5 Simple Toys that your kid can’t travel without

My 1-year old has had his fair share of traveling. As an infant, the first few flights were tiresome, mostly because I was stressed, breastfeeding in crowded plane rows, diaper blow-outs just as we’re taking off and that damn seat belt sign just stays on for-ev-er.

Have you been there?

And as he’s getting older, it’s getting harder to entertain him. I walk and bounce with him up and down plane rows and long for the day to just watch a movie again. Or nap. A nap would be awesome.

In the summertime, when travel is inevitable for all of us, we could all use a few aces in our pocket to keep them busy while keeping our cool.

1. Food. Obviously. When all else fails, feed the child.

I don’t know what they actually put into those baby puffs, but it must be something addictive. They could eat them endlessly. Take it one step further…. get a pill box and put one puff in each box. Make them work for it.

Action Step: Practice signs for open/close, more, all-done and eat.

2. Pocket Magnetic BlocksTegu Magnetic Blocks

Small enough for any carry-on and awesomely magnetic with hopes to lose a few less under the seat. These blocks travel great.

Action Step: Work on prepositions like on, under, next to. For example, “the long block is under the square. Your turn! You put this one on top.” For older kids, split the blocks in half and see if they can match a design just like yours.

3. Crayon and Paper, or something fancier

If you’ve got an older one, some of these table top tasks can keep them busy for a bit.  For 10 months+ try Melissa & Doug’s Water Wow or a Travel Doodle for easy drawing and magical disappearing. For 2 years+ this Travel Activity Book is my favorite. It has pages of coloring, tracing, matching, and identifying same/different pictures. Great tasks for early thinkers.

4. Masking tape

It’s kind of like stickers, which are also awesome. But way cooler, and easier to clean up. The old school kind will do, just fine... but if you want to really impress your kids (kidding, sort of), you can try some colored tape too. If you’ve got an older kiddo Melissa & Doug make an entire tape activity kit; it's a home run.

Action Step: Work on size concepts, like long, longer, longest or tall, taller, tallest. Work on prepositions like “next to the chair, under the table, on Mama’s nose.” If you’ve got older kids, give them a task like “Here are 8 pieces of tape, can you make a beehive with it?”

Travel Shape Sorter5. Travel Shape Sorter

Shape sorters are my all-time favorite developmental toy, and this one is always packed in our carry-on bag. We also use it as a sort of briefcase for our guy and put other toys in it too (not just the shapes). It’s soft, so it compacts and stores easily.

Action Step: It’s a two sided shape sorter, so on one side you can lift flaps and practice signs for open and close. On the other side, help your kiddo place the shape into it’s designated spot by using lots of verbs “Where does the triangle go? Let’s drop it inside the box…. turn it, turn it again…. and kiss it goodbye!”

Whatever tricks you pack on your next trip this summer, may the force be with you. Wishing you on-time arrivals, no traffic jams, and the kid that sleeps the whole time. But if they aren’t sleeping, at least you’ve got a back up plan.

Happy Summer!

Everything you didn’t know about Old McDonald

Old McDonald and his gang of barnyard animals are really onto something in regards to language development.

Teaching sounds as “first words” is genius!

Sounds are so much easier for those little mouths to imitate than words are, so they are often some of the first “words” that kiddos can say. And they're really great party tricks in front of the grandparents too.

Ok Jimmy, tell Grandma what the doggie says…

Old McDonald is a classic song because it works! It has great repetition and gives kids plenty of opportunities to imitate sounds and the chorus… E-I-E-I-O!!!!

Action Step: Start practicing animal sounds in songs, books and puzzles. Someone gave us this old school gem as a first birthday gift, and it's our new favorite. Great for countless rounds of imitation and practice with mooing, neighing, and quacking. Want to take it up a notch? Act out each animal for a fun learning moment (but definitely make sure your Dropcam is off. That would be embarrassing).

Pray for Newtown

I know that the entire country is feeling the same tremendous grief that I feel, since hearing of the tragic and devastating events, that occurred last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.

Reading reports, hearing stories, and watching footage of the recent vigils, further the anguish and heartbreak we all feel for those families and loved ones whose lives have been changed forever.

My hometown is just 20 minutes away from Newtown. I just arrived in Connecticut for the holidays to visit my family, and reading the local stories in the paper confirmed how much these families need our support for their continued strength to move forward after this tragedy.

The United Way, in partnership with Newtown Savings Bank, has "established the Sandy Hook School Support Fund that will be able to provide support services to the families and the community affected."

Please donate today, help those families who are suffering, and give them the support when they need it most.

The Speechies will match donations up to $500. Please help us reach our fundraising goal for this organization. Please leave a comment if you've decided to make a donation.

Drooling… when it stops being cool, to drool

Drool happens! Here’s the nitty gritty about why, how long to expect it, and when to take action:

Drooling can begin around three months of age, and here’s the myth buster... its not because of “teething.” The first tooth will typically sprout around 4 to 7 months for most babies, which is quite some time after that drool starts. So maybe the drooling and the teething is more of a strong coincidence!

Experts believe that drooling starts to happen as more exploration begins. Babies use their sight, hands and mouths to explore and learn the world around them. As they start to put everything in their mouths, they begin to produce more saliva than they can swallow. Also, their bodies are getting ready for solid foods, and they need the extra saliva to produce enzymes to break down the food and begin to taste!

Drooling is also more frequent when a certain position or activity is challenging for your baby.

  • 6 months: drools when trying to sit
  • 9 months: drools when trying to stand
  • By 15 months: a toddler should not drool with gross motor activities (e.g. walking), but may with fine motor activities (e.g. stacking blocks)
  • After 18 months: child has control of saliva most of the time
  • After 2 years of age: children do not typically drool

If after the age of 2, your toddler is still drooling, consult with your pediatrician. Persistent drooling may be caused by mouth breathing, which may be because your child just has a cold, or it may be a result of enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Also, excessive thumb sucking or pacifier use can sometimes cause a backward-positioned jaw, leading to mouth breathing.

Drooling may also be caused by a lack of muscle tone in the jaw, which will also affect speech. Try to encourage using straws to improve control over the lower lip and other muscles on the face in order to decrease drooling.

Use the Drooling Severity Scale (from the Consortium on Drooling) to consult with your pediatrician if you are concerned:

  • Mild: drooling only into the lips
  • Moderate: drool reaches the chin
  • Severe: drool drips off chin and onto clothing
  • Profuse: drooling off the body and onto objects (furniture, books)

If you are still concerned, consult your pediatrician, or contact us with questions

How to Make Your Child Talk – and why you should subscribe to this blog

You have gotten this far. You have searched for this content and found it. New parents, seasoned parents, grandparents, educators, and speech pathologists will all benefit from this blog. It will give you resources, tips, tricks, activities, and conversational points to improving, building, and enhancing your child’s communication skills.

I’m a speech-language pathologist. My area of expertise is talking and communication - the most complex manner in which human beings create, recreate and progress interpersonal relationships.

Communication is this big umbrella word. It means sounds, words, sentences,... it means the length of a sentence, the way it sounds, the way its perceived... it means how well it is understood. Communication needs to be effective, no matter how old we are.

Welcome to my blog. My vision is to provide you with “take-home” ways to create communication with your child. Real strategies and techniques that you can use once or everyday. When a parent becomes the expert in communication, the child thrives. I want to be able to provide you with the same skills that we use as professional therapists, to maximize your child’s ability to play, engage, listen, and speak.

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