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Post #3: Imogen Rose In June, at four months of age
Routine & Sleep:
Closing in on four months of age, Imogen is getting into a routine. She has arrived awake quite often, so will play awhile before she starts to fuss. I change her diaper and lay her down to sleep without feeding her. This allows her to get hungry enough to wake mid-morning and gives her time with us before the boys take an afternoon nap. And, it allows us all to go outside (with Imogen in the front carrier). As the weather gets nicer, it will allow Imogen tummy time outside and a chance to experience a breeze, smell flowers, and see different scenes expanding her repertoire of sensory experiences.
She usually takes a bottle mid-morning after she plays awhile. Then she will stay awake and sociable for lunch, which is our most hectic time of day. It’s good for her to interact with her brother and cousin. This tires her out as well as providing socialization. The boys can feel competent that they are older and wiser than Imogen. They can dress and feed themselves, talk, walk and run. Indeed, their play is a very much more sophisticated than Imogen’s who is just now starting to swat and grab toys.
Sleep is an important part of Imogen’s day, as well as her night. As they grow, babies begin to learn the difference between day and night (usually at about 4 months). This is when people start to think that babies will just naturally start to sleep through the night. Actually, this is pretty rare. Babies usually need some help from parents to learn how to sleep through the night. A routine is one of the best ways to help Imogen learn when and how long to sleep. The bedtime or naptime routine is a cue for her to become drowsy. I make sure Imogen is dry, fed and tired, then swaddle her in a receiving blanket for her nap. If we adults stick with the routine, babies will form healthy sleep habits. (From: http://www.zerotothree.org)
Movement & Dexterity:
Even though Imogen sleeps a lot and is in the front carrier at times, I make sure she has tummy time several times every day and practices sitting. These activities encourage muscle memory that strengthen her muscles so that she will be able to crawl and sit as this first year moves along. Even infants need to learn that space comes in different sizes, shapes, and textures. Tummy time gives Imogen different perspectives and helps her see how she fits into her world. It also encourages her neck and shoulder muscle development that will help her roll over, sit up and crawl. Putting Imogen on the floor next to her brother and cousin also encourages the boys to be respectful of her space, and her body, and she is entertained by them. I want to offer Imogen a large variety of physical experiences so her development will be well-rounded.
As I mentioned, Imogen is starting to grab and clutch toys as she brings them to her mouth. She doesn’t like everything she pulls to her mouth and I have to be selective so that she doesn’t hurt her tender mouth on toys that might be too hard for her. She grabs my finger when I feed her a bottle, and pulls on her shirt to bring it to her mouth. Imogen is mouthing a lot these days and starting to drool. This oral stage is genetic and developmentally right on time. This age is also the beginning of teething, which will go on for several months. A damp washcloth is often a favorite item for infants especially as they deal with teething pain.
The brain requires stimulation from sensory experiences – touch, holding, sound, vision, taste, and smell in order to grow in a healthy way. When we provide infants with a multitude of sensory experiences, their brains develop.
Play & Socialization:
Imogen recognizes her hands and feet and enjoys games that help her move them. We play ‘pat a cake’ and ‘so big’ as I move her limbs to the words. I make sure to cross her arms over the midline of her body when we play. There are three midlines in the body: one divides the body left from right, a second divides the body top from bottom and the third divides the body front to back.
“The midlines serve as the central pivot points for the body’s most
sophisticated movement patterns like crawling, walking, running, and
skipping. As the midlines develop, they help children isolate individual body parts
for independent movement, then work to coordinate movements involving
multiple parts of the body. And while all of that is going on, the brain is feverishly
building neural pathways to keep up—and to create and strengthen the
pathways that cross the midline of the brain (the corpus callosum). These
pathways or “superhighways” facilitate communication between the right
and left hemispheres of the brain. This, in turn, determines the speed, flexibility,
adaptability, and depth of the brain.” From A Moving Child Is a Learning Child: How the Body Teaches the Brain to Think (Birth to Age 7) by Gill Connell and Cheryl McCarthy, copyright © 2014.
Imogen, like all infants, needs play to help her gain a sense of self, to form attachments, to gain sensory information, gain cognitive functions and to regulate emotions. I bounce Imogen gently on my knees and sing “Trot, trot to London” and “Little Red Wagon”. I bring her up over my head, gently and back to my lap. If she smiles or laughs, I repeat. But, I pay close attention to her face to see if she is in the mood for this kind of play. Sometimes she wants to just sit on my lap while we rock on the swing. This time provides Imogen with cuddling and rocking, which helps her learn different orientations and perspectives. I know she enjoys swinging as well as the more boisterous play. It is fun for me as well as Imogen. Children learn through play, but play should be controlled and paced by the infant so she doesn’t get overwhelmed or stressed. Because I enjoy our time together, Imogen is learning to associate feelings of love, comfort, security and playfulness with me and the people in our household.
Imogen is fascinated by faces and studies them as she tries to form the sounds of her baby language. Her day-to-day experiences show Imogen that her emotions are accepted, reciprocated, and empathized with. This is crucial for teaching the brain cells in charge of emotions how to do their jobs. Today, as we walked with a group of children and their adult, one child fell down and cried because of a skinned knee. The day care provider and I cooed in response and comforted the child. What was interesting was seeing Imogen’s small face crumple up to cry – her small bottom lip quivering in response to the other child’s tears and our empathy. Her brain was registering empathy and her face showed us that process.
Many professionals still recommend starting solids at four months of age, however current recommendations are that breast milk/ formula be the infant’s main source of nutrition until six months of age. Imogen is being breastfed and her mother plans to continue nursing her at least through the summer months and maybe longer. Introducing solids will be a gradual process, which I will no doubt cover in a later hub post.
Nutritional information from: http://ww6.myplate.org/
Sleep information from: http://www.zerotothree.org
A Moving Child Is a Learning Child: How the Body Teaches the Brain to Think (Birth to Age 7) by Gill Connell and Cheryl McCarthy, copyright © 2014.Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 800-735-7323; www.freespirit.com.