Today you are nine months old. That, coupled with the fact that it is nearly November and they are calling for snow this week which means winter is coming, means that I cannot escape the reality that your first birthday is approaching alarmingly fast. At which point you will really be a toddler instead of a baby. Which is only appropriate, really, given that you've been the size of a typical toddler for the past five months or so.
This month has been all about movement with you. You are no longer specifically interested in your jumperoo, and you will only occasionally tolerate being placed in your playpen with several hundred of your very favorite toys. What you want is to be placed on the floor. Anywhere on the floor. In any position. Stomach, back, kneeling, seated, standing (while holding on)--it doesn't matter. As long as you're on the floor, you will eventually get where you want to go. For a child who does not yet employ any of the conventional human methods of locomotion such as walking or crawling, you are surprisingly good at moving, and moving fast. Rolling is still your primary method of transportation--and I hadn't realized how unusual it was until both sets of grandparents arrived in short succession and were blown away watching you fly across the room via rolling, without even bumping your head once--but you also scoot, rotate, flail, squirm, and go on and off your knees in order to get from Point A to Point B. All you want is freedom. And we give it to you as much as we can while still keeping in mind that we have done nothing, literally, not one thing, to babyproof this house and as such we must chase after you with alarming perseverance to prevent you from offing yourself on an electrical outlet, sharp corner, staircase, or other such dangerous object.
We keep thinking that you're going to start crawling any day now. You get on your knees and rock back and forth. Sometimes you crawl backward, but only for a few paces before you wind up in a sitting position. I am fairly certain that you do this on purpose but it drives me nuts because I keep thinking this is it, the hands and knees are moving, he's finally going to crawl, dammit where is the video camera, oh look, there he is sitting on his butt again. You are no longer singularly focused on the knees and sitting thing, though, because this past month you added standing to the mix. You haven't yet pulled to standing on your own (though you regularly pull upright to your knees, just not your feet) but you will lock your legs when we try to sit you down so that you wind up in a standing position, and you will happily stand and hold on with one hand indefinitely.
You display zero interest in walking or letting go while standing, and sometimes you will cautiously try to bend down to pick up a toy from the floor, but you absolutely will not bend far enough to actually grab it. In fact, you have learned that the easiest way to get something from the floor while standing is to simply let go with your hands and plop down on your butt. I blame the cloth diapers for this; they create too much padding and therefore make it all too painless for you to simply throw yourself to the ground when you want something instead of figuring out more complicated solutions. It's clear that you have inherited my tendency toward both efficiency and laziness.
I actually did start to wonder if you were a bit slow on the whole gross motor skills thing because on the 10-month checklist provided by our pediatrician (which they use at 9 months as well, since there is no 9-month checklist) you have mastered most of the skills in question in all the other areas: communication, problem solving, fine motor skills, personal/social. But you're about 50/50 on the gross motor, so in relative terms I was wondering if you were a little behind. I asked the pediatrician about this at your 9-month appointment last week and she said that now that we're at the age where gross motor questions are all about standing and walking, the checklists may start to make you seem like you're delayed. However, you aren't delayed so much as you are tall. With a high center of gravity you are more wobbly than most babies and therefore also more reluctant to attempt to walk, let go, or do anything else challenging while standing. She said she fully expects you to walk on the late side but that there is no reason to worry that this is indicative of any sort of underlying issue. I found this immensely reassuring, particularly as it spoke to my own personal wonderings of whether your size acted as a hindrance to your movement.
Because yes, you continue to be huge. But you know what's awesome? You only gained 2 ounces this last month. Two OUNCES. In previous months you had been gaining well over two POUNDS. You started tapering off last month, but this month the weight gain was essentially nonexistent. And that is fantastic, because my dear little (big) boy, you are HEAVY. And you're outgrowing all your baby equipment. And I'm afraid you're going to outgrow your cloth diapers. And all the bigger clothes assume older kids without baby bellies, meaning that pants squeeze you in the waist and still need to be rolled up in the ankles, DESPITE the fact that you are actually very tall. In fact, even though you only gained 2 ounces this month, you grew another 3/4 of an inch. That baby belly is receding fast, giving me hope that we WILL be able to continue to find clothing that fits you. Your current stats (as of last Thursday) are 27 pounds 7 ounces, 31.75 inches long, and 19 inches in head circumference. Under "percentile" on the little handout, the nurse just wrote ">100" for all three measurements. So. You might be tapering off but you continue to be positively enormous. Much to your father's delight.
You've made great strides with food in this past month as well. You hold your own bottle about 90% of the time, although you still require some assistance when it pops out of your mouth because you haven't totally copped on to the part where you have to tilt the bottle to get the milk to flow. You grab the spoon when we feed you yogurt or cereal or purees, and try to feed yourself. (Or try to throw the whole thing on the floor, but close enough.) And you're much more into finger foods. The pediatrician gave us the go-ahead to feed you everything except citrus, nuts, shellfish, and honey, and so we've been trying all sorts of new things. Pickles. Mac and cheese. Pancakes. Chicken. And you have just eaten it all up. It's so NICE that now during dinnertime we can put you in your high chair at the table, give you some of what we're eating, and all have a nice family meal. Of course most of what we feed you ends up on the floor, stuck to your butt, or in your hair, but you are definitely improving in terms of how much of what you feed yourself actually gets ingested. You've developed a good pincer grasp, so now you can actually pick food up and maneuver it into your mouth. Plus, one of your top teeth came in this month, and I'm assuming the other isn't far behind, so that may be helping with taking bites of food too. I'm hoping we'll be totally done with purees very soon.
You are still an incredibly delightful and social baby. You love peekaboo and you laugh hysterically when we play it. You search for hidden objects and you have started holding up a cloth or napkin in our faces to try to play peekaboo. You clearly know your name and look up and smile when we say it. You give kisses now, both upon request AND of your own volition--sometimes I'll be holding you and suddenly you'll say "AHHHH" and slam your open mouth against my cheek. You clap your hands constantly. You're showing us that you understand more and more words: you will often look around when I ask where Daddy or doggie is, you open your mouth when I say "more," and when we tell you "no" you will usually pause what you're doing, at least momentarily.
Oh, and you know what "night-night" means. I know this because I can put you in your crib and you'll be fine, but the second I say "night-night," even if I haven't so much as flinched toward the door of your room, you begin to scream. You do NOT wish to be abandoned, no matter how tired you are, and as a result bedtime and naptime have become a bit of a struggle. The thing is, though, that at least with bedtime the struggle is very short-lived. You will scream for a couple minutes and then conk out, usually for 11-12 hours straight. But naptime this month has been harder. Sometimes you resist the nap for ages. More often you go to sleep pretty quickly. But no matter how long it takes you to fall asleep, you've been waking up too early for my liking. You still refuse (REFUSE) to take more than one nap per day, which was fine when the naps were 3-4 hours each, but now you've streamlined, so to speak, down to 1-1.5 hours, and that is just not OK. By 5 or 6 p.m. you're exhausted, and since that is too early for bedtime we end up dealing with a cranky, fussy baby for a couple hours. And if you just add one extra hour to your nap--just one!--that buys us three happy evening hours. So let's get on that, shall we?
Still, even when you're overtired, you remain one of the happiest babies I've ever seen. Your Oma and Opa are here visiting this month and though they've been with us for more than a week already, they can't stop marveling at how happy you are, all the time. You're smiling and laughing constantly, and you tolerate nearly any situation. You don't mind your schedule being disrupted, you don't mind four people constantly wanting to hold you and play with you and tickle you, you don't mind being taken for two-hour walks in the freezing cold with near strangers. You are the epitome of the go-with-the-flow mindset and we are so, so appreciative.
You just always seem to be having a great time. You scream with laughter at the playground (swings and slides are your favorite). You crack up when your Oma puts a toy on her head. You shriek with delight when the dog so much as walks by. You babble and laugh and coo and smile and find absolutely everything fascinating. And it's infectious. You're always having a good time and thus we are always having a good time when we're with you. You are just so precious, and we just love you so much.
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