They say you have a baby for one year and our year is coming to a close. Now, Ayden will always be my baby but I am noticing slight shifts in his behavior that would signify that he is growing out of the "baby" stage.
Instead of nursing to sleep like he was doing just a couple of weeks ago, he is now getting his fill and then rolling over to fall to sleep on his own. He still snuggles up next to me and enjoys my presence but it seems he doesn't require sucking as a soothing tool as much anymore. He also doesn't nurse every time he wakes up in the night like he used to. This morning David told me that he put him back to sleep once last night by rubbing his back. He says I woke up too but the beauty of it is I don't remember. That means that Ayden woke up and got back to sleep with my not having to wake up enough to recall the events. This is a good thing and a step in the direction of my getting even more sleep.
Another shift is the amount of sleep Ayden gets. When he isn't sick we are getting glimpses of the future *good* sleeper that he is growing into. I'll put him down in his crib and he'll go 2-3 hours without making a peep. Or better yet, he'll stir and make a sound or two and then settle back in and sleep some more. This is him learning to put himself back to sleep!
During his waking hours, Ayden is still pretty dependent overall. Over the course of a day he'll go from clingy/fussy to super independent and back again. It all has to do with how he is feeling, how our night went, how much one-on-one time he has gotten, whether he is bored or not, etc.
He likes to try things by himself but doesn't hesitate to request a helping hand. The fact that he looks to us for help and guidance has been a big boy shift in behavior as well. He used to get frustrated with something but now he looks to us expectantly if something is stuck or closed and he needs the opposite.
One more shift we have noticed has been in his relationship with David. He has always loved him and was never so clingy to me that he'd cry if I passed him on to David but now you can tell that our parenting roles, according to Ayden, are leveling out. Where he used to depend on me for much of everything as a young infant, he can now draw the same comforts from his daddy and it is a wonderful and beautiful thing.
I suppose the purpose for this post, other than to document new behaviors that we have observed, is to reassure new parents that even if you let your baby "run the show" for the first year (because let's face it, despite our pre-baby plans this is what we totally did); they will most likely turn out just like your neighbor's baby who was kept on a rigorous schedule and sleep trained by 2 months. Babies grow out of being babies and while each family reserves the right to rush the process along, if you are a family who choses not to it will turn out okay! This past year, as I gave into my desires to nurse my baby to sleep, keep him with me as much as possible and view his cries as emotional needs that could only be met with cuddles, I kept worrying that maybe I was "spoiling" him or creating "bad habits." But it seems true that you "can't spoil a baby."
Where many mothers may be saddened by their baby's decreasing need for them, I have been delighted to observe Ayden gaining his independence from me. In a society that tells mothers to put their babies down, NEVER let them use you as a sleep prop and to let them cry "it" out, I eventually allowed myself to ignore it all, followed my instincts and ended up doing quite the opposite through Attachment Parenting. It worked out just as well for us and if it is what you want it will work out for you too! Don't listen to what "they" say, listen to your instincts and do whatever you want to do. The first year goes by so fast and babies grow out of being babies whether we want them to or not.
The beauty of him needing me less is that those needs are replaced by wants. It is even sweeter when he doesn't need me to help him but instead just wants me to. It's a trade up if you ask me.