On the Care and Feeding of a Four-Month-Old

Leone Tripoding

Leone Tripoding

When Leone was born she looked like a prizefighter who had lost the match: her eyes were puffy and her face was squashed. She came out frowning, unsure about the world where she suddenly found herself.

Now, four months old,she’s much less skeptical. She’s a serious little creature but she has a good sense of humor and a patient, kind, sociable disposition.

She can’t really roll over yet but she can wriggle.

She’s such an accomplished wriggler that if you put her on her tummy she’ll kick and flail and manage to move somewhere. Then she raises her eyebrows in stunned surprise, as if to say “Where am I?”

She dislikes being on her tummy. Unlike her three siblings, she actually seems to sleep more peacefully on her back. I know that’s supposed to be the safest position for newborns but I’ve always put my babies on their tummies because they would not sleep in any other position.

We lie her on her back so much she has a bit of a bald spot on the back of her head–a telltale sign that she needs more tummy time.

“But her head’s not flat,” James says every time I tell him or one of the big kids to GET THAT BABY OFF THE BACK OF HER HEAD!

Flat or not, that little bald spot is telling us something (and it’s not that she needs anti-dandruff shampoo).

Four Months Old, Leone Loves to Suck her Thumb

Four Months Old, Leone Loves to Suck her Thumb

She Also Likes Baby Wrestling With Big Brother Etani

She Also Likes Baby Wrestling With Big Brother Etani

Grabbing Noses is Fun Too!

Grabbing Noses is Fun Too!

And Being Held by Big Sister Hesperus

And Being Held by Big Sister Hesperus

Leone loves to be outside in the front pack or the Ergo Baby back carrier. When she sees either one her eyes light up, she smiles so wide she drools, and she kicks her legs excitedly. She’ll stay quiescent for a long time when she’s being carried, and then drift off to sleep.

She also loves:

  • grabbing hair and tugging it up and down,
  • eating her siblings’ noses,
  • making google-y eyes and smiling at people from the safety of my lap,
  • sucking her thumb,
  • sucking someone else’s inverted pinkie finger,
  • lying on her back and playing with her feet and sucking on her big toe,
  • practicing tripoding, which she can almost do,
  • talking (Leone: “Ah da ba!” Etani: “Oh, really?!” Leone: “Ah bah bah bah!!”),
  • nursing–she likes this so much that she laughs with glee when she sees a breast heading her way.

Here’s what this four-month-old doesn’t like:

  • loud noises, especially the clattering of plates. When we empty the dishwasher it makes her startle and sometimes she’ll even cry. (She also doesn’t like it when Etani shouts instead of talks at the dinner table which, unfortunately, is a nightly occurrence),
  • being alone,
  • going in the car when she’s tired–this makes her scream,
  • having to go pee when someone’s holding her–she’ll squirm and fidget and complain to indicate that she needs to go,
  • being hungry–her cry for food is very different from her other cries. She says “Ut ut ut ut,” which is almost exactly the noise Hesperus used to make,
  • having a wet diaper–if she doesn’t fuss to indicate she has to go, she’ll squirm and protest right after she’s gone to let you know she needs a change,
  • being held by anyone other than her mom, dad, two sisters, or brother. When it’s dinnertime and she’s getting fussy, she even cries real tears if anyone other than me tries to hold her. As soon as I take her (maybe it’s my smell?), she quiets right down.

Leone naps a lot (except when I’m on deadline with no one to watch her). She usually wakes around 6:00 a.m. and stays alert until the girls leave for school around 8:00 a.m. Then she takes a nap, which lasts anywhere from half an hour to a couple of hours.

She wakes up again for awhile, nurses, pees, and stays awake for another variable stretch. The afternoon nap is usually longer than the morning nap, followed by a longer stretch of alertness.

Leone nurses every two to three hours, sometimes more. Any longer than three hours and my breasts get swollen and sore. She doesn’t spit up as much as she used to but you can usually find a white patch of baby yogurt on my sleeve or back.

“My lovey bucket,” Athena likes to call her. Athena sighs when she looks at her. “Mommy, the baby is sooooo cute,” she says, as if she can barely stand it.

I know exactly how she feels. I can feel Leone’s cuteness all the way down in the tips of my toes. I love her so much it makes me ache. We all do. I’ve never had such a sweet baby and I’ve never appreciated a baby as much as I appreciate her.

But it’s heartbreaking too. Even as I write this she is growing. I know it’s her job to get bigger and accomplish new tasks but I can barely stand it.

Happy four months Baby Leone. I love you.

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17 thoughts on “On the Care and Feeding of a Four-Month-Old”

  1. What a beautiful photo of Leone with her dad! I remember so well what you are describing. You want every minute with a new baby to last, especially when she is your fourth! (I felt the same way about my third.)
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..A Reminder of What

  2. Awww, what a sweet way to document your daughter’s stage in life. She is blessed to have such a great writer as a mother!!

  3. so so sweet. leone has an etani/hesperus look. so many changes in the last month! i’m going to try to swing by one afternoon to see her while she’s still baby…

  4. Leone sounds so delightful that I’m practically lactating as I read–at least as close as a post-menopausal woman can get. Okay, I’m wriggling. I’ll have to wriggle over to your house soon and visit soon. Deb Z

  5. This kind of status update is delicious for those of us on the outside, observing. And it will be fascinating to her to read later in her life. Thanks for sharing . . .

  6. Thank you for the pictures and glimpses of life with your darling 4 month old.

    I love the way you all share her!

  7. She sounds like quite the happy camper! It’s lovely and frustrating isn’t it that she will quiet down only for you at dinner time? When my oldest was a baby there was a really, really stupid prime time show on tv about a dinosaur family – truly horrendous. There was a baby dinosaur who, whenever his father would try to take care of him, would yell “Not the Mama!” My daughter was just like yours so we took to saying “not the Mama” whenever she got fussy when Daddy had her.

  8. She is just beautiful and how I miss everything you are writing about with a 8 and 9 year old I am really missing the baby world, thanks for sharing

  9. I remember those days so clearly. There’s nothing in the whole world like a baby. That aching love lasts forever, no matter how big they get! Thanks for sharing your beautiful family Jennifer.

  10. We also have four kids and our number 4 is just 6 months. I think it is the number 4 which makes them so calm and relaxed. They are used to chaos going on around them and are calmed by the constant chatter, they are loved so much by older siblings and entertained by them that they are so content. And I must say a content baby is what helps you love them all the way down to your toes. My number three was a challenge for so many reasons (and would have stopped our parenting right then and there had it not been for our surprise number 4), but my number 4 has helped me remember why we do this mothering thing.

  11. I know all too well that feeling of barely standing to watch them grow so big…the time it takes when they will no longer be YOURS. It’s so wonderful and heartbreaking. It’s just pure love. My little boy (18 months) is faced soon with a baby to “replace” him. It being my 7th kid you’d think I’d be used to it. I’m so attached to him it’s crazy. I love these kids!

    The pictures are so adorable, thanks for sharing!

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