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Toddler - Week #54

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Week 54: Let's Explore!

By Jodi L. Kelley, edHelperBaby

           Your 54-week-old baby is really on the move, and this means it's time to get into everything! He's probably walking by now or at least walking along the furniture, and, therefore, everything is at his reach. If you have anything on a coffee table or in a low drawer, it is fair game for baby's curiosity. He wants to know how things feel, what they do, how they taste, or what sounds they make. He may put everything in his mouth to taste it. However, now he probably spits it out if it isn't food. Due to all of this exploring, baby has probably learned to say no and shake his head vigorously, mimicking his parents' behaviors as always!


Creating Good Readers:
           Believe it or not, one of the pre-reading skills a youngster between the ages of twelve and thirty-six months is learning is the idea that a book's story goes from left to right. Of course, baby doesn't know his left from his right at this time, but he will get that sense of how a story flows by observing your reading. It is helpful to point to the words as you read a book to your youngster. If you are pointing, he will be able to notice how the words are arranged. This will be a very helpful skill as he grows older.


Book of the Week:
           No NO Yes YES and Yummy YUCKY By: Leslie Patricelli       

        No NO Yes YES is a fantastic board book that shows baby the silly things he does while exploring in a simple fashion. On the left side, baby is exploring in a way that is messy, yucky or unsafe. It is the type of exploring that is typical of every baby. It is also the exploring that is consistently getting the "No-NO" reaction from mommy and daddy these days. The baby in the book is putting his food on his head, eating dog food, playing in the toilet, and more. On the right side, he is doing the right thing. He's eating his food with a spoon, eating a banana, and using the potty. The words we see on this side are simply "Yes, YES" opposing the "No-NO" that was on the left side. It is a simple story that is quite amusing for baby and parents.       

       Yummy YUCKY is created in a similar fashion. It is also a very sturdy board book displaying contrasting concepts. On one side, a food is yummy while on the other side something that is not meant to be in baby's mouth is described as yucky. Things like crayons, sand, and worms are hanging out of the comical baby's mouth. The items displayed are not too far off what your baby might be taste testing right now!


           Evan's vigorous head-shaking "no-no" led me to think of making this silly puppet. I enlarged a picture of his face, my face, and daddy's face onto thick paper and cut them out. I glued google eyes over our real eyes and Popsicle sticks on the backs. Then when we shake our puppet heads to say yes or no, the eyes wiggle back and forth. However, this activity must be vigilantly supervised so the little eyes are not ingested!       

       I also extended the book fun into our grocery shopping trip. Every time I put a food in the cart that was for Evan to eat, I showed him first and said "Yummy!" in my most expressive voice. Don't worry about those side glances you get from other shoppers; it's better than the looks you get when your bored baby is screeching in the market!       

       The other activity this week was for Evan, but not with him-baby-proofing the house! I have put this off as long as I could. I like to allow Evan to explore as much as I can. But when he could make it up four stairs before I could get to him to stop him, I figured it was time to put some limitations on the exploration! Gates are a must in our house now, at least to block off the stairs. They also help to contain him to one room that is more baby-proofed than the others. The drawers under our television stand have toys in them that Evan can play with and enjoy. However, in the kitchen, cupboards are full of "no-no" items and, therefore, have latches to stop Evan from investigating. I do have one kitchen drawer that has items he can enjoy, like play pots and pans, tea cups, and play foods. Some people lock everything and put everything away. It is true that drawers and doors can hurt little fingers, but I think he needs to learn how to navigate them. I know it may be more effort to have to constantly supervise his playing to ensure he doesn't shut those little fingers in the drawer, but it seems worth it to me. I also don't like to put everything out of his reach. The breakables are put away, of course; that is safest. But things like the remote control or the phone are in reach, but off limits. I believe Evan needs to learn some things are not for him even if he can reach them. Of course, safety is first, and all of these ideas are a personal choice.


Rhyme Time:
           In keeping with the yummy food ideas, a good song to sing this week is about healthy food choices. The Apples and Bananas song has easy lyrics. You simply sing, "I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas" and repeat it two times. Then you change the vowel sounds to a long "A" sound, long "E" sound, and such.       

       Here is another fun banana song. It also has fun movement to it, and it supports the left/right learning:

       Bananas unite (Put your hands on your head)

       Bananas split (Dramatically split your hands apart)

       Peel your bananas (sing two times, and flap your arms up and down)

       Go, go bananas (spin in a circle)

       Bananas to the left (point left)

       Bananas to the right (point right)

       Peel your banana and take a big bite (pretend to peel, and fake a bite)


Evan's Opinion:
           The books this week were awesome for us! First of all, I love board books for their durability. But the simplicity of these books made them easy to read. Because the words are so simplistic, my four-year-old daughter can sit and read them to Evan. I especially love the No NO Yes YES book because nearly every "no-no" behavior in it, has been tried by Evan. He has sampled the dog food, put some toys in the toilet (after all, is it not just a smaller tub?), and though he has not hit Alice in the head with a toy, he has yanked her hair quite hard!       

       As far as the activities, Evan would rather shake his own head than shake the puppets' heads. He was more interested in removing the eyes. I glued them on really well with my hot glue gun, but he tried his hardest. I decided these were best for short play. Maybe he will like them better when he is a little older. Right now, his exploring nature is more curious about how to destroy things rather than how to properly use them!       

       He's not a big fan of the baby-proofing, either! He doesn't like the idea of a gate. Even though he is only trapped in our large living room, he seems to understand we have shrunk his world when we gate him into one room. His curiosity about what is happening in the other rooms is comical. You can often see him hanging his head out to peek around the corner.       

       We love the banana dance song, though! Bananas are Evan's favorite food. So he really gets the dance! He giggles and tries to mimic my motions. Of course, he needs a real banana when we are through singing--but, it's better than eating the dog's food!


You're probably wondering.....

       How should I discipline a child this young?       

       When Evan started shaking his head "no" so much this week, I had mixed emotions. I thought it was very cute, and I was thrilled to see more language developing, but I was slightly annoyed as well. Evan goes to daycare during the day, and I wondered if they were saying no too frequently. I try not to say no so often. The word "discipline" means teach. I take that quite literally. I am trying to teach Evan the right things to do, just like in the book. Therefore, I find saying no to be fairly ineffective. Sure, saying no tells him what he cannot do, but it doesn't tell him what he should do. For instance, if he grabs the remote control off the coffee table, I do not use "no-no." Instead, I will say something like, "Oh, that's not for Evan. This is Evan's," and I will give him one of his toys. Even when he is pulling Alice's hair, we do not get emotional and say no. We will say, "Be gentle, use a nice, nice" or even just say, "Evan, gentle," and the behavior will most often stop. It has worked well for us. Even Alice says "gentle" when it's her hair being yanked. I think as he gets older this will help much more. I believe if Alice or Mommy or Daddy reacted with a strong emotion, Evan would soon find it funny to do naughty things like pull her hair. Instead, he is learning the right thing to do. He will pat her hair very nicely sometimes. Of course, I won't kid you by saying he doesn't give a great big tug often, but that's the nature of curiosity! But it's all in relation to learning about his world. Keep that in mind and you might not get as frustrated by your little guy. He's not trying to destroy everything in your home; he's merely trying to discover his world!


Keeping His Mind Off His Feet
By Nicole E Nappi, edHelperBaby

           By twelve months, many children have started to take their first steps. This is an exciting time for parents and often for the child as well. However some children are intimated and even frightened to walk. Many children take their first steps alone without even knowing they are doing so. They may be trying to catch up to the dog or they may be reaching out for that spoonful of ice cream. Whatever the case, some children step until they realize they are doing so and then they sit and crawl. Children tend to walk more comfortably when their mind is off their feet. Here are some ideas to keep your child's mind "off his or her feet:"
  • Keeping your child entertained and occupied while encouraging movement is the best way to get them to walk.
  • Try calling your child over to you when he is already standing on his own and show him something that will spark his interest.
       Do not get disappointed or frustrated if your child is not an avid walker at this age. Give your baby time to learn and grow and feel more comfortable on his own two feet.

Be Prepared
By Gabrielle Browne, edHelperBaby

           Being prepared is the best defense against a toddler or parent meltdown. Finding yourself in the middle of the mall having to buy a snack for your toddler because you forgot the Cheerios means that you face either a poor food choice or a possible tantrum. You even may have to cut your excursion short because you forgot that clean diaper.       

       Even though it is sometimes a drag to get your supplies in order the night before, you will find the Boy Scout Motto of "be prepared," your best bet for disaster free days. Taking five minutes to check snacks, diapers, wipes and extra clothes while your toddler is sleeping, means that you have an actual ten to fifteen minutes of "extra" time in the morning. No more running through that mental checklist during day time chaos. Keep calm, know you are ready to go and get out there and have fun!       

I Object!
By Lindsey Hill, edHelperBaby

           It is a familiar scene now that your baby is becoming independent and continuing to explore his world. He is opening the trash can lid or grabbing his brother's toys, but when you remove him from the location or take away the toy, he objects with a very loud scream, squeal or mini-tantrum. What are you to do? Well, one thing to keep in mind is that you should not give into his objection. If it is unsafe, he should begin to learn that it is unsafe. If it is not something he should be playing with, he should begin to learn what he can and cannot play with. Plus, the objections generally last only a few seconds at this age. It is when Mom and Dad give into the objections by reacting with exactly what Baby wants that the objection actions increase in length and volume.       


Teaching Your Baby to Share You
By Nicole E Nappi, About my child Austin

           Austin is definitely a Mama's boy. He loves his Daddy a ton, but Mama is usually first pick especially if I am busy and cannot really hold or play with him at that time. I started babysitting my three month old nephew, Carson, about a month ago and I was really worried that Austin would have a difficult time sharing me with baby Carson. I decided that I would make Austin feel super important when it came to caring for Carson. I asked him to help me feed him, find his pacifier when he cried and even included him in Carson's diaper changes (as a spectator of course!!). After just a day or two, Austin was totally in love with his little cousin. He liked him and was interested in him before, but the bond seemed to grow so much so quickly when he was included in caring for him. He leans over him ALL day and kisses him. He is very gentle with him and always looks very concerned when Carson is upset. It is so cute!

Teeth, Teeth and More Teeth!
By Gabrielle Browne, About my child Nate

           Nate's seventh tooth just popped out this week. He now has a pretty good set of baby teeth and since he is drooling, more are definitely on the way. This constant teething seems different from the first tooth so many weeks ago. For example, instead of just being generally cranky as he was with the first tooth, Nate now likes to bite down on his toys, the shopping cart and even our clothes. Since he has more teeth now, he also is constantly making faces as he clicks his teeth together and tries to adjust his mouth as he plays with them. To us, it is hilarious to watch. To our curious son, it is a learning opportunity.

Repetition with Books
By Lindsey Hill, About my child Camden

           Books, books, and more books! Reading is one of Camden's favorite activities. We are not usually sitting for more than a few minutes at a time, but we are always talking about the picture's colors, shapes, numbers, and objects on the pages. Camden will now carry a book and plop into my lap each time I am sitting on the floor. He is turning the pages on his own, whether I am done "reading" the page or not and has begun pointing at the items on the page while babbling the entire time.

       Our favorite book to read together is Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. As we turn the pages, we talk about the animal colors and the sounds they make. His babbling is a sign of mimicking my reading. Our pediatrician encouraged us to read the same book to Camden each night to encourage his speech development. The repetition that this book offers is like a double whammy because it is repetitive in its wording and we repeat the reading of it each night.


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