In no particular order, they are:
1. Sleep. Okay, they are in a particular order. In that sleep is the most important one, obvs. We have struggled since Natalie was born with figuring out how to get her to fall asleep, stay asleep, and like to sleep. She has never seemed to enjoy any part of bedtime or naptime, no matter how eye-rubbingly exhausted she becomes. Our greatest efforts have gone towards establishing a nighttime routine and consistent bedtime, which both seem to be going well. Our main issue now is getting the Naterpillar to stay asleep through the night (or at least a good portion of the night) consistently. It seems like any time we make a bit of progress in that department we end up several steps back as Natalie reverts to waking every hour or two all over again. We’re workin’ on it.
2. Transitioning away from bottles. We’re starting the slow shift from bottle to sippy cup, which Natalie seems to be handling pretty well so far. We’ve opted to use a straw-style sippy cup after doing some research and finding out that speech development and dental health are generally better when babies spend more time drinking from a straw than a regular sippy. Something about the mechanics of drinking from a straw and the decreased chance of sugary (even just from formula) liquid settling in around tiny baby teeth. So far our biggest challenge is getting Natalie to keep everything she drinks from the straw in her mouth–she started filling her mouth with formula or water and then letting it all dribble out a couple of weeks ago, and I think that our laughter was enough of a positive response to encourage her to keep doing it. Our hope is that around the time she’s a year old we’ll be down to one bottle a day, and shortly thereafter none.
3. Pacifiers. Binkies. Pacis. Pooties. They have all kinds of names, but no matter what you call ’em, they are both lifesaving and torturous little devices. It took us months for Natalie to finally take a pacifier, which meant that Mikey and I were human pacifiers throughout the first part of her life. Once she finally caught on to the binky, she was in love, and so were we. Popping one in her mouth at bedtime ensured sleep, and keeping them around for wailing moments in public was beyond vital. Now, though, Natalie is a total pacifier addict. She will scream bloody murder if she sees one and can’t have it, and if there is even the slightest scent of binky in her general vicinity she will track it down and go through all manner of acrobatics to get her hands on it. For now, we’re not overly concerned about taking it away from her, but I know the day is coming when we’ll have to start cutting down on her paci time. Ideally we’d just use it to help her sleep, and then figure out weaning her from it entirely at some far off date… but I truly have no idea how we will get to that point!
4. Finger Foods! I am absolutely loving this finger food stage with Natalie, aside from my constant fear of her choking. I can put out some waffles or scrambled egg yolks or sliced fruit at breakfast time and she will happily feed herself while I make my own breakfast or put dishes away. It’s an amazing shift in our routine, and it feels great. The only problem is keeping up with her dietary needs and figuring out new and different foods for her to eat. She gets frustrated when we try to spoon feed her, but there are times (like when we’re at a restaurant) that her messier finger foods just aren’t practical. I’m trying to keep the fridge and cupboards well stocked with things for her to munch on independently, but if any of you have suggestions for can’t-fail finger foods, let me know!
5. Giving her some space. We are still struggling to balance giving Natalie some freedom and independence as she explores with our need to keep her safe and somewhat contained, even in our (mostly) baby-proofed house. We’re working on allowing her to fuss before we jump to her aid, and are doing our best to encourage her to play on her own a little more. She has become so much better at entertaining herself, but is quick to look for our approval and attention in most situations–we’d like to see her independent streak flourish a bit more.
That’s what we’re workin’ on lately… what about you?