Monday, September 21, 2009

5 Months

To My Awesome 5 Month Old,

Oh Gabriela, the fun we've had this month! We took 2 long weekend trips (one to Brasília and one to Maceió), you've gnawed on everything that's come within a 3' radius of you, you decided your feet are the best toys ever, and I have finally figured out some of the ways you try communicating with me.

From a developmental standpoint you are on target or ahead on pretty much everything. Among the new accomplishments this month:

-You have total support of your head - it never bobbles or lags behind your body when pulled to a sitting position.
-You can sit unsupported for up to a couple minutes (when you want to, otherwise you sling yourself over).
-You can bare all of your weight on your legs and stand if you have something to hold onto, like our fingers.
-Laying on your stomach, you can push up with your arms until your entire chest and belly is off the floor.
-You can roll, spin, and wiggle until you get to something you want (no crawling quite yet, despite quite an effort!)
-You are super interested anytime your Papai or I put something in our mouths (eating, drinking, brushing our teeth, etc.), so now when you sit with us at mealtime I give you a baby spoon and you feed yourself imaginary food (you're still only consuming breast milk). And you actually do a really good job getting the end of the spoon in your mouth almost every time!

Your hair keeps growing longer and getting curlier. When wet, your bangs come past the bottom of your nose and your "mullet" extends well down your back. It has so much curl it only looks that long when it's wet though. And thank goodness for hair bows or else you'd have lots of hair in your eyes!

Your eyes get the most attention of any of your features here in Brasil though. They are a stunning shade of blue that seems to grow more brilliant each week and rarely a day goes by that a stranger doesn't comment on them. Since it looks like your hair is going to be brown like Daddy's, Mommy is hoping that you keep her blue eyes. :)

At the beginning of this month, I set my sights on figuring out something of a nap schedule for you. You've been a great nighttime sleeper since birth, but you tended to fight sleep when you got tired during the day. Mommy's sort of a slow learner, but I finally figured out that usually the moment you get sleepy you start to whine, your eyebrows turn red, and you rub your eyes. If I swaddle you and lay you down immediately when you give me your sleepy signs, then you will dose right off to sleep and nap for 45 minutes -2 hours, depending on the time of day. We've been pretty successful the last few weeks and you have been a happier, less fussy kiddo because of it. (Not that you were ever all that fussy, but you're more pleasant when well-rested, for sure!) So now, based on the signs you give me, your natural sleep schedule tends to be something along the lines of:

8:00 Wake up to nurse, go back to bed
9:30 Wake up
11:30-12:15 Nap
2:00 - 4:00 Nap
6:00 - 7:00 Nap
8:00 Bath, Bottle, Bed

The key for you is being swaddled, otherwise you flail your arms around, yank out your pacifier, and do anything else you can think of to keep yourself awake! And oh are you moody then! The real beauty of it all is that so long as I wrap you up, you nap fine in your stroller, the car seat, in my arms, on the floor . . . you can totally nap anywhere on the go! You're just a girl who needs her sleep - I can appreciate that. My apologies for taking 4 months to figure out how to help you achieve the daytime sleep you were trying to tell me you wanted.

The big thing you've (we've) been working on is using the toilet. I had this somewhat "out there" theory that I could speed up and simplify potty training in the future if I got you accustomed to the toilet now. So at 4 months old, I started holding you over the vaso (toliet) each night before Papai gave you a bath. About every third night or so you would go xixi (pee). Two weeks later, I started thinking about how you go cocô (poo) pretty much the same time every day and I always know when you're about it do it - your eyebrows turn red, you get really still, and you have a very concerned look on your face. And afterwards you are not happy. At all. You do not enjoy sitting in your own excrement (not that I blame you one bit!) So then I started taking you to the vaso anytime I thought you needed to go cocô. The first week you only had two dirty diapers. The second week you didn't have any dirty diapers at home, just one when we were out. You've started straining a little bit each time I hold you over the vaso and try to do whatever you need to do. And you've quickly learned what you're doing because now you look up at me with a grin anytime you go in the vaso, waiting for my excitement and praise.

And then I thought, I can't be the first to figure this out, so I did some Googling. Turns out, there is a whole group of folks who have the same idea. They call it infant potty training, elimination communication (EC), or potty whispering and apparently in plenty parts of the non-western world, it is pretty much the status quo. It seems it's just us Westerners who delay potty training until 2 or older. According to other people who have tried it, once baby can learn sign language (around 7-10 months old) they can begin to tell their parents when they need to go. And although kiddos don't usually have the ability to "hold it" (and therefore they still have accidents) until they are 16-24 months old, my sources say by a year old plenty of babes can be using the potty most of the time! The only bad thing pediatricians had to say about it is that it can lead to unrealistic expectations, parents who get angry with their babies, and then foster a negative parent/child relationship. Well, your Daddy and I are dead set on just making it a fun thing and enjoying the excitement each time you use the vaso. I have no intentions of you being out of diapers anytime soon, but each time you use the vaso that's one less diaper I have to wash - which gives me that much more to be excited about!

But your newest trick that your Papai and I are really loving these days are the beijinhos (little kisses). Well, actually they probably need to be called a beijão (big kiss) to be more accurate. If you're in the mood for it (notice a recurring theme here?) and we kiss your cheek and ask for one in return, you will grab our face with both hands, lean it, and plant a great big, extremely slobbery kiss on our cheek that may or may not also involve sucking, gumming, and licking. And sometimes you can't even get through the whole process without cracking yourself up. And it always elicits smiles and giggles and another kiss in return from us. Nothing though has brought quite as much laughter as the two times you caught me off guard and kissed your ol' Mamãe right on the lips though - I'm not sure I've ever received such an affectionate (or as slobbery) kiss.

You make every day so much fun!
I love you lots, Punkerdoodle!


Laurie said...

Beautifully written, this is such a sweet, informative and fun blog. We can relate to so much of it -- and of late, especially the swaddling to help with sleep.

Lovely that you discovered infant potty training / ec / potty whispering on your own and have been using it. I'm glad you mentioned the important point about avoiding unrealistic expectations.

I hope it's okay to mention a few links on the topic: in 11 languages, including Portuguese book and DVD

And finally, how exciting that you are spending time in Brazil and having such interesting experiences!

Corinne said...


Kevin has a classmate whose mom used this system. It works fine as long as you realize that you are the one really being trained and that kids really can´t hold it until around 2 years old. It is definitely great to deal with less dirty diapers (especially since yours are cloth).

I used traditional methods on Kevin and really, it was not hard at all. Given how easy going Gabriela is, I doubt you will have any trouble, either doing potty training this way or waiting until later.

Katiebell said...

Emily, that is amazing! Yay Gabriela!! I have a book that talks about infant potty training. Maybe you can save some money early on with fewer dirty diapers too!

Stephanie said...

She is so cute! I can't believe how much they change and grow in such a short amount of time! THat is so interesting on potty training! I was wondering about your experience with cloth diapering if you'll share one day? And what kind you are using! I am interested in doing this as well.

Marcio said...

"I give you a baby spoon and you feed yourself imaginary food". OMG! So cute!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.