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How to talk to your child at each age
Did you know that recognizing, acknowledging, and responding to your toddler’s cues plays a big role in her brain development? Learn more about these important back-and-forth interactions between parent and toddler.
Two males at dining table, baby with hand in mouth

Right from birth, you and your child are already beginning to engage in back-and-forth interactions with one another. Although simple, these interactions are not only important for your toddler’s brain development, but they help with relationship building and bonding, too.

Your toddler may initiate early interactions in several ways: by making sounds, pointing to people or objects, and bringing things over to you, like a favorite book or toy. This is an opportunity for you to return the interaction in a meaningful way – whether it’s acknowledging that she’d like to read the book she brought to you or saying aloud what you believe she might be thinking. All of these simple, back-and-forth interactions are stimulating your toddler’s brain – and even reducing her stress reactions!

For example, when your toddler groans, covers his face, or cries out in protest, that’s his way of saying, “Do you recognize I’m upset? Are you going to respond?” It’s important to respond with empathy to let your toddler know that you care and are there to help.

How to engage in a back-and-forth interaction:

Example 1:

1. Toddler: Walks to the window and bangs on it.

2. Parent: “That’s the window. What do you see outside?”

Example 2:

1. Toddler: Waves.

2. Parent: “Good waving! We can say hello to the people walking by.”

Example 3:

1. Toddler: Takes a toy car and pushes it.

2. Parent: Copy your toddler’s behavior and say, “Vroom, vroom! The car is going to the store!”

Example 4:

1. Toddler: Bumps her head and looks at you.

2. Parent: “Ouch! You hit your head. Are you okay?”

First 5 California
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First 5 California
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