Baby questions!

I am experiencing for the first time the joys of fatherhood. Our daughter Elisabetta is now six months, and things are more or less OK for now - keeping fingers crossed. I have a few questions for the more experienced parents here on the board. It will be a long post, but bear with a worried daddy, please :slight_smile:

[li] First of all, has anyone ever successfully raised a trilingual child? I am Italian; my wife is Chinese; and we live in UK. We don’t foresee moving to Italy or China soon. Do you have success stories?[/li][li] It looks like Elisabetta does not have much upper body strength. Her legs have quite a kick, but the arms feel weak. She cannot lift things for very long, nor support her body long during “tummy time” when she’s on her belly. What can I do to help her develop a bit more strength? Move her arms like in a gym exercise?[/li][li] She stopped taking formula from bottles. We tried changing bottles, teats and formulas, but she just refuses bottles. And my wife’s milk supply is going down quickly! Luckily she’s starting on prepared food (mashed vegetables, fruit and the like), but she needs all the nutrients in milk. Do you have any suggestions?[/li][li] She sometimes shrieks very loudly. We don’t know why. When it happens she’s not alone, nor in pain, nor upset, and we give her attention. She’s cheerful and often smiles. What I do at the moment is gently tell her “Shhhh! This is not good at all!” with a, well, a slightly firm expression. Sometimes she gets it (I think), and stops. Sometimes she goes “Aaaah!” very softly, as if she wanted to tell me “I’m going to scream anyway, but more softly to make you happy” (and that’s very cute to see!). Often that’s not enough, and she goes on screaming.[/li][/ul]

I tried messing on Google to find suggestions, but as you can imagine the good is mixed with the bad, especially on parenting boards (ohhh, the parenting boards!) and I’d rather listen to the advice of reasonable people here on the board that had experience and know what they’re talking about.

I can’t help you with the trilingual question, I am limited to English - but I’ll do my best with the other three questions. My sons are now 20 and 7, so it’s been a while since I’ve been through the baby stages.

All babies are unique, develop at different rates (albeit within a “range” of average) and do weird stuff. You’re learning about your little one’s unique personality. Get used to it! :slight_smile:

Assuming your baby’s doctor has checked her out and she’s developing normally, try to relax and let her develop at her own pace. More tummy time will give her more time to develop her muscles - before you know it, she’ll be cruising all over the place and asking to borrow your car keys! I assume you mean that she’s having trouble holding herself up on her arms; that comes with practice and time (remember, her head is very heavy in relation to her body, and she’s just learned to balance that on her little neck). Just relax and give her time to practice pushing up (for example, maybe put a toy in front of her, just slightly out of her reach, to make her stretch for it).

Regarding bottles - Can I assume that your wife is still breastfeeding? Usually increased demand for milk leads to increased milk production, so your wife should catch up to the demand in two or three days (the more your daughter nurses, the more milk will be produced). If your wife is trying to wean off the breast and your daughter doesn’t want bottles, then I’d suggest going right to a sippy cup. You might have to experiment to find a cup she can hold comfortably.

The shrieking, if your daughter is doing it randomly and isn’t in distress, sounds like she’s figured out that a) she can make funny noises! and b) it makes the daddy freak out! To her, both of these are good things. She’s learning what her body can do and having fun with it. Just wait until she gets older - my 7-year-old thinks that burping is highly entertaining!

Babies can learn many languages simultaneously; certainly they can learn three. But they can only learn a language if they hear it often, and consistently. If you can arrange your life and your patterns of interaction with your baby so that happens, then great.

My cousins are perfectly bilingual English/French because they grew up in a house where their father spoke English to them and their mother (a French Canadian) spoke French to them.

Ah, breastfeeding. That has been a problem throughout the baby’s life. You see, we decided to go for breastfeeding, but my wife had practically no milk, so we had to use formula. She bravely kept at feeding, though, and milk production gradually but very slowly came up and since about three months ago my wife breastfeeds exclusively. Which was good, because Elisabetta refused the bottle.

That was a problem because it means that I cannot feed her, so my wife cannot, say, go out an evening and leave baby to me. That’s unfair on her.

Now milk production is going down again, and it never was that much to start with, so if it continues we soon will have to reintroduce the bottle. But she refuses it, crying and fighting desperately.

For the breastfeeding issue: Make sure your wife is drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated. Sometimes boosting water intake can really help with milk production. Additionally, she should try to nurse the baby frequently. Frequency of nursing will stimulate an increase in milk production.

Apart from that, I’ll second the advice to try a sippy cup. (If you’re not familiar with what that is, it’s something like this. I think six months is old enough for a child to start using one, and she might find it less objectionable than a bottle.

I was an almost-trilingual child: was learning my 3rd language in pre-K. So with that, I’ll give you this piece of advice: everyone says (and it’s true!) that kids pick up new languages very easily. They do. The corrolary is that they also lose languages almost as easily. Same brain plasticity. I have 99.999% lost my “first” language, and my second language is mighty rusty. My third language (English, duh) is now my primary one, and functionally I’m basically monolinguistic.

Don’t be surprised if, as your kid starts getting more verbal - you have a year or two, yet! - she talks in a sort of “salad.” I did this, and most of my parents’ friends (immigrants with 1st-generation American kids, mostly) did the same. A given sentence will make sense, but it consists of a word or two in X language, then a word in Y language, then a phrase in Z language, and then the last word in X again, for example. It’s actually a good thing, IMHO, as it felt to me, as a kid, like each language was equal, in a sense.

Your kid’s primary language will eventually be whatever language she hears in the classroom and uses with her kiddie friends, if her experience will be anything like mine. :slight_smile:
Re: arm strenght. I wouldn’t move her arms for her (your “gym exercise” idea.) Let her do it herself. The just-barely-out-of-reach toy suggestion above is excellent.

About the sippy-cup suggestion: every baby I’ve known has been fascinated by things that are recognizable of the grown-up world. Remove controls and phones, for example, seem more attractive than plush giraffes to a lot of babies. * shrug * Your girl might be more inclined to try a sippy cup if she sees you using one for a while. Sounds weird - and you’ll feel stupid doing it, I bet - but try drinking out of one, and then let her do something she’s seen grown-ups do … it’ll make her feel like one of the cool kids, all grown up herself, and little kids love that feeling!

Six months is a damn cute age. When come back, post pics?

There’s been plenty of good advice so far. I’ll just add one observation that my mom made, which I’ve found reassuring to remember when our kid seems to refuse to eat: “No baby has ever voluntarily starved itself to death”. If she gets hungry enough, she’ll eat, even if she doesn’t like it for whatever reason.

If you’re concerned about upper body strength then I’d put aside any attempts to get her to be an early walker. Some parents are in a big rush to get their kids walking as soon as possible (around 9-10 months). Let her learn to walk on her own time and give her a few months to maneuver with arms alone. The longer kids take to walk the longer they have to develop upper body strength. My son didn’t walk till his 15th month but he was stronger than hell.

We have a 3 month old girl. Wife is breastfeeding, but baby need to take a bottle when she is at work (she’s pumping, so even with a bottle the baby is only getting breast milk).

I was feeding her one bottle a day so that she would get used to it. All was fine until about week 7, when she suddenly refused the bottle. I think her brain developed enough at that point to figure out that “hey, this isn’t mommy! What the hell are you trying to pull??”

Screaming meltdowns ensued. I found one bottle that she will at least latch onto (Playtex drop-in with the natural latex nipple). but she won’t feed.

Doctor said “send wife out of the house, offer baby NOTHING except the bottle. She won’t starve, she’ll eat when she gets hungry enough”.

And its true. Its still a screaming melt down for about 4-5 hours, but eventually she’ll give me a vicious glare, stop screaming and eat. She’s just very stubborn.

She won’t take the bottle from my wife, or if my wife is in the house. She knows somehow.

As a father of a 2 year 3 month old I can answer everything except the language question.

Upper body strength will come with time as she starts to crawl and move around the house more on her own , you can also encourage her to hold and lift light objects like stuffed toys and rattles.

My wife had a hard time with BF, in fact it was mostly formula after the first month. Try changing and experimenting with different size and shape nipples on the bottle or as someone else suggested try a sippy cup but my son did not make the transition from bottle to sippy cup till almost 12 months.

As for the shrieking, its exactly what was posted above, she hasd found her lungs and ability to create noise, I don’t think this will go away anytime soon, I stay at home with my son and when Momma gets home he let’s out the highest shriek you have ever heard, just showing excitement and because he can.

Well, it wasn’t fair that your wife had to gestate her either, but you both dealt with it, right? Especially if the baby is refusing a bottle and your wife has had supply issues, it’s important to nurse a lot. No need to try to limit nursing to when the baby “really needs to eat.” The best advice for a nursing dyad with supply issues is to nurse at any provocation. Many people say, “The baby’s just using me as a pacifier,” to which I say, “why is that a bad thing?”

With her starting table food, it won’t be long before she’s more independent and your wife has more freedom. Hang in there and remind yourselves this is a precious time that really will be over all too soon!

As far as the shrieking, it sounds normal. No need to reprimand her (and what success has anyone ever had reprimanding an infant anyway). Get used to her learning about her own abilities: what noises she can make, what she can hold, what she can do with that plate of food - can she push it over the edge of the table? YES - SUCCESS! Remember that babies have no idea what our social conventions are - they’re exploring this kickass new world they find themselves in. Trying to squelch that is going to make all of you miserable, and stunt her cognitive development.

Have fun with your baby! Try not to worry too much and love her lots, and you’ll all get through just fine.

My brother and his wife speak English, Russian, and German at home. My niece and nephew (ages 7 and 4) are doing well with all three, though their Russian is weakest because only their mom speaks it. Niece used to understand/speak Polish as well, but the babysitter moved away.

Tummy time.

Sippy cup.

Shrieking is entertaining to her!

You’ve got several options for feeding milk: the sippy cup, as already mentioned. Some babies prefer to go right to a regular (plastic) cup. Others like it if you spoon feed them milk - either a regular spoon or a medicine spoon.

Is Mom using a breastpump? She can pump milk for you to give to your daughter when she’s not around. It’s much better for the baby than formula or cow’s milk (which shouldn’t be given to babies under 12 months). There are a couple different kinds of breastpumps, so she might have to try a couple to find one that works for her. She can also use the pump to increase her supply - nursing and/or pumping every 2 hours will help her milk increase. Breastmilk can be frozen, and when you want to use it, thawed in a glass or bowl of hot water very quickly.

Has her doctor checked her strength? We really can’t tell you online if it’s normal or not. I can tell you that 6 month olds generally don’t keep things in their hands for long. I don’t know if it’s so much a lack of strength as a lack of focused attention. They just forget that there’s something there and let go. Most of them don’t hold themselves pushed up while on their tummies for long, either - it’s just not a comfortable position, no matter how young or old you are. Most six month olds can turn from belly to back and back to belly. They can hold their heads without wobbling when you hold them upright. They may even be able to sit without support, but they generally can’t get into a sitting position without assistance.

Trilingualism: not a problem. The best thing you can do is speak to her in your native tongue. You talk to her in Italian, your wife talk to her in “Chinese” (sorry, you don’t say which language; I do know “Chinese” isn’t really a language!), and you talk to each other in the third language. Your daughter will pick up all three. I know a quadlingual preschooler (Mom’s German, Dad’s Moroccan, they speak English to each other and the babysitter is Mexican)!

Shrieking is her new game. Fun, isn’t it? Well, to her it is! If you don’t want her to do it anymore, ignore it. When she does something else you like better, give her lots of attention for that, instead.

Sorry, I don’t really have anything to add to what’s already been said, but I just had to say I love the name you chose for your daughter! “Elisabetta” is beautiful!

She screams for four to five hours? Regularly? That can’t be right.

Got nothing on the strength issues, but from lots of babysitting, the shrieking is pretty normal. Remember this freedom of expression when she is 13 and demanding to wear an exact replica of what her cool best friend is wearing, and refusing to have any opinions which contradict the “in-group.” :stuck_out_tongue:

Elisabetta is a beautiful name. It has been on my list for ages. So very pretty.

As for multi-languages, I had an acquaintance in college who was quad-lingual.

Mom = French
Dad = German
Au Pair/Nanny = Spanish
Lived in USA.

Her mom only speaks in French, dad only in German (still, judging by her phone conversations I’ve overheard) and the Nanny lived with them until she was 10 or 12. I know that they shipped her and her sisters off for the summers with their relatives in France and Germany alone, so they’d have to use the language there, and I am pretty sure she had a summer job/volunteer/mission trip thing in Spain for about a year before she started college - she was a year older than everyone else in Freshman class because of it.

It’s funny that purplehorseshoe talks about language-salad - that’s still the way it sounds when she’s talking on the phone with her family. I’ve asked her before, and she says that there are certain emotions or concepts that “fit” better with one language over another, so they’ve all gotten used to using them regardless of the dominant conversation language.

As a solidly (and regretfully) monolingual person trudging my way through Japanese as an adult, I am highly jealous of people with wonderful parents who have made their lives easier and more communicative.

No. She screams when I try to bottle feed her. I try for about 10 minutes, then put the bottle away and play with her, rock her etc… she only screams when I’m trying to give her the bottle. I try again the next hour with the same result. After about 4-5 hours, she gives in and eats instead of screaming.

In my limited experience, telling a kid not to do anything before maybe ten months is a waste of energy. Keep dangerous things away, distract if a behaviour is really bothering you, and don’t try to teach her manners. My second kid is one next week and he’s just started to recognise the word ‘no’. You know what he thinks it means? Giggle and try again.

I think my older one started to recognise commands about fourteen months. It takes a long time.

The shrieking is her discovering that she has lungs and can get a reaction from you. Fun.

My one year old 53 is now he5lping me type and I’54m going.

[quote=“Lars_Aruns, post:1, topic:575031”]

[li] First of all, has anyone ever successfully raised a trilingual child? I am Italian; my wife is Chinese; and we live in UK. We don’t foresee moving to Italy or China soon. Do you have success stories?[/li][li] It looks like Elisabetta does not have much upper body strength. Her legs have quite a kick, but the arms feel weak. She cannot lift things for very long, nor support her body long during “tummy time” when she’s on her belly. What can I do to help her develop a bit more strength? Move her arms like in a gym exercise?[/li][/quote]

Give it time. Once she decides she wants to crawl she’ll get stronger rapidly.

[li] She stopped taking formula from bottles. We tried changing bottles, teats and formulas, but she just refuses bottles. And my wife’s milk supply is going down quickly! Luckily she’s starting on prepared food (mashed vegetables, fruit and the like), but she needs all the nutrients in milk. Do you have any suggestions?[/li][/quote]

You could try a straw sippy cup, something akin to this. My son was able to figure it out at about seven months. It can be a little easier than a regular sippy cup since the baby doesn’t have to tip it up.

You can also try an open cup already at six months if you have the patience, I think. But I imagine it would be messy.

No time for the rest, good luck!