Having conversations with your toddler teaches them about language, empathy, and shows them that it’s important to be curious! And, very importantly, when we model how to be attentive listeners, kids learn respectful communication…and that we listen when someone else is talking and we wait our turn to speak. 

Why It’s So Important to Ask Your Toddler Questions 

Asking questions helps you get to know and understand your toddler better. It also gives you a way to lavish your child with the gift of your time and attention, which helps boost your tot’s cooperation. I call this feeding the meter. 

When you ask your toddler questions, you make them feel like winners. It shows that you are interested in their opinions, that their thoughts are respected. This sets their expectations for the way they want to be treated in relationships with others.

Toddler Conversation-Starters 

Read together.

Books are a great conversation-starter! Reading is a way to feed a toddler’s brain and it’s a sweet opportunity to snuggle close and make your relationship even stronger. The questions you ask about books will vary based on your tot’s age.

  • Toddlers ages 12 to 24 months: Ask a lot of questions about what you see. For example, “Look! A doggie! What does the doggie say? What other animals do you see?”

  • Toddlers ages 2 to 3: Ask more open-ended questions about what you’re reading (“What’s going on on this page?” “Does the bunny look happy or sad?”).

  • Toddlers ages 3 to 5 years: Use questions about what you’re reading to draw connections to their own lives (“The bunny is sharing his toys with the pig—has anything like that happened to you at preschool?").

Try bedtime sweet talk.

As part of your bedtime routine, make time to ask your toddler about their favorite parts of the day and about what they’re most looking forward to tomorrow. In the moments right before dozing off, your toddler’s mind is a little sponge, soaking up your words. Asking questions that make your tot think about all of the best parts of the day help them drift off to sleep feeling smart and loved!

Thoughtful Questions to Ask Your Toddler:

  • What are you really good at?

  • What makes you proud?

  • What is something you really like to do?

  • What is something you really don’t like to do?

  • What makes you feel happy?

  • How do you make other people feel happy?

  • What makes you feel loved?

  • How do you show other people you love them?

  • What makes you feel sad?

  • What are some ways you and Mommy/Daddy are the same?

  • What are some ways you are different?

  • What do you want to be when you grow up?

  • What was your favorite part of today?

  • What are you most looking forward to doing tomorrow?

Fun questions to ask your toddler:

  • What’s something that makes you laugh?

  • What are some things you do to make Mommy/Daddy laugh?

  • If your [teddy/doggie/dolly] could talk, what do you think he/she would say?

  • Would you like to live in [favorite book]? Why?

  • How old do you think Mommy/Daddy is?

  • If you were a monster, what would you eat?

  • If you were a dinosaur, what do you think your name would be?

  • What’s the silliest sound you can make?

  • What’s the silliest sound you’ve ever heard? 

Remember, it’s hard to be a toddler! Toddlers are at a big disadvantage compared to grownups…they’re smaller, weaker, and have less power than the adults around them. They spend a lot of the day losing! By asking your toddler questions—and showing that you care about their answers—you help them feel super smart!

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.