The best way to read with your 2-year-old

Including reading time in your daily routine not only boosts language development, but it provides special one-on-one quality time that strengthens the bond between you and your little one.

Depending on your child’s age, you can focus on different aspects of the reading experience to get the most out of it. The American Academy of Pediatrics has created a literacy toolkit that includes great tips for parents and caregivers who wish to make the most out of reading time! This article will summarize a few key points about reading with a 2-year-old throughout two stages: 24-29 months and 30-35 months. Within each age range, you’ll find examples of what your child can do and what you can do to maximize the reading experience!

24 to 29 months old

Your child can: At this age, your little one can choose a book to read together – it might be the same one over and over again! He’ll probably be able to repeat a few words and phrases you say while reading, and love to laugh at silly stories and pictures. Your child might be curious and ask simple questions about the book, like “What’s that?”

You can: Find a quiet, cozy place where you and your child can cuddle up and read together. This is a great way to calm and comfort your little one. While reading, pay attention to your child’s cues and respond with excitement. If he says an important word like “dog” you can say “Yes, that’s a dog! The dog is playing outside.” Read joyfully, using different tones of voice for each character. You can even count the objects in the pictures, and wait for your little one to repeat after you. Continue reading

The science behind baby-talk: more than a guilty pleasure!

Why is it that adults become all of a sudden fluent in “motherese” when there’s a baby in the proximity?

When you find yourself in the company of young children, be it your kids, a friend’s, or just the cute baby in her mother’s arms that you crossed at the coffee shop, chances are you have experienced for yourself that automatic and hard to ignore temptation to engage in the caricaturized “baby-talk” with them. What has science got to say about this phenomenon? And beyond its cuteness, is it actually beneficial for your baby’s linguistic and socio-emotional development?

When adults talk to babies and pre-linguistic infants, no matter what part of the world they are in or what language they use (anthropologists have found it native communities from Sri Lanka to Siberia), their speech gravitates towards using some particular features of what is formally known as “infant-directed speech”. This form of addressing infants is characterized by being an emotionally-charged and melodic tone with a higher pitch than usual. Vowels are stretched out, sentences are simplified, and facial gestures and emotional intonation is stressed. These characteristics of baby-talk are particularly emphasized by adults when they are addressing very young babies, and then naturally decrease as the child grows and his or her language skills develop. Continue reading

Making the switch

Why is it a big deal to let go of the bottle and finally welcome the sippy cup? Just like with any other toy or object, it’s likely your little one has gotten used to and attached to the bottle. Although a seemingly simple transition at plain sight, it can represent a huge deal for your baby. Staying on the bottle for a long time has detrimental effects on your baby’s teeth and cavities so plan ahead and begin gradually introducing the switch.

Studies suggest that you’ll have an easier time in this change if you start before your little one has reached the age of 1. As a parent, you’re your child’s best judge of character and as such you’ll know when the time is right. Plan accordingly so that no mayor stressful events pile up with this, such as a sibling coming soon or a big move. Continue reading

Learning to communicate: non-verbal cues

It is hard to think of living a life without language as this is the main mean to communicate thoughts, desires and needs to others. Babies find themselves in this position every day before they learn to talk. Therefore they need to use other forms of non-verbal communication to make themselves understood.

Babies have a strong desire to connect with others. For this reason, even before they can talk they use non-verbal sounds and body language to achieve this goal. Babies are active communicators but they don’t have the language to speak just yet. If you observe closely you’ll see how they communicate without words. By doing this they seek to obtain a response from their caregivers and when they do, they learn to repeat these actions to get their needs met.

The moment babies take their first breath outside of the womb they begin to communicate. Crying, cooing and squealing are all non-verbal cues that they use to get a response from a loving parent. As they get a bit older, they learn to communicate via facial expressions such as smiling and eye contact. Babies also move their bodies to get a message across, for example moving their legs or arms when excited or in distress. As they reach the age of 8-12 months they further develop this skill by learning to wave, clap and point.

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Close to your heart: Babywearing 101

Chances are you’ve come across the terms babywearing, baby carrier, or baby wrap, as these seem to have taken over social-media feeds, parenting blogs, and even newborn’s fashion.

Along with this surge in its popularity, important questions can arise around babywearing, such as “what does babywearing refer to?”, “how do I use a baby carrier?”, “are baby wraps safe?”, among others. Don’t worry, in today’s blog entry we’re going to guide you through some of the “whys” and the “hows” of babywearing so that you can better decide whether or not it’s something you want to try.

According to the NGO Babywear International, baby wearing refers to the practice of using a baby carrier to keep your baby close to your body while you engage in your everyday activities. This method of transporting your baby as you go about the day has been the norm for many native cultures of Mexico, Peru, Indonesia, etc., and has proven to be a safe and effective tool for many caregivers throughout the centuries. Today there is a wide array of baby carriers available, so you can find one to cater to every budget and taste.

Let’s have a look at why babywearing may be so appealing nowadays, and note some important considerations about its implementation.

Benefits

  • Conveys a sense of bonding similar to that of cradling your baby in your arms, but without compromising your mobility (ex. it allows for a stroller-free and hands-free walk in the park) Continue reading

Against all odds

When a child learns to walk and falls down 50 times, he never thinks to himself: “maybe this isn’t for me?”

You’ll find out soon enough just how persistent your baby can be. However small he may seem, he’s a strong-willed individual who’ll leave you amazed when facing challenges in his development. When your little one finally comes around to taking his first steps and begin to practice walking, there’s more to it than a simple developmental milestone.

To better understand this huge transition, we must first acknowledge that by walking your baby is giving up his “status” as a highly-skilled crawler, leaving his comfort zone and willingly choosing to be a low-skilled and uncoordinated walker. Being a skilled crawler, your little one can easily move through his or her environment, explore, navigate and avoid obstacles. On the other hand, being new to walking, he doesn’t have these perks. For him, every step is bumpy and falling is his go-to those days. So how come your baby persists to walk against all odds?

Need for speed. 

Even from such a young age, your little one can realize that despite the constant falls and the bumpy ride, he realizes that he can cover a greater distance at a faster pace than if he crawled. Moreover, what he gains both in distance covered and speed reached has huge implications for the level navigation and engagement with his surroundings. Continue reading

My Baby’s First Words

Babies learn to talk by imitation. We do not need to teach them word by word, all we have to do is talk constantly to them. By naming the objects and people they see they will begin to associate the word with the object or person. Then when they develop the adequate skills for speech they will begin to repeat those words to form their first words.

Generally speaking, a baby’s first word is “mama” or “papa/dada” but when this words are first spoken they are merely babbles don’t mean that they have learned to associate “dada” with dad or “mama” with mom. After babies learn to pronounce disyllables such as the examples above, you might hear them experiment with different sounds, and although none have true meaning just yet they are preparing to communicate verbally. Some babies as early as 9 months begin to form word-like sounds, but if your little one is not there yet be patient, most babies begin to speak words with meaning roughly around 11 to 16 months of age. It’s even considered normal for babies not to speak until 18 months of age. When babies begin to pronounce words with meaning, “mama” or “dada” will actually mean “mom” or “dad” – such a sweet sound to a parent’s ear! Continue reading

Creating a positive learning environment at home

 

Babies’ brains are like sponges – they are constantly absorbing, forming new ideas from stimuli in their environment. That’s how they learn. According to a recent study from NYU, there are a few things you can do to create a strong learning environment at home.

The study followed a group of children from birth through 5th grade, tracking the influence of early home learning environments on later cognitive skills. Researchers found that the learning environment at home plays a powerful role in shaping kids’ cognitive and linguistic abilities. They found that a strong learning environment has three main features: quality parent-child interactions, the availability of learning materials, and children’s participation in learning activities. Let’s break them down.

Quality interactions: Spend quality time with your little one every day. Sit and play on the floor, talk to him or her – engage! When you’re playing together, let him or her lead and then join in on whatever catches his or her attention. Point to objects he or she is watching and name them. Respond to your little one’s cues promptly – like identifying if he or she is hungry or in need of a diaper change. It’s important that your baby feels secure so that he or she is willing to explore his or her environment. Continue reading

Is your child overactive? You might want to read this!

Children are often told to sit still. This happens everywhere, and it’s necessary sometimes like at school, during mealtime, and at home and when they don’t, we often believe that they are misbehaving or that we as parents may be doing something wrong. When children become overstimulated, their high energy levels can often go through the roof. What can you do to help your little one calm down and focus?

  1. Let your child fidget
    • Your child can simply be bored and may feel the need to stand up and move around. A small amount of physical movement can help a child focus more. Loren Shlaes, a pediatric occupational therapist in New York City suggests allowing a child to hold a fidget toy such as a stress ball.
  2. Go outside
    • Moving around is a good way of helping your child pay attention so the more activity the better. Playing outside stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin – both neurotransmitters that are critical for attention, focus, impulse control and learning. Some children focus and listen so much better after taking a walk or just being around nature. Dr Swanson suggests children spend at least an hour a day outdoors. A recent study at Auburn University found a single 30-minute stint of exercise helped preschooler’s ability to pay attention in class, compared with being sedentary. Continue reading

Exactly how big a deal is drawing?

With the sudden boom on computers, tablets, and phones as convenient playtime devices, it seems we’ve lost a little touch of one of the most basic activities that can further develop your little one’s fine motor skills.

Between the age of 12 and 18 months, it’s possible your baby will want to write and draw anywhere he finds, be sure to encourage him to give it a try, directing his attention to an appropriate canvas! There is endless research that suggests drawing, doodling and scribbling play a larger role in child development than we first thought.

What are some of the benefits of drawing? 

  • Further develop your little one’s motor skills such as holding and hand-eye coordination, both of which will ultimately help him dominate writing and drawing on a higher level.
  • Get those creative juices flowing!
  • Even though they’re still young, children need outlets where they can express themselves, drawing is a perfect way to do so.
  • They can learn in a visual and easy way differences and similarities in shapes, colors, and sizes.
  • Understanding that when pen hits paper a mark is made, your little one gets to experience cause and effect first hand.
  • Drawing can serve as a great distraction and has been shown to improve mood.
  • Encouraging your child’s creativity has benefits in their ability to solve problems later on.
  • When kids feel good while creating something totally new it helps boost their self-confidence and later on, will feel the freedom to experiment and create new ways of thinking or doing something.

There are different ways to encourage your child’s creativity, independence and artistic skills. The following are just of a few of the infinite possibilities: Continue reading