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Infant - Week #51

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Expanding The Mind And Body

By Mary Perrin, edHelperBaby

  Life From My Perspective!
           I am becoming quite the helper.  Have you noticed?  When you strap me into my highchair and car seat, I understand that you must strap in one arm and then the other.  Then I know that as soon as you take both arms out of the straps, I can freely reach up with both arms and you'll pick me up.  I can also hold up one foot when it is time to put my socks or shoes if you prompt me.  Putting on a shirt is a piece of cake.  I am able to help you by pushing my arms through the holes.  I like to see if my hands are going to pop out the other end.  These are tiny routines that have been established, and they aid me in learning about patterns and sequence of events.

       I can wave good-bye/hello, and I have started making sounds that represent each one.  My hello might sound more like a martial arts move, "hiya," but as I continue to practice, I will get better at enunciating and fine tuning this sound.  When I say "mama" or "dada," it is purposeful.  Yes, I babble, but when I say these words, I actually intend to make meaning out of them.  I can do this because you have been modeling for me over the past eleven months.  The language I am learning is a direct result of your direct and indirect teaching.

       Have you noticed that after I am done crawling, I will stop and move my body into a sitting position?  As I sit on my bottom, I can use my hands to support my rotations.  I have figured out how to move my hands to enable me then to rotate from my left to right side.  I do this as I look and obtain toys that are nearby.  I have a process I go through when I need to look at something behind me.  My head turns around first, my torso next, and then my lower body follows which puts me into a crawling position.  I bet you go through the same steps...try it!  Sit in a chair or on the floor.  There is something behind you that you want.  As you obtain the item, pay close attention to the way your body moves.  I am beginning to move like you!


  How To Add Interest To Those Boring Toys
           Is your baby becoming bored with his immediate environment?  When it is independent playtime, you may find that your baby doesn't seem to keep himself nearly as occupied as he once did.  Just as you may like to reorganize a closet, redecorate a room, or add a little spice to your wardrobe, your baby also needs things to feel refreshed and new.  The beauty of it is that you do not need to purchase new toys.  You can simply introduce a few new common household items that will send your baby's thoughts whirling.  Laundry baskets, a large fleece blanket,  a set of Velcro hair rollers, and even a small inflatable baby pool (without water of course) or inflated air mattress can be great additions to the toys he already has but isn't playing with.  Your baby's physical and intellectual development can be easily stimulated by incorporating these items.  Think outside the box about other things you have around the house that could add a new dimension to your baby's playtime.  Incorporate these new items together and give your baby at least one good idea on how to incorporate it with the toys he already has.  Then sit back and see how he is able to transfer that task into his independent playtime.  Remember to make sure your baby's safety is at the forefront of your mind.
  • Laundry baskets: Obtain three laundry baskets.  Turn the laundry baskets upside down and place five toys under each one and one on the top.  Spread them out around the room.  Does your baby figure out that if he turns the basket over, he can get his toys that are inside the basket?  The holes in the basket should provide encouragement by allowing him to maintain focus while he works to develop a strategy.
  • Fleece blanket and Velcro hair rollers:  Throw a large fleece blanket on the floor.  Hide a toy under each corner of the blanket.  How does he react?  Does he find the toys?  Does he move quickly from corner to corner, or does he find one and stop to play with it?  Encourage him to look under all four corners.  Then give him a few Velcro hair rollers.  These will stick to the blanket.  He may like the texture of the rollers.  Show him how to stick the rollers to the blanket then pull them off.  After he has the concept, begin hiding four more toys under the corners of the blanket.  As he begins to move from corner to corner to reveal the toys, he may stop in the middle to play with the rollers again.
  • Inflatable pool or air mattress:  An inflatable pool or air mattress will give your baby an extra play area in which to interact with his toys.  He will be forced to balance himself as he moves from one side of the air mattress to the next.  His toys may roll, which will help him understand the concept of cause and effect; he will learn how to manipulate his body to get on and off, and he will also have a soft novel place to play with his toys.


  From A Parent's Perspective
           The items listed above were just a few of the things I was able to brainstorm from around the house.  The list could go on and on, and the things you have on hand may be very different.  The ultimate goal here is simply to add a new element of interest to ordinary playtime experience.  About every two days I incorporated one of these on our family room floor.  My goal was to stretch Reagan's independent playtime from about ten minutes to about fifteen minutes.  Getting dinner down and on the table can be a little tricky with a baby who wants your attention because she cannot hold her own attention.  Yes, it was hideous and my husband thought I was crazy for blowing up the queen size air mattress and throwing it in the middle of the family room floor.  But all three of my kids loved it.  Reagan crawled on and off,  getting her toys and snuggling with the blanket I threw in the center of it, Ava used it as a big bed to tuck in all of her baby dolls, and Leister laid on it as he worked his dot-to-dot puzzle book.  I was able to get dinner finished on time and all was good!

       I took the air mattress out of the family room on the second day since I couldn't handle tripping over it anymore.  I moved it up to the loft instead of putting it away, and that worked very well.  I was able to gate off the stairs and get my laundry put away while Reagan continued to play independently just as she learned to do downstairs in the family room with her brother and sister.  I turn the empty laundry baskets upside down and hide a few toys under them.  It took her a few days before she figured out how to stick her fingers in the holes of the laundry basket and pull up, but now she leaves no basket unturned.

       Getting ready in the morning with three kids can be a difficult task if you haven't implemented a plan.  I typically get ready before the kids get up, but on the occasion that I don't, I sit Reagan on my fleece bathrobe in our bathroom floor with my basket of Velcro rollers.  She is extremely entertained by these.  She sticks them to the robe, to her fleece jammies, and she rolls them across the floor.  These keep her occupied enough that I can quickly finish blowing my hair dry, brush my teeth, and dab on a little makeup.


  Teach Your Baby About Foods And Their Textures
           Turn your baby's lunch into a food field trip!  Take a food walk with your baby through your kitchen.  Give her the opportunity to feel different foods and their textures.  Think of foods that are mushy, cold, warm, hard, soft, wet, dry, round, and flat.  Talk about each one and its characteristics.  Allow her to sample those foods that are baby friendly.  By the time you are finished sampling foods together, both of you will have full bellies and be ready for your afternoon naps.  You may also choose to span this activity out for a few days so you don't waste food or eat too much at once!  Use this list as a springboard for your yummy food field trip/lunch.  Embrace the mess you and your baby create; messes are part of learning and half the fun!
  • Bananas - dry and firm but can turn wet and mushy
  • Baby food - wet and mushy
  • Cherrios - dry and round
  • Popsicles - cold and hard
  • Water - wet and different temperatures
  • Crackers - dry, hard, and flat
  • Diced canned fruit or veggies - wet and soft
  • Cereal - freshly poured and slightly soggy
  • Mashed potatoes - warm, sticky, and mushy
  • Steamed vegetables (cooled) - soft and warm


  How YOUR Life Is Changing
           How do you feel about having another baby?  Around the time your child turns one, people will undoubtedly begin to ask you about your plans for expansion...literally.  Talk with your partner and establish a unified response.  You don't want to get into a situation where your parents or your in-laws ask you about having another baby and you both give a completely different answer.  Many parents claim to know when they are finished and feel completely satisfied with the number of children they have.  Those parents, without hesitation, can express their feelings about the possibility of baby "number next." Some parents hesitate to have more children due to their current load of responsibilities, like working a very demanding job.  Highly stressful and/or demanding jobs can deter a person from starting or expanding a family.  Often these people feel that there would not be enough time to give their baby the love and attention their baby deserves.  Then, some parents look ahead to their future financial situation.  Insurance, clothes, cars, dating, college, and weddings can be overwhelming.  Sometimes our brains can interfere with our hearts, so the bottom line is this; your heart is big enough to love as many children as you desire to have.  Everyone has responsibilities big and small.  Everyone has financial obligations, too.  You and your partner will need to find a balance no matter how many children you have or think you might have.  Some days will be harder than others, but in the end you will find tremendous pleasure in the number of children you have been blessed with.  Your child is lucky to be guided by your hands and heart; and if you decide to have one, two, or ten more, your children will forever embrace the sisterhood and brotherhood you have offered them!  So, what are your feelings?


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