5 months old

The older Tristan gets, the faster time seems to fly!

Motor skills:
He’s been sitting up for a while when placed in the proper position, and he’s getting better at it – no more frog-sit. He’s also been rolling over in his crib, so most of the time we place him in on his back and find him on his stomach. He can grab for toys way more purposefully now and shake his rattle, and can almost get a bottle into his mouth, although not in the proper position to drink from it.

The solid foods are going slowly, as they should in the beginning, but at least he’s sort of drooling the rice cereal out and not forcefully ejecting it. We’ve been slipping him formula for the greater part of the past month mixed with human milk, and he’ll drink it the formula at about a 3:1 ratio of formula (James, correct me if I am wrong here :P) to milk, but he still isn’t interested in formula without any milk added. We officially switched to faster flow bottle nipples and just recently switched to Vent-Aire bottles (we found that damn missing bottle, by the way, it was under the bed) since we had a stash of them and we needed bigger bottles. He’s increased his feeding size to about 5-7 ounces per feeding, but we realize that some of this may be due to the differing ingredients in the bottle as well (although this is the age that the bottles are supposed to get bigger but less frequent). I’ve dropped the afternoon pumping session since I am beginning to taper off the pumping in general – we have quite the freezer stock, to the point where it really doesn’t fit in the freezer anymore – and we have a separate freezer that only has bags of milk in it (something to the extent of 50 5oz bags).

He loves his reading video and whether or not he learns to read from it, it’s been a great distraction for times when I need him to not cry for attention or entertainment, like when I am pumping. He’s also getting more comfortable with his Exersaucer and has learned a bit more about how to use it, such as pulling on a few of the toys to get them to play music. He still gets bored quickly but quickly seems to have at least 10 more minutes than it did a month ago.

He can sort of repeat “Hi” but other than that, he babbles a lot once in a while and then is pretty quiet the rest of the time. I think he went through a period of two days where he babbled almost constantly but then returned to his usual way of making sounds occasionally. He does giggle a lot and it’s easy to make him smile unless he’s really hungry or really needs to sleep. His changing table is still his favorite place to be entertained, and he’s learning to hold his legs up for a diaper change (I am working on having him do that on command), which I think is about the most adorable thing ever.

He usually sleeps through the night. He’s only woken for a night feeding one day of the past seven. However, we’re having a bit of a challenge getting him to nap properly. I’ve spoiled him a bit or failed to give him a schedule, as his naps have tended to be short (like in the car or the carrier) or on a person (on my lap or this past week, on his grandma’s Magical Snuggle Shoulder). It’s weird, because he goes down in his crib at night without any fuss at all, but we’ve had to let him cry it out a bit to get him to nap in the crib. I’ll discuss crying it out in the next section. Anyway, he’s been getting a lot more sleep in the past week, thanks to the MSS naps, and he seems to be happier for it.

Before I start, I should clarify that I define discipline not as punishment but as the teaching of behaviors. After getting our pets, I learned about the simple relationship between behavior and reward, and I am hoping to employ that in teaching Tristan good behavior. I fully admit that as a first time parent that I’m not going to get things right, but I do feel that it’s my and James’s responsibility to teach our kid not to be a little asshole as soon as he understands cause and effect. I don’t think a person learns much from being constantly told NOT to do things, because he or she is thereby receiving reinforcement in the form of attention for just the thing that you’d like to change about them.

The clawing thing is going to take a lot of work or a higher level of understanding, though – Tristan likes to grab a big handful of flesh and sink his claws into it.

Anyway, discipline is taking two forms right now: verbal reward for things he does that we’d like him to repeat, and ignoring behavior we’d like him not to repeat. Tristan responds very well to a high-pitched squealy proclamation of “Look at that baby!” and seems to repeat behavior that I catch with that praise. At least I don’t have to give him a food treat like our furry critters! Anyway, Tristan does seem to delight in performing cute little tricks and I’m really encouraged by that.

The other part is not so cute or fun: we’re trying to teach him to take a nap and that crying his eyes out when he’s alone in his crib isn’t a way to get attention. I will just say that even when you know your baby is fed, is warm enough, has a clean diaper, and is generally comfortable, that letting him (or her) scream in a crib is nearly torturous. I hate doing it. But I acknowledge that teaching him to scream for attention is counterproductive. At this point, he has every right to cry for food or because he’s uncomfortable, but his wonderful sleeping skills go to shit during naps. There are a lot of people who are opposed on principle to letting a baby cry it out, and I can see why, but I think I’m doing him a disservice if I teach him that hysterical crying has a reward, if that makes sense. He needs the sleep and we need to teach him to sleep when he’s tired. And we have a monitor that we use to watch that he’s not stuck or in trouble while we’re trying to let him figure out how to sleep. We’ve been doing this sporadically and experimentally during the past week and couple of days, so we’ll surely have progress of some sort to report on.

Anyway, enough rambling and congratulations for having made it through this novel!

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