Archive for November, 2013

When Your Baby Isn’t on a Schedule

Friday, November 29th, 2013
Thumbsuckers get a bad rep! I found thumbsucking to be a great sleep cue for our baby-led routine.

Thumbsuckers get a bad rep! I found thumbsucking to be a great sleep cue for our baby-led routine.

There are apps and bracelets and books and all sorts of things devoted to helping you get your baby on a schedule. For some moms this is a goal before baby is even born, and to other moms, it’s a constant stressor in their life. Will baby ever sleep through the night? Will life ever seem normal? Will I be chasing this kid around, at the mercy of their whims and moods forever if we aren’t scheduled?

At first, baby’s habits will be all over the map. Everything is “on demand,” and it should be.  There will be no patterns or predictability.  You have to sleep when you can, eat when you can and pee when you can. But after a while, you’ll notice that baby may start waking up, being hungry, or needing a diaper change around the same time each day. Or, you may notice that baby is happy hanging out with you for a certain amount of time and then has had it—repeatedly. Baby-led scheduling generally emerges as a pattern based on cycles.

For example, my first baby woke around 4am each morning, then we’d sleep in until 8ish, then she’d nurse and hang out with me until 10ish, then wake around noonish. That was our morning. When I tried putting my second baby down for a nap at 10am each day, some days it took, and some days it was full-on protest. Then I figured out that her patterns were more cyclical. She could be awake for about two hours, and then she needed a nap. So I watched the clock less and her cues more.

What you do in baby-led scheduling is take these cues and reinforce them by being proactive and anticipating them. So, even if baby #2 seemed totally fine and happy, if she had been up for two hours I would nurse her and put her down for a nap instead of waiting for fatigue cues. It’s great because you usually know what’s coming, and eventually you can plan your day based on these patterns that baby has set for you. It also cuts down on crying since the flow baby has established helps narrow down the why of their cry. Since you know the routine, you are one step ahead.

With baby #3, I kept intending to observe her schedule, but it’s never happened. She’s 9 months old and we still feed on demand and nap when it occurs to me that it might be time or she falls asleep nursing. It hasn’t been stressful for me, and most importantly, she’s a great nurser. And for me, if nursing is going well I am not bothered by anything else.

Baby–led scheduling can be really helpful if you’re planning to return to work, or have other kids you need schedule around. Otherwise, just relax. When other moms start talking about when their baby does what or asking what your schedule is, don’t worry. As long as you and baby are making it work for you, that’s all that matters.

Erin Burt is a breastfeeding, baby wearing, cloth-diapering mom of three. She lives and writes in Fort Worth, Texas. 

Best Naptime Music for Babies

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

When we had our first child, my husband and I quickly realized how few children’s songs we knew as we attempted to sing and hum our colicky baby to sleep. Our house was also very quiet since we had no other children, so naptime music was a must.

As we settled into some semblance of routine, music became a big part of naptime and bedtime.  It can be magic if you find music that really gels with your baby.

If you don’t have favorite bedtime music, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t do kids’ songs. It only took a few nights of “Turkey in the Straw” and “B-I-N-G-O” for me to want to break that kids’ songs CD in two.
  • Change it up. Have a variety of music to change around when you get sick of it.
  • Make sure there aren’t sudden volume changes. At first, I would just turn on the local classical station, but there were too many sharp changes that sent me running for the volume button.

Here are a few music suggestions if you are too tired to sift through lists on Amazon:

  • Rockabye Baby: Rockabye Baby is your favorite grown-up music if it was stuffed into a music box. You can pick from virtually any artist. Plus there’s the added silent satisfaction that your child will have happy memories of your favorite artists.
  • Jewel Lullabyes: This CD is magic. I can’t explain it. It’s Xanex for babies.
  • Create a playlist: You can always put together your own playlist on Spotify or Pandora. Remember to keep high-energy songs at the top and work your way to slower tunes.
  • Classical Naptime: Classical music is historic, cultured, and collections like this usually take the whole no-sudden-volume-change rule for napping children into account.
  • Enya: It may seem like a cliché, but I know several moms who swear by Enya. Babies, toddlers, even Kindergarteners, doesn’t matter. It works for me in yoga class, so I can tell you from first-hand experience that it works.

What naptime music works for your family?

Erin Burt is a breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing mother of three. She lives and writes in Fort Worth, Texas.

Baby Sign Language FAQ

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

One of the most frustrating things as a new mom is understanding what your baby wants when they are upset.  Teaching your baby sign language can alleviate some of this frustration and allow you to communicate with your baby at an early age. Here are some common questions people have about baby sign language.

When should I start signing?

You can start teaching your baby sign language at birth. We just tried to incorporate signs into our everyday activities. For example, we use milk right before nursing time. Once your child’s motor skills for signing develop, they will be able to make the sign when they want milk instead of crying. Some babies can do signs as early as six months if introduced to signing early.

Will my baby still want to learn to talk if he/she can sign?

Of course. Signing does not interfere with language acquisition. If mom and dad are using words, baby will want to as well.

How many signs do I have to teach my baby?

As many as you like! The more your baby learns the easier it will be to communicate with your baby.  Also, each family has different needs. Essential signs for daily life may vary from one family to another.

Is it hard to teach my baby signs?

We try to make signing fun for the whole family. Our three-year old now works to teach our one-year old new signs. We all cheer when he picks up a new sign. When we were trying to teach our first the sign for more she was stubborn and would never use the sign. One night we let her try ice cream, she loved it, so we told her she could not have any more ice cream until she signed “more.” Sure enough, she signed more. From that day on she used the sign.

Remember, to keep learning fun for both you and your baby; don’t let it become something that is stressful. Even if it is just one word to start with you will reap the benefits when your baby begins to communicate with you! You can learn 15 easy signs for your baby and start today!

Kristen Beggs is a cloth-diapering mom of two who enjoys using sign-language to communicate with her kids. She lives and writes in Midland, TX.

The Many Uses for Breastmilk

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Not only is breastmilk perfect for baby, it also has lots of other uses. Breast milk can be your go-to cure for many common ailments for anyone–not just baby.

So instead of running out to buy some special treatment, just pump or hand express some milk to treat whatever the ailment. Some of the most common uses include:

  • Dry or cracked nipples
  • Ear infection
  • jolene iphone 046Pink eye
  • Diaper rash
  • Eczema
  • Acne
  • Yeast
  • Stuffy nose
  • Red eyes
  • Chicken pox
  • Dry skin
  • Chapped lips
  • Contact lens solution
  • Immune boost in older kids
  • Burns
  • Bee stings
  • Upset stomach soother
  • Clogged tear ducts
  • Facial Cleanser

Breast milk can also help cancer patients not only fight cancer but soothe their stomachs from the traditional cancer treatments. In one of my groups, a woman swore her milk was the only reason her grandmother survived cancer. Makes you wonder what else breast milk can do.

If you find yourself in a position of having extra milk you can always look for a mom in need of donor milk. She will be forever grateful for such a gift.

Have you tried any other unconventional uses for breast milk?

Jolene Palmer is a cloth diaper addict, baby wearing, clean eating, crunchy SAHM to 3 little ones.  Just trying to live a simple life on her little farm in Pennsylvania, her chickens and ducks are like her other children. She enjoys helping other mamas by sharing all that she know.

Safe Cosleeping

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

With my first child, I only knew of the horrible bedsharing stories you read (or watch) on the news. I wasn’t going to have that happen to me. I was terrified I might fall asleep sitting up with baby in the chair (a big no-no as baby could slide down a bit and become wedged, suffocating… the same reason you shouldn’t sleep with baby on a couch), or even sitting up in bed.

I worked full time and it really took a toll on me to have to be working all day after horribly broken sleep. I accepted this as simply how it was going to be until my husband went out of town when my little guy was 6 months old. That night I slept with my little guy in our bed for the first time ever, and it was amazing. I slept well. He rolled towards me to nurse, and that was that. We didn’t have struggles to stay awake or fears of something happening, we just had sleep and nursing and a well-rested night.

So let’s talk safe co-sleeping and bed sharing: Co-sleeping is sleeping near your child in the same room as them. It could be in a bassinet, in a sidecar attachment, in bed with you, etc. Bed sharing is when you sleep in the same bed with your little one. A lot of times people use co-sleeping to imply bed sharing, though that’s only one type of co-sleeping. All bed sharing is co-sleeping, but not all co-sleeping is bed sharing.

Cosleeping can reduce SIDS risk, since if something were to happen, say baby suddenly stops breathing, it will be noticed much sooner by a parent that was next to them than if baby was in a different room.

If you opt for co-sleeping without bed sharing, make sure that whatever baby is going to sleep in meets whatever the safety requirements are for that item. If it’s a crib, no bumpers, no drop-side, make sure all sidecars are securely against the bed, etc. All bedding needs to be tight against the mattress, and you don’t want any pillows or soft blankets/toys near baby’s face.

For safe bed sharing, there are a few things you can do to make sure you create the safest environment possible:

  • Never bedshare after consuming alcohol, smoking, or taking any drug that affects alertness, legal or illegal
  • No sheets or pillows near baby’s head
  • Baby should not be close to a wall, another person, or anything he or she can be wedged under
  • Secure long hair—it can be a choking hazard
  • Bedshare on firm surfaces only—not beanbags, featherbeds, or waterbeds
  • Older children should not bedshare with infants.

So should you cosleep? The answer is different for every family. Talk over the pros and cons with your partner and make an informed decision together.

Christine is a baby wearing, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, nursing, mother of 2. Her husband is a stay-at-home father, and a licensed medical massage therapist. They practice baby-led weaning and signing with their children. Christine also writes her own blog called: Thoughts Of Fluff.