Does your kiddo point and grunt? Do this….

Is your kiddo doing that thing where they point and grunt to tell you what they want? Are they grabbing your hand, forcing you off the couch, to lead you to what they want?

That’s awesome! They are showing great communicative intent!

To get them talking, try giving them choices.

When they’re in their highchair pointing to the refrigerator, ask “Do you want water or milk?” “Do you want an apple or banana?” Or during playtime, prompt them to respond when you ask “Do you want more blocks, or should we play with the ball?”

Sometimes even if you KNOW the answer (as in, duh— this kid LOVES bananas, he’ll never go for an apple), provide them with a choice so that they get more exposures to words and eventually start to vocalize their choice.

And… don’t forget to wait….. like, really wait…..

Wait for your child to use some sort of other means of communicating besides the pointing and grunting. Maybe you can get the beginnings of a consonant (like “na” for banana).

Patience, grasshopper. Those sounds and words are close on the horizon.

Is your Kid Sticker Obsessed? If you can’t beat ‘em…

… Join ‘em.

Honestly, if I gave my niece this package of stickers, they would be stuck in 1,000 different places around the house, left for my sister to find and clean up and she would curse me out for days.

But I would obviously get Aunt of the Year (as in, totally worth it, right?)

Get this… stickers can actually be used as a language learning opportunity

[so take that, sister! I’m actually educating your first born!]

In our speech pathology world, we often look at skills such as auditory memory and language processing.

Which is code for, how much information a kiddo can hold in their brain and can they understand that information to follow a spoken direction.

Action Step: Try giving them a few directions to execute. For example:

  • “Put the heart on my nose, and the flower on my toe”
  • “Put the round sticker on my hand, and the bunny on my shirt”
  • "Put the turtle on Dad's head, and the pirate on the fridge"

You get the idea. These quick listening lessons can truly help develop the skills necessary for following directions, which is an important academic skill too.

PS- My BIG Speechies update is coming SOON! And you’re really going to love it!

30 Totally Un-Boring Toys for Your Tot

It’s Prime Day!!!

What does that even mean?

Well, if you’re a Mom, then there’s an 80% chance you’re also an Amazon Prime member because… duh. I never knew I needed things delivered nearly instantly with a kid around.

Today is Amazon’s 20th Birthday (which actually doesn’t make me feel all that old, so double yay!), and to celebrate, they’ve got deals galore. New deals every hour, in all categories of stuff, books, toys, school supplies, and everything else (because they’re Amazon and they have some sort of monopoly on the world).

And in honor of Prime Day, I’m bringing you the short list of toys that you probably don’t have.

Don’t you just hate when your kid (and you!) get bored with toys. Have you said, “Hmmm, maybe we need some new stuff?” to yourself before? Now's your chance.

I’m here to rescue to play time.

0-6 months

Awesome Toys, 0-6 Months






6-9 months (2)

Majestic Toys, 6-9 Months




9-12 months

Mind-blowing Toys, 9-12 Months




12-18 months (4)


Entertaining Toys, 12-18 Months




18-24 months (4)


Keep 'Em Busy, Toys 18-24 Months


3 years

Almost like the Real Thing Toys, 3 years






And that is your toy box resuscitation this week. Thanks Amazon, and your awesome deals, and Happy Birthday to you.

Why Your Baby Can’t Resist a Selfie

Ever notice that your babe LOVES the mirror, or perks up right at that moment when you're taking a selfie?

Believe it or not, babies as young as 3 months have a preference for looking at faces. Your face, their own, your mother-in-law’s… if there’s a face to see, they’re looking and interested.

For one — people are pretty interesting. We can change our expressions, which are usually exaggerated and we’ve got their attention (most of the time).

Second — silly things happen when we put ourselves and baby in front of the mirror. Funny faces, cloudy breaths on the glass, sometimes loud sounds, and obviously selfies.

Action Step: This week, try maximizing some mirror time with your baby. Give high fives to yourselves, touch noses and teach other body parts, brush your teeth and hair, play peek-a-boo, and do lots of pointing at each other…

Who me? Yeah you! [insert tickle laughter here]

Everyone wonders… Does my baby know they are looking at themselves?

Studies show that sometime around 15 months is when baby recognizes themselves in the mirror. Want to know how? Click on over to the blog for more.

What Dad Really Wants this Father’s Day

Full disclosure here: my own father has never changed a diaper in his entire life. After kids and grandkids of his own, he’s quick to do handoff in the “I think this one needs a new diaper” sort of thing.

But the next generation of dads is different…

Modern dads are incredible. So many of them are doing everything moms do. The H (husband) for example, was a pro swaddler (I mean seriously pro- a burrito roll that Chipotle could be enchanted with), poop handler, booger sucker, breastfeeding cheerleader, master soother, and bath-time champion, that impressed generations of women in my, old-school, immigrant family.

He’s pretty much the best.

And so many modern dads are taking it all on too. It’s a new era of professional women that juggle work and family, and dads are stepping up to carry some of the weight.

So with Father’s Day nearly here, they deserve something awesome.

Besides noise canceling headphones (sometimes necessary if taking calls from home in our world), I’m a sucker for creating a moment.

Consider gifting Dad some books to share with the nugget at home.

For the young ones:

I Love My Daddy Because is a great concept book, has lots of great verbs, and also awesome for practicing animal sounds (a skill that I feel like Dads totally have a leg-up over Moms).

If your kiddo is vehicle obsessed like mine, Mighty Dads will be a soon favorite. Creative rhythm and rhyme, which is great for language development, and fantastic use of exciting adjectives

And for the older ones:

Tad and Dad is a cute story about how the little ones from up so fast, that we miss the things that might have been a bit aggravating before.

Because I’m Your Dad tells the story about Monster Dads and the fun and funny things Dads do that might slightly bend the rules of the house. This ones for the rule breakers. Get it now.

This Sunday, we’re planning on plenty of reading, maybe a hike and lunch out, looking through pictures, and reminiscing. Hoping this Sunday brings lots of new memories, tight cuddles, and a deserved celebration for the Modern Dad! After all, he’s pretty awesome!

The EASIEST way to help your child learn new words FAST!

Help enrich word learning with this quick tip...

Your kiddo is absorbing all sorts of new information every day. And... you probably want to know what to say to them to help them learn new words, right?

I’ve got a super simple tip to share with you, that you can put to use TODAY!

Use a verb + a noun

Studies show that children learn nouns faster when they are attached to verbs. So when you’re out for a walk or at the park, instead of saying “Look, a bird!” try “Look, a flying bird.” The verbs give the noun function, which makes it more salient for learning.

Take Action:

Next time you read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, or any of my favorites in Eric Carle's series, try attaching a verb to the animal. For example, a walking brown bear, an eating blue horse or a waddling macaroni penguin.

Did you like this tip? Then sign-up for more word tips, delivered straight to your inbox every week.

4 Ways Singing Promotes Language Development

Singing and Language Development

You know those gurgles and screeches your baby started making early on? Those sounds, and vocal play sound a bit more like singing, than talking. In many ways, language is a kind of song. It’s true that singing promotes language development in the budding brain.

Singing to your baby can help develop early language and literacy skills, such as auditory discrimination, phonological awareness,  vocabulary development, and auditory memory.


Auditory Discrimination

Babies’ brains are wired to learn language. “Infants listen first to sounds of language and only later to its meaning,” says Anthony Brandt. One of the first components of language babies learn is auditory discrimination. This is the ability to differentiate sounds in their native tongue. Hearing songs sung again and again can help build this skill.

Phonological Awareness

Many of the classics that we sing to our children, rhyme! Rhyming is another form of auditory discrimination, but it is also the building block skill for phonological awareness. These skills help to promote literacy and are the precursors to reading success. Studies show that rhyming is something that can be taught early, and children as young as 3 years are able to generate rhyming words. Songs are loaded with rhymes and alliteration. So singing early on can help wire your baby’s brain to be attuned to literacy skills sooner.

Vocabulary Development

Singing also targets many of the ways your child learns new words. The repetition of words and verses can help children acquire new vocabulary and new concepts. It can provide an excellent language model for your child as they hear the construction of phrases and sentences and start to understand the syntax of our language.


Auditory Memory

For your pre-schooler, auditory memory (hearing information, processing it, retaining it, and then later recalling it) is a crucial academic skill that can be improved upon with activities. Singing is one of them. Songs that build on each verse, like, The Green Grass Grows All Around, can really challenge those memory skills.

Remember that as a parent, the BEST way to engage your child is to be dynamic. So change the way you sing a song, by singing it faster, or slower, or in a different voice. My inner camp counselor is humming Boom Chicka Boom as we speak.

Check out this list of songs for ideas:

Not-to-be-Missed Classics:

  • Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Wheels on the Bus
  • Row Row Row Your Boat

Body Parts:

  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  • If You’re Happy and You Know It
  • Do Your Ears Hang Low
  • Where is Thumbkin


  • Down By the Bay
  • Going on a Bear Hunt
  • Baby Bumble Bee
  • Farmer in the Dell


  • Five Little Ducks
  • Five Green Speckled Frogs
  • Five Little Monkeys
  • Ants Go Marching

Looking for more songs? Raffi’s Singable Song Collection is another great resource.

Prepping Kids for “Back to School”

So long summer. Farewell sprinkler, swim trunks, and water wings. Adieu late nights and sleep-in mornings. As we bid our farewells to the pleasures of summer,  there is only one thing on the family brain... back to school.

And whether your child is returning for another year of school, or just starting their first day - these 5 tips for prepping for the transition are sure to keep you on your toes when the big day arrives.

Create less chance for dreaded Morning Madness 

Start the morning routines now! Ease into those soon-to-be hectic 7:30 AM breakfasts, and try waking up and being out the door earlier. Plan an activity that creates an opportunity for punctuality, like a play-date or a volunteer gig at your local farm, food bank, or animal shelter. Start the bedtime routine sooner too!

Help your kids actually “see it coming”

Visual reminders are great for young children to understand the close proximity of the big day, and help them prepare for the transition. Use a calendar to mark the days or create a construction paper chain link - As the days go by, the chain gets shorter.

Be dramatic

Role playing can be a great way to prepare your child for new situations. Practice the drive or the walk to school for a visit. Try simulating a moment of attendance taking, lining up for gym, or meeting the teacher for the first time. Giving your child some “scripts” for new situations can ease anxiety and make them more successful when it’s really show time. Let them know what some of their expectations will be as students, and re-create those moments.

All hands on deck

You can’t be too prepared. As a parent, try to rid any anxiety you have too - make the necessary copies of emergency contact information and phone lists. Plan out breakfasts, bagged lunches, and maybe even freeze some dinners. Shop for the essential pencil cases and backpacks, and keep it in an organized and visible place for you kiddo to see in the days preceding school.

Check in, be present.

Talk to your child and make that essential one-on-one time for each of them. Your child needs that individual attention, and you need to be their sounding board to hear all their thoughts, fears, and hopes. Validate their nervous feelings and then generate a positive outcome too. Discuss the unexpected - and since you can’t be there all the time, try giving your child some go-to coping strategies in the event of an obstacle.

Remember that transitions can be tough and we all respond to change differently.  Though remember that by helping your child with these transitions, you can teach resilience to make it smoother.

Summer Activities for Kids that Build Language

Ahhhh, summer. This time of year leaves many parents with mixed emotions. Excitement, anticipation, perhaps angst? Entertaining your baby, toddler, or child can be a challenge sometimes. But as parents we want to create the best learning environment to help them continue to thrive during this season. Check out these summer activities for kids that help promote and build language skills.

6 Things to Make this Summer Memorable

“The best camera  you have, is the one with you.”

Snapshotting every chance you get will create great memories and also great opportunities for language development. You can create a “facebook,” on your iThing, and ask different family members to send selfies with different emotions for your child to identify. Take pictures of your day at the park, or baking cookies, and ask your pre-schooler to retell the story of the day. Narrative skills, or being able to tell a story, are a great predictor of literacy and academic success later on.


Children having picnic

We know that children learn by experience, being engaged, and manipulating their environments. Learning through play has been proven to teach children new words faster, build vocabulary, cognition and problem solving skills. So grow your your child’s brain, get those synapses firing, and head outside to a park or playground. Pick flowers, use sidewalk chalk, play tag, cloud watch, and meet new friends.

Take a trip.

Your child learns from new experiences every day. Different environments (both indoors and outdoors!) are great for your kiddo’s brain. Take a walk or go for a hike outside, go to the zoo, walk around a museum, choose new parks and indoor play spaces. Go to reading time at the library or fun enrichment classes (music, swimming, language). Try taking a different mode of transportation if available, walking, bussing, or biking to do daily errands can provide your child with a new experience to get talking.  Again, asking them to retell the story of the day will help develop those crucial narrative skills that will later help with literacy and academic success.

Sing a song.

Singing nursery rhymes and lullabies (or even Top 40 songs!) can have benefits on your child’s cognition. Although some of the research is still working on proven effects of music and cognition, there is evidence to show that children can further develop their language skills, literacy, and creativity by singing more. We like songs for enhancing language development because they are repetitive (one of our Big 5 methods for language learning!), and can provide a child with new and meaningful vocabulary.

Keep reading.

Children learn between 4,000 and 12,000 new words each year as a result of reading books. Head to the library or our Recommended Book List, and get your child some new reading and familiar reading material for this summer. Build a reading routine (after breakfast, before dinner, bedtime) or not, and get your child more engaged in the world outside of their own. Learn how to Take Book Reading to the Next Level with your child, and really enhance their literacy experience. Remember that keeping book reading dynamic and engaging will build your child’s attention and foster better language and cognitive development.

Question Everything.

Asking and answering questions is the basis of all conversation, and thus will help develop language skills, as early as infancy. A 10-month old might hold up on object and show it to you as a method of asking or requesting for information. Children begin asking what - questions sometimes before 2 years of age. As they get older, begin asking them more complex and abstract questions to promote language skills.

Milestones for Asking and Answering Questions:


  • 1-2 years: Answers where questions by pointing (e.g. Where’s the ball? Where’s Daddy?), answers yes/no questions (e.g. Do you want...?)
  • 2-3 years: Answers simple what, who, and where questions
  • 3-4 years: Answers complex who, where, why, and how questions
  • 4 years: Answers when questions


  • 2 years:  Asks, “What’s that?”
  • 2-2.5 years:  Asks questions with rising intonation
  • 2.5 to 3 years:  Asks where questions
  • 3 years:  Asks who questions
  • 3 to 3.5 years:  Asks “Is…?” and “Do…?” questions
  • 3.5 to 4 years:  Asks when, why, and how questions

8 Holiday Toy Shopping Tips for Kids

Tis the season for indulgence and extra pie, cyber shopping, caroling, and gift giving. So this week, we’re bringing you our holiday toy guide, 8 essential tips for holiday toy shopping for kids. Learn how to spot the best toys for language learning and development! These quick tips will make you the master of all playthings, and Santa’s favorite elf.

Go Old School

The traditional toys that we all knew as children are really the best ones to get the cognitive wheels turning. Children have to learn to manipulate objects within their environment and the basic toys are perfect for this. An upgraded set of blocks (perhaps your kiddo is ready for Legos?), a more difficult shape sorter or more complex puzzle, toys that require building and knowledge of use of size/matching concepts (putting together train tracks, maybe?). Forget getting mod[ern] and fancy, get traditional. Check out these Top 10 traditional toys for suggestions.

No Batteries Required

Adorable Boy ready for Christmas
Get excited for holiday shopping!

Batteries are a hassle regardless, so let’s simplify our children’s toys and look for the those that don’t require batteries. Sounds and lights can sometimes be distracting, and take away from the language rich environment that you could be providing for your child during play. When you have your child’s full attention, you are optimizing a learning moment.

More words, less letters

Children under 3 should be more focused on word learning and language development, rather than identifying, writing, and saying letters. Sure, we sing ABC’s for fun, but actual letter and number learning is more of a pre-school concept. So for the toddler, keep it simple and bombard them with strong vocabulary and language to enhance their development.

Mix up the gender specific toys

Girls play with dolls and boys play with cars, but why not switch it up? Research has been done since the 1970’s showing what these gender specific toys do for our children’s minds. The result, girls toys helped develop communication skills and emotional literacy, while boys toys encouraged more technical knowledge. Give your child the best of both worlds!

Books just don’t get old

Using pictures and book reading can always boost your child’s language and word learning. Choose books that have vivid vocabulary and opportunities for you to ask questions during reading. Take book reading to the next level, with new books this holiday season. Check out our recommended book list, or these Top 10 books for baby.

Get Real

On a budget this holiday? Sometimes the best “toys” are not toys at all. Children can learn and use pretend play using real adult items. For instance, an old set of pots and pans for pretend cooking, or head to the dollar store for some cheaper cooking or cleaning items, or set up for a tea party. Basic stationary and office items like envelopes, post-its, and paper bags can also make for great craft projects, like puppets.

Toy Rotation

If you haven’t heard about toy rotation, get on board. It’s a great way to use and reuse old toys, or swap with friends to give your child a new experience and an opportunity to build a new set of skills.

Less is More

Remember, that when it comes to the tangibles, less is more. The best learning opportunities happen when you are present as a parent. So get outside, get playing, pretend, read, and spend quality time with your kiddo, that you’ll never regret.

Happy Holidays!!