Tube Talk

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Sometimes the best games with babies require only the simplest tools; to wit, this adorable little activity for which you only need an empty toilet paper roll or two!

I spoke through one and called out Veronika’s name, and she eagerly trotted over. This was something she had to come see.

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I held the tube up to her ear and whispered a few words. She turned her head eager to see where the sound was coming from!

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Of course she wanted to hold one immediately. She babbled down into it, which changed the sound of her vocalizations somewhat.

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And of course nibbled on it.

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Finally, I held the tube against the bare skin of her arm and spoke into it, which meant my warm breath reached her skin. There were lots of giggles for that one!

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Develop Your Baby’s Taste Buds

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Veronika seems bored of the foods I’ve given her in varying combinations for the past few months. Today, it was time to test her taste buds! Some of these suggestions were items I wouldn’t have thought for a nine-month-old, but it turns out she could chew them just fine and loved quite a few!

The idea was to pair contrasts; think: something sweet with something savory, or something soft with something crunchy. This will help your baby discern differences in tastes and texture.

First we paired kiwi with Tofurky slices.

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The Tofurky was an instant hit! She ate nearly an entire slice. Kiwi she seemed confused by, perhaps too strongly citric.

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Next up was mango and Daiya cheddar cheese. Cheese, another food I wouldn’t have thought of this young, was also a huge hit.

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Then she nibbled happily on the mango for a while after.

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Finally, I paired a soft banana date square from a vegan bakery with a crunchy apple slice.

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She loved both, and had one in each fist for a while, alternating bites.

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In sum, this was a delightful taste test that expanded baby and mama’s sense of edible possibilities.

Baby Pull-Ups

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Veronika will not be contained these days! Not only is she crawling everywhere now, but this girl wants to stand.

Encouraging pull-ups is a great first step towards helping your baby stand, cruise, and walk. To help Veronika, today I placed toys up as tantalizing bait on the couch. She still needs a little boost…

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…but once she’s up she can stand and support her weight and play with the toys as a reward.

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She also loves putting the toys back up on the couch herself.

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This activity works equally well on any surface that is about chest-high on your baby, although be careful with hard surfaces like tables that have sharp corners.

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It won’t be long though before she’s pulling up solo!

Summer Water with Baby

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Recently, I posted a round-up of fun field trips to take with the under-one-year-old set before the summer is out. Here’s a second round-up featuring a few water-centered ideas that – yes! – you can do with a baby.

Turn on the sprinkler:

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This is an easy one! Just head out to your yard or driveway, and set a sprinkler going. Bonus points for silly ones! Just dipping in baby’s toes is sure to elicit laughter or surprised little squeals.

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Find a water fountain:

Many parks have pretty fountains, which you can stop off at after a walk or playground play. In addition to being fun just to watch (splashy water!) you can quickly dip in baby’s toes for a cool off on a hot day.

Hit the beach:

I was worried about Veronika eating fistfuls of sand, so avoided the beach for much of the summer. But it turns out there’s a way to take even an everything-in-the-mouth nine-month-old to the beach safely.

First, bring shade. You’ll still want to slather your little one with sunscreen, but a large umbrella offers extra protection.

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Don’t forget to pack wipes, swim diapers, a change of dry diaper and clothes, plastic bags (for trash or wet clothing), and a nice sunhat.

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And toys!

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Beaches are the perfect place for a nap, so don’t worry about baby missing out on key shut-eye.

Once she was awake, first she wanted to play on a big beach towel.

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Then we took Veronika down to the water’s edge. Choose a beach with gentle water, whether that means a harbor, sound, lake, or other sandy stretch with few to no waves. She could happily sit and let the tiny waves lap at her toes.

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She did like digging her hands into the water and sand, but she only tried one nibble, which I easily diverted.

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In sum, I have no more fear about babies and beaches!

How have you and your baby played with water this summer? Please share in the comments!

 

Add Sounds to Feelings

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There are so many sounds we automatically attach to a specific feeling or emotion. You probably do many of these already (without even thinking about it!) but it was fun to focus on such sounds for a day with Veronika. Your budding communicator may start to make these sounds back, even before words form.

So when she was happy today, we said, “hurray!”

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When I bounced her up and down or she spun around, we said, “whee!”

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Then there was a big “oh no!” when her favorite stuffed animal fell down.

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And a “mmm mmm” for meals and snacks.

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And of course a sleepy “aaah” yawn sound around naptime.

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Connecting these sounds to emotions can help your little one connect the dots with what he or she is feeling, and help ease frustration in expressing emotions.

Plus saying “hurray” is always just fun.

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Share a Special Snack

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Veronika is old enough that she doesn’t need “baby food” anymore, and the best way to develop a love of healthy foods in your little one is to savor them together. I love making recipes that my two kids (and the grown-ups!) can share together now. To wit, this kid-friendly version of guacamole is a hit with everyone at the table.

Scoop the flesh from two avocados and transfer to a bowl; mash.

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Stir in 2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice and 1 chopped tomato.

I served the guac with cucumber sticks and bell pepper sticks, as well as toasted pita bread. You could also add toasted bread slices or roasted carrot sticks.

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Travis and Veronika had a blast sharing this afternoon pause together!

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Naptime Chill Out

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There always seems to be a pile of bills waiting for me during Veronika’s nap (adulting never ends), but as she moves into a longer, more predictable afternoon nap, I’m reminded that this is a necessary time when I can make room for my own headspace.

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In case you’re struggling to do the same with a baby of about 9 months old, here are a few of my favorite ways to┬áchill out while Veronika naps:

  • Drink an espresso.
  • Do the crossword. You could also read the news, but chances are that might just stress you out more. I stick to the puzzle.Body and Soul (2)
  • Listen to my music. This one is key if we’re on the go during her nap. When it’s just Veronika in the car, her music class CD is always going. When big brother rides along, pop music dominates. But when the kids sleep… mama music! I’m going to date myself but admitting that that means classic rock or classical music on repeat.Body and Soul (3)
  • Finally, remember to do nothing. There is always a room to clean, or a list to make, but sometimes your body and soul benefit best from a little nothing. In five minutes, she will wake up, and I will go back to being a mom. In five minutes, I will be needed again. But right now, I just am.Body and Soul (5)How do you pause and chill out when baby naps? Learn a new language? Meditate? Please share in the comments!

Baby’s Song

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There’s a reason educators use songs as teaching tools so often; lyrics are remembered long after spoken words are forgotten, and simply hearing a familiar tune can become a cue when it is consistently attached to a specific activity. Today, Veronika and I focused on specific songs for specific occasions.

You can make these up entirely for your baby as long as you are consistent. We like to use the songs from Baby Signing Time, which helps connect word signs to specific moments. Like mealtime…

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Or playtime…

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Or diaper time, or bedtime, and on and on.

I always sing the same song when she wakes up (Frere Jacques) which helps her understand the day has begun, and it’s no longer night.

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If you make up your own song, try a familiar melody. At bathtime, I always sing the following to the tune of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”:

“This is the way we wash your hair

wash your hair

wash your hair.

This is the way we wash your hair

While you take a bath”

Similarly, I have a wordless melody that I hum to Veronika before her morning nap. It works like a charm every time, and I love that we made it up and it’s unique to the two of us.

What musical cues or songs do you use during your baby’s day? Please share in the comments!

 

Crawl Space Race

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Big brother’s toys are so tempting to Veronika, but I usually keep her in a safe playroom filled only with baby toys. When she manages to break free into the hallway, she looks immensely satisfied with herself. Today, I indulged her desire for freedom and turned it into a little game. Here comes trouble…

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Definitely only play this game with toys that are safe for a baby even if they belong to a big sibling. We set up a few large superheroes as the grand prize. You can cover them with a blanket or basket for extra excitement.

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Travis knelt down next to Veronika until I gave the green light. And they’re off!

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She had no idea she was having a race, of course, she was just having a blast! Meanwhile, Travis had the thrill of a chase and the satisfaction of winning.

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Now it was Veronika versus mommy! I crawled along at her pace to her absolute delight, and we reached the toys together.

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You can also deliberately let your baby crawl ahead of you, which gives you the chance to tickle little toes.

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There are lots of variations on this game. Introduce silly concepts like “The last one there is a rotten egg!” or have the race be to a person instead of a toy.

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What games do you play with your little crawler? Please share in the comments!

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Refresh Your Wardrobe

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Today’s activity is one of those for mama, not baby. The goal: to refresh your wardrobe.

I knew I needed this challenge! My go-to dresses all summer have been the same ones I wore last summer (i.e. maternity clothes) because they are loose and are perfect for nursing. But it was also nice to think about shopping for clothes that were just for my body, not for a body that’s pregnant or lactating.

I headed off to the mall, but somehow this didn’t feel right, too indulgent. At least Veronika was napping so the mall was a nice cool place for it!

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I kept getting distracted by baby stores; I was out of the habit of indulging myself since I only buy kids’ clothes these days!

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I backtracked to a local store, because it always feels good to shop local. Veronika was awake now, and loved playing in the dressing room.

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And mama got a little wardrobe refresh after all. In sum, take the time to do these things for yourself. Baby gets a fun outing, and you get to practice some self-care.

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