. “The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout. Down came the (pause and wait for turn)This is where you maintain eye contact, continue hand motions, and pause your voice for about 5-10 seconds to give your child a cue to use his words. If he just uses a vocalization (“ahh!” instead of “rain,”), give him praise as if he said it correctly – accept any vocalization or sign as a “turn.” This will help build confidence in your child, as you are recognizing his efforts in joining in singing with you! – Out came the sun and dried up all the (pause and wait for turn). And, the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout, again!
    • Start with just a single pause or two in the song.
    • As your child gets more comfortable with singing and the song itself, feel free to take more pauses and anticipate responses from your child.

Incorporating music and singing is an easy, fun way to build language skills in your child! Feel free to incorporate recordings of the songs to help your child feel even more engaged in the activity. There are some great apps that use classic childhood songs. Don’t worry about the quality of your singing voice, that’s a wonderful trait toddlers have, they love you no matter how well you sing 🙂