Identify your child’s interests and help them to learn!

Can you name five of your child’s interests (not including branded items)?
Does your child know they have interests?  Do you encourage them?  Have you pointed out how other children have different interests?  Did you know that the easiest way for a child to learn skills, is through their interests? 

Why you should think about your baby’s language development

[6-12 months] This is such an important, interesting and exciting time for your baby’s language development.  Your baby goes from feeling the day by ‘sensations’, to understanding their world by ‘words’ (be that verbally or gestures).

This is the time to REALLY watch your little one.  When they pay attention to something, be it what you are doing, an object or another person/animal, you can help to teach them language with a few simple steps.  My first vocab list – 6 months+ and My second vocab list – moving to 12 months will give you tips on how to make language learning simple and also the first words your baby is likely to learn.

The sooner a child has language, the sooner you can interact even more with them, entertain them more, negotiate with them and help them to learn more about their world.

It’s time to turn two!

Just three months difference

Just three months difference

My little boy turned 2 today!  Just recently I’ve noticed he has begun to ‘look’ two.  On the left was only three months ago and when you look closer, you see his head shape has changed…. His brain has really grown lately – personality blooming, vocabulary sky-rocketing, physical skills ever-improving and he is becoming more and more aware of the world he lives in.  And another big change is the muscle tone in his face….  He has lost the baby cheeks, all because he has simply been using the muscles more for talking!
(I can’t say chewing as he is still experimenting with ‘no thanks Mummy’ to the new foods I present him with, but that’s another 2-year-old story..)
Do you have a coming-up-2-year-old who is going through these changes?  🙂 Heidi


Sign of the week begins!

Well it’s on for a limited time.  Any parent who is keen to teach their little one some signs (from 6 months +), first get your head around the ins and outs at Do I get on this baby sign bandwagon or not?…..

And if you’re still keen to give your little one a great brain workout (and yourself!!!), here is your first challenge.

Find as many opportunities to sign ‘MORE‘ to your little one as you can.  By clicking on the link, you will see how to do the ‘more’ sign.  This is in Auslan, so if you are not in Australia, you will need to take a look for a similar sign search website for your country’s sign language.
At first, you will just be modelling it (like you’ve been modelling how to talk all this time) and always saying the word.  The aim of spending a whole week just on one sign is to get into the habit of doing it anywhere and everywhere, NOT to get your little one signing it in one week……This will come!
A few examples of where you might sign ‘more’..
  • more bath toys
  • more cereal
  • more (insert favourite song)
  • more blocks up on the tower…..

If your baby lets you, you can take their hand and show them how to do it.  One thing to remember… don’t hold things back from your child because they aren’t attempting the sign.  You would only do this once you have SEEN your little one doing it at least once.
If you have any other questions, please ask away!

🙂 Heidi

Most clicked on 2013

An early happy new year to everyone! I will take the chance again to say thanks for being supporters of I Raise My Kids.
This week I’ll be reposting the most clicked on posts from I Raise My Kids.
Actually the most clicked on is ‘about me’ so starting with that, I’ll give a quick summary about who I am, so you know where I am coming from with the posts that I put up here!
I am Heidi, a mum of 2 boys (getting closer to 2 and 4 years) and a paediatric speech pathologist. I am very interested in child development which includes everything from communication, cognitive, social-emotional and even physical development. I am also interested in play, literacy and picky eating/developing healthy eating.
We have been down a road and a half working out the cause of Master 3’s ‘ADHD’ and eczema and have since come across food intolerances, kinesiology and working towards more of a Paleo ‘lifestyle’ so hence I post about this as well. Working with children, I am starting to realise there is a lot more of the unnecessary behavioural problems as well as other health issues that creep up, relating to not only diet but also emotional issues.
I hope that if anyone ever has questions or concerns that they would like more information on, relating to any of the above topics, please send me a message. I am more than happy to try and help!!


[18 mths+] Give your child single words as they are learning vocabulary around an activity. With a puzzle, the words you might use are:
– ‘turn’
– ‘slide’ (less frustration teaching to ‘slide’ at first over ‘push’)
– ‘push’
– ‘help’
– ‘more’ (pieces)
– ‘finished’
– and of course naming what’s on the pieces!
** Remember to use your hands to define what you mean by ‘turn’ (like a turning tap action), ‘slide’, ‘push’..

And don’t forget using signs with little ones can give your child a visual reference to help them understand and remember this word.  You can find out more about ‘baby sign’ from my post ‘Do I get on this ‘baby sign’ bandwagon or not?…’.



It’s National Children’s Week!

[National Children’s Week] Whilst I am all for taking the opportunity (when your child presents it) to encourage language and cognitive development, I hope I also balance the posts here on I Raise My Kids with suggestions on developing your child’s emotional well-being, making the most of being a parent, encouraging interests and just having fun with your children.

If you haven’t already seen this post around on Facebook, please take the time to read it…. ‘What should a 4-year-old know?’. It says everything that this Facebook page and blog started for! Heidi

Duo Puzzle – toy review

[3-6 years]   A wooden toy that is educational and has different levels to grow with your child’s ability?  This is the Duo Puzzle by Smart Games.

two levels...done!

two levels…done!

It includes a wooden frame with 13 wooden shapes and 48 different pictures to recreate.  At first your child just needs to be able to copy the two-step pictures on the card and manipulate the shapes into the wooden frame.  This requires determination, concentration and early visuo-spatial skills.  As the cards go on, the designs becoming increasingly more difficult until eventually your child has to create a two-level puzzle from one picture and use their perception, problem-solving and visuo-spatial skills.

turn the card over...check if you're right!

turn the card over…check if you’re right!

On the easier levels, your child can check the answer on the back OR once they are ready, they can start the puzzle on this side (see above).  No step-by-step clues now…!

An example of the different levels..


One puzzle in action…

level one finished

level one finished

The ONLY down side to this game is that it doesn’t come in a good box.  

Smart Games is a great brand with more cognitive-style toys.  It is available on toy websites, eBay, and specialty toy shops.  

Remember to join us at facebook!

Milestones – pointing

A not-so-recognised milestone is POINTING.  It is ‘average’ for a child to understand pointing and also point to close by objects themselves between 12-14 months.
This means your child is understanding how to communicate for social purposes!!!
When you think about it, you only point for someone else’s benefit and because you’d like to share something with someone else (and something that is often missing in children with autism).

My second vocab list – moving to 12 months

[6 months +]

After you have been through My first vocab list , start taking a look at this next list.  Has your baby shown interest in any of these items or actions?  If they have, then definitely get onto naming them and of course, using your hands to help them understand which word you are talking about.  For example, do the natural gesture for ‘phone’ or ‘spoon’.  If you haven’t already, take a look at Do I get on this ‘baby sign’ band wagon or not? which will hopefully inspire you to use natural gesture and maybe even look up a sign or two at

Remember, understanding comes before talking or signing.  So the words on this list are there for YOU to be saying to your child without any expectation for them to copy you back for a fair while.  Particularly if you are starting to model these words when your baby is just starting to take notice of these things.  Once you can safely say yes they definitely know what a particular word means, only then would you start wondering if they might say it/sign it.

Okay, so here is the next vocabulary list to think about!

  • stop/go – these are almost always ideal to be taught together. For example, stop/go tickles, swing, spinning in your arms, cause effect toys.  Natural gesture or look at for ‘go’ sign
  • keys/door handle/remote control/door – all of these can be attractive to little ones, especially those that like to ‘figure things out’.  They might not be meant for them, but still give them the word anyway.  We shortened ‘remote control’ to ‘remote’
  • phone – a natural gesture could be your baby’s first ‘sign’
  • bird/dog/cat – the family pet.  Although it might be strange, it is good to teach your child the animal name first, before confusing them with the pet’s name.  Once they have seen say other ‘dogs’, then you could start defining your pet’s real name.
  • hello/bye bye – ‘bye bye’ gets taught without thinking, but do you always remember to model ‘hello/hi’?
  • hug/kiss –  A fun game – ‘hug’ (hug them), ‘kiss’ (kiss them’, ‘hug’, ‘hug’, ‘kiss’, ‘hug’
  • significant others, including daycare staff – you will need to name each person whilst the person is standing there
  • no – use this when the ‘testing’ behaviours come in! ‘yes’ doesn’t really factor for a little bit longer
  • clap – use your hands to show!
  • sit – each time you put your child into sitting, you can name this action
  • lie down – another early action – at nappy change time or sleep time or just playing then say before floating in swimming
  • walk – does your child know what on earth they are doing when they take steps? Say ‘walk’ to give them a word for it!
  • help – when your baby looks to you for ‘help’, give them a word (and even a sign)
  • more – at mealtimes, cause effect toys, bubbles, swing etc – don’t give more without the word!
  • cup/bottle/spoon/high chair – it’s easy to use these day in day out and forget to give your child a word for these (they might not be as interested in the bowl for awhile but why not label that too?)
  • pram/stroller – again, one you can forget easily but is used regularly
  • play – define play as say when you put your baby onto the floor and use a few toys to show them ‘play’. This can then be used ‘eat then play’, ‘home then play’.  You could alternatively use the phrase ‘time for play’
  • sleep – define when you put them into the cot or even in preparation as ‘time for sleep’
  • poo – recognised before ‘wee’, mostly because we don’t notice them weeing
  • cereal – why not name their breakfast – a generic term is good at first
  • milk – breastfeed, formula or even if they take notice of it in their cereal
  • sandwich/toast – easier to learn a specific food before ‘lunch’/’breakfast’ etc
  • yoghurt – or other main snack
  • swimming – remember to name at the pool and also in the pool
  • kick/paddle – you should be saying the word as you show them the action
  • find the wall/get out – hopefully you are using these terms as you help your little one to the side so if something ever happened, they would understand someone saying these words to them
  • rain – on the windscreen and take them out to experience a few drops and to link in ‘incy wincy spider’
  • come – do as many natural gestures as you need!
sit! play!

sit! play!

Once your child understands all of the words from these first two vocabulary lists, you will realise pretty much every main part of their day you will now be able to talk to them about.  And all of this talking helps them to understand what is happening in their day (say when you’re waiting in line at Medicare), gives you a way to distract them (look bird!) or keep them in the loop with the next activity in the day.  All before they are 12 months old!  And this leads to the snowball effect of communication development where the more you interact with them, the more they learn and interact with you, which causes you to interact with them more!  And the brain develops plenty of fantastic neural pathways 🙂

For example:

– cereal.. finished cereal.. bye bye

– high chair then eat

– wait!! mummy change nappy… then finished…look fan..and light

– say byebye nanna….kiss

– hello bird!

– hat on.. then swing

– mummy and Jake wait.. look clock!

– go in car… to shops

– Daddy come home… in car… broom broom

– car..take Lisa daycare

One idea is to print these two vocab lists and pin them to your fridge to remind everyone in the house the words to focus on and to then use them to your advantage when your little one does understand them.  Try not to use too many words in between the vocabulary words at first.  It’s better to leave a pause than to add more words (for example, ‘go in car…to shops’, instead of ‘we’re going in the car to the shops’).  Talking like this takes practice so the sooner you start the better you will get at doing it!

If you are reading this and realising your baby has already learnt most of these, you will realise how quickly this period of learning these words can come and go.  All babies will learn to understand and then use these words, even without your specific help.  But remember, when learning a second language, it is always MUCH easier to learn new words when:

  • someone takes the time to teach you single words, whilst using their hands to convey more meaning
  • repeats the words often to save your brain doing all the work
  • acknowledges you when you have looked at/pointed to/found the item they just said
  • acknowledges you when you have said the correct word in the correct situation

For more information on the concept of teaching words to a baby is like learning another language, take a look at Getting thrown into a new language is not easy.

Otherwise, please pass this onto anyone you know that has a child under 12 months!

🙂 Remember to check out I raise my kids on facebook where many more posts are put up there! 🙂