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Infant - Week #43

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Gross Motor Skills, Choking Hazards, and Frumpy Parents

By Mary Perrin, edHelperBaby

  Encouraging Your Baby's Development
           At this stage of development, your baby's gross motor skills are rapidly improving although his understanding of each one may still need a little assistance.  So far he has rolled over, sat up, pulled himself up, and started to crawl.  If he hasn't yet, cruising and walking are right around the corner.  Amuse your baby with a variety of gross motor actions.  Name and talk about each action as you explore it.  By communicating the name of the motion, what body parts he is using, and when to use each one, you will be building an important foundation for skipping, running, riding a bike, and other gross motor concepts.
  • Crawling - Get down on the floor and crawl with your baby.  Does he follow you?  Does he allow you to chase him?
  • Walking - Hold onto your baby's hands and walk around the room.  Place your feet right behind his and nudge him along if he needs a little help.  Does he seem stable?  Is he able to alternate feet in a walking motion?  How long before he seems done with the whole process?
  • Climbing - Provide support from behind as your baby attempts to climb up the stairs.  Does he seems to understand that his feet, hands, and knees must work together to get the job done?
  • Cruising - Stand your baby up against a coffee table or an ottoman.  Encourage him to take a few steps or to move around the table while still holding on with his hands.  How does he respond?
  • Rolling - Rolling over is not a new concept but one that is fun to revisit.  Lie on your back and snuggle your baby towards you and up against your chest.  Wrapping your arms around him, roll from side to side.  "I'm going to put you over here...then I'm going to put you over there."  He will begin to anticipate your action and better understand that rotating from one place to another will change his location/position.
  • Hopping - Obviously, your baby is not able to hop yet, usually a skill learned during the second year.  Place your baby in your arms and hop around the room.  Or you can sit on your knees and stand him on his feet facing you.  Hold onto his waist and gently lift him up off the ground and back down again.  Do this several times as you discuss the movement so he can grasp the gentleness of the motion.
  • Dancing - Turn on some music and dance around the room together.  Encourage him to sway, rock, and respond to the movements you are making.  Teaching rhythm now will gear him up for cutting the rug later.  Once he begins walking, you might start to notice him dancing on his own two feet.


  From A Parent's Perspective
           Reagan loves to play games on the floor, and she is crawling everywhere; however, she doesn't quite understand that when someone is crawling after you to play, you are supposed to crawl away.  We'd start crawling and she would immediately sit up and look at me as if to say "Okay, you can have me!"  Once we switched roles and she crawled after me, we were able to crawl around objects and continue throughout the house.  She is good at following but just not good at leading at this point.  Eventually, she will understand that walking will be faster than crawling.  She will walk for short distances but prefers to get down and crawl.  I am hoping that she is determined, not impatient, when it comes to obtaining her objects.  Hmm...how do you determine the difference between those two concepts?   I contemplated introducing her to the stairs.  It seems like it is a little like giving her a toy and then immediately taking it away.  With the stairs gated off the majority of the time, I did not feel like I would be clipping her wings after I taught her to fly.  So off we went to the bottom of sixteen climbing steps.  I stood behind her and it seems to take quite an effort to coordinate her little body.  Her three-year-old sister stood on the landing and encouraged her climb.  This helped Reagan keep her eyes focused on the upward climb.   Before that, she kept stopping to look at me and continued to lose her balance.  You know what they say about being at the top of a mountain: Don't look down.  She made it up four steps and was ready for her afternoon nap!  She seemed to really enjoy the other activities as well.  I would recommend spreading them out over a week's time, avoid doing them right after a meal, and repeating them often.  Repetitiveness is essential for strong brain development!


  Out And About With Baby
           Have you ever received an invitation for dinner from dear friends who did not have any children of their own, or if they do, they have an infant and haven't yet engaged in a childproofing spree?  If so, you know the questions that come along with such an invitation.  How will I keep my little one off their stairs and away from the open fire place?  Do they have house plants and/or animals?  Should I ask them to come over to our house for the sake of their collectibles?  Even though it may be easier for you to host the dinner, consider your friends' desire to pamper you for an evening.  So accept the invitation if your schedule allows, and begin making some preparations for managing your baby's desire to explore "don't touch that" objects.
  • Take along a walker (that can be immobilized) or an exersaucer.  These items can act as a place to feed your baby and a place for your baby to be entertained, in lieu of the floor or your lap.
  • Pack a play yard if you have one and a large blanket. The blanket can be spread on the floor beneath the play yard to protect your friend's carpet, provide a familiar scent, and protect your little one from small objects like animal hair that failed to get vacuumed up.
  • It is okay to make your friends aware of your baby's investigative skills.  Being up front will prepare your friends, and as they prepare for your arrival, your concerns will give them a new perspective on exactly what item may need to be relocated.  Destroying someone's house will not be a pleasant experience for anyone involved.   It is always better to be forward than to be regretful.
  • If you have a little girl who is still crawling, consider placing her in a cute dress that evening.  She will crawl slower in a dress because she will not be quite able to get a full range of motion.  Slower crawling means slower reaction time on your end.
  • Pack a bag of toys your child absolutely loves!


  Choking Hazards
           If you have older children, you know how hard it is to keep small toys and craft items out of your baby's reach.  Even crumbles of food that have fallen to the floor can be hazardous to a curious baby.  Here are a few tips that may just save your baby's life.
  1. Remove all toys that are smaller than an empty toilet paper tube.  The object is too small if it can fit through the tube.
  2. Make sure the entire family understands the term "choking hazard."  Even smaller children can understand that babies put things into their mouths.  Children can alert you with these two simple words about an emergency at hand.  When you run to swab your baby's mouth, be sure the other children understand that swabbing is something that only an adult should do.  Children can actually push the object down and cause more harm if swabbing isn't done properly.
  3. Make a rule that all small toys remain in one location.  Older children love small items like Legos, action figures, and princess accessories; however, these items are hazardous.  By keeping all small toys contained in children's rooms (which can only come out with your permission), your baby will be less likely to choke on a toy she shouldn't have had in the first place.
  4. Food on the floor is inevitable.  Children drop crumbs from the table, and sometimes food lands on the floor when preparing meals.  A few helpful tips:  1) Get a dog.  2)  Invest in a battery-operated kitchen vacuum and/or a small handheld broom and dust pan.  Make sweeping the floor a kitchen clean up duty.  As your children carry their dishes to the counter/sink, push in their chairs, and throw away their trash, they can also quickly sweep/vacuum up the floor under their seats.  Before you know it, they will run for the vacuum at the sight of any dirt while yelling, "Mom, I'm sweeping up some choking hazards."  When you hear those words, you will know you have taught your children and protected your baby very well!


  Are You Frumpier?  And, Do You Care?
           When does the reality hit you?  Is it when it is dinner time and you realize you haven't taken a shower?  Is it when you are out and about in your kid wagon during lunch hour and pass a group of business people grabbing a bite to eat?  Or is it when you find yourself wearing less and less makeup, attempting to pluck the gray hairs (because who has time for an actual hair appointment), and you live in jogging pants and t-shirts (and not because you're flexing muscles at your local gym but because you require quick and comfortable clothing)?  If you feel you might be "letting yourself go," consider these questions to help you determine if the idea of living a lifestyle different from the one you lived before is truly a personal concern.
  • For what purpose has your lifestyle changed?
  • What are the pros of your change in lifestyle?
  • What are the cons of your change in lifestyle?
  • Do you wish you could go back to your previous lifestyle?  If so, what spurs on these thoughts, and would life be greener back on the other side?
  • What simple things could you do to feel less like you are "letting yourself go"?
  • Who are you benefiting by becoming a little frumpier?  How are you benefiting them?
  • In addition to looks, do you feel your personality has changed (for good or bad)?  Explain.
  • Is your previous lifestyle worth more than letting yourself go for the benefit of raising your family?
  • When your children depend less on you, what personal changes, if any, do you anticipate?  Explain.
  • It is possible to find a balance.  Can you mentally accept the idea that your job as a parent is worth more than a decade (or two) of bad hair, pale skin, and a boogered-up shoulder?  You don't have to be frumpy and you don't have to be fit...just be fabulous and at the top of your game, whatever that might be!
  • Will you provide encouragement to other parents who might be feeling the same way? Give and you shall receive.  Encourage one another!  Adult communication goes a long way during a season of life that revolves around wiping noses, kissing boo-boos, and relishing in those sweet baby smiles.


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