In Defence of Toddlers

I feel like toddlers get a pretty bad rap for being out of control maniacs. And there is definitely some truth to this – most days Eloise spins through my life like mad squirrel, leaving total destruction behind her. Even though some parts of this stage can be trying (mind-numbing exhaustion at the end of each day!), it’s actually my favourite stage yet. Here’s why:

1. Hugs and kisses. I get them ALL THE TIME. Open mouth French slobbers, little pecks on the mouth, and little hands that grab me from behind and nestle in for a snuggle. Ahhhhh this is the best thing of all.
2. Words! Finally, she is communicating! True, it’s still hard to understand what she’s saying a lot of the time, but hearing this little baby-child wrap her lips and tongue around words like bath, dog, duck, flower just fill me with awe at seeing tiny changes happening every minute of every day.
3. Pretend play. Eloise holds up any phone-sized object to her ear and conducts a deep conversation with it, complete with the correct intonations. Kill me now, I’m dying from the cuteness of it all.
4. Dance moves. The little girl has her own groove going on. Put on music and she’s swaying and tapping her feet out of natural instinct.
5. She can feed herself. Here’s the food, off you go, baby.
6. She’s not that screaming, refluxy infant anymore who made me doubt my ability to do this parenting job. Compared to the first ten months of her life, toddlerhood is a breeze so far.

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Eloise – Month 11 – 12

My little baby is now 1, and no longer a baby. I can’t call her a toddler yet, I still think of her as my little, tiny baby.
What a big month we’ve had, finishing with her first birthday. She was sick for a few weeks, with her first stomach flu as well as a nasty cold.

We had a lot of fun though, and ate at delicious places like Public, Balthazar, Gramercy Park Hotel, Brooklyn Farmacy, Artisanal, One Girl Cookie.

We also went swimming at the YMCA where Eloise loved being in the water after some initial hesitation.

Our dear friend Lisa Maher visited us this month from Sydney. Together we went to Governor’s Island to see the jazz festival and Central Park.

Developmental

  • First steps! Eloise started to let go and take solo steps – 3 or 4 at a time. She is more confident cruising around the furniture, using the the walker or holding onto our hands. She charges across the floor while holding onto our hands in particular.
  • New sounds: Eloise is making new noises (like nanana) and high pitched shrieking.
  • Following directions: Eloise is getting really great at understanding what we’re saying. She does things like comes when we call her, stops when we say no.
  • She also shakes her head emphatically for no, nods for yes, points at things she wants very clearly, even the door when she wants to go out. She loves looking at pictures and points to people, so we tell her who everyone is in the photos.
  • So curious. She loves looking at everything, pointing at things that she wants to know more about.
  • Waving at everyone. She’s so friendly and social.
  • Clapping when she’s happy.
  • Babbling happily in gibberish.
  • Giving us hugs! So great.
  • Bouncing up and down to music.

Food

  • The girl loves to eat! She loves things like goats cheese, milkshakes, fruit, goldfish crackers, grilled cheese sandwiches. I have cut out the midday breastfeed, replacing it with more food and cows milk. 
  • She really loves anything we’re eating and drinking, and loves to drink out of my giant Camelbak.
  • Wants to feed herself. Doesn’t like being spoon fed very often anymore.

Sleep
We had some sleep regression while Eloise was teething or sick, but generally she has settled into a routine where she sleeps from 6:30 or 7pm till around 5:45 – 6:45am.

Lessons from Eloise

My baby girl is 11 months old tomorrow. I’m spinning out at how fast the time has gone. Are we really almost at her first birthday? I really can’t believe it.

Every day, Eloise is turning more and more into a kid and leaving the last remnants of her babyhood in her wake. She is a high speed, full throttle baby. Constantly watching, reaching, trying to work out what’s going on around her.

When people tell you your life will change when you have a baby, it’s a gross understatement. It’s more like my life was reborn. Not only in obvious ways (sleep deprivation! a new constant companion! body changes that are way too personal for a blog!) but in fundamental ways that I could never have imagined.

1. I’m more patient than I was before – by a long shot. Having always been someone who wants everything to happen right away, Eloise has definitely helped me to slow down and accept that somethings take longer than I’d like to happen – and even to appreciate this.

2. Unconditional love. I thought I had known it before, but the way I feel about Eloise has been with a depth of love I didn’t think possible. Just thinking about things potentially happening to her sends my heart racing. The idea of her growing up and leaving me makes my eyes tear up.

3. Tolerance of others. I’m also a very intolerant person when it comes to other people, but thanks to Eloise that has also improved a lot. It’s much easier to understand now how hard everyone’s life may be, and I really try to be as kind as possible to everyone, even rude people on the subway. Everyone has their own daily struggles and I’m trying to give nasty-ass people the benefit of the doubt that the day they’re hideous is a day they’re finding too hard to cope with.

I’m not only looking at my baby, but also at myself, as a work in progress. I hope that as I try to teach her about life, she continues to teach me about how to live it as a kinder, gentler, better person.

Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Eloise – Month 10 – 11

Our little girl is growing up so fast. She’s becoming more and more like a toddler, and less like a baby every day. I’m so proud of her growth and development, but also a little wistful already for the baby we don’t have for much longer. I’m so happy to see such great qualities in Eloise already. She’s fearless, curious and generous.

We’ve been out and about a lot this month! Cousin Sara came to visit, so we’ve been siteseeing all over the city – such as the Empire State Building, Alice’s Tea Cup, Central Park, FAO. We also went to fun things with Alec while he was on paternity leave, like the Bronx Botanical Gardens. We finished up the end of the month with two stroller tours, of the Guggenheim and Whitney.

Developmental

  • Standing with confidence now! Lets go of surfaces and balances on her feet. 
  • Cruising around the room using furniture to balance on.
  • Dismounts easily from standing onto her cushy rear.
  • Takes steps on the walker or if we’re holding her hands.
  • Pulls herself up on our legs, the appliances, furniture, everything. 
  • Dancing! Bops to music.
  • Nods her head for yes and shakes it for no.
  • New words: “up” and “yeah”.
  • Reaches to be picked up on command. 
  • Understands “no”.
  • Comes when she’s called.
  • Hand-eye co-ordination getting really good. Can pick up things like single peas with her thumb and forefinger and put them in her mouth.
  • Very chatty. Doesn’t make any sense yet, but is very serious about telling us things and nodding her head vigorously. 
  • Managed to get a block shape into the correct hole in the box.
  • Teething, but no teeth broken through yet.
  • Much more affectionate. Lots of hugs.

Food

  • Eating really well. Three solid meals a day, plus snacks in between. Prefers large chunks that she can hold and gnaw on. Typical meal for the day: Breakfast: plain, full-fat yoghurt, half a banana. Snack: Half a banana. Lunch: Usually when we’re out, so a puree pack of baby food, plus bits of whatever I’m eating. Snack: rock melon, watermelon, cheese. Dinner: Leftovers from food I’ve cooked for myself and Alec, like pasta, steamed vegetables, baked vegetables, veggie burger patty. 
  • Getting much better at drinking water from a cup and water bottle. 
Sleep
  • We completed sleep training with success. Eloise started sleeping from 7pm – 6:30-7:30am. AMAZING. We had a few nights where she woke at 6am, or at 10:30pm, but for the most part, it seems like our sleep issues have been solved.
  • Naps: Down to two naps a day. One at around 8:30-9am for anywhere from 1 – 2 hours, and 12:30pm for about 45mins to an hour a half. 
Empire State Building.

The Sweetest Thing

As Eloise nears her first birthday, I’m savouring every moment of her babyhood – in particular, holding her as she sleeps.

In the early months when I spent 90% of our time holding her while she was asleep, it was an amazing peaceful time, holding this tiny person whose life I had created and was entrusted with. As she’s gotten older, I’ve been holding her while she sleeps less and less.

Now that I don’t nurse Eloise during the night anymore, the only time we share these sweet moments together is at bedtime, when I still nurse her to sleep every night. It’s the most beautiful part of our day together. I hold her in my arms as she nestles in, my strong, wriggly girl who struggles against me all day long, finally still, peaceful and content. The muscles in her face relax and she looks so soft and small again. I can’t resist smelling her beautiful head, kissing her forehead and rocking her a few times, holding her tight, before placing her in her crib.

I know that our time doing this is so limited. In the mean time, I’m savouring every night we have together and storing up these beautiful memories in my head for the day when this part of our relationship is over.

Eloise – Month 9 to 10

A lot happening this month! Eloise’s first Father’s Day, a few trips to Governor’s Island, lunch at Balthazar, first trip to Prada Soho,  and lots of music classes.

On the less fun side, we had our first trip to the ER this month. We’d been at Governor’s Island during the day and Eloise was playing in the grass. Later on that evening, she wouldn’t feed at 6:30pm, and at 10:30pm. She would latch on, then pull off and cry. We tried to get her to drink water, expressed milk, you name it. At 3am when she still wouldn’t feed I was so worried I called the emergency room at the hospital and they said to bring her in. Two hours later they examined her and found A LEAF stuck in her top palate that was stopping her sucking. Poor baby! I had thought she was doing funny things with her mouth the night before and had had Alec get a torch so we could look in her mouth but I couldn’t see anything. I’m watching her like a hawk now. No more leaves, that’s for sure. 


Developmental

  • Started giving us proper hugs!
  • Outgrew her baby bath and started taking baths in the big bath.
  • Purposefully saying “mum”
  • Answers to her name, responds to being told “no”.
  • Turning pages of books for us when we read to her.
  • Pointing at things she wants. Which is everything – pointing non stop at people on the street, objects, animals, and at her parents.
  • Really noticing objects when they’re gone. Will look for toys or items we take away or that she’s dropped. Looks for me at night when she wakes up and I’m not there, calling “mama”.
  • Super fast crawling! All over the house. Follows us around from room to room.
  • New words this month: “hi, “baby”
  • Babbling a lot more, trying to communicate.
  • Hand-eye co-ordination really improved a lot – after trying for a week to pick up a small block and getting frustrated when she knocked it over instead, able to use the pincer gasp to pick up small blocks and manipulate them – usually trying to put them in her mouth, but also starting to notice the shaped holes in the box and trying to put the blocks in the holes.
  • Two more teeth! The lateral incisors. 
  • Standing up! Started pulling herself up on the coffee table, then on the couch, kitchen table, bath. Wants so stand everywhere. Trying out balance by lifting one leg at a time. Cruising by taking a few small steps while holding onto the coffee table. Leaning on the coffee table and using her hands to play with toys or grab things. 
  • Giving kisses – big slobbery open mouth kisses.
  • Loves the bead maze – can move single beads at a time and likes moving the gear and lever.
  • Getting really vocal, particularly when being told she can’t do something, or when being restrained and she wants to crawl.

Food

  • Eloise is eating pretty much everything we offer her. Bagels, entire tubs of yoghurt, fruit like rockmelon, goats cheese, hummus, bread, muffins with vegemite, omelette, scrambled eggs …
  • She’s enjoying feeding herself, and loves holding onto big chunks of things like a grilled cheese sandwich and uses her teeth to bite off tiny bits. 
  • Eloise’s finer motor skills are developing well. She uses one hand to pick up small items like a rice puff, and uses the otehr hadn to grab her wrist and guide it into her mouth.
  • Usually Eloise will let us feed her by spoon, but sometimes grabs the spoon or our fingers with her hands and examples whatever it is carefully before allowing us to put it in her mouth. 

Sleep
After several weeks of up and down sleep, with anything from one wake up a night (a five hour stretch!) to three, we are starting to sleep train Eloise. We started with letting her cry for 10 minutes, with the time period going up by 5 mins each time. If she hasn’t been able to put herself to sleep after that period I go in, feed her, but pull her off the breast before she’s put herself to sleep, laying her down awake. Sometimes she is able to then put herself to sleep, sometimes not. No results after night one, but night two was much better, with her able to put herself back to sleep at 10pm and 4am.

Eloise at Governor’s Island – around the time she got the leaf stuck in her mouth.

Eloise Month 8 – 9

First fever of 39.3 dC. Thankfully after 24 hours it went down, and after another 24 hours she was back to her normal self. The doctor suspected it was a virus and thinks she has a great immune system.

We started touring pre schools for September 2013 start, and researching schools we would like her to go to after that.

Had a fantastic first mother’s day this month!

Developmental:

  • Crawls! Started tentatively, and by the end of the month is zooming around the house on hands and knees.
  • Started waving at people, starting with a stranger on the street. Does a really cute pageant wave.
  • Claps her hands together
  • Said “mama”, “dads” and “dog” at the dog, Pixel, we had staying with us for 10 days.
  • Really agile – can twist and turn, move easily from front to back.
  • Tracks people and objects really well with her eyes. 
  • No stranger danger so far – so outgoing and social, really loves people in general, but a bit funny around strange men.
  • Hands us items like toys, food. 
  • Reaching to be held.
  • Started sitting up in the crib and pulling herself up. We had to lower the crib mattress.
  • Top two front teeth came in.

Enjoys:

  • Loves being played with, thrown in the air, sang to, read to. Getting really interactive and laughs a lot when played with.
  • Bath time. Loves playing with her toys, and tries to hand them to us. Also trying to climb out of the tub.
  • Getting more snuggly – finally! Nothing is better than a snuggly baby.
  • Baby and mommy yoga class.

Sleep:

  • Started getting some separation anxiety during the night. Won’t be soothed by Alec, must have only me. 
  • Some great nights of one wake up, but plenty of more than that, including the week where she had a fever.
  • When we go in to get her when she wakes, she is sitting up in the crib and reaches to be picked up.

Food:

  • Loves bagels, cheese, yoghurt. A pretty good eater in general and is getting much better with hand-eye co-ordination too. 
  • Can feed herself with her fingers.
  • Can drink by herself from a sippy cup.

Babes get Arty

My friend Alexis and I decided to start taking the babies to galleries to see how they enjoyed it – plus we wanted to start seeing exhibitions again. We started yesterday with the Whitney Biennial.

The babies were fantastic. Really entertained by everything around them. The fellow gallery goers were great, one even asking to take photos of the babies in front of the art.

We met up with friends Annie and Coco later for a drink before braving the peak hour trains home.

A great success for us all! Can’t wait to take the little ones to many more galleries.

Coco and Eloise get rowdy.
With Eloise at the Whitney.

Alexis, Julien, me and Eloise getting cultural.
Braving the subway at peak hour.

Eloise – Month 6 – 7

Developmental

  • A lot more chatty this month, making new sounds like “dada” and “baba”.
  • Finer motor control. Able to touch things more gently rather than bashing things, like our faces!
  • Banging objects together.
  • Loves picking up objects and examining them, particularly pulling them out of her toy box.
  • Reaching to be picked up.
  • Showing a preference for Alec or myself, but generally really social and loves meeting new people.
  • Staying awake for longer periods during the day – up to 3 hours, sometimes longer.
  • Putting more weight on her legs.
  • Eloise is just so happy all the time! She’s just such a delight to be around all day now. She enjoys being outside and looking at people, and is pretty much a smiling, laughing little lady all day. 

Milestones/firsts

  • Eloise’s two bottom teeth came in this month. We had a super rough few weeks where she screamed and wouldn’t sleep, refused solids and didn’t want to nurse. One night she finally slept, and in the morning, there they were!
  • First swing this month! The weather warmed up and we started spending time in the parks.

Food
Eloise moved onto a feeding schedule – nursing 4 times a day (6am, 10am, 2pm, 6pm) with 3 meals of solids in between. She loves yoghurt and fruit the most, but will also eat things like lentils and brown rice with vegetables, and with a bit of curry powder mixed in.

Sleep

  • Comes and goes. Bad nights of screaming, followed by nights where she will wake, feed and go back to sleep. A few nights with only one wake up.
  • We finally were able to move Eloise into her crib. We put in a wedge to prop up the end, and put in a vibrating unit under the mattress to simulate the bouncer. A few weeks of this and we took out the wedge and vibrating unit and she finally sleeps in a flat, normal crib. 
  • Major breakthrough with sleep during the day – Eloise now puts herself to sleep. When she shows tired signs, we put her in the crib and she goes to sleep by herself. So great.
  • Likes to sleep on her side!