Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sweetly Sleep (3rd Installment)

Learning a new skill takes practice, practice, practice AND time. This goes for anything. Whether it's an apprentice to an electrician, or a martial artist, or a dancer. It doesn't happen over night, and takes discipline and dedication. Believe it or not your tiny baby has the ability to develop skills too, and amazingly enough SLEEP is a skill. If you've managed to get your life somewhat into schedule and have developed a bedtime routine you are doing great! However you may have realized that the tyke that all this stuff is for has not got the right appreciation for it. They have to learn to get the skill to go to sleep when all the indications are telling them it's time for sleep. This is the most difficult time for us parents. It does involve crying and we hate that! Don't let yourself feel guilty for putting your baby down and letting them fuss. I prefer to think of it as them "working it out" on their own. There are several things for you to remember at this point. GET HELP! Our son would still not know how to sleep on his own if it was just up to me. My husband and I worked as a team. I could only stand so much crying before I felt like joining in. My husband would then take over. I would go to a different room, and when I was "better" I'd come back in and join the fray. We used the method where after the bedtime routine we'd put the sprout down, leave the room, come back in 5 minutes to comfort, leave, come back in 10 min, leave, come back in 15 min. It's a rigorous boot camp, and people struggle through it. Let me just tell you it is WORTH IT! Our baby almost never screamed for the 15 minutes. It does seem like an eternity when they are crying, but set a timer and be strong. Make sure mommy and daddy are in it together and are supporting each other. It will only be a matter of days till you see results and you CAN DO IT! If we were consistent our son got regulated in 3 days or less. This is the part where you tell yourself you're doing it for their own good. Just like shots, and going to school, and eating healthy instead of junk. Your baby will be happier during the day with regular sleep, and you will be able to better enjoy your little one because you'll be able to sleep as well. Be the coach your baby needs to learn this important skill!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Public has spoken

In a recent poll on the blog I asked parents what their favorite brand of diaper was. Hands down it ended up being Huggies! The only other votes were for store brand diapers. Pampers did not get one vote! I have since talked to several moms and no one has been impressed with Pampers at all. This is good news for those of us who wince at the price of baby diapers! Huggies are certainly more affordable than the "premium priced" Pampers. However if you are really pinching pennies I'd suggest giving the store brands another try. We have found that the brands Sam's Club and Costco sell do a wonderful job for our little mess. I was given a package of Pampers that our buddy soaked right through during the night, but the off brands we use will last a 12 hour night no problem. Huggies are my first "brand name" pic, but the Kirkland brand and the Sams Club diapers will always be my preference to buy because they are cheaper and work great!

Sweetly Sleep (2nd Installment)

"Shhhhhhh! Baby is sleeping!" Those words are franticly whispered by panicked parents in households across the world. Why? Because someone spent possibly hours trying to get the little sprout to FINALLY drop off and is now walking on egg shells in fear that the slightest noise will "set them off" again. Who really wants to live that way for 9, 18, or 24 months till the little person in your home learns to love to sleep? I mentioned before having a daily routine helps children be ready for sleep. Now more specifically we'll discuss the bed/nap time routine. This is a series of events that you create to help your baby wind down and know that it's time for him to close those eyes and sleep. You must add elements to the ritual that work for YOU! We do not use a bath as part of our routine because we don't do bath every night. Your routine has to be something you can do consistently each night. Here is ours: Bubba "says" night-night to Daddy and gets kisses. He and Mommy then go to his room where just the little lamp is on. We sit in the glider and rock while we read a story (this is a recently added element). After the story he gets his bed time bottle (this element will eventually be faded out which is why we added the story time). Once the bottle is finished Mommy turns out the light and we snuggle in the dark for a short time before he is placed in his crib. He has become so accustomed to his routine that as soon as he sucks air from his bottle he will crane his neck back to watch because he knows the light goes out next. I mentioned that we've added things, and will take things out. The routine is "flexible" in that as your baby grows things will inevitably change about the routine. The important thing is to figure out what works best for you and do the SAME THING every night. Our son knows when he is placed in his crib that it's time for sleep. He will find his thumb and is usually completely asleep in less than 2 minutes. Try it with your sweethearts and see if you can gain more confidence in your baby's ability to put themselves to sleep.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A snack you can share

From every direction you get advice about eating right, and eating healthy, and making better food choices. We all KNOW the lines, but really, how many of us can resist that candy bar screaming our names when we've waited in line at the market with an unhappy child (or 2 or 3)? Especially when the kids are the ones yelling for the candy in the isles too! I recently discovered a very very healthy and YUMMY snack for you and your munchkin! I was in Cosco shopping for "stuff" and they were giving out samples of Mrs. May's fruit chips! Wow were they good! They are REAL fruit, no sugar, no preservatives, no additives! Wow! It's just pure freeze dried fruit and it makes a fabulous snack! I like to get my little guy on my lap and rip open a bag, (he loves to play with the bags too!) and then we sit together and share some fruit. Of course, he is still pretty little so he gets very small bits, and that's fine because it leaves more for me- ha ha! There are less than 40 calories per bag with these things, and they just kinda of hit the spot! I'd check them out if I were you. We found ours a Cosco, but there's also the Mrs. May's website if you want to look there. They've got all kinds of delicious stuff! Happy snacking!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sweetly Sleep (1st instalment)

People with babies all share the universal fear of lack of sleep. Before our son was born we were warned by good meaning parents that we should "get our sleep now because you won't once he's here!" I understand that sentiment to a point. However my hubby and I decided to take the positive approach and decide that we would not "whine" over lack of sleep but rather work toward a solution. Our sweet boy slept his first 8 hour night at a very young 5 weeks!! Now at 9 months he is sleeping 12 hours each night and takes two naps one to two hours a piece. We have had some back and forth issues with getting him to this point and some of the things we have learned I'm going to share with you. Just so you know our boy now looks forward to bedtime and nap times. It's great!
The first thing you simply MUST do to insure calm sleep situations is routine! I know, that word is dreaded in some households. Truth be told, our son HAS to be somewhat flexible with the kind of schedules we have. However I do my best to keep him on a pretty stable schedule. Your whole day does not need to be plotted out. The most important things are to go to bed/nap at the SAME time each day. It's also helpful if your feedings are fairly regular as well. Having been a teacher, both school AND preschool as well as a nanny before I had my own baby, I understand the importance of routine for little people. It gives them security of knowing what is going to happen "next." That security will help them be able to relax because they understand what is going on. Don't be fooled thinking your wee baby won't get it just because they can't tell time, you'll see a HUGE difference in them in a very short time. A good rule of thumb for babies from zero to about 6 months is nap after each two hours of awake time.
Next time I'll talk about the actual "Bedtime routine." Till then think about what goes on in each of your days and what kind of routine would work best for your little family.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

'da hood

I was listening to a podcast done by the Parents magazine people and heard them mention a website that you all might want to check out. It's called The Motherhood, nice! I haven't had a chance to explore it's depths, but it looks fabulous! It has all kinds of mommy related blogs and info. I'm sure you could find some cyber friends who are all going through whatever you may be experiencing. From potty training to sleep issues there is someone out there who has either been there or who IS there and they would like to share their knowledge with you. So look into it, who knows you may find a treasure.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Baby Signs

I have several friends who have talked about wanting their baby to learn sign language. I too would like to teach our baby (9 months) some basic signs. For Christmas we got him a set of Baby Einstein DVD's and this one along with "Baby's First Moves" is our favorite! It is simple enough for babies to grasp, and their parents. The key to teaching babies signs is to do them consistently. This DVD is a great way for you to learn together and reinforce what you're teaching your baby every day. He will learn signs for every day stuff, from the people in his life (mommy, daddy) to eating, playing and sleeping related signs. You should certainly give this one a try! I know they sell the Baby Einstein stuff at Wal-Mart, but you could also order it HERE. Check it out! It might be the best $10 you spend to increase communication between you and your precious little one!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Time saving = life saving

One of the regular household duties that I despise the most is scrubbing the shower! When I got pregnant with my son I decided that something HAD TO BE DONE because I couldn't even bend over to tie my own shoes let alone scrub the yucky shower. So I hired a maid to work for me in the form of Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner! This product is great! You just hang it on the shower head and push the blue button after showering. It sprays a fine mist of cleaner all around your shower (close the curtain!) and keeps the mildew, mold AND soap scum cleaned off! I found that some light maintenance was necessary around the edge of the tub that the curtain hid, but other than that it was awesome! Now that I can bend with ease again, I still don't like scrubbing the shower so I use it as a time saver in my house. I consider time saved from mundane things is time I can use to play with my boy and that is certainly worth the investment!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Travel Tips

We put a lot of miles on our poor infant the first few months of his life. :-) However, he's now a very well traveled baby, and loves to go for adventures with mom and dad! There are challenges to traveling with baby though! One that we ran into was feeding time! If your baby is bottle fed or supplemented like ours was, an issue is getting warm water for the bottle. I'd seen bottle warmers that you can use in a vehicle. However they all seemed rather bulky and slow! But we used our creativity and came up with our own method. It involves sunshine and a Nalgene bottle! We would put the Nalgene of water on the dash in the sunlight and by the time the baby needed to be fed, the water was warm! In fact sometimes it was so warm that we'd have to dilute it with some cooler water. It's good to have some extra around just in case. It wasn't until nearly the end of our summer travels that we figured this out and we wished we had thought of it before! You can always stop at a gas station and use their microwave to heat water too, but where we were driving it wasn't guarantee that there would be one when we needed it. Hope this is helpful!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Shopping Bags to the rescue!

Since our son was born we have traveled thousands of miles with him. There are LOTS of trick to traveling with an infant, and I'll probably be sharing more in future posts. This time I just wanted to remind you that those zillions of shopping bags you get from
Albertsons or Wal-Mart are great for baby stuff! Okay common sense, no, you should NEVER let your baby play with plastic bags, but they have other uses that are handy. We always keep several bags rolled up tightly and stuffed into one of the pockets of our diaper bag. This way if we end up with a poopy diaper and no where to stash it or messy clothes, we can put them in a bag and keep them in the diaper bag without getting anything else messy, and containing the not so elegant smell. :-) This is a great idea too if you're a guest in someone's house. I never like to leave poopy diapers in someone else's trash. It's also nice to have them available when you're traveling in case you forgot a bag for all the trash that accumulates on a trip! It's just one way to reuse something that we all have way too much of before we end up throwing it away anyhow.

No more dryer sheets!

Every mom knows that you're not supposed to use dryer sheets on your baby clothes. However we live in a very arid part of the country and clothing without softener is as static as a live electric line! BUT! I have a solution. These came to me compliments of my mother-in-law. They're dryer balls and they work great! I've seen them on t.v. that crazy "oxclean" guy was swearing by them. I don't really trust all the junk on t.v. though so I wasn't going to bother, but now that I've given them a spin (ha ha) I'm happy to recommend them to any one! Not only do they keep the static down, but they actual DO decrease your drying time by helping the air to circulate better. If you're like me and you want to save on drying time, plus money, plus not having to throw away used dryer sheets, then by all means get these little things. They are NOT expensive, and you'll be happy you gave it a try!
Here's a quote from "Your Baby Today"
Choosing detergent Your baby's skin is more sensitive than yours, but as long as you use a mild detergent -- one without color or fragrance -- you can safely wash his clothing with yours. (Just be sure to wash cloth diapers separately from all clothing. See "Washing Diapers," below.) For now, avoid using liquid fabric softeners or dryer sheets since they tend to be perfumed and may irritate baby's skin. Always wash your baby's PJs in detergent rather than natural animal-based soaps because such formulas wash out the flame-retardant chemicals that are used to treat sleepwear.