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When N had a meltdown

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I had always read and heard of parents experiencing meltdowns at malls and grocery stores. Every parenting book has a section on how to handle public meltdowns, but it was something that I had not experienced myself. This fact changed sometime after the tyke turned two.

We went to one of his favorite hangouts – a mall, where he likes to sit near the fountain enjoying his sweet corn. We usually add some minimal shopping before this activity and it goes well every time. Apparently, not this time. There is a big floor dedicated to toys and when we were passing through this section, N decided he wants a new toy. A humongous teddy bear at that. He could barely lift it, but he managed to pull it down from the rack and asked me to buy it. I tried telling him we can’t buy it and when that did not work, I tried the only weapon remaining – distraction. He is smart enough to realize that I am distracting him (sometimes, not always, thank god) and when he did, it was full throttled crying. No amount of cajoling, convincing, distracting worked and he had a classic meltdown – threw himself on the ground, arms and legs flailing, face turning red and screaming until his lungs gave out. All I could do was stare in disbelief and ask myself ‘Is this really happening?’. Since there was nothing much I could do, I sat next to him and watched him. After what seemed like an eternity, his anger turned to grief and he wanted some love and sympathy and came to me, arms wide open. I picked him up, held and rocked him and he soon was back to normal again.

Every parenting book asks the parent not to be embarrassed when the kid has a public meltdown. I have watched kids and parents with pity whenever I witnessed a meltdown and that was the best I could do. I wondered how I would behave when I was in their position. When I look back, I don’t remember feeling embarrassed. All the while I was sitting next to my screaming kid, the only thing that was on my mind was how do I calm him down? How do I get him out of this tantrum phase and make him feel better?

BTW, do you know what is the worst thing you can tell someone who is angry, hyper and not under control: ‘Calm down’. Seriously, I used to try this with N and that would make him scream even more. Then I discovered FFR: Fast Food Rule by Dr. Karp and life with a toddler has been never been the same. That deserves a post of its own. I have some really good things to say about Dr. Karp’s book, a post is coming soon.

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Written by A

August 23, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Posted in baby, Parenting

The second year

with 2 comments

N turned two recently. His second year was eventful and memorable, in a good way and in a bad way. His language skills developed really quickly and his vocabulary has been growing exponentially ever since. Here are some memorable moments in pictures.

He learnt to lift things and carry them around

And some more things...

Sat in a box...

Learnt to charge Mama's mobile...

Went bald and slept in weird positions

Explored Mama's kitchen

Traveled by train and played with aunt's mixer

And with her washing machine

Had fun with his cousin

Bonded big time with his big brother

They adore each other!

He drove a car!

And aunt's scooty

Analyzed how this thing works

Explored grandma's garden

Watered the plants

Prayed in grandma's house

Spotted a monkey

Became a monkey himself

Cuddled a calf

Learnt to hit and bite... not so good times

Hence, got time-outs

And some more!

Some good moments and some not so good… a memorable year, nevertheless. Wishing you a very happy birthday my dear and hope you have a wonderful year ahead!

N starts school tomorrow and I am really nervous. Wish me luck, please!

Written by A

December 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Posted in baby, Baby Update

Weaned!

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One of my biggest worries when it came to N was his addiction to his bottle. He was so attached to it and dependent on it that I was afraid he was going to enter college with a bottle in his bag. He was never a sound sleeper and I suspected his disturbed sleep on his bottle. He would search for his bottle all around him even in his sleep and would wake up crying if he didn’t find it. When I had many sleepless nights in a row, I decided to take things in my hand and wean him off the bottle.

First step was to let N know that the bottle was going away. I told him a story about a crow and its teeny, tiny babies which are hungry because they don’t have a bottle to drink milk with. N was so concerned he voluntarily gave the bottle and asked me to give it to ‘ka-ka’. I left the bottles in the balcony and after a few minutes, the crow took the bottles away and left some chocolates for N. So good so far.

Come afternoon, his nap time and the kid refused to go to sleep without a bottle. The moment I said ‘nap’, he would say ‘bottle’. Eventually, the day turned to night and he hadn’t taken a nap. No crying, atleast. So good so far.

He had a good dinner and said ‘sleep’ and added ‘bottle’ to it. I reminded him about the crow and he had this sad expression on his face which clearly meant ‘Why did I ever give the bottle away?’ I told him a story, sang him a song and he fell asleep in a few minutes. Not bad!

After two hours, N woke up screaming and asked for bottle. I reminded him about the crow, but no use. He demanded that the crow get the bottle back because ‘it’s mine and I want it now’. I gave him gems and he went back to sleep. This went on for a couple of times all through the night and none of us had a good sleep. Thank God, I had decided to leave the bottles in the office, otherwise I would have weakened and given him the bottle.

After this horrible night, I wasn’t looking forward to the next day, but it was relatively uneventful. N took a nap and slept well in the night. He did wake up a couple of times, but there was no screaming or flailing arms or stomping feet. From then on, it was a smooth sail. He had this sad look in his eyes for a few days and it tore my heart. I felt so sorry for him that the object of his affection went away. Thankfully, it didn’t affect him emotionally. Overnight, there was a complete change in my little kid. He started behaving all grown up, he was a big boy now, you see, because he no longer used a bottle. He drinks milk in his new, bright orange cup and he loves it.

Looking back, I am extremely lucky that things went so smooth for me and N. Thank God and thank the mothers on my parenting forum. Now that he is weaned, there are certain changes in his routine.

Pros
1. N sleeps really well in the night. From waking up every 2 hours to sleeping like a log all through the night, it has been a welcome change. Only mothers can understand when I say ‘He sleeps through the night’.
2.  His appetite is much better. He eats a good three meals a day and snacks in between, 2-3 cups of milk a day and he is set.
3. He is all grown up now. It might be my illusion but N has this grown up look now. He talks differently and behaves differently. Even my mom agrees with me on this, so it may not be an illusion after all.
4. He is slowly learning to fall asleep on his own. You see, I never tried the no-cry solution or the CIO technique to make him learn to fall asleep. I know he is going to learn that when the time comes. Till then, I don’t mind singing for him until he dozes off.

Cons
1. Since he doesn’t use a bottle anymore, it takes longer to put him to bed. A story and a song isn’t enough any more. It usually goes on for 2 stories and a couple of songs. It sometimes takes an hour and on those days, my husband finds me asleep when N is happily playing next to me.
2. Making him drink from a cup during the day is a bit hard.

All said and done, weaning worked like a charm for me. I am kicking myself why I didn’t try this earlier!



Written by A

September 7, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Popat

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That’s what my husband calls my son these days and that’s because my little kid has started talking like a popat or parrot. All the development has happened only in the last one week. It’s amazing how N built up his vocabulary from almost non-existent to double digits!

Amma (Mom) and Baba (Dad) were the first few words he learnt. Mama (Uncle) and Tata was also easy to master. Last Monday, he picked up so many words – Mami (Aunt), shu-shu (you know what that means), duddu (milk), No – all these words slowly started appearing from nowhere. I was surprised when he said ‘yummy’. You see, he has a book called Yummy and Yucky which categorizes things into yummy and yucky. Apple pie is yummy, mud pie is yucky. Burgers are yummy, bogeys are yucky and so on. So, randomly I asked N how is ice-cream and pat came the reply ‘yummy’. I was floored.

Some other words which he loves to repeat on and on. Dabbi (box – BTW, boxes are his favorite playthings ever. Give him a few boxes and he is the happiest kid on earth) and hoova (flower). My sister-in-law gave him a kitchen set and ever since he has been making ‘Kaapi’ with it. He says it in a typical Tamilian accent and it is so cute to hear him say that. The moment I come back from work, he gets busy making ‘Kaapi’. He balances a cup and saucer in his tiny hands and hands it over to me. I will take a sip and before I take another one, he wants the cup back!

I was having breakfast and there was salt kept on the dining table. He points to it and says ‘u-hu’. It took me sometime to understand that he was saying ‘uppu’ (salt in Kannada). I laughed till my stomach hurt. His Dad was telling him something about going on a ride on his bicycle and immediately he apes his Dad ‘cy-cle’. The words are not as crystal clear, but he definitely said cycle.

My mom has been taking care of N since day one. I keep asking him to call her ‘Ajji’ but it’s too difficult for him. So, he has a code word for Ajji and that is ‘tu-ta’. No connection whatsoever, but that is his choice. The funny thing is he changes this code word on the fly. Yesterday, he started calling my mom as ‘ba-bi’. My mom has to understand what is the code word of the day and respond appropriately. The demands of this child, I tell you!

Just one week back, N was blabbering meaningless words. And today, he has an impressive vocabulary and he is adding to it every minute of the day. My little toddler is growing up and how! I don’t know why, but this realization gives me goosebumps.

Written by A

April 15, 2010 at 6:38 am

Posted in baby, Baby Update

Tagged with

Dalda

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Wondering what the title means? This is the word that N has taken a fascination to. He loves this word so much that he uses it in place of anything and everything. I have no idea how he picked up this word and why, but he knows that every time he says ‘Dalda’ we all are amused and that is reason enough for him to say it again and again.

We took N for an outing last weekend. For lack of better options, we took him to Total mall where they have a small section for kids. Be it the lake in BTM layout or the gardens, there are lots of options in south Bangalore, where we used to live earlier. Comparatively, this Outer Ring Road area has no such options for kids. This children’s section in Total mall has rides for toddlers, video games for older ones and so on. N sat in a train ride and loved it. He even tried his hand at the steering wheel. Was he mimicking his dad there? There were lots of kids around and N thoroughly enjoyed looking at them and trying to befriend them.

The best part of the outing was the fountain.  Ever since the temperature has gone up in Bangalore, he spends some time in his inflatable pool everyday. He splashes the water on himself and on the people around, dances in it and has lots of fun. I was mentioning to my husband that may be we should put him in a toddlers’ swimming class but the only concern was if he will feel uncomfortable putting his head inside the water. No sooner than I said this, N proudly put his head in the water, stayed there for a couple of seconds and came up with a triumphant expression on his face, as if asking me, “You were saying something?” My little one loves water and that is an understatement. So, coming back to the fountain, N was fascinated with it. He stared and stared at the water splashing and wanted to get wet under that. We had to forcefully take him away and what a tantrum he threw! This young guy knows what tantrums are and how they are useful in getting your way.

There was a little girl prancing around in pigtails and he called out to her ‘Akka’ meaning sister in Kannada. There was a small baby sleeping in his mother’s arms and N recognized him as ‘paapa’, a baby. A slightly older boy was playing with his toy car and N knows it is ‘Dada’ – brother. I have never taught him these things, but N can clearly recognize girls and boys. I wonder how.

N has made up his own sign language. We never teach him these things, but he has a sign for everything. Car, water, food, baby, milk, sleep, questions (why, where, what) – all these have their own sign in N’s language. He uses these intelligently to convey his message to us. I am amazed at the human brain!

Do you know how ice cream tastes? Ask N and he will say ‘yum-yum’. We were walking around in the mall and N saw a guy buying ice-cream. He points out to it and says ‘yum-yum’. That guy was so surprised that he asked my husband, ‘ This kid, so young, knows ice-cream?’ All we could do was grin and nod.

Our first outing with N was a great success. We plan to take him to Yelagiri, a hill station near Bangalore, this weekend. I am sure he will like the place, but am not so sure how he will take the 3-hour drive. If only he liked cartoons and animated movies,  I could have taken the laptop and some DVDs and made him watch those on the way. I am planning to pack some toys and books to make the journey bearable for him. Any other ideas? This is the first time we are taking him on a vacation. Hope things go well!

Written by A

April 1, 2010 at 6:23 am

Posted in baby, Baby Update

Tagged with , ,

A Letter

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Dear N,

You are a big boy now, all of 14 months young. I have been toying with the idea of sending you to play home ever since you turned 1. To support my idea, you have been acting very cranky at home these days. You go to park everyday for 2 hours in the morning right after you take bath and 1 hour in the evening after your nap. You are the happiest when you are out, playing in the sand, snatching things from other kids, sitting on the merry-go-round and the swing. You have always shown interest in playing with other kids. You have never had much of stranger anxiety, which is a great thing. Whenever you go over to your friends’ house or they come over here, you thoroughly enjoy playing with them. All these led me to decide that sending you to play home will be the best thing for you.

I have been sending you to play home since last Monday. You were a sweetheart on the first day. As soon as I took you there, you ran away to look at the bright, colorful balls and didn’t even turn around to look at me. When you were playing with your new toys and friends, I was sitting at work, constantly worrying about you. I couldn’t concentrate on work and I would find myself picking up the phone to call your caretaker to ask if you were okay. After one hour, I literally ran to the playhome to pick you up only to see you laughing away with another kid. I picked you up but you wanted to play there. You came away home half-heartedly. Convinced that my decision was right, I took you the next day with a lot of excitement. You wanted to go inside, but wanted me to accompany you. I left you there and sneaked away when you were not noticing. I feel guilty for doing this. I don’t want you to stop trusting me.

Today was the third day and it was horrible. You were crying when I left you. I waited outside, with my ears pressed to the door, hoping that you stopped crying. After a few minutes, you were fine and I came away. When I went to pick you up, your caretaker told me you had had a bad day. You were missing me every few minutes and would cry. Whenever you saw something interesting, you forgot all about me but then would cry again after sometime. In short, a terrible day.

Was my decision wrong? Are you too small to be going to play school? But, there have been positive things too. Ever since you started playschool, your mood has been much better. You come back rejuvenated, take a longer nap and play the entire evening happily. Until last week, you would get very cranky and have a meltdown by late evening. Now, it’s as if you are a totally different child. You are still the same, mischievous child, but you are happy overall. I can already see the benefits of sending you to play school. Can you see them? Will you believe me when I say you will start enjoying playschool in a few days? Just give it some time sweetheart and you will be fine. Hang on these terrible days and things will get much better.

N, I might seem like a very cruel mom, but please trust me baby, when I say this is good for you. You might think why on earth do I need to separate you from your mother and your safe home and leave you at a strange place with unfamiliar faces around. Even if I come across as a bad mother when I leave you crying at the playschool, just remember that the same bad mother stands outside the door and cries quietly. She forces herself to go to work only to keep checking her watch every few minutes to see if it’s time to bring you back. Those 60 minutes are the most excruciating for me. It’s as difficult for me as it is for you.

Having said this, if things are totally uncontrollable, we will just drop the plan. But before that, trust your mom and give this one more chance. Will you?

Your loving mom.

Written by A

February 17, 2010 at 10:42 am

Posted in baby, Baby Update, playhome

Tagged with , ,

What does a crow say?

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You don’t know? You should ask N that. As soon as you say crow, he says ‘kaaw kaaw’.

He can blabber some things like ‘ka’, ‘da’, ‘ta’, ‘ma’, ‘ba’, ‘pa’, but he can’t talk yet. He says ‘amma’ when he is crying, but he doesn’t address me as amma. He is very conscious whenever we ask him to say something. My mom has been teaching him to say ‘mama’ since so long and even though he can say it very well, he won’t. Sometimes, he says it unknowingly and when he realizes that he actually spoke, he feels shy and turns red. I don’t know what’s with this guy that he feels shy to talk! I have found a way to overcome this. I have associated some words with his friends. Lakshit says ‘dada’, Sanskriti says ‘baba’, Abhi says ‘mama’ and so on. If I want N to say ‘dada’, I ask him ‘what does Lakshit say?’ and pat comes the reply ‘dada’. If I ask N to say ‘dada’, he won’t utter a word.

N can climb now. He climbs on everything – chairs, tables, beds, stairs – every single thing. He loves climbing on the dining table so that he can spill the water in the jug. That is his favorite past time now.

He is slowly taking notice of this thing called TV. He is interested in some of the ad jingles, serial title songs and so on. One favorite ad of his is the bubble gum ad in which the crow poops on a kid and the kid takes his revenge using the bubble gum. He likes the title song of Jogula. What’s with this serial anyway? Every woman (and some men too) I know is following this serial. I agree the serial is somewhat bold and tackles a controversial subject, but it’s not all that great, but I digress. Another ad that N likes is the baby soap ad. When the mother is applying soap to the baby’s face, N makes a crying face, fake of course. He enjoys his bath but for that part which involves putting soap on his face. So, whenever he sees this ad, he makes a face to say that the baby will also cry.

He loves phones – wired or wireless, landline or mobile, real one or toy. He puts it to his ears and tries to say hello. He likes anything that involves holes, screws, buttons, assembling and disassembling. I have got him this box of blocks which he loves. He likes books too. He looks at his alphabet books, points at the telephone and says hello, points at the grapes and the elephant. On the other hand, he has no interest whatsoever in coloring. I got him some crayons which he hardly cares about. I am guessing painting isn’t a career option for him. Songs are another attraction. I sing all the songs that I know and he still can’t have enough. I have ran out of lullabies and rhymes, if anybody has some suggestions, please let me know.

I am thinking of sending N to a play home for a couple of hours a day. He is clearly bored at home and gets cranky. He goes to the park twice a day for an hour each, but that’s not enough. He loves kids and company, so I think he will enjoy at the play home. I also worry that he is probably too small to be going to a playhome. Any advice?

Written by A

February 5, 2010 at 8:57 am

Posted in baby, Baby Update

Tagged with