If you had asked me two weeks ago, I would have said we had another month until walking. James had cruising down, and was occasionally standing without holding onto anything for a few seconds but honestly, he just didn't seem that interested when crawling could get him where he wanted to go.
But then last week he started standing independently for longer and longer. He figured out how to stand up without using anything to pull up (something Alec didn't figure out until after he learned how to walk - if he fell, he would have to crawl over to something he could pull up on). He started squatting with a clear gap between his butt and the ground. This past Wednesday, I saw him do deep knee bends without holding onto anything. It's like suddenly two weeks ago he decided mobility was his new job. So it wasn't really a surprise Saturday morning when I saw James stand up and then take three tiny steps before landing on his butt. Walking at thirteen months! What a prodigy! Well, compared to his brother (14 months) and sister (16 months!) he is.
Speaking of prodigiousness, our baby who disdained all forms of spoon feeding like we were trying to feed him lukewarm library paste? Started feeding himself with a spoon last month, remarkably neatly. Even Katherine, who was a fine motor skills fiend needed to have baby oatmeal added to her applesauce to keep it on the spoon at that age, but he happily spoons the slippery stuff up without a problem. On the not-so-prodigious self-feeding front, he is finally successfully drinking from a straw cup. You would think that a child who has spent literally his ENTIRE life sucking on things to get liquid would, when presented with a straw, think to do more than just look at it dumbly and then try to bite it, but not our special snowflake. I wasn't sure how to deal with this, since the older kids both took to straws naturally and instantly, but (for anyone Googling "How to teach a toddler how to use a straw") finally I switched from the fancy spill-proof strawcups to the cheap Take and Toss type where I could squeeze the sides and push some liquid up through the straw. Once the flow got started, he would instinctively suck to keep it going and got the idea of sucking to get it started pretty quickly. He still can't hack the fancier cups with longer straws, but I found a compromise in the form of these cups, which are small and cheap, but have a screw-on lid that can't be pried off by an enterprising toddler. If only I could find more than the one pack of four, I would switch all of our kid cups over to them.
On the cognitive end, it became incredibly clear when James had passed the 55 week developmental spurt and not just because he started sleeping for more than 20 minutes at a time. He started becoming very interested in putting his nesting cups together instead of seeing how far across the room he could scatter them. He started grouping like things together. He added three new words - okay, baby, bye. He started getting very interested in baby dolls and stuffed animals and now has a cloth baby doll who is becoming his lovey (I'm so pleased - he chose a doll that's easily commercially available and simple to replace, unlike Katherine who glommed onto a mother and baby bunny pair from my childhood. Not merely irreplaceable, but with a small part that's easy to lose!). He's less likely to freak out when he wants something if he can see me in the process of getting it since now he's starting to understand sequences.
At the moment, his main interests are baby dolls, the play kitchen, things that fit together, cars and anything that plays annoying electronic music. He was 19 pounds, 13 ounces last week, continuing to skate under twenty pounds and be our skinny little guy. He's silly and cuddly, and still my sweet baby.