The Second Six Months: Moving Up - Part Six
This article includes the following items: †Mastering the World of Words, Baby Words, Gestures and Body Language, Word and Voice Associations, , No-No-No,. †Fun and Games with New Words and Gestures, Waving bye-bye, Imitating gestures, Peek-a-boo, More ball games, Keeping the Game going, Caring For your Baby's feet, When should I buy shoes for my baby?, Why does my baby need shoes?, Will shoes help my baby walk?, How can I tell if baby has outgrown her shoes? Toe room, throat room, The counter, What to look For In A Baby Shoe. This is the last part of this article. †I hope you found the other five parts.
As baby masters the wonderful world of words, you may finally feel you are getting your point across. At last, baby understands you, though he still does not consistently comply. Simple and familiar questions usually trigger an understandable response: "Do you want to nurse?" "Do you want to go outside?" No "yes" or "no" words yet, but baby's body language is crystal clear. Unless, of course, he doesn't know himself what he wants.
Under one year of age babies still say very little with words, understand a lot with their mind, and have very powerful body language. A baby's receptive speech (the ability to understand) is always several months ahead of expressive speech. Just because a baby says very little does not mean she does not understand what you are saying. In fact, if you double what you actually imagine your baby understands, you will probably accurately assess her language comprehension at all ages.
As well as understanding your verbal and body language, baby now increases his own repertoire. Though still mostly jabbering, baby surprises you by periodically changing inflections and intentions in his talking, giving you the feeling that he knows what he is saying even if you don't.
The term "word" means a sound used consistently to refer to an action or object, even if the sound is not intelligibly articulated. This is true of most baby words, which are not always intelligibly articulated, thus not understood -- except perhaps by parents. Most baby at this stage have familiar words ("dada," "mama," "cat"). Babies love to imitate your speech sounds including coughing and tongue noises such as hisses and clicks.
Baby not only has more language at this stage than the last, but it's definitely louder. The shouting stage begins, followed by the screaming stage. Plug your ears. This soon will pass. Baby is just trying out his voice and is amazed at the intensity of sounds he can generate and the response of those within earshot. If you feel you must do something to teach your baby to use his "quiet voice" in the house or car, show him how by whispering. The "secret voice" gets his attention and give him something else to imitate.
By the end of the first year most babies understand "no" to mean "stop." How quickly baby complies depends on the gestures and tone of voice that accompany "no." When a baby is about to pull on a lamp cord, gently grab his little hand, look in his big eyes, and point to the cord while saying, "No, don't touch -- hurt baby!" Then redirect his curiosity to a safer and yet equally interesting activity. At this stage baby may even shake his own head to mimic your gestures, as though this helps him understand. Avoid saying no in a rude, punitive way. Maintain respect for your baby when you speak to him. You goal is to teach, not to frighten. And, of course, expect your baby to come back at you with frequent noes. Some creative alternatives to "no" are "stop," "hot," "shut," "dirty, "hurt baby," or "down." Make up a universal "no" sound that immediately gets baby's attention. One "stop" sound could be a sudden loud "ah".
Gestures and Body Language
Besides baby's having more words at this stage, his body language, especially facial and arm gesturing, helps you know where you stand and what he needs. Baby may pull on your pants and raise his arms to get picked up. He give you squirm cues in your arms to let you know he's ready to get down. If your baby intensely needs to get your attention, he may grab your nose or chin and turn your face toward his. This expressive body language matures long before the ability to say intelligible words. Perhaps a baby at this stage feels, "If you can't read my words, read my body."
Word and Voice Associations
By this stage, baby may be able to associate voices and names with people.
Who's on the telephone?
What's my name?
Fun and Games with New Words and Gestures
Here are some favorite word games that will help you get a feel for how much body and verbal language your baby understands.
More ball games.
Keep The Game Going
When playing word games such as waving bye-bye and pat-a-cake, periodically give only half the message, such as the gesture without the sound or the sound without the gesture, and let baby complete the action. For example, say "pat-a-cake" without touching baby's hands, and let your sound trigger his memory pattern to clap his hands. Then be sure to reinforce baby's memory by clapping back. Keep these games going as long as you can, but remember that most babies at this stage have an attention span of less than one minute. When you feel that baby is really tuned in to what you are saying, keep his interest. For example, if you point to a bird in the sky and say "bird," and you notice baby also looks at the sky and utters what sounds like "bird," acknowledge how correctly baby perceived this sound, saying with a smile, "Yes, that's a bird!" This acknowledgement is the beginning of a mental skill that develops better in the next stage -- baby's ability to make himself understood and to feel that his words are understood. While you are playing language games with your bay, notice that sometimes baby pauses as if to think whose turn it is. Language is now becoming more of a cognitive skill with baby thinking about what you are saying and about his reply.
Caring For Your Baby's Feet
Caring for your baby's feet is just one more part of loving and caring for your entire baby. To help you get your baby off on the right foot, here are answers to the most common questions parents ask about their baby's feet and footwear.
When should I buy shoes for my baby?
Between nine and twelve months of age, when babies begin to pull themselves up and stand on their own, parents should begin thinking seriously about their baby's footwear needs.
Why does my baby need shoes?
Shoes help protect your baby's tender feet from the rough surfaces, splinters, and sharp objects that often lie in wait for the young adventurer. When your baby is learning to walk, she looks ahead, not down, and these uncautious little feet are likely to tread on anything.
Will shoes help my baby walk?
The flat, even bottoms of a shoe provide stability for a young tenderfoot. Usually pediatricians advise parents to let their baby take the first few steps barefoot and, once baby is walking well, make their first trip to the shoe store. A few beginning walkers, however, walk better and stumble less when wearing a well-fitting flexible shoe.
How can I tell if baby has outgrown her shoes?
Check your baby's feet periodically. Curled toes, blisters, indentations, or red burn like marked on the soles of your baby's feet (friction rubs) are signs of an ill-fitting shoe. Most toddlers outgrow shoes before they outwear them. The average toddler outgrows her shoes around every three months. Here are signs that your baby has outgrown the shoes:
What to Look For In A Baby Shoe.
The counter (back of the shoe).
The top and sides.
Selecting a good shoe fitter is one of the most important steps in buying your baby's shoes. A qualified shoe fitter measures both feet while baby is standing, looking for flexibility at the ball of the foot while baby walks, and checks for toe room and heel slippage. And don't forget to consult the walker. Let baby test-stride the new shoes around the store.
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