Category Archives: Activities with babies

Baby Sign Language – Finally!

We started baby sign language classes when Timothy was about 7 months old. We were at it for a few months and then got disheartened by the absence of signing on Timothy’s part.

And now – pretty much overnight – he started signing!

He’s been signing “more” for some time now – because they sign it in daycare. He’s been signing my made-up sign for “cherrios” (waving an “o: sign in the air).

But yesterday as we were reading a book, he signed “dog”, “cow”, “horse”, and “cat”! And today I showed him “pig” a few times – and now he signs that, too!

Signing "pig"

Signing “dog” – slapping a hand on a thigh

Signing "pig"

Signing “pig” – clutching a fist next to the nose

Signing "cow"

Signing “cow” – thumb and pinky stretched out like horns

Signing "horse"

Signing “horse” – thumb, index and middle fingers stretched out like horse’s ear

And he signs “bread”. He’s been signing it for some time, too – we just didn’t know that’s what it meant!

So we re-doubled our signing efforts now! Very exciting stuff!

Indoor Playgrounds

And while I am on the subject of cabin fever and bad/cold weather, another great option for getting out of the house with a baby/toddler – is an indoor playground!

Those are available everywhere. Unlike drop-ins, they aren’t free – but the fee is manageable, usually around $5-10 bucks.

Now that Timothy is crawling everywhere, we decided to pay visit to our local indoor playground.

It’s a relatively small-sized room with a couple of real-size slides, a bouncy castle, a climbing wall, an infant area with infant toys and an exersaucer, and a food area complete with microwave, kettle, and coffee – for moms 🙂

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It was FUN! Timothy wasn’t so sure about the slide. He went all rigid… I think he was scared. But he absolutely loved the bouncy castle – which we tried once all the older kids left!

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And he loved being around other babies.

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And he loved all that space available for crawling around!

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I think we will be going there regularly for the years to come!

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Drop-in Centres

So if you can’t get enough of my “what activities to do with a baby” posts 🙂 here’s another one for you: drop-in centres!

Drop-in centres are free indoor playrooms, usually located in community centres, where children play supervised by their parents. It’s sort of like daycare/kindergarten, too – only parents remain with their kids. There are lots of toys, books, craft supplies… they even provide snack, all for free.

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It’s an awesome option for moms staying at home with their kids – moms get a chance to talk to other adults and babies/kids get a chance to be around other little ones and play, sing, dance, read. It’s a lifesaver when the weather is bad and you have the cabin fever.

Timothy and I started going to the nearby drop-in fairly recently: I thought there was no point going there until Timothy started to crawl. In retrospect, I think I was wrong.

It’s not exactly like an indoor playground (with kids running around wildly) – there are structured activities, too: reading, dress-up – and circle time! Circle time is all about singing, like the early years baby centres. Singing is good for babies and toddlers.

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Of course, it’s more fun for a crawling baby – but there are toys for smallish babies AND there’s circle time and books.

I now go there as often as possible – it’s hectic there – which why I think it’s a good way to prepare Timothy for daycare.

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Unfortunately, there isn’t a good source for drop-ins; the best way to find one is through your local community centre or library.

Ours is open 4 days a week, including Saturday! You can send daddy-and-baby there and have some time to relax 🙂

Happy playing!

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Library Baby Time

Continuing with my Activities with Babies series, another one is Baby Time at the library.

It’s a free program, once a week for 30 minutes; it continues for about 5 weeks, it is free – but you need to pre-register. Space is limited.

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In essence, it is very similar to Ontario Early Yeats Centres, which I already talked about before. Moms with babies ages 0-18 months came together to get entertained with songs, nursery rhymes – and, of course, books. Which you can then check out, if you want!

If you haven’t done so yet, it’s a good way to start your baby getting used to – and, hopefully, fall in love with – books. They also share some CDs with songs and nursery rhymes that you can check out, too.

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You can open a separate library card for your baby, from birth. There are limitations as to how many books you can check out at the same time, so having a separate card might help. Timothy and I check out board books frequently – MUCH cheaper than buying books!

And, from what I know, there are such baby library groups around the world; so even if you are not in Toronto, inquire about those! It’s yet another good reason to get out of the house with the baby – and a good entertainment for the baby.

Go to Toronto Public Library’s website and search for Baby Time program in your local library!

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Baby Dental Care

I mentioned before that as part of our mommy connections class, we met with a baby/child dentist. I read a lot of baby dental care related questions in online forums, so I was glad to have a talk with a specialist. When should I start brushing baby’s teeth? How often should I brush baby’s teeth? What tooth brush to choose? Sooo many questions…

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Key things she shared with us:

– You need to start brushing baby’s teeth as soon as they erupt. I have a mom friend who said her wake-up call was when her baby girl laughed and she saw her teeth were brown on the inner side. Another mom friend shared that she didn’t give much thought to this until she noticed her baby had morning breath.

– It might be a good idea to start with oral care even before then: wipe baby’s gums with a piece of cloth. There are also these weird little things that you put on a finger – it’s not quite a tooth brush, but it has some sort of rubbery bristles. That way the baby will be used to you poking around his mouth and less resistant to the idea. We were lucky: Timothy loves brushing his teeth! As soon as he sees his tooth brush, he open his mouth wiiiiide 🙂

– In Canada, there’s enough  fluoride in tap water for baby teeth brushing. All a baby (or a toddler, for that matter) needs is a toothbrush and water. Tooth paste can be used only once they are at the stage where you can be sure they know how to spit up and know better than swallow the paste, around age 3. Until then – water will do. There also are training tooth pastes available, with no fluoride (thus safe for swallowing). But a baby doesn’t need that 🙂

– There are soft tooth brushes for babies with a long handle – for you to brush their teeth. Once they express interest in brushing their own teeth, there are ones with a shorter handle; that’s safer. Of course, you’ll still have to brush their teeth, too – until about 6-8 years old. A good guideline that their fine motor skills are developed enough to brush their own teeth is the ability to lace up their shoes and to colour within line.

– Bedtime routine adjustment. Most important time to brush teeth is in the evening, before bedtime. That made me change around Timothy’s bedtime routine. I used to finish off with nursing (he stopped falling asleep while nursing quite a while ago – I always put him in his crib awake) – but what’s the point of brushing teeth and then nursing? So when Timothy was a bit over 7 months old (he got his first tooth precisely at 7 months) we made the switch. First nurse, then brush teeth, then diaper change + pj’s on, then hubby reads book and puts Timothy to bed. I was worried about him falling asleep – but it went perfectly smoothly. Timothy lay awake for a bit longer the first night or two, a bit more alert, but then he got used to it.

– First dentist visit, as per their recommendation, should be around one year old, just for a check-up. Hmmm, I don’t know about that. All of the above recommendations make sense to me and were confirmed by further reading/discussion. This piece of advice? Well, felt more like marketing line “come and see us soon”. Although I did see information that way too many children develop cavities before they turn two or something like that. But I think with proper dental care – brushing teeth after eating/before bed – we should be fine.

What do you think? When should be the first dental visit?

Going to Museums with Baby

Continuing with my ‘activities with babies‘ series where I already talked about things like baby sign language and swimming with babies. Go and read if you missed them!

Now, just ’cause you have a baby, doesn’t mean you can’t go anywhere! And while movie theatres offer special screenings for moms with babies, you can go to a museum any time you like (during its opening hours, of course!) Bonus – there are far less people there on a week day.

First Timothy’s museum visit was to the Art Gallery of Ontario. My MIL came for a visit and as we were cruising around the Group of Seven halls, I decided to take the (then) four-month-old Timothy out of his stroller. Oh my, he LOVED it! He couldn’t get enough of art! He was staring at all the pictures, smiling and babbling. And the echoing architecture of the museum made sure everyone heard what Timothy had to say about the Group’s art 🙂 People around us were smiling, saying it’s never too early to start!

Timothy and grandma having a coffee break at the AGO (the Art Gallery of Ontario):

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And then my sister came for a visit and we went to check out the Montgomery’s Inn museum; Timothy was 5 months at the time and, again, he loved the experience – and the art in the tea room especially (thanks to my friend working there)!

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And then when Timothy was 8 months old, my friend had some vacation days to use, so we had a museum-and-lunch-and-shopping day. In alignment with the shopping experience, we chose the Bata Shoe Museum.

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If I remember things correctly, Timothy was less impressed with that museum. I guess he prefers art on the walls. Or maybe he just has zero interest in shoes. Men, you know. Or maybe it’s just the fact that he was generally not a happy baby during that period of time, bored out of his wits with his lack of mobility. Now that he somewhat crawls and stands up all day long – he’s a happy baby, again 🙂

Now that winter is setting in, I think we might visit a few more museums instead of going for walks!

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Mommy Meetup Groups

I am very thankful for mommy meetup groups. Whoever first thought of creating one was a genius!

There is this site, meetup.com, where people go and create groups with common interests. It could be anything: finding a tennis buddy, building professional network, collecting snail shells (totally made this one up – but then who knows, maybe there is a meetup for that…)

And then there are mom meetup groups. There is one for the whole of Toronto and there are many smaller ones, attached to certain areas of the city.

Mine is awesome! I’m right in the middle of my “area”. We get together for playdates, inviting total strangers to our homes. It’s been great so far!

I blurred the faces on purpose. I am not sure people are interested in their photos being posted online 🙂

We take walks in the park together.

We gather in the evenings sans les bebes to talk about books or teach each other photography or just to have drinks.

And almost all the activities that I take part in – I find thanks to someone posting a notice about them on the group site! Early Years Centre? Found out about them from my mommy group. Movies with babies? Mommy connections? News of local parades and market days and library groups? All through there.

Even daycare and cleaning lady were found through a recommendation by someone in the group.

We also have a message board where we can ask each other questions – about child-rearing as well as any other things.

I met some really awesome people through this group. And it’s so much fun watching out little ones learning to interact with each other, watching them all grow together!

Since none of my friends live in the area and none of them were on matleave at the same time as me, were it not for the meetup group, these would have been very lonely 9 months.

Go find your local moms at meetup.com! Or start your own new community 🙂

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