Posts Tagged ‘infant’

Sleep Help for the Weary

Monday, November 7th, 2016

importance-of-early-bedtimeNews report that you probably already knew: Your kids need sleep. On the off chance that this idea of an early, consistent bedtime is news to you, let me quickly fill you in. Consistent bedtimes that allow enough sleep for children can contribute to fewer behavioral issues and even physical attributes like obesity later in life. While many often emphasize “early” bedtime, it’s possible one’s particular situation (e.g., wake up at 5 am versus 8 am) could alter what exactly “early” means for each individual family.

This study hits home especially for parents whose work schedule or family particulars don’t fit the classic kids-in-bed-by-8 routine. Early bedtime routines can also be a challenge for some families with multiple children, especially when one child is in the midst of newborn age, experiencing regression, or any number of other challenges come dusk. For some families, irregular or later bedtime routines are a necessity so evidence that early bedtime routines have a positive effect later in life can make them feel a whole bunch of negative.

Still, the most recent research says early bedtime (8 PM or earlier for preschoolers) lessens the likelihood of obesity in teenage years, even when other factors were controlled and accounted for. Researchers point out children who go to bed earlier are less likely to snack late into the night and are more likely to get a full night’s rest, allowing for more restorative sleep. Ultimately getting enough sleep, not the exact time one goes to sleep, is shown in research to be overall most critical for the mind and body.

In case your family struggles, it turns out we’ve got you covered! If you wonder still about how a routine might look, you can read from perspectives of a mom of one or another; mom of two; mom of four or another.

In trying to get that routine, you may consider want to know the ins and outs, dos and don’ts of sleep training. Perhaps you are troubleshooting challenges like crib climbing; whether or not to give up naps for the sake of bedtime routine; or sleep regression.

If you’re at your wits’ end with a sleepless or otherwise challenging night experience, perhaps my ah-ha moment on the great expectations of sleep will give you the feeling of comradery. There was also the time I spoke fondly—yes, fondly—of sleepless nights. Others also offer solidarity on the subject of children and sleep. And last, but possibly most important, two more offer the reality and encouragement to get through the sleepless periods of all mommy lives.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 6 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Finding Time to Work Out

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

finding time to work outYou’re busy. I know. But you hear the voice in the back of your head. Maybe it talks about the clothes that are snug or don’t fit since having babes. It reminds you that you want to be a healthy example for your children. The voice tells you how tired it is, that you need to get some energy in your life. Yet time is always out of reach. This is true for any caregiver whether with one child or four, whether you have a partner or not. We each have particular challenges that make fitting in a workout very difficult sometimes. If you’re convinced you just don’t have the time, consider your situation and see if a few of the following could create time in your day to break a sweat.

Cut something else. For example, take the Facebook app off your phone so you are less tempted to scroll after everyone is asleep and instead put on your sneakers or get some rest so you can wake up a few minutes earlier. Maybe you like waking up slowly in the morning, requiring an extra 15 minutes. Several times a week, take a deep breath and just get moving, literally.

Add an app. Perhaps it’s a nutrition app. Maybe you already have a workout app through your favorite online program or smart watch technology. Update it during that minute you have at lunch or while nursing the babe to sleep. Tracking may offer you incentive. Or add a reward of something special when you reach certain milestones, like a target number of workouts, minutes of workouts, inches lost, pounds lost, and so forth.

Get some accountability. Turns out when people expect me to check in I am more likely to magically find time in my schedule. Accountability offers motive and incentive for me to create time in my day. Try joining a group of friends or even strangers. If you’re in a mom sort of group I am almost entirely sure you could ask and suddenly other moms you know will appear to jump on board or invite you to their group.

Adjust what you consider working out. It doesn’t require fancy weights, a high-profile coach, or an expensive jogging stroller. Use your body weight and take advantage of at-your-fingertip resources like the endless variety of free YouTube videos. Many magazines (like Runner’s World) or organizations (like Yoga International) have free access to many videos with their knowledgeable teachers and leaders. Start small, like with a plank challenge—anyone has time for 2 minutes a day, and a strong core can make other types of exercise easier.

Include the kids! Run around with them, let them climb on you, or encourage them to follow along. You don’t have to find time without them if you include them. This is especially great for caregivers who are with their young children all day but can’t find time alone or those who don’t want to spend what little free time they have at the gym in the evenings after work. This encourages them also to get up and get moving, and may inspire new behaviors and bonds in your family over the years.

At home the kids know I have a workout time. Immediately your preschooler will need you like never before, but stick to your guns so you can firm up your guns! My infant likes to sit in her high chair with a snack and watch the entertainment that is her mother trying any variety of workout moves. She offers inspiration for me to be a great example and I take heart in knowing she won’t remember any of the silly faces I make in pure determination. My preschool-aged sons play with Legos or sometimes join in—as long as they give me enough space to exercise safely.

…Or Set the kids aside.  Sometimes knowing you’ll have kid-free time can motivate you to get out there and get moving. Ask your partner to take over some of the morning or bedtime routine so that you can work on being healthy. Whether you walk, run, or ride, an hour away from the house can be a great way to catch up on the news, a favorite podcast, or audiobook, and being able to keep up with our grown-up interests helps us all feel a little more human.

Break it up. You don’t need to pour sweat for 60 minutes to get in a workout. Ten minutes here and there of getting your heart rate up is a workout! Or, for a SAHM like me, I can manage to find 30 minutes in my day but that takes effort. Sometimes that means 25 minutes of workout and 5 minutes of stopping to redirect my children in some way. I use that half hour and then shower later as I find another free five or ten minutes.

Cut out other time related to working out. Perhaps the time to wash and fix your hair cuts down on your enthusiasm to work out. Throw your hair back in a ponytail a couple days a week or find online tutorials on cute simple wash-and-go hairstyles. Perhaps the travel time to and from the gym is stopping you. Cut it out by finding online videos or body-weight exercises you can do at home.

Consider the gym. Many say it’s not worth the cash. I say it depends. We did not have the extra cash for a gym membership until it became important enough that I was willing to cut other things in our budget. The stars aligned for me when a third child made any childcare too expensive; my interest in getting back to great health increased; and a gym that includes childcare opened nearby. Now it’s a win/win/win—a 90 minute reprieve from the kiddos several times a week, the opportunity to get in workouts, and child-free showers! Look at your budget, local options, and find if health can get a line in your budget.

IMPORTANT: Moms who are nursing must find time to shower and change after every workout! Staying in that sports bra increases risk for mastitis, clogged ducts, and yeast infections. If you don’t have time for a full shower, wipe your breasts with a baby wipe after and change bras at the very least. Never re-wear your sports bras without washing them.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 6 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Tags: infant, toddler, preschooler, parenting, health, exercise, schedule

Have I Outgrown Social Media?

Monday, October 24th, 2016

10-20-16-outgrowing-social-media-option-1Scroll. Scroll… scroll.

It started innocently enough five years ago. I researched strollers. Which brand should I buy? Which one is smoothest for jogging? How smoothly does the front wheel pivot? It costs HOW much? Oh wait… a giveaway! I’ll enter the giveaway! Just like these 20 Instagram accounts and I could win! Ok. Cloth diapers. Which brand should I buy? Group? Sure I’ll join your group. Seasons of life start like this, at least for a new soon-to-be-mom and solidly through my second child’s first year.

Here I am with baby number three, at six months old, and I’m tired of scrolling through Instagram photos of single strollers and belly belts. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve outgrown you. I don’t mean to be brutal. After all, you’ve supported me with encouraging words, kept me company through many sleepless nights of nursing. But unfollow. Unfollow. Unfollow. Don’t get me wrong, there is a core group that will always keep me going. I’m sticking with a group, a couple businesses, and my handful of friends. I just don’t have interest in the fringes anymore.

The moment of truth hit me after weeks, months even, of me mulling over the rut I so desperately wanted to climb out of. The mommy rut, with three kids ages four and under, wanting to lose that baby weight and talk about something other than diapers, nap schedules, and tantrums. I don’t have time for everything. I have to choose. I have to cut the fringes because grabbing onto them I know I’ll just fall back into a rut. I need the strings that are deeply attached. I am ready to reincorporate the “me” from before mommy hood with the mommy that I am now.

Those late night chats with a handful of imaginary friends—the ones I’ve shared with but never met—they got me through many challenging times. Friends we will always be, but it’s time for me to put my computer away at night because I need to sleep. My kids now sleep through the night, you see. Five years ago I was expecting my first brand new baby and I had so many questions. Now I’m seasoned. I’m happy to talk you through your sleepless nights but I no longer need it myself.

I’m always going to be parenting, so it’s not so much that I’m giving up something as I am outgrowing the first stages of being a parent on social media. Goodbye stroller specs, hello homework or sports or preteen questions. Let me be clear there is no judgement at all. I am thankful for the likeminded people, companies, and communities I invested in—and who invested in me. I needed you and hope that I served you well. But I’m done. It’s done. That season of my life is done.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 6 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Do We Need a Daily Routine?

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

During my baby’s first year, one of the most common topics of conversation was about how she was sleeping.  Friends/family/moms in mom groups/strangers in the grocery line all seemed really interested in how she was sleeping.  Once we had established a daily routine, my response was much more positive to the dreaded sleep question. Routines are needed because they let your baby what to expect next, according to Babycenter.  When babies can anticipate what happens next, it provides comfort to them and helps them sleep better. Experts say that routines can be established as early as 2 months or as old as 6 months old, depending on your (and your baby’s) personality.

My first daughter was a snacker. She liked to nurse for short amounts of time every hour or two all day, every day up until she was about six months old. At about 6 months, we started to establish a routine with her, encouraging her to eat more during the day and sleep for longer stretches at night. My younger daughter was content to nurse for long amounts of time, less frequently. We worked out our routine around 4 months. Establishing a routine earlier with my second daughter also benefited my first because we returned to many of our activities that we did before the baby was born.

There is a wide range of philosophies about establishing routines, ranging from the parents setting the routines to basing the daily routine on the baby’s natural schedule and everything in between. For me, and my children, building a routine around their natural schedules worked best.  However, I am a stay-at-home mom, so I have flexibility with our days.

I found that using time intervals–instead of basing the routine off the clock–created a routine that was flexible but still offered my babies the comfort about what was coming up next.  Juniper was the most happy with about 3-3.5 hoursbetween waking and going back to sleep.  When she was about 6 months old, Juniper’s routine would begin with her waking up for the day.  I would feed her breakfast, play with her and do tummy time while her big sister was eating breakfast, get the three of us dressed, then about 2.5 hours after she initially woke up, I would nurse her for about a half an hour to forty-five minutes until she fell asleep for nap.  During her naptime, Lily and I would do one of her classes or another activity (like going for a walk or to the playground).  I would let Juniper sleep as long as she wanted, and then we would start the routine over (meal of solids, play/activity, nurse, nap) again, this would fit into about 3/3.5 hours.  At this point, Juniper was taking two naps a day and going to bed around 6/6:30 at night.  Because we were not tied to the clock, if Juniper wanted to nurse an extra time or take an extra nap, our entire day was not thrown off.

Setting a routine doesn’t have to be a struggle to have your baby follow a schedule based on the clock.  Setting a routine based on a pattern during a rough time interval offers your baby predictability and meets her needs based on her natural schedule with the flexibility that she needs day to day.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

Sensory Activities for Baby

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

sensory activities for babySo your baby is 3 months old now.  She seems to be ready to play and learn about her world.  But how do you play with a 3-month-old? Providing her with sensory activities each day helps her develop cognitively, begin to learn language, and gives you the opportunity to play with your baby. Initially, I was hesitant to start using sensory activities because activities that create a big mess are overwhelming to me. However with a little research, I discovered that with slight modifications, many everyday activities turn into sensory activities, becoming opportunities to play with your baby, build foundations for language development, and encourage exploration of her world.

The following are 10 activities I used with both my girls to address the five senses.

  1. Reading touch and feel books together (The That’s Not My… series are my girls’ favorite touch and feel books)
  2. Creating scent jars by filling empty spice jars with strong smelling objects (basil, orange, lemon, lavender, etc)
  3. Creating a ribbon box by attaching ribbons at the opening of an old box (one that is large enough for your baby to lay in/under)
  4. Allowing them to squish and play with their food once they start solids
  5. Providing toys that crinkle, make other sounds, and have many textures (Melissa and Doug’s Flip Fish was one of Juniper’s favorites from about 4 to 7 months old)
  6. Walking outside while talking to your baby about things you see, sounds you hear, and smells you smell
  7. Playing peek-a-boo and other songs that use scarfs
  8. Going to baby storytime and other age-appropriate mommy and me classes
  9. Looking at and making silly faces in mirrors
  10. Talking to your baby while grocery shopping about what color, shape, etc of the items you’re purchasing (sometimes I accidentally do this on solo shopping trips and get weird looks!).  In the produce section, I let my girls touch and smell the produce we intend to purchase as I’m talking about it.

Having your baby do sensory activities does not require a huge mess or a lot of prep before hand.  With little extra effort, you can maximize your baby’s opportunity to use their senses and learn about the world.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.