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Infant - Week #26

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Sensory Stimulation - Part 2 & Outgrowing Infant Gear

By Mary Perrin, edHelperBaby

  Your Baby's Development
           This week your baby continues to grow and learn from his experiences.  He enhances his ability to obtain objects by diving to reach from a sitting position, army crawling, and/or rolling himself from one place to another, but in the end he is becoming a master at getting what he wants.       

       Speaking of getting what he wants, have you developed the keen ability to distinguish one grunt, cry, or whimper from another?  Keep in mind that your little tyke is developing the ability to communicate using "his words," but in the meantime he must convey meaning the best he knows how.  Baby sign language is a popular tool for communicating with your child.  Some research indicates that infants who learn sign language before they are able to speak are more apt to talk sooner and also tend to score higher on IQ tests.  If you find it frustrating to make sense of what your baby wants, you might consider teaching your child to communicate this way.  Begin with a few signs like milk, bed, sleep, thank you, please, and bye-bye and then continue to expand his vocabulary.  There are many great interactive baby sign language DVDs on the market.  These types of videos are not meant to act as a babysitter so you can get a few things done, but rather they are intended to bring you and your baby together for some learning fun.  Just because his voice isn't working quite yet doesn't mean that his brain isn't.  There is nothing more powerful than learning something new together with your baby...give it a try; it might be just the communication tool your family needs.


  Creative Play Ideas
           The five senses are the gateway to learning!  Everything your baby touches, hears, tastes, smells, and sees allows him to gain insight into social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development.  The brain development grows and thrives on multi-sensory experiences.  The following activities are designed to open your baby's mind and allow him to absorb new information.  He will use the new information his brain receives to make connections to his prior experiences, and he will also use this new information as a foundation for future connections.  Keep in mind as you read through the activities and begin to plan playtime that the following activities are categorized by each of the five senses but may also include others as well.

        Sense of Touch - Of the five senses, this sense is most commonly used by babies.  Babies feel secure when they are held tightly and soothed by your touch.  They develop their own sense of touch by grabbing, stroking, poking, and scraping toys up into their mouths.  Create an environment that is baby mouth friendly.  Even though you will intend for his toys to be touched using his hands, he will gladly and quickly "touch" them to his tongue to integrate his senses.
  • Grab Bag - Place five objects of slightly different textures in a bag.  Help your baby reach in and feel around in the bag.  Hold a conversation like "What do you feel?  Is the toy hard or soft?"  Pull the toy out.  How does your child react?
  • Baby Massage - After a diaper change or bath, massage your baby's arms, legs, and/or belly.  Be sure not to massage too hard, but also avoid light touches that may irritate or over stimulate him.  Speak calmly, bat your eyelashes, and smile sweetly as he ponders the pressure and movements you provide.  What does he seem to enjoy the most and the least?

       Sense of Hearing
  • Bring out the Band - Provide your baby with pots/pans and wooden spoons, a seat at a piano, a maraca, or other musical instrument.  How does he respond when he figures out he is causing the sound he hears?
  • EdhelperBaby Videos - Check out the homepage for some engaging baby videos.  Turn on the video, but do not watch the computer screen.  Turn up the sound and listen to the song a few times.  After you listen, sing, and dance to the song a few times, watch the video with your child.  Does he seem connected to what he is watching because you provided him with an audible hook first?

       Sense of Sight
  • Drops of Color - Fill a clear drinking glass with water. Sit your child in front of the glass and talk about what is inside.  Add a drop of food coloring to the glass and watch what happens.  Add a second drop of the same or different color to the water and discuss how the colors mix together and how the colors become less concentrated as they move throughout the water.  Start over when your water becomes too dark to see the newly added drops of food coloring.  How did he react to the activity?
  • Animal Watch - How does your baby react to a dog, a cat, a fish, or a particular zoo animal?  Your baby will learn more by playing with a real animal over seeing one on television because he is able to integrate more senses.  He will use multiple senses as he smells the dog, hears him panting and/or barking, feels the dog's tongue lick his leg, and sees his ears flopping around.  Anything with a mouth can bite, so play cautiously.  What emotions did your child exhibit while he interacted with the animal?

       Sense of Taste
  • Taste is somewhat of a more difficult sense to "play" with at this stage of development.  Mixing a few baby foods your child is already familiar with may be one way to stimulate his taste buds.  For example, consider blending together some baby oatmeal, formula, and a little pureed banana.

       Sense of Smell
  • Get Spicy - Have you ever recalled a childhood memory from a random smell?  It happens all the time.  The sense of smell is extremely powerful and helps with memory recall.  Arouse your child's sense of smell by opening up the spice jars.  Cinnamon, paprika, dried herbs, garlic, and onion powder are great spices to introduce.  Refrain from chili powder or black pepper that are too hot for your baby's little nose.  Meander around your kitchen.  Coffee beans, vanilla beans, and tea are just a few other fun scents to explore.  What scents did he enjoy and which ones did he find less pleasing to his nose?
  • Take a field trip to your local florist.  If you are unsure where to begin, ask your florist to point out some flowers that have a stronger fragrance.  How does your baby react to the flowers themselves and to their scents?


  From a Parent's Perspective
           My daughter thoroughly enjoyed many of the listed activities.  Some were a little advanced for her but definitely provided her with a good foundation on which to make future connections.  The entire family got a kick out of watching her smell different kitchen spices.  Her facial expressions were priceless.  We only wish we would have had the camera charged and ready.  I suppose we will experiment with that activity again just to capture that curled little nose of hers.

       We were not able to Bring out the Band yet.  She is not to the point where she actively bangs on objects.  Rather, she preferred to lick the wooden spoon and feel the coldness of the pot instead of performing along with her older two siblings.  As she continues to become more aware of cause and effect relationships, I am positive she will be able to not only Bring out the Band but that she will be able to compose a masterpiece.


  How Your Life is Changing
           Since your baby's arrival, your child has grown by leaps and bounds and is most likely outgrowing baby items at an alarming rate.  What do you plan to do with all the clothing, baby seats, and other items he can no longer fit into?  The following tips might give you some useful suggestions on how to organize and store these baby items or give you ideas for getting rid of those items you are ready to part with.  Parenthood is full of seasons of transition and this is just one season in your child's life to embrace and enjoy, even if it might make you a little teary!

       Consider your emotional approach:  Cleaning out your baby's closet can be an emotional time.  You can either give in to your emotions and memories of your baby wearing each outfit, steel a smell of any remaining baby detergent, and cry on each article of clothing; or you may feel glad to be done with those sleepless nights,  put on your ear buds, and begin filing those infant clothes into plastic containers with glee.  Either way, it will help if you can foresee how you will handle this endeavor and plan accordingly.

       Thinking ahead about new gear: Replacing the infant carrier with a car seat that is non-removable will create new considerations.  Your arm muscles might be nicely defined after so many months of lifting him in and out of the car.  But now without the carrier to pop into the shopping cart, carrying him on your hip is most likely not a reasonable option.  What are your plans now for accommodating your infant while running errands?  Consider parking near a cart corral.  Line the cart with a cart cover to help create a germ barrier between the cart and your baby.  What if your baby still seems a little wobbly while in a seated position?  Add a rolled up towel or two around him to help keep him stable.  So you can see how thinking about the elimination of one item can create a domino effect.  But it is better to plan ahead than to get to where you are going and not have the necessary gear for the task at hand.

       Develop a system for organizing:  Organizing will take a little time, but it will most likely be well worth the time in the long run.  Here are a few ideas to help generate your plan of attack.
  • Sort by size
  • Sort by type - For example, small blankets, infant towels/washcloths, burp cloths, and bibs go well together.
  • Pull your favorite outfits and store them together to ensure you don't give them away unintentionally.
  • Keep only the clothes you know you might use again and take the stained clothing out of circulation.
  • Place an initial on the tag of each item with permanent marker for clothes you plan to lend to others.
  • Mark your storage containers with a brief description of their contents and store in a dark dry location to avoid yellowing.
  • Organize your piles of clothing with sticky notes so you are not forced to remember each pile's contents.
  • If you are planning to get rid of things, consider your option and sort accordingly.  Will they be given to charity organizations (what items are needed?), sold at a resale store or in a garage sale, or given to a family in need?


Swimming with Your Baby
By Alicia Magee, edHelperBaby

           Swimming and playing in the water with your baby are wonderful activities to begin any time of year, but especially in the summer! Not only is it an enjoyable time for you and your baby to cool off, it can be the beginning of teaching your child water safety as well as a wonderful sport and exercise as they grow. It is important as your child begins to spend time in the water that you follow your child's lead-start slowly and let them become comfortable. As they gain confidence, you will see them begin to play more vigorously and really enjoy the water!

       Many cities have specific classes geared toward babies at area pools. You can also simply enjoy playing during open swim or family times. You can check with your local parks and recreation department, area hospitals or children's schools. Pools can be especially nice places to swim with babies as they are very clean and the temperature is often regulated.

       It is important to remember to talk with your doctor about what types of sunscreens are best to use for your baby. You may also want to limit the amount of time you spend in the sun and the water as your baby will probably tire quickly from so much excitement and activity. Be ready to leave the water when your baby is and be sure to have snacks or be ready to nurse as they may be hungry and tired. The summer is a great time to enjoy playing with your baby in the water!       

Special Needs Children and Signing
By Tabetha Frick, edHelperBaby

           As parents, we are pretty quick to pick up on the nonverbal cues that our children show.  By establishing a consistent schedule, you can even guess when children are hungry, thirsty or tired.  Special needs children often require more time to develop communication both verbal and nonverbal.  The children will understand you long before they can formulate a response back.  It can be really frustrating when your child is crying and you have to figure out why.  You begin to pull out everything you can think of and nothing seems to help.  Then when you are on your very last nerve, you finally find that one thing that they wanted all along.  To avoid this frustration, you may want to consider sign language.       

       Special needs children, such as those with Down syndrome, autism and Asperger's, can benefit from learning sign language by enhancing their development of speech, language and social skills.  Babies, even special needs babies, develop the gross motor skills needed for signing before they develop the fine motor skills associated with verbal speech.  Sign language gives these children the opportunity to communicate while strengthening the ability to produce expressive speech and increase their vocabulary.       

       When communication becomes difficult, children with special needs often become frustrated. This frustration leads to temper tantrums, aggression, depression and other socially unacceptable behaviors. Sign language reduces frustration by giving children a way to express themselves appropriately when verbal communication may not be successful.       

       Yes, signing takes time and effort but I promise it will be well worth it.  Do not let the learning process intimidate you.  There are many websites, DVDs and other resources to help you.  No one is expecting you to become an interpreter.  It only takes a few basic signs to begin and then add on signs and learn with your child.  In the end, you will give your child the help they need and build a strong bond between you.       


Eating in Restaurants with a Six Month Old
By Alicia Magee, About my child Keenan

           As we have gotten more comfortable heading out, we have started to take Keenan out with us to meet with friends for dinner in restaurants. We are by no means ‘pros', but we have learned some things that work for us. We have really worked hard to try to find restaurants where the noise of a baby is not as noticeable and outside seating is wonderful! He loves to look around and there his babbling or happy shrieks are less noticeable. We try to come prepared with small rattles or toys for him, but often find he wants what we have. We have discovered that spoons and cup lids are often enough to please him with supervision, of course. We also try to pick places we know will be fairly quick as it is just not feasible to have a long leisurely dinner with our six month old. We also choose seating where we can easily stand and bounce or walk outside, if he is getting over stimulated or needs a break. It has been really enjoyable for us to start sharing dinner out as a family!

Hearing Loss, Our Gain
By Tabetha Frick, About my child Adam

           My first son, Adam, was born with a hearing impairment.  It was aggravated over the years due to multiple ear infections.  He was left with no hearing in one ear and little in the other.  When allergy season sets in, there is no talking to him at all.  Unsure of just how much he would ever hear, we started signing with him at a young age and continue with some basic signs even to this day.  He has picked up lip reading and for the most part understands you, except when he is using his teenage selective hearing.  I am very happy to say that much frustration has been avoided and I really believe signing has even enhanced his life greatly.  It has taught him to pay close attention to details.  He has used this lesson to become a great musician.  Look out Beethoven!


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