A VERY Ugly Baby

Technical Note:  I am currently working on building my own YouTube server.  It’ll be called “MyTube”.   Its taken me about four days to build and its almost operational.  I’m currently working all of the bugs out of the open source software, and trying to find a reasonably priced hard disk to put it on.  If things go well, I should have it online early next year.

My mom is in town and as usual, she came with tons of presents for Haruka.  Most of them were clothes, but the one gift that caught everyone’s attention was this doll.  I’ve gotta say that it’s the most ugliest doll I’ve ever seen.   However, it’s an interesting doll that it come with a some pretty interesting technology built in it.   It came with a toy bottle and a toy pacifier;  and when the pacifier or bottle placed in proximity to the doll’s lips, it starts to move and make really creepy sounds.   I haven’t quite figured out how everything works, but from the looks of it, it seems to have an RF (radio frequency) antenna, similar to those in credit cards built in.  And the lips of the doll probably has some kind of RF sensor hooked up to servos in its eyes and lips.

Anyways, technical analysis aside, its one ugly doll.  I don’t understand why the dolls in States are so ugly and frightening.  The beady little blue eyes is enough to give any kid a nightmare, but Haruka seems to like it.  And ironically, although she doesn’t sleep with the doll, she has been sleeping more peacefully since it got here.  But that’s probably just coincidence.

I will begin my 4-day weekend tomorrow.  Other than going to Tokyo to see my mother, and grandmother, we have no particular plans to do anything.  Although a mixed blessing, since my projects at work have been postponed until next year, I will probably be able to take a longer than expected winter holiday.

Haruka holding her baby

playing with the doll

watching TV together

Haruka admiring the doll’s ugly face

Haruka and her grandmother

Another Experiment?

Technical note: I’ve installed a new gallery software.  It can be seen on the left, but it may take some time to load sometimes.  The pictures will shuffle around at random.

Haruka has been having problems sleeping again. For the last several weeks now, she would wake up in the middle of the night screaming. We’re not quite sure what the problem might be. At first, I suspected that she might be too cold, so I turned on the heat in the bedroom. Unfortunately, it made the situation worse. She has woken up twice already and it’s only 11pm.

The second time she woke up, I found her sitting up in her bed crying as she stared at the heater. Apparently the lights on the heater scared her. Admittedly, the lights did look a bit scarey in the dark; almost like a pair of eyes staring at you with heating vent resembling a mouth breathing flames. I immediately turned it off and held her until she fell back to sleep.

So the experiment didn’t quite work, and unfortunately her midnight wakings is beginning to affect her afternoon naps, which affects her moods. I guess it’s back to looking for a solution.

Haruka standing in front of the camera

chewing on my car keys

sitting in the tatami room

sitting on the balcony

So, Did BabyPlus REALLY Work?

It was about a year and half ago (or maybe more) when my wife started using this prenatal education device called BabyPlus.  We were both highly skeptical that a machine that really adds up to no more than a drum machine could give an infant such a intellectual head start in life.  But we bought it and my wife used it almost every single day and night for over 18 weeks until just before Haruka was born.

The claims that the company makes about the product is quite incredible.  And it seems that no matter which review you read, it was nothing but glowing raves about how the product produced such a perfect, well-behaved, and intelligent baby.  The amount of euphemistic reviews of the product often makes you wonder if there’s some kind of BabyPlus cult out there and that this device actually served to brain wash little babies into becoming cabbage worshipers when they become adults.  Either that, or these people were being paid to write hundreds of positive reviews on several internet sites using various aliases.  Or perhaps the product actually DOES work?  My personal assessment?  Well I will save that for the end, but first let’s look at the claims:

  • Babies are born more alert; often with very little crying.
  • Babies sleep better, and many will often sleep through the night in just a few weeks
  • Ability to self-soothe and put him/herself to sleep
  • ability to develop language quickly
  • meet milestones faster
  • larger vocabulary at an earlier

and so on and so forth.  Well, for those who have been following this site from its beginnings, you’d already know that Haruka wasn’t an easy baby to care for shortly after birth.  She was colicky (cried often without cause, and difficult to calm down).  She didn’t take to baby formula right away and often spit up.  So right out of the starting block, BabyPlus didn’t seem to be living up to its claims.

However, after a couple months, we did notice some changes.  At only 8 weeks, not only were we able to carry Haruka upright, she often wanted to stand up (of course with support).  That was the first sign that she was developing more quickly than the other babies of the same age.  Additionally, we noticed that she was cooing and making noises much earlier than most milestone calenders indicated.

However, although her physical development seemed to be coming along nicely, she was still quite difficult. Getting her to bed every night needed a minimum of an hour.  She could quite literally cry for several hours before she tired out and went to sleep.  Her colic persisted until about the fourth or fifth month, after which it died down quite dramatically.

At four months old, she was able to roll over in both directions, and sometimes even drag herself a few inches.  She was finally able to sleep through the night through a set routine of feeding, wrapping, and swinging, but still cried often and could not go to sleep on her own unless she was in a car or on her swing.

At about four and a half months old, Haruka was able to sit upright unassisted.  This was quite a surprise to everyone because she showed no prior signs or hints that she was even about to sit up on her on her own.  It was as if someone turned on a switch and she was sitting.

At five and have months old, she was able to grab a piece of furniture and stood up on her own for the first time.  At this point, she still had yet to learn to crawl, and was still dragging herself around the room.  A few days later, she was cruising around the room swinging from furniture to furniture.  It wasn’t until six months when she finally was able to learn to crawl properly.

After a short period of being able to crawl rapidly to get from point A to point B, Haruka was able to stand up unassisted at 8 months old, and it only took a week and a half until she was taking her first steps.  Three weeks later, she was running around the living room.

At this point, it seemed as if her physical milestones came far ealier than her intellectual milestones, until one day she was able to wave her hand and say bye bye.  Although not too clear at times, she does mumble the words.  She does say it while waving, and when she or someone else is leaving, which means she understands the context of the words and when to use them, as opposed to just repeating what we say to her.

Between ten and eleven months old, Haruka became a very skilled walker and a fast runner.   She even managed to crawl up some stairs on her own.  She has a pretty good understanding of what we are telling her, and responds to commands.  For example, she knows to claspe her hands together  before and after eating (a Japanese custom).  She also knows to bow to a person whom she’s meeting (a Japanese greeting).  However, she has yet to learn to self-soothe nor can she consistently sleep throughout the night.  She doesn’t cry like she use to; she cries only if she wants something, sleepy, or hungry…or obviously when she hurts herself.

At a year old now, she still has trouble staying asleep at night, often waking up several times a night.  Not too sure what’s going on here, but then again, Haruka has never been a very sound sleeper.  She is still unable to put herself to sleep, and requires one of us to hold her until she falls asleep.

So, Did BabyPlus REALLY Work?  In my opinion, Haruka would have probably turned out the same regardless of whether or not we used it.  I believe that all of her traits (both negative and positive) are purely genetic, and I think there’s more scientific evidence to support my theory than the claims BabyPlus makes about their product.  If you have a history of colic or difficult infants in your family, changes are pretty good that your infant will carry on those traits, and no amount of BabyPlus’ing is going to change that.  Any so-called benefits accheived from using baby plus is coincidental.

BabyPlus developed a very good money making product, because it successfully appeals to the emotions and hopes of the parent to be.  EVERY parent wants their child to be intelligent, and $120 is just cheap enough to be in reach of most household incomes, and yet pricey enough so that it’s not easily discredited  as  being just a gimmick or a toy.

Unless there was a way of cloning a fetus and raising them in two different wombs, one exposed to BabyPlus and the other unexposed, there is no way to prove or disprove the results or there lack of, achieved by this product.    Each baby is a different individual with different personalities, so there is no way to conduct a controlled experiment since the factors vary so greatly.  So unless there is conclusive scientific evidence to definitively prove the validity of the claims made by this company, there is no way really know for sure if it works or not.  If the baby displays even the slightest bit of intelligence, I wouldn’t automatically assume that its the result of the nightly drum concert the baby receives, and due more to good genetics.  Like-wise I wouldn’t blame a difficult infant, or an infant who meets milestones relatively slower than others on BabyPlus either.  I sincerely think that all this product serves to do is make noise, maybe at the very most, help put the baby in the womb asleep, or maybe keep it awake.

Would I recommend it?  Short answer is no.  That is to say not unless BabyPlus can produce more credible evidence to suggest that it does work, rather than just an internet forum flooded with testimonials from overly proud parents boasting of great results, whom I  suspect got some leading from BabyPlus.  My suggestion is to use the $120 to buy some books and maybe even Mozart and get the baby off to heardstart by playing music and reading to them while still in the womb.

Haruka at the park

Another pic…

Getting Ready for Xmas

Yesterday, we decided to spend some time at my grandmother’s house.  It’s been about five months since we took Haru there, also it was a good opportunity to just get out of the house.  My cousin Ryo, and his two boys were there, so it wasa somewhat of a small reunion.

Haruka was pretty well behaved and didn’t cry all day.  She even enjoy the extra attention from her great grandmother and great aunt. Even her two second cousins were gracious enough to her entertained.

The next day, the Xmas tree we ordered arrived.  We decided not to get a full-sized tree this year because Haru’s  curiosity tends to get the best of her.  Instead we decided to get a small tree so that we can place it on the window seal out of Haruka’s reach.  Its a pretty cheaply made tree but good enough for this year.  Perhaps next year we’ll get something a lot bigger that actually sits on the floor.

Haruka playing with the mini Xmas tree

Haruka and Princess posing next to the tree

A somewhat fuzzy picture of Haruka hugging her second cousin

Haruka trying to wake up my cousin from his nap

12 Months with Haruka

As a reflection back through the last nine months with Haru, I’ve compiled a series a pictures from the last 12 months.  Some are pictures that have never been posted before.

A few hours old

1 month old

2 months old

3 months old

4 months old

5 months old

6 months old

7 months old

8 months old

9 months old

10 months old

11 months old

1 year old