Posts Tagged ‘Baby Development’

The girls are (on average) great eaters. As a 12 month old, Nicole could and would down an entire bag of winter squash by herself. We took her to sweet tomatoes, the all you can eat salad bar, where she once passed on frozen yogurt in favor of more peas. After Alexis was born we were home bound for a few months. When we finally returned to sweet tomatoes Nicole was skeptical of all the vegetable goodness before her. Pickled beets? No thank you, even though she couldn’t get enough of them before. Her favorite black olives? Pass.

It took a great deal of effort, and a few failed return trips, before Nicole began to eat well at sweet tomatoes again. Domingo and I figured the long absence had made the food seem foreign. We were determined not to make that mistake again. Healthy foods the kids eat well needed to remain front and center in our meal plan rotation.

On of the foods we wanted to encourage our kids to eat is fish. It’s great for brain development, and adds a bit of variety to their diets. We introduced it early and often. Saturday became fish night: Salmon (or “pink fish” as the kids call it), Tilapia (“butter fish”) or Mahi (“chicken fish”). And as predicted the kids continued to eat it well. We parents congratulated ourselves on a job well done.

That is, until a few weeks ago. Alexis started rejecting her fish out of the blue. Was it teething? we wondered. Unlikely, fish is pretty soft. Was she getting bored with it? Were the gaps between the types of fish too long?

More than likely, she was just going through a phase.

Looking back I if Nicole’s protest against Sweet Tomatoes was a similar phase. I remembered we stopped going around the time Alexis was born, but maybe we also stopped going because it was getting harder to get Nicole to eat her vegetables. Maybe my mommy brain glossed over that fact in an effort to feel more in control of the situation. Maybe I was only remembering what I wanted to remember. Confirmation bias is a beast. It makes you remember only what you want to remember, only what fits the narrative you tell yourself about the way the world works.

We’ve entered a rough patch of sleep with Alexis, just like we did when Nicole was this age. Like clockwork. There is no traffic here, so that couldn’t be it. Teething? No again. I want to believe I can fix it. I move the bed time forward, I move it backwards. I look for any sign that I’m on the right track. As a parent, I should be able to fix this, right? If she had a good night I’d look for things that might have contributed to it. That’s not the scientific process for a reason, but when you’re tired you’re not thinking about that. You’re wondering if wearing socks at night made your footsteps quieter and contributed to your child having a better night. The next thing you know you’re refusing to take off your socks. Ever. Can’t risk it.

Maybe Nicole returned to vegetables, and Alexis to fish because that’s just their natural development. Maybe Nicole’s sleep improvements just happened to coincide with with the bunny clock. Kids are always changing. Maybe they were descend to get past all these difficulties in their own due time, and without any input from me. Maybe that’s the root of all these crazy parenting fads. Desperate parents trying anything they can think of, and then misinterpret natural developmental cycles as cause and effect?

Crazy thoughts from a sleep deprived parent.

March 7, 2016

Practically Synonyms

When I awoke this morning I checked the baby monitor to find Alexis standing in her crib. She often awakes around six and waits thirty minutes or so for us to go fetch her before becoming inpatient. When I entered her room she extended her arms to be picked up and called out “Owie!” Odd, I thought. She wasn’t hurt. She hadn’t been crying, or even calling out before I went into her room. She was just standing in her crib, waiting. She probably said “Mommy” and I just misheard.

We were in a bit of a rush this morning. Well, every morning lately seems a bit rushed these days. Domingo was downstairs with the girls getting their shoes on while I was upstairs gathering more spare clothes for the girls’ cubbies at schools. When I came down stairs she saw me and again called out with her arms extended, “Owie! Owie!” This time Domingo noticed it too, and could attest both to the spoken word and the lack of injury.

Actually, we’re pretty sure this isn’t the first time she called me owie now that we think about, but with “owie” being phonetically close to “mommy” we kept doubting ourselves. As always with kids and first words there’s a lot of guessing what was actually said. It takes a few iterations before words become clear.

When you think about it “owie” is a pretty good substitute word for “mommy.” It’s nearly guaranteed to get Mommy’s attention, more so than “mommy” ironically, since it indicates a level of distress. We think she picked it up from Nicole. Three year olds are pretty excellent at detecting owies as well as inventing them. She probably noticed Nicole using it to get attention and is mimicking her favorite big sister.

So now we’re up to “ball”, “here”, “more”, “bucket”, “shoe”, “daddy”, “mommy”, “hi”, “bye” & “owie” in total words, with “mommy”, “daddy” and “owie” all being used to referencing me. (In her mind “daddy” seems to mean “Generic Parent” as she uses it to refer to both Domingo and I. No Idea where it came from.)

January 15, 2016

We Have Words


I’m so used to thinking of Alexis as a baby that it only recently dawned on me that we haven’t had much in the way of words from our 13 month old. Oh sure, we had the “mama” (occasionally) and “dada” (all the time) but ‘da’ is such a key part of her jabbering vocabulary that “dada” refers to just about anything these days. “Da” can mean “give me”, “down”, or “I want mama.” “Da!” is her favorite response to yes/no questions, sometimes accompanied with a nod, but more often with a head shake.

Then, out of the blue, Alexis picked up one of the sponge balls and said “ball” clear as day. When Domingo came down stairs I told him about it, and, as if on cue, she did it again for him.

Check it, first word.

Or at least that’s what I thought.

When I told Domingo we had a first word, he corrected me. She’s been saying “here” when handing things to him, much like Nicole did. Well, shucks. When I told Daycare the story of Alexis’ pseudo first word, Alexis’ teacher told me she says “more more more!” all the time when she wants more food. Don’t I feel observant now.

So it turns out our little miss has a few words up her sleeve.

Then, while in the midst of her evening bath she picked up one of the toy buckets, held it up to me and said “bucket.” Well, really it was more like “bah-kit”, but I understood. Just to be sure, she waved the bucket above her head and recited “bah-kit!” Color me impressed.

There’s no denying it, we have a talker!

May 15, 2015

To the Crib

The face before the crash

Nicki hated being swaddled, but was quite content to be snug as a bug in the rock n play until almost nine months. Given that Alexis was my little cuddle bug and loved being swaddled all the way through four months, I thought she’d practically live in the rock ‘n play.

That would be a big, fat Nope.

For the past week or so she’s been really struggling at night, thrashing about in the rock ‘n play. She just doesn’t seem to be comfortable in it anymore. Since hitting the four month sleep regression her sleep has gotten steadily worse. She was to the point of waking up every 45-90 minutes for the first couple of hours when she first went to sleep, and then again starting at around 2 am. That, of course, means no sleep for the rest of us.

We were hoping to hold off moving her to the crib until we moved. We worry about the girls being practically on top of each other here in the apartment, and keeping each other awake. If we waited until we moved, we could get all our rocky transitions over with in a single shot, rather than stringing them out over a longer time interval. She’d move out of rock n play from the master bedroom at our apartment to a room of her own and her crib in the new house, all at once. At least that was our thinking. Even though we were only a week away from our planned move Alexis (and by transitivity us) was sleeping so little it just seemed like something that couldn’t wait.

So off to the crib she went.

I went with her. The crib was in the office, and I slept on the couch next to her. I wanted to be able to respond quickly, and sooth her back to sleep before she woke big sister.

As expected her first night was rocky. She woke up almost as frequently as she’s been waking up. Last night? So much better. She slept most of the way through the night. No more thrashing. No more frequent wakings. And equally as important, less waking each other up than we feared.

Hopefully this means better sleep for everyone.

March 22, 2014

Hello Toddler Bed!

#$%! Cribs and their #$%! non-standard parts.

Last night, at around 2:45 am, Nicki discovered she was capable of scaling Mt. Crib. We thought this day might be coming. This month has been a whole different ball game at the park, she’s been much more independent and adventurous. Yesterday she tried to climb the cat tree, managing to get a foot securely planted in the platform above her head before mommy interviewed. At nearly 3 in the morning we weren’t going gamble whether her escape was a freak accident, or a new found ability. Nicki spent the rest of the night with us on the toddler cot we use for naptime.

In the morning I put Nicki in the crib with some toys to see what she’d do. She had no hesitation when she was done with her toys and ready for out. Rather than throw up the arms and ask for “up!”, she grappled onto the railing, swung her leg over, hooked her foot, and pulled herself up onto the rail. Before I had much of a chance to react, she was straddling the railing, and mighty pleased with herself about it too. I am not sure what her strategy would have been to get down. Probably gravity.

escape attempt
I snapped a couple photos with my cell phone until it became clear she was going to succeed in her endeavor. As cute as a pooky riding the railing photo would have been, skull fractures would not have been.

Looks like we’ve out grown the crib.

Our crib came with an extra front panel that could be used to convert it to a toddler bed. I had kept the panel, but apparently not the hardware. This was a major problem. As we learned last time, baby furniture typically uses custom hardware. I printed out the instructions online, including their description of the missing four screws: “1-3/4″ Allen Head Bolt”. Domingo came back from the hardware store with every 1-3/4ths screw they had. No Dice. They all had different groove sizes. #$% &$@#!

We felt like we needed some kind of fourth panel. Nicki doesn’t roll around that much anymore, but she does roll around some. I didn’t want her to roll out of bed any more than I wanted her to climb out. I ended up “borrowing” two screws used for the decorative top rail since they were at least the same size (different heads). After all, we don’t actually need a top rail, it’s just to for her to hold onto when she was a baby and unsure of her footing.

We needed at least three fixed points to keep the panel from rotating. For the third screw, I used one of the 2-1/2” Round Head Bolt that was originally used to keep the now defunct crib front panel in place. It sticks out about 3/8th an inch, but it’s between the slats, and lower than the mattress, so I doubt it’ll cause much of a problem.

My initial plan was to reuse this crib with any future children. This is the second time we’ve had to kludge together a working solution without the original manufacture’s hardware. I think it’s fine for now, but with another move on our horizon, I just don’t think it’s holding up well enough to survive another child. It’s a bummer, but paying for a second crib also beats skull fractures.

At least Nicki loves her new bed. She spent most of the day climbing in and out of it, jumping around on the matress, and throwing toys overboard. Domingo and I were convinced we were in for a long night of chasing her down and carting her back to bed. I’m stunned to report she fell asleep in the toddler bed tonight without a fuss, and didn’t climb out once.

asleep in the toddler bed
Happy sleeping toddler.
June 22, 2013

Teething Pains

To the tune of “On top of Spaghetti”:

On top of the Wor-ld
With my Darlin’ Nicole
I lost my poor Marbles
When somebody Teethed

Nicki had a difficult time sleeping when her first two teeth were coming in. Of course there were other factors, and we weren’t sure if it was the teething keeping her up. Teeth #3 and #4 came in with little fanfare. For just a couple of days as they were breaking through the surface Nicki would fuss going to bed and took longer to fall asleep. Easy Peasy.

Then came Tuesday. Nicki rebelled against the nap. She slept for twenty minutes in the morning and would not go to sleep in the afternoon. A friend suggested teething might be the culpable, but I was skeptical. She just had two new teeth. These things are supposed to be spread out to give parents a break, right? Right?!

I checked and tooth #5 had already cut through the surface. Yes, with no symptoms. So we would just have one rough patch with tooth #6, right? It can’t be that different than the other teeth, right? RIGHT?!?!

Tooth #6 has caused more pain and grief than all other teeth combined. The pain is worse when she lies down and she’s fighting going to sleep, even to be rocked to sleep.

Thursday night Nicki woke up in the middle of the night. She was an hour away from her next possible Tylenol dose and you could just hear the pain in her cries. But even though she was crying in pain, she wasn’t fully awake. She kept turning over, like she was trying to get comfortable and just couldn’t. I was left with two options. (1) Go in and cuddle my crying baby. I could attempt to sooth her back to sleep (or at least until her next Tylenol dose) but in the process she’d wake up fully by my presence, and face the full brunt of her pain. or (2) Let her cry and see if she can go back to sleep on her own. The risk with this option is that she might not go back to sleep, and then I would have just let her wallow in agony, alone in the dark. Worst.Mom.Ever

Letting a baby cry has got to be the hardest thing a parent ever has to do. I certainty can’t begrudge anyone who would have picked option 1. Thankfully, just four minutes later she was asleep again, and she slept through the rest of the night without needing another Tylenol dose.

Here we are almost a week later and tooth #6 doesn’t appear to be any closer to breaking through. I’ve tried:

* Freezable Teethers. They work ok, but they tend to get warm too quickly, and Nicki isn’t really interested in them.
* Rubber Teethers. She’ll chew on them if she’s not in too much pain. Once she starts crying, forget about it.
* Tylenol. It’s effective for us, but I think part of the reason it’s so effective is because we use it sparingly. My main beef with baby acetaminophen is that they typically flavor it like candy. Nicki will insist on more after she gets the full dose. She’s already overtired and fussy, I don’t need to give her another reason to cry.
* Chilling a banana. This has been one of our better remedies. She loves banana, and eating chilled banana bits keeps something cool on her gums longer than the freezable teethers. Nicki loves to eat.
* Frozen Washclothes. I’m told these will work wonders when her back molars are come in. Babies can get the washcloths back to where the gums need the relief. Right now she doesn’t really seem interested, although she did chow down on her bath washcloth for a good five minutes the other day.

You can guess how well all this is working from the title of this post. I’m open to suggestions if you have any. In the mean time I will keep reminding myself that this, too, shall pass. There are a finite number of teeth coming in. We just have to wait them out.

Both Domingo and I felt horrible we didn’t get toys with buttons and knobs earlier. When we did pick them up (at 8 months) Nicki seemed beyond ready. As a parent you’re always wondering if your mistakes are screwing up your child. How much more improved would her finger dexterity be if we had been practicing it all along? Would increase finger dexterity have lead to more exploring, and would that have lead to building more of those lifelong neural connections and pathways? Am I screwing her up for life?!

We were determined to always have at least one next stage toy around. That way we’d catch and accommodate these mental shifts sooner.

A reassembled Easter Egg by Pooky

About a week ago we noticed Nicki making a rattle out of an old tissue box and the plastic Easter eggs we still had lying around the house. They’re still out because she loves them. She can now take them apart with ease and get’s them back together by mashing the two halves until one is smooshed snuggly inside the other. Not bad for a ten month old. We started to think that maybe, maybe she’s not that far away from being ready for building blocks. We were planning to get MegaBloks for her birthday, why not get them now?

While quite the demolition expert, she hasn’t mastered the art of building… yet. She did get two pieces together although I think there was a bit of luck in that. But that isn’t stopping her from loving the blocks. She pulls apart whatever Mommy and Daddy make, bangs them together and against other toys to make noise, and flips the car base upside to use as a bucket, turning it into a “fill and spill” toy.

Tonight she started sorting them.


She crawled around the room picking up all the single blocks and throwing the rest to the side. Notice the car? All singles! Color me impressed.

Maybe we’re not quite ready to build, but those pathways? She’s got ’em.

May 12, 2013

What do I know?

I fully appreciate the irony that this post fallows hot on the heels of my previous post where I said Nicki was going to skip crawling. Not 48 hours later she was already proving me wrong.


I first noticed progress on this milestone Friday evening. Nicki got on all fours reaching for a book on a book case and ended up stumbling forward a step. I thought to myself “Hmm, I’ll bet some people consider that crawling.” (Pre-baby I thought milestones were always obvious when they were hit, in truth they hardly ever are. Some people count the first time the baby does the action, others count the first time it appears intentional, and still others wait until baby is doing it consistently. We fall into the latter most camp – if she’s not doing it consistently enough for me to get photographic evidence of it, I don’t count it!)

Saturday evening Domingo was watching Nicki while I was getting ready to start the bedtime routine. He suddenly called down to me “she crawled!” Apparently she had done the same half step stumble I had seen earlier, this time to reach a power cord. We quickly realized that she was willing to move a step forward on her hands and knees if it got her closer to an object she wasn’t supposed to have. If we tried to entice her with a toy, or something else she was allowed to play with, she’d protest until we helped her walk to it.

We decided to test this theory out with the object of mommy’s she always covets – the iPhone. Success! After a few minutes of just staring at it, she actually crawled forward a couple of steps. I was so excited a posted a video to facebook.

Once we were able to cox her to crawl about a foot it was like a light switch went off in her head and she suddenly realized she could reach anything she wanted under her own power. As soon as I put her down on the floor, she was off! I almost had to break my photographic evidence rule. I couldn’t pick up my camera fast enough to record her crawling! That’s also why all the photos of her crawling are slightly blurry. No time to setup the shot, baby’s on the move! Mommy needs to practice with a moving target!

Bedtime tonight was a little delayed. Nicki was throwing a ball, and crawling to go get it. Yes, she was playing fetch with herself. It was too cute, and I loved the progress she was making, so we let her stay up a little later. It is amazing how much they can change in just 24 hours.

May 9, 2013

Missing Milestones

Nick’s Pediatrician thinks she is going to skip crawling, just like she skipped rolling over. She turned over from stomach to back a handful of times, but wasn’t rolling over consistently until 7 months. On the other hand, she could sit unassisted at just 5 months. In fact, the first day she rolled over from back to stomach was also the first day she stood up on her own – at 6 months. Nicki is cruising with confidence, and can walk the length of the house while holding onto hands. When I picked her up from day care yesterday, she leapt out of Ms Laura’s lap and practically dragged her to me. It was more of a toddler run than baby wobbly walk. She’ll scoot on her butt, and drag herself a few inches while on her tummy, but she’s still not rocking on her hands and knees, the canonical precursor to true crawling.

Most days I’m like “Cool, she’ll figure it out when she’s ready.” But some days I fret. I get into my mommy worry bubble and I start to wonder why she’s not doing it. Is it simply my fault for not enough tummy time? Is there an underlying problem? And then I read articles like this, which lists all of the possible detriments to skipping crawling – including reduced gross motor skills, and reduce spatial skills.

I can’t help but feel this is how the mommy wars gets started. The above article is just conjecture. Conjecture by scientist and pediatricians and other very smart people, but conjecture none the less. There are no studies that prove it, one way or the other. Yet, we take these theories as gospel. Instead of “every baby and every situation is different”, suddenly you’re seen as irrevocably harming your baby for being different and not measuring up. I’ve already been told Nicole’s going to have delayed speech because we let her have a binky, even though she was already showing signs of being an earlier talker.

Here’s the thing with babies: they’ll learn to do it eventually. There’s a reason when someone learns to crawl, walk or talk isn’t on the college admissions application. When infants reach milestones are not a strong indicator of intelligence latter in life. Rather than dwell on not crawling, I will wait patiently for Nicki to take her first independent steps. We’re not that far from it now. Come on sweetie, come to mommy!


Newly instantiated baby objects can be quite confusing. The initial software they come preloaded with is quite buggy. Luckily there’s a series of patches that get gradually applied that improve functionality considerably.

Today’s lesson: The object-permanence-patch:

Initially babies are born with a single level cache of size 1. An object in view of the baby is inserted into the cache, evicting the previous object in view. The baby’s memory access function is rather error-proned, and cannot access anything not in the cache. This is not very useful memory system, so somewhere between four and seven months the object-permanence-patch is applied. This patch upgrades the cache to a two level cache with increased size. Now when something’s evicted from the first level cache it enters the second level cache. Baby can now remember things that are no longer within visual range.

One side effect of the patch is the so-called separation anxiety bug. The separation anxiety bug can occur when an object, usually the parent object, is evicted from the first level cache to the second level cache. The baby’s main process attempts to promote the object back to the top level cache, but fails. Alas, babies do not have an error handler nor do they recover gracefully from errors. (Aside: a patch for graceful error handling is sadly not forthcoming any time soon.) A secondary bug can occur when the baby’s main process predicts the parent object is about to be evicted from the first level cache, before the actual eviction.

While it may seem that baby is stuck in an endless cry loop, there is a work around. Baby’s main process is still a single threaded at this point. A well timed interrupt can push a new function onto the function stack, distracting baby from checking the memory cache. Once the parent object has been successfully evicted from the second level cache in memory, baby will cease trying to restore it to the first level.

There is a patch for the separation anxiety bug, but sadly it is usually not applied until about 2 years.

Yes, we’re working on separation anxiety.

Older Posts »