Category Archives: Baby’s How To…

Things That Seem to Have Worked

As Timothy is approaching the 2-year mark, I decided to review some of the strategies that seem to work really well in terms of setting boundaries and discipline.

1. Nothing needs to be done right NOW. I decided to respect my son’s wishes – hoping he’ll respect mine. If I tell him “let’s go to bed” in he says “no” – that’s okay. My response is: “ok, you want to read another book (do another puzzle, play ball a bit more, whatever)? Let’s read another book and then we’ll go to bed”. I have always been approaching it this way as per my sister’s advice – and it works great. We read another book and then I tell him: “okay, we read another book and as we’ve agreed – let’s go to bed now”. He always goes. Well, maybe there were a couple of times when I needed a bit more talking – but I never needed to force him.

Bottom line – ask him to do something, but don’t expect him to drop whatever he’s doing to do as you wish. He is a person, he has his own needs and wishes. Respect them – and he’ll cooperate!

2. Limit the “no”s

I try not to say “no” too often. I want them to be meaningful. If he’s doing something dangerous (like jumping on the bed and getting too close to the edge) – I tell him to be careful because he’s too close to the edge and might fall and hurt himself. But I don’t tell him to stop jumping. He needs to explore the world – my job is to warn him of the risks.

If he’s doing something really dangerous (like climbing on the kitchen counter), I tell him that I am too scared for him, this is too dangerous, and ask him not too climb because I am afraid he’s gonna fall. It seems to work. He gets it – I don’t just make him stop doing things, I have a reason.

3. “No, this is mommy’s”

This is a “no” that I came up with. Again, I am not a big fan of “no because I said so”. But it’s hard to explain why touching my phone is a “no”. So it became “no, this is mommy’s phone… book… tea… etc”

I can now even leave a mug of tea (not too hot, just in case) on the coffee table and if Timothy touches it – it would be to push it away. Saying “no! mommy’s!”

4. Taking turns.

I don’t truly understand why most parents ask their kids to share. I mean, you can share a sandbox or a carousel. But how do you “share” a toy? The most you can do is taking turns – and that’s what I’m teaching.

I can’t report much progress here yet, Timothy gets very upset when I remove him from a sleigh or a car or whatever to take turns with another kid – but I believe we are moving in the right direction.

I also noticed that Timothy tries to shoo other kids away from “his” toys mostly with words. He waves at them, says no, and babbles something. He might slap them – but very lightly, not to hurt – but to get his message across…

5. Crying and being upset is okay.

I am trying to be consistent about my rules. And as much as it breaks my heart sometimes, I do not budge.

I sit down with him, I acknowledge his feeling “yes, you are sad… you are upset… you really wanted for mommy to bring you upstairs…”

I sympathize: “I wish I could bring you upstairs, just take you in my arms and go up – but I can’t…”

If he lets me I’d hold him and tell him that I am here. I love him, and I know he’s sad. But most often he doesn’t want to be hugged when he cries like that. But I always make sure he knows I am there, right next to him. Listening. Caring.

Usually he’d cry a little bit and (in the case of going up the stairs) would stand up abruptly, ask for my hand and walk upstairs with tears drying up quickly.

it’s important for them to learn that thing don’t always go as they want – and it will upset them – and it is okay to be upset – and he can always seek my understanding and sympathy in such cases.

He’s almost two, and he rarely gets too upset now. We went through a phase when I thought “uh-oh, the terrible twos are coming” when he would refuse to put the coat on… to put the shoes on… to walk out the door… to climb the stairs… to leave daycare… to go to daycare… to eat… But you know what? These episodes have almost vanished. He’s very easy to talk to. He listens. He understands.

He is so, so cool ๐Ÿ™‚

6. If he doesn’t want to eat – that’s okay, too

Yes, there were a few times when he went to bed without eating. And that’s okay. I know he ate enough during the day (from the daycare report) and he usually has a banana on the way home from daycare.

I do not play into “no I don’t want this, I want that” – if he asks for cereal and then once the cereal is in from of him, decides he wants cheerios with milk – I say no. You asked for cereal, here it is. And if he refuses to eat – well then, all done, off you go.

Again, about a month ago it was starting to become a problem – asking for various things and then refusing to eat them, asking for more and more other food. I decided to put a stop to it: if you’re hungry, you’ll eat. If you aren’t – well then off you go. And it seems to be working, too.

Advertisements

Breastmilk – More Than Just Milk

Something I wanted to record before I forget – what breastmilk does, other than feeding your baby.

Well, the obvious – for the first 6 months, it boosts your baby’s immune system. While I did get a cold or two, Timothy never picked them from me, getting all the antibodies for my cold in my milk.

But there is more!

Breastmilk is sort of a painkiller. Your baby stops crying not only because the closeness and warmness soothes him – it actually helps! One of the best advice I got was to nurse my son during an immunization shot. It a) distracts and b) helps alleviate the pain. I breastfed him each and every time he got his shots (at 2, 4, 6, and 9 months) – and he barely ever cried. Sometimes he didn’t even notice the shot – he just went on eating as if nothing happened. Sometimes he would let go of the breast for 3-5 seconds to cry out in indignation – and then clamp back on. It was awesome!

IMG_3451

I don’t know whether that is connected, but he never had a fever following a shot. Cranky – sure. Especially after the 4-month shot (and I heard from other moms the 4-month one was the toughest). Timothy was cranky for a whole week after that one. But never fever, never anything really bad. I loved it!

Breastmilk’s immunization superpowers make it the best to put on baby acne, baby scratches, into baby’s eye with a clogged duct (Timothy had a blocked duct for the first 3.5 months of his life), etc., etc. And on your cracked nipples. And your sores, too. Milk is awesome!

And then when you think about it… nursing a baby means holding him in your arms for an average 8 hours a day in those first months. That’s a lot of love and nurture, if you ask me. I never co-slept, I always tried to put Timothy down as soon as he would stop eating, getting him used to sleep and nap on his own – but he still spent at least 8 hours a day in my arms.

What’s your take on TV for babies under two?

Talking about my “sick day” aka occupying myself and Timothy with a couple of Christmas movies to make up for my lack of energy to entertain Timothy, I found myself talking out of both sides of my mouth, or however that expression goes.

Overall, I am against TV. We don’t even have cable. I used to waste hours upon hours in front of TV, watching Prison Break, House, American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance – and reruns of Friends, Two and a Half Men, King of Queens. Occasionally, some trashier shows like Top Model and Bachelorette. I hated them, but watched them anyway. Television is hypnotizing, it sucks you in and then next thing you know – time to go to bed.

Well, at the time that was my escape strategy, I believe. Escaping the reality that I didn’t enjoy much. Since I escaped that reality in real life and changed my life for the better, there was no need for TV any longer. I disconnected the cable and felt liberated, Free. No more hurrying home to catch an 8 pm show. No more having to waste 2 hours in a row watching something. Ahhhh, bliss.

But then I love movies. More than anything, I love watching the same feel-good movies, over and over again. You got mail. What women want. Sweet home Alabama. Love actually. Family Stone. The wedding date. Etc, etc, etc. I have three shelves worth of feel-good movies and cartoons (Monsters Inc, Despicable Me, etc.) I love, love, love watching them. And I don’t see any harm in watching a dvd once a week or so.

Enter Timothy.

Timothy watching a video of himself on my phone

Timothy watching a video of himself on my phone

There are recommendations that babies under two years of age aren’t supposed to be watching TV at all. I am not sure why, but my overall feeling is that this recommendation is the same as “pregnant and nursing women should not drink alcohol”. I mean, yes – vodka shots are not advisable :), but from all the extensive reading I did on the topic, it seems like an occasional glass of red wine poses no risk (and some even say it’s good for you). And dark beer, supposedly, increases you milk production. Go figure.

My guess is that “they” don’t trust people to be able to apply moderation. To stop after that one glass of wine. To turn off TV after 30 minutes. They worry that we will turn TV into an easy way to neglect our babies for days on end.

Timothy doesn’t watch TV every day. Well, he doesn’t watch TV – he watches DVDs. Baby Einstein episodes. They are short, they were designed for babies, and they help me get some stuff around the house done on those days when Timothy doesn’t feel like playing on his own for a short little while. I don’t see any harm in that.

And on a few occasions, when I felt too tired and sick, I watched my grown-up movies (romantic comedies… nothing scary :)) and let Timothy “watch” those with me. It felt nice and companionable. I like watching movies together – I feel, for whatever reason, that this shared experience draws family members together. But only if we are actually watching stuff together, not zombyfying ourselves for lack of something else to do.

Again, I feel that screen time for Timothy is under control and do not feel worried.

What’s your take on TV for babies under two? What are your beliefs? What do you/do you not allow?

Baby Dental Care

I mentioned before that as part of our mommy connections class, we met with a baby/child dentist. I read a lot of baby dental care related questions in online forums, so I was glad to have a talk with a specialist. When should I start brushing baby’s teeth? How often should I brush baby’s teeth? What tooth brush to choose? Sooo many questions…

highres_184996552

Key things she shared with us:

– You need to start brushing baby’s teeth as soon as they erupt. I have a mom friend who said her wake-up call was when her baby girl laughed and she saw her teeth were brown on the inner side. Another mom friend shared that she didn’t give much thought to this until she noticed her baby had morning breath.

– It might be a good idea to start with oral care even before then: wipe baby’s gums with a piece of cloth. There are also these weird little things that you put on a finger – it’s not quite a tooth brush, but it has some sort of rubbery bristles. That way the baby will be used to you poking around his mouth and less resistant to the idea. We were lucky: Timothy loves brushing his teeth! As soon as he sees his tooth brush, he open his mouth wiiiiide ๐Ÿ™‚

– In Canada, there’s enoughย  fluoride in tap water for baby teeth brushing. All a baby (or a toddler, for that matter) needs is a toothbrush and water. Tooth paste can be used only once they are at the stage where you can be sure they know how to spit up and know better than swallow the paste, around age 3. Until then – water will do. There also are training tooth pastes available, with no fluoride (thus safe for swallowing). But a baby doesn’t need that ๐Ÿ™‚

– There are soft tooth brushes for babies with a long handle – for you to brush their teeth. Once they express interest in brushing their own teeth, there are ones with a shorter handle; that’s safer. Of course, you’ll still have to brush their teeth, too – until about 6-8 years old. A good guideline that their fine motor skills are developed enough to brush their own teeth is the ability to lace up their shoes and to colour within line.

– Bedtime routine adjustment. Most important time to brush teeth is in the evening, before bedtime. That made me change around Timothy’s bedtime routine. I used to finish off with nursing (he stopped falling asleep while nursing quite a while ago – I always put him in his crib awake) – but what’s the point of brushing teeth and then nursing? So when Timothy was a bit over 7 months old (he got his first tooth precisely at 7 months) we made the switch. First nurse, then brush teeth, then diaper change + pj’s on, then hubby reads book and puts Timothy to bed. I was worried about him falling asleep – but it went perfectly smoothly. Timothy lay awake for a bit longer the first night or two, a bit more alert, but then he got used to it.

– First dentist visit, as per their recommendation, should be around one year old, just for a check-up. Hmmm, I don’t know about that. All of the above recommendations make sense to me and were confirmed by further reading/discussion. This piece of advice? Well, felt more like marketing line “come and see us soon”. Although I did see information that way too many children develop cavities before they turn two or something like that. But I think with proper dental care – brushing teeth after eating/before bed – we should be fine.

What do you think? When should be the first dental visit?

Packing for Cottage Vacation with Baby

In my previous post I shared some tips for a long-haul drive with a baby. But what should I pack for a week-long vacation with a 5-month old baby? I will share some tips!

When Timothy was 5 months old, we rented a cottage for a week. It was a five-hour drive away. Why so far? Well, we wanted to be alone, we didn’t need a huge 2-3 bedroom cottage for just the three of us (or rather we didn’t want to pay for anything that big) and we really wanted an air conditioner. So we found a tiny cottage, secluded in a forest, located right on a lake, with air conditioner. As it turned out to be the hottest week of the summer, we were soooo glad to have a/c!

Anyway, figuring out what we needed to bring for our first ever vacation with Timothy wasn’t easy. That’s when we realized (as in REALLY realized) we need a bigger car! This is Timothy in the photo below. Can you actually see him among all the stuff (and that, actually, is not ALL the stuff we brought!!!)

Anyway. In the “Timothy’s” column in the packing list for that trip we have:

BIG ITEMS:

  • playpen (to sleep in)
  • Tima’s bath (we have an inflatable bath tub that we used as an outdoor swimming pool where Timothy could sit up and splash around)
  • moses basket (he napped in it on the porch)
  • bumbo seat (Timothy couldn’t sit up yet, hated spending even a second on his tummy, and was bored spending time on his back… bumbo is awesome!)
  • wheels for the infant carseat (we took a one-day trip to Ottawa; as we didn’t bring the full stroller with us to the cottage, we brought the wheels that attach to the infant car seat, converting into a stroller, very useful)
  • carrier (to go for walks around the cottage on the dirt paths)
  • humidifier (cause it makes the white noise that helps Timothy sleep better!)

BABY CARE

  • baby sunscreenย  (yes, they say it’s not advised until 6 months – but hey, I am sure sun is more damaging than sunscreen! I tested it and it was FINE.)
  • vaseline (for the bum)
  • wipes
  • pampers (7 per day)
  • toys (not too many – not at 5 months old)
  • shampoo + soap + cloth
  • towel

NURSING

  • breast pump (as I mentioned, REALLY useful while in car for long stretches of time)
  • bottle
  • swaddling blankets
  • nursing cover

MEDICINE

  • snot sucker + saline drops
  • teething drops

OTHER

  • blanket (I didn’t wash it on purpose, so that it will have a familiar smell and will make sleeping in an unfamiliar environment easier; Timothy couldn’t care less :))
  • two pacifiers (in case we lose one)
  • garbage bags (for dirty diapers and soiled clothes)
  • clips (to keep cloths, covers, etc. in place when ourside)
  • water-proof cover (we had it permanently on a couch – the designated changing place)
  • blanket to spread on the grass
  • sunglasses
  • panama hat with wide rim (to protect the eyes and face from sun)
  • swimming diapers
  • laundry detergent (if there was a need to wash something Timothy burped or pooped on)
  • birth certificate (if anyone questions whether Timothy is, indeed, our baby and wasn’t stolen!)
  • clothes (couple of pj’s, onesies, socks… well, clothes is easy)

Again, Timothy was 5 months old. He was still exclusively breastfed at the time.

This was one of the best vacations ever. So peaceful and happy. But that’s a whole other story ๐Ÿ™‚

Long-Haul Car Trip with a Baby

We traveled a lot with Timothy. And when I say a lot, I mean a LOT. Timothy is only 9 months old, but he already took long-haul car trips trips to Montreal for a weekend and Ottawa for a week-long cottage vacation, flew across the Atlantic to Moscow (Russia) to meet his grandparents and to Dominican republic for another vacation (obviously Timothy needs a lot of vacation… getting tired, poor thing :))

So I decided to share some tips and learnings about traveling with babies. I’ll start with the very first trip – to Montreal (600 km away from us). Timothy was 4 months old at the time.

How to survive a long-haul car trip with a baby.

Getting to Montreal turned into a nightmare. Timothy was unhappy almost the whole duration of the trip – and the usually 6-hour long trip took us 9 hours. Due to Timothy – and due to traffic.

Learning #1: sit next to the baby. Yes, perhaps you wanna keep your spouse company, but it’s so much easier to deal with baby crying in the back seat when you sit next to the baby! And it’s safer – the driver won’t get too distracted from the road.

Learning #2: time your trip so as to avoid high-traffic time when you leave AND when you arrive. We never considered that we’ll be arriving in Montreal exactly as everyone else will be leaving work – at the beginning of a long weekend. It was nightmare! On our way back we left around noon and arrived in Toronto around 7, past the high traffic time, on a regular Monday night.

Learning #3: bring breast pump and bottle with you. On our way to Montreal, we stopped for us to eat. We stop to change poopy diapers. We stopped to nurse Timothy. There were waaaaay too many stops. And at one point we were stuck in traffic and Timothy started wailing for milk. In the middle of a highway. In its stretch in Montreal where there’s not even a shoulder and at the speed we were going – 30 minutes away from the next exit. It was HELL. So. Next time I took a bottle and breast pump inside the car with me. Timothy gets hungry – I pump and give him the bottle, right there. No need to stop!

Learning #4: massage the baby in the carseat. It’s a long-hail drive. Your limbs get all tired, your bum feels flat, you keep stretching your shoulders and legs. Well, your baby can’t do it. Massage the baby in the carseat! Just a bit of rubbing ans squishing and shaking of those pudgy thighs and arms will do. Ahhh, that’s better. Now we can go peacefully for a couple hundreds kilometers more.

Learning #5: lay him flat. During our meal stops, we took Timothy out of the carseat and lay him on the table (covered with a blanket) to stretch out his limbs and flatten his back and exercise a bit. You eat with one hand, hold the baby with the other. Timothy loved the break from being strapped in the same boring carseat for too long.

Learning #6: entertain. I sang so much during that trip – I lost my voice. I know a lot of songs – so that helped. Still, I was exhausted. I showed him some movie clips on my phone of – well, him ๐Ÿ™‚ – and that seemed to entertain him. So I’d say even a four-month-old isn’t too young for a DVD. It buys you some quiet time to restore those voice chords. And perhaps for the driver to restore those ear drums ๐Ÿ™‚ Invest and buy a portable DVD-player for your car!

Learning #7: prepare for the road. There are stops every 80 km or so along the Montreal-Toronto highway, so we passed one thinking “oh, we’ll step at the next one”. Only the next one was closed for renovation. By the time we reached the next one after that, Timothy was all poopy and grumpy, I was all hungry and grumpy, and hubby… well, he really needed to use the washroom and so was beyond being grumpy. Plan your trip. Make sure that the places where you plan to stop are available!!!

I will remind: Timothy was 4 months old at the time of that first trip, so there were no snacks involved. For babies a bit older, it’s a good thing to have.

And – also important – make sure your baby hasn’t outgrown its carseat! Surviving hours upon hours squished into a carseat that is too narrow for you doesn’t sound like fun. So your baby won’t let you have fun either.

We took another long-haul car trip to Ottawa when Timothy was 5 months old, using all of the above learnings – and it was a BREEZE. Honestly. A complete non-event.

Happy travels, everyone!

How to Get Rid of the Bedtime Bottle?

“How do I get her to let go of that bedtime bottle?” – so many times I saw this question on forums and blogs, that I decided to plan ahead.

As in, ahead-ahead.

Timothy was a bit over 7 months when we decided to try and switch his bedtime routine, which was falling apart (or so it felt, anyway).

Almost since Timothy’s birth, it used to be like that: my hubby brings Timothy upstairs to his room, changes the diaper, puts the pj’s, tries to have a chat – and then dims the light and passes him on to me for nursing. The nighttime nursing used to be 45 minutes… then 30… then 20… and lately – probably due to a 6 pm dinner – 5-8 minutes. And Timothy kept getting more and more unhappy during the changing sessions, to put it mildly. Screaming his head off is a more accurate description. And we didn’t want to put him to bed earlier than 7:30 pm (or he wouldn’t see his dad).

So to get him off of the nurse-to-sleep routine AND get him ready to start teeth-brushing (we have two teeth! and brushing them before the nursing is kind of pointless, right?) we decided to switch over the going-to-bed thing.

So we chose a day, and went ahead with the new scenario. Shortly after 7 pm, I brought Timothy upstairs and nursed him (no light-dimming). Having eaten, he got extremely happy and excited, babbling, wiggling, laughing. So hubby had a much happier job of changing and dressing Timothy than it’s been for the past couple of months. And then hubby set in the glider, sat Timothy in his lap, and they read a bedtime book – Timothy excitedly slapping the pages and babbling something at the book.

Real quality time!

Then hubby put Timothy in bed, whispered good-night, turned the humidifier (aka white noise) on, lights off – and left.

That first night Timothy wasn’t a very happy camper going to bed. He stayed up for maybe 40 minutes, moving around, complaining on and off (started crying in honest once – so we went in and gave him the paci), and finally cornered himself against the rail and fell asleep.

Since then it got better.

Now that’s what we do every evening: nurse, change, pj’s, book, nighty-night. Next step – brushing his teeth! Or, rather, his tooth ๐Ÿ™‚

So it seems that to get rid of that nighttime bottle, you need to start early. At least, that’s what worked for us.

PS Bath has never been part of his bedtime routine for a number of thought-through reasons, which I will share at some point later.