Post #7: Imogen Rose in October, at Eight Months of Age
Baby Sign Language Encourages Speech
Communication and Baby Signing:
Imogen is talking these days. That is to say, she is vocalizing, shouting sometimes and making sounds that are sometimes pretty funny, especially to four-year-old boys. She makes raspberries with her little tongue between her lips and often gestures or makes faces that tell us she is communicating something. Often, it sounds like she is saying “hi!” and we say it back to her. And Imogen is laughing – great baby guffaws and smaller, baby chuckles. She loves to have me bounce her on my knee and sing baby songs to her. Bouncing up and down in my little red wagon and others (See “Imogen Rose in May, at Three months of age” at: https://hubpages.com/education/Post-2-Imogen-Rose-In-April-at-Three-months-of-age for the words to a variety of infant songs)
This month Imogen is more likely and willing to imitate what she sees, so we are playing ‘mouth games’ with her: rolling our tongue, performing raspberries and other mouth gymnastics, singing songs and reciting rhymes that are short and punchy. She loves the games, especially when the 4-year-olds sing, call to her, or play peek-a-boo. These social games help Imogen learn communication skills and are socially entertaining, as well as informative, for her. We are also learning her cues.
Imogen is learing baby sign language. We regularly sign for Imogen: “milk”, “drink”, “sleep”, “diaper change”, “play”, “mom” and “dad”. Teaching baby sign language can reduce the frustration about what she wants and provides her with another way to communicate. Recent research in child development shows that baby’s natural understanding of language and the ability to imitate optimize their chance to learn sign language at this age. Motor skills and language cognition develop well before the ability to talk. Notice how quickly babies pick up the ability to wave ‘hello’ or ‘bye-bye’ and how easily they point to what they want. Later we will add to these simple signs with “all done”, “more”, “hungry” “please” “thank you” and others that pertain to what Imogen wants and sees.
Some babies can learn as early as six months, but at this time, 8 to 9 months of age, infants have more hand control and can mimic signs back to you. When you sign and say the word for your baby, they will soon be signing it back to you. My daughter, Imogen’s mother, has been saying and signing “milk” and “diaper” for quit some time now, to let Imogen know that these hand signs and the words match in meaning, and that they precipitate the action.
Signing develops the natural curiosity for words and language. As she sees the sign and hears the words, Imogen learns the meaning of the sign and word. Some studies show that signing may actually improve language acquisition and does help your baby communicate with you months before she is talking clearly. When your baby can sign back to you, communication becomes a two-way interaction that provides positive experiences for you both. As your baby can clearly tell you what she wants, it naturally leads to less frustration for both of you. Here is the website for baby sign language dictionary from baby sign language.com: http://www.babysignlanguage.com/dictionary/
Movement and Play:
Imogen scoots along the floor, only occasionally getting up on her knees to start the crawling sequence. I have (once again) checked my house for dangerous spaces, as we have found her squeezing under the couch and behind a chair. I have replaced electric outlet plugs, made sure electric cords are tied up and hidden, checked for small toys or other objects that are low enough for her to grasp and put in her mouth.
I sweep or vacuum and mop the floor almost every day, as we are a busy and often dirty household. I know I will do this for a few months until she is old enough not to be a human dust-mop. Even though she is scooting now, I know by the end of this month, she will most likely be crawling as well.
Yet, I want Imogen to explore, so keeping the house reasonably clean and safe is a priority. Imogen’s exploration is how she is learning about her world. Now she is touching, banging, shaking, and mouthing everything within reach. She follows a ball that has rolled away from her. She can roll around the floor and easily goes from sitting to her tummy, but not back up again, yet. Imogen is pulling her self upward, but not yet all the way to stairs, the fireplace fender and other short obstacles. I can almost see her thinking as she grabs for the stair, lifts up, then down again on her tummy. She is doing the yoga swan pose.
Eating and Teething:
I use my voice to calm Imogen when she is anxious for her bottle. I tell her I’m coming and to be patient. I tell her I know she is really hungry. Letting Imogen know that I understand her feelings and that I’m coming are the beginning of helping Imogen with self-control. If my voice is calm, she will respond to that.
Imogen has started solid foods, but she has also developed likes and dislikes in what she wants to eat.
She still gnaws on toast and slices of bagels, but now Imogen (who is still without teeth) is able to bite off small chunks of bread. This means we need to be especially vigilant that she doesn’t choke on the small pieces she bites off. Small dissolvable baby snacks are good alternatives to toast crusts.
Play is learning for babies:
Imogen loves to stand at the toy box with us supporting her while she explores the toys there. Soon, she will be standing on her own and pulling herself up onto steps and other short spaces. I am alert for her new skills each day so that I can keep her safe. My role is one of observer and environment watchdog. I encourage her by calling to her to crawl to me instead of picking her up right away, by placing toys close enough for her to grab them or scoot quickly to them. I want to build her confidence and create an environment she can safely explore.
Now, Imogen wants to play a bit more roughly than before. She loves to have me swing her around, or dance with her. The movement is exciting and she laughs out loud. She also loves to play ‘gotcha!’ with her brother or ‘peek-a-boo’. These social games rely on reciprocal play, which is the foundation of language: I do something, then you do something, then I do something again. The back and forth is a game and a foundation building strategy.
Fine Motor Skills:
Imogen is certainly using her hands more and more these days. Her fine motor skills, (which refer to the movements she makes using the small muscles of her hands and fingers), are increasing. Fine motor skills develop as Imogen’s whole body gains stability and mobility. She is also developing cognitive and social/emotional skills at the same time. Imogen moves food and toys from one hand to the other, she finds her mouth more easily to place food inside, and she picks up and manipulates toys more easily than before.
She can grab onto things within her reach, is able to prop herself up while scooting or laying on her tummy. She uses her arms and hands to pull herself around and to reach items over her head. Her body is working together to get her places and to get the things she sees and wants.
A big part of Imogen’s fine motor skills depend on her balance, her ability to sit and her ability to get into the hands and knees position for crawling. The rocking back and forth motion that is a precursor to crawling is also important for hand development. This pre-crawling position strengthens her shoulders, arms, trunk and hip muscles and will lengthen the muscles of her palms and fingers. Using her arms for balance in these different positions will help develop the hand muscles, as well (specifically the arches of the hand).
Imogen is also dropping or letting go of objects on purpose, banging toys, and competently holding a spoon. She can hold her arm or leg to help me get her dressed, and is making the waving motions for hello and goodbye. She is putting things into and trying to take things out of containers with large openings. I use empty oatmeal containers and plastic tubs with fairly large openings that Imogen can lift and tip.
Literacy-Our Own Cuddle Group:
Imogen is becoming a full-fledge member of our reading ‘cuddle group’. Sometimes she is too squirmy to remain on my lap very long, and other times she will sit through the reading of two or more books. She loves to ‘taste’ the pages and that works until we want to turn a page, or the boys want to see what is actually on the page. Yet, they are patient with her and allow some leeway in our usual, more fast-paced reading. After Imogen removes herself, we read books with paper pages that are more easily torn. When Imogen is on my lap, the board books are best.
Reading with your child on your lap provides the ‘cuddle’ in cuddle group, and with a boy on either side and Imogen on my lap, we really are in a cuddle. We can take the time to look at and talk about the illustrations in a particular book, speculate about what we might do or say or just turn the page. The boys are excited by vehicles and we have several big books with myriad vehicle illustrations. We like to discuss how they would be used and how we might use them. The boys have their favorite vehicles on each page that we must point out. Imogen is not yet into the discussion, but she makes her baby noises as if she is fully aware of the topic, even as she crawls away from us.
Reading time has always been a special time for calming down, relaxing, thinking deep thoughts, and dreaming what might be. Hence, our ‘cuddle group’ is a safe vehicle for young minds to expand and grow.
What we know today about infant and children’s development is that all areas of development are linked to each other. Our children develop using what they are born with (genetics or ‘nature’) and what they experience in the world (Environment or ‘nurture’). We know that what children experience shapes them into who they become and that each experience is like a mark on a tablet – the tablet of their brain. The most important part of your child’s experience is you, their parent. As you respond, and how you respond to your child’s daily needs will form the foundation of their development.
Every day ways to support your baby and toddler’s learning at Zerotothree.org at: https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/265-everyday-ways-to-support-your-baby-s-and-toddler-s-early-learningThis is a downloadable PDF.
Signing with your baby or toddler: how to communicate with your child before she can talk” at: https://www.babycenter.com/0_signing-with-your-baby-or-toddler-how-to-communicate-with-yo_1449533.bc?scid=mbtw_baby_post7m&pe=MlVHb3dUY3wyMDE3MDkwMQ..&liveconnect=7e7d1881bfebabd143c83f840b3de067babyc.425322
Less fussing, more fun at Baby Sign Language. http://www.babysignlanguage.com/
Sleep Position: Why Back is Best at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/Sleep-Position-Why-Back-is-Best.aspx
Back to sleep campaign “Back to sleep changes to safe to sleep: Reducing the Risk of SIDS” by Vincent Iannelli, MD, April 11, 2017 at: https://www.verywell.com/back-to-sleep-2634253
Infant developmental milestones: fine motor skills at Children’s Therapy & Family Resource center at: http://www.kamloopschildrenstherapy.org/fine-motor-skills-infant-milestons
Fine Motor Skills for Infants and Toddlers: What Are Fine Motor Skills?” at Day 2Day Parenting at: http://day2dayparenting.com/fine-motor-skills-development-babies-7-12-months/
© 2017 agaglia