Post #4: Imogen Rose in July, at Five Months of Age
Routine & Sleep
Imogen has settled into a routine of sorts: arriving at 7:30 am, finishing a bottle then napping for one to two hours, playing, then repeating the eat and nap cycle. She is ready to nurse when her mom comes around 3:00 pm and then is awake and happy until later in the evening. Infants at this age still need 12 to 16 hours of sleep per day, so her daytime naps are still important. She is refreshed and happy to play after her naps and we challenge her by varying her position: sitting and laying on her tummy and then her back. We place toys just slightly out of reach and encourage her to stretch and scoot to get them.
Tummy time and sitting practice have increased as Imogen is awake for longer periods. She is beginning to roll over from front to back first, and later from back to front. Imogen is also beginning to move around – often turning from facing west to facing east. She scoots her knees up underneath her body, but hasn’t the strength yet to hold herself in a crawling position. As she practices getting into the crawling position, she strengthens her back, legs and arms.
She likes to sit in the sink with a blanket to keep her comfortable and toys to happily manipulate. Imogen loves watching me make lunch for her brother and cousin and do the dishes in the sink next to her. She also sits and stands in a walker and enjoys sitting in the couch corners. This means I am always supervising her as she practices her new abilities, and I move her frequently so she doesn’t get bored with one position.
Imogen is practicing grabbing and chewing on toys. Her grip is getting more exact and she is able to reach toward something she wants with intention and most often success. Because babies learn through mouthing items, she puts almost everything into her mouth. Magna Gerber, through infant research in the late 70's and early 80's, discussed how infants learn by mouthing objects. They are gaining a lot of information through oral exploration. The texture, taste and more is revealed by 'tasting' things. In addition, the infant's manipulation of objects helps her make sense of the world, and gain manipulation skills and muscle strength. I make sure her toys are clean and safe (no sharp objects), I rotate her toys so she doesn't become bored with them, and I talk to her about what she is doing. Talking to Imogen while she plays with objects helps her learn vocabulary and the sound of my voice provides security for her to take further risks in exploring her environment.
Play & socialization:
Imogen has responded to our faces and our voices. She has been “more awake” and awake for longer periods of time. She attends to us when we play with her, without drifting off or dozing. She is learning to anticipate the next move and will squawk a bit when she sees her bottle in my hand. She is beginning to belly laugh with her grandpa and really engage in a ‘conversation’ with him, as they exchange baby ‘oohs and aaahs’. Imogen is also starting to respond to her name. When I approach Imogen in her bed and motion to pick her up, I ask her “Imogen, do you want me to pick you up?” Her waving arms and legs tell me she does want to be picked up. When your baby begins to anticipate the next step, you know he or she is learning the routines of their life and that her cognitive abilities are growing.
It may come as a surprise to you when your baby cries at the face of a stranger – even grandma or grandpa. As Imogen recognizes the people who are in her life the most, she becomes worried, or has ‘stranger anxiety’ around those folks she is not used to. This is a perfectly normal part of cognitive development and the beginning of attachment. Secure attachment develops in response to consistent and sensitive love and care from those who care for them. Babies attach to significant people in their lives; most often their parents, but also grand parents or care givers as well. Babies often become clingy and anxious around new and even familiar people. (I’ll write more on attachment next month)
Try holding your baby as you talk with the new person in your baby’s life. Allow the person to engage your baby in chatter, perhaps pat-a-cake, and then hand her/him over to the other person, but make sure to stay nearby.
Stranger Anxiety Poll
What do you do when your child exhibits stranger anxiety?
Reading to your child, (yes, already at this age) helps to develop vocabulary, encourages a love of reading and provides a wonderful time to connect with your child. Many studies have proven that children who are read to hear and understand more words and learn reading skills more quickly.
"You may have tangible wealth untold
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be.
I had a Mother who read to me."
-U.S. poet, Strickland Gillilan
In a report developed by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, titled “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2000,” says, “Reading to young children promotes language acquisition and correlates with literacy development and, later on, with achievement in reading comprehension and overall success in school.”
Eating and Teething
Many experts agree that it is best to wait until your baby is about six months of age before giving solid foods. Most babies are developmentally ready for solid foods around six to eight months of age. Many doctors and experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding to six months of age to allow your baby the maximum immunologic protection and limit your child’s exposure to pathogens. And, in fact, babies can and do thrive on breast milk alone until nine to twelve months of age. Ounce for ounce, breastmilk has the best nutrients and the most calories than most baby-safe foods you could feed your baby.
Here are a few developmental milestones that help you decide if your baby is ready for solid foods:
- She can sit up well without support.
- He has lost the tongue-thrust reflex – the automatic push of solids out of his mouth with his tongue.
- She is eager to participate in mealtime and may grab foods and pull to her mouth.
- He is ready and willing to chew.
- She is developing a ‘pincer’ grasp and can pick up foods or other objects between her thumb and forefinger. Although, most babies use the “palmer grasp” first to gather food by scraping it into the palm of their hand.
Even if you are not feeding your baby solids, it is a good idea to include them at the family table. Imogen loves to coo and babble to us while we eat. She is not yet ready for a high chair, but she can sit on my lap, or in a bouncy seat close by. She entertains herself by grasping a toy, shaking her rattle and sometimes drinking mother’s milk from a bottle.
Most babies get their first teeth around six months of age, but as early as three months babies begin drooling and gnawing on objects and teeth may appear. Some crankiness, restless sleep, rubbing their mouth and excessive drooling are all signs of teething and can go on for weeks before a tooth actually emerges. Typically babies get teeth in pairs: middle two on the bottom (usually first), middle two on the top or the second set of bottom teeth, a few weeks later.
Provide baby with several things to chew on. A wet washcloth, placed in the freezer until stiff is a welcome chew toy. If your infant is already eating solid foods, try offering frozen peas and (frozen diced) carrots. The vegetables defrost rather quickly and they are cool on baby’s gums.
Here is a general timeline to emergence of baby teeth:
- 6 months: lower central incisors
- 8 months: upper central incisors
- 10 months: lower and upper lateral incisors
- 14 months: first molars
- 18 months: canines
- 24 months: second molars
Baby Center at: https://www.babycenter.com/0_your-5-month-olds-development_720.bc
Raising Children.net.au at: http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/baby_development_5_months.html
KSL .com at: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=15431484
Guide to Teething Remedies and Symptoms at: http://www.parenting.com/article/guide-teething-symptoms
Is Baby Ready for Solid Foods? Developmental Signs of Readiness at:http://kellymom.com/nutrition/starting-solids/solids-when/Is
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.
The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells us About the Mind by Alison gopnik, Andrew N. Melzoff and Patricia K. Kuhl, William Morrow Paperbacks, 2000.