I have to laugh out loud sometimes....as I find myself asking my little patient’s parents about developmental milestones and wondering what their toddler is thinking. I envision the child thinking, “do they really think I will perform these tricks on cue?”, I am not a circus act!
By the time your child reaches 15 months your doctor will start asking you questions related to your child’s receptive language development, as well as expressive language. Simple things like, “does she wave bye bye”, “does he point to his nose, eyes, ears when asked?’, “does she babble mama, dada?”, the list goes on and on.
Other questions as a child gets a few months older are, “what sound does a dog make?”, “what does the kitty cat do?”, “what does a cow say?”. The parent becomes the ringmaster of the circus with the cute toddler in the center ring performing the “high wire” act!! Or as one of my parents said, “we call these his party tricks”. Just wait till later in life when those tricks become a bit “trickier”......will save that for another discussion.
But, with all of that aside, these are important milestones in child development that show how well your child’s brain is working!!! As a pediatrician I am also interested in watching how the child is responding to their parent during the “circus tricks” demonstration. Do they make good eye contact with their mother? Do they listen, process the command and then “perform?”. Do they babble with inflection while we are blurting out our commands. All of these are very important signs that cognitive development is on track.
Don’t worry if your child doesn’t always “perform” on command! Many times the 18 month old child just “doesn’t want to point to their body parts, or the picture in the book” right when I want them to. It is not unusual for the parent to tell me, “they always make animals sounds at home”, I don’t know why they won’t now? I am often still smiling as I leave the exam room and suddenly the child starts to wave, bark and meow!! Those toddlers....they do perform “party tricks”, but not always when the doctor wants them to. A toddler does have their own agenda.