Friday, December 28, 2007


[Just imagine picture of Owen looking solid, 70s soul style. Long leather coat, sideburns and a mustache, a little Curtis Mayfield in the background.]

Five days on, Owen is definitely into solid food. It's still rice cereal, but he is way beyond that first day of rice and milk soup, now preferring a drier, chunkier preparation. As soon as I got out the cereal and bowl last night, his eyes were fixed on me. Only a couple of times did he grab the inbound, food-laden spoon. Mainly he lunged for it, mouth open, like a great white going after a piece of chum.

This is but one example of how quickly Owen is learning these days. His ability to physically manipulate things improves seemingly day by day. His own locomotion is still limited, but not for long, I don't think. On his stomach, he'll see something in front of him, and he knows that there is a way to get there; he hasn't figured it out yet, but you can see the wheels turning. (It's the same look he had when he started to recognize his hands as his own, not as independent, slashing creatures.) The best he can muster is repeated pushing up and letting back down, which unfortunately causes him to inch backwards.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A new reason for parents to clean up their act

Every parent knows that they must watch their language, or else baby's first word will be dropping the f-bomb when grandma and grandpa are visiting. But a new study suggests that, in addition to mimicry, babies have and exercise moral judgment, preferring those anthropomorphic, colored shapes who help others. (We can only assume that the same judgment is applied to people.)

So why is Owen fussing and not wanting to be held by Dad? He's just in a fussy mood? Maybe. Or maybe it's because Dad didn't help Mom unload the car yesterday afternoon.

(Aside: I love that "87.5 percent of 10-month olds" chose the helping shape. Think that maybe they had eight babies in the study? But "87.5 percent" is so much more scientific sounding than "seven of eight".)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Update on our cleverness and other matters

I began something like a narrative with my posts about Owen's sleeping (or not), so I feel I ought to provide some followup. A week-and-a-half on, things are going well. Going to and staying asleep without a pacifier was a pretty easy change. The early morning (3-4 AM) meal has been harder to address, but we've whittled him down to a mere ounce (as of this morning), and two of the last four nights, he hasn't wanted it at all.

Actually, the low signal-to-noise ratio is a challenge, and was even before starting this process. Dr Ferber and his ilk describe the starting habit to be changed as a thing of metronomic regularity: the baby wants a pacifier, 2:35 bottle, holding, freshly pressed raw silk onesie, etc, every night. But at least with the feeding, our O bounced around, sometimes earlier, sometimes later, sometimes not at all. So is it a behavior or just bad luck? And on nights we've seen improvements, is it progress or just good luck? Over many nights, there's a trend, but it makes things a bit trickier than described in the books.

Owen's put a new trick in the mix: rolling on to his stomach at night. Yay for developing motor skills, but the poor dude still seems to associate being face down with tummy time. So he wakes himself up, gets frustrated, and starts fussing. I walk in to find him in the yoga cobra position in his crib, crying. But give him a little push on to his back, he grabs his piggie blanket, curls to his side, and back to sleep.

Another new trick: Owen was lying on his back, holding a toy in his left hand. He saw another toy to his left, but couldn't grab it reaching his empty right hand across his body. So he handed the first toy from his left hand to his right, then could reach the new toy with his left hand. What a problem solver! (Of course, he accidentally pushed away the object of his desire with his left hand, but that's not the point.)

Finally, these last two days, he's been very boyish. He's started grabbing at the cats' tails and can make a mighty racket by banging toys on his high-chair tray.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Swords are dangerous

Reuters reports that the UK is banning the sale, import, and renting of samurai swords. Says Home Office minister Vernon Coaker, "In the wrong hands, samurai swords are dangerous weapons."

Swords are weapons? Dangerous weapons? Who knew?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Our cleverness (ongoing)

Beyond the pacifier, Owen's sleep can also be tricky on account of nighttime feedings, which number one or two. "Or" is critical, here, as we've no way of telling beforehand which sort of night this is. It appears that tonight was a two-feeding night, hence the persistent yelling.

Happily, Dr Ferber does have advice on nighttime feedings (reduction of, as eating throughout the night can cause or exacerbate other sleep problems). However, the response is not the same as for de-pacifying. So the Ferberization continues, though maybe we are Ferberizing something other than we had thought. Or, perhaps we are reverting to the better-known technique of making it up as we go.

We'll see how clever we are

We are currently "Ferberizing" Owen. For those readers without babies on the brain, Dr Ferber is the author of a fairly well-known book on infant and child sleeping. His technique for getting a child to learn to sleep better is, broadly speaking, crying it out. Dr Ferber's key contribution to this traditional method, it seems to me, is breaking crying-it-out into smaller chunks of time, by having the parent go in to check on the wailing tot. Ostensibly, this is to reassure the child that he has not been forever abandoned by previously caring parents; it is also a useful way to assuage the parents' concern that the child might be in multiple pieces or have a large, sharp bit of metal stuck in him.

So that's why I'm blogging at 0315: because I'm waiting for either a) the current 15-minute period to end, or b) Owen to stop crying. The difficulties Owen has with sleeping, such as they are, seem to be linked to the pacifier. He's in the habit of sleeping with one. It will fall out during the night, so when he has a normal waking in the middle of the night, he can't get back to sleep. On some nights, it has been a trivial once or twice that we go and put the bink back in his mouth; on others, it's been significantly more trying. We were planning to live with it for a while longer before making a concerted effort to decouple pacifiers from sleeping - perhaps Owen would even learn to find the paci and put it back in his mouth himself - but then he had a couple of nights when he was crying mightily at bedtime, even with pacifier and high-strength cribside comforting from Mom or Dad. In the midst of this last night, we decided, "Dude, if you're going to cry your head off no matter what, it might as well be by yourself."

[Pause to check on Owen. Confirmed: all in one piece; no large, sharp bits of metal. Now for more waiting.]

He only cried for 25 minutes at bedtime last night, and then lightly for another 25 minutes early in the morning. We considered this to be pretty good, so our decision seemed a clever piece of parenting judo, using Owen's momentum towards our own end. But O! - beware the cockiness, young parent! This current round of wakefulness is at 50 minutes and going strong.