Saturday, December 20, 2014

Keeping up with baby: a how-to post

Gauri turned 8 months old a few days ago, and boy, is she keeping us busy.  Had I been  taking care of her alone by myself in the US, even with a nanny/au-pair for help, both the nanny and I would have needed a nice padded cell within a few days, I think.

Oh, I exaggerate. But seriously, this child has energy. If adults could channel even a fraction of baby energy, we could move mountains. This little monkey needs to be on the move constantly. Crawling, standing up and just expecting the person behind her to catch her as she eventually loses balance, opening cupboards,  investigating things, mouthing everything in sight, climbing (she fearlessly would climb up an entire floor, while whoever was trailing behind would live in fear that she would slip and we would fail to catch her), investigating everything, and just moving. All day long. She actually fell behind on the weight curve despite drinking copious amounts of formula and being on solids, just because every calorie was directed towards movement.

In all this, I have had to be super creative just to find things for her to do that will keep her sitting relatively still for short periods of time---a dire need as the relatively baby-safe areas in my house are limited as hell, and her caretakers are tired.

Coming up with a list here as to what has worked for me (other than toys like activity tables, which has been a big hit):

Books: Around the start of her 7th month, she actually started paying attention to me reading to her, and it is a fantastic way to get her to stay still. I've done a ton of research on baby books now (the Facebook group comes in very handy), and I'm putting up a list of what works, and what failed:

What works:
  • The Usborne series of Touch-and-feel books (I've tried and can vouch for "That's not my Panda/Monkey/Dinosaur." Thumbs down for "That's not my Tiger/Lion"----not their best efforts).
  • Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon (I am really surprised how much she loves this one--cannot figure out the mysterious alchemy that makes it work)
  • Sandra Boyton's Moo Ba La La La (Huge hit, and here I can see the appeal)
  • Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar (What makes this book work is the holes in it..she loses interest the minute the pages with the holes punched in are done)
  • Bill Martin Jr.'s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Huge hit)
  • Nina Laden's Peek-a-Who (expresses moderate interest in this---I think the mirror in the end saves it)
  • Herve Tullet's The Game Of Finger Worms (You have to draw faces on your fingers and stick them in the holes---kind of fun for everybody involved)
  • Karen Katz's Where Is Baby's Belly Button? (Huge hit, and I love how well executed this lift-a-flap book is) 
  • Bernadette Rossetti Shustak's I Love You Through and Through (expresses moderate interest in this, but I do like the illustrations, they are really nicely done).
Failed to/has not yet worked:
  • FAIL: Sandra Boyton's That's not my Hippopotamus (she would just wander off after looking at the first page)
  • FAIL: Bill Martin Jr.'s Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: at 9 months, she shows no interest in this one.
  • FAIL: Dr. Seuss's One Fish, Two Fish, Three, Four, Five Fish (Dr. Seuss Nursery Collection)--Boring! Not impressed at all. 
  • Too young for: Mr Tiger Goes Wild (This is a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner, and is awesome. Highly recommend)
  • Too young for: Where the Wild things are (Caldecott medal winner, I loved this---waiting for her to get old enough to get it).
Fridge Magnets! This was discovered quite by chance, that this child is endlessly fascinated by the few paltry fridge magnets we possessed. Since our kitchen is distinctly NOT child-friendly, I will be investing in a magnetic board and a few magnetic toy sets (so much fun looking on Amazon---if anybody wants recommendations and does not feel up to research, let me know).

Photos: Also discovered quite by chance that this child loves pictures of us, and particularly pictures of other babies. I'm having collages made of family pictures, and will also come up with photo books, and the thing I am the most excited about is a giant collage I am having made of all her half-siblings (14 in all) and herself, and tell her who they are.    

Busy Boards: Considering something like this, as this baby loves hinges and door knobs and things that slide.

All in all, it is amazing how excited *I* get over these little things. If anybody has more ideas, please share!


  1. I have a mover and a shaker and the best thing I did for her and I was to get a small it was 3 ft dia blow up pool and some of those balls my daughter entertained her self for hours at a time

  2. I can sympathize with the constant movement. Elena was like this & still is! For the magnet board, I read a blog post that had a do it yourself using just a large cookie sheet & wrapping it in broadcloth. Elena also like toys that moved on their own, gave her something to chase!

  3. I love Goodnight Moon! I read it to Harper most days & it always holds his attention - I think it's the shadows and all the things to look at. We have some books with flaps to lift and he loves lifting the flaps (his current favourite is "Hide & Seek: Forest" by David Crossley...I'm sure lot's of the genre are good). He also loves the "Little Me" books with finger puppets, current favourite is Baa Baa Black Sheep. There are a range of popular NZ books by Lynley Dodd about Hairy Maclary (a dog), email me & I can send you a copy. I'm looking forward to him being old enough for We're Going on a Bear Hunt, Where the Wild Things Are, The Teddy Bear's Promise etc.
    Hope you had a great first Christmas as a Mummy and all the best for 2015 xx

  4. Have you tried Blue Hat Green Hat by Sandra Boynton? Giggle fest with Finn, every time. Haven't tried it yet with Z, much harder to get him to sit still for books. :) My nephew loved the Hippopotamus one - he made the best sad face with "But not the hippopotamus." LOL

    Z loves taking things out of one box or bowl and putting them in another. Also, I keep a couple of cabinets stocked with safe toys for him, and change them out periodically so he gets a surprise when he opens them.

    1. No, I have only tried Moo Baa La La La and the Hippopotamus one, and it is amazing how two books by the same author get such very different reactions. I will try Blue Hat Green hat...I have absolutely no self control when it comes to baby book buying, I am realizing :) The moving of stuff from one container to the other is a cool idea, I should try that and see if she will bite. Thanks!