Developtment- part II
Yesterday he was playing on the floor and he lost his grip on a toy and toppled over backwards painlessly onto his foam play mat. But because he was tired and wanted me to come get him, he started doing his “come and get me” whine/cry, which I did. I picked him up without leaving the area and soothed him for a minute because I needed to put him back down to fix his food for him. I kept looking at him for a second to see how mad he would get because while I did need to fix his food, it does no good to let him get downright upset about the whole situation.
I put him down and he immediately started his whine/cry and also saw that I was not responding to it the way I usually do by picking him up, which is what he was trying to signal to me to begin with. While looking me straight in the eye, I kid you not, I saw his “lightbulb going off” expression and he purposely toppled himself back over onto the floor and started his “come and get me” whine again!
As a side note, some people may think that this is just manipulative behavior and that I should ignore it. However, I strongly believe that this so-called “manipulative behavior” is really just the beginnings of self-awareness and early attempts at communication. I think that being tuned in and responsive to my baby’s cues is the best way to encourage him to trust his ability to create new signals in order to express himself and thus aids in language development.
If you look at it from his perspective, this makes perfect sense. In more (boring) detail, for a brain who does not yet possess language, then the only way to store memories and organize itself is to instead build up a store of “cause and effect” or mental images. For example, a baby learns that ‘If I root to nurse, I will be nursed.” This is an innate reflex behavior, present at birth, and it is so effective that even a nursing toddler will continue this behavior after acquiring language.
In our case, Nathan associated toppling over on the floor with my picking him up. So the first thing that he thought of when he wanted to be picked up and needed to communicate this with me is to topple over because in his experience, he gets picked up. So now this is one of his many “signals” to me and I am so proud of him for trying so hard to learn how to express what he needs.
I just remembered a few other new things that Nathan does. A few weeks ago, when he first started teething, I would say, “Want to brush your toofy?” and I would massage his sore gums. He quickly learned to open his mouth and tilt his head back for me to massage his gums for him.
Around this time, because he was so fussy, I started putting my hand over his mouth to cover and uncover it repeatedly to turn the sound on and off, creating the classic Native American Indian call. He LOVED it! The only problem is that he does not have a signal yet to tell me when he wants me to do the Indian call. The only other time I ever do anything remotely similar is when I “brush his toofys.” He decided to combine our “brushing his toofy” event with the Native American Indian call. So now whenever I say, “Let’s brush your toofy!” he will open his mouth, tilt his head back, and say “ahhhhhhhh.” It is a super-cute trick and it never fails to make people laugh.