Saturday, 14 September 2019

Getting Your Baby Involved in Daily Routines (6 months – 1 year)

Babies are capable of so much more than what we give them credit for! And they want to be involved in your daily routines…so why not let them?

I’m brainstorming ways in which E.’s (currently 10 months) independence is cultivated. I’m thinking of small things that she can do, with a little bit of help. If she works on these, she will soon learn how to do them independently. And these help her fine motor development, confidence, gross motor development, hand-eye coordination, and understanding cause and effect relationships.

Some of the things she enjoys/might enjoy doing:
  • pulling the drapes before bedtime (from my lap, as that’s easier)
  • brushing teeth in front of the mirror (I placed the mirror on the wall, next to the changing table and I let her sit, while keeping a close eye on her)
  • wiping her face with a wet cotton pad (maybe in front of the mirror)
  • wiping the table after lunch (with my help, but I let her place her hands on the cloth next to mine and wipe)
  • pulling the bib off
  • bringing a clean diaper from a low drawer (we have a small basket with two diapers next to the changing table)
  • putting clothes in the hamper (a bit later for us)
  • turning lights on/off (from my lap)
  • choosing clothes from two options
  • pouring her own water from a tiny pitcher (I’m modelling it for her, but hopefully soon we’ll take that step)
  • choosing the books I’ll read and the toys she wants to play with (we rotate toys, so they’re not too many, and she can choose them from her shelf. Everything is visible and within her reach)
When letting kids help, keep these things in mind:
  • keep the tasks simple, but not too simple;
  • don’t use tasks in a negative way – like “Clean the table, because you made a mess”;
  • if your baby isn’t interested in doing the task, wait until next time and see. Keep modeling it, and eventually it might spur her interest;
  • have patience – the tasks will take time to master and they might be messier, but it’s worth it.
What tasks does your baby enjoy?

She usually sits down facing the mirror to brush her teeth. The basket in the lower left corner has two diapers that she can choose from (different drawings).

How to Choose a Lovey

E. has been fighting sleep recently, so I thought it might be time to introduce a lovey. We went shopping today and this is what she chose. I usually prefer gender neutral and realistic looking toys...but what can I do?

Lovies are great to have, because they help form positive sleep associations. At nighttime, a lovey is much easier to find than a pacifier (and it also won’t affect baby’s teeth in a negative way).

Here are some tips on how to choose a lovey:
  • let your child choose it. It can also be an old soft toy that the baby/child seems to like;
  • make sure you are able to find another toy that’s the same, in case something happens with the original one. You can have two from the beginning, for when one of them is in the wash;
  • before giving it to the baby, sleep with it for a night or two, to give it your scent. This will help your baby create a special bond with the toy. It might help if you place it in between you and the baby while breastfeeding;
  • keep the lovey only for sleeping, to form that association. If the baby has it throughout the day, she might be tempted to play with it during nap time as well. Link it to the idea of sleep by using it only then and by including it in your bedtime routine;
  • choose a small toy, so it’s easier to carry it with you when you travel;
  • make sure it’s safe – no buttons or anything that could be a choking hazard;
  • don’t choose a toy that makes noise, because it might wake the baby up at night;
  • try to choose a toy that’s machine washable, to make your life easier.
Did I miss anything? Does your child have a lovey? How did you choose it?

Saturday, 27 July 2019

What We Have in Our Travel/Mystery Bag

It’s not easy to be stuck in a car or travel with a baby. They need to be active, move around, and explore…how do they have so much energy?! My little one loves waving at random people on the metro at 6 in the morning (which is bad, because then people also notice me looking like a zombie).

But still, it’s nice to take your baby to different places, or sometimes there’s no other choice. That’s why you need to make the best of it. A travel/mystery bag will keep your little one occupied while you go bouldering, wait for your coffee, or you’re stuck in the car/on the bus.

Just choose some items or toys that the baby might be interested in and put them in a textile bag.

When choosing them, take into consideration that they should:
- be small, so they fit in the bag and don’t take too much space in your pram
- be easily washable, because the baby might drop them or throw them (Indestructibles books and wooden toys are great)
- be changed regularly - rotate the items, just as you would with other toys
- be different: take a few books, some toys (a puzzle, rattle, anything that your baby enjoys playing with), collect items from nature (shells, rocks, twigs, pine cones, leaves – depending on your baby’s age). You can even add some kitchen utensils (wooden spoon, silicone spatula, cups, empty containers). Open ended toys are a great option, because you/your kids can improvise and not get bored.

This is E.'s mystery bag this week. We use it quite a lot, especially when we go bouldering.

The number of items depends on your trip and on your baby’s age. Try not to overstimulate your baby, but take the amount of toys that would keep her busy.

At kindergarten we used to take our song bag with us on road trips. Check out how I made it here. You can also use one with your baby, but it implies that you will need to sing and keep your baby entertained.

Do you have something like this when taking trips with your baby?

Friday, 19 July 2019

Our Daily Routine (4-8 months)

Now that E. is eight months old, she had dropped a nap, so our daily routine changed a little. We finally managed to move bed time around 19.30, which means that we wake up earlier in the morning (around 6.30).

I’m a morning person and this schedule suits both of us, but maybe a wake-up time between 7.00 and 8.00 would be ideal. Ah, what can you do? I can’t complain. She is an awesome little dumpling and I can’t wait to start a new day with her.

Although she doesn’t nap at the same time every day, the sequence of events is the same. The reason for this is that she might nap 30 minutes or 1.5 hours…it depends on how tired she is and her mood. But after three hours of awake time she usually shows signs of tiredness and I put her to bed.

So, this is how our day goes:

6.30 We wake up. I usually feed her (bf), then we read a book in bed. After that, we go to the bathroom, brush our teeth (she has no teeth, but I give her the wet toothbrush to play with, while she watches me brush my teeth), take our vitamins (vitamin D for her), change her diaper, put some lotion on her, then sing a song and talk about the poster she has on the bathroom wall.* (I’ll write about this a bit at the end of the post.)

She then plays in her room while I grab something quick to eat next to her. If I’m in the mood to cook something or prepare something that takes longer, I just take the laptop with me into the kitchen and check on her on our video camera. Her room is baby-proofed and safe.

After I finish eating, we get ready to go out. We usually go grocery shopping in the morning if we need something, but most of the times we just visit parks near our house, take nature walks, go to the beach. She loves swinging at the moment!

When it’s almost time for her nap (approximately 30 minutes before), we go inside and play or read a little, then I change her diaper and put her to bed. While she sleeps, I make lunch and put the dishes in the dishwasher.

This routine is the same after each nap, but instead of just breastfeeding her, she eats solids also. It goes like this: wake up, eat (bf, then solids), play time (inside and outside), then diaper change and nap.

I usually eat with her at the table. She has a feeding chair. I usually give her something cooked (oat porridge, steamed salmon and sweet potatoes, vegetable and chicken soup, avocado pasta…) and some veggies or fruits on the side (so that she can eat those independently). That way, I can help her put the food on the spoon, but while I eat, she can grab an avocado stick, a piece of banana or raspberry. She is quite independent already, but I scoop the food with the spoon for her.

Of course, what she plays with and what we do outside is different. Indoors, I just follow her lead. She chooses what she wants to play with from her shelf. Unfortunately, she can't tell me what she wants to do outside yet. When it’s nice outside, we love having picnics. We read and play on the blanket on the meadow. Occasionally, we go out with other mommies and babies or to play areas in malls.

Dad finishes work in time for our walk in the evening, then I feed her and he gives her a bath (or the other way around). He then says goodnight, and I stay with her, feed her and cuddle before she falls asleep.

After 19.30, my partner and I have some time to catch up on the latest John Oliver episodes, talk, play board games, and enjoy some quiet time – if I don’t fall asleep at 20.00!

If you want to read more about our bedtime routine, check this post.

What does your daily routine look like? I guess it’s much more difficult if you have more kids and different ages and interests to take into account.

* I made some posters for some of the songs that we’ve been singing, so she can also see what the songs are about. They are printed and laminated, but I’m considering reusing plastic pockets in the future, to avoid the waste. After her diaper change, she loves standing and looking at the posters. I explain what’s in the pictures and sing the song. I change these regularly, so she doesn’t get bored. Her favourite poster seems to be “Old MacDonald” – it has pictures of a cow, a dog, a cat, a horse, and a pig.

This poster is for the song "If You're Happy, Happy, Happy" (a simplified version of "If You're Happy and You Know It")

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Our Bedtime Routines (at Home)

Routines are extremely important for babies, because even though they don’t understand time, if they have a set of clear routines, they know what to expect.

Most kids are opposed to sleeping, especially napping, because they are missing out on playtime, on being with mum and dad, on all the fun stuff (doing dishes and laundry, hurray!). That’s why it’s important to make the routines before nap or bedtime as pleasant as you can! That way, they have time to wind-down, relax, enjoy themselves, and get rid of the extra wiggles.

If you have bedtime routines, you probably know that it can be hard to be consistent and stick to them every single day. E. now falls asleep at 19.30 - 19.45, and that means that only one of us can leave the house after that, or we need a babysitter. It’s extremely inconvenient when our friends finish work at 18.00 and want to meet for dinner at 18.30.

But it’s definitely worth having routines! In time, these help your baby develop sleep cues.E. knows that our routines are different for napping and sleeping at night, so although she wakes up at night, she goes right back to sleep.

Most of the books I’ve read about sleep recommend starting the routine 15-60 minutes before bedtime, and 15 min before a nap. Try to have the same order of activities each night, so your baby understands what’s coming next through the predictable pattern.

Our evening routine goes like this:
18.30 She eats dinner (solid food)
18.40 - 19.15 Takes a bath, then we change her diaper, massage her with some cream, put on pajamas, dad says goodnight
19.15 I breastfeed her, sing a song, cuddle her and say goodnight

If she doesn’t seem tired after the bath, we can play quietly before I feed her. But most of the times she falls asleep easily in the evening and shows us she’s tired by rubbing her eyes and by yawning. The evening routine always takes place in her room (where she sleeps), because it helps her feel comfortable there. We have a night lamp with orange light and that is on only after bath time – that way she knows that it’s night – and we pull the curtains at that time, too. Now that it’s summer, light invades her bedroom until

We (my partner and I) take her out before that. We either go out for a picnic (we play on the blanket), or to a park, or just for a walk in the pram/carrier. Then one of us has dinner with her, and the other gives her the bath. Sometimes we do it together, but it can be overstimulating if she’s already a bit tired.

Before a nap, we have a short routine: diaper change, breastfeed, song, cuddle.

These are the routines that suit our family and E.’s appetite. I know some babies eat every 3.5 – 4 hours, but she often prefers shorter and smaller feeding sessions. You can adjust your naptime routine to include other activities, such as reading books, using white noise, singing lullabies, or quiet play. I’ve noticed that E. prefers reading during the day, when she is fully awake and can interact better with the books, can lift the flaps, and turn the pages. Your child might be different, so do what’s best for you and your family.

What other activities would you include? What has worked for you and your baby?

Monday, 1 July 2019

Why We Chose To Use a Montessori Floor Bed

When I got pregnant, my partner and I decided that I will sleep on a floor bed in E.’s room for the first six months (until the risk of SIDS decreases), while she will sleep in her crib. After that, I’d move her to the floor bed, and I’d sleep in the bedroom. That way, she’d get adjusted to sleeping in her own room from the start.

Of course, things you think about before the baby arrives rarely go the way that you planned. That was our case…for the first 2-3 months, she slept only on my chest or with me and we hardly got any proper sleep. Bed sharing is not recommended, I know, but a horrible case of colic and other things made it impossible to get some sleep any other way. Usually, after she fell asleep, I’d slide lower on the bed, so that if I rolled over in my sleep I wouldn’t do so too close to her face. But now she’s finally at the stage where she sleeps on the floor bed on her own. We have a spare crib, just in case the montessori floor bed will end up not being a good option after she starts crawling, but for now it is great!

Here are a few reasons why we decided to have a montessori floor bed for her in the first place:

Firstly, I like the fact that it nurtures independence, and once she will crawl, she will be able to safely explore her environment, go choose some books, play a little, and decide when to go to sleep on her own. This will hopefully instill a positive attitude towards sleep in general.

Secondly, it makes breastfeeding, reading together, and cuddling so much easier. If you nurse in a side-lying position, this is easy when you have a floor bed. However, if your baby is bottle fed, you should avoid feeding her in this position, as it might cause an ear infection. If you have a crib, you can cuddle the baby in your arms, then place her in it. But the floor mattress has the advantage of being large enough to fit both of you, or even all three.

Thirdly, E. started rolling over in her sleep when she was four months old, and at first that wasn’t a problem, because I was sleeping with her – I would just roll her back whenever she did that. But after we went through sleep training, I moved to another room, so I couldn’t go roll her onto her back every time. We just placed an IKEA folding gym mat (PLUFSIG) next to the floor mattress, in case she rolled off the bed at night. As long as a baby can roll both ways independently, you can let her sleep on her tummy if she has rolled onto it herself. You should be careful about placing pillows or other soft things on the floor next to the bed, because of the risk of suffocation – the baby might roll on them in her sleep and not be able to breathe, or even get stuck in between the pillows and the floor mattress.

Furthermore, an IKEA crib is not expensive, but a good floor mattress is even cheaper. Of course, you can buy a cute house or tent frame (which I think we will do later, when she’s old enough to appreciate it), but that’s optional. Your baby will be able to sleep in the same bed also after she grows up.

Lastly, we also play on the mattress, especially in the morning when dad is sleeping. I place some toys on her mattress, while she’s sitting on the gym mat, that’s lower. That way, she needs to kneel to grab the toys that are farther away – so this position encourages her to rise to a tall kneel (with bottom off of heels). At the moment, the fact that we also play there hasn’t affected her sleep. I know that there are a lot of people saying that it’s better to separate the play area from where a child is sleeping. If later it will affect her sleep, I will probably move the play area in the living room and leave just lovies and some books there.

One important aspect you need to consider when having a floor mattress is baby proofing, once your baby is crawling. Sure, during the day you might keep a close eye on your baby all the time, but at night you never know what she’ll do while you are sleeping. I found this article extremely useful.
I’m planning on printing some realistic photos of a fox, a bear, and a hare to hang over the toy shelf, but that’s still. work in progress.

Read more about how we use our gym mat here.

I’ll be posting some cute ideas for discovery baskets for babies and some things about our evening routine. I hope you’ll stop by Grumpy Dumpling to read more about that!