My Little Miss Chatterbox


I can’t recall when or how exactly this started but my daughter just can’t stop talking!

By her 2nd birthday she knew a few words, but now, only 6 months later, her communication superpowers are blooming and she sure is loving them and using them! Although she still makes a lot of mistakes in pronunciation and sentence structure, she’s expressing herself in full sentences, opening structured conversations, debating with arguments and asking a whole LOT of questions! What’s overwhelming is mostly the volume of talk! It’s not that I’m not used to this at home, though I didn’t necessarily think (or wish!) she would inherit that specific behavior from her dad!

She always has something to say or to ask about. From the second she opens her eyes in the morning “mommy what food are you serving me?” in her clumsy French “manger quoi, maman?”,  the interrogation journey starts… I hear “c’est quoi ça maman?” (eng: what’s that mommy) more than I feel the baby #2 kicks, although I have to say there has been a nonstop trampoline party going on in my belly lately!

She asks all sorts of questions:

  • Funny ones: in a restaurant where the waiter was wearing a bright yellow shirt and was taking forever to bring our food, “maman, il est ou monsieur jaune? (eng: where is Mr. Yellow?)
  • Weird ones: a 5 min cab ride turns into a drill of questions on the components of a taxi’s interior (most of which I had never even noticed before) from the little screw she found under the door handle to the taxi driver’s ID and registration number.
  • Smart ones: “Papa, comment on appelle ça en anglais?” (eng: How do we say this in English?).
  • Silly ones: “Maman, il est où papa?” (eng: Where’s daddy?) even though papa is holding her hand while crossing the street or when we’re all having dinner together and papa is just sitting next to her!
  • Quizzes: she asks questions that she already asked a million times before and knowing perfectly well what the correct response is. When I try to trick her and answer incorrectly she corrects me “maman, il est où papa” (eng: where’s daddy?) to which I respond “il est sur la lune” (eng: he’s on the moon) followed by her final response with an attitude and a giggle “mais non maman, papa est au travail!” (eng: no mommy, daddy is at work!).

If she’s not talking to me or to her father, she’s scolding a doll because she didn’t finish her dinner or she’s doing a monologue while playing with the blocks. A sneeze or a cough wouldn’t stop her, she just says “à tes souhaits” (eng: bless you) to herself or “pardon” and continues the chatter!

This phase has been a lot of fun, I’m loving watching her growing up, becoming a little adult with a LOL sense of humor and an overwhelming curiosity while providing us with a lot of entertainment and crazy laughs.  She has so much energy (verbal energy) that it’s so hard to keep up with her at times (or get anything – other than responding to her questions – done). It can be particularly draining when I am trying to focus on another conversation, an article or just thinking of something else I need to get done and she stops me 10 times to tell me for the zillionth time how she hurt her foot on the plane, or how huge Santa’s belly was, or that her teddy bear isn’t a bear but a pig…

At this development stage, it’s primordial to provide your toddler with a rich and nurturing communication environment to help grow his vocabulary, educate him and help him form his personality. Try to enjoy the ride as much as you can and while you will get tired of hearing the same questions and repeating the same responses, believe me it is one of the most fulfilling things you can experience to see your own child’s vocab, behavior and personality evolve gradually (but not so slowly actually!) by simply talking to him, describing to him what you’re doing, pointing things out, telling him stories, asking him questions and singing him songs…

I also find it very important to be a good listener and to be responsive to my daughter by giving her my attention when she’s talking to me and providing her with as accurate an answer to her question as possible (thanks Google).

Furthermore, while it’s well established that the reading itself is an important component in helping to enrich your child’s vocabulary and sentence construction, reading can also be an opportunity to start new conversations, to teach your child about new things or to give them a chance to express new ideas.

Personally I find that the key to constructive and effective communication with your toddler is to treat them not as child but as a mini adult. This doesn’t only mean that I assume that no question is too dumb and that she’s able to understand almost everything (so I don’t filter much and I don’t baby-talk my explanations much) but also that as a starting point I expect of her to act like an intelligent adult and not as a baby and I try as much as possible to convey to her that the same rules of communication and interaction that apply to me and her father apply to her and that she doesn’t get a special pass for screaming, pushing me or banging on the table because she’s 2! Of course balance is key however because as much as you want to take advantage of your child’s incredible learning potential, you should not be spending your whole day responding to questions as you have a responsibility to yourself (and your child) to stay sane and be balanced… teaching your child balance is after all, in and of itself, a very important life lesson!

My Daughter and her iPad


We introduced the iPad early on in my daughter’s life. As soon as her motor and cognitive skills started developing, her tiny little fingers were serving for more than just grabbing random items to put in her mouth, they were serving to discover by trial and error how to use this fascinating electronic device which never fails to respond and often has something new to offer… our tiny little one was reaching out to the cyberworld! Before she was one year old, she was able to navigate it like a pro, switching from apps, to pictures, to filming short videos, to snapping so many bizarre selfies and then to cartoon watching on YouTube!

We were aware of the potential negative impacts of tablets on young kids ranging from attention deficit problems, to vision problems, to the development of sedentary and anti-social habits, therefore we tried to limit the time she spent with her magic tablet to a strict minimum. We had an initial rule of offering her the iPad only as a last resort to keep her calm and entertained when there was a need to get some things done and no help was around. With time, the rule started to bend gradually to accommodate her increasing demand for attention and stimulation coinciding with the increasing demands of our daily routine which was leaving us with less and less energy and time to interact with her as she grew older. Since we were under the impression that it was working wonders with her educationally and intellectually (I can’t say that I’m not still impressed by some of the things that Le Petit Genie app has taught her) and more specifically in providing her with a more fulsome exposure to French which we worried she was lacking in New York, we started to let go … and then the iPad quickly took control.

Today my daughter is 2 and the first thing she asks for when she wakes up at 6:30am is her iPad. She wants to watch her all-time favorite cartoon “L’âne Trotro”, or play with “Talking Anya” the doll which repeats what the child says (and will give you the most insane headache!).

I understood that the iPad became problematic when she started preferring it over her toys and books and was asking for it all the time. On one particular occasion that I remember vividly, we were strolling outdoors and she asked me to go back home to “watch on iPad”! (I immediately teared up). Lately what was even more alarming is that she started demanding to eat while in front of the screen. The idea that I (nutritionist) am setting my daughter on a sedentary (couch potato) path with the innumerable health detriments that go with it started to horrify me.

Tablets are still a relatively new gadget and since my daughter’s generation is the first to get exposed to them at such an early age, there aren’t enough studies to scientifically prove the many potential risks on a developing kid’s body and mind. That being said, there’s no need for studies or research to notice that this tablet, despite its interactive nature, will, without strict control, end up causing the same detrimental effects that unmonitored TV and video games’ consumption by kids has been known to cause for some time now (ADD, eating disorders and social problems included).

I can’t say that there weren’t times recently when I was so discouraged by the iPad’s take-over that I even flirted with the idea of getting rid of it altogether, but technology is here to stay and my daughter will be part of a generation which is bound to incorporate it increasingly into every aspect of their lives (whether it is for work, to connect with other or for entertainment), therefore rather than inhibiting her ability to learn to interact with it and risk putting her at an unfair disadvantage which may cause its own social issues for her growing up, I decided to enforce some structure on her relationship with the iPad and hopefully this will teach her how to keep those boundaries with technology throughout her life.

Therefore, I decided, as a pre-2014 resolution, that a strict rule for using the iPad for no more than 1 hour/day is warranted and no food is allowed during that time. I was also happy to learn today, by doing some research for this post, that there are recently released guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics which encourage parents to limit entertainment screen time to less than one or two hours per day and in children under 2, the guidelines discourage screen media exposure altogether. Therefore, my resolution seems to be in line with their recommendation.

So genius apps and French cartoons will just have to stand in line as my daughter’s health is taking center stage! Pray for me! I’ll keep you posted with how this resolution pans out!

Oups, alarm clock ringing! Time for me to go back to my little one…