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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