Monday, 30 January 2012

Night Night, Sleep Tight, See you in an Hour!

The joys of night parenting…

Night time parenting is a huge subject. Whether you are a sleep deprived parent of a 6 week old, 3 month old, 9 month old, 18 month old, 28 month old (all of which I have been)…. all the same feelings come bubbling up.
What am I doing wrong? Is pain waking him? What could I do differently to help? What did we do differently that one blessed night he slept through? Why do all the other babas/ toddlers sleep? Is it me?
I love my Little Man (LM) more than anything but I am sooooo tired. So I am forced to again think all these thoughts. And as I write this I look forward to seeing what baba number two kicking in my belly will be like, will he/she be an a illusive sleeper, or will he/she lead us on another sleep adventure.

LM has never been a sleeper. Whoever came up with the expression “I slept like a baby” relating to a great nights sleep never met my boy.

sleeping beauty

LM had reflux when he was a baby, and so during the nights he didn’t settle too well in the Moses basket. We would put folded up towels under the mattress, so his body was at a slight tilt, which helped his pains a lot. And during the day, he slept in the pram while moving or in the sling (see previous post on baby wearing- baby-wearing-i-always-wanted-to-wear-my-baby).
We very much practice attachment parenting. But before we had been introduced to Dr Sears and all his attachment parenting info, we were confused. I wanted to stay close to my baby; I wanted to listen to his needs; and respond accordingly. But at night it was tough.

Obviously I was breastfeeding LM all through this and still am.

We moved LM from a Moses basket to a cot in our room at about 8 weeks. Me or hubby then had to get out of bed, pick him up, sit back in bed, give him to me (if I was too tired to get him and hubby getting him), feed him, wind him, maybe feed him some more, and then put him back in cot. He would then sleep for a further few hours. But it would take me a little while to get back to sleep, I was clock watching, analysing why he woke, whether he’d wake again soon, or whether I’d have a few more hours. So I wasn’t sleeping as well as I could have been.
Luckily, at a LLL (La Leche League) meeting I got some great advice. To take the side off the cot and try to line the height of the cot base up (our cot had 3 different heights) with our bed. Then I could simply pull LM into bed while staying lying down, feed him and slide him back.

I also borrowed a great book from the LLL, “Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent's Guide to Cosleeping” by James J. McKenna. It made me more confident that we were co-sleeping safely.

So that night we made the changes, and lucky for us the bottom setting of the cot lined up perfectly with our bed. We put a bedside locker on the other side of the cot, so the cot was sandwiched between the bed and bedside locker. We also wedged towels in the gap between bed and the cot mattress to ensure there is no gap between the two.
It made a huge difference. LM still woke, but I didn’t need to sit up, didn’t need to fully engage in the world, and could easily go back asleep after feeding.

I also loved it. I got to stare at my LM while he slept so peacefully. He looks totally different while he sleeps. He looks like his Dada, and like himself when he was born. I was told recently by someone with a 13 year old that that doesn’t change, their child still looks as they did when they were born when they sleep.

Then at 7 months, we hit another bad patch, waking every 1 to 2 hours. Again the same questions and doubt. It was probably just the huge growth spurt at 6 months, or starting solids, or more interaction with the world disrupting his sleep. But when you are tired, you look for dramatic, easy solutions.
We thought it might be us waking LM, or contributing to his waking. We even videoed him to see what caused the sudden waking. But no light bulb moment. So we moved him to his own room. This helped briefly, but then as he went back to waking every few hours, it made it worse. As instead of having to just take him from his cot in our room, I had to get up, cross a cold corridor, pick him up, feed him on rocking chair, and settle him back to sleep and then back to our bed. Tiring!

We contemplated moving the cot back into our room, but that felt like going backwards. So after some advice from an experienced friend who breastfed her youngest until he was 3, said just take him to bed with you, and no you will not roll over on him. So we then adopted full co-sleeping. So we put LM in his cot initially to sleep, with hubby usually putting him to bed, with a story and some singing. We had been trying this for a while to break the connection between going asleep and breastfeeding, so that apparently when he wakes again he will go back asleep himself without looking for the breast. Emmmm. I’m not convinced of this. LM never got that memo!! Whether or not I feed him to sleep didn’t really affect how he slept that night or how early he woke.
Then whenever he woke in he came to our bed. And then through the night he fed when needed.
Since 7 months old until his 2nd birthday, we have had many more ups and downs. 2 full really Sleeping Through The Night (STTN), so from 8pm-7/8am. But also many stretches of waking up every 2 hours and feeding for an hour at a time.
So when I was 2 months pregnant, I needed, really needed, sleep, so we decided to try night weaning. A feat we had never tried before in LM’s 25 months. I feared unbearably screams, crying, cries for “Mama, I want mama” (or more heart wrenching “Mama, I need Mama”). But we had a very smooth transition. I admit we did use reward charts- stickers and prizes of little cars when he had so many stickers. I naively thought there was nothing wrong with this approach. Then recently I read a blog post about the negatives of rewards, can't find it at mo, but then i did a google search and came across a good few more, felt a bit guilty. Oh well. What’s done is done and we learn and move on.

This lasted a good few months, of maybe just 2/3 nights a week of wakings but even at that it was around 3/4 am instead of 11pm. But then teething reined its ugly head. And now it’s back to square one! LM has always had very bad bouts of teething. I live in hope that after this bout of teething is over he will go back to his sleeping through. Hope Hope Hope!

So things that helped me/us:
-     You may initially meet a lot of other mums, relatives, and random people on the street, who ask: “So is he Sleeping Through The Night??” Smile and say “he’s sleeping well thanks” and move on. No lies, but leads to no unhelpful advice, no comments on co-sleeping, no comments on breastfeeding, or your parenting style in general.
I did not do this on LM, but plan to on #2.
-    Also on STTN- the actual definition of STTN is that a baby sleeps for 5 consecutive hours, so could be from 8pm until 1am. I didn’t know this early enough.
In my opinion that is not sleeping through the night, but it gave me some solace, in that maybe some of the mums telling me their babas slept thru, also used this definition, or that they were simply lying, or not including the brief but disruptive several rises to put back in a soother, or pat backs, or hush, etc, etc.
Well I can dream!
-    Throw the clocks away, do not time breastfeeds, do not obsessively take down notes
-    Co-sleeping- helped beyond belief. While I still can’t sleep while feeding (I really envy anyone that can), I usually can rest and relax.
-    Meeting a lot of other mums and realising that very few babies sleep through the night as in 8pm-8am. And we were not alone, and many other parents were in similar or worse positions than us regarding sleep.
-    Realising I have the beautiful amazing happy baby I have. Nothing we will do will change him. And one day soon he will be happy to sleep all night every night on his own and I will miss these nights full of cuddles and soft kisses on his soft head. I just need to remember that at 4 am!!!!!

Good Article from Dr. Sears on co-sleeping:

Friday, 27 January 2012

Lacing / Threading Fun

LM is due to move up to the next room in his creche shortly, and they were mentioning they would be doing more activities that involve concentration and sitting still, one mentioned was lacing.
So I thought we could do some lacing activity at home. Here is what we did- very basic, and simple, but fun and kept LM entertained for a good while preparing and lots of hours fun playingwith Lacing game after.
Note this is a good activity to make with the babas, not prepare ahead yourself.
So here is what I used:
  • Laces- I got theses laces from Choice for €1.99, but they were on special 2 for 3, so really only €1.50.
  • 1 small cereal box
  • some coloured card
  • hole punch
  • lots of stickers- animals, cartoons, numbers, could also use letters
  • double sided tape

So firstly I let LM get on with whatever he was doing, and I cut the cereal box at one edge and folder it over on itself so back and front were plane cardboard. Stuck together using double sided tape.
I then stuck on some coloured card to brightn things up a bit.


Then I got LM involved, we punched holes all along the edges of the rectangular card, as see below. I then gave him a load of sheets of stickers from our craft box, mainly old ones, he usually gets very excited about stickers for a while, but then novelty wears off and I put them asides. So many good activities you can use stickers for.
Aside this was such a good buy- 1000 stickers, we got this one and the 1000 animal stickers aswell. sheets can be taken out as individua sheets or as book.
1000 Stickers
Great buy- lots of uses

So LM, with my prompting picked out a load of stickers. the ideas of the game is to match one sticker to another using questions. So something like:
  • How many legs does a Shetland Pony have? and then the lace would need to be connected between the pony and the number 4. So many possibilities.
some you can see below:
  • how many hooves do the 2 baby zebras have?
  • find the baby zebras Dada.
  • who is Donald Duck's best friend
  • how many sea horses are there?
  • how many lions are there in the pride?
  • how many ice cream cones are there?
  • what else has lion in it's name?
  • together how many feet do the crocodile and the cow?

... you get the idea, endless options.
The laces are threaded through through the top or side holes and stuck with sellotape.

 All the laces are then threaded through and the game can begin.

 I stuck an envelope on the back to store laces when not in use, and also wrote some Qs on back for ideas.

Anyone any other good activities using laces and threading, or other good ideas for teaching fine motor skills???

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Alternative Music Therapy

I purchased the book Playful Parenting (by Lawrence J. Cohen) a good while ago, and have found it very helpful. It looks at discipline in a very different way. Anytime LM is out of sorts and acts up, I go back to it for inspiration.
In line with this, one idea that we thought of, with a playful approach, was to use music to help LM express his feelings and relive any frustrations or annoyance. A while ago when he was a good bit younger and I originally introduced him to Nirvana, he decided they were very “angry”. And I just remember jumping up and down around my parent’s house when no one was home with the music blaring, lucky we were in a detached house!! It was a great stress reliever during exam times or when you were just royally p*ssed off at the world. So if LM seamed very frustrated or obviously had some strong feelings about to boil over, we put on some Nirvana.

So I thought the same may apply to my LM. As he often does seem like a temperamental teenager, unable to understand the strong emotions, unable to express them, unable to control them. I get flashes of me as a teenager throwing remote controls across the room, slamming doors- oh how your past actions bite you in the bum!

So now if LM gets to that stage/ mood we put on some Nirvana and jump and dance around the family room. It helps to get out all the pent up emotion and energy.

Running around the table also does some good… usually racing, and chasing LM.
Anyone else have any strange and wonderful ways to gently discipline their little ones?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Sorting Activity

So I have been doing some pinteresting ( if you haven’t tried this- do!) and have come across loads of amazing kid/toddler activities. A lot of sorting activities.
So thought I’d add one we did last week that was fun and kept LM busy for 45mins of so- which for a 2.5 year old is no mean feat.

You will need:

  • Cardboard tubes- we used an empty tin foil tube, an empty wrapping paper tube and an empty kitchen paper tube and a large poster tube. So 4 different diameter tubes. That’s the key with this activity, different diameter tubes.

    • Toys- we used LM’s Zoo box- he has a load of animals of different sizes and brands. Also includes a zoo keeper and a family who regularly go to the zoo. But cars/ Lego/ or other small toys.

    • 5 areas for sorting

    So now LM just had to sort the animals by which fit where. By trying to slide them through the tubes.

    Was good fun and good for discussing body parts of animals- as in reindeer's antlers won’t fit through, or donkeys ears are too long to fit, or giraffes neck is too long, so won’t fit. So obviously if the animal won’t fit in the smallest tube we try next size up and so on. And if it won’t fit in any tube, it is put in a separate area for large or tall animals.
    Also good for developing fine motor skills/ dexterity*, learning animals names, body part names, animal specific body parts (hooves, paws, tail, horns, tusks, strikes, spots, snout, etc), descriptive language (small, large, tight, long, short, tall, etc), colours, and many more depending how complicated the game.

    Anyone else got good sorting game ideas?

    * Fine motor skills are the coordination of small muscle movements which occur e.g., in the fingers, usually in coordination with the eyes. In application to motor skills of hands (and fingers) the term dexterity is commonly used. When applied to the theory of human aptitude this is called manual dexterity.

    Saturday, 21 January 2012

    Blog Link: Toddler Activity- Tactile learning

    Great idea from Tutus and Turtles- will definitely be trying with my little man.
    tutus and turtles
    texture balloons

    IKEA Hack: Lamp shade

    I wanted to do something quirky with our spare room. It is still a work in progress. One of the cheap accessories I personalised was a cheap paper IKEA VARMLUFT Lampshade.
    I took a fit one evening after a long day out and about to paint this lampshade we had gotten a few weeks before.
    So we got out some of LM’s paints, and put out red, blue and made up purple. And let LM hand print away. I then tried to do a stain glass effect with crepe paper on the inside. I also tried to cover the bottom with crepe paper to tidy it up and give a softer light, but was very tricky to do with out looking absolutely messy and silly. So I removed it. Still think I need to tidy up bottom- any ideas??
    Simple but effective. Looks better when in use.

    Saturday, 14 January 2012

    DIY Play Kitchen

    LM had been enjoying playing with the play Kitchen in his creche, and for Christmas I wanted to get him one, or make him one.
    DUKTIG mini-kitchen, white, birch plywood Width: 28 3/8 " Depth: 15 3/4 " Height: 42 1/2 " Width: 72 cm Depth: 40 cm Height: 108 cmThe one I loved was this wooden ikea kitchen.

    But space and money said no. So I decided to try make one.

    I had seen a load of amazing DIY play kitchens on various blogs and Pinterest and wanted to attempt my own.
    Some amazing DIY Play Kitchens I came accross:

    Pinned Image

    cover 10 Eco friendly DIY Play Kitchens
    Fun itchen Ideas: the-new-home-ec Blog
    As you can see some absolutely amazing ones, better than real kitchens, but again money and space (and time and skill!).
    So I looked at what we had. When we moved into our new house we decided to open up the kitchen and the next room (a small 2nd living room) into one large family room come kitchen. So that we could eat, cook, socialise while LM could play away, and down the line do homework, read, listen & play music, relax. So we lined one wall of the family room with IKEA children's STUVA units, as seen below.
    Our Ikea STUVA units
    So my plan was to use some desktop space we already had in our family/play room (rearrange toys and put kitchen where penguin is above).

    So my ingredients:

    IKEA SAMLA lid for box as base for hob, Small Ridged Knobs (Maplins Store), 4 normal CDs/DVDs, hot glue + hot glue gun, super glue, lid from pesto jar (any nice looking lid works- but make sure it has the safety pop feature- so makes a nice click when pressed), velcro strips.

    The idea is that the jar lid is the ON/OFF button and the temperature is then controlled by the knob, which clicks at 6 points. Each CD is a different hob.
    My hubby kindly drilled a hole in the plastic lid to fit the knob.
    I used a hot glue gun to glue the jar lid and knob on, and super glue to glue the 4 CDs on so they look like a hob. I put a bit too much super glue on, and was a bit smudged around 2 of CDs but I'm not a pefectionist, so looks ok to me...
    The control knob clicks in 6 differnt positions, so I added numbered stickers 1-6, so LM can get to know his numbers. I then added an Ikea shelf we had bought ages ago but never found a home for, a plant, a mini retro petrol pump radio, some plastic hooks to hang up utencils. Very happywith results, and LM and friends enjoying making mamas and dadas endless cups of tea, eggs and pancakes.
    I also added a blown up printout of a photo of our back garden, and made a foam frame- to make it more personal for LM.
    Anyone else made any interesting DIY kitchens??

    Thursday, 12 January 2012

    Baby Wearing

    I always wanted to wear my baby, I didn’t know any of the benefits, and to me it was an idealised image of women working in fields with babies attached to their back. The simple idea of keeping your baby close to you appealed to me.

    LM in kari-me sling at about 3.5 weeks

    But when I started to look in all the big named childcare shops in Ireland, the only slings I could find were the structured, unsupportive baby carriers, which definitely did not appeal to my idealised image.
    I didn’t really want to buy online without trying the sling on, so I was stuck. I now know there are numerous places to see, try out and buy slings in Ireland, which I will discuss later.

    So Little Man (LM) had reflux*, which meant that after each feed he would get milk up, and a lot more if he was lying down. So we spent all day with one of us having him up on our shoulders. The poor little fella. If we tried to lie him down, he would seem uncomfortable, and cry and spit up milk. Many a top puked on, and on, and on, we needed to regularly wash our huge amount of Moses basket sheets, until we thought of putting a towel and muslin cloth under him, so could do an easier change without needing to remove sheet and wipe down mattress protector. He always had a bib on, until I’d say he was about 10 months.

    We were starting to go mad, especially when hubby went back to work and I had to “cope” on my own. It is overwhelming enough, but when you can’t even put your baba down for 5 mins to go to the toilet or make a cuppa you start to feel you will slowly (or quickly) go insane.

    So something had to be done.  So when LM was 3 weeks old, I went to my first Cuidiu (ICT- Irish Childcare Trust) breastfeeding meeting. My huge growing LM, looked soooooo tiny compared to the colossal 2, 3, 4, 13 month olds. The women were so nice and I discussed reflux and got some tips, and I also asked about a sling recommendation. I met a lovely lady, who said she had the perfect sling for me, a “Kari-me” wrap sling. It all sounded like a foreign language, but I was learning. Her family were actually immigrating to New Zealand 2 days later and she said she no longer had a need for the sling, her youngest was 14 months and not using it as much and she had a similar one in NZ anyway. Score! So after the meeting I called around to her house and she showed me the sling, popped her little assistant in, she seamed like a pro, made it look so easy and natural. I was sold.

    So our adventures in baby wearing began…

    I downloaded the Kari-me instructions that evening and we, 2 engineers, tried to decipher how to put this huge piece of material on. We weren’t as put off as we could have been as we had seen a real life demo, and seen the ease which the lady had put on sling and popped happy toddler in. We were confident it was actually easy to use, just not for us at that moment! So we persisted, and within a day we were getting the hang of it. Within a week we were sorted, I could put it on myself, no assistance needed, and then the world was my oyster!
    I could now feed LM and then pop him in the sling and make myself a cuppa, have some breakie, watch “One Tree Hill” (an obsession that began, as they had conveniently decided to show it from the beginning when LM was about 4 weeks old), go to the toilet (a little unsure at first, but needs must!), walk, sweep, go on trains, buses, go for lunch, treat myself to day long shopping trips, museum visits, and sooo much more.

    I have included some safety tips provided by the Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers at the bottom of this post. **

    Good Websites discussed/mentioned in this post:
    • Cuidiu Irish Childcare Trust:

    • Baby Wearing Ireland
    Also has a sling library available

    • Breastfeeding Resource Website:

    • Dr William Sears website- good breastfeeding, babywearing, attachment parenting info, plus much more

    • The Baby Wearer

    • Attachment Parenting EU - Ireland

    Places to buy slings in Ireland:

    Slings I love and use/used extensively:
    • Wrap sling: Kari Me
    • Soft Carrier: Rose and Rebellion

    * Reflux :  great article on Breastfeeding Website:

    ** A simple way to remember Baby Wearing Safety:
    When using a baby sling, the advice provided by the Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers is to follow these basic principles: When you’re wearing a sling or carrier, don’t forget the T.I.C.K.S.
    In view at all times
    Close enough to kiss
    Keep chin off the chest
    Supported back

    Tight – slings and carriers should be tight enough to hug your baby close to you as this will be most comfortable for you both. Any slack/loose fabric will allow your baby to slump down in the carrier which can hinder their breathing and pull on your back.
    In view at all times – you should always be able to see your baby’s face by simply glancing down. The fabric of a sling or carrier should not close around them so you have to open it to check on them. In a cuddly position your baby should face upwards not be turned in towards your body. If you breastfeed in the carrier, you must make sure the baby has an open airway (through his/her nose).
    Close enough to kiss – your baby’s head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable. By tipping your head forward you should be able to kiss your baby on the head or forehead.
    Keep chin off the chest – a baby should never be curled so their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing. Ensure there is always a space of at least a finger width under your baby’s chin.
    Supported back – in an upright carry a baby’s back should be supported. If a sling is too loose they can slump which can partially close their airway. A baby in a cuddly position should be positioned carefully with their bottom in the deepest part so the sling does not fold them in half pressing their chin to their chest.

    Blogger Wordpress Gadgets