How advanced is your toddler's speech?
According to new research, there are 25 words all toddlers should be using before they reach the grand old age of two.
The 25 words are from a list of 310 which should make up a toddler's vocabulary.
And those 25 words?
Mummy, daddy, baby, milk, juice, hello, ball, yes, no, dog, cat, nose, eye, banana, biscuit, car, hot, thank you, bath, shoe, hat, book, all gone, more, bye bye.
Creator of the Languard Development Survey tests, Professor Leslie Rescorla, monitored 78 two-year-olds for 15 years for his research, and found that half of those were slow to start talking, but did not demonstrated any other developmental issues.
At 17, their vocabulary was classed as at least as good as average, yet was still not as good as those who were better talkers as toddlers.
The youngsters who were late to talk were also found to perform poorly in tasks involving verbal memory, or listening to words, sentences, or numbers and then repeating them back.
Experts said that up to 20 per cent of all two-year-olds are behind their peers in speech, with half to three-quarters of those likely to just be late-bloomers who catch up over time.
Some children though, will have ongoing problems with speech, and a limited vocabulary at two could indicate other problems such as autism, dyslexia or deafness.
Delegates at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual conference in Vancouver, where the research was presented, were also told that television was no substitute for parental attention, and conversation and interaction was crucial when a child was learning to talk.
Professor Rescorla said that if children do not use most of the 25 words by 24 months, they may be "late talkers," but added that parents should not panic if their child is developing normally otherwise.
Do you make a point of teaching new words?
- Why do stars twinkle?
<strong>The quick answer:</strong> “Um…so they look pretty. And if they didn’t, you wouldn’t be able to see them in the dark, would you?”</p>
<strong>The thoughrful answer:</strong> According to Glenn Murphy in<span style="text-decoration: underline;"> </span><a href="http://www.sciencemuseumshop.co.uk/product/124324/sm-why-is-snot-green.html" target="_blank">Why Is Snot Green?, Macmillan, £5.99,</a> they only appear to twinkle. In fact, they’re burning clearly and brightly. But we’re looking at them through the churning murky gases of our atmosphere.</p>
- Why can't I have juice now?
<strong>The quick answer: </strong>“Because I said so.”</p>
<strong>The thoughtful answer:</strong> "You can drink whatever you like at mealtimes. But in between meals, you can’t have anything other than water. Otherwise you’re covering your teeth in sugar all the time. And teeth don’t like being covered in sugar. It can make them go black and wobbly and fall out."</p>
- Why is the sky blue?
<strong>The quick answer:</strong> “Um…so that it matches the sea.”</p>
<strong>The thoughtful answer:</strong> "Air molecules are, in fact, slightly bluish. And while we’re at it, the sea isn’t blue because it’s reflecting the sky, whatever you may have been taught. Water isn’t colourless either - it’s also slightly blue."</p>
- Why does the rain die?
<strong>The quick anwser:</strong> “Er…because it needs to give the sunshine a turn.”</p>
<strong>The thoughtful answer: "</strong>It doesn’t really die, because rain keeps happening. There’s water in the air all around us, and as air rises it gets colder, and then the cold air just can’t hold all the water any more. So the water falls back down to the ground as rain."</p>
- Why is a dog a dog?
<strong>The quick answer:</strong> “Well, it couldn’t be a tiger, could it, or it would have to have stripes.”</p>
<strong>The thoughtful answer:</strong> A huge and difficult question, but you could talk about how there are lots of different kinds of animals because the world has hot countries and cold countries and jungles and deserts and ice and snow, and animals have lots of different ways of getting enough food to eat. Dogs have sharp teeth and a good sense of smell because they used to have to survive (before tins of dog food) by hunting.</p>
- Why does ironing make things go flat?
<strong>The quick answer:</strong> “Because it’s squashed against the ironing board.”</p>
<strong>The thoughtful answer: </strong>"Because an iron is hot and heavy. The heat makes the links between the little molecules in the material a bit looser, and then the weight of the iron straightens them out." (And a molecule, if they ask, is two or more atoms, and an atom is the tiniest thing in the world that everything’s made from. But it may be more useful to explain to your pre-schooler that daddies should iron as often as mummies.)</p>
- Why is that lady so fat?
<strong>The quick answer:</strong> “Ssshh! Don’t be rude! She might hear you!”</p>
<strong>The thoughtful answer:</strong> "People are all sorts of different shapes and sizes. That’s what makes us so interesting. The important thing is to keep ourselves fit - and that means lots of good food and plenty of running and jumping and dancing, because exercise keeps our hearts healthy."</p>
- Why can't I take my clothes off?
<strong>The quick answer:</strong> “Because it’s rude.”</p>
<strong>The thoughtful answer: </strong>Another difficult one, because lots of pre-schoolers like ripping their clothes off. You’ve got to tread the line between saying that being naked is fine because all bodies are lovely, but that it’s not always practical to strip off. (Naked in the bath is sensible, but naked in the snow is silly because you’ll get cold and ill.) You could add that generally people don’t take their clothes off when visitors come round, which might be a good thing to explain before Granny comes to stay at Easter. For more ideas on how to answer questions like these, get hold of a copy of <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ask-Your-Father-Questions-Children/dp/1906021619/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328007586&sr=8-1" target="_blank">Emma Cook’s Ask Your Father, Short Books, £8.99.</a></p>
- Where did the dinosaurs go?
<strong>The quick answer:</strong> “Er…they just got old and died.”</p>
<strong>The thoughtful answer:</strong> Glenn Murphy in <a href="http://www.sciencemuseumshop.co.uk/product/124324/sm-why-is-snot-green.html" target="_blank">Why Is Snot Green?, Macmillan, £5.99,</a> comes to the rescue: "Dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago, probably because a huge meteorite destroyed the world they lived in. But one group called therapods survived, and over the course of millions of years turned into birds. So not all dinosaurs died off completely…"</p>
- Why don't girls have willies?
<strong>The quick answer: </strong>“Um…because they wee from a different place. Now why don’t we go and get an ice-cream?”</p>
<strong>The thoughtful answer:</strong> Go on. Be brave: "Boys and men have willies and girls and women have something different". (That no one can quite bear to name. But the sooner you find a word for it – please, please, not ‘front bottom’ – the easier your life will be).</p>