Last month Watershed turned eleven, and we're going to party like it's 2005 all. year. long. to celebrate!

Every month until our twelfth birthday we'll bring you a list of ELEVEN things someone in our community is passionate about. In addition to getting to know some of the incredible people who call Watershed home, we hope you'll pick up some interesting knowledge along the way! 

This month we'll hear from Rachel Coley: pediatric occupational therapist, child development blogger, and mom! Rachel is the brains behind CanDoKiddo, a business dedicated to helping parents confidently and playfully give their kiddos the best start possible. Fun fact: Rachel also used to be on staff here at Watershed!

About starting CanDoKiddo, Rachel says, "I never planned to start a blog, an online business or write a book 8 weeks after becoming a mother. But the photos I posted on my personal Facebook page of the ways I was playing with my newborn son were met with overwhelming response from fellow parents.

My passion for early childhood development informs my parenting in ways that my friends were telling me they found helpful. My professional expertise as a pediatric Occupational Therapist gives me a different lens on babyhood that others were asking to learn more about. 

Out of that collision of my professional background, my mission to help others and my personal journey as a mother, CanDo Kiddo was born."

This month Rachel brings us a list of 11 Tips for Baby's Best Start. We're EL-LOVIN' her 11 ideas! 

11 Tips for Baby’s Best Start

1) Offer open-ended toys. When possible, opt for simple toys with many ways to play like stacking cups, play scarves + toy animals instead of push-button, battery-operated playthings.

2) Provide free movement playtimes. Minimize time contained in seats, swings, car seat carries, etc. Offer playtime on a flat surface + while held as much as possible throughout the day.

3) Change your baby’s position frequently. During awake times, place baby on his sides, on his belly + on his back during playtimes. Vary the ways you hold + carry baby.

4) Wear baby when possible. It's easy to overlook how much time baby spends each day in a car seat carrier, swing or bouncy seat. Whether you're running an errand or making a salad, wearing baby is a better alternative when baby needs soothing and you need your hands free.

5) Observe and respond to your individual child. There is no single “right way” to parent. Don’t feel confined by a single approach or methodology. Instead, find the pieces of advice or guidance that feel right for your individual child and to your gut.

6) Get outside every day. Help baby explore the world through his senses -feet in the grass, touching the bark of a tree, hearing a stream or smelling a flower .Embrace different seasons + weather.

7) Wear baby when possible. It's easy to overlook how much time baby spends each day in a car seat carrier, swing or bouncy seat. Whether you're running an errand or making a salad, wearing baby is a better alternative when baby needs soothing and you need your hands free.

8) Rotate toys and offer a few at a time. Purposefully stock baby’s play spaces with a few books and a select few toys to promote more deep, sustained play. Change toys every few days or weeks.

9) Speak as if your baby understands. While some “baby talk” is normal, try to also speak to your baby as if he understands. Offer him choices + let his eyes or his gestures tell you what he prefers.

10) Be selective in when + how you help. Allow baby to struggle through problem-solving moments during play. Offer empathy + encouragement first, then as little help as possible if baby needs it.

11) Set + reflect on long-term goals. Parent intentionally by deciding what values and emotions are most important to you+ check in often to see if your daily actions + words match those.

Like what you've learned? Visit the CanDoKiddo website for more where that came from! And follow CanDoKiddo on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Rach!

Do you have an interesting 11 list you'd like us to consider? We'd love to hear your idea! Tell us about it here.