Wow. Another month whipped by. I can’t believe how quickly it feels like April went. Of course, for you, it was one seventh of your life, and for me it was about one three hundred and fortieth, so we’re bound to have at least slightly different takes on it. That said, looking back, your mom and I still managed to come up with a number of things regarding your development that we think noteworthy.
Among those is the introduction of additional solids. Last month, the only thing you ate besides breast milk and formula was rice cereal. This month you tasted avocado, banana, and applesauce. While you tolerate the avocado and banana, you’ve taken a real shine to the applesauce. We buy you organic applesauce, because the thought of putting pesticides into that teeny body of yours just makes me queasy — the avocado and banana we aren’t as worried about because of the peel/skin thickness (and I don’t even think we can get organic avocado here in central PA).
We’ve also started to introduce baby signs. We’re using Sign with your Baby instead of Baby Signs because we liked the idea of teaching you an actual second language, ASL that may be useful in future communication instead of just making things up. Mom and I are starting to get into it, though we’re still not as regular with it as we’d like to be. We’re tempted to try to pick up more “actual” ASL because we’ve already discovered instances where a manual language would be useful — for example trying to communicate to someone who’s on the phone that I think you’re hungry and since she has the breasts in the family, maybe now would be a good time to hang up and feed you.
There was a time in your sixth month when you were pretty quiet. Well, not that you were quiet exactly, you never banished screaming, wailing or crying from your repertoire. But during that month, you didn’t mention “gurps” or “Arles”. Now, your language has picked back up. You started this month focusing on the “mmm” sound and followed up later in the month with the “ba” sounds. Often you would preface the ‘mmm' sound with the “eh” sound so it sounds like you’re announcing the return of (or inquiring as to the location of) our college friend “Em.” We had already named one of your teddy bears “Emma” so we figure you’re practicing calling out for her. In fact, we’ve named most of your stuffed animals. Because we figure you’ll run into enough male-centered-ness in your life, (almost) all of your stuffed animals have been given girl-names. I’m most pleased with “Leslie” who has a rainbow on her mane, so we say that she’s from a gay pride of lions. Get it? Gay Pride? Pride of Lions? Fortunately, by the time you can read this, you’ll have had several years of indoctrination into your parents sense of humor.
Besides babbling, you’ve added shrieking to your skill-set (who thought I’d ever call shrieking a skill!?). It’s mostly reserved for the good times. On occasion you and mom have had a sort of “call and response” shrieking session and you’ve quite enjoyed it. Shrieking and also bucking your head (and therefore most of the rest of your body) back and forth are primarily how you announce your excitement. On occasion, mom or I will rate the combination, though it’s mostly reserved for the family member who most keeps his distance from you — our cat, Camus. Boy does he make your day. You’ve only gotten to touch him a couple of times and you’re pretty grabby with him. There may even be a causal relationship between those two things. His initial strategy when we brought you home was to ignore you to the best of his ability (and ignoring is one of his master skills!). However, since pretty much wherever you were, we were, he had a hard time trying to get our attention while still ignoring you. Now he’ll hang out with the rest of us, but once you mount a fuss, he’s outta there.
Speaking of excitement, you really like your bedtime ritual. Or at least most of it. We start with you and me “dancing” to Boom-Shack-a-Lak by Apache Indian, and it’s great. As soon as you hear the first few notes, your eyes light up, your mouth opens in a big grin, and if we’re really lucky you shriek and buck. You and I have a dance routine for a few of the verses, as well as the chorus where by “dance routine” what I really mean is that I fling you around in predictable ways. It’s just a little bit odd to see the relaxed, contented look on your face as you suck on some fingers (or toes!) while I toss you into the air. You mostly still enjoy the bath, particularly now that you’ve discovered splashing. This requires a pretty regular clean-up in the bathroom each night. You only just now started enjoying story time — every night I read you the same book — Time for Bed by Mem Fox. On good days you’ll explore the pages with your hands, or mouth. On bad days, you just scream through story time.
We’ve been able to cajole you into a little more sleep by gradually trying to move the ritual forward, but really only a little bit. We had this fantasy where you’d go to bed at 6:00 PM, sleep for 12 hours and take 2 regularly scheduled 2-hour naps during the day. This fantasy now occupies the same place in my mind as winning the lottery — which, since I don’t buy lottery tickets, is a fairly remote possibility. You have been mostly sleeping between about 10:30 PM and 6:00 AM though which is an improvement. Recently, you’ve awoken and cried a few times in the night and have been inconsolable until I finally relent and pick you up. I try to save picking you up as a last resort though because self-soothing is one of those critical skills we want you to develop, though we’re unwilling to let you “Cry It Out” as some experts suggest. So, while we’ve made some good evening progress, you’ve given up on the nap that used to come right after your 6:00 AM nursing. Fortunately, Mom has been spending the time with you though, so I’ve been soaking up the extra sleep. Thanks Mom! (Give her a kiss for me when you read this!)
You had your 6-month checkup this month, and all went well. We were so pleased that you made it all the way through the winter and only visited the doctor’s for your “well baby” visits. You got another round of shots (only 2 of the 3 you had been having), and were in the 25th percentile for weight and head circumference, and 10th for height. You showed a great fascination with the stethoscope and the pediatrician made a joke about you starting med school, but as soon as she mentioned it you started to cry. Still, she had a point about you how your sleep schedule would mesh well with being an intern!
Your dexterity also continues to improve. You can pick up small balls, and my juggling bean bags one-handed now, though their trajectory is still always straight to your mouth. You’ve also realized that slamming stuff down makes a most interesting and pleasing noise, and this is your primary form of entertainment while Mom and I eat dinner. Whether it’s actually representative play or not, I have no idea, but you’ve noticed that Mom and I talk to each other while we eat, and therefore when we’re feeding you is one of your favorite times to babble. It’s cute, but between words coming out, and hands going in, we have to be quick with our timing to get the food we’re serving you into your mouth.
Once you’re tired of banging things during dinner, you take to dropping them. You then crane your neck and body seeking them out. From this, and a few other things, we have the sense that you now largely grasp the whole “object permanence” thing. Unfortunately, this has coincided with a good deal of stranger anxiety. You mount a fuss when anyone that’s not Mom or me tries to hold you. While this is disappointing for our friends, it’s really tough on Mom-mom. The sushi chef where we have a fairly regular sushi night has wanted to hold you a couple of times, and we’ve refused so far, but I don’t know how much more we can refuse him and still have those delectable treats.
Finally, you’ve gotten better with rolling. You’ve been able to roll front-to-back for quite a while now, though you continue to get better at it. You can roll from your back to your side, but since you still HATE tummy time, you’ve made no effort to get into it on your own. And as you are now proficient at the front-to-back roll, whenever you’re placed in tummy time, you get out of it quite quickly.
So, with that, I offer you the Cajun salutation, Laissez les bons temps rouler!