My Son At 18 Months (ish) Old

I didn’t write a 18 month update for Baby Boy at the time. Days in lockdown, or “lockdown easing” roll into one and before I know it weeks have gone past. As we speed through Baby Boy’s second year I have realised that for the first 18 months of his life I didn’t like my son much.

That seems like a horrible thing to say about your own child doesn’t it? Of course I have always loved him, but he has been hard work and miserable. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but around 18 months he started to be happier, he smiles a lot more, he’s cheeky, he’s fun and he’s loving. It’s only really now I am enjoying his company that I realised how little I did before.

smiling 18 month old crawling through a metal tunnel on a climbing frame
Baby Boy has been smiling a lot more now he is 18 months old

Baby Boy’s Communication At 18 Months

Around 18 months Baby Boy’s understanding of what we are saying has improved as has his ability to communicate with us. This has been great for taking some of the guess work out and meant we can meet his needs more quickly. I’ve never been one of those mothers who can instantly identify their baby’s every need from their cry. And Baby Boy has spent a lot of his life crying. So much so that it kind of washes over me when it’s at standard grizzle level. I hated when his sisters’ cried, but after 3 solid months of crying as a newborn that could not be stopped by milk, cuddles, nappy changes or sleep I basically gave up. I don’t leave him to cry, I never have, but I don’t rush to him in the same way I used to with his siblings.

He still cries a fair bit now, but he shows his frustrations in other ways too: mainly hair pulling, biting and hitting people. This is hardly ideal and his poor sisters have lost so much hair, but it does feel like progress in someways. It would help if Little learnt not to annoy him by taking toys away etc.

At 18 months Baby Boys didn’t say much consistently. We would get “hello”, “bye bye” and “Mumma”. A month and a half later and we have a few other words in the mix including: “car”, “down”, “again”, “miaow”, “cat”, “quack” and roaring when he sees dinosaurs or lions. He is starting to use a consistent sound for milk and drink and he is getting better at mimicking when we say a word, but there have been regressions in some areas. He now uses the sound a bit like “marma” to call to me, his Dad, his sisters and anyone he likes really. His grandparents are more “Anma” and “Ampa” though. Whatever sounds he makes he tends to make them loudly, that boy has impressive lung capacity.

a one year old boy in a ball pool at soft play
Baby Boy loves soft play, shame they have been closed most of the year though

one year old boy sitting in a white stacking toy box in his pyjamas
Always climbing and getting places he shouldn't

Activity at 18 months

Baby Boy has been called some not so nice names by family reflecting his constant activity and curiosity. If there is a raised surface he will climb on it, if there is a tower he will knock it down (although he does like to build them too). He is a total spider baby and the unsuitable for baby items he finds on the higher surfaces still have a tendency to end up in his mouth and be chewed. Anything he finds on the floor does too which is a particular joy when we are out for a walk.

BB loves to play with animals and dinosaurs, to dance, stacking things, putting things in a hole (eg coins in a slot in the till or pegs in and out of a hole). He is starting to enjoy listening to stories without running off and role play eg pouring us a pretend cup of tea or talking on the phone.

Baby Boy has spent most of this year at home, socialising far less than his sisters did. And it might be due to this that he has become more attached to people. Crying when they leave the room or go out. The separation anxiety isn’t just directed to me as his mother, but all his family which is a first for my children.

Baby Boy’s Feeding at 18 Months Old

Baby Boy can eat with a fork and a spoon although he still favours his hands and makes a lot of mess. When he was younger we put his food directly on his highchair tray because I couldn’t find any suction bowls which worked on the Stoke Steps slightly mat tray. Recently we have moved on to giving him normal IKEA plastic plates and bowls to eat from. He eats a wide variety of food, but sweet things seem to be creeping in more thanks to his older siblings.

We breastfeed on demand (it’s pretty hard to avoid putting a “still” in that sentence, but I refuse to do so). The frequency very much depends on how tired he is and the distractions. He can go without all day if we are out, but on an afternoon when he is tired he will pull at my top every few minutes.

One year old boy sitting on the floor in the forest playing with a stick
Walking anywhere takes a long time because there is so much to explore

A one year old standing on a sandy beach with his hands full of sand
Hands full of sand at the beach

My Son’s Sleep At 18 Months Old

I don’t feel we have made much progress on sleep in the last year and it got even worse while going through the 18 month sleep regression.

For some time Baby Boy has been having one nap a day. It was a long nap of up to 2 1/2 hours (but often 90 minutes) from mid morning. Around 18 months he wouldn’t go down at the normal time and instead wanted to nap around midday or 1pm. This would be fine but then he wouldn’t fall asleep at night until 9pm or later and I REALLY need some chill out time at night before I go to bed around 10pm. When he goes to sleep so late he wakes up later in the morning and trying to get a nap in the next day gets even harder. It’s a tough cycle. 

I tried skipping the nap completely, because I got so fed up with the battles to get him to sleep. When he didn’t nap he would go down to sleep earlier and easier, but the afternoons were such hard work with an exhausted small child and often he would fall asleep on the sofa around 3.30pm (making bedtime horrendous).

About a month later and Baby Boy has gone back to napping from mid morning for a couple of hours and he is going to sleep in the evenings at a more normal time for him (between 7 and 8). I don’t know how long this will last though. When it comes to children and sleep I take nothing for granted. 

Baby Boy has slept through the night twice: both times were last summer when he was about 6 months and shortly after the introduction of solids. A normal night for him involves an initial stretch of sleep of 2 to 3 hours and then screaming his head off until I come and get him and take him into my bed. He will not accept his Dad at this wake up, he doesn’t even need milk most of the time, he just wants to be sleeping next to me. Some nights he insists on milk at this and subsequent wake ups and other nights he isn’t bothered until about 5am. He will stir a few times but resettle quickly as long as I am within arms reach.

a one year old boy asleep on the chest on his mother
Danger nap in the afternoon after refusing his nap time

A Side Note About Breastfeeding A One Year Old To Sleep and Night Weaning

When we started experiencing the hassle with naps I took to Instagram to ask for advice. While many people found their similar aged child had a nap after an early lunch and then went to bed about 6pm there were a good number who, like me, found that sleep after about 1pm played havoc with bedtimes. A reminder that all children are different and makes it understandable how for some parents they don’t understand why some of us have such problems with sleep when their child is so perfectly following the routines recommended in books. Whenever I mention our sleep problems though I always get some one saying the reason my son doesn’t sleep through the night is because I feed him to sleep and give him milk at night. 

I want to challenge this. Yes most children will sleep better once they are night weaned, but my son wasn’t ready for night weaning at a year old so I decided to wait. He is now naturally having less milk at night. It is a problem if babies can’t get back to sleep without milk and so they are waking every cycle, but that’s not the case for Baby Boy (and of course it’s only a problem if it’s a problem for the parent anyway). For my son there are times he resettles himself and there are times he needs help and there are times he wants milk. What he without a doubt wants though is me sleeping nearby. I don’t have a problem with co-sleeping at the moment so I’m not going to spend time forcing him to sleep on his own. Many adults don’t like to sleep alone so it’s understandable my child doesn’t.

As for feeding my child to sleep? Yes it would be lovely to put my child in the cot, leave the room and him quietly put himself to sleep. He wouldn’t do that though. He would climb out of the cot, pull out all the toys from boxes, drag everything off the changing table, empty his drawers and eat his books. I know because I have seen him do this while I sit on the sofa in his room on the days he is fighting sleep. When he is ready to sleep or even exhausted and overtired, breastfeeding normally gets him to sleep quickly and calmly. With the added benefit that he gets a loving cuddle and I get to look at my adorable child in my arms, peaceful and still for once. It is an important moment for us both. 

I have had a child who didn’t feed to sleep, yet at one she still woke up repeatedly in the night. I have had a child who fed to sleep until she was nearly 3, yet slept through the night for over half that time. Feeding your baby isn’t necessarily the cause of “sleep problems” so people shouldn’t feel guilt about it.

What next Baby Boy?

Baby Boy is now very much a toddler so I guess I should change what I call him. Names I am consider include: "The Boy", "Boy Child" and "J", none are really leaping out at me, but I guess I just need to take the leap.

If you liked this post you might be interested in reading about Little at 18 months old (I wrote monthly updates about her from birth until 2 years old).

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