Over the last 2 years I’ve joined several mommy groups on social media. They’re a great place for moms to share experiences and ask for advice. Recently I’ve noticed similar questions being asked especially by new moms about how to start life with baby. I was inspired by Simone of the Montessori Notebook and decided to create a Link Pack just for new mommies with all the links you may need to start your journey into motherhood. I’ll try to cover some of the basic topics like sleeping, feeding, care, play and positive parenting of course 🙂
Feeding & Sleeping
Development & Milestones
Becoming a Parent & Self Care
There are lots of great resources out there. I personally found these to be very helpful. Make sure to check back as I’ll keep adding more links whenever I come across something relevant.
Here is a list of fun ideas you can do with your baby with materials that are around the house or are easily accessible
This fun activity from The Imagination Tree is great for your baby’s fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination and sensory skills.Check out more Baby Play ideas on their site.
Also featured on The Imagination Tree. Playing with mirrors is great for exploring the self, textures and environment. Different mirror materials can be used, like toy mirrors, story box mirrors and other safe reflective surfaces.
Your baby can usually start rolling a ball between 8 – 18 months. Most children are capable of this when they are around a year old. It’s a great activity for developing eye-hand coordination, which is a skill needed later for drawing, writing and eating. Ball rolling is also great for physical gross and fine motor development. You can use small or big balls to keep your baby entertained and depending on her ability and age. Remember don’t force your baby into the activity, just giving her the opportunity is enough, she’ll participate when she’s ready.
Listening to music has been associated with increased spatial reasoning. Music and dance can have numerous positive effects on your baby; putting her in a good mood, helping her relax and just plain having fun. Dancing is an activity that can foster physical development as well as emotional and cognitive abilities. I’ve had experience with babies as young as 6 months moving their feet to the beat! Don’t be shy to give your baby some shakers or instruments to help her express herself and how she feels with the music.
Babies usually love water! Although they might find it stressful to take a bath in the first few weeks, most babies grow to love it and start crying when you take them out of the bath! Let your baby have some extra bath time and surround him with some rubber duckies and other safe play material. Some areas also offer swimming time for parents and their infants in groups. If you have access to a garden or beach, give your little one the chance to experience the wet mud and sand. It might be a hassle to clean up but you’re giving him a great experience in feeling textures and exploration which is great for his brain development. Remember never leave a baby in water unsupervised as it is extremely dangerous since babies can easily drown in a few inches of water.
Of course the most irreplaceable source of joy is you! Mom and Dad! You can provide your baby with all the stimulation and interaction he needs. Talking and singing helps his language, emotion, social and cognitive development. Your face is an endless screen of expressions that teaches him how social interaction works. Your actions are a perfect model to how baby should act and behave. Most of all you know your baby more than anyone and can give him what he needs at the right time 🙂
Check out more great activities to do with your newborn and baby on the Imagination Tree’s site and The Bub Hub
Cover Photo by Mariam El Mofty
I’m currently reading Dr. Penelope Leach‘s book on child raising called “Your Baby and Child“ which covers ages birth to 5 years. So far it’s an amazing read and I recommend it to parents, especially first time parents. The book gives detailed and practical advice on handling your newborn, toddler and preschooler. What I like most is that Penelope Leach has based this book on scientific research which I find adds credibility. As well as having the experience of raising her own two children which makes her more attuned to the practicalities of motherhood and parenting.
A common debate among parents is letting your baby cry, also known as “controlled crying” or “ferberization“. A lot of parents face this problem specifically at bedtime and resort (in despair mostly) to letting the baby cry herself to sleep.
Here’s what Dr. Leach has to say about this topic and how your baby interprets your behavior.
You can read more about the first year in Leach’s book “The Essential First Year”
Photo by phaendin
This article was featured in Mother and Child magazine in English and Arabic
It’s an amazing discovery that babies’ language development starts in utero ! Although your baby isn’t saying much (in terms we can understand!) during her first year, her speech and language development has already started!
Researchers have discovered that babies as young as 2 days old pay more attention to words spoken in their native language and are able to distinguish language specific sound differences. During pregnancy your baby hears your voices and other sounds that become familiar to her and will be of comfort to her when she is born. Language development consists of two aspects ; receptive language which is understanding and listening skills and expressive language which is expressing thoughts, words and feelings. Try to provide your child with a word rich environment that fosters both aspects.
Photo By Mariam El Mofty
Your Baby 0-3 Months
As soon as your baby is born the one way she can communicate with you is by crying. Yes, crying is a form of communication, she’s telling you when she’s upset, tired or needs a diaper change. By 6 weeks she’s cooing and laughing as well. She’s also learning about voices by listening to you. By the end of this stage your baby will recognize familiar voices and smile when mom or dad speaks, startle upon hearing loud sounds, and cry differently for different needs.
What you can do: Sing and talk to your baby often. Your voice is a source of comfort for her as babies of this age prefer low vowel sounds. Your baby may start repeating your cooing sounds.
Your Baby 3-6 Months
Your child begins noticing people’s conversations. She starts moving her eyes in the direction of sound, starts responding to “no” and changes in tone of voice, notices toys that make sounds and starts responding to music.
At this point she’s also started to babble and making gurgling sounds. By the end of 6 months her babbling should include many different sounds, including p, b and m. She also starts to enjoy repeating syllables, such as “ba, ba, ba” and uses her voice to express when she’s happy or upset instead of crying.
Baby can also be using sounds or gestures trying to tell you that she wants something or wants you to do something
What you can do: Sing songs that add to her vocabulary. For instance, sing about body parts while holding her foot,hand,fingers,etc.. in turn. Start reading books that include big pictures of people’s faces, talk about their eyes,ears,etc.. with enthusiasm. Read rhymes, this helps develop the listening discrimination skills necessary for pre-reading. Sing silly songs about your day (during diaper changing) to familiar tunes. Engage your baby in “conversation”, talk to her with enthusiasm and pause for her to respond, this can be really fun!
Your Baby 6-12 Months
Your baby’s language development is progressing fast now! She starts listening when spoken to, turns and looks when called by name and recognizes words for common items like “cup”, “book”, or “juice”. Babbling has also become more speech like, includes more consonants and she’s linking words together “bababab tata bibibi” . She’s also relying more on non crying sounds to get your attention and is using gestures to communicate (holding her arms up to be picked up)
By 9 months she knows what you’re talking about even if she can’t repeat the words herself, she recognizes familiar objects like “cup,eyes,spoon”.She should be responding to requests like “Come here” and “Want more?” and may run ahead to the table when you mention it’s time to eat.
By 1 year she should have one or two words like “mama, dada, hi, look, bye-bye” although the sounds may still not be clear. She should be capable of these consonant sounds “b,d,g,n,m,h,t,k,w”. She may also understand simple instructions, such as “Please drink your milk”.
What you can do: Start finger painting with your baby, this will give her a great time full of new new experiences where you can talk to her about colors, her body parts and narrate what she’s doing. Read Lift-the-Flap and Touch-and-Feel books, this will help engage your child during story time and allow her to participate and express herself by touching and pointing. Start talking about animal sounds “A cow says ‘moooooo!'”. Teach your baby social interactions like waving bye-bye. Practice counting fingers and toes and label objects and body parts while doing so.
Important to Remember
- Children develop at different rates. Don’t feel alarmed if your child is not following these milestones precisely. For more information on language and speech milestones you can check out the Mayo Clinic’s site as well as the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
- If you have concerns, check your child’s ability to hear, and pay attention to ear problems and infections, especially if they are repetitive.
- Provide your child with a supportive environment to develop these skills. A baby who spends a lot of time indoors in a car seat or in a position where she can not turn to see where sounds are coming from, may lose interest in new sounds and stop noticing them or turning her head,
- Give your child a word-rich environment but remember that her expression is just as important as yours! Give her a chance to “talk” and answer back. Provide different forms of word-rich activities that include singing, talking, listening, reading and conversing!
A Quick Note on Bilingualism
I won’t go into detail in this post. However, I want to assure parents that learning more than one language at a time does not cause language delay. In fact, researchers are investigating bilingualism as a protection against the onset of symptoms of dementia. Other benefits may exist such as better cognitive abilities since bilingual children have to deal with two languages which puts more computational demands on the brain therefore exercising it more. It’s important to note that second (or more) languages should be spoken by a native speaker so that children acquire the proper vowel,consonant and language sounds. Usually, one parent is a native speaker of one language while the other is a native speaker of the other so each parent speaks a different language to the child. However, in some cases the parents are also bilingual. Bilingual parents should keep in mind not to mix two languages in the same sentence! It’s OK to speak two languages, just make sure you complete the sentence or conversation in one language.
Reading with your Baby
I always like to include a reading list which parents can use with their children.
That’s not my Puppy! (Board Book) other series also available
“Wonderfully entertaining with textures. This is a great, sturdy board book that very little readers will enjoy multiple times.
And, when you’ve explored all you want about the dogs, you can always discuss that cute little mouse who seems to appear on every single page!
Cute, educational, and very, very entertaining.” (Parent Review from Amazon)
Where is Baby’s Belly Button?
“This is a nice sturdy book with colorful drawings of babies with some part of their body hidden. Each page asks, “Where is baby’s …?” Toddlers delight in lifting the flaps to find the hidden pictures. The pictures are bright and cute with eye-catching fabric and wallpaper patterns. A very attractive book, and perfect for that stage when toddlers become fascinated with their belly buttons! My 17 month old has really enjoyed this book. It can be very helpful in getting kids to name body parts, and it’s fun for both the baby and the parents to read. Highly recommended.” (Parent Review from Amazon)