Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Few of His Favorite Things

What do kids like to play with? Sure, you can go to Toys 'R' Us and clear the shelves. Kids will love some for two seconds, others for two minutes, but their favorites will last for two years or more.

One thing that I realized, though, is that the things they are playing with, especially at an infant's age, are often specialized toys that are more interesting to an adult that to the kid. As I've witnessed tens of dollars go down the toilet in toys that fail to hold my son's interest, I've realized that I needed to go back to basics, to remember what some of my favorite things were.

Of course, I don't remember being eight months old. But I do remember seeing my grandmother give the babies pots and pans to play with when they were at her apartment in the city. Granny would put us in the kitchen and there would be spatulas, spoons, pots, pans, lids, towels, and any other safe kitchen item. With various weights, sizes, and noises, the child's attention would be held for longer than most any commercially purchased toy.

Ever folding laundry? Give the kid some socks to play with. That's at least a few minutes of entertainment. Something I read in one of my parenting magazines: when doing loads of towels or sheets, put the child safely on one end, then give him or her a "magic" carpet ride.

Finally, bags and boxes. No! Not plastic bags. Paper bags and boxes. This should, of course, be supervised. But they love the ins and outs as well as the noises that they make.

Our son loves his steering wheel, his Baby Einstein apparatus, and his wiffle balls. But for every one of these successful toys, there are three that never gained his interest.

So before you go out and buy your kid a bunch of new toys, play with some of the things around your house. If anything, it may narrow what you know will be a hit from the store. You don't have to fit it into the toy bin. And they may be things that the child will recognize later on for its real use.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hard Knocks

Our son has been sitting up for a couple of months now. He's trying to walk, but he's trying to skip crawling. One problem I see with the lack of willingness to crawl is that he's not learning to go from sitting to tummy position.

The problem is that he's not learning to fall gracefully, to use his hands to stop his momentum and to know his boundaries.

In order to combat his lack of total balance control, we always put a pillow behind him or put his back to a couch or wall - something that won't allow him to fall back or something that will break his fall.

Doing that, I believe, has caused it's own problems or hindered his development in some ways. When we're in bed, I sometimes horse around with him and push him from sitting onto his back and he thinks it's fun. What he can't decipher, though, is when he's sitting on a bed versus when he's on a hardwood floor. He doesn't know that he can't just lay back full force any time he wants to, or he'll knock his head.

He's done so a couple of times. The latest was last night, when he was sitting against the chez lounge. I was making faces at him and he was laughing. He leaned back, but had rotated around a bit and fell back, hitting his head on the wood floor. Another time was in the tub. He leaned forward to grab a toy, slipped, and hit his forehead in the side of the tub.

He cried a bit, but not too bad. So now I'm trying to think of a way to keep him from cracking his head open, while making sure he knows that he can't just fall back and it's ok. First, I have stopped pushing him backwards on the bed. Next, I'm going to put a folded blanket or towel behind him so that, if he falls, he'll still land with a thud and it won't feel good, but not with the hardness of the floor itself. Finally, I'm going to get a shower mat so that it's not so slippery.

On the good side, he's conditioning his head to take a beating. Once he starts playing sports, he'll need the toughness.

Monday, September 17, 2007

General Update

Our son was pretty sick last weekend (of the 8th). At first, he had a fever of 101. Saturday morning it was down to 99.8. Then the congestion and coughing began. We started him on children's Tylenol and a vaporizer. By Saturday afternoon, the fever was gone. The bulk of the congestion lasted until last Wednesday or Thursday. He still has a rough cough every so often, but he is good.

The best was Wednesday or Thursday when, feeling better, he was extra happy. It was such a pleasure to see because we'd been sitting around doing nothing for a few days. He's so active, as he's now trying to walk and can kick a ball around the apartment and then chases after it. (This is all done while holding my fingers while standing.) I really noticed that he was smiling and laughing the whole day. He's a lot of fun, but it was really a breath of fresh air.

By the way, sitting around all day is not all it's cracked up to be. Saturday through Tuesday, we really did just sit around all day. We watched TV (fortunately there were great sports on TV that weekend,) read books, and he was able to sleep. We finally left the house together to go shopping by the end of the week. I do remember, though, how great it was to just sit around and do nothing for a day. It's always better to do when you're feeling well than when you're sick.

Speaking of fresh air, I picked up an air purifier. I've been sneezing a lot lately and it's mostly when I'm in our place. Being clean is not the problem, as it is still on the market and is shown at least once or twice a week. We also have a maid once every two weeks. Finally, we really don't wear our shoes inside. So, I'll use it and let you know what happens. If it works, it'll save me money in the long run, what with all of the Claritin-D we've been taking.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Patience and Persistence

Update: our son has begun to hold his bottle when eating! He will not pick it up, but once I get it into his mouth, I can put his hands around the bottle and he will hold it. Then, he will not only hold it for the duration of the liquid, but can also regulate it himself, pulling it away from his mouth for a breather, then put it back when he's ready for more. I think he's beginning to appreciate the freedom that comes with doing it himself. Thanks to those of you who told me to be persistent!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Rhythm and Foods

Delicate technique is required when feeding your infant. That is, feeding "solid" foods. When it came to breast and bottle feeding, our son was a natural. He successfully fed from a bottle at just a few hours old, then took to my wife with reckless abandon. Feeding from silverware is a new ballgame.

Not that it's that new. We've been feeing solids to him for about six weeks, since he was just over six months old. So far he has no allergies, but there are foods that he prefers and some that he hates.

You would think that, once we found foods that he likes, he would be all over it. Not so. I have to get him in the right mood and then I have a chance. I even have a routine that I go through to get him ready to eat. First, I have to get his food out and open. Then a spoon has to be ready to go. Then I set him in his high chair and lock him in. Next, his bib goes on. This is the time when he will either melt down or will play. I've learned that it is good to have something that entertains him nearby. For instance, my laptop's screen saver is a slide show of all of my pictures. He likes that. I've also started him on Cheerios, though he likes to play with them more than eat them. Once he's calm, I sit down, pick, up his food and his spoon, and try to feed him.

At first, he puckers up. I do not recall a single time in the last six weeks that he sees me bring the spoon toward his mouth and opens up willingly. I have to put a little on his mouth and he'll suck it in, determining whether he cares to eat more. If he's satisfied, he opens his mouth. Here's the tricky part: I absolutely, positively must have another spoonful waiting when he opens his mouth. If I don't, he's likely to close his mouth and be unwilling to open up again for five minutes or more. If I do catch it, then we'll get get into a rhythm wherein I have to keep bringing the right amount on the spoon, ready for him to be ready.

This process again becomes complicated when I bring more than one kind of food to the table. I have to switch between fruits, veggies, and oatmeal. It takes fast hands and a mindful eye to keep the proper tempo. If I do, then he eats well. If I don't, or he doesn't like the food that day, then more will get on him than in him.

If anyone has suggestions on how to get him to eat, let me know!