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Professor de Rosnay and Ms Daunt are available for interview via the contact details below. High-resolution images of Crawlers’ Beach are available for download via Dropbox.


Professor Marc de Rosnay, Early Start, M: +61 414 898 501 | E:

Ms Daunt, School of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences, T: +61 2 4221 3250 | M: +61 418 423 788 | E:

Ben Long, Media and Corporate Communications Coordinator, T: +61 2 4221 3887 | M: +61 429 294 251 | E:

UOW Media Office T: +61 4221 4227 | E:

The hows and whys of talking to your baby

Early Start Speakers Series offers pointers to parents

The University of Wollongong’s Early Start Discovery Space will officially launch its newest attraction, Crawlers’ Beach, on Wednesday 29 March with a talk on “Talking to your baby”.

Crawlers’ Beach is for children aged from birth to two years and features activities designed to stimulate their physical, intellectual and social development while they play. The talk is the first in Early Start’s Speakers Series for 2017, and is open to Discovery Space members and the public (details below).

“Talking to your Baby” will feature Professor Marc de Rosnay, Academic Director and Professor of Child Development at Early Start, and Judy Daunt, Community Links Coordinator - The Early Years. In their talks, Professor de Rosnay and Ms Daunt will focus on the years of rapid development from birth to two years, providing research-backed information on ways in which people can communicate, interact and play with their babies and toddlers to positively influence their development. The session will include practical examples of how these principles have been integrated into the Crawlers’ Beach experience, and how to apply them at home.

Professor de Rosnay research focusses on the emotional and social development of children from birth to 8 years.

“I work in a number of areas in children’s conceptual development, in particular how their understanding of the world affects how they act, and how we can interact with them to improve their understanding of the world,” Professor de Rosnay said.

“I’m very interested in communication and how communication is used in the child’s self-regulatory capacity – how they control their thoughts feelings and actions. If we talk to children in different ways do they come to understand the world in different ways and act in the world different ways? There is very good evidence to suggest that is the case.”

In her talk, Ms Daunt will draw on her 33 years’ experience in early childhood education.

“I’m going to be sharing some ideas and practical examples of activities parents can play with their child to promote language development,” she said.

“For example, ‘peekaboo’. Everyone knows peekaboo, it causes lots of laughter from a baby which causes us to laugh in return. It never gets old. So why is it that babies are constantly rediscovering peekaboo for themselves as we rediscover the joy and laughter it brings?

“Research in child development tells us 85 per cent of the language that we use as adults is there before we start school and 50 per cent of it is there by the time we’re three years old. Therefore, language development in early years is critical.

“To foster and support child development in early years we must recognise the parent as the first teacher. I believe the parent is the ‘expert’ in regards to their child. All children are born with unique personalities, in unique situations and with unique genes, however there is research-backed information that supports different activities we can do to assist with language development.”

About the speakers

Professor Marc de Rosnay, Academic Director and Professor of Child Development at Early Start

Professor de Rosnay joined Early Start in 2014 because of his belief that early intervention provides the single best mechanism to improve children’s lives. For Early Start, he is leading transformational initiatives involving the University of Wollongong and the community with the goal of improving educational and social opportunities for young children in regional, rural and remote contexts. Marc’s research focuses on social and emotional development in the early years, and the ways in which children’s growing understanding of the world (cognitive development) affects their experience.

Ms Judy Daunt, Community Links Coordinator - The Early Years

Ms Daunt is a mum, stepmum, wife, daughter, sister, aunty, cousin, friend, mentor and an early education professional.  She's a qualified early education teacher and has worked for the past 33 years in positions associated with the education and care of young children and their families, across the early childhood education and care sector and the broader child and family service sector. As Community Links Coordinator – The Early Years she is passionate supporting student development to produce exceptional graduates who are well-equipped for the rewarding and ever changing role of an early years’ teacher.

About the talk

Talking to your Baby, 6.30pm-7.30pm Wednesday 29 March 2017

Arrival Time: 6.15pm

Presentation Time: 6.30pm – 7.30pm

Cost: $7.50 Discovery Space members / $15.00 non members - note payment required at time of reservation

Bookings can be made online at

About Crawlers’ Beach

Like all Discovery Space experiences, the key design elements at the Crawlers’ Beach enhance the benefits of learning through play.


Babies’ eyes are the windows through which they learn about their new world, but early vision can only make out light, shape and movement. A newborn can see about 20 to 30 centimetres. A colour palette of black, red and white provides a good contrast for little babies to make out the patterns and shapes. The other colours have been kept to soft, natural palette so as not to overstimulate the children.

Self-awareness and self-recognition

Children learn through watching and observing others, imitating their actions and intentions to learn new skills. Mirrors can help develop a child’s self-awareness, self-recognition and vocabulary. By talking with a child when using a mirror the child may smile, reach out to the ‘other’ baby and slowly point as they recognise themselves. Mirrors along the jetty’s edge are at the height for a baby lying on their tummy or crawling, while mirrors on the outside of the submarine are at a height to allow children who pull themselves up to see themselves.

Tummy Time

Playing on the floor strengthens a child’s neck muscles to help them hold their head up. Rolling, crawling and pulling up helps build muscles and strength, which will benefit them as they begin to walk. The soft sea creature pillows allow parent and child to comfortably sit during tummy time and connect with one another. The beach towels provide sensory elements and further tummy time. Children can pull at the tags, feel the different textures, look at the various animals in the fabric and imitate the different facial emotions.

Gross motor skills

These develop as a child begins to reach and grasp for objects you dangle over them. The submarine and jetty’s edge are at an appropriate height to provide support for a child to pull itself up to a standing position. They can practise their balance and become confident to take their first steps.


Gentle activity is just as important for a baby’s development as big movement play and encourages fine motor skills and coordinating small finger movement as a child manipulates different objects. Reading with a baby involves interactions and communications with a book. You can start at the back or in the middle, it doesn't matter for little ones. Sharing attention is an important social and cognitive skill, telling the story can come later. A treasure chest is filled with appropriate books and toys.

Why no technology?

Australian guidelines recommend no screen time for children under two years, switching off your own screen and giving your baby your full attention will help your babies development and learning.