Mommying BabyT

Mommy T's adventures; bringing up Baby T

Category: Development & Milestones (page 2 of 3)

M is for Multilingual homes

One of the things I had not planned for during my pregnancy days was what language I would speak to the new baby that was to arrive. I was ready with everything else – diapers, clothes, blankets, toys, books, knowing that I will breastfeed him, adopt the no medication routine etc. But language was something that I did not think well and hard enough about.

Sure enough when babyT was here, speaking to him in my mother tongue – konkani came naturally to me. I myself did not speak konkani too much. English was the predominant language at my maternal home. However speaking to babyT in this language was something that just stemmed from my mothering I suppose. Daddy and his side of the family all spoke to babyT in Marathi and all the books we read were English. I did chance upon a lot of articles online and saw a few examples in our social circle, that children born in multilingual homes spoke later in life and their language was a mixed up hotch potch of all the languages. This did not really worry or stress me out, but I was concerned if we were actually all just confusing the poor baby.

To my surprise, this little tyke has been an early speaker. I think he said daddah around the 8th month and from then on he added a lot of new words slowly but surely to his vocabulary.  In fact before he touched 16 months (he turned 16 mos today) he had begun to make 2 word sentences too. He was able to mostly understand what we would communicate in Marathi or Konkani long before his first birthday. He understands konkani completely for sure as I am around him 24/7. Marathi not so much, because the only permanent source of Marathi in babyT’s life, his daddah has to go work and earn the daily bread. Yet all my fears that babies in multilingual environments speak late were all shooed away quickly.

Some things that worked well for us I think –

  • Konkani and Marathi are not too different from each other. This worked in our favour somewhere. You may have a far more culturally diverse household. Don’t be afraid to attempt to speak in all languages to the child.
  • We spoke to him a LOT. I in Konkani, daddah in Marathi and books were read in English.
  • We did not introduce him to any other languages – by way of nanny, TV or books. Songs in Hindi yes, but they were a one off.
  • One person, one language – I only spoke in Konkani or English. Daddah only in Marathi. My parents only in Konkani and babyT’s paternal grandparents only in Marathi. We didn’t confuse him by the individuals speaking in a different language.
  • We included a lot of songs and singing and rhymes in the 3 languages.
  • I spoke in Konkani and then repeated it in English. I translated books from English into Konkani when reading. Added daily life examples wherever relevant – opened up dried seed pods to show the seeds within and spoke of elements from the story The Tiny Seed. 
  • Flash cards were introduced around 6 months age and I did not stick to the expected norm of marathon flashing, repeating or using the language as it was printed on the card. In our multi-lingual home we use words which are Marathi, Konkani and English. But we usually stick to only one word per object. Crows are  Kailloh (Konkani), Apple is in English and Brinjals are vaangi (Marathi)
  • We don’t give him the feeling that we are teaching  him something and nor do we carry the cross that we had to teach him our language. All our communication was a natural element of our environment.
  • There may come a time when babyT starts mixing the languages. But this really is a natural element of learning. Don’t we also speak by mixing Hindi – English and our local languages? The point is not to stress over it when it happens and not to pressure the child into falling back into line.
  • Above all remember that every child is different. Every environment is unique, just as you the parent and caregiver are unique. Each child develops at their own pace. Don’t get into comparison mode. While milestones are important, it is important not to stress over them. Continue to provide inspiration, sense of wonder and give them lots of opportunities to speak. They will surprise you when their time to shine comes. 🙂 Where real concerns exist do discuss it with child’s pediatrician at their regular check ups.

Learning comes naturally to babies and children. In fact they are at their peak till the age of 5. Expose them to all types of languages, experiences and positive habits. You will do them a lot of good.

I is for Immunity: Building your babies immunity

I is for Immunity.

Of all the queries I have read on mommy support groups and forums, I think “How to boost my child’s immunity” has been a primary concern. I too took immunity for granted until a terrible viral infection hit our house (yes, I say house because we all fell victim to it, one by one) and that too just in time for babyT’s first Diwali, which we were looking forward to so eagerly. 🙁 Of course when we were under the spell it was difficult to do much to boost immunity but I did read up a great deal on it and made small attempts to inculcate the habits. Here is what I learned about immunity and how we can boost it for babies and toddlers:  Continue reading

F is for Fine Motor skills

Fine motor skills involve the small muscles like that in the hand, fingers, thumb and which contribute to the child learning important skills ahead in life like eating, buttoning, zipping up clothes and then down the line writing, creating with hands etc. The word fine motor skills gets tossed about a lot in normal conversations these days, but I don’t remember really seeing my parents or the earlier generation bothering about whether their babies and toddler spent sufficient time inculcating these skills. But what I have seen and heard is pics and stories of how children would play around the house and garden, picking leaves, sticks and bugs and beetles and even pots, pans and play in the kitchen with grains and vegetables while mommy cooked and went about her daily activities.

Taking inspiration from this, we spent a day letting babyT try and get his hands dirty while he got busy with some fine motor skills activities. The fact that i have come to stay at mom’s place and forgotten to carry his toys and that i badly needed peace for more than 10 minutes, may or may not have had anything to do with it. 🙂  Continue reading

Flash-a-by baby: why we love flash cards?

BabyT’s favourite flash-cards

Once you’ve had your baby and you’ve conquered the basic needs level on the baby Maslow hierarchy (there is no such thing, but my MBA in HR keeps showing up at times) your over-anxious mind asks “what next? What more can I do to make my life a little more complicated but a little more fun and stimulating for baby?” That’s when I discovered that babies love looking at bright, colourful images… and a random browse on Amazon brought me to the section for flash-cards. I remember having read on some discussion threads in the mommy groups I am part of, that flash-cards were effective to teach kids about all sorts of “stuff.” However, the rigour of it and the need to “teach” had driven me off… but still the products I saw tempted me to hit Add to Cart.

So around when babyT was 6+ months old, and we had started solid foods, I decided it would be a good idea to start telling him the name of the vegetable or fruit he was biting into, basically give things a name. And so arrived our first set of flash cards. I started off with showing him the flash cards at mealtimes – so initially we did images like carrot, beans, banana, mango (he started solids in the month of the Alphonso mango, yayy!); and I spoke the word out aloud a couple of times. I did not always use the word as was written on the card. I used the word that we normally use around the house – so some words were in English, some in Marathi (daddy tongue) and some in konkani (mommy tongue). I’ll come to this shortly – multi-lingual homes.

After showing him selective cards I soon graduated to doing the entire set of cards once a day and we did this almost daily. I soon found that babyT was trying to say sounds like carrot (kaat) and Kellein (keyy for banana). I also referred to this set of cards as the ‘bhaji (vegetables) cards’ and we were so surprised when once we were waiting our turn outside a restaurant in South Bombay (always South Bombay, never South Mumbai, or whatever would happen to SoBo.) babyT squealed and shouted at the top of his baby voice – “Bhajiii” We were stunned, it took us a few seconds to decipher what he just said in babytalk, but we looked around and saw that he was looking at a vegetable vendor selling his wares near the restaurant. So all those days and weeks of flash carding were actually helping in some way. We were quick to add other sets of flash cards to our collection – animals, birds (we have now lost this set somewhere between our mess and the ones we make at grandparents houses), things in my home, body parts etc. I don’t want to sound like a over-excited new mom who thinks the sun, moon and stars revolve around her baby, but babyT had a fairly wide vocabulary around the time he was 10 months. I don’t know if this will translate into him speaking early or having an ability to speak 3 distinct languages that we do speak at home, but even our paed did admit that his vocabularly was definitely above average for his age. 🙂 And I do believe flash carding helped.

How I used Flash cards:(Note – this may not be the way flash cards are meant to be used as per the instructions on the box. But I did not want to “teach” anything to a baby that small. Our objective was to find something engaging and enriching.) 

  1. Show the image to babyT and say out the name clearly once or twice. Do this one-by-one for all the cards. Then show the entire set of cards in a flash – while saying out the name just once. Experts say this should be repeated a few times in a day and then everyday. However I did not follow this. I used them whenever we had some time to spare from our other activities or when babyT himself dragged out the cards and brought them to me to read to him.
  2. You can say the name of the object in any language you wish. Ideally use the same word for it that you use at home. For example, in our multi-lingual home we use words which are Marathi, Konkani and English. But we usually stick to only one word per object. Crows are  Kailloh (Konkani), Apple is in English and Brinjals are vaangi (Marathi)
  3. Wherever possible add the actual object along with the card – especially in cases of fruits and vegetables, parts of body.
  4. As the child grows do try and add some descriptions to go with the images – we started to roar like tigers/ lions, say baa or moo for sheep and cows and blinked our eyes and twitched our noses doing body parts. Its quite cute really, every time babyT sees an image or video of a tiger he growls. 🙂
  5. We also talked of songs and stories where that object featured. Nani teri morni (a popular hindi song for babies which talks of peacocks) was referred to or a line sung from when we showed the birds flash cards. 🙂
  6. We made it a point to walk around the supermarket fruits and veggies section, pointing out all the familiar objects from our set of cards.

There are schools of thought which say very young babies shouldn’t be read to or shown flash cards to teach words or reading. However, books and reading have been the major source of comfort, fun and happiness with babyT. He loves books, he loves being read to and he loves receiving books more than toys. We also don’t follow the general guidelines on age wise books (obviously he isn’t reading nuclear physics yet) but we have been reading all sorts of books – touch and feel, hard bound, board books, paperbacks, soft books. Everything that we think we will enjoy and make some sense of. (Wherever we felt books are a little too advanced, we have stored them away for a future date.) So too with flash cards. They have worked really well for us and have benefited babyT immensely. I do hope you think of introducing them to your child. And if you haven’t already begun reading or books, its never too late to do so. 🙂 Happy reading! Happy flash carding!

We used flash cards from AppleTree available on Amazon.in

Milestones – We are standing

BabyLit – Goodnight Mr Darcy, a parody 

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