Developlay receives Mom’s Choice Award 2014

Today we received the news that with our game Nott Won’t Sleep, Developlay has been awarded the Mom’s Choice Award 2014, awarded by moms organization Mom’s Choice, in the category Apps & Software for Toddlers. Nott Won’t Sleep is our first app in a series supporting kids to live a happy and healthy life.

Mom’s Choice Awards

The Mom’s Choice Awards (MCA) is a prestigious annual awards program that recognizes authors, inventors, companies, parents and others for their efforts in creating quality family-friendly media, products and services. The Mom’s Choice Awards is known for establishing the benchmark of excellence for family-friendly media products and services.

Parents, educators, librarians, and retailers rely on MCA evaluations when selecting quality materials for children and families. The Mom’s Choice Award seal helps families and educators navigate the vast array of products and services and make informed decisions.

Developlay receives Mom's Choice Award



Boy washing teeth

Usefulness of automated habits for kids – Simple, but not easy!

All parents set goals in raising their children. Big goals and small goals, consciously or less consciously. For very young children it is mostly about practical, everyday things, such as healthy eating, regular exercise , brushing teeth, washing hands before sitting down for a meal, plenty of rest, etc. Even for very young children, parents have clear ideas of how they want to raise them, for instance: help them to be polite to others, or helpful, or share toys with, etc.

The concept of succeeding in raising your kids to your favored or preferred goals is relatively simple: support your child to make a habit of a particular behavior.

Characteristic of a habit is that it is automated. In other words, you do not have to think anymore about how to behave. For example driving a car: you are only vaguely aware that you pay attention to the other traffic, but you do.

The time that it takes to make an automated habit of a certain behavior of course is dependent on the type of behavior is (and of the context), but on average it takes an average of no more than 66 days (Research done by the University College London).

Support your child to make an automated habit of a particular behavior. It takes an average of no more than 66 days.

Our hypothesis is that this will go faster with young children. In the first place because the habits to be formed are relatively simple. And secondly because the children will be encouraged (rewarded) by their parents.

Parents are pleased when their child helps set the the table, cleans the rabbit cage or brushes his/her teeth. The satisfaction of the parent is a huge incentive (reinforcer) for the child to exhibit more of that behavior.

To create an automated habit of a certain behavior a constant repetition is needed, and within a defined context . Meaning:  stimulate the habit every day or every time the situation arises. That context will in time be the trigger to the habit, and the child no longer needs to be reminded.

Consistently stimulate the habit every day or every time the situation arises.


  • Brushing teeth: every day after dinner / after waking up / before bedtime . The moments of day are the context.
  • Shake hands: every time a friend or family member comes to visit. The visitor is the context, and the child will eventually shake hands without being asked, even if he / she is elsewhere in the house.
  • Share with siblings or friends when “fighting” over a toy or an iPad, right from the start you can set the rule of “take turns every x minutes”, and throw a dice who will start. The presence of friends and the situation are the context.
  • Healthy eating: after every dinner you offer a piece of fruit. This can be a tricky one! The “sandwich method” can help: “after finishing your fruit you can have a scoop of ice cream / fifteen minute (extra) TV-time”. The meal and the time of day are the context.

These are just examples. Parents will differ in their goal setting of course. The examples can be endlessly expanded: coat on the rack, shoes taken off at the front door, bedtime (always after reading / game / bath) etc.

The forming of new habits thus appears to be quite simple, but that does not mean that it is easy! A lot is asked from parents especially in the field of consistency. Parents who finished potty training understand the importance of being consistent 😉

But their effort and commitment will be rewarded; after all, in 66 days (but probably less) they see the result of their efforts!

(Inspiration: Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick by Jeremy Dean)

Wikipedia on automated habits and routines.




nott party

Prizes won! And some great reviews for Nott Won’t Sleep

Last month it was raining prizes and great reviews. Just a small update.

And we got some pretty amazing reviews recently:

  • The Appyladies: “Everything about this app is beautiful, gentle, and perfect for settling over-tired crabby children.  Peaceful music plays throughout, the illustrations are beautiful but not over-stimulating, and Nott’s increasing sleepiness helps set the restful tone”.
  • Juf Jannie (review in Dutch): The app is fun as part of the bedtime ritual. Read your child a book for a while. Your child will help Nott ready for bed and goes himself to go to bed. The app whit beautiful and the music is lovely and soothing. Great in order to fall asleep.”
  • And one that we are very proud of, we received a Kirkus Star from renowed bookreview organization Kirkus: “A winning combination of cute characters, soothing music and gentle bedtime activities for toddlers and preschoolers. There’s no text, and Nott doesn’t speak except to say “Yay!” and giggle when touched. But the story carries itself and will, in all likelihood, carry many a little reader off to dreamland.”

And from our last post on reviews:

  • Ipadkids: “We added Nott to our bedtime routine last night and both kids – 5 and 3 – loved it.  They were much quieter playing this game and I attribute that to the soothing tone the game sets.  There were fun questions about how different animals sleep, and of course my oldest had to know why we sleep in the first place.  I can’t say for sure if it helped them sleep better but it was still a cool way to wind down at the end of a busy day.”
  • Bookchook: “Kids are implicitly invited to help Nott get ready for sleep. She finds her favourite bedtime toy, Nox, she interacts with little animals, all of whom fall asleep, she explores the moon. All these adventures are accompanied by soothing ambient-style music and the interactivity is not boisterous – gentle taps on the screen cause equally gentle happenings.”
  • Ipadfamily: “Bed time story with relaxing music and cute imaginative activities. Let your toddler help Nott get to sleep and maybe you too! Cute story book app that is gentle and easy to use for even little ones!  Great use of iPad technology! Rating 10 out of 10!”
  • “You will immediately notice that this game totally focuses on the atmosphere around bedtime, it feels sweet, calm, happy and peaceful. What’s even more striking is that there is nowhere a pop-up is not to turn to more purchases, not to give a rating … which means that everything can be, as a parent with the children, but also played at rest children alone” (review in Dutch)
  • Kidslearning:This app is the best kid’s app, it’s the app for parents as well as the app for kids, the best educational app in the market, and teacher should use it on preschool as part of kindergarten syllabus. It might be also ranked in top 100 apps for kids. This App is reviewed by our best educational reviewer.”
  • And a review for Special Needs Kids: “The game offers beautiful, calm graphics and animation, soothing music and thematic gameplay, all of which have been carefully crafted to contribute to the overall theme of going to bed.”

Research shows new challenges for parents in media driven times

Research shows new challenges for parents: From stimulating self-perception in their children to teaching them self control in the overwhelming supply of technological stimuli.

The recent Nickelodeon study “The Story of Me” has noted a big difference in self-perception between Millenial Generation kids and kids born after 2005. For the Millenium kids self-perception has been a big issue and their parents have been focusing on stimulating their children’s self esteem. Today’s generation of kids is demonstrating defining characteristics that set them apart from generations prior. Select findings and highlights from the presentation include:

  • 8 out of 10 of these kids, whose eldest members are just turning 9, believe that they are smarter than most other kids their age.
  • Humor is important to this generation, with 74% describing themselves as funny, and 50% ranking themselves between 10 and 11 on an 11-point scale, with 11 representing “very funny.”
  • Kids say they are happy, and they have a strong sense of self. They believe they are nice to people, smart and that they make their parents happy.
  • They are self-assured, with 96% saying they believe they can accomplish anything they want to if they work hard enough.

The parents of these after-2005-born kids may not have to deal with self-perception, however they have a new challenge!

They, themselves being GenXers (born between 1960 and 1980), have to deal with the profound increase in Media and Technology use of their kids: media consumption among kids has grown over the past four years to nearly 35 hours per week, presenting an increase of 2.2 hours since 2009.

An increasing amount of studies have demonstrated the pro’s and con’s of screen time consumption by kids, categorized for different age groups. Some studies find disadvantages, but two most recent studies emphasize that gaming isn’t bad for children, and tv has educational values.

A recent review of research by the Radboud University shows significant benefits on cognitive skills, emotional behavior and emotional skills.

In de massive study among 11.000 children playing videogamesand watching TV from the age of 5 – 7 in the UK, published in the Brittish Medical Journal, shows some interesting results. The study looked into behavior related to watching tv and playing games.

  • Exposure to video games had no effect on behavior, attention or emotional issues.
  • Watching 3 or more hours oftelevision at age 5 did lead to a small increase in behavioral problems inyoungsters between 5 and 7. Under 3 hours no increase showed.
  • Neither television nor video games leadto attentional or emotional problems.
  • There was no difference between boysand girls in the survey results.

However, there is reason for caution on heavy usage:

“The study suggests that a cautionary approach to the heavy use of screen entertainment in young children is justifiable in terms of potential effects on mental wellbeing, particularly conduct problems, in addition to effects on physical health and academic progress shown elsewhere.”

Like with many things: A little is good. A little bit more may be better. Too much is never a good or healthy thing, be it food, sports, work, screen time or gaming. All in moderation.

According to the Nickelodeon Study of Me, one of the crucial challenges for the near future will be for parents to teach, maybe themselves, but especially their children, useful strategies to protect oneself against the countless temptations that stimulate our reward systems in the brain.

Patty Valkenburg, Dutch professor Media, Youth and Society at the University of Amsterdam says in a Dutch newspaper:

“Parent’s challenge is teaching their children self-control. Learning and social behavior takes an effort, and also the postponing of nicer things, the ones that are offered to us by smartphone and iPad. Teaching children self-control means helping them learn to deal with frustrations and disappointments. As parents and educators we have to be consistent and set boundaries.”

As Developlay, we support these findings!


bed preschooler

Help! My child is not sleeping through the night

The past weeks we have gotten a lot of feedback and questions regarding toddlers, preschoolers and sleep. We are happy that many parents realize the importance of bedtime rituals for small children. We wrote about this in our blog a little while ago, referring to this article on family rituals. And there are so many more sources emphasizing the importance of bedtime rituals!

Family Rituals give children a sense of belongingness and a feeling of being worthwhile.

With putting a child to bed using bedtime rituals, kids will start the night calmly and many sleep through the night.  However, there are children who don’t sleep through the night; they wake up many times or wake up very early.

Some parents accept kids to sneak into mom and dads bed; it is warm and feels safe. Some children have a better night between mom and dad and research shows that there is nothing wrong with that for toddlers and preschoolers – for babies there are certainly some dangers; it is basically a personal choice what you find acceptable and comfortable as a parent.

Even the best sleepers have some sleeping difficulties from time to time. But when parents and children don’t get enough sleep over a period of time due to the broken nights, it is time to start thinking about solutions.

First there are a few causes to check:

  1. The bedroom. Is the temperature in the room right? Many children wake up around 5 am. This is the time a child’s body temperature is at it’s lowest and the cold can wake a child. Or is it too hot? Is there any noise coming from the street? Is the child comfortable and is the bedroom without distractions, like a TV or a lot of toys?
  2. Medical disorders. It is possible that for instance coughing, due to asthma or a common cold, or acid reflux causes a child to wake up. When you are unsure if there may be an underlying medical condition, it is wise to consult your pediatrician about any of these concerns.
  3. Craving for food. If you used to feed a child during the night, and changed the schedule, your child may still be accustomed to drinking a bottle at night. They are conditioned to expect a bottle, so they wake up looking for it. If this is a problem, reduce the volume of the bottle slowly, or increase the interval between bottles slowly. Also make sure your child eats and drinks enough during the day.
  4. Calm start of the night. Has the night started calmly? Bedtime rituals can help to start the night peacefully. Repeating the bed time rituals in the same order for days and weeks, will help the child to realize the night has started and it is time to keep sleeping. vacations and illnesses may change the rituals and will often impact sleep patterns.
  5. Not sleeping alone or bedtime habits. Many parents told us their child only goes to sleep with the parent being present in the room. Once the parent leaves, the situation has changed, and during the lighter sleep it may get noticed. This will only change once your child learns to fall asleep alone, but it may take a few days or weeks to get used to this.
  6. Too much sleep. Is your child sleeping during the day? It can be time to shorten the sleep during the day or skip the nap all together.

The list above is just and indication of the many reasons a child won’t sleep through the night. The items mentioned above are important to check off, since there may be a clear reason for not sleeping well, and rewarding or disciplining won’t solve the underlying cause. It may take a few days or weeks to figure out what is the problem.

Once you check off the possible causes that wake your child at the night, you may want to use a rewarding system, possibly in combination with a sleep trainer clock. The clock tells when it is okay to climb out of bed, and the stickers reward a successfully accomplished night sleep (like staying in own bed, not calling out and falling asleep naturally).

(The links to the reward system and the clock are examples. Just look for the items that fit your own needs best!).

If all the tips mentioned above don’t help, it may be time to consult a (certified) baby and kids sleep consultant.



Nott – a word from the designer Liselore Goedhart

Nott wouldn’t have been as cute, furry and cuddly without the love and dedication of the very talented designer Liselore Goedhart (@lizzywanders). Liselore wrote a short article on the creation of the character Nott in Nott Won’t Sleep: how she came from first ideas, to one of the cutest little girl (or boy?) we’ve ever seen in games for small children.

I want to give you a look into the process that led to the creation of little Nott, the main character of our new iPad game for toddlers, Nott Won’t Sleep.

Before creating this character Monobanda came together with literary novelist Renate Dorrestein to discuss the game’s theme. Inspired by Renate’s short story about a girl who will not go to sleep we decided to go with night time.
After this session I formed the following associations:
Secret places and hidden life, building your own world beneath your fluffy blanket. Hugging your favorite cuddly bear, how sweet it smells. A music box turns and plays, shadows move, spots of light touch the wall. Sounds that keep you up, rain against the window, shuffling of feet, your cuddly bear snoring.

Thinking about night and going to sleep as a child I remember being very resilient in not wanting to go to sleep. The sleeping itself was fine, but you made sure to delay it all by stalling, saying “Again!” after your parents told you a bedtime story or just being insufferable. Time means something different when you are younger, getting to stay up late felt like you had ages before it was bedtime.

Out of these memories and thoughts a character began to form. Someone who was sleepy, yet so adventurous and curious bed time just had to wait. Maybe this character was wearing pyjamas or a nightcap, or looked like an animal (thinking of Max from Where the Wild Things Are) or is highly energetic. It was time to sketch!

“Character sketches”


Read the full article

baby sleep positions

Whose bed is it anyway? ;)

sleeppositionsSomething all parents encountered: a strange species in the masterbedroom.

Anyone who has tried to sleep with a baby is probably familiar with “The Snow Angel,” “The Booby Trap,” and “The Roundhouse Kick”; they’ve experienced these sleep positions even if they didn’t know their official names.

This picture is from the following very funny book, written by Andy Herald, and Charlie Capen from How to be a dad.


David Kleeman on educational apps for kids

In Huffington post David Kleeman, chairman of the Center for children and media adds his insight to the discussion on apps and their unsupported/supported by research educational value.

With roughly 150,000 apps in Apple’s “education” store, most aimed at children, there is a legitimate, deep and tough debate to be had on defining and achieving quality in media intended to teach. (full article)

The importance of achieving high quality in media is something we support very much. It is incorporated in the mission of Developlay, but also in us as parents of young children. It is not without reason we worked with a wellknown literary novelist, a scientific institute and the best gamedeveloper we could find when creating Nott Won’t Sleep. We are aiming for the best.

David Kleeman points out several institutes that support high quality apps / media, curate (new) media and conduct research in the very new area of tablet games and education. Interesting and valuable sources for further reading:

Even though there aren’t academic studies (which wouldn’t likely evaluate specific titles, only broad attributes of the medium), parents and educators have never had so many resources to help them choose great content for their children. Common Sense Media, Children’s Technology Review, Moms with Apps, Appolicious and Appolearning, and many others provide independent game, app and program reviews, with transparent rubrics to help parents understand the evaluation standards. The Fred Rogers Center and the National Association for the Education of Young Children produced a deep and thoughtful guide to using technology in preschools and daycare. (full article)

nott nox 800-600

Amazing reviews for Nott Won’t Sleep! And 5-star ratings!

When working on an app for almost a year with an all-star team, you can’t stop wondering what will happen once the app is out there. You know you created something good, but will everyone agree? Yes they do! we get nothing but amazing reviews, just after our release in Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Belgium and Surinam. Here is a small selection of links for you to follow and read what others think about Nott Won’t Sleep!

In English:

“Getting the kids to sleep may have just got easier.”

A 10 out of 10 from IpadFamily!

“Bedtime battles? There’s an app for that!”

In Dutch:

“Een sprookjesachtige verhaal over een meisje dat niet wil slapen”

“Het spel biedt prachtige, rustige beelden en animaties, muziek om lekker bij weg te dommelen”

” Het tekenwerk van Liselore Goedhart is bedriegelijk simpel, maar zo innemend en vol persoonlijkheid. Het duurde niet lang of de kids zaten fanatiek te drukken.”

To read our 5-star ratings in the appstore:

  • ” Seems like a lot of thought was put into the development of the story line and relating to the psychological development of the child. I love it!”
  • ” Delightful game, beautiful animation and really calms kids (and yourself) down. Good night!”
  • ” Very child friendly – you can press everywhere without it breaking or doing something unexpected. Beautiful animations and lovely metaphors”
  • ” What an amazing app, just what I needed to get my little one to go to bed! We’re using this as a bed time ritual from now on….”
  • ” Wonderful story combined with great graphics!”
  • ” Lovely app! The great narrative is combined with amazing design and animation. I would recommend this to all my fellow parents who (once in a while) have a hard time to get their beloved ones to bed :-)”