Words are powerful! Your child is learning that she can get your attention, create pretend worlds, get her needs met, and express her feelings! Here are two tips in responding to your child:

  • It is better to say a whole word back to your little one, rather than correcting her speech. When she says, "Doggie!", for example, as she points to her cat toy, say "Cat!" back to her, while pointing to the cat, to help her learn that it is a cat.
  • Let her see your face when you are talking to her, which helps her learn language. Think about your facial expressions: she is watching and copying the movements of your lips!

Words can also frustrate your little one when you don't understand what she is saying (And can frustrate you!). When this happens, ask your child to point to what she wants or to lead you to the problem she can't "label" yet. Be patient! It can take time for you and your child to understand each other.

Brain Science for Your Baby

This is the age where tantrums begin.   Sometimes it can be very hard to remember that tantrums are a normal part of development - and they tend to get better when your toddler has more words to use to communicate with you.   So when your toddler is having a hard time, take a deep breath and try to be calm.  Words are powerful.   Every parent yells sometimes, but frequently yelling or being angry at your toddler can affect stress hormones.  


A 2011 study of over 400 preschoolers and their mothers looked at the relationship between maternal punishment, cortisol levels (stress hormone), and child behavior (Hastings et al in Developmental Psychobiology).  The researchers found that the children of mothers who reported spanking, yelling or shouting, or showing anger had higher cortisol levels when meeting new people.  The authors concluded that how mothers respond affects infants' and young children's' stress responses and eventually their responses to others.  Regular exposure to spanking or yelling and shouting may make children less able to cope with experiences and lead to more problem behaviors.


More on dealing (calmly) with tantrums 

A Baby Buffer Prescription for Your Baby
When your little one makes up a story, she may think out loud or talk to herself.  Both are normal! Respond by helping her further use her imagination.  For example, if your toddler says, "Bird flies to Grandma's!" when she sees a bird flying in the yard, you could say, "That bird is high in the sky! What does he see on the way to Grandma's?"

Help your toddler tell a story. To encourage your toddler's growing storytelling, ask her a question, such as, "What was on top of your birthday cake?"  If your toddler says, "Big doggie!", for example, you might say, "Yes, Sam was a very big doggie, wasn't he?"


Give your child choices. For example, give your child two or three choices when she says that she wants a toy to go with her to the babysitter.  Say, for example, 'Do you want your teddy bear or your baby doll in the car?' This will help her learn to name objects, as well as get her needs met.

A Baby Buffer Prescription for You  


Read books together. Look at the pictures and describe them, or read the storybook with your child. Both help create special bonding time which is comforting to you and her.


Repeat and add to what your child says. If a child says 'juice'. You can say 'more juice', 'juice please' or 'juice all gone'. This shows your child how words can be put together to make short sentences. 


Share special family photographs. Look at, as well as talk about, photographs of family events with your toddler.  Doing so will be meaningful for you, as well as help grow her memory. Ask her to point out people, and point them out yourself, to help her link names with those who love her! Tell stories about them to your child, and let her tell you stories, too!  



What Your Baby Can Do - Developmental Milestones 


Children in this age range are moving away from their "baby" stage and toward the greater world that they have never been physically able to explore before. Talking, walking and asserting their independence are the hallmarks of this stage, developmentally. Children need to explore...we just need to help them do so safely!


Gene's Research Tip
A new study from the journal Science Translational Medicine looked at the microbiome bacteria of placentas, after birth.  The idea was to see who baby TSK was sharing time with, at least very soon before birth.  Now, in the past, we had noted there seemed to be a difference in the microbiome of infants born by C-section vs vaginal delivery, and so assumed this was related to the mother's birth canal bugs.  But this study of about 300 placentas showed that the placentas' bacteria load was most similar to... are you ready?...the mothers' mouth bacteria.  Bet you didn't see that one coming! The researchers didn't, either.  So, if the mom had more bacteria in her mouth that cause cavities, so did her placenta. Read More
Baby Buffer Blog
Written by Kathy Ellerbeck, MD, MPH, FAAP

During breakfast in the mornings before preschool I admit that we used to let our youngest watch cartoons on TV.  Until we figured out that she couldn't watch TV and chew at the same time!   


There is good evidence that "multitasking" is over-rated...most of us don't multitask very well! And mealtimes should be about eating and talking...not eating in front of the TV. I think we all know that. But now there is the cell phone in my pocket. At all times. And there's (always) work to be done that I could be doing while eating. Or playing. My cell phone is addictive, a constant temptation...and I think that that's true for lots of parents.


In March of this year there was an article published in Pediatrics about the mobile device use of 55 caregivers of young children eating in a fast food restaurant. The study was observational, and the caregivers didn't know that they were being observed. The researchers chose to observe caregivers and children during meals because mealtime is a daily routine in which face-to-face caregiver-child interactions are considered to be a good thing.  Read More

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