Life with a 16 month old, versus this time last year, with a four month old, is as you guessed, very different. As insane dealing with a toddler can be, it is becoming more fun by the day! Of course I miss many of those wonderful baby stage days but on many aspects I really don’t miss that stage at all! When Forest turned a year old I didn’t anticipate doing many updates after, but I feel the need to write a few things down here and there so that I can remember these moments in the future.
First, I’m so glad I did not wean Forest at one year. I know there’s a huge social stigma to nursing babies after they are a year or so old, but the longer I nurse Forest the less I care about that stigma. There’s several things I’d like to cover on this topic of nursing a young toddler so I’ll just start with pumping.
After Forest turned one the Austin Mother’s Milk Bank (where I have been donating milk to) said I could still donate milk that I pumped through the end of September. After that, they wouldn’t accept pumped milk since the nutrition content of breastmilk changes over time and it is unknown how beneficial breastmilk after that time period would be to babies in NICU or in need of breastmilk shortly after birth. There’s just not a lot of studies out there to really show that kind of data. That said, at the end of September we had tons and tons of milk in the freezer, so I did not feel guilty about slowly dropping my pumping sessions over the course of about two months. I got rid of an afternoon session first and then dropped my morning session before work, and so now I only pump mid-morning at work and then about thirty minutes after lunch. This provides enough fresh milk for Forest to drink while at daycare the following day. He’s really only drinking 6-8 ounces of milk and a lot of the times he doesn’t finish his second cup. I know he prefer it straight from the tap, so that’s probably a bigger reason he doesn’t finish it! Regarding my supply for pumping, I probably pump anywhere from 3-4 ounces in a session, maybe 5 on that morning session if Forest didn’t nurse much that morning. That seems to be plenty though, and other than eating oatmeal a few times as week, I’m not doing a lot to try to boost my supply. It seems to be in a good place at the moment.
So, for all of that pumped milk we had stored…well, we weren’t going through it fast enough so I donated another 300 ounces back in December. Between the private donation I did in June and the rest I’ve donated to the milk bank over the last six months, I’ve donated around 1,000 ounces of breastmilk. That’s about 7.8 gallons of milk! I still have frozen milk in the freezer from August through December and will likely donate more soon, probably my final donation. I am uberly, supremely, fantastically grateful for this wonderful milk supply I’ve had!
As for nursing Forest himself, he’s definitely stretching his sessions out and is now turning into a kid who wants to come up and have a shot of milk, run around the room, ask for another shot of milk, run around the room…and repeat until I just say no and tell him to go play. I’ve also been battling some biting issues because he thinks it is HIL-AR-IOUS! I usually give him one more chance after the first bite but if he looks to be playing I end the session and we stop nursing. Momma ain’t got time for that! The best part of having a toddler that nurses is that he’s a toddler and isn’t reliant on milk for survival so we can be out and about longer without him needing to eat every other stop. Now I just hand him a sippy cup or a snack if he really needs some food and try to nurse when it is more convenient for me.
However, he can get demanding and he definitely knows when he wants to nurse and has no problems throwing himself sideways in my arms when he wants to nurse. Toddlers have a mind of their own!
I felt we had a great routine after I stopped nursing him to sleep in early September. We’d nurse for about 10 minutes and I would put him in his crib where he would roll around and get settled for 15-30 minutes (I couldn’t/still can’t leave the room!) and then sneak out when he dozed to sleep. Most of the time I scroll through my phone but now I’m starting to read books on my Kindle app, as I can download books from our library.
However, when Forest got sick in December this really upset our routine and he started nursing to sleep again. He became very beligerent with me when I wanted to return back to our old methods after he got better. Paired with being out of town for several days, the bedtime routine was very messed up. It’s taken over a week for us to get back on any kind of track and the other night I ended up letting him fuss for awhile because it was already over an hour of bedtime shenangians. I’m not sure what to do if this continues on; I may have Chris become the bedtime guy after awhile, we’ll have to see.
I’m still dreaming of the ever elusive sleeping through the night bit. Again, I think that’ll come with night weaning but we’re not there yet.
Playing and Learning
This is where things are happening the most, I think. With him being a late walker, at 14.75 months, he wasn’t into things nearly as much early on. Sure, we had finally locked all of the cabinets and had to do all of that, and ocassionally there would be books taken off the cookbook shelf in the dining room, but with walking he can go anywhere, anytime, and he’ll certainly do that! We’re shutting the baby gate to the laundry room and I’ll close the door to the spare room, and it took us long enough but we finally moved Leo’s food and water bowl after one too many “Forest, stay out of that!”. That’s helped a lot with letting him wander around a little downstairs, but we do have to keep an eye on him going into the bathroom because he’ll try to get into the bathtub (he loves baths, still!) or play with the hose attachment for washing out his potty or diapers. He loves trying to play in the trash can and will sometimes just walk by it and hit his hand on the lid, just because.
I had put a lot of the baby-baby toys away awhile ago but there are some others that I need to fade out as well. I put away his play mat after Christmas and that was bittersweet. The music it played reminded me so much of last year—me putting a non-mobile baby on it so I could do laundry or write a blog (have some sanity!)…it was sad to see it go. He’s learning to pull toys around, too. Before Christmas he had been playing with a turtle that rolls that was mine when I was a kid. My mom had used it for my niece and nephew and passed it along. The original string was long gone and mom had retrofitted it with a ribbon. Forest had, and still does, been trying to put the string—any string from anything—around his neck, like he’s putting clothes on. Needless to say, it was kind of dangerous! We took the string off the turtle and made sure to keep anything resembling a string or cord away because of what he was doing. At his birthday he’d also received a wooden caterpillar—the Hungry, Hungry, Caterpillar—that also was for pulling, and for Christmas Chris’ mom got Forest a wooden train that pulled. So, Chris worked with him a little on pulling it and now that he’s figured it out we’ve been supervising him with those toys with string. He just kind of drags the caterpillar around, but the train is heavy enough that it will roll instead of be dragged.
We have stairs at the house but there are gates at the bottom and top and we always carry him up and down the stairs. At Christmas we were at Chris’ mom’s house and there wasn’t a gate at the bottom of the stairs so we were constantly watching him. Well, he found the bottom stairs and thought it was awesome to start climbing, and with one of us crawling up behind him, we let him learn to climb stairs. The other day the bottom gate at our house didn’t get shut all the way and I had gone in the kitchen. Sure enough it got quiet and I looked over and the kid was halfway up the stairs! I ran over and we finished going up together, but geez! You teach them something and they run with it!
On the same level as the stairs, he got a table and two chairs for Christmas. I’d set it up near one of our upstairs windows in the second living area that is really now a playroom. I was folding laundry in our bedroom last weekend and looked over and saw that he’d moved the chair closer to his race car tower (another Christmas present) but also conveniently closer to the window, and then he proceeded to step up onto the chair and stand so he could look outside! Ahhhh! Where does he learn these things? More eagle-eye watching by us, that’s for sure.
Forest is very into books, which I am very happy about. As a voracious reader and really, the only reader in the house, I hope that he becomes a voracious reader, too. I keep books everywhere for him and while he won’t sit still for us to read to him more than a page or two at a time, he will sit down by himself and flip through the books quietly. He will also carry them around. Most of the time I just point out items on the pages instead of try to read what’s on them. I also keep several books in the car along with his toys and he will typically flip through the books for awhile when we’re out and about.
He’s not really talking but he pretty much understands just about everything we say. He’s said some words here and there but the one he says most these days is night-night, which is really nigh’-nigh’ with this adorable wave! He signs ‘more’ all of the time and I’ve been working with him on ‘all done’ for like ever but his ‘all done’ is to shove things off the high-chair tray! BUT, tonight I was getting him ready for bed and changing his diaper when he tooted. I asked him if he needed to go potty and made the sign for poop, something I’ve been working on along with ‘toilet’, and he actually tried to sign the ‘poop’ sign back! So, we went off to the potty where of course, he didn’t do anything, but at least I tried and followed it up after the sign.
Another thing he has started doing is helping us with something that involves him, like buckling his seat belt in the car seat or putting his shoes on. He has been helping me get one of the chest latches so that I can buckle it, which has been a fun discovery to see him being involved in that. And the last two mornings he’s reached over and tried to help put his shoes on. He doesn’t care to wear shoes or socks but he’s been understanding that he has to put them on when we leave in the mornings, so it was kind of fun to see him try to undo the velcro on one shoe while I am getting the shoe on the other foot. He’s also starting to help undress himself when we take his shirts off.
Forest is a pretty good eater these days. He goes through spurts when he seems he only wants to eat cheese, crackers, and bananas, though. When he was sick his appetite when down to nothing and he was just living on milk and applesauce there for a few days. Then he was all about the green beans, couldn’t get enough green beans…green beans all day and night! Now, he squishes the green beans on his tray. And then he gets excited about black beans and we’ll go through that for awhile. He hasn’t wanted to eat much fruit lately but he was really into mango and peaches there for a bit. It comes and goes with what he wants to eat, but he’s chowing down well! We’re definitely limiting his junk food intake and don’t really give him all that much, if any, sugary stuff and he only drinks water aside from breastmilk. We just started letting him try some chips when we have them because he’s always staring at us when we’re eating them. The chips get broken into tiny pieces because they aren’t as soft as crackers, but his molars are coming in so chewing is a little easier now. I would definitely like to get some different kinds of green vegetables into him but that hasn’t been a hit unless he sucks down one of the pouches.
Well, I think that’s about it! He’s 16.5 months at the moment and I just can’t believe it. I’m trying to soak up all of the bits of it I can because I know it’ll all be gone and onto another phase before I know it!