Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Safety First

Not much to report on week 21. I learn more and more about our Girl's personality every day, but can't say that I have had any "aha! moments".

So ... a random, but hopefully useful topic.

I have (rather atypically) found myself having several conversations about guns in the last week or so. We don't own a gun and there will never be a gun in our home. As part of these conversations, I have repeatedly pointed out to my family members that I will need to ask other parents about their own gun policies once our Girl starts visiting friends.

Yes, I have time before this becomes an issue. But, you know me, obsess early and often!

I think my approach will be more "let me tell you about our home ... no guns, no pets, no drugs, no smoking, no prescription pain killers, no pool ..." and hope that the other parent follows suit. Our daughter does not attend an in-home daycare, but obviously the same issues apply.

For those of you with older children - how do you deal with this?

Other things I obsess about ...

Registered Sex Offenders in your neighborhood? Family Watchdog lets you search your neighborhood. There are a lot of issues with accurate tracking of registered sex offenders, but at least this is a start.

Infant CPR: We took a class before the Girl was born and it was terrifying and helpful. I keep the little cheat sheet on our refrigerator and should review it more often than I do. Ideally, all grandparents, aunts, uncles and caregivers should also have taken a CPR class. Check out your local Red Cross for more information.

Car Seat Installation: Something ridiculous like 85% of car seats are used incorrectly. This is so, so important. Our local police department does it for free (and my husband almost missed the birth of our child because the seat was being installed!). You can check Seatcheck.org for local sites. Even more importantly, make sure you understand how to install it on your own if the car seat will be taken in and out of the car.

Some Safety Sites ...
Check out Hip Monkey if you are planning to purchase a car seat or stroller (or other baby gear). They donate all proceeds from sales to a non-profit organization that provides safe car seats to kids in need. They offer free shipping on orders over $99 and no sales tax and sell only the safest models.

Choking Hazards: I'm becoming more and more aware of this and will have to be especially vigilant once the Girl becomes mobile. In planning a get together for young kids of all ages, I realized that I don't know what toys and games are really appropriate for a mixed crowd, so I'll go with the safest option - no parts smaller than your head! (Seriously, though, I think a good rule of thumb is anything that can fit through a toilet paper roll is a choking hazard.)

Recalls: It seems like items are recalled every day. While they are often publicized on TV or in the paper, they are easy to miss. Be sure to fill out the registration papers that come with your baby furniture or any big toys - they can notify you of recalls that way. I also find these Baby Bargains blogs to be useful (Book Blog, Baby 411)

Be careful out there!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Note to self

I always have to remind myself that crying at naptime and bedtime isn't a bad thing. Some babies NEED to cry as part of the soothing process.

The goal isn't to go to sleep quietly (although that is really nice). The goal is to go to sleep independently, whichever way works for your kiddo.

And, just to reinforce that crying has its purpose, we are back to sleeping through the night from bedtime to waketime. Only took three nights of not going into her room, each night better than the one before.

Except for last night when she cried out at 1:15am with a weird cry. I went to check on her and her head was pushed up against the bars of her crib.

I made an exception for that one.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Taking my own advice

We're officially on Day 5 of the new schedule with improvements on all fronts. And, I'm pretty sure about the time I feel confidant that all is settled, we'll be on to the next schedule ...

As mentioned, I moved Girly from 4.5 to 5 to 5.5 ounces over about 2 weeks. She did fine the first night after a day of 5.5 oz bottles, but she cried a lot during the second night. I wasn't sure if it was hunger or not, so I tried out 6oz bottles on Sunday and Monday and she did fine. This is still appropriate for her age, so we'll leave her there for now.

Remember what I said about "Start as you mean to go?" ... well ... we had gotten off track. After working so hard to reach quiet naps and bedtime, it became easy to just give her back the pacifier if she cried out. One time won't hurt, will it? She already knows how to soothe herself to sleep, right?

One time turned into several times a night and turned into several weeks of stumbling through the hall at 3am. Yes, I was only up for a minute, but disrupted sleep does not equal happy Mom. I kept thinking that it would just get better - that she would grow out of the habit.


Also, remember what I said about parents teaching their children bad habits? Yep, guilty. I slowly acknowledged that our weeks of replacing the pacifier as a stop-gap method to get her to sleep had reinforced the night waking.

After polling my very wise friends who are better at this than I am, I've gone back to being hard core. I let her cry during naps and especially at bedtime and during the night. I'm not above giving her the pacifier once, but I have to hear in her cry that she is tired and will fall asleep and not that my visit to her room will stimulate her and make her think it is happyfunplaytime.

I was robbing her of the opportunity to learn to self-soothe. I just assumed that if I didn't go in, she would cry long and hard. In reality, it is almost always less than 10 minutes. Plus, she is learning to find her fingers/thumb to suck on, which helps. (She isn't quite to the point of finding her pacifier and putting it back in her mouth).

(As I type this, she woke from a deep sleep, cried for 4 minutes and fell back asleep).

One of the great quotes I read about "crying it out" was along the lines of this .... your child may cry for 10 or 20 minutes while falling asleep for a nap, and then sleep for 1-2 hours. If you can't stand to hear them cry that long and get them up, you are robbing them of hours of good sleep that they need. It is helpful to re-frame all of this: you are teaching them skills they need for life and providing them with restorative sleep.

So, the last two nights we have committed to not going into her room at all after she goes down to bed. She has cried less than 10 minutes while falling asleep and during any night waking. We went from going into her room up to 5 times a night, to last night she only woke once and went back to sleep. I peeked in from the door to make sure she was OK (and she was, of course).

(** this is one of the great things about foregoing bumpers in the crib - I can see into her bed from the door to make sure she is OK, without her really seeing me**)

Everyone is more rested and we're on the right track (again) ...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

24 hours in ...

So far, so good with the Big Switch.

The Girl really didn't seem phased by dropping a feeding and moving bedtime around, at least not that she let us know (yet).

Our Girl has been on a 3 hour eating schedule pretty much since birth. I fed her every 3 hours when we came home from the hospital. "They" say you should have 8-12 feedings in 24 hours, but I think there have only been one or two days in her life when she had more than 8. She just didn't demand food and she was growing fine, so 8 worked well. Since she started sleeping well pretty early, she was at 7 feedings in 24 hours pretty early on.

About the time she really slept through the night and we started the "cry it out" (around 6 weeks), she was down to 6 feedings a day (6a, 9a, 12p, 3p, 6p, 9p).

Some babies stretch out the 3 hour feeding schedule pretty early, but since she slept so long at night, I really felt she needed the nutrition during the day.

At about 11 weeks, we started to move up the 9pm feeding by 15 minute increments. When I started back to work at 12 weeks, her last feedings of the day were at 530p and 830p. At 15 weeks the last feeding was at 815p and at 16 weeks the last feeding was at 8p.

I began to notice that she only "snacked" at the 530p feeding - nursed a few minutes each side and really preferred to chat instead. She would then take a full feeding before bed. I wanted it to be the reverse, and took this as a sign that she was ready to drop a feeding. In retrospect, I also think this had something to do with the fact that she was getting 3-4 bottles on daycare days instead of her typical 1 on home days.

(Side note: When we started the bottle at 3 weeks we arbitrarily picked 4 oz. and she did fine. We moved up to 4.5 oz. pretty shortly thereafter, and really never increased it again. The Girl rarely acts hungry, so it is hard to tell if she needs more).

I tried to ease the adjustment from 6 to 5 feedings. I changed the evening feedings to 545 and 745p for several days, then we had an illness interruption, and then the feedings were moved to 600p and 730p for a few days. Starting yesterday, I just combined those feedings into one at 700p. Also, over the last 2 weeks her bottles were moved up to 5 oz. and she did fine (no extra spitting up and still taking the full feeding when due) and now she is getting 5.5 oz.

I decided to make the change over the weekend when we had several days at home to adjust before starting school again next week. Also, being the OCD person I am, I will give her bottles for 3 of her 5 feedings for these few days to help with the adjustment. I want to make sure she is eating enough so if she gets up during the night I can be pretty sure it isn't hunger. It is a lot harder for me to judge when she is just breastfeeding.

Our schedule is now eating at 6a, 930a, 1230p, 330p and 700p (a combo 3/3.5 hour schedule). I would have liked to do a 3.5 hour schedule, but it just doesn't work with our work and daycare schedules, so this will do for now. She still takes 3 or 3.5 naps during the day for a total of 4-5.5 hours of sleep, and then goes to bed at 730p and gets up at 600a.

(Side note 2: Our Girl has always napped more than the "typical" child, and I am totally OK with that. As long as she slept well at night, I didn't care if she had more naps than she "should". I think a lot of kids have 2 good naps and 1 variable nap until about 6 months, then drop to 2 naps. She really is at 3 good naps with a variable 4th nap.)

This is probably way too detailed of an account of the Switch, and in many ways I made it a bigger deal than it needed to be. My challenge was that I read as much as I could about how to do this ... and there isn't much information. I have books that describe sleeping and naps well, and books that describe feeding well, but have yet to come across a book that explains how the two ideally work together (while also taking breastfeeding and milk supply issues into account). The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems comes closest, but she advocates a 4 hour schedule starting at 3-4 months (which generally means 4 daytime feedings), with an extra feeding during the night. No thanks - we are past that.

Maybe the moral of the story is that a book just can't explain exactly how it will work for your child. Most advice says that your child will just let you know when they are ready .... I'm not sure what that means.

Books help, but a lot of it is really paying attention to your baby's cues.

I'm still trying to learn her language, but we'll get there.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Whoops, we broke our baby

Ahhh .... how quickly you forget.

As I've said, we worked darn hard to get our Girl to sleep and nap well. All of our hard work paid off and we had a pretty blissful existence for weeks 10-17 of her life. Starting at about 4 months, though, some little issues started to sneak in.

I've read that some sleep issues can crop up around 4 months, perhaps having to do with the fact that your baby is getting much stronger, more independent and on the verge of reaching a lot of developmental milestones.

Naps still went pretty smoothly for us, and she went to sleep really easily, but there started to be lots of waking during the night. During the early morning hours. Boo.

At first it would just be once or twice a night - she would cry out from a deep sleep and would fall right back to sleep if we put her pacifier back in her mouth. Then, it became several times a night, usually between midnight and 4am. And, it appeared that she was wiggling out of her swaddle, or at least getting her hands up by her face.

We struggled with the correct response ... give her the pacifier or cry it out? Since she fell back asleep so easily, it seemed easiest to replace the pacifier. Multiple minutes of crying at 3:15am doesn't seem like the right solution for anyone. However, we got to the point of replacing the pacifier 4 or 5 or 6 times a night, which was a bad habit.

To further complicate matters, I really felt the swaddle was the root of her problems. I thought she was wiggling around so much that she woke herself up and cried. I loved the swaddle, and still do. It was becoming clear, though, that she was just getting too big and too strong and it needed to go.

It happens that all of this took place the week or two before I planned to move around her feeding and sleeping schedule and I knew it wasn't fair to do all of it at the same time. I had to postpone the feeding schedule change due to sickness, but on Saturday morning she was her normal happy self and I took advantage of the opportunity to de-Swaddle.


I miss my easy baby!

I decided to go cold turkey on the swaddle. I've read lots of opinions, but most said it didn't really matter if you did one arm out, two arms out, then quit. I found an internet post from the maker of The Miracle Blanket and he also recommended cold turkey as the best way to go. (You can find anything on the internets!) I never used The Miracle Blanket, but even the maker said 4 months is about the time to stop using it.

Girly was almost always quiet in her bed, or she cried a little and fell asleep. The first day I heard her talking in her bed and going back to sleep on her own, I thought the swaddle could go. I just picked her next nap and substituted a Sleep Sack for the Swaddle Me. You may be asking yourself - "why is she using another prop that will need to go later?" True - this might bite me - but I think the routine is a good sleep cue.

Lots of crying ensued. A 4-month-old can cry longer and harder than a 6-week-old and it makes me happy we did our sleep training way back when!

It is also fascinating that Girly really didn't know what to do with her arms. She never had the experience of having "arms" in her bed when she slept, so they just flailed about. She would hit herself or take her pacifier out and then get mad. She also slept like a mummy with her arms out in front of her. (Cute!)

She napped pretty poorly Saturday and Sunday, although she was so exhausted by bedtime that she went to sleep pretty well. She apparently did well at daycare on Monday, and did so-so at home on Tuesday. Tuesday night was good - she went to bed without a peep and only woke once in the wee hours of the morning. She woke up happy at 5:15am - too early - but she talked in bed for about half an hour before really getting mad.

I am hopeful that she will be "adjusted" by this weekend. And, I am hopeful that the middle of the night shout outs will be a thing of the past, because I'm still not sure what the "proper" response is.

Next task: Move from 6 to 5 feedings and move bedtime to 7pm.

So help us God.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mr. Boppy, Will you marry me?

I intended to have a great post this weekend about the progress we were making in moving the Gal from 6 to 5 feedings and moving her sleep schedule around.

Remember when I said "The only predictable thing about parenting is that it always changes" .... huh ... turns out I was right! Girly is sick this weekend and it just seemed too cruel to move everything around on her. Plus, if she woke during the night, I needed to be able to interpret what was going on ... hungry? not tired? stuffy? fever? .... there were just too many variables. Will try again soon ....

So, in the meantime, I thought I would give a little snapshot of our favorite things these days. A good friend just posted on her blog about the things her 6-week-old son loves, and I was inspired again!

The Boppy continues to be a can't-live-without-it item for us. I use it every time I nurse. Girly doesn't sit propped in it as much as she used to, but it is great for when she has a stuffy head. If we had a big house I would consider getting two - I am always chasing that thing around. I also think you really only need 1 cover for 1 boppy, unless your baby is a crazy spitter-upper. I can almost always catch any mess with a burpcloth.

Speaking of ... burpcloths are a lifesaver. I bet we had 25 when we brought the Girl home and my mother famously wondered, out loud, exactly what we would be doing with all of them. I'll tell you what - we'll be spitting and drooling and spitting some more. And, we don't even have a spitty baby! You can't have too many (unless you want to do laundry every day).

Our next favorite thing right now is the dangly-toy-bar-flashy-thing. You know what that is, right? This is a 3-in-1 exersaucer and that arched toy bar comes off as a separate toy.
We borrowed the Baby Einstein playmat from a friend and Girly used to be mesmerized by the flashy music face. Now, it isn't as entertaining and she prefers to bat at the toys on this bar. As a side note, this exersaucer was recalled (just needed a special part). Check here for a Product Recall Finder.

Girly continues to dislike her baby Papasan chair. It vibrates and plays music, but she couldn't care less. There is no way to predict what your baby will like or dislike, but I think she might have preferred a true bouncy seat. This BabyBjorn chair is especially stylish. Pricey, but stylish. (That's important, right?)

The Bumbo is an enigma to me. It is darn cute to see her sitting in it, but she just sits there. It isn't very entertaining for her. (But it is for me!) I have had a few friends say that it was useful when their babies started eating cereal and weren't quite ready for the high chair. Time will tell ...

I have had a stroller revelation. As an owner of 3 strollers, who has barely used 1, I encourage you to consider carefully when choosing the best stroller for you and your lifestyle. As a first time Mom, it sure seemed like I needed THE STROLLER. I find the Bugaboo to be just darling, but even I wasn't crazy enough to shell out the $$ for it. I ended up with the Zooper Waltz.

I have been happy with it and it satisfied my desire for safety, style, price and originality. It works well and is one of the lighter strollers (of the travel system variety) out there. If I had to do it again; however, I would skip this stroller in favor of a Snap N Go.

This is a much less expensive option that still fulfills the need of holding the infant carrier. I would have spent my money on a jog stroller (I hear the BOB is good). Jog stroller? Me? I know - I thought the same thing. I don't jog. But, even the typical stroller just doesn't cut it on walks around the neighborhood. I think 3 strollers are probably ideal - some inexpensive device that holds the infant carrier, a jog stroller for walks/runs, and an umbrella stroller for when baby is bigger. (I do have the Maclaren and am looking forward to using it!)

I did some shopping this week and the lucky Girl has a few goodies in the mail ... Green to Grow bottles, Kipiis Clips, Tilty Cups and Sophie the Giraffe. I previously signed up for emails from Right Start - they have great kiddy items and send discounts now and then (prompting the shopping).

Also ... the First Aid Edition:
- Nose suckers: I like the blue one from the hospital the best, although they are a little big for newborn nostrils. Get several - one for each floor / each room where you might need it. I am always chasing it around ...
- Saline drops for the nose: These work great to loosen the gunk, and inexplicably, the bottle runs out super fast. Buy several to have on hand, and just get the generic version.
- Sleep positioner: I think I wrote about this before, but the Girl just wiggles right out of the wedge positioner, so it isn't very safe to have in her crib. I find it easier (and cheaper) to just raise the head of her mattress by putting a folded blanket or two under there.
- Thermometer: I have yet to take a rectal temperature, and am not looking forward to it. Girly hasn't been too sick, so the axillary temp works fine. Our Uncle-pediatrician recommended the temporal artery thermometer, but we don't have one yet.

So much stuff for a 13 pound creature! I find myself scanning the room now while Girly nurses to find spaces that will work for hidden storage ... oy.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Of wisdom, that is.

Start as you mean to go

Progress is a spiral

In my short 17 1/2 weeks as a parent, these are two major parenting themes that I have come to really believe in. I definitely can't take credit for these - I've read them several places. It is no secret that I am a big fan of Babywise, and the Chronicles of a Babywise Mom blog has helped me a lot. Also, I've just read The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems and I really like it. Many of her ideas are quite similar to Babywise.

Time allows you to reflect and I really feel that these principles, in a large part, guided us to the happy and rested Girl we have today.

As a first-time parent it is definitely challenging to figure things out with no point of reference. I tried, to the best of my ability, to really mull over "major" decisions. Where would our child sleep? Crib or bassinet? Our room or hers? Start as you mean to go. My end goal was to have her sleep well, in her crib, in her room. We started there. Use a pacifier or not? Put it back in her mouth a million times or not? I felt that a pacifier was a good thing for her and replacing it once seemed reasonable. I did not want to find myself in the habit of replacing it over and over until she could do it herself. So we didn't.

This will have many more applications moving forward with starting solids and feeding behaviors. It is important to have a long-term view .... what is the ultimate goal? Start working on behaviors that will get you there.

It may be hard to admit, but any behavior your baby has that you don't like is a direct reflection of your parenting. (How about that for guilt!) Babies aren't born with "bad" behaviors - they learn them. Guess who teaches them? This is not to say that parents teach bad habits intentionally - it is a side effect of the learning process as a new parent. It does; however, mean that it is your job to un-teach those behaviors. (To clarify: I am talking babies here, I don't know crap about older kids. And, I'm not talking temperment - some babies are easier than others, but they all can learn habits, good and bad).

To that point, Progress is a spiral. This was especially helpful in our sleep training with the Girl. I didn't expect miracles and I knew it would take time to form the new habits we wanted. Just when you had one good night, the next night or two would be challenging. Again - take the big picture view. You are always moving in the right direction and spiraling toward the goal (not spiraling out of control!). Some days you are closer to your goal, and some days you are farther away, but you are always making progress and will eventually get there.

Easier said than done sometimes.

Now, though, we have a daughter who is an excellent sleeper at 17 weeks. (Ten hours last night - Hallelujah!). I have confidence that our early decisions resulted in the desired outcome over time.

As someone who likes things to be predictable, I have now grudgingly admitted that we need to move her schedule around again. The 3-hour schedule isn't ideal for a 4-month-old, so I hope my planning again gets us to the new desired goal. The only predictable thing about parenting is that it always changes.

Stay tuned ...

Friday, April 3, 2009


Spring is right around the corner. (Right?)

It may not seem that composting has anything to do with parenting. But, really, a lot of parenting is about poop. And, composting is ultimately about poop. So, work with me here.

The Girl is growing so fast and I can't believe that solids are right around the corner. I dream of visiting the farmer's market and making all kinds of delicious things for her to eat. Our nephew eats like a champ and loves all varieties of fruits and vegetables - I hope to instill an equal love of food in our daughter.

A good friend gave us the "Cooking for Baby" cookbook and I can't wait to use it. I have also read great reviews online about the Beaba Babycook, but frankly, it is pretty expensive and I think I have all the tools in my kitchen already. I need to do a little more investigating, but it seems that a simple steamer basket and a food mill are about all you need. Freeze it in an ice cube tray and you're set. Also, if you need a little inspiration, check out Homemade Baby. In my former life, I thought an organic babyfood company would have been a great venture. And, really, what could be cuter than Squapples and Piwi?

Here is where I am branching out beyond my 17 weeks of experience .... I have it on good authority that feeding a baby is WASTEFUL. I already feel that we waste a lot of food with just the two of us and, with the addition of even more fresh food into the house, I am feeling a little guilty about the planet and all.

I investigated composters last Spring, but didn't see it as a necessary purchase in light of the gestating fetus. I am certainly no expert, but I do have some experience growing up in a composting household. I know that it takes, at a minimum, a collection jar in your kitchen and a container in your yard. For me, it must be EASY or it will not get done. I think a ceramic compost pail like this might work better than an old KU popcorn bucket (sorry, Mom). And, I know that I won't dig up and turn a stationary compost pile, so the Tumbleweed seems like the best option.

There is a lot more to it - green stuff, brown stuff - but, it seems like a nice thing to do for Mother Earth. You know, because Girly may be solely responsible for filling her landfills with diapers.