Holiday Gifts to Encourage Children’s Speech and Language Skills

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With the holiday season coming up (and stores already full of merchandise), many are wondering what to buy for the young children in their lives. Family members often want to know what gifts are best for encouraging a young child’s speech, language and cognitive development.

Here are some general guidelines when selecting gifts for little ones:

  1. Choose simple toys for playing pretend like kitchen items, a house with people, a barn and animals, baby dolls and tools. These types of simple, quiet and classic toys without batteries promote active play and playing with others, which is key in developing communication.
  2. Choose open-ended toys that don’t have one specific use. These toys get children thinking creatively. These don’t necessarily have to be retail packaged toys. Kids can spend hours playing with cardboard boxes, toilet paper tubes and packing material.
  3. Choose toys that promote problem solving like puzzles and shape sorters or motor skills like arts and crafts, play dough, blocks, a sandbox and push toys.
  4. Choose books. Books, especially classic picture books, are perfect for promoting language skills. For young kids who don’t yet have the attention span for looking at a book, choose interactive books such as the “touch and feel” or “lift the flap” type.
  5. Choose experiences. You can also give gifts that are not toys to promote language skills. Children learn best by doing (for example, seeing a giraffe in person and learning the word for giraffe), so tickets, classes and memberships make wonderful gifts. Some ideas are memberships for the zoo or children’s museums or music/art/dance classes (following the child’s interests).
  6. Choose toys that you can enjoy with your child! As a family member, you are your child’s best teacher.

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