15 Months – update on toddler A

As much as I love watching A grow and learn and become increasingly independent, it’s also a little sad. She’s not my baby anymore. I mean she’ll always be my baby but she’s not 100% dependent on me and although in my current condition that’s helpful, when I think of the reality of time and how little we actually have together, it breaks my heart.

This month she’s fully taken to eating independently. I’ve always encouraged baby led weaning but I’ve also been able to take her spoon and feed her. I’m afraid that longer is the case! If we’re having egg, French toast or croissants for breakfast I’m quite happy for her to eat herself, however when we have cereal, porridge or yogurt I like to feed her as she’s not been able to hold a spoon and direct the food to her mouth. About 2 weeks ago she decided she no longer wanted any help and would refuse to eat if anyone touched her cutlery! I can’t even begin to describe the mess she makes or how I find food in the oddest of places!

We have a portable feeding chair, and A has been joining us at the table for meals now for months. It’s really lovely to eat together, especially when we have family and friends over. Although she can’t speak she just babbles along with our conversations. Socialising around food is a big part of Pakistani culture so I’ve always wanted to share that with my children. Although we don’t go out for meals anywhere as much as we used to, when we do we take A with us, although it used to be quite testing she’s getting so much better at eating. I always pack food (because you can never be too prepared!!) for her and order things I know we can share.

If you decide to go with baby led weaning be prepared to do a lot of cleaning. I use a handheld hoover, wipes and dettol after every meal. Someone suggested laying out a plastic sheet on the floor but in all honesty that seems like too much work! I’d rather just quickly Hoover up the mess, although I suppose if you have carpet you’d need something! Her chair is plastic so I can easily wipe it down after every meal. And of course don’t bother with putting your child in “nice” clothes as they will be wrecked and stained (as will their hair, feet and ears somehow!) One of my biggest struggles is washing her after every meal. I think part of that has to do with my own increasing size, but she really doesn’t like to be hung over the sink and washed. I’ve tried just using a wipe, but I don’t think it’s sufficiently clean especially after she’s had fruits and I don’t want her to develop a rash from the sticky sweet juices that drip down her chin and into the folds of her neck.

I’ve also only recently bought one of those plastic bibs that can be washed after each use. I’m not really a fan of bibs, unless you put them in a full sleeved apron for each meal, and even then somehow food will get into their hair and feet, I don’t see the point of using bibs. The plastic one has a little bit at the end that catches bits of food as it escapes or is forced out, which I suppose is useful for some children. A loves her new bib, she associates it with food I suppose and it’s a nice little thing to add to the ritual of eating. Food still gets everywhere but maybe I have a messier than average child.

I let A eat more or less everything. She has 4 top teeth and 2 bottom teeth (although I think that might change very soon) so she can nibble her way through most things. I haven’t given her anything with whole nuts but she has had smooth peanut butter. Her first cousin from my husbands side has a nut allergy so we were careful about introducing foods with nuts. I did have nuts throughout my pregnancy and checked with a child nutritionist before giving her any so I’d advise you do the same. (Link about nuts and children). I try not to give her anything with too much sugar but we have a rule that A can try anything she sees us eating, which has helped cut out a load of cr*p from our diet. So over the summer if I was having an ice cream I’d let her have a few licks. I did make her lollies with fresh fruit but she never enjoyed them, I think they might have been too cold for her liking! It’s also helped us eat better food when we go out as she might dip into it, so we go out less frequently but to nicer places.

As expected at 15 months, she’s definitely more alert and aware of herself and her environment. She’s always been a good sleeper but recently I’m trying to reduce breastfeeding her to only bedtimes and only 15 minutes. At 31 weeks pregnant and with very low iron it’s just becoming too much for me. I’m finding this is causing some disruption with our night time routine as she’s struggling to sleep independently. For the past week she has her feed, throws a tantrum and cries herself to sleep which usually takes about half-an-hour to 40 minutes. When I start my maternity leave in early September I might start giving her a bottle instead. I do want to carry on breastfeeding her but I don’t want her to associate it with sleep. When she’s with her dad he puts her in the car or pushchair and takes her for a spin to help her sleep. I think we need to figure out a way to get her to sleep without any of these incentives before the arrival of the next one.

I can’t help but feel a bit guilty that A is growing and developing into such a charming little toddler but I’m not able to fully appreciate it as I’m always tired or preoccupied with being pregnant. I can’t pick her up as much as I’d like to and I can’t take her out on my own into London as I imagine I would have if I wasn’t pregnant. I keep telling Mr A that after the next baby I have a lot of making up to do, so he needs to be prepared to look after the baby a lot more than he did with A. I need to ensure I have some 121 time with her everyday. I think she’ll be a wonderful big sister but it will take some time and coercing. I’ve read that children with smaller age gaps tend to be more accepting and sooner of younger siblings as they don’t really remember their time as the only child. I hope that’s the case with A, I wouldn’t want her to have any feelings of being displaced. She is the light of my life and every day becomes smarter and more fun to be around. Once I give birth and settle into life with two, I owe her a big treat, suggestions welcome!

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