Practice: He started sitting right around 5 months. We would spot him at first, but soon it was all him. He would also push up onto all fours if we laid him on his stomach and rock back and forth. At that point, we retired his bouncer, tried some jumper/walker/exersaucer-type things, but ended up returning all of them to their owners. (Pro-tip: borrow before you buy if you can!) He always just preferred the floor or to be held. He began crawling around 7 months and has just started pulling himself up on all our furniture. He also pulls himself up on his crib rails, so we've had to swap cribs with my sister because her rails are higher. I was just too nervous about him falling out of his antique one, much as I love it. He can soft munch on baby food (not quite chewing), and can find his own pacifier and return it to his mouth to soothe. He can recognize when we build towers and loves to knock them down. He will sit with wooden puzzles or the blocks his uncle made him, and loves to listen to (and eat) board books (Nancy Tillman is our fave author). He also has a few favorite songs we play or sing to him often, that he'll respond to with lots of giggling and arm waving. He says 'mama' and 'dada' and a whole lot of other jibberish, but we're pretty sure he doesn't associate his words with any kind of meaning yet. He naps on his side now, and can hold his body in that position.
I got Phoenix a really awesome baby book online, and have mostly stayed caught up with filling it out each month. I order 10 photos of him from Timeshel every month (just whatever I've taken on my phone), and use them in the book. It makes it really easy, since I order the photos each month, and then when they come in, I put them in the book and write whatever I want to remember.
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Practice: Remember how we were a hybrid diapering family 4 months ago? No longer. We're 100% disposables now. It makes the most sense for us. I still have dreams of cloth diapering in the future. I'll keep you posted.
For clothes, I'm still a big fan of organic cotton and zippers over snaps. Now that it's warmer, I still dress him in a hat most days, bucket hats are great to block the sun. I'm also LOVING his new organic cotton socks, and playsuits! Turns out, people love to let me borrow stuff their little dudes have outgrown, so Phoenix is rocking a bunch of second-hand playsuits at the moment. My favorite new accessory is his pacifier clip. No more hunting for that little sucker!
Practice: Phoenix is still nursing 5 times a day. At about 6.5 months, I started feeding him solid food. Basically, I just offer him some food after he nurses. Not every time. Usually 2-3 times a day. I tried making my own, and my feelings got hurt when he didn't eat it after I spent the time (#pathetic). So, we're eating organic pre-made food in a jar right now and using silver spoons with rubber ends. I absolutely LOVE the table-side high chair he's using now that he can sit up. But I also frequently sit him on top of our table in front of me. We use bibs sometimes. Other times I just change his clothes after. He absolutely LOVES applesauce, so if we're out of jars or he isn't digging a combination, I just give him applesauce plain or mix it into the offensive combo. I recently got a steamer, and I'm planning to start making food I know he likes (#sweetpotatos).
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Practice: We've been back and forth with sleep training since his 4 month update. There are lots of feelings and opinions out there about sleep training babies. As you'll see, I haven't completely formed mine. I'll share our story, methods, and tactics so far: Phoenix can sleep through the night. He did it for about a month between 6.5 and 7.5 months after we let him cry it out for several nights in a row (per the Baby Wise method). ALSO Phoenix is small for his age, shares a bedroom with his parents, and has a pretty unpredictable daytime schedule most days. That means, sometimes he wakes up at night and has a hard time going back to sleep even though he's been trained to do it. Nursing is an instant soother for him, and since reading The Conscious Parent, I have adopted a more peaceful attitude about comforting him on his rough nights. Recently, I've nursed him when he wakes in the night. I also recently discovered The Wonder Weeks app, and now I understand that when Phoenix is in a developmental phase (making a leap), it can affect his behavior and make him more moody. A combination of all of these resources has helped me feel more confident about when to be firm about him sleeping well, and when to relax and support him more.
This subject has been the BIGGEST challenge for me with a baby, so I've gone into more detail below about our experiences:
1. CRYING IT OUT
When he was 6 months old and still waking 3 times a night and crying until I nursed him, I became very frustrated and bitter. Honestly, I also felt like a failure. And I was disappointed with him. All of these feelings were part of my story. I think they would be different today, and they will probably be different if we have more kids. Ultimately, we made the decision to stop tending to him at night at that point. The first night he woke once and cried for 2 hours before falling asleep on his own and sleeping till morning. It was brutal. The next night, he woke and cried for one hour. The third night he didn't wake at all. The fourth night he woke and cried for a half hour. All the nights after he didn't wake until he hit Leap 6 (according to Wonder Weeks) when he started waking once or twice again.
2. NURSING AT NIGHT
I took Phoenix to the pediatrician (if you're in the area and looking for someone AMAZING, I'd be happy to pass along his info) at 7.5 months, and he is on the smaller side compared to the average. Because of this, after we sleep trained him, I started nursing him on occasion if he woke in the night. He's been doing it more since his last leap. I'm way more willing to give him an extra feeding if he wants one at this point since his is small and my milk supply decreased when he was sleeping through the night. It's amazing how my perspective shifted once I saw he could actually just be hungry.
3. SLEEP TACTICS
We still operate on the eat/play/sleep cycle. I focus on making sure he's full after he eats, and that seems to help him nap longer before getting hungry. I let him sleep on his stomach with a pacifier, and I massage his chest and the bottom of his feet before bed when I change his diaper to help indicate it's time for nighttime sleep. We usually sing and read a story too. (Nancy Tillman for the win.) It also helped to move his crib where he can't see us and we bought a sound machine. I was so against it because they're ugly and there are a ton of white noise apps. Ultimately, I caved and it really has made a difference in our small apartment. We're no longer obsessed with being silent, and it seems to help him go back to sleep if he is startled awake prematurely.
4. EFFECTS OF TEETHING/SICKNESS ON SLEEP
Phoenix started teething at 4 months, and now has 6 teeth. When a tooth is coming in, getting him to sleep is difficult. He gets a low fever, runny nose, is prone to cold symptoms, and is fussy. Highland's homeopathic brand has AMAZING teething, calming, and cold tablets that dissolve. They have been life-savers in helping to soothe, comfort, and calm Phoenix when he can't relax. At first, I would put one on his tongue and then put his pacifier in to help it dissolve. Now he knows to close his mouth and suck on them himself. I have become HEAVILY dependent on these tablets. I also love Highland's cough syrup (I confess I took some myself when Phoenix and I were battling colds at the same time, and it's super effective.) I have also used liquid Tylenol for babies when the tablets didn't seem to be working (i.e. I had given him tablets and he continued to cry and suck/bite on his hand or blanket). We've tried teething gel, and Phoenix doesn't care for it. We also do keep the teething rings in the freezer, and sometimes they help.
Practice: While he is on the small side, he's getting too big for me to carry around all the time, so we got our little dude a stroller/carseat combo at the Peg Perego seasonal sale, and I am in LOVE. We also got him a rad bike seat that attaches to the back of Mitch's bike. Bike rides are ridiculously more fun now, and he looks freaking cute in his seat. Basically he's got the best babe-mobiles around, and it's a game-changer for me being able to get out of the house.
Obviously, this is just what's working for us. If you have another experience, thoughts, or suggestions for our fellow mamas, please leave them in the comments! I'd love for these posts to be resources that expecting/new mamas and their loved ones can reference when faced with the question of what to purchase and try with their tiny humans!