Monday, March 31, 2008

Big Toys for Baby (Baby Gear)

It can be hard to decide which of those big baby items to buy. It really is dependent on your child's personality (I hope you aren't tired of reading that :) ). Here are my thoughts on the major items:
  • Jumperoo--my first LOVED this item. He was such a jumper. If your little one is a mover and a jumper, he will likely love it. The Fisher Price Jumperoo has toys with it and you can use links to attach other toys also. My second has enjoyed the jumperoo, but it wasn't her favorite. If it were for her, it wouldn't be the ONE item I would get. For my first, it might be.
  • Exersaucer--my second enjoyed this--they have lots of stuff. But it wasn't her favorite and it would have severely annoyed my first to be so stationary--we never even tried it with him. My second enjoyed it for about a month. I think new jumperoos are more like exersaucers but jump, and maybe some exersaucers jump now.
  • Bumbo--A bumbo is nice and small, but it is of little value to a baby if you are going for something to entertain. I really like the bumbo once they can sit and play with toys but you don't trust them to sit alone without crashing to the floor. For both of mine, that happened around 5 months and by a little over 6 months they could sit quite well.
  • Highchair--you could use the highchair in the place of a bumbo. Some even have toy bars. You could put toys on the tray (some have toys attached). If he loves to watch you in the kitchen, this might be a good thing. Plus you will get one anyway. My second spent a lot of time in the highchair watching me in the kitchen. She is an observer. This was not something my first did--like I said, he was (and is) a mover.
  • Walker--Both of mine have really enjoyed the walker. There is controversy over walkers (makes them walk later), but the same controversy and reasoning behind it applies to the exersaucer and jumpers. The walker can be really cheap. I got our at Babies R Us for about $30. It has a toy bar that can be removed, but you can also link things to it so toys don't go flying. This has been the favorite of both of my children.
If you know people you can borrow things from, you might want to try it out for a while before purchasing it. We borrowed the exersaucer. I thought my daughter would love it, but in the end, I was glad we didn't buy it.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Poll Results: What Age Did Baby Start to Sleep 10-12 Hours at Night Without Disruption? (approximate)


9-11 Weeks: 10 votes (12%)
12 Weeks: 10 votes (12%)
3-4 Months: 17 votes (21%)
4-5 Months: 10 votes (12%)
5-6 Months: 7 votes (8%)
6-8 Months: 3 votes (3%)
8 Months or Older: 2 votes (2%)
Not Yet!: 21 votes (26%)

Total of 80 votes

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cleaning Up the Comments

Time for spring cleaning! I am currently in the process of cleaning up the comments on this site. I am adding questions that have been asked to posts they relate to. This way, when someone is reading the post, they see questions others have had that relate and my answers to those questions. This might help people. Also, many times comments are posted under a post it doesn't relate to (which is fine). By moving it to the coordinating post, the question and answer can be useful to people reading about a certain comment. If comments relate to no post, I will be grouping them together and creating a post for those comments.

As I add do this, I am deleting the comments from the comment form. So, if you see a previous comment of yours has been deleted, it is not lost. In doing this clean-up, I hope to make the blog more informative and helpful.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Language Development

I have had a request to share what I do to enhance my children's language development.

I first want to remind everyone that language development does depend on your child, just as any other skill. Both of my children have been ahead of the average in their language skills, but other things have been different. My son was always a very early "large motor skills" boy. My daughter has been more of a "fine motor skills" girl. They each had their early/late skills in both categories, but their areas of "expertise" have been in those departments.

While language does depend on the child, there is much you can do to influence it. Just like giving your child tummy time helps lead to crawling, practicing language skills will help your child develop language skills earlier.

This is an interesting topic, though. I have a good friend I went to Jr. High, High School, and College with. We both majored in English, though she took the teacher route and I the technical writing route. I mention her often; she also does Babywise. Her son also has very advanced language skills. We often talk about influence over children's language development. We wonder how much influence we have over it and how much is just the child. I do think there are things you can do to enhance your child's ability. On Becoming Babywise II has a chapter on language development (Appendix A). Here are their thoughts along with mine.
  • Babytalk. Babywise says this isn't necessary, and I completely agree. It is not natural for me to do babytalk, so I have never done it. I am somewhat of a "grammar nazi" (earned that title in college). I speak correctly and for the most part in complete sentences. I pay attention to things of importance to me. For example, I encourage the use of antecedents in my son's speech (an antecedent is the noun used before the pronoun; the pronoun refers to the antecedent). You don't have to be obsessed with grammar; my good friend isn't. She claims to not care about grammar, but she always speaks and writes correctly. My point is to speak in full sentences. Call words what they are really called. Don't call the bottle a "ba-ba" because your baby does. Call it a bottle. Children learn language from you, so if you don't speak correctly, it will likely take them longer to do so.
  • Talk. Talk to your child. Tell him what you are doing, what you see, how you are feeling, etc. And remember, you are the example. Your child is looking to you to learn his vocabulary, so only say things you want him saying. When your child communicates as best he can, you can repeat it the correct way. However, don't do it in an annoying, corrective way. My son will say he wants something and I will say, "Do you want your trucks out Brayden?" He will then say, "Yes, I want my trucks out" (or whatever his language ability equivalent is." This can get funny when your child uses irregular verbs. For example, he says, "Mama, I am hungry." I say, "You are hungry?" "Yes, I are hungry." These are moments I love :).
  • Read. I am a huge proponent of reading. I have already done a post on it: Non-BW: The Value of Reading:
  • Expand. I talked about this under the talk bullet, but wanted to reiterate. When your child says a sentence incompletely, restate it correctly, but always in a way promoting conversation, not a way of criticizing.
  • Sign Language. I do this with my kids. Here is the post on it: Non-BW: The Value of Reading:
  • Repeat. I will repeat a word my child is showing interest in. Today I was reading a book with Kaitlyn about baby animals. When she saw the chicken page, she got excited (for some odd reason). She was interested. I repeated the name of the animal and the sound it makes over and over. She wanted to know. Take advantage of the interest. As they learn words, they will often say them over and over, and delight in you joining in.
  • Respond. When your child communicates with you, respond. Let him know you understood and show interest in it.
  • Expectations. I expect Kaitlyn (11 months) to communicate with me. If it is a word she can say or sign, I require her to say or sign it. She loves communicating, so this is no problem. I also require this of my son. He will be resistant at times, especially now that baby sister gets what she wants without communicating as well as he does. He likes to point and grunt (is it a male thing? Only kidding--sort of ;) ). I can read the body language of both kids very well. I know exactly what they want, but I still require communication. When I see Kaitlyn "eye-ing" the bananas, I don't give her some. I ask her if she wants a banana, and she signs banana to me. If she wants something she isn't able to say, I say the word a lot and emphasize how to ask for it. Someday she will get it.
  • Example. Be an example of everything you want of your child. This applies to all areas of life, but since we are talking about language development, I will focus on that. Read if you want your child to read. Speak correctly if you want your child to do so. Say 'please' and 'thank you' if you want those words included in your child's vocabulary.
  • Relax. BW says to relax. Your child will develop language on his time table. You do want to be aware of milestones so you can know if your child is on track. Talk to your pediatrician about concerns. I know moms who have taken their children to speech pathologist and language delays were quickly fixed. But have appropriate expectations for your child's language development, keep the doctor in the loop, and then relax and wait for baby to talk when he is ready to talk.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Nursing Woes {Baby Playing While Breastfeeding}

First I want to assure all nursing advocates out there that this is not an anti-nursing post. I nursed Brayden for a year and am still nursing Kaitlyn, who is 11.5 months old.

As wonderful as nursing is, there are also plenty of difficulties associated with it, especially your first time around. Does it hurt at first? Well, for me it did. I have heard from many women that it is the same for them, though I do know some who experienced not pain (not even engorgement!). My second time, engorgement wasn't bad at all and I had no pain from nursing (until the yeast infection hit...).

I think one of the biggest difficulties with nursing comes when the baby is too distracted to eat a full meal without "popping off" ever couple of minutes. This was a major difficulty with Brayden, and it started around 3 months old. He usually had no one around--it was just me and him at home all day with no real distractions. I would laugh because he seemed to want to make sure the plant hadn't moved or something. He is still that way--he can't stand to miss one bit of action. I just sat and patiently waited for him to decide to eat more. Once we weaned and he could drink his milk and still look around the room, he drank well without the "popping."

Kaitlyn also does it on occasion, though not to the degree of my first and she started showing signs of it at an older age. As soon as she started it, I would immediately put her back into nursing position to get her to latch back on. I wanted to avoid that game if possible. It works most of the time, but sometimes she is insistent upon looking around, and in that case I let her look for a bit, then put her back into position. Nursing her at church is a nightmare because we are in the mother's room, and they have a feed so you can hear the speaker. She is always unlatching and trying to find the speaker in the room. That is why I usually do a bottle at church.

So how can you minimize the "popping off" syndrome? Here are some of my ideas:
  • As I just described, put baby back into nursing position immediately. Don't let her start the game. Let her look around all she wants once the meal is over, but try to get her into the habit of eating first then playing.
  • You can try going into a room you can make completely dark (or as dark as possible) with as few noises and other distractions as possible. This isn't fool-proof, but it might help.
  • You can see if covering with a blanket helps at all.
  • Hold your baby close to (cradle tightly).
  • Try to relax and focus so your let-down will come quickly. Some moms think baby pops off because she is impatient for the let-down.
  • Burp baby in case gas is the culprit.
  • See if you just need to switch sides or if baby is done eating. At some point, Kaitlyn suddenly started nursing really fast. It takes her only a few minutes to drain each side. Once it is basically empty, that is when she starts the off and on thing. I just have a hard time believing she can eat that fast and I put her back on. Sometimes she comes off for distractions, but mostly it is because she is basically done with that side. It is nice now that she signs "all done" when she is done with one side!
  • If baby is old enough, encourage her to communicate when she is done nursing or done with one side.
As always, if you have further insights, please add!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In Action: Adjusting Schedule as Needed

You probably remember that a couple of weeks ago the kids and I were very, very sick. It was bad. Both of the kids lost significant weight (and I only a little, what is that about? ;). For several days, neither child would eat much of anything. Kaitlyn nursed and Brayden drank, but only water or pedialyte.

Several days after they started to feel better, they got their appetites back. They came with a vengeance! Here is where the adjusting schedule as needed comes in. Both kids ate breakfast and lunch at normal times, though they ate extra food. The evening is where they needed their adjustment. Here is the normal schedule for us:

3:30--Kalltyn gets up and nurses and then has independent playtime. She will then eat some finger foods while I make dinner. It usually isn't much, just a snack to hold her over.
4:30--Brayden gets up.
5:00 or 5:30--we eat dinner. Kaitlyn eats food with us. Again, this isn't much--it is basically so she can practice eating, be with us at dinner, and try out "adult" food.
7:00--Kaitlyn nurses and eats baby food.

When the appetite returned for the kids, they had some serious catching up to do. Kaitlyn was down to 18.1 pounds at 11 months old. She weighed more than that at 8 months old. Brayden was down to 31 pounds. Nearly a year ago, he weighed 30.5 pounds. So that gives you an idea how much weight they lost.

Brayden would eat dinner at 5:00/5:30. He would eat a HUGE dinner. He ate about as much as I did. Then, like clockwork, at 7 PM he announced he wanted dinner. The first night he did that, I instinctively within myself thought, "no, you have had dinner." But I quickly thought it through and realized he ate a huge dinner, doesn't ask for food usually, and was likely finally hungry and trying to get his weight back. This was not a case of him not eating dinner when it was time and wanting it later. He would then eat another HUGE dinner at 7. For you LOTR fans, I referred to it as "second dinner." This only lasted 4-5 days, but he has definitely made up for his lost weight. Currently, he is still eating more at meals than he used to, but he isn't eating two meals anymore.

Kaitlyn shifted her schedule basically by having an eating marathon. She ate a lot after independent playtime. She would have a short break between that and dinner, then would eat a lot at dinner. She would then have a short break before her official dinner and eat the normal amount for it (except one night she was too full by the time we got to the last course). Nearly a week ago, she was up to 20.5 pounds, which I was so happy about. She has more make up work to do than Brayden did. She is still eating more, though maybe not as much more.

I post this to assure you that if your child needs you to adjust the schedule for sickness (or something else), you can definitely do it. You are the parent; you always control the schedule. Remember that Babywise is Parent Directed Feeding (PDF). That means that you use your intelligence to decide what is best for your baby at the moment. So don't get discourage during sickness. Sicknesses happen, and happen a lot. Some will disrupt your schedule a lot. Others will come and go with few, if any, disruptions. Don't worry, you can always go back to normal. Remember, your schedule serves you, you don't serve your schedule.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Flying with a Baby

I don't have a lot of experience flying with a baby, but here are my thoughts based on my experience. If you have further advice, by all means pass it along!
  • Bring something to suck on for take off and landing--and preferably something that requires swallowing. If you breastfeed, you can nurse during those times or if you bottle feed, give some formula to drink during those times. You can also bring a sippy cup and request water (or bring it if they will allow). A pacifier isn't as good as actually sucking and swallowing. If your child is older, you can have hard candy to suck on in addition to water.
  • If you nurse, I would bring something to easily cover yourself with. I would even bring a nursing pillow (Boppy) or something to rest your arm on. Our flight home was delayed and we were flying late into the night, landed at midnight. Brayden "nursed" basically the whole flight so that he would stay asleep. Remember that you want to be courteous to your fellow travelers before you worry about your schedule. We had no detrimental effects to our routine after that flight.
  • Bring toys and books to entertain her. I remember one time when I was a little girl we flew a long distance. My mom bought new toys that she pulled out strategically throughout the flight. If you can't or don't want to buy new toys or books, you can just set some aside for a couple of weeks so they will be more new on the flight.
  • If your child likes to watch movies, you could bring a portable DVD player or a laptop and let her watch movies the whole way (or as long as she will).
  • If you purchase a seat for your baby, bring the car seat along so she can sleep in it.
  • If you don't purchase a seat for your baby, you can bring the car seat right up to the gate on the plane with most airlines. They will then put it somewhere on the plane and have it waiting for you as you get off. Many also will do the same with a stroller.
  • Also, if you don't purchase a seat for your baby, most airlines will allow you to bring your car seat on the plane if they have empty seats. You just need to ask the desk if they have empty seats and they will help you figure things out.
Again, please add your thoughts if you have any good strategies for flying with baby.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sign Language

On Becoming Babywise II has a chapter about doing signs with your baby. As I have said many times, I started BW with Brayden late; he was 9 weeks old. While there were things he caught on quickly with, overall I felt like we were playing catch up until he was about 6.5 months old and everything seemed to click. At that point, I savored the moment of all of my goals being met. Signing was so far down my list that I never really got to it. He was also very verbal, and always has been.

I have a really good friend who also does Babywise with her son who is 9 months younger than Brayden. She started BW from birth and also started signing at a young age. When she started signing I thought, "I really should do that with Brayden." By that point, Brayden was about 13-14 months old and said well over 100 words. While that is a lot of words, there are far more words that were not a part of his vocabulary, including words that he needed to avoid mini-tantrums (at that time I didn't think they were mini, but now I know better :) ).

I taught him words and phrases like "all done," "milk," "drink," "more," "please," and "help." He caught on really quickly, and the words really helped him control his frustrations. He is a perfectionist and has shown that from a young age. He is the type of perfectionist that gets very frustrated if he can't get it perfect the first time he tries something. The word "help" made a huge difference for him. Instead of trying something, not getting it, then starting to cry, he would try it, not get it, start to get frustrated, then sign "help" to me. It helped for a few reasons. One is that he had a way to communicate his feelings. Another is that he had an avenue of thought and action to follow rather than just giving in to his emotions. Finally, it gave him something constructive to do. It showed him that asking for help was more productive than a fit.

With Kaitlyn, I started signing at a young age, though not as young as I could have. Since BW II is ages 5-15 months, I started at about 5 months showing her signs. I believe showing earlier doesn't hurt anything, and plan to start with my next as early as he or she pays attention to what I am doing. That will be easier with future children because at this point, signing is a natural thing for our family. At 11 months, Kaitlyn regularly signs "all done," "more," "banana," "brother," "daddy," "drink," and she is working on "cheese." It isn't a large word list, but she is also a big talker and says a lot of words, so our need for signs is not as great as it would be if she didn't speak yet.

For me, signing is just a communication bonus. It is a way for my children and me to communicate better. My goal is not necessarily to teach a full language to them. Right now, I don't plan to get into sentence structure and the like with them (not a bad idea, just not in my list of things to do). My plan is simply to teach them words we need to communicate more efficiently.

Benefits of Signing
I have already mentioned one benefit: fewer tantrums. It also helps prevent whining. Another benefit to signing is when you have more than one child. Brayden remembers all of his signs, and is learning the signs Kaitlyn adds beyond what he knows. He and Kaitlyn communicate with each other with signs.

The benefits continue beyond what you might expect. Something Kaitlyn started a few weeks ago that I love is when she is done nursing on one side, she signs and says "all done." I then switch sides. No more guess-work on if she is done or just interested in what is going on around her.

Getting Started
I recommend teaching your child signs that are meaningful to him. Choose words that will help you and your child communicate better, and also words that he will want to sign. Another strategy is to teach words that your child says but either doesn't say well or says other words that sound similar. For example, Kaitlyn says "Dadda" for her Daddy and "Duh-Duh" for dog. So when she is talking about her Daddy, she adds the sign. I plan to teach her the sign for "dog" next also.

Remember, you can start at any age, old or young. An older child will be able to acquire new signs much faster than a younger child. If you start as a young baby, your baby will likely show signals that she comprehends much earlier than she ever signs what you want her to.

If you are starting with a young baby, I would start simply by coupling the sign with the word when you say it. As your baby starts to develop fine motor skills, you can start to mold her hands in the position of the sign. At some point, your baby will start signing back, and even signing first.

If you are starting with an older child, you can expect results faster. You can show a sign, help your child sign it, and expect your child to follow suit. You can stress the sign any time your child tries to communicate it through a fit rather than the sign. If your child is capable, you can even require the sign before you move into action.

So, with a baby I just show the sign over and over. Sometimes I take my baby's hands and show her how, though mostly it is just me showing. Then they start doing it themselves at some point. As she got older, I would put her hands in the position more. I never did that with Brayden, which I think was a mistake. I think they will have an easier time making the sign if they have a better idea how to make it. Kaitlyn's signs are more accurate than Brayden's were, and I believe it is a combination of her being more of a fine-motor person than he was and also that I physically put her hands through the motions. If your goal is simply communication with your child, it won't matter how she signs the word--you could even make up your own signs. However, if she can do them as accurately as possible, there is greater chance she will be able to communicate with more than just you.

Don't underestimate your baby. Kaitlyn's greatest love in life as far as food goes is bananas. I wanted to teach her banana so she could communicate to me when she wanted it since she doesn't say it. I looked it up, and banana seemed like a hard sign for a 10 month old to me. I gave it a go, though. She signs it, and signs it really well.

Don't worry about perfection in signing. Neither of my kids sign perfectly. My guess is it is like verbal pronunciation, it takes time to get it right.

Signing Resources
You can be as simple or complex as you want with signing. You can do only a handful of words, or you can delve into the language. Here is a list of some resources:
  • There are videos and books available to teach you and your baby. I have heard some of these can be very expensive.
  • Flash cards, though for a baby, this would be more for you than the baby.
  • There is also a show on public television called Signing Time. Here is a link to the website: Brayden loves this show.
  • When I want to learn a new word (like dog), I just go to Google and type "Dog in ASL." A long list of sites that explain how to sign dog in ASL will then come up. I usually look at a few to be sure I have it right. Some sites are easier to understand than others.
  • Some libraries will have story time and signing time. The great thing about this is that it is free.
  • On Becoming Babywise II has a few signs in Appendix B.
Language Development
I have read and also heard from people that signing will or might delay your child's speech development since they are signing. I honestly do not believe that to be true.
There is no way to know when a certain baby would have learned to talk with or without sign language. The only way to judge that is to look at babies who do sign language, and those who don't, and take averages from those groups and compare averages. Even if you did that, it would be very hard to control variables. Researchers would have to take into account if the parents used baby talk or not, if they read to the child or not and how often and for how long, how often signs were done during the day, what the parent's expectations were for the signs, and whether or not words accompanied those signs, just to name a few. It is unethical to create a study that puts babies into a controlled environment. You couldn't even compare children in the same family who did signs with one baby but not another because parents change over time.
Remember my friend I mentioned that started signs very young with her son? He verbally said his first word around 9 months and started full sentences at 15 months, which is very early, especially for a boy. Brayden started signs after he already spoke close to a hundred words. He also said his first word at 9 months, and started sentences at 19 months. Still early for a boy, but if you looked at only these two cases, you could assume that sign language speeds along the spoken language.
I can see the theory--if they sign it, they don't need to say it. However, with Kaitlyn I started signs before words came along, and she said words before the she did signs. My friend's son was the same way. I think saying a word is physically easier for some than making a sign with their hands.
Also, I have read (in college) that the earlier you learn a second language, the easier it is for you to learn that language and others in the future. The more languages you learn, the easier it is to learn more. So that is a bonus if you get really into it. My husband speaks Spanish really well, and I wish I did. Then we would have Spanish Days at home where that is all we spoke. I had friends who did that growing up.
The Signing Time website ( says that studies show that typical children who learn to sign have higher IQ scores, are better adjusted, and read at an earlier age. Here is a link to an article on the website listing benefits to signing:
If you aren't convinced, watch this video:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Poll Results: What age did baby drop 4th nap (approximate)?


3 Months: 9 votes (18%)
4 Months: 10 votes (20%)
4.5 Months: 6 votes (12%)
5 Months: 2 votes (4%)
6 Months or older: 7 votes (14%)
Not Yet!: 14 votes (29%)

Total of 48 votes

Friday, March 21, 2008

Independent Playtime Lengths

People often wonder how long their baby or child should be in independent playtime. This is going to depend on your overall schedule, age, and the length of waketime. Here is a summary from On Becoming Babywise II:
  • 5-10 minutes once or twice a day for the young newborn (my own personal addition)
  • 10-20 minutes twice a day for first few months
  • 15-30 minutes twice a day for the independent sitter
  • 30-45 minutes at least once a day for the crawler
  • Up to 60 minutes for the 15-20 month old in playpen or room
It also says these are guidelines. Some days may be longer, some shorter. For example, say it is Saturday and you have a family thing to get to. You can have a shorter than usually independent play so you can get to your family thing on time.
You also don't want to overuse it (read abuse it) and turn it into an all day thing. You also want it to be long enough for your child.
As a note, I did independent play with Brayden only once a day because he didn't love it. With Kaitlyn, we do it twice because she has always loved it.
Brayden now loves it, and has since it became roomtime instead of playpen time. At nearly 3, he plays for 1-1.5 (usually 1.5) hours once a day. At 11 months, Kaitlyn does it twice a day. Her morning playtime is 20-30 minutes, depending on the amount of time before her nap. Her afternoon playtime is 40-45 minutes. She never complains about it, but I get her because I figure that is long enough for her at her age.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Going Out

We all need to get out of our houses, for our own sanity. Our children also need to get out of the house sometimes. So yes, disruptions to your routine are okay and even necessary.

I have always been one to keep disruptions to a minimum. Here are some principles I operate by to keep going out as least disruptive as possible:

  • Maintain Morning Nap. If you have a baby who sleeps in the morning, I avoid going out in the morning if at all possible. Missing that first nap is the fastest way to mess up your whole day. If you can get that first nap in before going out, the other naps are easier to work with. There are exceptions to this. Our church is 9-12, so Kaitlyn misses her morning nap every Sunday. Church is more important to me than keeping a consistent schedule for that day. However, Kaitlyn is also old enough (11 months) at this point that missing that morning nap doesn't throw her day off. She comes home from church and takes a longer afternoon nap. She then also goes down for bedtime early. The age your baby can do the same will depend on your baby.
  • Space Disruptions. I try to keep days with a disruption spaced. So for me, Monday is a day we are home all day. I give my kids time to bounce back before disrupting them again.
  • Recognize and Accept Your Children's Limitations. Last year, our church was 1-4. For that time, Brayden missed his afternoon nap, which was hard since it is his only nap of the day. He went to bed early those days. We also came to realize he really couldn't miss a nap two days in a row. Saturday and Monday he really needed his nap. Some Saturdays we had to miss it for things, but we certainly paid for it for a few days with his behavior. We also noticed that he couldn't miss more than two naps a week. Another thing with Brayden is that when he was a baby, bedtime was imperative. He was not a happy baby beyond bedtime. So for us, we were home by his bedtime. That was our life for that time period. Parenting often requires sacrifice. Now, both he and Kaitlyn can handle getting to bed late, so we are able to stay out later some nights if needed.
  • Maintain Schedule When Possible. If we are going to a friend's house, we will bring along the pack and play so Kaitlyn can try to nap. I realize she might not nap as long or at all, but it is worth a shot. If your children will sleep in the car (mine won't), you can try to time travel time so that it lines up with naptime.
  • Plan Wisely. During the Christmas season, we went shopping a lot. Kaitlyn was 7-8 months old and had 3 naps a day. She doesn't sleep in her car seat or on the go, but we couldn't get our shopping done while working around that 3rd nap. Well, that nap wasn't all that important to her happiness. She was at an age where many drop it anyway. If we were home, she would sleep 1.5 hours, but if we were out, she stayed awake. That nap was the best for her to miss. We just put her to bed early to make up for it.
  • Be Prepared for Disruptions. When you disrupt the routine of your child, be fully aware that your child will likely be disrupted. It might be with behavior, disposition, sleep, eating, etc. This will depend on the personality of your child. But always remember that it isn't fair to expect an overly tired child to be obedient or happy.
  • Hire a Babysitter. If you are comfortable with it, get someone to watch your children while you go out. We have two kids who go to bed early. If we want to go out later, we get a sitter (who happens to be my parents). They just are there while the kids sleep. My kids will often sleep over at my parents house while we go out on a date. That is another perk of Babywise. My kids sleep well and sleep 11-12 hours, so it isn't a chore for my parents to watch them overnight. They don't have to wake in the night with the kids. All grandparents are thrilled to watch their grandkids, but even more so when it is easy and fun :) If you left your home after the kids were in bed, you basically only need someone to come to your home and watch movies while your kids sleep.
  • Be flexible. I don't see a problem with going out on occasion if you need to, but I would be prepared to have to come home early if baby looses it. You need to keep baby's needs in mind while you are out. If baby needs to go home and go to bed, be prepared to go home to accommodate. I know it is hard and disappointing. Keep in mind that it is a short season. Like I said, parenting requires sacrifices. It gets easier to take your kids places as they get older.
Reader Questions:
  • IzzysMama said...
    Do you have any suggestions for incorporating play groups, library story times and things along those lines, that dont match with your schedule? I dont want to avoid these things just because of the "schedule" but I dont want us to get to far off track either. Thanks!
    March 3, 2008 12:30 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    I would first limit the number of disruptions per week. You don't want every day to have something that interrupts a nap. The length of time baby is so young that you have to limit yourself is short.Then I would find something that works best with your schedule. If you are out during naptime, be prepared to possibly need to leave if baby is fussy. It helps to bring lots of toys and things to entertain baby with. If you breastfeed and will be out during a feeding time, you can bring a bottle (either pump or formula). I personally wouldn't do a play group that was during the naptime of my baby. Babies don't really play together anyway, and it would just set baby up for fussiness and frustration on your part. If you want to do a playgroup, see if you can form one that fits in with your schedule well. It is only a short season :).
    March 3, 2008 3:35 PM

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Book Recommendation: Super Baby Food

I have never read this book, but have heard great, great things from many different people. The book covers food from birth to three years old.

Most parents are so worried about food with our children. We often worry if they are getting enough food. Here is a link to the website (and be prepared--it is hideous):

I have also heard this is a good resource for those who bottle feed their babies.

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Reader Comments:

  • The Pinnt's said...
    I've read super baby food, I just started solids last week. I have not started to make my own baby food yet, we're still doing cereal. But it is a GREAT book. Even if you choose not to make you're own baby food it is FULL of great, easy to read/understand, practical information. It's kinda quirky but I think that is part of the charm! I'm at you're blog via Maya' If you want to make your own baby food, or just find out more about infant/baby nutrition this book is amazing. A good confidence booster for insecure moms!
    March 19, 2008 4:02 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    Pintts, thanks for the added info on Super Baby Food!
    March 20, 2008 10:28 AM
  • david, blair, and sadie beth said...
    I have read through a good portion of Super Baby Food and it has a lot of good information. I did find it a bit overwhelming, personally, and at times that the author was a bit condescending towards those who do not use organic foods. For my family, it simply does not fit in our budget.I thought I would pass this along because it has been so helpful to me and a handful of other moms I know. There is a and it is full of wonderful advice on making and storing your own babyfood as well as info on food allergies, spices, etc. It is very well organized and easy to navigate through and they recognize that using organic foods might not be an option for everyone. There are recipes that are clear and easy to follow for Stage 1 and 2 baby foods. I hope I'm not interfering with my suggestion of this web has just been SO helpful to me.Thanks, Blair
    March 19, 2008 4:09 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    Blair, thanks to you too! That is good to be aware of when reading it. A good friend of mine and I were just talking yesterday about how it is too bad that organic foods are so expensive. My family is lucky enough to have a garden, but we still buy produce in the winter from the store, and no, it isn't organic. I am also lucky to have a grandfather who raises chickens, so we get farm-fresh eggs for free. Thanks for the website. I have heard really good things about that site also. I will do a post on it so everyone can see the link. Never hesitate to add your own thoughts--there are so many options and viewpoints out there!
    March 20, 2008 10:33 AM
  • Todd and Noelle said...
    I love the book!
    March 21, 2008 3:53 PM

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Choice Addiction (for Toddlers)

The Choice Addiction is a chapter in On Becoming Preschoolwise. I find it to be highly valuable, so I am going to summarize key points from it here. It is chapter 4 and begins on page 65.
  • Wise in their own eyes. You know your child is this way if he does things he shouldn't and says things he shouldn't. Do you allow your child to make too many decisions? You have to be careful about this. Yes, you want your child to practice decision making and living with the consequences of those decisions. However, you don't want it to get to the point that the child insists on making each decision. The example used in the book is of a 4 year old insisting upon the blue instead of red cup, grape instead of the orange juice already poured, jam instead of butter, reading in the spot he choses rather than where mom chose, switching the story, etc. All of these seemed like harmless decisions. However, it escalates into him refusing to eat lunch because he is busy playing. The mom then wonders why he won't obey.
  • Moral vs. nonmoral choices. The child doesn't know yet which choices he makes are moral (obeying mom) and which are nonmoral (color of cup). He is so used to making every decision that he is resistant to any decision made by mom, often choosing something else just because it is different from what she chose.
I am going to pause here and say that the majority of the time that I am experiencing behavior problems with Brayden, it is because he has too many choices. I try to mix things up. I do want him to understand what it means to make a choice and what it means to follow through with that choice. I will offer him a choice between X shirt or Y shirt. Both are shirts I would be happy with him wearing. Whichever shirt he chooses, he wears all day (pending some good reason to change it like he spilled water all over himself or something). He doesn't get to choose which shirt to wear every day, just some days. I mix up the decisions I allow him to make so that he doesn't come to feel entitled to any. Okay, back to the list.
  • To give your child too many choices and give too much freedom to make decisions is to push your child developmentally. It is akin to pushing your child into an organized sport he isn't ready to play. Hopefully you wouldn't throw your child into that situation of playing a sport against kids before he is ready. It can also be compared to getting a tutor for your 18 month old to ensure her success in school. So if you start to feel guilty about not allowing so many choices, remember you are doing it for the good of your child. Someday he will be able to chose his cup and his drink every day. For now, you only give him control as he can handle it. Keep it in the funnel.
  • The reason for conflict with too many choices is because your child "cannot handle the power associated with decision-making freedoms prior to the establishment of a self-regulating, moral conscience." (p.69)
  • Keep in mind that allowing too many freedoms (parenting outside the funnel) places burdens on your child. You expect him to handle things he isn't capable of handling. It requires him to grow up faster than necessary.
  • This problem starts with the parents, not the child. This is why I say that most of the behavior problems I encounter with Brayden are my fault, not his. I have done something wrong. Keep that in mind. While your child is misbehaving, it is because of something you have done, not because the child is "bad." The good news is that you have more control than you think. You can control yourself easier than your child.
  • The three most common freedoms granted with preschoolers are decision making freedoms, physical freedoms, and verbal freedoms.
Decision Making Freedoms
  • You want to neither over-control nor under-control.
  • Be sure your child is developmentally, intellectually, and/or emotionally capable of making this decision. I think one way to gauge this is to observe how they handle the consequences of their decisions.
  • How do you know if your child has too many decision making freedoms? Answer these questions. Can your child handle not being given the choice of what to eat? What about what to wear? If your child accepts your decisions without complaining, then your child can handle some freedoms in this area. If your child complains, protests, etc. then you know you have a problem.
  • Does your child debate? Does he fall apart when an impulsive desire is denied? Does your child struggle to submit to instruction? Does he do what you ask, but do less than you asked for? If so, it is likely he has too many freedoms for his age.
  • The real world doesn't give in to tantrums. The real world won't tip-toe around him to avoid tantrums. You won't be doing him any favors if you allow him too many decision making freedoms.
Physical Freedoms
  • Does your child inform you of what he is going to do, or does he ask for permission to do something? "I am going to play outside" vs. "May I go outside?"If it is the former, there are too many physical freedoms for your child.
  • There is nothing wrong with playing outside or wanting to play outside. You just want to make sure the parent chooses if this does or does not happen.
  • To keep this problem at bay, you simply require your child ask for permission rather than simply telling you. You then cannot give in if a tantrum follows the "no." If you do, the child made the decision anyway.
Verbal Freedoms
  • Too many verbal freedoms include bossiness, rudeness, demanding speech, needing the last word, telling you no, etc.
  • Don't allow your child to operate under the impression that he is your verbal peer. You are the parent.
  • To fix it, you simply require a "Yes Mommy" or "Yes Daddy" in response to your instruction.
  • When you tell your child to respond with yes mommy, he will often be resistant, especially at first. Some moms respond to resistance by interrupting and saying, "The only response you are allowed to give me right now is "Yes Mommy" or to say "You don't have the freedom to talk back to me."
  • My son will at times be resistant to this. He doesn't talk back, he just avoids eye contact and refuses to say anything. I wait him out. He is required to say it. He knows it. Just last night, we went to the library. On the way out, he broke free of my hand and ran to our vehicle. I got down eye level with him. I explained to him the reasons he needed to hold my hand in the parking lot. I told him in the future, he needed to hold my hand. I told him to tell me "yes Mommy." He looked away and furrowed his brow. He grunted and pointed indicating he wanted to get into the vehicle. I told him he needed to tell me "yes, Mommy" and once he did, we would get in the vehicle. I told him I would wait. He quickly looked at me and said "Yes Mommy."
How To Fix the Problem
You can fix this, and easily. Here is how.
  • You take back freedoms you have granted prematurely. Once your child demonstrates that he can accept your choices (this means no grumbling or whining), you can start to allow choices (though not the same every day).
  • Have structure to your day. You guide your child's activities.
  • If your child throws tantrums at first, resist the urge to fix the problem. Is he throwing a fit because he wants something other than what you chose for breakfast? Don't give in!
  • Be consistent.
  • It can take three days to three weeks or more to overcome.
  • Remember children want to do what is right and want instruction and guidance from their parents.
I find this chapter so valuable because I find the choice addiction to be the root of about 90% of behavior problems I experience with my son. Hopefully you can apply some ideas to your children. Of course, this is just a summary. It is a good idea for you to read the chapter and take what you can from it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Parenting with Love and Logic Book

Close to a year ago, I read the book Parenting With Love And Logic. While I don't agree with everything in the book, I do find it to be a valuable read. It really gives you a lot of examples for natural consequences for actions. For my son, that is the best type of discipline.

Parenting with Love and Logic is worth reading, it definitely has its merits. I don't follow the "rules" of it strictly, but there are some principles you can pick up that make sense and are worth considering. I find it to be excellent to get the parent in the frame of mind of consequences.

So what don't I agree with? Many things are not stated that I think should be taken into context. One thing that is never discussed is the idea of parenting in the funnel, as is discussed in Babywise II and on up. There are certain consequences, I believe, that need to be applied only when age appropriate. It has an example they use over and over about a coat in the winter. It says not to force your child to wear a coat. He will get cold and then wear it next time. Well, my son never would have done that a year ago. He will be 3 in May. Last year his rule was he didn't go out without a coat, hat, and gloves. He hated all of the above. He would have preferred to go out and just be freezing cold. This year, he happily wears all of that and even asks for it. So you have to keep age-appropriateness in mind when reading Love and Logic.

I believe natural consequences work for my son, but I do think you need to teach your child some sort of standard first. I don't think you should just have them go through life learning consequences as they go. I think you owe it to your child to pass on your knowledge before you turn them loose on the world. It reminds me of the phrase "don't reinvent the wheel." If I had just had Brayden go out and get cold, how would he know that a coat is available and would help him to stay warm? By setting the rules first and requiring him to wear a coat, he saw there was value. Wise people learn from the mistakes of others. While all of us have our "unwise" moments, I don't think we should just put our kids out there without our wisdom.

Love and Logic goes straight to consequences without having the parents teach first. I think consequences are a great thing for your child to experience, but he has to get the ground rules first. He needs to be taught principles. You can't just throw him out into the world to learn from his actions. We are intelligent beings who can pass on our knowledge so our children don't have to make mistakes.

I think you need to have rules that need to be followed. It isn't just that you tell them what you know and hope they listen. There should be a standard in your home for appropriate behavior. One example that is used in the book is that of bedtime. He was always fighting with his kids over bedtime. He finally one night decided to set the rule that they had to be in their room, but could go to sleep when they wanted. They all fell asleep somewhere other than their beds. They were all tired the next day. Apparently, they never had bedtime issues again.

That honestly is not an approach I would take. While I concede that you can lead a child to bed but can't make them sleep, I believe that if you allow them free reign of their rooms, they will fall asleep later than they would if they were in bed. For parents who follow Babywise and continue on up into Toddlerwise and up, this would be a rare battle. They go to bed when mom says from birth. For me, the rule would be they have to be in bed when it is time. The rule would be that they are in bed when it is time for bed.

I am positive many of the strategies in this book would not have worked with my little sister, and she is too. There are things like that if your child won't wake up for school, let them sleep in and suffer the consequence for missing school. My sister would have thought something to the effect of, "Sweet, I don't have to go to school today! I can sleep instead." She would not have cared, and would have preferred that option. Bad grades as a result would not have deterred her. So you obviously have to take the ideas and apply them as appropriate for the personality of your child.

I do think this book has helped me in my discipline with Brayden. I do think it has had a positive effect. It doesn't hurt to read it, take what you want, leave what you don't. Knowledge is power, and the more ideas you have in your reservoir, the more likely you are to find what works for your individual child. A lot of the qualms I have with the book are only if you view the book in a vacuum. A lot of the weaknesses of the book are addressed in Babywise II and beyond, so together you can have some powerful methods.

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Reader Comments/Thank Yous:
  • Dana said...
    Thank you for this post. I had wondered about your endorsement of this book. I nannied in a home where Love & Logic was used. The child never seemed to understand why he was getting in trouble, and it didn't stop him from doing the same thing over and over. Reading your post, I understand better. He had no boundaries (funnel) and he was never given the wisdom to understand why/that his behavior needed to change. Your post has given me better perspective and understanding. I can now see how you have been able to use this book in harmony with Toddlerwise. Thank you!
    March 17, 2008 12:22 PM
  • Lori said...
    Thanks for your insight on this. I just started reading Love and Logic on a recommendation from a Christian counselor and your thoughts here will definitely make me question which ideas I plan to implement and which ones I don't.
    March 17, 2008 1:13 PM
  • Plowmanators said...
    You are both welcome!
    March 17, 2008 3:23 PM
  • david, blair, and sadie beth said...
    Well said! I really like some of the ideas in Love and Logic, especially the Early Childhood edition, but have very strong reservations about a lot of it as well...for exactly the same reasons you described. I could carry on about this but you said it well enough already! :)
    March 17, 2008 3:47 PM

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Poll Results: What age did baby move to a 4 hour schedule (approximate)?


12-15 Weeks: 14 votes (21%)
4-5 Months: 13 votes (19%)
5-6 Months: 9 votes (13%)
6-7 Months: 1 vote (1%)
7-8 Months: 4 votes (6%)
8 Months or Older: 3 votes (4%)
Not Yet: 24 votes (35%)

Total of 68 votes

REMINDER: You can leave comments on poll results posts if you would like to add to the poll after it has closed. This would be helpful for those who have more than one child, those whose children have reached certain ages after a poll closed, and those who didn't visit the blog while that poll was open. To find closed polls, click on the poll results link above.

Sample Schedules: One Year and Up

Something I love about once you get to the four hour schedule is that your schedule doesn't change a lot after that. Here are sample schedules as they changed for Brayden. As Kaitlyn reaches the ages discussed, I add her schedules:

12 Months
I still did 4 liquid feedings a day once both turned a year. We weaned from the breast at a year, but neither would drink more than 6 ounces per meal, and I knew they should have about 24 ounces of milk in a day. Kaitlyn will sporadically drink 8 ounces at some meals, then less than 2 at others. She is less predictable in what she drinks, though it does seem to be evening out as time passes.

7:15: Wake, drink milk, eat breakfast
9:30: nap
11:30: Wake, drink milk, eat lunch
2:00: nap
4:00: Wake, drink milk
8:00: drink milk, eat dinner
8:30: in bed

7:30: Wake, drink milk, eat breakfast
Between: the time here includes bath, getting ready, and solo playtime each day. It also many times includes sibling playtime.
9:30: nap
11:30: wake, drink milk, eat lunch
Between: the time here includes free time and often sibling playtime. As the weather is getting nicer, we also spend a lot of time outside at this time.
1:30-1:45: nap
3:45-4:00: wake, drink milk
4:00ish: solo playtime
4:40: the activities for this time of day vary from day to day. We run errands at this time when needed. We to to the library. We will go on family walks. We will go outside and play. We have free time inside.
5:30: dinner. Kaitlyn is moving from Babyfood and pretty much only eats what we are eating.
7:00: drink milk and then I try to get some babyfood in her, though she usually only has a couple of bites. This is just my last effort to try to control the food going in directly :) I feel this step phasing out. After food, she gets ready for bed and we read a story.
7:45: she is in bed.

14 Months
Between 12 and 14 months, he moved away from eating baby food and more toward eating exactly what we were eating. Around 14 months, the transition was basically complete and he was eating dinner with us. I would try to get some baby food in him just because he seemed to eat more that way, but he was growing up and not that interested. I maintained the 4 milk feedings for the time being.

With Kaitlyn (who is 13 months and 3 weeks when I type this), she was done with babyfood all together closer to 13 months. This isn't surprising since she never really liked it anyway. She also doesn't drink a solid 6 ounces at each meal. Some she drinks more than others, and it isn't consistent from day to day which meals she will drink more. Because of that, I offer her 8 ounces at each meal. Some she drinks 8, some 2. I don't really worry about it.

7:15: Wake, drink milk, eat breakfast
9:30: nap
11:30: Wake, drink milk, eat lunch
2:00: nap
4:00: Wake, drink milk
5:30ish: Dinner
8:00: drink milk
8:30: in bed

7:30: wake up and eat breakfast. This usually consists of milk, fruit, and some dry cereal.
9:45: nap
11:45: wake up and eat lunch. This includes whatever Brayden and I are eating, and right now is usually mostly fruits and vegetables.
1:45: nap
4:00: wake up and drink milk. Sometimes she will also get a small snack, depending on what time dinner will be done.
5:30: dinner with the family. She eats whatever we are eating.
7:00: drink milk.
7:45: in bed

17 Months
This is the age Brayden dropped his morning nap. He might have been ready earlier, but I waited until this age for two reasons. Reason one is that I was in my first trimester with Kaitlyn until he was about 17 months and needed the extra break in the day. Another is that the time change happened right after he hit 17 months. We dropped the nap the Saturday before the time change. Brayden has always been able to handle a full dropping of a nap cold turkey. He took about a week to take a longer afternoon nap (instead of just 2 hours). Here is what the schedule was once he took the longer nap.

7:15: eat breakfast (milk included)
11:30: eat lunch (milk included)
1:00: nap
4:00: wake
5:30ish: Dinner (milk included)
7:00: drink milk (I would give him whatever milk he hadn't had for the day to equal 24 ounces)
7:30: in bed

Kaitlyn is now just 17 months old, and still takes 2 naps a day. She is getting closer to dropping that nap, but is not quite ready. Here is her schedule:

7:30: wake up and eat breakfast. This usually consists of milk, fruit, yogurt, and some dry cereal.
9:45: nap
11:30: wake up and eat lunch. This includes whatever Brayden and I are eating.
2:00: nap
4:00-4:30: wake up
5/5:30: dinner with the family. She eats whatever we are eating.
Random: a couple of days a week, she will ask for more milk between dinner and bedtime. I give it to her when she asks for it, but I no longer offer a 4th liquid feeding.
7:45: in bed

20 Months

Somewhere between 17 and 20 months, I stopped adding the drink milk session at 7 PM. His naps also lengthened out a bit more most days. Other than that, the schedule was the same.

7:15: eat breakfast (milk included)
11:30: eat lunch (milk included)
1:00: nap
4:30: wake
5:30ish: Dinner (milk included)
7:30: in bed


7:30: eat breakfast (milk included)
12:00: eat lunch (milk included)
1:00: nap
4:30: wake up
5:30ish: Dinner (milk included)
7:30: in bed

24 Months
For both children, the schedule continued on pretty much as it had.


7:00: eat breakfast (milk included)
12:00: eat lunch (milk included)
1:00: nap
4:30: wake up
5:30ish: Dinner (milk included)
7:30: in bed

28 Months
Somewhere around this age, his bedtime moved back a bit. Also, lunchtime shifted around based on Kaitlyn's (then a baby) exact schedule. It varied from 11 AM to 12 noon.

7:15: eat breakfast (milk included)
11:30: eat lunch (milk included)
1:00: nap
4:30: wake
5:30ish: Dinner (milk included)
8:00: in bed

30 Months (2.5)

A more detailed schedule is on the Sample Schedules: Trio Schedules post.
7:00 AM: Breakfast
12:00-12:15 PM: Lunch
1:00 PM: Nap
4:30 PM: Wake
5:00-5:30 PM: Dinner
8:00 PM: In bed

34 Months Old
Brayden is now nearly three years old. His schedule has remained basically the same. Lunch has moved back as Kaitlyn now wakes at 11:30.

7:15: eat breakfast (milk included)
12:00: eat lunch (milk included)
1:00: nap
4:30: wake
5:30ish: Dinner (milk included)
8:00: in bed

3 Years Old
Brayden's schedule has shifted a bit recently. I like the kids to nap at the same time, so I usually let him stay up until her naptime. I have also started getting them up at the same time, and have somehow gotten him to go to her schedule instead of her to his.

7:30: eat breakfast (milk included)
12:00: eat lunch (milk included)
1:45: nap
4:30-5:00: wake up
5:30: dinner (milk included)
8:00: in bed

The kids have one snack a day around 10:00 AM. It is just some time between breakfast and lunch. That is their longest interval between meals that they are awake since we eat dinner as a family relatively early.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tips and Tricks: Take Notes While Reading

image source
If you are anything like me, you read your Babywise, Toddlerwise, Preschoolwise, etc. book quite often. I find this helpful for several reasons. One is that there is only so much information I can absorb at at time, so much of it gets left behind the first time. Then next time I read, several things are just part of my life, so I have room for more information in my brain. Another reason is that many times things don't apply to my life at the moment--this is especially true in the toddler and older books. One example is the addiction to choices talked about. The first time I read the book, that didn't even make it on my radar. A year later, however, that clicked because my son was experiencing that addiction.

A practice that has spilled over from my college days is to take notes while reading. I have tried different things in my Babywise readings, and the notes has been my favorite. I have marked key pages with post-it notes. It is nice, but only tells you which pages had something of interest. You could also highlight, but then you are doing the same thing as the post-its. Both of those have their value, but taking notes really takes it up a step for me.

While I read, I have a small piece of paper and a pen on hand. I summarize every point I find interesting and/or want to implement into one sentence and then add the page number I found it on. When I am done reading, that piece of paper stays in the book. That way when I think "What did it say about xyz?" I can just refer to my notes and quickly find it. I can also think, "Okay, I have that down, now what is next?" and then refer to my notes and see what else I wanted to work on. Here are some examples of my notes:

Notes from Preschoolwise
  • Do not have your child do physical organize sports before he is ready; he will likely fail and therefore be wary of new things (p. 22)
  • Do not play games beyond emotional preparedness (p. 23)
  • Play by the rules or don't play at all (p. 23)
  • Train the child to interrupt you politely (p. 36)
  • Parent the whole child, not a single category of emotions (p. 41)
  • When child does something he shouldn't, ask "where are you supposed to be" or "what are you supposed to be doing" (see chapter 4)
Those are a sample of some of the notes I took when I read Preschoolwise over 6 months ago. Sometimes I will just read through my notes so that I can be sure I am on track and remind myself of my goals. It really does help. Each time I read the book, I add to my notes if needed. Happy reading!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Nap Cues

If you are lucky, your baby will give you consistent cues to let you know when it is time to go down for a nap. Some babies and moms are so efficient at communicating these cues with each other that there is no need for a clock. For others, the clock/cue combo does wonders.

Let me reiterate the importance of getting the waketime length correct. Your baby will sleep much better if you get her down on time. Your baby will also cry least (if you are doing cry it out) if you get down at the right time. Figuring these cues out will really help you get it right. There are several posts on the subject if you need more convincing: see Easy Nap Fix:

Here is a list of some sample cues. I am sure there are many, many more out there:

  • Fussiness. This was my son's cue. He'd start to get fussy, I'd look at the clock, and sure enough. It was time for a nap.
  • Yawning. This was my daughter's nap cue for a while. For her, it was one nap. Some moms have said three yawns.
  • Red around the eyes. My son also had this for a while.
  • Rubbing eyes. My daughter has recently picked this one up.
  • Naughtiness. This is more a cue for older children. My son now will get naughty if he is overdue for sleep.
  • Hard to please. Some babies get impossible to entertain. This would be similar to fussiness, though baby might not be fussy.
You do need to combine these cues with the clock. Take your baby's age into account and also normal naptime.
Around 2 months old, Kaitlyn dropped all cues all together until recently (11 months). So I had to go by the clock only.
For both of my kids, naptime is naptime. Their naptimes are at the same time each day. Brayden's (nearly 3) is the most concrete. Kaitlyn's can flex a little, but never vary by more than 15 minutes.
If you are having a hard time figuring your child's cues out, a log can be handy to track what you saw and the results of that cue. Good luck!
Reader Questions:
  • ProudMum said...
    This is great blog. I think all problem of my baby naps lie in waketime. 1. when u say stay happily , it means if I play with her, she will create fuss? but I think she starts to play happily. I am so confused about her nap cues, which I think getting fussy. around 6 or 7 she wakes up for first feed then stay awake at bed for one hour and then sleep and she awake around 9:15. she sleep at night at 8:15. after 12 hrs sleep still she needs nap after 1 hour? As I put her down after 2 hrs and my whole days r bad abd baby is cranky. Do babies cry if I put them earlier for nap? she just sleeps for 35 mins for napand cries all day
    July 12, 2008 1:42 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    1. Not totally. Some babies will fuss if they are bored with what is going on or if it is simply too much. But yes, after 12 hours of sleep, she still needs a nap after 1 hour. That will eventually lengthen out, but is totally normal right now.2 hours is most likely too long for her at this age. If it is too early, they usually play. If she is waking after 35 minutes, she most likely needs a shorter waketime. Try 1 hour waketimes and see how it goes.
    July 14, 2008 10:56 AM

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sample Schedules

I often get requests for sample schedules for certain ages. In this post, I list different schedules from different ages. I might not remember it exactly, but this is what I remember to the best of my ability. Unfortunately, I didn't follow my own advice and write things down :) Added 4/2009: I will be adding McKenna's schedule as she grows. See the blog label "newborn summary " for week by week schedules. Added 9/2009: You can also see the blog label baby summary for a week by week schedule from age 3 months and up.

Kaitlyn was a born sleeper and I had to wake her for every feeding at first. Also, we gradually included waketimes. She was so sleepy I could only force one waketime out of her at first (beyond feeding). We added one waketime per week. So some naps started immediately following a feeding, so I will just list feeding on this list:


I went to bed after the 9:00 nursing. She then woke twice in the night to nurse.

McKenna also seems to be a born sleeper. She does have a short waketime after feedings, but not long. Her total waketime (including feeding) varies from 30-45 minutes. She then sleeps until her next feeding. Here is her actual schedule as a newborn:

7:45--nurse. My goal is for a 7:30 waketime, but 7:45 works quite well for us. At some point in the future I will shoot for 7:30, but for now we are typically at 7:45-8:00.
9:30--nurse. This actually can vary from 9:30-10:00 PM.

I then go to bed. She typically wakes on her own somewhere around 2 AM. I then wake her around 5:30 AM so she will be hungry enough to eat at our first feeding in the morning. Once she is old enough to go to 7 feedings a day, I will let her drop one of these night feedings.

4 Weeks:
Around four weeks, the schedule I had created for Kaitlyn started to change. She had different plans :). At four weeks, we were still working on waketimes, but had all but one or two down.

8:30--nurse then bed

She continued with the two night nursings. This schedule continued for a while. Some days, the 10 AM nursing would be 10:30. Also, some days the 4 PM nursing would be 3:30. Around 8 weeks, she dropped one night nursing. Around 9 weeks, I tried to force a dreamfeed at 10:30, but she would not wake up.

For McKenna, her schedule stayed pretty much the same. I had noticed by then that McKenna didn't eat well if it was sooner than 3 hours:


I still woke her twice in the night.

6 Weeks
Kaitlyn's schedule stayed pretty much the same. Here is McKenna's six week schedule:

7:15-7:45--nurse. I changed our 30 minute window to this.

She woke twice in the night for the first half of 6 weeks old, then went down to once a night.

3 Months:
At this age, the schedule for Kaitlyn moved more toward my original plan.

10:00--nurse then bed (dreamfeed)

At this age, her night feeding was in those early morning hours, usually around 6 AM. I believe she dropped that feeding around 4 months.

Things did vary week to week, but here is a typical day:

7:00--nurse then straight to bed

There would then be a feeding on one side around 5:30 AM. During this month, she extended her night feedings so that she started to make it to 7-7:15 in the morning. On those days, we started the day then and then she had a long nap in the morning. Those days looked like:

7:00--nurse then straight to bed

4 Months:
Kaitlyn's schedule didn't change much, but she did drop a nap. We also started solids at 4 months, so solid feeding times are listed as they were once we had all three.

7:30--nurse + solids
1:30--nurse + solids
6:30--nurse + solids then bed
9:45--nurse the bed (dreamfeed). I was starting to move it back in preparation for dropping it.

FOR MCKENNAThe first couple of week of 4 months old were a bit unpredictable due to early morning feeds. Once she hit 19 weeks, though, things smoothed out.

10:30--nurse and cereal
4:30--nurse and sweet potatoes toward the end of the month
6:30--she would wake, or I would wake her. Some days, she didn't take this nap
7:00--nurse then straight to bed

6 Months:
I finally relinquished the dreamfeed. Kaitlyn basically started to refuse to wake up and eat, so I consented and dropped it. Her waketime had also started to extend a bit, and she started to need to go longer in the morning between feedings.

7:30--nurse + solids
2:00--nurse + solids
7:00--nurse + solids then bed

McKenna started 6 months with a dreamfeed, but quickly dropped it.

8:00--nurse + solids
12:00--nurse+ solids
4:15--nurse + solids
8:00--nurse then bed

7 Months:
About a week before Kaitlyn turned 7 months, I finally moved her to the 4 hour schedule.

7:30--nurse + solids
11:30--nurse + solids
7:00--nurse + solids then bed (I woke her up earlier than 4 hours because I wanted her in bed for the night to get 12 hours of sleep)

8:00--nurse + solids
12:00--nurse + solids
4:15--nurse + solids
7:45--nurse + solids then bed

9 Months:
At 9 months, I started trying to drop the third nap. It was a weaning process. We started by shortening it over time. It got down to the point of being only 1 hour long, then 45 minutes. Then she would have some days she wouldn't need the nap. Those days, I would feed her at 6:30 if needed so we could get her in bed earlier.

11 Months:
Here is Kaitlyn's schedule at 11 months.

7:30--nurse + solids
11:30--nurse + solids
7:00--nurse + solids then bed

Brayden's Differences
Kaitlyn is a sleeper. Don't be discouraged by the amount she sleeps. Also, she has been slow in extending waketime. Brayden's differences were:

  • He had 2 hour waketime and 2 hour naptime.
  • He dropped that 4th nap around the same age. He dropped his third nap around the same age also, but for him it was a drop rather than a wean.
  • Brayden started his day at 7:00 AM rather than 7:30.
  • Brayden slept fewer hours at night. While he had the third nap, he slept about 10 hours at night. Once he dropped it, he slept 10.5 hours at night (8:30 bedtime).
Other Items
These sample schedules only include eating and sleeping, not other activities (like independent play).
Reader Questions:
  • LEM said...
    I'm having trouble understanding some of the BW scheduling. I have a 3-week old who is eating ever 3 hours starting at 6am. (so, 6,9,12,3,6pm, 9pm, 12am.) and then I let him wake up when he wants to, which tends to be between 4 and 5 am. Ideally, that would be 6am of course so that I could start my day. I wake him to feed during the day, sometimes he wakes on his own. But my question is, do I have to wake him for the 12am feeding or can I just see how long he can sleep? I'm thinking if I let him sleep he may wake up around 1 or 2am and then maybe he will sleep after that till 6am (our normal wake up time).
    June 10, 2008 7:33 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    I would not wake him at 12 AM, but until three weeks you shouldn't let him go more than 5 hours. So I would feed at 9, then wake him at 2 if he doesn't on his own, then hopefully he will make it to 6. It sounds like he is doing great!
    June 11, 2008 10:59 AM
    LEM said...
    Thank you so much for the quick response. I am so glad I found this site since I was having a difficult time feeling like I was doing this right.As a follow-up question to that, Would I keep him on this schedule until he drops this 1 or 2 am feeding and then move him to 3.5 hours during the day? Or can/should I move him sooner?(Oh, and by the way he is being formula fed)
    June 11, 2008 1:01 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    Since he is formula fed, you could let him go longer in the night, but I would just get up up early enough that he will be hungry for your start time of the day. Yes, I would stick with the same schedule until he drops that middle of the night feeding. I would also keep him on the same day schedule until he drops that 9 PM feeding. You could moveo waketime back (if you want to), but still keep the same number of feedings per day. See this post:When to Move to a 4 hour Schedule: this post will also be helpful for you:
    June 11, 2008 1:46 PM
  • Kim said...
    I have a six week old and I have been trying to use the feed/wake/sleep program since he was born. I have just started CIO this week for his day naps. He has a problem sleeping in the crib and staying awake at the bottle. We are doing a combo 2.5-3 hour schedule. For his first two weeks he was consistently on a 3 hour schedule. How do I get him back on the 3 hour schedule? In his first two weeks he didn't fall asleep at the bottle, this has been a new habit. He also can't seem to stay up for more than 1 hour at times. Our schedule is 6,830,1100,130,400,700,1000. I would like to shoot for a three hour schedule starting at 700. I'll be going back to work within a week and my husband will be dropping him off at my parents at 700. He will be leaving our house at 615 to 630. Should I wake our LO and immediately change his diaper and put him in the car seat and have my parents feed him at 700to start his day? Should I wake earlier and feed him before he leaves? I think this would be difficult because he will probably fall immediately asleep in the car seat and have no wake time. Should I feed him a partial bottle and then let my parents feed him again when he gets there (I don't think this will work b/c he has quite an appetite and screams if you take the bottle away before he's done)? Any suggestions? Or does anyone else have to take their children to daycare?
    June 27, 2008 6:26 AM
    Plowmanators said...
    Kim,1 hour wake time is normal for a 6 month old. 6 weeks is also a growth spurt time, so watch for that. I would recommend a 2.5-3 hour schedule. See this post:Getting a Consistent Schedule: When it comes to your new schedule, I think I would either:1-get him up and put him in his carseat to go. If he really will fall asleep in the carseat, then he could just fall asleep and wake up officially once he gets to your parents house.2-get him up and feed him and start his day. He will then need to go to bed soon after getting to your mom's. It will likely be a little tricky for a while, but he will eventually be able to stay up longer. Good luck!
    June 27, 2008 11:12 PM
  • jsb said...
    Hi, I have been trying to do BW since I brought my 10 week-old home from the hospital. He was doing great on a consistent 3 hour schedule, but we are having some trouble now. At six weeks, he wanted to eat every two hours (growth spurt, I assume) and now he is at around 2.5 sometimes 3 hours. The problem is that we do feeding, about 75 minutes of playtime (this is when he begins showing signs of tiredness) and then I put him down for a nap. He will only nap anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. This means that he wakes way too soon for his next feeding so by the time he eats again, and has some waketime, he has been up for way too long and the cycle continues. I have tried shortening his waketime but it didn't seem to help. Oh, and he has been consistently sleeping through the night for two weeks now (sometimes he sleeps 10 and 11 hours), it's just the naps that I am having so much trouble with. Any advice you may have would be greatly appreciated. Your blog is great!
    August 24, 2008 7:45 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    See these posts for my recommendations: 45 Minute Intruder:
    Naps: Troubleshooting:
    Waking After Only 20 Minutes :
  • The Sullivan's said...
    I was recently introduced to BW by my sister. She had great success with her 3 children using it. This is my first baby and she is much more difficult than my sister's children. She is 4 1/2 weeks old. Let me start by saying that I took her to the pediatrician today and she thinks my baby has a mild case of colic (due to the fact that she's fussy on/off from 5 till 9 almost every night and her naps diminish to 30 mins each...if she takes one at all between feedings).So, I have a few questions not only about CIO but BW in general.#1 - I have her on a 3-hr "routine" (times aren't the same every day). Should I be striving to create a "schedule" so that our day is more stuctured and predictable?#2 - She sleeps good during the night, only waking once. She sleeps in her bassinet at bedtime. Basically all of her naps take place in her swing because that's the only place she will soothe herself to sleep (I guess its not self soothing though because the swing is an aide). Her morning and early afternoon naps are great. However, once early evening hits...naps are terrible. She wakes after 30 mins. Both of my sisters suggested that I start putting her in her crib for naps and bedtime so that she gets used to it. I tried putting her in there a couple of times but it didn't work because I was inconsistant with what I was doing. After reading your blog I'm ready to be persistant and do it. Technically, she doesn't cry for hours on end like most colicy babies...she's just really fussy and fights sleep. There are times when she won't sleep at all between feedings. I think she gets herself worked up and overly tired. My question is...Will CIO work even if she has colic/fussiness? Is it okay if she cries the entire naptime until her next feeding or should I try to soothe at some point? Is it okay to use a mobile in the crib or it that a distraction?#3 - My husbands parents will be here from out of state to visit from 8/12 - 8/21. They aren't staying at our house, they're staying at a hotel. Should I wait to start CIO until after they've left so that I (and the baby) don't have any distractions and can put 100% into it?Your help/suggestions are greatly appreciated!!
    August 7, 2008 1:10 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    1- When you are first starting BW, I think it is okay to just do a routine. One thing I would strive for is the same wake up time each morning. Consistent Schedule: Start Your Day Right: What Time Should I Start My Day: Once you feel comfortable in your routine, get started on more of a schedule:Getting a Consistent Schedule:
    2. In the evening (the time of day she is crying nonstop) you can use the swing. But I would move her to a bed for other naps. See this post:Waking Early From Naps/Won't Fall Asleep For Naps:
    3. I think I would wait until they are gone to do CIO, especially if they won't be supportive of it. I think you will be insecure and unsure of what you are doing, and if you have an audience watching, it will make things harder on you and then therefore baby.Good luck!
    August 11, 2008 10:37 AM
  • Realtor.Rhoades said...
    Hi. I'm new to blogging, please forgive me if this is posted in the wrong place. I stumbled across this blog one night when my 8 month old would not sleep. I have been following babywise since 4 weeks old. However I got hung up on the pacifier as a sleep prop. Realized that and took it away at 6 months then I did the cio and within a week my baby was sleeping well at naps and nightime. However at 8 months old I bought BWII and read that meals should align with the adult meal times ( I took that mystakenly to mean 7am 12 and 5pm). So that got me way off track. In order to accomplish that I thought I had to change my babys schedule. When things were working she was awake from 7am to about 7:30pm, eating at 7 11/11:30 and 3:30/4pm then one more bottle at 7pm. When I got the second book and thought I needed to change I tried to switch to feeding her at 7 12 and 4:30 - as close as I could get to the adult schedule. This is when the problems began. She started having the 45 minute intruder during her 2 daytime naps and also random nightwakings. I thought it was teething because she already had 2 bottom teeth and 2 more top teeth just under the gums. Sure enough her first top tooth poked through and the next one still looks like its not far behind. I got her up at 45 minutes and pressed on during the day naps. At night when the wakeing first happened it was out of character I thought it was the tooth and probably was to a degree so I got her up rocked her until drowsy put her back to sleep. But then it kept happening and is still happening at 9 months. She wakes at night and is so upset sometimes ive given her a bottle to get her back to sleep. Its taking me 2.5 hours to get her back to sleep. I don't think its teething now. Also her naps are a disaster. She will sometimes cry the whole nap time 1.5-2 hours or cry and play but not sleep at all or sometimes she cries for 45 min to 1 hr and sleeps for only 45 min. She is cranky. Then about 2 times a week randomly she wakes at about 1:30am and its a 2.5hour process of me getting her to sleep by combo of cio, rocking, sometimes feeding. I feel like the situation is way out of control and I don't know what to do. I know she is extremely alert now and its very hard for her to turn off her brain and sleep. I've spent days reading your blog trying to come up with the best solution. Here is my question... What do I do about the night wakings? I don't mind letting her cio for her naps. I think with persistance this will get corrected. But at night I don't know what is the right approach. She can get to a point where she seems way to worked up to go to sleep and since its the middle of the night I don't have an excuse to get her up and feed her so I don't know what to do. I've gone back to what was working before I tried to stretch her feed times so she is back to a 4-4.5 hour schedule eating at 7 11-11:30 3:30-4 and 7. Ive been back on this schedule for 4 days. What would you do about the night wakings? She doesn't use the swing anymore and never liked it much. She hated swaddling, and she isn't one for much affection, she doesn't do well when I go in there to check on her after say 20 min of crying so I just let her go for the whole nap session. She is much like Brayden from what I've read. Please direct me to the right part of your blog or address it anew. Ive gotten a lot out of this blog so far and I am so grateful to have someone to ask for help this is the only place I can get answers. Thank you.
    September 11, 2008 12:00 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    Here is a post on night wakings. Nighttime Sleep Issues: I think you need to think through the possible solutions and decide what you want to do. If it were me, based on what I know, I think I would give it a week or two of back to the good schedule, then if she is still waking, resort to CIO at night. See also this post since the night wakings started happening in this age group:5-8 Month Sleep Disruptions :
    September 16, 2008 3:18 PM


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