Let Baby crawl
Crawling is an essential developmental stage. We feel proud if our baby gets up one day and starts walking; we brag, “He’s so advanced!” But, there is something about crawling that is necessary for the proper development of the child.
God tells us in Psalm 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made. Part of that fearfully and wonderfully made truth is that we were created to go through stages of development from birth to maturity; missing (skipping) a stage can leave us lacking in our development – crawling is one of those very necessary stages.
This site: https://www.babble.com/baby/crawling-is-crucial/ has much to say about the benefits of crawling in the development of the baby. And, this site: http://www.medcentral.org/Main/Whatssoimportantaboutcrawling.aspx mentions that the crawling stage is beneficial in later being able to learn to read.
What has been most impressive to me as a teacher is something I read years ago (can’t locate it now L) about adults who had never learned to read. It was found that they had skipped the crawling stage as infants.
Crawling, the article stated, does a type of patterning in the brain that makes it possible for a person to learn to read later on. The article mentioned adults having to take therapy to learn to crawl, and thus, to read.
Please let Baby crawl. Make a game of it if necessary – but crawl!
Be patient with safe examination of items and experimentation
So, you’re holding the baby and the little one is putting fingers in your eyes, ears, mouth, nostrils – what an annoyance. But, looking at it differently can help us be patient with this baby activity; the baby is using its sense of feel to learn about its world. God gave us our senses to use in learning, and the little one is doing just that.
Wouldn’t it be great if we knew what the little one is thinking as it investigates these body features?! Perhaps: “Ears are dry, mouth is not. Mouth bites (gently, of course). Eyes close quickly. Nose makes funny sound when squeezed tightly.” The baby is learning so much! The very fact that Baby is doing all this investigating is a sign of intelligence; let’s rejoice in that and be patient with the process of learning. If the child is allowed to investigate and learn they will, hopefully, come to enjoy learning; that can translate to success in school.
Baby will use the sense of touch to examine and experiment with other items, too. Sometimes it’s a toy, sometimes the fabric on the couch, or our pretty knickknacks. Yikes, let’s move breakable things and anything that can hurt Baby out of their reach. Our first responsibility toward Baby is to keep him/her safe as they learn and grow.
Talk to baby
A baby carrier is so handy, but let’s use it judiciously. It is meant to carry Baby from place to place and spare our arms the tedium. It’s meant as a place where Baby can sleep when needed, but it’s not meant for Baby to live in.
I’ve seen people bring Baby into a restaurant, set the carrier down on the seat, order their food, talk with each other, and never once look at the baby. I hurt for that little one; it needs to have communication, too, if it’s going to learn to communicate well. Talk to the little one, use expression, respond to all the sounds Baby makes while trying to communicate with you. It’s actually fun to interact with Baby this way, and it helps Baby grow, learn, and mature.
I have seen other parents come in, set the carrier down, order their food, pick Baby up and play with and talk to Baby while waiting for their food. I always thrill for that little one as they are growing during this time rather than simply existing. This will prove a blessing for them when they get school age as well as all through life.
A personal soap box I have, though, is baby talk. “See the doggie?” “Look, there’s a horsie.” This is cute, but I feel it shouldn’t be taken too far. I’ve seen children who talked like this continually because they were spoken to this way. But at about four years old their parents realized the child needed to speak in a more mature, natural fashion so quit accepting that talk from the child and insisting on them talking differently – “dog”, “horse”. I remember seeing the child look so confused. What he had known to be perfectly fine all his life suddenly had to change. It was like he had to learn a second language. I felt sorry for the child though I knew he needed to go through this transition in order to prepare for school. If only he had been taught correct speech from the start; it would have spared him the confusion he experienced at age four.
Teach baby to sit quietly for a length of time
In order for the child to be ready to sit still and listen for periods of time in school they need to practice at home so they can learn the behavior. This learning can start immediately after birth. The mother or father can hold the baby and interact with the little one; good preparation for school where the child will need to sit quietly while listening to the teacher or classmates.
As the baby grows older these times when they are held in the parents’ laps and gently shushed and encouraged to be quiet need to continue. These sessions should be very short to begin with but lengthened over time until the child can sit quietly listening for about 20 minutes.
Optimal times for this lap time, this holding of the baby/young child, are during family worship and church worship services, in the doctor’s office, etc.. These would provide for regular and frequent practice, enhancing the learning.
As for church, many parents provide snacks. But, snacks tend to make a terrible mess on the seats and floor that the poor church janitor has to work extra hard to clean up. Plus, there are the sticky fingers touching the pew cushions and woodwork. Are we teaching the little ones respect for the sanctuary this way? I’m afraid not. Plus, we’re inadvertently teaching them to eat between meals rather than eating a complete meal at regular mealtimes. (More on that later.)
Some families bring toys to church to keep the child quiet – but, half the toy box? Often, these toys don’t actually keep the child quiet. If toys are desired during church, teach the child that they will have only soft toys so they can be quiet – and they will only have a very few. Wean the child of needing these as soon as you can so they can learn to actually listen. It’s amazing how much a very young child can understand if they are taught to listen to the service. This is excellent training for when the child begins school. It’s such a joy to the teacher when she sees a child who already knows how to sit and listen.
Eliminate snacks, establish and maintain regular mealtimes
Think about this, even when our baby is just a newborn we try to establish regular mealtimes for them; we know this is beneficial for the growing child. But, somewhere in toddlerhood, we switch and start handing the little one food whenever they whine a bit. It becomes a pacifier – an unhealthy one at that. Teaching the child they will get food whenever they want starts them on the road to a lifelong struggle with being overweight and can cause other health issues. Feeding, even just a healthy snack, at any and all hours of the day keeps the stomach continually active, not allowing time for rest. This can cause digestion problems later in life.
Snacks are rarely actually necessary. Try giving the child a drink of pure, unflavored water when they get whiny; they may simply be thirsty. This can get the child in the habit of drinking water rather than seeking food at all hours. Establish regular meal times; what a benefit that will be to them all through their lives, not just at school.
Once the child becomes a student they will be expected to sit down and remain seated for their meals. Parents can train a child for this in the home as well as when they eat out. Have regular sit-down meals. Teach the child to remain seated from start to finish. Teach them to be neat (this will be a process, I know), keeping food on the plate, using utensils and napkins, and helping clean up after themselves if they have made a bit of a mess.
It’s a rude awakening for the child to have to suddenly, after starting school, be taught to sit down the entire time they are eating. Also, the child who jumps up and down and plays during mealtime is often quite messy and wastes a lot of food. Parents teaching proper behavior and neatness at mealtime can make their child’s transition into the school setting much easier for them.
Written by Mary Ann Walden
Former Education Department Chair of Private College
Droolees LLC Education Blog Contributor
Meet Mary Ann Walden - Mary Ann Walden taught in small Christian schools for 27 years in various combinations of Pre-K - Grade10. Eleven of those years were in one-room situations (Grades 1-8). For the next six years, as ED Dept. Chair of Ouachita Hills College, she trained future Christian teachers. Mrs. Walden and her husband have since retired to the beautiful Virginia mountains where she spends her time writing books for teachers and children. You can find her published works at www.Walden-Wonders.com