Tomorrow, Arlo will be eight months old. I can’t quite grasp that we are two-thirds of the way through his first year. I know I say this all the time, but he really is so big now.

Arlo has come on in leaps and bounds recently. We have seen a lot of improvements. I’ve tried to categorize everything to save this post from becoming too much of a ramble.

Feeding:

After months and months of three or more night feeds, he now only has one night feed. Once or twice he has gone all night (8pm-6am) without a feed. He is still waking at least twice per night, but he goes back down easily without milk. This has been going on for more than three weeks so I’m quietly confident that it’s not just a phase, and I’m really hoping that this new habit continues.

After seven months of trying and failing with different ‘tricks’ and countless different types of bottles, *drumroll*……. Arlo will now take a bottle with no fuss and he drinks the whole thing. I think weaning and him getting used to different textures and tastes in his mouth helped massively with this one.

His cow’s milk allergy is a bit better. He hasn’t been getting sick when I eat a little bit of dairy, but it still affects his eczema. We’ve not yet given him any dairy to eat, who knows what would happen if he ate cow’s milk products directly – this is the next step in our experimentation with his diet.

Arlo no longer needs me and my breasts to get him to sleep. Sam can get him to sleep in his cot with only around three minutes of walking around the room with him until he drops off. He no longer wrestles in our arms (again, unless he’s really tired and then I resort to the trusty boob method). I have not had as much luck in this department, he knows what he can get from me and he will put up more of a fuss.

However, a lot of it is laziness on my part, I give in quickly and resort to the trusty boob method because it’s easier to just sit down and feed him to sleep. I also like knowing that he has gone to bed with a satisfied stomach – a lot of the time he’s too busy wanting to play and constantly latches on and off, not really concentrating on the task at hand, which means he’s up more frequently during the night looking for milk. Feeding him to sleep ensures that he has a full feed. Arlo is not a cuddly baby, he views being held as a form of restraint, so this is also the only time that I get to sneak in a quick cuddle. He is all calm and peaceful and it is sometimes one of my favourite times of the day. Feeding him to sleep is not causing problems for us at the moment, so I’m not worrying about it. He knows his cot is for sleeping and can resettle himself throughout the night (although he doesn’t often choose to). If it does create a problem for us down the line, we can sort it out as and when.

The bottle and the boob independence have really helped make me feel like I’m off the hook if I choose to be. I can go out in the evenings if I want to. I could be out all day if I wanted to and I know he would be fine with Sam.  Although the hassle of painstakingly expressing enough milk for Arlo to have in my absence, not to mention the tricky issue of finding a suitable place to express when out, has so far discouraged me from an all day outing.

Sleeping:

After months of ‘Cotgate’, Arlo will now nap in his cot without screaming after ten minutes. This is absolutely brilliant for me. Because we don’t have to go out for a walk any more in order to get him to sleep, I don’t need to rush to get us both dressed, clean up after breakfast, and get out of the house before nap time. We can spend all morning playing and eating breakfast. I can now get chores done during his naps.

Does any of this actually happen?

No.

Because the fact that I don’t have to get dressed for his first nap means I don’t necessarily have to get dressed for his afternoon nap. I can relax during his naps, watch TV, browse online. Since realising this, I have spent all day in my pajamas at least once a week.

Is this what it is like for people with babies that nap in their cot and settle themselves? How do you find the motivation to go out and do anything with your day??

Arlo’s new habits are making me a lot more lazy. When he needed three walks a day, I had no choice to be out and about in the fresh air. Now it’s a conscious effort to haul us both out of the house. After all my complaining in his first half a year, I think Arlo may have actually done me a favour. Had he been a good sleeper all along I would probably be a complete hermit by now. Had I not felt the need to take long walks through the park to baby group just so that he would have a decent nap, I would not have conversed with other mums on a regular basis, something that was probably much needed at the time.

Routine:

Over the last month, I have been making more of an effort to stick to a routine. Arlo set this routine himself, and it goes as follows:  1.5 hour nap at 10.30am, and then a shorter nap between 30-45mins at 3.30pm. This nap routine means that meals fall into the same time slots each day, and Arlo seems happy with this.

Although routine makes for a much happier Arlo in general, it leaves me with little flexibility. We can’t go anywhere in the mornings because that’s when Arlo has his long nap. It is also difficult to go anywhere in the afternoon unless it is close by – Lunch takes until 1.30, which leaves me with an hour and a half before I need to start Arlo’s wind down in preparation for his 3.30pm nap. He is now reluctant to nap when out and about (too much to look at, I suppose).  My friends and family do not live close by, and so it’s hard to arrange meet ups around Arlo’s routine.

Car journeys need to be timed to take place during his naps. I can’t drive anywhere after 4pm because he will fall asleep, and a late nap puts the whole routine out of whack. Driving to my mum’s (an hour each way) means leaving ours at 10.30am, and leaving no later than 3.30pm to come home.  However, these are small sacrifices when I think about how much easier things are for me now that I am encouraging the routine that Arlo had been trying to set for himself.

Skills:

Question of the month is, ‘Any crawling yet??’

I’m not actually sure that Arlo will ever crawl. He is such an efficient army crawler and roller, he can move anywhere he wants to, so I don’t think the thought of learning to crawl properly has even entered his head.

Arlo is learning so much about cause and effect at the moment that I find it hard to list everything. Things that spring to mind: He can hold and drink from a beaker himself, he can go from sitting to tummy with no help or injury, his fingers are more dextrous and he is much better at handling small objects. He has five teeth and another brewing ( Not exactly a skill but I didn’t know where else to put it).

I always get excited about the communicatory skills. I loved when he learnt to give big slobbery open-mouthed kisses, and when he learnt ‘up’ and ‘down’ (I owe The Grand Old Duke for that one). But my absolute favourite thing that Arlo has recently learnt is to hold his arms out when he wants me to pick him up or when someone else is holding him and he wants to go to me. I get a little burst of pride and love when  he does this, when he wants me.

 

Obviously there are negatives as well. He is still very whingey, and it does get me down when he cries the whole way through baby group, ruining my chance to socialise with adults. He won’t sit still in a highchair or on my lap for more than a minute. His skin has been bad, it pains me to see him uncomfortable and I really don’t know how to help him. But why dwell on this. It’s much more fun to talk about all the positives and the exciting things Arlo is doing now.

As everyone always says it will, the time has just flown by. I no longer feel like a ‘new mum’. My little newborn is now a big ball of personality and energy. My mind is already wandering to first birthday plans….

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