Getting out of the house with a baby in tow is no easy feat. But your tot is becoming more social and you’re probably desperate for some grown-up conversation (even if it’s about spit-up or sleep deprivation). At this fun stage, little explorers are busy discovering their world and “talking” through smiles, giggles, squeals and babbles.
Dr. Tovah Klein, head of the Toddler Center at Barnard College and author of How Toddlers Thrive, shares what your social butterfly is up to this month.
This month your baby is:
- More awake and alert during the day (which hopefully means longer stretches of sleep at night).
- Excited by others, especially when they talk and smile.
- Spending a lot of time exploring: touching, grabbing, looking at and putting things in his mouth.
- Attempting to talk by babbling sounds like “ooh” and “ah” then trying p, m and b sounds.
- Holding up his own head to look around without as much help from you. Rolling over and tummy time are also great for seeing the environment and developing stronger muscles.
- Smiling, laughing and squealing with delight to communicate. Positive attention from you (like talking, singing, smiling, saying how much you love him) helps him feel good about himself.
- Learning about the back-and-forth of things or how things work. If he smiles at you, you smile back. If he shakes a rattle, it makes a noise.
When your baby has had enough, he may look away, turn his head or cry. So be on the lookout for these signs when it’s time for a break or downtime.
There are lots of interactive things you can do to encourage newfound social skills and milestones.
Child development psychologist Dr. Holly Ruhl has week-by-week tips for the coming month.
Craving adult interaction? Invite a few mamas and babies for a play date! Swap advice on breastfeeding, naps and balancing the needs of baby, partner and (of course) yourself. Or just giggle hysterically at babies’ attempts at social interaction. Smiling, gesturing or even laughing with pals is an enjoyable way to meet baby’s inherent need for social belonging.
If your cutie seems antsy for more mobility, encourage baby to roll from front to back. During baby’s 20 minutes of daily tummy time, place a tempting toy just out of reach to coax a flip. If that doesn’t sway your tot, let baby experience the new sensation by gently placing baby’s elbow and arm under their chest and rolling baby in that arm’s direction onto the back.
Time outside with your babe can provide bonding opportunities and promote physical and mental health. Get some fresh air with a daily walk in the stroller or carrier. On your jaunts, keep conversation flowing and focus on labeling a new outside object each day. “Motorcycle Monday,” “Tree Tuesday” or “Sky Saturday,” anyone?
The foundations for understanding cause and effect begin early in infancy. Grasping cause and effect with daily experiments is a precursor to later mathematic and scientific reasoning. This week, enhance baby’s understanding of causality by helping those tiny fingers flip light switches on and off, shake a rattle to make noise and drop Rubber Ducky in the tub to make a splash!
A treat for baby: Lamaze Jacque the Peacock
This cute little guy covered in bright colors and textures is great “belly bait” for tummy time. It also has a clip for easy attachment to strollers, carriers and diaper bags. Don’t be surprised if you hear lots of babbling to Jacque on your afternoon walks.