Enhancing Early Development Through Play

This past week’s luncheons focused on enhancing early development through play. Our speakers were the team from Jumping Jax who gave their unique perspectives as a speech therapist, occupational therapist and physical therapist. Here were two speech related questions that came up during the luncheons:

Q: I speak English to my child and my husband speaks Spanish: will this confuse our child or delay his language development?

A:  Absolutely not!  We think it is wonderful if you are able to raise your child to be bilingual.  Some things to keep in mind along the way:  A child who is raised bilingually may initially show slightly delayed expressive language skills. For example, you may notice that your young child’s vocabulary appears to be smaller than that of his peers. This is very common and is not a cause for concern. Your child is simply taking more time to figure out the two languages and to map concepts to words in each language. As long as your child’s language comprehension appears to be on target for his age (for example, your 15-month-old is able to understand and follow simple directions such as Give Daddy a kiss or Get the ball), you likely have nothing to worry about.  In general, typically developing children, whether they are monolingual or bilingual, should reach the major speech developmental milestones around the same time.  Around 12 months, children should be uttering their first words (e.g., Mama; ball), and by age 2, children should be combining two words together (e.g., Daddy go; Baby cry). If you are ever concerned along the way, it is always best to consult your local Speech Language Pathologist or your child’s pediatrician.

Q:  My baby hates tummy time!!  I put him on his belly and he screams and screams.  Do you have any suggestions to make tummy time more bearable?

A:  It is very common for tummy time to NOT be amongst a baby’s favorite daily activities. However, we always say that any small amount of tummy time is better than no tummy time at all. Here are some simple and pain-free suggestions of ways to make tummy time more tolerable for your baby and for you!

  • When you change your baby’s diaper, flip her over onto her belly and give her a quick leg massage, back massage, or even tush massage. This is an enjoyable experience for your baby, and she won’t even realize that she is on her belly working on head and neck strength.
  • Another suggestion is to place your baby on a mat on the floor and get down on your belly so you are face to face with your little one. Sing to him, speak to him, smile at him.  Your baby will be encouraged to look at your face, thereby lifting his head and pushing up on his forearms to something called a “prone prop” position.  This position promotes strengthening of the head, neck, arms, and hands.
  • A great way to disguise tummy time is to lie down on the couch and place your baby on your belly. While in this position, engage your child by singing/cooing/speaking to him, again causing him to push up through his forearms, elongate his neck, and elevate his head off your chest.
  • One of our favorite tummy time toys is a small floor mirror. This type of toy will be appealing to your child because babies love to look at faces. Therefore, your little one will be enticed to push up on his hands and lift his head off the floor to see his face staring back at him in the mirror. Keep in mind that tummy time is important for your baby’s development, but there is no reason it should be torturous for her or for you!

 

 

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