1st October marked Emmy’s 7 month birthday, and I can’t quite believe it! I feel like every month feels stranger and stranger – while I was pregnant, I imagined having a tiny baby, and I imagined the toddler, child and teenager she would grow up to be, but for some reason, my brain skipped the “middle baby” time! It’s weird just how quickly it’s going – it’s true what they say about the days being long but the months, and I imagine years, flying by – no matter how cliche that is!
September was a big month for us – a lot of new experiences, firsts and new skills, so let’s dive straight in! First, here are the photos we took for her 6 month milestone, and some comparing her first month on the mat to now – look how much she’s changed, so close to outgrowing the mat!!
The first big thing that happened as soon as Emmy turned 6 months was that she moved into her own room – and this was her own decision! I talked last month about how she went through a bit of a sleep regression, back to 3 or 4 wake ups a night, and she’d started getting so wriggly in her Next To Me cot in our bedroom. It came to the point where she was waking herself up by crashing her feet into the bottom of it, which made the whole thing shake and woke her (and me!) up with a shock, meaning she needed settling back to sleep. For the past couple of months, we’d been doing the bedtime routine in her own room and leaving her to sleep in her own cot in her room (where she also takes all her naps) until we went to bed around 9.30-10pm when she came up to our room.
Well, on the first day of this month Ben suggested that we try leaving her in her own room when we came up to bed. I was reluctant as I didn’t think I was ready for her not to sleep right next to me, but I knew it was a sensible decision. I agreed to give it a go, on the basis that on her first wake up, we’d bring her up to our room. Well, that wake up didn’t happen till 5am! After a few weeks of 3 or 4 wake ups per night, she did nearly 10 hours in a row! So it turned out that while I wasn’t ready for her to leave our room yet, she was ready! It was really hard for me, especially the first two or three nights and I definitely cried a little bit thinking of her being all by herself in her own room, but she has completely thrived since then in her own room. We’re all sleeping so so much better.
Which leads me onto naps…these have always been our big struggle. When Emmy came out of the “fourth trimester”, her day time sleep became…tricky, let’s say. We struggled hard with naps for a long time, and it was only in around mid-July, after I’d been implementing a nap strategy for just over a month, that things started looking up. But we had big changes this month – huge changes, really! In August, we were down to (usually!) 3 naps a day, but sometimes struggled to get the later afternoon nap in. Suddenly, as we hit September, Emmy started doing naps that were longer than 45 minutes of her own accord – and it was a bit strange! I at first tried to stick to the nap routine we were following of a nap of 1 sleep cycle in the morning, a 2 hour nap at lunch time, and a short 20(ish) minute nap in the afternoon, but it felt wrong to be waking her up from that morning nap after a sleep cycle, and I thought I might end up teaching her bad habits of waking up after a sleep cycle. So I decided to start leaving her to sleep as long as she wanted at that morning nap, and suddenly they were extending – an hour, an hour and 20 minutes, 1.5 hours…then we got a few 2 hour naps! This meant her lunch nap got pushed back and became an afternoon nap – an afternoon nap that was at least an hour long!
We went away on holiday while this transition was happening (more about this in a minute!) and I was worried this would affect the new 2 nap a day routine, but, while there were some days where we needed short naps on the go, she continued to happily do these long naps wherever she was – in an unfamiliar cot in an unfamiliar bedroom, even in the car and in the pushchair!
And people, 2 long naps a day is a total game changer – I feel like I have my life back!! Those 30-40 minute naps we had before weren’t awful, but I feel like I can do something other than just eat and have a quick tidy up while she sleeps now – it gives my brain a much needed rest before we start up all over again.
Speaking of changes, we also moved Emmy from her baby bath into the big bath this month. We always give her a bath as part of her bedtime routine – we only use soap some nights, it’s mostly just as a relaxing and fun activity that forms a routine, and she absolutely loves being in water anyway. She was started to try to escape the baby bath and had been sitting independently for over a month at the beginning of the month, so we thought it was about time. We got a bath mat from Aldi so she wouldn’t slip and slide so much and dived straight in – and she’s obsessed! She can splash so much harder in the big bath! Again, this was another “I’m not ready for my little girl to be so big!” thing, but it was a massively positive change for her, so it’s all good.
Continuing with bigger updates, weaning has carried on successfully this month. At the end of 5 months old, we were heading into baby led weaning (BLW) territory with sticks of finger food, and as we entered September and 6 months old, we decided to go far more BLW inspired than before by sharing our meals with Emmy rather than making food specifically for her. This has been so successful and Emmy is obsessed with food. I know BLW isn’t for everyone, and it has definitely been quite scary seeing her put “real” food into her mouth, but we haven’t yet had any choking incidents or even near ones – she’s actually gagged far far less while doing this than when she was tasting purees! I joined a BLW Facebook group that seemed pretty intense at first (they have very strict rules on what you can post and say), but it’s given me the confidence not to worry so much about going ahead with BLW. The only things that we’re now really avoiding are foods with added salt, sugar or honey (I didn’t realise before but this is a risk factor for babies) – anything else, we’re just handing to her and letting her figure it out. Of course, we’re chopping up round foods into quarters, and most things are in sticks so she can get it to and into her mouth easier, but generally she’s just happy to grab food and chomp away at it!
I started at the beginning of the month using recipes from Young Gums like courgette muffins and teething biscuits which we could both eat, but then started delving into things like falafels, hummus, pitta bread, even pancakes when my friend Fran came for brunch, and cheese scone when my mum accompanied me for a morning to Ripon while I popped to a meeting at work. Some big favourites this month have been cucumber (still!), orange slices, wholemeal bread, yogurt, pastry pin wheels with cheese and tomato and apple and cinnamon (I loved these too!), and her absolute favourite: pizza! She ate a lot of pizza in Italy, just little slices off my plate mostly, and absolutely adores it! She also tried pasta and gelato too, which was a big hit – she kept sticking out her tongue for more!
I’m really excited to continue with baby led weaning in this way. It’s been really successful for us and our very independent little girl – as I kept saying last month, she likes to do things her own way (moving into her own bedroom of her own accord was another example this month!), so feeding herself what she wants is something she loves! We’re pushing forward by simply sharing our meals with her, always eating the same things as her so she gets used to seeing us all eat together. It’s actually making life a bit easier, but a lot messier too!
This month saw the demise of the pterodactyl shrieks (YES!) and the return of raspberry blowing, which I was pretty happy about as I love her raspberries! She also learned a few new noises in September such as very quiet high pitched “whispers”, a noise that sounds a bit like a babbled “mama” with her tongue stuck out, and “ethhhhh”! The last was a fun one as she started doing it while we were on holiday so we were sure she was trying to say “Beth” which is both my sister and Ben’s sister’s name – she hears it a lot! It’s funny because it was like she really did know it meant “Beth”, because there was one day, when my sister was poorly so stayed in the car while we went for a wander, and as we walked away, Emmy was turning round in the pushchair, looking and reaching back towards the car saying “Ethhh, Ethhhh!!”
Speaking of Italy, let’s talk about it! Mid-month we had Emmy’s first holiday abroad! We booked this not long after she was born and I’d been looking forward to it but was pretty nervous, mostly about the plane journey. I was terrified of being “that person” with the baby on the plane, and as we walked to our seats, I could feel eyes on me like “please don’t let them be sat near me, please don’t let them be sat near me!”. But luckily it all went well! I fed Emmy on take off, twisted slightly awkwardly around the infant lap belt, and she fell asleep – the take off was timed very well for morning nap time! Unfortunately she woke up after only about 20 minutes when I shifted slightly. She did, however, fall asleep again not long before landing than to some bouncing in the carrier, and was only jerked awake as the plane hit the tarmac. On the way home, she fell asleep on take off with feeding again but slept 45 minutes, which was awesome apart from the dead arm I got! The only problem we had was that she got bored of staying in one place about half way through the flight and got moany and wriggly. Luckily we had my mum, dad and sister as well as both of us to pass her between, and my mum snuck some surprise toys in her handbag too, so that kept her entertained quite well!
I’ll try and do more of a post about the trip in general sometime, but as a quick overview, we stayed in a villa just outside a town called San Gimignano in Tuscany. The town was lovely but very touristy, which we weren’t really expecting. Our villa had a pool and we were planning to swim lots, but it wasn’t heated and the weather wasn’t as warm as we anticipated due to storm on the first day, so we only swam once – it was very chilly! Luckily the weather was a lot warmer and drier towards the end of the trip, but we still managed to get plenty done.
We hired what was basically a van to get us all around and took our own car seat, and this worked well as we could all fit easily. The only problem was that Italy isn’t really set up for vans so we sometimes struggled to park or get around – but we knew that might be an issue in advance so planned for it where we could.
We visited Florence which was interesting but super busy, and we also planned to visit Siena, but due to a combination of not being able to park and my sister getting poorly (we’re not sure whether she had a bug, ate something or just swallowed too much pool water…), we didn’t make it into the city. A lot of the time we spent wandering smaller towns and villages like Volterra and Monteriggioni, and we had plenty of pizza and gelato! We also had a proper Italian “nonna” cook a family meal for us in our villa one evening which was fantastic.
And let’s jump back to a bit earlier in the month again. Emmy went to her second wedding on the first weekend of September, my cousin Katy’s. This was located at a beautiful venue we very strongly considered when getting married so it was amazing to see how they put it together, and it was really lovely to see some of our extended family – it was the first time some of them were meeting Emmy as they live further away and we don’t get the opportunity to see them often. They also had an alpaca and a llama at the wedding which Emmy got to stroke so she was very happy about that – she loves animals! She was a star all day – silent through the wedding, then she had some bits of the meal – pie, mash and peas (yum!), and had a lot of fun with my little cousins Mollie and Eva – she finds them hilarious!
Also in early September, I had my friend Katy’s baby shower which Emmy came to as well – her first baby shower! It was a lovely get together and a chance to see some of my oldest friends. Katy’s now had her little girl and I’m excited for them to meet each other soon!
And we had our own big event at the beginning of September – Emmy’s Naming Day! Like with our wedding, we chose not to go down the religious route as Ben doesn’t feel comfortable in churches, so we decided to hold a small ceremony and get together at my parents’ house. We invited around 50 people and hoped to hold it in the garden – my dad even bought a little marquee for the occasion! – but unfortunately it started to rain just as people were arriving, typical! Instead, we held the ceremony inside, and some people were able to get outside later on when it cleared up a little bit. I wrote the ceremony myself based on others I’d seen online so it was totally personalised to us, and we asked our friend Frankie to be the “master of ceremonies”, meaning it was even more personal. Instead of godparents, we had guideparents, and we got grandparents and our sisters to make promises too as part of it. The day went ahead so well apart from the rain, and several people commented on how personal it was, which I really loved. Emmy was pretty overwhelmed on the actual day – I think it was because she’d never seen so many people crammed into her grandma and grandpa’s house! – and ended up having to go for a nap immediately after the ceremony!
September also marked the beginning of a new term of baby classes. We started back at swimming and Emmy was so pleased about this – even though we went with some friends over summer, I think she’d been missing it! She was SO splashy and seemed to remember a lot of what we’d learned last term. I was very impressed at how well the whole class remembered actually – there’s a specific thing they do where we splash them into the water from the side (while holding them, of course!) then turn them round and say “Hold on, hold on” while approaching the side, and most of them managed to grab the side and hold on by themselves!
We sadly can’t make the timing of the baby yoga class this term as it’s changed days – everything in our town/surrounding area seems to happen on a Tuesday which is our swimming day! – so instead we signed up to another class, Baby Sensory. Our friends from swimming also do this class so it was nice to know someone there, and I also realised we knew someone else from baby yoga too. And this class is honestly crazy! We both love it – there are songs, dancing, bubbles, scarves, balls, toys, lights, finger puppets and more! The lady who runs it is a little bit famous in our area for running such crazy and manic classes which makes it all the more fun. The first class, Emmy seemed to sit there in a daze wondering what on earth was going on!
At the beginning of September, we bought a new piece of Emmy kit, but not a toy this time – a floor mat. I’d been struggling throughout August because, while Emmy could sit by herself happily for long stretches of time, occasionally she gets excited and throws her arms out which flings her backwards or forwards onto her head or face. This means that whenever she’s sat anywhere, I needed to be right next to her ready to catch her, and it was quite hard work if I needed to do anything, especially as she doesn’t like to be laid down, front or back! I’d seen these pretty padded floor mats advertised on Instagram for a long time and was just about to get one when Ben spotted a slightly cheaper version on Amazon. And oh my goodness, it’s a game changer! I saw a review that said it had made someone a better parent and thought that was a bit overkill, but I have to say I agree! I’m able to let Emmy play independently (when she actually wants to…) but I can also get a bit more done rather than sitting next to her and getting exhausted all the time! It also looks pretty nice too and makes it far more comfortable for adults to be on the floor as well so it makes a huge difference.
The mat has been very very useful the past few weeks too as Emmy has started making very good attempts at crawling! She’s never particularly liked laying on tummy and has always wanted to be sat up instead, so that’s how she’s spent a lot of time lately, but it’s meant she hasn’t had a lot of practice towards crawling as she’s rarely on her tummy. But this month she discovered that she can transfer her weight while sitting onto her hands so she can reach forward for things, and has started to get onto her hands and knees too, then propel herself forward. It’s mostly meant that she’s fallen on her face a lot, so the padded mat has been very useful in that respect, but she’s also much better at reversing and rolling – in fact, she rolls pretty much anywhere she wants to go, including towards me in the shower on a morning!
After returning from Italy at the end of the month, we had a milestone for me – my first birthday with a baby! It wasn’t terribly excited because it was the day after we came home from holiday so it meant a lot of unpacking and tidying, but we went out for lunch with both our families to a local pub turned steakhouse, which was good but not fantastic, then saw Ben’s sister in the afternoon too. It seemed very strange to be celebrating a birthday with my own baby though!