Ok, we’ve done a post about vehicle-themed speech and language activities so I feel like it’s about time to have one for the girls out there.  This week’s activity is all about what you can do with the baby dolls that your little girl (or boy!) loves to play with.  Check out these fun baby doll activities for speech and language!

Baby Doll Activities #1:

Pretend Play

Did you know that the ability to do pretend play and play make-believe is directly related to language development?  It’s true!  A researcher named Westby showed us the link between pretend play and language development.  When you think about language, it is all about symbolism.  The words we speak are just symbols that represent the actual object, action, or meaning of the word.  In order to be able to communicate, you must understand the one thing (a word) represents something else (the real object).  Now think about play.  When a child picks up a toy banana and pretends to eat it or feed it to a baby, they are understanding that one thing (the toy) represents something else (a real banana).  Therefore, children who can’t do pretend play, have difficulty using language as well.  This is why it is so important to do pretend play with your child.  It will help her understand symbolism (that one thing represents something else).

When you are playing with your child and baby dolls, try demonstrating a whole bunch of different pretend play skills.  For example, you can feed your baby, rock your baby, put your baby to bed, dress your baby, etc.  Do anything that you would normally do with your child, but do it with the baby.  As you are doing this, talk to your child about what you’re doing.  This will give her models for the words that represent those actions or objects.

Baby Doll Activities #2:

Modeling and Expanding Language: Increasing phrase length

If your child is not using many words yet or is not speaking in full sentences, you can help her expand her language by modeling and expanding.  Here are some ideas of how you can do this during the baby doll activities:

  • Modeling: It is important to model good language for your child by talking about what you are doing and what she is doing.  The key here is to make sure that your utterances are right at or slightly above her level.  This means, if she typically uses one word at a time (not combining words to make phrases), then when you model language for your child, you should be using one-word and two-word phrases (like “ball”, “roll ball”) but not any longer.  This will help your child understand what you are saying and will give her models that she can easily imitate.
  • Expanding: Another key to helping your child speak more is expanding upon what she says.  A good rule is to add one word to whatever she says.  For example, if your child says “ball”, you say “roll ball!”.  If your child says “roll ball”, you say “mommy roll ball”.  If your child says “mommy roll ball”, you say “mommy roll the ball”.  By expanding on your child’s utterances like this, she will be hear what other word she could have said and after doing this for long enough, she will begin to speak in this way as well.  You don’t need to make your child imitate it right away, she will need to hear it and soak it in for a while before she’s ready to do that.

Baby Doll Activities #3:

Labeling Objects and Actions: Vocabulary

The wonderful thing about using baby dolls with your child is that the things and objects commonly used with them are also commonly used in your child’s life as well.  If you teach your child the names of the things she uses with her baby, it will help her learn the names of things in her own environment.  For example, when feeding your baby, you can talk about spoon, bowl, cup, as well as food and drink names.  While dressing your baby, you can talk about shirt, pants, pajamas, dress, etc. You can also talk about the things used in giving your child a bath and playing with toys.  To teach your child these words, talk about them as you use them as well as when she uses them.  You can also talk about different action words that you and your child do, such as bathe, feed, rock, sleep, etc.

Enjoy the next playtime with your child by trying some of these baby doll activities.  Also, don’t forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter to have more speech and language activities delivered directly to your inbox.

By the way, this picture is of one of my favorite dolls as a child, I called her Jeanie 🙂