Tag Archives: toddler

First Trip to the Dentist

Let me clarify that title—it’s the first trip to the dentist for my daughter. We made an appointment for her with a recommended pediatric dentist for next week. I’m not going to lie—I have some serious anxiety about the whole thing. I know how difficult she can be just brushing her teeth; I can only imagine the chaos that will ensue in a dentist’s office.

Since I was just at my own dentist this week for my six-month cleaning, I took the opportunity to ask them for any advice for making the trip as painless as possible for Olivia (and for me!). Everyone asked the same thing: have you been reading to her about the dentist? Ummmm, no. Ooops.

So I set out to find some good, age-appropriate books about going to the dentist to help ease her into the whole idea. Here are some of the best ones I’ve found. If you know of any other good dentist books or have any tips for how to get through our first dentist appointment, let’s hear them!


How Does Your Garden Grow? With Little Baby Watering Cans!

Olivia has taken to following me around the deck and “helping” me water all of our potted herbs. So when I saw this little hippo watering can at Target (in the Dollar Spot no less!), I couldn’t pass it up. She carried it all around the store, shouting “Hiippp-O!” They also have a yellow ducky one. She’s just so adorable walking from plant to plant, it doesn’t even matter that most of the water ends up on the deck rather than in the pot!

The Summertime Blues

Make sure your little one is feeling blue this summer in a good way!

1. Finally, ballet flats for toddlers that have a prayer of staying on! Joe Fresh Ballet Flats, $14
2. Zara Boys’ Fine Stripe Trousers, $25.90
3. J. Crew Girls’ Folly Dress, $48
4. Pumpkin Patch Dungaree with Bow, $24.50
5. So cute and preppy—Ralph Lauren Bal Harbour Slip-On, $28
6. Ruffles AND nautical stripes. Hanna Andersson Little Star Two-Piece, $28
7. Zutano Crab Polo Shirt, $30
8. Tea Collection Boys’ Roll-Up Safari Shirt, $36
9. I love this little umbrella! Hatley Blue Whales Umbrella, $20

Teach Your Child to Communicate: Tips for Facilitating Language Development

Here is part two of last week’s post by guest blogger and practicing speech pathologist, Shannon. Enjoy!

As a speech pathologist, parents often ask me two questions. The first question is, “Is my child’s speech normal?”  I covered normal and abnormal speech development in last week’s post, which you can see here. The second question I am always asked is, “How can I teach my child to talk?” This post will provide tips on how to facilitate speech and language development for your child.

As a parent, you play a key role in helping your child learn the English language. There are many simple activities that you can do to encourage communication. These activities are effective, rewarding, and are used by speech pathologists in early intervention.

What can I do to facilitate speech and language development for my child? 

  1. Talk to your child and narrate your activities.  One of my favorite activities is going to the grocery store.  I tell my son everything that I am getting, and he imitates the foods he can say. 
  2. Simplify your speech.  Don’t speak in long, complex sentences when trying to facilitate language for a young toddler.  Words that are harder to pronounce can be shortened or simplified to encourage communication.  For example, I taught my son to say “wawa” for water and “baba” for bottle. 
  3. Start with small, simple words, such as animal sounds (moo, neigh, baa) or words that have duplicated syllables.  There is a reason that “mama” and “dada” are often a child’s first “words.”  Duplicated syllables are very easy for a child to pronounce. Words like “baba,” “wawa,” “nana” for banana, and “ni-ni” for night-night are examples of good words to try.
  4. If your child does say a word for the first time, praise her for it, and try to introduce that word into your activities throughout the day.  For example, when my child learned to say “hop,” I made every stuffed animal hop, and I modeled “hop” for him until that word was set in his vocabulary.  This strategy is often more effective than asking your child to say words on command. Asking your child to say a word on command, particularly if she just learned it, can put more pressure on her than just modeling it for her and seeing if she repeats it.
  5. Use baby signs.  There is numerous research to show the effectiveness of baby sign language.  Signs are effective because you can teach a child sign by using the hand-over-hand approach. With this approach, you take your child’s hands and do the targeted sign with her hands. As soon as you and your child do the sign, give your child the desired item.  For example, if you are working on the sign for “more,” give your child the desired toy or food as soon as you sign “more” with him.  The instant gratification will teach your child the function of communication and will make her want to keep signing. Easy signs for a child to learn include the signs for more, all done, eat, drink, help, go, and stop.  There are several websites, books, and DVDs available that teach baby sign language. A reliable website is https://www.babysigns.com/
  6. Give your child what he is asking for within reason.  Children need to understand the importance and function of communication.  They are communicating with you to ask for something.  If your child says “wawa,” give her a sip of water because that gives her a reward and shows her that she is being understood.  She will then want to say this word again and again because she is getting what she is asking for.
  7. Expand your child’s speech.  If your child says, “Elmo jump,” you can say, “Elmo is jumping.”
  8. Read to your child. I can’t reinforce this enough: reading to your child provides him with so many benefits, one of which is facilitating speech and language development.

What are some online resources for activities?

The American Speech Language Association Public Website

Baby Signs

icommunicate Speech & Communication Therapy

Is Your Child’s Speech Normal? What to Watch Out For

I am thrilled to welcome our very first guest blogger, Shannon! As one of my best friends and an expert in speech development (she holds a Master’s in Speech Pathology and works with both adults and children), Shannon was always my go-to when I had questions about Olivia’s language skills and development. When I asked her if she would be willing to share some of her tips and information with my readers, she was more than happy to! Here is the first of her two-part post about speech and language development in toddlers.

As a practicing speech-language pathologist and mother of a 14-month-old boy, I am often asked about typical language development from friends and family members.  Speech and language development is more complex and abstract than physical development and, therefore, harder for parents to track.  For example, it is obvious to  parents if their child is or is not walking, but it is not so obvious if their child’s language is normal.  This post will answer some basic questions about speech and language development. My next post will provide suggestions to allow you to facilitate speech and language development for your child.

What is considered normal language development? Speech and language development varies widely from one child to the next.  On average, a child’s first word will come around 12 months of age but may come later if the child is more interested in motor skills than speech and language.  Children either walk or talk first, and it is very rare that these skills coincide.  It is too much for the brain to process walking and talking simultaneously at the beginning.  If a child begins walking early or right around 12 months, he might not say his first word until 13 or 14 months.  Once children say their first word, language development should progress rapidly. Your child should have at least 50 words by age 2.  If your child does not have 50 words by her 2nd birthday, she is considered to have a language delay. Some children that are delayed in language will catch up independently.  Others may require formal speech-language intervention.

Why can’t I understand my child? It is often very difficult to understand a one-year-old’s speech. Many sounds in the English language do not develop until ages 2-5.  For example, /r/ and /th/ are sounds that develop later and should not be expected until at least age 4 or 5. Other later-developing sounds include /s/, /z/, and /l/.  It is very normal for a child who is learning to talk to simplify words and make sound substitutions or deletions.  For example, my son says “ight” for light and “doodie” for cookie. He is deleting the more difficult consonant (the /l/ in light) and substituting an easier consonant for a more difficult consonant (saying /d/ for /k/ in cookie).   If your child is 2 years old, an unfamiliar listener should be able to understand 50% of her speech.  An unfamiliar listener should be able to understand a 3-year-old child 75% of the time, and a 4-year-old should be understood greater than 90% of the time.

When should I be concerned?  A speech-language evaluation is recommended for the following issues:

  1. If you are concerned about your child’s ability to understand language.  Receptive language is very important and is a key indicator to determine if a child will catch up or need speech-language intervention.  If your child is not talking and you are concerned about their ability to understand you, it is recommended that you talk to your pediatrician.
  2. If your child is 18 months old and not yet talking.  Some children do not talk until after 18 months and catch up independently.  However, if your child is still not talking at 18 months of age, bring it up to your pediatrician to see if he needs a speech-language evaluation.
  3. If your child is 12 months old and is not yet babbling.
  4. If your child is age 2+ and is talking but is not forming phrases/sentences appropriately compared to her peers.
  5. If your child is age 2+ and you feel that he is significantly less intelligible than his peers or if many people comment that they cannot understand your child.  If you are the only person that can understand your child, talk to your pediatrician about the need for a speech-language evaluation.
  6. If there is any concern about social/pragmatic language.  Children must learn the social rules of language and how to interact with their peers appropriately. Learning the social rules of language develops over time.  Major red flags include lack of eye contact and inability to respond to and initiate greetings appropriately.
  7. If your child is stuttering.  Stuttering can be a normal part of speech-language development, particularly between ages 2 and 4.  However, if stuttering becomes effortful, frequent, or if your child is aware of and/or upset by their stuttering, then a speech-language evaluation is recommended.

What are some online resources to help?

Resources for parents include: 

The American Speech Language Association Public Website

National Institutes of Health  http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/pages/speechandlanguage.aspx

Kids Health

Easter Baskets for Babies and Toddlers

My friend and coworker, Lois, e-mailed me yesterday for some ideas for her son’s Easter basket. It made me feel better to know that another mom was struggling to come up with ideas too!

I’ve started to put together my daughter’s Easter basket for this year, which has proven to be more of a challenge than I originally thought. Last year, we didn’t do an Easter basket for her (I know, we’re horrible parents!), so this is my first attempt. I tried to think back to what I used to get in my Easter baskets growing up, but tons of candy and hair bows won’t work for my little one—too much sugar and too little hair. So, what to get … what to get?

I hit up the Dollar Spot in Target and found a ton of great Sesame Street, Dora, Sponge Bob, and Easter-themed board books, activity books, flash cards and bath books. They’re really cute, and you can’t beat the price! I also found plastic eggs and a wind-up bunny that I thought Olivia would love chasing around the kitchen. I did pick up some candy to put in the plastic eggs, but truthfully, we’ll probably end up eating most of that (she’ll just get a couple pieces). I am also planning to pick up some sidewalk chalk, Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies and Bunny Grahams, a mini Magna Doodle®, and some new socks to add to the basket.

So far, I’ve spent less than $25 for the basket itself, paper “grass,” and contents, which I don’t think is too shabby!

What are you planning to include in your little one’s Easter basket? I would love to hear some other ideas!

Valentine’s Day Crafts for Kids

My friend Stephanie is probably one of the craftiest people I know (in a creative way, not a devious way!). She whipped up this adorable felt heart garland one weekend to decorate her cube at work and since the tops of our work spaces are glass and I sit directly across from her, I get to benefit from it as well.






It made me think what a fun activity this would be to do with the little one—when she’s a little older and can sit still for more than 28 seconds, of course! But if your little one(s) are static enough to tackle this project now, you can find the  tutorial here. Here are some other fun Valentine’s Day crafts I have pulled together to do with your kids.

Teach Mama, another DC blogger, had her children create a love tree, which is not only sweet but allows for lots of practice with fine motor skills. I love this idea and can’t wait to make one with my daughter when she’s a bit older!

Via TeachMama.com

For easy valentines, get paint color strips from your local hardware store in varying shades of red and pink, and use rubber stamps to spell out messages like “XOX” and “I♥U” in black ink. Honestly, I think this idea is more for my designer friends than for my daughter, but it was too cute not to include!

Via Country Living

For Valentine’s Day crafts that my one-year-old and I can do together now,  heart stamps seem to be the way to go. You just need some paint, paper and a little creativity.  Rust & Sunshine used a toilet paper roll to create a perfect heart stamp for her artsy toddler, and Homemade Serenity helped her kids get creative with a celery heart to make rosy valentines!

Via Homemade Serenity

Via Rust & Sunshine









Have you come across or done other fun Valentine’s Day craft projects with your kids? Please share—I would love some other ideas!

Shake Your Bon Bon (Dress)!

How classic and adorable is this dress by Princess Linens?! I ordered one for my daughter’s first birthday and had her name embroidered on the front. Not only will it make for some great pictures, but it will definitely be a keepsake outfit. The dresses come in different colors in either corduroy or cotton pique. And they even have little jumpers for boys. Love it!