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Infant - Week #29

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Read, Baby, Read! And edHelper Journaling

By Mary Perrin, edHelperBaby

  Creating a Conscientious Reader!
           Is your baby curious about his world?  Does he love to grab objects and look at them with wonder? Does he feel secure when you hold him and engage him in conversation?  Does he love to grab and hold a book with both his little hands?  Do his eyes grow big when he looks wondrously at a book before him?  If you can answer yes to any or all of these questions, then your baby secretly (only because he can't tell you) desires to read!  Yes, he is still a baby, unable to talk, and barely able to hold a book steady, but he wants to experience the joy of reading and learning as he grabs that book, sits securely in your lap, and ponders all that is before him.

       Why wait?  Many believe that five years old is the magic age for learning how to read; coincidently, that is the same age many enter into school.  Don't wait until he is five.  Teachers are fabulous, but don't rely on them to be the sole literacy provider for your child.  Begin now and give your child the opportunity to grow and develop with an understanding that reading is an integral part of the world he lives in.  Reading enforces old ideas, spurs on new ideas, and paves a path for unforeseen adventures.  The following tips and tricks are designed to give you useful strategies for you and your baby now at twenty-nine weeks and for many years to come.

       Tips and Tricks
  • Read daily and often.  Babies have short attention spans.  Read five minutes 2-4 times a day.
  • Create reading routines.  Try to establish consistent times each day that are set aside for quiet reading.  Bedtime and naptime lend themselves nicely to quiet reading times.
  • Reread the same books over and over.  Rereading books will increase your baby's understanding, memory recall, and ability to create predictions.  It is just like watching a movie, listening to a song, or reading a book for the second or third time.  Each time you do, you see, hear, and/or discover something new.
  • Think like a teacher.  Pick up a book and ask yourself how you are going to engage and teach your baby using the book's content.  Can you collect other materials to use as props to help your baby make connections?
  • Pick books with vibrant colors, object labels, simple pictures, and environmental print.
  • Be a narrator.  Point to pictures and discuss what they are, where they can be found, what noises they make, etc.  Count objects on pages.  Discuss relationships between characters.  Ask your baby how she might feel in the character's situation. "I think you would like to go with Jack up the hill to get water; but unlike Jack I hope you don't fall down on the way back down.  He hurt himself. Ouch!"
  • Read nursery rhymes.  Memorization is a component to pre-literacy.  Hearing a nursery rhyme over and over will help your baby to later relate the tune to the song and later still, the song to the text.  Create finger plays to help deepen your baby's understanding.
  • Pick baby-friendly books.  Choose board books, cloth books, and plastic books.  Consider taking the plastic books into the bathtub.  Isn't it fun to take a warm bath with a good book?  Adults do it!  Why not babies, too?
  • Think about onions.  It seems silly but yes, onions!  Each time you expose your baby to literacy, you help him develop a layer of knowledge.  The more exposure he has, the more layers he develops.  The new information he gains today will become an old layer  tomorrow.  Tomorrow's layer will be the foundation for which he can make important connections.  So read books that relate to things your baby is already familiar with and also that expose him to new concepts.  For example, you encourage your baby to turn the pages of a book.  That process created a layer which is necessary for understanding how to follow text from one page to another in the later stages of literacy.
  • Follow his lead.  Don't stress if he doesn't want you to finish the sentence on the page before he turns the page on you; simply amend the plot accordingly.  As he gets older and his attention span grows longer, so will his ability to understand the meaning of the text and its relationship to the storyline as a whole.  Let him freely explore by looking and feeling his way around the book.  Even though you understand the rules of engagement when it comes to reading a book from front to back, left to right, and down each page, he only understands the book as a toy full of pictures and some random symbols.  Reading often and modeling well will allow him to pick up on the flow and organization.
  • Read with purpose.  Read to engage and enrich your child's concept of literacy by reading out loud and with a lot of expression.  Discuss the pages using complete sentences, ask your baby questions, make predictions, confirm ideas, and go back and relate ideas to other pictures or events in the book.  Use puppets to illustrate and bring the book to life.  Have other props on hand to help your child better understand the characteristics of an object from the story.  For example, if you are reading a book about trucks and tractors, have some handy for him to hold and explore as you read and discuss the book together.  Relate the book to your baby.  "Look, the little girl has a green truck just like you."
  • Add personal touches.  Read the way you would want someone to read to you.  Think of the best reader you have ever heard and then think of the worst.  Then read out loud and concentrate on listening to yourself.  How would you rate yourself up against your examples?  Remember it is better to read monotone with a child than not to read at all, but keep in mind that as you read each day, you will begin to find your voice.
  • Have fun as you read to your baby by making faces and goofy noises...your baby will love every minute of it!


  From a Parent's Perspective
           When my daughter chooses to engage in a book rather than lick it like a Popsicle, she can hardly keep her hands still.  Her eyes become wide while she looks at the pictures on the page, she'll let out a squeal, and then her little hands lose all control, and the book typically goes down with a thud.  We continue to practice the simple concept of holding a book with both hands.  She is able to hold the book with both hands for longer amounts of time, but as one hand comes off, the other will soon follow.  When she drops the book, she will often relocate the book, pick it up, and begin the process over again.

       Typically, when we read together, she sits in my lap.  Having two other children means that I am usually reading "an oldie but a goody," so I know every word on every page.  The benefit of having books I can recite from memory is that I can sit her in my lap facing me with the book propped up between as it faces her.  She can then see the book and my facial expressions at the same time.  With one hand on her back for safety, I use the other hand to point to the pictures to reinforce parts of the story.  Finger plays, puppets, and other props are great from this position as well.


  How Your Life is Changing

       As your baby's short term memory continues to develop, you may feel like you are losing yours altogether.  In the moment of your baby's first word, crawl, or steps, you will take in your entire surroundings and vow to yourself that you will never lose sight of the physical setting or emotional feelings you had during that instant.  But unintentionally as time wears on, the memory begins to fade, and before you know it,you can barely recall that first word or how many steps he took before he toppled into your arms.  If you have multiple children, you probably find it very difficult to keep all those important developmental milestones separate.

       Don't fret about how you may feel when your little one grows up and begins asking you questions about his babyhood.  Create a support system for yourself and a precious keepsake for your child by establishing a journal of his development.  With each passing day, your little one will continue to grow and learn physically, emotionally, and socially.  Baby books and scrapbooks are great ways to display these milestones, but also consider checking out edHelperbaby's user-friendly online journal.  This journal is very well organized.  It will help you think outside the box about things your son is currently doing.  Family members can log on to see how your little one is progressing.  If you have questions regarding your baby's development, you can submit your questions to the edHelper team for advice and suggestions.  It isn't feasible to lug your scrapbook and materials into work with you each day, but you can take a few minutes during your lunch break to log into the site and add an entry into your baby's journal.  You can always transfer the information to your scrapbook later when you find time and you can remember that you started one in the first place.


Moving beyond ‘Baby’ Food
By Alicia Magee, edHelperBaby

           As your child begins to sample new foods, you may find that he or she is ready to move beyond strained, soft baby food. Many babies seem eager to eat everything that that is on their parents' plate. At seven months, you can begin to introduce more solid foods to your baby's diet. Here are some suggestions:
  • Foods that break into small, mash able chunks are perfect at this age.
  • Bananas and avocado are excellent choices as they are filled with nutrients and really tasty for new eaters.
  • Peaches, pears, green beans and peas are great choices, too. Some early eaters may have difficulty with the skin so always watch your child carefully when introducing new foods.
  • Hard biscuits and crackers, pizza crusts and other foods that do not easily crumble are great foods that offer baby a chance to practice chewing.

       You can also offer your child food at a variety of temperatures. Some babies will love cold or cooler food right out of the refrigerator, while others may prefer it warmed before they can enjoy the food. Having your baby join you and your family during meal times is a wonderful way to share meal times, while supervising your baby as he or she gets to try new foods!       


The LOUD Squeal!
By Alicia Magee, About my child Keenan

           We traveled recently to an out of town wedding, and Keenan, at seven months, has just started to squeal-really shrill, long, LOUD squeals! I can definitely appreciate that he is proud of his new voice and loves to try it out, but it was challenging to manage his loudness when visiting our older relatives. We primarily dealt with it by keeping him occupied or changing his view. We took many walks outside, made sure to keep him well fed and rested, and occasionally ‘shushed' him when he got really loud. We also took him to the guest room or quiet area to give him some down time. He seemed to be really noisy when the excitement and noise level of others was as well.


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