04 January 2012
5 Things...the tenth month
1. A favourite activity at this age seems to be standing. Granted some babies pull to standing sooner than the 9 month point, but by the same token, others only start much later than this. My own two children were at opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to this skill but for both, we provided a place for them to safely pull up to standing. A wooden rail mounted securely to the wall, with a mirror behind it so that they can see themselves performing all the actions necessary to get from sitting to standing. The bar is mounted 45cm off the ground for optimum reachability and should be narrow enough for your baby to grip the diameter of the rod all the way around.
2. Another favourite activity is stair climbing. Our house has two flights of stairs so we have lots of opportunity to learn this important skill - but if your home is all on one level, look for stairs wherever you go and give your baby time to climb up and down them as many times as your sanity can handle! Just "spot" them until they can do this safely without your immediate presence. In this video you can see Luke climbing the stairs independently after about 3 weeks of constant practice!
3. Ever had a whole box of tissues emptied by your baby? Well your 9 month old is sure to spring this one on you shortly! Whilst I allowed the very first box of tissues to be emptied when my kids first discovered the joys of pulling them out, I was careful to place boxes out of reach for a while after that - it's important to reintroduce the tissues at some point since we want our toddlers to learn how to wipe their noses eventually! But this mostly begins to happen at a later stage when they have a bit more self-awareness and a bit more self-control! Try offering a substitute experience by filling a nappy wipe container with colourful cloth squares. We have also covered a pringles tube with fabric and punched a small hole in the lid. We put a length of ribbon through the hole and sewed a bead onto each end of the ribbon to stop the ribbon from pulling through. You stuff the ribbon into the tin, put the lid on and then let your baby loose on it!
4. Your baby might start pointing at things. Things they want, things they see, things they want named. This is because they are right at that point in their language development where they have made the connection between sounds and meanings. Every time I point to this, she says that! A real aha moment! Help this stage of language learning by playing naming games. Familiarise yourself with the Three Period Lesson technique which is used in Montessori classrooms to introduce new vocabulary to children. This lesson is what you can base your informal naming games on. Bear in mind though that at first you will only be completing the First Period. When you are both familiar with the game you can extend to include the Second Period, but we don't really ever use the Third Period (except in the case of an exceptionally verbally gifted child) with children under the age of three. So don't be tempted to coax your baby into saying words - that is a completely different brain process from acquiring the names of things - which is what your baby is really interested in at the moment. Receptive language is always more prominent than Expressive language in the Infant Toddler Period.
5. Object permanence is becoming an internalised concept now, with your baby understanding that things do exist even when they can't be seen. In this vein, hiding games are well-received by the 9 month old. Simple things like hiding a teddy under a cloth in plain view of your baby and then saying "where's the teddy?" will delight your baby. You can progress to hiding a single object inside a box with a lid. You can try a modified version of the old sleight of hand trick using a small ball and three upturned cups. Hide the ball in front your baby at first, then try moving the cups slowly after hiding the ball, even try hiding the ball out of view! Your baby's interest in this game stems from their developing sense of external order. In Chapter 3 of "The Secret of Childhood" in the section entitled "Orientation Through Order", Maria Montessori tells of playing Hide and Seek with a group of 2 year olds. The children each took turns to hide in exactly the same place and all screamed with delight when "finding" their playmates in the predicted spot!