bedtime routine

My Favorite Things (for New Moms)

My little sister is pregnant with her first little one.  We are looking forward to celebrating his arrival with a baby shower soon!

This is very exciting for me since I won’t be purchasing any of these wee items for myself anymore.

I have a small confession:  I used to fill online baskets of baby supplies (I never actually bought the items) and create registries for someday-maybe babies in between pregnancies. 😮

I have some pretty strong opinions after three kids about my favorite things.  Here’s my list:

 

1. Ultra-soft newborn nightgown like this one:

http://www.gap.com/browse/category.do?cid=1014026&departmentRedirect=true#department=166

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I love these for the first month or two because they make night-time diaper changes super simple and allow for skin-to-skin contact for baby’s own legs, which most infants enjoy.  Quick, drama-free diaper changes are important for teaching newborns the difference between night and day.

2. Swaddling blankets

I love Aden and Anais, especially for the summer:

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Or if your baby is extra wiggly, they make easy swaddles too:

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http://www.adenandanais.com/en-us/content/easy+swaddle/easy-swaddle.aspx

3.  Nursing cover up

My favorite is the Bébé au Lait Nursing Cover;

http://www.target.com/p/bebe-au-lait-nursing-cover-camden-lock/-/A-13460026

they are extra long and come in all different designs.  I have given these as gifts often and they are always a huge hit.

4. The best nursing bras ever!!!

I have tried many, many different nursing bra brands and styles.  They are typically itchy, ugly and poorly made.  Itchy things are the worst!  Bravado nursing bras are truly worth the expense when you weigh them against the cost of organic formula and the health benefits your children receive because you didn’t give up on breastfeeding. My first two months of breastfeeding were an awful experience for me.  I just kept telling myself another week.  Then I made it another week and I would do another.  Having itching ill-fitting bras didn’t help my cause.  By my third child, one of my BFF’s gave me a few of these and the difference was AMAZING!  I was able to comfortably breastfeed her for a full fifteen months.  With my first two children I eventually gave up on nursing bras and just wore regular bras and tried to wiggle in and out of them.  That was my best option until I discovered these comfortable, soft, well-made little beauties!

http://www.bravadodesigns.com/shop/the-bliss-nursing-bra

5. Infant Wrap

I had the Boba Wrap back when it was the Sleepy Wrap.   http://www.boba.com/store/baby-wrap/

Some women say their babies don’t like to be wrapped in these things, but my experience was quite the opposite and I wore mine during church, walking through Disney World, even for public speaking situations.  I just strapped baby in and kept going.

6.  Some kind of baby bouncer

These are great items if you ever want to take a shower again!

Seriously, I would always carry my bouncer into the bathroom with me.  I could easily calm baby if he was upset.  Not to mention, the warm mist can be a helpful little humidifier too!  Here’s a shot of one of my girls fast asleep from the warm bathroom shower in her little bouncer.

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After I created this list I realized that these are also some of my top-picks because they are all pretty essential in my sleeping plan too:

http://newbornlove.net/2014/04/16/9-steps-to-get-more-sleep-with-a-newborn-in-the-house/

And I have to thank my girlfriend, who introduced my to the Bravado Bras, but pretty much everything else on the list too!  You know who you are!  XO

PS-Eventually I trained her not to suck her fingers.  When she was in the wrap her arms were strapped in so she reluctantly learned to take a pacifier.

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Do you have plans for the summer? Help for parents who work from home

“Bees’ll buzz, kids’ll blow dandelion fuzz
And I’ll be doing whatever snow does
In summer
A drink in my hand, my snow up against the burning sand
Prob’ly getting gorgeously tanned
In summer”

Even Olaf the snowman is excited about summer!!!

Every home in America that has school-aged kids or teachers living in them is counting down the days until summer vacation.

As exciting as it is for everyone, it doesn’t take long until the whining begins,

“I’m bored!”  (In our family the use of the word “bored” is actually treated the same as profanity)

“What can I do?”

“I’m hungry!”

I truly believe my kids eat twice as much in the summer and I KNOW I do more dishes.

For parents who work from home, which my husband and I do, it can be even more difficult because your kids and all your friends and neighbors often think you are available to entertain.

Last summer I was geared up for being a perfect work-from-home mom.  I had centers, I had been collecting educational activities, I had my husband on board, I had created a daily schedule, and we even began practicing the schedule before the school-year ended.

But it was still hard!  There was a little too much bickering and I heard a little too much of the whining I was hoping to avoid.

I will do a few things differently this year:

1. Send them to camp (not for the whole summer but  4 weeks to space out the summer so we can appreciate each other when we are back together again.)

2. Use an adjustable daily schedule like this one I made

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Adjustable Daily Summer Schedule

Last year I think our schedule was too rigid; if we had a change in the schedule I couldn’t communicate that as easily to the kids.  This new schedule has some firm spots (like resting time, mealtimes, and chores) but much more room to move things around for a rainy day, a playdate, etc.  I have a few more posters that I can swap out too!

(Here’s another blog with a great schedule idea:  http://thrivinghomeblog.com/2013/05/how-to-make-your-summer-at-home-with-kids-count-part-1/#_pg_pin=498031)

3.  Utilize SOME paper plates (sorry environmentalists out there but I can only mentally handle doing dishes if its under 3 hours a day!!!)

4.  Be more realistic!  I’m sure this will not be perfect, but I will learn and tweak as I go.

What are your strategies for keeping summer fun, productive, and free of whining?

Inspire Your Kids to Be Readers

One of the most surprising parts of starting this blog has been the interest that my own children have in reading my writing.  All of them ask me daily if I have written another post.  They laugh and relish figuring out which kid I am writing about.

In particular my son (8 years old) will read my posts, give me feedback, and offer suggestions.  One post is never enough, he is always begging me to post something else.  So in his honor, this is a post about some of the things we have done that I think have helped inspire our kids to become readers.

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1-We are readers.  We read nonfiction, fiction, magazines, social media, and our Bibles daily.

2-We read to the kids.  From the time they were newborns we have been reading to the kids.  We read poetry, old books, new books, books with pictures, books without pictures.  Right now our favorites are the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  They are learning so much history and culture from these older books.  Its so fun to discuss a time from 100 years ago with them.

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3-We tell stories.  We make up stories about things we see happening in the world.  We also take books we’ve read many times and pretend the pictures are telling a different story altogether.  We insert their names into favorite stories letting them take on the characters.

4-We use voices.  When we read short stories we love making up accents, reading slowly, reading quickly, reading softly, reading loudly.  Its an event!

5-We make reading a privilege.  Reading is an excuse to stay up past bedtime, reading means spending extra family time together.  Books are a special treat.

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And now I can add to the list that, because of this blog, we read to them about themselves.  I cherish the blog my mom kept toward the end of her life; it helps keep her memory alive.  I hope someday my kids can reread my thoughts and remember the story of their lives.

Happy Reading!

 

9 STEPS TO GET MORE SLEEP WITH A NEWBORN IN THE HOUSE

My method for sleeping longer stretches through the night sooner than you expect.

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It’s all about teaching sweet lemon drop the difference between night and day!

Each of my babies was different. One has turned out to be a little on the OCD-side: an early riser, full of plans, and personal expectations. The second is part fairy, part author, happy as long as we’re having fun. Number three is a little general.

Despite VERY DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES, each responded positively to this routine. (Please keep in mind, I began from the first day home from the hospital, so it could take a little practice if your baby is used to something else.)

If you are still pregnant you can begin thinking through some of this now!

1-Establish the time period you want to have the longest stretch of sleep  

In the beginning, that probably means 4 hours. If you are nursing, you don’t want to hurt your milk supply by going very long without feeding. For me that was 12a-4a. In my opinion, 12a-4a is definitely when I wanted my baby sleeping. I guess you could say for ME that is OFFICIALLY NIGHT.

So for me 12a was bedtime.

2-Designate ONE nighttime sleeping location

This could be a co-sleeper, pack-n-play, or bassinet in your room. (I do recommend keeping the baby in your room so you can respond to her cues more quickly.)

Do not put the baby in his nighttime bed until the “bedtime” you chose for any reason.

Where will the little lump sleep during the day?

Throughout the day, try baby-wearing, utilize swings, pack-n-plays, bouncers, carseats, etc. Keep baby near you with lots of light and sound so he knows it is daytime and there’s a lot going on!

3-Cluster-feed your baby before bedtime so she’s had lots of mommy-time and her belly is full.

3 hours before the bedtime, breastfeed the baby on each side (I never used bottles, but I would guess around 1-2oz). Then play with and interact with your baby, let her swing, or have some tummy-time. Keep the activity going.

Repeat 1 hour later feeding on both sides (starting with the side you left off on). You may have to wake baby by undressing and changing.

Repeat 1 hour later with the same process. This is the “last feeding of the night”.

4-Complete your bedtime routine

Change baby into “pajamas” and a fresh diaper. Next swaddle your baby. Yes sometimes they try to wiggle out, but a little perseverance is worth it. I often double-swaddled to keep my little darlings tightly wrapped.

5-Put baby to bed

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Lay baby in nighttime sleep place. It’s great for baby to go down awake, because he will learn to fall asleep on his own. At this point, you can feel fairly confident that baby is full and ready to sleep after all that eating!

6-Prepare for a calm, consistent atmosphere

Leave a very low light on so that when baby does wake in the night you don’t have to ever change the lights to check on baby. You don’t want to change the atmosphere with harsh lighting.

Keep it quiet. Its sleeping time: no talking, tv, or light, throughout the night. Only “shh” if its really needed.

7-Meet your babies feeding needs throughout the night, as quickly as possible

If you put baby down around 12a, the next feeding maybe sometime around 4 am.

If baby begins to wiggle in bed and seems to be rooting around, go ahead and feed her. It’s better to meet these needs before she is struggling and crying. You may have to spend extra time calming her if you wait until she is upset. Then immediately re-swaddle and place her back in her bed. If breast-feeding is firmly established, you may want to consider offering a pacifier.

8-Try to master the side-lying hold

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If you are able, breastfeed your baby in a safe, side-lying hold so that you can get some rest while she eats. (I will post my breast-feeding tips in a future blog) If you can’t yet no worries.  🙂

9-Stretch out the 4 hours of solid sleep to a full night

Once your baby is falling asleep at the bedtime you have picked and sleeping for 4 hours consistently, begin moving the bedtime back hour by hour. Eventually I worked all of my babies back to 7pm.

 

I am happy to report that 8 years later , all three darlings still faithfully march through their bedtime routines and are in bed reading or sleeping at 7pm.

 

Sweet dreams everybody!

DISCLAIMER: I am just a mom, not a pediatrician and I can’t possibly know your unique situation. But this method has been a healthy and successful plan for my family and many of my friends. I hope it can help some of you. I’m sure there are many other great ways to get sleep and sanity but this is the plan that worked for me. J