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Infant - Week #45

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Week 45: Let's Talk!

By Meg Leonard, edHelperBaby

           Your 45-week-old has budding communication skills. He may have spoken his first word, although only those close to him can recognize it for what it is. He definitely babbles a lot now and will mirror you when trying to communicate. Now is the perfect time to focus on naming things. When you are out for a walk, identify everything you can - trees, cars, people, dogs - in order to help build his vocabulary. At the store, point to items that you have at home. Show him the items when you return home to reinforce the vocabulary experience. Gestures may accompany his verbal communication at this time. Make every effort to acknowledge and respond to these, too. He wants to feel as though you are listening to him. Nothing will build his confidence as a communicator like positive reinforcement from you!


Communicating with Baby
           After months of seemingly one-sided conversations, it is so exciting to know that your baby is communicating with you. With this new skill, your baby takes yet another step towards independence. Your 45-week-old may be able to follow simple one-step directions. She may also be pointing to indicate what she wants. Watch her at meal times. Does she point to certain food or a cup to indicate that she wants it? How does she respond when you correctly figure out what she is trying to tell you? By responding to her pointing, you are showing her that you understand what she needs as well. Remember, communication is between two people. Your baby is finally able to hold up her end of the conversation!


           See if your 45-week-old is able to follow one-step directions. Ask her to locate an item that she readily recognizes. If she has a favorite blanket, stuffed toy, or pacifier, ask her to go to it. Make sure that it is in plain sight for the first try. If she crawls or moves towards it, then you can assume that she understands what you are saying. You can try it again with a different item or by changing the location of the first item you asked her to find. Another option is to see if she can crawl to you when asked. If she has pulled herself up to standing along the furniture, ask her to sit down. You may have to show her what you mean by sitting down at first, but after you have demonstrated this, see if she will do it on her own.

       If your baby is not pointing, show him how to point. Explain why we point at things and demonstrate by pointing at an object. A perfect time for this is when he is in his high chair. Point to the different foods or utensils that you are using to help feed him. Tell him what foods he is eating and point to each one. Say its name while pointing. You will be building his vocabulary at the same time.

       If your baby is already pointing, teach him a new gesture. For example, you can teach him the sign for "more" so that he can tell you if he is still hungry at meal time. To sign the word "more," take both of your hands and close them so that your thumb is touching your outstretched fingers. (Pretend you are making your hand talk like a puppet. This is the correct placement.) Touch your fingers together in front of you. To teach your child this sign, say "more" then point to the food you are asking about. Put a little on his tray and then repeat "more" while doing the sign for "more." Repeat this several times at each meal.


Vocabulary Building
    Book: My Big Animal Book by Priddy Books
       This book contains many photos of different animals, as the title suggests. Each page has a different theme, such as baby animals, pets, and birds. Under each picture is the word for that animal. There is also a question at the bottom of each page with the answer being one of the animals on that page. There are many ways to use this book. You can read the question and try to answer it together. You can name the animals as your baby points to them. You can make up stories about the animals in the picture. You can reinforce pointing by asking your baby to point to a specific animal. The possibilities are endless!


Real Life with Baby
           Mary loves to "help" me fold laundry. Her way of helping is to throw clothes out of the basket as I try to fold them. Today, she threw a pair of her shorts on the floor. I decided to see if she could retrieve them for me. I pointed to the shorts and asked her to pick them up. She followed my finger with her eyes, but didn't move. I asked again, still pointing to the shorts. After three requests, she crawled over to the shorts and brought them to me. I was amazed! We clapped and I praised her for following directions.

       Mary really enjoys My Big Animal Book. Her face lights up when we look at it before bed. Most of the time, she points to pictures and I say the name of the animal. I've tried to get her to point to specific animals, but she usually points to the wrong one. Occasionally, I'll name the animal and then ask her to point to it. I'm not sure if she's pointing because she is making the connection between the animal's name and its picture or because I point to it first. I think it's probably the second of the two. I really think she likes the pictures and is starting to connect the words with the pictures. One of these days, when I ask her to point to the "duck," I know she'll be able to do it!

       Mary learned the sign for "more" a few months ago and it is a big help at meal time. Her version of the sign is to touch her right index finger to her left palm. Her face lights up when I ask her if she wants "more" and then put more food on her tray. We were working on the sign for "book" this week. To make this sign, you put your palms together and then open them as a book would open. Mary loves her books, so I thought this would be a good sign to learn. She hasn't done the sign yet, but I've only been working with her for a few days on it. It took about a week for her to learn "more." This nonverbal communication is very helpful and fun for both of us.


Time for Some Grown-Up Conversation
           As exciting as it is to have a conversation with your baby, you do need some grown-up conversation, too! Schedule a "play date" for yourself. Ask your partner, a family member or a friend to watch your baby for an hour or two and go meet a friend for coffee or something relaxing. Talk about something other than your baby (although the subject will come up from time to time). Taking the time for grown-up conversation is as important as the new conversations you are having with the baby in your life.


Picture Books Online

       If you want access to new books immediately, you can find picture books using edHelper. By printing these books yourself, you can color them as you wish and discuss what you would like with your child. They are simple stories that could be laminated for use over and over again.


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