Café Recap: Intro to Learning

The Motherhood Café Presents: INTRO TO LEARNING


Sarah Robertson

Jessica Cantrell

Margaret Flynt

Erica: Let's start by talking about some 'road markers' for the first 12 months:

Sarah: Lots of milestones charts out there, some technical and some more parent friendly. Motor stuff-sitting, crawling, rolling over.

Jessica: Looking for rolling over around 6 months. She likes to encourage tummy time and raising their head up. Sitting up between 6-8.  First steps or standing alone by 12 months.

Margaret: Preschool teacher perspective, tummy time starts fine motor and attention skills.

Erica: Should we do tummy time after they get to a higher developmental milestone?

Sarah: Floor time in general is very valuable.

Jessica: Even though babies don’t like to do tummy time, and prefer to roll over, it’s good for them to learn to do tummy time because it uses different muscles, which are good to develop. It’s helpful if you can be on your tummy with them. 


Sarah: Social interaction, making eye contact, watching your mouth. From there it goes into language, they watch you interacting. Then to babbling and then by 12 months a few words.

Should you be correcting words or not do baby talk?
Sarah: Try to talk as much as possible as adult conversation. If they are babbling to you, there is value to babbling back with them to teach them conversing.

Erica: What are some ways we can introduce our children to language?

Sarah: Talking with them until you’re blue in the face! Singing nursery rhymes, listening to music, narrating your life.

Jessica: Language delays are often seen with the second child because the first child does all of the talking. If you are trying to teach your child a word, it’s important to use just that word and not necessarily talking in sentences. Example: Ball, ball, your ball.

Margaret: Not only talk to your children but read to your children. Board books that are simple.

Audience question: Sign language?

Sarah: It really encourages communication. She’s never seen it delay verbal language. It is helpful for children with and without speech delays.

Erica: Introducing babies to food.

Jessica: Helpful for sensory development. Let them play with it, show them how to lick their fingers. They learn texture, temperature, how it’s going to feel when they eat it. Showing them what you’re doing when you’re eating, so eat with your mouth open, even though it’s so hard for adults. Let them play and show them what you’re doing.

Erica: Ways to encourage physical development?

Jessica: Floor time is huge. If you can get on the floor with them, showing them how to roll around, show them a book while they’re on their tummy to help them lift their head up. To encourage crawling, move something a little further away.  Setting up your environment so it encourages them to be motivated to move more.

Erica: Is Mommy/Baby Yoga helpful?

Margaret: Make the yoga relatable, her example was a volcano.

Jessica: It’s all about having fun and being fun with them.

Erica: Do you think we’re recognizing issues earlier and there are programs available, is there more of a need or we are just looking more closely?

Sarah: We are seeing how development that is delayed early on, can lead to delays later on.  Like if a child is late to speak, they can be late to read sometimes. 

Erica: Are there any things we’ve done as a “mistake” as a culture? Example: Baby Einsteins.

Sarah: Back to sleep, kids were having delays in rolling. So it has been amended to be Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play. For Baby Mozart, etc, everything in moderation, if you’re just plugging your kid in, maybe not so much but if you’re using it to interact with your children that’s fine.

Jessica: Seats for children/bouncers, not for long lengths of time. It can lead to developmental delays because it’s not a natural position for them to take. They can be used for shorter amounts of time, for your shower, etc, but not for long periods of time.

Erica: To the audience, was there something that you bought into that was supposed to be super educational but ended up not being that great.

Jessica: Her child spent a long time in an exercauser and watched Dora and Veggie Tales, but then she’d realize the child had been doing that for 40 minutes.

Erica: Children and Technology under 2

Sarah: All about moderation and limited screen time. Use it to interact with them.

Jessica: How much children are using their thumbs now, we won’t know the impact of that until much later. It’s important for them to use their hands to play.

Margaret: Technology is here and moderation is important. Especially zero to five, very limited, it’s important for you to be present and interacting with your child. Play with your kids and have conversations with them. Children have to learn actively.  Be cognizant of how much time you’re on your screens and your children are on screens. Puzzles are a great tool for them to learn motor skills and problem solving skills.

Audience question: Kids needing to know how to use a computer for preschool.

Erica: Computers are fun so if a kid sees an iPad they’ll be able to figure them out.

Audience question: FaceTime and Skype? Her child interacts with his dad who works out of town over FaceTime, is that bad?

Sarah: Interacting with dad takes priority. The child also is able to interact with her in person.  FaceTiming is similar to how a child would relate to a picture. They can pick up faces in different contexts.

Erica: Are there learning resources that you definitely recommend?

Edi: Story time at the library. Free and fantastic!

Sarah: She is seeing some of the kids that she does assessments for, that they don’t have a lot of interaction with other children their age. It’s all about exposure to different situations.

Margaret: Playgroups, Amazement Square, places for social interaction that are safe.


Margaret: Friendships that you make now can last a lifetime. She has friends that have been there in the good times and bad times for 27 years.

Erica: What are the red flag issues we should be looking for? What things do concern you?

Jessica: Lack of eye contact or back and forth babbling. Gross motor skills, kids do things at very times, which is totally fine. If they get 3-4 months behind where you think they should be, you can refer YOURSELF to the Infant and Toddler Connection. The Infant and Toddler Connection is FREE!!!

Sarah: If you ever notice your child’s development stop or plateau for a period of time that you’re not comfortable with, it’s good to talk to your pediatrician or someone like the Infant and Toddler Connection.

Audience Question: How does personality play into developmental stuff?

Margaret: For a child that is more of an observer, the social stuff is important to emphasize around 2-3. One on one and small group interaction is fine too.

Erica: What about parallel play? Is that something to be concerned about?

Sarah: From 2-3, parallel play is fine. They might not be playing with each other, they are playing alongside. After 3, the cooperative play starts more.

Audience Question: For a child that’s more reserved, how to encourage play?

Sarah: Some children need to be prompted to learn social skills and lead by example.

Erica: Any toys you suggest? Blocks, puzzles, and board books? Are simple toys the best?

Jessica: Kids naturally want to follow us around and imitate us. That type of interaction is great. Food play, outside in the garden, puzzles.

Margaret: PlayDoh. Sensory tables.

Erica: Pinterest-Sensory Bins

Erica: Take away from the panelists

Sarah: In reference to development charts, don’t feel like you have to memorize it, just reference from time to time. CDC Milestones (online). What your child should be doing, what you can do to help the development, and at what point you should contact your pediatrician.

Jessica: Call Infant and Toddler Connection if you have any concerns. No GUILT! You’re doing the best you can on most of the days. Ask questions of one another but don’t be hard on yourself.

Margaret: Remember to stay present with your children and be a good listener.  Be engaged with your children and before you know it they will be teenagers and you want to lay the groundwork for listening well to them. And enjoy it!