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Talking and walking are coming online and language and motor development represent the key to baby's interaction with their expanding universe.
Baby's world is rapidly expanding. These changes are often accompanied by an emerging concept of danger, which can be disruptive. Routines can help ground and comfort in these choppy waters.
Now that baby is exploring and engaging through movement and language, it’s time to connect in a deeper way. “Scaffolding” is a term used to describe ways of actively supporting and encouraging your tot’s development.
Sleep rhythms often take a hit around this time because, thanks to object permanence, your tot is now aware that you exist in another room and may call for you every time they wake. Now is the time for a more refined bedtime routine. As language is emerging, bedtime stories become an important point of connecting, deepening language skills, and calm attention.
While listening to stories, a baby’s brain is activated in a similar way to experiencing the tale for themselves. Storytelling helps your tot gain problem-solving skills and to practice responding to invented circumstances. However, try not to make bedtime stories too exciting, or your routine may backfire and they’ll expect more entertainment. Your voice should signal slowing down and calm listening. Pair a story with a gentle massage with Our Moisturizing Cream, and activate their development on a deeper level. This activity shapes advanced attention skills that will help them years later when they have to sit in a class and listen.
Storytelling is one of the greatest human gifts. Every culture on Earth tells stories. Storytelling connects us, bridging the past and present, reality and fantasy. This fires up our imagination, one of the keys to higher executive functioning. It increases cultural appreciation, informing ethical and moral decision-making that deepens our relationships and furthers our development. Consistency in routines calms your tot’s anxieties that naturally emerge at this age and helps them to feel grounded in the familiar, when much of the day may have been new. Remember that sleep is the ‘S’ in ESP—one of the three secrets of life. It is fundamental to physical and mental growth, memory consolidation, and emotional regulation.
Using a jar of bubbles, teach your tot to mimic you as you take a deep breath in through your nose and then, gently, out through your mouth (blowing bubbles as you do this). Demonstrate a few times, then allow your child to have a turn, teaching them how to deeply breathe in and out to create bubbles themselves!
It is very hard to teach young children deep breathing because of the motor control, self-awareness, and attention that is initially required, but doing this with bubbles turns a challenging exercise into a delightful activity. Although it may take some time for your tot to deep breathe just as you are teaching them to, you are planting an important seed. This will help them become more aware of their own body and breath, shaping their awareness as they get older.
Your tot showing signs of stranger danger is to be expected. To ease it, always start by honoring the emotion. “You’re scared, yes?” Getting a “yes” from your tot opens them to meeting the challenge by relaying that you understand what they are experiencing. Next, have the “stranger” offer them something—one of baby’s toys, for example. Once they accept the object, the ice has been broken. Have the “stranger” put their hand out and ask if they can see it too. This simple back-and-forth breaks down barriers allowing for a new shared connection. But turn-taking does not come naturally at this age, so don’t force it. Some babies are bolder than others. If they won’t take the object, have the stranger give it to you instead so you can model the give-and-take. This can soften the fears of losing control and open baby up to meeting new people.
Sometimes stranger danger can suddenly occur with family members, causing some hurt feelings. Modeling turn-taking in everyday moments can be a great place to start (even if baby isn’t instantly excited to comply). You can say, “We are going to let our friend have a turn with the drum, but we will play with the xylophone and get another turn with the drum when it comes around again.” You can also use turn-taking language at home: “OK, it’s my turn to take some pasta. Now it’s your turn to take some pasta.” Or, “It’s left leg’s turn to rinse and now it’s right leg’s turn to rinse.” Introducing these concepts will help baby to understand how taking turns works in the future, and help them to balance the give and take of separation.
Think back to the family rituals you loved as a child. Events or practices that defined your family and created a sense of belonging. Some may be passed down from generation to generation—like recipes or music—while others may be something you and your partner created (holiday movie marathons or breakfast for dinner). Rituals can be religiously oriented, designed for silliness, or come from nowhere in particular. If you’re planning to pass any down to your child, now is an excellent time to start. If none come to mind, create a few new ones to try out in the coming months and see what sticks. Babies love making important memories and repeating rituals over and over. They like to hear how it was done before, or how you’re going to do it again next week, or month, or year. Through rituals, babies learn about family values, gaining safety and security, and feeling a connection to you and others.
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