WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH YOUR CHILD: FOUR THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. Your child is learning how to communicate more effectively. While spoken language has not replaced baby's cries, she is learning to make her needs known in other ways. She may say a few primitive words such as dada, mama, cat or car. Though some of these may refer to more than one item ('cat', for instance, may be any furry, four-legged animal), she is trying. She may also begin pointing to the object she would like handed to her. Talk to her and let her know the proper names for the items she's seeing. Even at this early stage you'll be surprised at the 'words' that come out of her mouth.
2. You may notice your child becoming agitated when you leave the room. When you walk through the door, he reacts as though you are never going to return. He may experience separation anxiety because he has not yet mastered the concept of object permanence. That is, that an object (or in this case a person) continues to exist even when it can't be seen. To his understanding, when you leave you are gone from his life. There are several things you can do to minimise the trauma of separation anxiety. Some of the more fun activities include playing games like peek-a-boo in which you disappear for a second or two, then magically reappear with a smile. Toys that include objects that 'hide' are wonderful examples, too. Consider taking your child's favourite toy, hiding it under a blanket and then making it pop back out to see him.
Were you fortunate enough to stay at home with your baby throughout his first year and are now planning a return to work? You are probably worried about how this separation anxiety will affect him (and you) when he goes to the nursery, or meets his new carer. Make your choice carefully. Make sure your child is comfortable. If he's going to a creche, take him along several days before you actually start work. If possible, try a test run for an hour or two. This will help you both get accustomed to the new arrangement before you need to leave him for the entire day. Finally, when you do drop him off, say good-bye and do not make a big deal out of your departure -- but do not sneak out, either. In all likelihood his protests will stop shortly after you are out of sight.
3. Your child is learning to get dressed by herself. You have been carefully grooming your child for over a year. Now she may begin trying to help. Notice how she'll extend her arms and legs for you as you try to dress her. She may attempt other simple tasks such as brushing her hair or teeth (though the latter will probably involve more chewing than brushing). She's learning to imitate the motions she watches you go through every morning as you dress her and yourself. Talk to her, and explain what you're doing. She'll feel like a big girl and you'll see how proud she is of herself by a quick glance at her smile!
4. You may be surprised that you are still breastfeeding. If you are both enjoying the current arrangement, why not consider continuing for a while? However, if one partner isn't as enthusiastic anymore, here are some helpful tips for making the transition easier (on both of you).
Reduce the frequency of feedings gradually. Plan to remove one feeding only about every four to five days.
Keep your little one busy during the missed feed. He may not be as quick to notice if he's engaged in other activities.
Cutting back on breastfeeding doesn't have to mean a decrease in cuddle time. Both of you will enjoy some quiet time together. Be sure to reassure your child often with your touch. Get more weaning advice on the breastfeeding support message board.