Baby Gear: Must Haves for the 7-9 Month Old

My cousins Heather and Lisa and my Aunt Donna were in town over the weekend. Heather and her parents have recently completed the process of getting certified to be a foster family. The process sounded rigorous but not impossible, so if it's something you would consider doing, I would urge you to contact your county to find out what the process is in your area. Right now they are waiting for an infant to be placed with them, but all the baby talk got me thinking about what you need and how that changes even over the course of six months.

Laurel is one day shy of eight months old. She's mobile via crawling, pulls herself up, eats some solid food, and is generally a very engaging and interactive baby. She still spends most of her time in my care, but doesn't protest too much when she gets a babysitter. I am happy to report that she sleeps great these days, although still wakes up 2-3 times per night to be fed. We've tried to break her of this habit, and she's not havin' it right now. I guess the girl takes after her father and has a fast metabolism or something. Anyway, it's either fight her for an hour or just feed her and she goes back to sleep in five minutes. I expect that she'll grow out of night feedings eventually, and we'll try again to encourage it in a few months.

So here's a list of some of the things we're finding particularly useful these days.

safe real toys - Laurel has a lot of great toys, but she seems to have a preference for "real" stuff...pots and cooking utensils, the remote control (take the batteries out - she almost ordered a movie the other day!), etc.

playmat - My Aunt Mary bought us a great playmat that has 36 foam tiles you can arrange in any configuration. It's great for a house with wooden floors and is big enough for Laurel to crawl around on.

books - We keep adding to her library and her interest in books is only growing. She definitely is able to show preference for her favorite books.

walker - M's mom bought us a basic walker a few weeks ago. The setup of our house is such that she can't get to the stairs, so it's not a hazard. She loves scooting around in it and it's invaluable to have someplace to "stick" her that leaves her fairly limited in what she can touch (i.e. she can't get to the outlets or eat dirty stuff off the floor when she's in there).

food - I'm still working on increasing solid foods. She's eating about three "meals" a day, usually with fortified cereal mixed with pureed food (I'm working off a stash of pears, sweet potatoes and carrots I made a few weeks ago). In addition to that we feed her soft foods off our plates...mashed beans, pieces of avocado, pasta, eggs, potatoes. She seems to really like strong flavors, so we let her taste the sauce of whatever we're eating. We also plan to use our food mill to mash up our "big people" food for her, since she seems to have a preference for that over bland baby food. I need suggestions for portable, nutritious finger food. I bought these Gerber Puffs, which are like cereal, and Laurel loves them, but I'm not convinced they are really food.

Ok, so this isn't really a list of "must haves" - that kind of goes against my entire parenting philosophy anyway, which is a) make choices that suit your family b) it's really hard to mess up your kid even if you don't have the "right" stuff and c) follow your kid's cues and you will know what to do.

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