May/June 2008

BABYBUG is for babies who love to be read to and for adults who love to read to them. Here are a few suggestions to make your read-aloud times even more enjoyable for you and your baby.

by Sally Nurss, M.Ed.

The Disappearing Rattle . . . and Other Mysteries Solved

With one imperious sweep of his hand, a seven-month-old sends a rattle flying from his highchair tray. It lands on the floor unnoticed by him, as he turns his attention to another toy on the tray.

A month or so later, the same baby sweeps the same rattle off the tray onto the floor. This time, instead of ignoring its disappearance, the search is on! He immediately peers over the side of his highchair. Aha! Just as he suspected! The rattle is indeed on the floor.

In just a matter of weeks, a shift has occurred in this baby’s ability to understand object permanence, the fact that objects continue to exist even when they can’t be seen. At around eight or nine months, babies begin to show us that they can keep a mental representation of an object in mind. Now, if they’ve watched as an object disappears or is hidden, they’ll actively search for it.

Around the same time, many babies begin to raise loud objections whenthey realize that an adult who cares for them is about to leave. It’s evidence that they have an internal representation of someone they love—and a way to say they want that person to stay with them.

With time and experience, babies and toddlers discover that parents and other loved caregivers can be counted on to return. It helps to play lots of hiding games and peekaboo during this time. Such games are not only a source of great delight to babies, they’re an ongoing reminder that what disappears will most certainly reappear.

Play Together

Whether in a new or familiar setting, bedtime is often an anxious timeof separation for young children. In this episode of “Kim and Carrots,” we see that quiet and cozy routines, treasured toys and a favorite story can help a child feel secure and protected while drifting off to sleep. In “Yes We Do,” an old-fashioned game of peekaboo before bed reassures children that even when their eyes are closed, the people they love are nearby.

The toddler in “Where?” is elated to find his lost teddy bear under his crib. Here’s a hiding game to play with your toddler.

  • Ask your child to choose a toy for you to hide. Then have her cover her eyes or turn around while you hide it.
    When you first play, hide the toy in plain sight or with part of it sticking out.
  • Give hints by asking questions. “Is it under the chair? No? Is it behind the pillow? Where could it be?”
  • This game is also fun when played with an object that makes noise, such as a music box or a timer that ticks loudly.

“Outside at Night” and “My Flashlight” both show a child with an adult celebrating the beauty of nighttime outdoors. Whether you venture outside together or just hold your child in your arms and admire the night sky from a darkened room, it’s a peaceful way to share a quietmoment at the end of the day.

Read Together

As you read the selections in BABYBUG, occasionally move your finger along under the words. This will help your baby or toddler form a foundation for knowing that words can be represented in print and that English texts are read from left to right.