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Your baby is listening to you, mama. Even in the womb.

The words you say are registering with your child, maybe even before he has a name and is crying out for you.

Your baby is listening to you, mama. Even in the womb.

Your baby is listening to you. Even in the womb.


You really can start connecting with your baby through language even before you’re holding him in your arms, and then on through those very early months when you think you are doing nothing more than changing diapers and counting the hours of sleep you got (or didn’t).

Language is the great human connector: it allows us to share our thoughts, ideas and feelings and ideas. How do you tell your newborn you love her? Well, through words, of course.

A baby begins to listen to his mother’s words in the womb.

Scientific research has shown that babies respond to sounds starting when they are somewhere between 25 to 28 weeks of gestation. That means that a full-term baby has already had three months of practice listening to background noise like dogs barking, car horns honking, music and, of course, the biggie – talking. And so the words you say are registering with your child, maybe even before he has a name and is crying out for you.

Keep in mind, of course, that babies in utero are floating around in water so they can’t hear as accurately as we “regular” humans do.

They can’t necessarily detect the different consonants and vowels of words, but we do know that they can pick up on the rhythm or intonation of speech. They can also tell the difference between male and female speakers—men’s voices are generally lower than female voices. Research has shown that babies can even recognize their mother’s voice over other female voices before they are born.

Earlier is better when it comes to fostering that communication link with your little one.

The best way to nurture that link is by TALKING.

Expose your baby to Mom and Dad and a sibling’s voice in the womb. Listen to music, too.

Talk to your baby to get her acquainted with the intonation and sound of mom’s voice – and of course anyone else who’s going to be a star player in your baby’s family life. Exposing your baby to other ambient sounds are good, too, like music and a dog or pet who’s going to be around a lot when baby appears. A newborn baby can actually be familiar with the sound of her family dog barking from the time that she comes out of the womb; your baby is practicing her listening skills even before you meet her.

Once your baby is born and she’s no longer floating around in that big pool of fluid, talking becomes an even stronger connection between mom and baby.

Your baby is starting to become familiar with the voices around her and the sounds, words and sentences she hears, long before she says her first word!

Here are some ways to boost that connection between you and your baby – or your toddler, pre-schooler or big kid and to foster your child’s language growth along the way—

Sing-song voices are good!

You know that sing-song way your great aunt might have to talked to you as a child? Academic researchers call this kind of talk “infant-direct speech;” some people call it “motherese” or “mommy talk,” and it turns out your great aunt was right! It works. Academic research has shown that babies respond more to this sing-song, infant-directed speech, as compared to “adult-directed speech” – or the regular way you may speak to a peer. We are not exactly sure why, though it may be because babies prefer sing-song cadences, or simply because these cadences are soothing for them.

Language researchers have shown us that a baby’s early responses to intonation and rhythm can be an important building block for the ability to segment or parse speech – that’s the ability to pick out words from running speech. As babies grow into toddlers, they can use this ability to help them understand and then learn new words.

Don’t dumb down what you say.

Just because you’re talking to your little guy in a sing-song voice doesn’t mean you should use incorrect speech and grammar. Remember, your baby is listening very carefully. So it’s fine to say “see that little bunny rabbit over there,” but don’t say “wittle bunny wabbit.” Use a long sentence such as “mommy’s going to eat breakfast now,” instead of “mommy go eat.” Your baby learns from the words and sentences you model for her.

Talk to your baby and toddler about everything you see.

Tell him about the world all around you. You can go beyond just labeling the things you see and expand your sentences to talk about everything you see, using a varied vocabulary, including descriptive words like adjectives and adverbs. And pssst… talking on your phone doesn’t count! Engage with your baby every chance you get – describe what you see around you, tell your child what’s happening, and talk about the people in your family.

Sing to your baby and toddler.

Babies love rhythm, music and repetition. We know this because research has shown that babies respond differently to words and sentences that are familiar to them, versus to new words or sentences that they are hearing for the first time. So don’t worry about your singing voice --your baby is no music critic. Sing to your baby every day; find a song your baby loves and sing it again and again. You may get sick of it, but your baby won’t – he’ll actually learn and grow from the repetition.

Respond to your baby’s coos, yelps, and babbles and any other sounds she makes.

Research shows that the more adults respond to baby’s vocalizations, the more the baby will vocalize. And the number of vocalizations a baby says is directly correlated to the number of vocabulary words that he or she says later on. Practice makes perfect. Keep talking, and encourage your baby to make sounds, because early practice with sounds could help boost your child’s vocabulary growth.

The book’s website is www.timetotalkbook.com. Facebook: www.facebook/timetotalkbook Twitter: @time2talkbook

The book is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and at bookstores throughout the country.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Life

A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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