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Let Me Introduce Myself

Let Me Introduce Myself 5 Months Old

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five month old

Hi! I’m Jimmy and I’m Five Months Old

Five Months in Review

Hi, Mom and Dad! Nani wanted you to have this, now that I’m almost five months old. Did you know that scientists have often created structures no one ever has or could see? The atom is one of them. Genes and chromosomes are others. Their existence is not tested by trying to find and measure them. They are just sort of given certain characteristics. If what happens in the physical world or in the biological organism behaves as if these structures did exist, they are used as if they actually do exist. One of these structures is the idea of the “Self.” Consider this concept of the Self. It was present even before birth. I am a “self.”

It will be some years before I will use the pronoun, I, in referring to myself. It will even be a while before I use such statements as “Jimmy go,” when referring to me. You will agree however, that even the newborn baby acts as if he has a mind of his own. I do a lot of deciding in how I will deal with the world from the earliest days of my life, because I’m me.

You are wonderful to me! You have taken great pains in selecting the first people I will meet. I may – and sometimes do – reject them. You have even created pleasant situations in which laughing gets better results than crying. You have tried to show me the value of smiling as a “thank you” to people who have done something nice, but I may simply yell because I want more. Thank you for showing me the value of getting over temper tantrums quickly.

A. Mouth and Eyes

Before these next two months have passed, I will be getting smarter. You will remember I was a kind of suction pump, to begin with, but now I am learning how to get the most bang for the buck. I still suck hard, if that is necessary; but now I have discovered two kinds of sucking. One of them is that infantile suction action which I used when I was quite young. The other is more leisurely. It is a more positive sort. Nani calls this differentiation and potentiation. It is like this: I just press my gums and tongue together, if that will do the job, and only use the more vigorous type if it is necessary.

As I have said, I am discovering how to pay attention to things! That is progress. I see some adults, who have a hard time doing that, but I can and I love it. Just place an object in front of me for me to look at while I am sucking. Then begin to take it away. You will see that this is likely to make me stop sucking - and to “place-hold” – until you put it back! Place-holding is a state of readiness to continue an interrupted action after it has been interrupted.

Also, watch for voluntary batting and grabbing objects. Before now, I could only grasp what touched me. Now I am also able to grasp what I see. I can do it rather well, too. In other words, now I have intentions and purposes. Yippee for me! By the way, have you noticed how much effort I put into using my hands? I look at people’s hands all the time, even my own.

I cannot move my right hand beyond a mid-line, right out in front of my nose or vice-versa. It is just as if there was a wall there. I must admit that it is a nuisance. I understand that it is because the suture patterns of my brain have not become fully joined as yet. I suppose I will be able to do this some day. Now, I just lay my arms out and leave them there or bring my hands sort of together, but just sort of! Some objects fascinate me more than others. You will know which ones they are because I will be “pumping up” and using fisted swiping actions toward them. I don’t speak English yet, but if you put out a number of objects for me to look at, you will be able to discover which ones I like best, by which one I “pump up” for. In other words, probably what are fascination objects for me, make me coo and smack my lips. The fact is, the objects that fascinate me most may be faces and facial expressions. The point is that vision is assuming a more engrossing and exciting role in my thinking. Hey, Mom and Dad, give me old familiar objects, not just new stuff, and I’ll use my eyes, mouth, and hands very smoothly.

Definitely, my best new skill is place-holding. When I am especially hungry and sucking with vigor, give me a really fascinating object to look at. Will I really stop eating? Not on your life. I place-hold! That is, although I will stop the vigorous suctioning, I will still keep my mouth in place, so that I can go right on when I am satisfied about this new information. You adults place-hold, too. Don’t you often stop in the act of doing one thing (when something else catches your attention) but keep being ready to go right on with your original purpose when you find out what the new stimulus is all about.

B. Hand and Arm Control

Have you noticed, I still keep my thumb inside my first some of the time. Sometimes, I am able to oppose my thumb to my forefinger. You will never know what a joy it is to do this! As soon as I can do that, then I can bring my grasping behavior under visual control. When can I do that? Pretty soon! Faster if you’ll set out different kinds of objects for me to grasp – different colors, shapes, and sizes, so that I can show you which ones fascinate me. These preferences are almost certain to have something to do with voluntary behavior or you might call “purpose.”

C. Social Development

Well, now that I am getting “so old,” remember that I am still pretty smiley and soon I will start laughing out loud. I need you guys to talk to me about moving objects, voices, and music so I can coo and babble and laugh. I need to exercise my voice so I can learn to start singing with Nani.

Note some other skills I should be able to master fairly soon. Strangers are beginning to look strange to me. I’m becoming aware of how many different kinds of people, and I may turn my head away from some people. Soon I’ll be showing you how I anticipate some things; for example, when I’m going to be picked up. You could help me learn this social skill by telling me when you are going to pick me up before you do it. Give me a little “clue” and I’ll learn to be more patient and wait.

My best possible social skill, in terms of growth in character, is this: I can learn to say “thank you” infant style! This means that when someone does something nice for me, I simply smile, coo, and laugh.

D. Language Development

Now that I am five months old, I am rapidly learning how to control my vocal chords. I am learning to make almost any sounds I want to, whenever I want to - new ones every day – differentiations and modules – noted with care by my parents. Then, too, I am discovering that crying will get me almost anything I want. Gosh, how easy adults are to fool! It is a big temptation to keep right on doing this. I hope you’re bright enough to listen more to my explosive sounds, which are a lot more important for learning language – bad as they sound now. Crying is good exercise, but don’t let me cry more than a few minutes at a time.

Here is something I’ll bet you didn’t know. “H” is my favorite consonant now, and “ae” my favorite vowel sound. So I say “h” a lot. It’s a sound I really like to make because it’s like breathing. One more thing, babbling is my chief method for practicing speech sounds. It is a good idea to leave me on my own from time to time so that I practice this babbling. I am not likely to babble as much when there are people around to amuse me. I need time alone to play, too! I like to hear my own voice and see another face come to play with me, and we can talk together. We can even take turns talking. You talk, then wait, I’ll answer.

E. Emotional Development

During these next two months of my life, I imagine you will describe my emotional life as up and down. During my fifth month, I am likely to show distress and delight. Before the end of the fifth month, I will have added fear, disgust, and anger. I will probably exaggerate every experience; at least in the way I use my emotional energy. Then toward the end of this period, I will either be doing a lot of irritable crying or I will be chattering happily, smiling at everybody, just enjoying people generally – or I’ll be doing both!

You are great at trying to keep me on a schedule. Definitely teach me good social and emotional behaviors by purely positive methods. Don’t over-protect me. Give me lots of toys and provide plenty of room in which I can experiment with them. I’m having trouble with my “I want what I want when I want it” behaviors. I’m trying to control my “get what I want when I want it,” even if I throw a temper tantrum sometimes. I’m sorry.

It is becoming clearer every day what kind of a wonderful person I am. In the first place, I am a person with lots of energy. Furthermore, I will be a person with dynamic purpose. I even eat with more skill and determination. I want social contacts. I am not, in the slightest way, shy. I will use whatever skills work to gain attention and social approval. I will throw lots of emotional energy into both my actions and my social life. I love life in my house and at day care. I am happy to be so well taken care of! Thanks, Mom and Dad.

F. Motor Development

My body is five months old, too. The main thing is that I finally should be able to do something with this huge ball I call a head. I tell you, when I have it under a measure of control and can hold it upright, I am going to shout, “Hallelujah.” By the end of the fourth month, I was able to hold it steady, and to turn it from side to side. Of course, I can rotate my eyes. I could do that from the beginning. As I have said before, I will no longer have to keep my fist clenched. I ought to be bringing my hands together over my chest, and do some finger plays. Then, too, I roll from by back to one side, and even sit up if somebody helps to get me there in the first place. I really get a thrill out of being lifted to a sitting position on my Daddy’s lap. I can try to sit with a little help from the back of a low couch.

Ask Dr. Susan