Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tips to getting your Infant to Sleep

I debated whether or not I should write this post because I don't generally offer parenting advice.  My opinion is that all children are different so something that worked for my kids may or may not work for other kids.  But if you are interested to hear what worked for my kids, read on!

I have three girls, Ava (4.5 yrs), Sidney (2.5 yrs) and Clara (3 months) and all three of them slept through the night (meaning 8 or more hours at a time without waking) at 3-4 WEEKS old.  Ava slept 8 hours a night at 3 weeks old, Sidney slept 8 hours a night at 4 weeks old and Clara is my rock star sleeping a whopping 10 hours a night at 8 weeks old!  

I'm not trying to brag.  I was actually embarrassed to admit this at first; thinking that I hadn't earned my "mom stripes" if I hadn't endured countless sleepless nights with my babies.  But after using the same techniques with 3 VERY different girls, I no longer think it's a fluke that my girls are good sleepers.  And now I'm ready to share my secrets!!!!

1.  Baby Plus
When I was pregnant with Ava, I read about the Baby Plus.  The Baby Plus is a device that you wear in a fanny pack (I'm not kidding) around your waist.  The device is programmed with 16 different sounds that resemble a mother's heart beat.  The researchers claim lots of good developmental things will come from using the Baby Plus.  The one that got me was the claim that babies exposed to Baby Plus slept better.  I was sold.  Embarrassed that I believed it, but sold none-the-less.  I told Tim that I was going to try it and if Ava wasn't a good sleeper, I'd never use it again....but she turned out to be a great sleeper.  Coincidence?  I wasn't sure so I used the Baby Plus when I was pregnant with Sidney and she turned out to be a good sleeper too!  There was no way I wasn't going to use the Baby Plus when I was pregnant with Clara.  She is my best sleeper of all.  Whether or not I just got lucky with 3 good sleepers, I'd still recommend trying the Baby Plus.  It can't hurt!

2.  Get your baby out of your room
If you're determined to co-sleep with your baby than just ignore this part.  I tried keeping all 3 of our babies in our bedroom in a separate crib but they never lasted more than 2 weeks.  To be honest, I think it was best for all of us.  My babies made little sounds all night long that woke me up and kept me awake and I'm sure I made sounds that woke up the baby too.  None of us could sleep!  Once I put my kids in their own room, we all slept better.  I have to admit that at first I was always nervous to be away from my babies at night.  I worried that they'd stop breathing or choke on spit up or something terrible.  You have to be comfortable with this.  If you're not comfortable, you'll just keep yourself up worrying all night.

3.  Let your baby sleep how THEY are most comfortable
I read SO many parenting books when I was pregnant with Ava.  One of the books, The Happiest Baby on the Block, gave tips on how to soothe a baby and get the baby to sleep.  All babies are different and what works for one baby will not work with another.  I swaddled all my babies for the first couple weeks then I let them "tell" me what they wanted.  Ava slept well super tightly swaddled in a Miracle Blanket as Happiest Baby suggested, however, Sidney wanted to be wrapped in a million blankets but not tightly, and Clara couldn't care less about blankets.  She can sleep anywhere!  

I also have to confess...while I'd prefer my kids sleep in their crib at all times, Sidney liked to sleep in her car seat when she was an infant.  Being the second child she was in her car seat a lot, as is Clara.  She loved to be all snug and cozy in her car seat with a blanket over her.  She'd almost immediately fall asleep and I adhere to the rule: Never wake a sleeping baby.  The downside to sleeping in her car seat was that she eventually needed a helmet because her head got flat in the back.  It's also probably frowned upon by the AAP for safety reasons so I obviously can't condone it.  You have to make the call.

4.  Stick to a schedule most of the time
I like predictability and that's hard to come by with kids, but once my babies demonstrated some sort of schedule (which was usually around 6-8 weeks old) I stuck to it.  It was the only thing that I could do to make things somewhat predictable.  As they grew older and had defined nap times, I tried my best to make sure they were at home and in their cribs during nap time.  Sticking to a schedule is paying dividends now that they are toddlers.  We rarely have push back from the girls at nap time and bed time.

5.  Bottles
I'm not trying to be controversial and I don't want Le Leche League up in arms at me, but I like bottles.  My body doesn't produce a lot of milk.  I worked with a Lactation Consultant when Ava was born and her recommendation was to feed the baby on one breast for 5 minutes, then the other for 5 minutes, then back to the first breast for 5 more minutes, then pump, then feed the baby whatever I pumped.  I was drinking gallons of water and mother's milk tea, taking supplements and even drinking beer to try to increase my milk supply.  It was exhausting and I felt like I was half naked all day long and trapped in my home.  

I decided to switch to just pumping.  This way, I knew exactly how much milk I was making, whether my milk supply was increasing and exactly how much milk the baby was drinking.  For a "numbers girl", it was worth the work.  I tracked the number of ounces my babies drank each day and looked for patterns.  For example, Clara drinks ~26 oz a day and the majority of milk is consumed between 6pm and 11pm.  When she gets close to 26 oz at night and she refuses the bottle, I know that she's ready for bed.

I'm not an expert and what worked for me may or may not work for you and your baby.  One thing I've learned is that every child is different.  I've had to make adjustments to my expectations and parenting style for each of my girls.  Even though I read countless parenting books and took lots of parenting classes before Ava was born, in the end I had to go with my gut and do what worked best for me and my baby.

Good luck!

Pin It

Monday, January 28, 2013

DIY Family Memory Game

Ava and Tim have been playing our Dora the Explorer Memory game a lot lately.  Ava's pretty good at it, but her Achilles Heel (as Tim likes to refer to it) is Isa.  Once someone turns over the Isa card she will search for the matching Isa card relentlessly until she matches it.  It generally costs her the game, but if she gets Isa it's a win in her mind!

I decided to make our own Memory game using pictures of family members.

I printed two copies of photos of our family, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  I cut out the faces using a paper cutter, then I cut out squares of card stock with the paper cutter and taped the pictures to the card stock using double stick tape.

Then pick out a few pairs and play!  This is a good way to teach little ones the names of their family members, especially out of town family.

Hi Aunt Tracy!

I found a cute box to store the cards.  Ava loves to play - her Achilles Heel is baby Clara.  Can't say that I blame her ;)

Pin It

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Kid-Friendly Basement

If you read my post earlier this week about our Art Room and Playhouse, you'll remember my mom's piece of advice -Build a basement that works for our family, not a future home owner.  In addition to the Art Room and Playhouse, we made two other big decisions that made our basement kid-friendly.  

The first decision was to keep a large area unfinished for bike riding and roller skating.  As a kid, I loved going over to my Grandma and Grandpa's house and roller skating in their unfinished basement.  And before we finished our basement we used it mainly for riding bikes.  We have some pretty cold winters in St. Louis and it makes it hard to get the kids outside.  Having an unfinished area to ride bikes has been such a bonus!

 We made the unfinished space functional as well by building shelving around the perimeter of the room.
 Apologies for always taking pictures of my kids when they're in their PJ's.  It's how they're most comfortable and I can't say I blame them! 
 Tim brought a scooter down to the basement too - Dad's are so much fun!

I have to give credit to my mom for the second decision - Swings!  She hung swings in her basement this summer, which turned out to be very useful when the temperature hit record highs nearly every day and we were stuck inside!

Ava learned how to pump her legs to swing by herself a couple months after we hung the swings, and Sidney can now swing on the "big girl" swing rather than the baby bucket swing! If you have the space, I highly recommend swings inside!

Pin It

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Our Art Room and Playhouse

We finished our basement 2 days before Clara was born.  Talk about cutting it close!  One of the best pieces of advice we got when we decided to finish the basement was from my mom.  We were trying to figure out how to design the basement and our thoughts kept drifting towards resale value.  What would the next buyer of our house want?  The advice my mom gave us was that if we planned to live in this house for a while (which we do) than we should build a basement that works for our family, not for the next family or the next family or the next.  I'm so glad that we did that.  Not only did it make everything much more fun but I LOVE the way it turned out!  

I wanted an area of the house where the kids could have fun and make messes and I didn't have to enforce cleaning it up everyday.  Our basement is a kid zone.  My favorite part of the basement is the Art Room and Playhouse.  I searched all over the Internet and Pinterest for ideas on designing the Art Room and Playhouse.  Here's how it all turned out:

 The kids area: The table and chairs are from Pottery Barn Kids, the rug is from Overstock.

I found the Picasso decal on Wall  I bought a piece of wood from Lowes, sanded and painted it and then drilled big clips into it that I found at The White Hare, a home decor store.

This key hanger came from Home Goods.  It's perfect for our art smocks.

My next project is going to be organizing my closet.  Here's hoping The Container Store has a sale soon!

My area: The walls need some love and color, but I haven't had time to figure out what I want yet.

I found the counter top height table at Pier 1.  If you sign up for a credit card you get 20% off your first purchase!!  I had a piece of glass cut for the top so I didn't ruin the wood.  The rug is from Overstock.

The decal came from Wall

Our contractor installed the cabinets and floor, which is tile that looks like hard wood.  I wanted something durable and water resistant.

Our contractor also installed the slop sink.  This has come in very handy for projects that involve paint, which seems like most of our projects.

I found this shelving piece at Home Goods.

The clear plastic containers came from The Container Store.  I could spend all day there.

At the back of the Art Room there is a door leading to a little playhouse under our stair case.

Our contractor installed the window and built the cute little window frame and window sill.  

I made the address sign using a frame from Hobby Lobby, a piece of wood that I  painted pink and wood numbers from Hobby Lobby that I painted white and glued onto the wood.

I found this flower box at Michael's and my niece painted it white for me.

The flower pots and flowers came from Michael's.  You can get great deals on these when their Spring stuff goes on clearance.

We painted the inside of the playhouse pink and I bought decals of flowers and fairies to decorate the walls.  The decals came from Magic

We had the electrician install the light switch at a kid height so that they could all reach it.

I'm hoping that I'll find some time to decorate the rest of the basement, but that's a low priority item right now.  Stay tuned...

Pin It

Friday, January 18, 2013

3 whole months!!!!

I can't deny it.  It's obvious.  Clara is my favorite.  No, I'm just kidding.  Parents can't have favorites.  But if I could, it would be Clara.  She is a perfect third (and last) baby.  Her cuteness factor goes up every day.  Tim refers to it as achieving "maximal cuteness".  Here are a few pictures of her raising the cuteness bar:


Pin It

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dollar Crafts - Butterfly Boxes

I was walking around Hobby Lobby with Ava and Sidney after Christmas looking for some good after Christmas deals.  Little did I know that Ava and Sidney had their own agenda.  They love walking around the wood and paper mache area of the store and picking out something to paint.  On this trip, they found these cute butterfly-shaped boxes made of paper mache.  They were less than a dollar each because they were on sale 50% off!   

When we got home the girls wanted to paint them right away:

Here are the painted butterfly boxes:

The girls love to hide little treasures inside:

Pin It

Monday, January 14, 2013

Banana Nut Bread with Chocolate Chips

I have never made Banana Nut Bread (until now).  I think it's because I can never wait for the bananas to become over-ripe.  Then, the other day I noticed 3 bananas that were getting pretty brown, but still edible.  Perfect!  I found a recipe and miraculously had all the ingredients that I needed at home plus a couple extras that I like to add to my sweet breads.  I have to pat myself on the back because that bread was pretty amazing.  Here's all the info you need to make your own delicious Banana Bread.

3/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cups of mashed ripe bananas (3 large)
3/4 cup of vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp Flax Seed Meal (optional, but it's healthy and you won't even notice a difference in the taste - promise!)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts and pecans because that's what I had on hand)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional, but who doesn't like chocolate??)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.  Heat oven to 325 F.
2.  Grease a loaf pan with non-stick baking spray.
3.  Mix sugar, bananas, oil and eggs. 
4.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and pour into the loaf pan.
5.  Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean, 60- 70 minutes. 
6.  Let cool 10 minutes, then loosen sides of loaf pan and remove from pan. Let cool completely before slicing.

Makes 1 large loaf or 4 mini loaves.

Pin It

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Favorite Pinterest Valentine Cards

I love helping Ava make Valentine's to pass out to her friends at school.  I think I may enjoy making them more than Ava.  I'm always looking for cute, nut-free ideas since Ava's preschool is nut-free.  I started looking on Pinterest to find some ideas for this year's Valentine's.  Here are my favorites:

The arrow could be a fun pencil or straw or a glow stick.

You could insert a pencil or a lollipop through the butterfly wings.

If you don't have a heart shaped stamp you could use stickers instead.

You could also use the fun rulers with stencils or colored rulers.

This one is my favorite!  The head is a lollipop wrapped in tissue paper and I think Ava could help with a lot of it.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Pin It
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...