Dear darling little E.
Today, my son, you are six months old. I know it must get terribly repetitive to hear me say this every single month, but honestly, where has the time gone? How can it possibly have been half a year since that first moment of recognition when you were placed on my belly and our eyes met? It is impossible for me to imagine life now without you. It seems like you’ve always been here. And even though you are now manifestly a completely different baby from the tiny, helpless newborn we brought home from the hospital, in some ways you still seem exactly the same. I feel like I’ve known you forever.
At your six month appointment you weighed in at 17 lb, 4 oz. and were 27″ long. This means you are still in the 90th percentile for height, but have dropped down to the 50th for weight. Your doctor says this is very normal for an exclusively breast-fed baby who hasn’t yet started solids. You certainly are a lanky baby! Generally you’re meeting all of your developmental milestones, although we’re not sure that you know your name yet- probably because we keep calling you so many other things (I should be grateful you don’t actually think your name is Munchie, given how often I call you that). And you didn’t even cry at all when you received your latest round of vaccinations- you were such a brave boy!
This month we saw the first hints of what could become separation anxiety or worries about strangers. You are still a total ham when out and about- flirting with absolutely everyone you meet, charming all around you, and winning adoring fans at every turn (I’m really not kidding here. I had to get some blood drawn at the hospital this month and you had four lab technicians cooing over you, and people were coming up to me in the waiting area and in the bathroom to gush about just how gorgeous and well behaved and adorable you were. And at our follow-up appointment at the breast-feeding clinic you smiled and chatted with anyone who would listen, and managed to gather a large audience while you were being weighed by considering munching on your toes, which, as you clearly knew, showed off just how adorable you are). But there have been a couple of moments this month where you weren’t happy to suddenly be faced with new people- generally if you’d just woken up and were still a bit sleepy, and I was too quick to pass you to someone else. Your Grandpa and Grandma were here visiting and both ended up with you crying in their arms when they first held you, but an hour later you were all smiles and giggles.
You still thrive on going to new places and seeing new people. It’s become quite clear to me that you are bored senseless by my company if we stay at home for too long. Even a walk in the stroller isn’t always enough action for you. This month we made our first trip to one of the early years centres, and you absolutely loved watching the older babies rush around the room. And when one little girl cried out, “Baby!” and came running over to give you a huge kiss, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you give a bigger smile. People often comment on how well you are handling all the stimulation and hustle and bustle of wherever we happen to be, but you take it all in your stride. The only time you look a bit confused is when you fall asleep in one place (like the subway) and wake up somewhere else (like the airport). I can see the quizzical expression in your eyes as you tilt your head back in the carrier and stare up at me. I usually just respond by giving your nose and forehead kisses until you start smiling, and then all is right with both our worlds.
It’s easy to tell that you’ve spent a lot of time around other babies. We meet up with the other May ladies every couple of weeks, and we had another get together with the babies from our childbirth class this month as well. You openly reach for the other babies, and always seem very excited to see them. You’re very chatty when they’re around- I like to think you’re telling them all about your day. You also love watching older children run around. I think you’re so excited to start crawling- but you have to stop flipping off your stomach in order to do that!
Very early in the month rolling over really started to click with you. You’d been rolling tummy to back for two months by then, and back to tummy for a solid month, but all of a sudden you were combining the two, over and over and over. During baby naked time (still by far your favourite part of the day) you’d flip from tummy to back to tummy to back, punctuating each roll with a huge gummy smile directed at us. You’re also starting to try to wriggle forward to reach a toy, but when it becomes frustrating your instinct is to drop your shoulder and just roll onto your back. This usually takes you further away from the toy you wanted, and makes sure you can no longer see it, which is frustrating for everyone!
This was a real month for milestones. You went from not being able to sit at all, to sitting like a tripod (using your hands to balance), to sitting independently in the space of a week or so. By the end of the month you could sit happily for several minutes, picking up various toys and reaching for others. You do still need a spotter, as you sometimes overreach and the weight of your head pulls you off balance, but that’s all the help you now need. When you get tired you start to whine and if I’m not paying attention you hurl yourself backwards to land in my lap!
You also had your first flights this month, as we travelled out west for a family wedding. You did very well; there was only one bout of inconsolable crying during the descent on the return trip and I think your ears were bothering you, as mine were popping like crazy. In that situation it was unfortunate that you’ve never been a comfort nurser, as you weren’t hungry, and I couldn’t get you to nurse to try to help ease the pressure. You had a great time at the wedding- you had thirty more members of your adoring public who couldn’t wait to hold you and fuss over you! Everyone commented on how well behaved you were, and how well you coped with all the changes. The only time you had a real meltdown was in the car on the way to the wedding, which wasn’t ideal as your Daddy was driving (so he felt like he was on the wrong side of the road), we were running late, and we were lost. We managed to get there only a couple of minutes late in the end, and you didn’t make a peep through the entire ceremony, so everything worked out.
Your Daddy used to call you the toothless vampire, because you loved gumming on our faces and necks and giving us huge sloppy kisses. But the name no longer fits, as you now have not one, but two teeth! They’re the two middle teeth on the bottom, and I think overall they came in without too much of a struggle, although your sleep has been very disrupted (shorter naps and more frequent nightwakings) and you’ve definitely been out of sorts. You’re quite annoyed at your Daddy and me, as we’re always trying to look in your mouth to report on the progress of your pearly whites.
We’d intended not to start solids with you until you reached the six month mark, but just this past Sunday you declared you were ready for food by grabbing the banana I was eating for breakfast right out of my hand! There was no hesitation on your part- it went straight into your mouth! Your Daddy then decided at lunchtime to offer you a strawberry, and you gummed away furiously at that as well. And with every other meal since you’ve been reaching out and trying to grab the food on the plates, something which you hadn’t been interested in doing before now. So it looks like you’re quite keen to be a food baby, and there will be lots of adventures over the next few weeks. We’re considering getting an extra shower curtain to put down under our dining room table, and your bibs and facecloths have migrated down from your closet to a spot in the kitchen, so hopefully we’re ready for the mess! We are going to try to introduce foods one at a time and keep an eye on how you react, and we’re steering clear of any dairy/soy for now. It took a solid month of experimenting, but finally your Daddy and I had to admit that you do have an intolerance to the protein found in milk and soy. We tried reintroducing cheese (both cow’s milk and goat) this week, but your reaction showed that you’re not ready. The good news is you are so much less gassy with dairy and soy taken out of my diet. The bad news is we’re finding this new dietary regime a bit of a shock. Dairy and soy hide in so many things (including my favourite peanut butter as I just realized today), and eating out is almost impossible. Still, it is a small sacrifice to make to see you so happy and healthy, and it won’t last forever. The doctor says in all likelihood you will grow out of this by the time you are a year. So we’ll just wait and see.
It’s a bit hard to know where you stand with sleep at the moment, as the teething has clearly thrown a wrench into everything. You had started to wake only once at night for a feed, and your long stretch was sometimes nine hours. Now you’re back to two feeds each night, and there’s often an early wakeup where you need resettling and a bit of a cuddle (although I try not to feed you, since it’s clear you’re not really hungry). Your bedtime is 7 pm- I can’t remember the last time you went to sleep later than 7:15. Mornings are still much less predictable. Some days you want to sleep until 8, while with others you’re up for the day at 5:30 (which is a bit of a rude shock for your parents!). You seem to end up in our bed more often than not around 5.30 or 6. I can’t go back to sleep at that point, but you do, and your Daddy gets a bit more of a snooze in, so it’s made sense. But once you move to your own room (which will happen early this month), it’ll be time for you to stay in your crib, and if that makes for earlier wakeups for a few weeks, your Daddy and I will just have to live with that.
Unfortunately you seem to have stopped taking long naps in the morning. You took a wonderful two hour nap right at the start of the month, the day we left for the airport to come home from the wedding we’d attended, and you haven’t slept longer than forty-five minutes during the day ever since. For much of the month your naps were even shorter- thirty minutes or so, and if you refused to take the third one in the late afternoon, everyone ended up miserable. I think it was a perfect storm- the beginnings of teething coupled with the approaching Wonder Week, and I’m hoping things will get better soon. We have successfully taken you out of the swaddle for naps. It definitely took some effort, but now you’ll go into the crib wide awake, and you’re getting better at settling yourself and soothing yourself to sleep by sucking on your thumb.
Ah yes, your thumb. At the start of the month you clearly decided that the thumb was the way to go. Now you only suck on your fingers if you’re really hungry. If you’re tired or worried about something, it’s always the thumb that pops into your mouth. You’ve even woken your Daddy up on occasion in the middle of the night with your enthusiastic sucking. You’re also getting better at folding down the other fingers on your hand, so you no longer poke yourself in the eye quite so much.
This month it also started to become clear that you have definite preferences for your toys. You started twisting and wriggling to try and reach particular toys, and throwing away those that you found boring. You can pass a toy from one hand to the other, and hold a toy in each hand (you once even managed to get a third in your mouth- not a small achievement!). You are very adept at grabbing- the cats have had a couple of shocks when you’ve caught their tails, and your Daddy and I have quickly learned that we can no longer drink anything with you sitting on our laps. Your favourite toys this month have been your Ba.by Einst.ein piano (especially the rolling bit at the top with the little balls in it) and one of the dangling toys from your play mat (it is very simple- two round plastic ‘flashcards’ with pictures of tigers on them, but you absolutely adore it- you put one in your mouth, and then the other, and will pass the toy from hand to hand). In some ways you’re becoming a bit more difficult to keep amused, as you’ve decided that you are too big for your play mat and your bouncy seat, and even the exer.saucer loses its charms after a couple of minutes (to be fair, we only put you in it when we’re trying to eat, and I think you’d rather be at the table with us). You are so ready to wriggle around the house, but I think we’ll have a few more weeks of frustration before you manage to get moving. Your all-time favourite activity is still baby naked time. We have a silly song we sing to you as we take off your clothes, and now you anticipate what is coming and start wiggling in excitement. You love being sung to- your favourite is still “The wheels on the bus”, and it is the only thing that will calm you down if you start screaming in the car (which thankfully happens less frequently than it used to).
You’re becoming very demonstrative in your affections. When I come in to get you from your crib after your naps, you will hold up your arms to be picked up. One of my favourite moments from this month was when the lab technician was holding you while I was having my blood drawn. You were all smiles for the first little while, but then it gradually dawned on you that if you could see Mummy, you didn’t know who was holding you. Just as you started to fuss, I was released from my chair. The moment I stood up and moved towards you, you lunged for me with wide-open arms, and as soon as I picked you up, you gave me a huge gummy kiss on my cheek. That melted my heart. You still reserve your biggest smiles for your Daddy when he appears at the door in the late afternoons. No matter how bored and fussy you’ve become, you manage to pull yourself together to play with him until it is bathtime.
Your personality emerges a little bit more each day. You are becoming your own little person, and we are still enthralled by the changes we see in you. Your Daddy and I will often just sit there and watch you as you roll around on the carpet during baby naked time, and marvel at all the things you do. And when you burst out laughing at something, we are both overcome with the strength of our love for you.
The second half of your first year is going to be an awfully big adventure. We can’t wait to share it with you.
Love you, my son, now and always.