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Big Toys for Baby (Baby Gear)

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

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


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

Total of 80 votes

How to Enhance Your Baby's Language Development

How to Enhance Your Baby's Language Development

We wait on pins and needles for that first word. What will it be? When will it be? Your baby's language will be individual. Language development does depend on your child, just as any other skill. All of my children were ahead of the average in their language skills, but other skills varied. My son was always a very early "large motor skills" boy. My daughters were more of a "fine motor skills" type. They each had their early/late skills in both categories, but their areas of "expertise" have been in those departments. You might find your baby is ahead in language skills, average, or even behind with no concerns. McKenna was very late in walking, my latest walker, and yet is my most naturally athletic child today.

How to Enhance Your Baby's Language Development

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

This is an interesting topic, though. I have a good friend I went to Jr. High, High School, and College with. We both majored in English, though she took the teacher route and I the technical writing route. I mention her often; she also does Babywise. Her son also has very advanced language skills. We often talk about influence over children's language development. We wonder how much influence we have over it and how much is just the child. I do think there are things you can do to enhance your child's ability. On Becoming Babywise II has a chapter on language development (Appendix A). Here are their thoughts along with mine.

Tips for Enhancing a Baby's Language Development

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

Nursing Woes {Baby Playing While Breastfeeding}

What to do when your baby wants to play instead of breastfeed

That little grin is so cute. The curiosity of your baby is precious. The look of wonder is magical...until it isn't. When you are breastfeeding a baby who suddenly won't eat and wants to just look around, your stress levels can easily rise. You start wot worry the baby isn't eating enough. If you have other children, you can't very well sit and sit and sit while baby decides to get back to eating.

What to do when your baby wants to play instead of breastfeed

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

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

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

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

Related Breastfeeding Posts:

In Action: Adjusting Schedule as Needed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Successfully Fly with a Baby

How to Successfully Fly with a Baby and tips for flying with a baby

How to Successfully Fly with a Baby

A great fear of mine is the unknown. If I have something big coming up, I like to do a lot of practice and preparation. When it comes to air-travel, you can try to prepare the best you can, but there isn't "practice" you can do ahead of time. You learn on the fly (pun intended). The only thing you can do is talk to others who have been there and do your best to implement their wisdom without having lived through it. Here are some tips for flying with a baby:

Tips For Flying with a Baby

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

Related Posts:

How to Teach Your Baby Sign Language

How to Teach Your Baby Sign Language to enhance language development and avoid tantrums

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

How to Teach Your Baby Sign Language

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

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

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

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

Benefits of Signing With Your Baby

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

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

Getting Started Teaching Your Baby Sign Language 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign Language Resources

You can be as simple or complex as you want with signing. You can do only a handful of words, or
How to Teach Your Baby Sign Language
you can delve into the language. Here is a list of some resources:
  • There are videos and books available to teach you and your baby. I have heard some of these can be very expensive.
  • Flash cards, though for a baby, this would be more for you than the baby.
  • There is also a show on public television called Signing Time. Here is a link to the website: Brayden loves this show.
  • When I want to learn a new word (like dog), I just go to Google and type "Dog in ASL." A long list of sites that explain how to sign dog in ASL will then come up. I usually look at a few to be sure I have it right. Some sites are easier to understand than others.
  • Some libraries will have story time and signing time. The great thing about this is that it is free.
  • On Becoming Babywise II has a few signs in Appendix B.

Baby Language Development

I have read and also heard from people that signing will or might delay your child's speech development since they are signing. I honestly do not believe that to be true.

There is no way to know when a certain baby would have learned to talk with or without sign language. The only way to judge that is to look at babies who do sign language, and those who don't, and take averages from those groups and compare averages. Even if you did that, it would be very hard to control variables. Researchers would have to take into account if the parents used baby talk or not, if they read to the child or not and how often and for how long, how often signs were done during the day, what the parent's expectations were for the signs, and whether or not words accompanied those signs, just to name a few. It is unethical to create a study that puts babies into a controlled environment. You couldn't even compare children in the same family who did signs with one baby but not another because parents change over time.

Remember my friend I mentioned that started signs very young with her son? He verbally said his first word around 9 months and started full sentences at 15 months, which is very early, especially for a boy. Brayden started signs after he already spoke close to a hundred words. He also said his first word at 9 months, and started sentences at 19 months. Still early for a boy, but if you looked at only these two cases, you could assume that sign language speeds along the spoken language.
I can see the theory--if they sign it, they don't need to say it. However, with Kaitlyn I started signs before words came along, and she said words before the she did signs. My friend's son was the same way. I think saying a word is physically easier for some than making a sign with their hands.
Also, I have read (in college) that the earlier you learn a second language, the easier it is for you to learn that language and others in the future. The more languages you learn, the easier it is to learn more. So that is a bonus if you get really into it. My husband speaks Spanish really well, and I wish I did. Then we would have Spanish Days at home where that is all we spoke. I had friends who did that growing up.

The Signing Time website ( says that studies show that typical children who learn to sign have higher IQ scores, are better adjusted, and read at an earlier age. Here is a link to an article on the website listing benefits to signing.

If you aren't convinced, watch this video:

Other Tips for Developing Language Skills

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


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

Total of 48 votes

Independent Playtime Lengths

Independent Playtime Lengths: The amount of time you can expect your child to play alone each day

Independent playtime is when your child plays alone, independently, for a period of time in the day. There are many, many benefits to independent play, not only for your child, but for you also.

Independent Playtime Lengths: The amount of time you can expect your child to play alone each day

Appropriate Independent Playtime Lengths

People often wonder how long their child can be expected to play alone based on the age of the child. The best length is going to depend on your overall schedule, age, and the length of waketime. Here is a summary from On Becoming Babywise II (affiliate link):
  • 5-10 minutes once or twice a day for the young newborn (my own personal addition)
  • 10-20 minutes twice a day for first few months
  • 15-30 minutes twice a day for the independent sitter
  • 30-45 minutes at least once a day for the crawler
  • Up to 60 minutes for the 15-20 month old in playpen or room
  • 60-90 minutes for 18 months and older in the room
It also says these are guidelines. Some days may be longer, some shorter. For example, say it is Saturday and you have a family thing to get to. You can have a shorter than usually independent play so you can get to your family thing on time.

You also don't want to overuse it (read abuse it) and turn it into an all day thing. You also want it to be long enough for your child.

As a note, I did independent play with Brayden only once a day because he didn't love it. With Kaitlyn, we do it twice because she has always loved it. My other two daughters loved it, also.

Brayden now loves it, and has since it became roomtime instead of playpen time. At nearly 3, he plays for 1-1.5 (usually 1.5) hours once a day. At 11 months, Kaitlyn does it twice a day. Her morning playtime is 20-30 minutes, depending on the amount of time before her nap. Her afternoon playtime is 40-45 minutes. She never complains about it, but I get her because I figure that is long enough for her at her age.

Related Posts on Independent Playtime:

On Becoming Babywise Book Two

How To Go Out With Your Babywise Baby

How To Go Out With Your Babywise Baby without ruining the routine

How To Go Out With Your Babywise Baby | Babywise | On Becoming Babywise

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

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

How to Get Out of the House with Your Babywise Baby

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

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

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

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

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Reader Comments:

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

How to Stop a Tantrum by Addressing The Choice Addiction

How to stop tantrums by addressing the choice addiction

When a tantrum arises, there can be many causes of it. One that is wise to routinely consider is that of the choice addiction.
How to stop tantrums by addressing the choice addiction

The Choice Addiction is a chapter in On Becoming Preschoolwise (affiliate link). I find it to be highly valuable, so I am going to summarize key points from it here. It is chapter 4 and begins on page 65.

Choice Addiction Explanation

  • Wise in their own eyes. You know your child is this way if he does things he shouldn't and says things he shouldn't. Do you allow your child to make too many decisions? You have to be careful about this. Yes, you want your child to practice decision making and living with the consequences of those decisions. However, you don't want it to get to the point that the child insists on making each decision. The example used in the book is of a 4 year old insisting upon the blue instead of red cup, grape instead of the orange juice already poured, jam instead of butter, reading in the spot he choses rather than where mom chose, switching the story, etc. All of these seemed like harmless decisions. However, it escalates into him refusing to eat lunch because he is busy playing. The mom then wonders why he won't obey.
  • Moral vs. nonmoral choices. The child doesn't know yet which choices he makes are moral (obeying mom) and which are nonmoral (color of cup). He is so used to making every decision that he is resistant to any decision made by mom, often choosing something else just because it is different from what she chose.
I am going to pause here and say that the majority of the time that I am experiencing behavior problems with Brayden, it is because he has too many choices. I try to mix things up. I do want him to understand what it means to make a choice and what it means to follow through with that choice. I will offer him a choice between X shirt or Y shirt. Both are shirts I would be happy with him wearing. Whichever shirt he chooses, he wears all day (pending some good reason to change it like he spilled water all over himself or something). He doesn't get to choose which shirt to wear every day, just some days. I mix up the decisions I allow him to make so that he doesn't come to feel entitled to any. Okay, back to the list.
How to stop tantrums by addressing the choice addiction
  • To give your child too many choices and give too much freedom to make decisions is to push your child developmentally. It is akin to pushing your child into an organized sport he isn't ready to play. Hopefully you wouldn't throw your child into that situation of playing a sport against kids before he is ready. It can also be compared to getting a tutor for your 18 month old to ensure her success in school. So if you start to feel guilty about not allowing so many choices, remember you are doing it for the good of your child. Someday he will be able to chose his cup and his drink every day. For now, you only give him control as he can handle it. Keep it in the funnel.
  • The reason for conflict with too many choices is because your child "cannot handle the power associated with decision-making freedoms prior to the establishment of a self-regulating, moral conscience." (p.69)
  • Keep in mind that allowing too many freedoms (parenting outside the funnel) places burdens on your child. You expect him to handle things he isn't capable of handling. It requires him to grow up faster than necessary.
  • This problem starts with the parents, not the child. This is why I say that most of the behavior problems I encounter with Brayden are my fault, not his. I have done something wrong. Keep that in mind. While your child is misbehaving, it is because of something you have done, not because the child is "bad." The good news is that you have more control than you think. You can control yourself easier than your child.
  • The three most common freedoms granted with preschoolers are decision making freedoms, physical freedoms, and verbal freedoms.

Decision Making Freedoms

  • You want to neither over-control nor under-control.
  • Be sure your child is developmentally, intellectually, and/or emotionally capable of making this decision. I think one way to gauge this is to observe how they handle the consequences of their decisions.
  • How do you know if your child has too many decision making freedoms? Answer these questions. Can your child handle not being given the choice of what to eat? What about what to wear? If your child accepts your decisions without complaining, then your child can handle some freedoms in this area. If your child complains, protests, etc. then you know you have a problem.
  • Does your child debate? Does he fall apart when an impulsive desire is denied? Does your child struggle to submit to instruction? Does he do what you ask, but do less than you asked for? If so, it is likely he has too many freedoms for his age.
  • The real world doesn't give in to tantrums. The real world won't tip-toe around him to avoid tantrums. You won't be doing him any favors if you allow him too many decision making
    How to stop tantrums by addressing the choice addiction

Physical Freedoms

  • Does your child inform you of what he is going to do, or does he ask for permission to do something? "I am going to play outside" vs. "May I go outside?"If it is the former, there are too many physical freedoms for your child.
  • There is nothing wrong with playing outside or wanting to play outside. You just want to make sure the parent chooses if this does or does not happen.
  • To keep this problem at bay, you simply require your child ask for permission rather than simply telling you. You then cannot give in if a tantrum follows the "no." If you do, the child made the decision anyway.

Verbal Freedoms

  • Too many verbal freedoms include bossiness, rudeness, demanding speech, needing the last word, telling you no, etc.
  • Don't allow your child to operate under the impression that he is your verbal peer. You are the parent.
  • To fix it, you simply require a "Yes Mommy" or "Yes Daddy" in response to your instruction.
  • When you tell your child to respond with yes mommy, he will often be resistant, especially at first. Some moms respond to resistance by interrupting and saying, "The only response you are allowed to give me right now is "Yes Mommy" or to say "You don't have the freedom to talk back to me."
  • My son will at times be resistant to this. He doesn't talk back, he just avoids eye contact and refuses to say anything. I wait him out. He is required to say it. He knows it. Just last night, we went to the library. On the way out, he broke free of my hand and ran to our vehicle. I got down eye level with him. I explained to him the reasons he needed to hold my hand in the parking lot. I told him in the future, he needed to hold my hand. I told him to tell me "yes Mommy." He looked away and furrowed his brow. He grunted and pointed indicating he wanted to get into the vehicle. I told him he needed to tell me "yes, Mommy" and once he did, we would get in the vehicle. I told him I would wait. He quickly looked at me and said "Yes Mommy."

How To Stop the Tantrums

You can fix this, and easily. Here is how.
  • You take back freedoms you have granted prematurely. Once your child demonstrates that he can accept your choices (this means no grumbling or whining), you can start to allow choices (though not the same every day).
  • Have structure to your day. You guide your child's activities.
  • If your child throws tantrums at first, resist the urge to fix the problem. Is he throwing a fit because he wants something other than what you chose for breakfast? Don't give in!
  • Be consistent.
  • It can take three days to three weeks or more to overcome.
  • Remember children want to do what is right and want instruction and guidance from their parents.
I find this chapter so valuable because I find the choice addiction to be the root of about 90% of behavior problems I experience with my son. Hopefully you can apply some ideas to your children. Of course, this is just a summary. It is a good idea for you to read the chapter and take what you can from it.

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