Baby Sign Language
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Even before you can converse with your baby, you can use infant sign language to communicate! You can teach baby sign language with the help of sign language books, flash cards, or classes. Or, sign with your baby using your own unique baby signs!
Transcript: Does your baby wave bye-bye or blow kisses? Then your little one is already well on the way to expressing...
Does your baby wave bye-bye or blow kisses? Then your little one is already well on the way to expressing thoughts with signs! Sign language isn't only for the hearing impaired, in fact, almost all infants love to learn and use sign language too. A baby's motor skills and the ability to understand words, BOTH develop faster than the ability to actually speak. As a step to speaking language, babies are often able to learn some simple sign language as they progress towards speaking. The idea of teaching simple sign language to infants was put forth in the late 1970s by John Garcia, a childhood development expert. Garcia realized that HEARING babies of DEAF parents learned sign language very easily-and the benefits were huge! Signing babies appeared calmer because they could express their wants and needs more clearly than before. And best of all, children who knew how to sign spoke better by age two, and they even seemed to have higher IQs! That's because signing is used ALONGSIDE normal speech, enhancing the development of language. With so many benefits, it's no wonder that baby signing books and classes are now so popular in the United States. And while these classes can be beneficial, you can also teach your child to sign right at home. Start when your little one seems eager to babble and play with you, usually around her eighth to tenth month. When the time is right, pick a sign! Most experts recommend focusing on a concept your baby is interested in, whether it's "food," or "dog." Some common popular signs include "food" or "eat," where you put your fingers to your lips..."book," where both hands are extended, palms up..."bear," where the arms are crossed across the chest...and "more," where the tips of all fingers touch in front of the chest. Note that some parents prefer to use American Sign Language, as Garcia did, while others choose a simpler version made for babies. Whatever you decide, use the sign EVERY time you say its corresponding word. Always use the same sign, and repeat it often in several sentences. It may take your baby several days or even several weeks to sign back to you, but your infant WILL if you're consistent-and you'll enjoy a closer, more fulfilling, even deeper bond as a result!More »
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Parents instinctively know that babies need lots of hugs, cuddling, and love to grow. Discover other ways to stimulate your baby's brain by learning more about infant and toddler development.
Transcript: You want the very best for your baby, and the good news is that giving your little one a great head start...
You want the very best for your baby, and the good news is that giving your little one a great head start is surprisingly simple! Just as your baby's physical needs are fairly straightforward, your little one's emotional and mental ones are as well. In fact, your infant's biggest want is one you already supply effortlessly-love. Studies have repeatedly shown that attention and affection in infancy have a DIRECT result over mental and physical development later in life. Show your baby how much he or she means to you by cuddling, touching and playing with your infant as much as you can. Most childhood experts agree that it's virtually impossible to spoil a child younger than six months, so shower your baby with affection by answering newborn cries immediately. All of this love and bonding allow your baby to feel secure in your mutual relationship, in turn encouraging your infant to explore his world. In addition to your love, talking and reading to your baby will help your little one thrive. That's because children who are consistently spoken and read to have the best vocabularies, and higher IQs. So make "conversing" with your baby a normal part of your days, by narrating your actions or reading bedtime stories. To further encourage your child's development, stimulate your baby's senses whenever you can. This can be as simple as regularly introducing your infant to new people, taking your baby for walks and outings, and playing with your little one often. Expose your child to structured play, like stacking rings and building blocks. But also give your baby the tools-like an open, childproofed space-to play on his own. Similarly, encourage small challenges for your baby. If your little one wants to stack rings, for example, let her try before you help. Allowing babies to figure things out on their own fosters both confidence AND a bigger brain. Finally, remember that one of the best things you can do to nurture your baby is to nurture yourself. Take regular time for YOU-whether that means soaking in a bubble bath or enjoying a date night with your partner. Your baby will thank you for returning.More »
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Entertaining your baby -- playing games like peek-a-boo -- is fun for baby and parent alike. But it also helps your infant to develop mentally and physically. Discover more ways to keep your baby engaged and active.
Transcript: In the days since your newborn arrived, you've become an expert in baby bottles, baby crying, baby napping...
In the days since your newborn arrived, you've become an expert in baby bottles, baby crying, baby napping and baby pooping. But what do you know about baby playing? Playing a variety of simple games with your baby is a vital part of your infant's early development. Playing together is also an important bonding activity for the two-or the three!-of you. In your baby's first three months, the games you play together should be incredibly simple. Try putting on some music, and dancing with your little one around the room... or sing repetitive songs, like "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Rockabye Baby." Most newborn babies also love to look at unique or colorful objects, so another fun activity is holding various items in front of your infant's eyes. Between your infant's fourth and six months, your baby will learn to roll over, reach for things, and maybe even sit up. Take advantage of this newfound maturity by playing more active games. Try hoisting your baby into the air, and flying your infant around the house. Babies of this age also benefit from spending playtime on their tummy, which helps them push up and eventually learn to crawl. As your baby's body continues to mature, so does your little one's brain. By the seventh month or so, your infant will understand that something you hide from sight is NOT gone forever. In other words, this is the age when peek-a-boo games will be a big hit with your baby! During the end of your infant's first year, your baby will be even more mobile and games will become more interactive. Encourage your baby's newfound crawling or even walking ability by putting favorite toys a distance away and asking your little one to go get them. Your baby will also enjoy arranging and rearranging items, as with stacking blocks or plastic rings. Remember that whatever game you're playing, a baby that's smiling, laughing or watching intently is engaged. If your little one starts to fuss, looks away, or cries, it may be time to switch up the activity to something that's more fun for everyone!More »
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You know the basics of infant care, but do you know how to tap into a baby's emotional needs? Watch this video to learn more about how to raise a happy baby.
Transcript: Believe it or not, how you treat your baby NOW is one of the biggest indicators of whether your little...
Believe it or not, how you treat your baby NOW is one of the biggest indicators of whether your little one grows into a well-adjusted adult! Infants are emotional beings right from birth. In fact, emotions are biologically based, built into our brains, designed in part to help foster connection with others. Right from birth, infants experience several primary emotions. During the first 6 months of life, as the infant makes cognitive gains, these more simple emotions evolve into more sophisticated ones. And with each passing year, your child's emotional repertoire grows. Emotions in infants are expressed by facial reactions, so pay attention to what that little face is telling you. A sensitive parent will learn to pick up on different kinds of cries and facial expressions, and will react appropriately. Reading your baby's non-verbal cues can help you be a more effective parent. Similarly, you will also become adept at decoding variations on a theme, for instance, when a cry means: "I'm tired," versus when another cry means, "I'm hungry." While this is not a foolproof mode of communication, you will learn to read your individual baby's needs by paying close attention. You may also learn when NOT to respond to a cry, which can be the foundation of a key life lesson that your baby can't ALWAYS get what she wants. This helps foster some small steps toward independence, which is key for your child in developing the ability to self-soothe. As your baby gets older and her emotional centers develop further, allowing her to struggle through minor problems is vital. This helps her feel satisfaction at learning a new skill, and also sets the stage for a child who can cope with frustration. So let your infant try to get up on her own after that small tumble, or give your little one the space to pick up a dropped toy on her own. While this may sound counter-intuitive, one of the best ways to make your baby happy is to allow her to feel sad. Letting your child express sadness and anger teaches her that feeling bad is not only OK-it's a normal part of life. As your toddler gets older, encourage this even more by teaching her the words for her emotions. When your child can put her feelings into plain language, she becomes even MORE able to regulate them. Balance is key here: teaching coping skills for negative emotions should go hand-in-hand with fostering and encouraging happy ones. One of the kindest things you can do for your child now is to encourage creative fun, from stacking blocks to playing make-believe. Engage in this play WITH your child as often as possible, as quality time with you is another key to childhood contentment. In the end though, perhaps your baby's biggest barometer of happiness is YOU. Even very young babies can pick up on their parents' moods, so presenting yours with a calm, cheery attitude is one of the best ways to get your little one grinning. If this is hard for you; because you're feeling over-stressed, frequently depressed, or generally unhappy, it's VITAL to get some help for YOU. Seeking your own happiness is-after all- the BEST way to ensure your BABY'S!More »
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Playing games can be both entertaining and a learning experience for your baby. Check out our video to learn various baby games.
Transcript: You may have played these baby games with your OWN parents, but these oldies are STILL goodies! Playing...
You may have played these baby games with your OWN parents, but these oldies are STILL goodies! Playing with your baby is the best way to stimulate her mental and physical development. Plus, the bonding that comes from intimate play is fabulous for both of you! One of the ultimate classic baby games is peek-a-boo. To play with your baby, hide your face behind a book, a menu, or your hands. Then, uncover your face and say, "Peek-a-boo! I see you!" Another favorite? Ask your baby how big she is. Help her spread her arms out wide while you give the answer: "Soooo big!" Of course, no crash course in classic baby games would be complete without singsong activities. A timeless example is "Pop Goes the Weasel," where you'll sing: "All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel. The monkey thought 'twas all in fun...POP goes the weasel!" Hold your infant in your lap while you sing, gently lifting your knees to "pop" your baby in the air at the appropriate point. As you continue to play this game, you'll find your baby anticipating the "pop" action and trying to do it on her own. Or you could engage your infant with a rousing chorus of "This Little Piggy Went to Market." To do it, take her teeny toes or fingers in hand, gently tweaking each of them as you chant: "This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed home. This little piggy had roast beef. This little piggy had none. And this little piggy went "wee wee wee" all the way home!" Remember not to forget the obligatory tickle during the "wee wee wee!" All of these funny games stimulate your baby's gross motor skills and visual tracking. And let's not forget the way they tickle her funny bone and promote social development. All in all, it pays to play those classic baby games!More »
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Infants and toddlers love to imitate their parents, whether it's making a funny face or trying to copy them as they do chores. These behaviors encourage a child's mental development. Give your baby's brain a boost by playing these games to encourage imitation development.
Transcript: Newborns and toddlers alike love playing copycat games! During the first two months of your newborn's...
Newborns and toddlers alike love playing copycat games! During the first two months of your newborn's life, your face will be her whole world! That's because a baby of this age can't focus on anything farther than eight to 16-inches away from her eyes, which is just far enough to make out the features of the person holding her! Capitalize on this interest by making funny faces with your baby. Smile wide, wink your eyes, stick out your tongue, raise your eyebrows, or whatever it is that makes your infant giggle. Or try slowly moving your head back and forth with your eyes locked on your baby's. Don't be surprised if she tries to imitate your silly faces, which is a skill even very young babies can master! This simple activity helps vision and hearing develop. And it teaches your baby social skills regarding both giving AND receiving attention. Fast-forward 12 months to your baby's first birthday. Now, you can play a whole new imitation game with her! Toddlers of this age love to mimic the "grown-up" chores that you do, from raking the lawn to sweeping the floor. Make the experience more fun by buying some child-sized implements, like a broom, shopping cart, rake, or toolbox. The next time you have a task to tackle, encourage your little one to "help" you with her own tools. Of course, she won't be the most coordinated sweeper or shopper now, but that's not the point. Instead, it's all about your infant exploring her mental and physical capabilities. Mimicking your actions also stimulates both her fine and gross motor skills. And the activity makes your child feel like an important part of the family, an emotional experience that's invaluable to her! Get even more out of this activity by encouraging your toddler to imitate an older sibling's actions. This makes your BIG kid feel important and capable, too, which is a winning combination for you, Super Parent!More »
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Baby motor skill development comes gradually over time. Use these tips to help your baby develop his fine motor skills, such as stacking blocks, and gross motor skills, like crawling.
Transcript: The best thing about teaching your baby basic motor skills? You can disguise those lessons as play! By...
The best thing about teaching your baby basic motor skills? You can disguise those lessons as play! By the time your baby reaches six months, your little one should probably have no problem rolling over and sitting up on unaided. One game that infants of this age love involves meticulously stacking objects. To play with your infant, gather objects of similar sizes that can be easily layered on top of one another. Building blocks, cereal boxes, and plastic cups are all great for this activity. Depending on your infant's age, he may need some help creating his stacked structure, although he'll have NO problem knocking it down unassisted! This simple stacking game allows your baby to develop gross motor skills, which involve the biggest muscles, like his arms. The activity ALSO helps encourage FINE motor skills, which engage small muscles, like the fingers. Additionally, stacking and destroying help your baby learn all about cause and effect. Soon your eight-month-old will be ready for yet another educational activity: filling and emptying containers. To encourage this, offer plastic Tupperware in various sizes, several spoons or shovels, and a variety of things to pour. Some good choices include oatmeal, seashells, sand, and O-shaped cereal. Get your baby started by pouring seashells into one container, or scooping up oatmeal with a shovel. Keep in mind that this activity can get messy, so consider putting a plastic tablecloth on the floor! Filling containers is a huge boost to your baby's fine motor skills and his hand-eye coordination. In the coming months, your baby will learn to crawl, cruise, or even walk, offering you even more opportunities to help gross motor skills develop. A great way to do so is by creating a baby-friendly obstacle course in your living room. Set up a series of barriers, like stuffed animals, books, and even a chair, around the room. Then, take your baby's hand or crawl with him, guiding him over, around, and under those objects. Aside from gross motor skills, this game helps your baby develop balance, coordination, and lower body strength. When playing ANY game with your infant, remember that your little one will pick up activities at his own pace. Be patient during the process, and allow yourself to enjoy the games as much as your baby will!More »
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By month number 4, you will see that your baby is more active and responsive.. Learn more about Newborn Development - Month 4 in this video.
Transcript: Who IS that chatty Little One gurgling away in your previously quiet baby's bassinet? Most experts believe...
Who IS that chatty Little One gurgling away in your previously quiet baby's bassinet? Most experts believe that your baby's fourth month brings an understanding of all the basic tools that comprise his or her native language. Your baby will probably start trying to produce these sounds, and will progress from vowel-only "words" like "aaa" to consonant ones, like "bah." You probably won't hear "da-da" or "ma-ma" for another month, but that doesn't mean you can't encourage these early attempts! As your baby learns to communicate with these new "words," you'll also find your infant laughing more. Tickle this newfound funny bone by playing peek-a-boo, or by laughing back. And as your baby is practicing new words and sounds, your little one is learning physical skills, as well. By the end of the fourth month, many infants can grab toys, roll over, and-in some cases-stay in a supported seating position. If you hold your infant in your lap in a standing position, you may even find that your baby pushes down on your legs! Your baby may also discover his or her feet this month, so don't be surprised if you find your little one playing with those appendages. All that playtime can be exhausting, and most four-month-old babies will sleep through at least part of the night. Your baby will still need naps, but may be content with just one or two now. Because your infant's tummy has grown, your baby can eat more at each feeding, In fact, many babies at this age only eat four or five times a day. At four months, some parents wonder about supplementing breast or formula feedings with solid foods. But there are MANY advantages to waiting, including a possible decrease in the development of food allergies. For this reason, it's wise to discuss solid foods with your baby's pediatrician at your next month's appointment.More »
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The ninth month of your baby’s life will be exciting and full of surprises. Watch this video to learn more about Newborn Development - Month 9.
Transcript: Your babbling baby may make no sense to you, but ACT as if you understand. After all, you're your little...
Your babbling baby may make no sense to you, but ACT as if you understand. After all, you're your little one is trying to communicate. Most babies jabber so much because their capacity to understand language far outweighs their ability to use it. Just keep talking to your baby in specific, short phrases, and remember to watch your tone, which your baby ABSOLUTELY understands. You should also encourage your baby's individual personality, which is really starting to show now. Personable or shy, moody or sunny, passionate or calm, your infant is really becoming a "person" at last. And while you're proud of this independence, you may find it less than thrilling when you want your baby to do something your little one is not inclined to do. Your baby's independent streak MAY cause some resistance when your are trying put your little one down for a morning nap, which you CAN encourage-as long as your baby can last to lunchtime without fussing. If your baby tries to blow off sleep at night, however, you'll obviously need to put your foot down. This is where a bedtime ritual can be ENORMOUSLY helpful, as it eases your baby into sleep mode slowly. Also, make sure you actually LEAVE your baby when you say "night-night"-and try not to return until he or she is asleep. During waking hours, though, your baby will love to play with you! Your infant will learn language, social, and coordination skills from his favorite activities, like peek-a-boo, "sooo big" and pass the ball. And another fun new play game that often gets discovered this month is how to put things in an object and then remove them. Give your baby some infant appropriate blocks and a bucket for this purpose and let your little one go to town!More »
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A baby’s ability to speak develops as they grow. Get tips on how to promote their verbal skills by watching this video on Newborn Development - Month 11.
Transcript: Your little chatterbox has more to say than ever, although it's unlikely that it will make an iota of...
Your little chatterbox has more to say than ever, although it's unlikely that it will make an iota of sense to you! As your baby's brain continues to develop, so does the ability to speak and understand language, which is why your baby is gabbing up a storm. To encourage your infant's interest in language, resist the urge to use baby talk. If your baby asks for a "ba," correct him by saying "bottle." "Introduce colors and numbers by telling your baby he is wearing "two blue socks," or is wearing one red tee-shirt with three monkeys on it. Teach your baby that language is a two way street by "conversing" with her. Be an avid listener to hier gibberish, and then respond as if you understand. Give simple instructions, like "Pick up the cup," and see if your child responds. Many eleven-month-olds will! Also try offering your baby very simple choices, like whether she'd like Cheerios or cheese. Make sure she can see both options as you pose the question. During this crucial stage of language development, it's a good idea to begin phasing out your little one's binky, or pacifier. It can be hard to separate your infant from this security sucking object, but if your baby keeps it in his or her mouth all the time, it can hinder language development according to recent research. In other big news this month, your infant may take those first real steps towards independence! To encourage baby steps, kneel in front of your child with hands out, or hold your little one's hands and walk your baby slowly toward you. Most infants will take their first solo steps by the end of their first year, but if yours does not, don't panic. Some perfectly normal children don't walk independently until their 16th or 17th month, and that's OK, too!More »
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You may see your little one bottom shuffling and crawling around the eighth month. See what else is in store for you by watching this video on Newborn Development - Month 8.
Transcript: Get ready for MORE baby proofing! Your infant will start crawling this month, and will have those little...
Get ready for MORE baby proofing! Your infant will start crawling this month, and will have those little hands into more things than ever! While most eight-month-olds can crawl, every baby will have his or her own preferred method of getting around. Some babies creep, or push themselves around on their bellies...while others may navigate with both hands and feet, bottom pointed upward. Some babies even "bottom shuffle," moving around on their behinds with a hand in back and a foot in front. Whatever your baby's movement method of choice, you can bet your infant will be into absolutely EVERYTHING, which is why you should baby proof! Pad sharp corners, cover electrical outlets, install toilet seat locks move drapery cords out of reach, and put safety gates at the stairs. This is especially important if your baby is pulling himself upright into a standing position - while holding something for support, of course. Babies at this age may even take a few steps, although some infants don't walk until they are into their second year. As your infant uses that newfound mobility to charge into situations, you may be surprised to find that your baby gets scared or withdrawn. Help your little one adjust by cuddling and talking to your baby softly, allowing your infant to approach new people or places at his or her own pace. You may find that your baby latches on to a blanket, pacifier, or stuffed animal for security at this time. In fact, you baby probably gets a particular kick out of dropping things, waiting for you to pick them up, and then dropping them again. Indulge your little one's humor when you can. After all, someday your little baby will be your big child, and may not be as eager to play!More »
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By the time your baby is ten months old, he or she will begin to crawl and move around. Learn more about Newborn Development - Month 10, in this video.
Transcript: It wasn't long ago when your baby was content to lie on that tummy and watch the world go by. But now,...
It wasn't long ago when your baby was content to lie on that tummy and watch the world go by. But now, your little one is up and eager to chase after everything! By now, your little one is a crawling expert, using those hands and knees to go everywhere, perhaps even up the stairs. Many ten-month-olds can also walk while holding on to furniture, and some can even stand unaided. In fact, a few babies take several hesitant steps now, although others don't walk until well into their second year. Whatever your little one's preferred method of movement, most doctors recommended leaving those mobile feet bare for now. Little feet develop best without restrictive shoes, as being bare helps build arches and strengthen ankles. In addition to your baby's new movement abilities, those fingers and hands are more agile than ever. You've probably noticed that your little one uses her thumb and forefinger to pick up small objects without having to rest her wrist on the table. Although this pincer grasp allows your baby to pick up toys, it also makes it easy to grab non-edible things from the floor as well, so be watchful! Additionally, your baby's language comprehension continues to expand, as grunts and gurgles become your little one 's mode of expression. Most ten-month-olds don't say real words, but you may have noticed some "mama" and "dadas in your baby's new speech repertoire. While your little one probably doesn't know what those words mean, if you repeatedly name objects your baby points at, it won't be long before you are greeted by the right word! You'll also want to continue to "converse" with your baby, responding to babbling as if you understand. These exercises will help your little one get a jumpstart on adult speech patterns, and your baby will thank you-with words!-before you know it.More »
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Encouraging baby to sit up should only be done when you can tell he's ready for it. Watch this video to find out more.
Transcript: Sitting upright is a skill you take completely for granted-but it's a fascinating feat for your infant!...
Sitting upright is a skill you take completely for granted-but it's a fascinating feat for your infant! Your baby won't be able to master sitting unassisted until your little one has sufficient neck control to hold that little head upright. Expect this to happen around your baby's fourth month, when rapidly developing neck muscles make it suddenly simple to manage that once seemingly heavy head. Once your baby has mastered this head-raising skill, your infant will begin to do the classic "mini pushup." This cute pose involves your infant propping those arms on the ground and holding his or her chest off the floor at the same time. And by the time your little one is doing these gymnastics, it's only a matter of time until your infant can rest in a full-on sitting position. In the next several months, your baby will master this so well that you can expect your little one to pull into a full sit and to hold it unaided for minutes at a time. Once your infant IS upright, expect your baby to fall in love with seeing the world from this vantage point, as there is SO much more to see and learn from this new perspective! To help your baby learn to sit like a pro, make sure you give your little one plenty of playtime on that tummy. From this tummy-down position, your infant will WANT to lift her head and push up on those arms. Encourage this step by playing with your infant on the floor, using bright toys or pleasant noises to make your little one lift her head. As your baby masters this skill, teach your infant about sitting by propping your little one upright, legs in a wide "V" and arms together between them. As your baby becomes more and more comfortable with this changing perspective, challenge your infant even further by putting interesting objects JUST out of reach. The bend and stretch required will improve strength and small motor skills. Even more importantly, this movement is a precursor to new milestones, like crawling, standing, and walking!More »
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