Props to help interaction & communication

Some toddlers need extra help interacting and connecting with people.

One of the ways that we interact with each other is by making eye contact.  It’s so important to look at each other when you are interacting.  Have you had a conversation with someone who is texting and felt like they weren’t listening to you?

If your toddler needs help making eye contact with you then you have probably already found that it’s not helpful to say ‘look at mummy’  hundreds of times.  Even calling your child’s name many times doesn’t work?

This infographic is for parents with young children who are working on interaction and eye contact.

Can you playfully lure your child to look at you?  Rather than command him!

Download for a reminder during the day.




How to encourage baby to make sounds

We all know those noises babies often make before their first birthday.

Blowing raspberries, clicking the tongue,  hand over mouth repeatedly and the constant babababa / gagagaga.

What about the cute ‘fake cough’ that some babies will make to get your attention!

or the ‘tune’ that sort of sounds a bit like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?

There are so many variations to these baby noises but the one thing they have in common is that they are building blocks for learning to talk.  Make no mistake, these noises are not just harmless baby babble.  These are the foundation for your baby’s first words.

What if my baby is very quiet?

  1. Your baby’s first goal is to be more noisy!

Whatever noises your baby is already making, encourage them!  Get your baby to make them more!  Copy your baby and see how delighted he is that you did that.  Say his favourite noise back and forth to him.

2. Make that noise meaningful.  

Use that noise to mean something.  Maybe it could be a tongue click for a horse or a raspberry noise for a car?

3.  Coughing and Laughing

These are vocal noises that children like to play with too.  Copy your baby and see if he copies your laugh or cough or sneeze?

4.  Animals

Babies are often very interested in real (and toy) animals.  Point at the cat and say meow whilst you stroke it.  Feed some plastic farm animals and make some ‘chewing’ noises or ‘slurping’ noises.

5.  Outside

When you are pushing your baby on the swing or down the slide or in the sandpit.  Listen to your baby’s sounds that signal enjoyment and say them back.

6.  New sounds

You might also try to alter your baby’s sounds just a bit.  This might help your baby to acquire a new noise.

Need more ideas?

  1. Books that promote playsounds – list here
  2. Playsounds Guide – FREE download
  3. IKEA – Best buys for language development – here
  4. Nursery Rhymes – action songs for language development
  5. Pinterest Board ideas – here 


Apps, Babies and Speech Part 2

At the end of part 1 we pondered the dilemma of the modern parent-

How do I manage my child’s screen use?

When do I start?

How much is ok?

What content should my child use?


In the case of screen use, the well-documented professional opinion is “not for children under 2” and in terms of speech and language development this is a rule to try and live by.  We say ‘try’ because, as parents, we know that screens can sometimes save your sanity, and the importance of that is not to be ignored!  We’re also aware that they’re a part of life, and they need to be managed in the best possible way.   For children over 3, screen time of no more than 2 hours is the recommended daily allowance.

Our own anecdotal evidence has shown that overuse of devices with babies and toddlers can mean they have less ‘play and talk’ time with a parent/adult, with the following results:

  1. The child’s talking can be delayed (i.e. their rate of learning to talk is slower than normal), or
  2. Their talking develops in a different way to normal, with more ‘rote’ learning, and use of learned phrases, rather than appropriate, spontaneous use of words and phrases.

Where ‘app time’ takes the place of interactive ‘play and talk’ time, the effects on a child’s speech and language development can be significant.

One of the many things that concerns us about apps is the way they are marketed, and some of the claims made by the producers of these products.  Using an app with your baby or toddler is personal choice, but it is important to be realistic when you make that choice – you are providing your child with visually stimulating, engaging entertainment , and when used sensibly (only for a very short time), that’s ok.  But be aware!  In our opinion, the useful, functional learning will be limited – especially when your child is using the app on their own.

Playing with your baby or toddler using an app may be a little better.  Interacting and talking about what is happening will help your child make more sense of the images on the screen and increase their learning…but it is still 2D learning, when 3D interaction with the real world is required! Consolidating real life learning with some adult-child play using a related app is better still.  If you and your child have been playing together with your plastic farm animals, then playing together with an app about farm animals may be a nice way to extend your play session.

Basically, there is nothing an app can teach a baby or toddler, that can’t be better taught through play, and physical interaction with the environment.

As with most things, it all comes down to balance.  If you (or another adult) are:

  1. spending good quality play time with your baby or toddler on a daily basis, and
  2. have introduced the app to your child by playing it, and talking about it, with them,

then devices can give you a bit of breathing space and a change of pace.  But monitoring the amount of time is important – it’s easy to lose track of how long your child spends doing these activities over the day.

The above is our take on using apps with babies and toddlers, but we are interested in your thoughts.  Please comment and share any ideas you have.  We’d also love to hear the types of strategies people have for monitoring and regulating their child’s screen use.

Interesting reading:


Apps, Babies and Speech

Down our way there has been a lot of press lately about the growing concern Speech-Language Pathologists have regarding the increased use of tablets and apps with babies and toddlers, and the impact this may be having on speech and language development.

So, we’d like to start a bit of discussion by giving you our current thoughts on the subject, beginning with a quick summary:

  • Where ‘app time’ takes the place of interactive ‘play and talk’ time, the effects on a child’s speech and language development can be significant.
  • There is nothing an app can teach a baby or toddler, that can’t be better taught through play.
  • There are crucial skills (not only speech and language but many others) that can only be learned through ‘real-life’ interaction and physical involvement in an activity.
  • Parents provide the meaning and functional learning for children – playing alone on a tablet may be engaging for the child but it most cases it will not be meaningful without an adult’s input, and some ‘real-world’ knowledge.
  • Apps can have a place in the education of older children (3 years plus)

Since screens were invented, parents have been warned about overuse and the effect on children’s development and health.  In recent years the presence of screen technology in our lives has increased dramatically – it has become more user friendly, more interesting to look at, and, critically, more portable.  It was easier to monitor and limit use of the lounge room TV and desktop computer – all you had to do was leave the house!  Now we can have our screens with us all the time, if we choose, and our children are growing up with visual entertainment on hand for any moment they are ‘bored’ or we want them to stay quiet.

As a result, parents will often ask us about the benefits or otherwise in using apps that are specifically developed for babies and toddlers.   When we hear about young children and apps, our first reaction (courtesy of the Speech Pathologist in us) is a resounding “NO!” Then, we have to admit, the mothers in us whisper quietly “a little bit can’t hurt, can it?”  The dilemma of the modern parent is how to manage their child’s screen use.  When do you start?  How much is ok?  What content should they use?

Stay tuned for next week Part 2 Apps and Babies..

35 Things to do before you turn 1


The Must-Do List for all babies before their first birthday!  All screen free and great for stimulating brain development and for learning those first words!

  1. Peek a Boo
  2. This Little Piggy on the toes
  3. Play with ducks in the bath
  4. Read some tactile books
  5. Jig to some music
  6. Learn actions Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  7. Blow raspberries
  8. Find their tummy
  9. Play ta games
  10. Play hidey with a toy under a blanket
  11. Enjoy a swing
  12. Horsey rides on daddys back (or mum!)
  13. Stack up some big blocks
  14. Round & Round the Garden on the hand
  15. Copy mum sneezing or laughing (watch this great video!)
  16. Put socks in a basket
  17. Crawl or walk to find mum when called
  18. Listen to noises outside planes, birds, dogs.
  19. Read some Farm books baaa, mooo!
  20. Push a car along the floor brmmmmm!
  21. Make a family photo book of mum, dad, baby, grandma etc
  22. Enjoy a milkshake swing in a blanket
  23. Play with squirty toys in the bath
  24. Have a chat in the car noises back and forth with the driver
  25. Play in a big cardboard box
  26. Bang some pots with a wooden spoon
  27. Shake some home-made plastic bottles with things inside
  28. Put ping pong balls into an egg carton or a muffin tin
  29. Read a plastic book in the bath
  30. Kick a ball
  31. Post a letter
  32. Pat a friendly cat or dog
  33. Hug a teddy
  34. Listen to whispers or quiet songs
  35. Drink with a straw