Activites for Your Infant’s Social Emotional Development

Posted by: on Feb 21, 2014 in Blog | 285 Comments

Activities for Your Infant’s Social Emotional Development

In my last post I listed some of the milestones in infant social emotional development. Now I’d like to share some activities that you can do with and for your infant.

Respond to your infant– You cannot spoil your infant by answering the calls and cries. This is the time when they are learning trust and making secure bonds with those most important in their lives for their survival. Your child is likely to demand less of you later if they receive more of you now. Yes you’ll be tired, yes you’ll be on call 24/7 but it will pay off in the long run.

Talk to your infant– Let them know what you are doing as you do it. They are comforted by the sound and tone of your voice and the more words they hear the better. There are different schools of thought on the whole baby talk issue; I’m not here to pick a side. I just want to know that you are talking to your child, a lot.

Eye contact and imitation– Spend face time with your infant. Smile, sing, and copy their expression. Before long you’ll notice that they are copying yours.

Mirrors as toys– When your child is on the floor for “tummy time” have a mirror at their level. Your child will begin to interact with their reflection.

Peek- a-Boo  It’s an oldie but a goody and the first time they get the joke and let loose that deep belly laugh or crazy giggle, you’ll both be hooked!

Play dates– On the surface it seems a bit of a lark, it’s not as if the infants will be playing together. During this stage they will however enjoy looking at each other, it is another new face to experience. Parents benefit from the play date as well. It will give you a chance to talk to another adult and you can share your stories with someone who can relate.

Share a couple of your favorite infant bonding games. We’d love to hear from you.

Activities to Encourage Toddler Social Emotional Development

Posted by: on Feb 21, 2014 in Blog | 75 Comments

Activities to Encourage Toddler Social Emotional Development

Here are a few games and activities to share with your toddler:

  • Roll and Kick– Sitting on the floor and rolling a ball back and forth or standing up and kicking a ball to each other are more than simply physical development activities. Rolling and kicking with a partner is a great way to learn how to take turns and share. It is also an opportunity to work through feelings of frustration when the ball doesn’t go where it was intended to go. Start this game between child and adult.
  • Songs and Finger Plays– Young children love to sing and imitate. Songs like, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” are simple, fun and offer lots of movements to imitate.
  • Parallel Play– Play dates for toddlers often look the people in the grocery store. Everyone is doing something similar but very few are doing it together. No worries, this is how it works at first. Just make sure there are enough toys around so sharing isn’t a requirement or a problem.
  • Dress Up and Pretend Play– Toddlers love hats, bags, sunglasses and shoes. These are easy for them put on and take off all by themselves. Have a few mirrors around so they can check out their look. If you are curious about how you look or sound on the phone, watch your child hold a toy up to their ear and have a conversation!
  • Model Appropriate Behavior and Manners– Children do what they see. If you say “please” and “thank you”, your child will too. Telling a child how to behave has small impact compared to showing them.
  • Naming Feelings– When your child is happy, mention it and let them know how you can tell they are happy. “I can see that you are happy because you are smiling and laughing.” If they are upset, frustrated or angry, mention that as well. Feelings can be overwhelming for toddlers and helping them recognize and name them can help them understand and navigate them.
  • Choices– Toddlers like to take charge and make choices. That means, “Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt?” That doesn’t mean, “Go get dressed.” Too many choices can be overwhelming and frustrating for you and your toddler. As they are potty training the choice becomes, “Do you want to walk to the bathroom by yourself, or do you want to hold my hand and walk to the bathroom?”  Rather than, “Do you want to go to the bathroom?” You have to be able to live with whatever they choose so make sure that you set up the choices wisely.

How do you help your toddler feel confident and independent? Let us know.

Social Emotional Develompent in Infants

Posted by: on Feb 19, 2014 in Blog | 19 Comments

Social Emotional Development in Infants

During the month of February I want to do a bit of writing about social emotional development. I will share information that I have gathered from several sources concerning developmental milestones, activities that encourage social/emotional growth and a few red flags that you may want to follow up on with your physician if you have concerns. This week I’ll take on the infants.

Infant social emotional development

Infants develop so quickly in their first year. Here are some of the ways they communicate, engage and bond with those closest to them in their first three months:

  • Crying- it’s how they reach out and ask for attention of some kind
  • Looking at faces and listening to voices
  • Are usually able to be comforted. Although we can all think of times we thought they’d never stop crying that is the exception, rather than the rule.
  • Smiling and cooing. Some will tell you that in the first three months, that smile is simply gas. When they are smiling at you, you know it’s real!

Between 3 and 6 months they begin to show you what they can do with the information they’ve been taking in and you will likely notice:

  • They recognize people who are important in their lives and want to be near them.
  • Snuggling- your child will snuggle into you when they are looking for comfort
  • Waving of arms and legs when they are excited.

Around 6 to 9 months your infant will:

  • Pat at a mirror when they see their image
  • Make intentional sounds, at this stage called babbling to gain and sustain the attention of another person.
  • Respond to angry voices, friendly voices and their own name.
  • May become upset when separated from familiar people.

During what some consider the last three months of infanthood, 9 to 11 months look for:

  • “Jargon” the next step after babbling. This begins to sound like real speech and you will hear the same combination of sounds often.
  • Shouting or making loud sounds intentionally to get attention.
  • Showing affection for important people in their lives.

Red Flag Behaviors

Children develop at different rates, that’s why the milestones are described in ranges, however, if your infant does not:

  • respond to voices or sounds,
  • avoids eye contact or fails to signal that they want or need something through gestures, pointing or sounds
  • fails to be comforted by their parent’s voice or touch

Talk to your child’s doctor to see if screening is appropriate. Never be afraid to ask if you have questions or concerns about your child’s well-being.

Toddler Social Emotional Development

Posted by: on Feb 19, 2014 in Blog | 49 Comments

Toddler Social Emotional Development

Toddlers, having more physical abilities than infants are exploring their world in new and exciting ways. This leads to more opportunities for social emotional development. Here are some of the typical developmental milestones you are either noticing now, or can look forward to seeing soon enough:


  • Comes when name is called
  • Sits for a couple of minutes with an adult
  • Will allow an adult to redirect them in cases of inappropriate of unsafe behavior
  • Begins to follow routines and rules in group settings


  • Intentionally interacts in art and music activities
  • Pretends and imitates adult behaviors


  • Will have favorite things, such as foods, toys and people
  • Will find self in a group picture
  • Identifies body parts
  • Knows which things are theirs, such as clothes, shoes, toys
  • “No” enters their vocabulary-big time!

Builds Relationships with Peers

  • Will join a group activity with children and an adult
  • Plays near other children (parallel play)
  • Know the names of other children
  • Will ask why another child is crying
  • Imitates the feelings of other children around them, laughing or crying or shouting

Builds Personal Relationships with Adults (caregivers/teachers)

  • Moves toward an adult for physical contact
  • Seeks adult approval for accomplishments
  • Reaches up to an adult to be lifted or for a hug
  • Wants to share activities with an adult
  • Smiles when greeted by an adult


Red Flags

If you notice some of the following behaviors, or lack of behaviors, you may want to consult a professional:

  • Requires constant attention to stick with an activity
  • Is unable to stay with a single activity for a brief amount of time
  • Doesn’t show interest in other children
  • Doesn’t imitate
  • Your child often becomes “extremely” upset with schedules or routines change. Children like and need routine but are typically able to make adjustments with prompting and encouragement. This is behavior that goes beyond typical upset.

Children develop at different rates, some sooner, some later and that is part of the typical human experience, no need for concern. That being said if you have questions or concerns at any time regarding your child’s development don’t hesitate to talk to your child’s doctor.

Valentine Treat

Posted by: on Feb 12, 2014 in Blog | 55 Comments

Valentine Treat

Shortbread cookies are easy to make, simple to decorate and just plain yummy.

This is my variation on a recipe from Food Network’s Ina Garten.

Valentine Shortbread Hearts


3 sticks of butter, room temperature

1 cup of white sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

3 ½ cups of flour

¼ teaspoon of salt


In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with a mixer

When well combined, add the vanilla

Add the flour and salt, use the mixer until it just comes together

Note: Room temperature at my house is still cold, so the butter was a bit stiff even after 24 hours. I added a bit of water to make sure my dough held together. 1 Tablespoon should do it, but only if you need it.

Tip the mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap, form it into a disk, cover it completely with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes

After 30 minutes (or more- it will be fine if it sits longer) roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness on a floured surface

Cut hearts out with a cookie cutter and place on an ungreased baking sheet

This dough does not spread out, so don’t worry about leaving a lot of space between cookies

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes

Watch carefully, you want the edges to just begin to brown but this is not a dark cookie, your baking time will depend on your oven as well as the size of your cookies

When cool drizzle with confectioner sugar glaze or melted chocolate (I made a lemon glaze with confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice.  I also melted some white chocolate with cream and added a bit of food coloring)

Share with someone you love!

Let us know how your batch turned out. Send us a picture.


cookie pic