Dear darling E.,
This month, my son, you were a baby of action! Even when you’re asleep you move around- we’re always finding you wedged in a corner of your crib- and when you’re awake, the only time you sit still is when you’re in your high chair (and even then you find a way to kick your legs when you’re excited about some particularly choice morsel). But if you’re not eating or sleeping, you are constantly on the move- crawling all over the main floor, pulling up on anything and everything, and cruising around some of the furniture. It is amazing to watch you explore your world. You’re so confident, and so interested in everything. You obviously have a very good memory and the moment there is something new in your domain, you’re off to inspect it. You love ‘helping’ Mummy and Daddy empty the dishwasher- your favourite thing to do is fiddle with the flap that folds over to hold the detergent- and you are fascinated by the washing machine. You’ll pull yourself to your feet and bang on the window and shriek at the clothes as they tumble around.
You’re still continuing to grow and thrive. Your nine month appointment revealed that you are still in the 90th percentile for height (at 29.5 inches). You’re now in the 35th percentile for weight (at 19 lb, 6 oz), so that makes you a long, lanky baby. Even some of your twelve-month clothing that fit last month is starting to look at bit short, and the final few six-twelve months clothes have had to be packed away. We bought you your big-boy carseat this month, and you had your first trip in it on the weekend. You looked so grown up, and it was definitely time to upgrade- you were practically spilling over the edge of your infant bucket seat!
Your balance and confidence when standing has improved so much over the course of this month. Last month you could only pull yourself to standing in your crib until the very end when you just started to be able to get upright using the couch. Now you can stand up as long as you’ve got something to provide support- you no longer need to literally ‘pull’ yourself up. You stand up using the fridge, the mirror in the bedroom (where you love to give kisses to the baby in the mirror), your high chair, the couches, the dining room chairs, your toy box, the bookshelf, etc. You can stand holding on with only one hand, crouch down to pick up a toy that you’ve dropped, bounce up and down, and you’ve even started to think about how you might climb stairs (to which you get access only when Mummy is there to supervise). You love to crawl over to your toy box, stand up and then quite deliberately reach in to pull out particular toys (or, depending on the day, put toys back in the box).
Your crawling is now officially high speed, and the cats have had to lift their game to avoid being grabbed by you (something which you still spend an inordinate amount of your time trying to do). If we leave the door to the pantry open, or the front hall closet, you are off like a shot! You do cruise around the furniture- you’ll move from your toy box to the couch, for example, but you’re not taking many steps yet.
This month I feel like you really started to master the idea of spatial relationships. You’ve figured out how to navigate the ledge between the kitchen and the dining room. At first you would crawl up to it at your usual speed, then stop and slowly put one hand out over the edge and lower it down until it touched the ground, and then repeat with the other hand. Climbing up would often involve some squeaks of frustration and quite a few downward dogs (still your go-to pose if you’re unsure of something or want to take a moment to think things over). Now you just roll over it, up or down, at top speed with barely a moment’s hesitation. If your toys roll under the couch you flop down on your belly and try to reach them out. When on the change table you invariably hurl whatever toy I give you down into the tiny gap between the change table and the wall (your aim is always perfect). You stash toys on the couch and chair cushions and go back to get them later. I always spend a few minutes after you’ve gone to bed tidying up the living room and putting all the pieces of your toys back together and putting them all away in the toy box for the next day. This is definitely starting to become a challenge some days, and your Daddy regularly finds me crawling around the living room, looking under couches and muttering to myself, “I need a pink ball.”
You are still utterly obsessed with the cats. If one of them is sitting on the back of the couch looking out the window, you will crawl over, pull up to standing and then spend a good long while trying desperately to ‘talk’ to the cat and get her attention. You will shriek, babble, bounce up and down, laugh, and do your utmost to get that recalcitrant feline to stop ignoring you. We spend so much time talking about the cats that I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised when just yesterday when I asked you “Where is the cat?” while we were reading a book together, you ignored the picture in the book and turned your head to look at the real live cat at the window! The cats are fairly tolerant of your adoration, as long as it comes from afar; neither of them is interested in letting you grab their fur and pull their tails, something which you would so dearly love to do. I foresee many a conversation about how we are gentle with the cats in our future.
We had an exciting time this month when we thought you might have outgrown your MSPI intolerance. It turned out that this wasn’t the case, but our experiment was still promising in that it suggested that your intolerance might be lessening, and you really might outgrow it entirely by your first birthday. In any case, your Mummy did love the couple of weeks where she ate cheese and yoghurt with abandon.
Leaving aside the MSPI issue, you, my son, LOVE food. You are certainly your father’s son. Your current favourites include meat (of any type, but especially hamburgers), broccoli, tuna pasta, pancakes, pitas with toppings (hummus, peanut butter, apple butter, roasted red pepper dip) and your ‘mixed puffs’, which are always a good go-to option if you’re not thrilled with the other options on your tray. You have a strict hierarchy of preferences with your puffs- first you eat all the corn puffs, then the ‘o’s, then the kamut, and finally, if no more puffs prove to be appearing, you’ll deign to eat the rice. Tuna pasta is probably your absolute favourite. We make it with lemon juice and various spices, and you will absolutely hoover your way through an entire bowl. The other day your Daddy made it for lunch and you ended up eating a significant amount of his lunch too! You have very clear likes and dislikes (although what these are change on a daily basis), and anything on your tray that does not meet with your approval rapidly ends up on the ground. You no longer want fingers of vegetables- you’d rather pick up bite sized portions for the most part, or be given the entire thing to munch on (this is particularly the case with apples and pears- you reject poached pieces but will happily gnaw away at the core provided some of the fruit is left). You love lentils and curries made with chick peas.
The flip side of your love affair with food is you continue to be a challenge to nurse. Most days I’m lucky if you settle for one or two short feeds during the day. Your two feeds at night are still the most substantial, and we’ll be continuing them until your first birthday to make sure you don’t try to wean entirely. I think you’re just too busy during the day to want to stop to nurse, and you’re too excited about all the other food options. On the rare occasions when you do wake up only once, you nurse much better the next day, so I have to trust that you’re getting as much as you need, just not always when I would like you to! You’re quite adept at drinking breastmilk or water out of a cup, provided we hold it for you, and you’ve also mastered the art of sipping from a tupperware container that uses a straw and a flip-spouted lid. You look impossibly grown up when you do this.
You consistently take two naps a day (lengths being wildly variable, as always), and your nights are very consistent: asleep by 6:45 or 7 pm at the latest, and up for the day around 7 am, or a little bit earlier or later. You now put yourself to sleep at night all by yourself. We go into your room and sit in the rocking chair together while I sing your lullabies. Then it’s time for a kiss and a cuddle before I put you in the crib, give you your monkey, and walk out the door. Usually you’re asleep three minutes later, as you’re so tired by your action-packed day. We think the independent bedtime is helping you settle more at night as well, as it’s very rare now that your Daddy has to go in to help you get back to sleep in the early evening, and we don’t seem to wake you up any more when we come to bed ourselves.
You had a rough few days this month waiting for two more teeth to come through (number eight in particular was a real doozy), but now that they’re here, we’re hoping we’ll get a break from teething for a little while. You still try so hard to be cheerful, but you do need Ad.vil at night to help with the pain, and we’ve noticed a definite increase in thumb sucking as a way of self-soothing and putting pressure on the sore parts of your gums. You also tend to start biting things, particularly Mummy’s knees and other parts of her anatomy, which isn’t all that appreciated.
Your favourite toys are the balls that come with the ‘brainless elephant’ as your Daddy calls it. You will drop them into the elephant over and over again, bang them together, shake them to hear them rattle, and chase them all over the main floor. You still love your shape sorter, pulling books off of your shelves, your Lam.aze fishbowl, your music table, and anything that rattles. We keep some toys in the kitchen on the lower shelf of the bookshelf that stores our cookbooks, and your favourite toy in there is an old yoghurt container: it is great fun to push around the hardwood floors, and the lid is perfect for chewing on. When I need you to stay in your crib for a few minutes, I’ll put some of your books in, and you’ll happily sit there turning the pages. Once you get bored with that, you’ll stand up and bounce up and down and try to rattle the bars.
We try to get together once a week with your baby friends, and it’s so interesting to watch you interact with the other babies. You’re all fascinated with each other, and there are open-mouthed kisses galore whenever another baby gets within reach. You also love to try and pull their hair, and the other babies give as good as they get, so we Mummies do often have to intercede to prevent too many playdates from dissolving into tears. You also spend a lot of time observing what the other babies can do, and it’s clear that you are all learning from each other. The other day one of your friends was over here, and his Mum was telling me how he doesn’t like to feed himself, but wants her to put all the food in his mouth, like a baby bird. We were having a snack and you were sitting up in your chair, devouring some tuna and mixed puffs. The other baby was watching you like a hawk, and then he wanted to start trying to put mixed puffs in his mouth too! I also don’t think it was a coincidence that you started crawling two days after a playdate where you watched another baby zooming around. Even though it is getting harder to carry on a conversation during our playdates, we Mummies are so excited to watch you all change and grow. All the babies are within six weeks of each other, and it is so neat to watch their personalities unfold. It’s hard to believe that on our first few playdates you all used to just lie on a blanket and wave your arms and legs!
You are rapidly moving closer to toddlerhood, and the face that smiles up at me when I come to get you in the mornings is now looking more and more like that of a little boy. But you still look like you; there is a photo I took during a recent playdate where you and a friend are engrossed in your music table. You have looked up, and you’re giving the camera a long, appraising stare. You look so grown up, and yet at the same time, the expression on your face is exactly the same as one in a picture I took of you on a car ride when you were only two and half months old. You have always taken so much of your world in, always had that level-headed look of assessment, but it is so much fun now to watch you put the pieces together and manipulate your own environment. You know when Mummy and Daddy are trying to be funny, and you will either reward us with a huge outburst of giggles if we’ve done something particularly amusing (like pretending to eat the fish from your fishbowl and making sounds of disgust when I come to the starfish), or provide a clear token laugh if you feel our effort should be acknowledged, but you didn’t think the gag was all that amusing (this often happens if we try to do the same thing too many times in a row).
You’re also desperate to assert your independence. Diaper changes and being dressed are apparently now beneath your dignity, and you will wail in protest the moment we put you flat on the change table. You haven’t quite realized that the more you protest and try to wriggle away, the longer the process takes. Having your face washed after meals is the worst.thing.ever. You hate discovering that where you want to go is blocked by a gate, and if we catch you heading for something forbidden and remove it before you get there, you will express your disapproval loudly. At the same time, you still crave love and security. You will happily play by yourself with your toys, or go crawling around to explore, for forty-five minutes or longer, but you always trundle back occasionally to climb into (and then out of) my lap to touch base and make sure I’m still there. If you have a minor tumble you’ve become very stoic and will just continue on with whatever you were doing, but if you really hurt or scare yourself, nothing else will do except for a good solid cuddle (which Mummy or Daddy is always happy to provide). We’re trying to let you explore as much as you want, without ever letting you end up in a position where it would be dangerous. It’s a fine balance to maintain, and I guess it’s only going to become more challenging as you get older and more capable of getting into things.
You are becoming your own little person, and I love to watch your personality emerge each day. You’re still pretty quiet on the babbling front, and you don’t shriek or make other noises as much as some of your friends, but I can tell from watching you that you’re drinking it all in. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to discover in the next month. And it is hard to believe, but I have to start thinking soon about your first birthday.
As always, my glorious son, I love you so very very much. That will never change, no matter how much you do.