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Infant - Week #42

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Week 42: Ready to Explore!

By Meg Leonard, edHelperBaby

           Your 42-week-old baby is getting more mobile every day! She has probably mastered crawling by now and may be standing up with the help of furniture. She may have already taken her first teetering steps! At any rate, you are no longer able to just "watch" your baby. Parenting has taken on a much more active role. You are constantly watching over her to make sure that she doesn't put anything in her mouth that isn't considered food and to make sure she doesn't hurt herself as she explores her environment. Allow her the freedom to explore, but make sure you are close by at all times. Your baby doesn't understand danger yet. She doesn't know that putting her hand on the door frame and then swinging the door shut will result in a painful situation!


Born to be a Scientist
           Babies are naturally curious about their world. Everything is brand new to them. One reason that babies will do the same thing over and over is to see if they get the same result. Each time she hurls her spoon or cup over the side of the high chair, your child is waiting to see if it will make the same noise as it did the last time. Whenever she pulls on the handle of a drawer, she is waiting to see if it will open like it has before. She is experimenting with cause and effect. She may even change the parameters of her experiment from time to time to see if she gets a different result. When she drops her rattle into a plastic bucket, it makes a noise. Will the same thing happen if she drops her stuffed bear into the same bucket?


           Since curiosity comes naturally to your baby, spend some time experimenting this week. Take a plastic container and have your baby drop different items in the container. Watch his reaction closely. Does it change with different items and sounds? While he is in his high chair, give him some plastic toys. Let him drop the toys on the floor. Then, try to catch one of the toys in the air so that it doesn't fall to the ground. Does the lack of noise surprise him? What is his reaction?


Experimenting with Textures
    Book: Touch and Feel by DK Publishing
       Your little "scientist" will love the Touch and Feel series by DK Publishing. Each page has a simple sentence that describes the photo. Each photo has a part that is textured. Your child will find fur to stroke, rubbery surfaces to touch, and rough textures to explore. There is a wide variety of books in this series, such as puppies, kittens, farms, Christmas, and wild animals. Each book is about ten pages long, so even if your baby is reluctant to sit still, she will still be able to sit through one of these books!


Real Life with Baby
           As a teacher, the first question I always ask when I read a suggested activity is "Does this work with real kids?" So, I tried the "dropping items while in the high chair" activity described above. I gave my daughter, Mary, a rattle and a sippy cup filled with water while she was sitting in her high chair. I observed her as she banged her cup on the tray of the high chair, then banged the rattle on the tray, and then banged them together. Usually, she is throwing things on the floor as soon as she gets in the chair. She must have sensed that I wanted to see that happen, because she didn't throw anything for at least five minutes. Eventually, her cup soared to the floor and made a loud bang. I reacted by imitating the loud noise. I knew that the rattle was about to make a similar trip to the floor. She threw her rattle and then looked at me expectantly to make sure that I had some type of reaction. I again imitated the noise. Both times, she grinned and giggled at the noise I made. I put the rattle back on the tray and waited for her to throw it again. This time, I was going to catch it to see if she noticed a difference in the sound. She threw it five more times before I managed to catch it in mid-air. My attempts to catch the rattle also brought giggles and smiles from Mary as she watched me. I finally managed to catch the rattle. When she didn't hear the noise of the rattle hitting the kitchen floor, she looked back at me, as if questioning where the noise went. Then, I gave her the rattle again and she threw it further than she had before. I decided that meant we were done with the experiment.

       This week, we read three books from the DK series Touch and Feel. We have Touch and Feel Puppy, Touch and Feel Kitten, and Touch and Feel Farm. These are a few years old and we received these from friends with older kids, but newer versions of the books are still available. Mary loved looking at these books! Her little index finger stretched out to touch the texture each time we turned the page. She smiled when she felt the fur or stroked the horse's nose. The first few times, I had to guide her hand towards the part of the page with the texture, but she soon reached for it on her own. I let her "choose" which book we read at night, meaning I hold two up and whichever one she touches, kicks, or indicates in any way is the one we read. She often chose the DK books this week.


Taking Care of Yourself
           Keeping up with your 42-week-old can be exhausting! Remember to take time to recharge your own batteries. Find time to exercise (even if it's only 10 minutes!), read a book for your own enjoyment, or pick up a hobby that has been packed away since you and your baby came home from the hospital. Spend a little time during the day - maybe during nap time or after your baby has gone to bed for the night - to reconnect with yourself. It will do you and your baby a world of good!


How Can I Protect My Baby While She is Exploring?

       By now, your house is probably already baby-proofed to some degree. If not, cover those outlets and install the baby gates! You can also go to the Week 25 article on edHelperBaby for a list of things to keep in mind while childproofing. Also remember that it is impossible to protect your baby from every bump or bruise that may occur while she's exploring. Play with your baby whenever possible. Your presence will help to keep her safe!


Are Those Fangs or Just Baby Teeth?
By Lindsey Hill, edHelperBaby

           As your little cruiser explores his world, most objects, when he gets his hands on them, end up in his mouth. If he is not "feeling" it with his tongue, he is biting into it with his new collection of teeth. His initial reaction to chomp down on a teething ring, a toy, your arm, finger or toe is simply to relieve his discomfort from teething. He does not realize his fangs are hurting but rather a test of cause and effect. Depending on how you react to his biting, he might try it again searching for the same reaction. Therefore, rather than shouting out in pain or making a big deal about the bite, a calm "no biting" or "biting hurts" will do and then give him something he can bite into or chew on instead. He is likely to try out biting a few more times but if he receives a consistent and calm response, he will keep his biting to appropriate objects at least until he is a toddler when biting joins your child's trick list again.


Action vs. Reaction
By Lindsey Hill, About my child Camden

           Camden has entered his "biting stage" now that he has quite a collection of tiny teeth. My first response to him with that first chomp was "OUCH!" followed by a "NO, NO, NO!" And then, we moved onto something else by changing my position on the floor or giving him a pacifier to replace my toe. As I hoped to bypass this stage with him as my second child, I searched for some suggestions. The best suggestions for this age, as well as at any age, were consistency and appropriate responses to the actions.  When Camden bit me the next time, I decided to use action rather than reaction. The biting was followed by a calmly spoken "no biting" and a teething toy placed directly into his mouth. I continued this type of response each time he bit anyone in the family for the next few weeks and his biting is slowing down but is not completely finished. Action vs. Reaction is just a suggestion, not a miracle!


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