Pretend play ideas

Icecream shop

With simple props and a bit of imagination, pretend play is a great way to role play and work through any anxiety about a particular event or activity - and also help set expectations and behaviour.

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Winter craft activities for toddlers and preschoolers

Puffy paint

While it's cold outside, set up a craft area inside with some of these fun winter themed activities suitable for toddlers and preschoolers. Some will be great to use again at Christmas time!

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Fine motor skill activities for toddlers and preschoolers

Fine motor skills

Work on your child's fine motor skills while having fun with these play activities.

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Best children's books for bedtime

Mem Fox- Time for Bed

The EB team has compiled their favourite bedtime reading books for children, perfect from babies to school age. Cuddle up and cosy with your kids to read these classics.

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One-year-old snowboards like a natural

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Staff writers It often takes toddlers a little while to get steady on their feet after standing up and taking their first tentative steps - but not Sloan Henderson.

This toddler and his duck BFF will melt your heart

Tyler and Beaker even share wagon rides together.

A small boy in the US has struck up a quacking good friendship with an unlikely companion ... his pet duck. 

Adorable dancing sisters star in viral video

The girls strike a pose while dancing.

Staff writers With their slick dance moves and sweet banter, it's impossible not to smile when watching these cute sisters do their thing.

The labradoodle and toddler BFFs capturing hearts on Instagram

Staff writers An adorable dog, his cute toddler friend and their sweet matching outfits are capturing hearts and Instagram followers.

Busting myths about raising bilingual children

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Mark Antoniou A number of enduring myths surround bilingualism, such as that it causes language delays and cognitive impairments.

This homemade toy will keep your toddler busy

Keep the kids occupied with the Toddler Busy Can.

Staff writers Stop! Don't throw that old Pringles can in the rubbish bin - it could be the secret to keeping your toddler entertained.

A rethink on screen ban for kids under two

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Sarah Loughran With new guidelines being developed, the discouragement of use below two years of age is being revised.

Jamming with your toddler: how music can trump reading for development

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Liam Viney Simple and fun musical activities can have enormous power in developing numeracy and literacy.

Trouble-shooting toddler social skills

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Louise Wedgwood Chances are your toddler's behaviour is all completely normal - but here's how to tackle some common social problems.

Why watching TV can actually be good for toddlers

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Gemma Taylor New research shows that after watching an educational children’s television program, toddlers can learn to count to five and read a simple map.

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

tommy

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?

reading

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

mum baby

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.

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.

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Playgroups

Discuss your Playgroup experiences or find a Playgroup near you.

Parties for the under 5's

Our forum for the under 5's parties - share your ideas, themes, cakes, stories.

Got questions?

Chat about your toddler's health, sleep, behaviour, eating habits and more with other parents in the Essential Baby forum.

Wondersuit heaven: Bonds & Disney launch exclusive collection

Bonds and Disney fans with babies to buy for will be celebrating this news. Bonds and Disney have just released collaboration Wondersuits.

Town welcomes first baby in 28 years

Since the 1980s, the Italian town of Ostana had not seen the birth of a single baby.

Great-great-grandma delivers great grandchild in her own home

''I've delivered calves, lambs, dogs and cats, but nothing like this.'' This 'Super Gran' calmly peeled the amniotic sac over her great-grandson's head before discovering the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck ... twice.

How to start teaching your kids road safety

It's something that can be taught as early as possible and reinforced as they get older and more mobile - even from toddlerhood.

Just announced: Bugaboo Cameleon³ Classic+ Collection update

Meet the brand new understated chic model from Bugaboo.

The emotional moment a mum hears her late son's heartbeat

It's been two and a half years since Heather Clark's seven-month-old son Lukas passed away.

Nine reasons why you have 'brain fog'

One minute your productivity is skyrocketing and the next you're sitting there trying to focus – just like that you draw blank, your brain, mush.

I had a caesarean and it was beautiful

Guess what? Despite not pushing him out, I cried, and my heart skipped, and I felt the rush of love and pride when I saw him for the first time.

Microcephaly still a mysterious condition around the world

For parents, having a child with microcephaly can mean a life of uncertainty.

7 baby firsts you won't see on milestone charts

Here are a few 'other' baby firsts you may not have been expecting, but you'll want to be ready for.

Why it's important to vaccinate on time

My son was born on the 1 July 2014. It's a fabulous birthday, don't you think? Not only does the first of July ring in a new financial year, but it also means we've hit the year's half way mark.

Naturopath treatment allegedly left baby "days from death"

A naturopath whose treatment of a baby boy allegedly led to the infant being severely ill has pleaded not guilty to charges against her. 

Andy Murray's emotional speech to pregnant wife after Australian Open

A teary-eyed Andy Murray promised pregnant wife Kim he'd be on the next plane home after his turbulent two weeks at the Australian Open came to an end.

This toddler and his duck BFF will melt your heart

A small boy in the US has struck up a quacking good friendship with an unlikely companion ... his pet duck. 

Great news for coffee drinkers - caffeine is good for your heart

Researchers have found that, contrary to prior belief, caffeine does not cause health-threatening heart palpitations.

I always wanted children - but I've found other ways to be maternal

I've always been one of the most maternal women I know.

When only one parent wants to know the gender

For some couples you either both want to know the gender of your unborn baby, or you don't. For others, it's not that simple.

'No jab no play' could hurt disadvantaged children, experts fear

Tough new "no jab no play" laws could hurt children who have not been immunised due to family dysfunction, poverty, or poor access to medical support, experts warn.

Zika virus: Airlines offer refunds to pregnant women

Airlines and cruise companies across the world are offering refunds or travel credits to pregnant women who are scheduled to visit countries struck by the devastating Zika virus.

#meditateonthis: Mums fight back against PND ignorance

Not all women will require medication, but many will. And there isn't and shouldn't be any shame in that.

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