23 March 2010

Bookshelf: Babies

Once my first baby arrived, there was much less time for reading, but I have still found a few wonderful books that I love to recommend to new parents.

Siblings Without Rivalry is now my favorite gift to give friends who are expecting a second child.  I read it when my sons were 18 months and 2 months old.  Halfway through the book, I thought, "This will be great stuff for the boys' future relationship, but it isn't helpful right now with two pre-verbal kids."  The next day, I read the section about what to do when one kid hurts or bullies the other:  instead of admonishing the aggressor, comfort the one who has been hurt while leaving the presence of the aggressor.  Jason had recently tried sitting on Jackson's head and stomach, and all I knew to do was try time outs.  The next time it happened, I completely changed the dynamic by giving Jackson all of the attention, which had an immediate affect on Jason.  In the months since then, Jason still test us from time to time, but very seldom, and it seems more out of curiosity than anything.  When Daddy and I coo over Jackson afterward, Jason quickly gets the point, and directs his attention elsewhere.

The Baby Book was a gift from my sister-in-law, who has two little girls.  It is a general reference book about what to expect during the first 2 years of your new baby's life.  The book is geared toward Attachment Parenting, and encourages breastfeeding, babywearing, and listening to your instincts.  There are also chapters that detail child development through various stages, bottlefeeding, sleeping, and first aid.  It was a great book to have around at 2 in the morning, when you have no idea if the 'blood' in your newborn's diaper is really blood or urate crystals (urate crystals are orange in daylight, and blood will turn brown before too long). 

Einstein Never Used Flashcards details the importance of play in child development.  Chapters focus, individually, on the process by which babies, toddlers, and kids learn math, speech, and reading, and how they develop a sense of 'self'.  One part that really hit home for me was that I didn't push my boys to find their hands, roll over, walk, or talk, but I encouraged it, and provided whatever stepping stones I felt they needed.  Activities like math and reading require similar fundamental abilities that I cannot speed up or slow down, so there is no reason to push the process faster, and no harm or shame in some of the steps taking longer.  This book really encouraged me to relax and allow my boys' natural curiosity to lead the way. 

For those who haven't seen the Baby Sleep posts, I have to plug these books once again.  Even when things aren't going well, it really, really helps to have a plan:
The No Cry Sleep Solution
The No-Cry Nap Solution
The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers

25 Things Every New Mother Should Know is a short-but-sweet book that gave me a lot of confidence in my new motherhood.  It is focused on the attachment parenting style, and enforced my ability to go with my instincts even though others might disagree.  In a sense, it allowed me to hold my baby, listen to him, and do everything I thought I could for him.  It also reminded me to take care of myself and avoid perfectionism.

07 March 2010

Baby Sleep 6

Over the past 3 weeks, we have become accustomed to relying on caffeine to get through the day- a habit we normally avoid, which makes it work so much better when we need the extra kick.  Jackson's sleep habits have improved such that now he usually gets a good 5 hour block of sleep during the night, but it seems like once I wake up at night, I'm awake for at least an hour. 

Teething has been the biggest sleep interruption, lately.  While we normally rely on massaging his gums, teething tabs and gel (now paraben free), the only time he sleeps well right now is after a dose of ibuprofen.  Luckily, Jackson's third tooth broke free today, and while the one next to it is equally swollen, we may have a day or two before that one starts to cause trouble.

The biggest improvement in Jackson's sleeping has been through reduced nighttime feedings.  Once he turned 6 months old 2 weeks ago, we stopped feeding Jackson between about 10p and 4a (he is in bed from about 6:30p to 6:30a).  As we expected, it took a bit more work- it seemed like a step backwards in the sleeping process, at first.  Because we removed on form of comfort during the night, we began picking him up and rocking him to sleep.  Since he eats less at night, he makes up for it during the day, which in turn makes the nights go better (when there's not a tooth ripping through his gums, of course).  Jason made the greatest progress to sleeping through the night without our help within a month of removing his nighttime feedings, and it looks like it has helped Jackson quite a bit, too.

Napping has improved to the point that I can put Jackson down 2 to 3 times a day, and the first might only be 30 or 45 minutes, but the late afternoon nap can last up to 2 hours, not counting having to calm him down once or twice.  While Jackson's naps get longer, though, Jason's naps are becoming more difficult.  As he nears his second birthday, Jason already has better things to do than nap, and I am not able to spend more than 10 minutes on a nap routine.  He has missed 3 naps in the past week, which makes for a fussing evening and a tired mom.

We are nearing the 6 week mark, and logic and stubbornness help get us through the night.  Since we are making progress, slowly and steadily, and we've seen the process work, most days and nights are okay.  I won't make any predictions about the next few weeks, but I am optimistic.