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New this month: Listening and labeling
A typical 22-month-old's vocabulary consists of about 20 words, and most toddlers can also combine a couple of words to ask questions or make statements. But before you start counting the number of words your child uses to judge whether she's on track, remember that toddlers understand many more words than they can say — and comprehension is an integral part of language acquisition. So in that context, her "vocabulary" is probably much larger than you think. You may also notice that your toddler has begun to mimic the tone of your speech. When you exclaim, "Oh my goodness!" or "Stop that!" or "Thank you!" she'll repeat it with a similar inflection.
If you point to body parts on your child or a doll and ask her what they are, she should be able to name five or more. If you ask her, "Where is your foot?" or "Where are your ears?" she should be able to point to the right places. She'll also enjoy singing nursery rhymes with you. Even if she can't say all the words, she'll try to repeat some of the song and even attempt to carry the tune.
What you can do
At this stage of the game, listening skills are essential to language development. To encourage your child to listen as well as speak, read children's books that have repetitive words or phrases and ask your child to fill in certain words as you go along. Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carle is a simple one for a 22-month-old to follow. The phrases, "Have you seen my cat?" and "That is not my cat," are repeated throughout. Singing nursery rhymes again and again is another great way to improve listening skills. Your child will naturally want to sing along with you, and she'll need to remember the words to do that. The melodies attached to these rhymes can make it easier for your child to remember the words. Think about how much easier it is to remember the words to your favorite song than your favorite poem or story.
Other developments: Pretending to read, setting goals
Most toddlers love to look at books, and you may witness yours holding a favorite book and pretending to read it herself, labeling familiar objects. If you hold a book upside down, she should know it's not in the right position, but she'll probably be able to recognize some pictures even when the book's flipped over.
Even though your child's attention span is still relatively short, don't feel compelled to read quickly in order to finish a story. In fact, the faster you read, the faster she'll lose interest in the book. Instead, read slowly so that she understands what's happening, and allow her to scan the pages and look for objects that she can point to and label. You can stop when she gets tired. Spending time reading with care is much more important than getting to the end of the story.
Another new cognitive leap to look for this month: goal-setting. Your toddler is beginning to have very particular ideas about what she wants to accomplish, such as riding her tricycle down a specific path or fitting together all the pieces in a puzzle in one sitting. She'll also be invested in what happens — she'll be pleased when she's successful and frustrated when she's not.
See all our articles on toddler development.