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Infant - Week #43

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Week 43: Copy Cat

By Meg Leonard, edHelperBaby

           Your 43-week old is getting stronger every day. If he was cautiously standing last week, then this week he is probably pulling himself up with much more confidence. He may be brave enough to stand with just one hand on something for support, or maybe he is standing without any support. He might just surprise you and take a few steps! The frequency of his babbling has probably increased and you may have been able to pick out an actual word or two. Maybe you have recognized a gesture as communication and not just a random movement. You have probably noticed that your baby studies you and will try to imitate you whenever possible. It is through imitation that we learn.


Watch and Learn
           Babies are like sponges, soaking up all the information their senses transmit to their brains. In the early years of life, children learn most activities through imitation. When teaching our babies, we show them how to crawl or pick up finger foods, and then wait for them to copy us. We applaud when our babies correctly place a ring on the pole after we demonstrate how to put the pole through the hole in the middle of the ring. Having a model is critical to her development as she learns the new skills she needs to function in the world.


           This week, show your baby how to stack blocks. Show her how to stack two blocks first, then three and possibly four. See if you can get her to imitate you and stack blocks on her own. You can use wooden or plastic blocks, or make blocks from cardboard cartons.

       Another way to practice imitation is through games such as patty cake. Show your baby how to do the motions and recite the words. Do the motions first with your own hands and then use her hands to make the motions. Go back and forth, taking turns with this. Practice this rhyme for about 10 minutes so your baby does not get frustrated or overwhelmed.

       Words and Motions for Patty Cake

       Patty cake, patty cake, baker's man. Clap for each word

       Bake me a cake as fast as you can. Clap for each word

       Roll it, Make two fists in front of your body. Rotate them around each other.

       Pat it, Pat your hands together

       Mark it with a "b" You can substitute your baby's initial. Trace the letter on your palm.

       Put it in the oven for baby and me! Point to your baby and then yourself.


Playing with Rhyme
    Book: The Real Mother Goose by Blanche Fish Wright
       There are many collections of nursery rhymes available at the library or book store. The Real Mother Goose is one of the traditional versions. These short verses work well for encouraging imitation. Children respond to stories that have rhyme and repetition. A nursery rhyme that is great for demonstrating repetition is "The House that Jack Built." Most of the nursery rhymes contain rhyming words at the end of each line. You may already know hand motions to go along with the rhymes or you can clap along to the beat as you read them. You can encourage your baby to imitate you while you read by helping him to clap his hands. Eventually, he can clap his hands as you read to him. You can also make up your own motions and have your baby imitate you.

       If you would like something more modern or contemporary, there are books to satisfy those qualifications as well. Some of the rhymes in this book are a little old-fashioned. There are plenty of verses to choose from, however, so you may skip the ones that don't appeal to you.


Real Life with Baby
           When I tried to teach Mary how to stack blocks, I was pretty sure that she was just going to knock them over. I took the block stacking idea from a sheet containing developmentally appropriate activities for a baby between the ages of 9 and 12 months, given to us by our pediatrician at her last well-baby check-up. I thought it would be an interesting activity to try while focusing on imitation, but I was skeptical that Mary would be able to do it.

       I used stacking or nesting cups when we first tried the activity. I showed Mary the cups and then made a tower with five of them. She smiled and then, as predicted, knocked them down with her hand. I made the tower again, and she knocked it down. Next, I told her to watch me and then slowly stacked two cups. I told her what I was doing as I stacked the cups. Then I told her it was her turn and asked her to put a cup on top of the cup I had placed on the floor. She was able to place one cup on top of the other, but she wouldn't let go of the new cup she was stacking. I think that in a short amount of time, she will be able to stack two cups. She also enjoyed banging two cups together and banging one cup with whatever toy or pacifier she had in her other hand. I noticed that she also imitated what I did instead of what I said. I pointed to the cup on the floor and told her to put the cup in her hand on top of it. She pointed to the cup on the floor as well. She really was imitating me!

       Mary and I have been playing patty-cake for a while now. She will imitate the hand motions some of the time. She can clap along with the first two lines, but it is too hard for her to roll her hands at this time. I always roll them for her. I have noticed that she puts one index finger out when it comes time to "mark it with a b'." At our house, we always mark it with an "m" for Mary and Mommy. She studies the hand motions while watching me do them or when I take her hands in mine and do the motions that way. I can almost see her brain cells working to memorize the actions that I am doing!


Managing Stress for Ourselves and Our Babies
           Imitation is a great way to teach. We model what we want our babies to do and then wait for them to copy us. It is important to remember that at this tender age, babies don't have filters or the ability to put an emotion into context. Since they acquire information about their environment through their senses, it is important to make sure that they are in a positive, calm, and loving place as much as possible.

       It is impossible to keep an even temper all the time, but try to maintain an even temper around your baby. If you have to raise your voice or have a heated discussion with someone, try to do it away from your baby's hearing. Manage your own stress through exercise, deep breathing, or time alone to refresh your spirit. This will lower your stress level, which will in turn have a positive effect on your baby.


Nursery Rhymes Online

       A great resource for nursery rhymes is edHelper. This link takes you to PDF files of nursery rhymes in book form. They can be printed and assembled into your very own nursery rhyme collection. An Internet search can also provide you with links to other nursery rhymes and simple clapping games.


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