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New this month: Versed in verbs
The vocabulary of a typical 19-month-old toddler may consist of as few as ten words or as many as 50. Yours may be able to link two or more words together, and is starting to use more "action" words. Verbs like "go" and "jump" are common, and so is linking a verb with her name (or pronoun), as in "Come me," meaning "Come with me." (It will be some months before she inserts the preposition.) Many 19-month-olds also understand direction words such as "up," "down," "under," "out," and "in," even if they're not using them.
What you can do
You'll also discover that when you read familiar stories, if you pause at certain points in the text, your toddler will fill in the blank. To test this, next time you're reading a book that your toddler has heard dozens of times, pause at the end of a sentence and see what happens. If Goodnight Moon is a bedtime standard, try this: "In the great green room, there was a telephone and a red ..." "Balloon!" she'll likely shout.
Looking at picture books with your toddler, and labeling the objects for her, will help build her vocabulary. While you're at it, explain to her what the object does, what sounds it makes, or what it feels like. For instance, you might say, "This is a horse. Horses are big. They run fast," or "Here's a fire truck. It's red." You get the idea. And if you want proof that your child understands more words than she can say, when you're looking at books, ask her, "Where's the red tractor?" or "Where's the white horse?" and odds are she'll point right to it.
Other developments: "Motor learning," favorite toys
Toddlers learn by touching, holding, and moving objects from one place to another. They struggle to push or pull heavy objects, toss light ones across a room, and observe how small objects literally slip between their fingers. Experts call this "motor learning," and this constant testing teaches children about size, weight, and shape. You may think it's just fun for her, and even get frustrated with the inevitable messes that your 19-month-old's explorations create, but she's learning about perception and spatial relationships, concepts that will be important in a few years when she's introduced to math. This is an age when many toddlers enjoy trying to match shapes together, so a shape-sorting box is an ideal toy for a 19-month-old.
Starting last month, you may have noticed that your child was finally interested in playing with toys. This month she may become engrossed in a favorite plaything for 20 or 30 minutes — an eternity to you if your child has been unwilling to let you out of arm's reach.
Since toddlers tend to be enthusiastic explorers, be sure to choose toys that are safe. Board books, musical instruments, nesting blocks and boxes, stacking toys, toy telephones (without cords), and push-and-pull toys are top toys for toddlers. Make sure the toys, and any parts attached to them, are too large to be swallowed, do not have detachable parts that could pose a choking hazard, won't break into small pieces if thrown on the ground, don't have sharp points or edges, and don't have moveable parts that could pinch fingers.
See all our articles on toddler development.