Maybe this scenario is familiar: You are at your child’s weekly playgroup, watching your child play alongside another child of about the same age. Your little one is playing with a particular toy that the other child is eyeing. Inevitably, the other child reaches for it, grabs on tight, and pulls it away. Your child lets out an angry squeal and looks to you for help. You and the other parent jump in. One of you offers, “Let’s try to share.”
These children are still what developmental experts refer to as “egocentric.” The children honestly believe that the world revolves around them and are incapable of taking another perspective. So, unfortunately, their diplomatic skills have not been honed, and they do not understand how to share.
That doesn’t mean that it is a waste of time for you to explain to your child that she’ll have to wait to use a toy or tell her why it is not acceptable to take a toy from another child. Children learn through experience and interactions with others. Right now, it is their job to pursue their interests and explore the world. This is accomplished through play.
The first way your baby played, before she became the mobile wonder that she is now, was through her observations of others. This happened every time you propped her in a bouncy seat in front of another person (including you). Even though she was not playing directly with the other children or playing with the toys in the same manner, she was actively participating though her observations.
Soon after children learn to sit and become more adept with their fingers, they engage in the next kind of play known as parallel play. An example of this type of play is the scenario described above. Even though they are not playing with each other, sitting side by side, these children study each other’s interactions with toys, verbalize (to themselves), and learn from each other’s ideas.
Similar to the scene above, if a girl is playing with a truck, chances are another child will want to play with the same truck. The trick is for parents to learn the delicate balance between supporting their play and preventing the oh-so-common altercations over a toy. One way is to make sure that when you host a playgroup, you have more than one of particular types of toys (such as trucks, balls, and puzzles) available.
It is important not to rush your child through this type of play. Children naturally move out of parallel play with the foundation for successful cooperative play and the ability to begin understanding the concept of sharing and negotiating. (Learn more ways to encourage play, here.)
Every parent gives a sigh of relief when they see their kid make those first monumental steps. There is a range of ages for when children start to walk. Some start as early as 10 months while others aren’t ready until closer to 16 or 17 months. Whatever the age, you have probably been given advice by various friends and family members about whether or not your child should wear shoes.
Generally, the consensus among the experts is to either put them in shoes when they are cruising along furniture or soon after they start walking. Try to find shoes that are soft-soled and flexible so that the child’s foot can still grip to keep from slipping. Weather and terrain permitting, keep your child barefoot as long as possible to help strengthen foot, ankle, and leg muscles as well as provide the best surface for gripping when trying to walk.
Most parents’ buy shoes a little earlier than needed—it is hard to resist. Keep in mind that children’s feet can grow a size up in as little as six weeks. (Read more about choosing Baby’s first shoes, here.)
Sorting, Stacking, Classifying
If you have ever left a laundry basket in front of a baby, you may have found one of the age-old tricks for entertaining a little one. At this age, babies are fascinated by removing objects, comparing sizes and shapes, putting objects back where they found them (OK … maybe not yet), and sorting out different kinds of objects.
If you don’t want to use the family laundry basket for this activity, you can purchase or make stacking and sorting toys to quench this interest. You may even get a few treasured moments to sip your coffee while Baby quietly plays and figures out which hole the square block fits into easily.
Chickenpox Vaccine or Not?
At next month’s exam, your child is up to bat for the chicken pox vaccine. This vaccine offers protection from the childhood ailment that many of us remember (we may even have a few scars to remind us of the experience). The question among parents is whether it is better to get this disease and build up the natural immunity or avoid the illness through immunization. This is a complicated subject and a personal decision that you need to discuss with your child’s healthcare provider.
Always Time for a Good Book
Even very active babies enjoy some down time by sitting in Mommy’s or Daddy’s lap and reading a good book. Their way of reading may include turning the pages, pointing to objects, lifting flaps, sticking little fingers through holes, and perhaps occasionally munching on the corner of the book.
Just because your baby’s interaction with reading the book may last only seconds, doesn’t mean she isn’t benefiting from the experience. (Numerous studies tout how reading with babies even just a little boosts their brain power.) But a few seconds are about the length of her attention span right now: Continue reading to her and you may discover that as she gets older she’ll sit for longer periods.
She is probably developing favorite books written about things that interest her, and you are probably reading the same books over and over. When she points to a word or stops at a page, say the words slowly. She will probably not repeat these words but that doesn’t mean they are not being absorbed. (Around this age, she may even be able to look at the correct picture when an image is named.) With the consistent experiences of reading books with loving parents and childcare providers, reading will help her cognitive skills, including language acquisition, and she’ll regard reading in itself as a pleasurable pastime.
More Development Help
As you’re considering your child’s development, keep in mind that all babies are unique. Whether your baby reaches milestones early or late, she has her own developmental path to follow. The dividing lines between these months are very fuzzy. If you have any concerns or questions about your baby’s development, please check with her healthcare provider
Now…Let’s Take a Closer Look at Each Week
- Week 44: Understanding Attachment Hierarchy
- Week 45: Realizing Shapes Have Meanings
- Week 46: Combining Categorizing and Imitating
- Week 47: Moving with Skill