Q&A: wintertime dressing, feeding solids, delaying development on purpose

Melanie (whose twins are 9 months old) writes:

"Issue 1:  I don't know how to dress these babies!  First there was the overheating = SIDS issue, but since they are past the main risk period, I'm not so concerned.  I get very caught up in believing Hayden (who runs hot) should be dressed lighter than Zoey (who runs cold).  So the house is at about 60 degrees+ drafts and most days I've got them in long-sleeve onesies and sleepers.  Is this enough? If not, please lay out what you would dress them in.  Very specifically, so my brain won't try to overthink it.

Issue 2: Feeding.  We started solids at 6 mos.  They are each nursing about 7 times a day.  We've been doing "dinner" for 3 months, and last week I began with "lunch" & watered-down juice.  (BTW, 2-3 oz of watery juice during the late afternoon grumpiness is very helpful!) So they are getting about 3 ice cubes of food twice a day.  Is that enough?  I suspect they should be slightly nursing less at this age, but I confess I view that as moving towards he days when they're all grown up so I'm not eager to push it.  But I am wondering if they're getting enough food.  They don't seem willing to eat much more at a sitting-- might I need to add another meal, even if it means letting them grow up??

Mini-Issue:  Another mom at playgroup has attempted to slow her child's progression to mobility by sitting them up and handing them toys instead of encouraging them to roll on their tummies and reach for toys.  She figures dealing with a mobile child is easier if said child has a little more language comprehension.  And it's not as if you could stop them --  my kids often practice rocking & crawling during naps.  So what think you on the idea of attempting to delay crawling by a couple weeks?  Is the common drive for early mobility good parenting or just the beginnings of  'must-be-able-to-compete-in-modern-world' overacheiver-ism?"

OK, I was really thinking this email through and deciding how to answer issues number 1 and 2, and then I got to the mini-issue. At first I laughed a loopy "What-is-wrong-with-people?" kind of laugh that made my husband say "What's so funny, Cacklepuss?".

But then I thought, "Why the hell not?" I mean, people bound girls' feet for years to prevent them from developing normally, and in some cultures kids were given opium so they wouldn't get into trouble while their parents were out plowing the fields. And they all turned out fine*. So why not hand them things so they won't reach for them in hopes of trying to delay their development?

Because it's both futile and a little nutty, is why. Even kids in seriously deprived situations learn to crawl, so why would you actually try to prevent it? I completely understand the mom's point that an older baby has better judgement, but they're babies. How much more judgement are they really going to have in a month or two anyway?  Frankly, I think she should be putting all this energy into babyproofing her house, because time waits for no mom, and they're going to be crawling soon whether she likes it or not. In the meantime, what's she going to do when they start learning to walk? The mind boggles.

FWIW, I think there's so much ridiculousness going on in the Parenting Industry right now with thousands of products to make our babies smarter and more advanced. I don't think they work. And, even if they do, who cares? We need our 8-month-olds to have one extra IQ point or walk two days early? Sounds like too much time on our hands, and too much pressure on our kids. Personally, I choose media products based on how funny they are, and whether the kid will watch them for half an hour so I can put in some laundry and catch a shower. (And if he happened to learn the alphabet or his numbers from them before he was 2, well, that couldn't be helped.)

Now, to Issue 1: You're talking about dressing them for bed, right? Shhh--don't tell anyone, but I actually put a blanket on my baby. You might feel better with a light blanket on them at the beginning of the night (over the onesie and sleeper you've got them in already). Then if they feel hot in the night you can always take it off them. In a few months they'll be able to kick it off themselves if they don't like it.

Anyway, the rule to tell if they're warm enough is to feel the back of the neck. If it's warm, they're fine. (People always think it's the hands or the feet, but plenty of kids have hands and feet that always run a little cold, so that's no great indicator.)

Issue 2: At this age, eating is still for fun, and they're getting most of their nutrition from nursing or formula. If they like eating, try adding another meal, since volume isn't what you're really concerned with at this age. Practice and exposure are. So maybe try giving them some kind of finger foods to see how they do. Cheerios, Veggie Booty, cut pieces of ripe banana or avocado, smushed beans, etc. Of course they'll be fine if you don't give them another meal, but if you're willing to let them grow up just a teensy bit :) they'll find the self-feeding fun. Just whatever you do, don't let them watch Baby Einstein while they eat, or they'll be ready to move out of the house next week.

*Please note I'm being sarcastic. This is my least favorite excuse for why people should persist in parenting decisions that have been shown to be less than optimal. "We never had carseats, and we turned out fine." Yes. You sure did.