One of the ways that baby’s learn new skills is by mimicking their parents. This can be a bad thing if you, as the parent, are not on your best behavior, but it can also work to your advantage if you are purposefully trying to teach your baby or toddler a new skill.
Lately we have noticed that our 19-month-old toddler is copying everything we do and say more than ever. This has worked out well in teaching him all sorts of things. One of his new skills is eating with a fork. He has been using utensils since he was about a year old, but recently he has been watching the way we use our silverware and has been working on his technique. As a result, meal time is much less messy! Another fun thing we have taught him to do is blow on his food when it is too hot. That is the cutest thing!
To really take advantage of this stage in your toddler’s development, you should be purposeful in what you model for your child. When you are trying to teach a new still, be very animated to draw attention, and narrate everything that you are doing. By narrating your actions, you are not only pointing out the important steps, but you are helping to build their vocabulary at the same time. Watch for your child to imitate something and then seize those opportunities to expand on those concepts. That way you will know your child is already interested in what you are trying to teach her.
Try to resist the urge to do everything for your toddler. Schedule extra time so you can give her a chance to practice new skills by herself. There is no better way to learn! Before you know it, she will have mastered the skill and it will no longer take so long.