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 sensory bottles

When Baby Sis turned 6 months, E. and I prepared these sensory bottles for her.
The idea was taken from pinterest, where you can find tons of variations. I tried to keep it as simple as possible.

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I picked 5 Jana water bottles for babies. I peeled off the plastic cover. E. and I filled them up with all kind of things we found around the house:

  • heart-shaped pasta
  • rice flakes
  • millet balls
  • cut-up plastic straws and decor stones
  • water beads

Then added water to the one with the straws and the water beads. Simple as that. I know she can’t open the bottles tops just now but sooner or later she’ll be able to so I glued the tops on.

You can fill them up with glitter, hair gel, pom-poms, beans, lentils, buttons, tiny plastic toys, jelly beans, M&Ms, corn, popcorn, beads, elastic bands, jingle bells, sand or you name it.

If you add oil or glycerine to the water the light objects will float slowly.

Baby Sis has turned 6 months old

I haven’t really been able to write blog posts lately thanks to Baby Sis, who has turned out to be a “sticker child”. I thought separation anxiety starts around 8-9 months but no… it started when she was born.

Our 2nd 3 months went almost the same as the first 3, though everything seemed a little easier, like feeding, sleeping, daily routine etc. and it’s true for our English usage too.

But let’s not run ahead. Here is an update on the little lady:

She is about 65.5 cms long and 6.0 kgs. She is very active, moving around all the time even in her sleep. Boobs mean the world to her and whenever she starts crying she can be easily calmed on the boob. If she doesn’t get what she wants the screaming gets louder and loader and more desperate. She still doesn’t and can’t drink from a baby bottle and use a dummy. As opposed to her Big Sister who really liked both and wasn’t fascinated by the boob that much. (This is where I’ll stop comparing the girls)

I can no longer watch TV, read or chat with someone while she’s being fed as she gets distracted by EVERYTHING. She only allows me to sit quietly and do nothing. She even hits my phone out of my hand (she might have eyes on the back of her head…)

L. turned to her tummy just one day before her 5th month old birthday. Ever since then she’s been rolling all around. So much that one Monday she fell from our bed… on her head. In the morning rush we looked away for half a minute and she rolled like 1.80 metres and fell. We spent the whole day at the emergency room where several examinations were made (X-ray, sonogram etc) and luckily she was fine. Since then we’ve been putting her on the floor all the time.

If she’s on her back she’s kicking like a maniac. So sweet. She also noticed that she’s got two feet and LOVES them. Watching them, chewing her toes and comparing them with her hands.

I’ve always been against sleeping together with a child (I was mainly scared of lying on her, but I also find it unhealthy for the marriage) but Baby Sis begs to differ. She is unwilling to stay in her crib, even if I wait until she falls asleep. As soon as her little bum touches the bed and she can’t feel body warmth close to her she’s up screaming.

Magyarinda baby carrier

Daytime sleeping is done in an ergonomic baby carrier (Magyarinda) on Mummy during the week and on Daddy at weekends (Sometimes I wish I could buckle her up on the dog. ūüėȬ†) Once in a while she falls asleep in the pram, but only for 20-30 minutes. We’re still practising it, though.

on holiday

She’s got 2 working modes: smiley or whiny. If she’s happy and contented she’s ALWAYS smiley, she even smiles at strangers, which might change in the near future. She’s very easy to cheer up. Whenever she sees her Big Sister her little face brightens immediately. She loves chatting with everybody, looking at the books on the book shelves (or on the floor), watching me drink from a bottle, slapping her hanging toys on the play mat and last but not least screaming.

The update got a little too long, but here comes what we do in English.

We regularly try to go to MEC (Mums’ English Club), where L. either sleeps or is on the boob or both at the same time. Okay, every now and then she plays with her new buddies.

I started to introduce her¬†board books after the cloth books. You can find a list of baby books we’ve been using ever since E. was born. She seemed interested and enjoyed looking at the colourful pages.

I try to be a lot in English when E.’s home from the kindergarten. Baby Sis listens to our conversations but surprisingly E. talks to her sister in Hungarian. I always have to remind her that she also needs to talk to L. in English. But E. entertains her a lot.

She makes Baby Sis’s mobile move¬†

E. involves L. in her doctors pretend play

Reads her books
sisterly bonding

She tells her rhymes:

I myself try to read them in English (simple stories and rhymes) as much as I can:

Nursery rhymes after feeding

Sign language is another topic that I’d like to write a seperate blog post about. Mainly I use Makaton signs both in English and Hungarian (the same sign for the same idea) but also some American Signs and some of our own as well. Signing to babies help them to connect the spoken languages. If I say “enni” in Hungarian I show the same sign as I say “eat” in English, just to give you an idea.

I still do a lot of singing and I tell her several nursery rhymes. Her favourites are: Golden slumbers (and other lullabies) and Open, Shut them either when I do it with my hands or I move her little legs.

She also enjoys the following:
Finger family
Ba-ba black sheep
Humpty Dumpty
You’re my Sunshine
Ride a cock horse
I love you, you love me
This little pig went to the market
Round and round the garden
Head shoulders knees and toes
Here we go looby loo
Two little eyes:

When we play together it involves some balloons

some musical instruments like maracas and jingle bells

Some balls: colours and sizes
Sensory bottles for babies (later I’ll add a post on this topic too):

Apart from playing together in English, I should also mention the everyday activities, housework (just like with E.)¬†we do in English when we are just the two of us at home like unloading the dishwasher, hanging the clothes to dry, going to the bakery or to the market. Of course, L. just watches me do the chores but I hope later on she’ll join in.

I report everything to her. I tell her all the time what I’m doing or where we are going. Sometimes I feel like I talk to myself all the time but then she gives me a smile as if she understood everything.

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!

Shapes, shapes, shapes – there are all sorts of shapes

E. is into shapes to a great extent. About 2 months ago (when she was 16-17 months old) she already knew all the basic (and some not so basic) shape names. So it made me think what we can do to practise and play with the shapes in more varied ways.

When E. was quite small, around 6-8 months old, we watched and we’ve still been watching the following videos concerning shapes.

The Shape Song

Shape Song 2

We have some new favourites. While we are watching some of them she bursts out with laughter, like in case of the following:

Miser Maker: I am a shape

The next video might seem very monotonous and boring but my daughter loves it and sometimes wants to watch it 4 or 5 times.

What shape is it?

There are a lot more videos on shapes but I do not want to bore you. You can search for them on youtube.

E. got a shape cube for her first birthday, but she was totally untouched by it after taking a first look.

Birthday present with potentials

Mostly,¬†I was playing with it and she was watching, or was just playing away next to me. When she was about 14-15 months old, she started to name the shapes out of the blue, much to my surprise.We also use the shapes of the cube to match shapes in a little bit more different way. I took out a piece of paper and 9 shapes from the cube (I don’t know why 9… it could have been 5, 7 or 10. It was a sudden idea.). With the help of a brown crayon I drew them around (E. was watching closely and tried to help a bit too ūüôā )

Then I gave her the shapes and I didn’t even have to tell her what to do. She started to put the shapes on the paper.

 

To initiate more talking I always asked what she was doing, what shape it was she was holding etc. Plus, she sometimes said the colour of the shape, too, all by herself.Sometimes E. needs motivation to eat. At dinnertime I prepare some ‘soldiers’ and different shapes carved out of bread, ham, salmon or veggies. It is much more fun for her to eat a pentagon or a triangle than a slice of simple cucumber.

 

When she turned 16 months we found some books in the library on shapes. This picture dictionary contains two pages of colourful shapes (solids too).

 

Before taking the book back to the library I had these (and some more pages) photocopied and used the shapes to make flashcards as well.

And a famous favourite (alas, we’ve got it in Hungarian in the library but this unfortunate fact does not keep me back to use it for other language purposes):

 

Another Hungarian one: Kun Fruzsina: Form√°k

Stars

 Last but not least a Baby Einstein book on shapes:

There are tons of books on amazon.com all about shapes. No matter which book you use, but it is another fun way to talk about shapes and see them in different contexts.

Baby’s Best Start (Helen Doron beginner baby course 3rd CD)¬† has a song about shapes. We listen to it twice a day and E. knows it by heart. Also, the book contains pages of shapes and objects of a similar kind (circle-sun, triangle-sail, square-book).

Often E. identifies shapes by herself. On the table-cloth of our dining table there are some diamond shapes and whenever she walks past she points at them and says: РLittle diamond. Here. Big diamond. There.

On the basis of this experience, sometimes we just walk around the house and identify shapes. (The mirror is a rectangle, the washing machine is a cube, the socket is a square and the hair bobble forms a circle etc.) It is also a good idea to collect smaller objects of different shapes in a light box that your child can walk around with. When you have like 10-15 things you can throw them all onto the floor and group them according to their shapes.

For E.’s first birthday I also bought a second-hand¬† Froggy with shapes on his tummy. When you turn it on one of the shapes starts flashing. You need to push¬†the flashing¬†button and the Froggy starts singing a famous nursery rhyme/song (Star – Twinkle, Twinkle, Triangle – Mary had a little lamb,¬†Circle – Pat a cake and so on). Unfortunately, the square does not work any more, so whenever E. tries to make the square work I sing the Helen Doron Shapes song.

As Christmas was here I was planning to do a little christmasy shape fun, but I did not have time to make it. You can find a lovely Christmas tree decoration game with shapes here (ketnyelvugyerek.hu). The description is in Hungarian, but the picture speaks for itself.

Or a similar activity from Super Simple Learning with a template.

Another simple 3D Christmas tree decoration fun:

http://buggyandbuddy.com/christmas-activities-kids-decorate-felt-christmas-tree/
We are going to do all these next year I am sure, as a little revision. ūüėČ

Finally, let me show you a picture of shape chaos after an hour of playing: