Saturday, February 20, 2010

To-do list

A probably not exhaustive list of things we need to do to baby proof the house. What am I forgetting? And can it be addressed with angle brackets?

- Put cabinet latches on all bathroom and kitchen cabinets (except a designated "safe" cabinet or two).
- Obtain or build and deploy radiator enclosures.
- Identify all small objects stored within a few feet of ground level (low shelves, drawers, cabinets, coffee table) and find other homes for them.
- Secure remaining unsecured bookcases to walls. This involves figuring out what we want where in the boy's room.
- Oh, and that set of shelves in the kitchen too.
- Figure out a solution for concealing electrical cords and do it.
- Put the outlet covers on the outlets. We have some cool ones with little doors that allegedly snap shut over the outlet but are hard to open; I haven't tried them yet to see if they're useful or fun toys we've now attached to electrical outlets.
- Get plexiglass or something for the non-wall side of the crib, because I don't know how long it will take him to learn to not wedge an arm or leg through the slats.

General practices:

- Do not leave the boy unattended on any non-floor or non-enclosed surface, even a little. We're mostly good on this, but only mostly, and he's quick and getting quicker.
- Do not leave small objects lying around. Included: check after standing up that we didn't just shed pocket change by accident.
- Stop leaving glasses and silverware on the coffee table too.
- Turn pot handles in.
- Vacuum once or twice a week. No, eating grit and shreds of paper won't hurt him, but it's poor form.
- Bolt the basement door. Mostly to develop the habit; we'll need to figure out a way to keep him from tumbling down the stairs while we're down there at some point (a baby gate or sequestering him in another part of the house).

For the future:

- Figure out how to secure the medicine cabinet. Actually, if he's climbing on the bathroom sink, we have fall risks before poisoning. I have no idea how to manage his climbing onto chairs, tables, desks, counters, etc. when he's older. Maybe he'll be mentally capable of grasping it's unwise to be up that high. That was a joke.
- See if there's some stove knob cover we can use so he won't be able to turn on the gas.
- Teach him not to put everything in sight in his mouth once he's capable of reason?
- ???

Monday, February 8, 2010

For science!

The fun continues, as the boy returns from his post-vaccination rolling hiatus to begin performing deliberate tummy to back rolls (as opposed to rolling back to tummy, and rolling right back again due to trapping an arm underneath himself). He has also worked out how to grab his feet. Because he can then stick his feet in his mouth, this activity seems more rewarding.

Last week the boy made his first contributions to science. We visited the Laboratory for Developmental Studies at Harvard, where they were running an experiment for four-month-olds. It bored him, in accordance with their protocol.

The Boston area has a lot of infant and child psych labs. We registered him online with Harvard, Tufts, and MIT when he turned three months, but we needn't have bothered. Each lab checks local public birth records for new potential subjects, so over the next month we got more junk mail from the labs then we did from Enfamil. Tufts currently has no studies he's eligible for, and MIT mostly takes walk-ins at the Boston Children's Museum. MIT and Harvard also have researchers at the Museum of Science who troll for subjects.

This experiment involved infants' spatial perception of music, investigating whether four-month-olds associate "low" and "high" pitches with actual lowness and highness. It consisted of three sets of trials. First, they had the boy watch a series of stimuli (flowers) moving on a video screen and measured his gaze time. Each trial had one flower, which moved either up or down the screen until he got bored of it, at which point they drew a curtain over the screen and announced "Here's another!" before showing the next. In the second set, they showed a plain blue background and played descending scales until he got bored. Each trial of scales again ended with the curtain and began with the announcement. Finally, they returned to the flowers (again with no sound) for the last set. The theory is that if the infants link pitches and positions in space, they'll stare harder at either the ascending or the descending flowers in the third set.

I had the option of holding him on my lap or having him sit in a car seat (he sat in a car seat). I asked if they worried about mothers' unconscious movements influencing their babies, and they said no, they just told mothers not to deliberately talk or point. I wonder whether they note for each baby whether it sat in a lap or in a seat, and whether there's a significant difference between their responses. For this experiment, I wonder also whether they test half of babies on ascending scales, which I'll find out if they publish their results I guess.

I also hadn't seen them calibrate babies and observers before. They have two observers watching the baby on a camera and listening to headphones to block out noise from the experiment. Before it started, the experimenter shook a shiny rattle at various places in front of and above, below, and to the sides of the screen so the observers could compare attentiveness to the screen with looking elsewhere.

I'm probably missing some important details about how research on infants is done, but I'm impressed that it can be done at all.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


The boy marked his four month birthday with his first back-to-tummy rolls. During a video call with his grandparents. I don't know where he gets his sense of timing.

I guess we have something new to report at his checkup this afternoon too. And a playpen to deploy real fast.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Don't let your babies grow up to be pirates

yikes. In lieu of something relatively substantive, here's a counting song we've been been singing to the boy. We don't often sing the fates in the same order, and sometimes swap in a new one. He is too young to mind.

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum,
The ocean gave one a sobriety test,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Fourteen men left on a dead man's gold,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum,
One slipped on bilgewater on the hold, yo ho etc.

Thirteen men left on a dead man's money, yo ho etc.
One told a joke Blackbeard didn't find funny, yo ho etc.

Twelve men left on a dead man's stuff, yo ho etc.
One went overboard when seas were rough, yo ho etc.

Eleven men left on a dead man's jewels, yo ho etc,
One signed on with a ship of fools, yo ho etc.

Ten men left on a dead man's plate, yo ho etc,
One met a shark and an awful fate, yo ho etc.

Nine men left on a dead man's loot, yo ho etc,
One caught a yardarm in his snoot, yo ho etc.

Eight men left on a dead man's pearls, yo ho etc,
One of them trusted pretty girls, yo ho etc.

Seven men left on a dead man's booty, yo ho etc,
One caught the pox from a harbor cutie, yo ho etc.

Six men left on a dead man's treasure, yo ho etc,
One tried to mix business and pleasure, yo ho etc.

Five men left on a dead man's rubies, yo ho etc,
One got marooned on a beach of boobies, yo ho etc.

Four men left on a dead man's swag, yo ho etc,
One got cursed by an angry sea hag, yo ho etc.

Three men left on a dead man's pelf, yo ho etc,
One tried to take it all for himself, yo ho etc.

Two men left on a dead man's crystals, yo ho etc,
They faced off at ten paces with pistols, yo ho etc.

One man left on a dead man's boat, yo ho etc,
Couldn't singlehandedly keep it afloat, yo ho etc.

No more men on a dead man's bones, yo ho etc,
Now it all belongs to Davy Jones, yo ho etc.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

State of the boy

This is primarily going to be a mommy / nursing student blog, since that's mostly what I'm doing and have time for these days. Class starts up again next week, and since this is the semester of maternity and pediatrics, the two are probably going to connect a lot.

Since class isn't in session, let's take a look at the kid.

Currently, the boy is fourteen weeks old. I would describe him as a bog-standard infant, except that he's cuter. He's been chugging along the 50th percentile for weight and around 70-80 for length, which can't possibly last once length becomes height. He has a healthy appetite, and only eats breastmilk (with whatever vitamin fortification filters through me). Standard infant immunizations at two months.

Social: So far, he vocalizes with various vowels, and learned to laugh laughing sounds rather than coughs 1-2 weeks ago. Smiling began about week five, and he's expanded his repertoire of expressions to include mournful and baffled since. (He had crying long before week ten, but the pout and lip quiver emerged then.) He is sensitive to facial expressions and tone of voice and laughs when those around him are amused. He enjoys being bounced, strange faces, and fast bouncy songs. He seems equally happy to be held by his parents or by other adults, and usually wants to be held. He sometimes ignores mirrors, sometimes smiles at his image after making eye contact. He has not met anyone younger than himself.

Physical: He has decent neck control, though it tends to fall forward after a while. On his stomach, he can hold his head up for a minute at a time. He has been rolling onto his side from his back since ~week 6, but no further. He began staring at his hands ~week 11, and now often sucks his fist or thumb. He began grasping objects ~week 12, but only when held in front of him -- he has yet to deliberately pick up a nearby object.

He's a good kid, for baby values of good. Recently we began to realize his lack of naps lasting over 30-45 minutes was a problem, and we're trying to get better at setting him down after he dozes off and at having him sleep longer when he does stay asleep, perhaaps someday falling asleep on his own.

If this is too dry and laundry-listish, it's because the most important facts are subjective: he's the most precious person or thing on the face of the earth, and his parents love him dearly and try to do right by him. In an ideal world, this would be true of all babies.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

First post

I started this blog as part of Iron Blogger. It will be updated at least once a week.

This is cheating a bit, as I'm actually 43% of the way through my fourth decade, but this is where I stand on my developmental milestones:

I can:
Hold down a job (note: not currently doing so)
Maintain eye contact while speaking
Refrain from discussing high school
Cook a meal (three-course) (note: if it is a very simple one)
Forgive my family
Acknowledge other viewpoints (social)
Detect and respond to ambiguity
Finish school (first time)
Get married
Acknowledge other viewpoints (political)
Get a flu shot
Go back to school
Make a martini (gin)
File my taxes (standard 1040)
Make and keep dental appointments
Have a baby