Monday, 17 February 2014

Ilyas The Explorer

Looking for the ball under the couch

Have you ever encountered these kind of situations with your babies?

  • Your baby is busily pointing at things that captured his or her sight
  • Your baby is touching certain objects that grab his or her interest
  • Your baby is babbling and trying so hard to make the babbles understandable
  • Your baby is struggling to self-feeding and avoid any assistance from the caregivers
  • Your baby is expressing the moods and emotions more clearly
  • Your baby is enjoying his or her play time with another babies and many more...

believe most of the mothers out there will have the same experience as mine in regards to the situations mentioned above. This is what we call as the EXPLORING stage of development. Babies or I shall say toddlers at this age (birth to age 3) tend to be the BEST IMITATOR as they will imitate whatever they see and hear around them. They are EXPLORING the world without thinking of the rights or wrongs. Babies are born with pure hearts and souls. A baby is like a white cloth and the parents or the caregivers are the ones who determine how "colorful" the baby will be as he or she grows up. 

When I found Ilyas behaving unnecessarily (as in my perspective), I got the feeling that my baby is naughty and not well-behaved like other babies at his age. After consulting with the Doctor, I was told that those actions are the indicators that my baby is healthily developed; his cognitive, physical and psychosocial development are expanding, Alhamdulillah.. =) So, here I would like to share a few advice sought from the Doctor and of course through my readings and observations in regards to the first year of a baby's development:

When he was 1 year old

Cognitive Development 
(Definition : Pattern of change in mental abilities; learning, attention, memory, language, thinking, reasoning and creativity)

  • We used to think that babies do not have bigger space of memory storage as compared to adults. It is true indeed but do you know that babies have the ability to learn and remember things since their early weeks at birth? That is why babies can easily recognized the mothers (especially) as they have stored the memory of their mothers' face, smell, gestures and voice since birth. The ability to remember is there, thus please interact more often with the babies and you will be surprised when they can easily smile only by looking at your face =). But this only applies for a simple event such as recognizing faces and voices as babies could not remember specific events until they are at 3 years of age because the brain is not yet developed to store those memories during the first two years of age. This is called as infantile amnesia.
  • Apart from memory ability, I would like to share another aspect of mental ability which I believe is really important --> language ability! The first two years of development is crucial for language development. My Darling Hubby raised a question asking me to speak English with my son more often than Malay language. But it is not that easy especially when the environment doesn't cater for the needs of applying the second language. In preparing your child to be a bilingual at early age is very challenging as you need to ensure that you do it the right way for the language acquisition to take place accordingly.
  • For instance, when I want to ask my baby to pick up the toy, I will say, "Ilyas, please give me the toy" (at the same time by pointing at the toy). Why talking and pointing must be done at the same time? First of all, my baby is in the learning process and he wants to synchronize the objects with the sounds (he is aware of the sounds before he knows the real meaning of the objects). So, when I say TOY (sound), and pointing my finger to the TOY (object), Ilyas will understand what I am saying. Secondly, don't blame your baby if he refused to pick up the toy for you. Why? Because he only learns to relate the sounds with the objects and yet to learn on listening to your instructions. Therefore, you have to show him the manner of giving the toy. You know what you've taught him by now? You taught him the name of the object (TOY) and you taught him on how to obey instructions (giving the object (TOY) to someone).
  • However, if another person asks him to do the same thing but in other language, it might take a while for him to relate, "Ilyas, tolong ambil kan mainan tu" instead of "Ilyas, please give me the toy" (unless you show him what you wanted him to do). He can easily imitate, no worries. What I'm trying to say is, avoid giving the same instructions by using different languages at a time. If you want to acknowledge the cat as a CAT, then use the word CAT whenever you see the cat. Don't confuse your baby by translating the word CAT into KUCING as at this age, he couldn't store too many input. If you want them to be well versed in English language, kindly ensure that you use the language correctly and minimize the interruption of other languages during the learning process.
  • Furthermore, when your baby is pointing at a new object, respond to him by naming the object. When your baby wanting to pluck the flowers, let him touch the petals at the same time teach him the name of the object. Please do not give up teaching your baby new vocabulary everyday as he needs your guidance in EXPLORING the objects around him.
  • A gentle reminder to all; please do not use 'baby words' with your babies to avoid any problems with the speech articulation later on. If you want to say, "su-su", say it with the right pronunciation, do not say, "cu-cu" as if it is so 'baby friendly'. Why do I stress on the pronunciation? Like I said before, your baby is imitating whatever sounds that he hears from you and if you articulate the sounds clearly, he will imitate the exact sounds that you've pronounced (except for certain consonants that he might not be able to produce yet such as 'r').

Physical Development
(Definition : Growth of body and brain, including patterns of change in sensory capacities, motor skills and health)

  • When I mentioned that my baby is in the EXPLORING stage of development, it covers his physical growth as well as his brain growth. Physically, at one year of age, babies shall be at triple their birth weight; so do the calculation for your babies. If your baby's weight is below triple from their birth weight, please consult your pediatrician as we do not want our babies to be lacking of any nutrition.
  • Besides that, please bear in mind that the senses are gradually developed from time to time. That is why at this moment, you will find your baby busily looking and pointing at things, touching different texture of object such as the bubbles, foam, sand, rice, fruits etc. and babbling repeatedly as he is trying to absorb all of the new info from the senses to the brain. It is good when your baby is being overly excited responding to something which capture his interest as this shows that his senses are properly developed and he is adapting himself positively with the environment.
  • This is also the time when you can introduce variety of taste to your baby. When preparing your baby's food, add a little bit of salt, sugar or pepper just for the sake of varying his taste buds. I know that we are not advised to let our precious to be consumed with sugar or salt at the early age but please allow a little space for TASTE EXPLORING. Believe me, your baby will enjoy meals time more than before.
  • Other than the senses, do take note on motor skills developmentMotor skills can be divided into gross motor skills (using large muscles) and fine motor skills (using small muscles). Do you know that research shows that boys are using more of the gross motor skills while girls are more advanced with fine motor skills? So, don't worry if your baby boy is hyperly running, jumping or rolling all over the places as that is how their large muscles functioning. On the other hand, don't be surprised if your baby girl is showing a very good skill in drawing or using fork and spoon accurately. The fingers are working perfectly for her =)
  • Just a quick recap; please monitor your baby's diet (less sugar and salt, perhaps once a week?) and allow more freedom for motor skills enhancement and not to compare your baby's physical appearance with other babies. As long as your baby is healthy and active, it is more than enough. Like my Darling Hubby said, "Badan cergas, otak cerdas"

Psychosocial Development
(Definition : Pattern of change in emotions, personality and social relationships

  • Crying, smiling, laughing ---> All of these are normal expressions from a baby to indicate his or her emotions. But how about if my baby is crying excessively and throwing all things out when his request are not fulfilled? What should I do? Is this normal? Yes, this is a normal situation in which parents should know how to go about it. 
  • Have you heard about tantrum? Tantrum is an example of a negative temperament which occurs to most of the toddlers. I will not be discussing more on tantrums, but I would like to dig more into the actual meaning of temperament. Temperament is a style of approaching and reacting to situations (Thomas & Chess, 1977). It can be either positive or negative. Positive temperament is easily controlled but negative temperament is like a nightmare to the parents. How do parents deal with temperament? Be more responsive to your baby's signal of emotions and make sure that the environment is conducive enough for your baby to express his temperament. For example, if your baby is crying when his basic needs (food, sleep, nappy change) are not fulfilled, do not scold your baby as he is not capable of saying it out loud but will express the emotions by crying out loud. Other than that, if all the basic needs are fulfilled, but he is still crying, look at the other signals --> maybe he wants to play outside, or he wants you to play with him or maybe he is not feeling well (fever, stomach pain, ulcer etc.). All of these signal of emotions are usually expressed openly and it is our responsibility as parents to understand the signals.
  • I realize that Ilyas has now become more independent and always wanted to do everything on his own. This is the sign of showing his independence. Erikson said that it is better to let your child being socially independent so that he will become more confident as he grows up.
  • Some of the ways that I can apply to promote independence in him:
  1. Let him walk and run freely without holding his hands.
  2. Let him choose on which clothes that he wants to wear.
  3. Let him decide where to go first after getting his shoes worn.
  4. Let him talk first even though the words are not clearly spelled out.
  5. Let him unbutton his shirt or unzipped my handbag.
  • At this age, your baby is EXPLORING more ways to develop relationships with others. As for Ilyas, since I'm working he has to stay with my parents and since then, he has developed more attachments with others. He doesn't need me all the time as he can divide his attention to other relationships as well. At first, I was afraid that my baby will be lacking of my love and attention due to the separation but as time passes by, I found that I've managed to instill positive social relationships in Ilyas. He can now play and interact with others happily and I'm happy to see his progress. Alhamdulillah...
  • In conclusion; let independence developed gradually and do not hinder your baby's wills to EXPLORE the environment. Always make your baby feel secure when he is with or without you. In other words, allow positive interactions among your baby and the caregivers as babies need interactions in order to feel secure, safe and loved

Thinking of ways to feed the fish or to jump into the pond

As parents, we are more concern on our child's development especially on his or her cognitive ability. We can find lots of educational books and toys which can improve our child's cognitive development. But one thing that we must take note; a child develops at his or her own pace. Intelligence is unpredictable. Do not force intelligence but find ways to promote intelligence. In terms of physical development, some of the development is genetically inherited. However, parents can also play their roles to monitor their babies' diet to avoid further health complications later on. I will touch on physical activities for babies and parents in my next entry. So, do check it out ya! =) While for psychosocial development, considering the fact that current situation is socially daunting, let's keep ourselves attached to our babies no matter what happens.

The end. Thank you! =)    

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