New parents are eager to see their infants crawl, walk, and talk. Hearing those first words or holding your arms out for those first steps are big moments not only for your child, but for you as a parent. This is why many parents are very hands-on when it comes to the development of their children, and why places like Little Thinkers Center are so popular for parents who want to cater specifically to the developmental needs of their kids. Remember that these milestones come in time, but with a little direction from the Expert Panel, specifically member Dr. Lise Eliot, you can have an idea of what is appropriate for your child. Plus, you can find out more about how to reach child developmental milestones with help from VTech.
I remember Harper babbling “Mama” as early as 4-5 months old. In order not to seem like “that mom,” I always brushed it off as purely babble. But, quickly everyone noticed that she would say “Mama” whenever she was in a situation that she didn’t want to be in. She crawled closer to 9 months old, and took her first steps at 11 months old. We were so proud! Now, she is two-years-old an can count to 15, sing the alphabet tune, match colors, and has almost mastered putting her shoes on the correct feet. She’s come a long way, and we’ve got a longer way to go.
The Expert Panel is my new go-to website for advice when it comes to child development. Being that it is a panel of six experts, I can trust their opinions first before asking other parents for their experiences. You can view childhood milestones by age with a wide range of newborn to nine-years-old. For easier searching, you can check out three categories: Language and Cognitive, Social and Emotional, & Physical and Motor. You’ll get a list of characteristics and developmental milestones with each age and even suggestions of products to help build upon these changes in speech, motor skills, or cognitive thinking.
Recently, Dr. Eliot wanted to help by answering five random questions she received from a pool of eager parents hoping to get their questions selected. Unfortunately, my questions weren’t selected, but she did touch on some questions that will help us in the future and some that give great direction when you’re wanting to purchase toddler learning toys for gifts:
In this day of pushing children to do everything earlier and earlier, what age range is truly
developmentally appropriate for early reading skills?
As always, it depends on the child, but for the average kid, age 5-6 is plenty early to begin formal
reading instruction. Before that age, focus on your child’s mastery of the alphabet and letter sounds.
ABC books are great for this, especially if they have clever pictures that tell a story using many words
with the same beginning sound. Rhyming books and songs are also great for teaching letter sounds, so
once children start focusing on letter patterns, they will already be familiar with the rhyming sounds
they make. You can also look for toys that serve as vocabulary builders, like VTech’s Spinning Lights
Learning Hippo, which promote phonics and language development that can help with early reading
My youngest seems to be developing later than her older siblings, is this normal and is there anything
I can do to encourage her progress? If she is delayed when it comes to early Milestones, will it affect
her progress later?
Every child develops differently, so if you have two kids, there is almost no way they will develop on the
same timetable. Parents and teachers tend to focus on the more overt milestones, like vocabulary and
motor skills. But children are learning in many domains simultaneously, and chances are that your child
is absorbing plenty about the social and physical world which may not be obvious from her behavior.
Unfortunately, our school culture awards children who mature faster, so look for ways to counteract this
for your daughter by finding other areas (art, music, crafts, building toys, sports, dance, etc.) in which
she can develop confidence.
What are some inexpensive toys or games that will help encourage gross motor skills in my children?
The least expensive way to build motor skills is to go outside! The extra room is often all kids need to
start running, skipping, and jumping in ways that parents often frown on indoors. Your nearest
playground adds opportunity for climbing and swinging that also build children’s strength, stamina and
coordination. If you are looking or something for your own yard, hang a tree swing, or purchase a jump
rope or a soccer goal and ball. A tumbling mat is also a great addition for indoors if you have room in
your basement or playroom. And if your child is old enough (5+) for organized sports, many
communities have recreational leagues that are less expensive than the fancier club sports.
If my 18-month-old is not speaking words yet, what can I do as a parent to help them with their
The most important stimulation any young child receives is verbal–talk to your baby; sing to him; read
to him; engage him in “dialogue” even if you are only pretending that his babbles make sense. Your
child understands words, even if he cannot say them, and will appreciate the sense of being
understood. However, if your child really has no spoken vocabulary at 18 months, you should talk to
your pediatrician, who may refer you to a speech therapist.
How do I encourage my 12-month-old to walk, when he seems content to crawl everywhere?
Don’t worry about it! Crawling is a delightful, too-short phase that many children skip outright. And yet,
there is evidence that crawling develops a child’s visual-spatial abilities in unique ways that walking
cannot replicate. As long as your child is learning to balance on two feet (holding on to a coffee-table or
walker toy like VTech’s Sit-to-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train) he will eventually master those first
independent steps. Before long, he’ll be running and racing and you will barely remember this adorable
We’re now the proud owners of VTech’s Sit-to-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train, so I was excited to see that Dr. Eliot used it as an example in her last answer. I can see all the benefits of this train. It’s designed for children ages 12-36 months, so had Harper been one year younger she’d definitely used this product to practice walking. But, don’t be discouraged thinking your child is too old for this toy because it has so many benefits that are appropriate from older toddlers, and I’ve see my child become enthralled in everything this VTech learning toy has to offer.
She can do ten different activities that involve letters, numbers, colors, sounds, and more! There are so many features that keep her twisting, turning, dropping, pushing, and learning. You can manipulate six features on the train: storybook, clock, gears, wagon, 13 double sided letter blocks, and a handy walkie-talkie so the conductor can get things moving.
You can detach the caboose to make the train a walking toy. Older children can pull the caboose wagon and haul their blocks or other toys. Children closer to 2-years old want you to attach it so they can ride! Trust me I know! Sitting on the caboose and using their feet, children can scoot where they need to go. The options seem endless with this train. VTech lists all the features on the box, but trust me you’ll be surprised when your child uses the train to do something that VTech doesn’t advertise.
Don’t push your children to reach milestones instead offer them educational toys that can help them without any stress or pressure. You’ll be surprised how an interactive talking toy can build vocabulary or encourage conversations. I’ve caught Harper talking to her VTech Sit-to-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train many times. Every time I smile and know that she has at least one toy that is helping her grow and learn.
We want to give one lucky winner their very own VTech Sit-and-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train! All you have to do is sign-in to the Rafflecopter form below and complete the first entry – it’s mandatory, but easy! Then, you unlock the rest of the bonus entries to complete if you choose to do so. Good luck! I can’t wait to see what lucky little one gets this prize!
Disclosure: The VTech product, information, and giveaway have been provided by VTech. All opinions and experiences shared have been my own. No additional compensation was received to influence this post.
Giveaway Disclaimer: Open to U.S. residents ages 18 years or older. Void where prohibited. Harper Mondays is not responsible for prize fulfillment. Winning entry will be verified. The winner will be notified via email address provided in mandatory entry and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries and the winning entry will be chosen by random. Giveaway begins 12:00 AM EST 11/18/15 and ends on 11:59 PM EST 12/8/15.