Every so often, we hear the story of a baby (genius?) who’s potty-trained at 9 months or knows more sign language than any adult we know. The truth is, with a little bit — or sometimes a lot — of work, most babies can learn to do some pretty spectacular things at a young age. Here’s 5 few ways to get your baby on the fast track, if you’re feeling up to the task.
1. ELIMINATION COMMUNICATION
What it is: Say no to diapers with this potty practice that involves teaching baby to communicate about her elimination needs. Parents get in tune with baby’s bathroom patterns, and quickly respond by holding her over a toilet or sink to get the job done. Advocates point out that elimination communication is not potty training, but rather, a method of better understanding your baby’s needs.
Benefits for you and/or baby: You’ll save tons on diapers (and save the planet a little too). Plus when all of your friends are potty training in two years, you’ll be sitting back and relaxing, dry floor and all.
Get ready for these challenges: Expect accidents – there will inevitably be missed cues or slow response times. For city dwellers, there may be some awkward public exposure since bathrooms are not always at the ready.
Difficulty rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 8
More info: diaperfreebaby.org
2. BABY LED WEANING
What it is: We know: sometimes baby food looks as appetizing as cat food. So why not hand over whatever you’re eating? Baby Led Weaning means letting your child move from breast milk or formula right into big people food, at around 6 months.
Benefits for you and/or baby: Skip the annoying — and often unhealthy — purees, and jump right into wholesome family food.
Get ready for these challenges: Many mamas that try Baby Led Weaning say gagging is a natural reflex…but it can still be terrifying. If you’ve got a caregiver, you may be out of luck — try telling your nanny that baby can nosh on a big broccoli stalk and let us know what she says.
Difficulty rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 2 for the actual skillset of handing your baby food as is; 10 for getting through the fear factor.
More info: babyledweaning.com
3. SIGN LANGUAGE
What it is: Before we had babies, we hoped we’d have a “Look Who’s Talking” type — you know, the one who could speak full sentences by 4 months. But in case you don’t get one (we didn’t), you can still find ways to get your little one to communicate, like sign language. As early as 6 months, you can teach baby hand gestures to tell you he’s hungry, wants more, is all done, or wants to watch another episode of Girls. Just kidding on that last one.
Benefits for you and/or baby: You and babe will both be less frustrated when there’s more to say than just goo-goo ga-ga. Many believe there’s also cognitive benefits like earlier speech.
Get ready for these challenges: Well first, assuming you don’t already know it, you have to learn some sign language. Also, consistency is helpful; if you’re a working mom, you’ll need to get your caregiver on board.
Difficulty rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 7
More info: babysignlanguage.com
4. BABY DJ-ING
What it is: If you haven’t already heard, you can get your baby on the nightlife circuit early with Baby DJ school. Seriously, we were pretty skeptical too, but at the crux of it, the class is all about exposing your little one to new interesting sounds, textures and movements — like any other music class.
Benefits for you and/or baby: Not only does it help develop motor skills, but the class is an early intro to technology, which — like it or not — is the way of their life. Also, the music is way more fun to listen to than the usual kiddie fare.
Get ready for these challenges: People are going to totally roll their eyes when you tell them you signed up.
Difficulty rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 5. Unless you’re also a DJ, this is not something you can teach at home. Thankfully, there’s now several Baby DJ locations around the city.
More info: www.babydjschool.com
5. BABY REIKI
What it is: If you’ve ever been in labor, you know the term “positive energy” is no joke. So we take it pretty seriously when someone says that Reiki can help us to balance and uplift baby, while addressing discomforts like teething and gas.
Benefits for you and/or baby: Reiki is not only safe for babies, pregnant women and according to our friends at Purple Reiki, even plants (!). It is even used in some hospitals around the country to complement traditional Western therapies. Reiki can help restore energy and calm nerves for mama, while easing and relaxing baby.
Get ready for these challenges: “You must be open and willing to receive it.”
Difficulty rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 3. You can’t do it at home, and it’s not free.
More info: Shanti Baby Yoga