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Infants » Newborn Development

Let Me Introduce Myself 8 to 12 Months

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baby18 monthMy rapidly emerging personality is becoming a constant source of wonder to you. I may have shown a little shyness, but shyness is not the real me I am gaining social confidence very rapidly. I am a little slow in learning to use all of my speech mechanisms skillfully, but I am very curious. I am forever exploring things - sometimes to your dismay.

Purpose. Many new tools for action are maturing. I'll use them if I find some purpose for which to use them. I'll stand if there is some purpose for doing so. I'll walk, if there is some objective toward which to walk. I'll watch things when they are coming toward me. I will make every effort to retrieve an object worth retrieving. Give me tools with which things can be built, and I'll build them.

Social. My new social growth is based upon a series of new capacities for social awareness. As each one appears and I see some new characteristics of people, I may go through a period of emotional caution until I am able to react to people at this new level. This apparent emotional up-and-downness is not instability on my part, but a new and ever-widening type of social action. I now see everybody around me who moves. I listen to and understand many new forms of communication. I am showing an increasing ability to imitate the sounds, and even subtle gestures, of those around me.

Values. My outstanding growth in values is a combination of my development in purpose and in social effectiveness. I am now better able to see a situation as a whole and to make choices from a much wider viewpoint. I also am learning to take more bumps and bruises without loud complaint. I am increasing my ability to understand what I hear - to learn your language. I am forming new preferences, and this is helping you to understand more about my Self, my unique personality.

My Use of Mouth and Eyes

As the end of my first year approaches, I realize that I am now specializing in learning to look at the world in which I live.

I will continue to learn new skills with my mouth. I have been told that when you are doing something difficult, it helps to move your mouth. I notice that both of you do that. You ought to watch Dad's mouth when he is wrapping a package and tying knots. I think I will try that when I learn to tie my shoes.

Now I am aiming my mouth toward a cup, and drink some of my milk from the cup. I can do some chewing of solid foods. I have only one or two teeth, but can do a lot with my gums.

In the visual area, I suppose you could say that I specialize in one problem at a time. The first one is location. People around me help with such questions as, "Where is kitty?" "Where is Granny?" etc. Visual memory causes me to look in the accustomed place. This interest in location is, for the time being, more powerful than interest in motion.

The next thing I have to learn visually is how objects move. By about nine months I watch balls that people roll toward me. I also watch their hands, and all sorts of other moving things. I study motion visually - cars, animals, birds, everything that moves. Soon I will be able to master both location and movement together. I am really entering the domain of the third dimension. I suppose I will even find out what the fourth dimension is some day.

Next, I want to find out what people mean by the word, space. I can rotate my head with great skill now, and my eyes at the same time. One hundred and eighty degree observations are becoming easy for me. I identify places by going to them.

I want to be able to see a situation as a whole. At first, I just looked around, but soon found that if I looked at localized points first, and from there looked around the room, I could absorb much more. That is also true when looking at people. I start with the face and move from head to feet.

Help me to practice drinking from a cup.

Friends, My Age, Report

"I am learning more about space. I have recently learned to crawl from room to room. I will crawl into a room, sit up, look around, and go into another room, stop, sit up and look around, and go again."

"Motion has become especially exciting. I love to drop my plastic rings and watch them roll. I really get the giggles when Dad tosses them into the air. I think Ping-Pong balls are fascinating."

"I am getting better at chewing, although I hate lumps. I have discovered how to chew on a cookie! I do more gnawing on it than actual eating. My cup-drinking skill is improving rapidly. When I am interested and thirsty, I don't spill much. I drink all my milk from a cup now, but still get juice and water from a bottle. When I am in a new place, the first thing I do is look around and get everything situated. I am trying to master visual skills. I still reach for things that are too far away, though, and I would crawl off the bed without realizing the floor is 'down'.

"My drinking from a cup is improving, though. Mother is very grateful to the person who invented bibs. Anything I can get in my hand or both hands, still goes into my mouth. Mother's friend brought over her little girl, Sara (7 months). Sara was having such a delightful time sucking her thumb, I reached over, pulled it out of her mouth, and started sucking it myself. This is certainly an interesting world. There is so much to see, and I like to look at it all. People fascinate me most, and I am apt to stare rather intently at a new face."

My Capacity for Manipulation Months Eight through Twelve

At this advanced age of eight months, I am getting a few million more brain cells into action. Watch the development of my newest skill.

I will be learning to do a substitution. What is a substitution? Do you remember that reaching-grasping-retrieving-mouth act I was talking about? Now, I can begin with the first three segments and do something else at the end, besides mouthing. What I do is a substitution. For example, I can bang or slap objects instead of putting them in my mouth. You may not think that is very significant, but I can use those first three segments, reaching-grasping-retrieving, as a unit, with different results, just as you can use words in different sentences. These are substitutions and they are important. That is something to brag about, I think, because here is a beginning of purpose.

Incidentally, make several objects available at one time for me to grasp. Then you can watch for my preferences. Write down some of my preferences in my Diary. Don't forget that my preferences will have something to do with my values some day. You need to be aware of my preferences as they develop and mature. Have you noticed that I especially enjoy picking up very small objects, such as a piece of lint? Make sure that I have many opportunities to practice my substitution and preference abilities.

Put out several things at one time for me to grab, such as toys that I can bang, colorful plastic rings and blocks.

Friends, My Age, Report

"I don't know what to do with blocks yet, but I am getting quite good at putting things into other things. What took some doing was a very clever toy consisting of little cups, balls, and tops. At first, I could only throw them. Then I began to learn to put things together - first the cups on top of each other (they stack) and then the top on the cup and, later on, the ball in the cup."

"The colorful rings on my new toy are great fun. I take them off the pole, one at a time, and gaze at each one, taste it, and reach for the next one.

"I am now able to do a substitution. I can bang, wave, turn around, inspect, and transfer an object from hand to hand. I have developed my own unique pattern of reaching for an object with an object. When reaching for a magazine, I will put a plastic ring in my hand, reach for the magazine with it, transfer the ring to the other hand, and again reach for the magazine.

"My interest in small objects has begun to assert itself - buttons on Dad's shirt, Mom's watch chain, and even a thread hanging from her sleeve. I like to pick up very small items like pieces of leaves, string, and lint. I also enjoy moving large light objects, such as a foam pillow, and a metal laundry cart."

"I can now do other things besides just place objects in my mouth. I bang them on the table or against each other. I like to stare intently at an object as I transfer it from one hand to the other."

My Social Development Months Eight through Twelve

What about my social behavior during these next few months? Soon I will have another new skill. I will be able to imitate many sounds, especially single-syllable sounds. I may even be able to imitate some simple gestures. A man was visiting last night. He put his thumbs in his ears, waggled his fingers, and made all sorts of sounds for me to imitate. That was fun, but I also need useful sounds and gestures to imitate, and hope you will give me practice in this.

My sister is always doing things to make me angry. I know she does not mean it, so I am trying to get over the anger more quickly, and trying to find something nice to do for her in return. That is pretty good going for a person my age, even if I do say so myself.

I have begun overcoming most of the social confusion and the fears that have bothered me for the past few months. Don't be surprised, however, if I have some social fear to deal with from time to time. I see and understand so much more of what is happening around me. That is bound to be a little terrifying at times. I may need a little more time to study people and things around me than I once did. But, be patient, I am learning!

I need useful sounds and simple gestures to imitate.

Friends, My Age, Report

"The gesture I like to imitate is shaking hands. When Dad says 'shake,' I will reach for his hand. I also like to imitate a beating gesture. I will beat on my drum, my highchair tray, or some other surface when my dad beats on it."

"Hooray! I no longer scream in outrage every time I see the babysitter. Sometimes I cry for just a minute when my parents leave. Then I start jabbering earnestly with the sitter and try to entertain her. After all, she is a guest in my house. I have learned another trick of which I am very proud. It certainly earns me my share of attention. When anyone talks to me - particularly if he asks me a question - smile at him and nod my head. You would be surprised at the number of people I fool. They actually believe that I have understood them and that I'm agreeing."

"I must admit that I am a big flirt. I love to bury my face in someone's shoulder and then peek out. Sometimes I turn my head sideways when I talk to my father."

"I like people more and more, although I want my mother and daddy always close by. They have learned that I like to be where the action is. I certainly don't intend to be stuck in my crib when they have company.

My Mastery of Language Months Eight through Twelve

You may expect me to be talking like a house afire by this time. The fact is, I am not able to say entire words, but I can manage "mama, papa, dada, gaga, and NA-NA." You must realize that I enjoy making lip noises and just plain vocalizing. These double sounds represent important progress.

During these months I may be learning to walk. I will excel my sister there, I'll bet. Learning to walk and talk at the same time is too much for a person my age. Either one of them takes up all of my attention. I may stutter or stumble if I try both at once. I would very much like to learn to walk, so I may slow down a bit in my language development during my learning-to-walk period. Generally, I am not able to give attention to two such major developments at the same time.

That does not mean that I will not be doing anything during these four months about mastering spoken language. I will be doing lots of listening. I already understand more words than I can say, or than you realize that I understand. When you studied a foreign language, was it that way with you? In fact, if you knew how much I understand, there might be things you would not say!

Not only that -I can imitate. I do especially well at imitating intonations and inflections of your voice. I practice imitating the sounds that I hear people say. Be careful what voice models you around for me to copy. I still enjoy the exercising of my vocal muscles which you call babbling.

So, you see, I will not be as idle, language wise, as it may appear.

Be careful what models I hear and therefore may imitate. I understand more words than I can say.

Friends, My Age, Report

"Many children prefer walking to talking. I am just the opposite. I have not yet tried my hand at walking, but I make more sounds than Mother can record. Talking is a favorite hobby of mine, and any time I am awake, I am making noises. Some of them are merely squeals, but I have invented some very interesting words of my own, not to mention all the old standbys like 'dada' and 'mama.' When I reached the end of this period, I said my first meaningful word. Daddy said 'bye-bye' to get me to wave at him. I decided to give him a bonus: I not only waved, but very clearly replied, 'bye-bye.' Not once, but twice. I was so proud of myself for having comprehended 'bye-bye' that I now say it all day long to anyone and everyone."

"I would rather make noises and talk to myself in the mirror than almost anything."

"My language development is not so great, but I began walking at ten months. By the end of eleven months, I walk very well. So language will just have to wait.

"My language development is coming along much better than my walking. I can say hi, cat, up, and ball. I am working on pretty, happy, and fish."

"Mom and Dad were surprised when they discovered that I was imitating their voices when they were upset with me. Mom was frustrated and let me know. A few minutes later I started imitating her tone of voice; not the nicest thing a lady could do. It worked, though, and now Dad and Mom are more patient with me."

Skills In My Use of Emotional Energy Months Eight through Twelve

I don't think many people realize what we infants go through in the process of growing up. Do you understand the problems I face during these months just before my first birthday? A psychologist once spoke of "the phenomenon of recurrent equilibrium." Do you appreciate what that means, emotionally speaking? It means that every time I make a solid advance in emotional development, it takes time to integrate the new progress into my total personality.

At about seven months, I was reasonably self-contained. I would play alone contentedly and show an affectionate smile to people in general. But at eight months old, I became afraid of strangers again and am overexcited easily. I jump from crying to laughter at the batting of an eye. By ten months, although still a bit shy with strangers, I again may be affectionate and smiling to family and friends. Perhaps by eleven months I will be more fearful again, smile less, and cry more. What a life!

Naturally, we infants are all different. For example, the Timken boy is good-natured, relaxed, sociable, and communicative. I tend to be active, energetic, noisy, and aggressive. My twin sister is less active, more sensitive, and pensive.

You realize, of course, that with infants, emotions come and go easily. They are soon forgotten. The main thing is to expect these ups and downs in my emotional life and watch for actions that go along with them. In that way, you can learn just how I am growing up. Before long, I will take on many of the habits of our family - our family culture. This will require my understanding of the behavior that you expect from me. Let me know what I can and cannot do, but expect some emotional reaction.

A great deal of firsthand experience is helping me to learn to distinguish between hot and cold, hard and soft, sharp and dull, heavy and light. With this experience comes more practice in learning to laugh at minor bumps and bruises.

I am beginning to experience what people mean by forgiveness. I still become angry when someone restricts me, but more and more I am able to forget it quickly, and "forgive." That is growth in character, I would say.

I may be afraid of strangers. Give me your loving protection.

Friends, My Age, Report

"I have been very emotional lately. I don't like to play by myself, and I cry whenever my company leaves the room. My normally sweet and amiable personality has suddenly turned more disagreeable than usual. My parents are blaming my being out of sorts on the process of personality integration. It lasted a whole week. Fortunately for us all, I am happy again now."

"For the first time, I have become afraid of strangers. I will howl at the sight of my friend, the pediatrician, or his nurse, and am overwhelmed by Some of Mom's baby-kissing and over exuberant friends"

"When encountering a minor bump or bruise, or falling over backwards from a seated position onto a soft carpet, I will consider who is around and watching me before I decide to laugh or cry."

"Sometimes when I am being entertained by someone and I am getting tired and sleepy, I will laugh and cry almost simultaneously. I switch back and forth in an instant. In emotional development I seem to be getting slightly more aggressive and impatient, though I am still an exceptionally easygoing, good-natured chap. I used to take it all in stride. Now I am prone to make quite a fuss if I want to play and my mother wants to dress me, or if I want to splash in the bath water and Mother thinks it is time to get out of the tub."

"I am very good at playing by myself. Sometimes I will play in my pen for as much as two hours while Mom does the laundry or talks on the phone. I certainly can become angry, but it takes only a few minutes for me to become happy again and forget I was upset."

My Motor Development Months Eight through Twelve

As I get closer to my first birthday, I would like to call your attention to other things I can accomplish during the last part of my first year. I handle my whole body better every day. Soon I will be able to pull myself to a standing position, if there is any good reason for doing so. This takes purpose.

Far more important is my ability to use my hands. I have mentioned that before. I am able to poke and probe if something arouses my curiosity. If I am given two clothespins, I can practice combining them. I hear people talk about putting two and two together. I am not sure what that means, but if you give me toys I can handle, I will certainly try to poke and probe and put them together. There are a lot of fancy toys around. As far as I am concerned, I will choose blocks, clothespins, and fit-together gadgets.

Dad tries to play back-and-forth ball with me from time to time, but he realizes how difficult it is for me to roll it back to him. It is hard for me to release the ball.

Decisions, decisions! To creep or not to creep! I see children all around me creeping in a dozen different ways. Some creep backwards, others creep forward, one even creeps sideways, another on hands and toes, hands and knees, one hand and one knee -to mention a few. Some of them look downright funny, the way they creep. I have heard that often a skilled creeper is a late walker. I may not creep at all because I want to walk as soon as possible. I have places to go! I can already stand up very well and ought to be able to walk before the year is over. I have the muscle development and determination to do it. When I start moving, find interesting and safe places for me to go. Be sure to make all parts of our house safe for me, or install some gates to keep me safe. I will want to explore forbidden places, too. I am sure to form some values which will help me decide where I choose to go, and I will learn social action skills from whomever is present when I arrive.

I am learning to laugh at minor bumps and bruises, with your cooperation. If I fall gently over something and you rush to me as if I had a brain concussion, I will cry -just to please you! If you are more relaxed about the whole thing, I will respond to gentle falls and bumps in like manner. I learn how to react to situations by the guidance you give me.

Give me a variety of toys that I can poke, probe, and put together.

Friends, My Age, Report

"At the beginning of this period, I am still not creeping or crawling. My parents are always putting me on the floor with objects in front of me for motivation. I try very hard, but all I can do is rock back and forth on my hands and knees. I have learned, though, that if I am lying down, I can reach what I want by rolling over and over until I am close enough."

"Let me tell you, this exploring is the greatest! I simply cannot resist an open door or cabinet. When I see Mother opening the refrigerator or a cabinet, or even the clothes dryer - I appear like magic to poke my head in and see what I can grab. Of all the closets and pantries, I believe the refrigerator is my favorite. That is probably significant."

I love to stick things into boxes and. try to get them out again. It is always easier to get them in than to get them out."

"Guess what I did! At the end of this period, I learned to creep, pull myself up and walk, holding onto the furniture - all in the same day. Oh boy! Am I ever mobile now. Mother likes my being able to crawl because I am much more contented for longer periods of time, now that I can follow her around."

"Now I can creep! My tummy is still on the ground, but I can scoot along the floor with a diagonal motion. I am going to be swift about getting to what I want. I am skilled in turning in a complete circle, but when I run into an impasse like a table leg, I don't know what to do."

Ask Dr. Susan