Stuck Together

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What’s the most adorable kind of sandwich? A baby sandwich of course! Engage siblings and other family members in this game that is sure to have everyone giggling.

Have two older children or adults sit back-to-back, leaving a slight gap in between their bodies. Daddy and big brother Travis were happy participants!

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We encouraged Veronika to crawl through the gap between them. It took a few tries before we kept her from veering off toward anything that caught her eye; a few crinkly toys as bait didn’t hurt.

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Once she was in the tunnel between them: squeeze! Travis and daddy pushed back to “trap” her between them, for one big snuggly Veronika sandwich.

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As an alternative, have the big kid/grown-up players start with no space between their bodies, and see if baby wants to wedge open the gap.

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Games like this might seem silly, but they’ll encourage bonding. Travis loves that Veronika is finally old enough to truly play!

 

Kiss Chase

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At eight months old, Veronika has made a big leap: the art of anticipation. This is why you may notice your baby holding out his or her arms now to be picked up, or anticipating a host of other moments in a daily routine.

One way to have fun with this? Be a kissy monster!

“I’m going to kiss you!” I say to Veronika. Wait for it…

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Wait for it…

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Then I either swoop in and kiss her everywhere, or give raspberries to her belly, or pick her up and kiss all over her cheeks.

She giggles every time, because she knows what’s coming!

This game has only gotten more fun as Veronika attempts to crawl. Now it really can be a “chase.” I tease her by saying, “I’m coming for you!”

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Oh no, can she get away?

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Caught by the kissy monster again!

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Peace Hug

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After a busy weekend away, I felt like I was scrambling today. Not just to complete today’s to-do list, but to catch up on the past four days, too. And I know we’ve all been there.

It was the perfect day, in other words, for a peace hug.

What’s a peace hug, you might ask? Babies (and older kids) can pick up on your mood when you’re stressed, or tense, or anxious, and one of the best tricks you can have up your sleeve as a parent is a way to calm yourself down. You can do this simple hug after you erupt, if it comes to that, but ideally you’ll do it before and prevent the stress eruption in the first place.

Feeling my stress rising, I simply took Veronika to my chest on the couch and sat.

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Listen to your breathing. Listen to your baby’s breathing. Feel your chests rising up and down together.

It might take as long as five minutes, but gradually you’ll feel yourself relax. Keep hugging. If baby falls asleep, then the peace hug has worked even better.

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Consider this peace hug offering my belated Happy Mother’s Day wish to all my readers! I remain so grateful for your readership.

Travis vs. Veronika

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If you have more than one child, six months old is a great age to take stock of a few things. I thought it would be fun to look through the monthly photos I’d taken of each kid and do a side-by-side comparison. Looking through the pix will be fun for the whole family, too.

I printed wallet-sized sets of the pictures so I could put them in a book for both kids to enjoy. Let’s take a peak!

Here they are at birth, each one only hours old.

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Little 1 month olds!

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2 months old – I feel like their little personalities are starting to show up in their expressions.

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It looks like I have a thing for pastel pants at 3 months old!

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But I definitely didn’t plan it that way!

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And for navy blue at 4 months old.

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By 5 months, I can really see the boy Travis will become.

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Will the same hold true for Veronika?

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And finally, my 6 month old kiddos:

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It was also interesting to go back and make a few notes on when they each reached milestones. For instance, I found in my baby journal that Travis first rolled at only 2 months – but he only rolled sporadically thereafter. Veronika, on the other hand, waited until she was 4 months old – but then she never stopped, and spent all her time on her tummy!

Veronika was the first one to sit, just before her 6 month birthday. It took Travis longer, until nearly 8 months before he was truly stable on his own. Some other differences? Travis’s first food was pea puree; Veronika’s was banana mash. Travis was 6 lb 3 ounces at birth; Veronika was 6 pounds 11 oz.

It was adorable to go through the pictures with the kids during snuggle time.

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We’ll see how they compare with crawling and walking and other milestones, as time goes on!

 

Airplanes

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Veronika’s still a little too young to notice airplanes in the sky (it will be a few more months before those excited fingers point skyward every time a plane flies overhead!), but she’s just the right age to be a plane.

For some cute context, first we played with a small airplane toy.

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Veronika loved the propeller on this one!

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Then she got to be the plane. There are two ways to do this. If your baby still needs some support, lie on your back and hold him or her against your knees. Three, two, one… Lift off!

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She loves flying around up here.

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But her muscles are also strong enough now for liftoff right from mommy’s tummy. This time, I lay down with knees bent, but placed Veronika on my stomach and held her around the middle.┬áThree, two, one… She’s flying!

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As you fly your baby around, make lots of zooming airplane noises. You can also get silly: Sometimes I make the captain’s voice announce take off, landing, or even getting delayed, and lift her quickly back up and then down again for a false start. That last one always gets giggles.

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Give Your Baby a Massage

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I’ve fallen out of the habit of giving Veronika a massage in the evenings, which I tried to do when she was tiny. This prompt from my baby activity book was a nice reminder, and you can take more time with it now that your baby is older – and perhaps even has sore muscles from all the practice rolling and sitting!

I used olive oil, but any edible baby-safe oil will work.

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To give her the full spa treatment, I laid Veronika down on a soft blanket in a warm room, and started with her face. Stroke the head with your hands, then rub your thumbs gently along baby’s forehead.

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I moved down to the eyebrows and cheeks and along the sides of her face with my thumbs. Continue down to the chest, spreading your hands out around the ribs.

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Now it was time for legs! Rub first down one leg, gently squeezing as you go. I named the parts of the leg as I moved from thigh to knee to shin. Finish with the feet; press your thumbs gently into the soles, then lightly pull each toe. I know this is my favorite part at the spa, ha!

 

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Repeat a similar process along the arms: rub down the arm, then finish with thumbs gently pressing into the palm and tugging on each finger.

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She looked so relaxed by the end! If it feels like this won’t fit into a hectic nighttime routine, consider it before a nap, or even after an afternoon bath.

Bumping Noses

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Here is my new favorite way to make Veronika smile. It’s the cutest, quickest game ever but gets giggles every time.

Hold your baby a little ways away from your body, looking eye to eye. Whisper “boo”! and bring him or her a little closer.

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Say “boo” again – a little louder now! And bring him or her even closer.

Now say “boo” even louder… but don’t yell or you might scare the baby! This time, bump noses gently. It gets Veronika grinning and giggling every time.

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This game is also a fun one for siblings, who probably can’t hold the baby, but can play it while your little one is lying down on a blanket.

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Enjoy Some Downtime Together

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Here is easily the most relaxing suggestion I’ve found for whiling away time with your infant – and one that I hope Veronika and I can include in our everyday routine moving forward. Or at least on the days that big brother is at school!

Try to take a moment (today and each day!) to play soothing music and just have downtime next to your baby. This sounds so simple, but our house is always filled with noise and movement, and I usually have Veronika playing on the living room rug while I get things done. Very rarely do I sit until the kids sleep!

Today, the goal was to take a pause. I set my Spotify list to slow jazz tunes, and we retreated to her nursery.

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She seemed immediately surprised by the switch to her room, but then seemed to like the jazz right away. Aah, time to read the paper while she kicked and played with toys.

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We switched to Celtic meditation music.

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I got to do the crossword and sip a smoothie! She loved playing with a tactile mat in the background.

We switched to piano sonatas (flute sonatas would be pretty too).

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She had a blast doing tummy time in the relaxing location!

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Finally, we tuned in to Indian classical. She was still so busy playing, that I easily could have spent ages in here with her – if there wasn’t more to get done!

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Happy relaxing!

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Keep Hugging

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After a busy weekend, Veronika just collapsed against me in a hug and took a nap on my tummy. I cherished the moment; although it’s something I had time for almost every day with her big brother, I can rarely fit in a tummy nap with baby number two!

What I can make time for every day is hugging. So today’s activity is simply a reminder to keep doing so, if you’ve gotten out of the habit since my post all the way back in November.

When you hug your baby, you can say, “I’m giving you a hug,” or “Here’s a kiss.”

Then, put your baby’s arms around you and say, “Now you hug me.” This is such a simple way to teach them about love and affection.

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Big brother Travis has decided that several times a day should be designated “Hugging Times.” He’ll swoop in for a big hug with his sister, which usually has her giggling.

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We finished off the day with a cute read of Huggy Kissy by Leslie Patricelli.

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Does your family have any special hugs? Please share in the comments!

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Natural Mimic

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Infants are wired to mimic or mirror their adult caregivers, which leads to the beginnings of language, social skills, and emotional intelligence, just to name a few! So today, I really focused on letting Veronika mimic the bigger people in our household, in preparation for some milestones to come.

Of course, one of the easiest ways to encourage mirroring is to continue making faces at your child – big smiles are sure to be returned by your little mimic!

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More to the point, though, talk your baby through your day, and encourage him or her to join in. Today I sat Veronika in her high chair while her big brother ate meals. She got play food; he got the real thing.

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She got to hold a spoon just for fun; he used his fork for real.

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Pretty soon she was picking up the toy food, biting at the spoon – a natural!

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Later, I put her back in the highchair as I cleaned the kitchen. Veronika got her own cloth to “clean” her tray. She looked so excited to be involved in mommy’s activity, as I narrated my own counter wiping and cleaning to her.

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Another great opportunity is diaper changes. I talked Veronika through my actions, and she got her own diaper to hold.

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This mimicry is also the reason babies love toys that look like (a more colorful) version of your things. Veronika loves her set of car keys – so much like mommy’s!

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How does your baby mimic you? Please share in the comments!

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