Translating Toddlerese

  • I’m amazed at how fast my two year old is picking up words. Tonight she saw a flood on television and called it just that. That said, understanding what she says most of the time takes a degree in linguistics! I’ve had to become a translator when she talks to many of my friends and family.

    And yet there are times when even I don’t understand what she’s trying to say, which frustrates us both. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in trying to get your toddler’s words heard and understood? 

  • Our 2-year old has done a great job of speaking and seems pretty advanced for her age. That being said, it's tough. The biggest challenge is trying for her to understand what we are trying to say to her. She understands a lot, but it's hard to know sometimes what is simply mimicry, or what are concepts she truly understands. It can be frustrating, but it's also so cool to watch happen.

  • MY 18 month old is frustrating us right now. He doesn't talk, so he yells at us when he wants something and points to direct us where he wants to go. Yet he understands an amazing amount of stuff. I can tell him to go in his room and bring me his shoes and he will do just that. He will also follow complicated 2 and 3 step commands that include very specific instructions like " go into Aidan's room and bring mommy the red train."

    He babbles a ton, but no one (including us) understand him. I have a feeling though that when he does talk, it is going to be an explosion of words!!

  • It is frusterating when only you can understand your toddler and worse when even you don't, but as long as your toddler is trying to communicate effectively, that's the most important. If you can understand what your toddler is trying to say, but they say it incorrectly, simply repeat the word or phrase correctly until he/she repeats it back. The average age when speech is half-understandable between 18-33 months, with the average age being around 24 months. Speech should be completely understandable between 21-49 months, with the average age being 30 months. If your toddler's speech is only half-understandable by 3.5 years, it may be a sign of language delay, so consult with your pediatrician to make sure your child is on track.

  • Watching our babies learn to speak may be the most fascinating aspect of watching them develop... although I'm sure there will be days down the road that I will wish they never learned to speak!