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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

Can my newborn recognize my voice? - Even very young babies are able to recognize a familiar caregiver's voice. In fact, research has shown that babies prefer speech to all other sounds. They enjoy hearing the different sounds, pitches, and tones that adults tend to use naturally when they talk with babies. By listening to your voice, babies develop language skills over time. Read More

I have a newborn. My first language is French; my husband’s is English. Is there any drawback to using both languages with our daughter? - I am a mom of a newborn. French is my native language. I have heard conflicting opinions on speaking both French and English with her—some say it's good, others say that it can delay language development. What should I do? Read More

What can I expect when it comes to sharing books with my 4-month-old? - Literacy is a process that builds over time, with each new skill adding to the one before.  Keep in mind, though, that literacy is not just a skill, it is also a love—a love of books and the magic they offer. Read More

Is it too early to begin reading to my 6-month-old? - It’s never too early to start.  While 6 months may seem young to read to a baby, it is actually in these first months and years that early reading skills are developing.  Literacy starts with a love of, and interest in, books. Read More

My 6-month-old is more interested in mouthing the book than reading it. - There has been a lot of attention recently on the importance of reading and the critical role it plays in helping a child succeed in school. Clearly you are actively promoting these skills by introducing your 6-month-old to the joy of books. She, in turn, is showing you how much she likes them: by chewing and mouthing their pages. Read More

My 7-month-old has started making whining sounds when he wants something. What does it mean? - It's not easy being a baby. They have lots of thoughts and feelings but so few ways to communicate them. As newborns, babies simply cry to let their needs be known. Then they move on to what you call "whining," which is actually a step forward in their communication skills: The tears have turned into sounds. Read More

Should I teach my 8-month-old (who has normal hearing) sign language? What are the benefits and drawbacks (if any)? - Studies show that signing with babies who have normal hearing doesn’t appear to have a negative effect on language development. In fact, some studies show that it may boost verbal skills. Read More

My 9-month-old is so active that he doesn’t want to sit still for a book. - Build book-reading and language into your child’s everyday life. Include a story, rhyme, or song as part of your child’s bedtime routine. Use books to help your child move between activities (e.g., a book about naps before naptime, or a book about baths before bath time). Make up rhymes or sing songs while playing with your child or driving in the car. Read More

What can I do to help my 10-month-old learn to talk? - There is a wide range for when young children start to talk. Some children say their first words at 9 months and others at 18 months. What’s most important is that your child is moving forward in her communication skills--using her sounds, gestures and facial expressions in increasingly complex ways. Read More

My one-year-old often wants to hear the same story over and over. Is this normal? - Telling the same stories and singing the same songs over and over may feel boring to you, but for a young child, learning happens with repetition. Read More

Does my toddler have a short attention span because she won’t sit still for a story? - It is perfectly normal for toddlers to not sit still very long--period.  Most don’t like to stay in one place for long now that they can explore in so many new ways-- by running, jumping and climbing. So, an adult's idea of snuggling on the couch to hear a story may not be the same idea a toddler has for story-time. Read More

My son is 27 months old and only speaks about 10 words. What is typical for this age? Should we be worried? - To understand where your son is at, it's important to look at both your child’s receptive language—the words he understands, and his expressive language—the words he can say. The good news is that it sounds like your son's receptive vocabulary is quite good. He is responding appropriately to your requests and can follow simple directions, like holding up his fingers to count to five. As for expressive communication, it’s important to factor in your child's ability to communicate with gestures. Read More

I’ve caught my 3-year-old fibbing a few times. What’s the best way to respond? - What you describe is quite common for 3-year-olds. Why? Because children this age don't fully understand the difference between reality and fantasy. And one important way young children make sense of the world is through their imagination. Read More

I’m thinking about enrolling my 3-year-old in a weekly French class for toddlers. Is one hour of French per week more confusing than beneficial? - While it’s not likely to be confusing to your daughter, this class is also not likely to make her fluent in French. To learn two languages at the same time, children must hear them during the course of their daily lives and also have opportunities to use both languages. While a once-a-week class might be a fun introduction to French, and your daughter may even pick up a few words, this type of experience is not likely to make a long-term impact on her language learning skills. Read More

I am concerned because my 3-year-old son, who until recently had great language skills and talked really clearly, has started to stutter. How should I handle this? - It can be confusing and worrisome to parents when they hear their child begin to stutter, especially when he or she had previously been speaking very clearly and smoothly. But in fact, stuttering is not uncommon between the ages of 2 and 5 as children learn to put sounds and words together to form thoughts and phrases. Read More

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RELATED INFORMATION

I am concerned because my 3-year-old son, who until recently had great language skills and talked really clearly, has started to stutter. How should I handle this?
Read More
I’m thinking about enrolling my 3-year-old in a weekly French class for toddlers. Is one hour of French per week more confusing than beneficial?
Read More
My son is 27 months old and only speaks about 10 words. What is typical for this age? Should we be worried?
Read More
I’ve caught my 3-year-old fibbing a few times. What’s the best way to respond?
Read More

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