It's adorable when you say to kids, "Where's your belly?" and they point to their tummy or lift up their shirt!  They can point to simple body parts (i.e. nose, ears, eyes, feet, etc).  However, when should that occur and how do I help my child learn that skill?

The average range for kids to be able to "answer" simple questions like, "where are your ears" is 12-18 months.  Personally, I think it leans closer to the 18 months than the 12 months.  If I were to give a range, I'd say 15-18 months for a typically developing child.  Therefore, if you have a child who is between those age marks, that means you need to be TEACHING your child his body parts.  They don't just wake up one day and know their body parts and understand the relationship between asking a question and giving an answer (even if it is by pointing).  Also, it may take a few weeks for your child to really start to understand the concept and the names of the body parts that you are teaching him/her... so be patient!  These activities don't take a lot of time... so you can easily do them even if you are a mom who works full time.  You can always squeeze them in at: meal time, bath time, or just before bed time.

What can you do?
  • One idea is to get on your child's level.  Make sure there are minimal distractions (choose a location where there aren't a lot of toys) and sit across from your child to play.  Your child may squirm, but they do love one-on-one interaction.  Sit there and say, "where is mommy's nose" and point to your nose.  Then say, "where is your nose?", pause and then, using your child's hand, point to his/her nose.  Repeat this for all the body parts you want him/her to know.  You may want to start with 3 and then work your way up.  I suggest three in very different locations... nose, tummy, feet.
  • Do you know the song, "Where is thumpkin?" (if you don't, here is a link to a youtube of the song so you get an idea of the tune: thumpkin song).  Use that tune and sing, "where is your nose? where is your nose? here  it is!  here it is!  it's a pretty nose. it's a pretty nose. let's find some more, of your body parts."  Then repeat for another body part.  Kids LOVE songs and so it should keep them in engaged for a long time.
  • You can also use a favorite stuffed animal or doll.  Ask your child, "where is panda's nose?"  See if he/she will point to it.  If not, point to the stuffed animal's nose and say... I found it!!  The more animated and interested you are, the more interesting the game will be to your little one.
  • While in the bathtub, you can use the tune to row row row your boat and sing, "wash wash wash your tummy, wash it everyday, if you wash it everyday the germs will stay away."  Simply use auditory highlighting (see blog post from June 14, 2011) in order to highlight the body part name.  This isn't teaching your child to answer a question, but it is giving your child the language of his/her body parts in a fun, new way!

Have fun playing!!!

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