This week we will look at a few topics covered in Issue 16/Month 16 of our Growing Child Programme. Your little one’s ability to understand what is heard (receptive language) is still growing much faster than their speech (expressive language).  So share as many words as you can with them as you’re helping them build their own bank of words as their speech develops.

At 16 months toddlers like to engage in playful physical activity, carry things while walking and copy your actions and words. Your very own little copy cat! Your child will love to copy what you say for example, you say ‘See the Monkey’ and your child will echo the word ‘Monkey’ or points to the object you name. Toys suggested by the Growing Child for your child at this age include the following; stuffed animals, dolls, pots and pans, a small brush, play dough, toy telephone. Be careful with the play dough. I always found the younger ones think it looks appetising and can slip it into their mouths without you seeing!

Another topic in issue 16 of the Growing Child Programme is kitchen play. Do you worry what your toddler is doing in the kitchen? Do you feel that you must keep him in a playpen to keep him out of trouble? Or while you are putting away groceries or washing dishes?

How about arranging things to make the kitchen a safer area for your little one? Grab a safe stool/kitchen step and encourage your child to help if they are showing an interest. Your child could possibly clean the potatoes, carrots or mushrooms. After you cut the veg they could place them in the sauce pan. Your toddler could help put some pasta in an empty saucepan.

Doing something as simple as this helps your toddler feel a sense of achievement or that they have helped mummy or daddy! Obviously sharp objects like knives/scissors or cleaning products, anything your child might swallow or put near his/her eyes should be out of reach.

Turn your kitchen into a learning space! Find old milk cartons, juice cartons, egg containers – they could be a play home or a play boat for your little one. Or possibly use empty egg cartons for your child to match colours – this is great for hand eye coordination. Colour in the egg space with the same colour of pom-poms/balls/small blocks and they can match to each colour.

Another thing your child could do in the kitchen while you are doing the dishes or working beside them is make music with pots and pans and wooden spoons. Although your ears may find it hard to take believe me your little one will love all the noises they can make. All sorts of simple, everyday objects make for safe and exciting play in the kitchen while you work!

Each day is a fascinating new challenge for your toddler at this exciting age of discoveries. They are much more aware of their environment. Of themselves as an individual and they are able to move around and make things happen on their own. Its amazing to watch. A child of this age is just so interesting and can make you enjoy the little things in life again, this is an age they love being outside and exploring – a time before they become glued to screens. A time before they ‘want’ everything they see in the shops.

Hopefully you saw some of our ideas shared on our Facebook page during lock-down. Lots of ideas on different things to do with your children and for imagination play.  Water is another excellent thing for your child to play with. They love to pour things in and out and run their fingers through it. This is a cheap and free toy to play with. Again be safe and never leave your child unattended around water.

Enjoy your weekend of free play with your children and special time with each of your children. As you’re told time and time again they grow too quickly and we don’t make the most of everyday! This is an age where their mummies and daddies/carers are their heroes. Relax and make the most of it!