Baby books 0-12 months

When E. was a baby I wanted to write a post about what books we are using every 6-12 months. I didn’t. I feel it as a pity so I got a second chance with Baby Sis. Here it comes. The books we’ve been using in L.’s first year.

What you’ll be reading about:

  • cloth books
  • educational board books
  • touchy-feely books
  • noisy books
  • lift the flap books
  • +1 extra surprise

 

0-6 months

We mainly “read” cloth books. Or while Baby Sis was lying awake she was looking at the black and white images, like in this one. I also pointed at the pictures and said what was seen (daddy, baby, heart etc.)

It’s also important to mention that the Velcro on the book is TASTY. ūüėā
IKEA cloth books are great. Apart from looking at them I could make up a very simple story on the basis of the pics. They’re also interactive (you can pull out a rabbit from a black top hat)

 

 

Drugstore (DM) cloth books that crackle and rustle:

 

 
Maisy’s bedtime – We usually have a look at this booklet before bath time.
Ladybird series: Baby touch
The 2 on the top were E.’s favourite as a baby
E. as a baby, “reading”
L.’s favourite: Wiggle Jiggle Ladybird

It’s not an advertisement but I love Usborne books. Baby books by Usborne are simple, have great contrast and the images are cute. The touchy-feely books are not only pleasure to look at but also exciting for little fingers to touch the varied surfaces. Even my 4,5-year old loves to paw them. Here are what we have:

This is not the touchy and feely kind

 

 

 

 

Baby Sis is examining the fluffy bunny


6-12 months:

We on reading the books above and introduced some new ones:

Noisy books are number one (not so amusing for parents though after 15-20 minutes of quacking)

Old MacDonald will be a Christmas present

 

Lift the flap books are also fun to read with your little ones. My only problem is that they can get damaged easily as my kids try to peep under the flaps. Our favourites are the following:

 

Here is a Dear zoo song:
On this link you can PEEP inside

 

 

One of our favourites is this Animal hide-and-seek. You can see how fun it is in the video below.

 

And the extra surprise book with a hand puppet:

Five Silly Monkeys by Steve Haskamp
The traditional song with a little twist. Here is a review from goodreads that I could have written:
“This time five monkeys are silly and not just mischievous. They jump on the bed of course, then they eat on the bed, swing on the bed, slide on the bed, and then spin on the bed.

Great fun for little ones and they love holding the cover with the monkeys heads made out of plastic for them to feel!”
 

L. loves to put her little finger through the holes. Sometimes a sing the original version. Sometimes with the funny activities like jumping,, swinging, sliding etc.

I hope you could find some ideas about what to read with your little one. Feel free to share what books you’re reading with this age group.

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Baby sister’s 3 months old – beware: a long post

Time flies with 2 kids. L. is already 3 months old and loads have been going on. In this post I’ll try to focus on her development and what I do with her in English though it’ll be hard.

First of all, some parametres:

She is 57 cms “tall”, 5.23 kgs. Her eyes are still blue. Her hair is light brown (showing tinges of ginger) and getting longer in the back and started to grow in the front. She only sleeps on Mommy or Daddy, or in the sling. She can’t push herself up while on her tummy but can lift and turn her head nicely. She’s got her first 2 shots at the age of 2 months. She gurgles and babbles a lot. She’s smiley if her tummy is full, on the changing table or when she can look around. Though she’s got a stomach ache quite often mostly in the evenings then she cries desperately. She’s breastfed and I can see white lines on her lower gum so the crying might be caused by the staring of her teething.

English time:

The routine is the same as it was with E. I just started it earlier (at her birth) with L. Whenever we are just the two of us I speak English to her. I’ve already introduced the little song we always sing with E. before changing languages (showing the Makaton signs to L. as well):

Hello, hello how are you?
Hello, hello, it’s good to see you.
I say hello, I’m happy that you came

I say hello, please tell me, please tell me, please tell me your name
Mommy (pointing at me)
L. (pointing at her)

(This song is -or rather used to be- the theme song of a BBC series Something Special. On the link you can listen to the new version of it. But you can use any song of your choice if you want to signal the beginning or the end of the language usage)

So what we do in English:


1. Lullabies

It seems I sing continuously. Whenever I try to rock L. to sleep I sing the following lullabies:

Rock-a-by baby

Hush little baby

Go to sleep lullabies (Go to sleep, Moonlight so sweet and pale, Golden slumbers)


(This last one I used to sing to E. ALL THE TIME. You can check out a less detailed post about E.’s first 6 months)
2. Changing table fun:

When I need to change L.’s nappy or clothes (and we are in English) I start with this rhyme:

…. (child’ name) ‘s got a dirty nappy.
What shall we do? What shall we do?

Clean is up, clean it up
For Mommy, and for you.

When her legs are free from clothes I make her little feet march:

Oh, the grand old Duke of York

(I march with her feet) Oh, the grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men,
He marched them up to the top of (Lift her feet up) the hill
and he marched them down again. (Put her feet down)
And when they were up they were up. (Lift her feet up)
And when they were down they were down. (Put her feet down)
And when they were only half way up, (Wiggle her legs)
They were neither up nor down.
(When I sing UP I lift her feet up, and when I sing down I put her feet down)
I go through her¬†body parts¬†with this song from the BBC series Something Special- Baby episode¬†(The song starts at 4.03 mins in the video but it’s worth watching the whole episode)

Two little eyes that open and close
Right in the middle a little nose
Two little ears on either side
one little mouth that opens wide

That’s baby (2x)

Two little legs that kick and wiggle
Two little feet that like a tickle
Two little arms that stretch up high
Two little hand that wave goodbye

That’s baby (2x)

The other thing she likes is tickling under her chin (or rather double chin *grin*). I chant these two rhymes:

Round and round the garden (stroking her tummy in a circle)
Like a Teddy Bear (showing the teddy bear sign)
One step, two steps (walking my fingers on her tummy)
Tickle you under there (tickle her under the chin)

Another variation can be you do the circling in the palm, the walking movement up the arm and tickle the armpit in the end


Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake baker’s man (patting the tummy)
Bake me a cake as fast as you can (patting faster)
Pat it and prick it and mark it with B (patting/rolling movements on tummy, forming a B with fingers)
Put it in the oven for baby and me. (2 palms up as if putting a tray in the oven, when saying BABY I tickle her tummy)
If you want to sing a tune here it is.

And finally 2 finger plays:

1. This little piggy went to market
This little piggy went to market
This little piggy stayed at home
This little piggy had roast beef
This little piggy had none
And this llittle piggy cried wee wee wee wee wee all the way home

Have a look at a video of This little piggy by Patty Shukla:


2. Two little dickie birds sitting on the wall
Two little dickie birds sitting on a wall
One named Peter the other named Paul
Fly away Peter, fly away Paul
Come back Peter, come back Paul.

Here is a video about what to do with your fingers:

3. Bath-time
As for bath-time I have a great helper apart from Daddy and that is L.’s big sister, E. She helps taking off L.’s clothes,¬†

prepares what we can put on her afterwards, checks and throws the nappy into the bin, helps with the splashing too ūüôā
Great practice for E. and L. hears not only me but her big sister talk in English. Sometimes we play the changing table games together again before bath-time.
One day E. sang a song for her little sister while I was busy with something and Daddy was preparing E.’s bath (that’s the noise in the background)
—–Oh, no! I can’t find the video anywhere ūüė¶ As soon as I find it I’ll put it on——–
They’re just too cute.
—– 23/07/2016 I found the video ūüėÄ ——-
4. Books
Baby books, of course. Black and white board books, cloth books or touch and feely books. 
Sometimes she just looks at the books while in the playpen/on the play mat and at other times I describe what she sees or tells her a story around the characters on the pages. ¬†I’m working on a short list of useful and fun baby books you can read about in the next post.

5. Baby’s Best Start
When L. has some tummy time or just looking around in her playpen I put on Baby’s Best Start Helen Doron CD about once a day. I’m not showing to her anything (no pictures, no soft toys, nothing) she just getting familiar with the music. I’m planning to start the course with L. soon, maybe September. (And I think we should restart with E. as well.)

FAQ

In the last couple of weeks I have bumped into a lot of mums who asked me similar questions about raising our daughter bilingual in a totally monolingual environment. So I collected a bunch of questions and my answers to them with some links from earlier blog posts:

  1. Do you speak to her English only?

No, I don’t. I can’t do that. My mother tongue is my mother tongue, no matter how high my level of English is. (High level of language command is relative. I always feel my English is deteriorating.)

I assigned¬†certain times¬†to speak English. When E. was a baby we had a¬†timetable¬†which meant that we used a little bit more English than Hungarian as she spent loads of time with me. Then we needed to¬†change our schedule, still we had 50-50 % balanced language usage. (When she was around 2). Nowadays, (she’s almost 3) we are in trouble with the balance between the two languages as we do not spend so much time together therefore there is less English in her life. BUT! Her English basis is so strong that she asks for changing languages when she feels she misses one of them (it’s usually English)

Even today, whenever there are just the two of us she says: РUh-uh, Mommy. We need to change into English. We are just two.
or
– I’ve already changed into English, because there is only Mommy and I.

 

  • When do you speak English to her and when Hungarian?

    There are many methods you can follow. What I use is a special one: I call it the timetable method. By now we don’t have a timetable any more. Whenever we can, we speak English, as the Hungarian input of the environment is too influencing.

  • When did you start talking to her in English?

    When we took her home from the hospital. At first, I was just singing songs and chanting rhymes to her in English. I wasn’t sure about what I was doing and it felt strange. Then I got some inspirations after having read some books and contacted some other moms in the same shoes. From the age of 6 months I’ve been talking to her in English just like in Hungarian.

  • Wasn’t she late with speech development?

    Not at all, although it would have been perfectly normal. She was about 1 year old when she could say 6-8 English words (and Hungarian ones too). Actually, her first word (bib) was in English. Of course, these words were fuzzy and not distinct for the untrained ears. But by the time she turned 18 months these words had become clear and a LOT more had been added to them. Not to mention, she started to build up 2-3 word sentences at that time too.

    I have to admit that the period between the age of 12 and 18 months was filled with more English sessions than Hungarian.

  • Doesn’t she mix the languages?

    She does! At first she didn’t, however, nowadays more and more. I’m not worried about it… okay… I am a little bit concerned, but I know if we keep up the balance between the languages she’ll have all the language tools in both languages to express herself. Most of the time she mixes Hungarian into her English because she doesn’t know a word or she can’t express something due to lacking a structure.

    Though it happens the other way round, too. She makes her grandparents puzzled when she asks for some stories with the telescope in it (mind you, pronounced it with a perfect British accent) or when she says she wants to play on the see-saw at the playground. Sometimes she names some bugs (bumblebees, wasps, ants) or plants (pansies, daffodils, shepherd’s-purse etc) she sees in the park in English. They can sort out this teeny-weeny language problem… for the time being.

  • What do you do when she mixes the languages?

    I keep on talking in the given language. I don’t change. And I do NOT advise you to let your child take the lead (although it is also an option.) I go on talking, let’s say, in English when she says some Hungarian words or sentences here and there. If I know she could say it in English I ask back: – What did you say? or – What’s that in English?

    If I am aware of the fact that she can’t express herself, I simply repeat in English what she said in Hungarian. Some sources suggest not to make your child repeat a word or sentence, yet sometimes I ask her to repeat just to reinforce we use English and help her fix a structure she cannot use (at all, or properly). Nonetheless, I’m not forcing it. Normally, she repeats expressions after me by herself. If she doesn’t want to, we move on.

    Also, you can pretend you do not understand what your child says, but in our case (we do not follow the One Parent One Language -OPOL-strategy; she can hear me talk both Hungarian and English) it wouldn’t work as my daughter knows that I understand and speak both. The other problem with this could be that your child can get frustrated if he or she can’t put an idea or a wish across.

  • What English activities/programmes can you take part in?

    We used to have a native British nanny for almost 2 years. I’m really grateful for her as she meant that I could have some free time (cooking, washing, ironing, shopping, cleaning etc.) while I knew English was still in focus in my daughter’s life. Now we are looking for a new nanny. If you happen to know someone in Budapest who would be interested I would appreciate it.

    I’ve organised a Mums’ English Club (MEC) in the library nearby, where mums gather with their little ones and chat in English while the kids play away. At the end of our sessions we sing some English songs for the kids. An afternoon session of MEC is badly needed but I haven’t had time to find a place where we could go free of charge.

    We’ve been taking part in the well-known Helen Doron School’s programme since E. was 10 months old. We are planning to leave it, but I’ll write about that in a later post.

    For almost a year we took part in a swimming course which was instructed both in English and Hungarian. We met there some non-Hungarian families who communicated mainly in English, so E. could hear during the swimming sessions that English is not just Mommy’s crazy language.

    We also visited Rhyme Time sessions (singing and playing in English) for a few times, but we do not go regularly.

  • Does Daddy speak English to her?

    He does. Daddy speaks a lot of languages, it’s no problem for him at all. What’s more, practising English regularly helps him improve his spoken skills as well. I suppose he also enjoys our English session;

    Again, at the beginning we did it differently. When Daddy arrived home from work we changed into Hungarian, but the whole day was in English. Nowadays, as I’m starting to work, E. is spending more time with the grandparents or she is in the nursery (not to mention that our native nanny, A. has left) we have been trying to fit in as many English sessions as we can.

    We have plenty of dinners, weekend programmes, playground visits, craft activities and bath times in English with Daddy. I’m very lucky, because my husband is very supportive concerning our bilingual project.

  • Can she say sentences?

    Haha. This has been the funniest question so far I’ve received. Sure she can. ūüôā Sometimes very complicated ones. I was really amazed when she said a passive sentence in the playground (– Look, Mommy, the other swing is taken) or when she talks to her soft toy using present perfect (– What have I told you?). One day she was replaying a Berry and Dolly episode (Gingerbread) that we watch in English.

    The following left her mouth: – I’m making gingerbread with the cookie cutter and then I’ll put it out in the winter¬†(sic) to cold (sic). Magpie, (that is me) come and take it away.
    Later in the story: – Don’t take away that belongs to somebody else.

    Here is the episode.

    Not only her sentences but her vocabulary is also outstanding. I’m often surprised at how eloquent words she knows. The other day she called a pan saucepan. I don’t think I have ever used this word with her.¬†Or she can name different kinds of onions: leek, garlic, spring onion as well as varied¬†expressions for the eating process: munch, chew, stuff your face, digest, feed, bite

     

  • How do you “teach” her (sic)?

    This is exactly how this question is asked most of the time.

    And the answer is : I do not teach her.

    What I do is to play with her in English just like in Hungarian. We do the daily routines in both languages. I try to prepare everyday and special activities for her which give us a chance to meet a lot of new situations:

    –¬†experimenting,
    –¬†prepping for holidays of the English-speaking world,
    –¬†doing fun craft activities,
    cooking and baking
    doing housework together
    exploring nature
    reading books and singing a lot as well as watching videos

    These are just a few examples. In short, we LIVE our lives in 2 languages.

    +1. How shall WE start?

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started” – Mark Twain

So just start it.

If you want to get some ideas read through the blog… HAHA. Believe me, it’ll be much easier to find your own ways. But you can get some ideas here. (Feel free to search for keywords if you’re looking for something exact)

Start with some songs that you sing to your child while changing nappies or waking him/her up.

Search some videos online around a topic (cars, shapes, animals, numbers, planets etc.) that your child is interested in and watch them together. You can also explain what you see in the videos.

Learn some rhymes/songs with sign language and play with your munchkin.

Flashcards are almost always fascinating for children, but rather time-consuming to prepare your own home-made ones. On the other hand, our own flashcards are much more attractive to my daughter. You can find really good flashcards online, which you only need to print (and perhaps laminate).
If you don’t mind spending some money, you can buy some beautiful ones.

And I haven’t mentioned the endless opportunities that books offer to speak and practise a foreign language.

Again, these are some very basic ideas to start with your little one from an early age.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me either in the comments or via email. You can come and visit  my facebook page as well.

Enjoy!

Books we are using

E. is extremely interested in books and¬† we, as a family, find it important to have a good and varied¬†library at home. If you raise your child bilingual, having great books is essential from the very beginning. Quality counts more than quantity. We also use some Hungarian books in English and vica versa. I would spend my husband’s monthly salary on books if I could. So far I’ve managed to collect a few books both in English and Hungarian:

Our small baby library

The books you can see in the photo above are the ones that are available for E. at any time she wants them. I also have some more rhyme books, fairy tale collections and other stories in paperback format. I rather keep them away from her at present as she is living her life through experimenting (chewing, tearing, hitting, folding etc.) with everything.

Reading out loud to your child, no matter in which language, is a must. Even at a very young age. In our case both in English and in Hungarian.

E.’s biggest favourite is The Wizard of Oz¬†at the moment. She is now a year old. And of course, we did not start it with this story. What we have is not a board book so she can’t have it; I take it only when we read it, so it is not available to her 7/11. Probably this is also part of the magic. I bought this book in a second hand Hungarian (!) book shop for 100 HUF:

 
 

I try to read it out with sound effects. The characters have different tones of voice, when the storm is coming I say whoooosh or sssssshhhhh, when the lion appears I roar, when the wizard prepares the balloon I imitate the blowing of a balloon etc. E. really loves all the sound effects. After I have read the book, she can get it for a short while. E. tries to turn the pages (it’s not easy for her as she is used to board books) and while we are looking at the pictures I tell her what we see in a few words. Then we put the book back to its place. This is when she starts whining, sometimes crying but it’s quite easy to direct her attention to something else, luckily.

But I should start with the beginning. Let’s go in chronological order:
At the very beginning, from birth to 6 months I used three CLOTH BOOKS.

ÔĽŅÔĽŅ
IKEA cloth book – The Giant Elephant’s Circus
One from IKEA, and two from DM (we got them all as presents). When she couldn’t move around too much and too fast, I just put down the book so she could see it and told a story (The Giant Elephant’s Circus,¬†The Rabbit’s Carrot Garden, The Secret Treasure – the latter is an underwater story with sea animals, alas, I have no pics of it as it landed at one of the Grandmas). She paid really close attention. Then by the time she could touch the book, I described the sounds they made (crackle and rustle), the different surfaces they had (rough, smooth, soft). Later on I stared to name the colours, the very simple sentences got more complex, though the main¬†story line remained the same.

ÔĽŅ

Babylove cloth book -The Rabbit’s Carrot Garden

ÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅ

The first thing E. could do with her hands after grabbing an object is turning the page of these books, and after a while BOARD BOOKS. It was after the age of 6 months, but this time she was just interested in turning the pages. When she was around 8-9 months old she was closly examining certain pages and skipped others.

I, myself, LOVE the Ladybird series. They have so many great books for all ages. The Baby Touch series is what suits a child under 3 the most. We have 2 of these colourful, vivid fun books which can be touched, scratched, pushed and licked:


In case of the Rhyme Book, I say the rhyme or sing the song which is on the given page while E. is touching and licking the different surfaces. I often ask her questions about the pictures (Where’s the Teddy? or Are these flowers the same? What colour is the pussycat?) and then I answer them (There he is, No, they’re different, She’s orange), but nowadays she’s started to answer me babbling or¬†pointing or even saying some wordlike utterances.

In case of the Happy Babies Book, we mostly touch and scratch, or wave hello or bye-bye to different creatures. Also, I say a lot of colours here. If I’m a little bored with it then I sing along a song which could be connected to the pictures. E.’s favourite page is the last one, so we just sit over it and push and lick the squishy, circle and the shiny, silver triangle.

Another number 1. book with small kids is the Spot series by Eric Hill. Here is a video where Eric Hill himself is reading out¬†one of his books, Where’s Spot?. The little hands love turning the flaps (but be careful, they can tear them off in the twinkling of an eye). Spot is very well supported online as well. Have a look at Spot’s homepage.

E. enjoys flap books a lot. Another one in our library, which is “read” on a daily bases,¬†is Dear Zoo. You can have a look at the inside in this funny video.

There are some educational books for early learning purposes. The market is vast for these books and there are a great number of them. What we have are some Baby Einstein books about shapes and numbers (I managed to get 3 of them at a mom-to-mom sale in the local youth centre for a few hundred HUF). 
 

I could go on and on listing the books we love using or would love to buy but there would be no point. As far as I’ve experienced it, it doesn’t really matter what books you have, and how many you have as long as you open them regularly, on a daily bases, or as frequently as your child is interested in them. Even if you don’t have a well lined purse (well, well it’s not a surprise that these baby books cost a fortune)¬†you can find discounts and second hand books too.

Check out the following sites:

 

Angolkönyvek.com

There’s a site (bookdepository.com) where delivery is free. What’s more, you can read to your child online for free¬†(though it’s not really for babies, or at least my little one doesn’t really enjoy it that much yet): wegivebooks.org¬†. Another possibility is to make your own book, but it’ll be another post.

 
And to finish this post, here is a photo of E. reading her favourite book:
 

From birth to the 6th month

As I have already mention my determination to raise a bilingual child didn’t realise at the very beginning. I did it half-heartedly after E.’s birth. I was singing a lot to E., who really enjoyed it, more than the Hungarian songs. She calmed down more quickly when I sang two of the songs: Lavender’s blue dilly, dilly¬†and¬†Hush little baby.¬†So there was time when she couldn’t calm down and I was singing these two songs for 30-40 minutes without any break.

During this first period I started to read books on the topic: Make your child multilingual by Silke Rehman and 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child by Naomi Steiner and I found both of the books very supporting and practical, still they don’t deal much with a totally monolingual environment, where the second ‘mother tongue’ is a learnt language for the parents, and it’s the parents decision to raise the child bilingual. They mainly focus on mixed marriages, where one parent speaks a language and the other speaks a different one, or monolingual families living abroad and the countries language is the dominating one.¬†Both books ¬†discuss more or less the same topics¬†focusing on determination of the parents, the consistency and a flexible plan. I do not want to go into details and give a review¬†as I’d like to concentrate on what we actually do in our everyday life, but definitely these two books were really good theoretical and practical basis.

The authors emphasise¬†the TIME factor a lot; how much time is spent on the languages. They recommend 30-40 percent of the child’s day to be spent on the minor language, which is English in our case.

So I “wasted” the first 6 months. If I could start it again I would speak English to E. from the very beginning in a natural way as in Hungarian, but I did not. So she heard natural spoken¬†English every now and then for 6 months. The positive side of it is regularity, which is also a very important factor. Every day I sang songs for her or told her rhymes no matter how our days were going.

Around the 3rd month we started to watch videos on youtube, though only for 5-10 minutes per day. I know there are a lot of different views on the topic (whether to let a baby¬†watch moving images at this early age or not, but I found 5 minutes per day won’t do any harm. According to some viewpoints, moving images have a bad effect on the child’s brain, imagination).
She liked watching these videos so slowly we increased the time for 10-15 minutes per day until the end of the 6 months.

The following videos were and still are her favourites by KidsTV123:
The Animal Sound Song
The Shape Song
Red Rabbit Green Gorilla
Phonic song
Twinkle, twinkle little star

Of course, the list has grown by now but I’ll write about it later.

We usually watched the videos 2 or 3 times a day for 5 minutes each occasion. When E. got whiny it was a great way to refresh her, or keep her busy when she was a little bored. From one week to the other she enjoyed it more and started to smile at the characters. She also recognised the song when the first image came up or the song began.

In this period my main focus was on fun and regularity. We didn’t overdo it, just enjoyed being with E. and see how her intellect opens up.