Category Archives: month 4

Month 4 transitions

Some days, it feels like there’s hardly a moment to pause, breathe and even eat (!) with the constant juggling between work and family matters. But I’m thankful that at least I get to see both boys every day — something I could not do in years because of work travel.

Being home more and anticipating the leaps after reading the Wonder Weeks book, I started noticing bigger changes with #2 around 11 weeks on. From how he moves and corrects his hands/feet from one position to the next, to how he no longer bats at items but deliberately tracks and then reaches out to grasp them, to how he focuses on details and delights in surveying the world around him. I’m also thankful that he is growing so well. We followed his cues for eating, waking and sleeping in the first three months, rather than adhering to any formula milk labels or baby sleep schedules. At last week’s visit to get the second dose of 5-in-1 and oral rotavirus, he came in at 7.6 kg and 65 cm tall. This places him at around 75% of his age group … very similar to #1 at the same age, even though big bro was mostly breastfed!

Here’s what little bro has been up to:

  • Still mouths everything. Fabric, teethers, rattles, this bunny that my sis gave him with safe stitched on features… anything that’s easy to grip with his hands really! But his ultimate favourite is still his thumb and wash towel. Because of all that drool and me being away at work, my OCD has kicked in and I’ve created two separate ziplock bags by theme: Each with a set of fabric books, teethers and rattles so that we can alternate them each day while the other set is in the wash. I also finger wipe out his mouth every couple of days, and may introduce his trainer toothbrush soon.
  • Plays for longer. Sometimes he repeatedly does the same things again and again — pulling on his favourite bee/butterfly in the play gym, passing items back and forth between his hands, looking at the bright colours on his wall paper, staring out at the plants in the balcony, splashing with his bath ball. Playtime is more fun now, after weeks of just tummy time and activity bars on his bouncer. Another plus is he is distracted (or focused?) enough when he plays, that I can cut his nails now when he’s awake 👌
  • Curious about other activities. When we read, he now grabs the books to look closer (and of course, the pages usually end up in his mouth). I take him out in the stroller when I’m shopping and for our weekly outdoor walks at Botanic Gardens and nearby parks. He laughs a lot, esp. when we play a simple version of peek-a-boo with his wash towel or swaddle, and when he looks into the mirror. Since we got him the easily adjustable Oribel Cocoon chair, he’s been quite chatty with us during mealtimes. How time flies, we’ll be trying out solids in the next month!
  • Briefly sits up. Last month, he could only prop himself for a few seconds before toppling over. He’s getting more stable now, sitting up tripod style and balancing himself for a few minutes at a time, as well as leaning forward in his stroller, car seat and high chair. We keep encouraging him to sit by reading and playing together side by side; to not be afraid and laught it off if he rolls and falls, and to make sure those seat belts are on — at all times! When he’s on his tummy, we’ll put him under the play gym with hanging mobiles, or dangle objects and make faces above him so he looks up and strengthens his neck muscles even more.
  • Getting stronger. He loves it when we hold him up to stand or feel different textures with his feet (mattress, piano keys, wooden bars, sofa/bed headboard). Good luck trying to take his towel or wet wipe away when he grips them super hard, so now I just let him hold them in his hand and take out another new one during nappy changes and bottle feeding. He raises his hands and kicks his legs out to scoot forward (on his tummy) and backwards (while on his back) in order to move … but no luck yet, and he screams when he’s frustrated 😆 He turns to look for people, esp. when we call each one by name for “good night kisses” before bedtime 😘
  • Sleeps much better (!) Although J is blessed with many different hands during the day, we’ve kept a steady evening routine as parents, and try to spend as much time with both boys on weekends. Routines do help. After bath time with daddy, J then joins all of us at the dining table while we eat, mama takes over after to read, give him his last milk feed and a massage while listening to our bedtime playlist 😴 Lately, he falls asleep by 8pm-ish, may wake briefly at 4/5am for a quick feed, and gets up proper by 8am. As work can at times be always-on, I try to sleep early (by midnight latest) and start my work day super early if needed, so I can get at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. This is bliss compared to those early months, plus, there’s no need to pump every 3 hours like I did while on full EBF with #1.
  • Recognises and responds to familiar sounds. He looks at me and then laughs when either of us sneezes, and I say “bless you!” He perks up when I do action songs with him like Round the Garden, Itsy-Bitsy Spider, This Little Piggy, Daddy Finger, etc. Our little babbler is also experimenting with blowing bubbles, vocalising and recognising words. While the family speaks mostly English, I alternate between English and Chinese, and our wonderful helper speaks and sings in Malay, so we’re having a little bet as to which familiar words J will say first. It’s anyone’s guess really whether it’s “Ma” or “Da” or “Kor” or “Kong” or “Bao” or “Hi” or “Bye” or “Kiss” …. We shall see!

Month 4 Week 3: Music to my ears

Took B to a music and movement workshop for 0-6 month olds to get more ideas and meet like-minded moms.  Alas, the outcome was a little disappointing.  The environment wasn’t too conducive for infants, facilitator well-meaning but pushy, and topics covered rather common sense.  Basically, they emphasised positive affirmation throughout the infant’s development by offering comfort (0-2 months), interaction/observation (3-4 mos) and participation (5-6 mos), using music and movement as a means of experiential conditioning and incidental learning to stimulate the brain and bonding.  A few Kindermusic songs were introduced and parents were encouraged to touch, massage, use repeated motions synchronised with music, and compose their own lyrics and songs.  I guess there would’ve been some value for moms who may not have done this before but I found it rather simplistic as I’ve been talking and playing in-song with him since Day 1, we’ve both really enjoyed this and the other caregivers at home also try to follow suit.  Unfortunately, B got bored/fussed towards the end since they started late while we got there early, began to squeal/shriek and only calmed down once I took him outside.  I do regret not getting to know the other moms with 4-6 month old infants there as we didn’t get a chance to introduce ourselves and our little ones within the group and I was too busy minding B.  Oh well, it was worth a try!

ETA: Time to get going with baby signing, B is clearly trying to communicate and explore verbally. Till he forms words, his newfound shrieking will just continue….!

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Month 4 Week 2: Observation is listening with your eyes

Attended my first local Parents and Babies Meet Up today around advice for early years kids. Couldn’t have asked for better timing as I’ve just started thinking about how and what to do with B lately, plus any changes needed with our home, caregivers and his weekly schedule to best foster his growth. Thanks to Shona Sanosi of the Blue House Nursery for her insight and guided tour on how they’ve developed a child-originated, teacher-framed curriculum inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. I’m even more convinced that I too can approach things a little differently (wholistically?) for B.  Programs offered by Gymboree, Julia Gabriel and others here may supplement, but ultimately, it all begins at home…. with me!

Some food for thought:

  • 5 developmental areas:  Cognitive (learning, problem solving), Social and Emotional (independence, interaction, self control), Verbal (speech, language comprehension and use), Physical – Fine Motor (small muscles e.g. fingers), Physical – Gross Motor (large muscles e.g. sitting up)
  • 3 stages of early childhood play: Solitary (first year), Parallel (~15 months on), Cooperative (~2.5 years on)
  • 100 languages of children! (and school and culture have stolen 99)
  • 3 key teachers:  Parents, Teacher (or next closest caregiver), Environment
  • Encourage solo play NOW even if it’s 10-15 mins at this time. Step in to affirm, distract, suggest but don’t set rigid times or move on too fast
  • Keep an open, uncluttered environment throughout the home, not just in the kid’s room.  Have space for teacher and child.  Use shelves for display and discovery, not storage.  Think “kid friendly resort.”
  • Observe your child’s interests and preferences and build on it. Suggest new projects, activities and experiences based on what he does/says/enjoys. Let the child lead (in playtime) and you extend.
  • Use open ended questions to think, communicate and imagine, e.g. “Why mommy?” “I don’t know. What do YOU think?”
  • Be flexible and respectful. A project that may seem like it’s been running for ages, a silly question or art that doesn’t look like art could be significant for your child
  • Set up a prepared environment. Provocation BEFORE your child enters playtime supports better and longer play
  • Store everyday stuff that could be repurposed for playtime, e.g. bottles, covers, ribbons, boxes, etc
  • Many mass market toys do not expand creativity.  Find simple ways to transform toys and their positioning to keep them in good condition and sustain interest. E.g. rotate the baby gym, offer daily sensory boxes/baskets)
  • Have realistic expectations. Keep play age and mood appropriate.  Reassure and comfort, not challenge when he’s sick, hungry or tired
  • 3-6 months is a perfect time to start!
  • Need to find out more about Montessori vs Reggio Emilia 🙂

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Month 4 Week 1: Each in his own time

B’s turning into such a delightful little 4 month baby boy!

Mommy lessons:

  1. Milestone comparison syndrome:  Hubby and I have guiltily caught ourselves saying “he’s 90% on this but only 75% on that” or “he *still* can’t roll over on his own,” etc…. We have to remind ourselves that every child develops at his own pace.
  2. Food fussiness:  After weeks of relatively easy and fast bottle feeding, B started getting really distracted — taking 30+ mins to drink 180 ml (6.5 oz) as he tugged on his bib/my hair/anything within grasp, skipping a feed and/or not finishing his bottle at times.  We upgraded his bottle teat to level 2/M for faster flow and also positioned him to face outwards, sitting upright instead with something to hold in his hands.  That has improved things though he occasionally drinks only 4 instead of 5 times a day — even going 10 to 12 hours between bottles!  That said, as his growth has so far been OK, the doc suggested not to worry and wait till month 5 before introducing solids.  I am however starting him on a trainer cup using this all-in-one grow-with-your-baby set.
  3. Socialising with baby:  B is becoming more responsive and selective with whom he interacts. He grins, squeals, laughs, babbles away when he’s excited and also has a really loud high pitched cry now when he wants attention! (B has no idea what using your inside voice is … yet). I’ve started to take him to some playdates with fellow newborn mom-friends and signed up for a few infant Meet Up events.  Am also thinking of teaching him baby sign language to help our communication.  Any recs?

Baby milestones:

  1. Tummy time everywhere:  He’s been actively doing at least 30 mins now on the playmat, sofa, bed, mama’s tummy, etc.  and seems to (finally) enjoy this more and for longer periods of time.  Once in a while he graces us with a wide grin when he discovers or accomplishes something like moving his hands forward, lifting his head up 90 degrees, making a full push up, etc.
  2. It’s never too early to read:  Storytime has become a regular part of B’s day and bedtime ritual now.  My parents introduced me to the wonderful world of books very early on and I wanted to do the same for him with series like Go Baby, Baby Touch and Amazing Baby, as well as some great fabric,  musical and classic baby books from friends.  It’s a plus that libraries here are well stocked, in generally good condition and well used.  Can you believe B wasn’t even the youngest member when we signed him up at 7 weeks old?  Kiasu Singapore!
  3. His “I” is emerging – just flow with it: B’s developing strong preferences and doesn’t hesitate to show it.  E.g. When I turn on his mobile and he gets bored, he now uses his fists or feet to change the buttons.  He only likes the activity gym/playmat on our bed; put him down on it elsewhere and he’ll just stare at it, unmoving!  He doesn’t like to be rocked anymore to nap during the daytime and will squirm and squeal loudly; instead put him in his bouncer, rock/sing/shush gently for a few minutes and viola!