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Baby Activities by age

Early morning wake ups. Bodies not our own. Hormones awry. Cuddles for days.

We are the champions of tiny humans.

We are the givers of love even when we have nothing left for ourselves.

We are the warriors and survivors of tantrums and meltdowns (our own, too). We are the deliverers of sustenance: whether from our own bodies, from a can, from organic leafy greens or from frozen, prepared, or boxed preservatives.

This early parenthood thing is a beast. It’s amazing and insane and leaves us both full and empty in the same moment.

As a mother of two tiny humans myself, I’m also in the trenches. As a pediatric speech-language pathologist, I carry with me a few extra tools for connecting with tiny humans.

What to do with a baby

It’s a crazy time, for sure. But when we understand more about how infants and toddlers learn and develop, we feel more empowered to do the big job of parenting tiny humans. Here’s the secret sauce: you don’t have to buy anything to support your baby. You don’t have to spend money, time, and energy you don’t have to support your baby.

In this episode, I’d like to share two conversations I had with new parents who have recently joined the ranks of parenthood.

I think it makes me feel better because we’re just trying to survive, right? But at the same time I know I’m doing something to support his development. It makes me feel better every week… I think in essence the book [Understanding Your Baby] makes me feel better that I’m doing something so he can develop and not just, you know, like change his diaper and feed him and talk to him, there’s other little things I could do. Lisa Dou

Mother of a 3-month old, Nurse Practitioner

Lisa Dou, nurse practitioner, mother of a 3-month old

Ayelet: So you said your baby is three months old.

Lisa: Almost three months. He’s 11 weeks this week.

Ayelet: And then, if you could just tell me the story of how you came upon the book because it’s…

Lisa: Yeah. So I work with Dr Wu in Los Altos. I’m a nurse practitioner, so I think a few weeks before I went on leave, she was like, hey, you should read this, you know, she said she flipped through it. She said she thought it’d be a good resource since I’m a new mom and she thought it would be useful. So my mom actually had a daycare before she retired, so she was in child development, so she was helping me the first eight weeks. So she flipped through it. She was like, Oh, you know, she really used a lot of the resources I used when I was in school. So it was mom approved.

Ayelet: Mom and professional-approved, yeah!

Lisa: It was great. So we, you know, I would try different things every week. It’s hard to kind of look up because I’m not a Peds NP, so I don’t remember from school, like what the different steps…. so it was just nice to have something where okay, I feel like I’m doing something for his development I’m not just caring for him – you know, using the stuff around me to help him grow or develop.

Ayelet: Absolutely. So it’s kind of neat because you had it actually from day one, which I think is unique because of course some people find the book while they’re still pregnant and sort of flip through it and then they can use it from day one. But of course so many people if they’re gifted it and then they just have it… I think oftentimes we’re not really looking in those early days, especially, for like what can I do to support my baby’s development, right, because we’re just trying to like keep the baby alive. And ourselves.

Lisa: Yeah. Pretty much, yeah. I mean I was reading “Baby 411” before I gave birth. It was more like, wait, what do I need to know if he’s sick or what if this happened to XYZ? But then not really so much. I didn’t really read the development part because I was like, okay, I just need to survive and see. I didn’t even read that part until I read your book and then reading your book. I already kind of knew what to expect, so..

Ayelet: Yeah. So it was sort of like before you even asked the questions you had…

Lisa: Yes!

Ayelet: That sounds really nice. I wish… That’s why I wrote it – because I wish I had that. That’s awesome. What were the circumstances that preempted you even picking the book up?

Lisa: I was reading a lot before I gave birth, but again, mostly like “Baby 411” and then, like, breastfeeding was my main concern, but then when she gave it to me I was like, okay, it’s one more book I have to read… But then it was useful because you know when you’re tired and sleepy, you read two pages and you’re good for the week, right? And so it was actually nice to read it while I was going through the weeks not really in advance, if that makes sense. So now that I had a baby, every Monday I would pick it up, I’m like okay, what’s going on this week? Then I would try out the suggestions, so I would just read a few pages in. That way I don’t. I guess I don’t really have a lot of time to read ahead, but then every week it was something to look forward to.

Ayelet: Yeah. But, and that’s sort of the whole point, right? Because literally you read one to two pages, and that’s it. That’s all you need for the entire week.

Lisa: Yeah. It’s very concise.

Ayelet: Yeah. That’s nice. So it was sort of just like a weekly ritual that you sort of started for yourself, like you said, every Monday. That’s so cute.

Lisa: Yeah, like a weekly ritual. And then we started listening to the podcasts if he’s awake and then, you know, I’ve already read books to him, so we’ll do the… I mean he, he smiles when he hears your voice. It’s nice.

Ayelet: That’s so nice!

Lisa: You know, when you start singing he’s like, oh my God, this is, this is a good activity because you run out of things to do, right, I feel like with a baby, so… And it’s good that I could do that with him, not just, okay, now he’s gone for a nap, I need to listen to the podcast.

Ayelet: That’s awesome. What have been some of your favorite episodes, or episodes that helped you most, so far?

Lisa: I’ve only listened to a couple, but the one, I think the zero to six and then the… Raising a child in a multilingual because I speak to… I’m Filipino and Chinese so I speak Tagalog, and my husband speaks Mandarin. We speak English to each other. So then I didn’t really know, you know, I don’t know how to approach it and as far, you know, I want to speak to him in Tagalog, but I speak English to my siblings so it’s, you know, it’s been a challenge. And my husband speaks in English to him and I’m like, no, you need to speak in Mandarin. So just trying to figure that out or like what are the first few steps that we could take or what other people have, you know, the couple that was in your podcast, that was really useful.

Ayelet: Yeah. I thought they had some wonderful concrete suggestions and insights. And then the other one you mentioned was the Communication in Zero to Six Months realm.

Lisa: Yeah. The zero to six months, yeah.

Ayelet: Did you come upon those specific episodes because of the book? Because of the sort of reference to them in the book?

Lisa: Yeah, yeah.

Ayelet: Can you tell me, what are one or two specific things that you’ve done, or changes that you made because of things that you read in the book?

Lisa: So, lying down next to… Addison’s my son – Addison, and then taking turns. So if he’s saying something, then I imitate what he’s saying or, or wait for him to finish and then I’ll talk to him. So that was interesting. And then I think earlier on there was… I had like gift-wrap paper, right? And I’m putting that on his feet and he’s kicking and, he realizes, oh, okay, I’m making that noise. I think the mirror, holding the mirror, just using the mirror so he can see himself. And then the rituals. I think that was for this week. So, and routine. So we started getting into routine a little bit earlier on. But then this week I’m really trying to get him into a better routine and then seeing if it’s morning time, you know, I say “okay, it’s morning, look outside.” Well look outside, or if we’re changing a diaper, singing the song before I do the diaper change every time.

Ayelet: Oh so nice. So just the little, little morsels, little things. And then can you just think, what are the sort of top, just a few words that come to mind about how having the book sort of makes you feel or how that makes it different sort of the experience. I mean, granted you’ve had it since the beginning, so, how does access to the book make you feel and what is that like?

Lisa: I think, you know, it makes me feel better because again, you know, we’re just trying to survive, right? But at the same time I know I’m doing something to support his development. It makes me feel better every week. I’m not just… oftentimes you’re just so tired, you know, you want to put… Because, I have a niece, and sometimes I think when my sister gives up, Okay, just watch some TV. You know, I don’t know what else to do with you. I don’t know if that’s a great example, but I feel like I’m doing something to, okay, you’re just a baby, can’t really do much, but then it’s nice that I know I’m doing something appropriate for his age to help him grow because, again, there’s not much I can do, right, and I don’t know if I can really be creative myself to think of ways to support him.

And I think with the access that we have with social media, you know, oh, this is the thing to get right, this is the thing to buy, you need this, you need that. And then as a new parent you’re like, okay, well I guess I got to get that, but then you ended up just accumulating so much stuff that you know, I mean, where am I going to put it? I have a small house, you know, I can’t always buy everything and then it might not really be useful. You know, you kind of get into the hype, but then if I can use the stuff around me, right? I think the post that you had today, the, the milk, I mean that makes sense. I mean why do I have to buy flash cards, I guess?

Ayelet: Exactly. Yeah. I had an instagram post today about, on the milk container, you can use a picture of a cow. Literally cut it out and you have two pictures of cows, one’s big, one’s small. It’s matching activity. It’s an opportunity to use a little visual even. I mean it’s literally just a piece of card stock or something.

Lisa: Yeah. So it’s made me, I think, think outside the box, you know? I mean it’s hard to think right now. So it’s nice that you have ideas that you could tell me, but then it’s made me think more about, okay then I can use this. I could use that. I don’t have to buy X, Y, Z, you know, we have a play mat and it’s been great, but I have so many other things here. And I guess with my niece too, when I watched her, you know, she would be fascinated with Tupperware and boxes, you know, like why do we even buy toys?

Ayelet: Exactly. Yeah. It’s lovely to have them because then there’s different kinds of textures or different things that are different colors. But we have to remind ourselves that it’s literally, we already have all of the tools we need to support our babies. We just have to figure out how to use them.

Lisa: Exactly. And I think before I didn’t really know how to, I didn’t really connect the dots. Oh you can use this, you can do that. But I think in essence the book makes me feel better that I’m, I’m doing something so he can develop and not just, you know, like change his diaper and feed him and talk to him, you know there’s other things I could do.

Ayelet: Yeah. And they’re really basic and they take a second of your time.

Lisa: Exactly.

Ayelet: And you’ll be able to do them, too, when you go back to work! When is that happening?

Lisa: Not until January. So yeah, so I’m taking a little time.

My mom had her child development books but I donated them, because she lives in the Philippines. She was like, why’d you donate them? I’m like, I don’t know. So I started looking into like, well why do I need that? I mean I have this book, it’s concise. I don’t have time to read a textbook, I really don’t have time to do anything, you know. So.

Ayelet: And the book has all of the references, right. So if you wanted to go and find the article or whatever, the book that’s cited, then yeah.

Lisa: Yeah. I mean you’re doing all the work for me, so it’s great.

Ayelet: Right! What parent doesn’t want that?

Lisa: And when I go back to work, you know, it’s going to be crazier. So then I still have something that I couldn’t do that doesn’t take up time.

Ayelet: Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. Lisa. Thank you so much. Talk to you soon!

Lisa: Ok, bye!

Looking for resources for toddlers?

It doesn’t stop with Understanding Your Baby – our founder, Ayelet Marinovich, also wrote the bestseller, “Understanding Your Toddler,” a month-by-month development & activity guide for playing with your toddler from one to three years!

Learn More! I like kids, I’ve been around kids. I really didn’t expect that moment after having him of not knowing how to play with him. And I realized that it’s because when I’ve been able to be around babies they were often a little bit older, and so it was easier to watch what they were interested in and interact with them based on that. And with a newborn it was a little more…. he was just not giving me those cues that I expected and I knew that there was a lot of processing going on and I wanted to support that and so I was really relieved to find some ideas. Katie Pelletier

Mother of a 12-month old, Journalist

Ayelet: Okay, so I’ve got Katie Pelletier, and Katie, how many children do you have? How old is or are your children?

Katie: So I have one child, Adrian, and he just turned one on Sunday.

Ayelet: Oh, congratulations!

Katie: Yeah, thank you.

Ayelet: Well since I know that you read the book, Understanding Your Baby, I would love to just know a little bit about… Number one, like how you came upon the book, how old Adrian was when you found or started reading the book?

Katie: I came upon the book from probably facebook, seeing your posts. That was, I think, the way, and actually I probably came upon your posts before the book, so I think I was maybe looking at your podcast or things that you had posted and then when did the book come out, it seemed like it came out in the spring or…

Ayelet: Yeah, it was May.

Katie: May. Okay. So yeah, I didn’t get it until then. So Adrian was probably about six months old or seven months old, but early on your posts were so helpful. As I said in my review that I like kids, I’ve been around kids. I really didn’t expect that moment after having him of not knowing how to play with him. And I realized that it’s because when I’ve been able to be around babies they were often a little bit older, and so it was easier to watch what they were interested in and interact with them based on that. And with a newborn it was a little more…. he was just not giving me those cues that I expected and I knew that there was a lot of processing going on and I wanted to support that and so I was really relieved to find some ideas. As I said, in the books that I had been reading, they would be like, talk to your baby and you know, these very broad general statements about what to do. And so having like the recipe and some ideas and some real specific “say these kinds of things” was really helpful. So, then when the book came out I was really excited to download a book when it was available and found similar activities and things for his age at that point.

Ayelet: So what are some of the feelings that you were experiencing before you had it?

Katie: I think I felt like I might be letting him down, like, this sort of anxiety of like a low grade anxiety of “I should be doing something that I’m not doing.”

Ayelet: A lot of “should’s.”

Katie: Yeah, exactly. And confusion maybe about where to find resources. The internet is such a fire hose of information and I just found so much of it really disappointing. As I said, you know, either really general advice, advice, written… I don’t want to be insulting!

Ayelet: But just dumbed down, essentially, I think is what you said – because you wrote this beautiful review in our alumni magazine of the book, and one of the things that you said, which I really appreciated was that you could find things like a textbook or something that was just, like, really dumbed down.

Katie: Yeah. Exactly. And I was really looking for that week by week ideas because he was changing so fast. So yeah, the things that we’re really dumbed down in general, you know, they would cover a huge swath zero to three months, talk to your baby or it would be, you know, a paper that was like “The effect of making clicking sounds on infants at week seven through nine.” You know, like, great. I got clicking sounds, you know, it would just be too much to wade through in the middle of trying to nurse and figuring out how to be a mom and all these other ways. So I think that having a book, I also mentioned how much I appreciated those, footnotes. So because it gave me the confidence. I didn’t have time to read through the published material, but if I’d wanted to it was there. And then, I used to teach writing classes, and so we would talk about credibility of the writer and that just gave me such faith, I guess. Faith is not exactly the word, but in, in your ability in you as a writer to have really done your homework. Not just regurgitated a few things that you saw on the Internet and repackage them, which was so much of what I was looking at prior.

Ayelet: That’s well said. I loved the word you used just a couple minutes ago, which was that the internet is such a fire hose because it’s true. It’s like, you know, you type in a search term and it’s like, “blech,” literally, it’s just so much and it is, it’s that idea of wading through stuff, when what you’re trying to do is like figure out how to be a mom, like you said, and figure out how, what on earth is happening to your body, right. And whether, like, what’s happening to your child’s body is supposed to be happening.

Katie: Exactly. Yeah. And I’d had a c section so I had not anticipated and I hadn’t expected what you said about trying to navigate what’s happening to your body, and you know, there’s just so much going on, and it feels like such a critical time. So getting back to that should, those “should’s” loom large when you’re managing all these other things, they feel very heavy on top of everything.

Ayelet: I’m curious to hear, because you mentioned earlier that sense of, like, having a newborn, I know that there are things that I’m supposed to be doing or that I could be doing, but I don’t know how to do it with a newborn. I know how to do it with maybe an older baby. What were some of the circumstances that sort of preempted or made you think of those things? Can you recall that? And at what point were you starting to look for stuff?

Katie: Probably, I mean very early, very early. I think, you know, we had, we like a little play mat for him to lay on with things dangling from it. And so I think at about the moment that I saw him really start to observe that, and, you know, it was just like, at first it’s so he sleeps, he eats, he sleeps, he eats, and then there are these… I began to observe longer periods of wakefulness and, and him watching me and beginning to respond to his environment and you know, we had fallen into a routine really quickly. I mean, you’re trying to get stuff done around the house and do the laundry and we foolishly also decided to remodel our kitchen, like, weeks before the baby was born. I say remodel the kitchen. We have an old fixer upper house, so it was never in a completed state. We decided to make that final push completing it. So.

And I think that what triggered it was this feeling that, oh, these, in between when he’s sleeping and eating, these are moments to capitalize on it rather than just him laying in his bassinet and looking at the light around him. I mean, it just seems like, I guess, I’m very curious and bookish, you know, so whatever I do, I want to know all the things about it. And so I, I really wanted to know that, you know, what was happening with him. One, what was going on in his mind, what sort of developmental processes were at work and two, what I could do to make him be the smartest little guy most emotionally well balanced, little guy that I could help him be. So, those were, that’s when it triggered me to seek stuff out. I remember, I think one of the very first activities that I brought, because I’ve incorporated so many that it’s, as I was reviewing your book before this call, I was like, oh, I got that from this book. Oh, that came from this book, I hadn’t even realized. And so one of them was putting him in tummy time, so that was a big moment to when we started doing more tummy time, and your idea to set up things for him to look at.

And it seems so simple, but it’s so surprising how at the time, like I just, I didn’t even think of that, it was such like, oh yeah, he might like stuff very close to him that he can see. And so putting up a mirror or flashcards. And then the other thing was some songs and finger games that I could do with him. And those were, I think some of the first things I got.

Ayelet: Nice. So it sounds like there are several sort of specific changes that you made because of the book, because of things that you read. So little, little things like that. Are there any other changes that you made or changes in the ways that you were thinking about him?

Katie: Let’s see. I think broadly, as I mentioned, it was interesting to look at the book again and see how much I had absorbed. So I do think that key was your under-riding philosophies about not feeling like I needed to go research the best products, but to use what I had already and so that gave me a lot of confidence to not even rely on a book or such, but to just be curious and inventive about the things that I already had. So, one aspect of our redoing our kitchen is that we took out all the cabinet doors and so he could crawl in and out of the cabinets and we of course removed anything dangerous. But I, you know, I had the confidence to say, well, if it’s not dangerous, he’s welcome to play with whatever. He loves crawling in and out of the cabinets and finding things.

And so, you know, feeling comfortable that that was enough toys for him, you know, that was fine and, and supporting his development and I didn’t need to steer him towards the blocks or some other plastic developmental toy that I had ordered off Amazon, I would say what it gave me, it was a lot of confidence to borrow your philosophy of, of just using what we already had and it gave me a new way of thinking about what we already had in the house. And, two, as far as how I regarded him, was also to respect his interest, what he gravitated towards and that he, you know, to regard him as sort of the, the expert in what he needed for his development, instead of trying to find that other places, but to use observation as the guiding principle.

Ayelet: It’s such a total reframe of, not only what it is to interact with a young baby, but also what it is to be a parent… Of a baby of this age. Right. So you found the book when he was about six months, which technically is, you know, halfway through the use of it. But obviously it sounds like you still feel that it was extremely useful. What are some, like how do you feel now? How are things different for you now and then and now also in approaching his second year of life? What are you going into that with?

Katie: I think that, let’s see, meaning, how am I approaching motherhood differently now than I did in the first year? I’m sure that there’s a lot that’s the same! Often a sense of, you know, I could’ve been better prepared for this. I could have read more books in advance, and that sense of I’m just winging it. But I think that I feel more… I feel more relaxed, I feel more confident I know where the good resources are to find what I need and that is, that’s really a good feeling to me because as I said, at first I just, I was really stunned. I remember my sister when she had a baby, she didn’t have any books around… And it’s the joke in my family. I love books. If anything involves books, I love it, and that I reach for books for everything. But I was so stunned that she just didn’t read many baby development books because she’s a researcher too. I mean she likes to look things up and after I had Adrian, I got it, because it just was so hard to find quality information and it was, you had so much else to do, but I was really stubborn about looking, so I do feel like your book was really invaluable to me and that feeling that I didn’t have to just wade through 900 pages to have confidence that I was getting good information was…. It was really great. So I would say you asked what’s different now is that confidence, both that I know where to find the information when I need it, and that I know a lot of stuff. Having a governing philosophy allows me to wing it in a way that I feel is less haphazard, but more just a nice balance to my parenting style. Yeah.

Ayelet: Oh, that’s really nicely said because I think if you asked like 10 parents in a room, what’s parenthood like? They’d be like, yeah, I mean I just wing it, I don’t know, I just wing it all the time, but I think it’s true, like, we all feel that way. We all, it doesn’t matter how much you know about anything or how little, we all feel that way because, as you said, our babies and our children are constantly evolving as humans. That’s what are doing, but yeah, I think when you have a governing philosophy, as you said, and you have some basic information about those facts, right, those tiny important facts, but when you have just this, these nuggets of information about how humans develop all over the world, regardless of socioeconomic status, regardless of culture or linguistic background, it, this is the way that humanity emerges and that gives you a little bit more of a basis for for where to go from there.

Katie: Yeah.

Ayelet: Awesome. Katie, thank you so much for sharing your experience and your thoughts with us and..

Katie: Absolutely. It was my pleasure. Yeah. Thanks for writing a great book.

Ayelet: Thank you.

Learn more about the bestselling book, Understanding Your Baby!


Tell Me More! 5 things you're already doing that make you a great parent Find that here! The Best developmental toys for infants (aren't toys) Find that here!

The post How To Find Baby Development Activities By Age appeared first on Strength In Words.

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