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Infant - Week #50

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Week 50: Let's Play Ball!

By Meg Leonard, edHelperBaby

           As your 50-week-old nears her first birthday, she is acting less like a baby and more like a toddler every day. In addition to her increasing mobility, you may find that her play time interests have changed. She may no longer be interested in rattles or teething rings as her primary toys. She is more interested in toys that move, such as balls, rolling cars, or toys that can be pushed or pulled. This is a perfect time to help your baby develop her gross motor skills.


Gross Motor Skills
           Motor skills are another name for motions carried out by your muscles. There are two types of motor skills: fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills are used for any small activity. Your 50-week-old baby works to develop her fine motor skills at meal time when she picks up small pieces of food to feed herself. She may also exercise these skills by picking up small rocks, pieces of lint, or other tiny objects. She may promptly put these in her mouth or hand them off to the closest grown-up.

       Gross motor skills are bigger activities, such as running or jumping. They use the larger muscles in the arms and legs. Kicking and throwing are also examples of gross motor skills. Your 50-week-old baby is at the perfect age to start working with her gross motor skills.


           This week, experiment with balls. Try different sizes and textures of balls to see if your baby acts differently with different balls. See if your baby can throw, catch, or kick a ball in the following ways:
  • Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched. Have your baby sit across from you. Gently roll or toss the ball to your baby. Encourage him to roll or toss it back to you.
  • Set some lightweight items up a few feet away from your baby. You can use empty cereal boxes, empty soft drink cans, or plastic containers. Show your baby how to toss a ball at these items to knock them down, similar to bowling.
  • If your baby is able to stand on his own, show him how to kick a ball. First demonstrate kicking by lightly kicking the ball yourself. Then, place a ball on the floor in front of his foot. Help him swing his foot to make contact with the ball. See if he will kick the ball on his own.


Getting the Wiggles Out
    Book: Wiggle by Doreen Cronin
       When you think of the word "wiggle" do you think of your 50-week-old baby? This book, simply titled Wiggle, is all about the ways you can wiggle. It provides an opportunity to expand your baby's vocabulary by identifying the different body parts you can wiggle. Wiggle also has great illustrations to accompany the text.

       The author, Doreen Cronin, has written many other books that are fun to read aloud, including Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. This book is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and to your baby.


Real Life with Baby
           I chose a red rubbery ball that is easy for Mary to palm for our throwing and rolling activity. I sat on the floor with my legs in an outstretched V and had Mary sit down facing me. I rolled the ball to her, which she caught without any trouble. She handed it back to me when I asked for it. Next, deciding that she had sat long enough, Mary stood up and started walking towards me. I gently tossed the ball to her. She didn't catch it in the air, but she picked it up from the ground and tossed it back to me. I tossed her the ball for a third time. She grabbed a hold of it, but then threw it away from me. Three times wasn't bad for our first game of catch!

       Using the same red ball, I next showed Mary how to kick the ball. She was really working hard on standing and walking today, so I thought I'd take advantage of her natural interest and work on kicking. I put the ball on the floor and showed her how I moved my foot to kick it. I demonstrated twice and then put the ball on the floor in front of her. She moved her foot towards the ball, sort of walking but also with the intention of trying to imitate me. Unfortunately, we were trying this on hard wood floors, so the ball started rolling almost as soon as I set it down. I put my foot behind it so that it wouldn't roll too far away, but that is not ideal for a lesson in kicking.

       Mary loves the book Wiggle and it very appropriately describes her at this age. When we read it, I point out the different body parts she can wiggle. The rhyming, sing-song text seems to hold her ear for the duration of the story. It's a little longer than some of the books that Mary has liked lately, but I think that it moves quickly enough that she doesn't lose interest.

       We tried knocking down objects with a ball on a different day. Mary received a penguin bowling set as a gift, so that's what we used for this. The stuffed penguins and stuffed ball have a totally different texture and weight than the rubbery ball we used for the other activity. I set the penguins up and showed Mary how to roll the ball at them to knock them over. She crawled right over and knocked a penguin over with her hand. I could see that she understood what we were trying to do. The question would be if she could use a ball to do the same thing. She pointed and grunted to tell me that she wanted me to set the penguins up again. She also "told" me that she wanted me to roll the ball and knock over the penguins. Eventually, I got her to do the rolling. We did this for about five minutes and then Mary crawled away. I knew we were done for now, but was surprised when she crawled back to the penguins a few minutes later and asked for me to set them up. We played for a few more minutes, and then she was officially done for the evening.

       Mary really enjoyed playing with the penguins. We have had the set for a few months, but this is the first time that she showed any real interest in it. She has enjoyed chewing on the penguins' beaks or pulling on their wings, but has never played with it the way it was designed. It was a lot of fun to play with her. I'm sure that as time goes by, she will become a much better bowler!


Getting Your Own Wiggles Out
           This week, take the time to play! Do something active that you enjoy, such as taking a walk, dancing, or gardening. Now that your baby is older, you can engage in these activities while he watches or joins in. Turn on some music and dance with your baby. Take him for a walk in the stroller. If the weather is not conducive for a walk outside, go to the mall or another indoor facility and walk there. Let your baby play outside with you while you garden, rake, or do other outdoor activities. Getting your own "wiggles" out is good for your spirits and sets a good example for your baby.


Practicing Fine Motor Skills

       Your 50-week-old baby may have started to show an interest in coloring with crayons or markers. This week, you can download a simple circle shape from edHelper and allow your baby to decorate this "ball" however he wishes. You can "round" out the focus on gross motor skills with an activity that uses your baby's fine motor skills!


Baby Slings and Baby Wearing
By Gabrielle Browne, edHelperBaby

           Baby slings are a very hip item these days, but the idea of carrying your baby in a wrap as you maneuver the world of stores, work or home is a very old custom.       

       Baby wearing brings a closeness and a bond between Mom OR Dad and their precious baby. Obviously, it frees up a parent's hands and enables the parent to get things accomplished. More importantly, it also, according to The Baby Book by Dr. Sears and Martha Sears, reduces crying and colic.       

       There are many different types of slings--all with their own unique way of tying in baby. Here are some legitimate questions to ponder before your first purchase:
  1. Do you prefer your baby to be on your back?
  2. Do you want him or her to face you or face out?
  3. Will you be breastfeeding in the sling?
       Any baby sling representative or salesperson at a specialized baby store would be a good place to begin a parent's search for the right sling. La Leche League members would also know the right information to pass along. There is even an international website, www.thebabywearer.com with links to articles, forums and local meetings.       

       For some parents, wearing their baby is not for them and that is fine. There are many ways to bond with your child and using a sling is just one you might want to try.       


Biking with Baby
By Gabrielle Browne, About my child Nate

           My husband and I had been excitedly planning this for months--a large purchase of a bike seat for Nate. We saw Moms and Dads riding around the park and passing us as we pushed our stroller. We longed for the day that we could safely speed along with our son.       

       Our local bike store specialist discouraged me from doing just that when Nate was five months old. I had not thought about the safety issues. I figured as long as he was wearing a helmet and we were not mountain biking that it was safe. The clerk told me that it is recommended a baby be close to a year old before experiencing any jarring motions. Bike riding could be considered such a motion. Now, with helmet securely fastened, Mom, Dad and Nate are safely heading outdoors!       


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