Harlow James: 16 Month Update
I can't even begin to tell you how long I've been trying to get this post out! A couple months I think? It all started with me reading a few posts by long-time bloggers who said they initially started blogging to share photos and updates on their children to family and friends who lived too far to see them on a regular basis. I liked the idea so I decided I wanted to share a monthly snapshot of where Harlow is in her development. I meant to post this in correlation with her 15 month check up but she didn't go until the end of March, then she got sick, then it was all about how she wasn't walking, then she started walking...and now this is more of a testament to how quickly kids change and how you never know what each day will bring! The photos are tad old, too, but I decided to keep them because I just want to eat her up with those cheeks and that hair bow!
15 Month Checkup
First up: she's officially over the 20 pound threshold, weighing in at 21 lbs 12 oz which is in the 55th percentile. Considering her weight ranked in the 10th percentile for at least the first six months of her life, we've come a long way. I honestly think the introduction of solids and the Baby Led Weaning method we followed is what bulked her up (you can read more about the what, why, and how of BLW in this post I wrote). Girlfriend loves to eat, sometimes in staggering amounts. Right now her favorite food is fruit. Bananas, oranges, raspberries, and blueberries. We have to hide it until she finishes her other food or else she'll only eat the fruit and shun the rest. I'm going to ride this "fruit as dessert" train for as long as we can!
She measured 31.5 inches (77th percentile) so our girl is long and tall! No surprise there, both Mike and I are pretty tall. And it makes me feel better that she's just long and that I'm not actually shrinking all of her clothes. Her last measurement was head circumference: 19 inches, which is in the...get ready for it...97th percentile! Ohhhhh my. Her daddy has to take the credit for this one. He's always talking about his big head and how his ball caps fit snugly on his noggin. We can also attribute it to her super smart brain, right? :D
I felt great sharing with our pediatrician that Harlow is saying some words, like "bye bye," "uh oh," and a boat load of animal sounds. Good grief that girl loves to quack like a duck, coming out more like "ack! ack!" She makes that sound every time she sees a bird of any kind, which I feel pretty proud of in that she has deduced on her own the similar characteristics and properties of birds in general. Isn't that such a mom thing to say? It really is quite amazing to witness the development of a human being on a deeper level than just the big milestones.
Since we went to the doctor, all sorts of words have surfaced -- just like that! She started saying "thank you," "Elmo,", and "poof (aka puff)" when she sees the Big Bad Wolf LOL! Her original favorite book was The Three Little Pigs; I have the cutest video of her around seven months old cracking up at the wolf and his huffing and puffing. Now she's reading along with me and my heart is so full...
You Win Some, You Worry...A Lot
Speaking of the big milestones though...maaaan. It's been a struggle getting Harlow to walk. She's been taking a few steps here and there, standing up and down on her own, and cruising like a Florida Georgia Line. But she wouldn't commit to taking more than a few steps at a time until like two days ago. She'd get really easily frustrated or scared and just resort to crawling because she's good at it and fast and she can get from A to B much more efficiently. While I can appreciate her logic and preference for efficiency, I've been sweating the whole situation. For one, the pediatrician said if Harlow isn't walking by the end of the month then we'd need to consult a specialist to rule out any developmental delays.
Cue the mom guilt.
Of course I read this whole situation as "what could I have done or do that will help my daughter?" What am I not doing that's preventing her from taking this literal next step? I'm home with her every single day and I try and think of ways to encourage her to walk but it's just not sticking. So then I launch into guilt-fueled mom math: should I be using the walker more? Less? Should we hold her hands and help her walk around more? Less? When she gets frustrated and wants to give up, do I reassure her and let her stop or do I keep pushing her? Maybe I carry her too much...maybe because she's an only child...maybe because I don't socialize her enough around other children...
After a few frustrating weeks for both of us, I finally just started casually getting her to walk with me around the house holding my hand. When we get up in the morning, we change her diaper then we walk to the kitchen to get breakfast. After that, we walk to wherever it is she wants to play. Not only has this seemed to get her more interested in walking, but now she can lead me to where she wants to go rather than me choosing for her. Harlow's desire to exercise choice is really coming out and this has seemed to make her a MUCH happier kid! And when she's happy, I'm happy :D
Now she's teeter tottering all over the house and choosing to walk (or cruise) about 90% of the time and I AM SO relieved! I mean, she's gone from zero to sixty. I'm out in the front yard watering our new plants and I look up to see she's climbed off the porch and is just walking down the sidewalk like catch you later! All of a sudden she wants to be outside all the time and walk around and climb stairs. I must admit, when I'm walking barefoot through the front yard holding my daughter's hand, I feel like I'm living the dream I felt in my heart before she was born. Like a precious moment I imagined I would have with my child is actually happening and it's just the most amazing, almost transcendent experience.
So I'm feeling good about not having to see the specialist -- woohoo! Her gross motor skills have always seemed to develop a tad more slowly than her fine motor skills. I do have to brag on her dexterity. She's already drinking out of cups with no lids or handles, she can use a spoon to feed herself (the fork is a work in progress), she can dip her own food into salsa, hummus, or bean dip, and she's been turning the pages of her books on her own since she was pretty little. Here's a truth you learn as a parent: no kid checks every box with an A+. Meaning, one kid who started walking at eight months may not sleep well, have any teeth, or be balder than a cue ball. With Harlow, she's always shown earlier advances in her social and fine motor skill development while her gross motor skills appear a bit later. (Also, she's got a mouth full of teeth -- like nine or ten already?).
Most importantly: she's happy. She's a happy, social, smiling kid. Strangers are always commenting on how sweet and happy she is...usually after Harlow chirps at them until they turn around so she can wave and smile at them LOL! She's quite the ham.
The Andy Griffith Approach to Toddler TV Time
She lights up when she sees her favorite animals or characters show up in books or on TV. Yes, we do let her watch TV but only about an hour or so, broken up into strategically timed chunks throughout the day. I only allow programming with educational or inspirational content, like Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger, or The Chica Show. These shows always relay a values-based message of some sort, like kindness, accountability, and consideration for others, for example. Except for Daniel Tiger, these shows aren't just digital animations. Visual fluff, I like to call it, shows that stimulate the eye but not the brain. Shows with no real takeaway other than to distract or entertain. Believe me, I definitely use TV to entertain Harlow like when I'm trying to cook dinner, but I just pull up a recorded episode of one of those three shows or sometimes her original fave, Maya the Bee. She still lights up when she hears the theme song and I always get a little misty :D
Don't mistake me: I'm not attacking anyone else's parenting style for what they let their kids watch. It is always up to each parent to decide what they want to do. I only brought it up because how much TV you let your kids watch is one of those topics that parents either like to flex on or fudge their numbers out of awkward embarrassment. Kinda like when you go to the doctor and they ask you how many drinks you have a week LOL. We do let Harlow watch TV and I'm not ashamed of that; I just like to manage the content she absorbs. And we always turn it off while we sit at the dinner table as a family. We play music via Pandora instead, usually playing off of what we're eating to decide what type of music we listen to. We cycle through everything from cafe jazz to bluegrass to Buena Vista Social Club. It makes for a fun atmosphere without distracting from our time as a family.
Dining Out: Practice Makes Perfect(ish)
We're also at a point where Harlow is actually pretty good when we eat out. Mike and I love to go out, and yes, it's not quite like we used to do it but we still really enjoy it. Living in Biltmore Park made taking Harlow out with us so super easy. We didn't have to worry about overpacking or forgetting something; we could just walk home real quick to get it. Without those worries looming over us, and with loads of restaurants just right outside our door, we took her out to eat a lot and now it's paying dividends.
I can remember my girlfriend Erika telling me when I was pregnant that if there are certain things I want Harlow to be good at/comfortable with, I need to just dive in and do it at an early age. Dining out, car rides and road trips, social settings and larger crowds...you just have to do it. Were there bumps along the way? Oh gracious, yes! So many times did we have to leave the table to walk our baby around in her stroller to calm her down or lull her to sleep. I had to leave hot meals to go find a private corner or stall to nurse in I don't know how many times. When she got older, it took some adjusting on her and our parts to settle in to the new routine of her sitting at the table in a high chair. But now she can go pretty much anywhere and find something to eat and it is glorious! And at just fifteen months! The point is, we just kept doing it and now we're so happy we did. She still has her off nights -- like last Friday when she didn't take too kindly to us telling her not to grab salsa by the fistful -- but all in all she's pretty solid.
For example, we had to take her with us on a friends night out last month when our child care fell through, and she was phenomenal! We all went to a Japanese steakhouse and let's just say she was entertained but not overly impressed. (Tough crowd.) When the chef did the big fire thing she just looked at him and gave him a heavy dose of side eye! It was hilarious. Of course when she's older she won't get away with such callous behavior but at fifteen months we're still in the "what's she gonna do?!" phase of watching her experience new things.
It's so funny how quickly they change. Here's another glimpse inside parenthood: you feel like your child does the same thing day in and day out and you love it but you also crave a little more spice in your already humdrum life. (It's fulfilling, but it doesn't keep you on the edge of your seat in a "oooh I wonder what will happen!" way...it's more in the manner of "dammit yep that just happened.") Then you suddenly ask yourself 'when was the last time she did such-and-such?' and you realize it's vanished! We'll watch old videos and be like "omg I forgot she used to do this!" even though at the time she did it every dang day and I was ready for something new to appear and have fun with. Time is such a strange phenomenon when it comes to parenting...
One last note: Harlow is becoming quite the dancer. Girl can shimmy! She presses all the buttons on her toys that play music and does like a quick 'left-right-left' hip and shoulder shake! The bobbing up and down isn't really happening yet probably because she's not super mobile but I don't really care...I'm just so excited the dancing baby phase is here! Rhythm is a dancer is Harlow ;)
Quick Thoughts: Diaper Rash, Toddler Sleep Transitions, and The Wonder Weeks
Been using coconut oil to treat her diaper rash and it is the best! I've tried all the brands (Aquaphor, Burt's Bees, Honest Company...not Desitin though) and the coconut oil gets by far the best results in the shortest amount of time. I also put baking soda in her bath water and that seems to take the redness out pretty well.
Feeling really stagnant when it comes to cooking for all three of us. I don't love recipes that require a food processor and thirty minutes is about the most time I can allot to cooking before either Harlow or I get frustrated and/or bored. Please comment with any food or recipe suggestions that parents and kiddos alike enjoy!
We're still using a sleep sack and I wonder when I should try and transition to blankets, or if I should even worry about it yet? I tried one day to see how she'd take it and the nap didn't last that long so I said scratch that! We've got her nap and bedtime routines so dialed in that I think me laying her down and putting on her sleep sack is one of the motions that triggers it's time to sleep in her mind. With most things, when they're ready they're ready so I'll probably just give it some more time and try again later. When did you start using blankets?
The sleep therapist that I used when Harlow was an infant (and who single-handedly saved me from a sleep deprivation-induced nervous breakdown) offers toddler sleep classes that I think I'll be interested in signing up for later this year. She covers things like how to transition to a toddler bed, potty training, adjusting older siblings to new babies (not my issue but pertinent to many of you), and so forth. The most recent live class was held on the 8th but I have a feeling she'll either teach one again or is available for private consult. If it means I get to enjoy sleeping like a human being, I'll do whatever it takes.
New mamas: are you using The Wonder Weeks? Ladies. If you're not, download the app right this minute. It will provide so many key insights into your newborn/infant/toddler's behavior...especially those phases you don't understand but make you want to pull your hair out. I would say the first year is particularly sensitive to these developmental leaps (as they call them) and if I hadn't known via the app why my baby was howling through the night and eating every 30 minutes, I would've lost my mind.
Okay, I think I've covered a lot of bases for now! Hope you have a wonderful day!