In my 10 years as a pediatric speech-language pathologist, I have read a lot of books about child development, and I am constantly on a quest to find credible resources for the families that I work with. I was very excited when my colleague Ayelet Marinovich, M.A., CCC-SLP shared that she was writing a book on development during your baby’s first year. Ayelet is a pediatric speech-language pathologist like myself. She is also a parent educator, singer and mother based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ayelet is the creator of Strength In Words, whose mission is to promote caregiver / baby interaction and support parent education through music, play, sensory experiences, and language-rich environments.
At the beginning of May, Ayelet released her book “Understanding Your Baby: A Week-By-Week Development & Activity Guide For Playing With Your Baby From Birth to 12 Months.” The book is a step-by-step guide to supporting your baby's development. It contains distilled, research-based developmental information paired with simple activities to play with your baby on a week-by-week basis, guiding you and your baby through the first year of life. Understanding Your Baby offers an infant enrichment curriculum for parents and caregivers of infants, with 52 bite-sized "modules" of palatable, research-based developmental information and simple, enriching activities to support your baby's development in the areas of cognitive, communicative, motor, and social/emotional development. Week by week, you will learn along with your growing, changing baby!
In Ayelet’s book, Understanding Your Baby, you will learn:
All about what your baby is likely to be working on in the areas of cognitive, communicative, motor/sensory, and social/emotional development
Simple, practical ways to support those areas of development - using nothing more than repurposed common household objects to create play materials and musical, early literacy and sensory experiences
How to maximize your time with your infant - whether you work out of the house full-time or home is your work
The developmental basis for simple activities you may already be doing - helping to reaffirm what you already know and do innately, and helping to boost your likelihood to keep doing them
There are a plethora of “parenting” books out there, so why do I recommend this book? For starters, I found this book to be very approachable. It’s almost as if one of your mommy friends is sharing advice from her experience as you read. Ayelet combines her professional knowledge as a pediatric SLP along with her personal experience as a mother of 2. I also found the format is easy to read and follow along with, taking away any technical jargon or difficult to understand verbiage.
Each week of your baby’s development is highlighted by an area of their development you will see grow in that time period. Then you will find recommended activities to target that specific skill or the “What You Can Do” section. I love that Understanding Your Baby teaches you simple, high-quality interactions. The tips that Ayelet shares do not include the “latest and greatest” learning toys and they don’t require anything out of the ordinary. Encouraging your baby’s development is about taking the tools, skills, and everyday items you already have and creating moments for play, sensory development, and music or literacy enrichment. You do not have to be wealthy or crafty to play any of the recommended games.
I would be remiss to not tell you that the book is evidence-based. Evidence-based practices in my work as a speech-language pathologist are hugely important to me. I could not, in good conscious, recommend a parent resource without knowing it is backed by research. Ayelet provides clear documentation of the research throughout her book paired with developmental milestones and her creative ideas. For example, at 18 weeks we learn about joint attention. Joint attention is “the shared attention between two people interacting with each other and an object.” It is part of communicative development and is the beginning of us learning to take turns as we communicate and interact with people and our world. In Understanding Your Baby, you will learn how to respond to your baby to encourage joint attention, how to model joint referencing which is a related skills, and the natural activities you and your baby can engage in to promote joint attention.
Lastly, when you purchase Understanding Your Baby, you will receive a host of bonus materials. These include an amazing, printable week-by-week calendar. I think this my favorite feature of the book. If you’re like me, you need visual reminders. I would recommend printing out the weekly calendar, taping it up to your fridge, and then reference it whenever you need some gentle guidance. You’ll also receive a reference guide to other material and recommendations from Ayelet that go hand-in-hand with her book. These include recordings from her podcast, videos and other material to read.
Now that I have piqued your interest, head on over to the Birth Baby Body Community Facebook group so you can enter to win a copy of Understanding Your Baby. Happy Learning and Playing!!
Emily Cohen, MA, CCC-SLP
Emily is the founder of the Tandem Speech Therapy, a pediatric speech therapy practice serving Austin, TX. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Indiana University-Bloomington. She then went on to earn her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Eastern Michigan University. Emily spent three years working in special education classrooms and the last 8+ years working in a variety of pediatric therapy settings with children birth to 18 years. Emily provides play-based and family centered pediatric speech therapy for toddlers and preschoolers, as well as services for school-aged children.