Hi Bellisimum,

One of the best ways to encourage your daughter to speak more is to encourage her to ask for what she wants. If she just points, and you reward her by doing what she wants, then she'll learn that she doesn't need to speak because she'll think, "Mum is really good at figuring out what I need, so why talk?".

Obviously, when a child is very young and doesn't have the capacity to communicate with words, then we have to figure out what they want or teach them baby sign language so they can communicate non-verbally. But your daughter is at an age where she is able to communicate verbally, so it's now just a matter of encouraging her to speak.

If she points to something, ask her what she wants. If she can't communicate it in words, and if you know what she wants, ask her to say the word. If she wants water say to her, "say water, and Mama will get you some water".

I'd also encourage you to read to your daughter every day. As you're reading, point to different things on the pages and say the words. Ask her to repeat the words. It may not sound perfect, but at least she will be trying and will be practicing her speech.

And then just spend a lot of time talking to your daughter each day. If it's Christmas time and there are pretty lights to look at, point to the lights and say, "Do you see the pretty lights?" What color is this one? If she doesn't know the color, then point to a color and say "red", "green", "blue", etc. The more she hears you talk and the more you draw her into the conversation and experience, the more she will want to practice her words.

If you really feel your child should be assessed, then you can contact your local school district to ask if they have a speech program. This is what I did, and the speech therapist came to our home and did a very relaxed assessment on my daughter. It was determined that she did not need any speech therapy and she was right on or even above in her speech and communication skills. I was probably overly sensitive to her speech development because she was my first child, and I had had a nephew who had speech challenges.

I also heard of a little boy who didn't talk at all until he was 3 years old. One day he just started speaking and when he did, it was in sentences.

I hope this gives you some idea on how to encourage your daughter in her language development.

Warm Regards,