I will never again doubt my mother’s claim that I did everything at nine months — walking, talking, complicated piano riffs (no, not really) — because this past month has been an explosion of development for Owlet.
In the Big Achievements department, she can now:
• Drink from her own handle-less 10-oz sippy cup (which is filled to the brim with water when we give it to her, and she usually drains one every day, sometimes more)
• Clap with actual open hands, not knocking the knuckles of her fists together.
• Crawl! We have real crawling, with all four limbs moving in sequence! Her tummy even lifts off the floor for about half the endeavour! Though she often goes back to the baby army crawl because she can move faster that way. And if she has her druthers, she’d rather be standing, thank you very much. As a matter of fact, she’ll insist on it.
• Hover, as in stand on her own for a few seconds while she lets go of one piece of furniture or hand and reaches for another.
• Cruise around a room with ease, going from bookcase to loveseat to end table to coffee table to chair to cedar chest. I draw the line at the spinning wheel.
• Stand next to someone holding only one hand, and even take a few steps that way.
• Stand for a few moments on her own, usually because she doesn’t notice she’s let go with both hands.
• Stand on her own, not touching anything, and drink from her sippy cup (yeah, this one really freaked us out). We’ve gone from a couple of seconds of hands-free hovering, to standing unassisted, while tilting the sippy cup back to drink from it. I don’t think she realized that she didn’t have a hip resting against the edge of the coffee table, as she usually does. It kind of blew my mind: she had her head way back, with both hands on the sippy cup and elbows up and cocked out, and she didn’t even wobble.
• WALK. It’s only a shaky step or two at this point if she’s on her own, but if she’s holding on to someone’s fingers she motors along with great determination. And she doesn’t hang her weight from your hands either; she’s on her own feet and she lightly uses you as balance when she needs it. HRH built beautiful wooden baby gates in the style of the attic railing (true hinged gates that open and close at the top of each staircase), and they came at the precisely correct time.
Owlet won’t. sit. down. It’s all standing, all the time, or there is shrieking and arching the back and throwing herself around. She loves to stand at one of the little play stations we’ve set up on end tables or low shelves for her. The play stations have a mix of blocks, books, small shaky toys or stuffed critters. I keep trying to teach her the put-things-in-other-things skill, but she’s still too delighted with the taking-things-out-of-other-things part. There’s a big cognitive jump between the two. Books are suddenly more than chew toys (although that is still their primary purpose): they open and close, and flipping pages is lots of fun. She got a wooden swing this past month, and has therefore been introduced to swinging, which, judging from the cascade of throaty giggles, she adores.
In the realm of teeth, she’s up to seven, four on top and three below. She’s working on her eighth, the lower right second incisor, and is utterly miserable right now. This poor kid can’t get a break. It has to slow down at some point. Seven within two months? I don’t remember Sparky’s coming that fast.
Owlet’s eyes have gone a beautiful grey-blue, and her hair is coming in nicely. It’s long enough at the sides to start sticking out over her ears in funny little swoops, and at the bottom to start hinting at clumping into thin little waves. It’s still an indeterminate colour, but it’s got a lot of red to it for now. (Red tones and waves… to no one’s surprise, I’m sure.) Her skin is so fair that it turns red about five minutes after we go outside, even when we’ve slathered her in SPF 50 sunscreen and she’s in the shade. I’ve concluded that it’s a response to the heat. She grew out of the awesome little denim bucket hat someone passed along to us, and Nana brought her a new floppy wide-brimmed white eyelet hat this past weekend that we call her chapeau. It covers so much more of her neck and shoulders.
New foods include toast and raspberry jam, salmon, scones, orzo, baby corn, garlic shoots, edamame… I’ve lost track. Pretty much anything except nut products, shellfish, and berries, really. She is so incredibly enthusiastic about food that she wants whatever anyone is eating, and doesn’t turn anything away. We haven’t done cow’s milk yet; still holding off on it. Maybe next month. She’s using that sippy cup like a pro for drinking water, though, after having so much trouble with them. You know what did it? Buying her a sippy cup without handles. We were using two kinds of handled ones, but all she did was get hung up on the handles, either by chewing them or getting them tangled up in her hands. I suspect they stuck out too far and needed too much fine motor control to adjust the cup so that the spout was at the right angle. I bought these Tommee Tippee ones instead, and the very day we got it she had it tipped up to drink from it. The cup is much more secure and doesn’t wobble, since she’s holding it right between her palms.
And oh, the talking. After worrying a bit, she seems to have suddenly switched to the vocal development track after working so hard on the physical development one. So far, the words she uses are: cat, Dada, Mama, mi (milk), mo (more), mmm (her yummy sound), booh (book), awl (owl), beh (bell). She has said “eh” (not “aay” but a short e) and “yeah” for a while now, using them as greetings or general comment. The other day Sparky called her name and she said, “Yeah?” And then they did it again, which was fantastic. She has an interesting “ee-AH” sound for her brother, which is odd; I’d have thought it would be “EE-ah,” echoing the syllabic emphasis of his name. It is also entirely possible she said “nana” and “amma” when her grandmothers were here.
Sleep is slowly approaching something like reliable. About an hour to two hours of nap both morning and afternoon. Generally she’ll go to bed around 7, wake anywhere between one and four, nurse then sleep again, and wake up around 6:30 for the day. That’s a rough average, of course. There are nights where she’s miserable from teething or a cold or the bloody cats wake her up, or the wind changes, or whatever. (Like now. Now we have the ’shriek and fuss for ninety minutes before finally sleeping, no matter what Mum and Dad do’ thing happening. So much fun.)
She’s figured out dancing! She holds onto the edge of the coffee table and bobs up and down with a ginormous grin on her face. She watched someone drumming on Sesame Street one morning and started banging the table in response, so there’s that connection, too. When we sing to her she sometimes “sings” back with “ah ah ah ah”s. She’s loving Sparky just as much as ever, too. She toddles into his room, dragging whoever is walking with her behind her, and explores his books, toys, and bed, whether he is there or not (if he is, it’s an exciting bonus). He has played with her properly at least once a week, making up games around her and her toys. They danced to the radio one day, which was priceless:
Nursing is leveling off, of her own accord. She is very busy, you see, much too busy to curl up and have some milk. She much prefers standing at the coffee table and munching diced apple or rice rusks. And if she is game for milk we need to pay close attention to the latch, or her sharp little teeth make things uncomfortable. She’s making the sessions she does have shorter, too. Whereas they used to be ten to fifteen minutes, now they’re five to eight. Plus we have also attained the nursing gymnastics level, where baby wants to wiggle and roll and move around while drinking, and when you’ve got 23 pounds of enthusiastic baby trying to multitask, well, it’s frustrating and uncomfortable. I’ve ended nursing sessions because she’s climbing around, and she hasn’t seemed upset yet. I’m bruised and sore from the toes dug into the ribs and abdomen as she climbs over me, I’ve cut another two inches off my hair to reduce the amount of yanking, and I grit my teeth against the pinching when she tries to grab my clothes and gets the skin underneath as well. I forgot how all-or-nothing babies are; they do everything full-tilt, because they have no governors yet.
And full-tilt is her default setting. She wants to do All The Things All The Time, unless it involves sitting quietly. If she has distraction and stimulation, she is thrilled. If she has me, I get boring very quickly. In purely selfish realm, I wish she was more of a cuddler. I have a baby who yanks and pulls and head butts and jabs – all in enthusiasm, I must add, not maliciousness. Instead of cuddles, there are struggles. I’m hoping she mellows somewhat, because I’m a cuddler myself, and the only time I get to cuddle her a bit is when she nurses… which is, of course, becoming rarer. She’s growing up, the way babies do.