Tuesday, 7 April 2015

My baby is a genius...

I discovered something new today. While feeding Miss A her lunch, I noticed that she was making what I can only describe as a deep grizzly sound. She often makes this noise while eating and it is also often accompanied by a refusal to eat for a bit. I've always thought that perhaps she was getting frustrated at having to sit in her high chair or was getting bored of eating. Today though, she made the sound and I offered her water. She immediately drank some and then opened her mouth for some more food. After another spoonful, she started up the grizzling sound again. Once again I gave her water, she drank it and then opened her mouth to eat more. This happened again and I responded in the same way. Then she just continued to eat, no more grizzling for a while. It dawned on me that she was telling me she wanted water! Amazing. I wrote last week about how babies communicate and it seems I am continuing to learn more and more. I love the moments when the light bulb finally comes on for me and I make the connection between what she is doing and what she is actually telling me.

I also love watching Miss A learning to make her own connections. Of course there are lots of amazing physical things that she has already learnt and that have been easy to see - smiling, rolling, flailing, sitting. We're not at crawling yet thank goodness. Slight side note but I am really enjoying our current sitting phase. Finally my arms are free and yet I know that I can put her down and she will stay there, well in the vicinity anyway as she is a pretty pro roller, so I am definitely in no rush for progressing to the crawling phase.

While all these physical changes are awesome, I really enjoy seeing the mental connections occurring. Perhaps it is the teacher in me that is trained to look for connections? I'm not sure, but they're pretty cool so I thought I'd share a few of my favourite observations.

My absolute favourite is the fact my little girl does at least 90% of her poos over the toilet. This has been a learnt behaviour which has required work on both our parts. It's not toilet training though, it's more that we're both learning to read signals. As I've gotten older (and wiser?) I've become quite fascinated by other cultures and how they go about their daily lives as I believe there is a lot we can learn from them. Before I was even pregnant, I began thinking about the fact that the majority of the developing world can't afford nappies and yet you don't see mothers walking around covered in all sorts of undesirable bodily fluids which left me wondering what their secret was. After a bit of research, I found Elimination Communication. Essentially this method is based on what happens in the developing world. Mothers learn to read the signs their babies make when they need to go to the toilet and cue them with a sound e.g. 'sssss'. In the western world we give it a name, in the developing world it's just the norm. This made a lot of sense to me so from the time Miss A was a few weeks old I began holding her over the toilet (holding her legs with her back against my stomach) and making a 'ssss' sound. Almost immediately, she would wee over the toilet, sometimes even poo (note: a definite sign of a parent when you can nonchalantly discuss poos and wees). Amazing! We've progressed to the point where the majority of nappy changes see me holding her over the toilet and almost immediately, if she needs to poo, she will, without me even cuing. We're not so good on the wees, but that is probably because I haven't learnt to read her signs...something to work on I suppose. When I tell people about this, they are amazed, disbelieving really. Yet it is credit to Miss A, she has made the connection between the toilet and her needs and it has been amazing to watch, particularly as there are times when I have wondered whether we would ever get to this point!

Another connection she has made, and is still fine tuning, is closing her eyes when going underwater. This has come as result of our swimming lessons where, through much repetition of a certain phrase (name, ready, go), babies are cued to close their eyes as they have water poured over them or they go under water. We've only been swimming a term and yet, on cue, she has learnt to close her eyes. We practice in the shower or when having a bath too. So my little girl,  who can't talk and I imagine has has limited understanding of what is being said, has made the connection between a set of words and the action she needs to perform. Wow!

Going back to the eating thing, Miss A has learnt that a spoon signals food. She's known this for a while. Given that she has 3 meals a day, there is a lot of repetition going on here which obviously makes it easier. Yet when I think back to the fact she's been eating for less than 2 months, it's amazing what she has learnt. When first presented with a spoon she had no idea that it contained food, let alone how to get the food off and then how to swallow it. Now she opens her mouth at the site of the spoon. In the past couple of days, I have watched as she has grabbed for the spoon, clumsily turned it around to face her and then put the spoon in her mouth to eat some food. Generally there is not much food on the spoon at this point, as even if I had been kind enough to let her take a spoon heaped with food, by the time she had rotated it to face her, the fact she turns it upside down in the process would ensure more food ended up on her than in her mouth. Yet it is the connection she has made through her experience of eating that once again amazes me.

Finally, I love the connections she has made that allow us to play games. According to my weekly email from Baby Centre, she should enjoy turn taking games. I'm not sure we're quite up to that stage yet but she certainly enjoys games we can both play. Peek-a-boo is a favourite. I'm not sure when she first clicked that she could play yet now she is a pro, hiding her face behind a cloth or her top then pulling it away after I've been questioning where she is to reveal she is in fact still there. CUTE! Of course I do it to her too, hiding behind all sorts of objects, as do other people, and she absolutely loves it. As she develops further I know she'll outgrow this but for the moment, I marvel in the fact that she's developed to the point where she can join in for herself. Another game we play is one where I pretend to eat her, often leaving her in fits of giggles. Just in the last week she has joined in and now pretends to eat me too. By 'eat' I mean have her mouth open on my shoulder, cheek, head or stomach generally. When she does it, it leaves me giggling too.

Calling my baby a genius might is a slight over exaggeration, but let's be honest, she, like most babies, is so much smarter than we give them credit for! They learn so much in such a short space of time. They are constantly watching us. It's actually scary to think how much they are learning by watching us! Yet at the same time it is awesome.

I would love to hear some of the connections you have seen your baby make so leave a comment below or on my Facebook page.

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