5 ways to keep toddlers and preschoolers busy

Finger painting is a great way for your child to experience sensory play and to encourage fine motor skills.

Jennifer Chung If you have both a toddler and a preschooler, we have some fun ideas to keep them both busy.

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Video: Toddler sings the very metal alphabet

The very metal alphabet, as sung by a two-year-old.

Staff writers This little girl wasn't content with the regular alphabet song, choosing to put her own spin on it – a very metal spin.

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Cheap summer activities for the under 3s

Chalk + driveway = lots of fun for little kids.

LETITIA ROWLANDS It's that time of year when playgroups, gymbaroo, dance lessons, music classes and all the other activities that keep toddlers busy each week take a break for the festive and new year period.

Tiny golfer won't let disability hold him back

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LETITIA ROWLANDS When Joe Morrisey and his wife Marcia found out their unborn son would face life with a physical disability, they were understandably concerned about what his future might hold.

Is e-reading to your toddler story time or just screen time?

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Douglas Quenqua When reading increasingly means swiping pages on a device, and we're advised to read to their children early and often, should parents be turning to e-readers for storytime?

5 secrets I learnt from early childhood educators

Advice from the experts: help, but don't rescue.

LINDY ALEXANDER Early childhood professionals make it all look easy, but they have many tricks up their sleeves to help raise happy, well-balanced children.

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Video: Toddler not keen on clean-shaven dad

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Letitia Rowlands This little girl thought she was taking part in a standard game of peek-a-boo, but her dad had a surprise for her.

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Mum and two-year-old create masterpieces together

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Jen Ng This artist and mother collaborates with her 2-year-old daughter to create impressively creative pieces of art.

Finding the right balance when playing with your kids

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JODIE BENVENISTE Being too involved in our children’s play and not allowing our kids enough free time for unstructured activities can mean our kids miss out on the value that play offers.

Ready, set, get messy - for art's sake

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LETITIA ROWLANDS The soon-to-open Sydney Creative Playground will be a place where toddlers and preschoolers are encouraged to explore their artistic sides.

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Parents want highly qualified childcare workers, even if it costs more: survey

One parent survey presented to the Productivity Commission backs claims parents prioritise qualifications over savings when it comes to childcare.

JUDITH IRELAND Australian parents don't want the qualification requirements watered down for childcare workers who look after small children, a new survey says.

The new weekend playgroup for working mums

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Catherine Rodie Playgroups are great for kids and parents alike - but the downside is that they often meet during the week, leaving working mums out of the loop.

Vulnerable children at risk of missing out on early education

Almost 100,000 children from low-income families may miss out on childcare under proposed changes.

RACHEL BROWNE Experts say proposed changes to the work, study or training requirements for parents accessing childcare subsidies could see disadvantaged children losing access to vital early childhood education and support.

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Aussie toddler declared "Princess of Instagram"

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Letitia Rowlands Nevermind local parks and play centres: two-year-old Pixie Rose Curtis is more likely to be photographed on private jets and lounging by the pool at five-star European resorts.

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Why not all children's TV is created equal

It's important to know which television shows help your toddler and which ones are harmful.

It is important to monitor the amount of time young children spend in front of a screen. However according to new research, it is what type of shows children are watching which can have a big influence on their speech development.

Toddler's adorable impersonation of pregnant mum

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Letitia Rowlands Little Ellis has noticed his mum is walking differently lately, and his impersonation of her is hilarious.

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Plans to pay grandparents for childcare

Childcare: Nannies, grandparents and anyone else willing could join workers at childcare centres and family day care in being eligible for government payments.

MIKI PERKINS Under a new proposal, grandparents who obtain TAFE qualifications could be paid to look after their grandchildren.

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Toddler pleads for return of "stolen" nose

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A two-year-old's reaction to a game of "got your nose" shows it doesn't take much to make a toddler cry.

Raising kids in a 'low media' home

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Brooke Wilson Can you imagine a life without TV or computers? Some parents are opting for a low-tech, screen-free life for their kids.

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Why music is good for your toddler

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CATHERINE RODIE Listening to and playing music with your baby or toddler can be a lot of fun - and it plays an important role in early childhood development, too.

The friend everyone needs on their first day of preschool

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Neha Prakash A little girl in Taiwan was homesick on her first day of preschool, but her friend was the perfect gentleman.

Crushing childhood creativity starts young

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KYLIE ORR As a writer and a parent, I see how little creativity is valued in general. The mockery of inventiveness starts early.

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Why play-based learning is great for toddlers

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Rebecca English Letting young children learn about their world, in their own exploratory way, is at the heart of play-based learning. Here's why it's so good for your kids.

Teletubbies making a comeback

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ROSE POWELL The Teletubbies - those mysterious creatures with televisions in their tummies - will be returning to the silver screen, with the BBC ordering 165 new episodes.

How reading with your toddler makes a big difference to their school years

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COSIMA MARRINER Growing up with lots of books and being read to as a toddler have a bigger impact on the performance of a child starting school than their temperament or even their socio-economic background.

How to make eucalyptus playdough

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Winter sniffles? No problem - make a batch of eucalyptus playdough that will help the kids while they play.

Toddler set to race go-kart at Ferrari festival

Toddler to race at Ferrari festival

ANDREW MACLEAN A toddler with a need for speed will be racing around Sydney Motorsport Park as part of the Ferrari Racing Day festival.

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Two-year-old calls an ambulance and saves mum's life

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Riley Ward hasn't been talking for long, but the British toddler knew enough words to be able to ring for help after his mother collapsed.

Video: Dad turns son into action movie hero

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Melanie Mahoney Many kids would love to be an action movie hero in real life, but very few will ever be able to see themselves in movies like these.

Beautiful wooden puzzles by Berkshire Bowls

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Babyology Looking for truly original wooden puzzles that are beautiful enough to be on display? This brilliant Etsy store has got what you need.

How to support your child's learning

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JODIE BENVENISTE Our children are little learning machines - every day, and in almost every way, they're learning. And long before they get to school, all this activity helps them get ready for a more formal learning environment.

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How children learn through play

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JODIE BENVENISTE Our kids do need to learn how to read, write and add up, but they also need to learn many other life skills. And all of these can be learned through play.

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Children's books for soon-to-be big brothers and sisters

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Stephanie Owen Reeder Babies can be cute and cuddly, but their arrival can sometimes cause friction with older siblings. Reading picture books that deal with such issues can help.

Welcome the Brown Wiggle

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"Who ever thought they'd get to hang out as a Wiggle, even if it's just for a day or two?" asks a New Zealand radio personality who has been named the guest Brown Wiggle.

Daycare and separation anxiety

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My toddler is starting daycare again soon and I am dreading the first few weeks because I know it is going to be a running battle. What can I do to try and prevent his anxiety?

Mum's open letter to businessman who entertained autistic daughter on flight goes viral

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AMBER ROBINSON Shanell Mouland's open letter "Dear Daddy in Seat 16C”, about a man who entertained her three-year-old daughter on a US Airways flight, has gone viral - and finally reached the businessman himself.

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Vaccine objectors rise as parents skirt 'no jab, no play' law

Fenella Cios

Cindy Ngo Conscientious objection to childhood immunisation is on the rise as parents exploit a loophole in the new ''no jab, no play'' law that allows unvaccinated children to be enrolled in childcare centres.

5 tips for parents of children with port-wine stains and other physical differences

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Martha and Grant Griffin Our son was born with a port-wine birthmark covering the right side of his face. Here are our top tips for helping parents of a child with a vascular birthmark or physical difference.

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Review: Wet'n'Wild Sydney with babies and toddlers

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LETITIA ROWLANDS While my five-year-old son and I were looking forward to a visit to Wet'n'Wild Sydney, I wondered what the park would have to offer my 21-month-old son. As it turns out, I didn't need to worry.

Should we teach our children to say 'sorry'?

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Andrew Whitehouse When Early Childhood Australia asked if children should be required to say sorry after doing something wrong, even though they may not understand what the word means, the reaction was swift, furious - and divided.

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Review: We're Going on A Bear Hunt stage show

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LETITIA ROWLANDS It's a favourite adventure for children of all ages - and now 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' is live on stage at the Sydney Opera House.

The risks of overpraising young children

Praise children for who they are not what they do.

PINKY MCKAY And it’s not only TV celebs who gush, ‘you are amaaaazing!’ It seems as though everyone is saying it, everywhere we go, especially parents.

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My children watch too much television

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Kiran Chug If children are meant to have no screen time before they are two, I'm a terrible mother.

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Emma 'the girl with the bow in her hair' ready for new Wiggles tour

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Mike Mather Only one of the original members remains in the new-look Wiggles, but newbie Emma Watkins is actually an old hand, writes Mike Mather.

Toddlers in a tizz over Peppa Pig Live!

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CHRISTINE SAMS Her live concert has sold almost 90,000 tickets in Australia so far, with sales topping $4.5 million. When a new piece of her branded clothing was released in Target last week, it sold out overnight.

Music to their ears: what's your family's soundtrack?

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KYLIE ORR I’ll be sure to ground my children's musical interests in some history - depending on your tastes, you may say it is a history of the rubbish I used to listen to - but what will they remember the most?

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Touch and grow for iTots: a third of toddlers have used mobile devices

Charli Meldrum aged 3 from Northmead pictured with her ipad

Tamar Lewin A survey has found that children under 2, on average, spend an hour a day in front of screens.

Five reasons why toddlers are actually pretty awesome

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Sharon Paterson Smith Despite the tantrums and tears over anything and everything I'd much rather be here than where I was two years ago - in the land of the newborn.

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VIDEO: Adorable toddlers slug it out

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Staff writers What’s cuter than one toddler dressed in a tae kwon do outfit? Two toddlers who are not only dressed in protective martial arts gear but are squaring off in the world’s most adorable fight.

How Dolly Parton is helping Australian children learn to read

Lynne Trenerry with her 4 year old grandaughter Kayla.

Rachel Browne, Lara O'toole Toddler Kayla Browne's world is being rocked by the arrival a of a new book every month.

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Finding baby name inspiration in unusual places

Sometimes the greatest baby name ideas come from the most unexpected places, as these EB members show.

The case for inducing at 37 weeks

While we often think of pregnancy as a 40 week affair, experts agree that 37 weeks is actually “full term". So is there an argument for inducing all births at 37 weeks?

Does controlled crying really work?

Controlled-crying techniques may help some babies sleep through the night, but for many exhausted new parents, it's just a recipe for more tears all round.

How I taught my infant to use a toilet

As people become more aware of these benefits, I hope more parents will practice this method, so we can cut down on nappies and improve baby bonding.

'I thought it was impossible': Emily Symons pregnant at 45

Aussie actress Emily Symons has announced she is pregnant with her first baby.

Shallow water blackout kills fit, healthy dad

A little girl will grow up without her father after the fit and healthy 34-year-old passed away while doing something he had practised his whole life.

Afternoon naps may be bad for toddlers' sleep

You could be doing yourself a disservice by encouraging your toddler to have an afternoon nap, according to new research.

Best gifts for newborns, new mums and christenings

We've compiled a guide to some of the most popular presents for newborns and new mums, and for christenings and naming days.

Jaime King to be a mum again

Actress Jaime King is pregnant with her second child, giving 16-month-old James a sibling.

Nannies should receive government funding

The Abbott government should extend funding to nannies, and direct childcare payments to low and middle income families, a landmark study on childcare has found. 

Common skin irritations in newborns (and how to treat them)

As many as one in two newborn babies suffer from skin irritations in their first few weeks. So what are the most common rashes and irritations to look out for?

10 wall decals for the nursery or playroom

Wall decals are the answer to creating a beautiful nursery or children's space without lifting a paint brush, a spirit level or even a hammer.

Preschooler walks 2.4km home alone

Three-year-old Cain Trainor headed off home after his first day at a new preschool without telling anyone.

Video: Why mums get nothing done

In spite of being in an almost constant state of motion while looking after the kids and trying to keep things together at home, it can seem as though parents have managed to get nothing on the to-do list done by the end of the day.

The middle name game

The middle name is no longer an afterthought, and parents' inspiration comes from many places.

Have a baby or your money back - but there's a catch

A new IVF scheme offers couples the chance to fall pregnant and give birth - or get their money back. But there's more to it than you might think.

A rare glimpse inside the womb

A baby born still inside the amniotic sac gave US doctors a rare glimpse at life inside the womb.

Battered mum forced to write to her attacker ex in jail

Three years ago Jason Hughes viciously attacked his ex-partner. Now she has to write to him three times a year.

Woman pleads not guilty to ultrasound scam

A West Australian woman will fight allegations that she scammed expectant mums by selling them fake ultrasound pictures of babies.

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