It is hard to believe my last baby has crossed the 18-month mark!
I always feel that toddlers enter a very different phase of development after this month of age. From a nurturer's point of view, the truly exciting times lie right ahead.
One of the most wonderful things of having another child after the 5-year gap is the chance to experience this incredibly rewarding and adorable baby-to-toddler phase again. On a daily basis, there are so many beautiful and enjoyable moments that remind me of our blessings.
It makes me happy just watching her wander and wonder about her discoveries, listening to her every new word and realizing how much more she has come to understand about her world in these few short months. There are so many more amazing experiences awaiting her and I just can't wait to show her more.
This little being who deserves so much in her life ahead and I just know, I have a lot in me to give too. Just this thought alone makes me happy and it never fails to instantly fire up some unknown energy in me that motivates me to be a better mum.
I have never imagined that I would have made it this far, but I am still nursing her! Yay!! She would request in the cutest way with signs and gestures and her most adorable 'milkz', while tugging at the right place of my blouse. Haha.
Perhaps because of I am still nursing her, she has a particular fondness for my clothes. To be exact, it must be the smell of them that appeals to her. This is the only child who insists of cuddling my clothes to sleep. I don't know how odd or normal this is, but she is not interested in cuddling any dolls or softies at bedtime. She needs only one thing - a blouse of Mama! I give her a freshly washed blouse, tied into a knot (so there is no risk of it suffocating her) and she will just sniff away while rolling around in bed with it. This isn't new though; she has been doing this for nearly a year now! I find it really cute, so I am not complaining nor hurrying her to drop the habit anytime soon.
Another obvious difference between her and the boys: this dolly has already developed a huge sense of fashion! She will insist to be dressed in certain apparel and if we pick something that she doesn't like, she protests with lots of gentle 'no, no, no!'.
She is especially drawn to bright colours and loves pieces with motifs. Whenever she passes by her laundry basket where her dirty (just worn but dry) laundry is kept, she will ransack it, as if looking for treasures. Once she finds something she fancies, she puts them on, on top of whatever she is already wearing!
In this photo, she just picked out the orange-stripey shorts from laundry basket and insisted on wearing them. Happily posing for papa after the change. Haha.
I am super tickled by this refreshing change, after dressing my incredibly easygoing (read = zero care for fashion) boys for years. I don't know how long I will remain patient and amused, but I imagine I will feel differently when we enter the full terrible two phase, with the toddler throwing a massive tantrum each time I reject her fashion choices. We'll see. Right now, I am just indulging her.
Development-wise, she is well on track in all areas.
She starts to self-feed with fork/spoon recently and is doing better than I expected, especially since I don't let her do this at every meal. She can zip/unzip, put on pants and even simple loose dresses and undress herself. Recently, she starts removing her nappy whenever there is nothing else to amuse her. Imagine my horror and amusement at the same time to discover a toddler with a naked butt in the playpen!
Her gross motor skills are as advanced as M's when he was this age. Though she is the most petite among the three, she is just as strong judging by the way she drags, pushes and pulls big loads around the house. More often than not, she dashes about, climbs onto chairs and goes up and down steps for a long stretch without pausing. I know, this energy is also partly fuelled by the novelty of this newfound freedom and mobility, which doesn't last forever. :)
Her language development continues to advance at an incredible rate. She spouts new words and phrases everyday: sit down, choo-choo, sweet dreams, blue heron, go home, banana ... Probably an average of 5 new words a day. Then there are some words that she has been saying for months but recently, as her enunciation improves remarkably, these words are now so clearly pronounced. Her first chinese phrase: 洗 手（wash hand).
She has a huge interest in animals, evident by the rate she learns about them. Her latest favourites are walrus, seal, zebra and kangaroo. So a zoo trip is called for to impress the tot.
At the moment, she finds counting a fascinating activity. She will place bottles or just about anything in front of me and ask me to count repeatedly as she watches intently. By the end of the count, she never fails to reward me with a big grin before requesting for more. I have seen her attempt counting on her own, but she hasn't gotten past 1, 2 yet. She will point at the rest of the items, just not uttering the numbers. I don't expect her to and it is not important either. The interesting point to me is her curiosity in the activity. It is the same with shapes and colours. She knows nearly all the shapes in the shape-sorter toys, though she can't name all. She recognises about 10 colours and can name nearly all.
She loves to paint and draw and getting her hands dirty. But we aren't doing enough.
We have started to do more activities at home, albeit on an ad-hoc basis. Like the boys, she is a keen learner in everything I introduce, soaking it all up like a sponge and asking for more. It is always so encouraging and rewarding. So I really need to start a more structured routine for her soon to ensure she is not neglected while her older siblings' needs take precedence. This is only fair.
And I do try my best to be fair to her, hence I started an informal weekly playgroup recently, something which I did for the boys too when they were this age. For now, it is an unstructured gathering but at some point, when the playgroup becomes more regular, it makes sense to introduce some structured activities. I am hoping too, that with regular meetings, she will grow fond of some playmates her own age. That would be real nice.