Thursday, February 25, 2010

Babbling, Wiggling, & Growling


I'm trying a new way of putting up video, hoping that this will get around whatever the problem blogger is having lately with "this video is currently unavailable". Hope it works!

update: so far so good. And it looks like "Highchair Climber" and "Stompy Dance" are fixed now too. Fingers crossed they stay that way!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Where's the Bellybutton?


Conan getting really good at pointing to parts of the body when asked. It's a fun game and it's amazing how fast he is picking up more anatomy. It wasn't very long ago when his nose (or mine) was the only thing he could pick out. Now he knows nose, mouth, teeth, eye, hair, head, ear, feet, hands, and of course, belly button.

He's also gotten really good at recognizing and finding characters in his books. I brought home some library books (they have board books at the library!) one of which was called "Find the Kitten". As you can probably guess, on each page there is a small grey and white kitten, hiding - behind a flower pot, under a leaf, in a tree. Conan loves it. He can find the kitten so fast now that there's no time to read the accompanying text before the pages are turned.

He's also found a small white mouse which is on every page of "That's not my monster!" He no longer has any interest in touching the rough horns, fuzzy ears, or bumpy paws on any of the monsters; now we race through the book as fast as a little index finger can thud onto the white mouse.

These patterns are everywhere - there's the heart on every page in "Little Mouse's Valentine", the rainbow fish in "Rainbow Fish Counting", the ladybug in "Sing a Song of Summer." It's really awe inspiring to watch Conan discover them. He's an enthusiastic little learner, and a smart little guy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Highchair Climber

video
Conan loves to climb. He climbs up on the back of the couch, he can get up on the dining room table, and he recently started climbing up bookshelves. His favorite thing to climb, though, is the highchair. We let him go, with supervision of course. If it gets to be a problem (no parents available to spot him) then we put the highchair out on the porch. :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bedtime Story

I'm all ready for bed, Mama!
Putting Conan to bed tonight took all of 7 minutes. I don't mean to brag (well, ok, yes, I guess I do) but bedtime has become one of the easiest, best times of the day for us. It took a LONG time to get here! I've heard rumours of babies who sleep gently throught the night from the time they are a couple of weeks old. But then I've also heard stories of unicorns and fairies, and I've never seen any of them, either.

When he was little, Conan fought against sleep like a wild thing. We tried everything - putting him in the sling, driving in the car, putting the carseat on the dryer, running various electrical appliances in the room with him (white noise), nightlight, no nightlight, regular afternoon nap, no afternoon nap, later bedtime, earlier bedtime, dressing him warmer, dressing him cooler, feeding more, burping more, singing lulabies, cuddling, bouncing, rocking, swaddling, swinging - and eventually did find a few things that helped. By the time he was about four months old we had a system. It went like this:

1. Night diaper & Jammies on
2. Swaddle (TIGHT!!)
3. CD on (Gregorian or Tibetan Monks, chanting - very sleepy stuff!)
4. Nurse (10 minutes on each side)
5. Bottle (5 more minutes)
6. Bounce/rock as needed (bouncing more effective, but more tiring)
7. Once sleep acheived, 20 more minutes of holding before attempting to lay him down in his crib.
8. Stand over the crib, hands still on him, singing, "You are my Sunshine" (yes, over the CD) until he settles back into deep sleep.
9. Cover with blanket, oh-so-gently
10. Hold breath and sneak out of the room, quiet as a mouse

This worked pretty well. It was a long process, to be sure, but it would generally result in 3-4 hours of sleeping. The most common undesireable side effect was that a sleep-deprived parent would fall asleep in the rocking chair during the 20 minutes of "sleep set" time after Conan had nodded off, and wake up with a very stiff neck.

Yes, we'd heard of Cry It Out and other strategies for teaching babies to go to sleep without so much parental involvement, but it just didn't work for us. We tried it a couple of times, but Conan just got madder and madder and we couldn't take it. My baby was in distress, how could I not go comfort him? All he wanted was to be held... some more. Which is a pretty daunting prospect, when you're a new parent, and you're so tired, and you've got to work in the morning, but still. Some of those books make it sound like you'll still be rocking your kid to sleep when he's 16 if you don't let them cry when they're 6 months old, but I just couldn't do it.

We had originally planned to have Conan sleep with us, either in our bed and in an actual co-sleeper, which is a side-car mini-crib that is open on the side by the bed with a matress at the same level. It just didn't work for us. He never got the hang of nursing laying down, so we had to get up and sit in the rocking chair. Conan ALWAYS woke up if the person holding him tried to lay down, or even to hand him to someone who was already laying down. Somehow he just knew the difference, even though we went to great lengths not to change his position in the process. We moved him to his own room when he was almost three months old, because we were both about to start working again and really didn't want him to be woken up by the alarm clock (although in those days he generally got up before it went off anyhow). And as it turned out, we all slept better right away.

So anyway, we tried a lot of different things, and eventually developed the system I described above. And then, without really even trying, we gradually simplified and shortened it, and now it's marvelous. We still play the Chant CDs, but even when we've misplaced them, bedtime generally goes off without a hitch. We stopped swaddling in the summer, when we had the big heat wave. The 20 minutes of "sleep set" gradually shortened, until now I can put him down in the crib still awake, and he rolls over and snuggles in. In fact, after we get his jammies on, bedtime takes just long enough for Conan to drink his fill from the bottle, and that's it.

I'm really glad Conan never had to cry it out. Today he loves bedtime and is a great sleeper. He likes his crib. It's a happy place for him to wake up, and we stock it with toys each night so he has fun stuff to play with in the morning. He'll play for an hour or more before he lets us know that he's ready to get up and have breakfast, which is simply wonderful on weekends.

If you'd told me a year ago that it'd be like this now, I wouldn't have believed you. I don't want to jynx our current happy state of affairs by giving out advice, but if I were to give some advice for parents trying to get their baby to sleep, it would be to listen to your instincts. Don't listen to people who tell you they know exactly what you need to do, or not do. There's no one system out there. Some of those books have some good suggestions, but there's no magic bullet. Give yourself, and your baby, time to adjust, develop your own routine, and just do what feels right. Eventually you'll get some sleep. I promise.

Also, get yourself a really comfy rocking chair. It's worth it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Stompy Dance

Conan has been working for some time on a dance number we call "Stompy Dance". Recently he has also decided turning in circles until he gets dizzy and falls down is a lot of fun. Naturally, he has now incorporated turning in circles into Stompy Dance, which raises the cuteness to dangerous levels. I managed to get it on video last night, so without further ado, I present Conan performing the one and only Stompy Dance! [insert thunderous applause here]

video

Check out that stomp solo at :21 seconds. Now that's stomping!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Spoon!


Conan is learning to use a spoon. It's still a work in progress, but he's working diligently to master this new skill. He eats mostly finger foods these days, but will accept being spoon-fed if he gets to have his own spoon to dip into the bowl and experiment with. Practice makes perfect, I suppose!

He's really starting to exert his independence, and as part of that he doesn't want to be fed anymore. Now he wants to feed me instead, and he can be VERY insistent. It's fine when he's just begged a piece of bacon from his Papa to feed me, but not so great when he's got a slice of apple that's been rubbed on the cat. :}

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Published!

I got a lot of compliments* on my blog post about the difficulties of breastfeeding, so I mustered all my courage and submitted it to the website Offbeat Mama. And they published it yesterday! I'm excited and proud to have a larger audience than usual for my online ramblings, and I'm especially gratified by the comments from Mamas who say that my story gives them hope as they struggle with their own breastfeeding challenges.

*Not in the comments here on the site though - most of my regular readers are a wily and skittish bunch who prefer to remain in the shadows. Which is fine - I know you're out there!