Having babies at the same time as your friends can set the stage for wonderful social interaction and the ability to share joys and sorrows as families grow. Together with your friends you will work toward achieving early childhood milestones such as walking, sitting and baby sign language.
Many of our friends have sent us stories highlighting how most of the learning for their babies takes place in a social context such as daycare of play group. These are beautiful stories that we cherish but life is not always perfect. We frequently get notes from moms and dads wanting to know how to help friends facing delays in learning or simply measuring their little one against the milestones of their peers.
Just last week I received a phone call from a mom asking for guidance and resources for her best friend. Both have 17 month old baby girls, both started baby sign language at birth and continue to teach it contextually and by using signing time song videos. Baby Miranda started signing at six months and now signs over 45 signs. Baby Laura started signing at 8 months, she recognizes about 8 signs and signs 4 consistently. Her signs are milk, more, dog & mom. Both baby girls attend the same daycare and socialize in the same playgroup Miranda has started talking and is able to combine up to three words. Laura is not talking yet. When Miranda’s mom called me she wanted some help to be able to assist Laura’s mom and see if Laura could catch up. She is mainly concerned about feelings getting hurt and Laura’s mom feeling like she is dropping the ball.
Chances are many of you are in a similar situation and we wanted to give you some practical tips:
Celebrate Every Achievement With Equal Enthusiasm
Look for milestones and be a participant of the celebration. If the babies around you are showing progress in other areas such as coordination or good eating habits acknowledge it and make a big deal of it.
Watch the way you convey your message. It is not the same to say Miranda knows 45 signs than to say Miranda knows 40 signs more than Laura.
Maximize Your Strengths
If your friend is gifted at sports and you are a better teacher of communication skills work together as a team gifting each baby with love and patient instruction.
Engage in Learning-Oriented Play
Set the stage for fun games where learning takes place and involve both babies. Many little ones learn best from their peers using principles of teaching commonly applied at Montessori schools. You can also let them watch Signing Time videos together to help them connect song, verbal skills and rythm to each sign.
Print or Purchase Matching Materials for Both Babies
If your friend’s budget or schedule is limited consider sharing your time and resources by creating flashcard decks to match the interests of their baby or purchasing a baby sign language kit to facilitate at-home lessons
It is tempting to feel superior because of the achievements of your little ones. Let love be the dominant factor and invest in your friend’s baby as if it was your own.