Language development, creative play and anxiety

Language development

Speech, like so many milestones, will develop at varying rates between different children so don't panic if your child is saying six words while their peers are spurting out 20 – believe or not, 6-20 words is the range you can expect at 20 months, with girls often talking earlier than boys.

Parents play a crucial role in their child's language development. Studies have shown that those who are read to and spoken with more during the early years will have larger vocabularies and better grammar.

Also, your child's comprehension of what you are saying is just as, if not more, important than what comes out of their mouths. Pay attention to their expressive language, for example if they are making eye contact, interacting and 'talking' even if they aren't using words.

If your toddler doesn't respond when you speak or is a little behind in language, checking their hearing is always a good idea as the two are closely connected.

Creative play

Encourage your little one to engage in creative play – where they connect with others and use their hands and imaginations.

Try these fun ideas:

  • Make a cubby house with cushions, boxes and blankets, or make something in the kitchen.

  • Get down on the floor with them. They want you in their world.

  • Encourage talking. Playtime allows us to build strong relationships and communication skills.

  • Live in the moment and be playful. Parents will often think about dinner or other things on the to-do list, instead, play in the here and now.


Anxiety is a normal part of your child's behavioural and emotional development. Maybe they don't like the sound of the vacuum cleaner or are scared of dogs. This anxiety is a developmental sign that they're becoming more aware of their surroundings and their place in the world. When your child is anxious, cuddle and reassure her and help child resolve any worries.

Between the ages of one and three, your child may experience anxiety at different times as she responds to changes in her environment or routine.

If you are concerned about your toddler's anxiety, seek advice from your health professional.