Thursday, May 26

Beautiful Invitations to Play {Product Review}

I've been lucky enough to put together a few awesome product reviews lately. I typically share educational products on my blog, and only those that I really genuinely like and would honestly recommend to my readers. I'm so excited about today's product review - the flower play dough kit from Invitation to Play.


An 'invitation to play' is a carefully put together collection of materials designed to allow for open-ended and encourage creativity. Being beautifully presented and 'inviting' is they key to draw the child in and capture their attention. Two lovely teacher/mummies from Adelaide launched their business Invitation to Play earlier this year, and I was thrilled to meet them at the latest Lollipop Markets. Inspired by the Montessori and Reggio Emilia philosophies, they have combined sensory and nature play into their kits and products.

Miss M chose the flower kit, and here's a glimpse of what she got up to... (kindly gifted for the purpose of this review).


The kit contained the following materials;

  • the most glorious, squishy homemade play dough I have ever felt (and the brown colour was chocolate flavoured!)
  • flower pot & fake flowers
  • knife & flower cookie cutters
  • pebbles, flower beads, mini lady bug pegs & glass gems


Spending time playing with Miss M (3 years) reminded me at how amazing and creative children's imaginations are.

  • She started off planting flowers in the pot
  • Then rolling the green play dough to make mini flowers
  • She then explained that the brown play dough would be the squelchy mud, and off she went to get a Peppa Pig figurine to jump in the mud (but she returned with a Holly doll)
  • The next thing I knew, Princess Holly was going on a bear hunt through the squelchy mud, the wavy grass, and forest of flowers.
  • Her dad came over to join her and it somehow turned into a restaurant with ravioli, ice creams and macarons! "I'll be a chef mummy, what would you like me to make?"
  • Miss M briefly went back to the garden theme for a while when she rolled the play dough to make some wiggly worms. With a little more guidance from me we made a big green flower and three small pink ones with special decorations.
  • Finally, just before pack up time, the chocolate scented play dough had become chocolate ice cream that she was feeding to her doll.


I'm not the only one who loves Invitation to Play! My 2 year old nephew got the dinosaur kit and it was a big hit with him! He liked stacking the little round wooden pieces on top of each other, pressing the pebbles into the play dough, making dinosaur footprints in the play dough and lots of dinosaur roaring!


Sarah from Working Mums Collective has a 3 and 6 year old who love their kits as well. Pictured here is the dinosaur kit and cupcake/ice cream kit, and she tells us her kids were kept busy for hours! Other themed kits available include construction, ocean/beach, farm, insects and safari. Custom orders are also welcome. 



The themed play dough kits from Invitation to Play are put together with care and an attention to detail. A delight for the senses and a beautiful play experience for young children. If you'd like to place an order, check them out on Facebook here - have a browse through their products and send them a message. You can also find them on Instagram.

Friends who have kids with birthday's coming up... you might just end up with one of these from us!!

Thanks again Suze & Laura from Invitation to Play for collaborating with me to share your wonderful products with my community.

Lauren xx

Tuesday, May 24

Help Your Child Learn Number {+ Yellow Bean Learning Review}

I've written a lot of posts in the past about Literacy. How children learn the alphabet, learn to read, book reviews, spelling ideas, sight words tips etc...and I've done the occasional posts on Number and Shape, but not as many as I would have liked.

Yellow Bean Learning is helping me to change that!

In the average classroom, children spend double the time on Literacy (10 lessons) than they do on Maths (5 lessons). Parents spend time after school hearing their child read and practising their spelling words - but maths is not often included in nightly homework.

Many educational professionals believe that 'Early Number' is all about cognitive understanding and representation of number, i.e. seeing a group of 4 counters and knowing right away that's what 4 of something looks like (otherwise known as subitising). It's also important for children to recognise the numerals before they write them. Writing numerals is a handwriting skill - not a mathematical skill. Young children need to look, touch, play and count in order to develop a good foundation of their mathematical understanding.

Here are some of my favourite resources for teaching number 1-10. It's a beautiful mix with visual appeal and lots of opportunities for hands on, play based learning.


  • Pebbles 1-10 (I just got these from Bunnings)
  • Lego Duplo
  • My First Numbers Book
  • Number Cards + Gems (printables available here)
  • Yellow Bean Learning Resource Kit
  • Number Puzzle

The Yellow Bean Learning resources make me miss being in the classroom. That's how great they are! I've tested the simple games out with Miss M, but can't wait until I have the opportunity to explore more of them in the classroom when I return from maternity leave. They would be ideal for small groups, to extend or assist learners depending on their individual needs. Child Care centres could certainly incorporate it into their kindergarten programmes also. They'd be great for homeschooling parents, or for parents to use not only if their child is struggling, but to give them a solid foundation and understanding of Number which is so important for future life skills.


Yellow Bean has been created by teachers - so you can be assured that they know what they're talking about when it comes to maths! Every item, resource, material, game and guide has been put together with such care and beautifully presented. (I've loved flicking through the guides on my new iPad!).



The Early Numeracy Guide One is where you begin - ideal for children aged 3-6 and it takes you step by step through each of the games. I really like how the games can be modified to meet the individual needs of the child. 

The Early Numeracy Expansion Guide is designed for when children are ready to move on to more challenges; numbers to 20, addition and subtraction, number before and after, friends of 10. The printables included in this guide are just brilliant - ideal for home or classroom use. 


Pictured above is everything you'll get from Yellow Bean Learning;
  • Set of 20 cups
  • Deck of cards
  • Ten frame
  • Number Line
  • 1-100 chart
  • Number/Picture dinosaur flash cards
  • Set of double sided counters & variety of dice
You can find the lovely team at Yellow Bean here... tell them Lauren from Teacher Types sent you!
They have such a clever, interesting Instagram checkerboard type feed. Check it out to see what I mean.

Keep practising those 1, 2, 3s!
Lauren xx

Monday, May 23

Funny Stories From the Mouths of Fussy Eaters

Hey All!
My latest post was all about fussy eaters, and I shared a whole bunch of links, recipes and ideas that will hopefully help me (and you!) to get our little ones eating better. Kids can come up with the funniest reasons as to why they wont, or can't eat certain foods as they try to bargain and reason their way out of eating anything green. So I once again called on my favourites mummy groups to share the hilarity!


  • "Only boys eat meat"
  • When I say you have to at least try it, my daughter goes "Mama you are so funny"
  • "Mash potatoes gets stuck in my throat so I can't eat it."
  • Reason why he shouldn't eat his chicken: "It makes me wee in my undies, not my mouth"
  • One thing that makes me laugh is when he eats pumpkin he repeats "disgusting" after each mouth full but keeps eating it haha.
  • If something has a sauce/marinate etc he will check if its tomato sauce before eating it. If we say its not tomato sauce he refuses to eat it but if you agree that its tomato sauce he demolished it saying "yum mum I love sauce on my ...". The colour of the sauce doesn't matter as long as we agree its tomato sauce haha.
  • "Noooooo, the tomato burns my mouth" screaming like she just ate a chilli
  • "I only like to make monsters with mash potato"
  • A: "But I don't like it". Me: "how do you know you haven't tried". A: "well it just smells yucky". (Says this about eggs, avocado, chicken, pork, peas, broccoli, etc etc.)
  • "Urgh...that's terrible stew"!! Okay it WAS burned...she's not normally a fussy eater but that cut deep!!
  • "I ate rice for my muscles so I can fight the dragon"... checks out!
  • Mr L said that a piece of cauliflower looked like monster poo and that our Monster Spray won't work on it because the monster's bum is stinkier than the spray.
  • "You need to eat your Broccoli", " No, mummy, they are little trees".
  • Used to be" I'll eat that when I'm 3", now it's "when I'm 4."
  • When H is over tired he is known to tell me there is bird poo on his dinner (Note: we don't own a bird either.)
  • We throw apple cores to the birds out side our house. On occasion when M really doesn't want to eat something he'll pick it up, run outside and throw it over the fence then come inside and say "the birds were hungry."
  • My 2.5yr old hates food. Mostly he says "nooooo" but we also get, "I don't like it in the morning!"
  • My almost 3yo likes her food to be separate... For example if there's some avocado on her carrot stick she'll say "I can't eat this, it's dirty". 
  • If she doesn't like the look of her food she'll say "I don't like this dinner - daddy can have it". She'll try and feed it to someone else because she knows of it's still on her plate I'll say no to other food... But if my husbands eaten it then I'll get her something else if she's hungry. 
  • "Why would you make this?" 
  • Last night she said: "How about you put this in the fridge for another day and I'll help you make a cheese sandwich"...
  • Me: "beef comes from a cow." Miss 6: "I'll eat my veggies if they come from a cow." Me: (white mummy lie) "veggies come from cows."
  • Miss 6: Why can't you mash mine like the babies food?
  • Another from Miss 6: Can you make my broccoli pink and I'll eat it.
  • "Nooo... maybe do later" 
  • "I can't like it" - to everything
  • All we get is "noooooowe" with crazy head shaking. But then she still eats it when I tell her she has to.
  • I had a student at my preschool, who, every time I asked him to eat his fruit or vegetables would say "but that's not my favourite".
  • Mr H started saying when he didn't want to eat something that his tummy was too "inkitated" lol we still don't know what he thinks that means. He calls alcohol "confidence" though so I feel like he has wisdom beyond his years and perhaps just knows something we don't.
  • Mr E just tells me that it will make his tummy sick. Doesn't matter what it is, that's his theory
  • My son refuses to eat sausages because in the movie Shrek the fairy godmother says "Don't you point them big green sausage fingers at me". So my son is horrified if anyone suggests we eat Shrek's fingers for dinner.
And I just had to finish with this positive story :)

  • We are the opposite in our house and have funny reasons why Miss Z has to eat certain foods - salmon (fish in general) helps you to swim better like a mermaid, kangaroo helps you jump higher, beef helps you to moo louder and some vegetables change your skin colour but if u peek it fades away!

Love it!

Thanks mummies for sharing your stories. I hope it made you giggle!
Feel free to add more in the comments...

Lauren xx

PS - check out "You know you have a threenager when..." for more funny stories.

Saturday, May 21

HELP! I have a fussy eater! {+ some Sneaky Veg Recipes}

Let me tell you a story. Miss M's favourite food is pinwheels (you know those puff pastry scrolls with tomato paste, ham & cheese inside?). So last week I decided - THAT'S IT!! I'm going to get some vegetables into this kid! So I sneakily grated carrot & zucchini into a batch of pinwheels for her.

Unfortunately - she outsmarted me and it didn't work. She was not too be fooled!

*face palm

I was a really fussy eater as a child. I can remember having stand offs with my parents (and grandparents) at the dinner table on a regular basis. I liked everything plain and covered in cheese, washed down with a piece of bread. Carrots had to be raw not cooked. To get me to eat meat, I had to eat the number of pieces according to my age. At restaurants I would have a bowl of chips. On pizza night I would scrape off all the toppings and just eat the plain pizza base. I could go on and on.

So it's ironic (and often James laughs at me) when I'm trying desperately to get Miss M to eat meat and veg. But we have come to the agreement to avoid have dinner time arguments because that just makes us all stressed! Bribery also doesn't work for us. Miss M is too stubborn. So I sought out some advice (and sneaky veg recipes) from my fellow Aussie Parenting Bloggers and got such a fantastic response!

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So there are a couple of BIG parenting blogs dedicated to this very topic and are on a mission to encourage healthy eating.

Firstly, Kylie from Kidgredients. She suggested, Zucchini chippiesCoconut Vanilla Cake (with hidden beetroot) and Fuss Free Chicken Nuggets. I follow Kylie on Instagram, and she's always sharing really healthy, inventive and appetising meals in cute little lunch boxes. I'm not much of a cook myself - so I need help with finding easy recipes.


Simone from Play with Food is another great source of recipes and articles. I've just stared her Happy Mealtimes eCourse - 7 modules of really informative advice. It's really beautifully presented and has given me lots of things to start implementing. (Sign up here - affiliate link).


Another of Simone's posts which is so relevant to us right now - Enter New Sibling - Enter Fussy Eating - especially to prepare us all for with the Little Man starting eating solid foods.

Anne from Domesblissity has compiled her own collection of 36 ways to serve vegetables.

Smoothies! Why didn't I think of trying that sooner? Eva from the Multitasking Woman has 4 great recipes.


Deborah from Learn With Play At Home has 5 tips for helping children develop a healthy relationship with food and also a yummy cheese & veg muffin recipe I'm dying to try.

Christie from Childhood 101 has some great tips for picky eaters. AND some fun tips for encouraging children to eat vegetables.

Anna from Positive Parenting shares her advice on the topic here.

Sarah from Bubs and Beans has some fantastic ideas!

Tegan from Musings of the Misguided explains how the phrase "You don't have to eat it" has really helped her.

Shannon from Forty Up discusses her take on the Curtis Stone 'let them go hungry' controversy.

Angela from Finlee and Me has these fantastic board game type dinner plates in her online store. I'm keen to give these a try to see if it helps! She's also just launched a fantastic eBook of healthy snack ideas.
Click here to shop

I recently became a brand rep for Mr Kipp & Little Jimmy who stock this beautiful range of eco friendly bamboo dinner sets. Got it it Miss M's favourite colour purple of course - not sure how it will help her fussy eating though!

Click here to shop

Finally - if you'd like a good chuckle on this topic - you must listen to The Motherhood podcast. Lauren (from The Thud) and Jodie Speers keep it real and tell it like it his (with hilarity of course).

So I now have a massive list of ideas to start trying. Wish me luck!
Thanks for all your advice mummies! If you have any stories, advice or recipes to share please let me know.

Lauren xx

Thursday, May 19

10 Awesome Educational Apps for Preschoolers

So I finally got with the times and got myself an iPad for my birthday. It's just amazing and I'm loving it (my blog looks so beauitful on the larger screen!). But of course it's bound to be used by little members of the family, and me being a teacher, I'd rather Miss M be using it for educational purposes wherever possible. So I've put together an awesome list of educational apps we have loved trying out since we got the iPad last week!

KidloLand



Kidloland is jam packed full of nursery rhymes, songs, games and activities to entertain the little ones. There's a huge variety of content and lots to explore. All key early learning concepts are covered from fruit to animals, from numbers to days of the week. Well known nursery rhymes such as Incy Wincy invite children to interact with the scenery and characters, and they'll be sure to learn lots of new songs too. 

Never mind Miss M's stamp on her hand LOL! So hard to get a perfect blog photo these days!! Forgive me :)

Kidloland is a little different in how it operates than other apps I've come across. Try it for free first and then if your little one likes it, go for a subscription to unlock the complete package of content - monthly, 6 months or 1 year.

Available on Apple & Android. Learn more here!
Subscription kindly gifted for the purpose of this review.

ABC Kids Play App & iView App



I'm pretty sure every parent in Australia already has these two on their iPads, but this post wouldn't be complete without them. Miss M had already explored these on her Nanna's iPad before I got my own. A favourite of hers is the art & craft station, and it's super cute how the kids can put their creations on the shelf! I love the familiar play school voices and ABC kids characters.


Currently Miss M's favourite TV shows are Peppe Pig (still), Ben & Holly, Daniel Tiger and Olivia. I love that she can navigate the app her self and choose what she wants to watch. Quiet time is certainly a necessity in our day and the iPad is a special treat for her!

Available on Apple & Android. There's lots of fun to be had on their website too.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar



Did you know that the classic children's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar has his own app? This one is my favourite by far! It's visually so beautiful, true to Eric Carle's books and many other beloved characters are incorporated. Children are invited to follow the instructions in a variety of activities and simple tasks. They can explore healthy/unhealthy food, jigsaw puzzles, spot the difference, counting and create their own 3D animated pictures.


As with most apps, try before you buy!
Available on Apple & Android. 

Jolly Phonics



We don't have the Jolly Phonics app (yet) but I still thought it should be included in this collection. If you know that the school your child is going to attend does the Jolly Phonics Program then this will give them a great head start (or if your child is currently learning the Jolly Phonics Program it will support what they are doing in the classroom). It's a fun and fantastic way to learn the 42 sounds of the English language with songs, stories and actions.

Available on Apple & Android. Learn more about the Jolly Phonics Program here.

Toddler Counting 123



An important Mathematical skill for young children to master is something called 1 to 1 correspondence. This means that when they count a group of objects, they say one number for each object they touch resulting in an accurate answer. The Toddler Counting 123 app is perfect to help children learn this skill - when each object is touched, they hear and see the number.


Available on Apple & Android. 


Daniel Tiger's Neighbourhood



Like I said, one of Miss M's favourite TV shows right now is Daniel Tiger's Neighbourhood. I quite like it too. It's great to help little people understand their BIG emotions, learn daily routines and important social & life skills. Cute little rhymes and songs support the teaching of those concepts. The app invites little ones into the neighbourhood to help Daniel along his way.


Available on Apple (variations of different Daniel Tiger apps on Android).

Peppa's Paint Box



It's no secret that Miss M has loved Peppa Pig for quite some time (I wrote this post last year all about the learning opportunities that some episodes of Peppa Pig presents). Peppa's Paint Box app is a really lovely one to encourage art and virtual creativity.

Available on Apple & Android. 

LumiKids


LumiKids is a wonderful world of fun with several different themed apps (we got the park one - beach, backyard & snow are also available). Great for fine motor control, shape recognition, weather & hide and seek. It's beautifully designed with peaceful music, and giggly characters. 


Free apps and no in-app purchases. Available on Apple. Read more here - http://www.lumikids.com/

Tiny Hands


The first thing I noticed when I went to download an app from the Tiny Hands collection is the age guide in the top left corner so it made it easy to choose the app perfect for Miss M. Pictured here is 'Sorting 3+' and she is sorting the animals into categories. 


Try before you buy! Available on Apple. Read more here - http://tinyhandsapps.com/

And one more for the parents ... Busy Little Kids



As you probably know, my blog is all about early learning and fun activities for little people. You probably also know that I'm always glad to share other resources that express the same passion for play based learning that I do. Busy Little Kids is a delightful app (and hard cover book!) with heaps of activity ideas, organised into sunny/rainy days and sub-categories imagine/create/move.

Available on Apple & Android. Read more here: http://www.busylittlekids.com.au/

Phew! What a big list!
If you try any of these please let me know what you think (or if you already have them and love them I'd love to hear).

Lauren xx

Tuesday, May 10

How I'm {just barely} Surviving Life Exclusively Expressing

So - long story short, I started off breastfeeding our Little Man. At about 3 months old introduced the dream feed bottle of EBM and after a week of that it was like he just decided he was finished with the boob and only wanted bottles. This was 5 long weeks ago. I persisted with breastfeeding, with not much luck and have been exclusively expressing milk for him ever since. He is a fussy, stubborn, hungry and demanding BOY!!

As you can imagine, this changes our lifestyle somewhat, as expressing is really time consuming - and I really wish I had of researched into it a bit more before I started and committed to it (e.g. should have bought a double, portable pump with fitted bra). Because it feels like once you go down this path, it's very difficult to go back. I'm certainly not opposed to formula feeding, but I plan to express for as long as I can - and gradually introduce formula when we need to. I figure, every bottle of EBM is doing him good.

As I wrote {here} Miss M is in the preschool room at her local child care centre and goes there twice a week - which has been beneficial to everyone, but especially with my expressing. It means if Little Man is asleep on those days I can express uninterrupted and get a good stash over a few sittings. I always get up early to express first thing - about half an hour before James goes to work. This means he can run around after the kids and I can get more than his first bottle of the day. It can be sooo hard to get up before I technically need to.

Luckily, Miss M is pretty good at entertaining herself - especially if I've put some activities out for her. Yesterday it was a rainbow rice tea party with play dough! I'll always express when Little Man is asleep. Other jobs just have to wait.

As soon as James is home - that's another expressing session. And one more before I go to bed. Little Man has a little bit of formula mixed in with his overnight bottles {expressing overnight was where I drew the line!}. And then it all starts again the next day!!

The other thing that's really hard is when we think he's hungry, heat up a bottle, but he actually doesn't want it - he just wants to go to sleep. It's so frustrating tipping it down the drain. I also now have to plan my outings more carefully considering feeding times and bringing bottles with us.

Well now that I've had a whinge, it's time to look at the positives... James can share the feeding job. Little Man is still getting the benefits of breastmilk. We can see how much he's had and therefore have a better idea when he's hungry or not. We can go out for date nights because he'll take a bottle {plus I can go out by myself or with Miss M} and it's a great excuse to sit and catch up on some TV.

Now for more EBM info such as storing and heating guidelines - visit the ABA here. I'm certainly no expert, and as ever these are our personal choices and decisions we have made for what we believe is best for our family. I understand that everyone is different! I believe FED is best :)

So wish me luck as I keep walking down this path.
Lauren xx

Linking with Jess

Tuesday, May 3

Interview + Advice from a Speech Pathologist

Today's interview is a really special one! We are so lucky to have my friend Kate, a qualified Speech Pathologist here today to share her insights and advice for all parents concerned about their child's language development. It's a question and concern I see come up all the time "Why isn't my child talking yet?" & "What can I do?".

Welcome Kate! Thank you for giving up your time to answer our questions :)

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Could you start by introducing yourself, telling us about your qualifications and where you've worked?


I am a Senior Speech Pathologist currently working with Autism SA. I began my working life as a primary school teacher, later returning to university to gain qualifications to become a Speech Pathologist. After completing a Bachelor of Education (Junior Primary/Primary) at the University of South Australia I began teaching in country South Australia, and then returned to metropolitan Adelaide to continue teaching for a time. I then went on to complete a Master of Speech Pathology at Flinders University. I have since worked as a Speech Pathologist with Education Queensland in Brisbane, a multi-disciplinary private practice in Adelaide, and now with Autism SA. I am a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist (CPSP) and a member of Speech Pathology Australia (SPA). I am also an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnostician registered with Autism SA. I have experience working in early intervention, with school aged children and with adolescents, who have communication difficulties. I have a particular interest and passion for working with people living with ASD.

What is a speech therapist? And how can they help?


Broadly speaking, the role of a Speech Pathologist is to diagnose and treat individuals with communication and/or feeding/swallowing difficulties. Communication is a broad area, which includes the diagnosis and treatment of difficulties with speech, language, social communication, fluency and voice. Feeding/swallowing difficulties may take the form of sensory preferences around mealtimes that impact the range and type of food someone allows in their diet, to physical difficulties that a person may have been born with or acquired, such as cleft palate or nerve damage as a result of a stroke.

People who may benefit from speech pathology services include those who do not develop communication typically, those who may have acquired communication difficulties and those who present with feeding/swallowing problems. Speech Pathologists work with a wide range of people, including children with communication delays and disorders, people with disabilities such as developmental delays, cerebral palsy and intellectual disability, people with acquired disabilities such as those resulting from injury or stroke, people with hearing loss, as well as many other presentations that can affect a person’s ability to communicate, or eat, drink and swallow safely.

At what age should a parent be concerned that their child isn't speaking? 


Communication development begins from birth. Early communication skills, such as joint attention and turn taking, are the foundation on which later, more advanced, communication skills are built. In a child’s first few months of life, they should be developing emotional attachments to authority figures (i.e. their carers), beginning to express various emotions, smiling in response to stimuli, becoming more aware and interested in their surroundings and becoming responsive to those around them. A baby actively engaged in daily routines, such as bath and mealtimes, playing simple games, such as ‘peek-a-boo’, and who imitates and repeats behaviour that gains them attention is communicating. In doing so, they are developing the building blocks that support later communication development, such as verbal communication.

Typically developing babies will develop an interest and increased engagement in their surroundings, for example, by responding to and looking at/for their carers, interesting toys, and the activities around them. They will also typically be babbling (i.e. the early developing “bababa”, “mamama”, “dadada” sounds), either for their own enjoyment or in response to someone or something in their surroundings. Taking turns babbling with a communication partner, such as between baby and parent, forms the very early stages of two-way conversation.

By 12 months of age, typically developing children begin to be able to follow simple, everyday instructions, recognise the names of familiar objects, and understand the meaning of “no” – though I think many of us may have experienced the fact that understanding the word “no” does not necessarily mean that a child will comply with our wishes! Also around 12 months of age, typically developing children will often use what are called ‘syllable-strings’, which sound like words we are more familiar with, such as “no-no” and “go-go”. In the next six months, children typically develop the ability to use up to 20 familiar words, such as “cup”, “dog”, “mummy”, “daddy”; however, words spoken at this age may not always be completely intelligible to the listener. Also by 18 months of age, children will typically pair their words with gestures and pointing, which supports their spoken communication. Engaging in pretend play and imitating lots of the words and gestures of the adults around them continues to develop as well.

Typically developing children will understand between 200-500 words by the time they are two years old. Also by this age, typically developing children will be using 50 or more spoken words, which are becoming more easily understood by listeners, especially those who are familiar to the child. Around two years of age children also typically beginning to use short phrases, such as “go car”, “more milk”, “bye Nanny”. At this age, children possess the ability to use only some of the sounds in the English language, and may also present with other intelligibility issues, such as missing the ends off of spoken words. It is not uncommon for children’s speech to be intelligible only half of the time when they are two years old.


At what point should parents seek help? How do they go about getting help? 


All children are different. The information about communication milestones that I have provided is meant as a guide only, as each child can move through the developmental stages at different rates and times. However, there are a few “red flags” that parents and carers can look for in babies and children, in order to help them decide if their child might benefit from speech pathology input. They are as follows:

  • By eight-nine months of age the child is not interested or responsive to their surroundings, and does not engage in babbling.
  • By 18 months of age the child has not used ‘syllable-strings’ (e.g. “no-no”, “go-go”, “ta-ta”), or produced up to 20 simple words (e.g. “up”, “go”, “cup”, “dog”, “mummy”, “daddy”), and does not understand simple, everyday instructions (e.g. “get ball”).
  • By two years of age the child is not using around 50 spoken words, and is not pairing words to make simple phrases (e.g. “go car”, “bye mummy”).

If you are concerned about your child’s development, discussing this with your chosen General Practitioner (GP) or Paediatrician may be helpful. The Speech Pathology Australia (SPA) website provides information about the role of Speech Pathologists and also where you may find a suitable Speech Pathologist in your local area (http://www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/information-for-the-community/find-a-speech-pathologist). This list is not exhaustive, however, and you may also wish to discuss your options with your GP or Paediatrician. Local child care centre and kindergarten staff may also be able to provide you with information about services in your area.

For those who are eligible, services may be accessed using Medicare rebates, which can be discussed with your GP. Those who have private health cover may be able to access rebates on eligible services depending on the type of cover you have, and also the service provider that you choose to access. Speech pathology services can be accessed privately, publicly and through non-government organisations. Waiting lists and eligibility criteria can be different depending on the organisation.

What can parents do to encourage a child's speech?


Broadly speaking, spending quality time actively engaging with children, talking and allowing them time to talk, is one of the most beneficial things you can do to support their overall development. More specifically, the following provides some ideas about how parents and carers might actively engage their child to support their communication development:

  • Sing, chat and use nursery rhymes with babies and children, using a gentle voice. Reading books with simple pictures may be of interest to even very young babies.
  • Using emotive facial expressions and playing simple games (e.g. peek-a-boo, clapping/singing games – repetitive action songs are great) supports engagement, attention and turn taking skills.
  • Imitate your baby’s sounds and babbling, as well as taking turns with them in this activity.
  • Build anticipation and help develop your baby’s ability to request by stopping just short sometimes – e.g. play a light up toy briefly and then stop it, wait for your child to engage and show they want more by looking at you, then play it again.
  • Later on, it doesn’t hurt sometimes to suppress your natural instincts as a parent/carer and stop short of providing what it is your little one is after. For example, you may know exactly what toy, food or drink they are after, but pretend you do not – give time, and options if needed (see below), for your child to attempt to label the item.
  • Make use of everyday activities, such as mealtimes, getting dressed, bed time routine, etc., by engaging your child, encouraging eye contact during these times, and also chatting about what is happening and what you are doing – provide a simple commentary of the activity, while making it fun and interactive.
  • Take note of what your child shows interest in – label it, talk about it, encourage your child’s engagement with it. By labelling items and talking about the environment you are helping the child connect language with their world.
  • Allow your child time, in all things. While it is important to label and talk about what you see and do together, it is just as important that you allow your child time to be the initiator as well as the responder. For example, when your child shows interest in something you could label it, and bring it close but not provide the item – wait for the child to reach and make a noise or attempt the word. Give lots of praise for any attempt at labelling or requesting.
  • Give options to your child to encourage speech as well. If your child reaches or points to their drink, you could ask, “Would you like water or milk?”. Options can be used at other times as well. For example, you might ask, “Is this a cat or a dog?”, “Is this your hat or your shoe?”.
  • Expanding your child’s speech is a way of modelling and supporting how to use and put together words. If your child asks for, “drink”, you might say, “drink please”, and wait for them to imitate you. If your child comments, “dog”, you might say, “big dog”, or “dog running”.
  • Retell and re-enact stories, nursery rhymes, favourite television shows and parts of movies. You could draw characters, make puppets, act it out, or simply go back through familiar books allowing your child to “read” the story in their own words.
  • Take photos of activities and outings and talk about these with your child. Allow them to retell events and share these with others, using the photographs as a way to support their language.

These ideas and activities are provided as general information that may support your child’s communication development. It should not take the place of specialist support, tailored to your child’s individual needs, such as could be provided by a health professional specifically treating your child.

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Kate, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to give such detailed and informative responses to my (and my reader's) questions. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience with our community. 

I invite you to leave your positive words to Kate in the comments below. Have you had any experience with Speech Therapists/Pathologists? I'd love to hear your stories.

Lauren xx

Linking with Jess for #IBOT
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