My baby is 14 months old now! I have been so overjoyed at his learning to walk, but I even more have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of his first words! Since he was born, this was the moment I was waiting for. I heard sporadic things that sounded like they could be words here and there. The ever popular dada, a hi, a grunting mmmmmm for more? But I couldn't get him to replicate it to tie it as a request or a label. Finally, about 3 days before mothers day, I realized that my son was talking to me - and I almost missed it completely!
He was signing for milk every time I lifted up my shirt to feed him! This isn't a sign I regularly modeled, so I was surprised.
Does it count as a first word - ABSOLUTELY!
A word is a mutually agreed upon set of motor movements that communicate intent, protest, a comment, or label.
My son was telling me he wanted milk!
Courtesy of babysignlanguage.com Click the photo for more information!
I am writing about this not as a brag, but as a learning moment. I almost forgot the importance of signing. I was so focused on getting him to use his voice that I forgot he had one in his hands. If I wasn't paying attention, I might have missed this completely. Who knows what we are missing when we hyper focus on one aspect of our child's life. They show us what they know in many ways - even if it's not the way you were expecting!
Just keep watching out for those little communication attempts so you can reinforce to them that you hear them and you understand them!
So a friend of mine was getting ready to feed their baby for the first time and asked for some advice on things she should know before beginning this new adventure. One of the first things I mentioned was almost equally as important as what foods to eat- WHERE to put baby.
The answer is usually, duh, in the high chair of course. This is a somewhat obvious fact, but what is not so obvious is what kind of chair is best, and there is a best. No, i'm not here to push a specific brand, but the TYPE of chair that is best.
signs of readiness
Even though some pediatricians say you can start solids at 4 months (cereal and oatmeal), I wouldn't recommend it from an anatomical perspective and a feeding therapist perspective. Nutritionally, those foods are not really doing anything special for your baby. They are mostly empty calories. Cereal is void completely and can potentially lead to arsenic toxins exposure if rice is the basis of the cereal, where as oatmeal potentially has merits, but also concerns. Mainly if it is not organic, there is risk of toxin exposure.
There is a theory floating around in Facebook forums, that I had believed myself, that if you give the baby food before 6 months, specifically gluten, that it would lead to GI health issues due to gut permeability. What that means is that food can escape from your infants gut and get into the body. This can occur when the gut is not fully intact due to infancy and development, or it can occur due to environmental toxins.
When I looked at the research though, it argued that infants closed their guts by 1 month. A significant difference. So even if you started before 6 months with food, the gut should be closed. Unless of course there is a lot of toxin exposure from GMOs that can lead to gut permeability.
90, 90, 90
Some benefits of the 90 degree angle are:
Do you have a chair already? Check out this awesome post from New Ways Nutrition to learn more about how you can modify your specific chair!
The part about maternity leave I hated most was the part where it ended. I am a worker. That is just who I am. I work no matter what, much to my husband's dismay. Leaving my baby was hard though. Going back to a job and coworkers I adore made it a little bit easier, but I know I'm not the only one who considered quitting their job to become a stay at home mom.
Being a mom is a new type of job that requires your physical presence. I had a moral and ethical dilemma each and every morning. Go to work and leave my baby or stay home and shirk my responsibilities. Here were my pros and cons of going back to work...
A lot of people would say... well really they sleep for like 3-4 hours a day so you're really only missing 2-3 hours of awake time.
But here's the thing... When baby is sleeping is when:
If you aren't home.... when does that stuff get done? Oh yeah, when you get home from work. But, wait? Isn't that the time you're supposed to be with your baby because you were working all day?
And then moms get sad. They get overworked, cranky and tired. That's when we order take out. That's when we invest in a cleaning person (or just let the house get messy), that's when you hire a landscaper. And there goes some of the money you just made going back to work!
Thanks a lot, America!
Which brings me to my next topic, hating America's maternity leave. I am a believer in investing time and energy in youth yield the best societal results long term. Why is it that America's elite who are running things can't get that through their thick skull? Now to be fair, the multi million dollar companies like Netflix and Google and Apple are pretty good about that I hear, but America's educational system? Probably the worst maternity leave. It's actually just "sick time" and sometimes, they even cap that! For example. My sick leave was 40 days (that I had to save for years to get) and even though I had 47, I couldn't use them all, I could only use 40. That is my employer's personal policy- not every teachers.
Then my friend who works in the cosmetic industry get 6 months paid maternity leave. ummm WHAT? How does it make sense that people who work with kids get the worst maternity leave? Well it's because schools are funded by government and don't make money and companies are profitable and can afford to do things like pay for moms to stay home.
In order for anything to change, we need to shift as a society with leaders who insist upon fair treatment. Investing in moms is an investment in the future of the country. Other countries have already figured this out....
Let's see... required to take time with their kids, full pay, moms and dads... other countries seem to really have it figured out. A UNICEF 2019 report put America LAST on the list of countries with benefits for new parents.
To get the full list of top 10 countries for paid family leave, click here
And then we have a society on the verge of a mental breakdown. They are overworked and they need to be with their families. Kids need to be raised by parents, not babysitters! They need to sit around a table and talk to their parents and siblings. They shouldn't be eating junk food in the car in between running around. What happened to those good old days?
Tell me your thoughts in the topic. It's something I'm passionate about and feel so strongly that we need to find a way to keep moms at home with their kids as much as humanly possible.
What is Baby Led Weaning ?
Baby-led weaning is a child directed limiting (or weaning) from mother's milk to a diet of table foods. This is not a new concept, and many cultures around the world have done this for centuries, but it is gaining traction in America as the hip thing that all the crunchy moms are doing.
Why I wanted baby led weaning for my son
When a researching mom is researching food, she is bound to come across baby led weaning or (BLW as it's commonly referred to on a variety of social message boards). I will admit this is not a topic we went over in graduate school. I believe it was a short video clip and not much more information. This was something I had to learn about on my own; just like any other mom. The research was there, the reviews were in: Baby led weaning had benefits such as:
The moms who did baby-led weaning were adamant that it was an amazing experience, just a tad messy in the beginning (nothing I couldn't handle, right?) The moms who did baby-led weaning were enjoying dinner out a restaurants with their family while baby practically took care of themselves. This was something I could really get behind!
How we started
Once the criteria are met, you have the green light to go!
our first experience
I was putting a lot of pressure on this moment. I was expecting too much. He mostly just squished the avocado in his hands and got a few specs in his mouth. Here are some of the foods we started with:
The peanut gallery
As you might expect from your own parents, mine thought I was crazy. Ugh, they were so old fashioned! Did they seriously think babies still ate baby food? So naive! After I sent a video of my son eating broccoli, I got an angry call form my father, "HE is going to CHOKE! I never want to see him eating food like that. He doesn't have any TEETH! It's just basic common sense!" Please dad, what do you know about feeding babies? I got this! I read the book, did you? In the back of my mind, the words common sense stuck in my head. It did seem like common sense that you needed teeth to chew food....
gagging, or choking?
There is a distinct different between gagging and choking:
I feel like he was doing better with food at the beginning. At one point, it seemed he wasn't really gagging anymore. He would spit out pieces that were too big. Perhaps we did too many spoon foods? I don't recall it being a rule that you couldn't do a lot of spoon foods? We did foods that were naturally puree like mashed potatoes, oatmeal, yogurt, and guacamole.
I felt like the more I tried, the more he was struggling. He was gagging more and I felt like sometimes he was skipping gagging completely. The pieces he was sucking into his mouth were just too big! I would gingerly place the food down. Then, as he brought it to his mouth,
I just held my breath ....
Now a rule about BLW is that you are not supposed to intervene unless the baby is showing visible signs that they cannot breathe, otherwise this could result in them choking. So then he would starting gagging and spit out some food, okay, fine!
As a mom, a new mom, to literally sit there and try to 'wait out' a potential choking episode when your child is buckled into a chair is beyond anxiety provoking. BEYOND!
There were 3- heart stopping times -that I felt I needed to intervene. Before I had him out of the chair, he had cleared it on his own (which is what the book told me would likely happen, by the way). HOWEVER, even with that being said, by the third time, I truly decided that this wasn't for me. I just couldn't handle it. I was a nervous wreck eating and I didn't want my fears and anxieties to be picked up by him. I wanted mealtimes to be enjoyable for everyone.
finding a middle ground
I tried to keep as many elements from BLW as possible as we closed the book on that technique for this baby in this moment. Some things that I took from it that I think are important!
what we eat now...
Now at 7 months, we have really been able to incorporate more finger foods. Bananas are no longer mashed with my fork, I pull off small pieces for him to pick up on his own.
At 8 months and 9, we continue finger foods and some spoon fed foods as well. The pieces of food got a little bit bigger too to be more manageable for him to pick up. He amazes me what he is able to pick up with his little fingers! He strips a spoon like a pro! We are starting drinking from a cup and straw too!
What I would do differently next time
I might start a little after 6 months. Even though he had all the signs of readiness, maybe he just wasn't ready. Another side of me thinks, he might have needed to go through the struggle to be the great eater he is now.
If you tried BLW and feel like you failed, don't feel that way. You tried something that just didn't work well for you. It doesn't mean that it wouldn't work well with a different baby. It doesn't mean you did something wrong. Baby just wasn't into it and they will do better later.
Focus on making mealtimes about family and enjoying good food!
We are nearing the end of 6 months on earth now and it's time for me to reflect back on this past month. It was been a whirlwind for sure! SOO much development and excitement this month! Baby should be rolling all around by this point and is starting to get into mischief if you look away for seemingly one second!
If you have waited to start foods, this is the month that you typically begin!
More to come on that topic too!
Going back to work full time has been a hard adjustment. I had a lot to say about feeling related to going back to work plus my fears of not pumping enough, missing first moments, are all laid out in my post. Check it out here!
Lots of exciting firsts to come during this month!
Baby already recognizes their caregiver, but now they start to recognize routines. For example, if playtime is in a certain spot, they might get excited as you get nearer to the door.
What should you notice about babies' language:
Playing is still new to baby at this point, but they are starting to engage with toys more and more!
If you are reading to your baby daily, and I cannot recommend enough that you do so, they should start taking an interest in participating with you!
Your babies brain is developing rapidly this month!! They are understanding things on a more sophisticated level for the first time.
when you just can't listen to the wheels on the bus anymore...Here are 5 other options for baby music!
If you are "all done" with the Wheels On The Bus song, you're not alone! I have been slowly finding some fantastic things out there for baby to listen to! At 4-5 months old, baby gets 'bored' and is expecting some entertainment. Music has been essential to keeping peace and calm. He thoroughly enjoys listening to such a variety of music and its fun to see him anticipate some parts of songs. Here are some of our favorites!!
Tell me about your favorite musical shows to watch with baby in the comments!
I feel like some parents have a stigma about sign language. I had a parent tell me once, "I don't want you to work on signing, I want him to talk!" There are sometimes myths that float around that signing might result in late talking, or may prevent them from talking sooner. This is not true! It is actually the opposite!
There's a few reasons why......
how to choose what signs to start with:
You really just need to figure out two things.....
While these signs worked for my family, you may choose different signs to begin with. There is not a set progression at all!
What will be most effective is something you can remember to do often!
when can you expect to see baby signing?
Babies that have been signed to since birth or soon after can sometimes begin to sign around 8 months old.
Now you may say... that's annoying they start talking at 12 months, why put in all that effort?
For a couple reasons!
what NOT TO DO WITH SIGN LANGUAGE
DON'T make signing an absolute requirement-- If you are waiting for baby to sign to move onto your next activity, it will end in tears for everyone
DON'T make signing an unnatural part of your communication-- No one says music 12x in a row.
DON'T make them communicate the same thing twice-- if they can say the word already, they don't need to sign it too before you accept it as a response. It's a little unusual to see this go the opposite way where a child that can say the word will sign it instead. Like I said before, we do what's easiest and talking is easier than signing because you don't need your communication partner to be looking directly at you to communicate with them.
what to DO WITH SIGN LANGUAGE
DO make sure you sign across a variety of settings and with a variety of people--signing for mom shouldn't only be when we wake up! It should be when you leave, arrive, in the mirror, etc.
DO help baby make the signs with hand over hand!-- This helps them learn the motor plan they need to execute to make that sign happen!
DO accept approximate signs at first! -- They won't do it perfect the first time! If it's in context and you know what they meant, show them you get it by verbalizing what they are communicating (i.e. 'you want milk!? Great job telling mommy!! Here is your milk!')
It's been 4.5 months since I started my breastfeeding journey and I'm happy to report that at about the 3 month mark, I felt really good about my decision to continue breastfeeding. It is sooooo much easier to just pop him on and feed him quick than to heat up a bottle. I have been told that this is what's called 'Breastfeeding Nirvana' and I do agree!
That being said, here are some new struggles that appeared EVEN AFTER I got a handle on breastfeeding...
I was told, and know it to be true for myself at least, that boys are so hungry when they wake and start crying immediately for food. Girls are okay waiting a bit. So far, that is the case for my little boy! I have about 30 seconds TOPS from when he wakes to getting food in him before the wailing begins!
This makes me SO glad that I stuck with breastfeeding! Having the freedom to feed him whenever/wherever is somewhat liberating! It's one less thing to worry about. It was worth the extra work & I would do it all again- hands down!!
Somewhere between 3.5 months and 4 months of age, your baby will likely go through what people call a regression. I don't love that word because it's implying that your baby is taking a few steps back, when in fact, they are taking giant leaps forward.
That being said, it sure seems like things are not going so great. What I have noticed is a WHOLE LOT of crying! A LOT LESS sleeping, and SO MANY smiles (thank the lord! It makes the other stuff a little teensy bit more bearable!)
What you should notice about babies language:
Generalized mouthing is a period of time (birth-4/5 months). During this period, babies suck on anything within arms (or mouth) reach. By 4 months, baby is gaining control over sucking, decreasing rooting, and decreasing gagging.
The toys you see that have more of a point to them can be used starting around months 5-6. I'll discuss this more next month!
1. They recognize key people in their lives
1. They start to understand cause and effect
Some people will start solid fooding at 4 months, usually some kind of rice cereal. Personally, I really considered starting at four months, but I had to look at the pros and cons of starting what most consider to be 'early'.
So based on my list, I decided that we have a good thing going with breastfeeding and there's no need to rush food. The kid has his whole life to eat! This list may look differently for your family, so I would encourage you to make your own pro and con list to determine what works best for your family.
What developments are seeing around 4 months?
Did you decide to start solids?
Tell me about it in the comments below!