Is Your Child’s Development on Track? Answers from an Expert

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Disclosure: Thank you to VTech for providing a sample for review.
Answers to common Child Development Questions

One of my favorite parts of parenthood is watching my children hit their developmental milestones. Occasionally, if you’re paying attention, you can see them make a cognitive or developmental leap.

Our youngest, for example, has been a relatively late talker when compared to his two older brothers who began speaking at 15 months and 10 months respectively. While he has exhibited no shortage of desire to talk, his ability to form understandable words was lacking. He spoke in only vowel sounds. Then, late this summer in the span of about 1 month, at age 2 1/2, he began making several of his consonant sounds. All of a sudden, we were able to understand about much of what he was saying.

We have a lot of VTech toys in our home. One reason I love VTech so much is because they work closely with a panel of children’s learning experts on the development of its products. Insight from these experts are featured in an online Milestones resource that offers parents guidelines and recommendations to help them select toys based on the individual needs of children from birth to nine years old.

The categories explain different characteristics and occurrences that your child is faced with at each specific age and developmental stage, and are then followed by recommended products that are the most appropriate and beneficial. The milestones are broken down by age and three categories of development:

  • Language and Cognitive
  • Social and Emotional
  • Physical and Motor

VTech recently sent us one of their newest toys designed with toddler developmental milestones in mind. The VTech Go! Go! Smart Animals® Grow and Learn Farm™ is designed for children ages 1-5.

My children love connecting the farm pieces and creating different configurations–the parts are designed much like puzzle pieces or connectable train tracks. My 5 year old gets a kick out of tipping the watering can and watching the carrots “grow”…VTech Go Go Smart Animals Grow and Learn Farm

The two year old loves putting the animals in place and helping them slide down out of the barn…VTech Kids Smart Animals Grow and Learn Farm

In addition to active play features, the Go Go Smart Animals Grow and Learn Farm gives children the opportunity to learn and practice their A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s.

VTech Kids Smart Animals Grow and Learn Farm animals


Expert Panel member and Early Childhood Language and Reading Expert, Dr. Deborah Sharp Libby, has provided us with some common child development question and concerns as well as some great tips on how to address those concerns.

She gives assurance about what is normal in regards to your child’s development and ways you can harness their natural curiosity and excitement to learn and explore.

Answers to Common Child Development Questions

What are some ways to help develop fine motor skills to promote coloring and early writing skills?

Create a comfortable art/writing space at home and fill it with a variety of writing materials like colorful pencils, pens and markers as well as paper and journals of all shapes and sizes.

Provide regular opportunities for your child to color and write. These experiences develop small muscle strength and dexterity, and support fine motor skills development as well as hand eye coordination. Encourage your child to draw pictures and talk or write about what they drew. Let them know that they can draw or write about anything.

…Learning to draw and write follows a progression and development varies widely from child to child.  Children make a variety of meaningful markings as they embark on their initial attempts at writing.  Many draw pictures and scribble to convey a message.

Talk to your children about their pictures and scribbles. Label their work.  This provides a great opportunity for you as parent to model writing behavior, introduce letters of the alphabet, talk about the sounds that letters make and when appropriate highlight common sight words.

My toddler has a lot of feelings; how can I help her express and articulate them better?

Toddlers are growing by leaps and bounds developmentally, socially, emotionally and physically.  They start to become more independent and experience a range of emotions.  Talk and have conversations about feelings and help your toddler understand that it is normal to experience strong emotions.

Everyone experiences times when they are happy, sad, angry, nervous, afraid and embarrassed. Parents need to acknowledge and label emotions specifically.  For example: “You are sad because Mommy and Daddy have to go to work and you don’t want them to go.”  “You are happy because you had chocolate ice cream and you love chocolate ice cream.”  “I see you smiling.  Playing with friends is fun.  Are you happy and having fun?”

Helping your toddler label, understand and learn ways to express emotions is important at this stage of development. Role-playing appropriate actions and words that express emotions is a great way to help your child explore emotions, problem solve, make decisions and learn ways to work with others. Role-play takes place during play often and is a great time to encourage conversations.

“Use your words” is a helpful phrase to use with your toddler and encourages them to share their feelings and thoughts.  Specific statements and questions such as: “Use your words”; “Tell me how you are feeling” and “How does that make you feel” are all useful discussion starters helping children begin to explore and express their feelings.

My four-year-old has started to recognize words she knows. What activities and toys can I use to encourage her reading skills?

Watching your child’s early literacy skills take off is exciting. There are many ways to support literacy development.  Immerse your child in a print rich environment where they are surrounded and bombarded with letters, words, stories and conversations. 

Make sure to set aside time to read great books with and to your child each and everyday.  Daily reading experiences promote literacy development exposing children to important early concepts of print, a variety of vocabulary and sensational stories.

Play with toys and enjoy games that introduce your child to letters and age appropriate vocabulary.  Magnetic letters, alphabet blocks and games like Apples to Apples Jr. expose children to letters and words helping develop important literacy skills.  VTech toys familiarize children with letters, words, stories and guarantee hours of fun.  The company’s Go! Go! Smart toys are perfect for toddlers and encourage imaginative play while introducing kids to colors, letters and numbers.

Strong early literacy experiences impact a child’s overall school success in positive ways.  Take time out daily to read and play with your child and help their literacy skills blossom and grow.

My three-year-old can do many tasks independently, but has trouble stringing together movements that should go together.  For example, she can pedal her tricycle, but cannot steer it at the same time.  Should she be able to do both at this age?  Is there any way to help her become more coordinated?

Three-year-olds are growing and developing at a rapid rate. Their large motor skills are becoming more defined and significant development is experienced at this time across developmental areas. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recognizes that three-year-olds begin to exhibit increasingly complex coordination and movement; however, they also note that many movements do not come easily yet.

Children’s physical development varies widely from child to child and coordination takes time to develop. It is important to have developmentally appropriate expectations.

Most kids love physical activity and toys that keep them on the move.  Tricycles are perfect for growing three year olds.  They require coordination, strength and lots of practice.

It is important to understand that there is a great deal involved in riding a tricycle. First, pedaling requires endurance, lower extremity strength and coordination of both legs as they work together to move the pedals.  Next, working and steering the tricycles handlebars involves strength in hands and arms and coordination of movements between the upper and lower body.  The development of these skills takes time.

Engaging in daily practice of riding a tricycle allows children to explore and develop their muscles and coordinate movements.  This is true for many activities that three-year-olds are engaging in… The key is to support your child and provide them with daily opportunities to grow and develop.  You know your child better than anyone.  If you have questions or concerns, your child’s pediatrician is a great resource.


About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.


  1. I love seeing a child learn how to walk
  2. jeanette sheets says
  3. Thanks Amy for all your wonderful information. I love reading your posts. And see those pictures of your cute boys.
  4. I love my son's first step. Adorable!
  5. Talking!
  6. Becca Gaines says
    Love seeing my little guy push things around , scoot and pull himself up on things.
  7. I love how bright and fun this is; the educational benefit is a great aspect!
  8. Jamie hammel says
    I love seeing little one learn to crawl!
  9. crawling, standing and Potty Training!
  10. Ellie Wright says
    I love it when kids start talking. My 14 mo. old granddaughter is starting to make sense.
  11. Holly Thomas says
    I love when they stand up.
  12. Right now I'm loving watching my 10 month old grandson learn to walk.
  13. My favorite newborn milestone is smiling. My next favorite is crawling.
  14. learning to walk
  15. Shannon Baas says
    watching them take their first steps.
  16. I love it when they first begin to understand that the pretty pictures in the books have words to match..
  17. Leigh Anne Miller Borders says
    I love to see them truly laugh. It melts my heart!
  18. Melissa Cunningham says
    I have always enjoyed when my kids took their very first steps!
  19. When they start walking.
  20. Getting out of diapers and being potty trained was great.
  21. My favorite milestone is first word, its always memorable.
  22. Valerie Mabrey says
    I love to hear the first true giggle. vmkids3 at msn dot com
  23. Danielle Wood says
    My favorite is when he started talking, now he doesn't stop!
  24. My son would really benefit
  25. first steps
  26. Taking those first steps and learning to walk was my favorite millstone for each of my kids and my grandsons!
  27. I love watching the little ones take those first steps.
  28. Taking the first steps.
  29. Brittney House says
    I love watching the first steps.
  30. John Winand Jr says
    I love watching those first few steps....
  31. Stephanie Liske says
    I love when they learn to walk. I love when they learn to talk. I love when they learn to read.
  32. Rebecca Graham says
    I like seeing the first steps.
  33. Karen Drake says
    I most loved hearing my children learn to talk, those first words were memorable.
  34. I like to watch when a child is just learning to walk. Amazing
  35. Paying their own cellphone bill
  36. I love seeing the realization that the marks on the page are the words/story!
  37. I love when they roll over
  38. karen mayernick says
    When they can sit up all by themselves is the most exciting to me!
  39. shelly peterson says
    I love watching them learn how to walk.
  40. Watching those first steps!!
  41. Beth Klocinski says
    I love seeing those first steps.
  42. Heather Dawn says
    I love when they learn to crawl!
  43. Francine Anchondo says
    learn how to walk
  44. Tanya White says
    My favorite milestone is when they learn to crawl.
  45. I loved seeing my girls walk for the first time.
  46. for me I loved watching my babies walk for the very first time. THank you
  47. Gina Ferrell says
    I love seeing a child take their first steps.
  48. The first belly laugh - there is nothing quite like the laughter of a little one.