Friday, July 31, 2009

Book Review: The Toddler's Busy Book

Somebody, somewhere once recommended the busy books by Trish Kuffner. I looked at them on Amazon.com and decided to purchase them. They are great books! I will first review The Toddler's Busy Book.

The Toddler's Busy Book has 365 different activities to do with your child from age 1.5-3 years old. I got this since Kaitlyn is that age and McKenna will be. Once I got it and read through it, I saw that there were many activities that Brayden would find enjoyable, too. There are definitely activities in there that he would not find interesting at all. They take advantage of the complete curiosity of the toddler. But you can tweak activities to be more age appropriate, and there are also activities that are great fun for him (he has just turned four).

Here is a list of the types of activities found in this book:

  • Rainy Day Activities: Activities for when you are stuck in the house
  • Kids in the Kitchen: Fun snacks to make for your toddler. Also recipes that your toddler can help with.
  • Water Play
  • Outdoor Adventures: Fun activities to do outside. Included are games for toddlers and messy art projects you would probably prefer to do outside.
  • Out and About: Fabulous ideas for car-friendly activities for toddlers.
  • Nursery Rhymes and Finger Plays
  • Early Learning Fun: This chapter has a lot of great activities that promote learning. There is sorting, colors, shapes, matching, counting...it has a lot of fun activities that directly teach your child these skills.
  • Music and Movement
  • Arts and Crafts: Scribbling, drawing, painting, print making, gluing, tearing, sticking, and other crafts.
  • Birthday and Holiday Activities: This chapter has fun activities for every birthday and major holiday (along with non-major holidays like St. Patricks Day).
  • Craft Recipes: This chapter has recipes for different paints, play dough, clay, glue, colored salts, and dyes.
  • Best Toys: There is a short chapter on best toys for babies and toddlers.
  • Best Books: There is a short chapter on the best books for babies and toddlers.

This book is 100% worth the purchase. I love it and highly recommend it. I love to use it to coincide with our learning activity of the day.

Kuffner also explains an idea for a chart for your weekly activities. For each day, you have a section for what to do and a section for what to buy. I have taken that and added a section of skills taught that day. I will be uploading my version of this activity planner to the Chronicles Yahoo! Group today (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/chroniclesofababywisemom/).



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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Follow Through Facebook

Hey everyone! Thanks to reader Overlyactive, I just discovered you can set things up to follow the blog through facebook. I have added the app to the right hand column if you are interested! I don't know much about it since I discovered it five minutes ago :) But it is there for your convenience.

Making Children Mind...Siblings Fighting

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I don't have a lot of experience with siblings fighting (I am on a roll writing about things I have little experience with!). Brayden (4) and Kaitlyn(2) argue sometimes, but it is short-lived and has never been something big. Neither child seems to have the desire for arguing.

When they do, however, my first reaction is to jump up and get in the middle and sort it out. Before Kaitlyn was ever born, I recognized this in me as we would have play dates with other children. If they were having a hard time sharing, I wanted to jump in and work it out. I recognized that this was not the best approach. Children need to learn how to resolve conflicts, and if you never give them the chance, they will never learn.

In the book Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours, Dr. Kevin Leman states a few times that when your children are fighting, let them work it out among themselves (page 172). Of course there are always exceptions to rules, but I follow this rule in general, also.

When Brayden and Kaitlyn are having sibling playtime, they will sometimes be arguing about something. I always give them a few minutes to work it out before I go in there. They work it out between the two of them 99% of the time. It should be noted that arguments are always verbal and no one is in any physical "danger." They have learned to compromise and work through problems with each other. They don't constantly need a mediator. They don't come running to me to tattle on each other.

The fact is that people disagree with each other. You all know this. You disagree with parents, siblings, friends, associates, and your spouse! Disagreeing is completely normal and is not a sign of problems. The sign of problems is in how you resolve these conflicts. Allowing your children to practice conflict resolution skills while young will help them when they are older.

Naturally, we don't just throw our kids in a room together and say, "Have at it! Happy Learning!" We need to teach them. Teach them in times of non-conflict. Teach them about loving each other and how we show that love. Teach them about sharing and taking turns. Teach them what to say when they want something. Then time with siblings becomes the practice for what they have been taught. You should also pay attention as they play together and take note of what needs work. How is the sharing? How are they at taking turns? Is the oldest too bossy? Is the youngest crying at every turn?

Leman also points out that children often fight in order to get attention. This will especially be true if you are quick to intervene every time there is a disagreement. He also seems to be referring to older children (about 5 and up through the teenage years) more than the toddlers and preschoolers. He says that often times if you require that your children leave your presence for their fighting, they will stop fighting. It isn't as fun without an audience (page 145).

As always, use your judgement in these fighting situations. Intervene when you need to, but give your children a chance to work things out among themselves. Train in times of non-conflict and be vigilant about observing the areas your children need to improve on.


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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Poll Results: Did cluster feeding help baby sleep through the night?

Results:

Definitely Yes: 50 votes (26%)
Probably Yes: 67 votes (36%)
Probably No: 24 votes (13%)
Definitely No: 28 votes (15%)
Unsure: 20 votes (11%)

Total of 189 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, July 28, 2009

McKenna Baby Summary: Week 17

This is a summary for McKenna age 16-17 weeks old. Things seem to be smoothing out; it seems that there are fewer changes from week to week, so these posts might not be all that interesting :) But I am continuing on because many of you have asked that I do.

NURSING
As I stated last week, McKenna started off the week taking a bit longer to eat. After a few days of this, she went back to taking about 5-10 minutes per side. She is eating well. She is staying awake for her feedings without any effort on my part.

GROWTH SPURT
I am pretty sure she had a growth spurt at the beginning of this week. She added a feeding to her day the first day of this week. She then ate pretty much as usual after that.

WAKETIME LENGTHWaketime length stayed the same as last week.

NAPS AND SIBLINGS
My husband took Brayden and Kaitlyn camping to the lake over the weekend. A bunch of friends were going up. I decided to stay home because the campsite is about a quarter to a half mile from the beach. While it is in viewing distance, I didn't feel comfortable leaving McKenna to sleep while I went to the beach, and sitting by myself up at the campsite didn't sound all that thrilling to me :). While they were gone, McKenna slept like a champ. She had no siblings to wake her at her transitions.

When Brayden was a baby, we lived next to a family with 8 young children. They played right by his bedroom window all day. For a while, he woke at every transition. After some time, however, he learned to sleep through it. At first, the noise of Brayden and Kaitlyn didn't bother McKenna. She is now at an age where she gets curious by their noises. She usually goes back to sleep quickly with without crying (just mad talking), but she still wakes sometimes. With them gone, she slept soundly through each nap.

My policy with the family is that they can make normal living noises, but they can't yell like they are outside. We have indoor voices and outdoor voices. We use them appropriately. I don't want Brayden and Kaitlyn to not be able to live life as usual, but they still need to have respect for McKenna while she is asleep and speak in our inside voices. They really get it. We were at the park one day this week and there was a sleeping 4 month old. Kaitlyn said, "I am supposed to be quiet?"

NIGHTTIME
This week, she started waking around 5:30-600 again. Since I suspected a growth spurt, I fed her and figure she will go back to extending nights soon. She also is very hot when she wakes up at that time, so I am wondering if stopping the swaddle will help with that when the time comes.

BOTTLEFEEDING
Remember my bottle feeding problem? It is gone. I don't really know why. I only feed her once a week from it. For a couple of weeks, she wouldn't eat more than two ounces. Then she ate well from it the last two times I gave it to her (the week of 16-17 weeks and the week of 17-18 weeks, which she just started). I will mention that I use the Adiri Natural Nurser. This seems to be easy for McKenna to use back and forth. Her issue was never about latching on and sucking--it was a preference issue.

SWADDLING
I decided to try to drop the swaddle cold turkey one day this week. I figured I could try it before the disruptions came. If it worked, great. If not, we would go back to it. I also figured I could swaddle her for camping even if she wasn't swaddled normally anymore. I tried it one nap and she had a hard time falling asleep, so I decided against it. I think when I go for it again, I will do one arm out first rather than cold turkey. I just don't see a need to disrupt sleeping to drop the swaddle.

OUR SCHEDULE
It went back:

5:30-6:00 AM--eat from one side
8:00 AM--wake and eat
8:50 AM--nap
11:00 AM--eat
12:00 AM--nap
2:00 PM--eat
3:00 PM--nap
4:30 PM--eat
5:45 PM--nap
7:00 PM--eat and straight to bed
10:00 PM--dreamfeed

OUTINGS/EVENTS
Most outings and events don't seem so eventful now that McKenna is older. We did things like go to the park and visit friends, but it doesn't seem so eventful anymore. McKenna isn't sleeping as well "on the go" as she used to. I usually can only get about a one hour nap out of her when we are out, but she will make up for it in naps later in the day.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Positive vs. Prohibitive Conscience

On Becoming Preschoolwise has a short little 'quiz' to fill out in order to figure out if you have a positive or prohibitive conscience. If you have a positive conscience, you do things because they are right and you don't do things if they are wrong. Your motivation is the love of virtue (pages 58-59). If you have a prohibitive conscience, you do the right thing out of fear of being punished. Your motivation is to avoid reproof or punishment (pages 58-59).

A person with a prohibitive conscience is always worried about offending people. He is always worried he will do something wrong or that people will think he has done something wrong. They don't want to disappoint someone, be misunderstood, or be rejected by non-conformity (page 59).

Many of you might right now be thinking a prohibitive conscience doesn't sound so bad. He is doing the right things and trying to not offend people, right? Perhaps, but not for the right reasons. Consider the person with the prohibitive conscience who is around people who do not have the best moral standards. This is where negative peer pressure comes to play. If the person is around people with great moral standards, positive peer pressure takes place. Positive peer pressure is not bad. The person performs the right way and makes the right choices. But you can only ride the coat-tails of others for so long. At some point, you will have to make decisions on your own. If you are riding the coat-tails of parents, you will one day move out. If it is friends, you will one day be separated as one or both of you move. It is the difference between fearing God and fearing man.

Why would you want to know if you have a prohibitive conscience or not? It goes back to your child and how children learn. Children learn through example--your example. If you are doing things not because it is the right thing but because you don't want to be talked about, caught, or pay a fine, then your example is not the one you want to be setting. Don't think you can fool your child! They are more in tune to our motivation than we are.

TEACHING A PROHIBITIVE CONSCIENCE

  • Conditional Love: Parents can instill a prohibitive conscience by creating fear of losing parent's love. Conditional love is the motivation for doing the right thing (page 59).
  • Guilt: Parents can manipulate the child into feeling guilty. The desire to avoid a guilty feeling is what motivates correct behavior (page 59).
  • Miseducation: The parents don't provide the reason for correct behavior. Then the child does the right thing to avoid punishment, reproof, and rejection, rather than for a love of virtue (page 60).
TEACHING A HEALTHY CONSCIENCE


  • Understand: Understand your beliefs and goals (Beliefs and Goals (Toddlerwise)).
  • Teach Why: Once your child is old enough (around age 3), explain why we do things and don't do things. Teach the virtue. Teach love. Of course, you must first understand why: Why vs. How .
  • Encourage: Encourage your child to do right. You don't want to constantly be saying "Don't hit" "Don't disobey." Encourage your child to behave the correct way. This is a more positive experience and your child can enjoy doing the right thing rather than dread the lecture that comes from wrong-doing (page 59).
  • Be an Example: Be an example to your child. Model the qualities you want to see your child exhibit. Do you want your child to share? Be generous with your things, time, and talents. "...getting your own heart right is a prerequisite to helping your child get his heart right" (page 63).

CONCLUSION
Having a healthy conscience doesn't mean you stop caring about people. It doesn't mean you stop serving and stop having concern for others. It means that you do what you know is right no matter what. You do what you know is right even if it isn't popular. You do what you know is right even if no one is around to applaud you for it. Right is right, and wrong is wrong. Living this way is peaceful. People come to respect you for it and they trust that your motivations are pure. Work to give your child the gift of a healthy conscience.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Best Things...3 Month Old


I just love the three month old! It is one of my favorite ages. Here are my top ten things I love about a three month old (this would be the time period from 3-4 months old--while your child is 3 months old):
  • Constant Smiles: If the first smiles during the newborn stage melt your heart, the constant smiles of the three month old warm it. I think McKenna is my most smiley baby at this age, and she is especially smiley toward me. We always get comments on "how much she loves her mama!"
  • Easily Entertained: Okay, if you are a parent like I was with Brayden, your three month old might not seem easily entertained. You have created this problem by constantly hovering over him because you feel like if he is awake, you must be face to face with him. I know, I was there. Even still, this is easily entertained. It will get harder unless/until you start to implement some independent play. I learned my lesson with Brayden and with my girls I have been sure to give them time to themselves each day. At this young of ages, I am in the same room, but not entertaining them. I let them observe things. McKenna will lay on the ground and look at a ceiling fan that isn't moving for 15-20 minutes! She finds it most fascinating. I find that fascinating and will watch her watch the fan :).
  • Content: The three month old is overall quite content. Even when she wants to be held, she is content to sit on your lap and observe all that is around her.
  • Faster Drinker: Feeding times become faster, leaving more time for play.
  • Toy Free: Your three month old is very interested in the world around her. You do not yet need to remember to pack a diaper bag of toys whenever you leave the house. She will be entertained by whatever there is to look at.
  • Hands off: Your three month old is not yet grabbing things. This is something you will appreciate in retrospect if you do not have children yet. You can hold you baby on your lap and eat dinner without worrying she will grab your cup off the table. It will come :) She also might have interest in your earrings, but she isn't coordinated enough to try to grab them yet.
  • First Laughs: Many times the first laughs come during this month. I remember the first time I heard Brayden's laugh. It was music to my ears.
  • Milestones: Your three month old starts to take off with milestones. She will likely roll over. It just keeps coming throughout life, but this is the month they start to come quickly. During the first three months, the milestones may not have been so obvious. This month you will have things like rolling over and better hand/arm control (on average).
  • Stable: Your three month old starts to be much more stable with her head. It doesn't whip around so much. She is also more stable with her hand control.
  • Observant: Your three month old really starts to notice things around her more. She will look at and study people. She will look at and study anything that catches her eye. It is so fun to watch her learning.
These are my top ten. There are so many great things! Be sure to share your favorite things about the three month old!
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Baby Whisperer: Separation Anxiety

Well, once again I am writing about something I have basically no experience with. Separation anxiety. In The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, Tracy Hogg discusses separation anxiety. I thought I would list some of her ideas here since many times moms come looking for advice on the topic, and I don't really have much to offer.

I don't know the percentage of Babywise babies that have obvious separation anxiety that interferes with living life normally for mom and baby. My guess is that a routine will help prevent it, or at least minimalize it. Tracy Hogg seems to think so also, discusses how attachment parenting can lead to insecurity in the child. However, I do know that some Babywise children do have separation anxiety.


Hogg states that between seven and nine months old, children experience normal separation anxiety. The child has an improved memory but her brain is not mature enough to know that when mom leaves, she will return. Hogg states that handled correctly, separation anxiety goes away within a month or two (page 80).


Signs of Separation AnxietyFor those with extreme separation anxiety, you have no question if it is separation anxiety. You know it. If your baby is whining when you leave the room or having problems with naps or nighttime sleep, she might be starting separation anxiety. The parent can affect how long and how intense it is.


Factors That Prolong Separation Anxiety (pages 80-81)

  • Overattentive parents

  • Hovering parents

  • Not allowing baby to become frustrated

  • Baby doesn't know how to soothe himself

  • Baby doesn't know how to play independently

  • Parents respond too quickly to cries. They are fretful in reassuring baby, thus reinforcing fears
Strategies That Improve (or Shorten) Separation Anxiety (page 83)
  • Comfort child with hugs and words, but not picking him up

  • Respond to cries in a relaxed and upbeat manner. This means that you go back to your child with a smile on your face, not a look of concern.

  • Don't mirror his panic

  • Once baby is calm (or more calm), distract him

  • Play peek-a-boo to help teach him about object permanence. I have read to do this with you and also with other objects. You can put a favorite toy under a blanket and ask, "Where is the toy?" then lift the blanket and say "there it is!"

  • Give your child time without you. You can leave him with a sitter or with your spouse

  • Have your child wave to you as you leave. He might not be happy, but wave and be happy yourself.


My Added Tips
  • Have other people care for baby. Don't have just one parent change every diaper and feed every bite of food. Start this at a young age--but it is never too late to start.

  • Establish independent playtime. This will teach your child to be happy alone. Again, it is good to start this young, but it is never too late. If baby starts to have a hard time with this, cut it back to 5 minutes, or more if baby can handle more. Once the separation anxiety is over, you can work on building the time length out again.
Please share your tips and experiences with separation anxiety. Even if it is just to say, "It lasted two months then went away..." it is helpful for moms to see other kids go through it too.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

McKenna Baby Summary: Week 16

Going for a walk at nap time
Can you believe McKenna is 16 weeks old? In a little over a week, she will be four months old! I can't believe it! I am just loving things right now. All of my children are at fun stages that have their special merits. McKenna stays where I put her and is content to sit and look at the ceiling fan for 20 minutes.

NURSING
Nursing continued on as usual until the end of the week. At the end of the week, McKenna started to take longer to eat--moving back to taking 15 minutes per side. This is way up from 5-10 minutes per side. This is making me wonder if it is a growth spurt.

GROWTH SPURT
Speaking of growth spurt, is anyone wondering when McKenna's 3 month growth spurt is going to happen? I am. If it has happened, it did so unnoticed. There are times I have wondered, but there hasn't been an obvious one. An interesting point is that she is three weeks past three months and was three weeks early, so if she is just now starting the three month growth spurt, then the spurt is coming according to her gestational age and not her actual age.

WAKETIME LENGTH
Waketime length has stayed the same, but it has contingencies. If the nap previous to the waktime was not as long as typical, then she can't go as long for the waketime. So when she has a shorter-than-usual nap, I am sure to watch her and go with my "gut" on the waketime length.

WAKETIME ACTIVITIES
McKenna's activities are typically as follows:
  • Gym: Her gym is a favorite. She is starting to try to grab the toys.
  • Walks: She seems to really enjoy going for walks.
  • Bouncy Chair: McKenna's favorite right now is her Fisher-Price Bouncer
  • Baths: McKenna also loves to take baths
  • Looking and Watching: She loves to look at the ceiling fans--moving or not. She also loves to look at people
  • Tummy Time: She does not enjoy this many days, but if I get down on my tummy and interact with her, she will do it longer and with more enthusiasm
  • Interacting: She loves her siblings and parents
NIGHTTIME
Do you hear angels singing? Listen closely. McKenna has started extending her nights. She slept through until morning waketime all but the first night of this week. She isn't making it to my desired waketime (7:30) but she is making it usually until 6:45-7:15. I am not sure she will ever be a 7:30 wake up type. Time will tell. She is still working on extending her nights. I am totally fine with 6:45 even. My desire for 7:30 is so I can feed Brayden and Kaitlyn breakfast at 7:00. But McKenna's first waketime length is 50 minutes, so if she wakes before they have breakfast, they can wait. They are old enough and patient enough to wait until I am done with McKenna.

DREAMFEED
I just wanted to mention that when I have the dreamfeed closer to 10 PM, she sleeps later in the morning than when I have it closer to 11 PM. Strange but true.

SALIVA
I noticed McKenna is getting saliva. She also has bumps on her bottom gums making me wonder if she is having teething pains at all. If so, there are no outward signs. I remember reading somewhere that babies start to get saliva around 3 months of age, so the sudden drooling of your three month old doesn't mean she is teething for sure.

BOTTLE FEEDING
Remember my advice to give your baby a bottle every so often? Well, I did that. She was great. Then I started to not do that as much since breastfeeding is so much more convenient for me. And now I am seeing problems from doing that. She will eat two ounces from the bottle and then she is done. She will not eat more. It is not a nipple size issue and it is not a n issue of who is feeding it to her. It isn't even an issue of it being formula or breastmilk. So I am going to have to get serious about making sure she will drink well from the bottle. Sometimes I don't even take my own advice.

SWADDLE
I have come to a decision about when to try weaning the swaddle again. I am going to do it in about a week and a half. Next weekend we are going camping in the mountains of Wyoming. It gets cold there at night so I want her to still be sleeping swaddled so I can keep her warm. Once we get back and get her re-established from the disruption, I will break the swaddle. Unfortunately, she will be having vaccinations that week, so I might have to even wait a week beyond that. We will see what happens. I will keep you updated. McKenna has started rotating around the crib even while swaddled, so I know attempts at rolling are possible. I want her unswaddled before she starts that for safety purposes. In preparation, I am sure to give her lots of opportunity to practice using her arms and hands so she can have as good of control over them as possible when the time comes.

OUR SCHEDULE
It is a bit different this week since she is extending nights. I will just say she is waking at seven even though it ranged from 6:45-7:15. 7:00 is a happy medium.

7:00 AM--eat
7:50 AM--nap
10:30 AM--eat
11:30-11:35 AM--nap
1:30 PM--eat
2:35 PM--nap
4:00 or 4:30 PM--eat
5:15-5:45 PM--nap
6:30-6:45 PM--wake up
7:00 PM--eat then straight to bed
10:00 PM--dreamfeed

OUTINGS/EVENTS
We spent the day at my parent's house one day. This visit confirmed to me how much McKenna likes to be warm when she sleeps. The bedrooms are in the basement at their house and it is rather cool in the summer. McKenna did not like that. I had to put a space heater in there and warm it up significantly before she would sleep longer than one hour. This is a good time to point out that McKenna sleeps much better if her feet are covered. I don't just mean in her swaddle, but she must have socks on or footed pajamas also. Kaitlyn was the opposite. She slept better without socks.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dreamfeed Log

For anyone interested, I have created and uploaded a dreamfeed log to the Yahoo! Chronicles group:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/chroniclesofababywisemom/

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Dreamfeed FAQs

image source


What is a dreamfeed?

A "dreamfeed" is referred to as the "late evening feeding" in On Becoming Babywise. This is the last feeding of the day before you go to bed.

What time should I do the dreamfeed?

The dreamfeed is typically between 10-11 PM. Baby will be in bed already before this feeding. In the early weeks, you might want to go to bed around 8 PM or so because you are so tired! That is fine. Just set an alarm to wake up and feed your baby the dreamfeed. A feeding after 11:30 PM is not a dreamfeed; that is a night feeding.

Time your dreamfeed 2.5-4 hours after the final feeding of the day. You want baby to be hungry enough to take a good feeding at the dreamfeed. However, you don't want it so late that it disrupts nighttime sleep. Disruption to nighttime sleep will cause baby to wake earlier in the morning.

Take note of what time you do the dreamfeed and how baby sleeps. I have found that McKenna sleeps later in the morning if her dreamfeed is closer to ten then if it is closer to eleven.

Why do I need a dreamfeed?

Your newborn baby needs to eat 8-12 times per 24 hour period. By doing a dreamfeed, you work a final feeding in during a typical "day" for you so you can get more nighttime hours of sleep. Once baby reaches a point that he can sleep through the night, he will be able to sleep through your night also. If his last feeding is 7 and he then sleeps 7-8 hours, that puts him waking at 2:30-3:30. But if his last feeding is 10 and he sleeps 7-8 hours, that puts him waking 5:30-6:30.

Should the dreamfeed be at the exact same time each night?

You can do it at the exact same time. However, I don't think it is a bad idea to vary it. Varying it has several advantages. One is that baby won't metabolically come to wake up for a feeding at that time (though I think this is rare). Another is that you can experiment and find the best time range for the dreamfeed. Once you find it, you will most likely want to stick to it so you can get the best nights rest as possible.

What if my baby won't eat for the dreamfeed?

Keep trying! You already know the benefit of the dreamfeed. However, after you have put forth a good effort for it, if baby won't eat, put it aside for a period of time. Kaitlyn would not eat for the dreamfeed, so I didn't bother. I fed her at 8:30 and then went to bed. Over time, however, her days lengthened out and her 8:30 feeding moved to 10:00. She then had a dreamfeed.

McKenna also didn't eat well for the dreamfeed at first. I worked harder to establish it, though, so we could go down to fewer night feedings sooner. The work paid off. Note that Tracy Hogg, the Baby Whisperer, says that if you are trying to get a dreamfeed and cluster feeding in, the dreamfeed is the more important of the two. If cluster feeding intereferes with the dreamfeed, shoot for the dreamfeed instead.

Should I unswaddle my baby for the dreamfeed?

Possibly yes, possibly no. When McKenna was a young newborn, I unswaddled her so I could wake her up. I still unswaddle her, but it isn't to wake her up. It is because I start the night with her in a lighter swaddle blanket and move to a warmer one after the dreamfeed. You can definitely leave your baby swaddled if she will still eat well.

Should I change my baby's diaper at the dreamfeed?

In the first couple of months, I always change the diaper after every feeding--even the middle of the night. Once the baby starts to sleep 7-8 hours at night, I move to a bigger diaper for night if necessary and don't change the diaper at the dreamfeed. So, again, change if you find it necessary. If not, put some diaper ointment on the bottom and leave it for the night.


Should I burp my baby at the dreamfeed?
My answer is yes. Hogg's answer is no. She says that a baby is so relaxed for the dreamfeed, they don't need to be burped. I actually disagree with this. For a newborn, they are no less relaxed at the dreamfeed than they are for any other feeding in the day. They are always sleeping while eating. And yet, they need to be burped. With an older baby (say around 4 months or older), you might not need to burp the baby. Some babies burp on their own by this point, so you don't necessarily need to work on burping.
My thought is this. Would you rather take a few minutes and try to burp baby, or risk having baby wake up in the night due to gas pains? I think trying to burp is well worth it. You might not get anything out, but it is worth a shot.

Should I wake my baby up for the dreamfeed?

This is again dependent on the baby. Some find baby sleeps better at night if she wakes during the dreamfeed. Others find baby sleeps better if she doesn't wake for the dreamfeed. Keep notes and see what works best for your baby. You want to work to get a full feeding in, but weather she truely wakes up or not is completely up to her reaction to it.

When do I drop the dreamfeed?

Most Babywise babies will drop the dreamfeed somewhere from 3-7 months old. I think most will be ready around 4ish months. You can start to consider it once baby has slept from the dreamfeed until your morning wake up time consistently for two weeks. See Poll Results: What Age (Approximate) Did You Drop the Dreamfeed?: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/02/poll-results-what-age-approximate-did.html

Hogg says to keep the dreamfeed until baby is about 8 months old. You can choose to do that, but I doubt it is necessary for most babies. The dreamfeed can really start to interfere with night sleep as baby gets older (see Note below).

How do I drop the dreamfeed?

There are a few methods. You can drop the number of ounces (or time spent nursing) slowly over time. You can move the time up over time (from 10:30 to 10:15, then to 10:00 etc.) or just cold turkey. See Dropping the "Dream Feed": http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/dropping-dream-feed.html



NOTE: some babies don't do well with a dreamfeed. This will be true if it is disrupting baby's natural sleep patterns. This is more likely to be possible if baby is 4 months or older. If you think the dreamfeed is disrupting sleep but baby still needs the food, try having the dreamfeed at a different time. Otherwise, try dropping it and see if that fixes things.

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The Conscience

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Most of us want our children to grow to be wonderful people. We want them to be as smart as they can be. We want them to have their own special talents. We want them to be responsible and have a fantastic life. I am sure on this list we also include morally responsible people. The conscience is something that can go a long way toward helping your child to have a healthy moral ground to stand on.

There are many religious views you can take on the conscience. I definitely have my own views on what it is and isn't. In the interest of covering the topic in a manner that everyone can understand, I will be referring to the conscience simply as the conscience. This topic is reviewed in On Becoming Preschoolwise.

CONSCIENCE--WHAT IS IT?
While everyone has a conscience, it doesn't mean people always listen to it. I believe everyone has this within them, but that we can teach ourselves to listen to it or extinguish it by our habits. The conscience is that voice that tells you if something is or isn't right. It is your moral guide. Remember Jiminy Cricket from Pinnochio?

The conscience can also be "your gut." Your conscience guides you through life and helps you to make wise decisions.

For babies and young toddlers, the conscience is a tricky thing. I believe that these children have a conscience. All people are born with this. However, these children are not born knowing what is right and what is wrong. That is up to the parents to teach them. They begin to learn what types of behaviors are morally right and which are morally wrong. The young child is not malicious. They don't move to do something "wrong" with the full intention of ignoring that inner voice and doing it anyway.

When these young children do something "wrong," it is typically in order to establish meaning to their world. Children make the best scientists. They are excellent at observation and collecting data. Your baby drops food on the floor and observes your reaction. Your baby will then do it several times to see if your reaction is always the same. We adults make life difficult for these scientists because we are human and do not usually offer consistent results. The first time, we might laugh. As time goes on, we don't find it so funny. We start to worry that our child is going to be a rebellious teenager! We try different approaches to stopping it, but we are rarely as consistent and persistent as the child and don't give things the proper patience and time.

Your baby isn't trying to manipulate you or to be willfully defiant. Your baby is just learning how things work and what makes you tick. It is your job to teach your baby how to listen to that conscience. "Before he can behave morally, he must learn general concepts of right and wrong and then advance to specific concepts of right and wrong" (Preschoolwise page 47).

CONSCIENCE--HOW DO I TEACH IT?
As your baby grows, you will teach him to listen to the conscience and recognize it. The previous Babywise books (On Becoming Baby Wise: Book II (Parenting Your Pretoddler Five to Fifteen Months), On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise: From Babyhood to Toddlerhood (On Becoming Babywise), and On Becoming Toddlerwise (On Becoming. . .)) have guided you in teaching this to your child. The next book (On Becoming Childwise: Parenting Your Child from 3-7 Years ) will continue the path. Here are some posts to help you with this:

Prior to age three, you are training outward behavior and creating good habits. Your child still views the universe as something that revolves around him and isn't quite to the point to put others before himself. This doesn't mean your child is incapable of love and doesn't ever do nice things for others. It also doesn't mean your child is completely incapable of sympathy or even empathy. But your child just isn't quite ready for the "why" explanations of how to do things. We don't hit for many reasons, none of which will be fully understood by your child under the age of three. So you are training him to obey you and to get into good habits. Whether or not he understands why he shouldn't hit, it should be his habit to not hit.

Around age three, he can start to understand why we do things or don't do things. You are starting to train the heart not only in habit but in understanding. You explain the reasons for things. We don't hit because it hurts people and it isn't a nice thing to do. It doesn't show love. Keep in mind that the conscience isn't something you have to instill into your child. It is something you shape in your child. He has a conscience. He needs you to teach him correct morals so he can listen to his conscience and also so his conscience can guide him to do the right thing.

You might wonder why you need to teach right and wrong to the conscience. Some things might not really require teaching. These things are inherently wrong. It is inherently wrong to kill someone. That is accepted by the general world population. Of course, there are people who ignore that conscience within and do so anyway.

There are other things that are socially wrong. In some cultures, it is kind to burp after a meal. It is a compliment to the chef. In other cultures, that is offensive to those sharing the meal. These social customs will need to be taught to your child.

There are other things that are inherently wrong that many if not most children need to be taught. It is inherently wrong to steal. Many children need to be taught this, however. You will start this with the idea of sharing. You will continue it if your child one day returns home from a playdate with Timmy's toy car. You will help your child's conscience by ensuring your child knows what was and wasn't wrong. Your child will need help recognizing that voice and learning how to listen to it.
Focus on the why. Why does your child need to share? Why does your child need to tell the truth? Why does your child need to respect his teacher? Be sure your child also understands how to do these things. But why is important. Perhaps by now you have realized the importance of you understanding why you are doing things as a parent. Why did you put so much effort into sleep-training? Why did you sacrifice social life for the benefit of keeping your child well-rested and well-fed?

Your child needs to know "why" also. If he only knows how, he will not know how to judge things for himself. Exceptions come up. Knowing why allows the child to judge situations for himself. It allows him to behave appropriately even when he faces a situation that mom has not told him about.

Teach your child to love virtue. Tell your child what to do, not just what not to do. Encourage your child to do right things, not just to not do wrong things.

BE AN EXAMPLE
I am putting this under its own heading in order to emphasize the point. It is part of how you instill a healthy conscience, and I think it is a HUGE part of how. You, the parent, need to be an example. A good one.

I have a good friend who is the mother of six children under the age of seven. Five of these children are boys. How would you imagine these boys to be? Would you imagine that they might poke fun at people? Perhaps they are rough and crazy? That is a logical assumption, but it is an incorrect one.

Yes, the boys have energy. They run and play forever. And yes, they have their moments where they bicker with each other, but it is rare. They are the nicest boys you will meet. One day, our family was visiting their family. Brayden got onto the trampoline with them. Brayden is a very careful person, and this was the first time on a trampoline with someone other than dad. He was nervous. He sat down and started to cry. The mom told her boys to get off the trampoline so Brayden could have some time on it by himself to get used to it. I fully expected these boys to grumble about having to get off or at least roll their eyes about it.

They did neither. They happily stepped off the trampoline and stood by patiently while Brayden sat in fear on the trampoline. After a minute I told Brayden to do something so the boys could continue to play. The boys never complained, and they never made fun of Brayden at all.

I have seen so many examples of this from these boys. I was speaking with another friend about how great these boys are. She lives right next to them and told me that when her girls go over to play, they come back the nicest girls. They are more helpful and kind to each other.

I started to ponder just what made these boys so nice when circumstances would lead you to expect a bit of craziness among them. My conclusion is that it is the parents. Both their mom and dad are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. They are generous. They don't speak unkindly about others and are always complimenting others. They do not take offence. They are more than honest. They are just good people. They are also humble and I know when they read this, the mom is going to tell me how nice I am and also how wrong I am. But I am right :).

Your example has a powerful affect on your child. Once you have a toddler, you will quickly learn all of the weir quirks you have. Every physical thing you do will be mimicked by your child. Every phrase you say will be repeated. Your child studies everything about you and wants to emulate you. He will do it in a magnified way. Instill good morals in yourself and your child will more naturally be a moral person with a healthy conscience. That doesn't mean there will be no teaching and no correction by you, but it will make your job that much easier.

CONCLUSION
Parenting is a big job. It is a major responsibility. Don't let these young, formidable years pass you by. Your child is eager to learn all that you have to teach him. Teach by example. Take advantage of learning opportunities. They will come. Take the time to explain things to your child. He will listen, and as he gets older, he will inquire further so he can understand better.

And of course, try to not stress out. Understand the importance of your job as a parent, but you are only human. You can't be perfect. Do the best you can and make a valiant effort. These things take time. You will be training your child for many years to come.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Best Toys for Toddler: 2 and Up

These posts will now be for the age listed and up. They enjoy playing with toys for a long time, so the toys I list will be toys my kids enjoyed starting at that age (or soon after), but that doesn't mean they won't be enjoyed at a later age. For example, this post is for 2 and up. So the toys might be great for your two year old, also, and can also be great for your three year old.

By age two, your child will be outgrowing that "in-between" stage of 18-24 months and will take great interest in toys. This is the age I find kids start to play with toys in the manner we envision our kids will play with toys. Here are some toys my kids loved at age two.


  • Old Favorites: I start every post with this category for a reason. As your child grows up, the old favorites aren't necessarily going to be toys they now find "blah." As I have said before, your child changes the way she plays with these old favorites. At age two, Kaitlyn still loves the Fisher-Price Rock-A-Stack. She often uses the rings as her bracelets. Brayden also loved that toy at this age, but he used it to intently focus on colors and size relationships. Both kids also love/loved the LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table. This has got to be one of the best toys ever made. It has such great longevity. With just one kid, you would get your money's worth. It has gone through two children and still in fabulous shape, so I am sure McKenna will enjoy it, also. See Best Toys for Baby for all previous lists.
  • Old Categories...Updated: As your child gets older, many of the old categories are still great for her, but you might want to get some updates. An example is puzzles. As your child gets older she will need more advanced puzzles. The exact age that she will need this varies; just be aware of it. Some categories will never be too young, including Balls. Balls are always great; you just change the size and softness as they get older. You also have Stuffed Animals, Trucks age 2-4, and Dolls age 2-4 .
  • Tractors: Brayden absolutely loves tractors. John Deere Tractors
  • Tonka Trucks: One of Brayden's favorite toys he got as as two year old is is Metal Tonka Truck. He got a dump truck and a loader, and he still plays with those on a daily basis now as a four year old.
  • T-ball Set: Another fun toy Brayden got as a two year old was Little Tikes TotSports T-Ball Set. He still plays with this as a four year old. Kaitlyn loves to play with the t-ball now (she is currently two).
  • Basketball Hoop: Another favorite of Brayden's was Little Tikes EasyScore Basketball Set. Again, he still plays with it. Kaitlyn started playing with this at age one, so a younger child can definitely have fun with it.
  • Pic-nic Table: Around the age of two, we got a Little Tikes Pic Nic Table for Brayden. We have a deck and like to eat outside in the summer. He loved it so much. We ate lunch outside almost every day. Both Bradyen and Kaitlyn still enjoy eating outside to this day. Kids love to be outside when they can. It folds up compactly if you need to store it in the winter.
  • Lawnmower: The Lawnmower is an all-time favorite. Brayden loved it and still loves it. He always likes to push it around behind my husband as he mows the lawn. At the beginning of this past Spring, Brayden found his lawnmower was too short for him. He was quite sad. After some time, however, he figured out how to push it without it falling over (we just have a really inexpensive one that folds over on itself if you don't push it at just the right angle). He can again use it. This is currently one of Kaitlyn's favorite toys. She will literally push that thing around for an hour straight if you let her.
  • Little People: I list this all the time. I love the little people toys. At age two, Brayden got the Fisher-Price Little People Animal Sounds Farm. If you love Little People, the barn is one of the best, I think. Brayden also got and loved his fire truck Fisher-Price Michael and His Rescue Rig. Another best is the one Kaitlyn got for her two year birthday (we have a tradition where they get one Little People item for each birthday and Christmas): Fisher Price Little People - Sarah Lynn And Her Camping Adventure. It is seriously great.
  • Plasmacar: At our local toy store (not a box store, a real toy store), they sell the Plasmacar. They have one out for kids to ride. When we go there, Brayden always rode it around. Brayden is at the age where he rides his bicycle quite well. As a two year old, the tricycle can be hard to ride, so I thought Kaitlyn might enjoy a Plasmacar. Every time I went into the toy store, they were sold out, but a mom would stop me and tell me how awesome they are and how their 5, 7, or 10 year old still loves it. "It is the favorite toy of the neighborhood!" So I found them online for cheaper than the toy store. Kaitlyn was absolutely thrilled with it. Brayden was absolutely wanting one, and Grandma ended up getting him one for his birthday. Now the two have fun riding their plasma cars together.
  • Duplos: I know I mentioned this in the previous age group, but they are so great, I wanted to reiterate. Brayden and Kaitlyn play with these every day. Kaitlyn has even started to build things with them (I can't really tell what it is, but she tells me and then I can see it). This just amazes me. We have both the My First LEGO DUPLO Set and the Ultimate LEGO DUPLO Building Set and love them both.
  • Scooter: My grandpa got Kaitlyn the Radio Flyer My First Scooter for her second birthday. She really likes it. My friend gave her son one for his second birthday, and it was a hit. She also let him ride it inside during the winter (he has a winter birthday) and it was something he could do indoors that gave him exercise.
  • Tricycle: When Kaitlyn was first two, she couldn't ride the tricycle at all on her own. However, she is now three months past two and learning to pedal by herself. I think that our tricycle can be hard for younger children to ride. We have a radio flyer one. I think some of the other tricycles can be easier for younger children--but they don't last as long. Brayden can still ride and enjoys the little radio flyer tricycle we have. So those are some aspects to consider. Here are Tricylcles on Amazon, and here is one close to ours: Radio Flyer Fold 2 Go XL Trike. Ours doesn't have a handle on the back for the parent to push, but I have to say that would be an awesome feature. As Kaitlyn is learning, she needs a push. To push with the handle would be a lot easier than stooping over! But of course that is just a nicety not a necessity (unless you have back problems or something--of course the handle could help prevent back problems! :) ). Your two year old might like something like the Radio Flyer Scoot-About, which doesn't require peddling. But if you are interested in the plasmacar at all, it also doesn't require peddling. I know when I was this age I had a Big Wheel . I could see that being easier for a younger child to peddle.
  • Calico Critters: I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but Kaitlyn has a lot of my old toys from when I was growing up. This might come as no surprise, but I took really good care of my toys. One thing she has is a dollhouse. But I never had dollhouse furniture or anything. For Kaitlyn's birthday, my parents got her some Calico Critters. She really likes them. She really likes the Calico Critters Tabby Twins Sleep N Play and the Calico Critters Fisher Cat Family. My parents said there were so many different animals to choose from, but she loves cats so they went with cats.
  • Baby Doll Furniture: You know how you always want to get the toys for your kids you wished you had as a kid but never got? At least I hope other parents are that way! For me, it is doll furniture. I always wanted doll furniture and never got it (it's okay, Mom, I don't feel deprived :) ). So, Kaitlyn has it. If you decide to get it, I advise you look around for a while and find the best deal. You can buy them in sets, but in the end I found it to be less expensive to buy them individually. Sometimes, though, you can find good deals on playsets. Search Baby Doll Playset. I would make a list of things you would want in the playset and things that might be nice. Possible items are stroller, high chair, carseat, bed, diaper bag, playyard, swing, and bouncer. Then look at playsets that have what you want. Then compare prices to buying your desired items individually. There are some things to keep in mind. One is that you can buy a real diaper bag for an inexpensive price for your girl. Don't get hung up on the diaper bag as part of the playset. They sell small diaper bags that will work for less than ten dollars. Also, be cautious about the sets that have a whole lot for a whole little. I know that sounds great, but often times you will sacrifice quality. Be sure to read the reviews of any you are considering.

    I will share the ones we have because I have been happy with them. I have found the Fisher Price Little Mommy items to be of high quality. We have the Fisher-Price Little Mommy Newborn Stroller.

    We have a Baby bassinet. I love bassinets. I have since thought, however, that you could use your real bassinet if you are done with it. The doll bassinets are smaller, but it would of course work. If you want a doll one, just be very sure you are buying a doll one and not a real one because some doll ones look very real!

    We have this carseat: Corolle Nursery Floral Print Small Infant Carrier - 7 . It is nice. I don't necessarily think it is the best carseat ever, but the price was good and I have no complaints about it. We have this high chair: Corolle Nursery Floral High Chair - 20 . Again, not necessarily the best one out there. But it was one of the less expensive ones and it had great reviews. It also converts to a table and chair if your child wants baby to grow up. Kaitlyn really likes it and it doesn't take up a lot of space in her room.

    You can get Toy diaper bags, but as I said, you can often get small real diaper bags that are less expensive. Diaper Bags under $25

    There really isn't a limit on what you can get with this baby stuff. You could get a Baby Doll Swing. My choice was to just let Kaitlyn use our actual swing since her room is not very big. They have so many Baby Doll Accessories out there. I like the tip up bottle (you know, the ones that look like they are emptying as it is tipped upside down). I also gave Kaitlyn some of her old bottles for her babies. A fun thing is diapers. I remember loving diapers. I gave Kaitlyn some of McKenna's newborn size diapers for her dolls. You can buy doll diapers, too, but a set of six can easily run about 14-15 dollars. You can buy an inexpensive brand at the store for about 6 dollars or less for 50.
  • Kitchen Dishes: Don't forget about the Play Dishes. My kids love their dishes not only at the play kitchen, but also in the bathtub!
  • Bubble Blower: This is a toy more for you than for your child. My sister got a battery opperated bubble blower for Kaitlyn for her birthday. It was like it was my birthday! I had previously thought I wouldn't ever get such a thing. I have lungs. I can use them. But when I am blowing bubbles for two children for 20-30 minutes, I start to get light-headed. The bubble blowing machine is awesome! Bubble Blowers
  • Purse: My sister also got a purse for Kaitlyn. She loves stuffing it full of stuff. Purses
  • Hats: Brayden's friend gave him a fireman's hat for his second birthday. He loved it. Around age two, Kaitlyn developed a great love for that same hat. Hats
  • Dress up Clothes: Dressing up is fun for kids. A friend gave me the great idea of buying Halloween costumes on clearance after Halloween for your dress-up clothes. If you sew, you can also make them. They would be higher quality, but of course would take more time. I always wait for the $1 pattern sales at Joannes, Hobby Lobby, and Hancocks and buy as many as I can. Of course they also sell Dress-Up Clothes.
Hopefully that has given you some ideas for fun toys for your two year old. Please share your child's favorite toys from this age range! See also the related posts links for further ideas.
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