1.5 years old

Other than the rare but messy nap transitions, I guess 18 months is a milestone of sorts. Today was his vaccination appointment and the PD also had quite a bit of questions for us to check if Nat’s developing well. Maybe Nat also knows he’s grown up now because he kept pointing at other babies and said, “baby”. Yup, he’s no longer a baby.

So what do they typically ask at the 18 months check up?

Can he say 1 or 2 syllable words? How about Mama and Papa?

  • Yes and no. Nat doesn’t refer to me as Mama. I am “Ah Mee” to him haha because I prefer it that way but HJ is “Papa”. Other than that, his most frequently spoken words are animals and their sounds. So our PD said, “he’s fine, not slow, but not super also”. Love how she summed it up.

Does he take more fresh or formula milk?

  • Roughly the same actually. For his 1st and last feed, it’s formula milk but in the day time, Nat takes fresh milk mixed with formula.
  • I guess we need to increase the proportion of fresh milk vis-a-vis formula moving forward.

Can walk and run? How about climb stairs with support?

  • Yes he can (we didn’t tell her the part about how we wished he would stop climbing the stairs because I’m so afraid he would fall face flat and chip his teeth)… but yes, he can climb any flight of stairs holding our hand for support. Actually it’s us, the adults, who dare not let go of him.

Can he hold a crayon and doodle?

  • Erm, I guess he can but Nat prefers brush calligraphy pens to crayons and colour pencils. His markings are still quite faint. Mostly random scribbling.

Can he drink from a cup? And a straw?

  • Erm… yes but not by himself because the water usually spills everywhere. I guess we need to practice more as now he drinks from his water bottle with a straw.

Then I also had some questions of my own for the PD.

Can and/or should Nat sleep on a pillow?

PD: Yes! Anytime after 3 months.

Me: What?? So young. Oops. He sleeps flat on the mattress now.

PD: Aiyo so uncomfortable!

Me: So now what kind do we get? A toddler one?

PD: No la. Any one is fine just make sure it’s not too high. He’s so old and big already!

Well… I guess we’ll be searching for a pillow soon.

I think when he’s nearer 2 years old then I will ask about toilet training?? He’s not ready and we definitely aren’t!

Exciting times ahead.

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Room Transitions (Part 1) day

Over the past 2 days, we have taken the first step to transit Nat into his own room. Earlier on, I wanted to move him & his cot over when he turned 1 year old but that could not happen when Nat ditched his cot for the floor. The trigger for this transition was Nat’s bizarre sleep “migration” habits in the middle of the night. We decided to invest in a bigger kid’s mattress and will take this chance to let Nat have his weekend day naps in his room. The plan is to get him used to sleeping in his room so that he’ll eventually be able to sleep there in the night, hopefully around 2 years old?

On this topic of when should a baby/toddler move into their own rooms, I did some reading and also discussed it with HJ.

From very early on, we both decided that it was more convenient to room-share with Nat. Room-sharing is not the same as co-sleeping. In fact, while HJ is okay with occasional co-sleeping, I only let Nat co-sleep as a last resort i.e. when we’re too tired to soothe him back to bed, because of how it can potentially be very dangerous. This is because we can both be quite heavy sleepers and Nat has rolled off the bed a few times before.

As for when is the right time to shift Nat over to his nursery to sleep on his own at night, HJ felt that Nat is still not ready, and I agree. What do we mean by “not ready”? Sleep-wise, Nat is pretty easy-going as long as it’s not in the cot. Yet, that also makes it not safe because he could wake up in the middle of the night and climb up the armchair inside his room. By right, one should shift out all hazardous furniture but because we can’t move out the armchair anywhere else, we decided to gradually induct Nat by having him take his day naps there first.

Finding a bigger mattress was a bit tricky. As Nat is still a toddler, his cot mattress (120cm by 70cm) is good enough. However, since I am bent on letting Nat sleep on a mattress on the floor for as long as possible, it made sense to invest in a bigger kid’s mattress. Then we encountered some size issues. Nat’s room, being the smallest in the house, cannot fit a standard single mattress because there is also an arm chair and side table inside. Thankfully, we managed to find a 160cm one from IKEA that’s meant for children ages 3-7. Having only mattresses on the floor is very flexible because it can be positioned anywhere – either parallel or perpendicular to the wardrobe. The only extra things we have to do on weekends is carry his mattress back and forth between our rooms after his day naps because he will still be sleeping on the floor next to our bed in the night.

There are plenty of tips online for a smooth transition, so wish us luck as we try them.

On a side note, I wished we read this earlier and experimented with it.

A new study raises a reason why babies ought to get evicted before their first birthday: They may get more sleep at night in their own rooms. Babies who were sleeping in their own rooms at ages 4 or 9 months got more nighttime sleep than babies the same ages who roomed with parents…sharing a bedroom with babies interferes with everyone’s sleep because normal nocturnal rustlings turn into full-blown wake-ups. Babies and adults alike experience brief arousals during sleep. But when parents are right next to babies, they’re more likely to respond to their children’s brief arousals, which then wakes the baby up more. This then sets up the expectation from the baby that these arousals will be met with a parent reaction, causing a bad cycle to develop.

The last few lines = no shit Sherlock.

But, we’re very lucky because Nat at most wakes up once and as long as he finds a warm body or hand to pat him, he goes back to bed.

Or, we’re just plain zombies. There have been two occasions in the last few weeks where Nat somehow climbed onto our bed and found his way in-between our pillows. Neither of us was conscious enough to know what happened. We simply found him next to us at 630am and assumed the other person was responsible for his appearance hahaha!

Little Steps

At 12.5 months, Nat has begun taking more steps on his own! We noticed that he feels safest at home to walk unassisted and barefoot whereas outside, he’ll still prefer to hold onto our hands most of the time. I’m cool with that. To be honest, we are also baby-proofing as he ventures around the house.

I am not an expert on how babies progress from crawling to walking or some even skip the crawling stage altogether. For the longest time, Nat remained at the standing-up and cruising stage.

Around 7/8 months Nat could already stand inside his crib or playpen but he didn’t really cruise until 11 months? He just preferred to crawl inside his room or from one bedroom to another.

Nat also doesn’t get a lot of cruising time when he’s at my mom’s because her place isn’t as baby-friendly and she was/is undergoing some toilet renovation so there is dust everywhere. As a result, most of the “free-roam” time happens on weekday nights or on weekends. I don’t know if this affected when he started walking in anyway but I figured that once Nat gains more confidence, he’ll be able to walk for longer distance unassisted at my mom’s place too. On our part, we also need to help baby-proof her house pronto! Like we got to at least be on par with him and not always catching up.

So on weekdays, Nat gets to “walk” when they go to the playground in the morning or in the reading room at our place before he goes to my mom’s house. This picture taken a week ago when Nat still preferred to hold onto to our hands.

Then recently at his 1 year check-up, I asked Nat’s PD about his toes because I noticed that sometimes his feet would turn inwards. The PD called it “in-toeing” and asked us to just monitor and get firmer shoes for outdoor use.

Initially I researched that for first-time walkers, the shoes should be soft and not too heavy as their toes need to grip the floor. However, as Nat’s toes tend to face inwards, firmer shoes are recommended to keep his feet in place.

Nonetheless, the best is still walking barefoot and not assisting too much so that they can master their own sense of balance and gain confidence to walk unassisted. I got some quite useful advice from this article but how much we can actually control what happens when we are at work is another thing altogether.

Now we just have to ensure the place is safe and someone is with Nat at all times when he does his walks because he leaves a trail of destruction behind!

– CK

Nat’s Hungry Caterpillar Party 

Nat’s party was a 2 month project in the making because we decided to do all the decor ourselves. After this, I told HJ I don’t think I can do anymore parties – 1st month and 1st year should suffice! All in all, everything went smoothly. It was very tiring but worth it.

The genesis for the theme was quite straightforward – Nat loves The Hungry Caterpillar. The book and toy was a gift for his 1st month and he seems to have a fondness towards it.

Nat around 7 months with his favorite toy

 

So with the theme settled, the deco naturally had to be everything related to Eric Carle. In terms of colours, we had to stick to primary colours since those featured in most of his books.

The brains behind the decor was mostly my mom and sis. We decided on using the following criteria to guide our decor decisions.

  1. We wanted to have another type of ‘happy birthday’ sign so instead of balloon letters or a garland, we decided to make a sign in the shape of a caterpillar. Google & Pinterest gave us a lot of ideas! One can buy ready-made Eric Carle party decor online from Etsy but I didn’t want to pay for shipping.
  2. We initially thought that the photowall could be the one with the ‘happy Birthday’ sign but my sis said that a photowall backdrop should be white so she bought pinwheels and balloon bouquets in Eric Carle colours to create the photo backdrop.
  3. As for the cake table, I was very sure that I wanted it simple and uncluttered. We also did not want desserts on the table because it would be a waste if people didn’t eat them. Conversely if people ate the desserts, then the photos would show some half-eaten desserts. Instead, we displayed Nat’s name using the TYPO letters from his room shelf and featured 3 of his Eric Carle books. This way, no extra money was spent on the cake table’s decor.
  4. The last bit of decor was the photo montage. We already had an album of Nat’s photographs according to his various milestones so my mom used the spare construction paper and some apple cut-outs to create the decor for the photo montage wall. I have no idea where my sister found the ‘Celebrate’ banner but it was less than $2. I was shocked. It was such a steal.

Food-wise, we catered from Elsie’s Kitchen as HJ and I previously ordered food from them in 2014 for our student wedding party.

Although Nat’s party was between 12-3pm, we ordered the biggest high tea menu, consisting of 11 food items and 1 drink instead of the usual buffet lunch menu.

I decided not to get the heavier lunch buffet menus because I rather have smaller food items with more variety and choice. In case there was not enough, we added on extra servings for the more popular savoury items such as chicken satay and drumlets.

As I was still worried that there might not be enough food, we supplemented with some sushi, cocktail sausages and jelly. The last two are some of my childhood favorites that we decided to make for Nat’s party.

Location-wise, we booked the function room and the adjoining KTV room so that some people could seek refuge there in case the crowd got too big.

I guess it was a cosier gathering compared to his 1st month which had all our extended family members. This time round, the guests consisted mainly of our immediate family and close friends.

I’m just glad it’s over because it was one hectic weekend and the best part is, Nat has no clue!

– CK

Almost 1

Can’t believe that Nat is going to be one soon! This time last year, I was in physical agony, 18kg heavier and my hips felt like they were in two parts. Then I realized something last night – he’s still co-sleeping in his crib! These few months, I’ve sort of lost track of the original plan to shift him into his own room by 10 months. Then the moment I returned to work, I think I’ll miss him if he was in a separate room. 

With regard to his sleep, Nat usually does a 845pm to 7am stretch with the occasional cry at 4/5am. If we are too groggy, HJ will just carry him to our bed. Previously, I could soothe him back to sleep in his crib but once I returned to work and started sleeping later, I am a total zombie at 4/5am. 

For 11 months, babies should get around 2-3 hours of day sleep followed by 11 hours of night sleep as per this website. Nat is somehow still sleeping a lot in the day like 3.5 hours avg over two naps. So some days when he wakes up close to 6pm, he only sleeps at 9pm. So it’s a chicken and egg problem as the later he sleeps at night, he’s tired in the day and naps more. However, these 9pm nights are usually an exception so as long as he’s in bed and almost on the verge of sleeping before 9pm, I’m cool. 

Interestingly, Nat’s last feed also dropped on its own. I still remember those days we gave him a full 160-180ml feed at 1030pm so it could last him until the next morning. It dropped to 120ml, 90ml, 60ml and most recently 30ml. Most nights he doesn’t want to drink any top-up milk so his dinner and post-dinner milk of 60ml seems enough to last until the next morning. Interesting how babies naturally ‘drop’ the last feed themselves. 

In terms of his eating habits, Nat still has a monstrous appetite. 

7am: 100ml milk feed 

8am: oatmeal and fruit breakfast 

930am: 60ml pre-nap milk feed 

1130am: 60ml Post-nap milk feed 

12pm: lunch (porridge/noodle/pasta/pie)

1230pm: fruit dessert (tiny amt)

230pm: 60ml pre-nap feed 

5pm: 50ml post-nap feed

530pm: fruit & cereal tea time 

615pm: dinner (porridge/noodles) 

645pm: fruit dessert (tiny amt)

830pm: 60ml pre-sleep feed 

Yup… a monstrous appetite… but we won’t have it any other way. 

Can’t wait for him to cross the 1 year mark which also opens up the food possibilities.

– CK 

Food Testing 8-9 months

So the food testing has somewhat decelerated for Nat because we have done quite a bit of tests throughout the 5-7 months. The fun part to his current menu planning comes in thinking of appetizing ways to cook and test his food. Sadly, even though some of the recipes taste quite nice, it gave him some gas so we’ll try them again in a few weeks. 

The Experiment: 

Two examples of foods that we recently tested that didn’t sit too well with Nat’s tummy was corn and asparagus. 

Instead of serving just the puréed form, we made them into soup via adding a bit of milk and for asparagus, potato to enhance the taste. This is only possible because Nat already tested for the other vegetable. 

The Observations:

For corn, his poop was a bit soft and he kept passing gas throughout the day. For asparagus, he had a bloated stomach until night time.

The Conclusion:

Under such circumstances, the above doesn’t count as a food allergy but perhaps, Nat is more sensitive to certain foods so we’ll re-introduce it to him again next month. 

This happened too for blueberries, which resulted in some red spots (rashes?) on his hands but our PD says we can try introducing it after a few weeks. 

Menu Planning for 8-9 months

In terms of his menu planning, we also started varying his meals into Chinese vs Western, with the former being porridge and the latter, baby pasta. 

Strangely, we also observed that minced meat (beef/pork/chicken) somehow remains very dry even after you steam/cook it and Nat really loves his fish, especially salmon belly compared to threadfin.

 As such, we started mixing a tiny portion of minced meat and fish inside all his Chinese or Western meals. This way, it’s not too dry nor is the smell particularly fishy, which is the case if we use either minced meat or fish. 

So now, we have somehow reached a ‘sweetspot’ of a formula for his meals. 

Porridge/pasta 

  • 1x tiny ball of minced meat
  • 1x piece of fish (approx 2 by 1 inch)
  • 3 tiny portions of vegetables – squash/carrots, spinach and wintermelon*

*only for porridge 

So moving forward… as Nat approaches 10 months, I need to quickly start thinking of other food ingredients to test and come up with various food combinations for his menu. 

Like HJ jokes, it’s like some project with research, Googledocs and MS word calendars but I guess that’s why I enjoy it. 

– CK 

Sleep Regression II 

The 4 month sleep regression phase, if Nat actually had it, feels like a distant memory now because we may be going through the 8 month one. I completely forgot about it until this morning when my mom texted to say that Nat refused to go down for his 1st morning nap and just kept wanting to sit/stand up. So in the end, he had a 2-nap day. That’s when it clicked – that his usual sleep routine is possibly being disrupted due to his newly acquired skill of standing and a possible dropping of his 3rd nap. 

This is the Nat whom I found awake and standing in pitch darkness.


By 830pm, Nat went to bed (thankfully), as a result of HJ’s bedtime routine of trying to get him to relax as opposed to struggling with him to sleep. Nat had his last milk feed (now only 40-60ml) around 1015pm. Shortly after, at around 1045pm, he was suddenly very awake and I found him standing up in the dark. 

That was when I had an inkling that we are dealing with the 8 month sleep regression. 

This article gives a good explanation of what the 8 month sleep regression is all about before offering some very helpful advice about transiting from 3 to 2 naps. 

I really thought this would happen much later. I mean, didn’t teething happen not long ago that disrupted sleep for a bit? On hindsight, dealing with Nat at 4 months when he kept rolling over during bedtime isn’t as bad as him wanting to stand up whenever it’s time to sleep. 

I also didn’t expect the 3 to 2 nap transition to happen now as the age I had in mind was around 9-12 months? Then I recall that on some days, Nat would have 2 big naps so it makes more sense now.

It just didn’t register that a nap transition was taking place since as long as Nat has at least 3 hours of daytime sleep, it did not matter to me if he took 2 or 3 naps. 

At times like this, I just need to remember that this phase shall pass and that we just need to maintain certain habits whilst being flexible in responding to his changing body.

This regression will pass in time, but if you make a habit of now rocking the child, letting them sleep in your bed, sitting with them until they fall asleep (unless you are already doing these things), or skipping naps entirely, this regression now turns into a new habit for the child, one that will be tough to break.

Oh well, these are all part and parcel of the first year I guess and I’m sure toddler-hood isn’t a walk in the part either! We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. 

– CK 

Nasal Congestion (again)

The Nat is standing now…

I guess one good thing about my part-time arrangement is that when both the father and son are not well, I am available to bring them to the Doctor. This AM, my mom brought Nat and I to his PD while HJ slept in then in the PM, I brought HJ to the Doctor. This time round, Nat started having nose irritation over the weekend but we don’t know where he caught it from as none of us had any symptoms. Thereafter, he probably passed it to HJ. Anyhow, it doesn’t matter – those two are always passing germs around.

It’s quite strange actually because I observed that whenever HJ gets sick, Nat will sure catch something a few days later but not when I get sick? The last time I was unwell in May, I passed the germs to HJ first then after that, Nat started coughing (2 weeks after I first came down with the flu). Likewise, Nat has been having runny nose and nasal congestion for the past 3-4 days but I feel fine… can’t say the same for HJ though who succumbed to the flu quite fast.

As today was a walk-in appointment, we still have to go back to the PD next Monday for Nat’s 8 month routine vaccination.

Anyhow, since we went down today, we got new instructions from the PD with regard to food testing.

  • She isn’t worried that his daily milk intake isn’t consistently above 500ml – some random days when he really doesn’t feel like drinking much, he takes about 400ml+ of formula.
  • I guess there’s nothing to worry about because he’s gaining weight normally (9.1kg) and eats 4x semi-solid/solid meals a day!?
  • She also told us that we can start testing the following new foods:
  1. Beef
  2. Egg
  3. Cheese (?!)
  4. Yogurt
  • On top of the above list, I checked with the nurse and am going to add blueberries and plums.

Looks like we are in for quite an exciting month ahead with new foods and more milestones. I can already imagine one recipe that we can try in the next 2 weeks – beef potato hash (imagine it with cheese!) … so yummy.

– CK

It has happened…

In view of Nat being a hazard to himself… I wish this day came a little later – he hoisted himself up using his crib bar and just ‘stood’ there while both of us were sitting in bed. All I remember was that he was originally lying down, then when I turned my head to check on him, I got a shock because I saw his head peeping over the crib staring at me! All I could think of was my worst fear, which is him knocking his teeth out against the wooden bar of the crib -.- 

So the above happened around 8pm, when it was supposed to be bedtime. 

It is also evident that cot bumpers are useless against the Nat. He just steps on them in a bid to hoist himself further up so the bumpers don’t really serve their function of cushioning any hits. This is already the higher bumper set with strings on the top and bottom. He has another set which is a bit lower with strings on only one side so he just kept tugging it out of place. 

P.S his crib platform has already been lowered to the lowest, the moment he could sit up 

Then I came across this interesting Q&A article about baby standing in the crib at night, which disrupts sleep because the baby has not mastered how to sit/lie back down. This is because babies master the art of standing before they know how to sit back down from a standing position. 

Note to self: to be prepared that once Nat can hoist himself up more, it may disrupt his night sleep since he won’t just be sitting up in his crib during the occasional early awakenings :/ 

At times like this, I look back to the 3-5 month phase fondly, when Nat was fairly immobile. 

It’s funny how when they were so tiny, you can’t wait for them to grow bigger and attain the various milestones but once that happens, you recall how life was a bit easier when they were just a tiny bundle. The grass always seems greener. 

– CK 

Porridge Recipes

Yesterday was Nat’s 7 month vaccination appointment – he received 2 jabs. One for flu and another one I can’t recall. Anyhow, in typical Nat-fashion, there was no fever so yay. The more facepalm thing was that we now have to give him 3-4 meals a day, with fish/pork/chicken porridge for lunch and dinner respectively and still drink 500ml+ milk a day (between meals). So yes I spent last night planning his daily menu for the rest of June :0 

So basically in a day his food routine is now as such: 

7am: wake up milk feed (70 to 90ml)

8am: breakfast rice cereal with a fruit (30ml milk mixed inside) 

<NAP> approx. 1 hour 

1045/11am: fish/pork/chicken porridge with 1-2 vegetable combos i.e. sweet potatoes, spinach, peas, carrots 

12pm: pre-nap milk top-up (30ml) 

<NAP> approx 1.5 hours unless we go out then it’s a cat nap 

230pm: afternoon milk feed (90-120ml) 

3pm: fruit purée teatime snack 

<NAP> usually the shortest one around 30-45min

530/545pm: fish/pork/chicken porridge with 1-2 vegetable combos (just no sweet potato or broccoli in the evening as they cause wind) 

730pm: pre-sleep milk feed (approx 90ml) 

10/1030pm: last milk feed (approx 90ml) 

Then while reading up, I realize that baby food recipes are very similar to our adult food ones. For example, pork goes well with sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin and apple. Fish goes well with spinach, wakame (seaweed), broccoli, sweet potato. 

So to add to Nat’s list of foods (below), we’ll be trying mainly chicken and pork for the next 2 weeks. 

Carbohydrates: 

  1. Rice cereal
  2. Oatmeal cereal (best mixed with fruit)
  3. Porridge
  4. Brown rice (trying next week) 

Proteins:

  1. Fish – cod, salmon, threadfin 
  2. Minced chicken (trying next week)
  3. Minced pork (trying next week) 

Vegetables: 

  1. Sweet potato
  2. White potato 
  3. Yam 
  4. Spinach
  5. Broccoli
  6. Cauliflower 
  7. Butternut squash (his no.1 pick)
  8. Carrots 
  9. Peas (his strange favorite?!)
  10. Beetroot (trying next week) 
  11. Wakame seaweed (trying next week) 

Fruits:

  1. Apple
  2. Pear
  3. Banana
  4. Avocado
  5. Peach
  6. Papaya 
  7. Grapes 

Exciting and yummy times 🙂 

– CK