Constantly watching your baby to protect him as he explores is exhausting work. Remember to have fun with him too. Take this opportunity to show him interesting and beautiful things. Let him smell the flowers and feel the pebbles in the pond. Enjoy creation with your little one while he sees it for the first time.
What Your Baby is Learning
Your 10 month old is able to move around fast these days. Although he may have been crawling for a month of so, he is lightening fast at it now. He may be crawling upstairs too.
He is probably pulling himself up to his feet and cruising around with the help of the furniture. Again, he is much faster at this than he was just a short while ago. He is probably trying to let go and stand briefly by himself. He can “walk” while being held by his hands. Since his goal is to reach a toy or something else that interests him, he may let go of your hand and try to snag a toy as he walks with help. Most babies take their first steps between 9 and 12 months.
He no longer tolerates lying on his back except when he is asleep. He quickly rolls over or sits up. He can turn to either side and lean at almost any angle to reach a toy and then sit up straight again.
He can now hold out his arm or leg to help you dress him. He may be able to drink from a cup by himself, but he probably cannot put the cup back on the table gently.
10 month olds have mastered the pincer grip. He can pick up and hold even tiny crumbs between his thumb and forefinger. He doesn’t need the help of his other fingers or to rest his wrist to steady his hand.
His index finger is getting very skillful. Where he could only put his index finger into a tiny crack or hole, now he is poking and prying with it. He wants to find out what is inside the hole. If he can enlarge the hole, he will work at it to get a better look inside. He is beginning to learn about the third dimension. He now points with his index finger and makes demanding sounds to get what he wants.
10 month olds still frequently bring objects to their mouth to explore them with his lips and tongue. But more and more he is using his hands and eyes to learn about the objects around him. He may closely examine one detail and then the next, seemingly more systematic in his attention to details.
He is saying, “mama” and “dada” regularly now. He uses them differently now. When he needs something, he will say, “mama” or “mum mum mum.” He will say this to anyone around who may be able to help him. When his need is satisfied, he will say, “dada.” He does not relate these words to a person yet. But he has learned that if he says, “mamama,” many times his needs are magically met.
The goal of this period is to increase his language learning. Although he cannot say words, he can respond appropriately to words spoken to him. He should stop what he is doing at the word “no.” He may wave at the word “bye” and try to clap at “pat-a-cake.” Say the names of objects he touches or points to. Don’t just repeat his baby talk, but use proper words so he can learn them. Give him a play-by-play description of anything you are doing to him. Describe his bath and meal time and play, so he can identify key words and phrases. Soon he will begin to try to say the words he hears often.
When he rattles off a long string of gibberish, tell him, “That’s interesting. Tell me more.” He’ll probably try another long sentence when he sees you like to hear him talk.
Language is a major key to the child’s future mental life. It has a powerful effect on intelligence. The first two years of life are probably the most important two years in his life.
Your 10 month old may begin to parallel play with other children. He won’t be able to actually play “with” another child, but he will play contentedly alongside another child. Encourage him to develop his social skills in this way. He is too young to understand friendship, but this is the very first stage in social development.
Ways You Can Help
Your 10 month old may seem almost driven to learn. He wants to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. He will want to see what is on the other side of the wall or under the chairs or across the room.
During his explorations he may get stuck at a dead end. He may never have crawled in reverse except by accident. He may get frustrated and begin to cry.
You could just rescue him and lift him out of the problem and fuss over him. But if you do that, you short-circuit his learning and he may begin to fear new situations. The better response is to comfort him with your voice and hand and help him solve his problem by gently coaxing him backwards until he is free. Then praise him for his bravery and for his new lesson learned.
He needs to experience various distances between objects in order to learn the basic lessons about judging distance and time.
Games for Language Development
The mirror game
Both mom and baby need to be facing a mirror. Point to your baby’s reflection in the mirror and call him by name. Then change your voice a little and say, “Where’s (his name)? Can you find (his name)?” Teach him to point at his image in the mirror when you ask where he is. Play this game often until he recognizes himself and points to himself each time.
Stretch out a long shoelace on the table or floor near your baby. Pull the shoelace towards you and say, “I’m pulling the string.” Then stretch it out again and try to get him to pull the shoelace. Say, “You are pulling the string.” When he gets the idea, tie a toy fish on the far end of the shoelace. When he pulls on the shoelace this time you say, “You are pulling the string. Here comes the fish!” You are supplying the language to describe what he is doing. He will see and understand the connection between the string and the fish.
You are not only teaching him a new game to play, but you are teaching the concept pull and the word “pull” to describe the action. You can make up similar games to teach “push” and “turn.”
What to Expect Next
- Stands alone for a couple of seconds
- Imitates other’s activities
- Puts objects in a container
Temperament is how we think about and react to our environment. A baby’s temperament can be seen in his eating and sleeping patterns, in his sociability or shyness, in his approach to play or quiet. Temperament is largely inborn. In other words, characteristics of temperament you see in your baby will continue throughout life.
By 10 months you can get a pretty accurate picture of his temperament. Observe his actions and attitudes in different situations. Look at overall patterns, not just isolated instances. Watch him through a few different developmental stages. You will begin to see he is more outgoing in a group or more contented when alone. He may be high-energy or more calm. He may be more fascinated by things or by people.
Don’t label your baby or criticize him for these natural characteristics. Don’t make him think you consider him flawed or bad. And carefully watch what you say about his temperament when with other people. You cannot change your baby’s natural temperament, although you can encourage certain behaviors that may help him better relate to his world.
For example, if your baby seems excessively shy, it is important to let him know you understand and sympathize with him. Don’t label him shy or criticize his shyness. Instead encourage him and when he behaves in a way that is more confident with other people, in verbal and non-verbal ways let him know you noticed his effort and you are proud of him. In this way, you can help him in areas of weakness in his temperament.
Discipline is instruction or training which corrects, molds, and strengthens. Punishment, on the other hand, forces obedience or order. Good discipline is helping your baby grow and learn and develop. Punishment is keeping baby from bothering you.
For the 10 month old:
It is time to start setting limits. You are not a mean mom when you make him sit in a car seat instead of your lap or not drink a bottle just before dinner. These are limits for his safety and health.
Although he understands the meaning of “no,” he may purposely choose to ignore you now. It’s better to use “no” more sparingly. Use it when you want him to stop and reinforce it by diverting his attention. Then when you need to set important limits it will carry more weight. Right now his desire to explore is stronger than his desire to listen to your warnings. What seems like defiance, however, is his insatiable curiosity at work.
You do not want to stifle his curiosity, yet you do not always want to be saying “no.” Instead of leaving valuable, breakable things where your 10 month old can get to them, put them away for now. Replace them with things that you don’t mind him exploring. Constantly saying “no” and smacking his hand is punishment. It will force him to obey. He will comply. But better to let him satisfy his curiosity now with safe things and keep “no” is for serious limitations. There will still be plenty of things you will need to say “no” to without purposely leaving treasures around. He is too young to learn to respect thing that belong to other people.
For now, begin to think of discipline as helping baby learn that limits are part of our world. None of us gets his own way all the time. Discipline is teaching, not punishing.
Heavenly Father, I am having to begin to teach my baby limits. It is hard to keep a quiet, peaceful spirit when I have to say “no” many times each day. Help me remember the reason I say “no” is for his safety and his good, not because I’m mean. May I always remember that the reason You say “no” to me is for my safety and my good, not because You are mean. In Jesus’ Name, Amen