By Roxane Bélanger, Speech Language Pathologist, First Words Preschool Speech and Language Program of Ottawa and Renfrew County December 17, 2021


By Roxane Bélanger, M.O.A., SLP-C, Reg. CALSPO

Speech Language Pathologist,

First Words Preschool Speech and Language Program of Ottawa and Renfrew County 

Make every holiday activity a language-rich moment to grow your child’s language. The holiday season is filled with things to do and tasks on our to-do list. Activities such as baking cookies, decorating the tree, wrapping up presents and grocery shopping are all perfect activities to help your child grow their language. Sometimes, the simplest daily activity offers the best opportunity to stimulate language development. 

Baking is a great way to help your child grow their speech and language skills. Let’s be honest for a quick minute. Will it take you a bit more time to bake cookies with your little ones instead of making them by yourself? YES. Should you prepare mentally for a few spills and mishaps? ABSOLUTELY. But it may also turn into a tradition that creates wonderful memories for you and your child.  Here are a few tips:   

  • Talk with your child while you are baking and decorating holiday cookies. Emphasize and repeat the important words you would like your child to learn (e.g., gingerbread cookies, wreath, icing, rolling pin). Make sure you repeat them often. 
  • Name the ingredients you use (e.g. flour, sugar, salt, bowl, spoon, rolling pin, icing) and use descriptive words (e.g. colour, texture, size) to enrich your child’s language. Focus on verbs or action words such as “mix, close, open, add, pour, stir, cut, roll, help, want, bake, eat.” 
  • Baking is the perfect time to focus on developing your child’s understanding of more complex words such as spatial concepts (e.g., in, out, on top, off, in front, behind) or following longer directives (e.g., Open the jar. Take the flour out. Stir with a big spoon. Roll the cookie dough. Take the cookie dough and roll it out.). 
  • Model appropriate turn-taking skills. Give your child plenty of opportunities for them to take their turn while doing the actions (e.g., my turn, your turn, Daddy’s turn).

Have conversations as you bake holiday cookies with your child. Then, keep it going throughout the day, even when the baking fun is done. Get your child thinking about the future: “We need to put your cookies on a plate for Santa. How many cookies should we leave for Santa? Santa is going to be so happy when he sees your cookies.”. Get your child to predict real-life or silly situations: “What do you think Santa will say when he tastes your cookies?”, “What would happen if Rudolph eats the cookies before Santa?” and so on. 

Conversations in everyday activities help build language, reasoning and literacy skills. This simple strategy helps your child learn every day and become a skilled conversational partner. And the best part, you get to enjoy sweet treats!

Recognizing speech and language problems early on is the best approach!

Check out our First Words Communication Checkup tool to know if your child is

meeting communication milestones. Refer online if necessary. For more information, visit or call Ottawa Public Health at (613) PARENTS.