Saturday, February 24, 2007

Food and Sign Language

A while ago I wrote that a lot of things about Limelet--some ill-defined--seemed to change at once. I think there was some kind of developmental step that influenced a lot of aspects at once. I think another such change is in the works right now.

I have had the feeling that his hmmmm-y behavior is related to food. At least, he seems to do it a lot more when he sees us eating. And he's been desperately trying to grab our food, to the extent that we both feel guilty when eating in front of him. Since I'm around him all day, this makes it hard to eat or drink anything at all!

He's also started nursing a lot more during the day and night--sometimes all night long, in fact. I don't really mind the nursing-all-night thing so much. I do mind his hmmmm-yness, though, because I can't bear to have him be unhappy all the time like that.

Now: I know, I know---the new guidelines recommend not giving any solid foods at all before six months because of worries about food allergies, though it used to be four to six months. And even Limelet's pediatrician--a "holistic" practitioner--told me not to give him anything before six months. But as a researcher, I know about the normal curve of biological events. I know babies' iron reserves begin to run out at about six months. As a mother, I have made the decision to listen to my baby instead of the calendar.

I've done a lot of homework about what things to feed babies, and what kinds of things to watch for. It turns out that the conventional wisdom about what to feed, when, is more cultural than scientific, and recent research suggests that babies can eat a lot more different things than Americans have thought--at least after six months.

There are hardly any good guidelines for parents between ages six months and two years, especially research-based, and "especially-especially" based on research that is not funded by baby food companies if you follow the money. I couldn't believe how much of it came down to the public being hijacked by commercial interests at some point, and then it just snowballed until we all believed it. Not to go off on a rail like some tweaking loony on an anti-corporate tangent, but anyway...

Since it is before his six-month birthday, I'm strictly limiting the things I give him for now, and I'm doing systematic food introduction to watch for allergic reactions. But I am starting earlier than six months. And boy, is he ever happy about it!

What he's eating for now consists of purees of baked sweet potato and of baked (organic) chicken, and I have prepared steamed barley porridge (with expressed milk) to introduce next week. They are all in ice-cube form in labeled bags in the freezer, and all I have to do is to take out a cube, nuke it for 15 seconds (to room temp), and it's ready.

I don't hold with that highly processed white-rice cereal with the added cheap-o iron supplement, especially with what I read about its effects (blood sugar, digestive tract) and potential effects (America's processed-starches addiction, etc.). I wanted him to start getting some iron, but not in supplement form, hence the chicken. I also baked it in a cast-iron skillet for extra iron traces. However, his favorite is still the sweet potato, of course. Wow, does he ever love that.

In a few weeks, when he actually is about at that six-month mark, I'm going to give him some avocado and steamed fruit, probably apple or pear. Oh, and of course banana. And perhaps parsnip! The baby food recipe books that Auntie Argot sent have a lot of good ideas about preparing even single-ingredient foods.

Okay, the other big thing is that he has made his first sign.

I've been doing a few simple signs since about four months. I knew he recognized the signs for up and for nursie (it's the sign for milk, really). But I really didn't think he'd start doing it himself this early. I was picturing seven months, maybe. In fact, we saw what he was doing with his hand for the last 10 days or so, but neither of us recognized it as the sign. This was partly because we weren't looking for it, partly because he doesn't have the best control over his hands and so it didn't exactly look like he was pointing.

I finally got it yesterday morning when we were lying in bed. I knew he was impatient to get up (6:20, after all!) but I was stretching it out because I was still half-asleep. He kept doing this thing where he was holding his hand in front of his chest, staring at it in frowning concentration while he held it in a claw position. (He'd been doing that for a bit more than a week: "How cute," I'd been thinking, "he's noticing his hands," or ironically even, "Awwww, he's distracted himself from his wish to get up, by playing with his hands!")

This time he finally grabbed my hand and made annoyed grunting sounds. I said, "Okay, you want to get up?" and made the up sign, and he broke into a huge toothless smile and stretched out his arms and legs (as he does when he's trying to be picked up).

I suddenly made the connection between his concentration on his hand, and this obvious attempt to make me make the up sign. Duh! Why hadn't I seen it? I hadn't been looking for it. It's still almost unbelievable, but there he is, signing up, all the time.

Even since yesterday, it's become a more obvious finger-point, and I've noticed now that he also points at other things he wants, or wants to do, such as his bouncy swing.

Things he appears to understand now also include the spoken words Daddy, nursie, and up.

I can't believe he stayed asleep long enough for me to write all this; I thought I'd just get it started and he'd wake up, and I'd save it and continue some other time. But he's having a really good long morning nap today. If I'd known it was going to be like this, I'd have taken a shower!

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Five Month Birthday

...was yesterday. Here's how Limelet celebrated:

Afterwards, naps were had by all. Except Mummy, who was working on her dissertation while the boys played and slept.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Well, Some White Families Never Stopped the Tradition

Friday, February 09, 2007


Originally uploaded by doctorlizardo.
I think Limelet's temperament changes are something to do with appetite, at least partly. Just as the pediatrician predicted, he's stopped "sleeping through."

Lately he's been nursing frequently during the night again. Like, the entire night. I sleep through most of it, but he starts fussing in his sleep every couple of hours, and I have to wake up and flip him over to the other side. Then he becomes peaceful and starts nursing again.

A couple of people have mentioned babies becoming calmer after they start on solid food, so I hope that will work for him. He needs a calmative! He's not screamy or anything, just agitated and "hmmmmm"y most of the day, especially as the day goes on and "especially especially" in the evening. I can't wait to give him some avocado, which is supposed to be a really good first food. (We will omit the lime juice, hot sauce, and bottle of Corona normally associated with it.)

He used to be calmed by his evening bath, but now he's just wild and fussy afterwards until I'm able to get my dry shirt on, his jammies on, and stuff him (with his bear) into the sleepy sling (the sweatpants wrap). Then he's finally content, for the most part, and eventually goes to sleep.

I'm starting to develop a weekely routine of sorts. (On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I shower.)

The day goes like this: first waking, dress baby, dress Mummy, eat breakfast. Which is hard, because he wants to eat my breakfast, too. (I don't like to eat in front of him and tease him with food, but when else can I eat?) Then a baby nap of some duration.

Second waking, Mummy showers, with Limelet sitting in his little swing in the bathroom. Baby nap of some duration. (Monday I actually had an HOUR--I actually worked on my dissertation, which I don't know if that's happened spontaneously since he was BORN.)

Third waking, yoga, or as much of the routine as he'll tolerate. He doesn't have the patience of the baby on the DVD. Then lunch for Mummy, although it's often 2:30 or 3 by then. Then if possible, some basic tidying while carrying him around, maybe even start a simple dinner if he'll sit in his BebePod on the counter. There might be another nap in there at some point.

Then TheLimey comes home, and it's time for a quick bite, the baby bath, and the bedtime routine. That's it--the whole day. I think I spend most of it facilitating his naps. There's also a lot of baby laundry thrown in there, and changing nappies and so forth.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

All Hmmmmm, No Ggghhhh

That's one of the sudden changes in Limelet.

His vocabulary changed overnight from gggghhhh and bvvvvvv to only hmmmmmm. All day long, hmmmm hmmmm hmmm. Since he uses it for everything, it's kinda hard to tell when he's distressed and when he's just chatting. I think sometimes he's not sure, himself. He doesn't seem to recognize what gggghhhh and bvvvvvv even mean any more!

He's been a bit teethe-y again the past couple of days, and also still desperate for our food. He has several kinds of teethers. However, his favorite thing to eat is rags. Wet rags. He goes nuts for 'em! It's both funny and pitiful. "I can't have that nice stew, but that's okay--I'll manage with this wet rag." He sits in his evening bath (he's just now too big to lie in it any longer, but he still has to be held up to sit in it) gnawing a wet rag, and heaven forbid anyone should try to take it away.

His sleep pattern (and he has one, after all) seems to be to awaken about 7:30, asleep about 8:30 pm, and four daily naps in between. They are at approximately 9:30, 11:30, 1:30, and 4:00. Unfortunately, it often takes him half an hour to fall asleep, and then he may sleep for any random amount of time--could be 5 minutes or could be an hour. Some rare days even two hours, but only if I'm wearing him while he's sleeping.

When he gets sleepy, he hmmmmms for his stuffed bear, then hugs it hard and and bites it when I tuck it into the wrap with him. Sometimes this is all he needs to fall right asleep. Boy, am I glad I got that thing associated with sleepytime and nursie time! He's also started doing a hug-like action with us the past few days.

He seems to recognize the sign for up at this point. I have to start doing the other early ones more regularly, too: milk, more, and eat. Not that eat will mean anything to him yet.

I've been trying him out in his bouncy seat every couple of weeks and he's been too small to hold up his head and torso at the same time. But I tried it again last weekend, and now he can sit up in it, although he needs to have his stuffed bear stuffed into the seat in front of him. And he can't be left alone in it, of course--I have to hold onto it the whole time. Nevertheless, he likes swooshing and bouncing in it, and laughs like crazy.

His other favorite thing to laugh about is when we have pre-bath dance time in the kitchen. I may have written about it already, but it's so darn funny. He laughs especially hard if the person who is not carrying him holds his hand, and bobs up and down opposite his downs and ups. We've got to get that on videotape soon--I do have a tripod, so it could be done.

Last night I dreamed that TheLimey and I got him a toy while hosteling in Europe (it was a dream, after all): it was a squirrel with an electronic plastic saxophone that had keys like a piano.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

New Modern Baby

Okay, so Limelet's the same baby as before.

But he really does seem to have undergone a noticeable change in the past week or so. He's a lot more cognizant of what's going on around him all of a sudden, his sleeping patterns seem to be consolidating, he can nap lying down, and he's different socially (with us). He's more patient about certain things, laughing and "talking" a lot more, but more upset when he does get upset.

I still don't know what his deal was the other day where he cried when I went away, but he got over it by the next day. (Now I can go to the bathroom in the morning again.) He also awoke in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep without help (walking him in the carrier), which he hasn't done since...well, ever! True, he's often spent a lot of time eating during the night, but he usually sleeps through it as long as I feed him right away. Not last night--he was properly awake.

Today was library day, and he was so excited and happy the entire time. He was talking, and laughing, and squealing. I guess he loves the library! He used to sleep through most of it, when he wasn't eating.

In other news, I can't even bear to watch the film in this article about orphaned babies. It made me feel sick reading it.