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Lost in Translation

Q. I can't always understand what my toddler is saying. How come my older child is better at figuring it out than I am?


A. A sibling is often best at translating a new talker's speech because of the amount of time the two spend together.

As his abilities develop, your toddler is likely to make certain sound substitutions (like saying "tun" for "sun") or drop letters altogether (say, turning "dog" into "og"). It can take a lot of conversation to pick up on his particular patterns, and while you may indeed spend plenty of time listening to your toddler, it's other kids who actually chat with him the most. A lot can come out in discussing a block tower!

If by about 24 months you still understand less than half of what your child says, talk to your pediatrician. Until then, you can help your toddler by modeling proper word pronunciation  -- and ask his big sister to step in when you're stumped.

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