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Archive for the ‘Growth & Development’ Category

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My coping mechanism of choice.

A few years ago, I tended my father during an 11-day ICU stay. When he regained consciousness, I asked if I could bring him anything.

“Yeah,” he said, “a seven and seven.” Possibly, he asked for a Cuba Libre. Can’t quite recall. Either way, I laughed and reminded him we were in a hospital.

“Well, there’s gotta be a bar in here somewhere,” he replied.

Now, granted, he had had a massive stroke years before, and was pumped full of 80 different drugs and battling septic shock, but still, he had a good point: Why aren’t there bars in hospitals? Why must the stressed and grieving stow flasks in their purses and hide bottles in their pants? (For the record: I have not done either of those things. But I have seriously considered both options.)

I thought a lot about all of this this yesterday while sitting in the kitchen, staring into the middle distance and sucking Nutella off a spoon. I had just put the exhausted, sad baby down for a nap following his one-year checkup, which included four shots. FOUR. IN A ROW, not simultaneously, which would be the smart way to do it. Just sayin’.

Anyway. It seems to me that traumatized parents in need of comfort beverages and/or snacks are a gravely underserved niche market as well as a huge business opportunity.

I’m completely serious.

Just think: If you were anticipating having to hold your child’s arms while he got jabbed with needles and screamed, wouldn’t it be nice to know you could have the adult treat of your choice, in the foyer of your pediatrician’s office, either before or after? You could pick up a vodka shot of some sort to consume as soon as you got home, or order a cab if you were unable to wait that long.

Taking the idea beyond alcohol: Nutella-banana crepes, or a Nutella latte, or, for purists like me, a giant jar of Nutella and a spoon. Or perhaps you would prefer a chunk of Valhrona chocolate as big as your head, or an extremely mayonnaise-heavy chicken salad sandwich on a croissant.

I see this as a concierge service. Would you like a violinist to serenade your family as you’re driven home in a limo stocked with Champagne and Valium? Not a problem. Five different flavors of macarons in a gorgeous box tied with a bow, flown in from Ladurée this morning? With pleasure. A nursemaid to tend the cranky baby, and a beefcakey dude to draw you a bubble bath? Done. Perhaps you long to lounge in a vat of rice pudding. You’re weird, but you’re the customer, so, okay, enjoy!

Of course none of that would make up for the agony of knowing you must see your child in pain; the idea is to prevent the day from being a complete horror. But until such time as someone snaps up this idea, I’ll make sure I’m never short on Nutella when Baboo is due for shots.

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You are one year old.

Your favorite bath toy is a plastic travel soap dish.

You think fake sneezes are hilarious. When you hear your Daddy blow his nose, you imitate him. We think that’s hilarious.

You point and grunt when you hear an airplane, a truck, or anything loud outside.

You used to make unhappy noises when you heard the ice machine and the food processor. Now, you smile and laugh at them and want to be picked up so you can watch them.

You point at all the artwork on your walls as soon as you are picked up from a nap.

You have six teeth. This has been the case for some time.

You don’t like it when Mama cleans your teeth after meals, but you tolerate it pretty well if she sings the “brushie-brushie” song and/or turns you upside down on her lap.

You’ve been climbing the stairs for a few weeks. You like to stop and look down, and when we carry you up and down you like to throw yourself backwards.

You loved watching the flame on your birthday candle and reached for it over and over, and almost got hold of it. However, you refused to touch your birthday cupcake and made faces and unhappy noises at it. We think this was because you were very tired by the time we sang to you.

You love to see and feel the inside of people’s mouths. You also love to explore people’s faces with your hands. Daddy is the only person who is brave enough to let you do this.

You are not walking, and you don’t seem to be in a huge hurry to do so. But you are very good at walking around your crib while holding the rails, and cruising around chairs and baby gates, and sometimes you let go and stand for a few seconds before plopping down on your bottom.

Your fingernails are a completely different shape than they were 12 months ago. You still love to do things with your hands, though.

Your nicknames are Baboo, Mamoush, Chickoo, Chickoo Boots, Little Boots, Boots, and Little Pooper.

You cackle when someone lies flat on the floor, and come rushing over to ram your face into that person’s face. We’re pretty sure this is your version of a hug.

You still grab for your bits during diaper changes, even when there are socks on your hands.

You say, “buh-bah” and wave when someone is leaving. You also say it when you hear Mama say “bye” when she’s on the phone.

You have shorter hair now, and that makes you look much older, and much more like your Daddy.

You cry with great sadness when you bump your head.

You cry with great indignation when you get shots, but you recover quickly when we distract you with toys and funny noises.

You have recently gone off all your favorite veggies and fruits and will only eat Cheerios, yogurt, bread and peanut butter.

You are one year old, and you are quickly becoming a little boy.

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One of the first books I remember really enjoying was a grade-school-level biography of Florence Nightingale. It covered her service as a nurse in the Crimean War, and as I recall, it was kind of gory — or at least, that’s how I remember it. But that could also be the Geraldo Rivera book about survivors of awful plane crashes and natural disasters that I sought out not long after.

This early fascination with medical issues is now focused on Baboo. I’m not obsessive about it, just very interested in understanding the mechanics of teething and speech and movement. For the latter, one of my favorite sites is The Physical Baby.

It’s written by an early intervention physical therapist and infant massage instructor who explains things like why tummy time is so important and what to do if your baby is having a hard time batting at toys. The tone is professional yet approachable, and I always learn something interesting from her posts, like why a baby’s feet move so much when they’re just sitting there (it has to do with the difficulty of isolating muscle groups).

She also covers topics like which toys are worth buying from a physical development perspective, something I appreciate. And she’s very responsive to questions posted on her Facebook page — a great boon if you’re worried about something your baby is doing (or not doing).

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For Christmas, because he loves buttons, zippers and shoelaces, my mom gave Baboo a learn-to-dress monkey we promptly named George. He’s awfully cute:

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The other day, just for kicks, I asked the baby, “Where’s George?” For more kicks, I added, “Go find George!”

He got up, peg-legged his way over to George, and smashed his face into the monkey’s face — his equivalent, I think, of a hug.

I sat on the kitchen floor with my mouth hanging open for a moment before saying, “What a smart baby you are!” A few days ago, he did it again when a friend was visiting.

Later, I thought about all of this and realized a few things:

– We were in the kitchen, and George was in the dining room, at least 15 feet away, and he was slumped on his side (we often sit him up because he’s so damn cute).
– George has been around for just over three weeks and is not a constant plaything; more like one of a cast of rotating characters.
– We use the monkey’s name perhaps every other day.

So after roughly a dozen usages of the name in reference to the monkey, not only does the baby know the monkey’s name, but he understands “where” and “go get it.”

Things are about to get really fun around here.

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20130109-070819.jpgBaboo (not his real name) is rendered slack-jawed by the TV. We don’t let him sit and watch it, but he catches a glimpse now and then as he’s being carried through to another room. Sometimes his entire body starts vibrating, like he can’t physically handle what his bitty little eyes are taking in.

The American Pediatric Association recommends that children under two watch no TV at all. They have no policy on how much time babies should or shouldn’t spend with their parents’ smartphones and tablets, but one assumes the recommendation would be similarly strict. (Farhad Manjoo, my favorite tech writer and quite a smart person, has written eloquently in favor of limited screen time.)

My issue with the TV is more one of quality time than moral fiber. The baby sleeps 12 hours a night and takes two or three naps totaling, on average, four hours. So he’s awake for roughly eight hours a day. Subtract time for eating, diaper changes and getting ready for naps and bed. Subtract more time for running errands with me. Subtract a bit more for me carrying him around as I move the laundry along or head upstairs for the eighth time because I once again forgot to bring down the whozit. Or the whatzit.

I’m not a big math person, but I know that doesn’t leave tons of time to just play. And I don’t need silly math to know that — every day, I feel like I fight the rising tide of housework to get one-on-one time to play with the baby, or watch him play, or read to him, or let him plunk on a keyboard.

And yet, he gets screen time almost daily, because my mother-in-law lives in India and we Skype with her. She was here for an extended visit shortly after Baboo was born, and left when he was nearly six months old. Often, because of the time difference and scheduled power outages on her end, we Skype as I feed the baby his breakfast.

A few weeks ago, we had Avva up (grandma) on the iPad and she said, “clap, clap.” And Baboo started clapping. I was flabbergasted. 10 months old, and interacting with a person on a screen.

Surely that’s not going to stunt his intellectual development.

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First steps, first word, first solid food. These are all very exciting, but there are smaller milestones that really should be covered in baby books because of what they mean to a parent.

– The first time your baby feeds you. This happened in our house this morning. Best damn Cheerio I ever tasted.

– The day your baby can sit up in the front of a shopping cart. No more lugging that unbelievably heavy car seat into the store if you can’t find a parking spot next to a cart corral that has a cart in it. No more extended positioning sessions to figure out if it’s better to perch it on the front of the cart, or put it in the cart and wedge your groceries in around it. Even if he’s strapped in tight up under his armpits and slumping a little to one side, this scenario is vastly preferable to playing Sherpa every time you need a carton of milk. Apparently this was a big one for me.

– The first time your baby understands that he can open a cabinet door. This happened today. I might have cussed.

– The first time your baby understands that his fingers can get pinched by a cabinet door. Also today. The baby definitely cussed.

– The first time your baby stretches his arms out to you when you reach down and say “up.” Even if those little arms go out to the sides instead of in your direction, you know what the baby means. Yes, please, up, I want to see, I want to be with you, let’s go. Oof!

I’m sure there are some I’m forgetting, and more coming, but these will do nicely for now. And honestly, I’m a little scared about the whole walking thing.

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The lamp by which Goodnight Moon is read. And read. And read.

Yesterday I was chatting with my dentist about how great it is that babies are snuggly and how fun it is to love on them. My tooth-driller, who is 50ish, I think, said when he was a kid, he thought it was weird that his dad would smother him with hugs and kisses. But of course he completely understood what was up with that once he had kids of his own.

It reminded me of how, when Baboo was a newborn, he would fall asleep on our chests, a compact bundle of peaceful trust. His breathing was soft and sweet and I loved nothing better than tuning in to hear and feel it. His 3 a.m. feedings were drowsy, rocking affairs that made me feel gratifyingly maternal. I’d change his diaper in the near-dark, stealthily feed him and put him back down already half-asleep.

These days, all his sleeping happens in a crib, and he’s often restless as he’s winding down. He takes his bottles facing outwards on my lap, one foot banging on whatever he can reach with it. He snakes out of my arms as soon as he’s done, because CRAWLING! PLACES TO GO! THINGS TO GRAB!

He wakes up pointing to the pictures on his walls, reaching for the blinds, wanting to talk about everything.  But during the morning’s first bottle, I still get a few minutes of peaceful, snuggly rocking.

I’ll take what I can get.

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Look at all these toys. The coolest shape sorter ever. The Baby Faces book that unfailingly makes him giggle. A box. A cardboard box, for crying out loud!

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But every last one of them is immediately wiped from the baby’s mind the moment he sees this:

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The mere sound of it opening brings him scooting doubletime from the temptation of the front door, grunting with anticipatory excitement the whole way. Teething pain and overtiredness are erased as he examines every surface and screw. He unleashes a string of Oohs as he tries to remove plates (hasn’t yet) and spoons (no problem).

Sometimes I open it just for the pleasure of seeing his reaction. Sometimes I wait until after his nap to empty it so he doesn’t miss it.

Yep, the dishwasher is my ace in the hole right now.

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Ever since he started crawling a few weeks ago, the baby has been far more interested in real-world stuff than any bright plastic gadget. Thus I present for posterity a few of his favorite things, most of which have been freshly and hastily cleaned.

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That bitty little white thing used to fit my baby. The red one fits him now.

20121123-184355.jpgI kinda wish the big one had hand-hiders, though, because his favorite new game is Grab-Neck.

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