Monday, August 31, 2009

Preschool From Home

I recently wrote about our Learning Activity of the Day. Around the time McKenna was born, we started a different curriculum. Our Learning Activity of the Day was something I made up based on what I knew at the time. One day, someone (I can't remember who! Sorry!) mentioned this blog: http://www.ourpreschoolhomeschool.blogspot.com/. I visited the blog and thought it would be a great program to follow!

It is very similar to what I was already doing, except it adds a few elements. It adds in a theme of the week (cows, lighthouses, butterflies...). You also have a vocabulary word. It gives ideas for a gross motor skill activity as well as a fine motor skill activity. It also has you do a song each day that goes along with the theme along with a poem. You also learn a nursery rhyme each week. Here is how it breaks down:

MONDAY: Theme Day


  • Introduce theme
  • Read story based on theme
  • Share poem based on theme
  • Sing song based on theme
  • Gross motor skill activity based on theme
  • Introduce vocabulary word

TUESDAY: Shape OR Color Day (it alternates each week)

  • Review weekly theme
  • Read story based on theme
  • Share poem based on theme
  • Sing song based on theme
  • Review vocabulary word

SHAPE

  • Collect 3-5 objects to share with your child that are the shape
  • Walk through your home looking for the shape
  • Cut a shape out of cookie dough, playdough, etc.
  • Put a drawing of the shape on your poster

COLOR

  • Color the shape on your learning poster
  • Wear the color
  • Walk through your home looking for color
  • Add color to meals through food or plates, etc.
  • Color

WEDNESDAY: Letter Day

  • Color a print out of the letter of the day
  • Trace the shape in pudding, finger paint, shallow tray filled with rice, etc.
  • Find the letter in signs, cereal boxes, etc.
  • Post the letter on your learning poster
  • Review weekly theme
  • Read story based on theme
  • Share poem based on theme
  • Sing song based on theme
  • Review vocabulary word
  • Review shape/color

THURSDAY: Number Day

  • Give your child a snack in the number of the day (so if you are on number five, you eat five fish crackers or grapes, etc.)
  • Show your child the number on the learning poster
  • Add correct number of stickers to a counting book
  • Create matching index cards for the number of the week
  • Draw number of shapes (use shape of the week) for the number of the week
  • Walk around the house counting objects in your home
  • Review weekly theme
  • Read story based on theme
  • Share poem based on theme
  • Sing song based on theme
  • Review vocabulary word
  • Review shape/color
  • Review letter

FRIDAY: Review Day

  • Introduce nursery rhyme. Repeat this often during the next week
  • Read a book based on nursery rhyme if possible
  • Review weekly theme
  • Do fine motor skills activity for the week
  • Read story based on theme
  • Share poem based on theme
  • Sing song based on theme
  • Review vocabulary word
  • Review shape/color
  • Review letter
  • Review number
  • Play matching game with all numbers previously learned

BOOKLET

Create a booklet that has each thing you learn in it and add to it each week. I use a three ring binder and print out a page for each thing.

One page has the letter in uppercase and lowercase.

One page has the shape or color as well as the word written out (so it would say Oval followed by a picture of an oval). If it is the color, I write out the color and have several shapes in that color, but in various shades. So it would say "blue" and have a blue heart, circle, square, etc. I would have light blue, dark blue, blue, etc.

One page has the number in numerals, the number written out, followed by that number in the theme of the week. So for sheep week, it has the number 17, the word seventeen, followed by 17 sheep.

I then have a review page. At the top, it says the word for the them. I then have a picture that represents the them, along with the word and definition. I then have a picture of the vocabulary word, along with the word and definition. I then have a third picture that I think correlates with the theme.

MY ADDITIONS
I have added some things to this. Here they are.

SATURDAY: Field Trip Day
I thought it would be fun to take field trips based on the theme. The first week is cow week, and we live near many dairy farms. It was also spring, so there were a lot of calves around the valley (calf was the vocabulary word).

If Saturday doesn't work, you can do it in an evening during the week. During Horse week, we had a family reunion on the Saturday. We went for a field trip on Monday night instead. My parents own about 40 miniature horses a two full size horses. We went to their house and pet and fed the horses. We talked about our vocabulary words and had something "hands-on" to refer to all week.

Also, not all words will work for you. For example, during lighthouse week, there was no way we could visit a lighthouse without spending a lot of money ;) We don't live near them.

SUNDAY: Memorization Day
Our primary issued a challenge to memorize 13 scriptures over the summer. Brayden (four) is in the youngest class in the primary and they didn't expect that age group to actually memorize, but I thought we would try it out. To my surprise (and the shock of his teachers) he did it! He was the youngest child to get all thirteen memorized. We practiced the scripture each day, but he passed them off at church on Sunday to his teachers. I have decided this is great and will continue it with other good scriptures.

Kaitlyn (two) also practiced along with us, though she didn't memorize word for word. It doesn't hurt, though :) If you have a younger child who is your oldest, you might want to have your spouse model the process for your child. I am sure Kaitlyn understood what to do from watching Brayden.

Busy Books
I like to add more variety to the week. At the beginning of the week, I plan out a new, fun activity for each day. I typically get my ideas from my busy books (see Book Review: The Toddler's Busy Book). For color day, I look for fun art activities. For number day, I look in the math section. You get the picture. There are 365 ideas in the Toddler's Busy Book and 365 in Preschooler's Busy Book. There is also The Siblings' Busy Book, which has great reviews and I plan to purchase them.

Websites
You can also gather great ideas from the web. My friend, Manda, posted a bunch of great sites she has found on the last learning activities post:

SHARING DOCS

I had fully planned to upload all of the many review pages, coloring pages, activity pages, etc. that I have made to the Chronicles Yahoo! Group. I still hope to. My hard drive crashed a couple of weeks ago and I am still waiting to see if the data can be recovered. Yeah, a nightmare. I back stuff up every so often, but hadn't done it since McKenna was a couple of weeks old. Anyway, I will upload there if I can. They aren't hard to make, but they do take time so I thought I would spare everyone the time :) Here is a link to the group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/chroniclesofababywisemom/

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Index: Logs

Index: Learning Development

All Ages
Blog
Babies
Toddlers
Preschoolers
Literacy
    Misc

    Index: Language Development

    Tips for Developing Language Skills
    Poll Results

    Index: Independent Play

    Independent Playtime Overview

    Benefits of Independent Play
    Implementing Independent Play
    In Action
    Poll Results

    Friday, August 28, 2009

    Chronic 45 Minute Naps: One Year Later

    image source
    About one year ago, I asked my friend, Raegan, to write about her experiences with chronic 45 minute naps. She did, and it has proven to be one of the most popular posts on this blog (see Chronic 45 Minute Naps). I asked her to write about her thoughts on it one year later. I think you will love it. Thank you Raegan!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Months ago I wrote a little blurb about my chronic 45 minute napper. For those of you that don’t remember or don’t know, she had short naps for 13 months. Yes, you read that right. Thirteen months. We had a random 2-hour nap in there somewhere, I’m sure, but those were not even the monthly norm and were usually due to sickness. I worked through every possible solution I could think of, and the list is pages long. I asked everyone and anyone I knew for help. The only advice I didn’t listen to? “See, I told you that you can’t put a baby on a schedule.” We are living proof that sleep isn’t the only thing Babywise (and all the books in the series) are good for, and that even when things don’t go exactly as you had planned, you can still count it as success. Sure, I felt like a Babywise failure on more than one occasion. I was so jealous of those babies that slept well. Or even slept for an hour at a time. Or an hour at a time more than once a week.

    So where are we now? My little one is now just over 2 years old and she’s now a big sister. Months after “giving in” to what she needed rather than my agenda and ideas of perfection, 45-minute naps turned into 2-3 hour naps. Don’t misunderstand me; by “giving in” I don’t mean giving up or even letting her call the shots. What I mean is I finally let go of my agonizing over the perfect nap (you know, longer than an hour) and decided that if 45 minutes was all she needed per nap, that was fine. I put her down at my choice of time, not hers, which I figured out by using sleepy cues, attitude/behavior cues, and common sense. She stayed in her crib until I decided naptime was over (which again, was a reasonable amount of time). I always gave her an hour and a half to “sleep.” I presented the opportunity. Whether or not (or how much) she slept, the opportunity was there.

    What am I still learning from this?

    1. I cannot make her sleep. I can only give her the best circumstances, good timing and judgement on my part, and not provide props that would make it difficult for her if I wasn’t there.
    2. How do I make good judgements, have good timing, and make wise decisions? Lots of practice, and more importantly, lots of errors. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you pay attention, the mistake often times helps you discover something you needed to know about your baby.
    3. I can’t make her sleep, but I can help her learn to rest. Even laying/sitting in a crib is more relaxing than even sitting on the couch talking to me.
    4. When she won’t sleep, I can help her learn to be content. By waiting for her to get a happy heart (and until I get the chance) before I get her up from a nap, she’s learned to talk, play, and wait happily until it’s time to get up. That was not an overnight process, and yes, it did involve tears.
    5. I’m not going to feel guilty about not “rescuing” her immediately, not entertaining her, and about not being able to figure out why she naps or doesn’t nap.
    6. I need to be reminded that I’m human, I’m doing the best I know to do, and most likely this stage is giving me skills I need for other circumstances in life. You may never meet someone as willing to say “Keep trying, don’t give up, and just wait it out in the meantime” as I am. 13 months of not giving up hope on naps will do that for you.
    7. Having a second baby was much less stressful because I felt like I’d already been through the ringer as far as naps were concerned. I’d tried it all, thought through it all, and had a bucket load of possible solutions that could help, were I to need them. There’s always new stuff that pops up with new children, but at least I was very familiar with the trial and error process.
    8. Not sleeping well is not always a reflection of your parenting skills. Don’t take it personally! My oldest did not nap well for the first year of her life. So what? You certainly wouldn’t have known it by her behavior or obedience level. Since she didn’t nap long, we had lots of time to practice behavior and focusing skills. :)
    9. Sleep is just the beginning. I spent so much time worried about possible solutions and lack of long naps. I wish someone could have explained to me so that my heart could have truly comprehended that this is just the beginning. It’s not worth the stress. It may or may not (*gasp*) get better. And the better may be months down the road. But deal with it now, do the best with what you know, stick to your goals, seek guidance, and don’t give up. Instead of letting the stress and worry eat you up and make you “obsessed,” (which, as my husband can probably testify to, I was) let it make you better.
    Our second baby has seen her days of rough sleeping patches. But this time around I know sleep isn’t my only goal in their lives, and nor should I place that much importance on that one issue. It’s important, but not the only thing that is important. That may seem like an obvious statement. But I say that because though in my head I knew that sleep wasn’t the only important thing, I sure acted like it was. And I let rough naps take attention away from a precious time as a first time mom.
    Having kids that sleep well doesn’t make me a good mom, and being a good mom doesn’t mean you will have babies that sleep well. I may wish for all the tears back, but I’m pretty sure I’m better off for them.
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    Thursday, August 27, 2009

    Baby Whisperer: Deciphering Crying

    image source
    When it comes to eating and crying, Tracy Hogg lists some good assessments for figuring out why baby is crying. It is found on page 109 in The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems.

    TIMING CUES
    • After Feeds: It might be gas or reflux
    • Same Time Each Day: Colic or witching hour (witching hour is my addition)
    • Erratic and Random: Might be personality
    BODY CUES
    • Pulls Feet To Chest: Likely gas
    • Rigid and Arches Back: Reflux or over stimulation
    COMFORT CUES
    • Burping: Gas
    • Bicycling Legs: Gas
    • Sitting Upright: Reflux
    • Motion or White Noise: Colic or witching hour (witching hour is my addition)
    Once you have a guess as to the reason for the crying, you can try to help ease the discomfort and reason for crying. If it is colic, there might be little you can do, but at least you would know it is nothing you are doing "wrong."
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    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    Poll Results: When you stopped swaddling baby, was there a period of crying/fussing (no matter the length of time)?

    Results:

    Yes: 84 votes (34%)
    No: 166 votes (66%)

    Total of 250 votes

    RELATED POSTS/BLOG LABELS:


    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, August 25, 2009

    McKenna Baby Summary: Week 21

    This week was, again, a good week. In fact, quite exciting in many areas.

    NURSING
    Nursing continues forward without difficulty. I forgot to mention something a couple of weeks ago. One day, McKenna was eating and slowly bit down on me. I have had suspicion of teething pains in her for quite some time, and the biting down while nursing thing reinforces that suspicion. I firmly (not angrily) told her, "McKenna, you do not bite Mommy. That hurts." She never did it again. I don't really think she understood me word for word, but I do think she got the message. I am not, however, naive enough to believe that will be the last time she ever tries it. Time will tell.

    A funny thing this week is that McKenna loves to talk while she is eating. She tries to talk to me while she is nursing. She likes to talk that much :)

    GAS
    We are still using gas drops following every feeding. I don't always remember to give it to her at the dreamfeed, but I usually do. One day, we ran out of gas drops, so I thought it was a good opportunity to see how she did. She started off okay, but as the day went on, she stopped sleeping well and was obviously in pain. I had my husband stop and get some on his way home from work. She was soon back to her old self.

    WAKETIME LENGTH
    Waketime length stayed the same with the exception of her last waketime of the day. I will discuss that below.

    DROPPING NAPSMcKenna continued her weaning process from the fourth nap. This week, most days she did not take the fourth nap. She stays awake quite well the entire time (that is the longer waketime).

    NIGHTTIME SLEEP
    As this week started, McKenna had been waking up close to 7 AM for several days. I decided I thought she could make it to 7 AM to eat. One day she woke at 6:30. I went in to her, gave her a pacifier, and rocked her. She dozed off and I held her until 7 when I put her in her crib. She promptly woke up and I started her day.

    As the week continued on, she started to sleep later into the morning, and now wakes after 7 every day. One day, Brayden and Kaitlyn were taking a long time to eat breakfast. My ideal goal is to start our day at 7:30 (which actually has been a rare occurrence in her life), but they were slow I couldn't wake her until ten to eight. I was, of course, very pleased that she slept that late on her own :)

    SOLIDS
    McKenna continued eating rice cereal this week. Halfway through the week, I had her eat it twice a day. At the end of the week, I introduced her to sweet potatoes. I started with one tablespoon. She made all the usual funny faces the first day, but liked it the next.

    Right now, I feed her rice at her second feeding. I then feed her the sweet potatoes after either her third or fourth feeding.

    When I first started feeding her solids, she would constantly try to put her hands in her mouth. I would just move the hand away from her mouth and tell her, "No hands in your mouth while you are eating." She no longer tries to put her hands in her mouth.

    SWADDLING
    Over the course of the week, she has gotten much faster at falling asleep with one arm out of the swaddle. I now keep one arm out for all naps and night.

    One morning, I woke up at 5:45 (okay, I actually wake up about that time every morning, then I have a hard time falling back asleep) and of course looked at her on the video monitor. She was awake and had both arms out of her swaddle. I was sure she would be crying soon. But she went back to sleep. Another night, she did the same thing but cried.

    She is about too big for her swaddle blanket. I am trying to decide if I should buy one in the next size, or if I should just decide that is a good reason for her to no longer be swaddled at all.

    ROLLING
    The last night of this week, she woke me up at 5:30. I was surprised since she was consistently sleeping until at least 7. I looked at the video monitor and saw she was on her tummy. Oh great! If that continues, it will be the number one reason to stop swaddling cold turkey. Luckily we do tummy time each day and she has very strong neck muscles :) I just don't want her on her tummy without the use of both arms. We will see what the week brings us. Hopefully it was a fluke (although as I have watched her play on the floor, I could see she was getting close to this ability).

    INDEPENDENT PLAY
    I thought I should point out that McKenna does have independent play each day. She plays happily for 20 minutes every day. I also try to get in another 20 minute session at another time of the day, which she does happily, but we aren't always able to get it in.

    DADDY'S GIRL
    McKenna gave her Daddy the biggest ego boost this week. She has just really started to show lots of love toward him, and she has him wrapped round her little finger :). She looks at him, smiles, and does the happy baby dance until he picks her up. One day he was holding her and needed to go outside for something. He gave her to me, upon which she promptly started crying. He loved it! It really didn't make me feel bad. Not only does she spend basically all day, every day with me, but I am happy to see her displaying such obvious love for her Daddy. I have no doubt in her love for me :)

    OUR SCHEDULE
    I will start at 7:15 AM since that is the average. The week started at 7:00 AM. As the week went on, it moved later and later in the morning.

    7:15 AM--wake and nurse
    8:10 AM--nap
    10:30 AM--nurse and rice
    11:30 AM--nap
    1:30-2:00 PM--nurse
    2:40-3:10 (70-90 minutes later) PM--nap
    4:40-5:00 PM--nurse and sweet potatoes
    7:00-7:20 PM--nurse then straight to bed
    10:30 PM--dreamfeed

    HELPFUL BOOKS/WEBSITES



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    Monday, August 24, 2009

    Importance of Structure

    For many of you, I know your goal with Babywise is simply to get the sleeping through the night baby. After that, you might let the principles from the -wise series dwindle into a fond memory...then one day your two year old will cause you to think, "Is there a babywise book for this age?"

    In my mind, the sleeping through the night is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to raising your child. Believe me, it is great. Good sleep habits and good eating habits will be the foundation for having a happy, well-behaved toddler, preschooler, and beyond.

    Something I personally love about the -wise series is the focus on moral training. If you are looking for nothing more than sleeping and eating, something like Secrets of the Baby Whisperer will suit you just fine. With the -wise series, you get good tips that help you train the heart of your child. The tips are often very much common sense. You just don't think of it on your own.

    The -wise series also keeps you focused on structuring your child's day. What is the big deal about structure? As On Becoming Preschoolwise puts it, children left unattended for great lengths of time get into trouble (page85). And keep in mind that a "great length of time" is not as long for a child as it is for you ;). So structure helps your child stay out of trouble--though that doesn't mean your child won't ever get into trouble.

    I have a couple of stories to illustrate children getting into trouble without supervision. A little over a year ago, Brayden and Kaitlyn were playing in the sandbox. Brayden was just over three and Kaitlyn was around 15 months old or so. I decided to go in the kitchen and clean. The sandbox is close to the house, so with windows open, I could hear if something as amiss. When I went out to get them, however, I saw that hearing was all that needed to be happening.

    Kaitlyn was soaking wet. I asked Brayden what happened. Well, apparently she was dirty and he turned the hose on her. She was happy as can be...but wet. I had not been gone more than 5-10 minutes.

    Another story happened about 5-6 months ago. Brayden was approaching four and Kaitlyn was approaching 2. My husband and I were busy painting and prepping McKenna's room for her arrival. Brayden and Kaitlyn were playing together nicely in Kaitlyn's room. When we went to get them ready for bed, we saw that they had covered Kaitlyn's bed in a huge pile of toys. Huge! They were quite proud of the structure.

    These stories don't end in tragedy or really anything bad, it just illustrates that when kids are left to their own devices, they do things that aren't really beneficial to anyone and create a lot of cleanup for everyone (assuming you require their help).

    Structure helps you guide your child's day. You can provide independent play time where he can learn to problem solve and learn to do an activity as directed. You can have set meal times and set nap/rest times. You can have free play where your child chooses an activity to do, but knows his limitations. You can have learning time where you teach him things based on age. You can have time that is unplanned and you are spontaneous if that is something you enjoy.

    Structure helps you work those things into your day that are important to you. If you decide to continue on with the -wise series, I don't think you will be sorry you did. You can follow things as loosely or strictly as you like. You will find many helpful tips that provide prevention as well as tips for dealing with discipline issues when they arise.

    Structure has definitely made life with three children much easier for me. I know when McKenna will need me. I know when I will have time to myself. I know when we can have learning time.

    Here is a sample of the order we do things so you can see what you can get done with structure:


    • Eat breakfast
    • Learning time
    • Sibling play
    • TV time
    • Bath time
    • Independent play
    • Take a walk
    • Eat lunch
    • Scripture study
    • Nap
    • Learning time
    • Free play
    • Dinner
    • Spontaneous time (Daddy is the spontaneous one in our family). We do family activities and projects.
    • Family scripture study and prayer
    • Bed
    • Time with my husband! (I had to throw it in there because it is a nice perk)

    We of course have variations. We have days we go to the park. We have random different activities thrown in there. But my point here is to show the many different things we are able to get in a day. It isn't stressful to get these things in, and it is all thanks to structure.

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    Friday, August 21, 2009

    Best Toys: Church Toys

    Our church is three hours long. Up until 18 months old, children are with the parents for all three hours. When you consider missed naps and missed meals...that makes for a fussy baby/pretoddler and necessitates some great toys. After 18 months, children are with the parents for 1 hour 10 minutes, so even after 18 months, great toys are nice to help keep children quiet during this time.

    We have a special bag that is our church bag. In it are our church toys. Those toys and books stay in that bag all week and only come out for Sunday. These toys need to be quiet toys and yet entertaining toys. Here is a list of toys we have in our church bag, as well as some I think would be good additions. There will be toys for all age ranges.


    • Favorites: All children have a favorite toy of the moment. I will often add the favorite toy of the moment to the bag on Sunday (so long as it is a quiet and small toy).
    • Blanket: If you do blanket time, church is a great place to get benefit from it. Remember to training times of non-conflict; church is not the time or place to teach your child about blanket time.
    • Nesting Cups: Nesting cups are a great toy for a child under 18 months. For the child over 18 months, they are often more adept at stacking them on top of each other, which just creates a tall tower that can make a lot of noise coming down. But for the younger child, it offers lots of time for the child to focus on nesting the cups together.

    • Teething Toys: A tired child is a child whose pain from teething will be magnified. Teething toys are great for church: Teething Toys
    • Books: Books are a must for church. We have special books for church that stay in the bag all week and only come out at church. For a baby, you might want to have a favorite book, along with some that he doesn't see all week. I like to have books that are church related (like scripture story books, books with pictures of Jesus, etc.). For younger babies, I also will take some Baby Einstein books--especially the ones that are bath books so the baby can chew on it all he wants to. Touch and Feel Books are great for church, also, as are Lift the Flap books.
    • Quiet Books: Each child has a quiet book made especially for him/her. I like to get a little 6x6 Scrapbooks and make special pages for the child. I have a page with a picture and name of that child. I also do pages of siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, and cousins. I have a page with the ABCs and a page for numbers. I have a page with colors and a page with shapes. I have pictures of Jesus and pictures of prophets. I then have pages that are specialized for the child's interest. Brayden has a page with different types of trucks and a page for sports, while Kaitlyn's has several pages of animals and a miscellaneous page with stickers of favorite things (rubber ducks, Elmo, Winnie the Pooh, snowman, etc.). Brayden's is pages that were laminated and then spiral-bound together. I decided to do a scrapbook format for Kaitlyn so I could update family pictures as new people were added to the family. You can also buy quiet books that have buttons to do up and zippers to zip...they are nice little quiet challenges.
    • Foam Alphabet Letters: We have some small, foam alphabet letters that hook together. They are great toys for church because they require concentration. I can't find any on Amazon, but I have seen them at various stores.

    • Travel Set: We have a Fold and Play Travel Set of Thomas. It has little vinyl stickers (that re-stick) that can be placed on the activity board.
    • Blank Pads of Paper: We have a blank pad of paper for each child so they can draw, scribble, and color. We use this one by Melissa & Doug. Something I like about it is that it is a 6x9--so a smaller size, which is convenient for the church bag (and of course we also have crayons):
    • Travel Size Magna Doodle: We have a travel size Magna Doodle. I love the Magna Doodle because you know there is no danger of your child getting any crayon on the chair or floor as he colors.
    • Cars/Trucks: Both Brayden and Kaitlyn like to drive around trucks. We don't let them zoom around; they drive them in their small little spot. Also, we don't allow "vrooms" :)
    • Dolls/Animals: Kaitlyn will sometimes take a doll or stuffed animal along. When I was kid, my mom got some Cabbage Patch Lil Sprouts and they have been nice small dolls to take to church.
    • Lacing Cards: We have some lacing cards for church. They are really great for prolonged periods of quiet concentration.
    • Finger Puppets: My kids love to play with finger puppets at church. There are a lot of cute Finger Puppets available. My friend got some from IKEA that are very cute and they were a great price.
    • Bead Stringing: While writing this, I thought that perhaps Bead Stringing Sets could be fun. Consider it carefully. I could see beads being spilled all over the place :). There are sets with large beads, so those might be good. You could also do something like Cheerios and yarn.
    • Felt Board: I also thought a small felt board could be fun: Felt Board Set
    • Coloring Book: We have some coloring books that are of things like Noah and such. Religious Coloring Books . As much as possible, I really like to have our activities at church still be geared toward church. You could also Google "Bible coloring page" and get lots of free pages you can print off.
    There is my list. Please share your good ideas for quiet activities for church!
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    Thursday, August 20, 2009

    Baby Whisperer: Number of Ounces


    Chapter three in The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems is all about the liquid diet. Here are a couple of highlights on the number of ounces your baby will take in a day.

    Decrease at 6 Months
    On page 89, Hogg states that around 6 months of age, your baby will start to take less liquid in the day. This is harmonious with information on kellymom.com. It is good to note, for parents who start solids before 6 months, that the liquid shouldn't really decrease before 6 months. So if you start solids prior to that, remember to keep the liquid intake up. Don't sacrifice liquid for solid.

    Trust Yourself
    "By knowing your baby, tuning in to his cues, learning what is developmentally typical, and then using common sense to gauge where your baby stands, you'll probably know what is best. Trust yourself!" (page 93). I loved this thought.
    Parents are often asking questions like how many ounces should baby get a day and how often should a 22.5 week old should be eating...you need to learn to trust yourself. This doesn't mean you don't need to educate yourself. Look at her steps:
    • Know your baby
    • Tune into cues
    • Learn what is typical
    • Use common sense
    • Trust yourself
    Some babies eat more than others. Just like people, babies have different metabolisms. Know what things are like for you and your spouse because your baby will be genetically similar to someone. My husband has a really fast metabolism (lucky!). I do not. Some babies will need to eat more than others. Some will need to eat more often for longer.

    As you do research, you will get confused. There is a wide range of information out there. Some books (many) give weight calculations to figure out the number of ounces your baby will take in a day. Some books and kellymom.com say that baby takes X number of ounces for certain ages, no matter the size (this is a more likely scenario for a breastfed baby than a formula fed baby since breast milk can change the number of calories per ounce). There are many different opinions out there. None of it is fact. If it was fact, there would be consistent information from book to book and website to website. Even kellymom, which says baby will take 25 ounces per day, also says that anywhere from 19-30 ounces from 1-6 months old (see http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/milkcalc.html).

    Moral of the story? Know what range can be expected. Be sure you are offering your baby enough, but follow her cues. Baby will not eat more than she needs. Trust you. You are with your baby more than anyone else. You are her parent and entitled to know her needs.

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    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    Witching Hour

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    It is not uncommon for baby to be fussy during the evening hours. This evening fussiness is often between 6-10 PM. It might not last that entire time, or might last longer. This time is often referred to as the "Witching Hour." Not all babies experience the witching hour; Brayden and Kaitlyn didn't (at least, Brayden didn't once we started Babywise). McKenna, however, did.

    At first, I didn't know what was going on. She had previously slept so peacefully. It hit her around two months old. She just stopped sleeping in the evenings. It was like she was a different baby. It was quite the shock.

    WITCHING HOUR TIMELINE
    This fussiness is supposed to start around 2-3 weeks old, peak around 6 weeks old, and end sometime between 3-4 months old. You are supposed to take into account baby's due date and not just the birth date.

    McKenna didn't follow this timeline exactly. She started at 8 weeks and ended sometime between 3-4 months old.

    WITCHING HOUR CAUSES
    There is no real known cause of the witching hour. There are, of course, many theories. Theories include low milk supply and an immature nervous system. Both of these theories have flaws; formula fed babies can also experience the witching hour and not all babies experience the witching hour. If it was a nervous system issue, you would think all babies would get it. So the real answer is that no one knows for sure.

    WITCHING HOUR FIXES
    You can't make the witching hour go away, but you can minimalize the difficulty of it on you and your baby.
    • Cluster feed cluster feeding (blog label)
    • Put baby in a sling
    • Put baby in a swing or other soothing item (like a bouncer)
    • Go outside
    • Massage
    Do not try to fix the witching hour by supplementing with formula. Remember, formula fed babies experience this, too. If you supplement with formula you will only hurt your milk supply in the long run.

    WITCHING HOUR AND BABYWISE
    If your baby is experiencing the witching hour, one of your biggest worries is likely starting a bad habit. Your baby is laying in her crib crying, but you don't want to get her and reinforce crying in order to get out of bed.

    Let me just tell you, don't worry about it. If your baby is sleeping well for all other naps, you are not going to ruin anything by getting her during the witching hour. You do not want to leave her in her crib during this time to just cry. Cry it out is a process to teach self-soothing; having her cry when she just can't sleep is not teaching her. It is just causing stress on the entire family.

    WITCHING HOUR IN ACTION
    I have discussed our witching hour process in my newborn summary posts, but I thought I would summarize it here. Anyone experiencing this doesn't want to wade through three months of newborn summary posts to get the story :)

    As I said, it started when McKenna was two months old. My husband and I were out on a date and I thought that it was just her reacting to me leaving the house (she always woke up when I left the house). Four days later, she did it again. I was home this time and found it odd. I didn't know it was the witching hour at this point.

    Since she just never cried (unless I left the house), I went to her room to comfort her. I tried rocking her to sleep. No luck. I tried giving her a pacifier in her bed. No luck. She stayed awake for two hours. At that point, I decided to feed her, confident she would at least fall asleep nursing. No luck. Still wide awake.

    My husband took turns with me over the next two hours. Finally, it was time for the dreamfeed and I fed her again. She then peacefully went to sleep in her crib. Happily, she didn't cry that entire time--only if she was not in the company of someone. Also happily, that was the worst night of our witching hour.

    Over the next week, she didn't have the witching hour every night. Some nights she did, some she didn't. I could really sense if she was having it or not. If she was, I did what it took to put her to sleep or at least keep her happy. If she wasn't, I put her to bed. Her witching hour was just after her 6 PM feeding. After the 8 PM feeding, she would sleep in her bed.
    Here is a list of my personal solutions to get through the witching hour. These things didn't negatively affect her other daytime naps:
    • Cluster Feeding: Previous to the witching hour, McKenna would not cluster feed. She wouldn't eat if it was sooner than three hours. Once she started witching hour, I started cluster feeding, and she started sleeping longer stretches at night.
    • Errands: Our family would just go out and run errands or visit friends rather than try to put McKenna down for a nap. This was nice because we got to do things over the summer months. McKenna would just fall asleep in her carseat or in my arms for a catnap.
    • Rock: Sometimes, if I could, I would rock McKenna to sleep and then put her in her bed.
    • Pacifier: She liked to suck on a pacifier at this time.
    • Swing: Previous to the witching hour, McKenna would not sleep in her swing. We had purchased a new swing before she was born. One day after the witching hour, I had the thought to try our old swing. It worked! She would fuss a bit in it, but she would go to sleep in it for a short nap. This was helpful since her witching hour was around bedtime for Brayden and Kaitlyn.
    As time passed, the witching hour was not every day. Sometime between 3-4 months old, the witching hour ended. She now goes to sleep just fine in her bed each night.

    A note, if McKenna were my only child, I wouldn't have a problem holding her for her short catnap to get her through the witching hour. Having two older (but young) children made it necessary for me to turn to something like the swing so I could still attend to my older children.

    WITCHING HOUR ENCOURAGEMENT
    If your baby is experiencing the witching hour, don't stress out. It will not last forever. Also, don't be afraid to comfort your baby. It does not go against Babywise to do so. Trust me on this; I communicate with the authors :) They do not advocate leaving a baby crying and helpless in bed. A baby experiencing the witching hour is not going to benefit from a cry it out session.

    Do what it takes to keep baby happy during this time. Do what it takes to get baby to sleep during this time so she doesn't get overly tired and overstimulated. It will all be okay :)

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    Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    McKenna Baby Summary: Week 20


    This is a summary for McKenna age 19-20 weeks. It was a great week. Let's get to it!

    NURSING
    Nursing is continuing on well. I was thinking about how it is interesting she isn't ridiculously fast at it. She isn't slow. She just isn't as fast as Kaitlyn was at this age. In reality, that shouldn't surprise me. Kaitlyn was faster at birth (Kaitlyn took 20 minutes and McKenna took 30). At any rate, she is faster than Brayden was! It isn't a problem for me; I love to read while nursing the baby. She also does the thing where she holds my shirt while she eats, which I just find cute :)

    There is a funny thing that McKenna has developed recently. She is at the point where she starts to fuss when you put her in front of you to prep to feed her. Every baby I have seen consistently over time develops this at some point. The baby is perfectly content--until you put her in front of you. Then she is suddenly starving and can't wait another moment!

    BURPING
    Something great is that McKenna is at the point where it is really easy to burp her. She basically burps herself. She either burps while she is nursing (in which case I still try to burp her when she is done), or she burps as soon as I move her into sitting position.

    WAKETIME LENGTH
    Waketime length stayed the same this week.

    There was a development with waketime this week. McKenna is no longer ultra-sensitive to her waketime length. She has probably a 5ish minute flex in her waketime length. Previously, it basically needed to be down to the minute, so having some flex is really nice.

    DROPPING NAPS
    McKenna has started the weaning process of dropping the fourth nap. She can't skip it every day (in fact, most days she can't), but she can some days. I continue to just keep her up unless/until she needs the nap. If not, we skip it.

    NIGTHTIME
    Nighttime sleep started extending out again and by the end of the week she was back to waking close to our waketime most days.

    SOLIDS
    For five of the seven days this week, McKenna didn't have any solids. We were traveling and I didn't want to mess with it. But the first day she had it again, she was very excited. She even got to be really good at using the spoon.

    She has one tablespoon of cereal mixed with one tablespoon of breast milk and one tablespoon of water (purified). I decided I had better use breast milk to mix with the rice. It has enzymes to help break it down, which I think is good.

    Right now I am just using milk that I pump on Sunday. I feed her a bottle of formula on Sunday while at church. This way I don't miss any of the meetings while nursing her. It also makes it so she regularly gets a bottle each week. It also makes it so she can have exposure to the taste of formula. I like to be prepared--you never know what lies ahead. When we get home, I pump out the amount she ate at church. That milk lasts me all week!

    SWADDLING
    I decided to start trying to have one arm out of the swaddle for all but her morning nap and overnight. It went really well. She did take longer to fall asleep, but still took a really good nap. She was very happy to have one arm out. This weaning process is going quite slowly, but it is going.

    OUR SCHEDULE
    For this week, our day started a bit earlier than I would prefer, but late enough to make me happy :)

    6:30-7:00 AM--nurse
    55 minutes later--nap
    10:00 AM--nurse (if she ate closer to 7, she will often go until 10:30)
    60-65 minutes later--nap
    1:00-1:30--nurse
    60-90 minutes later--nap (I try to watch for cues for this nap
    4:30--nurse
    6:00--usually a nap
    7:00--nurse then bed
    10-10:30--dreamfeed (there is no real reason for my dreamfeed to be any later other than I just don't get around to getting her until later sometimes ;) ).

    OUTINGS/EVENTS
    The weekend of this week was marked with another family reunion. McKenna slept really well, which is nice. She got lots of compliments on how good of a baby and how alert she is :) We did family pictures while there, and the oldest cousin, Brayden, and McKenna were the only children to not lose it at some point during the main pictures :) Kaitlyn can be forgiven since she had missed her nap (as can the other grandchildren for the same reasons). McKenna did lose it when I stuck her in the suitcase full of tulle during the cousin picture (pictured above). I guess she didn't like that feeling!

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