Although it often seems like little ones don’t pay attention to words and language until they’re close to a year old, babies are actually preparing for their first words from infancy on. Babbling, gesturing — even crying — all lay the groundwork for speech later on.
Perhaps most thrilling for parents is the stage you’re at right now: Miraculously and often quite suddenly, real words start to come out of your toddler’s mouth. It’s easy, and fun, to support her continuing language development.
• Chat with her about everything — the weather, the vegetables at the grocery store, her feelings.
• Sing to her — anything from nursery rhymes to your favourite playlist is great!
• Read to her — her own books, sure, but even reading bits of the newspaper out loud will help your toddler’s ear and mind tune in to language.
Exploring music and instruments is another fun way to explore language. Children’s musicians are especially good at engaging young people, but many toddlers will enjoy your music, too. For some, dancing to the rhythm will come as naturally as listening to it, especially if you join in.
And it’s fun to make music with your toddler too. A few pots and a wooden spoon can be a set of drums; plastic containers filled with rice, beans, sand or blocks make wonderful shakers.
Sign language for toddlers
Did you know that young children are capable of learning sign language? Not only that, parents who teach their kids signs say that it helps avoid some of the frustration toddlers suffer from not being understood while they are learning to speak. When their tongues can’t keep up with their need to express themselves, they’ve got another way!
If you have not yet encountered a big jump in your child’s ability to get into things, look out — it’s just around the corner. This is the age when toddlers can scamper up a flight of stairs while you’re just grabbing the newspaper or empty a low cupboard full of cleaning supplies when you run to answer the phone. They also learn to use chairs to climb up to higher places, so your counter is no longer safely out of reach. Keep your busy baby safe with our childproofing guide.
Beating the blues
You’re back to work, your baby’s in daycare, the laundry’s piling up, dinner’s been takeout for a month, and you are feeling frazzled and exhausted. The life of a working mom is tough and the transition period following your mat leave can be incredibly difficult. Stay-at-home moms beware too. Adjusting to a change of career plans and struggling with issues of isolation (as well as keeping up with a busy toddler 24/7) can be equally hard to handle.
Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to a professional to help you manage anxiety, stress and depression. Trust us, you are not alone.