Bringing Up Baby
In 2019, new Moms and Dads have access to talk television 24/7, and other means of information and advice at the touch of their fingertips. Some of this advice is factual, some is opinion, some is downright crazy. How are new parents supposed to navigate all the “facts” and recommendations about parenting, to make the right choices for their new babies? What are some important, practical, and proven parenting tips they can trust and follow right now?
What do newborn babies need?
All of the above suggestions will help your baby feel safe, secure, and loved. When you talk about everything you do, your baby will listen and learn to understand what you say. After your baby understands about 40-50 words and simple directions, he will speak those exciting first words at around twelve months of age. So cuddle and talk to your baby and watch him learn.
©2019 by Karen K Rossi. Learn To Talk Around The Clock®
Have you ever wondered what it means to be "a good parent?" I know I did! Our three children were adopted, and we stood in front of a judge in a dark, wood-paneled courtroom each time. And each time, we raised our right hands as he said, "Do you promise to be good parents?" We answered, "Yes." What did that mean? Could we keep that promise?
I made a promise to myself that I would do everything in my power to find the answer. You know we don't actually get an instruction book to tell us how it all works. We get instruction books with almost everything else in our lives--washers, televisions, stoves, lawnmowers, and snowblowers. But not with our babies! We are given very little that tells us how to be parents--let alone, "good parents."
My grandmother led me to believe that all mothers are born with an internal switch that would flip on as soon as we held our babies in our arms. We would suddenly know how to be parents! We would care for them, watch them grow, walk, run, catch a ball, and ride a bike. Then one morning we wake up, and it's the first day of Kindergarten! Where did all the years go? Are they really ready for the first day of school?
I told my mom and dad that I wondered if our oldest was ready to start school. My dad told me that of course she was. That was the the job of the Kindergarten teacher. That's what they get paid for! Of course I knew that advancing research into brain development now tells a very different story. We now know that learning begins with babies! You heard right. It all begins with babies!
We know we need to talk to our babies, engage them in little conversations about what we are doing, whether changing diapers or washing windows! We should sing to them, tell them nursery rhymes, and read books. In turn, our babies will begin to show us they understand some of the things we frequently say. After a while they will begin to say their first words, expressions, 2-word combinations, and simple sentences. Of course I can't promise how each individual child will respond, because all children are different, just like you and I are different. But you will know your child better, and you will make simple memories together that will last a lifetime.
My son recently died of cancer at 29 years of age. Shortly before he died, he suddenly raised his head from his pillow and said, "Will somebody tell me about my life?" Family and friends took turns telling him about fun times they had growing up. When they were finished, I talked to him for hours, telling him about all the funny stories I remembered from his childhood. I told him about all his favorite things and his not-so-favorite things. I sang him his favorite songs. I told him about his first stitches, and the funny haircuts he always wanted. I reminded him of all the calls I had from the Assistant Principal from his high school. I told him how smart he was. I recalled the road trips we took together, our favorite National Parks, and those we had plans to visit.
A few weeks later, a friend and I were talking and she said that I should feel comfort knowing I had fulfilled the promise. I asked her what she was talking about. She said, "You have the answer to the question, 'What does it mean to be a good parent?' Being a good parent means having no regrets." I realized she was right. I have deep sadness in my life, many many joyous memories, but actually no regrets. I know we had wonderful times together. I have so many wonderful memories.
We don't get a "do-over" for our babies' childhoods. So talk to your babies, engage them in little conversations, sing those songs (even if they are off-key), read books over and over, and cuddle your babies. You will never regret all those wonderful times together.
What is a conversation? It is the back and forth sharing of information, opinion, viewpoint or updates between people. It takes at least two people to be in a conversation. It takes a shared and agreed upon language or method of communicating. It does not have to be face to face, although facial expressions and body language add to the content. Can a conversation be in a text? Can you disagree? Can you have a conversation with an infant? With a stroke victim who has lost the ability to speak? Can you have a conversation if one person is using jargon or terminology that the other person does not understand? Can you have a conversation if one of the parties changes the topic before you are finished? Is it a real conversation if you are attempting to converse while the other person is texting, checking for messages, or looking for a sale on Amazon?
You see, conversation is an art. To be a good participant in a conversation, one must focus on your conversational partner, and be a good listener. I think you must enter an ongoing conversation respectfully, and just listen for a while before you jump in. If after listening for a few minutes you realize that the conversation is personal or private, excuse yourself and catch up with them later. When you are in a conversation you have to listen to what the other person is saying before you respond. It’s easier to keep the conversation going when you know something about the other person’s interests or the topic under discussion. However, if one asks good questions, that will keep the conversation going. You cannot force a conversation with another person. If the other person honestly does not want to converse with you, you cannot have a conversation. Be conscientious and do not waste another person’s time by going on and on and on. Perhaps after a few minutes, you will have satisfactorily concluded your part of the conversation.
Conversation is like a game of ping pong. One person “serves,” or starts the conversation with a particular topic. Another person “returns” by listening and then adding a comment or question that stays on topic. The conversation is bounced back and forth between two or more people until the partners cannot keep the conversation going any longer. Then it becomes another person’s responsibility to “serve,” or start a conversation on a different topic. Again, the conversation topic is bounced back and forth and each conversational partner adds a comment or asks a question when he or she “receives” the conversational turn. One must not monopolize the conversation. Then it ceases to be a conversation and becomes a soliloquy. A good conversation is about a topic that is easily shared and bounced back and forth productively. It is important for all partners to understand when the conversation is over, and know how to gracefully move on.
I am not particularly good at cocktail party conversations. I’ve worked very hard to become a better listener, and I have tried to think of some topics I could discuss before I’m in the situation. For example, I could talk about a good book I just read, or a great National Park I visited. If I’m in a group of singles, I know it’s not a good idea to talk on and on about my children or grandchildren. I also know better than to bring up something controversial, like politics, unless I know the the other people in the group concur. I’m working on it. I would love to have a conversation with some of you! I’m great at conversations about teaching young children. Check out my “Unlimited Mentoring Program” on my website. We could talk about language and conversation development—one of my favorite, and most well-informed topics!
It is vitally important to practice conversations with our children, of all ages. For ideas on how to have conversations with your young children, yes, even babies, please refer to our Learn To Talk Around The Clock™ Talking Tips newsletter. The September-October issue features “Conversation” as its theme. You may go to www.learntotalkaroundtheclock.com and scroll down to the section where you can sign up for the newsletter. After you receive the November newsletter, you will have access to previous newsletters. The one at the top of the list should be September-October, “Conversations.”
Thank you for conversing with me. I’m done now. Over and out. K
With school out soon, and summer just around the corner, I wanted to talk a bit about about fitness in young children, and how to encourage it. But rather, I think the discussion will trend more toward why it’s really important to develop. We are bombarded with all sorts of things about health in young children. Don’t let your children eat this, and don’t let them eat that. It feels like all the don’ts and not the why’s. As you may know, childhood obesity is very high in the United States. To me, that is a good reason to try and keep kids fit and healthy.
The next time you go to the grocery store, remember to really take a look at what you are buying. Read the labels. You would be absolutely amazed at what you find. On many of the things we buy for children, high fructose corn syrup and other types of sugars are the first ingredients listed. If you can’t eliminate these things, then pick items that have healthier ingredients listed first. The first ingredients are usually the ones that make up the highest percentage of the food, and so on down the list. Try to look at foods that will give children a variety throughout the day. As a general rule, in larger grocery stores, shop mostly on the outside isles, because the isles on the inside of the store have prepared foods, like boxed cereals, cookies, crackers, chips, corn chips, bread, fruit juice, canned fruit and puddings, all high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup, food coloring, salt, and other artificial additives. Most larger stores have nutritionists or health nurses who will help you with your shopping, give you suggestions, and show you where the healthier items are located in the store.
Another important thing parents should monitor is exercise. Kids should be outside playing. On an earlier blog I talked about parents checking in their smart phones and other devices, so they could spend quality time with their children. Children need to check in their devices as well, so they can spend quality time developing their bodies and their health. They need to run and play outdoors when possible. You might work outside the home, and when you come home you are tired. They are tired, too. But maybe you and they can take a walk around the block, run around the backyard a couple of times, play catch, shoot hoops, or anything that will get the kids moving. Perhaps you could challenge your children to every night run around the back yard one more lap than the night before. Or shoot five more hoops than they shot the night before. Or catch the football five more times than yesterday. Or jump rope five more times than the night before. Post a chart for them to keep track of their progress. Help them set goals. It could be very motivating.
For older kids, encourage them to participate in organized sports through school. For your part, help them get to and from practice, make sure they have the proper safety equipment, if not provided through the school. If you have trouble with funds for extra equipment, discretely talk to the coach, the school counselor, or the principal. Remind your children to pack snacks and water, and support them with your attendance at games or meets. Who knows where this could lead—a college scholarship in track, basketball, or football; a place on the Jr. Olympic team; a career in basketball; or a career in football. Most importantly, it will help them control their weight, blood pressure, and overall health.