Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crying Baby: 6 Weeks and Younger

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In The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, Tracy Hogg lists several factors to consider when your 0-6 week old baby starts to cry (page 24). She points out that if baby is on a routine, it is much easier to determine the reason for the crying because activities happen in a particular pattern. Here are some possible reasons to consider:
  • Hunger: Is it close to time for a feeding? If so, there is a good chance baby is waking out of hunger. Keep in mind that growth spurts happen often during his period. Growth spurt
  • Discomfort: Does your baby have a dirty diaper? Most babies in this age range tend to soil their diaper during or soon after a feeding.
  • Boredom: Has your baby been sitting in the same place or position for too long? While babies in this age range can become easily overstimulated, that doesn't mean they want to sit in one spot for their entire playtime.
  • Overtired: If baby has been awake for a total of 30 minutes or more (including feeding time), she might be ready for a nap. optimal waketime
  • Overstimulated: If baby has had a lot of visitors or if she has been watching her older brother jump around the room, she might be overstimulated. overstimulation
  • Gas: If she is making faces and pulling her legs up, she might have gas. gas
  • Reflux: If she is crying and/or spitting up a lot after feeds, she might have reflux. Reflux
  • Body Temperature: She might be hot or cold. Either the room could be too hot or cold, or she could be under or overdressed.
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Best Toys for Toddler: 18-24 Months

Exactly what toys you decide to give to your toddler in this age range will depend on some things. One is need. Your child might not be in need of any new toys. Seasons will impact it. Perhaps you will come into spring and summer in your area and your child will now be able to play outside with no outside toys to play with. Or winter could start and you are house-bound and in need of some new things to keep you and toddler interested. Brayden and Kaitlyn were both in this age range when it was Christmas. At Christmas, we give our children gifts. So I was in need of some toys during this age range.

This can be a hard age to buy for. I view it as an in-between stage for toddlers. They will show some interest in old favorites, but often have outgrown those baby toys. But they aren't quite into the toys for the two year olds yet, either. Here are some ideas of fun toys for the 18-24 month olds.

  • Old Favorites: Some of the old toys will still hold their weight. Your toddler will be able to play with them more accurately, meaning the way they were intended to be played with. There will be toys that used to just be fun to hold and look at (and put in the mouth) that he now is starting to play with in a more conventional way, such as the Little People . For my kids, Nesting Cups continued to be a fun toy in this age range as well as the Fisher-Price Rock-A-Stack. They got more accurate with the Shape Sorter and Pop Up Toy. And don't forget the trucks. This was the favorite toy of Brayden's in this age range Trucks up to 24 Months. See Best Toys for Baby for all previous lists.
  • Wooden Puzzles: I had this on the last age group list, but I think they are worthy of being listed individually again. Puzzles are something that really vary for children. Brayden didn't have much interest in the puzzles at this age, but Kaitlyn really did. By far my favorite puzzles are the Melissa & Doug Puzzles. One reason for this is that Melissa & Doug replace any missing or broken piece for free. It can be hard to pay some companies for a new piece, and they do it for free. Puzzles are something that can easily come up with missing pieces. They are also made very well and are quite cute, with a large variety of subjects. Some even make noises when it is all put together.
  • Balls: You have seen balls listed a lot on previous lists, and you will continue to see them listed. At almost age four, they are still of great interest to Brayden. Both of my children loved balls in this age range. Balls
  • Ride-on Toys: These are toys that are going to be a bit easier for your child to play with in this age range. This was one of Brayden's favorite in this age range. Ride-on Toys
  • Climbing Toys: Kaitlyn continued to love to climb in this age range. She loved to play on Climbing Toys.
  • Crayons: During this age range, Brayden started to enjoy coloring more, though he honestly spent more time organizing the crayons than actually coloring. Kaitlyn has always been my artist and just grew to love coloring more and more. Crayons up to 24 Months
  • Toys to Mimic: Your child will continue to show interest in toys to mimic. These toys stimulate the imagination as well as help your child learn about the grown-up world. I listed ideas in the 10-12 month post (Best Toys for Baby: Ages 10-12 Months) and the
    Best Toys for Baby: 12-18 Months range. Since we had a kitchen already, we got Kitchen Accessories for Kaitlyn in this age range. Whatever it is you do, consider getting toys for your toddler to mimic you. Do you garden? Do you cook? Do you sew? Do you clean the house? Whatever it is, your child will enjoy toys that help him be more like you.
  • Sleds: Since Brayden and Kaitlyn were in this age range during winter, when I think of this age group, I think sleds. They love to be pulled around on the sled, so find something that you can pull without hurting your back (so much as possible :) ). A sled like this one can be good for the younger kids: Snow Bear Sled Set
  • Elmo: Kaitlyn's favorite thing during this age range was Elmo. There are a lot of Elmo toys out there.
  • Dolls: Kaitlyn has a variety of dolls. I had a lot from my childhood because I am OCD and took really good care of them--many look new. She has those. She also has some that have been given to her as gifts. Her favorite doll is the Fisher Price Doll.
  • Stuffed Animals: I have listed this before, but during this age range my kids both had a special love for certain stuffed animals. Stuffed Animals
  • Duplo Legos: This was probably Kaitlyn's number one favorite toy at this age. Brayden also enjoyed playing with them at the same time (he was 3.5-4). They are a great toy. Brayden even thanked for Legos during a prayer :). This is the set we bought: Ultimate LEGO DUPLO Building Set
  • Art Activities: See this post for art time activities: Baby Stuff I love: Art Time
  • Musical Instruments: Musical instruments are a fun thing. I am really into music, so the musical side of life is always big for me and easy for me to incorporate into the day. There are many fun Musical Instruments sets out there.
  • Slides and Swings: If your children are like mine were, they can't really slide on their own in this age range because they are still pretty top heavy (head larger than body proportionally). But they can have fun with your help. And if they are like mine, they will never tire of swinging.
  • iPod: Okay, hang in there. Some of you might be wondering if I am crazy. I think an iPod is an excellent item for a child to have. Both Brayden and Kaitlyn have their own iPods. They don't listen to them with headphones at all; they are on a docking station in their rooms. When Brayden was almost two, we bought a CD player for him that was supposed to not skip and things like that when it was bumped, etc. It didn't work. We finally decided the best answer to having music for him to listen to in his room was an iPod. I can put the exact songs on the iPod that I want to. The CDs have no chance of being scratched or broken. You can create fun playlists for different focus and/or variety. I love the iPod. A great thing about the iPod is that it is out of date so fast that you can find them used for a cheap price. We found Brayden's iPod in our local classifieds for a very inexpensive price. Kaitlyn got my old one when I upgraded.
  • Books: I am always advocating books. An idea for this age range is the pop-up book. Some children can be trusted at this age with the pop-up book, others need some guidance in how to treat it appropriately. If your child cannot treat the book appropriately after instruction, put it away and try again at an older age.
As always, please share any toys your child/ren loved in this age range!
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Newborn Summary: Week Four


This summary is for McKenna ages from 3-4 weeks old (the fourth week). This week was once again smooth and uneventful. Here are a few highlights (highlights of uneventful? You must be sitting on the edge of your seat!).

GAS
More of the same. She still has gas; I still give gas drops. I have been looking into gripe water and have found it is hard to find in stores around here. I appreciate all of the suggestions of good gripe water brands and the tricks you have for them. If you have more, keep them coming!

NURSING
During this week, she started staying awake even more for nursings. I am able to read more during the nursing sessions. I love to read while I nurse. During this week, I no longer needed to change her diaper between sides for most feedings; she would stay awake without it. She did still have sessions where she only ate on one side, but I knew I had done my best to get a full feeding from her.

WAKETIME
During this week, she had very few intervals with no playtime. In other words, she played after almost every feeding. I keep waketime to 40-45 minutes (including feeding). Some waketimes are a little longer, especially the ones that include a bath.

During this week, I started to back off of the 4 S's routine. I still have my nap routine, but I cut down on the holding before the nap. I think I know her well enough that I don't need to hold her before the nap to time it just right. Every so often, I can tell she needs to be held before the nap.

NAPS
Along those lines, she continued to sleep well for every nap and go to sleep without crying. I still had to wake her for 6 of the 8 feedings a day, with a few days waking her for only 5.

NIGHTTIME SLEEP
We continued on with me waking her in the night to eat so she had two feedings in the night.

OUTINGS/EVENTS
This week we had our first walk and first trip to the park. I put her in my Graco stroller that lays down all the way (Quattro Graco Stroller), swaddled her up, and we set off. She went to sleep just as she would in her crib. It was a nice outing for us.

This week I introduced McKenna to her Kiddopotomus Swaddleme (see Kiddopotomus Swaddleme). She slept just as well with it as she does her flannel blanket with me swaddling her. I wanted to have her accustomed to a swaddle blanket in order to avoid her being dependent on me to swaddle her. Kaitlyn was very picky about how she was swaddled, and only I could do it right. This meant I had to be home for every nap/bed. Since I work with the youth of my church, I have one night a week that I need to leave before McKenna would be in bed. This way, I can feed her and then leave while she has some waketime and someone else can swaddle her and put her to bed.

I have to also say that I love this swaddle blanket because it can go in the carseat. Newborns startle so easily that this is a wonderful thing to have in the carseat. It keeps her a lot more calm.
At the end of this week, I introduced her to her gym. She didn't seem to react to it in any way.

EMOTIONS
The week started out rough for my emotions, but then ended well. I felt like my normal self :) I do still plan on doing a post on emotions.

Okay, so this week was not that interesting. But since I am about halfway through the next week, I can promise you it gets better.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Credit Card Parenting

On Becoming Babywise II makes reference to "credit card parenting." "You will pay the training price in the future, but with compounded interest" (page 63). This statement is surrounded by so many other strong statements for parents to think about that I am sure many parents completely miss that, at least on a first read-through. Also, if this is your first child, you might not really grasp the truth of that statement.

The future. Tomorrow. It will all get better. We seem to believe everything will be easier in the future. My husband often makes plans for the future, believing we will have more time in the future to do things. A good friend of mine with three young children looks to the future thinking life with children will slow down...then she looks at the schedule of a friend of ours with three older children (two teenagers and one in elementary) and realizes it doesn't slow down. It gets busier.

I can't remember where I heard it, but someone counseled to never depend on having more time tomorrow than you have today. This is wise to apply to all aspects of life. Don't plan on tomorrow bringing you more money than you have today. And don't plan on tomorrow bringing you a child who is more willing to comply with your instruction.

What does credit card parenting mean? First, think of how a credit card works. You buy stuff using a credit card, planning to pay for it tomorrow. As soon as you buy it, you start earning interest on it. Perhaps you have a card with a grace period, but when those 30 days are up, your extra supply of cash you were hoping for doesn't come, so again, you have to pay the interest. Now that item you purchased will cost you a lot more. It will take more money to pay for it than it would have if you had waited until you actually had the money. Not only do you owe for what you originally paid for, but at the end of the interest-calculating period, that interest is added to your total that you owe. You then owe interest on the new total for the next period--not just the first total. This is compounded interest.

So how does this relate to your children and training? First, you must accept that tomorrow is not going to be an easier time to train your child. I have had these thoughts, also. You think the child will be more mature in the future, have better communication skills, and therefore be easier to teach these concepts to. When you allow inappropriate behavior to continue in hopes of having a child who is more willing to comply with your instruction, you will be sorely disappointed.

Your child will not be more willing to comply. Your child will be confused. You will be removing freedoms that were once allowed. That isn't going to make your child more amiable. It will likely bring out a tantrum. Teach your child now.

I must point out a few caveats here. When I say teach your child now, I don't mean you take your 2 week old and start working on things like "Yes Mommy" and hand-folding. You teach your child when it is age-appropriate. Not sooner, and not later. There are age guidelines for when certain training is appropriate, but you also must be the parent and evaluate your child as an individual. While doing this, don't underestimate your child. She is capable of more than you might think. She understands a lot more than you realize. I also must warn that you don't expect more than she is able to give.

Along the same lines, it is perfectly fine to wait for your child to be ready for something before you train or move forward with a transition. If your child isn't ready to handle the freedom of moving to a "big girl" bed, keep her in the crib until she is ready. This is called parenting in the funnel (see funnel ).

Also, avoiding credit card parenting doesn't mean that if you have a 12 month old and have let certain behaviors go on for the last six months all hope is lost. It is never too late to start training your child. It might take more time and more effort, but as the saying goes, better late than never. So when you realize there is something you haven't started or something you have allowed that you shouldn't have, fix it. There is no time like the present. And notice I said when and not if. It will happen. You aren't perfect.

Believe me when I tell you that it is much easier to address discipline issues from the beginning. It is easier on you and easier on the child. An 8 month old is a lot more willing to comply than an 18 month old. Start now. You will be glad you did.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Teach Your Child Independence

When Brayden was a day or two old, my Mom said to me, "You have to realize that your goal as you raise him is to become independent of you. You are preparing him to be able to leave you someday and take care of himself."

I loved this thought. My parents have always been so well-adjusted to my big milestones like driving, dating, graduating, moving out, getting a degree, getting married, having a baby...These have all been happy moments in life for them. I am sure they have had their pangs of sadness as they saw I was getting older, perhaps even tears, but in my presence it was a happy time.

Some parents out there seem to want their children to be very dependent on them. They don't want to let go and allow the child to grow up and function on his own. I understand the reason. You love your child unconditionally. You have spent so much time caring for this child. You have sacrificed so much. When Kaitlyn moved to a toddler bed, I cried for a minute (though not in front of her). I get that. However, we have to let go. I personally think if you allow your child to grow up and move on, he will happily come around to visit more often, whereas if you cling to your child and mourn his every milestone, he will likely try to develop some space between the two of you so he can move on in his life.

This is one thing that really attracted me to Babywise in the first place. Babywise is about giving your child the tools to survive without you. The -wise books help you teach your child how to think for himself and how to make moral decisions. It helps you raise your child to be a functioning member of society who can contribute positively to the state of the world. It isn't about fulfilling your own desires for feeling needed. It isn't about indulging your child's every whim. It isn't about giving him an easy childhood free of difficulty or disappointment.

You only have your child at home with you for about 18-20 years, dependent on culture. He has a long life to live beyond that. Be sure that as you parent him, you look beyond today to help him learn skills for tomorrow. Keep that long-term perspective. You can then enjoy your "child" on the level of friend, and joy in seeing him in his success as an adult.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Baby Whisperer: Developmental Olympics

"...I don't want my readers to enter into what I call the 'developmental Olympics,' comparing one child's progress or problems with another child's, or to become anxious if their little boy or girl doesn't fit a particular age profile" (The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, page 12).

Hogg is urging readers to not compare their babies to the babies of others and to also not freak out when baby doesn't reach a particular milestone that is listed in a book. This is an excellent topic for us all to be mindful of. I can't count the number of times I have gotten a question similar to this:

"My baby is [8-11] weeks old and still not sleeping through the night. What am I doing wrong?"

First, Babywise points out that 15% of babies don't STTN until 12 weeks of age. Second, from my interactions with parents, the numbers and ages of the STTN milestone are typically a lot older than those listed in the book.

As soon as baby doesn't go by the book, parents start to worry what is wrong with themselves and/or their baby. Remember that the ages listed in books are "typical" or "averages," not absolutes. Analyze your baby and do what is best for your baby. Compare your baby to his own abilities. Neither of my children STTN by 12 weeks, not even perfect-sleeper Kaitlyn. She wasn't long after 12 weeks, but she had definite reflux issues that warranted no messing with what was happening at night. We started late with Brayden, so his late STTN is understandable there.

Avoiding developmental Olympics applies both to Babywise milestones as well as those physical milestones like walking, talking, etc. This doesn't mean you don't ever evaluate the reasons for these "lates." But first understand what an average is. Very few fall into "average." The fact that a number is an average means there were a lot who were doing it earlier and a lot doing it later. Percentages can be more helpful in evaluating where your baby is.

If your baby isn't reaching a milestone when he "should," think through reasons for it. If it is a Babywise milestone, have you been consistent? Are there medical reasons? Is your baby just hungry? If there is a reason you can fix, attend to it. Otherwise, don't worry about it. If ever you are worrying, come to this blog and look at the poll results . You will see that there are babies who did things later, some earlier, and some at "normal" times. Then you will know your baby is not alone :)

The same applies to physical milestones. Gross motor skills are often recognized more than the fine motor skills and even verbal skills (until baby is about 18 months). If your baby isn't sitting up at 6 months, is she extra attentive to her fine motor skills or verbal skills? Brayden was always very focused on his gross motor skills. Verbal skills were also high. Fine motor skills were low on his priority list. Once Kaitlyn reached 5 months old, she was more interested in fine motor skills and her verbal skills for quite some time. They did different things at different times.

Also, are you providing her with opportunity to practice? A baby who is strapped in and confined all day isn't going to reach gross motor skills as early. This principle applies as the child gets older. A child who is never taught the names of colors isn't going to just know them. You must teach your child the things you want her to know and provide opportunities for practice. If there is anything you are concerned about, always bring it to the attention of your pediatrician.

So please, try to remain calm and patient as you parent your little one.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poll Results: How many hours total did baby sleep in a 24 hour period for ages 9-10 months? (approximate)

Results:

16-17 hours: 41 votes (27%)
14-15 hours: 76 votes (49%)
12-13 hours: 30 votes (19%)
less than 12 hours: 7 votes (5%)

Total of 154 votes

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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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

McKenna Newborn Summary: Week Three

Newborn time is really flying by for me. I know, weird. Newborn time is typically LOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGGGG. It is like one newborn week is a month. But things are going fast for me this time around. Sigh. Okay, moving out of nostalgia and on to the post at hand.

Things are still good. I think that is why things are going quickly. Other than the fact that I have to wake up twice a night to feed her, things are great. And waking twice a night is just a fact of needing to get 8 feedings in her. There isn't anything that she needs to do differently; it will pass with age when I can let her sleep longer and skip a feeding. Here is an update on all the important things:

GAS
Things have been good. I haven't cut back on the gas drops at all. One reader suggested I try gripe water, so I intend to buy some of that and slowly replace the gas drops with the gripe water.

NURSING
McKenna eats from both sides for the great majority of her feedings. A few days into this week, things really just clicked with nursing. I relaxed about whether to feed both sides or one side. I decided nursing both sides had always worked for my children in the past and there was no reason to change what I knew. Once I decided that, things clicked for us. Her growth really took off. I haven't had to work as hard to keep her awake, which I always enjoy. There is still work, but not as much. I do often need to change her diaper between sides, but once I do that, she easily eats from side two.

I don't time each side. I have her eat as long as she will eat from each side. She isn't one who seems to need non-nutritive sucking, so when she is done, she will often come off herself. I do pay attention to time and work to get at least 10 minutes out of her, but if she needs more than 10 (she is still swallowing after 1-6 sucks), I let her continue on.

BURPING
It is funny how things change. In week one, this was our biggest struggle. Now, it is basically a non-issue. She burps easily and quickly.

WAKETIME
Her waketime is continuing to increase slightly. She still has some feedings where all she can do is stay awake for the feeding and diaper change and she is done. I don't fight her. If she needs to sleep, I let her. I put her down awake after each feeding. After a feeding diaper change, it has been at least 30 minutes which is long enough for a baby that young.

She still doesn't show obvious nap cues. If she is still alert after 40-45 minutes, I start the nap process, and she is always ready for sleep within 5 minutes of that. With a baby this age, I think it is critical that they don't get overstimulated. It is important for all ages, but critical for these young newborns.

NIGHTTIME SLEEP
There has been no change other than she is getting to be a faster eater at night. The process was taking about 50 minutes to feed and diaper change, and now it is taking about 30. This is great for me because I get more sleep :)

NAPS
She is still napping well and still has never cried before going down for a nap. I still wake her for all of her feedings.

OUTINGS/EVENTS
We had some big events this week. One is Easter. McKenna was awake a little longer than usual (65 minutes) because we were doing Easter with the kids. Happily, she went to sleep fine and slept fine. I am pretty sure she is an Angel baby as defined by Tracy Hogg, the Baby Whisperer. Hogg says that when these baby's get overstimulated, it usually doesn't take much to settle them down.

Another big event was Kaitlyn's birthday party. We simply had family over, but you know how family likes to hold babies. I fed McKenna right as people were arriving, then let her be passed around for her waketime. Then I said I would put her down while we ate and did festivities. It worked well because people got to see her and she still was able to maintain her consistency.

McKenna had her first bath this week (instead of a sponge bath). She wasn't as mad as Brayden was, but not as calm as Kaitlyn. Of course, Kaitlyn's umbilical cord didn't fall off until she was four weeks old, so she was a lot older of a baby.

We also had photos taken this week. This completely disrupted one of her naps (between her 4:30 and 7:00 PM feedings). I chose to do it in the evening so that the entire day would not be disrupted. She went down after her 7:00 PM feeding just fine, but woke at 9:00 PM for a feeding rather than 10:00 PM.

BOTTLE
McKenna had her first bottle this week. I pumped an ounce. She ate half an ounce without a problem, but wasn't very interested in eating from a bottle. By that I mean that she was taking it really slowly. I then nursed her. In case you are wondering why I am introducing a bottle to her, see this post: Non-BW Tips and Tricks: Breastfeeding moms, give your baby a bottle: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2007/12/non-bw-tips-and-tricks-breastfeeding.html

GROWTH SPURT
Growth spurts are supposed to happen every 3-4 weeks. As she approached 3 weeks old, I kept my eye out for it. Since she needs to be woken from every nap, I knew if she woke early it would mean she needed to eat. At the end of this week (just as she was turning 3 weeks) I think she had a growth spurt. She woke for 7 feedings in a row. Since she usually only wakes for 2 a day, I thought this was a good sign of a growth spurt. The next day, she was very, very sleepy and hard to get to eat all day. She also didn't poop as much for a couple of days. I am not 100% sure the growth spurt is past and over. I am still watching for it this week and read for it, but I think it possibly did happen.

EMOTIONS
My emotions have been quite even--up until this week. I want to discuss this because I don't think it is often addressed. My emotions have been really calm and even up until this week. I am an extrovert, and by this point it was getting to me to be cut off from the world so much :). My husband also had a big emergency at work, causing him to work a lot of extra hours, including Saturdays. So, things were getting hard. I was reading in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer where she discusses the emotions new moms go through. It was a great thing to read because I had experienced almost all of them that week. I will do a separate post on that, but just know that if you are feeling emotional, it is normal. It is normal to feel inadequate. It is normal to feel like it is a piece of cake and you can handle anything, only to feel overwhelmed several hours later.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Blanket Time Info

image source
As you read through the various -wise books, it is very easy to miss the information on blanket time. I missed it the first couple of times I read through Toddlerwise, and then I had a hard time finding information on it when I tried to.

In On Becoming Toddlerwise, blanket time is mentioned on pages 45 and 48. Page 45 says for toddlers between ages 14-18 months to do time on a blanket 2-3 times a week for 10-15 minutes at a time. The purpose of this is to teach parameter skills. Page 48 says for toddlers between ages 14-20 months to do it in the place of roomtime at first, starting with 5 minutes at a time each day. You then work up to 30 minutes or longer.

So what does that mean for you? I know several moms who start blanket time well before 14 months old. I know some who never use it at all. The age you start it would really depend on your child. You can put a completely immobile 8 month old on a blanket to play, but if he can't move anywhere it isn't true blanket time. That doesn't mean you can't start doing it--it can be useful to teach the habit before he has the option of moving, but he isn't exercising any sort of personal restraint by staying on the blanket when he couldn't move off of it in the first place.

Ultimately, here is my take on blanket time. Blanket time is not something well defined in the -wise books. I say you take blanket time and make it what you see your toddler in need of. Does your toddler need help learning boundaries? Does he lack some focusing skills? Do you have a need for blanket time in situations such as church? Use blanket time as needed in your home. Personally, I like the use of blanket time as a time to teach parameter skills. I consider it a a structured playtime situation. Again, use blanket time as you see fit for your child and your family's situation.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Sleep Training: The Four S's

When McKenna was born, I wasn't sure exactly when I was going to start sleep training with her. I like to start early because I hate to teach the baby to need one way to fall asleep (like rocking) only to take that all away several weeks later. I think that makes things harder on baby. However, I also hate listening to my babies cry (who doesn't?) and didn't look forward to it.

I have been reading The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. When McKenna was three days old, I read Hogg's Four S plan for teaching a baby how to sleep on her own. I decided to give it a try. It worked! It worked and McKenna still, at three weeks old, has yet to cry for a nap. Not only that, but she wakes at transitions and goes back to sleep without crying.

I am sure many of you are very interested in what these Four S's are. I am going to share them with you, along with my own tidbits. However, if you want to try these Four S's yourself, I highly recommend you read what Hogg has to say. I read over the Four S's about 30 times before executing it. I wanted to be sure I understood the method. These are found on pages 182-186.
  • Setting the Stage: The first S is setting the stage. This is your sleep ritual; it is your routine before a nap or bedtime. See the post Sleep Routine for my thoughts on this. You want your routine to be the same before naps and same before bed. Routine is a signal to babies and children. Even a newborn can start to recognize patterns. Make your routine calm. Set the stage in the room to the needs of your baby for successful sleep.
  • Swaddling: The next thing you do is swaddle your baby. Hogg says to do this even if your baby does not like being swaddled. I have been asked if swaddling is a sleep prop and something that is anti-babywise. I do not think that swaddling is anti-babywise. Babies have no control over their limbs, and this can really wake them up. Some babies have better control than others. For example, McKenna has better control over her limbs at this age than Kaitlyn did. If she breaks her swaddle, she can still stay asleep. But those arms can get going and really freak her out at times. Most babies stop being swaddled with no problems around 3-4 months. Some can stop sooner. Some go on longer. Some babies have some transition time. But most stop the swaddle and sleep even better because they have arm control and are able to sleep more comfortably. See the blog label Swaddling for more on this.
  • Sitting: For me, this is where the real magic of the Four S's lies. With Kaitlyn, I had my sleep routine and my swaddling. But I did not have the sitting. Once your baby is swaddled, you sit. You hold baby with her in the vertical position. Plan on sitting like this for about five minutes. You sit still. You don't rock, jiggle, pace, etc. You are sitting and holding her without stimulating her. You will feel her body relax and perhaps jerk a little. You then give a kiss, say what you say, then put her down in her bed. You want her in bed before she falls asleep. You then leave the room so long as she doesn't cry. You trust that she can fall asleep on her own.
  • Shush-pat: I haven't ever had to use the fourth S. You use this S if your baby cries. You keep baby in the crib and whisper "shh, shh, shh" while patting her back. Hogg has a long description on how to employ this step successfully, so if you need it, I recommend you read her description, especially since I have no experience with it.
What is so great about this method? It is the sitting. If you have your baby's nap cues right, she isn't over-stimulated when you start to put her down, waketime is optimal, etc. then you have done everything right so far (for help on waketime length, see Optimal Waketime Lengths). With the sitting, you are holding baby until she is at the perfect moment to fall asleep. She is relaxed. You didn't rock her to get her there. She got there without external forces. The sitting helps you time things perfectly. Through careful observation, you can do this all without the sitting, but when you add the sitting you ensure baby is primed for falling asleep easily on her own.

Another thing I really like about the sitting is that it is a quiet time for me to hold McKenna at the end of each cycle. I hold her a lot during feeding and burping, but those aren't moments where all I am doing is enjoying holding her. I am focusing on her taking a full feeding and getting that air bubble out. With the sitting, I am able to just relax and hold her for a few minutes before her nap. Any mom with more than one child knows that this is harder to come by.

This method is great because it teaches your baby to fall asleep on her own from the beginning of life without other things that can be props (like rocking to drowsy). As McKenna gets older, I see the need for the sitting becoming less pertinent.

If you plan to use this method, I recommend you also read the CIO Bootcamp: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2007/11/cio-bootcamp.html. This post will help you time things right and help you to know how to read your baby.

UPDATE:
Want to know how I liked it? Here is my post The 4 S's Three Years Later. You can also see how I did it with my fourth baby, Brinley, here at "Four" S's In Action.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Baby Whisperer: Parenting Mistakes

I have discussed this concept in Parenting Skills: Look to Yourself First. Hogg says, "When problems persist, it's usually because of something the parents have done, or because of their attitude" (The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, page 8). Some parents don't want to hear that and instead want to say the baby is stubborn, manipulative, hates to sleep, etc. When you are having persistent problems, first look at yourself and see what you are doing to contribute to the problem. Not IF, but WHAT. Here are some common problems Hogg lists, along with my own commentary (pages 8-12).
  • You're following your child, rather than establishing routine. Remember, you are the parent, you decide. You can't wait for baby to set the routine. That is your job. You need to do so based on your baby's needs, but it is your job to do.
  • You've been doing accidental parenting. This is akin to parenting outside of the funnel as discussed in Babywise (funnel ). Hogg reminds us to start as we mean to go on (Baby Whisperer: Start as You Mean to Go On ). You need to be careful of taking the easy road now. It makes things harder in the future. If you are doing something you don't want to be doing down the road, reevaluate.
  • You're not reading your child's cues. Hogg points out that you need to pay attention to your baby and his needs, not live by the clock. She says that when parents say something like, "He used to be on a schedule, and now he's not" it means the parent is not reading cues. Used to be. Problems can arise when you don't realize baby needs a longer waketime, needs to drop a nap, needs more food, needs different activities, needs more/less freedoms than you are allowing, etc.
  • You're not factoring in that young children change constantly. This is also in the used to be category. "The truth is that the only constant in the job of parenting is change" (page 10). As you design your schedule, design it for now, not tomorrow. Tomorrow your baby will have different needs. I often read comments that marvel at how often things change. Just when you have things down, something changes. Teething, sickness, different optimal waketime length, solids, nap dropping, dropping feedings, etc. Once you realize and accept that things will change often, you will be more relaxed and more open to changing as needed, which will save you much heartache. Also, take heart. Changes become less frequent as your child gets older. You can get on a routine that is more constant.
  • You're looking for an easy fix. It takes time to change habits and behavior.
  • You're not committed to change. You have to want it, and you have to be consistent. Hogg says you must be as consistent with the new way as you were with the old. If you won't see things through to the end, don't do it.
  • You're trying something that doesn't work for your family or personality. This is similar to the one above. First, if you don't feel comfortable with something, don't do it. If you think you need to, find a way to get yourself on board.
  • It ain't broke--and you really don't need to fix it. If things are going well, don't try to force changes just to fit a book. Things in books are averages, suggestions, etc. but not tailored to your specific child.
  • You have unrealistic expectations. You must change your life as you welcome a baby to your life. You can't have life as it was. Parenting does require sacrifice. That doesn't mean you give up who you are and everything you love, but it does mean you can't be so selfish anymore. Children are humans, not machines nor mathematical problems to be solved. I also think of things like growth spurts. Many parents see a growth spurt as a problem and are hesitant to feed baby for fear of starting a new eating schedule. Always feed your baby. You can't expect baby to not have growth spurts. They will happen, and you need to feed baby when they do.

I must say that I really enjoy Hogg's candid way of expressing things. Remember that as you are problem solving, you must be humble and look to yourself and see what you are doing to contribute to the current problem.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Train To Obey Your Voice

"The goal is to train the child to obey your voice (which includes tone and modulation), not to the object" (On Becoming Babywise II, page 95).

This is very important to remember when training your child. You are not seeking to train your child to memorize a list of objects that are okay and objects that are not okay. Your are seeking to train your child to listen to you and obey you when you tell him to do something or to not do something. As Babywise II points out, you are the constant. The object is the variable.

If your focus is on objects, then your child might end up being well trained at home, but when you go out, he could be a difficulty. That is, unless the places you go to have the exact same objects that are nos in your home with nothing added.

Yes, your child will get to the point where he knows what is and isn't okay at home. He will ignore the nos. That isn't a problem. You just want to be sure that your child obeys you. When you are in a new situation, you want him to listen to your voice. You will encounter new nos at the park, the store, your friend's house, on a walk, etc.

This is further reason your solution in life is not to "baby-proof" your entire house. Remember, you take care of safety needs, but you don't remove everything from your child's reach in order to avoid conflict with the child (see Baby-Proofing ). You want your child to learn to obey you. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes consistency. But once your child obeys you, you will have no problem taking him shopping with you. You will have no problem taking him to the park while you have your newborn in tow. You will be able to enjoy your child.

Yes, there will be rough days. I remember one day when Kaitlyn was a few weeks old. We went to the park. When it was time to go, Brayden did not want to leave. He cried. Kaitlyn cried while I was trying to round him up. I wondered what on earth I was doing at the park. The hard days will come, but you will have far more good days than bad, and you will be able to take the bad in stride.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Discipline Phrase: "I didn't ask if you wanted to..."

My children are, generally speaking, quite well-behaved. Yes, they have their moments. Yes, they test their limits. But overall, they are very obedient. We go days between need for any sort of punishment at all. I have been paying attention to our days to see what things I do that seem to help. One tactic I use is the phrase, "I didn't ask if you wanted to..."

I have to try to explain a bit about my personality. I am very calm. My sense of humor is very dry; when I am making a joke, you really have to know me to be sure if I am serious or joking. I have excellent control over my emotions. I am extremely matter-of-fact. I am logical.

When I discipline my children, I strive to be calm about it. I do not raise my voice or get emotional. My Mom has marveled at my patience--I suppose I wasn't as patient as the child as I am as the parent :). I do not try to put any guilt upon my children. I don't hold grudges. I just say it like it is, correct as necessary, and we move on.

For some reason, Brayden (approaching 4) really dislikes going potty. The child can hold it in forever. I can count on one hand the number of times he has had to go potty at a time other than when I told him to. I can actually only think of two times. It seems he views the bathroom as a major inconvenience in his life. This isn't a problem accident-wise. You just have to go, you know? "I didn't ask if you wanted to..." started with the potty.


"Brayden, you need to go potty."
"I don't want to go potty!"
"I didn't ask if you wanted to; I just said to go."

End of conversation. He would go. Whenever I instruct him to do something and he feels the need to tell me he doesn't want to, I remind him that I didn't ask if he wanted to, just told him that he needed to. When I say this, my emotions are even. I am not frustrated or exacerbated. I am not angry. I am not condescending. I am really quite nonchalant. I am just letting him know the reality of the matter. It is just information to remind him who decides. Mom decides :)

A similar phrase I might use interchangeably is "I know you don't want to, but you need to." I use this with the same tone, same situations, and same demeanor.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

McKenna Newborn Summary: Week Two


Week two has continued on smoothly with little or no incident. Here are some updates on our second week of life.

GAS
I decided I didn't want McKenna to have more medicine than she needed. I am not one who likes medicine, but if it is necessary, I will definitely use it. I started to cut back on how many doses she got in a day. I first cut out one, then a second, then a third. By the time I had cut out the third, she woke with gas pains. I decided to go back to giving gas medicine after each feeding for a couple more weeks. I will then start to cut them out, but do so much more slowly. I think I will just cut one out a week.

NURSING
McKenna now eats on both sides for about half of her feedings each day and just one side for the other half. I still wake her for 6 of her 8 feedings each day (I keep track). She is growing right on track and doing well. My friend Rachel left a comment on the blog about how she would burp her son after he unlatched the first time, then continued him nursing on the same side. She would then switch sides after he unlatched the second time. I have done this with McKenna and am often able to get her to eat on both sides when I do this. It works great for her. This is the reason it is great to have people to ask questions to. There are so many tricks out there. Some work for some children and not others, so it is great to have lots of ideas to draw from.

I have also found that if she refuses to nurse the second side, I can get to do so sometimes after a diaper change. That didn't work in week one, but it worked in week two.

To sum up, this is what I do. I start her on one side. When she slows down or unlatches, I burp her then continue her on the same side. I let her continue on until she is done with that side. She usually unlatches, but sometimes she lazily sucks without a swallow. I read (I think in Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems or What to Expect the First Year) to switch sides when baby sucks about 6 times without swallowing. I then burp her again and start side two.

BURPING
McKenna has also changed in what works best to burp her. We are getting much faster at it. She now works best over my shoulder with her legs straight. It is hard to get her to uncurl those little legs, but it is what works best to get a burp out of her.

WAKETIME
Her waketime length has increased slightly and her alertness has also increased slightly this week. I introduces two new waketime activities this week. One was to sit in her swing with it off. I haven't turned the swing on with her in it yet. It is just a place for her to sit right now. The other is tummy time.

She doesn't really have any obvious sleep cues yet. There have been a few times she has yawned. Usually what happens is she just starts to fall asleep if I haven't gotten her down in time, which is quite typical for a newborn. At least it was for Kaitlyn and is for her :).

I have started watching the clock this week for waketime. I put her down either by first sign that she is ready or I start the process after she has been awake for 40 minutes. That way she is always down by the time she has been up for 45 minutes, which I think is realistically all she can handle at this age.

NIGHTTIME SLEEP
This is still going well. There hasn't been any change. She usually wakes for her first feeding in the night and I usually wake her for the second. We are still doing two night feedings in order to have 8 feedings in a day. On the last night of her second week, I moved her to her room for night sleep instead of sleeping in my room. I sleep much better when the baby is not in the room with me.

SWADDLE
I still swaddle McKenna for naps and night. A great thing about her is that she often breaks out of the swaddle but still stays asleep, or, rather, goes back to sleep. So she likes to be swaddled, but it isn't something necessary for her to sleep well.

NAPS
McKenna's naps are great. She still has yet to cry at all before a nap. She often wakes at a transition and goes back to sleep, all without crying (I know this thanks to my video monitor :) ).

OUTINGS
We took McKenna out for the first time this week to buy some new shoes for Brayden and Kaitlyn. She slept the entire time. It was a short outing and I am being very cautious with her. It is still RSV season here until May 1, and this year it is strongest right now.

So there is our uneventful second week.

HELPFUL BOOKS
I didn't actually consult any books this week. I am sure if this were baby number one or if I didn't basically have Babywise memorized I would have consulted some books. So the books I listed last week are still books I would recommend at this stage, as well as the first Baby Whisperer book.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Principles of Instruction

On Becoming Babywise II lists five principles to keep in mind when you are giving instruction to your child (pages 89-90). These principles apply with your baby and on up through your toddler and child years. Here are my thoughts on the principles.

EXPECT A RESPONSE
When you tell your child to do something, expect him to do it. When you ask your child a question, expect a response. Children rise to the expectations placed on them. You want to be sure your expectations are age appropriate. That means you neither expect too little nor too much. See this blog label for more on this idea of responding: yes mom

MEAN WHAT YOU SAY
Don't ever tell your child to do something if you aren't going to follow through with making sure he does it. Don't hope he will respond, but when he doesn't think, "Oh well, maybe when he is older." If you do this, he will learn to disregard your instruction.

When you give instruction, be clear in what it is. Keep it at a level of understanding for your particular child. Once you have given the instruction, you need to be consistent in expecting your child to follow through and obey.

If your child is doing something he shouldn't and you know you have no intention of making sures he stops, it is better to say nothing than to tell him to stop and then let him continue on.

CONSISTENCY
The key to so much in raising children is consistency. Discipline is certainly no different. Inconsistency will only confuse your child. When you are consistent, your child knows what to expect, which gives him a lot of control over the outcome of his day. You want you to be consistent, the boundaries to be consistent, and the consequences to be consistent. Then your child can be consistent. You cannot expect a child to be consistently obedient until you are first consistent. See:

REQUIRE EYE CONTACT
When you give an instruction, require eye contact from your child before you give it. Babywise II says to start this at twelve months old. You can start by saying, "Look in my eyes" or I say, "Look at Mommy's face" and turning the child's chin so he is looking at your face. Before too long, he should understand what you mean and look without your turning his face for him.

When your child is looking at your face, there are several benefits. One is that you know he is listening and aware that you are speaking to him. Another is that he isn't getting distracted by the other things going on around him, so he can process your instruction.

When you do this, be sure your eyes are not intimidating to look at. Your child isn't going to want to hold eye contact with you if you are essentially "staring him down."

I want to add a cultural qualification here. For the U.S. culture, eye contact is an important non-verbal cue that the listener is actively engaged in what the speaker is saying. If you live in a culture where this is inappropriate, you don't have to do it. I know that for many cultures, a child looking an adult in the eyes would be a sign of disrespect. If this is true for you, think of something you can instruct your child to do that is culturally appropriate that can demonstrate that the child is listening.

EVALUATE CONTEXT
You need to always be mindful of the context of the situation. Otherwise, you run the risk of becoming legalistic. You can assume your child's actions were wrong incorrectly. You can also assume your child's actions were innocent when they were quite wrong. Few "rules" or actions are always right or always wrong.

Here is a simple example. Let's say you have instructed your child to not run. He is usually very good at obeying this instruction, but one day runs. You find out that he ran because there was a bee next to him. He was stung by a bee last week, so he knows he doesn't want to be near it. In the context of this situation, your child wasn't acting out of disobedience but rather self-preservation.

You might be in a situation where running just isn't safe. For example, you might be walking down the sidewalk with a busy street by you. Rather than punishing your child for running in this situation, you would want to talk to him about this and come up with a plan for him if he feels the need to run.

See this blog label for more along this idea: context and especially this post: Adjusting for Context

These five principles can help you to have more successful training periods with your baby, toddler, and child.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Baby Whisperer: P.C. Parent

A P.C. parent is one who is patient and conscious (The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, page 5). I love the things Hogg points out as she discusses being a P.C. parent. This comes in handy when dealing with the Big Three problems (sleep, eating, or behavior--I had to laugh at this because these are the three topics I get the most questions about also) as well as your trips to the store and other daily interactions with your child.

Patient
Parenting is a long road and requires perspective (see It's All About Perspective ). Hogg points out that today's big problem is a distant memory in a month. While living that big problem, we forget that. Of course. We don't know when this big problem will go away and we stress about it. These are moments we often create situations that are harder to break in the future. We want to remember the funnel and put work in today so we don't have to reparent tomorrow.

As a parent, you need patience for a variety of things. You need it for the mess that is seemingly never-ending and those finger prints that are constantly on your window. You need it as your child learns new skills. It takes forever for a toddler to button up his shirt, but patience now will give him the chance to learn how on his own, and you the chance to move him toward dressing himself earlier than if you continue to do it for him. Your child will spill food, take 5 minutes to walk up the stairs and 15 to walk down, put the dishes away in the wrong spot, and miss a section on the carpet when he first starts to vacuum, to name a few. You need patience for these situations.

Patience can help prevent you from hovering over your child. I think many moms get a shock when the second-born child starts to do things on her own that the first born child is not yet doing. Why? Child number two has learned to take more initiative and not rely on mom and dad to do everything for her, while child number one has always been told to hold still while mom does it. This is especially true if the children are close in age. I remember before I ever had Kaitlyn a story a good friend told me. She has a boy and girl who are about the same age distance as Brayden and Kaitlyn. She told me one day as she was putting shoes on her oldest, her little girl put her shoes on herself rather than wait her turn. At that moment she realized if her daughter could do that, her son could. I learned from her story and have been patient and encouraging to Brayden to do things for himself. But you still miss things because you just don't have the experience to know what to expect sometimes.

Hogg points out that you must also be patient when changing habits and fixing problems. You can't expect things to be fixed immediately. Be patient through the necessary process.

I also want to implore you to be patient through the bumps in the road. They come. Baby will have short naps. Toddler will challenge every rule you set. Child will act as though he has no hearing. It happens. These are not times to freak out and wonder what we have done wrong and worry that all efforts to this point are now moot. Yes, you want to consider the reasons for these problems, but realize that they are a part of the developmental process. Find the reason and address it, but try to remain patient.

Conscious
Get to know your child and try to see things from her perspective (see Baby Whisperer: Know Your Baby and Get To Know Your Child's Personality: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/02/get-to-know-your-childs-personality.html).

You also need to think through situations and make a plan. Don't just react to situations. Think them through and be sure your plan of action is the best move to make. You also need to be aware of what you do and say; you are your child's number one example in life. Also, be consistent. Be there for your child and take advantage of the time you have to teach him right now.

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