HOW TO TALK TO KIDS: BABIES & TODDLERS

1-4 weeks: Crying

The first way that babies communicate through sound is by crying.

3-4 weeks: Differentiated Crying

A baby’s cries are differentiated, with a unique cry for hunger, wetness, pain and missing companionship.

1-3 months: Cooing and Gurgling

After several months, babies can coo and gurgle with pleasure.

3-4 months: Cause and Effect

Babies begin to learn that whenever they make noises, people respond. Babies begin to trust their means of communication, assuming their needs are being met.

6-12 months: Babbling Babies

Babies begin to babble in the language of their parents and other caregivers. Babies and toddlers do not understand words out of context. Instead, they understand words in combination with your gestures, tone and facial expression.

18-24 months: Action Words

Action words express what they see or want, leaving out adjectives and other grammatical conventions. They may come out with short phrases such as “Mommy go,” or “Shoes on.” Babies and toddlers also speak through gestures and tone of voice. What they do physically may be as important as what they actually say.

13 to 18 months: Inflection and Tone

Children begin to use one or more words, and they know what the words mean. They’ll practice inflection, raising tone when asking a question by saying “Up-py?” to be carried, for instance. They realize the importance of language as they tap into the power of communicating their needs.

19 to 24 months: Increased Vocabulary

Though they probably say fewer than 50 words, children now understand much more than they can say. And they pick up more words every day, so watch your language! They may even string two words together, making basic sentences such as “Carry me.” 20 words which most children should be able to use by the age of two: Mom (Mommy, Mama, etc), Dad (Daddy, Poppa, etc), milk, juice, hi, hello, ball, no, dog, cat, nose, eye, show, banana, car, hot, thank you, shoe.

Remember: Toddlers use words and short sentences to assert themselves. “No” and “mine” are used to claim space and take control of their new world. It is important for toddlers to say these words. When young children say “No” to their parents or caregivers, they are in fact saying “Yes” to themselves. This assertion of independence early on is an important step toward your toddler becoming their own person.