Monday, 28 January 2013

Watch Me Grow - Thirty Six Weeks

Week 36 brought more and more crawling. She finally seems to like crawling, realizing that she can get pretty far by doing it. She learned how to stand up under the bar stools in our kitchen which is both exciting and terrifying for her. She is just a hair taller than the space underneath them so she has to bend over a little which frustrates her. When she stands up there she goes back and forth between smiling and crying - it's pretty entertaining actually. She also proved to us, yet again, that the best toys are often ones that cost nothing. Just like she finds endless amusement tearing up old magazines and catalogues, she found great joy in pushing around an empty boy of diapers. Suddenly the two "walker" toys that we have are gathering dust in the corner. The box will eventually disintegrate because of all the drool that falls on it, so I know that her actual toys will get used again, but for now it's her new favorite toy. 

I was surprised that I managed to get a photo of her laying down this week, but it is so blurry it kind of makes my eyes hurt. One of these days you're going to see a photo of her laying down with my foot on her tummy to hold her in place :) She ate lots of new foods last week - including a pork chop! It was great for her, she could hold the bone and gnaw on the meat attached. She LOVED it. She is also currently obsessed with nectarines, super ripe and super sweet. She can eat almost a whole nectarine by herself, which is a lot considering she doesn't usually ingest that much food when she's eating. I am still shocked that she hasn't had any new teeth come in...the drool is flowing like a river after a storm, chewing on her teeth is at an all time high and she's even been a bit cranky (which isn't like her normal, smiley self!) - hopefully it/they break through soon to give her some relief.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Eighth Month

I am aware that I say this every month, but I can't help it - it's true. Kaitlin's eighth month was her biggest one yet. She celebrated her first Christmas, her first New Years (even though she slept through it), she got two more teeth, learned how to pull herself to standing and last, but not least, learned how to crawl. Whew! I'm exhausted just thinking about it all!

The picture theme of this post is definitely "food"...I can't help it - it's the only time she sits still nowadays!

Kaitlin spent her first Christmas with family in New York. She had a wonderful time visiting with family, learning how to stand, and eating way too many sweet potatoes. Once we were back in Texas she continued her standing practice on two new toys she got from both Grandparents. At the same time she really started trying to crawl. She started getting on her hands and knees while we were at my parents house before Christmas and by the middle of January she was crawling. She learns so quickly and tries, tries and tries again. Just the other day she spent a good twenty minutes pulling herself up, letting go and falling. She was practicing standing on her own, and while she only lasted a fraction of a second, she kept at it. She's building up her little muscles to finally be strong enough to stand on her own.

I started giving Kaitlin purees a couple weeks after she turned six months. While she was interested in everything that I gave her and ate with enthusiasm, I knew there was a better way for her to be introduced to solid foods. She was so enthusiastic about food on a spoon - always trying to feed herself - I decided to switch to the Baby Led Weaning (or BLW) method of introducing solid foods. Now she eats what we eat, including toast with avocado, spaghetti and bananas. There is nothing she won't try and she is eating with even more enthusiasm. Her fine motor skills have vastly improved in the few short weeks that we've been doing it - I can't wait to see how much further she develops! We might have a little foodie on our hands!

I absolutely love watching her crawl. She is getting pretty fast now that she's had some more practice! She's so little and the way she kind of shuffles along the ground just melts my heart. She always has the biggest smile on her face when she gets to where she wanted to go - you can tell she's proud and excited about her accomplishment! I think the only thing I love more is watching her stand. This might sound a little weird, and slightly creepy, but I am obsessed with her little butt. I've started putting her in real pants, like jeans and corduroys, and they are just the cutest thing over. She does this thing now when she's standing, she bops around and acts like she's dancing, I literally want to eat her every time she does it. She gets cuter and cuter every day.

God, I'm annoying about my kid, aren't I??

A few more things that I have learned...

Clean as you go
I learned this quite a few months ago but it has become even more critical now that I have a mover and a shaker on my hands. I'm sure all of you that have older toddlers and more than one child will laugh at my naivety of preaching "clean as you go" but please - let me live in my innocence for a bit longer. Now that Kaitlin is playing with more toys and has some bigger toys (walkers, music machines, etc) our living room becomes more and more of a mess as the day goes on. Throw in all of the food that gets, ahem, thrown around during meal time and our downstairs can become a disaster very quickly. I have learned, for me, it works best if I clean as the day goes on. As soon as meal time is over I let Kaitlin play quietly by herself for 10-15 minutes while I clean up. Not only is the food impossible to remove once it's dried on, it also makes me feel better to see a clean table instead of mess everywhere. When she goes down for a nap I do a quick 5 minute tidy of her toys. I put everything in her toy bin and straighten out her play mat. Why put it all away if she is just going to get it back out again? Well, for one I like to change up what toys she is playing with. It adds a little variety and lets her practice different skills (we might play with music toys in the morning and then play with balls in the afternoon). Also, we might need to go out and run an errand or go to the park once she wakes up. I feel so much more relaxed and happier if things are in order when we leave the house. Now, I'm not saying everything has to be spotless, that's just crazy talk, but it helps me stay sane to have everything picked up. It also helps with cleaning up the house at the end of the day. Instead of having to do a big clean at the end of the day and have it take 30-60 minutes, I just have to clean up her dinner dishes and put the afternoon toys in the bin and I'm done - fifteen minutes max. That gives me more time to relax, spend time with my husband or watch TV. 

At the end of the day - restock, restock, restock
This is another thing that I learned early and has become more important as Kaitlin gets older. I have found it to be a huge time saver in the long run if I restock things we use daily, at the end of each day. I'm mainly referring to her diaper bag and changing table (but feel free to apply it to whatever you use daily). If I have gone out and used some of her stuff in the diaper bag, at the end of the day I take a minute to replenish what is gone. I make sure that I have enough diapers (I usually keep five in there at all times - and yes, I have gone through all of them during one outing before), wipes, an extra change of clothes and a couple of toys ready to go. That way when I need to take it with me the next day I don't have to scramble around getting it ready. I inevitably forget something and I feel like a mess. This way, particularly if when we are running late I know that my bag is already packed and ready to go. I do the same thing with her changing table downstairs. There have been too many times when I have an open, smelly, very dirty diaper and a very squirmy baby on my hands only to find that I don't have any more wipes/diapers/diaper cream at the ready. Then I have to get said dirty, smelly, squirmy baby upstairs to change her and one of us (ok, both) always ends up a mess. Or, more than likely, I end up reaching for my diaper bag which, hopefully, I have restocked the night before.

Parenting is sad. Like, really, really sad
Sad in the best, happiest way possible. If that makes any sense. Stay with me here, let me try to explain. The last couple of months with Kaitlin have been awesome. I mean, the beginning was awesome too but in a WEEEE-WHAT-THE-HELL-AM-I-DOING-THIS-IS-CRAZY!!! kind of way. Now that we have gotten to know each other a bit more, her personality is starting to come out, I've chilled out about naps (um, kinda) and she's reaching milestone after milestone - it's been really awesome. And it makes me sad. Like, really, really sad. One of my favorite parts of the day is when I go and get her from her crib and bring her downstairs. She is so incredibly happy she starts bouncing and wiggling in my arms as we walk down the stairs and has a huge grin on her face. She squeals with delight and pulls my hair (a good sign...I think). It's so super cute (GOD - here I go gushing again. SORRY) and it devastates me that she will never remember being so happy. So happy about the simplest thing. She thinks that playing peek-a-boo with me or her father is the BEST THING EVERRRR and LOVES "flying" through the air. She is so happy 95% of the time that she's awake and is totally loving life - laughing all the time now, talking more and more and smiles all around. I know that later there will be tantrums and teenage hormones and a heck of a lot of really hard stuff to deal with. Which is why I am sad that she won't remember all of these happy times and happy memories. It encourages me even more to make the good times last, let her know that she is loved every day all day and document, document, document in case she ever has any doubts about anything. 

(Which, by the way, doesn't mean that I am going to spoil her rotten. Though at this point I can't make any promises)

Monday, 21 January 2013

Watch Me Grow - Thirty Five Weeks

Thirty five was a big one - it was the week Kaitlin learned how to crawl! It was so exciting-slash-scary at the same time. If I thought having her sit still was hard before, man oh man this takes it to a whole new level! She turned 35 weeks and EIGHT MONTHS old on Saturday.

I realize that picture is blurry as heck but I was so shocked/surprised/amazed that I even managed to capture a picture of her laying down at all that I just had to use it. Other exciting things that happened during week 35? We had a playdate at the baby store (check out her photo here), started looking at nursery schools (quick - make it stop! make time stop!!) and tried lots of new foods. Her pincher grab is developing quickly since she is practicing so often while eating. 

Changing Kaitlin's diaper or trying to change her clothes is basically impossible at this point. She starts to cry as soon as we lay her down on the changing table and will turnover on her tummy and sit up within 5 seconds. I am constantly trying to hold her down so that she doesn't fall off. I've tried changing her on the floor and that is almost worse since she can see so many more cool things. Often times our afternoons turn into no pants parties since trying to get them back on after a diaper change is too exhausting. Getting her ready for bed is officially a two person job. The bathing part is fine - she's happy as a clam splashing around in the tub - its the part right after that is tough. I gave her a bath and got her ready for bed by myself three times this week and each time I needed an adult beverage after the whole thing was said and done. 

This is when parenting really gets tiring, isn't it?

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Why and How I Switched to Baby Led Weaning (BLW)

I could answer this post very simply, in just a few sentences:

Q: Why did I switch to Baby Led Weaning (BLW or baby led feeding)?
A: I'm lazy

Q: How did I switch to BLW?
A: I stopped pureeing food and gave Kaitlin "whole" foods instead

Bing, bang, boom. Done.

But that's a little boring, don't you think? So, in true me fashion - here is the long winded, extra detailed version (with lots of pictures, obviously).

Back when Kaitlin was a wee four months old (which was, by the way, FOUR MONTHS AGO! ARGH!) we started the conversation of eating solids with our pediatrician. Since Kaitlin was a bit underweight she wanted to wait until Kaitlin was six months old to start. At the time I had heard of baby led weaning from this post by Aimee and asked her if she had a preference of which method I used. She didn't and said that we could talk about it more once Kaitlin turned six months. Then I pretty much let it leave my brain for the next six weeks. Once we were slowly approaching the six month mark I started thinking about it again.

I was all excited to start making my own baby food and purees. Like most moms I started with some soupy baby cereal and Kaitlin seemed to love it. After a week of bland cereal I busted out my brand, spankin new Baby Bullet (I'm a sucker for infomercials) and off I went pureeing and blending sweet potatoes and peas and apples. I dutifully waited three days before introducing new foods to make sure Kaitlin didn't have any allergic reactions and perfectly portioned out spoonfuls of mush onto her spoon. She seemed to love it all and I never had a problem getting her to eat any of it. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Pretty much from day one Kaitlin wanted to be in charge of feeding herself. She always grabbed the spoon as I brought it towards her mouth. A lot of kids do this, especially those that don't start until they are six months, and I think her teething had something to do with her constant need to chomp on the spoon, but I could see that she wanted to do more than be spoon fed some mush.

Over Christmas, when I was visiting my parents, my dad started giving her little pieces of food. At first I was really paranoid about her choking and about eating too many different/new foods in one day. My parents know that I'm a little Type A and seemed to take it in stride - nothing to worry about, Tracy. She will be fine. Kaitlin decided that she didn't like a small piece of toast but she chomped away on an orange slice. We tried again with a small piece of bread and she loved eating a half of a banana. She didn't really get a lot in her mouth but I could tell that she loved having control over her own food. By the time we made it to my in-laws for Christmas day she was having bits of turkey and asparagus at the dinner table with us. I was still feeding her purees but it was becoming more and more clear that she would love baby led weaning.

After we got back home and settled into our routine I decided that I was going to switch to BLW only for Kaitlin. No more purees and mushy cereal. So, on January 1st, 2013 we started giving her only "whole" solid foods. I read this book to prepare myself for what I should expect (lots of mess, not a lot being ingested, and more mess) and off we went. We started the new year with waffle sticks (regular waffles cut into finger size sticks) and boy did she love it. She was happy as a clam chomping, sucking and gumming away on those things. More than half of it ended up on the floor, a quarter ended up smooshed in her clothes, but that last 25% definitely made it in her mouth and down to her tummy. How do I know? You should have seen her diaper the next day! :)

Even though it has only been a couple of weeks (sixteen days and counting) I already know that BLW was the right decision for us. Kaitlin will try pretty much everything and has a blast grabbing, squishing, gumming, throwing and (sometimes) eating whatever I put in front of her. So far she has tried:

Chicken (roasted and poached)
Avocado on toast (one of her favorites!)
Cucumbers (she did NOT like those)
Blood Oranges
Chickpea Patties (recipe is here)
Spaghetti and Turkey meatballs
Mango (not a fan)
Carrots (roasted)
Zucchini (roasted)

I'm sure there are a few more but my memory is failing me (as usual). As I said, she plays around with the food and she doesn't really ingest that much of it, but it is fascinating watching her do it. One of the purposes of BLW is for the baby to sit at the table and eat with the rest of the family. The baby will learn how and what to eat by watching the rest of her family. While I don't always eat the same thing as Kaitlin I always make it a point to sit down with her while she's eating (and it's a safety measure - there is a very small chance that she could actually choke on something but I want to be close by just in case). I noticed a remarkable difference in the amount that she eats/tries to eat when I am sitting at the table and eating the same foods as her. She loves to watch me and then copy what I am doing.

The other great thing about BLW is that it is inspiring me to eat and cook healthier. Babies can have pretty much whatever you're having (as long as you can squish it between your fingers to make sure it's soft enough) except for salt. It is encouraging me to make more meals from scratch (especially lunch since I have been majorly slacking since I stopped breast feeding) and use all natural, organic ingredients. It's still a work in progress but I am getting there.

BLW is nothing new. A lot of parents (especially those with more than two kids) and our own parents have done this for years, they just might not have known that it has a name. Eventually all babies are going to start eating solid foods, this just skips over the mushy part! It is messy (oh so very messy - invest in some good bibs and a splat mat) and dirty and fun. So very, very fun.

If you are interested in learning more about Baby Led Weaning (BLW or Baby Led Feeding) here are a couple of great resources:

this post and this post by Aimee at Simple Bites
Baby Led Weaning by Tracey Murkett and Gill Rapley (I highly suggest this book if you are nervous about or having questions regarding choking hazards, allergies and the over all "philosophy" of BLW. I read it in two nights and felt much better about proceeding with BLW)

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Watch Me Grow - Thirty Four Weeks

I think it is pretty safe that say that it is highly unlikely that I will ever get another photo of Kaitlin laying down on her lamb mat for these updates. Hindsight - being 20/20 and all - says that I should have sat her up when we first started these updates. At the time laying down was much easier...oh well, you live and you learn!

Week 34 brought us Kaitlin's FOURTH tooth! It popped through on Friday. I am fairly certain that her third tooth is her top left incisor, which is a bit odd because those aren't "supposed" to come through for another six months or so. Her fourth tooth, I think, is next to her top right middle tooth. I feel like I am saying the word tooth a lot - but how else am I supposed to talk about...teeth! Anyway - all of these observations and guesses are made from trying to pry open an (almost) eight month olds mouth and by trying to feel around in there with my finger. Not an easy task letmetellyou.

In addition to the new tooth she has been very busy at trying to stand up in her crib, trying to crawl and working on her standing. She can "walk" with one of her walker toys - I push it a couple inches forward and she drags her feet forward. She is still really shaky and wobbly but she LOVES doing it and is improving every day! 

Because of all these fun new developments and new teeth she isn't really napping that well. She is in pretty good spirits even when she's running on minimal sleep so it's not too bad. At least she is still sleeping well at night during all of this. I have learned to let go the stress caused by her napping issues (well...most of the time) and embrace her great night sleeping habits! I tried to get her on a schedule after we got back from vacation. I wanted to have a more consistent wake up time and, hopefully, more consistent nap times. Well that worked out well for less than too weeks and then all these changes started happening. Maybe once these milestones are out of the way (uuhhhh...when will that be??) we can get back on track! But I'm not holding my breath :)

Here is another picture that I took while trying to get her to lay down. As you can see she is constantly in motion! I think my iPhone is officially too slow for her!

We have a crawler!

Five days shy of her 8 month birthday I caught Kaitlin crawling. It was just a couple shuffles at a time and then she would sit back down. I wasn't sure if it technically counted as crawling or not, so I sent a video out to some close friends and family to get the verdict. Overwhelmingly they said "YES!" it was crawling.

And then, I caught her doing it again today...

We have a crawler! from tracy miller on Vimeo.

...definitely crawling...

Time to put those baby gates up!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

What We're Lovin' - Seven and Eight Months

Since Kaitlin is only nine days shy of turning eight months old (!!!) I thought I would combine our favorites from the last two months into one post. Now that she is getting older she has more and more opinions about what she likes and doesn't like on everything from toys to food to clothes (ok, maybe that last one is a bit of a stretch. But there are some clothes she lets me put on her more easily than others! I'm taking it as a sign of her developing fashion sense).

These have been a few of her (and my) favorite things over the past couple of months. Some were favorites before then and have stood the test of time. I find that she is growing so fast now that she is very fickle about what is her "favorite" toy to play with, so items that she returns to time and time again are a rarity! 

Xylophone by Fisher Price
Kaitlin discovered this toy after playing at a friends house one afternoon. She lit up when we played the xylophone for her and she heard the music. I knew that I had to get one for her and boy am I glad that I did. She still doesn't really know how to play it correctly, even though we have had it for a few months, but that doesn't stop her from loving to play with it. She usually jams the mallet in her mouth as soon as I bring it out for her to play with, but eventually she starts to wave her hand around and manages to hit the keys. She loves when someone else plays a song or just bangs on the keys for her to hear the different sounds. She gets really excited, bounces up and down then swipes the mallet out of your hand and jams it back into her mouth. Whatever floats your boat, little girl.

Sassy Ring o'Links
This is another toy that we have had for several months and it continues to be a favorite. When Kaitlin was a few months old I was searching the internet for a "rattle" that she could hold in her tiny fingers. Most of the ones that I found were too big and/or heavy for her. I saw these on and just had to get them. The bright colors, different textures and small size really appealed to me. When all of the links are on the ring she can shake them like a rattle and she loves to hear the noise. These were a  hit from the first time I gave them to her and she still loves to play with them. They are great for her to chew on and I'm convinced the different textures help relieve teething discomfort. The best part about it is that the links can be attached to anything and (almost) everything. I used to hang them from her playmat and her car seat. Now that she is a little older I attach them to her stroller and grocery cart cover (more on that below). And the fact that they are less than $5.00 makes these superstars in my book!

Munchkin Duck Tub
You might have noticed this tub during my last What We're Lovin' post when I featured our favorite bubble bath. We have been using this tub since Kaitlin was about 4-5 months old. I already can't remember when we started using it (this is why I write everything down!) but it was basically when she was almost sitting up on her own (we helped her sit up in it the first few times until she was strong enough to do so on her own). The other infant bath we had required her to lay down and as soon as she got the hang of sitting up - even if it was assisted - she wanted nothing to do with laying down. She absolutely loves this tub. It is deep enough that she stays warm when we fill it up but not so deep that she gets scared. It has a safety disk on the bottom that tells you if the water is too hot for the baby. She loves to splash around in the water and play peek-a-boo with us around the duck head. It is bright and cheerful and it has made bath time exponentially more fun for all of us!

Bumkins Bibs and Splat Mat
Since we started Kaitlin on solids at six months - and more specifically since I switched to baby led weaning - big mess is the name of the game. I first purchased these super bibs (for their big size) by Bumpkin and have loved them from the start. The adjustable neck fits snuggly against her and the large pocket manages to catch a lot of what she drops. The bibs are thin enough that they aren't bulky for her to wear but not so thin that they let food/water seep through to her clothes. 

The Splat Mat is a relatively new addition to our house and I'm in love with it. I just put it down underneath her high chair and it catches (most of) the food she throws. Anything that doesn't make it on the mat gets thrown out, but most of it I am able to put back on her tray for her to try to eat. It is made out of the same material as the bibs and is a breeze to clean. I usually wipe it down with an antibacterial wipe after each meal and then throw it in the washer once a week. Easy breezy - an A+ in my book!

Cart Cover
Now that Kaitlin can sit up on her own we have started putting her in high chairs and shopping carts when we are out and about. For grocery shopping I used to use my Ergo (and still do sometimes) to carry her around, but now that she can sit and look around I prefer to use a shopping cart. Now, I am not an overly germaphobic person. I let her eat things that have fallen on the ground (I check them before giving them back to her, don't worry) and I will still give her a toy to play with if it has fallen on the floor (again, as long as it still appears to be clean). Since becoming a mom I learned to carry hand sanitizer with me but that was more for cleaning up after diaper changes. However, when we started putting her in shopping carts and in high chairs at restaurants I got really skeeved out. They are usually sticky and you can visibly see the dirt on them. This cart cover has become one of my favorite items, even though I'm sure Kaitlin could care less. Ours is by Comfort & Harmony but I'm sure any brand will do. Ours is big enough to fit over a wide variety of shopping carts as well as high chairs - I haven't had a bad fit yet. There are several straps to secure the cover around the cart and around the baby. Since Kaitlin is still small she does tend to fall over sometimes, but that's mostly because she's so nosey about what's going on around her she leans all the way over to look around. The cover has several loops that you can attach toys to (like our favorite Sassy links mentioned above) and a few pockets that you can use to store toys or other small items. I wish it had slightly more padding on the back area as a lot of the shopping carts are made out of hard wire, but really that is just meet nitpicking. I cannot recommend this product enough, especially if you are a clean freak!

*All opinions are my own, certainly no one paid me to say any of these nice things. But that would be nice, so if you want to pay me to say something nice about your stuff feel free to send me a sample ;) *