Did my Baby Just Talk?

Did my Baby Just Talk? First words are one of those milestones that encompass so much. But when is it a first word? Does it only require the audible creation of sound— “ma” said twice in quick succession? Perhaps it needs to be said purposefully, toward an object or in response to a question? Does it need to be clear for anyone to understand or just a parent or caregiver who knows the child best? Is saying it one time enough to count as a “real” word?

Repetitive sounds, like mama and dada, might come out first because your child is most familiar with your encouragement of those words, but research also shows repetitive sounds are appear to be hard-wired into our brains. Ba, da, and ma so happen to be easier to say in speech development, so mama and dada are at an advantage over almost any other combination of letters in the English language.

So when can you expect those first words? Coos and babbles come first, quickly proceeded by repetition of random sounds (ba-ba-ba-ba) by eight months. Enter here the moment when almost every parent gets excited when the random repetition so happens to come in the form of “ma” or “da.” It was a video-worthy moment in our home!

But it’s somewhere between nine and fourteen months most babies utter their first purposeful word. Aside from the names of parents or other caregivers, words like no or bye-bye are also common as well as names of siblings or family pets.

Don’t underestimate how much your child can understand, though. They may only be speaking baby talk, but their minds understand more than their tongues let on. Whatever the word and whenever it happens aside, encourage your child’s development by reading books with and regularly talking to your child, and limiting television (which does not generally encourage active participation. Beyond initiating conversation with your babe, also allow your babe to start the conversation and reflect what you hear back. Play with sounds, tone, and volume of speech. Most of all, have fun!

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Thursday, August 27, 2015
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Fighting the Failure Mindset

Fighting the Failure MindsetLet’s just start with me being honest: I am not qualified to write this blog. As I sit here in my home, I am truly feeling like a failure. My 3-year-old just hit her baby brother. There are random toys all over my living room floor. I just put a Disney movie on so I could get a break and get a blog or two done.

As women we were born to be moms. I have never felt something so strong. But I do have my bad days. I lose my patience. I raise my voice. I spank my child when I say I won’t. I forget to dwell on the positive. Anyone else ever feel this way?

It’s so hard to fight this mindset. From the moment we become a mom, we are faced with expectations. Will you breastfeed? Are you using cloth diapers? Did your baby come into the world naturally? Did you circumcise? Will you bed share? Are you letting your baby cry it out? Are you using rice cereal? When will you start solids? As our kids grow, the questions and lists get longer. None of us can be perfect people, but we are the perfect parent for our children. Your children are yours for a reason.

So when this mindset creeps in, what do we do? Give into it? I admit, some days I do. Some days I just want to be a hermit and hide and think about how my children will probably grow up hating me and thinking about how horrible mommy was. Then, I have a reality check.

My kids have toys–lots of them. So far today, they are wearing clean clothes and have had two meals. We’ve been to the local YMCA where they could play and laugh and learn. So far, this day isn’t a failure. There are so many blessings right in front of us. Why do we miss them? I think it’s because we just forget to look.

Am I a perfect mom? No. I’ve made many mistakes today and I would love to be able to reverse them, but I’m not a failure. I’m here for my kids. I’m here to play, to kiss away the boo-boos, and nurse and rock my little boy. I’m here for comfort. I’m here for protection.

I may not have it right today, and I can assure you tomorrow will bring its own challenges, but I am not a failure. You, mom, you are not a failure. You are a work-in-progress. You are the perfect mom for your children.

You are loved.

You are enough.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana who loves her kids more than anything.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
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You Can Wean at Any Age

YOu can wean at any age. One of the things no one tells you as a new mom is that you don’t have to tell anyone anything about how you choose to parent. Ever. Even if they ask you politely.

This is important, because as a first-time mom, everyone has questions for you, and you’re expected to answer them. You’re excited, they’re excited. It’s all very innocent, until the advice comes rolling in. There’s nothing wrong with advice. Many people feel they are being helpful, and sometimes they are.

But some people are not well intentioned. They care about control. They want you to do what they think is right by their opinion because it makes them feel smart and important. These people need to be weaned, and if you don’t know how or that you have the right to enforce informational and emotional boundaries, they can make you miserable.

For me, it was hard to start drawing boundaries. I had always been an over-sharer, and aside from making things socially awkward now and then, it was never really a problem. But once I had a baby, I felt like I couldn’t even make my own decisions anymore. Advice came at me from all directions, and the expectations that came with that advice weighed on me. I felt like I was letting people down, and I was floundering to find my footing as a mother.

So if you don’t learn to find your mother instinct or can’t hear it because other people are drowning it out, you end up bitter towards the people whose advice fails you and desperate for someone whose advice works. In the end, the only person who can raise your child is you.

What Does Enforcing Boundaries Look Like?

If you’ve never learned to keep boundaries, it can be difficult when you first start. When you feel the urge to talk about something off-limits, you have to stop yourself. You have to think ahead in the conversation, and have responses ready to go for some people. You simply can’t bring up some topics any more. The relationship with that person changes. But if they’re hurting you because you have been open with them, then it needs to change.

Sometimes, it might feel like lying. When I was at the pediatrician’s office and he asked if my daughter was sleeping through the night, I knew that he was looking for problem areas. The fact that she was not sleeping through the night at 8 months was not a problem area for me. So I said yes, she sleeps fine.

Sometimes it means keeping quiet when you would normally share something. I do this a lot when I see hot topics posted on Facebook, or when I’m in a group of people who all have the same view on politics or religion. If I think I can share something that would lead to meaningful discussion, I do. If someone asks me a pointed question about my thoughts, I share only if I think my opinion will be respected. Different people will set different boundaries. Mine even change depending on my level of patience or resilience that day.

How to Tell if You Need to Enforce Boundaries with Someone

There are a few ways I learned that certain people in my life needed boundaries:

  • They punish you for decisions or opinions that you believe in. This could be in the form of pouting, the silent treatment, embarrassing you in front of other people or online, or passive-aggressive behavior.
  • They don’t trust you. If someone constantly thinks you’re lying, is asking other family members about you, is stalking you on Facebook, or looking at your phone or email when you aren’t there, you need to enforce boundaries until there is open trust, if not longer. Mutual trust should be a cornerstone of any relationship.
  • They are constantly following up with you. When someone is following up on advice they gave you, they aren’t treating you as an adult. Knowing you’re going to be followed-up on creates pressure and stress, and when you have a new baby, you don’t need any extra stress.
  • Your relationship with them affects other relationships. It’s not your job to make anyone happy. We can’t even do that for our kids sometimes. So if someone is trying to make you fix other situations, other relationships, or change something in your life to make them happy, they need boundaries. Your baby and your family is your top priority. You shouldn’t ever be made to feel guilty for putting them first.
  • Your relationship with them affects your mood. No one should have the power to make you feel upset, stressed, or like you aren’t good enough just because of what they say. If there is a real problem that needs to be addressed, then that’s different. But if you feel stressed out by or depressed because of someone else all the time, then you need to re-examine that relationship.

When my oldest daughter was little, we were struggling with getting her to sleep in her own bed. She went to sleep fine, but woke up every night and wanted to get in bed with us. This lead to hours-long struggles that left me feeling exhausted in the morning. I lost my patience with her during the day and I felt like a terrible mom. Why couldn’t she just sleep in her own bed? What did we do wrong?

I was researching toddler sleep issues on KellyMom.com, and one suggestion was that you should ask yourself, “If no one else knew about our sleeping arrangements would I still want to change anything?” The answer was no. She was 3. I was fine with her sleeping in our bed at night if she felt scared. I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to hurt anyone, and that one day she would probably sleep through the night in her own bed just fine. That question made it clear exactly what the answer to our problem was. It wasn’t my daughter’s night waking. It wasza` listening to other people’s advice.

It was such a great reminder that my decisions on how to raise my children don’t affect people outside our family. I should be free to make these decisions about what is best for my family on my own, with my own research, without feeling pressure from outside parties. That is my right as a parent, and yours too.

If someone is trying to take that right from you, then it’s time to wean. Don’t talk about parenting with them. Enforce your boundaries and live a happier, less stressful life, confident in your choices and your abilities as a mother.

Erin Burt is a mother of three girls and freelance writer who lives and writes in Oklahoma City. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015
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Adjusting to a School Routine

Adjusting to school routineSchooool’s (no longer) oouut for the summer! It’s that time of year. Perhaps you’re elated or just not ready. Either way, it’s time to prepare for that old-time routine. For some families who work in education their babes are returning to childcare. For others with school-aged children, the switch back to a school schedule can really affect your littlest ones.

Changes in routine come in a number of ways. If you have to wake your child to take children to the bus stop or drive them to school, that affects their sleep routine. Nap times may also be affected and evening routines. It’s also an adjustment for a young child if brothers, sisters, or parents suddenly go from around all the time to missing for an 8 to 12 hour stretch. My husband is a teacher, and our little boys have a few weeks of adjustment to our “new normal” of the school routine because for several months they get used to dad being home all day, every day.

Routines offer security. You likely know changing your child’s daily routine can cause stress and behavioral challenges. As the routine changes, your child may need to renegotiate boundaries he or she previously had in place. For example, if your toddler was used to wearing pajamas until the late morning during the summer and suddenly must change upon waking, this can cause confusion and potentially result in a power struggle. To help make it through, consider the following:

  • Change your routine slowly. Start a few weeks before school if possible.
  • Do a little bit at a time. If, for example, your toddler will return to childcare, try spending a couple of hours away from him or her regularly in the couple of weeks prior. This is, assuming you have a trusted caregiver you can rely upon.
  • Don’t change what you don’t need to. Just adapt to necessary changes, don’t add in extras. If you say, “no more junk food once summer ends,” perhaps a slow transition here is helpful, too. If sleep, time with siblings, and other parts of the routine are changing, keeping other things consistent can help keep a sense of routine in the midst of adjustment.
  • Talk about the new schedule. If your young one is old enough to remember May, talk about how soon your family will go back to that style of living. If too young, talk about the changes that will happen, like siblings being gone for the day.
  • Try not to make the mornings rushed. Rushing results in heightened expectations (I need x, y, and z done now…) and an increased likelihood of meltdowns. Prepare what you can the night before.
  • Spend quality time in the evenings or weekends to help reinforce your presence that was so much more clearly tangible all day long during the summer. As the first weeks can be taxing on you as a parent also getting used to the new routine, this can also be rejuvenating for you.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Monday, August 24, 2015
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Leaving Baby for the First Time

Nursing ResourcesFour months after our first baby was born, my husband I had the opportunity to spend the weekend in Sedona, Arizona. Alone. After solely taking care of baby C since birth, the thought of leaving him with anyone overnight was incredibly nerve wracking. I was a jumble of emotions…would I cry? Would he miss me? Would he be afraid? I was excited for my mini-vacation but I was also nervous. But leaving baby is monumental and it’s totally normal to feel this way. Fortunately, with some planning, your first overnight sans baby can be a well-deserved and pleasant experience.

Ask Family or a Close Friend

Who to leave baby with is the most important thing to consider when planning an overnight get away. Obviously you want someone that you implicitly trust but you may also want to consider how much experience they have with small children. For most people, that will be family but it could also be a close friend. You want to feel secure in their ability to handle any situations that might arise. We chose my parents; they had raised two kids successfully and I knew that they would be able to handle any situation that arose.

Leave Suggestions or Instructions

Even though it may seem like overkill, leave very detailed instructions with your caregiver. I never felt bad about being specific about how we did things. Does baby need a certain lovey to sleep? Like to be swaddled tightly vs. loose? The clearer the instructions, especially if baby is young, the smoother experience for everyone. Include feeding times, tips for baby’s preferences, and a solid timeline of what to expect and when.

Make a Breastfeeding Plan

If you are breastfeeding, you’ll want to begin pumping and freezing in advance. You should plan on leaving your caregiver with more milk than is needed and instructions about how exactly you’d like the milk prepared. If you have been almost exclusively breast feeding, give yourself a few weeks to test run with some bottles to ensure that your baby will take the milk. And don’t forget to pack your pump and cooler to continue pumping while away.

Relax and Enjoy

Even though you might be longingly looking at every baby that passes by, time away can be a much-needed stress reliever. In Sedona, I was able to take a long hot shower, read a book, and I even sat down to eat for the first time since baby C was born. It also allowed me to reconnect with my husband who was begging for some couple time. When you do get home, you will be a calm and rejuvenated momma!

 Tessa Wesnitzer is a mother of two boys and certified personal trainer. She lives and works in South Jordan, Utah.

Friday, August 21, 2015
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