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the newbie: Individual Playtime


By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com

June recently inherited a dollhouse from a friend, and she is smitten. She loves the working doors, the ringing phone and the little people who she can move from bed to chair to kitchen. It’s pure 18-month-old bliss!

In fact, I’ve been able to leave her alone in her room while I’m right next door in myown folding laundry or reading or answering a few emails. I can hear her happily buzzing as she talks to the toy dog, as she opens the tiny doll door to let someone in, as she piles everyone into the bathroom all at once (her favorite move, for some reason).

This is the first time she’s truly played on her own, with no interactions from another adult or child. It’s amazing! But it’s also making me feel guilty, like I’m not supposed to spend that time away from her, like I should be there making her doll play more… I don’t know, educational?

Even seeing myself write this, I feel silly. Individual play is good for kids, right? It’s not all about interactive games—a variety of play styles is healthy. So why is there this twinge of guilt at leaving her to her own devices?

Have any other parents experienced this? What do your little ones play on their own?


the newbie: Should I Worry?

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com

So now that I have this little 10-month-old crawling around everywhere and getting into all kinds of situations that I never thought of as dangerous (Pulling on drawers! Opening closets! Climbing onto a step!), I find myself wondering what I should truly worry about and what’s just part of being a baby.

For example, June regularly bangs her head… On the top of a chair she’s decided to perch underneath, on the floor when she loses her balance trying to stand, on the side of the couch as she pulls herself up. Sometimes these little bumps lead to a few tears, other times she just muscles through. Still, a daily head bump. Is that okay? Or should I be padding everything and keep her sitting on the ground so she’s always safe?

Also, my daughter eats grass. We spend a lot of time in the park and though I spread out a lovely blanket, she likes to crawl to its edge and pick clovers. Eventually, they go into her mouth. I fish out as much as I can, but let’s be honest—some of that greenery is getting digested. Is that okay?

Finally, I wonder if I should talk to June more. It’s really a one-way conversation at this point, and sometimes I get tired of my own chatter. “There’s a bird! Did you see the bus? Isn’t the grass pretty?” Scintillating. So I sit in silence with her. She doesn’t seem to mind, and I love our quiet moments. But then I’ll hear another mom reciting the Pythagorean Theorem or something, and I get nervous that I’m missing a teaching moment.

So: Head banging, grass eating, moments of silence. Are these normal parts of babyhood?

the newbie: Childproofing

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com

June is officially crawling! She’s still a little wobbly but she gets where she needs to go. It’s a lot of fun to see her exploring the world, though she seems mostly interested in power cords at the moment. It’s amazing, right? You buy a ton of colorful and educational toys with lights and sounds and literal bells and whistles, and all the baby wants to play with is the lamp cord.

Anyway, now that she’s out and about, we’re going to have to childproof the apartment a little bit. We’ve got the outlet covers, but that’s pretty much the extent of our efforts so far. I know there are fancy “childproof experts” who’ll come over and analyze your space, but I don’t think we want to go that far.

So I’m wondering: What are some basic childproofing tips and tricks that worked for you? Do we need to lock all the drawers? Pad the edges of our table? Hide the remote control? Help!

the newbie: I Love 9 Months!

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com

Usually I ask questions or fish for advice, and I’m so appreciate every bit of Mom wisdom that comes my way! It definitely takes a village. But this week, I thought I’d share a few things about Miss June at 9 1/2 months, because it is the most FUN time ever!

♥ This girl has charm in spades. She smiles at friends and bats her eyes, basically turning anyone she sees into a pile of lovey mush.

♥ She’ll eat ANYTHING. June has a huge appetite and she is up for trying all kinds of foods, from sweet potatoes to sardines (seriously!). Her one objection so far: spicy mustard.

♥ She adores her dad. Watching her eyes follow my husband around the room is so sweet—she squeals with delight when he picks her up and tickles her.

♥ The swings! Watching her little legs jerk back and forth in utter glee as we swing her on the playground is one of my new favorite activities.

♥ She makes herself laugh all the time. With a sound, a movement, a silly face in the mirror—this girl is SO INTO herself, and I love it. I hope it never stops.

So what is it about your little one that makes your heart go pitter-pat? Share the love!

the newbie: First Foods

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com

I’ll be honest: I had visions of feeding June the most natural, organic, good-for-you foods on the planet. I’d set myself up with tiny glass jars and blend healthy and delicious meals for her every craving. She would laugh and coo as she tried in-season fruits, brightly colored veggies and perfectly seasoned protein dishes!

The reality is that blending is boring, June doesn’t seem to like the foods I make very much, and those little packs of pureed organic foods? They’re incredibly convenient. June can feed herself with those! She’ll sit for an hour in a restaurant high chair as long as she has a packet to happily guzzle. It’s very freeing.

But… I feel bad. Shouldn’t I be making her food? Giving her a taste of what Mom and Dad are eating for dinner? Introducing something besides the puree texture, now that she’s 8 months old?

I’m not sure exactly what to give her, and she’s so happy with these packets. I’ll admit to being lazy: If it ain’t broke…

Still, I’m ready to move forward. Any suggestions for first non-pureed foods?

the newbie: Should I be teaching this baby something?
By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com

I posted a while ago wondering what I should be doing with the long days that stretched out in front of me and June, and I got some great suggestions! Now that she’s 8 months old, the days are a lot more interactive and fun (park walks, singing, dozens of rounds of peekaboo…), but I’m wondering if I’m supposed to be doing educational activities with her. Like, should I be going over colors, shapes, sounds? Or… something?

Trust me, I’m not an intense “my baby must be super advanced” parent, I just don’t want to short-change her by always taking her on my errands and having her life fit into mine. A few things, I’d like to do for June.

I’d love to hear if there’s anything you guys did with your babies in that first year that you really loved. We have a music class once a week that makes her clap and coo, but that’s over soon and I’m looking for more options.