"You don't want to do anything to stress them out," he says. "It's a fun way to learn."

Schraner-Klinenberg believes that children talk when they are ready.

"Parents cannot get their child to speak early, but parents can provide a positive, stimulating environment that encourages both verbal and non-verbal communication," she says. "The goal of speaking is not talking, it is communicating with others. This includes smiles, pointing, shrugs, imitating gestures and sounds, and eventually words and phrases."

Get On Their Level

Nevertheless, she believes in providing a playful, educational environment to stimulate verbal growth. Schraner-Klinenberg says the best way to get toddlers talking is to get on their level. This means getting on the floor and following their lead.

"Imitate the sounds and words that they are saying, expand on their ideas and model simple sentences for them," she says. "Toddlers love physical play, lots of action -- peek-a-boo, silly faces and things falling down. They also love lots of repetition and over acting."

Schraner-Klinenberg says that DVDs and tapes are valuable tools and books are her favorite "but there is no substitute for interactions with a real person."

"Most importantly children need to be held and talked to. Communication is a multi-sensory experience and watching a screen will never have the same impact as a real person in a real-life situation," she says.