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the newbie: Sick!

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

I don’t know how many times I’ve knocked on wood when I’ve said, “June has never gotten sick!” but I must have missed one, because she’s congested and snotty and coughing up a storm of phlegm this week.

I know it’s normal, but it’s also heartbreaking to hear your little baby cough, right? Maybe I’m a wimp. In any case, the worst part is that, at 14 months, she doesn’t understand that she’s sick, so she’s trying to play and bounce and babble just like any other day. What she really needs is rest, rest, rest, but tell that to a baby who’s on the cusp of walking and can’t hear a beat without clapping and dancing.

We’ve been playing in the bathroom with the hot shower running to help clear up her congestion, we’ve tried a little baby vapo-rub and I’ve even used the snot sucker (June screams and I feel like a medieval torturer). She’s waking up at night, cranky in the day and just generally, well… sick.

I’d love to hear what other moms have done on sick days to encourage rest and recovery. (After June does that, I’ll need a day for R&R of my own!) Thanks, Mamas!

the newbie: Separation Anxiety

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

While June has had a lot of time with Grandma, her regular babysitter, and the other parents and babies in our apartment building, she’s starting to get a little clingy with me — even in familiar places! Last week we went to our usual appointment at the YMCA, where I drop her off in the childcare room and then get a workout in, and she clung to me in terror and screamed.

It seemed so strange — she knows this room and these babysitters. She usually sniffles a little bit but then gets distracted by all the great toys they have and the enthusiasm of the staff, not to mention the other kids, who mesmerize her. But this time, she cried and cried as I left the room. I felt awful, but I told myself that she would be fine. I was sure that I’d return to find her happily playing with the dollhouse or the cars.

No go. About 20 minutes into my Total Body Fitness class, one of the childcare providers came to get me to tell me that June was still crying. I put away my equipment and went to get her — she looked so fearful and worried that it broke my heart.

I know that separation anxiety is normal, and she’s almost 14 months old so maybe it’s just really taking hold of her now. Still, what’s the best way to deal with it? My instinct is that I need to continue to walk away and give her experiences where she has to work through this new fear, but that’s awfully hard to do!

Any advice?

the newbie: Teething

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

It’s kind of amazing that June is almost 13 months and I haven’t had a real issue with teething yet, but she’s been pretty tough about the whole thing. She’s got five teeth now (three on top, two on the bottom!) and there must be more coming in this week because… it’s grump city.

The drooling, the biting, the screaming… it’s all happening. I suddenly know why people talk about teething like it’s a true hardship. Miss June is acting like she’s had a personality transplant with a very cranky baby!

We have some baby Tylenol for her, but I don’t like to give it to her too often, and I’ve got chilled teething rings and all the accessories I can think of, but I wonder if there’s a magic teething technique that this first-time mom is unaware of.

If you have some ideas to share, please do—for now, I’ll get back to my vampire almost-toddler and try to distract her, while dodging the rivers of drool.

the newbie: European Vacation!

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

We are about to go overseas with June for the first time. It’ll be a lovely week in France, in the country, and I’m hoping for lots of cute shots of her crawling through lavender fields. I have a dorky dream of her taking her first steps in an olive orchard or something equally idyllic.

But in addition to my excitement, I’m terrified! First, the flight: Seven hours on a plane, overnight, with my squirmy, wiggly 11-month-old in a front carrier? The task is daunting at best. I’m just hoping she’ll sleep. The strategy is milk, food, white noise and motion. It’ll work, right?

Then: The time change. We’ll land around 3am our time, but it’ll be 9am over there… whoa. Jet lag rocks my world enough—I can’t imagine what it’ll do for June. I’m thinking it’ll be pretty intense, and I wonder if we should go with the flow for the first few days, or try to stick to a schedule, or throw up our hands completely and buy earplugs.

I’m bringing her favorite stuffed animal, her sheets for the pack-n-play, and her noise machine, but I wonder if that’ll be enough to help her feel at home.

Any experienced baby-travelers out there want to offer any advice? I’m all ears!

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: Leaving the Baby

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

This week I’m on a two-day work trip across the country from June. It’s the first time I’ve left her for this long, and I thought I’d be okay with it. I packed, told her I’d miss her, and picked her up to hug her goodbye. And then… 


Streaming down my face like a fountain. I had no idea I’d have such an emotional reaction to just two nights away.

Don’t get me wrong: Staying in a hotel with no baby duties and waking up to an alarm clock rather than a crying infant feels quite nice. But at the same time, wah, I am really, really missing my baby girl. 

My husband is home with her, and my mother is even visiting to help out. She’s in perfectly good hands and, honestly, from what I hear, she hasn’t even totally noticed my absence. So I know all is well and she’s happy and safe.

But still, I’m counting the hours until I’m home again (27 as I write this, for the record). Did you feel this way the first time you left your baby overnight? Does it get easier? I’d love to hear!

the newbie: Hi, I’m June’s Mom

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

I’m lucky. Within my apartment building, there are lots of moms to babies under two years old. We smile at each other, stop to chat sometimes and even meet up for play dates. 

I realized last week that although I know every single detail about their children—from how they’re sleeping to when their first teeth came in—I know very little about these Moms. Besides the fact that they’re, well, moms. 

Occupations? Taste in books? How they met their husbands? Where they went to college? I have no idea! And that scares me.

Today, I’m hosting a little Happy Hour for us, and while I’ll coo as usual at their insanely adorable little ones, I’m also going to turn my head and ask some questions that aren’t child-related. Maybe I’ll even shake up a cocktail and put on some real music (instead of the kids’ CDs that are in heavy rotation on our stereo). 

Have you had this experience? Any suggestions for breaking out of the “Hi, I’m June’s mom” role now and then?

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.