Posts Tagged ‘wonder weeks’

Nursing Through A Growth Spurt

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

nursing through a growth spurtI quickly realized my place during a growth spurt. According to my breastfed baby, I had one job. That job was to make milk, feed him, and repeat often.

Before I learned my place, thoughts like “Is this normal? When will this end? Will I survive?” ran through my mind as I sat nursing my baby in the same rocking chair for what seemed like endless hours. I was challenged to be strategic with bathroom breaks and with feeding myself.

Here are warnings that I wish that I would have received about nursing through a growth spurt:

  • You will be off your normal schedule and will not be informed about this new temporary schedule ahead of time. There will most likely not be room for things like making meals, eating meals, cleaning the house or any of that kind of productive stuff.
  • You will be starving. Eat! Your body will be working overtime to increase your milk supply to feed your baby during a growth spurt. So, keep snacks nearby and ask someone to bring you dinner on their way home because you won’t be cooking it.
  • You will need to drink a lot of water. Keep drinking it.
  • You will be tired. Even if your baby has become a decent night sleeper, they may wake often during a growth spurt for multiple snacks.
  • You will be confused. You may think that there is something wrong with your supply. A growth spurt is a baby’s way of increasing your milk supply. Don’t stop breastfeeding or start supplementing during a growth spurt because you think something is wrong.
  • This too will pass. Growth spurts often stop as suddenly as they come on. By the time it ends you may actually be worried that your baby is not eating enough! But relax. Apps like WonderWeeks are helpful for somewhat predicting these phases and can help you keep your sanity with that simple heads-up.

Good news: growth spurts only last a couple of days. And, once it is over, there’s a good chance you’ll soon need to get out some larger sized clothing for your hefty eater. Not only will a growth spurt increase your milk supply that your baby needs, but it will increase the size of your baby, too!

Sarah Cole is a stay at home mommy to a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old. She enjoys writing, playing with her busy toddlers and watching them grow.

What Makes a Velcro Baby?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

velcro babyAhhhh. The Velcro baby. You know the one. The baby that ALWAYS seems to be attached to you. They want to be constantly nursed. Or held. Or sit in your lap. Or hold your hand. Or follow you all around the house, and if you walk away for a nanosecond, it’s a crisis. That placenta cord may have been cut long ago, but this tiny human doesn’t seem to know it. You may start to think what is going on? Why is my little one so needy? So clingy? So difficult? What am I doing wrong?!? This attachment parenting stuff is supposed to be fostering independence…but*gulp* am I actually creating an “unhealthy” attachment?

I’m going be blunt here. Parenting a Velcro baby is exhausting. It can drain you both physically and emotionally. Their need for you feels deep and overwhelming. And your body can feel worn out from constantly supporting the weight of another person. Even when you are using kicka@@ ergonomically correct carrier, your body is impacted by carrying a tiny human around all day. Plus a Velcro baby can be frustrating. It can make a simple task take 18 times as long. Basically it feels consuming. It’s like the line between your own body and theirs is so blurred you start to forget what it even feels like to be yourself.

So what causes a Velcro baby? One huge and often overlooked/underestimated factor is merely human development. When a baby is going through a big developmental leap, this seems to increase their need for comfort. Change within can feel confusing, disorganizing, and out of control. So in order to cope, they cling to what is familiar and comfortable…and in many cases that is a parent/caregiver. Considering that development is vast and rapid during the first years of life, it’s as though they are continuously on the brink of a new developmental skill. Rolling. Sitting. Crawling. Walking. And that’s only the physical changes. They are learning and growing socially, cognitively, and emotionally too. Their little bodies and brains are working crazy hard to make all this happen!

Ahhh. Whew! So it’s not something you are doing “wrong” as a parent. It’s simply a natural part of human development. Little ones grow and they need us to help them navigate through that change. How that dynamic looks for each individual parent child is truly unique. But it can be helpful to know basic developmental milestones, sometimes referred to as “wonder weeks.” Knowledge is empowering. We feel better prepared to handle these changes and perhaps more relaxed about them. Additionally we are more accepting of the challenges and demands that accompany them. Furthermore knowing ourselves is helpful. How do we replenish and renew ourselves so we can optimally nurture our little ones?

Good self-care is essential when parenting a Velcro baby. And yes, I know the hardship there. We can barely meet basic needs like going to the bathroom or eating a nourishing meal when baby is clinging to us. But call in your reinforcements. Whatever they may be. The demands of a Velcro baby are legit and can quickly burn us out if we don’t also carve out the space to meet our own needs in the process.

The 4-Month Sleep Regression

Friday, April 10th, 2015

_DSC2002-2“You are, for the most part, a good sleeper. You normally only wake up once a night to eat,” These are the exact words I wrote in my journal to my daughter on the day she turned 4 months old. Sweet, naïve words, as it turned out. I didn’t know just how fast all of that would change.

The first two months of my daughter’s life were rough. We struggled with breastfeeding and I had to use a nipple shield until she was about 8 weeks old. She was a slow eater and night feeds took forever. She woke frequently, as newborns do. Then, around 3 months, everything got better. We kicked the nipple shield. Nursing got easier and she became more efficient. She started sleeping longer. I finally thought she was working toward the better sleep that all the books said would eventually come. I had hope!

Then she entered her fourth month and bam!, my illusions were shattered. She started waking more and more frequently. It took longer to get her back to sleep. Then, in my online “due date” group, everyone else started chiming in. “After weeks of 1 wake a night, now he’s up every 2 hours!” “I’m so zombified right now. I broke down and cried last night.” “I feel like I’m approaching the end of my rope.” We were swapping stories of wake up patterns, suggestions for soothing, recommendations for swaddlers and sleep suits. What the heck was going on?

The 4 month sleep regression, that’s what was going on. Although babies can actually go through a number of sleep regressions as they grow, the 4 month tends to be the first and a biggie. It’s rough. Your poor body is fooled into thinking that sleep in longer stretches is once again possible and then it’s all yanked away. You start to wonder if it’ll ever pass. All you want to do is sleep. Thankfully, a friend in that group, an experienced mom, clued us all in. She also linked us to the book The Wonder Weeks for additional explanation about what was going on. If you’ll look on page 12 (use the preview option), you’ll notice that weeks 15-19 are predicted to be fussy, with a big stormy time right around 17 weeks. For me, 17 weeks was exactly when I reached out for help. That age is when baby begins to understand and learn how to process his or her world. They may be babbling more, beginning to roll, grabbing their feet, etc. Since we constantly process information as we sleep, it’s not surprising that this new wealth of information overwhelms them at night. At the same time, their sleep patterns change to be more like the way adults move through light and deep sleep. Naps may become shorter, sleep more interrupted. Since they haven’t yet developed the ability to sooth themselves back to sleep, they’ll rely on you to help them do so. All of this can add up to a tired, cranky baby and tired, cranky parents.

The good news is that it does pass, typically. Most babies will spend 2-3 weeks in their regression patterns before moving on to (hopefully) better sleep. I’m not here to give you tips, because if my experience is any example, all you really can do is survive it. Lean on anyone who offers to help. Make sure your partner is involved at night, if that’s an option. You may find that a new swaddle, a pacifier, or a change in routine somehow actually does help your little one sleep again. But if you don’t, just know that it really does get better and that you’re not alone. Try reaching out to moms of babies the same age. Just knowing that your baby is going through a developmentally normal phase and that other mothers are just as tired and frustrated as you are can make all the difference. As one of my online friends put it, “I see that everyone else is having exactly the same problem, and that is SUCH A RELIEF. I can’t tell you how much better I feel now. It’s a Real Thing. It’s not just me doing it wrong, or my baby turning evil. THANK YOU ALL.”

You’re not doing it wrong. Your baby is fine, normal, and healthy. You’ll get through this. Lean on us, your community. You’re not alone.

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW and is the mother of a nearly 3 year old rotten sleeper who only now is figuring out the whole “sleep through the night” thing.