Most parents want to raise a reader, but truly instilling a love of reading and teaching effective early literacy skills can be tricky. That’s why starting right from day one is key. Here are a few ways parents can plant the seeds for a love of reading in their child’s first few years:
? Sing, read books out loud and talk to your little one throughout the day, describing what you’re doing and seeing, to develop early language skills.
? Incorporate reading throughout your child’s day—not just at bedtime (while eating snacks, playing, taking a bath, using the bathroom, etc.)
? Create a print-rich environment (ABCs as decorations, magnet letters, label toys…)
? Have special reading events: flashlight reading, act out stories in books with costumes, play librarian, etc.
? Let your child pick out books at home, in the store and at the library
? Take your child to get his/her “own” library card and attend library story hour and other reading-related events
? Play rhyming games
? Robot Talk (say sounds that make up a word, sound-by-sound (like a robot) and have your child guess what the word is, e.g., “/B/-/U/-/G/” (bug), “/K/-/I/-/K/” (kick), “/U/-/P/” (up).
? Model the love of reading by reading yourself around your children!
? Design a special reading area with your child.
In order to create and keep a positive association with reading, it should always be fun and never be forced upon a child or used as punishment. It is extremely important to follow a child’s lead and look for clues as to when he/she is not enjoying reading activities.
Many parents get stuck when it comes to nutritious finger foods for beginning eaters. The usual finger foods include–puffs, cheerios and yogurt melts. Some fruits and veggies, such as tiny pieces of over-cooked broccoli and sweet potato, work well because they are easy for little ones to pick up – they are not too slippery.
My 9 month old loves anything she can eat by herself. If I let her she would live on yogurt melts and cheerios…but I want her diet to include a significant amount of assorted fruits and vegetables. She loves the taste of fruits and vegetables and used to gobble down the purees…but again, now she is mostly interested in foods she can feed herself.
Luckily, I discovered a great trick when my oldest daughter was a baby. One day after grinding up oatmeal to make hot cereal for her I had an idea –“I wonder if putting this oatmeal powder on her steamed peaches would help her pick them up more easily?” It worked like a charm! Not only did it allow her to feed herself (while working on eye-hand coordination and independence as a bonus) I also noticed she wasn’t gagging/choking as often because the pieces were less slippery. I have passed this tip on to many friends and they all rave about it as well. My favorite food items to roll in the oatmeal dust are peaches, avocado, pears, and banana. B. devours them, which makes both of us happy!
? Keep a bowl of lukewarm water and a clean washcloth next to the highchair. That way you can do a quick wipe down a couple times during the feeding so both you and your baby are not covered from head to toe by the end of the feeding.
? Resist the urge to laugh when your child plays with his/her food or spits it out, despite how funny it might seem. Laughter is the number one best way to ensure it will happen again and again.
? When your little one shows any signs of being done, stop the feeding. Meal times should be enjoyable and never forced.
? This is a great time to practice baby signs (e.g., more, all done). Smart Hands is an excellent iPhone App that demonstrates these signs.
Although we all know how important tummy time is for babies, it can become quite a struggle, especially at first when your baby’s necessary head, neck and back muscles have yet to be strengthened. This was the case with my son as we found he often just gave up, fussing and resting his head to one side on the floor. But after working with early intervention I learned a few tips that really helped him gain strength and made tummy time a lot less difficult for both of us.
We found that the key for him was to provide a little support so that he was working hard but at a more tolerable level. We started using a rolled up blanket or foam swimming noodle and placing it under his chest. It helped prop him up even more, which gave him the ability to engage his whole body, including his arms and hands.
Due to babies’ sensitive skin and strong desire to chew on things I decided to create a cover for the foam noodle to alleviate both of these issues. It was really easy and we highly recommend it! If interested in making something similar for your little one, here’s what you’ll need:
? Foam swimming noodle
? Knife or scissors
? Hair elastic or string
Measure and cut a piece of the swimming noodle about two feet long (you want it to be long enough so that baby does not roll off to the side easily).
Wrap a thin blanket around the noodle piece (I used a soft organic one). Secure the blanket in place with a hair elastic at each end. You could also use string tied tightly at each end and trim any excess.
Be sure to leave enough blanket slack at each end so that the elastic or string does not come off and become a choking hazard. Take blanket off to wash when needed. We recommend using a solid color so the baby does not become preoccupied by the design.
To use, place your baby on his/her tummy on the floor with the noodle under him/her at chest-level. Place hands on the floor in front of the noodle so that he/she attempts to put weight on them, lifting head using back and shoulder muscles.
It’s very important to only use this tummy time tool under close supervision of an adult.