Are You Close By?

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Clinging onto a parent in a strange situation is a common behavior among all children into adolescence. The clinging is a child’s natural response to uneasiness. While seeking refuge in the arms of a caregiver, positive chemicals are released into the brain producing secure feelings of well-being.

It’s important to understand that constant clinging is not an act your baby does with naughty intentions. He is feeling unsafe for one reason or another, and needs reassurance from you. To combat constant clinging, prepare your child for any potentially scary, or new, situations. It’s important to talk through the situation, then once there, be attentive and receptive to your child’s fears and needs.

Whatever you do, DO NOT try to drop your child off and sneak away when they’re not looking. This will create unnecessary fear and anxiety in an already scary situation. Before leaving, it’s important to shower your child with love and affection and explain that you will be back soon. At the same time, don’t prolong the goodbye. Focus in being short, sweet and reassuring. This is a time for trust building, so make sure you are receptive to your child’s fears at all times.

Baby’s Turn to Clean

Eager to please and impress you, you may have already noticed your toddler trying to be ‘helpful.’ While his helpfulness may lead to bigger messes. and simple tasks turning into difficult and frustrating ones, it’s important for your toddler’s development that you stand aside and let him try.

Having the responsibility to complete simple tasks helps children develop a sense of independence and accomplishment. Not to mention, the huge self-esteem boost when he hears your cheering for his accomplishment.

Your toddler’s desire to help will not last forever, so use this time to incorporate helpful habits that will last a lifetime. Show him the importance of a clean room, tidy toys, and other activities that you normally do that he can accomplish on his own. If you notice him struggling to complete the task, offer a helping hand, but don’t take over altogether. The goal is to get your toddler used to helping around the house, or at the very least, cleaning up after himself (finally!)

Cheerios

Mastering picking up a small item with a precise finger and thumb grasp is a huge step towards independence, including the ability to self-feed, self-dress, and eventually write his name and brush his teeth..

A good time to let your baby practice this is when he’s in his highchair. Small cereal pieces, such as Cheerios, are the perfect size to help your baby master this precise grasp. It will take quite a bit of practice on his part, but once mastered, he will be able to maneuver his toys like never before!

Make sure to remove all choking hazards, since food will not be the only thing your baby will use that handy pincer grasp to get into his mouth.

Eye To Eye

Babies respond best to parents who make eye contact with them. Always get your baby’s attention before talking to them or playing games. Your baby needs your help so he can begin to develop a love of language. When you make eye contact and talk to him about his world, you are teaching him new words. It is a crucial way to develop language and bond at the same time.

Sit in a comfy chair with baby swaddled in your arms. Speak his name and get his attention. He won’t understand the words but he does know your voice. Keep the eye contact- talk to him, coo and sing. Talk about things in his world. Tell baby a story using your animated voice. Keep his attention by smiling, telling him how important he is, and how much he is loved.

Family Photos

Your child is continuing to learn at breakneck speed and his language is going through a developmental spurt right around now.

This is a good time to help your toddler to get to know his relatives by letting him play with photographs. Who knows? When your mom comes to visit, your toddler might just warm her heart by crying out ‘Grandma!’ when she walks through the door (but don’t count on it). That’s ok, she will warm up faster if she knows what she looks like ahead of time.

What you will need are photos of your immediate family, and glue, scissors, and cardboard.

Cut into pieces slightly larger than the photos. Stick the photos on the cardboard. This will help keep them safe from little fingers.

Join your toddler on the floor or at a table. Be sure and let her help and name them as you paste. Keep the photos in a box so she can pull them out and talk about them. You can say ‘Honey, can you find Aunt Nancy?’ She will love it.

Fun-Land At Home

Your toddler probably loves to climb and bounce.She might be in heaven at one of those indoor playgrounds with inflatable bounce houses and 20-foot slides. But why pay a hefty entrance fee and battle throngs of big kids when you can make your very own Fun-Land right in your living room?

At this age, your toddler will have just as much fun at home, and may even enjoy being in a familiar environment as she explores what she can do with her developing muscles.

Some things you will need are items that your toddler can climb, bounce, sit, stand, and jump on. Try couch cushions, pillows, a booster seat, a large cardboard box, and a big plastic storage container.

First, clear the room. Remove anything with sharp corners, and push toys to the side. Then set about designing your indoor playground. Turn the storage container upside down and place it in front of the couch so that your toddler can practice climbing. Put several flat couch cushions on the floor for bouncing.

Go Get It

Getting baby to use her arms and legs prepares her to walk. Try to discourage her from the ‘bottom shuffle’ (baby sits on her bottom and scoots without using legs). Babies that bottom shuffle tend to walk later than babies that crawl. We want to encourage her to get up on her knees and use her arms to propel herself forward. A typical crawl is left hand, right knee, right hand, left knee.

Encourage her to push herself up on her arms and knees- this action strengthens her arms and legs. Dangling a favorite toy above her head is a good way to motivate her to move. You can make it fun by creating an obstacle course around the room and let her chase you. Try using pillows and sofa cushions. This will help to improve her confidence, speed, and agility. Always stay with baby during activity (a crawling baby is a mischievous baby). Crawling is good exercise for both of you.

How To Stimulate Through Song

No matter what age or stage in life you are, music stimulates your brain. Whether you love the music, or hate it, you still stop to listen and feel one emotion or another. This instant reaction to music begins at birth. Remember when your newborn was tired and inconsolable, and all it took was a simple lullaby to dry those tears. Well, get your vocals back out, but this time sing ABC’s and other toddler favorites to help boost language development.

Regular sing-alongs offer many language and social skill benefits. Add in hand gesture during Itsy Bitsy Spider to really captivate your audience and boost fine motor skills when he mimics the gestures. You may already notice your little one perking up when you recite the ABC’s or sing Mary Had A Little Lamb. Whatever the song, music genre, or silly act you find yourself in while singing, it will be very much appreciated by your soon to be little talker.

I Can Do It Myself

Your child may have only just reached her first birthday, but she may already be trying to do everyday tasks on her own. Some young toddlers like to try to lift a regular cup to their mouth and drink like an adult. Of course, if there is liquid in that cup, the result is likely to be messy. Although this may be messy and a bit frustrating for you, this is the first sign of your child’s burgeoning independence.

Trying to drink from her own cup is the first of many things to come that your child will probably want to do all own her own. Toddlers are notorious for going through a stage where they want to try to do everything adults do–drinking from cups, using utensils, even pouring milk. This is a great sign that your child is curious and engaged with the world around her.

It can be a trying time for you as a parent, however. The key is to try to encourage her skill development, but in safe ways. You could try putting a couple of sips of water in a cup for her to try drinking on her own. Maybe you could allow her to pour a small amount of milk over a sink or bowl so the mess is limited. She will most likely become frustrated at this new task and you can use that as an opportunity to encourage and offer a little help.

Let Daddy Do It

When your baby rejects everyone else, it’s hard on them and means more work for you. That’s why socialization matters. It’ll help your baby (and you) if she gets used to other people.

Did you ever worry that your baby wouldn’t bond with you? Well, by now it’s more likely that the two of you are so close, she howls if anybody else comes near. That can include your partner- to his dismay. When your baby rejects everyone else, it’s hard on them and means more work for you. That’s why socialization matters. It’ll help your baby (and you) if she gets used to other people.

Is your baby acting reluctant to be left even with her dad?  It’ll help if you both work on that together.

Perhaps your partner could get involved in playing more often or changing diapers for a day. Let your partner give baby her daily bath at bedtime a few times a week. Just carrying her around will build attachment between them. Keep out of the way at first, so your baby isn’t always reaching out for you. I know you want to step in, but it’s time to resist.