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I See Bird: Your Child's First Sentences

When your 14-month-old says Ma while holding out her hands to you, she really means Pick me up, Mommy. She uses a single word to stand for a whole sentence. Over the next few months, she will try putting two words together (up, Ma) to make her first real sentence. By the time she is around two years old, she will be using two- and three-word sentences.

Sentences are pared-down to the essentials for about another year: I go out, Give me cookie, Cat go home. Around her third birthday, your child will begin speaking in more grammatical, four- and five word sentences. When she's between four and five, her sentences will grow in complexity and length.

You can encourage your child's sentence-building skills by talking with her. Conversation lets her practice putting her thoughts into words. Don't correct her, but model the correct form in your response. If she says Door hurt foot, you can answer, Oh dear, you hurt your foot when you banged it on the door.

Don't try to get her to imitate your speech. Children learn by expressing their own thoughts in ways that are appropriate to their level. When she's ready, your child will speak in complete sentences. If you are concerned about your child's speech, talk to your pediatrician.

FisherPrice Parenting Guide CDROM