We, as a family, are great at making plans and quite updated on what needs to be done when. We just don't get it done soon enough and are turning into super slackers. One such item on the list forever has been to get LG's passport done. With a trip to Bahrain in April for Formula 1 on the 2008 Travel Planner, we just feel there's still a lot of time to make LG eligible for travel outside the country.

Living with me is a pain as I am a constant nagger and behind everyone's back to get things done and tick them off the list. So, today evening, I just got LG dressed and announced we are heading to the photo shop. The Seniol had little choice and off we went to FotoFast amidst all the Ganesh Chaturthi procession chaos.

Coincidentally, I had read this post Caught on Camera and wondered if it would be a big affair taking LG's picture. After a moment's thought, I dismissed knowing fully well, he would only be too happy to smile at the shutterbug. I was right! Bring a camera into the room and LG will crawl up to you to give his best pose...It's actually the LED doing the trick :) He still can't sit by himself on a raised platform without support. So, I held onto him from the back careful of my arms not appearing. It required three shots from the photographer to get the best picture.
It took all of 20 minutes to walk in, get the picture printed and walk out. That was fast. And the result was amazing... we love the picture and hope the PP guys will too and process his PP on time.

Baby Center's newsletter for my 8 month old, fourth week read --

Fussy-eater prevention plan
Get ready! At eight or nine months, many babies start getting extra choosy about what they eat. But short of altering your baby's taste buds, what can you do? One answer is to keep up the variety in your baby's diet. He may not feel like carrots this week but he might eat cauliflower, peas or broccoli. He may not fancy an apple but he will have banana, pear or some avocado. Aim to offer him different foods so that over the course of a week (not every day) he has all the nutrients he needs to go on growing. And remember that it's easy to overestimate the amounts a baby this age can eat — when he starts squeezing his fingers through the mashed potato or turning his face away, accept that he has had enough. Keep mealtimes relaxed: knowing that if he doesn't like the taste of something he won't be forced to eat it all, can help his confidence in trying new foods.

Why can't they send me every newsletter a month in advance so that moms like me can be better prepared? I have been living through hell trying to feed LG for the past 3 weeks. Some techniques work, some don't. Baby Center is like a child rearing instruction manual for me. I stick to every advice of theirs and it usually works. Just when i had given up, I called my friends who have children older than me and they reassured it was normal for kids around eight or nine months to get fussy about food. Variety is one thing that generally works. And it did!

If your child is approaching that age, then be prepared and don't be in for a surprise if suddenly one night he refuses to eat. From eating two bananas in one sitting at 6 months, LG went on to refuse even a spoonful of carrot for dinner and the sight of banana had him crawling away to the farthest corner from me.

Here are some tips that might work:

  1. If you can afford to invest in a high chair, then please do so. It has been one of the best buys of all the things I have got for LG. It gives him limited scope to move around during feeding time and makes him less distracted. Kids this age want to do everything at the same time - crawling, playing, turning around to see what that sound was etc etc

  2. Stick to the routine. It may vary from month to month a little bit.

  3. the toughest part is acknowledging that your kid is growing up and doesn't need to be fed at the same intervals as before. Even the quantity is determined by the baby.

  4. Be prepared that there will be times, even days when you have to throw away the food. Force feeding doesn't help

  5. Stock in vegetables and fruits so that you have an alternative if he doesn't like what you prepared.

  6. Experiment with variety such as carrots, tomatoes, beets, beans, peas, dal rice, curd, apples, cherries, pears etc. Don't overdo it if he likes it on one day. He will soon lose the taste for the same.

  7. Give water in between instead of stuffing your baby with food at one go.

  8. Talk to him , sing to him. Create an environment that works best for you.

  9. Massage your baby regularly. I found LG's appetite increasing as I started massaging him after the rains stopped.

  10. If you sense indigestion, then try giving him omam (ajwain) water.

I can count the number of dresses The Seniol and I have bought for Lg - just a handful of them maybe. All the rest from day 1 until today and some more dresses that a year old can wear were gifts mainly from his patti/thatha and other set of grandparents. My mom bought a dress for LG every time she went out for the first five months. She got so obsessive about buying dresses in all colors and patterns that we were soon running out of closet space. Finally, she gave in to my cribbing that I wouldn't have so much space in Pune (for the lack of wood work) and anyways whats the point if your child is going to outgrow them in a matter of weeks.

She came up with a novel idea that I wouldn't have the time to shop for clothes so she would stock for an entire year and started buying clothes for 12-18 months baby, when he was all of 4 months. I reassured her I didn't live in a jungle and was competent enough to shop for her grandson. Within weeks of coming here, The Seniol's parents visited us and got a load of 20 dresses. I guess that's what you call grand parental love. The nightmare has just begun. I started sorting them out based on their size and since then, every month I put away the old clothes of LG, take from the stock inside what might fit him that month. Its an ongoing exercise that you can't afford to put off for long. Before soon, you will realise your kid has outgrown them and those dresses would have to be neatly packed away to be gifted to someone else. For now, I've been doing a good job.

Lil General has a taste for good things in life. He was born with it, I guess. Ever since he started crawling, it is difficult to keep him away from something he eyes on. I've tried my best to limit the damage around this house with little success.

According to him, anything with a wire dangling tastes good. The heydays of Netgear, Bose Cube Speaker, DVD remote, land line instrument and the money plant in the balcony are over. Isn't his choice of things to taste amazing?

The list gets better and better. I will never be done with childproofing this home. Every day, there is yet another thing to kept away from his reach. When I think I'm done, he surprises me. The number of things on the floor right now can be counted which is far better than what it was a month back with many cartons and knick knack strewn around. Still he manages to push himself through the gap in the grill gate and reach for the shoes lying outside. Or open the bathroom door with a kick and turn down the laundry basket. 24 hour supervision is the thing he needs.

Of the things he likes to taste, here are a few (in the order of his fondness):

1. Me and his dad.
2. Slippers (it is a rare sight as we have started keeping the bathroom slippers inside the bathroom and walk barefoot in the rest of the home now).
2. Cooker
3. Broom and dirty bucket of water (from mopping the floor)
4. Door mats
5. TV and speaker wires
6. The railings of the grill
7. Laundry basket
8. His toys

any object irrespective of its shape, size and color has to be first felt, turned around and then ofcourse put in his mouth. Of late, he has started throwing things around too.

As I write this, I hear a bang and lo! the glass of the TV stand that he couldn't reach until yesterday is on the floor - this post can wait while I assess the damage.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The area surveyor is doing a good job

The Seniol has coined a term for Lil General lately. He calls him the area surveyor. LG crawls tirelessly every minute he is awake irrespective of the time of the day and night. Last night he was on his fours at 3:30 a.m. It drives me crazy to go behind him in the middle of the night but whats the point in getting frustrated at a nine month old baby. He only does what comes naturally to him, I am told. Easier said than done, right?

Anyways, new territories are conquered everyday. The only parts of the house that still remain out of bounds are the three toilets and the veranda which leads to the stairs. From the kitchen to the area beneath the refrigerator to the half feet gap between the TV stand and the wall, every other place in the house has the footprints of our esteemed area surveyor. The Seniol is quite happy with his performance and has given a good monthly appraisal for his efforts. I give a daily report on The Seniol's return from work and in turn LG is rewarded with a hug, kiss and his dad's company for the rest of the evening.

I am a silent spectator and let him crawl while keeping a close watch on what he is up to. Why stop a kid from doing what he enjoys doing right from when he is nine months? Rest of the life is all about limitations and restrictions anyway.

Lil General's paediatrician prescribed 10 drops of Orofer to be administered daily in the morning, starting from 6 months to be continued until he is a year old. He is close to 9 months now and I haven't given him any dosage yet. I was reading an article yesterday on how orange juice helps iron absorption in a baby. The reason I refrained from giving him the drops was he was under medication on and off then for fever, cough and cold and I had read that it is necessary only for exclusively breast-fed babies. Since LG has been on a combination diet of mother's milk and formula ever since he was 9 weeks old and later on fortified cereal, I decided against it.
After reading the article yesterday, my doubts resurfaced this morning and I went on to find more information on the same. Apple, tomato are key constituents of LG's diet along with cereals, so I hope I'm good here.

If there were a test to see how mommas fared in making homes safe for their babies, I would score the least. By far, this has been one of the most challenging things we have had to do since LG's arrival at Pune. The house we live in now is fairly big with a huge living + dining room, a kitchen with no doors, a long balcony that opens to the living room, a veranda outside the main door that leads to the stairs and finally a long corridor from the drawing room that leads to the three bedrooms.

What made our jobs challenging was to secure all the items that were lying on the floor away from the reach of Lil General, which meant just about everything. There is zero woodwork in this house which made moving here from Bangalore daunting. When we moved from Bangalore where everything was concealed in the wonderful woodwork we got done to this house where everything lay on the floor in cartons for over two years now, you know are in a mess if all this has to be kept atleast above 4 feet high. There are three lofts in this house each spanning about 12 feet long with a 1 feet opening to get in to the dungeon. So it is practically useless and if any man ever gets in there, there is no way out!

We finally took it upon ourselves after enough procrastination and avoiding accidents with LG, just in the nick of time. One room was kept aside for the purpose of dumping everything and secured with a lock all through the day.

Listed below are a few things that we did with each of his milestones:

The turning over stage

  1. Securing all the ends of the bed with pillows (building a fortress).But from my experience, I think it is best to place the baby down at all times unless you are within a feet's distance. You never know when they will roll over and fall ff the bed. within a day of learning how to turn, he was all over the bed. So better be safe than sorry and never underestimate what your baby cannot do. They are highly unpredictable who will never cease to surprise you.

  2. I never left him alone on a sofa since he was four weeks old.

  3. Never keeping anything on the bed that would attract him.

The crawling stage
If you have stuff removed from the ground level much before your child starts crawling, then it's good for you and everyone else in the family. I had my in-laws around for a few weeks when LG was 5 months old and I asked everyone around to help me out in putting things away. All of them procrastinated and were quick to comment that there is still a lot of time left before he reaches out for things. Sure, there is but an extra set of hands is always helpful with a baby around. You never get as much time to do anything as planned. And finally before we realized he was all over the place pulling things on a damage mission. So we either had to clean up the place making it safe for him within 2 days or else be prepared to see our valuables for the last time.

    It's never too early to put things away. Do it bit by bit from when your kid is 3 months old.
  1. Do not let any wire hang that they can reach from the ground. Wires fascinate kids for some reason.

  2. Secure all the electric points with tape.

  3. Make sure your bathroom doors close well, if not get it fixed.

  4. If your main door opens up to the stairs, ensure that you keep it closed at all points. If you have a balcony that you think is not safe, then never leave the door open. Not even for a minute. they just wait for the opportunity to sneak out.

  5. Keep potted plants away from your child's reach. I have two money plants in pots that are kept away from LG's reach by placing a wooden chair in front of the pots in the balcony. Once, he managed to reach the pots and I found his hands full of mud just about to put them in his mouth.

  6. Keep broom and mopping cloth out of reach, always. Even when the house is being cleaned. Instruct your maids to keep them away once they are done and always keep an eye when the house is cleaned.

  7. If you have a pooja room that is on ground level as ours, it is bound to attract kids. LG is always attracted to the diya and as I keep the door closed during the day, he manages to rush in as soon as it is opened. Never leave them alone with diya burning.

  8. I have a bucket full of drinking water in the kitchen that used to be on the floor. Now, i keep it on top of a counter. Ditto with the onion-potato basket.

  9. Never put any garbage (used mosquito mats, soiled diapers etc )on the floor. You will be surprised as to what they can see. Small grains and pecks of dust that we fail to see, they can see from a distance and will be quick to put in their mouth. I realized what a shitty job my maid was doing after LG came along. Dust that had gathered under the door, behind the sofa got cleaned. ensure your garbage tin has a lid and is kept in a place secured with a door.

  10. the minimum number of things on your kitchen floor and elsewhere, the better for you.

  11. If you have a habit of filling your bathtubs with water, then either stop doing that or be careful that you never ever leave the bathroom door open.

  12. Take extra care with the door knobs of every room. Make sure they don't lock on their own.LG has a habit of fiddling with the door stopper always and manages to close himself in the bedroom.

  13. If your kid eyes something but is not successful in reaching the same in his first or second attempt, be rest assured he will get it sooner than later. And much earlier than you had imagined. We had a good 5 days to save our wireless router but we failed to use that time. He dropped it 2 times and still we didn't learn our lesson. As a result, we had to spend another Rs. 2,700 to get a new router.

  14. If you have a tablecloth hanging out on the sides, make sure you put them on top else you will find all the contents of your table on the floor soon :)

  15. I had a bad experience with my music system. He managed to destroy my cassettes. The lights on the system attract him and he is always pushing some button, turning on the volume control to its maximum level etc. If you can manage to put the system at a higher level, then do that. We couldn't find a appropriate setting for my BOSE so we packed it.

  16. Many Indian kitchens do not have a door. So if you can create small insertable wooden partition, then that's great. Else you can perhaps put something to obstruct your kid from entering like a dining chair.

If it's comforting to know, you will never be completely done with child proofing your home. Just when you thought the house was safe enough for your baby to crawl, he would begin to stand and suddenly your new task is to keep everything above 4 feet. There's only so much you can do. By keeping an eye on him always until he is old enough to understand what's harmful, is what will work. The trick is not to stop them too much. Restricting kids only makes them want to do more and inhibits their creativity.

Useful links :

Childproofing Checklist: Before your baby crawls

LG jumps at every opportunity to be all over me - biting my face, pulling my hair, blowing raspberries on my arms to make farting sounds and that ear-to-ear smile when I play peek-a-boo. But he has been resisting all of this and has even transformed his open-mouth grin flashing the pearlies into a closed one, so careful that his lips don't even have a millimeter gap and turns away from me. What if momma finds a crack to let the spoon in, he thinks!

For over two weeks now, he has been giving me a hard time by not eating. I've tried different varieties of home made solids such as rice-dal-curd that he loved earlier to mashed mixed vegetables as beans-carrots-beets-peas-tomatoes to mashed potatoes to different kinds of cereals as Cerelac (Apple-Cherry) /Cerelac (dal -palak)/ Nestum (mixed vegetables), but nothing is working for long. Some days he has his lunches without the slightest fuss. Dinners have been a problem all through. He does like what he eats - I can tell that but he doesn't want to make the effort to eat and my guess is he wants the most convenient form of food in the nights - either mother's feed or formula. His Paed reassured saying his weight is good and growth tends to be slow down at this age and there is no reason for worry and that he be fed when he is hungry. Force feeding doesn't work, he said and I am experiencing that. Nothing can make his lips open when he doesn't want to eat - no amount of antics. Changing his schedules, environment, the posture in which he is fed to the feeding cups I use - I've tried them all. I just hope its a phase that will pass through quickly. Its tough not to get worried as I drive The Seniol up the wall everyday with my he-has-not-eaten-a-spoon story everyday. For now, the worms in the gutter are growing fatter and fatter - all of LG's food goes to them on time!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Some myths about pregnancy and child rearing

Advice is abound from all quarters of the society fro the time a woman is pregnant until a child is old enough to shut the opposite person up. Here are some of my favorites collected from various sources and experiences :

Myth : The shape of the belly determines the baby's sex. If you are round all over then you are going to have a girl. If its pointing straight and one can't find out if you are pregnant from looking behind you, then its a boy.

Fact they say is how every woman carries her baby has nothing to do with the gender of the baby but depends on her anatomy, body build and the size of the baby. But as far as I know, every person that saw me since 12 weeks told me I was going to have a boy, the first one being my mom.

Myth : Vomiting and extreme heartburn during the later stages of pregnancy means that the baby has lot of hair.

I had both these problems in abundance throughout my pregnancy. However, fact is there is no evidence to suggest a co-relation between heartburn and how hairy a baby is. Gap between meals, slow digestion, fatty oil foods are several things that lead to heartburn.

Myth :
Eat saffron to get a baby of fair complexion

I am sure every Indian woman has gone through this drill of being made to drink saffron milk every night. I had saffron of every place from Iran to Kashmir in bottles of all shapes and sizes, though I had very little of them. Wonder why there are so many brown skinned people in our country then. Complexion depends on genes.

Myth : You have to eat for two.

Wonder who started this one. For Pete's sake, I couldn't even the spot the foetus until the second sonography and was searching for the peanut inside like Rachel in a FRIENDS episode. Eating for two will only make us elephants.

Myth : Wait for 3 months to announce that you are pregnant.

This one gets to me. Seriously. I had a close family member who decided against telling she was pregnant for we would be jealous and it would risk miscarriage. What crap ? And there are many in this country with that belief. Miscarriage happens for various other reasons if you don't exercise caution and not because of the evil eye story!

Myth : Never tell outsiders what you feed the baby. Never feed the baby in front of others. Never tell anyone that your baby is keeping good health. All to keep off the evil eye ?

I never understood the logic. Isn't the weight of the baby enough to tell if the baby is eating or not. A friend of mine always says "she hasn't anything at all." Every time, mind you. we dropped in on a Sunday and I asked casually to the baby, "did you have milk?". The grandpa was quick to say, "yes, biscuit, milk, banana etc" The grandma pitched in and gave a dirty stare to her husband while telling me, "Not a thing since morning."

Myth : Pregnant women are not allowed to itch during eclipses.

A friend asked if I went out during an eclipse at the time of my pregnancy or if I ate or scratched myself. I replied I might have gone out and for sure I did not stay hungry or lay still. She attributes that to the birth mark under LG's eyes. I think that is crazy! She also went to describe how she lay on her back during the day of solar eclipse without moving, eating so much so that her back ached terribly at the end of the day. If this is not self inflicted torture in the last trimester of one's pregnancy, then what is?

Myth : Don't let the kid see himself in the mirror before an year.

Never understood this one. LG enjoys seeing his reflection and I've been showing him ever since he was 3 months old.

Myth :Don't take the child out in the evening after it is dark.

OK, I've to agree that I refrained from taking him out too much after dark, but I wonder if there is any logic behind it.

Looking back, I realize how dumb I have been. Sometimes, it doesn't hurt to acknowledge your ignorance in front of the world. Enough reason below to tag me a dumb mama :

  • We were the least prepared for the arrival of our baby. If it hadn't been for mom, I guess The Seniol would have been shopping for nappies, white clothes, blankets, baskets, nursery, Johnson's baby products the night LG was born. We did not have a single item bought that prepared us for the new mother and child.

  • This is my favorite. I did not know what peek-a-boo was. Every time Baby Center told me playing peek-a-boo will delight your baby, I would stop by the nearest kid's shop and ask for the peek-a-boo toy. What dumb schmuck I was.

  • When LG's teeth first appeared, I did not know they had to be cleaned on a daily basis with a brush. What was I waiting for. all the 28 to show up. I wasted a good 4 weeks before starting to clean his pearly whites.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

High Chair

Yet another accessory for Lil General to make my life comfortable. We are on a shopping spree every weekend for LG. Life does change after a kid - when you are out you buy all the time for kids even if you had planned to buy something for yourself before leaving home.

So we got the high chair that I saw last week, rather a better one than the one I had chosen. Of late, it has become a difficult to feed him. He spills so much over my clothes that I ought to change him and myself after every feed and the huge pile of laundry in all colors at the end of the day is a delightful sight to a tired parent. To add to this, he keeps getting away from me or starts crawling after every spoon. This I guess is nothing unusual but I found difficult to cope because he has been a non fussy eater all through. So this sudden change left me short of ideas - was it because he did not like the food or he was not comfortable the way I was feeding him. Having tried everything possible from changing his diet to the environment, we decided on getting the high chair yesterday chair after his bout of vomiting. Not much has changed. Of course, it is less messy and LG can't get away from easily, so that's one less thing to deal with.

Things you should keep in mind while choosing a high chair :

  1. There are a lot of brands and choices available starting from Rs. 800 to Rs. 2000. Look for how sturdy the chair is.

  2. The one I bought has two restraining straps to secure the child - one at the waist and one at the crotch.

  3. A clamp that locks onto the table for added security.

  4. Caps or plugs on tubing that firmly attach and cannot be pulled off by a child.

Despite all these safety features, it is advisable never to leave the child unattended. Its not even been a day and he is already trying to find ways to free himself of the straps and get out of it after 10 mins.

The number of accessories available for kids these days never ceases to amaze me. Potty chair for potty training, high chair to feed the baby, changing table to change diapers, strollers and prams to walk the baby, tubs to bathe the baby, bouncers to calm the baby and the list goes on and on. And yet, mothers are never tired of cribbing and complaining how tough is to raise a child - with all the conveniences and comforts that you get today. With none of these when I was brought up, my mother brought me up happily never once complaining what a pain it was to feed a baby who would run up and down the corridor for a good hour or so for every feed during the day. She was skinny, did all the household chores and yet raised me cheerfully. For most of us, with all the gadgets right from heating water in a minute to a car to go to the Paediatrician to a machine to wash and dry clothes, there is no hardship in life. Yet I find mothers of day starting every conversation with "I'm so tired of bringing this child up" to "I am going to kill the person who talks about us having a second baby" to "Aah..I didn't have the time to pick up your call." to "No time for social life" " to "Isne bahut pareshan karke rakha hai...wakes up at 4 every morning" to "Poore ghar mein ghoomtha rahtha hai" to "isne mera mobile thod diya" Well, who said parenthood was rosy and it is natural for a kid to crawl and do the things they do.

It is a moment of introspection and I am looking for answers. With most people having a maid to help them out with the chores and a nanny for the baby complain about their depleting social life, tiredness all the time and the wish to hop into the bed at the first chance. Why? Has our energy levels come down or has our expectations of life gone up? Did we intend to lead the same life as was pre-kids?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Oh Seniol, what have you done?

Though the title of the post is influenced by the song Oh Maggie, what have you done?, the sentiment is not echoed. The Seniol has been teaching Lil General weird things that shock me and make me laugh at the same time. The other day I was checking mails, LG slowly crawls underneath my chair, draws my attention with his Tansen sound and then pulls out his tongue. I learnt later that The Seniol had taught him this and I couldn't help asking him "what have you done?". Oh! and then krrrrrrrrrrrrrr - driving a motorcycle with his mouth is driving me nuts. He does this all day and to anyone he sees on the road. Kids are quick learners, so I gotta watch out what to do , what to say in front of him and what not to.