baby

How to encourage your child's development (with less stress).

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The baby is a baby no longer. She’s a walking 18-month-old toddler.

With my first baby, I watched his development like a hawk. I would weekly check a chart I found on the internet the outlined when children should be hitting their developmental milestones. With every milestone he hit early, I cheered and exclaimed loudly. He’s so gifted. For every milestone he was late on, I would obsess for months.

I look back at myself then and I laugh a little. Of course, while he’s a lovely and engaging boy, ‘gifted’ is probably not the right term. And in the end, he hit of all his milestones in his own time.

The toddler, our daughter, though she is walking, she’s not really talking. She only has three words. “Mumma”, “Dadda” and “shoe”. Setting aside the mildly terrifying fact that our daughter is showing early signs of an obsession with fashion, an obsession that neither of her parents share, I can’t help but feel it might be time for her to have a few more than just three words.

Here’s Alys’ daughter learning to walk like a pro. Post continues after video. 

I can see that she comprehends us well and this settles me. Does she want water? She will shake her head yes or no. Is she ready for bed, she will shake her head no (always no for bed time). If you say, “kiss for mummy” she offers you her wide-open mouth for the sloppy kiss you will only accept from your own sweet progeny.

When she is playing, she’s building bricks nicely, and putting things together as she explores the world around her. Will she be one of those miracle children you hear so much about that wake up one day and speak clearly in whole sentences? Or is there a problem I should be paying attention to?

It’s hard. It’s early days. I try to talk myself around it. She’s still very little. She has plenty of time. She’s travelling her journey. I notice the toddlers that are younger than her by a month or so who have lots more language going on. But my baby. She just points to her foot and says “shoe”, and enthusiastically nods when offered a bickie.

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I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about taking her to see a GP. Should we pop in to see our MaCH nurse? Nah, I’ll give her a few more weeks and see how she goes. Besides, it will take that long to get an appointment and we’re all so busy anyway.

Growing up so fast. Images via Instagram @alysj

I know that, as with all things, she will come to it through time and play. Our son was a bit the same way, I remind myself. He was a boy of few words for a long time. He would say, “Mummy” and “Daddy” and “Nanana.” (Of course, the irony is that we were desperate for him to talk for the longest time. Now, at almost five, we’re desperate for him to be quiet, especially prior to 8:30am.) He remained blissfully ignorant of our concerns. And over time, in his own way, he added more and more words to his vocabulary.

Eventually he became the sort of three year old who used words like “delighted” and “splendid.” And I defy you to find anything cuter than a three year old declaring that his grandmother would be delighted to see him later that day.

This is what I hold on to, as I make a game out of words for my daughter. “Can you say bickie?” I ask as I offer her a biscuit. “Say ta. Ta for the bickie.” She laughs and reaches out for her treat completely unaware of the test I’m setting for her. And it’s my son who reminds me that all will be well. “Mummy, she’s laughing. That’s a baby’s way of saying thank you.”

How do you encourage your child's development?

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