12 to 16 months
Coming to life
Pretend your child’s favorite teddy or doll is real and include him in everyday activities. Take him on a walk, tuck him into bed, or dance with him around the room. Narrating what you’re doing boosts your toddler’s language skills. Act out whether the toy is happy or sad so she can learn to identify and talk about emotions as she’s developing her imagination.
Push me, pull you
If your toddler is pulling himself up and trying to walk, help him practice with a pushing and pulling game. Use a moveable object, such as a child-size chair or plastic stacking box filled with soft toys.
While he holds the edges for support, you can hold the other side steady. Then slowly pull the box toward you to encourage him to step forward. Soon he’ll start to push while you gently pull.
This builds his confidence for the day he finally walks on his own.
By now your toddler can hold her hands open, but it may be a while before she claps independently. For now, clap them together for her, or let her hold your hands while you pat them together.
Sit her facing you on the floor or on your lap and sing clapping songs like patty-cake. These will boost her language skills as well as her hand-eye coordination.
Who’s hiding here?
Just as your toddler loved peekaboo as a baby, he will love to play simple games of hide-and-seek. First thing in the morning, take turns hiding under the bed sheets. At bath time, use a big towel. For extra fun and giggles, you can gently prod him when he’s hiding. Say something like, “Hmm, is this a leg? Or is it an arm?”
Games like this show your toddler that just because he can’t see something, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. For a change, carry him into another room while he’s wrapped up in the towel. He’ll be delighted to pops his head out and discover he’s in a new spot.
The magic of sound
Word play increases your child’s awareness of sounds and gives her the confidence to try out new words. From books that mimic car sounds to farm animals that moo and cock-a-doodle-doo, there’s no shortage of toys that can ignite your child’s imagination through sound.
Playing games that repeat certain sounds, reading nursery rhymes out loud, and experimenting with different tones and rhythms are other ways you can help your toddler develop language skills – and have fun while she’s at it.