Your young toddler is understanding more than you think. Their ability to understand, or their “receptive” communication is actually very developed at this point and will only get better. She is even picking up on your non-verbal communication and subtle cues. She still has a very limited vocabulary and is only able to articulate a handful of words, but her sharp nature and ability to pick up on cues and understand new words every day actually makes her a very good communicator if you pay close attention.
If you have a grumpy morning because you are sleep deprived and running late, chances are your perceptive little toddler will pick up on this and have a grumpy morning as well.
On the flip side, if you are happy and relaxed, she is likely to mirror this emotion as well.
You can test her receptive communication by asking her questions that do not require verbal responses. For example, “Can you point to the puppy?” (In a book or real life) “Can you wave bye bye to grandma? Where’s your belly?” See if she responds appropriately to these questions.
You can also ask her several yes, no questions to keep her involved in the conversation and keep teaching her new words. You can offer her choices of two objects. For example, “Do you want an apple or a banana? Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt?” And you hold up one of each for her to point to the one she chooses.
While reading to your toddler, ask him questions about the book, such as, “Can you find a ball on this page? Can you help me turn the page?” And, “Is this boy happy or sad?”
Pay close attention to your child’s cues. Even while nonverbal, they are able to give you a lot of information!