Your child has come to a point where they can play independently and it is time for them to join their play with words. At first, they may be labeling objects they’re picking up or see. Let’s say they’re in their play kitchen and they say “banana”. You can expand on it by creating a phrase “Let’s PEEL the banana”. Emphasize novel words and unique parts of a phrase to allow it to stand out to your child.
It’s all about input they are receiving. The more verbal modeling that you provide during play, everyday errands, etc. the more likely they are to start narrating their own actions. Feel free to initiate structured play with them. For instance, grab a tea set and start setting it up by saying phrases such as “Here’s a plate”. Then, take the teapot and say “Pouring tea”, pretend to drink it and say “Drinking tea” or “Wow! It’s hot!”, etc.
Another alternative is to chime in when they have already initiated play with an item on their own. “Oh the car is going up up up the garage!”, “The car needs gas!”, “We’re driving fast!”, etc. They do not have to repeat everything you are saying, but you are giving their actions words and meaning. You are also adding new vocabulary to their repertoire. For example, they may already know “car”, but “gas” might be a new word. To give it extra meaning, talk about getting gas when you’re actually at the gas station. Real life situations will encourage them to make more connections and make them more apt to using new words and longer phrases when on their own.
Your toddler is becoming very aware of his surroundings and people around him. You can use it as a chance to really connect with people and things by giving compliments. For instance, Roman has started complimenting our hair saying “hair nice”.
You can target things such as artwork and verbally model phrases such as “pretty picture”. If a girl is wearing a pretty dress you can model “cute dress”. If a friend is playing with a fun new toy you can say “cool new truck”. This now only will make others feel happy, but will also make your toddler start thinking about the power of their words.
And it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone or something that someone has made or has. It could be things that you see in nature. Let’s say you’re taking a walk you can talk about a tree by saying “Wow that’s a beautiful tall tree!”. There are tons of possibilities, so go ahead and make someone’s day!
Can you believe it? You’re child is almost two! We decided to concentrate on mealtime milestones this week since a lot more is expected of your child at this point. In terms of texture, they should now be able to eat all textures including: purees, soft chewables, ground lump purees, and more chewable foods. Tougher solids are expected after 24 months.
As for oral-motor skills, your child should now exhibit rotary chewing instead of diagonal chewing. Lateral tongue action should be visible. They should have also mastered straw drinking. Overall, you should observe a decrease in food intake by 24 months.
When it comes to motor skills, their pincer grasp should be refined and they should be past finger feeding. You now want them to grasp the spoon with their whole hand and independently feed themselves by scooping food and brining it to their mouth. All in all, you should see increased control of utensils. As you can see, mealtime and fine motor skills are highly intertwined.
And of course to limit pickiness, have your child eat meals with the whole family and most importantly have them eat what you’re eating. If they are hesitant, have them explore the food with their senses (e.g. – touching it with their fingers). The more they are exposed to different foods the better! So if salmon and cabbage salad is on the menu, it’s also what’s for dinner for your child!
You are probably at the point where you might be in an elevator and a stranger asks your child “What’s your name?”. Your child may not answer right now, but it’s a great time to practice holding a basic conversation.
You can start off with a basic greeting of “Hi” and waving. You can then move onto answering, “What’s your name?” and if they do not answer, model their name. You can practice it in front of a mirror and point to them so they understand what a “name” means. We also found that holding up a picture of just his face helps.
The next step is to go over their age, which may still be a difficult concept. Since they are almost two you can begin asking “How old are you?” and modeling “two”. Holding up the number may be helpful, so they can relate it to a visual. Counting up to two and emphasizing two may also help. Many times when people ask “how” questions to a toddler the child automatically thinks “how many” and begins counting, so when you model the answer “two” make sure to say it right away. Other than that you can also go over basic question and answer pairs such as “How are you?” and “Good”.
It’s never too early to start learning about chores and how to help out in the house!Now that your child is getting better at following directions feel free to intertwine basic “chores” into the daily routine.
It could be as simple as cleaning up. From an early age we started the clean up song even when he did not speak just so he got used to the melody and words. At this point you can sing it along with them and see if they hum along or imitate any of the words. Just hearing the song will trigger cleaning up after playtime or even mealtime. Once they get used to the routine they will begin cleaning up on their own, sometimes even singing the song all by themselves!
Specific directions you can give is “Give me your cup/plate/fork and let’s put it in the sink” (they most likely cannot reach yet even with a step stool, but it’s good to practice), “Put your ____ in the dishwasher”, “Throw it in the garbage”, “Go get me a paper towel”, “Put your socks away” (or any clothing), “Walk the dog”, etc. We even found working on colors while doing laundry is an excellent receptive language task (e.g. – dark vs. light or putting all the red socks together).
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We 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!
We love using traditional toys for play whether it be building blocks, puzzles, dollhouses, etc. But there is also something to be said for items that were not intended to be toys. We often hear parents saying “What’s the point in even buying toys?” and we understand why! There are items all around your house that your children would be more than happy to play with – really gets their creativity going! Here are some ideas ☺
Toilet or Paper Towel Rolls – you can use them as binoculars, microphones, or even attach it to fall and throw things in them and watch them fall down!
Magazines – talk about the pictures, practice cutting, or if they are even younger have them practice ripping the paper
Cardboard Boxes – make it into a car by having your child get in and push it around the house or give them some pens or crayons and let them scribble on it freely
Shoe Boxes – have your child open and close them while putting things in and taking things out…. You can even stack them high!
Bubble Wrap – tape some to the floor and have your child run across it to hear the popping sounds!
As speech therapists we are obsessed with building toys. Not only does it encourage fine motor skills, but we also get a lot of language out of our children. They can ask for “block” and “more”. They can practice prepositions such as “on top” and adjectives such as “tall”. Here are some of our favorites!
Mega Bloks by First Builders – they are big enough for tiny hands and your child can build the tallest towers without help!
LEGO DUPLO My First Lego Sets – these are smaller, but still appropriate for our toddlers (with supervision due to size!)… they are great since they have themes such as ice cream, transportation, animals, and lots more!
Wedgits – we loves these due to the wedge like shape… it makes it easier to stack and children are mesmerized by them!
Magna-Tiles – these are more appropriate for 3 and up, but we find that toddlers love that they are magnetic… you can show them how to build a tower or basic house – so many possibilities! They’re also great on a light table since you can see through them!
Tegu Magnetic Wooden Tiles – the key is magnetic AND wooden here – we love how they are made and they are easily manipulated by teeny tiny hands! Paint one of your walls with magnetic paint and use these against the wall.