Saturday, October 27, 2012

5 Things I didn't Expect to Like about Day Care

So I always assumed that my child would go to daycare.  I fell firmly in the "it's good for socialization" camp.  I knew that since Ben and I are on the Financial Peace University/Total Money Makeover track, I'd want to keep working for financial reasons.  I also like my job.  And since I married a freelance artist, I knew I'd need to keep our benefits.  So daycare was never a question for me, even before I was pregnant with Miss O.

But once she was born, I'll admit I felt a little sad about it.  I wished I could stay home with her, 'cause I felt like it was "better."  I also started looking into all that Attachment Parenting jazz and I really thought that Ben and I being the sole caregiver(s) for our child would be a good idea.  Buuuut, the fact is, everything that was true before I got pregnant was still true.  So at 12 weeks, we trooped off to daycare with the other working moms.  And it's not bad!  In fact, there are things about it that I like that I hadn't really expected to like.  Such as...

1. I emotionally benefit from a break from my baby.  I'm only working 20 hours a week right now.  Occasionally I pick up extra hours (the max I'll have in 1 week this fall is 48 hours, but by "extra" I typically mean 4-8 hours extra per week) if Ben's schedule is light.  But 20 hours is the name of the game usually.  And having that 20 hours to not be attached at the hip to Miss O means that I'm more excited about the other 148 hours per week that I *do* spend with her.  As much as being at work for a long, hard 8 hour day can be grueling for me, being at home for those same 8 hours is also grueling.  And I'm counting myself lucky right now that I have the fortune to be able to take a break from it sometimes.  Kudos to the full time moms with no work outside the home who do without this 20 hour break.  I salute you!

2. I can see many other kids maturing/growing/changing at the same time.   It gives me a good sense of comparison.  So I do have a background in all sorts of child-development-y-type-things, given that I have worked in education, worked as a pediatric speech therapist, worked as a pediatric feeding therapist... but applying all of that in real time to your own kiddo can sometimes be overwhelming.  Dropping O off at daycare and picking her up each day gives me a chance to SPY on other families!  What are THEY bringing for their kid to eat?  How early does that little one walk or crawl?  Who's crying at drop off and who's happily playing with toys?  I know each kid is different, but having a cohort of other kids to look at over the weeks and months has been fun, especially now that younger kids are joining the class and O isn't the tiniest one in the bunch anymore.

3. I get several other people's opinions about Baby O's development. Full disclosure?  This is a blessing and a curse.  But I'll choose to appreciate the teacher's opinions about how O does with her bottles, her feeding, her crawling, her social skills, etc.  Sometimes the unsolicited opinions or advice can be trying at the end of a day.  But I know these ladies know her well and love her lots, so if I'm looking for the advice, I've got a good source!

4. They have strengths where I am finding weaknesses in myself.  This one has been huge.  I wasn't thrilled to spend a ton of time in "assisted sitting" positions, hoping that one day she'd sit on her own.  But I mentioned sitting to the teacher and BAM, we were "working on sitting" every day!  More recently, I caved on my ideas of baby led weaning (see another upcoming post for that one) and decided to send purees to daycare.  I hadn't really wanted to do purees at home, but I had made some in advance just to have a little to try.  But then when I gave them to O, I really hated the process of spoon feeding.  I mean... a feeding therapist should love feeding her kid, right?  But no.  I hated it.  But daycare asked me to bring food, "you know... the kind with a spoon?"  :-)  So I brought it.  And now my little one is getting tastes and flavors of whatever veggies I want her to-- carrots, broccoli, rutabega, etc-- and I don't have to be the one trying to get it in and trying to wipe it off her hands afterwards.  It's a bit of a compromise that I've been really happy with!

5. The consistency works with my routined/scheduled personality.  At a large daycare center like the one we attend, I know what to expect.  I know who will be at the front desk when we come in.  I know all the teachers who might interact with O during the day.  I know that at the end of the day, I'll know all of the essentials... timing of naps, diaper changes, feedings.  And I don't have to worry about any of these things!  On the rare occasion that I've left O home with a friend from church or even with Ben, I find myself thinking about it all day... Did they give her a bottle yet?  How did the diaper change go?  Was there a blow out?  Are they okay?  Because I know that the system is tightly regimented at daycare, I really do let myself forget about O during the day... which leads me back to number 1 at the top of the list! :-)

What other benefits of occasional, part time, or even full time daycare services have you guys liked???

Thursday, October 25, 2012

half a year? Where did it go???

Today my sweet girl is 6 months old.  And other than the fact that she's been refusing to fall asleep (or stay asleep once she finally gets there) for the last 3 hours, I really couldn't be happier.

Communication wise, I feel like O found her voice just within the last couple days.  She grunts and growls when she's sleepy or hungry.  She squeals with delight when something is funny, she knows that if she cries, someone will come pick her up and she stops crying immediately after she's gotten us to perform this task.  And she blows raspberries at herself while playing on the floor with her toys.  She's awesome at looking when someone calls to her, no matter where the person is in the room.   But most exciting is the communicative intent of her movements.  The other day at day care, she was laying on her belly on the floor behind her teacher.  When she heard me come in the room, she peered around the teacher and just smiled.  When I said hello and started talking to her, she army crawled toward me SUPER fast!  Way to make a mama smile.

And yes, I did say army crawl.  This girl can really zoom!  No matter where you set her down in the room and how many toys you put in her reach, this girl will be holding a plastic trash bag, a power cable, or a piece of cat food faster than you can blink.  There's absolutely no leaving her alone for more than about 30 seconds unless she's in a completely baby-proofed area.  Thus, we've added a baby gate to the nursery doorway (which overlooks our kitchen).  Each morning that we're at home, she gets a little bit of alone time in the nursery with her toys with the gate closed.  I'm really hoping that by teaching her now that the nursery is a fun place to be, we can save ourselves some trouble down the line when we NEED her to be in a separate space.  Don't get me wrong-- we're talking 5-10 minutes max and it really only works at certain times.  She tells me when she's done being alone by fussing/crying or by coming to the gate and squealing at me.  Of course, right now it doesn't work at the times I need it too-- when I want to cook dinner or run down to the laundry room in the basement.  But it's a process and I'm happy with it thus far.

Oh!  And the exciting news is that she can sit up unassisted!!!  She did it for a few seconds at a time around a week or two ago.  But last weekend (with ALL FOUR GRANDPARENTS present) she sat on the table top for a good minute or longer.  Since then, she's been capable of several minutes at a time.  The issue is that a) she can't figure out how to get out of it and b) if she gets too spastic/crazy with the toy she's playing with, she falls over.  hehehe...

Miss O is regularly eating pureed foods at day care, but we're still sticking essentially with baby led weaning at home.  Be on the look out for a couple of book reviews in the coming weeks about baby led weaning resources...

Love from Boston!

Monday, October 8, 2012

5 Things You Need to Know about Co-Sleeping

We're co-sleepers.

There.  I've said it.  And I'm saying it enough in public these days that I'm not feeling bad about it any more.  And I've communicated with enough other moms in my neighborhood that I've learned I'm BY FAR not the only one.  So there it is, we're doing it.

I feel strongly that just like teaching parents to safely travel in a car with their baby, it's our responsibility as a community to teach parents to sleep safely in a bed with baby.  As such, I wanted to let you know 5 things I think you should all know about co-sleeping.

1) Put your bed low to the ground - As baby gets old enough to roll, crawl, and move on her own, she WILL attempt to get out of bed.  Both while you're there and while you're not.  As such, the safest place for your bed is as close to the ground as possible.  We were already planning on sizing up to a queen soon (see #4 for why we haven't yet), so we just threw out our frame and box spring and put the mattress straight on the ground.  For those of you who have a bed you love, you might rather put that frame and box spring in storage, the basement, at grandmas for a while until baby gets a lot older.  I know it seems totally un-cool to have a mattress straight on the ground.  But I promise you, you'll get used to it.  I also promise you that you'll appreciate it the first time you hear "THUNK, WAAAAH!" while you're in the shower while you thought baby was asleep.

2) Use a barrier of some kind when you're not in the bed - I've recently learned that there are many options for this.  The cheapest option is to simply re-arrange your pillows in a square/circle around baby when you walk out of the room (e.g., when she's napping during the day, when she goes to sleep at 7pm but you're not going to bed until later).  Even amongst co-sleepers putting pillows near your child under a certain age will garner some raised eyebrows due to SIDS risk.  So if you do this, make sure they're nice, firm pillows that can't suffocate your little one.

Another option is foam bumpers.  Here's just one example of them, but there are lots of companies that make 'em.  They seem like a nice, firm, sturdy option.  And I like that you can put them under the fitted sheet, so that they're less of a suffocation risk.  Of course, that means you're leaving them there while YOU sleep in the bed too.  So make sure your bed is wide enough for all 3 of you AND the bumper before you commit to this option.

A third option is inflatable bumpers.  The benefit here is that you can pack 'em up and go to grandmas and your sleeping situation doesn't change much.  Ben seems to think that the inflatable option is less safe (I think it's the idea of sleeping next to a balloon).  But under the sheets, I don't see why this isn't just as safe as a foam bumper.

3) You have to be creative to stay warm - I used to be a curl-up-under-the-covers-bring-'em-all-the-way-to-my-neck kinda girl.  But oh, no more.  When you co-sleep, it's important to keep your adult blankets out of baby's way so that she doesn't get covered by/tangled in them and suffocate.  If baby's head is about at chest height, that means, her legs/toesies are about at my waist, which is really just about as high as our blankets go anymore.  During the summer, this wasn't a big deal, as we don't have air conditioning and the house is fairly warm.

But as the fall coolness comes on, Ben and I have to be a bit more creative about ways to keep warm.  Some moms I've talked two simply use two blankets, one for mom and one for dad, leaving a chasm in the middle.  Others use a blanket that is larger than their bed (e.g., king for a queen sized mattress) and leave a loose spot in the middle that gets pulled down for baby.  And some people just wear more layers themselves so that they don't rely on blankets as much.  Honestly, Ben and I are still figuring it out.  We leave a loose spot, leave the blankets down a little lower, and have used our space heater a little sooner than we usually do-- that way we can heat the bedroom a little warmer at night without heating the whole house.  I think I might make my first million dollars by creating a co-sleeping blanket-- connected at the bottom but divided at the top.  Why not, right?

Oh, and incidentally, invest in sleep sacks for your little one-- they're a great way to keep baby warm while she stays away from your adult blanket.  Our day care prefers them too, even though they're not co-sleeping. :-)

4) It's gonna get messy - If I haven't mentioned other places or you haven't read in other places yet... infancy is WET.  I expected O to be the wet one... wet diapers and wet spit ups.  And we do have some of that.  But there's so much other wetness I wasn't expecting.  Immediately post partum, my milk supply was out. of. control.  That was wet during feeds and between feeds.  There's recovery and wetness in other areas of your new mommy body too.  That's wet.  And even now, after those wetness things have settled down, Olivia has the STRANGEST head sweat!  She can leave a puddle in about 5 minutes while she's sleeping!  Oh, and now that we're working toward teething, the new wetness is drool.  Drool coming out of the mouth, dripping off the fingers... even on her toes.  Yes, she puts her toes in her mouth.  Bottom line - Messy.  Wet and messy.  Get used to it.

Thus, you should be prepared to do laundry more often.  Sometimes we can space out the laundry a bit by putting a receiving blanket UNDER baby O.  That way if all we have is a little head sweat, we only have to wash the receiving blanket, not all of the sheets.  But even the receiving blanket won't catch all of the wet every time.  So be prepared for more laundry.  Either that or adjusting your definition of "clean" when it comes to sheets.

It's this messiness that has kept us in the smaller bed thus far.  I know that new beds come with mattress pads to keep wetness off the mattress and thus in cleaner, longer lasting condition.  But Ben and I agree that the older O gets, the less messes we're gonna have.  Less diaper blow outs, less drool, etc.  Thus, we're trying to stretch our current old mattress for as many weeks/months as we can tolerate before we get a new one.  At some point, O's size and space she takes up in the bed will outweigh the mess, and we'll size up to a queen.  But for now, we cuddle nicely in our full sized bed.

5) Some nights will go better than others. - If you're a mom reading this and have tried co-sleeping with result of a horrible, sleepless, cold, wet night, you might be thinking "UGH!  Why does it go well for them and not me??!?!?!"  Please don't.  Yes, most nights, we sleep comfortably, sleep deeply, and sleep warmly.  But this process, just like all other parts of parenthood, has it's ups and downs.  Some nights, O tosses and turns way more than usual, smacking us in the face with each wiggle.  Some nights, she cries more or is just more awake and wants to play.  Some nights, I just can't get warm enough and I whimper all night while Ben tries to toss more blankets on me.  But I promise you, once we got used to the systems and routines, these things are the exception, not the rule.  Each family needs to figure out what works best for them.  And you'll figure it out for your family too!

Who else out there has advice for snuggling with little ones?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

5 months old

So I'm a little late in getting this post up.  Baby O was 5 months old on 9/25/12.  The pictures are from that day, but it took me a little while to actually get the post written.  Size wise, Baby O has slowed down with growth.  But that just means that her developmental growth is even more amazing to watch.  I worry every day (okay, maybe just once or twice a week) that I'm not soaking it in enough, not enjoying it enough... that I'll look back and barely remember and regret.  But I do what I can and I'll at least have these blog posts to remind me of the little details when I'm old and gray.

Communication wise, O is definitely in a period of soaking every little thing she sees and hears in.  She is IN LOVE with the cat.  When the cat comes into view, she gets very still and just stares.  When kitty moves or wiggles, it makes O laugh and smile.  She's easily distracted by noises in her environment, even if she can't figure out exactly where they're coming from.  The other day on the train track, you should have seen how wide her eyes got when she heard the squealing of the train!  She's definitely turning towards us when we talk to her-- she can tell when we're talking to her versus talking to each other.  She's got a good variety of vowels now-- "ah's, eee's" are common, "oohs" come out occasionally.  Every once in a while I hear a consonant - a /b/ or an /f/ or a /g/, but I know it's just sorta happenstance about where her articulators were when she vocalized.  She also blows raspberries at me once in a while, which I love.

Fine motor is so awesome.  I need to write another Montessori post about the toys that are best for her now.  She can pick a toy up (or her pacifier) and bring it straight to her mouth.  She also really has a good sense of "I see it and I want it" and can reach and grab for things with her open palm grasp.  She doesn't quite know how to release one item in order to make space in her hand for the next.  That brings us joy and laughter occasionally. :-)

Baby O has moved from "rolling only" to really moving around on the ground.  She rolls several times in one direction to get from place to place-- usually to get within reach of a toy she wants, but occasionally to try to get to Ben and me.  This leaves us aware that we REALLY need to continue to baby proof the home.  She's fallen/rolled off the bed several times in the past week.  Thank goodness, we'd gotten rid of our box spring and frame, so it's just the 10/11 inch mattress on the ground.  But she still can konk her head pretty hard if we're not paying attention.  We might be seeing the beginnings of army crawling, but I have a feeling next month I'll have more to say about that.

And in general, we're still sleeping well, eating well, and have been healthy other than the near constant runny nose that I blame on day care.  Oh!  Eating!  I've tried some pureed carrots this month.  She doesn't mind the flavor, but she really wants NOTHING to do with me spoon feeding her.  We've begun a little bit here and there of "baby led weaning" where we're just giving her whole real foods like a half of an apple.  But technically you're not supposed to do that until 6 months.  So it's just sparse and intermittent for now.  We'll get more serious about it next month I guess.  The hard thing is, I just don't see time in the day to focus on feeding!  When the heck am I gonna fit that into our routine?!?!?

Love from Boston!