Not Imitating at All

If your child is not able to imitate, start imitating your child. By modeling the skill of imitation, your child can start to learn what it is all about!

Has No Words or Sounds

If your child does not vocalize much, start by imitating facial expressions and/or sounds. For example, if your child smiles or yawns, you smile or yawn. 

Start this game during meal times since holding your child’s attention is easier when he or she is sitting in a high chair. 

What You Need: Nothing special. Food, spoon, Fork, Whatever your child uses to eat

Gestures to Imitate: Eating, Chewing, Picking up food, Feeding, Eating from a spoon

Words to Imitate (Start Easy): Yummy, Mum Mum, Ahhh

How To Play: While eating, there are many gestures you can imitate such as eating from a spoon, chewing, or picking up food. As your child performs one of these tasks, imitate the gesture. Make it a little funny by laughing or being animated. Get your child excited about it. 

At first, the goal is to have your child take turns with the same gesutre. Once this happens, you can start to pair the gesture with a sound.

Example Script: Your child imitates drinking from a cup

  • Child: Takes a drink from sippy cup
  • Parent: Takes a drink from a cup
  • Child: Takes a drink from a cup
  • Parent: Takes a drink and say "ahhh" when finished.
  • Child: Takes a drink and says "ahhh" when finished (hopefully!)

Example Script: Feeding 

  • Parent: Feeds a spoonful of rice to child.
  • Child: Feeds parent a spoonful of rice to parent.
  • Parent: Feeds a spoonful of rice to child and says yummy!
  • Child: Feeds a spoonful of rice to parent and parent says yummy!
  • Parent: Feeds a spoonful of rice to child and child imitates "yummy!"
  • Etc...

Tip: It may take many meals to get the point of these scripts. The key is to take the pressure off. Just model the speech and gestures instead of forcing your child to imitate. Make it like a game and have fun! All the modeling will pay off in the long run!

Babbles Some Words

If your child babbles some sounds or says a few words, let's start here! For example, if your child says “ah,” repeat the “ah.” We are going to make imitation into a game and have some fun! 

Words to Imitate: Anything your child already says

How To Play: How to play with GREATLY depend on your child. For example, my child says a lot of sounds and words while we drive in the car. Therefore, I started imitating him while we drove from place to place. However, you child may "talk" more while playing blocks, eating, on a walk, or during bath. Therefore, play this game whenever and wherever your child is saying the most sounds!

Example Script: In a Car

The car is a great place to start. Since you, the parent, are driving and your child is in the backseat. There is no eye contact and A LOT of pressure is taken off! Wait until your child says a sound. When her or she does, repeat the sound. See if your child will repeat the sound after you.  Make it fun! It may take a few tries before your child jumps in.

  • Child: Baba
  • Parent: Baba
  • Child: Repeats baba after a minute
  • Parent: Gaga
  • Child: Gaga
  • Parent: Yeah, gaga, good job!

Tip: Try to move through the earlier developing consonants

  • Ba
  • Ga
  • Da
  • Ta
  • Ha
  • Pa
  • Wa

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