34 Weeks of Lydia

I started last week’s update by saying that Lydia’s cold was a thing of the past. Ha! That cold is long gone, but, as of today, she has a new one. Oh well. I can feel what is almost certainly the same cold in the back of my throat, and am very much hoping I don’t get it. I had a few nights in a row of not enough sleep, but I think I’ve gotten back on track now with napping and going to bed earlier, so I think I’ll likely beat it.

I saw the first inklings of this cold yesterday, so most of this week wasn’t about that. At this point, Will going to work in the morning and coming back in the evening very much feels like the new normal. Lydia’s growing and changing, but I’d still say this has been a pretty easy period for me. She’s fussy sometimes, but I haven’t been getting overwhelmed with parenting in a while.

As I think I’ve said before, I’m still a bit confused about why having an almost eight month old is so much easier than having a pretty happy newborn that sleeps all the time. I have my theories, but I’m still a bit confused by the situation. I realize it also almost certainly depends some on the individual baby. So anyway, things are good.

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Three Axes Model of Parenting?

Arnold Kling has talked about the three axes model of political views. Conservatives care about civilization-barbarism. Progressives care about oppressors-oppressed. Libertarians care about freedom-coercion.

Most people I meet in person don’t seem to be as dogmatic about parenting as they are about politics, but there seem to be distinct axes for sure. Conservative types do seem to use the civilization-barbarism axis for parenting. They’ll talk about the importance of obedience much more so than progressive and libertarian types will. Look at the copy for this book and see what I mean.

Libertarians are definitely inclined to use the freedom-coercion axis for parenting.

At first I was confused about the progressive types. I didn’t see how they were using the oppressor-oppressed language in their discussion of parenting, but I think I actually can see it. Ha! I just googled “progressive parenting”, and the first hit I got was this. The tagline begins: “Being a Parent May Be the Hardest Job You’ll Ever Have”. I do think progressive types are more likely to talk about how hard it is to be a parent, especially a mom. And how institutions these days don’t support parenthood and other such complaints. Oh, and often the argument for doing things a certain way with the kids is that, as a parent, they have needs too. So the parents are the oppressed ones.

I’ll have to think about this application of the three axes model more. Am I over-fitting? What parenting axes seem natural to you?

33 Weeks of Lydia

Lydia’s cold is a thing of the past. She’s been totally fine pretty much the whole week, and more active and engaged now that she’s over it.

A few days ago, I was thinking that it was still a pretty peaceful period, without any major changes on her part. But the last few days have been a bit more exciting.

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32 Weeks of Lydia

Lydia’s not 100% over her cold–she still has a bit of a stuffy nose–but it was a mild one to begin with, and it’s been a pretty calm week. She was fussier than usual at the beginning of her cold, but that basically meant wanting to be held more. I made a list of things to get done while wearing Lydia in the wrap, and that worked fine. 

And now, she’s happy again. It’s been a while since she’s learned anything big, and she’s not on the verge of learning anything big. No wonder weeks, no major motor skills. As far as I know, she’s still not teething. Things have been peaceful.

It’s a good time for things to be in balance with Lydia, because Will just started a new job. Everything’s going great there too, but there’s something nice about having a manageable amount of change all at once.

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31 Weeks of Lydia

How quickly they change! As of this week, Lydia is officially seven months. And the separation anxiety has calmed way down to the point where I’d say she’s back to baseline. Assuming it makes any sense at all to talk about baseline behavior for babies, which maybe it doesn’t.

She did get a bit of a cold, mostly as evidence by a snotty nose. I can feel a tickle in my throat, but I think there’s a good chance it won’t turn into more than that on my end, since I’ve been getting enough sleep.

I can feel my brain wanting to take credit for the reduction in separation anxiety, but I think it has very little to do with me. It was just a phase.

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30 Weeks of Lydia

Probably the most notable feature of this week was increased separation anxiety. Quite interesting to watch. I do think that, because of her own increased mobility, Lydia has much more of a concept of people leaving than she used to, and she doesn’t like it!

The most classic thing she has been doing is crying the minute I go around a corner. She’s also sometimes not liked to be put down, even if she can see me. (Since she’s been born, there have been times when she didn’t want to be put down, but this seems to have a different character. More clingy is one way I would describe it, though I don’t like the negative connotation of that word. It’s not that she’s otherwise tired or fussy, but that she wants me. If I put her down, she’ll crawl over and start climbing my leg.)

And sometimes Lydia just wants to be with me, not even Will. Though, even when I’m with her, she’ll still sometimes get upset when Will leaves to go to the kitchen or something, and start crawling after him. Actually, Lydia’s not crazy about anyone leaving, and has expressed distress when my roommates left in the morning for work, and when a guy we were hanging out in a coffee shop rounded a corner and she couldn’t see him anymore. 

But in the case of non parents, I think it’s more that she’s trying to understand what’s going on. When I pick her up and take her to see them leaving more clearly, she doesn’t seem to mind.

We’ve been making a point of saying “bye!” to her when we leave (her visual field), and then saying “hi!” when we come back. I think that works pretty well. I doubt she thinks of it as meaning very much, but saying “bye!” is something positive for her to focus on, so it seems to work from that angle.

(My sister-in-law taught her 9-month-old to wave goodbye to her toys when she’s done with them, and she said that it’s been helpful for keeping things positive.)

That said though, mostly I’m just keeping her as near to me as she wants to be. More on that below.

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29 Weeks of Lydia

Lydia and I had a pretty happy week this week. The weather has been warm and beautiful, so we’ve gotten out to playgrounds multiple days, and that worked well enough that I want to make it a very regular habit, at least when it’s nice outside. I still haven’t been to the playgrounds closest to where we live, so that’s a goal for this week.

The progress in her physical skills is the easiest thing to notice a difference in, week to week, but she’s growing into a person in other ways too. I’m thinking that I’m going to phase out attending the new parents group at Rites of Passage that we’ve been going to for a few months now. She’s not such a baby anymore!

And so far, my prediction that I would enjoy her more and more as she got older has been proven true. Her mobility is cool, and not actually much more work for me yet.

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28 Weeks of Lydia

Lydia had her six-month doctor’s visit this week. Nothing too eventful there. We’re doing the normal vaccine schedule, and it’s been working really well to have her in the wrap for her shots. That way she’s right up next to me and she can nurse right afterwards.

Here are some stats:

The scale said 7.56 kg, which is 16.7 lbs.

She was measured at 27.5 in (though I never trust these measurements to be all that accurate).

That puts her just above the 50th percentile for weight, and closer to the 90th for height. We didn’t measure head size.

And I think Lydia is actually one of the smallest babies of the eight in our birth class! (And they’re pretty much all exclusively breastfed (plus solids in the case of the older ones) too.)

Overall mood this week has been good. We had one or two days where she was on the fussier end, but I think it had to do with interrupted naps. She seems happy these days.

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27 Weeks of Lydia

Six months plus one week!

I’m tired right now, but tiredness has not characterized my week overall. We were both pretty happy this week.

We’ve been doing solids for another whole week, so that still feels pretty new.

We also went to the zoo today, which was maybe the first kid activity I planned for Lydia. As expected, she didn’t appear to care much about the zoo activities, but it was fun for me, and she did actually enjoy the goat at the petting zoo when I held her down at its level.

I’m so glad I’ve been taking the time to write these summaries every week, because she really is so different! I know I forget a lot as it is, but I would forget much more if I didn’t keep these records.

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Preventing Peanut Allergies

My default position when I started looking into peanut allergies was that exposure to potential allergens (particularly the ones outside our evolutionary heritage) would sensitize children to that allergen in the future. Eliezer once described changing your mind as the penultimate technique of rationality, and I always enjoy the opportunity to stretch that particular muscle. But I’m getting ahead of myself here…

Peanut allergies are one of the most common, and yet also most severe, food allergies. It tends to begin very early (unlike seafood allergies), and persist throughout life (unlike milk and soy allergies). The incidence is hard to measure, but potentially up to a few percent of the population will suffer from them over time. This may not seem large in an absolute sense, but it is one of the more common diseases, and is potentially fatal, requiring extensive lifestyle modification to avoid exposure. Allergies themselves, in one form or another, are much more common and often annoying, so if any underlying mechanism can be revealed and averted, so much the better.

I am involved with a small rationality and parenting mailing list, and in one thread I casually mentioned that we planned to exclusively breastfeed through 6 months, in part because of allergies. The benefits of (in some cases exclusive) breastfeeding are well established, and the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding up through 6 months. Furthermore hunter-gatherers don’t seem to supplement food until at least 6 months of age. That part is not so controversial. But I offhandedly said I’d heard the advice to avoid allergenic foods until two years of age. That prompted a response. Particularly a link to this paper.

To summarize the methodology, the researchers sent out surveys to a few thousand Jewish families in Israel and the UK, asking them about their weaning behavior and incidence of various allergies and other atopic disease. They had some very stark findings.

[Update: the randomized controlled trials I mentioned were coming have finally started to arrive – and the LEAP study from the UK finds a dramatic 81% decrease in peanut allergies from early exposure.]

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