Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: I Am DONE!

I hadn't shown any recent pictures of Q-ball eating, so I thought I'd brag about her joining Mama and Daddy on our "real food" challenge by giving up Cheerios for oatmeal or steel-cut oats.  But, she had other ideas- instead she decided to demonstrate her new favorite expression. It has been used for happiness, exhaustion, playing, and anger. 
I'll let you decide what she's using it for here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Treasure Baskets: What to Add, What to Keep, and What to Remove?

I've shared quite a few of Q-ball's treasure baskets on the blog.  They seem pretty simple, but I do try to put some effort into figuring out what should go in her baskets.  I wanted to share some of the questions I ask myself when assembling a new treasure basket or, more likely, updating a current treasure basket.

1) What is Q-ball doing developmentally? 
One of the primary reasons I started my Watch Her Grow posts was to be able to answer this question.  Conducting these observations allows me to figure out what new skills she is working on.  Some examples:
  • A few weeks ago, I noticed she started "sorting"- picking up objects and then setting them down again.  So, I added a large deck of cards to her basket, and she loved getting the whole deck in her little hands and then picking out individual cards. (WARNING: likely goes without saying, but this activity required quite a bit of post-Mama-clean-up, and cards were quite tasty to Q-ball.)
  • Very early in treasure basket introduction, Q-ball was still mastering her Palmar grasp, so I avoided putting small of items in her basket.  Large spoons and other utensils are perfect for this time as an entire, tiny hand can reach around nearly all parts of the object.
2) What is something that she hasn't played with in awhile?
As I learned in this post and as all parents know, babies and children like lots of new things.  They get bored with stuff they've seen and played with for the last few weeks (or days, or hours...)  If I see an item that Q-ball used to play with all the time that hasn't been touched in about a week, I remove it from the basket.  The hope is that she'll be excited when it is later reintroduced.  An example:
  • As I mentioned, my early treasure basket was full of kitchen stuff. She got bored after awhile and wasn't playing with anything.  I dumped the whole basket about 2 months ago, but just this week, I reintroduced a rolling pin, and she was very excited to play with something "new"!
3) What is something that she hasn't every seen/manipulated before?
This is my favorite question!  How excited to see the world through a baby's eyes!  A few weeks ago, Daddy decided that Q-ball's treasure basket needed a re-do, so we took a trip to Cost Plus World Market (super awesome for treasure baskets!) and loaded up.  Some examples of novel items for Q-ball:

  • Color!  Most of her previous baskets had been a little on the bland side, so we got some colorful juggling balls and colorful silicon prep bowls. (Yes, typically Montessorians lean towards natural materials, and I work to avoid most plastics, but I like some silicon. First of all, it doesn't have the "bad" chemicals in plastics, and a lot of the items are squishy, and Q-ball loves squeezing them into different shapes.)
  • Metal! For banging!  I love this tiny Bundt  cake pan from World Market!  In addition to playing with the sense of sound, this is a new tactile experience- a smooth, cool surface.
4) What items has she yet to master?
When considering whether an item hasn't been played with for awhile, it's also important to remember that maybe baby just hasn't mastered the item yet.  Basically, she doesn't know how to play with or manipulate the object.  Example:
  • Q-ball's early treasure basket had a ball of yarn. I thought she'd love it, but, really, she rarely touched it.   But, I didn't want to remove it because I knew that there was potential, and she'd eventually come around.  Finally, last week (after months!) she picked it up, and hasn't wanted to put it down!  
5) What item is beyond her current level of development?
Some items are attractive to Baby but Baby lacks the physical or cognitive skills to use the material.  I've placed items in the treasure basket that Q-ball wants to play with, but they lead to some tears and yelling because they are just too frustrating for her.  Notice this is different than the situation with the yarn in that, here, Q-ball is actually working with the material vs. just looking past it.

These questions may seem like a lot, but it's really not that hard- and, your babies are pretty forgiving! Treasure baskets can be fun for parents and babies!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Your Childhood= Your Child's Childhood?

Welcome to February edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama. This month, participants have looked into the topic of “Fostering Healthy Attachment”. Please scroll down to the end of this post to find a list of links to the entries of the other participants. Enjoy!


    "The most natural thing we do is raise our children the way we were raised," explain the founds of API in Attached at the Heart: 8 Proven Parenting Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children.  This book and many others that encourage fostering secure attachment with children often discuss the fact that we, as parents, must analyze how we were parented in order to uncover those practices we wish to repeat and those we wish to end.  For this Science Friday post, I explored some of the original studies that led to this advice in order to find out, "How likely are we to have the same attachment relationship with our children as we had/have with our parents?"
(Hopefully!) A securely-attached baby
    First of all, let's look at how these studies were conducted.  Nearly all use the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) as the basis for their research. Developed in the 1980s by Mary Main and her fellow researchers, this interview is a more recent part of the ever-growing field of attachment theory based upon Ainsworth's and Bowlby's original studies on attachment. (For a review- check out this post.)  The AAI asks the interviewee to about his relationship with his parents and for specific memories to support this description.  The interviewee is also asked what about his childhood might have affected his current personality, especially any instances of death, and why his caregivers may have acted they way they did.
     Based upon these interviews, Main and others have uncovered three primary classifications:
  1. Secure-autonomous. Those happy with their childhood experiences who open share their stories.
  2. Insecure-dismissing. These people act as though their early experiences are not important and do not affect their current way of life.  Their rejection of their memories, however, tends to correspond to a rejection of their infants' need to be close to them.
  3. Insecure-pre-occupied. These people are still dealing with issues from their childhood.  They are still trying to win their parents love or approval.  Because they are focused on their own needs, it can be difficult for them to respond to the need of their children.
    After researchers uncovered these classifications, they quickly got to work conducting the Strange Situation with these same interviewees to see if their previous childhood experiences (which some researchers refer to as "representation of attachment") affected their current attachment pattern with their children.  And, the results were a very clear: yes! 
    In the study that I found most interesting (and that I studied during my pregnancy), the AAI was conducted on 100 volunteers over the age of 20 during their last trimester of pregnancy.Volunteers spanned social and racial lines and varied in relationship status to their baby's father. Using these results, the women were classified using one of the above classifications. When their babies were 12 months old, the Strange Situation was conducted.  The correlations between the "maternal representations of attachment" and their baby's attachment pattern were very predictable.  Seventy-five percent of secure-autonomous mothers had securely attached infants, while 73% of dismissing or per-occupied mothers had insecurely attached infants.  Of the 24% of secure-autonomous mothers (14 total mothers in the sample) who had insecurely attached infants, two mothers had experienced the death of a loved one, considered a highly traumatic event, within the infant's first year of life.  It can be assumed that the mothers had not yet been able to handle the emotions associated with these events, giving them feelings similar to those experienced by the insecure-preoccupied classification.
    So, how can you work to be a secure base for your child, no matter your upbringing?  I am certainly not a therapist or psychologist, but I believe that nearly everyone has the ability to foster secure-attachment in their children. First of all, know that you are not alone.  A 2008 study revealed that only 65% of children in the US are considered securely attached.  Given what we now know about the "inter-generational transmission of attachment," this will likely be a difficult statistic to improve.  But, it can be done. Research indicates that is it necessary to acknowledge your early experiences and accept that they have shaped you and will shape how you parent.  If you are really interested and need a place to start, a simple google search will bring up an AAI and even a scoring guide.  Independent reflection through journaling or discussion with your spouse or a friend can also help. Some individuals require the support of therapists or doctors to fully accept and move beyond painful memories in their pasts.  A number of books are available on this topic and can provide more information: Creating the Capacity for Attachment and Healing Trauma: Attachment, Mind, Body, and Brain are two starters.  Additionally, support groups and blogs abound on the topic.
   While it may be natural to raise children how we were raised, if you decide that how you were raised does not support your parenting goals, it is possible to break the cycle of "inter-generational transmission of attachment." 

 Cassidy, J. & Shaver, P.R. (Eds.). (2008).  Handbook of attachment, second edition. NY: Guilford Press.
Crain, W. (2011). Theories of development: Concepts and applications. NY: Prentice Hall.
Nicholson, B. & Parker, L. (2009). Attached at the heart: 8 proven parenting principles for raising connected and compassionate children.  Bloomington, IN: iUniverse.

Visit Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Watch Her Grow...

This Week's Foci: Movement
 Interactions with Materials
  • After I mentioned last week that Q-ball had abandoned her walking wagon, she immediately started using it again.  Now she focuses on maneuvering around chairs, tables, and corners.
  • She still likes figuring out how to transport all her materials from place to place- whether with her wagon, baskets, or anything else she can find.  I've found pieces of potato hidden in a treasure basket, a night light in the laundry basket, and all sorts of toys in her block box.
  • Favorite materials:  books, shoebox, balls, magnets, grass and sticks on the playground and in the yard, ball of yarn

Interactions with Others
  • She actively plays games with the cats now (well, mainly the nice, fat one- the other's not interested.)  She bases her actions on his reactions.
  • She now seems to recognize and feel comfortable with her swim coach- actively moving towards him in order to get an opprotunity to go down the slide.
  • She likes to play a peek-a-boo game with me where she "hides" behind my back holding on to my shoulders and then moving from side to side until she decides which side to pop out on.
  • She loves giving Mama and Daddy hugs!
Interactions with Space
  • She's still practicing carrying items from place to place.
Interactions with Life
    • We started combing her hair after her bath in a usually failed attempt to control her cowlick. With about two days, she started grabbing the brush out of our hands to try to do it herself.  Amazing how quickly she catches on!
    To see the rational and purpose for the Watch Her Grow series, please check out this post!

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Wordless Wednesday: Q-ball's First Stock Show

    Q-ball loved seeing, hearing, and smelling all of the animals at the stock show! There were so many wonderful hands-on experiences for her!

    She's been dancing whenever she hears music!

    She could have watched the chicks all day!

    Friday, February 17, 2012

    Baby's First Words

        Q-ball has started saying "hi" a lot lately, and she typically says it while waving and/or when we move into a new location or something or someone passes us.  This is pretty typically of baby's first words- the words are very contextualized.  Studies have shown that babies less than one year old can use words like "car," "dog," and "bath." in very specific situations.  Piaget noted that, ""an early word like 'mommy' [may] signify (among other things, depending on the context), not a class of objects, but simply that the child wants something."  Thus, the baby does not necessarily know that "mommy" is "mommy," but, instead, that it means he'll get something.  This line of reasoning seems pretty on track with what I'm currently observing with Q-ball.  In addition to hi, she will wail out "mamamamama" a few times a day. It's directed towards me, so I could assume that she's calling me by name, but, really, I think she just wants to cuddle, see something on the counter, or, most likely, nurse. 
       But, one researcher looked to see if children under the age of one are capable of learning decontextualized words.  For his work, the researcher had parents ""train" their children on the words (apple, ball, cup, duck, fish, hat, keys, socks, bird, book, car, chair, coat, dog, shoes, toast) for 10 minutes, 4 times a week using picture cards and board books from 9 months of age until 12 months of age.  During testing, the researcher used novel auditory and visual cues (translation: a different picture of the object and a voice that wasn't Mama or Daddy's) and timed the infants' reaction time to determine understanding of the word.  
    Photo credit:
        The experiments revealed two main ideas (might have-read further) : 1) understanding of the words greatly increases from 9 to 12 months, even without training (but slightly more with training) and 2) that a 1-year old can, indeed, learn to understand words out of the context with which he typically knows the word (for this the trained babies did quite a bit better, but we're talking 2 out of 6 words vs. 5 out of 6 words...)  It's interesting to note that baby chimpanzees and parrots can still outperform the trained babies linguistically. 
        Still, the results are not necessarily clear.  First of all, what does it actually tell us about the language abilities of infants?  The researcher is not sure. He does believe that it signals that the largely accepted belief that baby's abilities to learn new words rapidly improves after 12-months because they have a newly "[attained] insight" into language is not necessarily true.  But, he admits that the results of his test could simply be a result of the fact that "trained" babies had actually just been trained to respond to tests.  Thus, they actually don't have an understanding of "car," but they know to look at cards.  On the other hand, maybe the parents really did teach their babies these 6 words. 
       So, what do I take from this experiment?  Frankly, not much.  If you regularly read my blog, you'll likely assume (correctly) that I'm not a big fan of training babies.  They have much better things to do- like playing, eating, sleeping, eating, playing, and pooping.  Q-ball will learn what a car is- even if it's at 13 months instead of 10 months.  And, she'll learn to wave at our neighbor instead of his mailbox.  Who cares if it takes an extra two months?

    Schafer, G. (2005). Infants can learn decontextualized words before their first birthday. Child Development, 76(1), 87-96.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Watch Her Grow...

    This Week's Foci: Movement
     Interactions with Materials
    • Interestingly, after Q-ball took her first step, she hasn't touched her walking wagon! After being the center of her attention for many weeks, it has just been sitting in the corner where she last left it. I guess she knows that she can do it on her own!
    • Daddy taught her to put magnets on the refrigerator, and this has been quite exciting, although a little frustrating at times.
    • Favorite materials:  books, wooden car with pull-string, shoebox, small silicon "prep bowls", balls, magnets
    Tasting is still my favorite way to explore!

    Interactions with Others
    • She continues to be increasingly comfortable with others- visually exploring new folks and usually going and grabbing their legs.  But, she is still hesitant to be picked up by someone new.
    • She loves saying "hi" and waving- occasionally at a person, but typically at a car or other inanimate object. It seems that she does seem to know that "hi" is said when going to a new place or seeing something (although not someone) new. 
    Interactions with Space
    • She's walking!  It's still crazy to see, but she has gotten quite far.
    • She is now practicing holding objects while walking and moving them from place to place.
    Interactions with Life
    • Sleep was still pretty tough this week. Learning to walk is a 24-hour a day job.
    • Eating solids has returned to normal after a resistance during illness. Blueberries, pears, apples, sweet potatoes, and any kind of diary are favs.  She has a sharp eye for cheese and will demand to have it when it is in sight.
    • Her hair is getting so curly! It seems to have really started growing over night.
    • I rarely discuss her personality here, but it is amazing to watch it develop.  She loves to be part of jokes or to start a joke with an eye movement, peek-a-boo game, or funny sound.

    To see the rational and purpose for the Watch Her Grow series, please check out this post!

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    Dr. Montessori on Rewards and Walking

        This past weekend was a very exciting weekend in our household; Q-ball started walking!  But, because of our belief in Dr. Montessori's methods as well as a the desire to follow principles of positive discipline and unconditional parenting, Daddy and I worked to ensure that we did not let our excitement diminish Q-ball's own excitement, sense of accomplishment, and desire to continue to work towards mastery. Watching Q-ball learn to walk has allowed me to observe two of Dr. Montessori's ideas firsthand- 1) her reservations towards rewards and 2) her concept of a sensitive period towards walking.

        I believe that Q-ball had been mentally preparing for her attempt throughout the evening. She demanded to get down from her high-chair during dinner and speedily crawled to a wide-open space. Suddenly, although wobbly, she was on her feet with arms flapping. And, then she was on her rear.  But, then she was up again with arms flapping, and then she took three steps! And, then she was on her rear.  She did not look to Mama and Daddy for a verbal reward or encouragement.  In fact, she did not realize that we were watching.  She was so focused on the work of walking that she hardly cared what we were doing.
        Instead of rushing towards her and showering her with "way to go," "good job," and "you are the world's best (and cutest!) baby!" (which would have, no doubt, knocked her over anyways...), we simply looked at each other with happy disbelief and continued our conversation. But, Q-ball was already on her feet to try again. 
       This expereince is very similar to the observations that Dr. Montessori describes in The Discovery of the Child that encouraged her to shy away from a system of rewards and punishments (i.e. praise, grades, threats, and criticism)  within an educational and developmental environment.  In one of her Children's Homes, Dr. Montessori observed two children- one being punished by time-out (or "forced isolation" in the words of Unconditional Parenting's Alfie Kohn) and the other had been rewarded with a large star to wear on his chest. The "good" child was allowed to continue his work and, while busy with his materials, dropped his star.  This child did not even notice he had lost his reward, but the "bad" child quickly asked to pick it up and have it.  The rewarded child was "[indifferent]" to his reward and gave it away without a care. Dr. Montessori concluded, "This pendant could satisfy the naughty one, but not the child contented with his work!"  
       Q-ball does not need us to give verbal praise for her accomplishment. Ultimately, most people provide praise as a means to getting a behavior to continue.  However, the fact that she immediately gets up from falling with a huge smile on her face, ready to try her next steps, indicate that she is internally driven and satisfied with her work.  No additional, exaggerated praise necessary.
       Which leads to the second observation of Dr. Montessori's work...

    The Sensitive Period for Walking
         Dr. Montessori believes that very young children undergo a number of "sensitive periods" during which they are especially excited and willing to learn specific skills.  The sensitive period for walking is somewhere between one and two years. Dr. Montessori saw walking as a critical development for children as it provides them with a new sense of independence.  But, she believed that children who are learning to walk view the activity in a very different way than adults do.  While we walk to get to a specific destination or to reach a goal, children walk just to walk.  "The small child walks to develop his powers, he is building up his being. He goes slowly. He has neither rhythmic step nor goal. But things around him allure him and urge him forward."  Q-ball's walking over the last few days has certainly demonstrated this.  
       We have also worked to honor Q-ball's work in developing her walking skills by letting her always lead the way.  We rarely have "helped" her walk since she took her first step (although when a baby is clinging to one's leg as one is frantically trying to finish dinner, one doesn't want to just knock baby to the ground.)  Dr. Montessori also saw this respect for allowing the child to lead while working towards mastery of walking when she said, "If the adult would be of help, [the child] must renounce his own rhythm and his own aim."

       It's amazing to watch Q-ball push herself as she is learning to master a new task. While I'm avoiding providing too many rewards in her presence, I'll happy use this medium to say, "Way to go, Q-ball!  You are the best baby ever!!!"  (Alas, avoiding giving praise is tough!)  

    Crain, W. (2011) Theories of development: Concepts and applications. NY: Prentice Hall.
    Montessori, M. (1936). The secret of childhood. (M.J. Costelloe, trans.). NY: Ballantine Books, 1966.
    Montessori, M. (2004) The discovery of the child. Dehli, India: Aakar Books.

    What was it like watching your child learn to walk or master another milestone? Did you provide them with reinforcement?

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    Breast Milk for Your Sick Baby

      Last Saturday night, Q-ball exhibited her first signs of the common cold- lots of sneezing and a little coughing. I hoped it was nothing as her demeanor, appetite, and sleeping habits were all pretty normal.  By Sunday night, though, it was clear that we were facing our first sick baby. Fortunately, it was a mild case- mainly just congestion with a reduced appetite for solids.  Her appetite for nursing, however, definitely increased.  Sunday night she literally nursed from 11 pm until 5:30 am.  But, on Monday, she was as full of life as ever, but still rather congested.  Using an eye-dropper, I was able to get a little breast milk up her nose, and I believe that it cleared up some of the stuffiness.  She continued to mainly play with, rather than eat, solids, but showed no diminished interest in breastfeeding.  I believe that breastfeeding helped us ward off sickness until 10 months and ensured that our first illness was as mild as it was.  While I am fairly knowledgeable about the wonders of breast milk, based upon our experiences over the last few days, I wanted to look into some research to answer the following questions:
    1. How does breast milk help prevent illness and heal a sick baby?
    2. Do babies tend to nurse more during illness?  And, if so, why?
    3. How does breast milk clear congestion?
    How does breast milk help prevent illness and heal a sick baby?
         I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to learn that this answer involves quite a bit of hard scienceHere, I've taken the hard science and attempted to break it down for the political scientist.
          Mama initially helps strengthen her baby's immune system during gestation.  Through the placenta, she provides her baby with antibodies (a.k.a- immunoglobulin, a protein the immune system uses to attack antigens such as bacteria and viruses.)  After birth, Mama continues to give baby antibodies through her milk.  Researchers have uncovered some ways in which breast milk strengthens a baby's immunity, thereby preventing illness and, should illness occur, hasten healing times.  
      Photo Credit: Wikipedia

         One researcher states breast milk contains "direct acting antimicrobal factors." This might be breast milk's coolest trick (other than inducing sleep...)  Antibodies attack antigens by binding with them (see image), preventing the antigen from attaching to any bodily tissue.  Mama actually produces antibodies specific for her baby.  When she breathes in, eats, or even "catches" bacteria from baby's saliva during a breastfeeding session certain viruses and bacteria in the baby's immediate environment, her body begins to produce the antibodies needed to combat these bad guys.  She then provides baby the same protection through her milk. 
          The antibodies that Mama makes are also specially suited for baby in other ways.  (1) These antibodies know to ignore the "good" bacteria in baby's developing digestive system, but have been found to specifically attack Salmonella, E. coli, poliovirus, and rotavirus, just to name a few.  (2) These antibodies do not produce inflammation, which could cause harm to body tissue.  (3) The production of antibodies changes as baby ages, meeting his needs at the time.  So, no matter what the child's age, a nursing mother can provide the correct amount of antibodies.  For a newborn, this means that a teaspoon of breast milk has literally millions of antibodies. While an older infant has less concentrated antibodies as he likely nurses more often. In the case of a nursing toddler, the concentration of antibodies again increasing as nursing likely takes place less often. 
          In addition to antibodies, breast milk provides even more ways to prevent illness.  It contains Oligosaccharides (a type of sugar) which mimics the binding sites that bacteria use in baby's tummy.  So, instead of attaching to baby's tummy, the bad bacteria goes to this sugar chain.  Next, breast milk contains lactoferrin, a molecule that bonds with two atoms of iron.  Many bacteria live off of iron, so by reducing the available iron, lactoferrin stops the growth of these bacteria.  This method of illness prevention is especially effective against Staph. in newborns.  Finally, breast milk, especially colostrum, contains white blood cells which directly attack infections.

         Researchers have also found that breast milk serves as an "immunomodulating agent" which means that it helps strengthen and build the immune system. It seems that breast milk actually helps baby in the long-term, that is, beyond the period for which the baby is breastfed. These findings are rather recent, and research is still being conducted into the hows and whys. But, it has been seen that breast-fed babies produce greater blood concentrations of proteins which attack viruses, even after breast feeding has ceased.  Additionally, evidence has found that breast-fed babies have produce more anti-bodies as a result of vaccinations.  Finally, these babies begin to produce their own antibodies in larger amounts than non-breast-fed babies.

      Whew!  Keep reading!  The other answers are not quite as long!

      Do babies tend to nurse more during illness?  And, if so, why?
         Yes!  Research has found that effective pain relief for infants includes skin-to-skin contact, suckling, and sweet tastes- all factors involved in breast feeding!  Researchers found that infants who were breastfed before, during, or after receiving immunizations demonstrated decreased heart rates, less crying, and less painful expressions than babies who were not breastfed.  It seems that the fat and proteins in milk actually block pain fibers from running down the spinal cord.  Pretty amazing! 

      How does breast milk clear congestion?
         Truthfully, I couldn't find anything scientific on this topic. Just stories of mothers sharing their success stories.  I guess it's a case where we have to trust mother's intuition.  I can only assume that it works in ways similar to a saline rinse. Again, I really didn't find any hard science on the topic.  Just general statements around loosening mucus in the airways. 

      So, in conclusion, breast milk is pretty incredible for sick babies!  In times where I'm exhausted from nursing her every two hours, I'll be thankful that I'm working to avoid having a sick baby

      Efe, E. (2007). The use of breast-feeding for pain relief during neonatal immunization injections. Applied nursing research, 20(1), 10-16.
      Goldman, A. (1993). The immune system of human milk: antimicrobial, antiinflammatory and immunomodulating properties. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal,8, 664-71.
      Newman, J. (n.d). How breastmilk protects newborns.  Retrieved from

      Thursday, February 9, 2012

      Watch Her Grow...

      This Week's Foci: Movement
       Interactions with Materials
      • She continued to practice the release movement. Her Daddy taught her to bounce a tennis ball.  She loved doing it and then tried to bounce lots of things- a wooden teething ring, a walnut, and blocks.  Those things don't work quite as well. 
      • She became more patient with books- sitting through an entire book and then asking for more! 
      • Favorite materials: walking wagon, books, pink hippo squeak toy, blocks from her Daddy, and tennis ball

      Interactions with Others
      • She really felt comfortable today at swimming lessons- happily moving from Mama to the coach to get a chance to go down the slide.
      • She loves waving at other little people that we pass and the occasional grown-up.
      • She has continued to love to beat up Barnum, our fat, friendly cat.  This guy really takes a beating, but still comes back for more. 
      Interactions with Space
      • She has been practicing pointing. She uses her whole hand, but clearly is working to express a desire through motion. 
        Interactions with Life
        •  We had our first bout of illness this week!  A stuffy nose and a little cough from drainage.  Nothing too serious, but still confusing to a baby!  Difficult nights were the main consequence.  She was still incredibly active during the day, but during the first night of sickness she needed to be nursed the whole nightMaybe babies know what will make them better?

        To see the rational and purpose for the Watch Her Grow series, please check out this post!

        Wednesday, February 8, 2012

        Wordless Wednesday: Boxed In

        Every time I turned around this week it seemed like Q-ball had crawled into this box!

        Friday, February 3, 2012

        What Does a Baby See in the Mirror?

              For about the past two weeks, whenever we pass in front of a mirror, Q-ball waves at our reflection.  I've assumed that this means that means she recognizes our reflection, which made me think that she realizes that the people in the mirror are actually us.  Well, I guess that's why I'm not leading any research projects in child development.  Those that are published psychologists found that it is actually much later- around age 2- that a person can fully identify himself by his reflection.  I suppose this makes sense.  Understanding the concept of a reflection could be a pretty tricky idea- it obviously entails more than the physical ability to see one's self in the mirror, but also to understand that that person is how others see you at that exact moment.  Whew... 
            However, this is not an ability to develops overnight.  It is a skill and understanding that develops overtime, apparently starting at about 3-months.  Babies at this age gaze at their own reflections longer than they will look at the image of another person, with whom they are more likely to smile and vocalize, demonstrating the natural human desire for socialization.  By 4-months, babies appear to be able to distinguish the movement of their legs in a mirror, demonstrating that their ability to self-identify is not limited to faces. Additionally, this ability proves that babies are able to make connections between visual tasks and action tasks.  At 6-months, babies clearly prefer an actual mirror image of themselves to one that is distorted or blurred. 
            Still, none of these tasks show that babies see their reflections as actual representations of themselves or what they look like to others.  To study this point, most researchers use the "surprise-mark test." In this test, a sticker or other mark is placed on a baby's or toddler's face (some researchers have taken this test further and put the mark on legs, although the results have been the same). The baby or toddler is then shown his reflection. If he attempts to touch or remove the sticker, it is deemed that he passes the test and truly understands that a reflection is actually him in his current state.  Typically, sometime between 18-months and 24-months, toddlers are able to pass this test.  
            However, some researchers believe that simply passing the surprise-mark test is not an indication that an toddler has a complete understand of self.  They believe that the idea of "self" is composed of multiple self-concepts- the past, present, and future self.  An 18-month old that reaches for the sticker in the surprise test, understands her present self.  However, if she is shown a video of herself with the sticker 3-minutes after it was taken, she would not reach for the sticker.  Children at this age can only understand a single image of themselves.  It is not until age 4 that children can understand multiple concepts of self.  
            So, I was right to conclude that Q-ball, at 10-months, does have some idea that the person in the mirror is her, but just on the most basic level.  It will be interesting to observe her changing reactions overtime!  And, maybe I'll even conduct my own sticker test.

        Does your little one like to look in the mirror?  How does he react to his reflection? Have you conducted your own sticker test???

        Miyazaki, M. & Hiraki, K. (2006). Delayed intermodal contingency affects young children's recognition of their current self. Child Development, 77(3). 736-750. Retrieved from
        Nielsen, M., Suddendorf, T., & Slaughter, V. Mirror self-recognition beyond the face (2006). Child Development, 77(1). 176-185. Retrieved from
        Rochat, P. & Striano, T. (2002)  Who's in the mirror? Self-other discrimination in specular images by four- and nine-month-old infants. Child Development, 73(1). 35-46. Retrieved from

        Thursday, February 2, 2012

        Watch Her Grow...

        This Week's Foci: Movement
         Interactions with Materials
        • Q-ball's focus this week was definitely mastering the "release" movement.  She was handing me anything she could get her hands on all week.  She liked to play the game where we pass the same item back and forth to each other- over and over and over.
        • Her new interest in books was very evident this week.  It was one of the first weeks she would sit for extended periods (10-15 minutes) asking Daddy or me to read to her. Granted, she wanted to read a new book every minute or two, but it certainly shows an greater attention span. 
        • Favorite materials: walking wagon, books, tops to kitchen containers, blocks from her Daddy
        Interactions with Others
        •  At a BBQ we attended this weekend, Q-ball was much more interactive with strangers- even playing games with them. Mama and Daddy were still in sight, but maybe we are progressing from super-stranger anxiety. 
        Interactions with Space
        • She mastered clapping this week- she loves doing it!
        • She continues to be a human pinball- moving in rapid-fire from one sight in the house to the next. She is quite noisy in her movements- breathing loudly and squealing or laughing to herself at times.
        • She has loved bouncing/jumping up and down for the past two weeks.  We've sung the "up and down" verse of The Wheels on the Bus quite a few times- she can't get enough of it. 
        Interactions with Life
        Who needs a shirt???
        • This was a "wonder week" for Q-ball, and I could certainly tell. Sometimes she was just a little more fussy than usual, but sleep was certainly out of wack some days.  We had some 5am wake-ups, and some late bedtimes.  Things just seemed a little off at times.  But, I could tell she was experiencing lots of cognitive and development growth this week and the last- a lot for a little baby girl to handle!
        • She learned to take off her shirt this week.  A skill I'm sure I'll grow to love.
        To see the rational and purpose for the Watch Her Grow series, please check out this post!

        Wednesday, February 1, 2012

        Wordless Wednesday: Outside

        Here are some more photos of Q-balls outdoor explorations!

        Our yard has a bit of a slant- it's hard to stay balanced!

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