The Golden Age of Dogs

It's time for a baby G update. It's been about a month, and he's just turned 6 months old. A half-birthday. A hirthday. Impressive stuff, staying alive and healthy for the first half year of your life. And time really flies. It feels like it wasn't so long ago that his oversized head just flopped around on that twiggy, useless neck, but these days I just heft him up on my arm and carry him around more or less upright. He wobbles a little, but keeps his balance. It's an amazing transition, and one that happened gradually with practice over time, not any overnight revelation. He just got better at stuff like balance.

His balance is getting better in other areas, too. We give him some "sitting practice" now, by just plopping him on the ground in a sitting position. He usually braces his hands on his legs or the ground and can sometimes sit unassisted for a couple minutes. Again, he's a bit wobbly, and inevitably he falls over, but he seems to like it.

He has a few other apparatus (apparati?) that put him in a vertical position and I'm sure help him practice his upright balance. He's got a door-mounted jumper that's suspended from the doorframe by a spring. He sits in the seat with his legs dangling and can jump off the ground--boingy boingy boingy. He loves this and always has. At this point he's proficient at jumping and can turn himself at will. He'll sit there for his whole playtime and just jump and smile.

He's got this crazy seat surrounded by different doodads that I've nicknamed the Playstation. He sits in the middle, suspended by supports around the side, and can bounce a bit. There are all kinds of toys and knobs and buttons and other baby games all around, and he can turn the seat to give his attention to different ones. It's in our family room, so we had to cleverly drape a blanket over top to block his view of the TV, or else he'll watch it unquestionably.

Most recently, we got him this walker, basically a seat with back support and wheels underneath. In the seat he is more or less in a standing position and can use his legs to scoot around. With practice, of course. He sometimes goes backwards all the way across the kitchen, but hasn't figured out forward movement yet. It has some little knobs and toys mounted on a tray on the front, and he absolutely flips out fiddling with those.

If all of these things suggest that he's gotten a lot sturdier, it's because he has. He's gotten to the point now where we can roughhouse with him a bit. Or carry him on his back with his head drooping upside down. We can also hold him by his belly and chest high above our heads like an airplane. If I'm feeling daring, I can even give him a little toss and catch him! Sometimes I take him into our bedroom and put him on our really soft bed so I can roll him around.

He loves all of these things and grins and laughs when we do them. My wife says it's good to do stuff like this because it's good bonding and it also establishes trust between the parent and child. So on the flip side, I try to be very careful, because if I were to ever hurt him when playing, even if he didn't get injured, I would be very scared of damaging that trust. That feels almost as important as his physical well being.

Oh, he had his 6 month checkup this week. He's up to almost 16 pounds, and his growth is tracking just fine. Horray. He also had to get shots. Not horray, but he's okay.

Sleep Update

In the last post we had started sleeping him unswaddled because he started rolling. By now, even though we always put him to sleep on his back, he ends up on his belly with his butt way up in the air during every single nap. It's kind of a hilarious pose, and I don't know how he finds it comfortable, but here we are.

His new routine for going to sleep is to put him in a wearable blanket (like a loose sack that he wears), hand him his pacifier, and give him his bunny, which he generally uses to cover his eyes when he's sleepy. Well, I stopped handing him his pacifier because now he'll turn onto his side and grab it himself. He's getting good at that! The wearable blanket is useful because if we don't put him in it, he is more likely to try to roll around and crawl and play with his legs and generally do stuff other than sleep.

He's still sleeping through the night and often through his naps. He gets fussy and wakes up about the same frequency he always has. That's fine.


The biggest topic of this update is about food, since, well, he's now started eating it some. He still takes formula with every feeding, but he's started at least experimenting with different types of solid food, and his next schedule change (starting within a week) will give him some food with over half his feedings.

It started off with us just handing him some finger foods (well, for him, they're whole hand or both hand foods, I guess), and he'd kind of nom on them a little. I gave him a piece of salami the other day and he liked that. I gave him a little slice of cucumber while he scooted around in his walker, and when he had mangled it so much I had to take it away from him, he got mad at me. Good, good, son; get mad at daddy when he takes away your vegetables. Another time I handed him a slice of apple, and he likewise got mad when I eventually had to rescue it.

Now we've got more of a system in place to feed him purees. They're very cheap at the grocery store, because they're hardly an adult mouthful of food. Banana, apple, pear, spinach, beets, carrots, etc.. Simple stuff in roughly applesauce consistency. He's taken to most of them very well. Feeding goes a bit like this.

We had this Bumbo seat and at first tried feeding him in it, but the way the tray snaps on is a real pain, and extricating a slimy baby at the end of feeding was proving to be annoying. So my wife got a better seat with an easily detachable tray, and he sits in that while he eats. Often we strip him down to his diaper to make cleanup easier. We also have these neat bibs with a kind of pocket at the bottom: as he inevitably drools out food and, well, drool throughout the feeding, the pocket catches almost all of it. They're pretty brilliant bibs. A+ bib.

We scoop out a little food and put it on the tray attached to the seat. We have little spoons with rubber ends. We get a bit of food on the spoon and hand it to him. He sticks it in his mouth and makes funny faces and spits out half of it and swallows a little of it and drools a lot. Then we take the spoon and ask him to "let go, please!" and repeat. He's a quick learner, as he has been when we introduce new activities: I swear he's starting to learn what "let go" means, at some level. And even now, about two weeks after we started feeding him, he's started figuring out rotating the spoon to get food off of both sides.

We also have these little crackers, rice-based or something, that we can just hand him and he can chomp on. Unlike the cucumber and salami and apple, these dissolve in his mouth, so he can actually eat them. Of course he drops lots of little bits as he makes a mess, and of course, guess who's there to polish the floor behind him? The dogs, obviously. Truly, this boy is ushering in a golden age for the dogs. The best time of their life is just arriving. We've always had the rule that stuff on the floor is fair game for dogs, so enjoy; it's finally your time to shine.

It's all messy, by the way, even those rice crackers, which turn into a gooey paste when wet. And he smears the purees all over his face and arms. We know he's full when he instead starts trying to wipe the puree all over the tray. OK, buddy, you've had enough. Time to get you cleaned off. We use a washcloth and just wipe him all over, then get him dressed again. The bib and tray go into the sink like dishes. Formula feeding has handed off the baton to solid feeding, so it continues to be a full-time activity.

Oh, did I mention he now feeds himself his own formula with a sippy cup? We still hold him in our lap because it's a nice time to spend with him, but we just hand him the sippy cup and he sucks it down. He takes his own breaks and we burp him frequently because he swallows a lot more air this way, but he's at least we get one hand free now. It's much different than before, when we'd hold the bottle the whole time. We don't feed him out of bottles at all now. It's pretty cool.

He hasn't quite mastered tilting, though. We cradle him leaned pretty much on his back. He only vaguely realizes that if he moves his arms up that translates to the liquid being easier to drink. Fluid dynamics are an advanced topic.

There's a theme with a lot of these things, and that is fostering independence. Yeah, we could hand him his pacifier, or put the spoon straight into his mouth, or continue holding the bottle for him. He might be fine with that. But isn't it better to give him lots of chances to do things for himself?

I'm actually not sure he'd be okay with us doing all this for him. Already I can sense him struggling against the shackles of his limited abilities. Already I can see him become more engaged and take delight in doing things for himself. When we put him in that jumper, even early on, it was clear as day he was enjoying himself just by being able to move his own body. Well before we handed him a sippy cup, he was already trying to put his palms on the side of the bottle (albeit with inconsistent success).

I'm probably reading a bit too much into it, but I feel like he already has the motivation and desire to do things on his own, and we want to give him those opportunities. My hope is that in time this will translate to other good behaviors, like toilet training. Of course, this blog will document his progress along the way, so we'll see if my predictions come true.


mai said...

wonderful way to make him independent

RJ said...

He is so awesome! That last picture is the best. And I love that he is exploring food and feeding himself! Our little man here is a super star!

Sister said...

Wow no more bottle feeding! Crazy. Even if you are reading too much into it, all that matters is you valuing his independence...I'm sure that attitude will pay off!

Post a Comment