Posts Tagged ‘5 S’s’

The Best Infographics for Understanding Infants

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Being a mom is hard when your kids are fully verbal and can tell you exactly what they need, so when you meet a friend or someone in your family has just had their first, you have a whole new appreciation for how hard that stage is. Even harder than the stage is all the crappy advice you get from other people on sleeping, feeding and generally caring for an infant.

What no one ever tells you is how much you’ll realize that personality has to do with their behavior, but you won’t even realize the huge role it plays until your child is a toddler. Then you smack yourself in the forehead and go, “THAT’S why they refused to nap!” or “THAT’S why they hated the (insert world-renowned baby-soothing device that never worked on your child here)!”

The best thing you can do as a first-time mom is just understand what you’re dealing with on a biological level. There are some things that are the same from baby to baby, always, no matter what the popular wisdom of the time is. For instance, tummy size:

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This is such a brilliant visual. As a mom new to nursing, especially if you are one whose family has no personal experience with breastfeeding, you totally freak out that you aren’t making enough milk. Because if you were, why would baby want to eat ALL THE TIME? This thought is bad enough, but then it’s echoed by all your family members, and you begin to think the problem really is you. Some moms don’t make enough milk, and that’s a for-real but pretty rare condition. For most, it just feels that way because baby wants to eat so frequently. And when you see this graphic, it makes sense. If I could only fit one side-salad at a time in my stomach, but I could have as many as I wanted, I would probably be eating every hour, too.

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I remember not knowing what an early feeding cue was until my second child. No wonder breastfeeding never went smoothly with my first! As heartbreaking as it is to pick up a baby who, the the untrained eye, appears to still be sleeping, it really works out so much better to grab them before they wake up and realize they are HANGRY. That extra five minutes you have until they wake up crying? Not worth it.

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I’ll confess: I’m a crunchy mom and I never read this book! Although it may have more wonderful information, this alone was a lifesaver. The 5′s worked and they were our go-to for those all-out freak-out crying spells. My first baby did use a paci, but my other two would never take one. The pad of your finger works well for non-paci babies. Why not nurse instead? Well, if your baby is freaking out enough to need these steps, they are also likely too worked up to nurse. Calm them using this method, then try to nurse.

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Another thing that will never, ever change, no matter how much we learn about babies: the latch. I know we struggled with getting a good latch until I knew what that was and felt like. My first baby wanted to curl her lips in and it left me with bloody nipples and a baby who was losing weight fast. After meeting with a lactation consultant (Who made housecalls!) I learned to flip that lip out, and I ended up having to do it repeatedly with all three of my kids until they got the hang of latching. Without flat lips, baby just can’t get the suction right, and it leads to slurpy sounding, ineffective nursing.

I hope these infographics help you as much as they did me! Biology, man, it never goes out of fashion.

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

When Good Toddlers Go Bad

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

When Good Toddlers Go BadI’m kidding. All toddlers are good. But sometimes, even the Perfect Baby has an off day. I would know, because our third child is a Perfect Baby and right now she is upstairs throwing an Exorcist-worthy fit that made me start thinking about tantrums and what having three very different toddlers has taught me about them over the years.

Tantrums or meltdowns generally begin occurring around 18 months. Your toddler is gaining a sense of autonomy, and is haphazard about when to use it. They are also discovering language. On top of that, they are developing emotions and learning how to deal with them. Plus, babies in general are always running little experiments to test the world around them: What happens when I drop my cup from the stroller? Refuse to eat carrots? Say “no”? Take someone’s toy? Sometimes, all these discoveries collide, and they end up in a meltdown. Growth spurts, fatigue and overstimulation can also play a part.

During a meltdown, your toddler’s emotions get ahead of their ability to communicate or understand what’s happening, and they lose it. No amount of bribing or reasoning can get them out of it. You have to go back to square one—nonverbal communication.

Here are the tools we have used to get through the toddler years with our girls:

  • Hugging, swaying and shushing. Some of the 5 S’s still work at this age. I wouldn’t try to swaddle a toddler in mid-tantrum, but swaying and shushing while you hold them close can be reassuring and help bring them back to a state of calm. I tend to shush or say, “I’m here, It’s OK,” over and over. I personally don’t like it when people say, “Don’t cry!” or “Calm down,” to toddlers. When I’m upset the last thing I want is someone bossing me around, and babies absolutely understand everything you say.
  • Teething/Colic tabs. I love Hyland’s because they are homeopathic. Remember, toddlers are still getting molars, and they hurt the most before you can see them. I even used Hyland’s when my oldest was having night terrors and would wake up inconsolable. They helped her calm down enough so that she could talk to me and tell me what was wrong. If you don’t have any, just brew some chamomile tea and mix it with juice or milk.
  • Going outside/Going for a walk. It doesn’t matter if it’s day or night, the fresh, outdoor air can calm a baby really fast. I never quit being amazed at how sometimes, the moment we stepped outside, the crying stopped.
  • Playing a favorite song. Each of my children had distinctly different songs that made them stop crying immediately. Right now, Clara is upstairs with Galactic’s “Hey Na Na” on repeat. Alice liked ‘90s alternative. Maisie would stop crying every time she heard “Clap Your Hands” by Britpop singer Sia. Whatever works.

It’s possible that if your toddler had colicky or fussy periods as a baby, you may experience a little flashback to that desperation and frustration you felt when your newborn baby cried for hours on end. Toddlers are stronger than babies and can accidentally hurt you during a tantrum, and it’s easy to feel like they did it on purpose, especially if it really hurt or if you feel like the whole day has been a struggle.

If you feel yourself getting angry or you stop feeling sorry for your crying baby, put her somewhere safe, like a crib or pack n play, and walk away for a few minutes to compose yourself. Ask your spouse to take over for a bit. Call a friend, neighbor, grandma, or resident baby whisperer for back up if you’re home alone. These feelings will subside, but they can be scary at the time.

The tantrum phase doesn’t last. Your toddler will learn to use words, deal with emotions, and transition from activities with ease, and you’ll feel like a capable parent again. For now, turn up the music, grab some wine and go to Reasons My Son is Crying for a cathartic laugh.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three who survived two toddler phases and is patiently waiting on her Purple Heart to arrive in the mail. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.