Posted in Parenting

My 4 Month Old Sucks at Tummy Time & Other “Confessions” from a Mom of 3

My eldest, Charles, is going to be 4 years old in about a week.  My daughter, Amélie, just turned 2 about a couple of months ago.  My littlest one, Elliot, is going to be 5 months old in a few days.  My days can get pretty darned hectic (or downright crazy), luckily, I’ve found ways to maintain my sanity.

    1. Elliot sucks at tummy time and I don’t care.  He’s going to be 5 months old in under a week and he still struggles to lift that big ol’ head of his off the ground.  Sure I try to get him to exercise his muscles at least once a day (most days I manage), but it’s usually propped up over his nursing pillow, or doing the airplane or some of the other methods I use.  But “pure” tummy-on-blanket-straight-on-the-floor tummy time is not one of his strengths.img_2152
    2. I don’t care what my toddlers look like when they get out of the house – as long as they are dressed in weather-appropriate clothing.  I want you to picture something in your heads.  Imagine an almost 4-year-old toddler with dark grey sweatpants (that are the wrong side around), a blue plaid button-up shirt, a yellow patterned bow tie and missmatching socks.  Now I want you to imagine this almost 4 year old putting on a red fleece coat with a blue poncho (with tassels) over top and completing the look with fingerless gloves, fireman rain boots and a bright orange earflap beanie.  That was Charles recently.  Unfortunately, he didn’t let me take a picture of him.

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      As you can see, Amélie also has an interesting sense of fashion.
    3. I don’t bathe my kids every day.  In fact, sometimes I skip a day or two or three and then bring them in the shower with me the next morning to give them a quick wash before bringing them to daycare.  And speaking of showers…
    4. I don’t shower every day.  I used to shower every day.  I used to love showers.  Then, I had kids.  Nowadays showers usually include one to three kiddos in the washroom with me.  These days, a shower is a luxury.  A shower where I can be completely alone is almost a Haley’s comet sighting type event.
    5. You never know what you’re going to walk into when you come through the door of my house.  Sometimes, it looks like it’s run by someone who has her sh*t together, sometimes it looks like freaking Tornado Alley.  I may not have a Pinterest Perfect house, but I’m okay with that, because what I have works for me.
    6. I sometimes bring Elliot in bed with me. Recently the little one went through a wonder week, a growth spurt and teething (yup, he cut his first pearly white a couple of weeks ago) and I had a supply drop due to the onset of my period.  These were not happy days (and horrible nights).  To save my sanity, I brought the kid in bed with me to nurse a couple of times so that I could get a bit of shut-eye.

So, there you have it.  These are six of the things that I have let go of to keep my sanity.  What kinds of concessions have you made since becoming a parent?

 

Posted in Parenting

I Let My Newborn Daughter Sleep On Her Tummy & Other Momfessions From A Second-Time Mom

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 I consider myself to be a pretty laid-back person in general.  I mean, why sweat the small stuff, right?  At the same time, though, I am a perfectionist and a stickler for rules.  Knowing this, I expect you can imagine that these two sides clashed upon the arrival of my first child.  I tried hard to be that perfect by-the-book mama, but it didn’t always work out that way.  And why should it?  I mean, I am just human (and besides, how can you be by-the-book with the myriad of parenting approaches that exist) and my baby was only just human (and obviously hadn’t read any books on parenting).

Now that our family has grown again, I have made some changes to my newborn parenting style:

  1. I let my newborn daughter sleep on her tummy…And on her side…and on her back.  I know that the safest position for a baby to sleep in is on their back and that’s exactly how I put my daughter down for sleep at nighttime.  But during the day, I alternate between putting her down on her tummy, side and back.  I do this because she is more comfortable and sleeps better on her side and tummy than on her back.  Besides, alternating between these positions help contribute to reduce her risk of having flat head syndrome.
  2. Despite having a 50 week maternity leave, my partner and I still send our toddler to daycare from Monday to Friday.  We do this for three reasons.  Primo, had we pulled our son out, we would have lost our daycare spot (and we love his daycare spot).  Secundo, he’s a very social little guy and needs to play wit his friends.  Tertio, I need my bonding time with my newborn.
  3. I don’t wait for my daughter to be asleep before putting her down in her moses basket during the day.  Sometimes, she’ll manage to fall asleep on her own in her basket in the middle of the living room (with or without the presence of a playful toddler) as I tidy up or sit down to eat.  Sometimes, she’ll end up crying because sheMs overtired and unable to fall asleep and I’ll pick her right back up.
  4. I don’t pick my daughter up at the slightest squeak.  Sometimes, she’ll start squeaking about in her sleep.  If I pick her up, I’ll wake her (and, lets face it, who wants to wake a  sleeping baby?).  Sometimes, she’ll start squeaking about in her basket when I put her down awake, but can still manage to fall asleep on her own.
  5. I (sometimes) sleep when the baby sleeps (instead of looking adoringly upon my sleeping baby as she sleeps).  I can do this because my son attends daycare.  I need to do this because I believe that my children and partner shouldn’t need to suffer through sleep-deprived induced impatience if I can do something about it.
  6. I nurse on demand…except when I don’t.  I make sure my daughter nurses at least every 3 hours…but don’t beat myself up if she goes longer between feeds at night.  I will happily nurse on demand (ie: nurse even if she ate an hour before when she asks for the breast)…but when I’m home with both my newborn and toddler, I’ll tweak her nursing hours to try to get her down for a nap during my son’s afternoon nap.
  7. I bed-shared with my newborn daughter a couple of times.  I knew from experience that a baby’s second night was generally hellish because they want to nurse all the time.  It turns out that this was what happened for Amélie’s first two nights.  So, at 2am, after two hours of cluster nursing and a mama that kept being on the verge of falling asleep while holding her baby (not a good idea!), I got in bed and nursed my daughter lying down.  It allowed both of us to get some much needed rest and it was safer (in my opinion) than risking falling asleep with my baby in my arms.

I feel much more confident about this parenting thing two weeks in my second time around.  I find myself less stressed over the little things.  I’m happy to not live by the nursing clock this time around and I don’t get as stressed when my baby cries (’cause that’s how they communicate).  Of course, this time around I was armed with knowledge that I didn’t have the first time around.  I know that just because she’s nursing like mad, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have enough milk, but that she is likely going through a growth spurt.  I know that she doesn’t just cry because she’s hungry; sometimes she’s uncomfortable (like the time I swaddled her too tightly for her tastes), wants her diaper changed or has a tummy ache from gas.

What did you do differently with the arrival of you second (or third, or fourth…) child?

Posted in Parenting

Sleeping Arrangements

Ahhh, peacefully sleeping.

Ever since we brought Charles home roughly 16 months ago, we’ve had to make several changes to our/his sleeping arrangements.  I thought I’d break down what changed when for future reference (y’know, so I don’t wonder how we managed when Peanut comes along 😉 ).

The newborn phase

Since a newborn’s circadian rhythm isn’t programmed the way ours is (from my understanding, that happens around 4 months) they have no conception of the difference between day and night.  Knowing this, we decided to establish a visible difference between naps and nighttime sleep from the getgo.  During the day, the little guy slept in his moses basket wherever his father and I were hanging out.  During nights, though we considered many options (co-sleeping, having a cot in our room…), we decided to get him used to sleeping in his own crib in his own room.  Since his room is right next to ours, we just kept both bedroom doors opened and we could hear him very quickly when he awoke for a feed in the middle of the night (or, rather I woke up very quickly – often my partner didn’t even hear him).

We swaddled him for the first week or two before stopping because he just seemed to hate it.

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1 week old and snoozing away in the living room.

Eventually, when the little guy started too get big for his basket, we moved him to a baby park bed for his daytime naps.  We also started to swaddle again when he was about 6 weeks old and his moro reflex (startle reflex) started to kick in.

2 months old.  The swaddle is officially back.
2 months old. The swaddle is officially back.

The infant phase

At around the age of 4 months, we felt that Charles was ready to do his naps in his own room and so that’s where he went.  We were still swaddling (as he was still aaaages away from being able to roll) and we had started using the pacifier sparingly to help him settle down for naps when he was overtired.  Except the “sparingly” part eventually led to “frequently” and so we began our road down pacifier hell.

Weaning off the pacifier and the swaddle

By the time Charles was nearly 6 months old, I was way past the mombie phase because I had to keep on replugging the darned pacifier all night long.  I was also getting frustrated with my little Houdini’s ability to break out of every single swaddle, no matter how tight or how creative and so, after trying a gentle method  of pacifier removal (Pantley’s gentle removal), I decided to embark on the sleep training wagon get rid or both the paci and the swaddle cold turkey with the baby whisperer’s PU/PD method.  It was hard, but it ended up paying off.  Oh and this is when we invested in a lovey and when we started using a white noise machine for his sleep.

Of course, the little guy was very happy with his newfound liberty…

…and he got himself into a whole bunch of weird positions…

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Looks…um…comfortable…

6 months to 16 months

…so we ended up setting his mattress to the lowest setting and we decided to invest in some sleep sacks.

Isn't a sleeping baby the cutest thing!
Isn’t a sleeping baby the cutest thing!

It took a while, but eventually, Charles started to really “get” what a lovey was meant to be used for.  When he was about 12 months old, he would grab on to his lovey when it was story time and keep hold of it when I set him in his bed.  A couple of months later, he would recognize it by name and go get it when we asked him where his friend the ghost (that’s what his lovey is called ’round here) was.  Then, at about 15 months, he started to go and grab it by himself as soon as he was out of the tub and in his pyjamas.

16 months onwards

A couple of weeks ago, after months of pretty smooth sailing when it came to putting him down for naps and bedtime, Charles started to get into a fit when it was time for bed.  Thinking that he had developed a fear of the dark, we started to turn on the little nightlight that comes with his white noise machine.  Then, one night, out of the blue, he reached out for one of his blankies.  I’d never let him sleep with one before because I’m a scaredy cat when it comes to sleep and the possibility that he might suffocate himself (he also doesn’t have any bumpers on his bed or any stuffed animals with him), but I figured that if he was old enough to ask for it, he was old enough to sleep with it (of course, there’s also the fact that he is super mobile now).  He was very happy and now grabs both his lovey and blankie once he’s in his sleepsack and ready for bed.  For the record, this is the shop where I bought the sleepsack from (seen below with a dinosaur print).  I’m not affiliated with the Etsy shop owner in any way, I was just so in love with the product (I mean, it has feet holes which means that my son can walk around in it and easily move around once he’s down for sleep!) that I decided to give it a shout out here.

Blankie: check, lovey: check, sleep sack: check.  Ready for his bedtime story!
Blankie: check, lovey: check, sleep sack: check. Ready for his bedtime story!

Another change in preparation

In preparation for Peanut’s arrival, Charles will be going through another sleeping arrangement change.  We have decided that the baby will be moving into the nursery that Little Dude is sleeping in right now and that the little guy will be moving to a “big boy room”.  We’ll be moving him to a floor bed so that he’ll be able to get in and out on his own and he’ll be allowed to bring stuffed animals to bed with him if he wants to.  I’m really excited (and, let’s face it, anxious) to see how the transition will go.  I will definitely be keeping you guys posted when we go through the move this summer.

What do the sleeping arrangements look like in your household?

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Posted in Sleep (and lack thereof)

Sweet Dreams

I’ve got a curious little fella.  I mean, really curious.  From the time he wakes from his two-hour nightly sleep spurts to the time nighttime comes again, he usually refuses to fall asleep.  He yawns, his eyes become glazed over and his eyelids start to shut.  Sometimes, this means sleep, but other times, he refuses to let sleep claim him.  As soon as I think he will finally fall asleep, he forces his eyes open wide again and then, it’s almost impossible to get him to sleep.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love to see his eyes open, staring at my face, his hands grasping the strands of hair that are within arms reach.  I love to see the faces he makes, love to see his lips curl into a smile.  The problem is, when he stays awake for too long, he gets overstimulated, which in turn causes him to become overtired and an overtired newborn (well, my overtired newborn) is even harder to get to sleep!

In the days following our return from the hospital, my son would fall asleep consistently at the breast.  It was so simple: I would nurse, he would fall asleep, I would put him to bed, then put myself to bed.  However, this no longer works systematically.  So I’ve been reading and have tried different things to get my little one to sleep.

  1. Distinguishing night and day: Now I know that newborns don’t know the difference between day and night.  As far as I understand, this comprehension can’t come in until a baby is about six weeks of age.  However, I’ve implemented some things to help my son make the distinction more easily.  First, his day naps happen in his moses basket wherever my boyfriend or I are.  This means he sleeps in a bright place with usual household noises going on around him.  We do not whisper when we talk or tiptoe around, we go about our business.  This seems to reassure our little one as he knows that we are nearby.  When night comes, we move him to his crib.  His room is kept dark with only a nightlight bright enough to allow me to see him when he wakes during the night for a feeding or diaper change (or pyjama change when his father or I had trouble putting on his diaper properly…).  This *knock on wood* seems to be working so far.
  2. Swaddling: My mother-in-law swears by this method, but it hasn’t worked for me.  My son HATES, I mean REALLY HATES being swaddled.  He always screams out in anger and frustration when he loses the use of his arms because they are pinned down against him by a blanket.  I would say that the only time during which he actually agreed to be swaddled, was in the 24 hours following his exit from the womb.
  3. Burping him:  Oddly enough, this seems to be one of his preferred methods of falling asleep these days.  When we finish a feed, I put him over my shoulder and switch between lightly tapping and rubbing his back.  Generally, within about five to ten minutes he has not only burped but has fallen asleep against me.  Now, perhaps it is because he is in contact with his mother, perhaps it is because he is being held in an upright position, perhaps it is because it helps his stomach settle, I don’t know what the reason is, but I am very happy that this method works – most of the time!
  4. Singing/Rocking:  Pretty self-explanatory.  Sometimes it works, most times it doesn’t…
  5. Holding him: This usually helps a lot.  Sometimes, my son seems to only want to be held.  He needs this contact with his mother (and sometimes his father).  The only problem is that when he is sleeping in my arms, I can’t allow myself to fall asleep and usually when he is seeking contact, even if he does fall asleep in my arms, he will almost assuredly always wake up as soon as I put him in his moses or crib.
  6. Secret weapon: the pacifier: There are times during which nothing seems to work.  Sometimes, my little one only needs to suck.  I am becoming better at recognizing these moments – though I am by no means ever 100% right – and will offer him a pacifier to help him get to sleep.  I usually try out this method when I am zombie tired and need to sleep, even for 30 minutes.  However, I refuse to give him a pacifier to fall asleep in his crib at night and I usually use this tool as a last resort.
  7. Ultimate secret weapon: co-sleeping: When I learned I was pregnant I swore I would never co-sleep with my child.  The idea has always scared me to death.  There are waaay too many thing that could go wrong for my liking.  However, it has happened to me.  Though unintentional, my co-sleeping experience has opened my eyes to the fact that it can be a good idea.  Though I would definitely not do it every night, I think that it is something I may do again in the future when my son will be going through another growth spurt.  The way I see it, it is less dangerous to co-sleep when I haven’t slept in over 24 hours than to risk falling asleep nursing my son on the couch or in the rocking chair that is in his room.  Of course, though I know that this method is not recommended, I follow all safety guidelines that have been set for parents who choose to do this.  I sleep in the spare bedroom on the firm mattress bed with my son between myself and the wall.  I sleep in my pyjamas so that I don’t have to use a blanket; our mutual body heat keeps us warm.  Of course, I would NEVER even think of doing this if I had consumed even one glass of wine in the evening.

Sleep Tight