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Toddler - Week #84

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Your 19-month-old toddler (week 84)

By Shelley Feldman, edHelperBaby

Vocabulary and Language Development
           This month will highlight the beginning of wonderful conversations had between you and your child, despite only comprehending about half of what your little one is saying.  Be sure that the inability to fully understand your 19-month-old does not hinder you from enjoying and participating in the chatter, because she is able to understand almost everything that you say to her.  Don't expect your toddler to speak clearly until somewhere between the ages of 2 1/2 to 3, so those adorable mispronunciations that you are hearing are the norm, and will be for quite a while.  Your 19-month-old toddler is still unable to manipulate or coordinate her tongue and lips correctly in order to produce most consonant sounds, so she has very cleverly replaced consonants that she can't handle with ones that she can.  Often a child of this age will also blend consonants together, or leave a few out to try and get her point across.  For now, praise her when she is able to communicate, no matter how backwards it may come out, and don't worry about getting her to say things correctly.  The key this month is to focus on improving confidence with the language and vocabulary skills that she does have, despite all of the detective work which you may have to do to in order to figure her out.

       Around the 19th month, your toddler's vocabulary will most likely consist of ten to fifty words, and she may be able to link words together forming small "sentences."  Verbs like "go," "jump," and "run" have become regular fixtures in her day to day vocabulary, and she will soon start to link these verbs to herself, like "Me go," or "Me run," creating small phrases.  Your toddler may also begin using "direction words" like "up," "down," "out," and "in," but, "No" continues to be her favorite all time word.

       Your 19-month-old loves to label things and give everything a name, and when she doesn't know what something is, you will here "Dis?" (A.K.A "This") repeated over and over until she receives an acceptable answer from you.  Your toddler is also getting very good at following simple directions (when she wants to), and can even help to clean up her toys when you ask (when she wants to) at the end of a long day.  Your comedic little toddler will enjoy labeling different body parts, and find it funny to intentionally mis-label them for a good giggle, but watch out, because she also enjoys copying everything you say, so use caution with the words she is exposed to, particularly during your less than stellar parenting moments (which we ALL have).


Recognizing Signs of Potential Speech Problems
           There is one thing that is cut and dry regarding children's speech and how it develops.  Single words come first, two-word phrases come second, and then sentences with some type of structure arrive third.  Above and beyond that order, every toddler's speech development is as unique as they are, and comparing your child to someone else's child can provide you with an inaccurate and misleading picture.  Keep in mind that all children differ regarding when they reach certain developmental milestones, and it can be completely normal for a child's language acquisition to come a little later, particularly if he is more focused on his motor skills right now.  If your toddler is more interested in the physical aspect of his development, and he is using all of his energy to explore the world around him, he has little time left to work on his vocabulary, so just wait it out for a little while longer.

  Toddlers who appear to be late talkers often develop more mature speech at a faster rate than a child who began to speak earlier, so don't worry if your little one appears to be slightly "behind."  Toddlers who are late bloomers in this department are often better able to coordinate their tongue and lips, have a better overall understanding of grammar, and a larger vocabulary that he has accumulated from patiently listening to you all of these months.

       If you do remain concerned regarding your toddler's development, there are a few things to look for in order to determine whether there may be the need for early intervention.  First, observe your toddler when you ask him a question, and look to see if he understands what you've said.  Check to see if your little one can follow simple commands, and watch how he responds to things you say, for example when you're going somewhere, or going to be changing activities.  Lastly, pay close attention to your toddler's ability to communicate in a non-verbal way by means of signing, pointing, pulling, or whatever he needs to do in order to get his point across.  Then after you have closely observed your toddler in all of these areas, if you still have any concerns that your toddler does not understand what you have said, or is unable to communicate his needs and wants non-verbally, speak to your child's pediatrician.  Keep in mind that as long as your toddler is able to use at least a few words, understand what is said to him, follow simple instructions, and communicate through the use of a few simple words along with sign language and body language, his speech development is most likely right on track.

       But, if you do continue to have concerns regarding the development of your 19-month-old's language and vocabulary acquisition, don't hesitate to ask for help.  Your child's pediatrician is much more able to evaluate whether a formal type of assessment, such as a hearing test, or meeting with a speech and language specialist would be advisable.  If a problem is determined by a professional, it is never too early to seek out the assistance that your child needs, and there are many wonderful early childhood intervention programs that are available to you and your little one, particularly before he turns two.


Recommended Books
           Your 19-month-old toddler will absolutely love to be read to this month, particularly if it has become part of your already established routine.  You will begin to notice small improvements in your little one's attention span, and she should be able to sit through an entire book, or maybe even two now.  Along with her increasing ability to focus on one task at a time, her ability to play more independently has improved as well, allowing her to sit for extended periods of time throughout the day and explore a few new books.

       Picture books continue to provide the visual stimulation that is necessary to hold her attention, and she will also love looking at pictures of herself and other special people in her life.  When selecting a book, it is recommended that you continue sticking with board books that can withstand your little one's not-so-delicate touch, and trips to the local library are definitely welcome additions to your day.

       This month while you read to your toddler, check to see if she is able to complete missing pieces of a familiar story when you pause and allow her to fill in the blanks.  This is a fun game to play while reading with your little one, and the anticipation of having to help with the story may cause her to focus even more.  When you look at picture books with your 19-month-old, be sure to label everything that you see in order to further add to her ever-growing vocabulary.  Talk about the sounds that the objects make, and try to make an association between the object in the book, and something she may be more familiar with in her everyday life.

       There are so many amazing books to choose from this month, but there are some classics that are not to be missed like Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, The Wheels On The Bus, and The Eensy-Weensy Spider, all of which have been written by a variety of authors.  Your toddler will also love the rhythm of Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, and fawn over the interactive quality found inDear Zoo: A-Lift-The-Flap Book by Rod Campbell, Where Is Baby's Belly Button?  by Karen Katz, and Peekaboo Kisses:  A Touch-And-Feel-Book by Barney Saltzberg.  Lastly, Eric Carle's beautifully illustrated stories such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?  , and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, are also great additions to your personal library that are guaranteed to capture your little one's imagination.


           Make An Accordion Photo Book       

       Making a book is a wonderful activity to share with your toddler.  It is a great way to encourage creativity, as well as increase your child's love of reading.  There are many types of books that can be made, from the very simple to the most complex, and once you get the hang of it, can become a fun activity for the two (or three) of you to share for years to come.

       Despite having many options to choose from, this week I have chosen to make an accordion book.  I have found this style to be perfect for the beginner and easy to manipulate after completion as well.

       In order to begin, you will need one long narrow piece of paper approximately 28 inches by 5 inches, a glue stick, and 8 photos that are 4 inches by 6 inches in size.  This size paper and number of photos will allow you to have 4 pictures per side of your book, and 8 pictures in total.  Select your own theme for this photo book, whether it be family photos, baby photos, or anything else that your toddler is interested in right now.

       After rounding up all of your supplies, gather your long and narrow piece of paper, fold it in half lengthwise, and then open it back up.  Next, flip the paper over and take each end folding them to meet at the center crease you had initially made.  The end result when folded back up again should look like a fan, and when you open the book up you will now have 4 surfaces for pictures on each side of the accordion book.

       For the third step you will glue one photo in the center of each page of the accordion, covering all 8 surfaces and both sides of the book.

       Lastly, fold the book back into its original form (it will now be 7 inches by 5 inches) and there you have it!  Your toddler will love looking at all of the images, as well as opening the accordion book all the way revealing the 4 images all at one on each side.  You can always change the images in your book as your little one's interests shift, and with practice you will get more and more creative with each new addition to your home-made library.


  Andrew and Devin's Opinion
           Like most little children, my 19-month-old twin boys love to look at photographs of familiar people in our family, particularly when the primary subject in the photos is themselves.  Now, anyone who has been blessed with multiples understands the need to have two of everything in order to avoid a wrestling match, and because of this, I was prepared to make two photo books, one for Andrew and one for Devin, each containing images of themselves along with different family members.

       I then gathered sixteen pictures expanding over three generations, a glue stick, and two very long and skinny sheets of heavy-duty paper that I folded as described.  Because I chose to use light-weight cardboard, I did have some difficulty folding the books initially, however was glad with my heavier paper choice after they survived my "not so gentle" boys yanking them across the room when they were finished.

       After my preparations were complete, I wrangled Andrew onto my lap, and hand-over-hand glued eight pictures into his book.  As we glued each image, we "discussed" who was in each picture, and interestingly he was able to identify everyone but his twin brother, who he referred to as "Andrew" (he isn't the only one who is confused at times!).  We then placed the completed book on the counter to dry, and Andrew took off to find some mischief to get into.

       I then chased Devin around the house for a few minutes and eventually gathered him onto my lap for some gluing.  Again we did it hand-over-hand, attaching eight pictures into his book, pointing out and labeling all of the people in the photographs.  I had to laugh when he identified everyone correctly, just as his brother had previously done, with the exception of himself who he referred to as "Andrew" (Can you guess which one of my twin boys is a bit more dominant?).  Again we placed the completed book on the counter, and off Devin ran to find his brother.

       After the books were dry, I then handed them back to their rightful owners who delighted in opening and closing their creations and talking about everyone found within.  Overall, this was a great activity, and I will definitely be making more books with my boys.  I am still hopeful that someday Andrew and Devin will be able to tell themselves apart (and that everyone else will be able to as well!).


  Have you begun to wonder...
           How do I encourage the development of my toddler's language and help to increase his vocabulary?       

       The best way to encourage the development of your toddler's language and vocabulary is by talking, talking and talking some more.  You are the primary teacher that your toddler looks to right now, and he wants to do nothing more than mimic all that you do, including your speech.  Do your best to avoid the use of "baby talk," speak to him in complete sentences, but, do simplify your vocabulary at times to get your point across.  Ask your little one questions that require a response that is greater than one word (although you most likely won't quite understand his reply), and if he makes a one-word request, rephrase it for him in sentence form.  For example, if he says "nana," and points to the banana on the counter, respond with "Do you want a banana?  Here's the banana."

       Having books at your toddler's disposal will also aid in increasing his vocabulary, and reading together at least once a day will plant the seed for a lifetime love of books.  Be sure to keep a running dialog going between you and your toddler when you are going through your daily routine.  By doing this, he will quickly learn how to connect actions with words, and begin to understand how everything he's heard so much about fits together.

       Most importantly, don't expect too much too quickly regarding the development of your 19-month-old's language skills and acquisition of his vocabulary.  The more your toddler is pushed, and the more his speech and language are constantly corrected, the more likely he is to have problems with it in the future.  Like all of the milestones and developmental stages that your 19-month-old has passed through already and will pass in the future...language development takes time, practice and lots and lots of patience.


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