Category Archives: New Mum Lou

Reading to your baby.

I decided from about 5 months pregnant, that I’d start reading to my bump. I had already begun to talk to it because I’d read that your baby can hear your voice even when in the womb. I decided to read as well as talk because I wanted my baby to hear the different tones of my voice. I also thought that she might find it soothing. I know that she liked it because often when I’d begin to read, she’d move about and give me kicks. When my bump got really big, I massaged her feet through my tummy, as I read. I had read on a baby website that it is possible for your baby to remember a story that is read to them in the womb after they are born. I have to admit that I was a little sceptical about this but my scepticism made me more determined to give it a try. Now my baby is a couple of months old, I still read the same books as I did when I was pregnant (as well as others.) She absolutely loves me reading them, especially the Hungry Caterpillar, so maybe she does remember.

When I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to use reading as a way to calm my baby before bed. It definitely works! I try to do it every night to help her to wind down before bed. I often read to her first thing in the morning as well; it’s a gentle way to wake her brain up. Reading is brilliant for bonding between me and my baby. It is also a lovely thing for my husband and close family members to do as well. If we spend a long time at my mum’s house, I always take along a collection of books for a bit of grandma and baby bonding time.

The first books that I bought for my baby were tactile. They didn’t have lots of words, but had lots of different materials inside for her to touch. I read that babies respond well to black and white because of the contrast between the two tones. I found some great black and white books on Amazon and my baby loved them for the first 2 months; she would stare at each page for ages! Now she is fascinated by colour and prefers busy illustrations.

I feel that reading is really important for my baby girl’s language development. Not only that, I am hoping that my enthusiasm for reading to her will rub off and ultimately give her a passion for books. I hope this is the start of a life long love of reading for her.

Teaching Your Baby to Talk.

Language learning for babies begins in the womb. From about mid-way through your pregnancy, your baby will begin to hear and recognise the rhythms and tones of your voice. A little later, he/she may be able to recognise your partner or close family members. Your voice will be soothing to your baby, a comfort which will continue when your baby is born. The more you talk to your baby when pregnant, the more familiar he/she will become with your voice and therefore the language you are speaking. Reading to your baby whilst pregnant is excellent for developing your baby’s language skills as you often tend to read with my varying tones and pitches, making it easier for your baby to identify different sounds. The same goes for listening to music.

When your baby is born, it may seem pointless to talk to him/her as he/she won’t understand what you are saying or respond to it. However, without you knowing, when you talk to your newborn, they will be beginning to pick up on your use of language. They will learn to be soothed by your voice and as they get a bit older, they will learn very quickly what the word ‘no’ means! If you stimulate your baby by talking, reading and singing to him/her you will be offering a pattern for them to copy, thus meaning that after a lot of practise, they will be able to pick up the pattern for themselves.

Babies begin to learn language for themselves by making different sounds. They will begin to growl and coo and even giggle by the age of about 2-3 months. If you repeat their sound back to them, it often encourages them to repeat it back to you. Here they are learning that language is a means of communication. If you talk to your baby often, you will notice him/her trying to move their mouth as if to try and mimic the sounds you make. I love it when my little girl does this as it makes me feel like she’s really clever! Her language is much more exciting than mine so we often have minute long conversations made up of just noises.

When your baby is beginning to make his/her own noises, make sure that when you are talking, you allow time for them to respond. Babies who get talked at may learn to mimic sounds but don’t have an understanding that talking is a 2-way thing.

Reading to your baby frequently will help him/her to learn language quicker. The variation in tone and pitch of your voice makes it easier for him/her to distinguish between different sounds, making them easier to copy.

From about 6 months old is a good time to start teaching your baby specific words such as ‘mama’ and ‘dada.’ Repeat the words to your baby several times, making sure they can see the movement of your mouth. Praise any attempts they make at copying, even if it sounds nothing like the word! Think about teaching your baby just a few simple words first, don’t bombard him/her with too many complex sounds.

Educational toys for 0-6 months.

Although babies love toys, it is incredibly important to think about the types of toys you give them, not only for safety reasons, but also so that they get the most out of them. When my baby girl was newborn, it was very easy to over-stimulate her and tire her out. If I’d waved dangling toys at her I’m pretty sure that she’d have cried. From early on, she had a fascination with things which were black and white; the first toys I bought her were black and white books. These were great for the development of her eye-sight as well as for stimulating her brain.

The next step was to introduce my baby girl to a play mat. A play mat is an excellent educational toy because it allows your baby to understand distance; encourages them to touch and grab things and gives them a safe surface to practise rolling on. I bought one with different materials stitched in so that she can have different touch sensations. My play mat came with a mirror too. This is great for developing your baby’s concentration and sense of exploration. Some mats have in-built sounds and music. I wish I’d bought one with music because it adds another dimension to your baby’s learning. I often play a nursery rhyme CD when my baby is on her mat.

Another good educational toy for a baby is a non breakable mirror. The best kind are ones which you can buy on baby websites specifically for this purpose. I knew that my baby was ready for a mirror when she started staring at herself whenever I took her to look in the bathroom mirror. It is wonderful to see the fascination in her face as she tried to work out who it was in the mirror. Sometimes she even gurgles and smiles at her reflection, although I’m convinced that she thinks it’s another baby.

The best toy for a 0-6 month old has to be a baby mobile. My baby loves to lie in her cot and stare at hers. It is musical which means that it helps with her brain development as she listens to the different patterns and tones. I even used the mobile as a way of getting her used to being in her big cot before it was time for her to move out of her moses basket. A mobile is great for my baby because she likes having something familiar to focus on when she goes to sleep. It also keeps her occupied whilst she is winding down before sleep or when she first wakes up.

Educational toys for ages 6-12 months.

Over the Christmas period and in the January sales, I am looking to buy my baby educational toys which she can use when she is a bit older. I have also asked my family and friends to buy her some educational toys for Christmas.

My sister has bought my little girl some finger puppets and a matching book for Christmas. She found the book on Amazon and there are lots of books and puppets with different themes so I can build up a collection. I knew that my baby would like them because she loves me putting on funny voices when we play with her soft toys. She is much more aware of her hands now so will love to reach out and try to grab the finger puppets. I think that finger puppets are a great way of making stories much more fun as well as developing a child’s imagination from an early age.

I am really looking forward to my baby playing with moving toys. At the moment she is grabbing at toys and playing with them whilst she holds them but once she is able to sit on her own on the floor, I think she will be fascinated by toys which move. They will be great for developing her understanding of how things move when you push them. It should also help with her spatial awareness as she sees them getting stuck when they bump into things. Not only that, I am hoping that she will learn to crawl by wanting to try and chase the toys around.

As my baby girls reaches about 10 months,I can imagine her beginning to pull herself onto her feet and wanting to stand up. I am hoping to help her walking development by buying her toys which she can prop herself up against. I have read that it’s a lot safer to teach your child to walk using toys which are stationary rather than by using baby walkers as these are more suitable for when they are more confident at walking.

A great educational toy for babies from about 1 year right up until they start school is building blocks. Not only are they brilliant fun, they are also excellent for developing all sorts of skills and scientific awareness. Building blocks are often associated with boys’ play, but I want my girl to develop really good spatial awareness (as I have none!) and I think building blocks are the way to go!

Baby Headbands.

I love looking for funky baby clothes so that my little girl doesn’t look like a Mothercare clone. One thing I have recently discovered is baby headbands. I wanted to dress my girl in a special outfit for a couple of Christmas parties we were going to but didn’t want to go as far as a dressing up outfit. Instead, I bought her a beautiful red dress and matched it up with a Christmas headband. She looks adorable in the outfit, even if I say so myself and it’s really nice for her to join in with the festivities as she is too young to understand about Christmas yet.

Since buying my girl a baby headband, I have come across various styles of headband for different occasions. I think that they really make an outfit look that little bit more special. I have to admit that I’m not keen on my baby wearing baby headbands every day but they are great for a special occasion.

We have a couple of weddings coming up next year so I have already started to look at wedding hair accessories for my baby to wear. There are some gorgeous satin ones and you can also get some with a bit of sparkle! What pleases me the most is that they are not all pink! I can see myself buying the wedding hair accessories and then getting a dress to match, not the other way round!

I have to admit, that I do think that there is a fine line between baby headbands that make your baby look chavvy and something that is a little classier. I much prefer the idea of my baby wearing them for something special rather than just as part of her everyday clothing.