Jingle bells, jingle bells! Merry Christmas!
I keep thinking of how small Ben was last Christmas and how he was completely content to snuggle in my arms and watch all the action. This year, I’m pretty sure he’ll be a tiny tornado!
It seems like there was a switch that got flipped in Ben’s brain because all of a sudden, he wants to mimic everything we say and is catching on with certain words. He knows our cats’ names (Owie, ‘Tsss, and ‘Gli), can identify foods on the shelf at the store, has conversations on the phone with his Grammy, and starts chatting when he wakes up in the morning. It’s fun to watch him grow so quickly!
One of Ben’s molars came in this past month (lower left) and the other 3 are on their way. His lower canines are pushing at his gums too so he’s been cranky lately. We love Hyland’s teething tablets and Advil and for his molars, the best teether toy we can find is a spare (clean/unused) toothbrush. He thinks bushing his teeth is great fun and loves to chew on the toothbrush while watching a show or wandering the house.
Whatever bad mood isn’t caused by the teething is from his new nap schedule. He has waffled between keeping his two naps and eliminating one for months but we had reached the point where he wasn’t making any choices. He wanted to drop his afternoon nap but even if he woke up at noon from his morning nap, that’s 7 straight hours of awake time which is about 2 too many. Last week I decided to lay down the law and implement an afternoon-only nap schedule. I am super protective of his nap time now; nothing can disturb the nap! The first few days were a hard adjustment for both of us. I wasn’t used to him being awake so long and I missed my solo productive time and Ben was flat out tired and clingy after 11 AM. By the end of the week, things were much calmer and he now drops like a stone after I put him in his crib and stays out for 2 to 3 hours. Hallelujah! We also implemented what my parents call the “boppy cup.” We took a cheap, plastic cup, punched two holes near the top and tied it tightly to his crib rail. We fill it up with all the extra boppies (pacifiers) we can find before bed and he can use them as they’re needed at night. He’s gotten really good about putting himself back to sleep if he wakes up crying because he can find a new boppy if the one he was using went missing.
Ben is still in mostly 12 month clothes but is wearing some 18 month onesies, pjs, and some pants. He’s outgrowing his size 4 shoes so I need to dig through the storage bins and find his size 5s. When I took him to the pediatrician for his 15 month well-child visit, he weighed 21 lb 12 oz (35th percentile), was 31 1/4 inches tall (54th percentile) and his noggin measured 18.5 inches (56th percentile). He’s still a skinny little guy but is growing steadily. The doctor was impressed with his vocabulary and mentioned that many kids who are very verbal at a young age successfully potty train earlier. We’re still ages away from potty training but that’s an encouraging thought. Ben got 3 vaccines today (all repeats) and will only have 1 at his 18 month appointment in March before he’s done for several years! It sounds like we’re hitting all of the expected milestones the pediatrician quizzed me about (bed time, book reading, learning words, using a car seat correctly, naps, brushing teeth, eating a good variety of foods) so I’m pretty pleased with our progress as parents. There’s no way we’d feel this capable if someone had dropped a 15 month old on our doorstep 2 years ago!
He is a bundle of energy and I can barely keep up! He doesn’t sit down very often during the day except for when he wants me to read him a book. He figured out that if he picks out a book and brings it to me, I’ll read it, even if it’s not bed time. We spend a large portion of each afternoon reading through his ever-expanding library. Lift-the-flap books and touch and feel books are a huge hit. He loves playing with balls and a few other trucks and Little People animals but his favorite toys aren’t toys at all. He’s happy playing with an empty water bottle, plastic plates and bowls, a Halloween straw, shoes, silverware, or whatever else he finds around the house. I have to be very careful to keep things I don’t want played with out of reach.
We have been actively working on his listening skills, specifically when we need to tell him to stop. We’ve been telling him, “Hands off. That’s not for Benny,” and he actually listens and responds appropriately most of the time. We know that he won’t always listen well but are thrilled that we’ve found a way for him to understand that he shouldn’t be touching that. We also tell him to “be gentle” when he’s petting the cats or wants to touch something delicate or breakable (like when I’m wearing jewelry).
Ben eats pretty much everything we eat. He doesn’t digest corn or peas very well yet and the last time he had ham more than one day in a row, his diapers were nasty. Those things we limit but he loves to share food with us. This week we’ve had oven pancake with mixed berry fruit sauce, turkey, cheese, and crackers, homemade bean soup with ham, chicken pot pie, chicken fingers, and lots and lots of graham crackers. We visited friends 3 hours away last weekend and it was probably the first time we’ve traveled where I didn’t need to pack separate food for Ben. I’m excited for him to try new things when we go to Disney World in February (we have the meal plan and he’ll be eating off our plates since kids younger than 3 don’t need their own). We introduced toddler silverware this month because he kept trying to steal ours and use it. He understands the mechanics of a fork but can’t always figure out the best way to grip it in order to stab food. I made chicken for dinner last night and he ate about half of it with the fork instead of his fingers. I don’t expect him to master it anytime soon but as long as he shows interest, we are going to encourage it.
Playing with cups and spoons in water is a fun activity
Crazy-looking breakfast buddy
Figuring out how magnets work
Ben loves to talk to B (and throw things) through the basement door cat door
B’s mom got Ben a subscription to a Highlights magazine for babies as a birthday present. It is sewn instead of stapled together and the pages are much thicker than a typical magazine. Ben loves reading it and it still looks brand new after a month!
Snuggling Daddy and watching a show while Mommy sleeps in (yay!)
An empty wipes box and collection of milk carton caps is Ben’s current favorite toy… and probably the cheapest too!
Ben loves to help me sweep and vacuum
Late morning (when Ben is getting fussy) is, surprisingly, a good time to go grocery shopping. Getting a free cookie and getting a penny pony ride at the store might have something to do with it!
We make toys out of everything Ben finds around the house. He loves those measuring spoons!
Eating floor food and hiding under his high chair
Dressed in his Christmas finery, as photographed by our good friend Meghan Mace (www.meghanmace.com)