This childhood age (eight to twelve months) is a wonderful time to enjoy your grandchild. She is now much more physically active and has more language expressions and emotional enthusiasm. However, babies of this age also may experience stranger anxiety, and could be reluctant to go to Grandma and Grandpa with much eagerness. Don't take this personally; it's part of normal development. Simply hang in there, and continue to provide all of the love and attention that you always have, but don't feel you must overdo it in the midst of these pulling-back episodes by the baby. Be patient, and the apparent standoffishness will resolve over time.
In your activities with your grandchild, you can take advantage of her developmental progress in the following areas:
- Crawling. Get down on the floor with your grandchild as much as you physically can. This "floor time" is both fun and reassuring for the baby. She'll show delight if you use yourself as her crawling target or object exploration. Remember, though, to check the floor carefully for possible hazards, since babies will pick up every object within reach and put it in their mouths.
- Fine Motor Skills. Develop your own set of fine motor "games" with your grandchild—for example, opening and closing items, dumping out and putting back games and toys, and operating latches. Expect plenty of repetition since babies seem tireless doing the same activity over and over.
- Language. Read books and listen to music with your grandchild. All the while, keep the language interactive. If you speak a language that's different from the one in which your grandchild is becoming proficient, don't be afraid to speak it to her. (Be sure her parents agree.)
- Basic Care. When it comes to feeding and sleeping, consistency of routines is important in this age group. Keep "junior foods" in your home. You also can establish "Grandma's Special Menus" that your grandchild can come to expect. When the baby is staying at your home, nap times and nighttime sleep schedules should be maintained as close as possible to those at her own home. Changes of routine sometimes can create confusion for babies.
- Safety. Check items in your own home to ensure your grandchild's well-being. Keep gates on the top and the bottom of stairways. Place soft, protective coverings around sharp or round edges. Don't use walkers. Also, since babies of this age can have a strong nature and are wiggly, changing diapers should be a two-person operation if possible; change the diapers on carpeted floors or sofas to minimize the risk that your grandchild will twist off the changing table. While you're changing the baby, try distracting her with something she can manipulate.