Understanding children: Babies being heard
Understanding children: Babies being heard

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Understanding children: Babies being heard

4 Learning and growing

We hope that after completing Activity 4 you will be more aware of how babies have the ability to communicate, initiate conversations and show a range of emotions. Adults and other carers have to interpret what babies need, and provide it. We may not always get it right so need to keep an open mind and be able to change our interpretation and our behaviour if required. In addition, without adults or older children to refer to, a baby cannot learn how to get on in his or her own particular family, community and society.

The help babies need is in many forms; as you have seen already, relationships with other people are vital for babies right from the start. They also need to be provided with food and warmth to keep them comfortable, and things to do and think about to help their minds develop. The Family has lots to say about how they help Mia to learn and grow.

‘Food was his biggest concern so we fed him. I did breastfeed for eight weeks. He was so hungry I was exhausted and had to stop. I suppose we laughed at him a lot and smiled. We cooed and chatted to him a lot.’
(Mother of 15-month-old boy)

Acitivty 5: Helping Mia learn and grow

Timing: 0 hours 30 minutes

Read through the comments of Family members below. As you read make notes of examples where people are helping Mia's development. Then write a brief note of how you think each example might help her. Here they are looking back to when Mia was nine months old. You can add any notes you make to your existing notes for future reference.

Daisy:
She would sit in her baby chair and we would play games and talk. I would sing her the songs from the Top 20 as well as nursery rhymes. Sometimes she would join in with noises. I knew when she was having fun because she kicked her legs and waved her arms around and laughed. If I stopped singing she would wave and go ‘aaah’ as if to say ‘don't stop’.
Eamon:
Mia is my first child and my first experience of looking after a baby so I wanted it to be right. I hadn't realised how much work it would be getting up in the night – even though Mia slept with us in a baby basket and then in a cot in our room. Being on shift work did mean I saw her at all times of the day and night and she seemed to know that I would be the one to do things for her even in those early months. My favourite time with Mia was and still is breakfast time when she is awake before the others and I spend time playing with her. All of the children are musical – and I can see Mia following in their footsteps. She really listens when Daisy is singing, and even when Ryan plays his fiddle! We eat together and I talk about what we are doing for the day. If I am with her at bedtime, I go over the day very simply and try and piece it together.
Michael:
As I use a wheelchair I became a human pram. I would hold Mia and wheel her around when she was tired or got impatient when waiting for food.
 

Discussion

Did you pick out some examples and think of how each might help Mia? Here were our ideas as authors.

  1. Daisy sings, laughs and plays with Mia – this interaction will help Mia learn about communicating and taking turns. She is also learning how to develop speech and language and may even have potential as a great musician!

  2. Eamon is helping Mia learn important lessons about morning rituals, eating and social skills. She is learning about eating as a social activity and through copying her daddy will eventually learn to eat by herself. She is also learning to stop, take stock and reflect on the day she has had, which is a very useful way of ‘letting go’ of a day, dealing with stress and learning from your own experience. It is good for improving the memory too!

  3. Eamon and Michael are providing Mia with examples of men being carers – an important memory to hold on to as she grows up with images of women caring for babies all around her. She is also learning that wheelchairs are fun and a normal part of her life, which may help her to accept wheelchair users playing a full part in her own and other people's lives.

‘Really relaxed, very content! He was not picked up a lot as a baby as I would not let visitors annoy him and I am convinced that it has helped him. I did not let anyone upset me through the pregnancy and it was a good time at work so I think this helped make him relaxed too. His dad is also really relaxed so maybe it's innate!’
(Mother of 15-month-old boy)
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