In the Philippines, babies are normally taught with what we call "baby tricks". I could name a number of them:
* Beautiful eyes --> The baby bats the eyelashes as if something gets in their eyes. Of course this would look really cute as they're doing it on purpose and often with a smile.
* Flying kiss --> I think this is very self explanatory. The baby would put one hand as if trying to cover the mouth but it's actually to later on send kisses in the air.
* Close-open --> The baby closes and opens the fist. This is often done while an adult is chanting "close, opeeeen, close opeeen" in a very sing-song way.
* Arimunding --> The baby moves the hand in a way like the royalties wave their hand to people. Again, accompanied by an adult singing "Arimunding, munding, munding..."
* Kuyakoy --> The baby, seated in a place where legs are freely hanging. The adult would sing "kuyakoy, nang kuyakoy...." and the baby would move one or both legs like a swing.
* Apir --> Filipino version of give me five or high five. This one is probably a transliteration of "Up here".
*Alayn --> The adult would say "alayn, alayn, alaaaayn..." with the index finger seemingly pointing to and moving it closer to the baby. The baby would do the same towards the adult until the index fingers of the two meet at the fingertip. Now, I believe the origin of the name of this "baby trick" is "align"... as the concept is to be able to "align" the fingertips of the index fingers... capiche?
While these "baby tricks" sounds too "baby-ish" and corny to many, especially to westerners, I believe these have a very good purpose other than just for the adults to have some fun seeing the babies do these uber cute gestures. I started teaching some of these things to Little Spanish Pinay (LSP) as I wanted her to kind of "get in touch" with being Filipino. I want her to experience other traditions we have in the Philippines... as teaching these things to babies are in a way, I consider as a tradition, after all, they were passed from generations to generations as far as I am concern. While I was teaching "alayn" to LSP (we have just started so for now, this is what I am teaching), I realized that these baby tricks actually have a very good purpose. They are very good for developing babies' motor skills like coordination and control. With alayn, LSP is learning to control her finger movements like closing the other fingers while one is pointing outward. Also, she's learning to move her hand and arms towards something in a precise way - after all, the objective is to touch my index fingertip with her own index fingertip.
For now, I am trying to teach her alayn and close open. She can almost, almost do alayn. She can't completely point yet but she can already seperate her index fingers from the rest and the other fingers are a tad lower than the index finger. Then she'd get too excited in the process that instead of just touching my fingertip, she'd grab my whole finger and bounce with happiness. I am also trying to teach her close- open. I'd open and close her fist with my hand and she'd look at her fist attentively, eyes wide open and an excited smile in her lips. She'd look at me from time to time. And then I'd remove my hand and let her try to do it on her own. She'd look at her fist, look at me, the smile would faint and be converted to plain look of conccentration. Then I'd try to show her again how to do it and she'd bounce with happiness. No close-open on her own for now but I know she's studying it and trying to learn. I can see it the way she looks at her fist.
Alayn with mami
The other baby tricks? They too are good tools for helping babies develop good motor skills. They are good excercise for stimulation and coordination of hands, arms and legs. What about "beautiful eyes", you make ask me. Well, it helps the baby be more aware of the eyes and eyelashes and learn that he/she can move them at will. Does that sound convincing? If not, then it doesn't matter. It's still overly cute and just worth it to teach them and enjoy the sweet and innocent gesture. During the old times, there were not many toys in the market for babies that normally claim good help in babies' development on different areas, so for sure, Filipinos of the old times being ingenious that we are, have invented these fun baby tricks. Besides, parents especially moms of the old times, have more time staying at home (not many moms were working moms back then) so they have more time to be with their babies and play with them without the need of buying many toys.
Wasn't that actually nice? Less expenses for buying toys and more bonding time with babies. Ahhh, the simple and happy life of before.
Then again, having the toys of today doesn't have to mean lesser time to spend with the babies. They are not really meant to be given to babies so that they can entertain themselves hours and hours while parents mind their own business. They are there as tools for parents to help stimulate babies and at the same time have fun playing WITH them.
One of our favorites. My cute hubby named this cute pony as cocoroso. He trots and neighs (the pony not my hubby) when moved in a certain way. It's very colorful and has different things to touch that stimulates babies' eyes and sense of touch. The brand Lamaze has a lot of interesting stimulating toys for babies. Plus their cuteness is to die for.
With LSP, these toys are big help for me to get her entertained for a few minutes so I can quickly go around the house or perhaps quickly check my email. She sometimes enjoy those few minutes of being alone with her toys discovering things on her own (and talking on her own). I do make sure though from time to time to call her and talk to her even from where I am seated. She'd look at me and smile (and bounce - she looovvvves to bounce when she's happy) and go back to her business. But most of the time, hubby and I are with her playing and helping her explore things. And of course me, teaching her alayn, alayn, alaaaaaayn.