The VTech product, information, and giveaway have been provided by VTech. All opinions are my own.

Vtech Infant Toys - Child Milestones: Expert Help is Available Online #Giveaway @VtechToys ad

Paisley, 7 months old and loving her new VTech toys.

Becoming a parent has been one of the most thrilling and exciting things to ever happen to me. Each day I have the opportunity to spend time with the most precious little gem in my life. It seems like just yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital having no idea what the doctors expected us to do with this fragile little human. Little did I realize, even after all of the advice thrown my way, she really would grow up in front of my own eyes and one day I would blink and she’d be gone. After only seven months I’m quickly realizing people we’re right- each day she accomplishes something new and seems to only want to grow up faster.

When I had the opportunity to experience educational toys from VTech I was thrilled to learn the company works closely with an expert panel  on the development of learning products for infants and preschoolers. An online Milestones resource is available for parents to review – filled with recommendations and guidelines for selecting appropriate toys based on individual needs of children from birth up to 9 years.

Piano Toy by VTech - Child Milestones: Expert Help is Available Online #Giveaway @VtechToys ad

Specific developmental achievements your child faces are broken down into three categories by age including Language and Cognitive, Social and Emotional Development, and Physical and Motor, and products are recommended based on what experts believe to be the most beneficial for the individual child’s development. Dr. Lise Eliot, Early Childhood Mental Development Expert, along with 5 other members, have worked together with VTech to develop this Milestones resource.

Child Milestones: Introduction to Milestones with Dr. Lise Eliot

About Dr. Lise Eliot, Early Childhood Mental Development Expert

An Associate Professor of Neuroscience at The Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science, Dr. Lise Eliot received an A.B. degree from Harvard University, a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and did post-doctoral research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She’s published more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and magazine pieces on children’s brain and mental development and authored two books.

Train Music Toy - Child Milestones: Expert Help is Available Online #Giveaway @VtechToys ad

Check out real questions from parents answered by Dr. Eliot below for tips and guidance on development for the little ones in your life.

[w8_accordion margin_bottom=”40px”] [w8_accordion_section title=”Q. As a parent, what are your suggestions on things I can do with my child to help them develop their social and emotional skills? What are ways I can help my child to get the most of their playtime?”]

A. Social-emotional skills are the bedrock of learning, so good for you for taking an interest in cultivating them in your child. The best way to promote emotional and interpersonal skills is through interaction–reading, singing and lots of talking with your child. Make eye contact with him or her. Laugh together. Direct your child’s attention to interesting things in your environment. When you read together, ask your child questions about the characters’ thoughts and feelings. This can help build empathy. Another way to think about it is to use books or videos as a stepping stone for dialogue with your child. It’s the two-way, back-and-forth sharing of words and feelings that build emotional and communication skills. Playtime has ample opportunity to do this, whether you are visiting the zoo, finger-painting, or playing with toys. Take every opportunity to talk about the feelings and relationships among characters your child is drawing or playing with.
[/w8_accordion_section] [w8_accordion_section title=”Q. As a stay-at-home mom, I feel like I’m responsible for most of my toddler’s learning the first couple of years. How can I ensure that I’m teaching him all he needs to know? What are the best games or play to help him learn basics things like numbers, colors, words, etc.?”]

A. Children learn through play, so almost any activity is a learning opportunity for your child. Show your child how to count banana slices at lunch time, or toothbrush strokes at bedtime. Read ABC books to him to teach letter sounds and recognition. But don’t worry too much about academic skills in younger children. Most important at this age is for children to learn the joy of discovery. Try to avoid drilling exercises, like flashcards, and instead focus on learning about the real world around him – animals, people, vehicles, music, art –  whatever you encounter through books or the world outside that excites your child. When kids find a passion and get absorbed in it, early literacy and number skills follow easily.
[/w8_accordion_section] [w8_accordion_section title=”Q. What if it seems like your child isn’t reaching a particular milestone, what can you do to facilitate the learning of it? While every child is different, are there any Milestones, when not achieved on schedule, a parent should be concerned about? “]

A. It is important for parents to know what milestones to expect, because failure to reach them can be a warning sign of a developmental delay. For social skills, we like to see babies making eye contact early on, and worry if it doesn’t happen by 3 months or age, or if she or he is not sharing facial expressions or some other kind of back-and-forth communication by 9 months. For language skills, we worry when children are saying no words by 16 months, or only a few words at 2 years, and when there is any loss of communication ability at any age. For motor skills, it is concerning if a baby cannot bring an object to his or her mouth by 7 months, sit independently by 10 months, or walk by 18 months. If your child isn’t reaching these milestones, talk to your pediatrician, who may propose additional testing and exercises you can do with your child at home to promote his or her development.
[/w8_accordion_section] [w8_accordion_section title=”Q. My 2 year old, 26 months to be exact, barely talks unless she wants to. She has two older siblings who tend to speak for her. She can string a few words together like ‘me up’ or ‘love you.’ How can we encourage her to talk more and what VTech products would be most beneficial for her?”]

A. There’s a simple equation to verbal development. Language in equals Language out. The more words you and others address to your child, the larger her own vocabulary will eventually be. You are right that younger children sometimes do have trouble getting a word in edgewise in a big family. Find opportunities when your daughter can be the only one speaking. Try to carve out some one-on-one time, when you are just focused on each other, and make sure to listen and respond to every word or babble she makes, acting as if you understand her. Imitate her words and sounds and offer lots of praise. Just giving your child the confidence that she is being heard will provide great reinforcement to encourage her to speak more. Also, VTech’s infant toys can promote this language development since most produce simple words or phrases that babies love to control. Toys such as Cody The Smart Cub and Cora The Smart Cub introduce children to first words, emotions, stories, sing-alongs, and more.
[/w8_accordion_section] [w8_accordion_section title=”Q. How do doctors come up with specific milestones for each age group? What are some milestones for older age groups up to age 9?”] A. Infant developmental milestones have been cataloged by studying thousands of babies from all walks of life. In healthy children, the various milestones emerge in a predictable sequence and time, give or take a few weeks or months. This predictable pattern is due to the maturation sequence of the developing brain, along with the typical sequence of practice most babies engage in, given their gradually growing strength and coordination. Some milestones you can look for as your child gets older include being able to draw a circle at age 3, asking lots of Why questions at age 4, knowing his or her letters at age 5, tying shoes at age 6, reading aloud fluently at age 7, and a big spurt of social independence beginning at 8-9 .
[/w8_accordion_section] [w8_accordion_section title=”Q. What are some of the benefits of teaching children sign language at a young age to help improved their cognitive, motor and social skills? How can teaching sign language to my child help promote more than language development? How can sign language help stimulate a child’s brain in other ways?”]

A. The research on sign language is not terribly strong, but enough has been done to indicate that sign language may benefit your child’s overall language development. The more words addressed to babies, whether spoken or gestured, the faster their own vocabulary growth. Sign language also has the advantage that it is easier for babies to communicate using simple gestures, compared to oral articulation. So especially in the first year of life, some babies find it easier to communicate their needs when taught simple signs, and may express less frustration than infants who were not exposed to baby signing.
[/w8_accordion_section] [/w8_accordion]

Child Milestones: My 7-month Old Baby’s Latest Milestone

Paisley’s latest milestone is her ability to crawl. It’s a little more dangerous than I imagined- always looking over my shoulder to be sure she isn’t getting into something she shouldn’t. Every day she gets stronger and has more control over where her little body can take her. From holding her own head up while cooing, to rolling over, then sitting, laughing hysterically out loud, and now crawling, my little girl is accomplishing new milestones all too quickly for this mommy! With her brain developing daily, and her body moving even quicker it seems, I am always looking for engaging and educational toys that help promote strong learning physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Vtech Dino Toy - Child Milestones: Expert Help is Available Online #Giveaway @VtechToys ad

The three toys I received for Paisley were each unique in their own way and provided her with not only entertainment but learning.

VTech Lil’ Critters Play and Dream Musical Piano

The VTech Lil’ Critters Play and Dream Musical Piano features 5 soft piano keys that can either introduce music, animals, or instruments based on the setting. I love that this toy can either be set on the ground for exploration or hung in a crib for a small child to press her feet up against. A bright sun lights up as sounds are made so your child can engage in the music being played. The variety of activities this piano provides is vast. (Ages 0-12 months; MSRP $24.99)

VTech Lil' Critters Play and Dream Musical Piano - Child Milestones: Expert Help is Available Online #Giveaway @VtechToys ad

VTech Lil' Critters Play and Dream Musical Piano - Child Milestones: Expert Help is Available Online #Giveaway @VtechToys ad

VTech Roll & Surprise Animal Train

VTech Roll & Surprise Animal Train introduced Paisley to animal sounds and names, and colors. With peek-a-boo pop-ups, she is surprised as she presses down on a shape with an animal appearing. Her fine motor skills are put to the test while closing the animals back into the train for continued fun and learning. The 55 songs, melodies, phrases, and sounds seem endless as this toy encourages young children to learn about their animals, shapes, and colors. (Ages 6-36 months; MSRP: $15.99)

VTech Roll & Surprise Animal Train - Child Milestones: Expert Help is Available Online #Giveaway @VtechToys ad

VTech Roll & Surprise Animal Train - Child Milestones: Expert Help is Available Online #Giveaway @VtechToys ad

VTech Roll & Surprise Animal Train - Child Milestones: Expert Help is Available Online #Giveaway @VtechToys ad

VTech Roll & Surprise Animal Train - Child Milestones: Expert Help is Available Online #Giveaway @VtechToys ad

VTech Chomp and Count Dino Toy

VTech Chomp and Count Dino Toy features two modes, counting and food, that will help teach your children about eating healthy while learning colors, shapes, numbers and more. The dinosaur recognizes what he is eating after one of the brightly-colored pieces is placed into his mouth. The rewarding sounds and phrases are encouraging and promote responses between the toy and child-listen as he asks you to feed him a specific number of food items. Paisley loves the variety of features from the 8 play pieces to the spinning wheel on the dino’s back that plays music. She also loves pulling the attached string to drag her dino across the floor. (Ages 12-36 months; MSRP: $19.99).

VTech Chomp and Count Dino Toy - Child Milestones: Expert Help is Available Online #Giveaway @VtechToys ad

VTech Chomp and Count Dino Toy - Child Milestones: Expert Help is Available Online #Giveaway @VtechToys ad

As a teacher and mom I love that toys are being created to promote learning in the home from the first months of life. I am so grateful VTech has teamed up with experts to guide parents into age-appropriate toys while also offering assistance to development questions posed by parents in search of answers.

What milestones have your little ones achieved lately?

Connect with VTech on Twitter  and Facebook for more information, updates, and more.

Win Paisley’s Toys!

One lucky reader will win the same three VTech infant learning toys that Paisley tested!  You’ll receive: VTech Roll & Surprise Animal Train, VTech Lil’ Critters Play and Dream Musical Piano, and VTech Chomp and Count Dino Toy – $60 MRSP.

Learning Toys for babies - Child Milestones: Expert Help is Available Online #Giveaway @VtechToys ad

Entry-Form

Closing Date: 12/1/2014 4:00 pm PST

:giveaways: