We officially have a toddler in our house – again. Little Brother turned 13 months old a few days ago. His baby year went by so quickly, I’m scrambling to catch up!
Having a toddler again is a really joyous experience. I think the age of 12-18 months was one of my sweetest times with Ezra and definitely one of my favorite stages. I’m already enjoying it the second time around, but it’s a very different experience. Here are some ways the toddler stage is different the second time around.
If there’s one area of Little Brother’s life where I feel like I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, it’s feeding. Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s just that his eating habits are so different from anything I’ve ever experienced before, so I’m a little lost.
Ezra breastfed exclusively for six months, started pureed foods and cereals at six months, and had some sensory/motor difficulties that made him unable to eat table food solids until he was about six months old. He also weaned from breastfeeding at 28 months, so I was still nursing him around the clock at this stage.
Little Brother is completely different.
First of all, he loves his ba-ba. He took to formula/bottle feeding like a champ and was pretty hooked. When he hit 12 months, I knew I was supposed to move him from Gerber Soothe to whole milk. He had no issues with the transition, other than the temperature. Cold milk was NOT a hit. Neither are sippy cups (unless they are left around the house by Ezra, at which point you can bet they will end up in Little Brother’s mouth – go figure). But for his milk? Warm. Ba-ba. The end.
Also, I think that he would have a six ounce bottle every 2-3 hours if I let him. Which I’m, apparently, not supposed to. The pediatrician recommended no more than 20 ounces per day. YIKES!
As far as table food, he is a little carnivore. Yes, I call him that to his face. He LOVES meat. Chicken. Chicken nuggets. Taco meat. Barbecue meat. Meatballs. Hot dogs. If it used to be alive, he loves it and will devour it first! He also enjoys Cheerios, any fruits, and some veggies.
In reality, I cannot think of anything I’ve put in front of him that he HASN’T eaten. No joke. His daddy got him to eat CRAISINS for breakfast this morning. I’m still in shock. I didn’t think he had enough teeth for those!
There’s only three problems with this feeding arrangement.
First, giving him a ba-ba in the car, in the crib, or wherever we happen to be is a heck of a lot easier than sitting him down with table food or baby food. And I’m really lazy. And busy.
We rock dinner time. Breakfast and lunch, not so much. Unless a handful of Cheerios counts as a meal.
Second, he’s mildly low on iron. So, lately, I’ve been very thankful for iron-rich Gerber Cereals. Gerber Cereals are the #1 leading brand for iron for babies, and Little Brother enjoys eating the cereal mixed in with some baby food! Everybody wins!
Little Brother loves to see things drop and say “Uh-Oh!”
The third problem is constipation. This is a family issue, as Big Brother has struggled his entire life with it as well. I am not sure what it is about my boys and poop – but it’s a real love-hate relationship. Iron is constipating. Dairy is constipating. So between the formula we are using up, the whole milk we have transitioned to, and the iron – Little Brother has had the hardest time lately. Yesterday he started grunting, and after five minutes started screaming in pain. I ended up putting him on Ezra’s potty seat to help along the process. I called the doctor and she said we need to reduce dairy to three servings a day.
Try telling that to the boy who wants a ba-ba every few hours. Sheesh. Last night he woke up 3 times. I gave him a 5 oz bottle with one scoop of high-iron formula just to get him back to sleep. She said to increase his water intake – so does a watered down bottle count?
Thus, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the feeding stuff.
The good news is this: Little Brother is fed and growing. The end.
When Ezra was a toddler, he really dominated the schedule and we did everything on his terms. While it was – in some ways – inevitable, it wasn’t the healthiest dynamic. Everyone always told me that keeping a kid on a schedule has its benefits. THEY WERE RIGHT.
Now, because Ezra is on a regular school schedule, it makes it really easy to keep Little Brother on a schedule. We are all up between 5 and 6:30 AM. Cheerios for the boys, coffee for mommy.
We get Ezra ready for school, daddy ready for work, and then leave the house by 7:30 for school. After we drop off Ezra, Little Brother and I go to the YMCA. He hangs out in childcare for two hours while I work out for an hour and then work on schoolwork for an hour. We head home, and he goes down for a nap. I take a shower, eat lunch, and watch TV or do something else relaxing. I work on housework if I feel up to it, and then we go back to pick up Ezra.
After school, the boys play or watch a show together while I utilize my second energy wind to clean up the house and prepare for dinner. Daddy is home about 4:45 PM and then we move on to our evening routines: dinner, baths, book time, and bedtime. Little Brother is usually in bed first, between 6:30 and 7 PM, with Ezra not far behind.
When Ezra was this age, he was up til 9 or 10, so this is SO NICE! Yes, our mornings start freakishly early – BUT after six years of waking before the crack of dawn, my body is FINALLY used to it!
When Ezra was a toddler, we had to keep him busy doing ALL THE THINGS. I feel a little guilty sometimes that I don’t DO more STUFF with Little Brother.
Little Brother is an introvert like me, which is one reason I feel like our schedule works out so well the way it does. When he gets home after two hours in childcare, he is totally ready to crash. Even if his nap is short, he’s fairly content to just toddle around the house exploring or play in “Baby Jail” by himself. Occasionally I’ll turn on some Baby Einstein for him if I need to do some extra school or blogging work. We are together in the house, but it is quiet and we function very much independently.
Having siblings in the house warms my heart every day. The boys love each other deeply. Even though their activities are very parallel (they play more “beside” each other than “with” each other), watching them hang out is just really special. Having a toddler and a six year old isn’t quite as bad of a gap as I thought it would be.
Ezra is a super big helper when it comes to taking care of Little Brother. It’s really awesome to have an extra set of hands around, and Ezra is free 24/7 toddler entertainment. Toddler giggles are a fixed feature in our house!
One of the most bittersweet differences of having a toddler – again – is that this time around, our family is complete. When Ezra was a toddler, his Daddy was in Afghanistan, and I was solo parenting. This combination made the parenting of a toddler much more overwhelming. Not only is Daddy yet another set of hands to help lessen my load, the bond that he and Little Brother share is incredibly. Little Brother may have my personality, but he has utterly captured his Daddy’s heart – and vice versa!
Little Brother’s addition and Daddy’s ability to experience his milestones has been so healing for our family. Russ says, “There’s this battery inside me that I didn’t know I had – that is only charged up by time with my baby boy.” We joke that they are “addicted to each other,” which may be an overstatement, but only a slight one.
Chilled Out Momma
As I alluded to in my last post, there’s a lot going on within me that is just oh-so-good that I don’t even know now to share. But one of the biggest things is that I am SO CHILL.
Oh, don’t get me wrong – I still get stressed out. But there is this overall peace that has settled over every area of my life. All of that first-time mom angst and am I doing this right and what is everyone thinking about me and will I ever figure life out and feel like I’m not a kid anymore has receded to being barely audible background noise. I am content, calm, and assured. Not in a way that says, “I know exactly what I’m doing and what I’m doing is right and what you are doing is probably wrong” (*coughcough2011Aprillecoughcough*). But more, “I don’t have it all figured out and that’s 100% okay because I love my life anyway.”
I used to worry about so many things that now just really don’t matter at all. I’ve learned over time that it’s not my job to make everyone else in my life happy, and I don’t have to join in on the emotional chaos of others – be it my husband’s first-time-dad angst over every little thing or Little Brother throwing a fit because we put him in Baby Jail.
All this to say, I am loving being a toddler momma again.
I know I have a lot of readers who are first time moms – and I love you all so much. I remember those daysm, and I know just how HARD it can be. I know hearing that “it gets easier – I promise!” doesn’t make your TODAY any easier. So let me just take this moment to encourage you. It’s okay if you feel overwhelmed by toddlerhood – especially if this is your first kid. What you are doing IS hard. (P.S. That’s what Thomas the Tank Engine is for!) So give yourself a pat on the back (and a nap) today!