Lately I’ve started to become conscious Freya isn’t talking as much as some of her peers… At 21 months she has a grand total of 13 words – (mama, dada, nana, cat, hiya, hello, slide, ta, tea, yeah, oh no, mine and more). Which I’m incredibly proud of. But each time I meet a mum at the swings whose little girl has six words at 12 months, or a toddler who says please and thank you, mummy starts to panic. Even Jo Frost’s Confident Toddler Care couldn’t offer me reassurance on this one, she says a child should be saying up to 50 words by the age of two. And putting two words together. That means we need to increase Freya’s word count by five times in three months! I tell myself that every child is different, and she is developing in different ways. And Freya is clearly thriving, she can point out all the features on her face, do the actions to Head, shoulders, knees and toes like a pro and point out animals in books. She can shake hands and high five and nearly put her shoes on all on her own.
But I now have a new worry to add to the mix. My mum looked after Freya on Saturday and watched as she looked at her toys and said, quite clearly, Oh My God. Well, apparently it was more of an, oh my ga… but both nana and grandad knew exactly what she was saying. I was indignant and determined that I never say that. But of course, ever since, I’ve found myself saying it all the blimmin time. From when I’ve burnt the toast to forgetting a cup of tea. So, not only is my child not reaching her development milestones, she’s actually saying the wrong words. And, it’s all my fault!
Again, the sensible side of me knows that Freya will talk in her own time and as long as Marko and I make sure we think about how we speak in front of her – she’ll soon have a beautiful vocabulary, blasphemy free. But just to make sure, I’ve been collecting tips on encouraging my toddler to talk…
- Ask her open-ended questions which she has to answer to get what she wants. I.e. What would you like for breakfast? Rather than, do you want toast for breakfast?
- We’ve bought the Let’s Talk Sound Book from the Early Learning Centre. With big pictures of a dog, cat, boat and ball, you can press the buttons along the side and hear the word out loud. Freya is already matching the pictures with the buttons, so we’re hoping she’ll pick up on the words soon!
- Sing songs – music is a great way for children to learn, Freya and I have been singing songs at our local children centre for the last year – from Wheels on the Bus to Itsy Bitsy Spider and Wind the Bobbin Up. I’m now making sure we sing them everyday, bath time is ideal for Row, Row, Row Your Boat. If you need a little help you can buy a DVD like A Day Full Of Songs which has all the classics.
- Baby Words Flash Cards, again from the Early Learning Centre, are a great way for you to go through pictures of real, everyday things, and say the words out loud – eventually together! You could also make these yourself by taking pictures of things around the house and showing them to baby.
- Talk through all your activities with your toddler, from drinking water from her cup to playing in the park.
If you have any extra tips which could help Freya and I, please share them!