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Jet lag and tantrums

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NOT HAPPY: What's happened to happy-go-lucky Milin?

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I'm not sure where my happy baby went. Perhaps he got a personality transplant somewhere between Bangkok and Wellington. Perhaps it's jet lag. Either way, my 12-month-old Milin has me stumped. He's suddenly become grumpy, angry, and even violent - and it's all directed towards his lovely 11-month-old cousin who he has only just met.

As you guys and girls know, Tony, baby Milin and I are in the process of moving from Wellington to London. We're midway through a week in Bangkok, staying with Tony's step-dad and generally trying to recover from the journey so far. But it's not quite going to plan.

The flight was difficult, yes, but by the third night here, we thought Milin had got over it. He was back to his usual routine, with day sleeps and his big night sleep all back on schedule, just adjusted to Thai time. We've been taking it easy here, trying not to bombard him with too much that is unfamiliar, and he seems kind of settled.

The first couple of days were hard because he was exhausted and had so much sleep to catch up on, but we got there. We kept things calm, didn't do too much, and stayed home lots so he could get used to his new surroundings. We've been sticking to regular nap times and his strict routine of bathtime, books and bottle before bed. During the day, I'm putting him down for his two long naps in the same way I would at home, saying the same things, doing the same things, and making sure his beloved bunny is always nearby.

After a couple of days of  being short-tempered, Milin has settled down with Tony and I. He is his usual happy self while he's playing with us. We've taken him to a food market which he loved, taken him to the outdoor pool next door, which he also loved, and taken him to a Thai mega mall and restaurant where he also had fun.

But we're staying with family, and here in the house is his adorable 11-month-old cousin. She is gorgeous, friendly, funny, and laid-back. She loves to laugh and to play, and she really wants to play with Milin. Except he won't let her come anywhere near him.

It started immediately. He would bang his head into the ground as she approached him. Now, having realised the floor is marble, he does it more gently but he still bows his head. He has also discovered that using his flailing arms or kicking legs will also push his cousin away - as will headbutting her. His actions are often accompanied by a screech or a scream of frustration mixed with anger.

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We can't leave them alone together because of Milin. He doesn't get a reaction out of his cousin, but that doesn't stop. Tony is perplexed, I'm mortified, saddened, hurt, and above all, wondering what I've done wrong.

Throughout Milin's first year in Wellington, I tried incredibly hard to socialise him. Aware that he had no cousins close by, I dutifully took him along to the Space programme at Playcentre, we did a term of Baby Sensory classes, met up with our PIN group every week, our ante-natal group every other week - and generally spent lots of time on playdates.

Admittedly, as moving date loomed closer I let a lot slide, and over summer Milin spent many a day at home playing in empty boxes as Tony and I packed up and cleaned the house. Yet I have never seen an inkling of what we're seeing this week. If anything, Milin was often the shy baby who wouldn't approach others. He even went through a stage where he would cry in apparent fear if another baby came near him.

We are wondering if he is still a little tired and jetlagged from the journey, but only expressing that towards his cousin. Or maybe it's a strange side-effect from the MMR jab he had just before we left? Or is he feeling insecure as a result of all the change? This, I have a feeling, is the most likely.

Whatever it is, I hope it passes as he becomes more settled - but I suspect that might be weeks down the track in London. (Where there are also more young cousins.)

A year ago I was desperate for advice on how to settle a crying newborn. Now, I'm after tips on how to settle a one-year-old whose life has been turned upside down. Has anyone else experienced similar behaviour with their little ones, due to a change in routine or otherwise? I'd love to hear about it, and would love to hear any ideas you have for ways I can reassure my little boy that everything's ok.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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