21 Months 3 Weeks – Is your Child Under the Weather?  Phrases to Encourage

Roman and books

It’s the saddest thing when kiddos are sick, but if they can express themselves when they are it makes it 10 times easier for us!  Here are some go-to phrases to teach and model for your child.

“I don’t feel good” or “I feel sick”

“Tummy hurt” or any “Body part + hurt”

Comments such as “Yucky” or “Gross”

“I need sleep” or anything else they may need such as an ice pack or even a hug

“I want daddy”

Roman with more booksMany will also ask “wh” questions like “why” and it’s a prefect opportunity to explain to them what is going on in their body!  Hope the germs stay away and you all stay healthy!  Summer is right around the corner ☺

21 Months – Helping your Toddler Create Phrases with Possessive Words

roman with his lightsWe recently did a post about building phrases with “me” and “mine” such as “my shoes”.  Your child is very observant and he or she is beginning to know what specific items belong to certain people.  Often many of us are (unfortunately) attached to our phone these days so a common phrase you may hear is “Mommy phone”.  The more they see us with an item the more they will associate it with us.                                                                                         

We like to start off with clothing since a jacket, for example, is something we wear every day in the fall/winter.  They may be imitating or spontaneously saying “jacket” or “coat”, but you can now begin modeling possession such as “mommy coat”.  Other things to target could be toys or other personal items.  For instance, you could choose something that belongs to them such as “Roman’s dinosaur”.  They may not say the ‘s part quite yet, but just to get them thinking about WHO it belongs to is a big step.  

These techniques have also been helpful with behavior.  Let’s say your child is trying to rip the papers of a magazine that you are reading.  To put an end to this behavior, you can say “This is Mommy’s magazine and this is Roman’s book… we read magazines and books”.  The more you use the same language, the more likely they will catch on, listen, and say it back!

20 Months 1 Week – How to Encourage Multi-Syllable Words

Roman playing with Mr. PotatoeheadYou may have noticed that your child is starting to say more words these past couple weeks!  And some of them may even be more than 2-syllable words such as “baby”.  You may be hearing more difficult words such as 3-syllable “blueberry” or 4-syllable “caterpillar”.  Even if they may not be saying each sound correctly it is totally fine!  In fact, at this age a phonological process called weak syllable deletion is actually very common.  For instance, “banana” may become “nana” because they child is naturally deleting the weak syllable to make it easier to produce.  Actually a very clever trick that toddlers use!

Some general tips to encourage multi-syllable words include tapping out the syllables on the table or on your leg or their arm.  Make sure to break it up such as “straw-ber-ry”.  Another trick is to make sure to emphasize the weak syllable as in “ele-PHANT”.  Singing songs is also a great time to target multi-syllable words (eg – Old McDonald).  Soon your child will be saying “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”!

20 Months – How to Make Movies a Learning Experience

Roman watching frozen We know screen time is not a favorite in many households, but we personally love movies!  Yes, your child may not understand everything at this age, but they are focused enough where they can watch at least part of a movie that is interesting to them.  Movies have characters, settings, themes, plots, etc.  Judging by the music and acting, your child will begin to know when to be scared vs. when to laugh when someone is being silly.  It’s a great way to develop a sense of humor, labeling of characters/actions/feelings, etc.                                                                              

At first you can start off with a book or even Google images of the characters to introduce it to them.  Go over their names (e.g. – “Olaf”), what they look like (e.g. – “He’s made of snow”)… whatever stands out so they can learn new language.  And the movie can be shown as a treat – perhaps during the weekend when the weather isn’t so nice!  

Roman eating corn watching frozen While watching the movie comment on the characters, what you see, the actions going on, the problem, how the characters are feeling, how the problem was resolved, etc.  At this age you can keep your words and phrases basic.  All of this input will allow your child to understand that there is a sequence to the movie  – beginning, middle, and end.  We followed up our movie watching with movie-related toys.  For instance, after watching Frozen we got Frozen bath toys so we can act out scenes from the movie and comment on the characters.  Some of our other recent favorite movies include: The Good Dino, Cinderella, Minions, and The Peanuts Movie.  Enjoy with some popcorn! 

19 Months 1 Week – Making Reading Interactive

Roman loves reading Reading time! It’s a time where we all chill, get cozy, and grab one of your favorite tales! Yes, it’s true some children, even at this age, do not like to sit for long periods of time. But we have found that if you find a book that really motivates a child, you can get them to sit for at least a few minutes. For instance, in our household it’s mainly dinosaurs or anything related to animals for that matter!

When children get hooked on a book, they love when you read it to them over and over. Repetition like we’ve talked about before is key! At this age they may even request “read”, “book”, or “read book”. Some may even be able to tell you what book they want.  

Once they become familiar with a book you can begin to make it a very interactive experience!  You can start by modeling language that is not in the book. For instance, draw attention to other items you see that the story does not mention – “Oh look I see a kite in the sky!”. You can also ask simple “what” questions such as “What is that?” or “Who is that?”, especially if you know it’s a word that they know so that they can be intrinsically rewarded when they answer.  

As your child gains more language you can ask more complex questions such as “How is the weather?”, “Where are they going?”, “Why is he sad?”, etc. When they get older, you can have them predict what comes next, recall what happened in the story, or ask them to tell you about their favorite part of the story. Remember – keeping questions open-ended will get the most language out of your children!

16 Months – How to Promote Bilingualism

Earlier on we had written a blog post about the positive effects of bilingualism. You yourself may be bilingual, but we know how hard it is to promote the other language especially if everything and everyone around us is English speaking. Here are some tips on how to promote another language (or two or three!)…                                                                   

Roman and the wall. Talk while you DO – Nothing is better than modeling language while you are in act of doing something. It makes it real for your child and allows it to stand out. It not only increases their expressive language, but also receptive language. Try to repeat the same actions and language in the same context as many times as you can. The more exposure your child has the more likely they are going to learn that vocabulary. Some great beginning action and word pairs are waving and “hi”/”bye”, opening and “open”, gesturing toward you and “come”, pointing and “look”, requesting gesture and “I want”, nodding or shaking head and “yes”/”no”, etc.                                                 

Roman getting a book for storytime. Storytime – While you’re reading take the chance to label familiar items in the other language, use carrier phrases such as “I see”, model directives/commends such as “Turn the Page” and “The end”… so much could be done with one book! And the more you read that book in one language the more familiar your child will be with the vocabulary. And do not worry if they don’t imitate at first. Instead, you can practice pointing to target words in the new language.          

Roman with grandmother. Set Aside Specific TIME/PERSON – Many people find it helpful to devote a particular time of day (e.g. – morning until babysitter comes, after nap until evening, etc.) to really focus on the 2nd language. Some even find it helpful to have a specific person in the family speak the target language (e.g. – grandparents, nanny, etc.) so the child associates them with that language. Even if you are not very specific as to when and who (like us!), toddlers will know who speaks that language and will naturally know how to switch according to the setting and person. They are much smarter than we think!                           

Roman with ipad nd cousins.Incorporate Shows or Apps/iBooks – A great way to learn any language is with technology! If screen time is allowed in your household we recommend introducing shows or movies in the specific language, downloading apps/iBooks, etc.                                                                                        

Roman playing in playspace. Playgroups – Another great way to encourage different language is to bring your child around others who speak that same language. There are often playgroups in the community where the target language is spoken during free play, stories, play, snacktime, etc. It’s also a great way to meet new mommy/daddy friends!     

14 Months 3 Weeks – Following Your Child’s Lead

Roman leading us to toy store. At this point I am sure your child is becoming more assertive.  With that assertiveness comes more persistent gestures.  Your child may even pull your arm toward things they want you to see or they want.  You of course want your child to develop listening skills, but it’s also great to follow a child’s lead.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Roman in the supermarket We actually find that following a child’s lead can lead to crucial language learning.  For instance, if your child is pulling your arm you can add in some language such as having them imitate “come” or “come here”.  When you get to the area or item they bring you to it is a perfect opportunity to label items you see, actions, etc.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Roman leading the way in the street. Let’s say your child is really into pointing to request, comment, etc.  You can give them language such as “Look” to call attention.  They may not imitate you the first time, but after many times you will see that it’s going to stick!  And once again, you can also label nouns, actions, adjectives, and more.  The more you follow your child’s lead in this structured way the more language you are going to see develop right before your eyes because you are targeting things that they are interested in!

13 Month 2 Weeks – Pretend Play Involving Actions

Roman swimming As you know our children are big time sponges! They try to do everything we do, imitate actions of items, etc. Our motto is let them be little and use their imagination. You don’t always need toys for imaginative play – you can use your own body! With this increased pretend play will come more sound effects, language, and more! Here are some beginning actions you can encourage your child to imitate:                                                                                                                                                       

– Spreading both arms out and flying like a plane                                                                                                                            

Roman pretending to drive 

– Making a “wheel” with both hands and pretending to drive                                                                                                                                                 

– Making an L with your arm and going “choo choo” around the room                                                                                                   

Roman pretending to sleep 

– Putting your head on a pillow and pretending to sleep while snoring                                                                                                                          

– Putting your fist up to your ear and pretending it’s a phone

– Bending down and jumping around like a frog

– Spinning around like a wheel

– Blowing on “hot food” Making a “cup” with your hand and pretending to drink

Roman pretending to eat  

– Making a pincer grasp with your finger and pretending to eat food off the table

12 Months 3 Weeks – Using Walking and Stairs to Learn Language

Roman standing. Your child may or may not be walking and attempting to climb steps yet, but they will surely get there!  We wanted to help you incorporate language into their newly learned gross motor skills.  It’s such a beautiful time when they are starting to become more independent, so why not add in some language too!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Roman playing with cousin Race – This is something you might naturally do, but it’s a great way to expose them to a consistent phrase such as “Ready Set Go”.  Have them see where the “starting line” is and teach them where the “end of the race” is.  This starts to introduce the idea of a beginning and end to activities.  They’ll love the competition aspect of it and will think it is hilarious!                                                                                                                

Play Tag – What kid doesn’t love to be chased around!  It’s a great way to expend some energy and once again hear repetitive phrases like “Run!  I’m going to get you!”.  The giggles you get will melt your heart!

Count –  The beginnings of sequencing…1 2 3 4 5!  Count each step they take down the hallway or up the steps!  Definitely on the early side, but it’s a great way to intertwine some basic math skills and see how far they can go!  As they get older, the numbers will stick with them and they will count on their own!                           

Roman climbing up stairs Up and Down – These opposites are ideal for stairs! Emphasize “up up up up” as you ascend and “down down down down” as you descend.  This also increases spatial awareness!  You can even add in “high” and “low” later on.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Roman walkingStop and Go – We often target this when we walk on the street.  For instance, if the sign signals to stop we show them by pointing to the sign and say “stop” and do the same for “go”!  Learning these opposites not only helps with street safety, but will also help in the future with following directions during games, in school, etc.                                                                                                                                              

Following Directions – Now that you’re little one is up and about it’s time to really start targeting actions involving movement such as “come”, “spin”, “kick”, “bend”, “jump”, “bounce”, “climb”, and the list goes on!  If they are not developmentally ready to perform a specific action such as jumping, just imitate it for them so they can attach meaning to the word.  Certain phrases such as “no hands, just feet” for “kick” might also be helpful so they know what is expected of them!

12 Months – Pretend Play Toys That are a MUST!

Roman turns 1 year Happy birthday to all the one year olds out there!  At the one year mark your child will begin engaging in pretend play, which is when they may use gestures, items, etc. to pretend to do something.  They’ve been observing you for a year now and see what you do, how you do certain activities, and when you do them – they want to be just like you!  So don’t be surprised if your child picks up a broom and starts sweeping ☺

Below are some pretend play toys that you should definitely have in your bag of tricks!  They are appropriate for all genders and a large variety of age to get the most bang for our buck!

Baby Doll


Sports set (e.g. – soccer, basketball with hoop, etc.)

Musical Instruments

Medical Set

Train Set

Car Garage

Tool Set/Workbench

Kitchen Set with Pretend Play Food

Piggy Bank

Tea Set