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Sleep, glorious sleep.

Sleep, glorious sleep.

 

It’s so confusing. You should just let your baby cry it out and then you can all sleep. Or maybe, your baby will be traumatized for life if you let her cry herself to sleep. What to do?  Despite the claims of one of my high school friends, sleep is in fact a medical necessity. We all need sleep. My daughter is now 19-months-old and I’ve learned a few lessons the hard way. I hope that you can learn from my mistakes so that you can get some well-deserved rest. Some of these tips seem obvious now but are not always so obvious in the crazy postpartum haze. Also I might add that the phrase “sleeping the through night” can be misleading because pediatricians generally consider a 5-hour stretch of sleep to be “sleeping through the night.” So, although some parents supposedly have babies who sleep for 12 hour stretches without any intervention, this probably isn’t what you should expect.

Babies (and adults) need a consistent sleep schedule —

Going to bed, waking up, and napping at the same times each day will help babies know what to expect, and be prepared for sleep when it is time to sleep.

Create a calming bedtime routine —

The bedtime routine helps baby prepare for sleep. Something simple like bath, jammies, teeth brushing and story time works well. Again, this advice also works well for adults. I found that in the newborn days when I had to get up every two hours to nurse, it still helped me tremendously to stick to my own bedtime routine of brushing teeth, washing my face, and getting into pajamas so that I could still feel normal.

Babies need to learn to fall asleep on their own —

This was a very difficult and important lesson for me to learn. Although newborns cannot fall asleep on their own and usually need to be rocked or nursed to sleep, between the ages of 3 and 6 months babies begin to have the ability to self-soothe. If you continue rocking or nursing your baby to sleep past this point, they will need you to help them fall back asleep when they naturally wake up in the night.

I got into the habit of rocking Marie to sleep when she was a newborn, and continued to do so until she was about 10 or 11-months-old when I realized we all needed to sleep better. At that point we had gotten into the habit of co-sleeping (I’ll leave that for another post), so we just taught her to fall asleep on her own by lying in bed next to her until she fell asleep. This did involve some crying. But I didn’t feel bad about it because we were right there with her and I knew that this was a skill she had to learn. This has improved our sleep quite a bit during the rare times when she is not teething.

Babies will probably not sleep all night if you nurse them at night —

This is the step we’re working on now. My daughter is certainly old enough not to nurse at night, but since we’ve been co-sleeping, it’s hard to avoid. At the same time, if you’re co-sleeping then night nursing might not disrupt your sleep very much. If you’re not co-sleeping then it certainly will! When and how to night-wean is up to you. Different babies have different needs — my daughter is very thin so I’ve always wanted to feed her as much as possible. I just found a great article that recommends attempted night weaning by 8-9 months and that sounds realistic from my experience. However nursing at night can be very comforting for babies who are painfully teething, which typically continues off and on until about age 2.

 

 

 

Marie is almost 19-months-old and is acquiring new words at quite an impressive speed. It is really fun watching her learn new words. She’s quite the little parrot (so be careful what you say). She even puts words together. Here are a few highlights:

“Baby drives!” You know those grocery carts that have little cars in the front of them? I’ve been letting her ride in those at the store and it is quite the thrill. Last week I pulled into the parking lot at Safeway and she spotted the shopping cart and started yelling, “Baby drives! Baby drives!” You should ask her about it when you see her. She’ll tell you.

Baby drives.

Baby drives.

“Ruuunnnn baby!” In addition to being a good driver, baby is also a skilled runner. She has more space in our new apartment and likes to run back and forth through the living room yelling, “Ruunnnn baby!” Good thing we live in Track City.

“Up above the…” She loves music and enjoys singing this little part of “Twinkle twinkle little star.” Another popular tune is a high-pitched “Why oh why oh why,” a Woody Guthrie song my mom sang over and over to her in the back of the car on the way to Portland.

“One berry.” This little one is a major berry fan, and she likes to shove as many berries into her mouth at a time as possible. Apparently my mom told her that she should only eat one berry at a time, because the next time I fed her berries she looked at me, held up her index finger and said “One berry.” She then held up her next finger and said “two.” Learning to count!

 

 

 

My daughter has been doing some cute things lately — so I am writing them down before nap time ends and I forget.

Cute thing #1: Yoga, or more specifically downward dog, as can be seen in this slightly out of focus iPhone photo.

Upside down baby.

Upside down baby.

Maybe she does this because I took her to mom and baby yoga with me from age 5 to 8 months. Or maybe she just likes looking at the world upside down. Who knows? She also says “Om” and “Amen.” I’ve learned from yoga that sometimes it just feels good to say “Om” when you’re having a hard day. Hard days are common when you’re parenting a young child and you don’t have a dishwasher or a washer/dryer. So I say “Om” a lot.

Cute thing #2: Yesterday morning when she woke up she kept softly touching my face and saying “Gentle, gentle.” This is what I tell her when she touches other babies. Then she smacked me. I think she was making a joke. Toddler humor.

Cute thing #3: Last night my husband was cuddling with his arm around her. He thought she was asleep and he took his arm away. She said, “No!” and then she grabbed his arm. She loves her cuddle times.

Cute thing #4: Kissing babies. She is obsessed with babies — whenever we see one she yells, “baby!” Often she will go up to them and kiss them. She also likes to kiss her own reflection in the mirror. Narcissist.

Cute thing #5: Singing. She will sing “brella, brella” (umbrella) over and over. This is her reinterpretation of the song “Under my umbrella,” which we sing in baby sign class and library story time. She also now sings “Hello, happy” which is her rendition of another song from baby sign class. Additionally, she enjoys playing the piano, so perhaps I have a future musician.

It’s hard to believe, but Baby Bear had her first birthday a few weeks ago. She has been walking for several months, and has been putting random things in her mouth less frequently. She pretty much doesn’t need me anymore. Well, except for diaper changes and nursing every 5 minutes or so.

She is also learning language. She knows “mama” and “dada.” “Dah,” is her word for dog. She can sign “more,” “eat,” “fan,” and “light.” And when I say, “Where’s the elephant?,” she walks over and picks up her elephant toy.

For her one-year birthday, we had a small gathering in our apartment with Spencer’s mom, his aunt, and our friends Jay and Holly. It was nice to have a low-key celebration, since our apartment is small, and Baby Bears can tend to get overwhelmed by too much attention. My parents were unable to attend because my mom was very sick, and my father-in-law cancelled due to illness as well. But we still had a great celebration, marking the occasion in style with French pastries from Ken’s Artisan Bakery and a homemade strawberry pie. I’ve never been a big cake fan, so perhaps I’m starting a family tradition of birthday pies. Time will tell…

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It has been an amazing journey watching little Marie grow into a toddler over the past year, and I am so looking forward to see how she changes in the coming year. One thing is sure, we love her more and more as time goes by.

sleeping beauty

you sleep so sweetly
in the warm afternoon sun
what do you dream of?

 

NaPoWriMo Day 22! I guess I’m in haiku mode. I wrote this and then realized it was a haiku afterwards. Now I’m afraid I must wake the sleeping beauty or she will not want to go to bed at the appropriate bedtime.

did you know
your first birthday
marked my one year anniversary
as a superhero?
that’s right, i’m now a mother
and though i’d always wished
for a superpower like flight
shape-shifting
or better yet
the ability to move things with my mind
i’ll take the powers of pregnancy and birth
the ability to wipe away your tears
and hold you for hours
the power to love you
with all i am
was
am yet to be

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Baby, I love

your big blue
eyes and long dark lashes
i love your gap-toothed smile
and sweet milk-scented breath
your R2D2 babbles and lion roars
i love your cuddles and giggles
and how you love me, mommy
completely, won’t ever reject me
not yet