Tag Archives: month-by-month

Ben is 17 Months Old!

Happy Halloween from our 17-month old monkey!

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Today, Ben is 17 months old! We can’t believe he’s a month away from being a year and a half. Ben has 7 teeth {top 4 + bottom 2 center + top left molar} and I just saw the makings of a new molar about to emerge.

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Ben has had a couple bouts of illness this last month {roseola and the stomach flu} and has lost a bit of weight. He dropped from the 15th percentile back down to the 4th. Ben hasn’t bounced back from his illnesses as quickly as we would have expected. We saw the doctor who encouraged us to try some probiotics and really bump up the calories and fat to boost his weight back up. Ben hasn’t had much of an appetite for dinner {probably partly due to a new molar coming in} so he has been waking up very early and very hungry.

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That reminds me – I’ve been getting asked a lot lately what size Ben is wearing these days. As mentioned above, he’s still a little peanut! Mostly he’s wearing 12-18 months, but still some 9-12 months. In particular, pants are very difficult to buy for Ben because his little legs are so thin. I think he’ll be in 12-18 month clothing for a while still!

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As I keep saying every month, Ben is getting more and more fun by the day. The biggest changes in the last month, I’d say, have been the vocabulary explosion and that Ben has started getting into climbing. He is still super sweet {getting sweeter?!}, very giggly and affectionate.

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Listening to Ben talk and learn to talk/figure out how to say new words has been really neat to see. I’m not sure how many words he can say – probably close to 50 by now. I’d say his actual vocabulary {knowing words in context} is between 25-30 words. Not all of the words sound like how an adult would say them – airplane is “ah pah” but they’re consistent and he knows what he’s saying.

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Some of his regularly used words are: ball, truck, bath time, nana {banana}, down, hat and applesauce. A big majority of his vocabulary is food words, though his most commonly used word right now is Edina, our nanny’s name. He has started to say words that he had previously only signed – like water and all done. He answers yes or no to simple questions, particularly around food. Ben can follow simple instructions, for example, he can pick out a story that he wants to read and then come sit in your lap.

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He’s also learning about animals and really loving animals lately! We went to the zoo recently and Ben was extremely engaged in seeing the animals and making animal sounds. It was adorable. He especially loved the river otters, the giraffe and the baby gorilla! He makes a ferocious lion impersonation too. 🙂

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New this last month – Ben has turned into quite the climber! At the start of October he had not figured out how to go backwards down a set of stairs or safely climb off of something on his own. About two weeks ago somehow he magically figured out how to go down things safely. He can climb off of our bed or down from a chair and he can scoot backwards down the stairs. This opened up a whole new arena for him to start climbing anything he possibly can.

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Ben has also started going to a tumbling class, which is perfect to get the climbing crazies out! He goes to a structured class one day a week and then we’re allowed to come in later in the week for unstructured time on the equipment. The class is for tots just his age and gives the kiddos the opportunity to safely climb up and over things, tumble around, jump into a ball pit, bounce on a trampoline and work on other gross motor skills.

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Preschool is still going well. We’ve gotten into more of a routine this month with taking Ben to his school program two afternoons a month. He’s starting to get into the groove there and knows what to expect and really is starting to learn the songs. Now that we’re into it, I’m seeing a lot of value {not just all the work that’s involved!} and we’re really enjoying it.

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We just got this fancy “tot clock” for Ben’s room. It’s a night light that changes colors when it’s okay for Ben to wake up {i.e. after 6 a.m.!}. This clock is really neat – we have it set to a soft orange hue for sleepy time, along with some light background noise {mostly to drown out the creaky floors!}, then it changes to a blue/green at 6 a.m. to signal that it’s a reasonable time to wake up.

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Because of his recent illnesses, lack of appetite for dinner and waking up starving, Ben has been waking for the day between 4 and 5 a.m. Right now, the tot clock is not going to solve the issue of him not waking up. Once we get him on the right track with eating again, I think it will be helpful to get him to stay in bed ultimately until 6:30, or better yet, 7!

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The weather this month has been absolutely fantastic. I can’t think of an October in the nine years we’ve lived in Seattle that has been anywhere near this nice. Usually it’s just pouring down rain in October. Not this year! We’ve gotten an extra long playground season for little Ben and he’s one happy camper about it.

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Here’s to another great month – I can’t wait to see what Ben is like a month from now!

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Ben is 16 Months Old!

Every day Ben continues to demonstrate how much he is learning right now – it is such an incredible thing to experience as a parent. Our little tyke is 16 months old now and his language and communication skills have exploded over the last few weeks. That has been one of the highlights of the last month.

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Because of our recent vacation, Ben only just had his 15-month check up last week. The doctor gave him a clean bill of health, along with four vaccines. We were excited to see Ben break through the 10th percentile in weight for the first time – he’s now in the 15th percentile! For height he’s around the 40th percentile. As of last week, Ben weighed 21 pounds, 14 ounces and was 30 3/4 inches tall.

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We have been having so much fun watching Ben learn to talk recently. He had been repeating words for a while and began to build up a vocabulary with proper association. Today he has a vocabulary close to 30 words, I bet. It seems like he’s learning a new word or two every day. I’m pretty blown away at how much he is able to communicate. His doctor let us know that his vocabulary is much more advanced than his age, which I had no idea.

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It’s hard to say what his favorite words are at any given point, but they definitely include:

  • Kitty
  • Truck
  • Yah (yes)
  • Lina (Auntie Alina)
  • Ceiling
  • All done
  • Bath time

Ben picked up on the baby sign language pretty quickly around 12 months. We taught him a few signs for things like “more” and “water” and “milk” – it’s really helped him figure out how to communicate with us. While we were on our recent trip Ben came up with his own sign for “hungry” or “eat” – he just started pointing to his mouth when he wanted some food. He’s very good at pointing at something and saying “that” which is super helpful so we know what he’s asking for.

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What’s possibly even more fun is the associations Ben is making. His nanny sings songs with him all the time and he’s learning random words from the songs. He can point to and say “ceiling.” “floor,” “window,” and “door” because of a silly song. He can identify his head, nose, mouth, tummy, feet and ears and can clap his hands. He is starting to be able to point out animals in books, in person or on the refrigerator magnets. There are a few animal sounds that he makes, but mostly just the name of the animal or he can point to the animal if you say its name. I just cannot believe how much his language skills are developing right now.

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In addition to communication, Ben’s physical skills are developing and he has become super stable on his feet. He’s beginning to pay attention to uneven surfaces and he’s falling a lot less {though he did just take a nasty tumble, nose first, into some concrete at the playground over the weekend}.

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Ben has taken to scurrying around the house these days. His “scurry” is somewhere between a walk and a run – he’s moving fast but not too fast. He loves to push his old school popcorn popper around the house and do laps through our circular main floor.

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One of Ben’s new favorite activities is somersaulting into Jackson’s bed. This all started with him running and jumping into Jackson’s bed and somewhere recently he figured out how to somersault. His somersaults are not quite on point but they are getting really close.

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Another highlight of the last month or so has been how focused Ben has become on something that is of interest to him. He has really taken to reading and right now his favorite books are those that have one big picture of something {i.e. a truck!} on it, or really interactive books like touch and feel books. The other day while I was making dinner he sat in Alex’s lap and they read stories and talked to each other for a good half an hour. It was so sweet to listen to.

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Ben’s personality is continuing to emerge. He is SUCH an entertainer. It is hilarious to watch – he has started blowing kisses as his way to say hello or goodbye and he does things to try to make people smile and laugh. He has begun laughing in appropriate situations – it is so funny. He is really starting to associate his actions with getting a smile from someone.

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Ben’s demeanor is so sweet. He’s a fun-loving kiddo. He is liberal with the hugs these days and if I’m sitting on the floor with him he’ll walk over and climb right into my lap for a story. He is fairly calm, but also very loud and dramatic at times. If he’s got an opinion about something he is sure to let you know. It is really hard not to laugh if he’s having a tantrum about something ridiculous!

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We are really finding that getting out for an active adventure every day is very important. Ben gets to a point where he gets bored if he is cooped up inside for too long. Most days for the last few months have been spent with at least one trip to the playground in the morning and another outing somewhere else. Now that the rainy season is looming over us {not here yet!!} we’re scouring the web to come up with an arsenal of tot activities. Ben tried out My Gym today and did a really cool gym class – I think that’s going to be a weekly thing now!

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I can only imagine that when I sit down at the end of October {let’s be real, the beginning of November} to write my next month post about Ben turning 17 months that he’ll be talking even more and maybe mastered his somersault. It’s hard to picture what he’ll be like in a month, but I can say for sure that he’s changing more and more every day. This little boy is a blast!

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Ben is 15 Months Old!

My baby is really not a baby anymore. Last weekend he turned into a toddler before my eyes and today he is 15 months old. This little boy is making leaps and bounds right now – I can’t keep up with all of the changes. Ben is the light of our life and we absolutely adore how sweet and friendly he is, what an inquisitive personality he has and how independent and determined he is becoming.

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We won’t have his 15 month checkup until the end of September so I don’t have an updated weight or height. He’s probably somewhere between 21 and 22 pounds and I’m guessing 29 or 30 inches tall.

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Developmentally, Ben is on-point! We had an evaluation with an occupational therapist {this is a really incredible benefit we receive because he was a preemie – I wish everyone would take advantage of seeing an OT for their babe!} and learned that Ben is right where he is supposed to be, developmentally, which is always a concern with a premature baby. We got some great tips for how to keep helping him thrive.

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Over the last month the biggest change we have seen in Ben is his ability to walk. We made the call that he was a walker at the very end of 13 months and as a 14 month old he has really started to master it. Watching Ben learn how to walk was one of the coolest things I’ve experienced.

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It was so much different than seeing him learn how to crawl or roll over or sit up. It took so much determination and he was SO proud of himself when he would progress. He has been practicing different falling techniques and we could tell that he was trying to figure out how to turn by doing it over and over and over. Today, as an official 15 month old, he is really sturdy on his feet and is able to navigate transitions {i.e. rugs, steps up or down} really well.

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Independence has been a huge change recently, too. We’re now able to leave him in his room for several minutes to play by himself while we do something else and most of the time he stays fully engaged in whatever he was doing. He has been loving looking at books with one picture per page {great for vocabulary development!}, playing with his dump truck or anything with music.

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We sort of caved and let him play on the iPad. The bigger “cave” was getting the gigantic “tot proof” iPad case. It’s ridiculous, but I think he could throw it out the window and it would survive. He really likes to listen to music and he loves touching things on the screen, so one day last week I let him mess around on a baby app. We’re certainly not intending on this being a regular thing yet, but the iPad will definitely come on our upcoming plane ride!

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Communication has been so cool over the last few months. Ben’s vocabulary in actual words {not just sign language} is increasing – his favorite words are: pasta, cracker and kitty and he not only can say the word, but he says it correctly in context. It is so neat to watch him figure things out and to see that he can understand what I’m saying.

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One day recently I told him to sit down while he was in the bath tub and before I could help him sit down, he sat down. It’s moments like that that I have to sort of take a step back and realize how much this kid can understand and how much he’s growing up {insert mama tear here!}.

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Ben has transitioned over the last month to having only one nap a day, which has been fantastic. That means more time to take longer trips up to the playground! How Ben plays at the playground seems to change on a weekly basis. His favorite things are playing in the wood chips or the sand, playing with the dump trucks or the tricycle. He also loves watching the big kids play.

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Ben has really become a water baby! I’m starting to wonder if he’s part fish – he is so comfortable in water and he loves splashing his hands and kicking his feet. We’ve had a lot of fun with the kiddie pool and splash pad in our backyard, wading pools and outdoor pools around the city and going to the beach. Oh, and the bath, but he’s getting bored in the bathtub, so we’ve got to step it up, I guess.

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Over the last month, sleep has been a big focus for us. One of our goals was to get Ben to totally put himself to sleep. We absolutely achieved that goal, and it happened much easier and faster than we expected. So, now Ben is putting himself to sleep independently and has been sleeping basically better than ever.

{B discovered the Nest camera when he woke up! I thought this screen shot was hilarious!}

{I thought this screen shot of Ben discovering the Nest camera was hilarious!}

Last weekend when Alex was out of town, Ben “officially” became a toddler. Everyone always says it’s a game changer when the tot starts walking – while I knew things would change I really didn’t expect it to be any different in terms of how fast Ben would be. Yeah, that was naive. Ben was a super fast crawler but now I literally can turn my back and not actually know where he is 2 seconds later.

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He’s vertical now and at eye level with our wine glasses hanging up in the hutch in the dining room, which he likes to touch. From there, he goes to the dog’s water dish and throws something {half the time, my keys} into it. Then he runs in the bathroom and opens the locked cabinet door, and then pushes open the toilet seat, then pulls the toilet paper from the roll and dumps out the trash before opening all one of the drawers and then tries to close the bathroom door and accidentally runs it over his toes or closes it on his fingers. And then he’s off to our bedroom where he pulls open a drawer so fast it sends him flying backwards. And then he’s in his room trying to open the diaper pail {not hard to figure out!}. Now he’s on the other side of the house playing ball with Jackson. From there, he’s in the kitchen pulling open the pots and pans cupboard and taking all of the lids out and clangs them together like cymbals. And that’s over the span of 2 minutes. Yes, I am perpetually exhausted these days.

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We are really looking forward to starting Ben’s cooperative preschool in a few weeks. It’s a play-based school program and I’m excited to get some new ideas of things to do with him and have the opportunity to observe him playing with other kids. I think he’s going to love the social time – he is so friendly and seems to love being around other people.

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One of the bittersweet parts of Ben turning 15 months old is that we have decided, per the pediatrician’s suggestion, to be done giving him a bottle. It was really sad knowing that it was the last bottle we’ll ever give him, but it’s also exciting knowing that he’s growing up and turning into a little boy. He doesn’t need the bottle anymore and he is eating better than ever, loves food and is nailing it at restaurants lately.

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It still blows my mind how rapidly Ben is changing and how every month I keep saying it is still getting better and better. I really can’t imagine what changes are coming next for Ben, but everyone keeps saying it really does keep getting more and more fun.

Ben is 14 Months Old!

Without a doubt the development and changes in the last month have been more significant than any other month in the last 14. We’ve got a little boy on our hands!

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This last month has been filled with growth – physical and developmental! I swear Ben grew 3 inches this month {he has his next checkup at 15 months, where they’ll measure his height}. He weighs around 21 pounds but it’s been a while since we’ve gotten him on the scale. He has 6 teeth {2 on the bottom, 4 on top}. Finally his hair is growing too – he has these little sections in the back that are becoming curly and his hair is getting more and more blond. Oh the cuteness!! He also has a major tan line – I guess he tans like his mama! His little legs are quite tan from sticking out when he’s in the stroller {and yes, we do put sunscreen on him, and yes I use the good stuff}.

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In the last month or so, one of the biggest things that Ben has been working on is communicating effectively with us. He is getting so good at pointing at what he wants. Sometimes he’s even patient while we get it for him! This is so unbelievably helpful and has cut down on some whining. He is becoming more and more independent and wants to do things on his own sometimes.

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Ben is really mastering some of the sign language we’re using with him. He learned the sign for “milk” a couple months ago and more recently can sign “water” and “all done” and “more” – all very, very helpful.

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Speaking of water – this last month has been a huge, huge transition for Ben with regard to swapping milk in a bottle with water in a sippy cup. The Munchkin 360 sippy cup and kids Nalgene water bottle {without the vent} have been his two favorites. He can drink from both cups completely on his own!

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As a 13-month old he smoothly transitioned from 4 bottles a day to 2, one when he wakes up in the morning and one when he goes to sleep. He drinks 10-12 ounces of whole milk total in a day now. Weaning him off of milk was significantly easier than I expected. There were some tough days earlier on in the transition but it was pretty smooth, especially once he figured out the sippy cup. I think that was the most helpful factor.

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Milk is no longer an important source of calories for Ben. It’s even getting to the point where the bottle isn’t even what he wants or needs when he’s looking for comfort. Our pediatrician recommended being done with the bottle altogether by 15 months, so I guess that means that’s coming this next month.

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Since Ben is getting his calories and nutrients from real food now he’s eating like a little champ! In the last week we got to the point where Ben has started to essentially eat about half of an adult-size portion. I’m still very much adjusting to this – it’s a huge change of mindset to be preparing that much more food.

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Ben started out as a 13-month old who was learning to stand up on his own, took some steps mid-month and then finished out the month by officially beginning to walk! It has been such an exciting month for Mr. Ben!

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Sleep for Ben hasn’t been stellar this last month. I attribute it to Alex and me leaving Ben for four days when we were in California. For most of the last month he regressed to waking up once in the night, seemingly for some comfort and cuddles, and quite often arose for the day by/before 5 a.m. Not his best month for sleep, but certainly not his worst.

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After this change in his sleep {previously he had slept through the night at least 6 of 7 nights a week for at least two months consistently} we played around and re-worked his bedtime routine a bit. I’ve been a big fan of Elizabeth Pantley’s “No Cry Sleep Solution” – I know I’m in the minority but I’m just never going to get on the “cry it out” bandwagon.

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We revisited the book and are re-implementing some of the strategies {we had done this several months ago} and we are seeing positive changes. We also got him a night light and started shutting Ben’s door at night. Ben is going down to bed really well and he puts himself to sleep in his crib {with company} and is starting to put himself back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night. All of these things he had done previously but made a major regression at the end of 12 months.

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As of the last few days, Ben’s bedtime is 7 p.m. and his wake time is around 6:30 a.m., give or take about 20 minutes. We’re really happy to be back on track!

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In the last month Ben has started mimicking us SO much. He’s repeating words left and right and he’s begun imitating what we do sometimes, too. Ben can blow kisses and point to his tummy when asked where it is. He mainly repeats food words – “pasta” is his favorite. He absolutely loves to play peek-a-boo. It’s the cutest thing!

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We did a lot of traveling this last month. Ben came with us to Leavenworth for a day trip. We went up to Camano Island to spend the 4th of July with our friends. Ben and I met Alex way up north in Vancouver, British Columbia for a quick getaway, and then last weekend we went to Seabrook, Washington for a beach vacation. We love getting out and about, but we’re just as content to be at home and spend the afternoon up at our neighborhood park.

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This kiddo is turning into a little boy right before our eyes. I am so excited to see what Ben’s 15th month brings us – I have a feeling some more teeth and running are upon us this month…

Ben is 13 Months Old!

I’m not sure if I’ll really keep up with the month-by-month updates now that Ben is one. He has been doing so many new and fun things lately that I wanted to try to document it, so here we are…

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This beautiful baby of ours has turned into a true-to-form toddler over the last six weeks. Tantrums are happening, drama is ensuing, Ben suddenly has preferences {and demands!} and is communicating quite effectively with us. He’s started to point to what he wants and he’s using sign language for things like “all done” or “milk” – it’s pretty handy.

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Over the last month or so, Ben has gotten four new teeth, for a grand total of six {four on the top and two on the bottom}. This has been very painful for all of us, but also really fun because it has helped him become a better eater and chewer. When he smiles it’s still hard to see his top teeth sometimes so I don’t really have a good photo to show all of his pearly whites. Speaking of pearly whites, holy cow is it hard impossible to brush this kid’s teeth!!

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Ben has been eating really, really well lately. Since he was about 11 months old his ability and interest in eating has continued to grow. Until about a week ago he had zero interest in fruit and now he’s downing about 1/3 of a banana every morning and he shovels strawberries and raspberries into his mouth as fast as he can.

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Yesterday his nanny gave him a whole peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which he finished, and he has a new found love of graham crackers and Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies. Cheerios are still the way to his heart, along with sausage and cottage cheese. Another favorite is mini waffles {I’ve heard the blueberry ones are really good!}.

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{Side note: Ben has one of those little snack cups that you can reach your hand in and grab a small snack, like a Cheerio, and it's supposed to not dump out the snack. Not surprisingly, Ben figured out how to dump out the entire contents on the first day he started using said snack cup. Conveniently for mama it was in the middle of a store.}

{Side note: Ben has one of those little snack cups that you can reach your hand in and grab a small snack, like a Cheerio, and it’s supposed to not dump out the snack. Not surprisingly, Ben figured out how to dump out the entire contents on the first day he started using said snack cup. Conveniently for mama it was in the middle of a store.}

Ben’s personality continues to emerge. He is such a little entertainer. He flirts with everyone – he’s got this coy look in his eyes and then out of nowhere he will start waving his arm to say hello to someone. The wave quickly turns into a full on hand clap/cackle/giggle/hammy smile combo. He is going to be such a piece of work!

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It’s hard to say what Ben’s favorite activity is, though I could come up with a few things. Probably the top choice is pulling all of the books off the bookshelf. That’s mama’s least favorite activity. He loves to read the books, too, but only after he’s pulled a handful off the shelf. He loves turning anything into a drum set – he bangs on anything possible. Ben is very happy when left to independently explore something – he loves to be set loose to crawl around, pull himself up on something and cruise from one thing to the next. He’s a really independent kid, but he’ll check to make sure you’re still hanging out with him, usually by coming back to you for a hug.

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Lately Ben has been more willing/able to follow directions. He generally listens when we tell him “no” or “no touch” or to come here or to stay on his back when we’re changing his diaper.

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One of our big to do’s with Ben as a 12 month-old was to reduce the amount of milk he was drinking. The goal was to go from 30+ ounces per day down to around 15 ounces. It ended up being significantly easier than I expected. The transition coincided very well with him starting to eat a lot more solid food and we were able to very easily phase out quite a bit of milk.

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Right now he only gets 2-3 bottles per day – for sure one when he wakes up and one when he goes to bed, though the morning bottle seems unnecessary as of late. We’re trying to limit it to two bottles and then extra milk during the day in a sippy cup. He seems to really want the comfort that’s associated with the bottle and even when he drinks milk from a sippy cup sometimes it’s unsatisfying to him. That said, he’s doing very well at drinking water from a sippy cup, which is really important now that he’s only having about 12 ounces of milk per day.

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Ben can say several words, including: dada, mama, dog {dog dog}, yum, hot, ball, up and he tries to say “all done” buttttt has some work to do on that one. He has been mimicking us a lot more with our actions and what we’re saying.

{Ben goes to story time at the library around once a week with his nanny. It's a fun time for him to play with other babies.}

{Ben goes to story time at the library around once a week with his nanny. It’s a fun time for him to play with other babies.}

In the last week Ben stood up without using anything to support him – we were at the park when he did it for the first time. It seemed like a fluke – it was as though he didn’t realize what he did. The next few days he repeated it many, many times, though. On Thursday, completely out of the blue, he stood up on his own and took three steps to walk to me. Alex, our nanny and I were all there to see it, which was so fun!

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This kiddo is turning into a little boy right before our very eyes. Every day he does something new and figures something else out. Parenthood has been a much different journey than I expected in the absolute best way possible.

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Ben is 12 Months Old!

We celebrated Ben’s first birthday last week. It was quite a momentous occasion with our family trip to the mountains followed by a casual birthday evening complete with burgers and ice cream. This week kicked off with Ben’s 12-month checkup and a follow-up visit at the eye doctor.

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For the first time ever in his life, Ben is officially in the 10th percentile for weight {he was born waaayyy below the 1st}! We were so excited to also hear that Ben’s head grew a ton, too. In his 9-month checkup his head was in the 3rd percentile and now it’s in the 25th percentile.

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Ben’s Stats:

  • Weight: 19 pounds 13 ounces (10th percentile)
  • Height: 28.5 inches (about the 18th percentile)
  • Head size: 45 centimeters (25th percentile)
  • Number of teeth: almost 3
{My friend Nicole sent me this picture of Ben at story time on his birthday. Our nanny took him there. Nicole shared with me that the whole group was singing "Happy Birthday" to Ben. I really wished I could have been there to see that sweet moment.}

{My friend Nicole sent me this picture of Ben at story time on his birthday. Our nanny took him there. Nicole shared with me that the whole group was singing “Happy Birthday” to Ben. I really wished I could have been there to see that sweet moment.}

The visit to both doctors went very well and we got a great report. Ben is developing as a normal 12-month old kid should be. That’s music to any parent’s ears! Ben got his 12-month shots {MMR, Hepatitis A and pneumococcal booster} which we’re really happy about {though it was quite painful for Ben}, given the current measles outbreak, and he got a blood draw to check his hemoglobin. His iron levels were slightly low, which is common in preemies and breastfed babies, so we have to give him some iron supplements.

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Development-wise, Ben is so close to standing unsupported. He keeps testing his balance more and more and he’s at about 10 seconds of standing without holding onto anything right now. It’ll come soon enough!

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This last month has been so fun. Every month is my new favorite age. Ben has such a sweet, infectious personality. His little coy smile is so endearing and then when he giggles {always at the dog!} it’s impossible not to laugh, too. I love watching Ben move from one toy to climb something and back to a different toy and then across the room to climb something and then over to mama or dada for a quick cuddle and then back to being on his own. It’s just such a fun age.

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We were really excited for Ben to get some new toys for his birthday because we knew that his baby toys weren’t keeping him entertained and weren’t developmentally appropriate anymore. He got some really fun stuff for his birthday and it’s been so cool to watch him check out his new toys and figure them out.

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Ben has a four word vocabulary – he can say dada, mama, dog {usually “dog dog”} and yum. Per the doctor’s request, we’re going to start working on identifying objects and body parts. Ben’s homework was to be able to point to two body parts on command at his 15-month checkup.

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This last month Ben and I got together with two of my favorite nurses who took care of me when I was in the antepartum unit of the hospital during the last four weeks of my pregnancy. Kay and Katy were spectacular nurses and it was such a pleasure to spend a couple hours with them so they could get to know Ben. I will be forever grateful for the care I received while I was awaiting Ben’s birth. We also keep in touch with Ben’s primary nurse, Megan, from the NICU, but she moved to Colorado for the summer.

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Ben has been much more engaged in reading these last few months. He has some strong preferences for books! His favorite is “The Pout Pout Fish” and he makes a good pout pout face:

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Ben’s eating habits have really taken off in the last six weeks or so. He is starting to feed himself much better and really take in calories. He has been relying on milk too much, though we’re starting to taper off and transition to him getting his calories primarily from food. He absolutely loves meat and cheese, which is not surprising in the slightest, given his parents’ preferences.

{Ben's birthday breakfast!}

{Ben’s birthday breakfast!}

We are having a blast with our little boy and wishing we could spend all of our time with him. With summer on the horizon we’re looking forward to trying out our new hiking backpack, taking Ben to the beach, lots and lots of swimming, more picnics in the park and exploring the city with our new toddler.

Happy Birthday Ben!

A year ago today we got to meet our little boy. It’s been the most incredible year of my life and it is such a privilege to be able to be Ben’s mom and watch him grow up. Every day is more fun than the last. I can’t even imagine what we’re in store for during Ben’s second year.

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As a 12 month old, Ben is expressive, happy, wiggly, cuddly, giggly, curious and animated. He rarely sits still for long – Ben loves to be on the move, and boy is he fast! He is really close to being able to stand unsupported. He weighs 19 pounds 10 ounces and is juuuuust shy of the 10th percentile for weight.

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Here are some of my favorite photos that tell the story of Ben’s first year of life:

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{I’ll never forget the first time I saw this boy! Benjamin Ames Allen was born at 11:21 on Tuesday May 31st, 2016.}

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{Being born 7 weeks early meant that Ben had to spend his first 26 days in the NICU. When he was in the NICU he always had his arms up and we joked that he looked like he was lounging at the beach. Here he is shown with heart monitors, temperature sensors, a temporary IV and a feeding tube. He had an oxygen and breathing monitor on his foot too. His diaper was so big here!}

{Ben was so tiny I could stick him down my shirt for Kangaroo Care}

{Ben was so tiny I could stick him down my shirt for Kangaroo Care}

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{Proud dad from day one! Alex had to take the initiative to figure out Ben’s care right away since I was recovering from a c-section. He was so unbelievably supportive of both of us.}

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{After 26 days in the NICU Ben got to come home with our family. We couldn’t wait to start our lives together.}

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{Cuddle time!}

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{After Ben came home we were chomping at the bit to get out of the house. Looking back, I’m really impressed that we took Ben on a 3 hour road trip to Yakima just two weeks after he came home from the hospital!}

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{"Meeting" Madeline via FaceTime! She was due the day after Ben but was born on the 4th of July instead!}

{“Meeting” Madeline via FaceTime! She was due the day after Ben but was born on the 4th of July instead!}

Very early on Ben got to meet his grandparents and has seen them several times this year even though they all live in the Midwest. He met his Aunt Alina and then Uncle John shortly thereafter, too.

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{This is one of my favorite photos summarizing Ben’s first year. Our greatest challenge with Ben was feeding him. It’s what kept him in the hospital so long and it remained a challenge for his first 9 months of life. I love the beauty behind this photo, but also the story behind it.}

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{We created a beautiful nursery for Ben and spent hours upon hours feeding him in that chair.}

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{One of my favorite parts of parenthood has been going through it with my husband, who I am lucky to call my partner. Some days were easier than others but at the end of the day we were always a team. It’s inspiring and heartwarming watching Alex as a father. He’s truly a natural and Ben is so unbelievably lucky to have Alex as his dada.}

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{We took Ben swimming for the first time in Lake Chelan. Now, Ben kicks and splashes and screams with excitement every time we go for a swim!}

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{We spent every Wednesday evening for 12 weeks this fall getting to know these babies and their parents. I’m so fortunate for the connection we have to our community thanks to our parents group, PEPS.}

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{Being a preemie we expected Ben to develop at his “adjusted age” – so his actual age minus 7 weeks. So far, he’s developing right on target with his actual age. It was amazing watching him start to build strength from such an early point.}

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{Right around 12 weeks of age Ben started packing on the pounds and looking much less like a teeny preemie. This photo was taken the morning I went back to work. The transition was much harder than I expected but I’ll always love this photo of his cute bald head to remind me of those times.}

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{Every fall we take an annual trip to Leavenworth with our friends. This year we all brought babies along!}

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{Smiles all around for this happy baby!}

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{I spent the first year of Ben’s life pumping breast milk for him because he wasn’t able to breastfeed.}

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{Watching these two together warms my heart!}

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{Right around 5 months Ben started hitting some really fun milestones – he got to sit in the chair part of the stroller instead of the bassinet!}

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{Ben’s first plane ride was a trip to Illinois for Thanksgiving.}

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{He’s cute even when he cries! In reflecting back on the year we realized that he was fussier than we realized/more than normal in the beginning.}

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{One of my all-time favorite photos of Ben! I think it captures how sweet and lovable he is.}

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{We had so much fun getting out into the mountains last winter. I strapped Ben onto my back and we scooted along the trail on cross country skis.}

{This was the first morning that Ben and I had the same thing for breakfast. It was such a cool feeling getting to share a meal like that.}

{This was the first morning that Ben and I had the same thing for breakfast. It was such a cool feeling getting to share a meal like that.}

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{This kid is all smiles! He learned to sit up on his own around 7 months.}

{Ben learned to crawl at 9 months. Once he started moving he never stopped! He quickly figured out how to pull himself up onto furniture.}

{Ben learned to crawl at 9 months. Once he started moving he never stopped! He quickly figured out how to pull himself up onto furniture.}

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{Each week our nanny takes Ben to story time at the library. He loves hanging out with other babies and singing songs.}

{Each week our nanny takes Ben to story time at the library. He loves hanging out with other babies and singing songs.}

{Ben is checking out his cousin Nico! They got to meet for the first time in Arizona. The boys are about 7 months apart.}

{Ben is checking out his cousin Nico! They got to meet for the first time in Arizona. The boys are about 7 months apart.}

{Our family trip to Whistler!}

{Our family trip to Whistler was one for the memory books. We loved staying in the village and strolling around town with our little guy. Alex and I tried to get out skiing a few times but only managed one day and then cut our trip short after Ben came down with hand, foot and mouth disease.}

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{I braved a flight and a weekend on my own with Ben when we went to visit my family in Minnesota in April. Ben got to meet my girlfriends from high school and his great aunt Sarah.}

{This boy and his dog are inseparable! Ben loves feeding Jackson, petting him and giggling at him. Somehow, Jackson remains amused!}

{This boy and his dog are inseparable! Ben loves feeding Jackson, petting him and giggling at him. Somehow, Jackson remains amused!}

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{Ben was a little late to the game in getting his first teeth – these two popped through when he was about 10 months old. His top two teeth are emerging right now.}

{Meeting Madeline and having Ben meet Sarah was a real highlight this year!}

{Meeting Madeline and having Ben meet Sarah was a real highlight this year!}

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{Leavenworth is such a special place for Alex and me. We were so happy to celebrate Ben’s first birthday there with his grandparents.}

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{And now we have a one year-old! Thank you, Ben, for bringing us so much joy in this first year of your life. We are so proud of you and can’t wait to continue watching you grow up!}

Ben is 11 Months Old!

This last month has been filled with exploration, extra snuggling and tons of giggles {mostly as a result of Jackson}. Ben has totally mastered crawling, pulling himself up to stand, waving and clapping. He’s working on furniture surfing and walking with a lot of support, eating solid foods and understanding what the word “no” means.

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Ben’s 11 month stats:

  • Weight: 18 pounds 13 ounces {around the 8th percentile}
  • Number of teeth: 2 {plus 2 coming in on top and maybe 1 on the bottom sometime soonish}

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We’ve been really curious whether or not Ben would keep his pretty blue eyes and it seems like he just might! Alex and I both have hazel eyes, so we weren’t sure. My dad has blue eyes so maybe that’s where they came from.

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In the last month or so Ben has finally started getting more hair! It’s going to be so funny to see him with a full head of hair since we’ve gotten so used to seeing him be basically bald for his whole life. It doesn’t show up very well in photos but it’s really starting to come in.

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We started feeding Ben solid food at age 6 months. He has had major ebbs and flows where he ate a lot and then hardly anything at all. He became really temperamental at times and seems to want to be in charge of feeding himself.

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In the last month we’ve laid off on a lot of purees and food pouches and focused more on giving him random bits of food to feed himself. It seems to have been exactly what he wanted because now he’s really starting to eat more. He loves cottage cheese, meat and Cheerios! It’ll be fun to see how it changes once he has his top teeth.

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I’ll be surprised if Ben starts walking in the next month, though he is always trying to stand and walk with support. It’s incredible how much stronger he is today even from a few weeks ago. He still has a little ways to go before he takes his first unsupported steps.

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Over the last 6 or 8 weeks Ben’s diaper has become extremely difficult to change. I’m not sure if it’s entirely that he doesn’t want it changed or that he doesn’t want to stay put on his back. Whenever we put him down on the changing table he flips over and the saga continues! Most nights when I’m changing him into his overnight diaper and jammies I am sweating and exhausted by the time I’m done! It’s like wrestling a wild boar covered in olive oil…

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April was a month where he was mostly healthy, despite two colds and a cough. There was a 3 or 4 day period where he didn’t have a runny nose! I think that played into him sleeping really well and taking in more calories from solid food. Last night, Ben’s first night of being 11 months old, we opted to discontinue his “dream feed” at 10ish {while he’s still asleep we feed him one last bottle to carry him through the night} and he slept until 7 a.m.! Hopefully that is a sign of good sleep to come.

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While he’s sleeping well overnight he’s become a little more difficult to put to bed on occasion. He has been fighting it more than he used to. We’ve got some tricks up our sleeves so it’s not too painful for any of us, though we do miss the days where we could simply lay him down in his crib and he’d fall right to sleep!

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Starting around 9 months Ben randomly became really cuddly and thankfully that hasn’t changed. When Ben wakes up early Alex has been going in to get him and feed him and then brings him back to cuddle with me in bed. It’s pretty much the best way I could imagine starting the day!

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It’s really hard to believe that Ben is transitioning to wear 12-18 month clothing. I was recently shopping in the baby section of a store and could hardly find anything size 12-18 month and then realized that is now in the toddler section! My little baby isn’t really a little baby anymore. It’s crazy to think he’ll actually be a toddler next month.

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Ben is such a fun kid. We just love his little personality. I have a feeling he’s going to be a giant sweetheart. And also a ham. He is smiley and is starting to laugh a lot. Jackson and our nanny get the most laughs, though, so Alex and I are working on emulating them a bit more. I guess we’re not that funny…

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In the last month, Ben and I took a trip together to visit my family and friends in Minnesota. He went to story time at the library most weeks and we’ve been trying to get him to play with other babies as often as possible. We are planning on having him go to a baby gym at a local community center during the week to get a chance to play with other kids and with different stuff, and simply get out of the house. We finished out the month with a wonderful visit from my friend Sarah and her family, including baby Madeline, who is 5 weeks younger than Ben.

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Now that the weather is finally turning around {did you hear – this was the wettest winter on record ever in Seattle!} we’ve been getting out for more runs in the jogging stroller and our evening walks are getting longer and longer. I’m so excited to spend the summer with Ben.

Ben is 10 Months Old!

The theme of this last month has without a doubt been movement. Now as a 10-month old, Ben is constantly on the move! His body has basically been always moving, but now he can get from one place to another and then across the house in 2.832 seconds.

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Diaper changes are proving to be quite interesting with our wiggle worm – within .3 seconds of putting him on his back, he flips onto his tummy. Repeat 253 times until diaper is loosely on and parents give up. In any case, we are having so much fun with this kid and watching him grow up is pretty much the best thing ever.

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Ben’s 10 month stats:

  • Weight: 17 pounds 12 ounces (5th percentile)
  • Number of teeth: 2!!!
  • Won’t know height until 12 months unless we measure

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In the last month Ben has gone from crawling within about a 5 foot radius to exploring the whole house. He is really getting fast, too! Within about 2 weeks of learning to crawl, Ben had become adept at pulling himself up. Now he can pull himself up simply by balancing on something – he’s been using my shirt to hold sometimes. It’s really impressive how quickly he picked it up.

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So far he has only taken a couple of steps when he’s holding onto something, so no furniture surfing yet. I have a feeling that will come very soon!

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Ben has become such a cuddle bug. It is the sweetest thing! He’s surely making up for lost time. He’ll crawl over to a plush toy, scoop it up into the crook of his neck and just nuzzle it. Sometimes he’ll crawl over to one of us and bury his head in our lap. I’ve been able to sit in the chair with him and read him stories – something I’ve longed for for quite a while.

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In the middle of the night Ben has been waking up a lot over the last two weeks – partly because he was sick. Many times it seemed like he just wanted some love. I was happy to oblige and cherished the moments of holding him like a baby, something he never used to tolerate. There really is something special about the middle of the night. Perhaps that sounds crazy, but it’s the only time when our house is silent, I can sit in his beautiful chair in his bedroom, peacefully rock him and look at the stars and the moon. He isn’t going to be a baby for much longer, so I’ll savor these moments while I can.

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Alex is less enthusiastic about the middle-of-the night cuddle parties and last night we didn’t have any! I’m ok with sleep too 😉

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In the last week or so Ben has made really exciting progress on feeding himself. We’ve changed our course a bit and are pushing finger foods over higher-calorie purees and it has made mealtimes more fun for everyone.

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Our initial thought about the purees was to replace calories from breastmilk because I couldn’t produce the 36 ounces he kept eating each day and he refused formula. Now, thankfully, he’s been taking a bottle of formula every day so we can all breathe a bit easier and focus more on finger foods. I’ve heard that 10 months is a big turning point in solid food for babies and they really start ingesting more finger foods.

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We’ve started having family breakfasts and dinners together and share with Ben whatever we’re eating. It’s infinitely easier than making purees. We do still try to spoon feed him a little puree or cottage cheese, yogurt, soup or something similar because he seems to enjoy it. I love our mealtimes together and it seems like Ben loves eating with other people and not just by himself.

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His personality is really anything but little. It is so fun watching it emerge and getting to know him. He’s started yelling at me when I’m on the phone and not paying him 100% of my attention and he’ll squak at us when we don’t feed him fast enough. He is really finding ways to communicate with us.

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Ben has started trying to be sweet when he’s doing something he’s not supposed to. It’s really hard not to laugh! He will look up with sweet puppy eyes, smile, giggle and then grab something he knows he’s not supposed to get. I have a feeling he’s going to be a big sweet heart and a piece of work!

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He is making a lot of new sounds, still only says “dada” but he’s really seeming to start to understand more of what we’re saying. He definitely knows what “no” means.

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As a 10-month old, Ben has one stamp on his passport and he has been on two plane trips, with a third coming up next week {he and I are going to Minnesota}. He’s been to three of the 50 states {Washington, Illinois and Arizona} plus Canada. Hopefully we’ll get him at least to California, Oregon and Wisconsin, in addition to Minnesota, by the time he’s two.

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This little boy makes our hearts so full and we can’t wait to see what Ben is like as a 10-month old. Stay tuned for more updates!

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P.S. – our 10-month “photo shoot” was the hardest one yet. Ben didn’t want to sit up in the chair so he kept sliding down, rolling over and farting… I have a feeling this is only the beginning!

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Ben is 9 Months Old!

Holy cow. When did this happen!?! Nine months sounds really old….

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Ben just had his 9-month check up with his new pediatrician {we switched doctors to one that was closer to our house}. We love the new clinic and I really like Ben’s new doctor.

Ben’s 9 month stats:

  • Weight: 17 pounds 7 ounces (~ 5th percentile)
  • Length: 27.5 inches (25th percentile)
  • Head size: 43 centimeters (5th percentile)

As with the last several months, Ben has become a new baby each week with all of the growing and developing he has been doing. As a 9 month-old he is crawling (!!!), giggling, chatting and wiggling his little body all over the place. We are now on our toes more than ever before!

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It was so fun to watch Ben figure out how to crawl. It was such a slow and steady progression over the last 6 weeks or so. First he started scooting backwards and then one day after countless days of rocking back and forth on his knees, lunging himself forward and rolling to get to something he figured it out and took his first few crawling steps forward. Even before he started crawling he began to pull himself up on some things around the house. It’s hard to believe the next major milestones will be standing and walking.

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Ben continues to be an absolute delight. He is so happy and gives us oodles of smiles. His grins are still toothless and adorable! Ben is a total wiggle worm and full of curiosity. He always wants to see what’s going on.

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His personality is so fun and sweet. He’s even becoming a little more cuddly. On a rare occasion he’ll lift his arms up and let you know he wants to be held. That’s the best! And when he snuggles his head into my shoulder I just melt!

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Ben has been giggling a lot {mostly at Jackson!} and is generally super smiley. Despite having an ear infection followed quickly by a cold, he had a terrific attitude through it all. No “man colds” for this little boy!

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Lately Ben has been eating more food that is not in the form of a puree. Some of his new favorites include pickles, french fries, cheese, chicken and anything with a tomato base.

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While we were traveling recently I picked up some store bought baby food pouches of pureed food, similar to what we make at home. Turns out, he loved them! I think the consistency is a little bit more thin and smooth than what we do at home. He devours them in about a minute or two!

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While he was sick and while we were traveling Ben didn’t eat as much solid food as he usually does, which meant that he needed more milk. My supply of milk has been declining over the last couple months so we’ve had to transition him to having a bottle of formula every day. It was a really difficult transition for us all but I’m happy to report that he usually takes the formula without much issue now.

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Lately Ben has been really engaged in reading. He has a few favorites, but mostly I try to mix things up a bit. He has quite a library! I’ve been trying to read him more animal books and talk about animal sounds a bit more. I’m thinking that Ben’s first trip to the zoo is going to happen soon.

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We’ve tried to have a lot of social time for Ben to get to play with other babies. Since he doesn’t go to daycare we’ve got to make up for the social interactions. A couple weeks ago we got together with some of our close friends and their kiddos, all of whom are close to Ben’s age. We love watching Roslyn grow – she’s only 4 weeks older than Ben and they both had IUGR.

{Ben and Roslyn are about 4 weeks apart and both of them were below the 1st percentile at birth, due to IUGR. It's been so incredible to watch them both thrive!}

Sleep has been really hit or miss the last month. Since Ben had his first ear infection plus a cold plus a trip this month his sleep has been intermittent. Overall, though, aside from the ear infection, he’s slept pretty well, though.

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The one and only time Ben has ever fallen asleep in a real bed was one morning on our recent vacation. Alex and I are really cautious when it comes to sleep for Ben so one of us was glued to the side of the bed making sure he was okay while he was snoozing.

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We’ve loved how delightful and fun Ben has been this last month! We’re having a blast with him and can’t wait to see what this next month has in store for us all.