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Healthybaby because baby is soaking it all in
Walking is controlled falling. Baby must find enough safety in routine to take on the risk of falling. This balance is dependent on both their temperament and their relationship with you.
Baby has new and exciting ways to communicate with their world. Talking and walking are coming online; language and motor development represent the key to baby’s interaction with their expanding universe.
The development of object permanence means that now baby knows you’re in the other room when they wake up or venture too far away. You’ll need to rely on the security of routines to navigate this change in the current!
“Parallel play” is simply playing next to baby. Practice having trouble with an activity and ask baby for help as a way of letting them join your play as your teacher. Break down harder tasks—like stacking—into small baby steps. Model the steps and let them imitate, or make mistakes and let them see you try again. “Do-overs” are the key to resilience and forgiveness, reframing struggles as possibilities to overcome. This helps baby learn to be excited by learning and hard work. Remember to recognize when baby has had enough. Never force an activity, since it only fosters more resistance.
Parallel play is developmentally appropriate at this age. Baby may notice others, imitate them, or try to grab what the friend has, but likely won’t share in play with others just yet. That’s OK. For now, baby is learning from what they observe and experience, following their own interests and curiosities.
Hand your baby a container with a lid – an empty dry wipes container works well too – and a small object. Ask your little one to put the object inside the box and close the lid. You can vary the size of the object to make the task a bit more challenging and encourage fine motor function. Encourage them as they work independently to complete this quick task.
You are exercising many subtle but important skills during this simple activity. You are promoting your child’s receptive language as you offer instructions and also engaging their visual-motor and fine motor skills as they work to align and close the lid.
Find something around the house that can be pushed and pulled that works with baby’s interests: a wagon, grocery cart, baby stroller, whatever! Encourage them to “clean-up” items on the floor by placing them into the cart or stroller. The squats required to fill their cart are practice for big muscle movements.
Add a clean-up song to help commit practice to memory (“Clean-up, clean-up, everybody everywhere, clean-up, clean-up, everybody do your share.”)
Next, tell them the wagon/grocery cart/baby stroller has somewhere it needs to go. Across the grass, around the puddle, through the dirt—make up a story and have baby play along. When you reach your destination, is it time to dump the cart and start again? Or are we ready to pull it behind us and drag it back home? Find the adventure that works best for you.
Using a push-pull object helps encourage big muscle movement, working arms, shoulders, thighs, and core—all of which support standing, walking, pivoting, and running. The real skill is in learning how to maneuver the item while they are moving, adding complexity, coordination, and strength building. Baby is simultaneously practicing fine motor skills with their grip and small finger movements—early problem solving through motor planning. Each bump and obstacle is a test of spatial reasoning and concepts like “around”, “under,” “behind,” and “left and right.”
The power struggle between you and baby is officially on. This isn’t the kind of game that has a winner or a loser, nor is it a skill you want to practice. Instead, offer choices when you can and allow them to make some small decisions they can handle—so that you can make the ones they aren’t ready for yet.
Think through what counts as “grownup choices,” like when you eat, where you go, and what you buy. As well as “baby choices,” like which spoon you use, whether you ride in the stroller or the carrier, and what color shirt to wear. Find opportunities to promote easy choices when the answer doesn’t impact you. Then stick to those routines. When baby anticipates what comes next every single time, they are less likely to challenge that activity or transition (since they know they are unlikely to succeed). On the flip side, a lack of consistency in how you respond invites baby to try and struggle against it. So, hold tight to the traditions you’ve developed around mealtimes, bedtimes, and schedules, knowing that they will defend against some of the power struggles to come.
Yes on all three? Great! One or more No’s? Let’s talk about it.
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