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Toddlers might understand words such as, “no” when an adult says, “There’s no more milk”. For more information on toddler developmental milestones, click here

Toddler: Language & Learning


Did you know that children who are read to for 30 minutes a day do much better in school?  Borrow great books from your local library.
Ask a librarian for help finding books that match your child’s age and interests.
If your child shows interest in a topic, look in a book to learn more. This teaches children how reading and books help us learn new information.
Read to your toddler every day: during cuddle time and before bed.
Read your own book or magazine in front of your toddler. Offer him a stack of his own books to look through at the same time.


Explore how long it takes your toddler to dress, eat, go potty and help clean up. Planning enough time for your toddler to try these things will make it more fun for everyone.
When you describe things around you, your child explores new ideas. For example, you might say “The wind feels cold on my face” or “I hear a bird chirping”.
Adding movements when you talk with your toddler can help him explore new words. For example, point or reach upwards when saying the word “up”.
Explore pictures and photos with your child, letting her look at and hold them. Talk about what and who is in the pictures. Children love pictures of family and friends.


Ask your child to tell you his name, how old he is, his favorite color.
Asking your child about things she sees and hears helps her learn new words.
  • You can ask about pictures in books or things in the store. “Can you find the apples? Apples are red and tasty.”
  • As she grows and learns more about colors, you can ask “which one is red?”
Ask questions about your toddler’s body.
  • Can you show me your nose?
  • Can you show me your bellybutton?
Ask your child what sounds animals make.  “What does the dog say?”  Even if your toddler makes a noise that doesn’t sound like a dog, she is trying.
Ask your child to say “bye bye” when leaving and “hi” when people come to visit.


Discover how your toddler likes you to talk with him at his eye level.
Let your child overhear you telling a positive story about his new skills.
Discover how much your toddler learns when you talk about what you are doing.  “First, I turn on the water and wet my hands. Then I take the blue bar of soap and rub it in my hands until they are nice and bubbly. And now I am rinsing my hands in the water.”
Discover how your child can learn language when you answer by describing things. For example, if your toddler says “Mine!” say, “Yes, this is your yellow cup. Where is mommy’s big blue cup?”
Discover your child making good choices and praise her. Limit the attention you give your child when she is making poor choices, like throwing tantrums.


Encourage your child’s growing vocabulary during imaginative play. For example, if you are playing restaurant, talk about menus and cooks.
Play using songs and rhymes! Toddlers enjoy hearing songs over and over, and it helps them learn. Try small changes for fun. After singing about the “itsy bitsy spider,” sing about the “great big spider”.
Play with different sizes in your home. Have your child find the big shoe and the little shoe.  As she grows, count the shoes together.  Finding different sizes is an early math skill.
Play matching and sorting games with your toddler.  When you are folding laundry, help him match different patterns or colors of socks.
Count everything:  the number of shoes next to the door or the number of blocks in a tower! This helps your toddler learn early math concepts.