My 3-year-old doesn’t seem to move her mouth when she talks and many people do not understand her. Are there any exercises that I can do at home to help her move her mouth more?
YES! There are many, many mouth exercises (or Speech Pathologists call them Oral Motor Exercises) that parents can do at home. Many times a child’s speech becomes more intelligible after doing some of these easy exercises. I will break it down into three mouth areas: lips, tongue, and cheeks exercises. Remember all of these are supposed to be fun for the child!
- Blowing whistles or bubbles (this is also great for the cheeks).
- When blowing bubbles, begin popping lips together while saying “POP!” with each popping bubble. Simple put lips together and pop them apart.
- Have your child try to “pick up” goldfish crackers or other crackers using only her lips! This is super hard to do. Pretend to “eat like a dog”, kids love this! Try using only your lips, not your hands or tongue, etc.
- Place food on your child’s upper or lower lips and have your child lick it off with tongue. This can be any food item that your child can safely ingest, such as, grape jelly, syrup, peanut butter, marshmallow cream, or chocolate syrup.
- Have your child try to “click” her tongue. Put your tongue to the roof of your mouth and pull your tongue down quickly. Try doing this to your favorite song.
- Any blowing activity is great work for the cheeks. Your child can blow cotton balls or ping pong balls across the kitchen table. Involve another child in this activity and they will have a great time making it into a game.
- Have your child blow air in one cheek and move the air to the other cheek. Don’t forget to take a breath!
If you have other ideas that work for your child and want to share, please do! If your child has difficulty with any of the above exercises after practicing for some time and he/she exhibits other signs of speech problems, you may ask your pediatrician for a speech/language referral. For more information on this topic visit me at www.speechtails.com or email questions to Amy@Speechtails.com.