Saturday, April 18, 2009

Breastfeeding: when is it over? To wean or not wean... wait, what is the question?

So Owen has decided to shake his head and smile every time I offer him breastfeeding except the first wake-up session. He still likes that (saving grace). This has been going on for the last 3 weeks.

Sometimes the little guy will make the sign for milk and point to my zipper (I'm always wearing a down vest-- our house is cold). I open up shop for nursing and he does his little mischievous "no no no" followed by a signature smile. It's like he wanted to make sure the boobs are still there.

I assure you they are still here.

AND so is some extra fat that decided NOT to turn itself into breastmilk. THIS is the most worrisome part about Owen quitting me. The calories I used to burn making breastmilk.... well, I'm going to have to burn them another way.

Say it ain't so!

I was worried at first for other reasons. I mean it's hard to think they are quitting you. After all the dedication to breastfeeding he's going to quit before Mommy's ready. What about the immunity? The comfort? The calorie burning?


So I'm getting ready. I'm glad he's still nursing in the morning but he's totally given up nursing in our chair together, which is hard since I really loved that time so much. Alas, it does mean more freedom for me, which I guess I'm ready for...


I blame cow's milk. I knew he would like it more. I mean who doesn't love whole milk? I know you are out there thinking,
"eeewwww...I drink skim milk"
but seriously, have you had a hot chocolate with skim and then with whole milk? Take the challenge. You'll side with me. Whole milk tastes good, especially the organic brands.

Actually, I'm glad he's drinking milk regularly from his sippy cup and we hope the fatty cow's milk will put some mean on this bones. I can look forward to my small A-B cups imminent return! This is exciting because jogging with milk-filled C cups is a drag AND it's double sports bra duty.

I also have felt a little more "free" to drink more alcohol and coffee... which is nice. I mean by no means am I a heavy drinker of either but it's a mental shift.

We've still got morning milk but I think it's going away slow but sure...

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Consolidating two naps to one-- When to do it?

Ah sleep problems. They have returned. This time in the form of afternoon nap protest. For a week solid Owen refused to take his afternoon nap.

Talking in his crib for an hour, YES, most certainly.

Sleeping in the afternoon- Nope, not having it. Now this had happened in the past ONCE or TWICE but never 5-6 days in a row. I was irritated and so was our boy.

Sometimes he was taking 90 minutes to fall asleep in the afternoon and his usual 2PM nap was starting close to 3PM and not falling asleep until 4PM and then he'd sleep until 5:30PM and then obviously have a fit when we try to put him to bed even at 8PM. Of course he was still waking at 6:30AM either way so he wasn't getting enough sleep at night with the later bed time.

I'm thinking, "IT'S too early to go to one nap" Sleep Lady says 16-18 months and we all know how I worship her and her advice.

Upon reading her very helpful chapter in her book (prompted by her newsletter I get via email) about consolidating two naps to one... it seems this Mommy needed to pay attention to my own child's behaviors not the calendar.

Because Kim West (Sleep Lady) and I are such good buddies (ah HEM, she returns my emails) I asked her if I could publish her newsletter article on this topic here on Baby Business. She said, "yes," So here you go.

This is the Sleep Lady's official advice on the topic, which, of course, I'm following.

Consolidating from two naps to one can be a big physical and psychological transition, with almost all children passing through the "one nap is too little, two naps are too many" phase. All we can do is try to make the transition as smooth as possible, although even in the best case scenario, your child may suffer from crankiness and disruption for two or three weeks. You may need an earlier bedtime for a few weeks while you make this transition.

An extremely common error for parents is to try to consolidate naps prematurely. Many parents will let their twelve-month old take a two or three hour nap in the morning. The child will then refuse to sleep in the afternoon (due to the long morning nap), and have difficulty making it to bedtime without a melt down.

Toddlers usually are ready to drop the morning nap by fifteen -eighteen months. A little earlier or a little later is normal, but be sure to watch your child, not the calendar. Especially watch for changes in your child's morning nap patterns. It may take her longer to fall asleep, or she may wake up from the nap earlier. She may also sleep so long in the morning that she won't nap in the afternoon, meaning you'll have a very overtired toddler by bedtime. Don't mistake one abbreviated morning nap for the sign that your child's ready for change. When the pattern becomes consistent, the time is right to begin the transition.

Signs your child is ready to transition from two naps to one:
1.) your child is getting 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night (CHECK)
2.) your child is taking longer and longer to fall asleep for the morning nap (NO)
3.) your child takes an increasingly shorter morning nap or too long of a morning nap and refuses an afternoon nap. In the end, you feel stuck in the "one nap is not enough and two is too many" phase (CHECK CHECK)

When you are ready to begin the transition, push your child's morning nap a little later. Try delaying it until around 11:00am for two or three days. Then push it until 11:30am for a few days, then to noon, and so on. Your ultimate goal should be to have her asleep by 12:30pm or 1:00pm within 7-10 days.

Things to remember:
- Slowly push the morning nap later in 20 to 30 minute increments, until you reach 12:30 pm or 1:00 pm. Do this gradually (i.e. in small increments over 2-3 days) to avoid overtiredness or difficulty getting to sleep. This will be her only nap for the day, so try to resettle her back to sleep if the nap is too short.
- Bedtime will often need to be earlier during this transition - 7:00 - 7:30 pm.
- It is best NOT to transition to one nap until your child is sleeping through the night fairly consistently or for at least 3 weeks.
- Be open to an occasional two-nap day!

Remember, there is an art to sleeping! We must teach our children how to put themselves to sleep in order for them to recognize their own need for it later in life. It's tempting to cut out a nap in a baby's schedule for convenience, but remember, you both will pay the price later at bedtime! Take time to enjoy this small window of opportunity when you are offered two breaks in your busy day. It can be a great time to concentrate on yourself or have some special time with an older child! Sleep well! Kim West, Sleep Lady

So this has been working well for us thus far. Owen has slept 2hour naps from 10-12, Sunday and Monday, then Tuesday-Friday he went down more like 11AM 11:15AM-1:15-1:30. He makes it until bedtime but we've shifted instead of between 7-8PM, he is SLEEPING at 7PM. Bath time starting at 6:15PM

I actually went to the gym at 8-9:30AM and then to the grocery story after--

TWO ERRANDS in the morning. Back-to-Back!

Praise Jesus.

I felt like I got "so much done" before 10:30AM. It was fun. Ah it's the small things, like writing this blog on Friday night at 8:45 and thinking about closing my eyes and going to sleep....

You know what this means?

MOMMY IS HITTING THE GYM-- HARD!! (oh and I got a baby jogger for $60.00 on Craig's list... another post)

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Owen 13 months

I found these and it's June, but I'll post it in April. Time stamp on the photos say April 5, 2009. He loves his trike!

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

13 months and walking

Time for walking! Owen was 13 months on April 1st and he began walking this past Friday and is getting really good at it! He loves to walk around the house in circles holding whatever object holds his interest. I think this new movement has made it harder for him to sleep. We are having some nap resistance-- mostly in the afternoon. More on that in another post.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Leaving a nursing 12 month old baby for 5 nights

I had a wedding job in New York City a couple of weeks ago (I live in Arizona). It was a very cool wedding-- on a Broadway stage-- see the images here.

I have been stressed about leaving Owen for approximately the past 3 months. Basically when I booked the job, I was naive and thought, "oh at 12 months, I can go anywhere and we'll just bring Owen anyway." We learned between that time and the time I booked my plane ticket that traveling with an infant, is challenging at best and probably not a great idea when he wasn't sleeping through the night (at the time we booked the ticket, he was still waking 2-3 times, now he sleeps uninterrupted).

I think every Mother should run this drill:

GO AWAY overnight as soon as you can.

Even if your baby is nursing.

They will survive.

Even if it's just for one night.

You can do it.

It's great mental exercise for yourself, and really lets you know that your baby will be fine without you. I'm not saying it wasn't hard. Getting on a plane was the hardest part but I firmly believe had I not done this now it would've been YEARS before I left him for the fear that he would not be okay without me or that something would happen and the baby would NEED me. I know that sounds irrational even as I write it but in my head it was a real fear that needed to be addressed.

We all have to face our fears at some point.

I know for a fact that many mothers wait YEARS to leave their children and the less you leave them, the harder it is.

Obviously, you want to leave your baby with family or a close friend whom knows the schedule and your baby. Luckily, I have the best husband on earth whom cares for our son all the time for 12-hour stretches while I shoot weddings on Saturdays, which is also great. If you cannot go overnight YET, mentally or for whatever excuse you make, then, go do something ALL DAY, really, it will be fine. Now, there is no way in hell I could've left this child when he was 3 months, 6 months or even 7 months for an overnight period. He simply didn't drink from a bottle and wouldn't get enough liquids without me present to nurse. Dehydration was a big concern during that stage, but around 9-12 months he started really drinking well from the sippy cup (NEVER breastmilk --- he wouldn't touch it outside of a breast -- only formula in a sippy cup).

Bottom line is I DID IT. It WAS NOT easy for several reasons:
1) my milk supply ran really low while I was gone... since I only breastfeed and never pump, my breasts don't make a lot of milk without the baby around and don't respond well to pumping. For example, I was only getting an ounce or so each time I would pump, twice a day, which worried me since I am fairly dedicated to nursing until the baby quits it himself. It made me think I would lose my supply before I got back, which makes one anxious to get back.
2) 5 nights is too long at 12 months, or at least it was for me. I think 3 nights would've been perfect, but by day 4 I was ready to be home.
3) I was going such a long distance it made it extra stressful since if something happened, it would be 12 hours home and I couldn't leave until AFTER the wedding.

On the other hand, it WAS easy for these reasons
1) I was working, so I had a purpose and didn't have much free "mommy" time to think about the baby
2) I knew Matt was taking care of Owen very well and they were getting some great quality time together.
3) Owen was sleeping through the night every night and drinking plenty of cow's milk (we started 2 weeks before the trip) and very hydrated.
4) I left him overnight for about 40 hours to go to a conference 2 hours away. See blog post on that topic here.

When I returned home, my milk supply came back to normal and the baby nursed on his normal schedule. All was well. I did it and now I can't wait to plan a trip with my husband in the fall sometime when Owen will be 18 months. I'm sure it will be equally as hard to leave then, but now I know he'll be fine and that makes all the difference in the world... a little confidence goes a long way. It's so exciting to think of the places we can go as a family but even more excited to get away with Matt.

I am a firm believer that once you have children you have to really actively nurture your marriage. A strong marriage will provide a good example for your children throughout their life and it makes for a happy household. Scheduling a babysitter for some "couple time" is a MUST. Getting away together for dates, playtime and overnight trips if you can. Start small, dream big.

Today Matt and I went on our first mountain bike ride together (something we used to do 3-4 times a week in the summers) in 18 months. It was REALLY fun. I look forward to laying on a beach somewhere with him knowing our child is fine at home.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Baby Signs -- the A,B,C's

I have waited a long time to try Baby Signs. I used to babysit about 8 years ago for two girls who signed all the time as toddlers and I knew it was something I'd like to try with my own child. After we had Owen it seemed like a lifetime to wait until they make their first sign (Owen did "dog" at 11 months). After he got the hang of "dog," he began to sign and sign and sign. He probably has 20 or so signs including: dog, cat, hat, head, milk, flower, bird, cheese, shoes, moon, car, truck, train, helicopter, pig, bunny, light, motorcycle, all done, eat, more, airplane, sleep, hurt, banana, what/where and book.

To begin with your child you just keep modeling the signs when you say objects and eventually they begin to pick them up especially when we read books. He seems to learn a new sign everyday now. I could not image Owen at this age without baby signs. He loves to "talk" about everything he sees. It keeps him way less frustrated and happy and I think he really feels like he's part of our world. He doesn't have any spoken words yet but he does "talk" all the time. His sounds are starting to get more consistent but nothing one can really understand yet.

I highly recommend the book Baby Signs and the Baby Signs program. Tami does a Baby Signs class here in Flagstaff but we cannot get enough participants, so if you are interested, drop her a line. I really wanted Owen to take the class because I thought it would be fun, but we are still waiting. :)

I pulled this from the Baby Signs webpage:
Some parents may worry that encouraging their child to use signs might slow down learning to talk. Actually, the opposite is true! Drs. Acredolo and Goodwyn's federally funded research showed that using the Baby Signs® Program actually helps babies learn to talk. They found that 2-year-old Baby Signers had significantly larger verbal vocabularies than their non-signing peers. And by the time they were three years old, the Baby Signers language skills were more like that of 4 years old. Babies gain a lot of language knowledge when they are able to actively engage in communication with signs-knowledge that lays a good foundation for learning to talk. And, just as a child who learns to crawl is more, rather than less, motivated to learn to walk, so also a child who learns to sign is more, rather than less, motivated to learn to talk! More about the benefits here.

I am trying to capture some moment of the Baby Signs, but haven't really taken the assignment seriously. I will try to get a little video together.

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