Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Benjamin at 9 months

This morning Benjamin slept solidly from just before 6:00 until 8:45, which meant that I did, too, which was only slightly problematic because everyone else did, too, and Rachel's bus came and left without her (at 8:10) and the school bell was due to ring at 9:00.

Andrew ended up driving her to school and she was only a tiny bit late.

Then Benjamin took a nap! And I did, too.

We slept until the early afternoon, when it was time to get ready for his doctor appointment. The 9-month check up is such a lame appointment. They measured him, the doctor looked at him, he got floride on his two little teeth, and we were sent on our way (with a book).

This boy is closing in on 17 lbs! I could hardly believe the scale—16 lbs and 15.3 oz! That's the 9th percentile for his age. So he's basically huge. Except when it comes to height. He's only 66 cm (or 25.98 inches (we're really exact at this clinic)), which is still off the charts low (so definitely in the 0th percentile). His head is shrinking a bit...or at least not growing as fast as it used to be. It's 44.5 cm (33rd percentile).

He's a bit behind on some developmental milestones, though right on target for others.

He doesn't crawl or pull up on furniture yet, but he's good at bearing weight on his legs and he can make his way just about anywhere he wants to be. He can even roll his way through doorways—he's got good aim for someone who travels in such a dizzying manner.

I've even caught him scooting...on his back. He just lays on his back and pushes himself with his legs, going wherever his head is pointing. It's kind of funny to watch and he's only done it a couple of times.

He can shake, bang, and throw objects. Check and double check. We're all about shaking, banging, and throwing over here.

He doesn't exactly feed himself finger foods...because he doesn't exactly eat very much. But he can do the pincher grasp and does occasionally drink from a cup. Our doctor would like us to start him on a multi-vitamin, with iron, and I'm not sure how I feel about this. She doesn't think he's getting a varied enough diet. I feel like he's doing just fine and if he wanted to eat more solids, he would. He's totally happy nursing at the table and doesn't often request more than that. He eats something other than breast milk almost every day. She doesn't think he's getting enough protein, but I think he's fine—I never really fed the girls any meat until they could chew, anyway. And doesn't breast milk have protein in it? Mine's lik 50% cream so I'm pretty sure he's getting enough calories...and according to the paper a serving size for him is only half to one tablespoon so I'm sure he's getting at least one (maybe two) servings of "other" stuff when he does eat other stuff. I'm not too worried about his diet.

He's got full-fledged stranger anxiety, and prefers his mommy to anyone else. But there are some things that can pull his attention away from me. For example, at church on Sunday I was roaming the halls doing primary stuff and Andrew was roaming the halls doing fussy baby stuff and we happened to meet, which was detrimental to us both. I just continued walking beside Andrew and Benjamin until we were nearing the drinking fountain and as soon as I said, "Oh, do you want a drink?" he stopped reaching for me and started hunting for the drinking fountain. He loves the drinking fountain.

He doesn't say any actual words and his babbling is rather limited but no one seems to be too concerned about this. He says ah and oo and bah and pah and clicks his tongue. I've heard him cry out "ma" once or twice but it's not something he consistently says. He fake coughs. He makes weird cackling noises. And sometimes he'll do gah or lahs.

We're still waiting for any waving or clapping to occur and for him to initiate games of peek-a-boo.

He will, unclench his fists and let me help him clap his own hands. And he loves to clap his hands against mine. He thinks peek-a-boo is hilarious but we've only played it with a blanket, not hands. He loves "Here's a little bumble bee," "This Little Piggy," "Peas Porridge," "Round and Round the Garden," and "Pat a Cake," as well as "The Grand Ol' Duke of York," "Ride a Cock Horse," "If You're Happy and You Know it," "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam," and a plethora of other game songs.

He responds to his own name...and many variations thereof: Ben, Benny, Benji, Benja-boy, Baby, Bubba.

Under the section about how to help my baby develop milestones on time, it gives several suggestions, such as reading aloud, reciting nursery rhymes, naming objects consistently, avoiding "baby talk" (they suggest that now?) and, my favourite bullet point, one word: Sleep.

I'm pretty sure that was meant to be the heading for the next section because the next several bullet points talk about encouraging children to sleep in their own beds. But I think before we encourage our child to sleep in his own bed we'll encourage him to sleep at all. Own bed? Sheesh.

So, I think he's doing well. Or at least well enough, considering he's allowed to be a couple of months behind developmentally.


  1. 9 months already?!?! Time is passing too fast. Comparing babies and exact milestones is pretty silly because they're all so different. Aaron loves to clap but hasn't even attempted to roll back to front. As long as they learn eventually it's okay, right? :) hang in there with sleep (or lack thereof). Everytime I complain about how many times I was up with Aaron I think of you and realize I shouldn't be complaining.

  2. He weighs almost as much as Cheetah. At the ER visit where we had to get the X-ray to see if she had swallowed the battery she was only 19lbs 9 ounces. I have no idea how tall she is though...I'm guessing they are both just going to be short for a while yet. So normally I would totally be with you on the chill out about the iron levels doctor, but these little tikes are a little different then our full term babies. In our house Dr. J is constantly hassling me about giving Cheetah her vitamins. He says, "Lady, babies build up most of their iron stores in the last month in the womb and while it is true that the iron in breast milk is easier to use than the stuff in baby food it is not enough for her little anemic body." Take that for what it is worth. I'm not going to claim I always give her her vitamins but I do try to occasionally sneak them in and more than any of my other children I did push iron fortified cereal...and she ate it :) I really wish we could stand them next to each other. It would be hilarious!

    1. That's good to know, Crystal. We had him on an iron vitamin when he was brand new...but he hated it. Now that we can mix it in with stuff perhaps we'll try it again. He doesn't mind his cereal but he also isn't super insistent that he get it...

  3. That is so weird to me that they suggest you avoid "baby talk." These days, they call it "child-directed speech" (CDS) and it's not baby talk so much as it is our innate ability to help children learn language. Think about it: repetition, emphasis on certain words, context-based conversations, high pitch to draw their attention. It's actually amazing that we know how to do that without even thinking about it. This was one of the more interesting things I learned in Language Acquisition. Now, if someone is walking around saying their r's like w's all the time (100%) to their baby, then that's something else, but really, have you ever heard someone do that ALL the time? I haven't. So yeah, weird.

    1. I know! I thought that was so weird, too! As I said to Andrew, "I think I'm just going to keep raising my babies how I've been raising them..." Because our babies have turned out okay so far.

  4. Actually, I don't think that is weird at all. My dad had a friend, much younger than him, whose children we babysat. He and his wife did talk babytalk almost all the time to their two oldest children. The two men talked a lot, and my dad suggested to him that his children are people just like the rest of us, so they should talk to them like people and not like babies. Even as a teenager, it was interesting to me, because the first two kids both were in special ed. classes and had difficulty communicating, and then the next three kids, who they didn't talk babytalk to were all like geniuses. of their classes. I am guessing that, in your location of North Carolina, there may be many people who, unlike you and Bridget (who, let's be truthful here, are LINGUISTS, so you guys aren't your normal, everyday parent) talk way too much babytalk, and who would not have a clue what "child-directed speech" even means. So, I am really glad they are being warned against babytalk. They probably need to hear that.

    1. What has their location in NC have to do with it? Because Durham has a lot of black, Hispanic, and poor white trash people compared to the intellectual Duke types and that those people may not know to speak properly to their children? That came across rather bigoted. Who cares if we don't know what "child-directed speech" even means? As Bridget said it's amazing we know how to do that without some linguistic expert telling us we should.

      Just because we have accents doesn't mean we are stupid.

    2. Susanne, I think you are reading a lot more into that comment than was intended. This is a subject that fascinates me and something that I intend to study more—obviously there's a question out there regarding the benefit of child-directed speech. It's true that it's natural but it's also true that children need more language exposure than that. Perhaps the problem is not the child-directed speech itself but the lack of adult speech in a home or care center.

      If it's true that only 50% of children in North Carolina are read to on a regular basis (a statistic I read on a poster in our doctor's office) then that statistic eerily mirrors the percentage of children performing at grade level in Rachel's current school, which, yes, is full of lower income families.

      In the interview I read about the importance of reading to your children, they mentioned how Sesame Street failed the poorest children and instead of closing the "illiteracy gap" (for lack of a better term) it actually widened it. (read that here)

      By not reading to children and by not talking to children, we are stunting their ability to communicate effectively in written and spoken language, we are affecting their ability to learn, their ability to compete with their peers, and are lessening the opportunities that can open up to them.

      So because there are many poor families here and because there are many poor children who are underperforming, I'm going to assume the doctors have a good reason to suggest that families do things like turn off the TV, read to their children, and make sure to converse with them, rather than simply babble at them.

      This isn't to say that all families HERE are like that and that no families THERE are like that, but simply that perhaps it's more of a problem in my particular area—and the area that my clinic services—than it was where I was living previously.

      As far as the "linguist" comment, I think my mom was alluding to the fact that although my family might fall below the poverty line, we have education, which gives us an edge and hopefully one day that edge will help pull out of poverty and into middle class (huzzah). And Bridget, obviously, uses child-directed speech but ALSO speaks to her children like smart, capable individuals (I've heard her do it). I'm sure that would be the case with you and numberless other families in this area. But I'm not sure that's the case for every child in America, be they here or elsewhere.

    3. Also, to answer your question, there are more poor families here than where we lived before.

      See here

    4. Wow, I am so sorry for offending Susanne. Totally unintentional. This is why I mostly don't comment--because what if I offend someone? I really don't like offending anyone. Now I will have nightmares about it.

      My point was that people who have specialized training in language acquisition are going to see things differently from the rest of us, myself included. Nancy and Bridget both saw the doctor's suggestion to avoid "baby talk" as weird. I am educated, but I did not find that weird, because I lack the knowledge and vocabulary to use terms like "child-directed speech" when I mean "baby talk" because I lack specialty in that field. I was just pointing out that what seems weird to them may not seem weird to other parents, who probably need to hear a point about something they may not have even though about, not being language experts. Me and all the people like me in North Carolina who don't know that much about language acquisition--be they of any ethnicity or demographic.

      I gave a "baby talk" story from my experience growing up in a farming community (made up of mostly immigrants of many ethnicities) in Southern Alberta, Canada. I was comparing that location to Nancy's current location of North Carolina, which I think she understood, since she knows where I grew up. As Nancy would also have understood, my dad--her grandfather--was a farmer with a high school education. The other farmer in the story was just as educated and just as intelligent as my dad was; all my dad had was 20 more years of life experience, and so he made a suggestion to his friend about "baby talk," and from my observation as a young girl, it was a good suggestion.

      My dad's friend happened to be a poor white farmer, but that is immaterial to the story. (Actually, my dad was the one who was from a minority group--part Cherokee.) And as a Canadian, I can assure you that the LAST thing on my mind was skin color. Seriously not an issue where I grew up. People were people were people. Nor was I thinking about money, who has it or who doesn't. You can be poor and know about language acquisition or rich and know nothing about it, or vice versa.

      I guess I should have said, "That does not seem weird to me," and left it at that. But I just happen to think that it is great that doctors are pointing it out to people, because of an experience about "baby talk" that made an impression on me, and definitely had an impact on how I communicated with my own children.

    5. Myrna, I apologize. Please don't have nightmares about offending me. I am just too sensitive to things especially when I think outsiders are speaking against people from the South. I hear too much of how we are perceived as slow and stupid, and I really hate Northerners who come here and give off that vibe that they are somehow superior to us. See, I take things way too seriously! Please forgive me for jumping to conclusions without understanding where you were coming from.

      And I appreciate your explaining some of your background. I enjoy getting to better know you, and I enjoy your comments. I will try to refrain from speaking out. This is your daughter's blog after all, not mine! :)

  5. Susanne, thanks for your gracious apology, and please do not refrain from speaking out. It is nice to read your comments, too.