I’m so horrible with the updates for this child, but I swear he lights up our world.
At now 18 months, our sweet little boy is a full-blown toddler. Like getting dragging the broom into the bathroom and putting it in his potty in the 10 seconds it Took me to toss a shirt into the dryer, and getting into the trash while I was trying to toss of the broom out of the bathroom, then wiping his snotty nose all over my pants and shirt while I was trying to close the trashcan; and did I mention we were on our way to church at the time? Yes, he is full on toddlering these days.
Here’s what he’s been up to since our last update:
(This got super long because I haven’t updated in a while! You might want to grab a snack before you start.
Fine motor skills
Around the 11-month mark, Jensen started waking more overnight, flopping around on the bed, crawling over top of me. Early on Sunday, May 15, about 4 or 5 a.m., he woke up, woke me up, and I found him pointing at the turned-off TV. I’m a TV-watching-at-bedtime type of person; at some point it usually sleeps and who knows what Jensen was trying to share with me, but there he was, in the dim light of almost daybreak, pointing his whole hand toward it. Later that morning we took a trip to the donut shop and he pointed at the glazed blueberry cake donuts; a great choice, I admit, as it’s one of my favorites, but no dice, kid. He now points at random things – the deer bust in my friends’ living room, for example – and says something that sounds like, “Dat?,” complete with higher inflection.
I’ve recently printed photos of family members and Jensen can point to people (or kiss them), showing more fine motor development and a recognition of people in photos. He also pointed at a picture of my dad on Wednesday, Nov. 30 and said, “Bomb-py,” so he’s also naming folks (that was also the first time he ever said it).
Jensen also stacks blocks, works with wooden puzzles (he can even match the pieces because of the pictures sometimes), colors and draws with crayons and markers, can do hand movements with songs (Itsy Bitsy Spider, I’m Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee, Five Little Monkeys Swinging from a Tree, Wheels on the Bus, Autumn Leaves are Falling). He loves to use markers because he likes to pull the caps on and put them back on over and over.
Jensen loves pushing buttons – like the one on our diffuser and, to his brother’s chagrin, the Xbox, as well as the door buzzer at school – turning light switches off, and capping and uncapping markers. I cut holes in the lid of an oatmeal container and he’ll stick straws in and pull them out (which keeps him busy for awhile). He likes to turn book pages, lift flaps, touch sensory components. We have our tree up and he likes to walk over to it, smile and talk to it, then carefully touch the ornaments. Ours are plastic or salt dough, the breakables and keepsakes are higher, and he likes the different textures between the smooth ornaments, glittery ornaments, and the tree itself.
Jensen does pretty well with feeding himself at this point. I think he prefers using his hands, and it’s a quieter experience for us because he will get to the point where he’s banging his utensils on his tray or the table. The kid loves to make “music.”
He began attempting to put his shoes and shorts on around the 11- and 12-month mark. Now, at 18 months, he has been obsessed with trying to put shoes on his feet since this summer. He isn’t yet successful, but he has found success with putting hats and glasses on. He still tries pretty hard with shorts and pants, but no success there yet.
Gimme three steps, or four, or five
Jensen decided to take his first legitimate step on Friday, May 13. At daycare. And then we spent the following day trying to get him to do it at home, because he didn’t even stand for more than 3-5 seconds unassisted at home at the time. We got a step or two – not consecutively – out of him.
On Sunday, May 22, he took five unassisted steps that we actually managed to get on video! And then he pretty much lost interest in making any further progress. On July 8, he started really, really walking (at daycare, of course). His friend, Aria, had a birthday two days prior and started walking that day. I guess he felt like he needed to keep up, so he started and hasn’t stop.
These days he’s walking, running, climbing and just, generally, into everything. He can get into and out of a chair himself, walk up and down stairs pretty carefully, squat down, use ride-on toys, and is learning to throw and kick balls. He pretty much has the throwing part down.
Health and wellness: Allergies and ears
We are still working on allergies, from detecting them to eliminating them. At 7 months, it was determined he was allergic to cats, oats and roaches. In the spring he started having ear infections and reacted to penicillin-based medications with rashes. Testing in July showed he was also allergic to banana and milk protein, which was a bummer (and he’d eaten milk, cheese AND bananas the night before; I’d just started giving him bananas about a week and a half prior).
In November, he was retested for allergies and the milk protein seemed to be a false positive. He was negative for oats, also, so now it’s just bananas confirmed. He did react to mango, possibly, too, so that’s going on our list of things to test. Jensen also reacted to either Band-Aids or the latex or nitrile gloves the Band-Aids were attached to before his one-year shots (or maybe the shots themselves), but cannot be tested for those things right now, so we’re just avoiding the adhesives and latex (latex and kiwi allergies go with banana allergies for whatever reason, so we’re just being super careful). We have yet to test for environmental allergies, like the trees and molds and pollens and dust that Jaylen is allergic to. We go back in May 2017.
And ear infections! Jensen had confirmed ear infections in March, June, September, October and two in November. We saw an ENT on Nov. 30 and he’s scheduled for tubes on Jan. 12, 2017. His hearing was tested and seems to be perfect; he still has fluid behind his ears.
The ears and the allergies, in my opinion, go hand-in-hand as being issues. He has been congested since birth, basically, and seems to present reactions to things (what those things are is anyone’s guess at this point) with nasal congestion and allergy shiners. Sometimes he has rashes, like bright red flushed cheeks. The congestion, though, doesn’t clear and he ends up with an ear infection quite often. Plus, being in daycare, someone is always snotty and he picks up those germs, so it’s been difficult on the little guy.
Working around food allergies is so incredibly difficult, let me tell you, and his allergies aren’t even life-threatening. For four months I had to be vigilant about dairy (and even longer with oats, which are in a lot of things) and those were four very long months. I bow down to the moms of children with more severe allergies and medical issues. It’s exhausting to be “ON” all the time and never being able to just relax and let your kid have whatever. Now, though, we are just watching for banana (plus kiwi and mango, which are unconfirmed but are on my watch list) and keeping a close eye on what he eats in case he DOES react.
The child, however, loves to eat and doesn’t refuse much. He doesn’t like anything with a lot of spices (like pepper) and pretty much hates beans. It’s hard to get him to eat vegetables right now, but he will eat one of those pouches with pureed fruits and veggies in it with zero problem. Maybe he has texture issues? I don’t know.
We are still nursing, which is pretty cool. Before him, the longest I’d nursed any of the others was 13 months. His nursing habits change as he gets older. Where he used to slap me to get a let down, now he likes to twiddle, which is annoying. I didn’t know until today that it had a biological function, but now it makes perfect sense. At the one-year mark he’d learned to sign “milk” and was doing that when he was ready to nurse, but these days he likes to pull the front of my shirt down and put the side of his face on my chest. If I don’t get the hint, he gets frustrated. At this point, he pretty much only nurses at bedtime and overnight, so we’re winding down on this journey. I’m planning to leave weaning up to him, but we’ll see how things go. I’m still just amazed at how long we’ve been doing this and I feel so glad to do it because the first few months were so stressful.
For a couple of months I was a little worried about Jensen’s vocabulary, but he’s now right on track. I think right now he’s saying something new just about every single day. He can say bird (“duhr” and now “buhr”), hi (hiiiiii!), hey (heyyyy!), dog (daw), dada, mama, uh-oh, eat (ee), bite (bi), Nenna (nickname for Jenna), Jai Jai (dayday), Jaylen (naynen), Jensen (nen nen — they call him “Jen Jen” at school, but in the South it comes out like “Gin Gin”), look (comes out like “ugh”), bye, what’s that? (KINDA — asks “Aaah?” while pointing), “nah nah” sometimes for nurse, “baah” for “pass” (our word for pacifier), mine, ball (baw-yeh), stop (dahh!), baby (bah bah or bah bee), Bomb-py (Grampy), buh-boos buh-boos for bubbles and I THINK I heard cat the other day. He’ll also say “yeah” in context. His first compound phrase was “Stop, Jai Jai!” directed at Jaylen over the Thanksgiving holiday.
As far as communication as a whole, he’s doing well with that, in my opinion. He signs all done, eat, please, thank you, bird (his version of it) and milk. He points at things he wants (new for the late 17-month, early 18-month mark), understands no/stop/quit and simple instructions, points at his body parts when prompted (he knows his facial features, hands and feet), screeches and screams because he thinks its funny, is learning his animal sounds (and growls for just about any animals, sometimes he growls because he SEES an animal in a book or on TV). He also likes to “sing” songs and you can pick them up sometimes; he will do motions to something he’s learned in class while babbling words and the melody and I can usually figure it out.
Jensen can follow directions and is beginning to understand the world around him. When I ask if it’s time for a bath, he will go to the bathtub. Once I mentioned that I needed to potty, so he hopped off of the bed and went to the toilet. He will also throw his diapers away and his dirty clothes into the laundry basket when asked.
So much of what he’s doing now is showing his growing independence. He likes to feed himself and will cry if you don’t allow him to use the utensils on his own. He also likes to brush his own teeth and is pretty much a pro at taking medicine. He also likes to attempt to brush his own hair.
At some point he’ll be sleeping through the night consistently, but we’re really not there yet. We still co-sleep and he goes down for the night about 8:45 p.m. Sometimes he gets up two or three times a night, sometimes he sleeps straight through. He’s usually up for the day around 7 a.m. and is ready for a nap about 11 a.m. At school they sleep from about 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. When I pick him up at 5:30, he’s ready for a nap and catches a quick one on the way home (which is a 10-minute drive).
I’m not quite ready to sleep train just yet. I’m still hoping this will happen organically, but we’ll see. He has yet to sleep a night in his crib and I’m contemplating just selling it at this point and bringing Jenna’s old toddler bed to my house (it’s up at my mom’s; that girl loved the toddler bed and still wanted to sleep in it until she was 7 or 8).
Social and emotional milestones
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve recently printed photos of Jensen’s family members and put them in a small photo album for him. He recognizes me, my parents, Jaiden, Jaylen, Jenna and “the baby.” He likes to hug, kiss, blow kisses and wave to people, especially his family members, teachers and friends at daycare. He will wave to pretty much anyone and anything, though.
He’s beginning to show a wider range of emotions, like frustration and tantrums and minor aggression (slapping, pinching). Jensen is a pretty content child and goes with the flow of things almost always. He’s not thrown off by a chance in routine, really; at church he plays and reads and draws (he likes to shout there as well) during service, which is his usual nap time, and falls asleep after we’ve eaten lunch there.
Jensen’s also proud of himself when he does certain things, and is not shy about clapping for himself when he’s told he’s done a good job.
Are you still rambling about the baby?
I think I’m done now, but this was a pretty lengthy list of what he can do!
I think it goes without saying that he’s pretty well loved in our family and that we couldn’t imagine our lives without him anymore.
When you have older children, sometimes you reflect and have things you wish you’d have done (have more patience) and then you see new things that you wish you knew about/were around when they were smaller (Montessori learning, DIY play kitchens), so it’s fun to get to experience all of that again. We are really enjoying having him he brings such a rich element into the family.
Happy 18 months, Jensen!