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Solicited Advice

7 Nov

Ok all, since my computer is now officially dead, there are only going to be short posts for the time being, even though I have a lot to say,

Bunny is nearing the end of the so-called “fourth trimester”. She just turned two months old and is becoming more aware of her surroundings.

The best piece of advice I got before she was born was that the first three months are pure survival mode. That they are truly a fourth trimester, because the babies spend most of their energy growing and adjusting to life outside.
That as long as they’re eating, sleeping, and pooping, you’re in good shape.

Just knowing that has done wonders for my sanity.

But now the clock is ticking. We’re coming up on scary stuff like sleep routines, education, emotional development, and introducing solids (while hopefully dealing with Bunny’s eating issues).

So allow me to be honest about this: I feel clueless, yet the thought of doing hours of research online or reading up on “methods” kind of goes against my instincts.
Every good thing I’ve learned about being a parent has come from observing others, learning from their mistakes when they’re willing to share them (or when they’re just glaringly obvious), and adopting the things that are right for me. So far that has been more worthwhile than reading 100 books.

For example- we keep a loud household. When Bunny is asleep, we talk in regular tones, let the dog bark, watch tv at a regular volume, etc.
I learned that little trick while marveling at how a good friend’s 4-month-old slept soundly throughout a very long very loud dog barking session.

I think implementing things solely based on theories and books is counter intuitive, and doesn’t work for the day to day business of raising a child.

So- here’s where you come in. Sometimes I whine to myself about the fact that most of you dear readers started this journey toward parenthood with me or after me, and have long since lapped me.
Sometimes that makes me a bit sad.
But this time instead of feeling like I’m running behind, I’m going to use this to my advantage!

Though unsolicited advice is hated by all mothers, I think solicited advice is invaluable. So here’s your chance: what are the things you wish you would have known going into parenting at this crucial stage? What are your words of wisdom about eating, sleeping, bonding and educating? Do you have little tricks that you learned along the way? Are there books that are actually useful that won’t make me feel annoyed or inadequate?

You don’t need to write a novel, though go right ahead if you feel like it! I’m sure each of you have one or two things you swear by. Just like I currently swear by the “loud house” and “fourth trimester” philosophies, and that would be the advice I would give an expectant mother, if asked.

So have at it ladies! Educate me.

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32 Responses to “Solicited Advice”

  1. KeAnne November 8, 2013 at 17:19 #

    I wish that we had tried harder to establish a sleep routine. It’s not that D was a bad sleeper; he was good, but I felt like we could have taken more control over his sleeping. Some evenings I felt like we were waiting for him to show signs of being sleepy, which in hindsight was ridiculous. Other than that, I suggest paying attention to what the books say you and she should be doing but not get heartburn if it doesn’t work out that way. Just read to her, cuddle her, talk to her and that will be a great start.

  2. Christina November 8, 2013 at 17:29 #

    My best advice (and sanity saver) about sleep is don’t even bother training. Until they are older than 6-9m there are so many developmental changes and sleep regressions, all your hard work will feel useless and pointless. I don’t know if you babywear/use carriers, but I highly recommend them as you can then take bunny anywhere and she can sleep if she wants. We did this with Em, and it was great because you feel like you can still have a bit of a life and baby will learn to be ok in diff surroundings. (Yes, we were those people that had a 3m old out at a bar).

    And best piece of advice, as long as she’s growing and happy, you are doing a great job. Please, please don’t get caught up in comparing Bunny to every other baby. She’s perfect and you are doing a great job!

  3. conceptionchronicles November 8, 2013 at 17:34 #

    Sleeping is key. Get a good routine going early. Up to four months babies can only stay awake up to two hours. Dont push it or she will get overtired. And try to establish an early bedtime – goes along with their brainwaves – say 7 or 8 o’clock. And buy a Moby wrap. That was a lifesaver for me!

  4. Hurricane Laura November 8, 2013 at 17:39 #

    This is a great way to handle this – and pretty similar to what I did when my son was born. Everyone I knew had already had children (because of my IF) so I just piggy-backed off their methods and therefore had to do very little real research myself.

    So here’s what I got:
    1. Sleep. Are you swaddling her for her sleeping right now? There might be a big change once she hits 4-5 months. I discovered that my son suddenly stopped being a consistent sleeper, and he even quit napping during the day for an entire month. It was HORRIBLE! I wasn’t prepared at all. But here’s what I learned: some babies don’t want to be swaddled after the 4th trimester is over. They want to be able to get to their hands, to suck their fingers as a part of self-soothing. This is good. But you have to have a back-up plan for what to put them in if your swaddling blanket suddenly no longer works. I now use the Merlin Magic Sleep suit (you can buy it on Amazon) and it IS magic. Nicely padded so they stay warm, and a little heavy so it feels secure like swaddling. (it doesn’t hurt either that it looks hilarious) Also, I recommended some blackout curtains in her room – those make napping easier once the baby is more aware/alert after 4 months. I also started using the 2/3/4 method for sleep training during the day – this involves the baby getting up in the morning, being up for 2 hours, then going down for a nap. Then, when she gets up from her nap, she’s awake for 3 hours before you put her down for the afternoon nap. Then, when she gets up from that, she has 4 hours until bath/bedtime. It gets them into a routine and helps them understand/adjust to the rhythms of the day. It also makes your life easier because you know about when she needs to sleep, so you can plan around it.

    2. Solids. This website is great: http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/index.htm#.Un0EnCjuuAE

    3. Play/development. I really like the book “Wonder Weeks” as a guide to what kind of developmental issues your baby is going through, and it gives you a list of activities you can do with her as she develops certain skills – that was very helpful to me, as I’d never had to play with a baby all day and had no idea what to do. I also recommend this woman’s website: http://intelligentnest.com/ Her toy rotation system is useful, as is her toy recommendation guide. I figured out quickly that you don’t have to spend a lot of money, but you do have to have toys from different developmental categories to keep them stimulated. Things start moving fast around 6 months when they start crawling – they gotta have stuff to do! And you have to be on top of that.

    That’s all I can think of off the top of my head – I’ll send more if I remember it…

  5. broedkipje November 8, 2013 at 17:41 #

    Having twins and a small bedroom, co-sleeping was never for us. B’s slept in their own beds, in their own rooms from day one, with the exception of them being sick which happened once. Some nights when they’re just off (and that means: “just off” – not sick, not hurting, but just a bit cranky) I am annoyed that I need to go to their room a million times to console them or put them in their beds straight and am tempted to bring them to my bed. But by now, they learned mommy & daddy’s bed = playtime so they won’t sleep there anyway. And on the vast majority of nights, we put them to bed, read a story, give them a kiss, put on their sleepy music and leave, and they sleep till morning.

    Also: sleepsacks are the best thing ever, and if your baby can turn on her stomach on her own to sleep, she’s allowed to sleep on her tummy.

  6. shoejoy November 8, 2013 at 18:56 #

    I second the wonder weeks. Definitely get the app. It will save your sanity when you have a fussy cranky nothing is working baby. Also good to supplement the info you’re getting on sleep training is Bedtiming. It talks about developmental stages and the best times for babies to learn sleep strategies. Earliest one is around 5.5 months btw.

  7. shoejoy November 8, 2013 at 18:59 #

    I second the wonder weeks. Definitely get the app. It will save your sanity when you have a fussy cranky nothing is working baby. Also good for supplementing what is being said about sleep is Bedtiming. It talks about developmental stages and when babies are open to learning sleep strategies. Very interesting and very short so an easy read.

  8. Old grandmother November 8, 2013 at 19:17 #

    Eldest now 44 yrs old. Key is to love them always and let them know this. Understand you will worry about them always, babyhood is very short & they will not remember it consciously, engage in two-way communication…using spoken and unspoken language. Each issue and each child is different … the end goal of’ people you like as adults’ needs to be kept in focus not short term things.

  9. Amy November 8, 2013 at 19:56 #

    Following!

  10. Newmom November 8, 2013 at 21:02 #

    You can’t hold your baby too much! It doesn’t “spoil” them; at least it hasn’t for my son. I hated hearing that.

    Working on a sleep routine I think is pretty individual, every household, baby, and mom has their own needs and you just have to do what works best for all three. Like someone above above, we really didn’t start a “strict” sleep routine until 6-9 months. It took months to get him to sleep the entire night in his crib. (We co-slept out of the need for sleep when he was small… and well he was in the NICU 9 weeks so I just needed the extra cuddles too) We stuck to trying to get him to sleep in crib, gradually he spent less and less time in our bed. Things that helped him stick to the routine is well literally doing the same thing, we tuck him in, tell him we love him, and I say a little prayer. We turn his seahorse on and kiss him. He knows what to expect.. and it works.

    Side note, while I don’t think holding babies too much spoils them…co-sleeping does! haha. I don’t regret it though, it was good for us.

    Bunny is such a lucky girl to have you : )

  11. Kathryn November 8, 2013 at 21:27 #

    Sleep is such a personal choice and people get up in arms about the “methods” you use. For me, I am part of this method: http://nurshable.com/2012/07/19/the-wio-wait-it-out-method-of-sleep-training/ When I read it, it makes me feel good about myself, and my relationship with my child. When I stopped worrying if I was doing it “right” or not, I suddenly felt so much less anxiety. But again, just like feeding your baby or anything else, you just have to find what works for you. (and not compare yourself to others).

  12. Amy November 8, 2013 at 23:32 #

    I third the recommendation for Wonder Weeks. I didn’t actually read the book, but the app was helpful enough to at least let me know I wasn’t crazy and that the cranky phase or whatever would end soon. I’m a bit bummed to be in the final leap already.

    I pretty much do the wait-it-out method, too. I’m not sure I have any regrets about not sleep training, but I do worry about transitioning to his own room…like…when? Whenever he seems ready, I guess.

    Beyond that, I say just do what you both enjoy most. We half and half BLW with solids and also made some homemade purees. Sounds ambitious and crunchy and all, but he also eats a metric fuckton of Cheerios, so please don’t read that as sanctimommy-ish!

    This is not my own advice, but you may remember Jul(ia) of a blog called thumbscre.ws? Anyway, she not too long ago posted this on FB and I thought it was brilliant: “So a ton of people I know are having babies or have recently HAD babies, and my baby is now old enough to list all subatomic particles including the theoretical ones. Not that any of you asked, but if I had to give one piece of universal parenting advice, this would be it: 99% of things that a reasonable, non-psychotic person could/would do with their baby before the age of two will have NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on that baby’s future. And that baby will be humongous and capable of discussing string theory before you know it. Therefore, the only principle you really need to guide you prior to age two is “does this make both me and the baby as happy and content as possible? Okay, then, I’ll do it.” This applies to sleeping, eating, scheduling, discipline… everything. If it means that you enjoy the baby and the baby enjoys YOU and it’s not illegal or grossly weird… do it.”

    I dunno if that helps or not, but I love it all the same – no matter what any of us say, you’re NOT doing it wrong, because you’re the best mama for your baby. Also, I have found and fallen in love with a podcast called The Longest Shortest Time, which I highly recommend (barely fills my big ol’ Bitter Infertiles-shaped hole, heehee). Isn’t that just the best way to describe early parenthood? I bet you’d like it if you have a chance to give it a listen.

    • Jenny November 9, 2013 at 04:29 #

      I LOVE the advice Amy shared. It’s perfect.

      I started to read one baby book but when I saw the rigid schedule it recommended for a newborn (eg. 6 am: wake 6:10: change diaper 6:15: feed 6:30: play 8:00: nap), I tossed it aside and vowed to never look at another one. Babies are so individual that you just CAN’T give out one-size-fits-all parenting advice (and I think putting an infant – a creature of pure instinct – on a strict schedule is stupid. But that’s just me.)

      My advice, for what it’s worth, is to just let Bunny lead you. It’s what I’ve done with my baby and it seems to be working well for us. I’ve been lucky and he’s created a pretty decent sleep routine without any training. But I know some babies have trouble and need a little extra help with it. I’m kind of a crunchie-granola, hippie, attachment parenting type and I always thought I’d want Seamus sleeping in my room with me for the first six months (at least), but we discovered that he sleeps much better in his crib in his own room – probably because both my husband and I are insomniacs and just too disruptive to share a room with. So, I’ve had to adjust my wants and expectations of what parenting would be to give him what is best for him.

      Last bit from me: trust yourself. You know Bunny better than anyone and you know better than anyone what will be best for her.

  13. psychsarah November 9, 2013 at 15:57 #

    Funny how fuzzy my memory is of that time now that it’s 2 years later. Maybe there’s a lesson in that fact-do what you need to in order to keep yourself and Bunny happy and healthy and things will be fine 🙂 One thing I recall was that whenever I tried to push something (e.g., sleep routines) my usually pretty easy going kid pushed back hard. When I relaxed about it and let things happen, we were all calmer. For instance, someone told me he shouldn’t be swaddled anymore around 4 months, so I stopped. After maybe a week of misery with no one sleeping, I swaddled him again and life was good again. Eventually he figured out how to wriggle out on his own, and boom, swaddling was done, but not for a lot longer than “they” said was ok. So, as others have said, follow Bunny’s lead. She’s already a wise soul 🙂

    When you get to solids, weloved baby-led weaning. It was so much easier than purreeing everything, and now my son eats like a champ. I just read the main book, went off and running and didn’t look back.

    Oh, and I repeat the rec for baby wearing. Changed my life when I figured this out. Baby was happier, I was happier because I could do things. Find a way that is simple and comfy for you and Bunny and enjoy the snuggles 🙂 There was actually a baby wearing group in my city that taught you how to use the carriers, had a lending library to try out different styles etc.

    Best wishes-there will be challenging times, but I found the newborn stage by far the toughest. They get more fun and engaging as they get older 🙂

  14. robin November 10, 2013 at 20:39 #

    Haha! I tried the loud household thing too! Until it stopped working! Now I am a tyrant about noise in our house, as in nobody makes it while the babies are sleeping (we are in a small apartment, they are essentially in the living room). I used to have them take naps in bright daylight with the tv on and walking around and taking phone calls and whatever. No problem, right? Until they stopped sleeping, and started screaming all day, and then we got them in a dark quiet room with a white noise machine. So yeah, don’t feel bad if that doesn’t work, but if it does, you have won the sleep lottery!!

    We have a very well established sleep routine and I think that has helped preserve the sleeping-through-the-night-ness we have when we travel.

    Otherwise do what works for you. No method works for everyone. If it ain’t broke, kind of thing. If you are feeling frustrated / angry / resentful, then it’s broken, then you fix it. But if you and baby are happy…

  15. Courtney November 10, 2013 at 22:59 #

    We did sleep train Matthew at 9.5 months with Ferber. I’m hoping to avoid that this time. BUT I would recommend checking the book out from a library and reading all of his research on sleep. That helped me understand what was going on with his brain while sleeping. Very helpful! Encourages patience when you need it! We’re not using Ferber with Bryson, but those first chapters are referenced weekly.

    Troublesometots.com for sleep suggestions. Love it!

    Kim West’s book on sleep is what we’re following with Bryson… I like it. Very relaxed.

    My kids don’t eat grains, and are fabulous, adventurous eaters (Matthew is, don’t know with Bryson yet). He rejects bread, has never had mac and cheese, fries, potatoes, etc so only eats meat, veggies, and fruits and no fillers. I made all of his baby food and kept it thick for texture. Moved to whole foods rather quickly. I would not do anything differently with food other than do some BLW earlier to keep it fun!

    Just do what feels right!!!

    • Mo November 10, 2013 at 23:06 #

      Thanks hon!
      Wtf is BLW? 🙂

      • Courtney November 11, 2013 at 00:57 #

        Baby led weaning. 😉

        • Mo November 11, 2013 at 00:59 #

          Ahhh! Just goes to show how clueless I am :-).

          • Courtney November 11, 2013 at 01:08 #

            I only used the abbreviation because someone had prior in the comments!

            • Mo November 11, 2013 at 01:09 #

              Yeah I had no clue what it meant that time either 🙂

  16. moonstone November 11, 2013 at 00:11 #

    Don’t compare her development with other babies/children. It will only stress you out and honestly, they truly do develop at their own rate, when THEY are ready. There’s not a whole lot you can do to speed that up. Just because next door’s baby started walking at nine months (or whatever) and your didn’t till they were 18 months does not mean she did everything right and you are the worst mother in the world…..it’s just they way it goes and they all get there in the end. I really wish I’d figured this out earlier.

    Similarly though, be sympathetic to others. Don’t go along to a baby group and smuggly declare repeatedly that your baby rolled at 3 months… you never know, the mum next to you may well be stressing out that her 9 month old still hasn’t. Plus, nobody really likes to hear a parent brag…EVER. Save it for the grandparents.

    Additionally cuddle, tickle, smile, coo and sing as much as you can…..that’s how you bond and it truly is the most important thing. These days are over oh-so quickly. Lecture over. x

  17. Mrs T November 11, 2013 at 04:02 #

    For sleep, I found it helpful (and this was more like 7-8 months which is when Miss E arrived) to use the “pause,” which is just simply waiting for a few minutes when she cried at night to see if she really needed something or would fall back asleep if I wasn’t running in there and scooping her up and getting her all wide awake in the process. I have no food advice, as Bunny will likely surpass E’s eating ability in another 6 months! And most importantly, introduce her to music that YOU like so that when she gets old enough she will just ask to listen to something you want to listen to anyway 😀

    • SRB November 11, 2013 at 21:07 #

      OMG, yes! The music. Do NOT let any goddamn Raffi into your life. Imma fry the crap outta those beans trying on some jeans at the corner grocery store. Grrrrrr.

      • Mo November 11, 2013 at 21:18 #

        I generally hate kid’s music so I’ve been going mostly with Beatles and a bit of Disney. At least the part that isn’t fawning over princes. Any recs on age appropriate tunes that won’t drive me nuts?

        • Mrs T November 12, 2013 at 22:03 #

          We don’t worry so much about age-appropriateness unless there’s a lot of emphasized cursing… her favorite songs are by Ben Folds, Kimya Dawson, Amanda Palmer, Fun, MGMT, Mika… and we do a lot of Disney music which would be fine if she didn’t want the same damn track over and over. “Mermaid song? Mermaid song? Lion song? Lion song?” 🙂

        • Ms. Future PharmD November 13, 2013 at 20:19 #

          We like They Might Be Giants (all their stuff but the kids’ albums like Here Come the… series especially), Barenaked Ladies holiday album and Snacktime, Okee Dokee Brothers (bluegrass for kids, avoid if you hate banjos), anything we like that we are willing to listen to a zillion times. If not willing to listen to it a zillion times, DO NOT PLAY IT. That’s how we wound up with a baby who loves the soundtrack to Pitch Perfect.

  18. Ms. Future PharmD November 11, 2013 at 19:32 #

    I really loved the Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook. There’s a book about it too (baby led weaning) but we skipped that since the first big chunk of the cookbook explains it too. Basically you feed your baby regular food when they’re big enough to eat solids, in big pieces they can get and hold onto. It’s awesome. We fed the older kid purees and she never transitioned to real food and went on to hate all food aside from her favorite fews (and she has some food allergy issues to boot so it’s a mess and ugh food). Trust yourself and Bunny and Shmerson. You all know what you need. Do that. Even if it’s playing pop music covers all night because it’s what the baby loves… ahem… Carriers are awesome and it’s worth going to try some on with her to see what she likes. Just being in the carrier fixed a shriek fest yesterday with the nearly 9 month old.

    Mostly, don’t panic. Nothing before 2 or 3 will be remembered anyway. Also parenting is cyclic so if you feel like you screwed up something the first time, you will get another chance. And don’t panic again. Panic just makes a mess. It will be all right. Deep breath, fix the next thing, and this too will pass.

    Last piece of advice: sometimes when the baby is all out of sorts, it’s a clothing problem (or a top secret diaper problem). So my strategy is to strip off the outfit, change the diaper, inspect for toe problems, and then try a new outfit. Sometimes it’s too hot or scratchy or constricting or whatever. Other times it’s a teething problem so I just give a little ibu.profen and see if that fixes it. Ugh teeth.

    • psychsarah November 15, 2013 at 19:25 #

      Now that you mention it, I did only read the cookbook, not the main book. It was totally sufficient info 🙂

  19. Kristen November 12, 2013 at 01:28 #

    My advice is pretty much what you are already doing…don’t spend your time trying to read books and online to absorb methods and get “the rules” down…just do what feels right for you and Bunny. Have confidence that what you are doing is right for you and Bunny. Also I read somewhere once that kids are like a slow-cooked stew, not a souflee. (sp?) I repeat this in my head a lot. One little mistake on my part isn’t going to ruin them…they are pretty dang resilient.

    Totally unrelated…but thought of you today when posting Halloween pics…Zo was a bunny this year…

  20. J o s e y November 13, 2013 at 01:32 #

    Food: Baby Led Weaning (http://www.babyledweaning.com/) – skip the book, just get the cookbook, and the intro is a cliff’s notes version. Basic concept is starting your baby directly on solid foods at 6mo old and skipping the purees and jarred stuff. Your baby learns how to chew BEFORE learning how to swallow, which made so much sense to me! Never had choking issues or anything b/c she learned how to gum food / chew food / and then swallow food. Bonus – no making/buying special purees!

    Sleep: Direct any and all questions to Troublesome Tots (http://www.troublesometots.com/baby-sleep-what-is-normal/) – great advice, no fear mongering (a la “your kid will die of chronic sleep deprivation if you don’t do THIS”) – just good info on what’s normal, what to try, etc. By far the most helpful info I’ve found out there.

    Don’t worry about spoiling your baby by holding her too much – it’s just not possible. Someone told me once that the baby goes from being held 24/7 inside our wombs to being held just a fraction of that on the outside. It’s such a drastic change for them! I don’t know a person alive who is worse for the wear from being held and cuddled “too much” as a baby. 🙂

    And they learn from you – don’t stress about structured plan/learning time. Just include her in what you’re doing and talk about what you’re doing and she’ll learn plenty!

    Enjoy!

  21. firstcomes November 13, 2013 at 01:54 #

    The thing i wish i had been advised is don’t sweat things straight away, it took a long while for me to remember that babies regress as they get teeth or have growth spurts or illnesses. I spent many days stressing that my “perfect” sleeper JUST WOULD NOT GO TO SLEEP and wasted many hours researching which sleep training method i would use only to find 3 days later his teeth would cut through and he would go back to his usual routine. Before you waste energy stressing about a ‘bad habit’ wait a little and see if it’s here to stay!

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