Dear little E.,
This has been a great month. You have to understand that your Daddy and I have always, always, loved you very much. And we’ve been in awe each month by how much you’ve changed, how much more you’re able to do, how you take in so much more of the world around you. That said, this month you, my son, really became FUN. It’s a combination of a whole bunch of things- the ability to sit up independently, a longer attention span, more interest in toys, and a new willingness to amuse yourself. But the end result has been fantastic.
You’re still getting bigger. You didn’t have a doctor’s appointment this month, but the new size of cloth diaper covers now fits you perfectly (the covers were a tiny bit too big when they first arrived late last month), and I’ve had to raise the legs on your exersaucer again- you’re on the last setting, and if you get too much bigger we’ll have to put it away. That was the fate of the bouncy seat this month, as while you were still happy to sit in it for short periods (giving us a safe place to put you while we set up the stroller outside, for example), you started doing what can best be described as sit-ups. You would grab onto the bar with both hands and pull yourself upright, and then let go and laugh as the chair rocked wildly. Your Daddy still thought this was safe, until the day we caught you putting your arms through the bar so you could fold over in half. It wouldn’t take much more effort on your part to tip the chair over, so off to the basement it went. Very shortly thereafter it was followed by your playmat. You were just getting too big for it- when you rolled around you ended up on the hard kitchen floor more often than not, and you could reach all the toys dangling from the bars, even the very highest. Luckily I then had the inspired idea to bring down some of your alphabet foam mat from your nursery and set that up in the kitchen. What a difference that has made! Now we can prepare meals, tidy the kitchen, or put groceries away, all while you roll around happily, chewing on various toys and occasionally cooing or shrieking to get our attention. You’ve figured out that the sections of the mat come apart, and we often find you waving the letter ‘Y’ in the air, or chewing on the edges of whatever square is closest.
We love watching you play with your toys. You’re really engaging with them now- we can see you choosing and selecting which to play with, and you love to pass whatever you’re holding from one hand to the other. You know that good things come out of your toy box, and you love to sit next to it, holding on to the edge and trying to reach inside. If we stand you up and support you, you’ll lean right in and try to grab the particular toy that’s caught your fancy. Your current favourite is a shape sorter from Tolo where all the shapes rattle. You’re not yet remotely interested in sorting the shapes, but you absolutely love to chew on the lid, and hold the shapes in your hands and shake them to make them rattle. You are also a big fan of the stainless steel mixing bowl I get out from time to time (it makes a great clanging noise when you drop other toys in it), and you’ve just recently started to get the idea that it is fun to knock down things that I stack up for you. We still use your Ba.by Ein.stein piano during baby naked time, and it is amazing to watch as you pick it up and wave it around. Your Grannie was here visiting and she kept trying to hold the piano for you because she was worried you were going to clonk yourself in the head with it. But you’re so strong- you don’t notice the weight or the bulk at all.
Your other favourite activities include playing with your Lamaze fish bowl (you’ve always loved the crab, which crinkles, but now you’re a big fan of tipping everything out of the bowl and chewing on it), watching every move the cats make, pulling Mummy’s hair (and Daddy’s, until he went and got it cut and gave the barber the instructions, “I want it short enough so my son can’t grab it”), reaching for Daddy’s glasses, chewing/sucking on our jawbones (I still think these are kisses while your Daddy feels you are practising your zombie/vampire impression), blowing bubbles/raspberries, flirting with all and sundry when out and about, and rolling around non-stop during baby naked time. Your Daddy continues to make up names, backgrounds, and personalities for all of your toys- there’s a strong theme of alliteration with the names, so we have Geraldine the dappy new-age Giraffe (who is always asking you about your future), Malcolm the Monkey (who lives on your change table and often states the bleeding obvious in a variety of corny accents) and Seb the Snake (who is a toy that wraps around the bar of a stroller. He has two heads and your Daddy has decided that one head is a German DJ who just loves the heavy Euro-techno beat, while the other is a British football hooligan who spends most of his time chanting “One World Cup and two World Wars” at the German head. Seb’s very conflicted.).
You’re not crawling yet, so we’ve escaped baby-proofing the house for another month. You are definitely getting closer to becoming mobile- now you can push up on your hands and raise your chest and belly right off the ground, or you can get both knees under you. You wiggle and pivot when on your tummy with no effort at all. When on your back you sometimes arch your back, flap your arms and kick your legs, which does result in some backwards motion, but it seems like a terribly ineffective way to get around. I think you’re just not that interested in moving yet, and once you decide you’re ready, you’ll be off before we can catch our breath. Right now you’re still happy to sit up and play with your toys, or roll around on the floor.
Your sense of humour is becoming very apparent. You figured out this month that if you kick your legs wildly while in the Ergo, you can make yourself bounce as we walk along the street, and this always brings a huge smile to your face. You still think that basically anything your Daddy does, if it comes with a wacky smile and a crazy voice, is worth a giggle. You’ve found a few things funny unprompted, such as the pill bottle your Daddy let you play with in his office (I guess you liked the rattling noise). When your Daddy puts you in your pjs and sleep sack after your bath and then carries you out down the hall to hunt for Mummy, and you both jump out around the corner and chase me into the bedroom, the wide-mouthed grin tells us that you know this is hilarious. You still don’t laugh all that frequently, but you smile all day long. You are such a cheerful little guy.
We moved you into your own room at the beginning of the month and for the most part that’s gone pretty smoothly. You are still up consistently twice a night, and I must say I definitely notice the difference between nursing you in the rocking chair versus cuddling with you while lying on the bed. After the first night in your new room we ordered a white noise machine, and we suspect we’ll be redoing the floor upstairs in the not-so-distant future, as the creaky floorboards are disruptive to everyone. We wake you up in the morning, I wake up your Daddy with your night feeds, and your Daddy wakes us both up if he tries to sneak out early in the morning to get some work done. There was a rough stretch when you first went into your room where you kept being woken up by one of the cats sitting outside your door and meowing and then busting the door open so she could sit under your crib and continue meowing. She’s not a smart cat, but she sure knew that this would get her some attention! We’ve now put a hook-and-eye latch on your door, and she’s mostly given up.
I wouldn’t say there’s been much change in your nighttime sleep over the last month. As long as your tummy doesn’t hurt, and you’re not teething or sick, you go down between 6.30 and 7, and will sleep for around twelve hours. We still have the same bedtime routine, but now after you finish nursing I carry you down the hall to your room, turn on the white noise machine, and then sit with you in the rocking chair and sing the same lullabies I use for the wind-down for your naps (two rounds of Mockingbird and one of Michael Row the Boat Ashore, which was the lullaby your Grannie sang to me from the moment I was born). I then give you a cuddle and a kiss, say the same words I’ve been saying to you since your first day of life, and put you in the crib. Most nights now I can walk out and leave you- sometimes you need a bit more reassurance, but you are definitely getting better at putting yourself to sleep. Your naps are once again settling into a good pattern- you either take two long ones or three shorter ones, and almost always there’s one that’s well over an hour (or sometimes even two!), and the others are in the forty-five minute to an hour range. You now go down into the crib for your naps wide awake, no matter whether it’s Mummy or Daddy who’s putting you down, and then we’ll hold you on your side until you settle (which often takes only a minute or two).
We did have a couple of rough weeks this month. We now know without a doubt that you are an MSPI baby- you can’t tolerate the protein in dairy and soy. And the problems we’ve had this month have made it clear that we need to read more labels, as dairy and soy hide in the most incredible places. I’ve also learned that trying to eat out is generally more trouble than it’s worth. But, fingers crossed, the new list on our fridge (well over one hundred words that indicate potential hidden dairy and/or soy) seems to be working. It’s a bit hard to tell, because right after we started obsessively reading labels you popped out a third tooth (upper left), and then promptly came down with your very first cold (you also had a minor eye infection earlier in the month that caused us to make our second trip ever to the ‘sick baby walk-in’ hours at your pediatrician). You caught the cold from me. Luckily we only had one really rough night, and during the day you tried so hard to be cheerful, even when sneezing and coughing. Your Daddy and I also suspect we made the night worse than it needed to be, because we tried elevating one end of your crib to help you breathe. After three fruitless hours of trying to settle you in the crib, Daddy went off to the basement, and you came into the bed with me. For the first time in your life we co-slept- you’ve been known to come into the bed in the early morning if you have a sore tummy, but we always made sure to keep you in your crib for the vast majority of the night since I couldn’t sleep if you were in the bed. But all that went out the window on that night- you fell asleep on my chest as I sat up, and then we gradually wiggled our way down until you were asleep on the mattress beside me. I fell asleep incredibly quickly at that point, and while you did wake up a few times for a feed or a cuddle, generally it was a much better night than I was expecting. And the next day we put the crib back level again, and you promptly went right back to your usual pattern.
Since we think we’ve now got the MSPI issue back under control, we made another attempt at the end of the month to introduce solids. We had tried this at six months, after you grabbed a banana right out of my hand at breakfast one day, but after three days of banana and two of blueberry, we called it quits. We don’t know whether it was the banana (as you did a superb job of eating it), or the cheese that I’d eaten that week (to see if you had outgrown the MSPI issue- the answer was clearly no), or some combination, or what, but you had a terrible reaction. This time, though, things seem to be going more smoothly. We’re still doing as much baby-led weaning as possible, so we’re offering you finger foods rather than purees, but we’re introducing new foods slowly in order to make sure your system can handle them. Thus far avocados and carrots seem to be a success, and we’re hopeful that by the end of the next month there will be all sorts of things you like eating. It’s hard for your Daddy and I to sit there and watch when you start gagging, but we know you have to learn (and we’ve taken the infant-choking course just in case!). The baby-led weaning books say that often babies will go a month or so before they actually start eating any of the food you offer, but that’s not the case with you! Right from the first mouthful of banana you’ve managed to get quite a lot of whatever you’re holding into your tummy. Your Daddy’s rather proud- he says you take after him!
The big change this month was that I started working on my PhD again, which means that your Daddy and I are now trying to share your care. It’s gone pretty smoothly. It’s very hard for me to work solidly for five hours in a row, since I really am still very very tired and sleep deprived, and your Daddy has been a bit stressed about how he’s going to fit in his hours, but I think we are figuring things out. You are definitely benefitting. I’ve barely noticed any separation anxiety, even though you’re right at the age where it’s meant to be strongest. We tend to hand you over at lunch time, and whether it’s Mummy or Daddy who has you, some things stay the same each day. It’s not a schedule, but there is definitely a routine to our days. You always hang out with us at breakfast- either in your exersaucer or in your high chair if you’re eating something too. You go down for your first nap around two hours after you wake up, and then depending on your mood and the length of your naps, you’ll either keep to this two-hour pattern and take three naps, or stay up for three hours after the first nap and only have two. You nurse every three or three and a half hours. You go out for a walk at least once every day. The final part of your day includes baby naked time, then bath, and then the bedtime routine. But it’s very obvious that your Daddy and I parent differently, and think of different things to do with you, so I think you’re really enjoying spending time with us both.
I love that you have so much hair now that it sticks up at the back, and we can make it into a tiny mohawk when you’re in the bath. I love the way you wiggle in excitement when we come to get you from your crib in the morning. I love how your eyes look blue, or green, or grey, depending on what you’re wearing. I love seeing you grow and change every day.
Love you ever so much, my son.