The months are really flying by these days, and I can’t believe that a year ago we were counting down the mere weeks until Maddie’s arrival. She’s come such a long way in a year’s time and especially in the last couple months.
I started writing this post when she was 10 months old to catalog all of the new activities and forms of expression she was developing. Now that she’s 11.5 months, I’ve been able to add a few more tricks to the list to round it out nicely at 10. Every day she seems to be getting a little bit more interactive, a little bit more intelligent and a little bit closer to communicating her thoughts, feelings and ambitions to us.
So without further ado, here are some things Maddie has learned to do in the last 11 months:
This is a pretty standard trick in the baby playbook, but Maddie has really taken it to the next level these days. For several months she has gotten a kick out of us covering her face or our own and magically reappearing with a shout of “Peek-a-boo!” Now she is taking the initiative to start rounds of the game on her own. I was feeding her the other day when she decided to grab the bottom of her avocado-covered bib and pull it up over her face, then suddenly pulled it down. I obliged her with a “Peek-a-boo!” response and she did it several more times.
I’ve also been able to use peek-a-boo to my advantage when I need to leave the room and she starts to get upset. If she’s sitting in the dining room and I have to go get something from the kitchen, I can turn my departure into a fun round of peek-a-boo by simply looking back at her a couple times. She really loves the game and sometimes rewards her fellow players with authentic laughter—one of the sweetest sounds I’ve ever heard.
I’ve previously blogged about Maddie’s life’s work—which since she discovered how to use her hands has been picking things up and putting them in her mouth. But there’s a new duty in her job description now: waving to as many people as possible.
It’s outrageously cute. Whenever Maddie is somewhere that there are other people, she will now immediately start waving at them. She juts her little arm straight out and twists her hand back and forth like she’s turning a shower on and off or auditioning for the Miss America Pageant1. The saddest thing in the world is when people don’t see her waving or are too cool to wave back to a baby. She continues to wave and will sometimes even make an encouraging noise in their direction, until she ultimately gives up and lowers her hand. Of course, two minutes later, she usually gives them another chance and starts waving again or finds a new subject.
When I get home from work lately, the waving is on steroids as Maddie expresses her utter joy at my arrival. It usually takes her a second or two to realize that it’s me, but then she breaks into a giant smile and excitedly waves her hands in the air at me. Theresa never does that…
This is a random one that Maddie figured out by herself. One day I went into her room after she woke up and she was sitting in her crib clucking to herself. I’m really curious how babies can figure out how to make a clucking noise, but it certainly seems to amuse her, and she sometimes will just cluck to herself while she’s doing other things. Even more frequently, she will be playing and nonchalantly make this high-pitched noise while she rolls her lips. Again, I don’t know where she got this from, but it’s hilarious to overhear.
7. Glub Glub Glub
This one is an old standard that she picked up a couple months ago. It all started when she would do The Rufio—putting her a hand up to her mouth without touching it and wiggling her fingers in the air. Eventually she evolved to letting the fingers touch her mouth and started strumming her bottom lip while she hummed, producing a “glub, glub, glub” sound.
This was one of her first unique tricks, so I was always trying to get her to do it, and she soon would perform on command whenever I would mime the action and say “glub, glub, glub.” It also has become somewhat of a comforting action for her, as she will sometimes do it in the midst of crying or discomfort.
Some people don’t like being tickled, but Maddie clearly hasn’t learned that lesson yet. Ever since she was a newborn, I would sometimes massage her legs and feet before changing her. Once I realized that this was a ticklish source of precious baby giggles, I turned it into more of a game, in which I would slowly say “Massaging your legs…Massaging your legs” in a sing-songy voice and then yell “Massaging your tummy!” and tickle her on the stomach and move up to her neck as she bursts into guttural laughter. She loves it. I’m always conscious of not tickling her if she doesn’t want to be tickled, but usually after one round, she will put her legs up as an encouragement for me to do it again.
She is also becoming fond of tickling other people. One night, I was trying to put her to sleep and she wasn’t having it. She would push away from my chest as I tried to rock her to sleep and was just staring me in the face. Then she randomly reached up and started tickling my chin! It was hilarious.
A lot of times when I tickle her, I will say “Tickle, tickle, tickle!” in rapid succession. She has adopted this as well. A couple days ago, I was sitting on the couch and she was playing on the floor. I felt something on my foot and looked down to see that it was Maddie, who was tickling away and making a “tick-a-tick-a-tick-a” sound! She has done this to my face and neck when I have been lying down next to her as well. Sometimes I will make that noise and move my hands in her direction, and she will raise her hands and do the same thing. Other times, I’ll hear her making the sound and see that she is tickling her own feet. It’s so much fun to actually play with her like this!
This was actually one of the first tricks she learned, and we were so proud of her when she got the hang of it. Now it seems old hat compared to all the wonderful new and more complex tricks she’s learning, but it’s still funny when she decides to clap for herself, or hears the sound of applause on TV and decides to join in.
4. I’m reaching!
This trick is attributable to her Uncle Chris. Maddie has long reached in people’s direction but it’s never been clear as to why she is reaching or what she wants. It’s more of just a way for her to say hello, because if any poor soul dares try to try to touch her outstretched arm, she immediately pulls it back in a repulsed motion that makes the person feel like a monster. Chris came up with his own response to this, which was simply to reach back at her and say “I’m reeeeaching…I’m reeeeaching!” She seemed to like it, and now that response gets her to smile and reach all the more.
One of Maddie’s latest tricks—and one of my favorite to elicit—is dancing. Since I started playing music for her back when she was still in utero, I was very excited for her to have a reaction to it. Now she will start bobbing her head up and down and grooving almost whenever she hears music, whenever I ask her if she can dance, or whenever she hears anything rhythmic that could vaguely be construed as music. Her parents met in a swing dancing class, so I think dancing is in her genes.
2. High fives
This was another standard trick that many people assumed she was capable of participating in before she actually could. You don’t realize how often people will say “high five!” to a baby until you have a baby who doesn’t know how to respond to that. After she figured out waving, we intentionally started working on her high-fiving skills. She caught on pretty quickly, first slapping a low five in response to “Gimme five!” and now—literally days ago—she figured out how to give a true high five. She still doesn’t do it every single time, but she’s getting there. And when she does, she is incredibly proud of herself.
This one took a little while to fully sort itself out, but for more than a month now, she has been unmistakably saying “da-da” in my direction. It happens when I get home from work and when I wake her up in the morning. It happens when I’m not paying attention to her and she’s trying to get me to look at her. It’s definitely NOT a coincidence, and it’s pretty darn cool that she legitimately started calling me that with no formal training or encouragement. How did that happen?! The workings of her mind remain a vast mystery to me.
In all honesty, the waters were muddied a bit when she would sometimes also say “da-da” about other things or at random intervals. At times, she would say it to other people or not say it at all, making it look like I was lying when I said that she was calling me that. But we’ve finally settled into a nice routine where I am almost exclusively “da-da” and other things/people/needs are simply “da.” Like, when people don’t wave back at her, she will sometimes say “Da…” or “Ah-da…” toward them to get their attention or she’ll make that sound in the direction of something that she wants.
We sadly haven’t made too much progress on “mama,” though she will utter that in despair when she really wants Theresa to console her. So that’s…something! We’re also currently workshopping “Uh-oh” and a couple other sounds that aren’t quite ready for primetime.
As Maddie approaches her first birthday, I’m sure the number of tricks and clarity of her communications methods will only increase. It’s such a privilege to help her inch her way into the age of reason! It’s also gratifying to see her progressing in something, since she’s still way too lazy about attempting to crawl or walk.
Are there any other easy baby tricks we could be teaching her? Comment away!