Month 10: Playful & Pensive 

by Penny Warner


How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Holding Objects – Your baby at this age might be able to hold three small toys. This skill, however, takes some coordination and thought, so it may be a challenge at first. She may take a few tries to figure out how to manage that extra toy with only two hands.
  • Turning Pages – A difficult skill your baby may try at this age is turning the pages of a book. This requires the ability to use her fingers to pick up something flat – not an easy task – and use her hand and wrist to turn the page without tearing it.
  • Standing Holding On – Around the time your baby learns to stand by holding onto your hands, she’ll take another developmental “step” and pull herself to standing while holding onto furniture. This task may make her feel insecure, but her desire to stand upright motivates her to take chances.

How You Can Help

  • Holding Objects – Here’s a fun game to try with your baby, to extend her fine motor and cognitive skills. Give her a small toy to hold. After a few seconds, give her another toy and watch her hold one in each hand. After a few seconds, hand her one more toy and see what she does. She may drop a toy, double up a toy, or ignore the toy. Try again in a few days and see if she does it differently this time.
  • Turning Pages – Give your baby a cloth book at first, and let her experiment with turning pages. Then give her a cardboard style book and see if she can manage the pages in that one. Finally, give her an inexpensive picture book and watch her try to turn the pages, just like you do when you read to her.
  • Standing Holding On – While you encourage your baby to stand, place her near a couch, sturdy chair or coffee table, and slowly transfer her hand from your hand to the furniture. Keep your hands nearby to catch her if she loses her balance. Also, be sure to cover the coffee table corners with corner guards to keep your baby from hurting herself if she falls against them.


How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Visual Comparison – As your baby holds objects in both of her hands, she’ll continue to assess and compare them. Notice that she holds the items close to each other, then looks back and forth between them, and even mouths both to learn more about them. This is an important skill that continues to develop through life.
  • Auditory Discrimination – Your baby continues to listen to the sounds around her and discriminate between those that are important to her, and those that are not. She recognizes many different voices, household sounds that have meaning, and is able to learn the differences between new noises she’s not familiar with, such as animal sounds.
  • Intentional Behavior – The major difference in your baby’s thinking and cognitive skills at this stage is that she’s doing things on purpose. Her behaviors and actions mean something, and she’s making an effort to perform simple tasks that she enjoys. From this intentional behavior, she’s learning more about cause and effect and problem solving, as each accomplishment builds from one step to the next.

How You Can Help

  • Visually Comparison – Help your baby learn more about comparisons by offering her two items to study that are very different, such as a ball and a block. Then offer her two objects that are more similar but still different, such as two balls of different color or texture. Watch her reaction to see if she notices the differences or shows a preference. Continue giving her similar but different items to compare.
  • Auditory Discrimination – Expand your baby’s auditory discrimination skills by introducing some new sounds. Find a book that features a few basic animals, such as a chicken, a cow, a lion, and a pig. Make the animal sounds as you show the pictures. Repeat for several days, and see if baby recognizes or repeats a familiar sound.
  • Intentional behavior – Watch your baby for a few minutes just to see what she does. Try to determine why she chooses to do the tasks she does, and the motivation behind her behavior. You’re now observing your baby as she thinks!


How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Attention Span – As the world becomes more interesting to your baby, and she can interact with it more, her attention span increases. She may be able to focus on a toy or task for several minutes, if it provides enough stimulation to keep her involved. 
  • Purposeful Communication – Your baby will probably begin to direct her vocalizations at specific people, in reference to something meaningful, even though you still may not be able to understand her intent. She’s trying to have a conversation, not just get your attention, but may become frustrated if you don’t respond.
  • Social Interaction – Your baby may use social interaction to solve a problem if she can’t figure it out for herself. For example, she may lift up a toy that needs to be opened, indicating her need for your help.

How You Can Help

  • Attention Span – Keep your baby’s playthings interesting and stimulating to continue to increase her attention span. If she starts to lose interest in a toy, you might show her another way to play with it. For example, she may enjoy rolling a ball, but you might show her how to bounce it, catch it, or throw it, and see if she plays with it longer and in other ways. 
  • Purposeful Communication – When your baby seems to initiate a conversation with you, talk back to her, using her same words, or expanding on the speech sounds she’s making. For example, you might be able to tell if she seems to be asking a question by her tone of voice or facial expression. Repeat the sound, point to the object she’s trying to indicate, and add a word or two such as, “Want the ball?” or “Throw the ball?”
  • Social Interaction – Watch your baby for cues that she’s trying to communicate with you, either through vocalization or gesture, especially when she’s trying to solve a problem. Before you give her a solution, give her an opportunity to solve it herself, by making the solution a little closer to her reach. Break the task into steps, such as loosening the top to a toy she wants opened, then let her finish the task.