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Toddler Language Musings

By February 10, 2016MK, Parenting, Uncategorized

This is one of those days where I found a few extra minutes and I wanted to just jump on the blog and talk. I feel like blogging these days focuses so much on curating a constant stream of evergreen content that will live as long as a McDonald’s meal that, for a lot of my favorite blogs, it’s just sucked the feeling of actual life out of them. So here’s a little slice of my life right now.


Our little Beeb is really hitting a stride with communication lately (at almost 18 months). Toddler language is so funny. Every feeling or desire she has is starting to correlate to a consistent sound or action. She is definitely a lot like me, and when she feels like she’s not getting through to you, she gets so frustrated.

Last night while I was coaching at Fringe, she apparently decided at some point in the evening she wanted Neil to get her a bottle. Not being able to communicate this clearly, she went and found one of her books, found the page with the bottle and started pointing back and forth between “bottle” and “drink.”


She’s done it for me before, just in normal reading time, but I always figured she was pointing because the items/actions were familiar. Apparently it was much more than that.

Of course, my reactionary thoughts as a first-time parent are guilt and panic. Panic because I always worry I’m not doing enough to foster her development, panic because of that and concern I haven’t been meeting some obvious need she’s been trying to communicate to me. I know, I know, overreaction.

But I am going to look into the Parents as Teachers group here in town (anyone have experience?), and see what resources I can find online to start implementing a little more structure. I pay attention to big milestones, but was so turned off by the culture of intensive parenting in herĀ first year that I’ve kind of just let her go at her own pace and simply enjoy her. I just need to find a better middle so she doesn’t end up wound too tight or completely feral…


Here are a few things (ha, squeezed in the evergreen!) that we’re doing to foster her language and communication:

  • We keep books all over the house. Particularly, we keep her First 100 Words book in the living room. Even when she goes on reading strikes, she loves looking at this book because it is relevant to her (I think). You can read more about our approach to reading and Kaitlan’s favorite books in previous posts.
  • We avoid baby talk. Sometimes we break words up into pieces and it might sound a little like baby talk, but for the most part we dont’ use it.
  • Narrate and create stories about what we’re doing, why we did it, and when we’re going to do it again. Constantly.
  • We ask lots of questions, which I honestly think sometimes she gets annoyed by. Already embarrassed of her parents? Check.

KK dancing and chapstick – 17 months from Kohler Created on Vimeo.

This all being said, she’s been a complete blastĀ this week. Some notables:

  • She likes to throw herself into piles of blankets and pillows.
  • When the end credits start during the Minions movie, she gets up and starts dancing. She loves the Beatles.
  • She still doesn’t say Mama (I think I’m “Bae”), but if you ask her who mama is she points squarely at my chest. She also likes playing “what body part is this?” with everything from your hair to your feet.
  • She rips her socks off in the car. Okay, this isn’t hilarious (it’s freezing out), but she sets them so nicely next to her that you can’t help but look forward to seeing it in the rearview.
  • She LOVES to color and likes to mimic when you draw simple shapes.

Life for us constantly feels like a sunrise to sunset gauntlet. All the bowling balls somehow manage to stay in the air, but it takes almost continuous work to keep them that way. It is getting easier, motivation to keep on keeping on. Thankfully, tonight is our “rest day” and I’m already so excited for a cozy night at home…even if it means scrambling to clean and do laundry between coloring and stacking blocks.

One Comment

  • Leah says:

    Do you do any sign? That has helped us with the language transition. We get a lot of frantic “milk” signing in the middle of the night right now — we are in the molar teething stage, and it’s awful. Nursing/a bottle settles our little one down when she’s in pain in the middle of the night. We are off the bottle except for those evening must-sleep type situations.

    The sock thing is totally normally. I’m in a parenting group, and all the kids do that. Playing with toes is fun!

    A parenting group is definitely helpful to calm you down and make you realize it’s all okay. We go to one weekly, and I agonize on the weeks I have to miss. It’s part of Minnesota’s early childhood and family education program we have. One of the best perks of being Minnesotan; I’ve heard not all states do this.

    I don’t think you should worry about what you are or are not doing. It sounds like K is developing well! Being a lazy parent can be good. She learns much more from what you are doing and how you act than from anything you consciously try to teach her. Since I know you and Neil do the best you can to live life well, know that she is picking up on that.