Six months. Half a year, people. We’re simultaneously baffled and thrilled.
This baby just keeps growing. The fuzzy snowsuit I bought her that was all floppy and too big a month ago now fits her perfectly from shoulder to toes. She’s wearing her 12-month clothes most comfortably; she’s got long legs, and the cloth diaper adds bulk to fill out the waist and hips. Most 6-9 month tops are too short and too tight across the shoulders. The good thing is I know she’s going to slim down as she achieves mobility, so she should be wearing this lot of clothes for a while.
Six months… half a year. That’s hard to process. We have a generally cheerful little girl who has a kooky laugh, and who loves pictures of babies and watching videos of the kids from my online birth group. She loves watching Sesame Street while playing in her exersaucer, so that’s part of our current morning routine if she doesn’t sleep past her usual wake-up time of her morning nap. She enjoys watching me spin on the Louet wheel downstairs during Sesame Street, too. She tries to hum when people sing to her, and she adores being bounced and flown around the room. There is a lot more babbling, and she has been working very hard to make raspberry sounds. She gives us fierce hugs when we come home and say hello to her, or after a nap, and she loves giving big sloppy openmouthed baby kisses but only when she chooses to. (Sparky doesn’t let her give him kisses any more, after the one where he pulled back and exclaimed, “Ew, you licked me! I’m all wet!” Her eyes are beginning to change colour. We have no idea which way they’re going to go, but we can see that the colour around the iris is beginning to shift away from the standard baby blue. And in other baby milestone news, Owlet has finally discovered her toes. She grabs them during changes with a cheeky grin, and tries to pick them up while sitting down, so she falls over. She does it again and again, too, especially if there’s embroidery on the hem of her jeans or she’s wearing new socks or shoes. And I’m kind of heartless because I just set her upright and keep laughing when she falls over again. She doesn’t seem upset by falling over… probably because she’s successfully grabbed her toes.
And the teeth. Good gods, the teeth. Dear lower incisors: Please, please, please stop making life awful for everyone. Just come out and join the party already.
The biggest milestone this month (other than rolling over, which she still doesn’t like to do very often, and sitting up, which she prefers to do in the security of the chesterfield or her high chair without leaning against the backrests) is solid food. Oh, how she adores it. She squeals and cranks if we’re too slow with it. If she’s eating something off a spoon she’ll grab the handle and try to take over steering it, and if you won’t let her, she keeps one hand there and pulls the bowl of the spoon into her mouth with the other hand and scoops the food off with her fingers onto her tongue. (That neat, tidy eating she demonstrated in the first few days went out the window as her enthusiasm developed.) If, while eating something that she’s holding on her own like a rusk or a piece of cucumber, she drops it into her chest, she can’t see it any more and she thinks it’s gone, gone forever, and she starts crying. If you’re eating something within her reach she will grab for it, and if you try to fend her off, she’ll think around it and do something like pull the place mat towards her instead. (That’s a scary cognitive leap, by the way.) The day I first offered her roasted acorn squash, she turned into an aggressive roasted acorn squash-chunk-eating machine. Yikes! The little lunges she made at them and the quiet “mmmrrrrrmmmmm” sounds she made to herself while squishing it around in her mouth were hilarious.
The mesh feeder thing is a great concept, but she doesn’t get it at all. It’s like if she can’t see the food, she doesn’t clue into the fact that the mesh end goes in her mouth. And if I show her the food then put it in the feeder she howls, because then the food is gone, woe! She’ll wolf down spoonfuls or chunks from her or our hands happily, but the feeder is only good for chewing on the handle at the moment.
Foods she now eats: rice cereal, barley cereal (both of which are rapidly becoming spurned in favour of Real Food Please Mum), acorn squash, butternut squash, sweet potato, bananas, pears, apples, pancakes, cucumber spears, pizza crusts, bits of homemade scone… we tried carrots but she wasn’t big on them. She is desperate to eat anything someone else is eating; she’d drink tea from my mug if I let her (and don’t think she hasn’t tried, both casually reaching for it as I lower it and lunging for it when my attention is elsewhere). If she doesn’t immediately like something we give it a second try, then put it aside for a couple of weeks. She went crazy for the Baby Mum-Mum rice rusk I gave her, but they’re expensive so I’ve been experimenting with making my own. The commercial ones melt; the ones I’m making (part applesauce, part rice cereal) are hard and good for teething, like baby biscotti. They make a huge brown smeary mess as she gums through them, but they keep her busy and she loves them. We’re doing a mix of roughly fork-mashed stuff and what’s called baby-led weaning, where you put a chunk of steamed whatever or something you’re eating in front of the baby and let her explore it. We’ve skipped purées entirely.
I think I’ve finally figured out her current personal rhythm and schedule. I almost had it, but charting everything pretty intensely over the last couple of weeks has shown me that while I was close, I was missing a bit of the big picture… like the fact that because her afternoon nap was so early (I was putting her down when she was tired) and so short (grr, she’s such a light sleeper), and because we have to be out the door to meet Sparky’s bus at a specific time, she ended up being awake for almost five hours straight before supper. No wonder she was melting down on a semi-regular basis. I knew she was missing sleep because the naps were crazy brief, but I didn’t really get the stress of that length of time awake was putting on her little brain because I didn’t know how long it actually was. So I’ve been working out a new schedule instead of going purely with her biorhythm and cues. I offering her the breast more often (it’s harder to cope with stuff if your tummy is empty); there is a defined morning and afternoon snack; I make her lunch of veggies and cereal a bit earlier so we can have two shorter naps in the afternoon, or we have it after she wakes up from her midday nap instead, depending on how she feels. I offer her nursing as soon as we come home from the boy’s bus stop, and a nap if she didn’t have her second afternoon nap before we went out. It cuts into our time with Sparky, but if she goes down within half an hour (which she does, if she needs it) then he gets my undivided attention for homework and some reading or playing till she wakes up as a trade-off. If she doesn’t go down then, HRH puts her down for a twenty-minute catnap when he gets home before supper, and then she’s much happier at dinner. Just being aware of the time blocks helped a lot, though, and scheduling in an extra morning snack and doing a midday nap instead of trying to put her down in the early afternoon after lunch has made a big difference.
Nights are still hard. We started swaddling her again to stop her from waking herself up by flailing her arms and rubbing her eyes so hard that she scratches herself. She generally sleeps from about seven PM to anywhere between ten-thirty and twelve, at which point she has a proper nursing meal and falls back asleep. Then she wakes up two hours later, has a snack, and falls back asleep, then wakes ninety minutes later for the same, then an hour after that, and then she fusses and drowses and snacks off and on till we get up between seven and seven-thirty. The diminishing blocks of sleep nightly are wearing away at my ability to cope with just about everything. Fragmented sleep is a killer for me. Other than the first waking after her four to six hour stretch, she’s not waking up because she’s hungry; she’s waking up because she reaches a light sleep part of her cycle and wakes up enough to know that she isn’t asleep, and she wants to be comforted.
This has prompted HRH and I to plan transitioning her into sleeping in her own room at night, which had always roughly been the plan when she hit six months. Now, when we went househunting, we looked for one with all the bedrooms on the same floor, but we couldn’t find one within our price range. Both children are on one level, and we are one floor below. This is a bit problematic in connection to this transition. If we move her into her own room alone, we’re going to be up and down the stairs all night as she gets used to it, and in the time it takes us to wake up and get to her she’ll be worked up enough to make getting her back to sleep a lot harder than it would if a parent in the room pats her gently back to sleep when she first starts stirring. So we’re going to move the other twin bed from the bunkbed set into her room for one of us to sleep on until she’s used to sleeping on her own and is down to a single nighttime wakeup. Unfortunately, if I’m the one with her she expects to be nursed, whereas HRH can get her back to sleep in almost no time at all. So it looks like we may be splitting the night at first: I’ll do the first half, and then we’ll switch places so he can get her used to falling back to sleep without me nursing her, and I can get a few hours of proper sleep. (HRH can fall back asleep in about thirty seconds. It is a skill I envy.)
I know all this will pass. It feels like an eternity, but I look at the boy, and I remember teaching him how to sleep properly because he went through the twenty-minute nap phase, too, and I remember how long it felt at the time. We went through it all with him and everyone survived, and even turned out pretty well. It feels like it’s going to be forever when you’re in the middle of it, and it feels as if things never change, but they do, slowly, and for the better.
Happiness is a sunny spot, a soft block, and a cat on your feet.