Whoa! This week NKOTB has really found her lungs.
From a pleasant, charming, quiet and guai (obedient) baby she’s turned into Angry Demon Baby. We’re talking the kind of red-faced wide-mouthed screaming, thrashing and tantrum-throwing that I can hear from the street.
We’re not sure what has caused this transformation but we no longer think it’s related to teething. It seems to be related to things that’s happening to her developmentally.
First of all she’s working out the mechanics of commando crawling and is intent on exploring everything around her – electrical cords, carpet fluff and chair legs (Tim put some band-aids on her as some makeshift baby knee-pads to help the carpet burn on her knees). She moves quite fast and maybe the new-found freedom of movement has made her more excitable than usual.
Her motor skills development seems to be coupled with some sort of mental connection whereby she’s worked out that Tim and I are separate people from her. So NKOTB is suffering from a severe case of separation anxiety. Not only does she scream when we’re out of the room – she screams even when we’re in the room and she can see us, but we’re not at her level. Or holding her.
At one point it was so bad that Tim couldn’t even put her on his lap facing outwards – she had to be facing inwards, cuddling up close to his chest. And I couldn’t have a shower with the shower door open, looking at her, without her crawling into the bathroom and wailing up at me like a lost puppy.
Having NKOTB clinging to us like a limpet for the last few days has made things really exhausting. I basically walk around the house wearing the ERGObaby carrier so I can carry her and actually get some things done around the house. It has also meant that at the end of the day I can barely stand up, let alone think of what to cook for dinner.
The third instance of Angry Demon Baby behaviour is that NKOTB seems to have taken an unpredictable dislike to the high chair. For two days in a row she ate breakfast and dinner happily in the chair, but come dinner time it was a screaming session until I relented and fed her a few teaspoons of food while holding her. On the third day she screamed at every meal time!
I think that NKOTB’s now at an age where she’s starting to test reactions and learn about boundaries. Once I figured out the mealtime tantrums were about a battle of wills I felt much better able to cope with them. So I just let her scream in the chair, occasionally talking to her calmly, until she’s calmed herself down and was ready to eat.
As for the separation issues – again I’m trying to put her on the floor / in the playpen, staying within her sight and talking to her occasionally, but essentially letting her cry until I’m ready to pick her up. It’s simply not sustainable for me to hold her all day and I think she needs to learn what’s acceptable behaviour and what is not.
My mum said something useful which I’d forgotten – we had to train NKOTB to go to sleep when she was younger. And thanks to our battle of wills at that time, NKOTB has generally been a good sleeper and goes to bed easily. I guess this is just more of the same. NKOTB, like all humans, will act on incentives, so if I pick her up every time she throws a tantrum she will know that it is a guaranteed way for getting my attention.
If there’s going to be a battle of wills, I must remember that I’m the adult in this relationship!