The Mom Guilt is Real: A Pep Talk… and my BIG Announcement

We’ve all experienced Mom-guilt, and it’s terrible.

I accidentally gave my kid the non-organic banana! (*GASP*); Oh my god he fell to the floor when I was RIGHT there and now there’s this terrifying shiner on his forehead (*GASP*); I didn’t or couldn’t breastfeed (*GASP*), Work has been craaazy and I barely got to feed my kid a sensible dinner (*GASP*); Was I texting on my phone too much and not giving him enough attention just now? (*GASP* [and probably guilty]).

Here’s the thing, you’re doing great. Moms stretch their limit every day with heavy physical and emotional challenges, balancing it all.

You’re probably doing things you didn’t even know you were capable of. Being a master of getting things done during a 45-minute nap (ugh, really kid? 45 minutes?!?)

Maybe you’re the CEO of the house and you’ve got everything house on the brain. Maybe you’re a working Mom dealing with emails at 10PM and a crazy boss that doesn’t get life with kids.

Kids are resilient. And truly, they thrive in a nurturing, safe, and stimulating environments where they are challenged too.

That’s right… they survived the non-organic half thought dinner of cheese and crackers the other night. That shiner finally went away and there were only a few pictures of evidence it ever even happened. Formula-fed kids are smart too (there’s proof of it), and he was perfectly happy throwing blocks around while you texted your friend about her latest in-law drama.

We all do the best we can. And I’m here to be your cheerleader, your compadre, and your go-to for a few tips on how to make short amounts of playtime count for quality.

Baby School

I want to show you how 10 minutes a day of quality playtime can start challenging your children, help them thrive, and make you feel like the champion you are in enriching their development.

You’re going to feel like the rockstar Mom that you are.

Baby School is here. What’s Baby School??? I’m so glad you asked. Find out more here.

Forgetting to enrich your kiddo’s vocabulary? No sweat! Quick tips for pretend play with cars

My little guy is 16-months old today. How the heck did that happen?!?! One of my closest friends here in San Francisco just had her first babe, and as I held this 4 day old baby and watched my [*gasp*] toddler walk around her living room, I’m quickly reminded how incredible the journey of parenthood is.

You know it. Those moments when you think, “How did you get so big?” and “Really, just stop growing, please… stop.”

However, one of the joys of them getting a little older, a little bigger, and of course smarter (!!!) is playtime.

After that 1-year mark, your kiddo will start trying their luck at pretend play. You can expect more advanced play sequences, like drinking out of cups, feeding stuffed animals, brushing teddy’s hair, and driving cars around every inch of your home.

Ahhhh. Cars. Whether you’ve got a boy or a girl, cars (or any vehicle) are classic, simple, and must-have toy for every kiddo.

Action Step: Help create play sequences for your kiddo. Something like two cars racing, or two cars crashing, or a car knocking down the most recently built block tower.

Don’t forget to use prepositions!! Kids that are exposed to more prepositions have been shown to have improved reading and math skills. Talk about the car under the couch, next to the ball, on the road.

Speaking of roads, try out this awesome road tape or train track tape, and start getting creative with road building. Under furniture, up the wall, on the couch, are fun ways for your kiddo to engage in pretend play, and an awesome way to bring prepositions into their vocabulary.

Now I want to here from you… What does your kiddo love most about vehicles? Driving? Crashing? Or spinning wheels? Tell us in the comments below!

Can a boy have a baby doll? Why breaking gender rolls for toys is necessary

I had a recent conversation with a group of Moms about how without much influence at all, at a very young age, it seems that boys become so mesmerized by anything with wheels.

Having a son who’s obsessed with vehicles, I could immediately relate with the opinions and story swapping. Seriously. My son and I walked by a construction zone a few days back and it was his version of heaven. He’s still making reference to the “digger truck.”

Somehow, we’re sucked into these gender-specific toys, but..… Do you want your child to be exposed to a wide range of play experiences? Of course! Do you want your child’s imaginative play world to have endless options? Absolutely!

Studies have looked at how gender-specific toys shape language, play, and thinking skills. They found that “girl toys” fostered more use of language and more imaginative play. On the other hand, “boy toys” allowed for more development of hand-eye coordination and problem solving.

So Moms of the girls… Does your daughter have a baby doll? Probably! Does she have a train set? Legos? A tool box? If so… awesome. You’re encouraging more analytical skills, which have been shown to promote success in math and science later on!

Moms of the boys…. Does your son have a toy car? Of course! Does he have a tea set? Toy food for cooking? Dare I say…. a doll? If you said yes, you’re allowing for more caring and nurturing play experiences, which may help them perform with reading and humanities subjects when they get to school.

Does gender specificity exist in toys? Yes. And sometimes you’ve just got to give in… hence the frequenting of saying and signing “dig” at dinner the past few nights in my house. But, we can offer more.

Break the mold, go against the grain… and [maybe] convince your husband that it’s ok for a boy to have a doll. I did.

ONE tip, and Triple the Benefits… Boost your kid’s language skills

Maybe you’ve already heard my soapbox speech about pointing, .

Pointing is surprisingly a super important skill for communication, and can predict your kiddo’s vocabulary size later on. So…. no pressure kid… but let’s get the pointing business on the road.

One way to reinforce pointing is by modeling, and pointing to really specific things.

Let’s chat part-whole relationships…

It’s a basic concept in language and cognitive development, usually acquired around age 2. For example, does babe know that the wheel is part of the whole car; or that the tail (part) belongs to the dog (whole).

Copy that?

So this week… you can double-up on your speech and language development to-do list, by pointing to parts of a whole thing.

Action Step: When you’re reading a book this week, point to the fish’s mouth in Pout Pout Fish, or the caterpillar’s antennae in The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Why? Well because you’re teaching this basic cognitive concept that parts make up a whole, using lots of new and rich vocabulary (have you said antennae yet?!) and teaching baby to point with the index finger, which can predict language skills later. Triple bonus.

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.

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.

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