Thursday, September 11, 2008

A new lifestyle for the munchkin

When I started writing this post (9/9/08), it had been 10 days since we had moved to India after living in the US for almost 10 years (a year longer for my hubby). So I figured this is a good time to capture all that our little N is going through what with a new place, new environment, new people and a new life she is now adopting. I have seen sooooo many changes in our little munchkin in so little time that it just doesn't stop amazing me.

Her first few days at her dada dadi's home was full of separation and stranger anxiety. Although she has been with them when she was younger, she took atleast 4 days to warm up to them completely. And then suddenly by day 5, she was all about them :-) She would happily run to whoever called out to her (dada, dadi or bua) and each of them have their unique cute ways to lure her to them and capture her attention. Oh also it seems like out of nowhere she has suddenly developed a way of showing stubbornness about whatever she wants. Already? She has just turned 1 and I feel she was such a baby before we brought her here to India :-) I read somewhere that babies do develop a tendency to show tantrums at this age but this just feels so sudden. Me and my hubby keep saying she has changed to a stubborn brat overnight :-)

Newfound love of Birds & Animals
She has started really clinging to me and my hubby a lot since the day we returned. I think part of it is stranger anxiety since suddenly she is surrounded by so many people. But part of it is also separation anxiety that comes naturally at this age. So the trick I have told her grandparents to adopt is take her quickly in their arms and run outdoors or to a balcony or window and show her outside. Her grandpa came up with a trick saying "Caw Caw" to basically whisk her away from me and show her the crow that visits us every day. She now loves being with her grandpa and watch the crow come and eat food at the kitchen and living room windowsill. That is aabu's (her grandpa's) favorite activity with her.

After 7 days when I brought her to her nana nani's place, she found more sparrows here than crows. So since then she also understands "Chi Chi" and points to sparrows every time we ask her "Where is Chi Chi". It is amazing that she can spot and point at crows and sparrows and also pigeons at such a distance that sometimes we also don't notice that they are there. When left alone with them, she seems to talk to them in a language of her own. Quite amazing to watch her mesmerized by these new beings since she never had such close encounters with them in the US. She is also fascinated with the cows and dogs around here. BTW here too she would cling to me a lot and it took her almost 4-5 days before she warmed up to be with nana/nani alone.

It took her almost a whole week to get over the jet lag after arriving here. For that first week, she would take long naps during the day, refuse to eat as much but substitute that with more milk and would go off to bed at 6pm most days! Then she would sleep until atleast 4am the next morning after which she would be all fresh for the new day. That meant that even if we tried to sleep in to fight the jet lag, our little sweetheart would make sure that doesn't happen ;-) So my jetlag only passed when the little one was out of it herself. After a week or so, she was better but would still nap longer in the day as compared to what she did in the US and would go to be earlier (around 8 pm). Obviously I wasn't complaining as that meant that I had more time for other things while she was snoozing away :-)

So on one hand her sleep improved but her appetite definitely worsened. She was always a light eater but atleast she had solids thrice a day in the US. Here she reduced it to twice a day and I let it go initially coz she was adjusting to the time zone change and stuff. But after that phase passed, she still does not eat as much as she used to. Her meal times are the times I miss our nanny the most. She must have had such amazing patience to feed my little picky monster :-)

Other than that, I introduced her to cow's milk on Sept. 3 (first day of the Ganpati season). And oh my god what an ordeal that was. Me and my little N had to go through so much that I think I should write it for all of you who are or will be going to this phase soon. So first of all, I made the mistake of following the US pediatrician's instructions to the T and going and searching for the most fatty tetra pack milk I could find in India so that it is close to the Whole Fat version in the US. I couldn't find anything that said Whole Fat so I bought Amul Gold Standardized Milk which had close to 7.5% fat. Gave that to her and she took it fine at first, fussed a little later and then took it if I was persistent. But the worst mistake I made was that unknowingly I did not go slow. I had no idea that is how you are supposed to do it. No one including my pediatrician had informed me that cow's milk is harder for babies to digest and can upset their tummies. I always thought it is about the taste and that is why some parents mix it with formula to give it to their babies initially. So when N took it fine, I thought she is ok with the taste and can make the switch now. BIG MISTAKE. Poor baby started pooping everytime she had a bottle of milk and so she started going atleast 4 times a day. So once I came to my parents, they informed me that Amul Gold is not cow's but buffalo's milk which is typically thicker and tougher for people to digest. Wow - imagine that! And nowhere it mentions anything such as that on the packet. Isn't that just wrong? So on their advise, I switched her to what we got at home (Amul Taaza 3.5% fat). They suggested if her system can digest this, then I can graduate to higher fat content. Made sense. But I think the mistake was already made by then coz who knows if it is was coz of the milk or the extra poops but she developed a bad diaper rash in a few days. At that point I stopped milk completely and took her back to formula. And then when I asked around to see what I was doing wrong, I was told that I should have given her just a little milk to start with and gradually increased the quantity to allow her system to digest cow's milk! Imagine that! No one tells you these things man - its almost like you are supposed to know these things being a mom. Ridiculous isn't it? Poor N had to go through so much coz of all this.

Anyways, I brought her to only 2 ounces of milk in a 6 ounce bottle of formula once a day (in mid afternoon). But after a few days it still didn't change her poop frequency so I took her to a local pediatrician. And he goes, 4 times a day is normal. You should only worry when it is 10 times a day and is loose! And that's that. I was amazed at the nonchalance they show here for babies. No advise on what to do and what not to do. Just wrote up a prescription for the rash and a medicine for the diarrhea (if any) and that's it. I had to dig it out from him to figure out how to switch her to cow's milk successfully. He then suggested Lactogen. Start with its stage 1 and then move to stage 2 and then milk. He even suggested diluting the milk initially (3:1 - 3 parts boiled milk, 1 part boiled water). He also said to keep with Amul Taaza 3.5% and not move to whole fat right away.

So I ask you experienced mommies out there, what should I do next? I think I will keep her with the 2 ounces milk she is getting once a day but I worry every time she poops (she still goes 4 times a day now). I don't think I want to stop milk completely for a week or so coz I don't have infinite Enfamil formula with me. And I don't think I want to start go with the option of Lactogen 1 and 2 and drag this thing forever. The doc towards the end said - you can just stick to doing what you are doing without going to Lactogen as well. Seems like he couldn't make up his own mind. Didn't help me a single bit going to ask for his advise. The only thing I learnt is the brand Lactogen is pediatrician recommended.

Her food intake has also reduced at the same time. She used to eat well thrice a day in the US. Now she just refuses to open her mouth when she does not want to eat - whatever I do. Any tips or words of advise? The doc said he could prescribe a tonic to increase her appetite but would not recommend it for her yet. And I agree - I want to stay away from medications for these things.

Her Likes and Dislikes
She loves playing with both sets of grandparents now and absolutely loves running around. She has also started climbing and coming down of stairs and loves doing that all the time. We take her to a garden here in my parent's town and she just has a sudden burst of energy and runs there non stop! It is good exercise for me too coz I have to keep running after her to make sure herself.

She has also started enjoying her baths now! Thank God for that. I am glad that her bath anxiety seems to have passed. I think the humidity in the air also contributes to her love of bathing. Atleast for me it does :-) I am always soooo hot and sweaty here (especially in Mumbai) that it is not funny. I am not sure how I never felt this way in my earlier visits to India.

Anyways, I could keep going on and on about all the things that are new for me and her. But this post is getting way to long and I am afraid that my questions about switching her to cow's milk may get lost and go unanswered by you readers. So please please send me your tips/advise on both - switching to cow's milk and also weaning her to sippy cup from the bottle.


Jyoti said...

Chalo good, looks like Nikki is finally settling down. I am sure she is enjoying all the attention and also her surroundings. There is a lot more to see and do out there.

Anonymous said...

Hi Divya

I think pooping 3-4 times a day is perfectly normal. T is 19 months old and has been going 3-4 times a day for the longest time. It has never been a cause of concern for her drs even at kaiser. and as you change the babys diet, their pooping frequency also changes.

Abt milk- I had switched to whole milk when she was 12 months old..i had switched while we were in the US..started off by offering her very little in the beginning. It was only after 1 whole week when i saw that she had no problem, that I increased the quantity to 6 ounces per day. during the first 3 weeks i gave her just 6 oz whole milk per day, the remaining feeds were still formula. I think it took a whole month for me to eliminate formula all together.

When we came to india in June, T was already 16 months old. initially we gave her Amul taaza for a few days and she seemed fine. then i slowly mixed in our regular milk (Nandini) and within a week she was drinking regular milk..not the tetra pack milk

hope your lil one settles down soon with the diaper rash and the milk issues.

hope you are doing well...gosh looks like i have written a book here!


Anonymous said...

I came here from Sindhu's blog. :) Your baby girl is so adorable. It was interesting for me to read your detailed entries on her... I'm not married and definitely won't be pregnant for a few years (haha) but yeah, these entries were eye openers. I obviously don't have any advice about the milk issue but I hope you find the answer soon.

Nice place. :)

Divs said...

Hi Sindhu - thanks for coming by. I visited your blog thru Sindhu's (Over a Cuppa Chai) as well and loved your latest post on the struggling power of women. I can so identify with it coz I had hired a nanny in the US as well. But I felt like I had achieved the balance and really miss having her support here in India. Do keep writing more and visit me now adn then as well.

Anonymous said...

have u read the "what to expect" series (the first year)? it's very useful as it answers many queries that arise on a day to day basis. amul taaza is fine i guess - my doc said so too and i plan on starting my 10 month old daughter on it from tomorrow.
for diaper rash - my baby had the worst rash ever. i finally used ghee and a pinch of haldi (recommended by my vaid). it worked.
all the best!

Divs said...

Hi Anon - yes I do like the What to Expect series...infact recently bought their Toddler Years title as well. I am now giving her Nandini milk btw since that is the one that you get in Karnataka. Thanks for the tip on rashes...she is doing ok now but will keep this in mind for the future.

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