Does your 18 month old…
- understand the concepts of “in and out”, “off and on”?
- point to several body parts when asked?
- use at least 20 words?
- respond with words or gestures to simple questions – “Where’s teddy?”, “What’s that?”
- demonstrate pretend play with toys – gives teddy a drink?
- make at least four different consonant sounds – b, n, d, g, w, h?
- enjoy being read to and looking at simple books with you?
- point to pictures using one finger?
If your child does not do one or several of the above, First Words can help! Complete the Communication Checkup or contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 or 613-PARENTS for more information.
Also look out for any of these red flags:
- Limited eye gaze
- Limited shared interest in others
- Lack of response to their name
- Late onset or limited use of gestures (e.g. showing or pointing)
- Difficulty following an adult’s point
- Limited production of sounds
- Late onset of first words, use of first words at 15 to 16 months
- Difficulty with understanding: unable to point to common body parts when asked or follow a simple one-step direction unless accompanied by a gesture
- Child is frustrated when trying to communicate (may show you frustration by temper tantrums, biting, hitting)
- Limited pretend play skills (e.g. Give baby a bottle, pat their back, put to bed)
- Repetitive play and/or movement behaviors
- Child does not appear to be reaching the appropriate milestones
- Any loss of any social and/or language skills.
If you have noticed any of these red flags, your child may be dealing with a developmental issue as well as a language delay and will need more support. An immediate referral to the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre (OCTC) for a developmental assessment might be required. Contact OCTC at 613-737-0871.
Here are a few quick strategies to help your 18 month old learn to communicate:
- Add 1 or 2 words to what your toddler says. If he says “cookie”, you can say “Want big cookie.”
- Keep encouraging communication even if you do not always understand what your toddler is trying to say.
- Give your toddler time to understand and answer you. It can take up to 10 seconds or more for your child to answer you. Be patient, keep eye contact and wait for your child to talk. Avoid repeating your question until your child has looked away. If your child is looking at you, your child is still thinking!
- Play pretend games (e.g. dress up, feeding and caring for a doll/stuffed toy, farm and animals).
- Sing songs and nursery rhymes that use actions like “The Wheels on the Bus.”
- Check out our “Strategies” and “Learning Tools” sections for other strategies and resources!