How To Expand Your Child’s Utterances




Once your child develops an assortment of single words, his next step is to start combining those single words into two word utterances. It can be difficult for little ones to make the jump from one to two words. Here are a few tips to help him through the transition:

  • Baby speaking on phoneSyllable repetitions such as “bye-bye” “beep-beep” and “pop-pop” are a great place to start. When syllables are mastered, two syllable words are often attempted.
  • Functional phrases such as “uh-oh, all gone, my turn, all done, I do” occur frequently. Because they are so frequent, they often occur multiple times throughout the day, offering lots and lots of opportunities to practice.
  • Pivot words are words similar to functional phrases in that they occur frequently throughout your child’s day. These include words such as hi, bye, more, in, out, and want. Combining simple words that your child already has in their vocabulary with pivot words can give your child an opportunity to use expanded utterances to communicate their wants, needs and ideas. Some examples of pivot words in two word phrases are:

o   “Hi baby/mama/bear”

o  ” Bye baby/mama/bear”

o   “Ball in”

o   “In cup”

o   “Want cookie”

o   “More cookie”

o   “Cookie out”

  • After your child starts to combine simple words with pivot words, you can start to introduce simple noun-verb or verb-noun combinations. Some examples of these noun and verb combinations are:

o   “Eat cookie”

o   “Bunny hop”

o   “Go car”

o   “Puppy eat”

  • Once the noun and verb combos are achieved, you will quickly see your child producing three or even four word combinations. You will see “car go” turn into “car go fast!”

It’s important to remember to model short combinations for your child in your own speech. Your child is much more likely to attempt a 2 or 3 word phrase they hear you say than a 4 or 5 word sentence. Keep the important or meaningful words in the sentence and leave out articles such a a, then, with, to, etc.  Also, narrate, narrate, narrate. Talk about what your child is playing with and keep it fun and silly!  Those single words will turn into two and three word utterances in no time!