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Toddler - Week #59

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Week 59: Is His Attention Span Fine?

By Jodi L. Kelley, edHelperBaby

           Your 59-week-old baby probably loves to climb. This week, Evan has mastered pulling himself up into our rocking chair and rocking himself. He has been crawling upstairs for awhile now since he walked early. But this week he also began crawling down the stairs. For some reason, this makes me more nervous than when he learned to go up the stairs. Climbing is not completely new for us. But I believe Evan is a little taller and has found a way to use this to his advantage. He is so determined when he is trying to lift himself onto the couch or perform some other challenge. I will watch as he pulls one leg up and then switches to the other leg if he has failed on his first attempt. He will even push the ottoman over if he cannot get up on his own. His fortitude is nothing short of amazing!


Creating Good Readers:
           Don't let your toddler's attention span worry you or stop you from enjoying books. Evan is extremely busy these days and sitting still to listen to a book during the day isn't always on his agenda. He likes to be on the move and that is okay. If you start reading a book with your busy toddler and he decides to get up and move onto something else after two pages, don't quit. Keep reading the book to yourself in a loud and expressive voice as your child plays. He will probably return to the story here and there, to get a peek at what you are finding so interesting. Also, choose books that are about things he likes and books that are interactive with things to do and touch. Make some puppets, even, to make it that much more interactive! The sweet, wonderful image of sitting on Mommy's lap and enjoying a book has merely evolved. Don't think of it as losing that sweet image but rather your child using his curiosity to grow and develop.


Book of the Week:
            The Busy Spider

       By: Eric Carle       

       Eric Carle books are a must for any toddler-and The Busy Spider is one of the best. Not only is this book sturdy for a rough toddler but also interactive with raised spider webs on the pages to feel. The spider is very busy spinning her web as each of the other animals wants to play with her. Your child will love the animals in this book. He will also be able to relate to all of the busy playing that is happening since he is so busy these days himself. He is probably just as serious about his playing as spider is about her web spinning!


           There are several activities we tried this week. Some were related to the book while others evolved based on Evan's new climbing experiences.       

       First, if you have not done this before with baby when he first started crawling, try it now-set up a climbing obstacle course. You can use your couch cushions, pillows, turned over hampers, or whatever you can find around the house. Your child will love climbing over all of the items and may even rearrange them himself. It is a great deal of fun.       

       If stair climbing scares you-practice! We try to block off the stairs with gates, but Evan even managed to figure out that he could squeeze in between the two railings and still get up the stairs. I figured it was best just to practice, especially when he decided to try going down the stairs. At least if I am practicing with him, I am the one controlling the experience. I had him going down the stairs while I repeatedly chanted "feet first, feet first" so he would go down on his belly and not try going down head first!       

       We also did an art activity to go with our spider book. The raised spider webs are perfect for doing some crayon rubbings. The pages opposite the rooster or the owl have nice webs for this project. Just take a piece of plain white paper and lay it over the web. Give your child a crayon that has had the paper peeled off. Show the child how to hold the crayon on its side and let him rub it over the web. Because it is raised, it will come out perfect. Then take his thumb and press it on an ink pad (or paint it) and use his thumb print to create some little "spiders" on his web.


Rhyme Time:
           How could you not sing this after reading a book about a spider?       

        The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout,

       Down came the rain and washed the spider out.

       Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.

       Then the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

       This is a great song because it includes finger-play. Watching you and copying your motions is becoming increasingly important for your child's development. If you repeat songs like this often, he will begin to learn the hand motions as well as the words.       

       You may also want to say this rhyme, too.       

        Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet

       Eating her curds and whey.

       Along came a spider and sat down beside her,

       And frightened Miss Muffet away.


Evan's Opinion:
           Evan is so busy these days that not only does he love climbing all over the obstacle course but he also loves to help build it. He is always rearranging furniture and going under the table, under the chairs, and over the ottoman.       

       There is no stopping him when it comes to the stairs. Like I said earlier, he learned his way around the gate. The more I try to keep the stairs off limits, the more draw they seem to have. Therefore, normalizing them was important. Of course, we must still be vigilant, and I still have the gates up to try and stop him from going up and down a thousand times per day!       

       As far as the spider web rubbing-it was not such an easy task. Alice, my four-year-old daughter, was much better at it. It was difficult for Evan. He didn't want to keep the paper over the web. He colored on the book instead and threw the paper on the floor. Also, the black ink was very hard to get off his finger after. After doing this the first time, if I could do it over, I would use black paint.


You're Probably Wondering.....
           Question: "What is a realistic attention span for a toddler?"       

       Maybe you don't worry about this type of question like I do, but I have a very active twelve-year-old son diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, so I fret about Evan's activity level often wondering if it is normal. After reading some information on the internet and speaking with my pediatrician, I know his short attention span is quite normal. Toddlers are all about exploring and curiosity. It is very normal for a toddler to play with one toy for less than two minutes before moving onto another toy. Five minutes of playing with one toy or listening to a book is actually a long time to attend to one thing. Surprisingly, Evan will play for this long with certain toys and will sit this long to complete an art project.       

       There are some things that can help lengthen a child's attention span. Too many toys can be a problem. Some people feel if you have fewer toys around, you can help a child increase his focus. I like this idea anyway since I hate picking up so many toys! One great idea I have come across regarding this is putting some toys away, hidden well. Then you can rotate these toys out from time to time, putting others away. I have done this after a birthday party when my daughter got so many toys she was actually overwhelmed when opening the gifts. She didn't even realize she got half of the toys. I pulled out new ones months later and it was like she was getting the gift all over again!       

       The other notion about toys today is that they are too loud, bright, and more. The toys of today sing and dance to the kids. They light up and practically shout at our kids, when really our kids have more fun with a pan and a spoon! The older generation will agree with this. Most feel these light-up toys that sing and dance are part of today's child's attention problems! They could be onto something. Certainly television and its noise and brightness have been linked to children's attention issues. Some studies indicate too much television watching is linked to ADHD. In any case, be very aware of what is on your television if your toddler is around. Or better yet, turn off the television and get on the floor with the toddler! Maybe some of that energy will become contagious and give you a boost! If only we could bottle all of that energy!


Ch, Ch, Ch, Changes (Thank you David Bowie!)
By Gabrielle Browne, edHelperBaby

           Remember that your baby is still growing and developing inside and out. I know, that seems obvious, but I sometimes forget that my son is meant to go through many stages before his growth and development will plateau.       

       When you are going along smoothly: sleeping, eating, diapering, playing, everything is wonderful. But then suddenly, your child will begin to eat like there is no tomorrow and he will start waking up in the middle of the night like he did when he was a newborn. He will be content playing with the same toy for a month and then all of a sudden, he will need one certain toy to hold in order to fall asleep.       

       Changes are normal and I feel they are a sign that growth is occurring. As a parent, a change in appetite and sleep may be a sign that your child just requires more food during the day because he hit a growth spurt. Or, it may be that teeth are coming in or that he finds waking up is fun. Stages come and go so quickly but of course, concerned parents should direct questions to their pediatrician.

Growth Spurts- Meals, Naps and Attitude
By Nicole E Nappi, edHelperBaby

                 Growth spurts happen constantly with children this young. If you think about it, most babies gain between twelve and twenty pounds in their first year and gain about eight to twelve inches in height. When a child is having a growth spurt, it is not just their body that grows. Their appetite and need for sleep usually grow as well. Typically when a child is going through a growth spurt, they tend to eat more. A one year old child may go from eating four to five small meals a day to eating six to seven for a couple of weeks. They may eat more at each sitting as well. Their growing body depends on this extra "fuel". Most little ones sleep more during a growth spurt. Some will add in an extra nap during the day while others may take longer naps or sleep longer at night.

       Not having to worry if your little one is getting enough food and rest may seem like a great deal for the parents but remember all good things must come to an end. After about two to three weeks, the growth spurt tends to pass and your baby is left confused and sometimes cranky. They may not want to eat as much and they really are not sure whether or not they want to sleep. Often, babies will fight their naps after a growth spurt and become over tired later in the day. Try your best to roll with the punches. Your baby will soon find his way back to a sensible schedule.       


Appetizers, Anyone?
By Gabrielle Browne, About my child Nate

           Nate and I have worked out a pretty good schedule around lunch time. I am able to pick him up from the sitter and take him home before he eats lunch. Like most parents, I always seem to have plenty to do once we return home. One thing that we have found works for the both of us is starting with "appetizers" to his lunch.       

       After we get home to his change diaper and wash up, Nate will go right into his high chair. Now that he is eating more finger foods, I will sprinkle some Cheerios, cut-up fruit and a diced cereal bar onto his tray. With a cup of milk or water, he begins his lunch while I can get a few chores done, exercise or get dinner started. I am always right there with him and he feels independent as he eats "on his own!"

Helmet On and Ready to Ride
By Nicole E Nappi, About my child Austin

           For Austin's birthday my parents bought him his first bicycle. This was a fantastic idea! It is the most adorable thing I have ever seen. The bike, made by Kiddi-o, is a little red tricycle with a big blue bucket seat. It comes equipped with a five point harness and a canopy. There is a large rod that comes out of the back and has a handle on the end for parents to push. There are two different gears that can be used, one where the parent steers and another where the child can. It is recommended for ages one to five and truly is a bike that grows with the child. We purchased it at Toys R Us for about $100.00. It was a great investment. Austin loves his bike! He climbs on all of the time to let us know that he is ready to ride. He even puts his own helmet on! He cries when he has to get off. Often, we walk for so long that he actually falls asleep on his bike, helmet on the handle bars! Good thing for that seat belt!!


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