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Toddler - Week #53

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Week 53: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

By Meg Leonard, edHelperBaby

           Your 53-week-old is probably behaving more as a "kid" than a "baby" just a week past her first birthday. Now, the fun can really begin! She may be able to play alone for short periods of time (3-5 minutes) and can follow some simple directions. You may find that she understands better than she can communicate at this age. Keep talking to her and naming everything in her environment. Use her increasing awareness as an opportunity to expand her vocabulary to include names for parts of the body.


Body Awareness
           As your 53-week-old baby begins to develop her own sense of self, she becomes more aware of her environment and how different objects can impact each other. She is also learning to become an individual, which you may witness as she stubbornly asserts herself after being told "no." She is continuing to learn that she can have an effect on the world around her by pushing, pulling, or throwing objects. As she learns control of her body, teach her the names for her body parts.


           Choose a part of the body and teach your baby the name for that part. Point out the body part whenever possible. Show him that this part is present on all humans by showing him pictures of this body part and talking about it. Indicate this part on other members of the family and see if you can get him to point to it. Ask him to "find his nose" or "find Grandpa's nose." Note the length of time that it takes him to learn the name of the body part. Once it is learned, does he consistently name it?


Expanding Your Baby's Vocabulary
    Book: My First Body Board Book by Dorling Kindersley
       This is a simple board book that can be used to teach your baby the names for many parts of the body. Each two page spread contains labeled pictures to help your baby connect the name with a picture. The first few pages name specific body parts. After that, other words such as emotions, clothes, and actions are shown with an accompanying photo. This book doesn't have a story line, so you can choose to read just a few pages or the entire book at one sitting. It is structured more as a picture dictionary than a story book. It is a tool to use when teaching your baby about his body.


Real Life with Baby
           Mary has surprised us in the past few weeks by being able to clap her hands on her head, reach for her feet, and pat her belly when asked. Last week, she was even pointing to her nose when asked! I decided to try and see if she could identify her mouth for this week's activity.

       I was amazed when she got it right on the first try! I guess that we ask her about her mouth a lot - such as "What do you have in your mouth?" as she is chewing on something she found on the floor or "Show Mommy what's in your mouth" before giving her a drink at meals. I decided that I would teach her to name her eyes instead.

       Mary did not learn to point to her eyes quickly. On the first day, I asked, "Mary, where are your eyes?" I pointed to my own eyes to show her what I was asking about. She just looked at me without much interest. I asked her a few more times in different ways and pointed to her eyes as well as my own. I didn't get much response from her, but she would point to her nose, head, feet, and mouth when she was asked (most of the time!).

       On the second day, she still didn't identify her own eyes when asked. She eventually would point to my eyes instead of her own when I asked, "Mary, where are your eyes?" She was imitating me without understanding what I was asking. I tried to point to her eyes only without pointing to my own when I asked the question. This didn't make a difference. She still wasn't pointing to her eyes on day two.

       By the end of the week, we hadn't made any more progress. Mary wasn't pointing to her own eyes when asked. I guess we'll have to keep working on it! She'll probably surprise me one day by pointing on her own. She was repeating the word "eye" after I said it, so she did learn a new word this week. We'll keep working on body part identification. It is an activity that always gives us something to do - such as in the doctor's waiting room or in the car on a long drive.

       Mary really liked My First Body Board Book. She wanted me to read it over and over. I tried to point to the pictures of the body parts and then point to the same part on Mary. She wasn't very interested in this. She just wanted to read the book. She sat through a reading of the entire book, which surprised me. Since there isn't a story, I thought she might be bored with the book. Apparently, the pictures and sound of my voice as I read was enough for her.


Taking Care of Your Own Body
           After running around after your 53-week-old, it can be hard to remember if you stopped to eat during the day. Make sure to have healthy food choices handy so you grab those instead of unhealthy convenient foods. Fresh fruit, such as apples or bananas, require little preparation and are easy to grab in a hurry. A handful of nuts, such as almonds or walnuts, are also easy to eat on the go and have a lot of nutritional value. When choosing pre-packaged granola bars, look for foods that have fiber and whole grains. These good-for-you foods will provide the energy you need to power through your day!


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