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Infant - Week #46

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Walking Aids and Mouth Games

By Mary Perrin, edHelperBaby

  Life From My Perspective!
           As I continue to grow and develop, it will be important for you to provide me with a multitude of experiences.  My experiences in life will shape and define my personality, my likes and dislikes, and how I act and react to situations.  Your love and guidance means a lot to me, and I thrive on your affection.  You probably cannot help but notice how busy I am learning about my environment, how my body works, how to verbalize my feelings, and how to interact with others.

       I keep you on your toes and force you to balance many things.  I am also learning how to balance, only I am not balancing life; I am learning how to balance myself using the muscles in my legs, hips, and feet.  I can pull myself up on things, and I hold on very tightly.  Occasionally, I can step sideways along the coffee table or sofa to get to something (adults call this cruising), but it is by pure determination that I force myself to move one slow step at a time.

       Keep the coffee table clear of objects.  If you don't, you might find me shoving something into my mouth.  I am still learning about objects using my mouth because my mouth tells me a lot about the characteristics of objects.  I don't know that it is not safe for me; it's just what I do.  As I get older, I will learn how to rely on other senses to provide me with all I need to know.  But in the meantime, please help keep me safe and secure by constantly checking the table and the rest of the house for things that might harm me.

       If you have not yet gated the stairs, you may want to consider doing that!  I love to climb, especially stairs.  They provide me with a great challenge.  When I do climb, it will be important for you to help guide me up each step.  Occasionally, I might slip and lose my balance.  I don't understand the concept of falling and how it can cause me to injure myself.  So remember to either follow me up the steps or to take precautions and gate them off.  I am quick and determined!

       I do not like to be away from you.  When you walk out of my sight, sometimes I get really sad and begin to cry.  I know you have things to get done, but I miss you when you aren't right beside me.  If you have to go, know that I will be okay. It might just take me a few minutes to pull myself together.


  Encourage My Growth and Development
           I am getting smarter every day and it's because of your love and support.  Consider using some of the following activities to help me in each of the given areas.  Caution:  I might not understand right away, so your patience will be required, and I will need you to keep these activities handy and try them repeatedly until I can master them!  Now let's have some fun, shall we?

       Physical Development: Hold your baby's hands, walk behind him, and guide him across a room.  On the second lap around the room, frequently turn to force your baby to reposition his feet and redefine his center of balance.

       Emotional Development: Offer your baby a small soft blanket or another type of lovey for the times when he cannot be snuggled in your arms.  A blanket will help soothe his insecurities, teach him how to deal with your absence, and comfort him when he's in a strange place, like spending an occasional night at Grandma's house.

       Social Development: Encourage your baby to wave hello and good-bye.  Kick-start his little arm if he is not physically moving his arm on his own.  When Daddy gets home from work, you see Grandma, or you greet your daycare provider each morning, make it a habit to engage in this type of social interaction.  You will be teaching your child how to be polite to others.

       Intellectual Development: Obtain a shape sorting toy.  One at a time, place each shape in your baby's hand.  Talk about the shape's characteristics and how it differs from other shapes.  For example, place a cube in your baby's hand and talk about how it has six sides, pointy corners, and it resembles the shape of a house.  You can even discuss the color of each shape and sort them into groups of like colors on the floor.  Then incorporate the shape sorter.  Start with the easiest shape to place, the sphere/ball.  Encourage your baby to insert the ball.  Does he seem interested in where it went?  Does he try to get it out?  Then try other shapes.  Shapes with sizes will be a little trickier for your baby, but with a little help from you, he will surely be able to push the shape through the hole.  In general, is your baby engaged?  Does he get frustrated or in a hurry to accomplish the task?  Reflect and make a plan for your next shape sorting exploration.

       Language Development: Playing mouth games with your baby is a sure way to increase her understanding of how different sounds are formed.  1) Open your mouth slightly, stick out your tongue, and quickly move your tongue back and forth while exerting sound.  Does she try to stick out her tongue, too?  2) Form an oval with your mouth slightly open.  Use your hand to gently tap your mouth while you make a sound. This sound resembles that of a tribal dance.  Then gently tap your baby's open mouth.  Will she make a sound as you tap her mouth with your fingers?  3)  Use one finger as you force your lips to quickly move up and down and make a sound.  How does your baby react?  4) Click your tongue.  5) Make raspberry sounds (can also sound like a horse) with your mouth.  Getting your baby to creatively play mouth games will encourage her to formulate an understanding of where her tongue should be and how it feels in different locations.  This is vital for proper speech development.


  From A Parent's Perspective
           Reagan has been experimenting with her tongue.  She hasn't quite developed complete tongue dexterity like her sweet friend Chloe has, but she is working to catch up with her.  I click my tongue, wag my tongue back and forth, and play silly mouth games with Reagan during times when I know she is fully concentrating.  When I change her diaper, I typically have to keep her hands occupied with something or she will crawl out from under me.  When I don't have anything for her to hold onto, I challenge myself to occupy her eyes instead of her hands.

       I am completely silly with the games I play.  If someone were to walk into the room or happen to hear me through the baby monitor, they would think I was truly nuts.  But for the sake of her language development, it would be completely worth the label!  After wagging my tongue at her and making silly sounds, I wait to see how she will respond.  Sometimes she waits patiently for more, and sometimes I can see her tongue begin to mimic my actions.  She is not able to mimic my exact actions, but she does seem to try.

       I find her playing mouth games while she eats.  I think the food on her lips, tongue, and inside her mouth for some reason encourage her to begin experimenting.  These types of mouth experimentations usually leave me with big messes to clean up.  So, just a word of caution; don't encourage games at the dinner table unless you want to have to explain to Grandma why your baby seems to have poor table manners and her fine linens have green beans splattered all over them.  By clicking, wagging, and making other mouth noises, I am sure that Reagan will either become quite the little linguist or quite the character. Who knows? Maybe she'll be both!


  Parenting 411
           Walking! Wahoo!  It will be hard to believe your eyes when your baby takes her first step.  She will still seem too little to walk, and your emotions will likely take over when you consider that only about one year ago she was completely dependent upon you.  Embrace the change this past year has brought, and consider the new adventures you can have now that your little one is about to gain her wheels.  You will be able to take walks in the park together, play in the yard without worrying that her hands are going to get poked and germy from crawling around, and walk to check the mail together.  Her environment will look a little different as she gains a new perspective on how things look from an upright position.

       There are things to consider when encouraging your baby to walk, like baby walkers and push cars.  Baby walkers have been around for decades.  They look to provide encouragement to pre-walkers, but they have more disadvantages that developmental benefits.  Walkers are dangerous (especially around stairs) and can slow down your baby's ability to begin walking.  Within seconds your baby can cruise in her walker over to an open staircase and her curiosity can get the best of her.  Walkers do allow babies the opportunity to move around freely in open space.  Babies can develop lower leg muscles from this type of movement; but walkers fail to aid in strengthening upper leg and hip muscles.  Walking requires all three muscle groups to work effectively and efficiently together, and walkers only allow the strengthening of one muscle group, the lower legs.  If you are looking to spend money on something to aid in your baby's walking development, consider buying a push car instead.  Push cars offer your baby the opportunity to develop coordination and balance while his entire body (specifically the lower legs, upper legs, and hip muscles) is involved in the walking/pushing process.  Get the most out of your money by looking for push cars that can easily transform into riding toys.  Toys that grow with your baby are good for your pocket book and good for the environment because you maximize your resources well!


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