Wednesday, September 19, 2012

15 Months Old and Killer Transitions

It's 2p.m. and Declan just got quiet.  I'm holding my breath.

More and more every day a little piece of my desire to know all there is to know about baby sleep gets chipped off by the impossibility of this one bit: 2 to 1 nap transition.  I've talked and typed about this monumental event since he turned 13 months.  That's when it all started.

We were trucking along merrily for a few weeks with 1hr+ naps at 9am and 1pm and bedtime at 6:15pm, wake up at 7am.  It was glorious!  I had read about the transition to 1 nap and I had been forewarned about resisting the urge to rush it (which I was determined not to do) and that it was going to be a difficult few weeks or even months, no matter what.  I read that most babies don't transition until they are about 15 months old, too, so when his 2nd nap started to shorten at 13 months, I was very confused and panicky.  To make sure he didn't get overtired, I moved his bedtime earlier to 5:30.  A couple of weeks went by and the 2nd nap was short or nonexistent most days, despite my efforts.  I knew it was too early for him to go to one nap, but I joined other moms of 13 month olds on forums asking the same questions that I was. 

Now that Declan is 15 months old, I'm back on the boards.  Most days he has been refusing his morning nap, or taking it so late that there was no chance for a second nap.  Some days he will still take his two naps (like today).  I can't help but know this too shall pass, but it doesn't stop me from clamoring to find out what to do.

Do I wake him up if his nap occurs too late in order to protect his next nap or bedtime?
Should I keep offering a morning nap each day and only give him one nap if he refuses the morning one?

Should I just push him to one midday nap from here on out, brace myself, and wait for the dust to settle?

I've had lots of people tell me to push him to one nap.  It's not enough, and he's very overtired by bedtime, which makes for a rough night and early wake up. 

So our days are filled with catch 22s.  I'll probably never find the perfect solution, but it helps to have the mentality of taking each day as it presents itself.  And I'm very thankful for an easy going little boy, who's temper doesn't vary a whole lot if he has a bad day of sleep.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I got this image from  Just thought it was a wake up call (c;

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Nursing Bra Blues (Guest Post)

I finally finished my guest post for my friend over at Boosaurus!.  She blogs about bra sizing, does bra reviews, and has a special interest in smaller bands with bigger cups.  Whether or not that applies to you - if you've got boobs - check it out!  You may learn something (c:

I blogged about my experience with breastfeeding/nursing bras and tanks.  Whether you are shopping for one or you have good tips, you are welcome to check out my post and comment with your thoughts!  For more really great practical nursing bra information (and lots of things I didn't think to cover), my friend April also did a guest post, Nursing Bras: Things to Consider.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Our Routine Today

I'm always interested in knowing what a day in another person's life is like.  Maybe it's because it really says a lot about them.  It shows what is important to them.  I have also enjoyed looking back over my past blogs and remembering what days were like back then.  So, for my future self and anyone else who is curious, this is a snapshot of our days.

6:20-7:20am - Declan wakes up.  I consider it a good morning if he sleeps til close to 7 (c:  Ryan gets up and starts oatmeal in the microwave for D and I go get him and change his diaper.  Usually then Ryan will get his shower while I feed Declan breakfast.  After the babe has had his food, he is released to play while I either get ready (if we're going walking that day) or I make my own breakfast if we're staying in.

7:45am - Declan and I do the ceremonial bye-byes and kisses when Ryan leaves for work.  Then he continues playing, usually, and I check my email, get my coffee, eat my breakfast, etc.  Lately we've been walking 2 or 3 days a week, so on those days we'll leave with Ryan and head off to the trail with my water bottle and his sippy cup full of ice water or milk and armed with raisins, just in case.  On home days, after I've sufficiently moseyed around and my coffee kicks in, I'll usually do something laundry-related until around 9 when I'll keep an eye on D for signs that he's ready for his nap. 

9:15-10:00am - Declan's morning nap begins.  I put him down and go to work for my stay-at-home job.  He'll usually sleep for an hour, sometimes as much as an hour and a half.

11:00-12:00pm - Lunchtime for Declan.  Depends on his breakfast, but he'll usually want lunch at 11.  After lunch, he gets a diaper change and usually needs a good wipe-down, too.  Then he is released to play again and I go back into chores mode.

1:15-1:30pm - Declan's afternoon nap begins.  This one has been growing shorter on some days, so I'm wondering what I'll need to do to help his morning nap fade out and his afternoon nap be more solid.  I'll work again while he naps.

3:00pm - D usually needs a snack around this time.  Then he's off to play again and I do housework or get supper started.  He usually needs my attention more between 4 and 5, so I have started to just plan for that time to be with him.  Sometime we go outside so he can roam around and explore, and sometimes we play inside sorting blocks by color and reading books.  It's a happy time and I enjoy setting that aside just for us.

5:00- 5:30pm - Supper for Declan.  Ryan usually gets home while Declan is eating, and he joins us at the table and we talk.  I would really like to move toward eating meals with Declan, it's just something I have to work on prepping in advance. 

5:30 - 6:00pm - Declan gets his bath, Ryan does "Towel Time" with him.  He dries him, diapers him, pj's him, and they have lots of good giggles all the way through.  Then either Ryan or I will sit in the rocker and read him 1 or 2 of his books.

6 or 6:30pm - Into his crib by 6 or 6:30.  He gets his pacifier and a blanket, we turn on the fan and turn out the lights, then kisses and goodnight, and close the door.  He usually babbles or taps his paci on the crib rail for a few minutes, then goes to sleep.  Then Ryan and I have supper and usually watch a rerun of the Big Bang Theory.  After supper, he'll go clean the kitchen and I will work for a few more hours.  I try to go to bed by 10, but it usually is closer to 11 or midnight. 

So those are most of our days here lately.  We're busy, but we are enjoying it (c:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

11 Month Old Offspring

Declan is 11 months old now!  Since he was born, I haven't stopped being surprised and amazed at his development.  It seemed like every week, if not every day, there was something new to be proud of.  In the past 3 weeks he went from taking his first steps to being a real toddler. 

He's still sleeping pretty well, although he's kind of recovering from all of the traveling we just got home from.  Most nights he sleeps 11-13 hours straight, depending on when he goes to bed (he always wakes between 6:30-7 now - thank God it's not 6am anymore!), and taking an hour+ naps at 9am and 1pm. 

 He has recently learned to put his two lower and four upper teeth to work and take bites off of bigger foods, such as sandwiches and strawberries.  At 12 months it'll be safe for him to eat just about anything, so we can add honey and eggs to his diet.  I think we'll remain cautious with nuts, but he has probably already had them in other things since we haven't been very careful to avoid them.  For the past two days I have been giving him goat's milk in a sippy cup.  He has been losing interest in nursing for several months now, but I was determined to keep offering it to him until he was a year old.  Just in the past couple of days, I have gone from trying to nurse him 3 times a day to 2 times (morning and evening), although he hardly even tries in the evening now.  He just wants to squirm in my lap and keeps pointing to his books, wanting me to read to him instead.  I am sort of thinking of taking more of a "don't refuse, don't offer" approach to the bedtime nursing for the next week or two and see how that goes.  I'm not too sad about weaning him.  I am more worried about two long upcoming trips we have planned over the next two months and wondering if I'll wish I had kept that resource as a way to comfort or soothe him while everything else will be unfamiliar away from home.  But at the same time, maybe it will be better to have weaned him by then for the convenience. 

Not saying a lot of different words yet.  Almost everything he says is with the "m" sound.  He doesn't seem to decipher between "Mama" and "Mo" (more) since when he is demanding more food, it usually comes out as "Ma ma ma ma ma! MA!" - how to teach patience to an 11 month old?  I don't know!  When asked, he'll tell you what the cow says (Mmmmmooo!), or the dinosaur (a gravelly "Aaaarrrr!"), or the dog (Aaa!  Aaa!), or the little pigs (Eee Eee!), or the cat (a very soft whispery "Eeeooooo").  We've still been trying to get him to say "Dada" or anything with a consonant other than M, but he will just grunt softly in response.  So, that's still to come... (poor Ryan! lol)

His favorite "toy" is any blanket or item he can put over his head and play, "Where's the baby?" with.  He giggles and squeals like crazy when playing peekaboo or hiding behind the corner or furniture.  Playing with his toys is one thing he does very well, though.  He'll wander from the living room to his room, dragging toys in between, for several hours out of the day.  If I put the Toddler Radio station on Pandora in his room, he'll play in there for hours.  He loves soft squishy things like pillows, sheepskin, and a blue stuffed puppy that he has.  He hugs on and loves to bury his face in it. 

I am very thankful for what an easy baby he has been.  The acid reflux was a bump in the road.  It was difficult and scary to not know what was wrong, but I feel a lot more equipped to deal with things now, should anything else come up.  Having a chiropractor as a resource for health treatment makes me feel a lot better.  A tough diaper rash, a fussy day here and there, a little runny nose once, but so far no ear infections, fevers, stomach bugs, allergic reactions, colds, etc.  I credit breastfeeding, chiropractic care, good sleep, a little exposure to dirt here and there, a healthy appetite, and just plain old God's blessing to his wonderful health.  I hope all of our future children are this easy (one can dream, right?)!

I keep praying for God to keep me humble.  I know that pride comes before a fall (and have experienced it many times!).  I am so proud of that kid though.  His accomplishments, his adorableness, his humor, his health, and so on.  Mother's Day was just last weekend, so there are a lot of, "You're a great mom!" flying around - and while I would love to take credit for the joy that my son is to the world - (c; - I know that, truthfully, I'm just drenched in blessing.  I really don't know why God decided to make it so easy for me.  I think about the verse that says that He won't give us more than we can handle, and it makes me wonder if He knows that I can't handle a lot - lol - but seriously... I think about moms that have been through heartache with their babies.  Another topic for another time, maybe.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sleep for Newborns - 6 Weeks Old

I think some parents might find it relieving to know that it's okay if you don't want to start sleep training right away.  Maybe you feel like some crying is inevitable, but you aren't comfortable with letting your newborn, 6 week old, or even 4 month old do that just yet.  I hope that if do you feel this way, it will be encouraging to know that you can take your time and still gently ease your baby into good sleeping habits by taking advantage of the brain development milestones that occur naturally.

Less than 6 weeks old
Babies typically fall asleep at night very late and do not sleep very long during the day or night.  They have no circadian rhythms at this point so you can't set your baby to clock time yet.  Try to soothe him to sleep during the day or night before he gets overtired.  Always respond to the baby and avoid the overtired state.

After 6 weeks 
80% of babies become more settled and start sleeping longer at night (this is because of increasing brain maturity), and begin to get drowsy for bedtime at an earlier hour.  Try to start soothing earlier to facilitate this when you start to notice it.  You're still not sleep training at this point, so if you still want to go to your baby when he cries, follow your instinct.  Begin taking advantage of opportunities to put your baby down drowsy but awake.  It doesn't have to happen every nap and every night, but you will notice that sometimes it is easy to put him down and let him fall asleep on his own.  The more you can do this, the more comfortable your baby will get with falling asleep on his own in his bed.
20% of the babies who do not start settling into better sleep at night should still be soothed early, but more time should be allowed for lengthy soothing sessions.

In my opinion, a mom should not feel guilty about feeding or rocking her baby to sleep especially at this very young age.  It's natural for a baby to fall asleep while eating, so don't feel inclined to wake your baby up before putting him to bed.  Realize how important complete sleep cycles are to the developing brain, and focus on still, quiet sleep as much as possible.  Avoid waking or keeping the baby up longer than 1-2 hours.  Ideally you are able to always have the baby sleeping in his bed in a still, quiet room (this matters more and more the older they get as newborns sleep through anything!) You're not training yet, you're setting a foundation for a well-rested baby who will be better prepared for sleep training later.

Tips to set a good foundation:

• Respect and protect your baby's need to sleep.
• Anticipate and prepare for when your baby will need to sleep, the same way that you anticipate a feeding.
• Maintain brief intervals of wakefulness, a 1-2 hour max window (baby needs to be asleep by the 2 hour mark)
• Watch for drowsy cues and respond with soothing immediately.
• Start developing a bedtime routine that you can replicate in whole every night (i.e. bathtime, story, feeding, soothing, bed).
• Remember timing is key.  For those 80% of babies who start settling at 6 weeks, perfect timing produces no crying.

All this info, except what I specified as my own opinion, is paraphrased from the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's About the Hormones!

This is a little about the biological way that baby sleep works to help you unlock your own child's ability to sleep.  This is not about method, it's about arming you with knowledge.

Sleep is controlled by the brain (not the stomach!).  Melatonin is released when it's time for babies to fall asleep.  Think of it as a wave of sleepiness.  Babies have waves of sleep windows that occur throughout a 24 hour period.  So when they are kept up past that wave of tired, their bodies release cortisol from the stress of being fatigued.  (Excessive cortisol from being frequently tired does a lot of bad stuff, look it up if you're interested.)  So what you want to do is catch the wave!  Put your baby to sleep when he or she first shows sleepy signs.  Keeping them up will make it harder for them to fall and stay asleep.

999 out of 1000 times (yes this is a rough estimation), keeping your baby up later, swaddling, pacifiers, more food before bedtime, etc. will NOT fix the root of the problem (it can actually make it worse).  Whether you have a short napper, nighttime sleep troubles, difficulty getting your child to sleep, or an early waker, the answer is almost always MORE SLEEP  (Yes it sounds too good to be true, but it isn't).  The more sleep your child gets, the less the melatonin secretion is being suppressed by the cortisol and your child will start to play catch up and the sleepy signs will become more noticeable.  Once your child starts getting more sleep, you should see a dramatic difference in the length, quality, and ease of falling asleep within 4-5 days, if not sooner.

Now that you know that, maybe you can start figuring it out on your own with your method of choice.  Sometimes habits need to be broken, or schedules need to be changed, and if you still have questions or need help, please feel free to ask! 

8-10 hours of sleep a night for a baby may sound good but it is not ideal!  Your baby is more than likely capable of getting 11-12 hours in addition to one to two 1 hour+ long nap(s) - depending on the age, and probably needs that much!  I acknowledge that there are exceptions to this, but your baby is probably not it!

Other sleep posts:
Sleep for Newborns - 6 Weeks
Is Your Baby Overtired?
Sleeping Through The Night?
4-8 Month Old Naps
Crashing II

I am not a sleep consultant.  I just want to collect and organize my reading and experience with my own child to help myself and others find solutions to help their child sleep.  I have a passion for seeing a family enjoying life together because they are rested.  I think that when a person is relieved from the burden of fatigue, they are able to function in a way that is truer to their very best. 

Imagine how much more that means to a baby

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

9 Months Old: It Feels Like We Have Arrived

So much has happened with Declan over the past few months.  And apparently there was a lot going on with me and I haven't had time to update my blog and tell the world.  Declan started crawling at 7 1/2 months, and days after, started pulling up and cruising too.  It all happened so fast!  Maybe that's why I'm busier...hmmm...

Teeth Update
He has had 2 bottom teeth for a while now (I may have already blogged about that?) and he's just started working on his two uppers.  The gums have been swollen for a day or two and I just noticed before I put him down for his nap how red one of them is.  He is still all smiles though.  Teething has never been hard for him.  I blamed a lot of his extra fussy times on teething and we often gave him Tylenol when he probably didn't need it.  "Teething" has never disrupted his sleep, thank God.  I like to think that it's because he's rested and we've trained him well how to sleep.  I'll get to that later though... you know I will.

He vocalizes a lot, saying "ma ma ma ma" and "ga ga" and more recently loud squawking.  Still working on "da da."

His sense of humor is coming out.  He likes to make us laugh with his funny faces and playing, "Nighttime, Daytime!" and "Where's the Baby?"  He gives me hugs a lot, and sometimes open-mouthed kisses on the cheek.  He's stingy with hugs when it comes to other people, though.  I think the only other people he has shared them with are Ryan and Aunt Ruthie.

The past two weeks I have relaxed a lot on what I give him to eat.  I was following the 4 day rule: introduce a new food and wait 4 days before introducing another one in order to check for allergies.  Thankfully, we haven't had any allergic reactions despite my sudden lack of carefulness.  I am still not giving him any nuts, honey, and we're avoiding eggs, although he does get it in breads and probably other things I don't think about.  I'll ban those until he's a year old.  Anyway, so he's pretty much eating miniature versions of what we're eating.  I'm trying to give him lots of practice with self-feeding.  It's kinda tough though because of the mess (c:  Oh well.

I am still nursing him 4-5 times a day.  He's become very difficult to nurse and doesn't seem interested most of the time.  It started out as him stopping to give me a hug or smile at me.  Then it went to stopping to make a funny face or trying to get into a crawling position while still nursing.  At the back of my mind I wondered if I should discourage these interruptions, but we were both enjoying them and laughing so much that it became one of our favorite parts of the day.  I asked other moms what they thought and nobody seemed to think I should stop him, so I let it go on.  Now, he's wanting to switch so frequently or crawl off and play, then get upset when I assume he's done, that it's become a hassle.  I've started to think that maybe he's not getting enough.  I would be more worried, but I was planning on weaning him at 1  year.  I know they don't often wean themselves before 1 year, but it wouldn't be hard to head that direction if I wanted to.  We'll keep trying for 3 more months though.  Any thoughts on this?

Acid Reflux and Chiropractic Treatment
I'm so happy to report that his reflux has not made a comeback at all.  There were a couple of days in which he was extra fussy and spitty.  I still don't know what that was about - could have been a relapse.  I was very grumpy and got depressed during that time, not knowing what to do next if the reflux was back.  Thankfully it only lasted a couple of days.  Maybe it was something he ate, maybe he was overtired, maybe we'll just blame it on the mysterious "catch all" - teething.  He had more vertebral sublaxation than normal at his previous visit 10 days ago, but he had fewer at his appointment this morning.  Dr. Adams said it was probably due to his pulling up and plopping on his bottom that was throwing his spine out of whack more than normal.  Anyway, it was a good report today, and I have a happy baby to go along with it so... yay!  We go again in 2 weeks.

And now, my update on  his sleep.  I save the best for last (c:  It has taken a long time for us to get over the overtired hump.  It's a crazy uphill battle, but we're there, finally.  More often than not, Declan takes two 1 - 1.5 hour naps a day, and he's now sleeping 12-13 hours a night.  Last night he went to bed at 6:30pm, woke up around 5am to eat, and went back to bed until I woke him at 7:45 (not sure how much longer he would have slept).  I am pretty sure that's a new record for him.

After all of the frustration and going back and forth, what ended up being the best things for us was:

  • The Nap Hour - leaving him to sleep, cry, or play for an hour at naptime no matter what - no exceptions.  Naptime is at 9am and 1pm (biological sleep windows for most babies age 4-8 months).
  • Inadvertently teaching him to self-soothe.  I was still rocking him to sleep a couple of weeks ago when he started to squirm and fuss in my arms every time I started rocking.  This got frustrating for me so I just started to put him in his crib when this happened.  To my surprise, he'd go to sleep minutes after I left the room.  So I started to skip the rocking and just put him in his bed.  He usually cries for a few minutes and goes to sleep.  I saw an improvement in both the length of his naps and his nighttime sleep once I did this.
  • Choosing an appropriately early bedtime - His sweet spot is between 6:15 and 6:30.  It's not too early or too late.  The night goes smoothly and I usually have to wake him the following morning to maintain our schedule.  
Starting tonight, we're going to work on sleeping through the night.  He's still taking one feeding, but it's moving later and later most nights.  And he's skipped it a few times, so I think he just needs a little nudge to get him sleeping 12-13 hours straight.  I'd let him sleep longer but I think we're already pushing the limitations of his diaper... (c;

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Is Your Baby Overtired?

"I don't let my child's naps hinder
me from doing my grocery shopping!"
Sleep is under-emphasized in our society.  We burn the candle at both ends.  We work weekends.  Yet our kids are important to us, too, so we tote them around, taking them with us to Wal-mart at all times of the day and night and bringing them along to parties.  The general consensus is that you've got a "good sleeper" if your kid will crash anywhere.

The problem with this is the quality of sleep.  In a nutshell, sleep is a complicated state that occurs best when it's the right time.  Fluctuating hormones cause us all to enter sleep states and wake states throughout a 24 hour period (see the Napping Window).  It is possible to put a child to sleep during a wake state (although it will probably take a long time!) but because of the increased cortisol hormone, the sleep will not be as deep and the sleep period will probably be short.

All of that to say that, after 4 months of age, a routine helps to train a child's body when it's time to sleep. 

Just as important as the timing is the place.  Although she looks completely zonked, a soft blanket and a shopping cart are no substitute for her bed.  You're familiar with sleep cycles, right?  Fall asleep, get deeper into sleep, cycle up to a lighter sleep state, and then without waking, go back into a deeper sleep.  Many cycles per night.  The reason that still, quiet sleep is the most restorative is because the motion and the noise hinder getting into that deep sleep state.  Her mind is not able to rest.

I don't want to make anyone mad, but I do think that parents are sadly unaware of some facts about their child's sleep.  First of all, some things I've heard parents say.

•  My child just isn't the type to conform to a sleep routine.
•  My child doesn't need as much sleep as other children.
•  Our family is on the go.  It's best if our child just gets used to it now!

If you've found yourself thinking or saying something like this before, please consider some of these symptoms of over tiredness in babies and young children.

•  Waking grumpy vs. happy
•  Unable to play happily by themselves during their wake time
He crashed.  Kinda funny, but
really just kinda sad.
•  Unexplained fussing
•  Yawning or rubbing eyes a lot
•  Fidgety or spazzy
•  Easily startled
•  Irregular sleep patterns
•  Fights naps and/or bedtime
•  Random unexplained night wakings
•  Complains of headache or stomach ache
•  Seemingly not tired when you know they should be
•  Waking within minutes after being put down for a nap
•  Crashing randomly

Imagine what it feels like when you haven't gotten enough sleep.  Miserable, right?  What's work like the day after you haven't gotten enough sleep?  I'll skip to the chase because I think you get my drift.  A bad attitude and a hard-to-pin-down schedule today are the least of your concerns when your child is sleep deprived.  Weissbluth writes, "Small but constant deficits in sleep over time tend to have escalating and perhaps long-term effects on brain function."  Not to mention the affect sleep has on health.  Some long-term affects of a child who does not get healthy sleep can be decreased mental focus, insomnia, ADD and ADHD.  People take medicine and suffer from these ailments that might have never occurred had they been getting enough sleep.

Eliminating a child's sleep deficit is not easy, but anything you can do to help your child get more sleep (the right kind of sleep... still, quiet, consolidated, and regular) will benefit their health and development.  If you want to get started, you know the book I'll recommend.  I love to talk about this stuff (can you tell?) so please let me know if I can be of any support.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Declan's Chiropractor Visit #2

Just got back from Declan's second visit with Dr. Adams.  He adjusted him again and talked to me about what the last couple of days have been like.  He also looked at the 66 pictures I brought him on a thumb drive at his request.

First of all, the past couple of days have been surprisingly normal.  The reason it's surprising is because Declan has not had any Prevacid since Monday morning.  The last time that we took him off of his medicine was after my 4 weeks of dairy elimination (around Thanksgiving).  After he missed his 2nd dose (less than 24 hours), he had a very rough night.  He was gagging and gushing during his feeding that evening, and then he was up every 2 or 3 hours.  I can just assume it was heartburn.  The next day we put him back on it and went on as normal, so I know he was still experiencing symptoms at that point.  So, the decision to take him off of it after Monday's appointment was a cautiously optimistic one. 

Declan recently started sleeping 12-13 hours at night (before we took him off of the Prevacid).  I was a little worried this progress would be damaged if we took him off, but he's maintaining it.  (phew!)  That is the "big one" in terms of indications that his first adjustment helped something.  He's also spitting and spewing less (although it's not completely eliminated).  So, he's either finally outgrowing his acid reflux this week or the adjustments are helping (c:

While looking at Declan's pictures, Dr. Adams said that Declan definitely had birth trauma.  I wasn't expecting to hear that.  When I was picking out the pictures, I looked closely but I didn't think I saw any strong trend of a tilted head.  These are a few that he pointed out in particular:

Turned to the left

Turned to the left

Turned to the left

Turned to the right but slight tilt to the left

He said this was one of the most telling pictures because he's holding his own head, camera is dead center in front of him, and there's still a tilt to the left.

Tilt to the left

Slight turn to the left

Tilt to the left

Turned to the right but tilted to the left

He said that Declan definitely had birth trauma, but it isn't so obvious in more recent pictures because he has gained neck strength.  He said we still might notice it when Declan starts to get tired. 

Now Dr. Adams wants us to have 3 more appointments over the next month and he'll re-examine, but he feels like Declan will be reflux free by then.  He said some kids do take longer but he doesn't think that will be Declan based on the progress we've already seen.

I am playing devil's advocate in my head, just because I don't like to be a sucker.  And because Ryan is a little skeptical of my whole "Chiropractors are Magical" theory.  Declan very well could be outgrowing his reflux on his own (most babies do it by 12-18 months old).  Financially, is it the right decision to go on with adjustments?  After 3 more appointments, we'll have spent $250.  Declan's Prevacid is almost $60 a month.  If he's going to deal with reflux til he's a year old and need the Prevacid, we'll come out even by treating it now.  If he's outgrowing it on his own at almost 8 months old, then we're "wasting" our money. 

I like to think of the unknown things we may be treating, though, by correcting his vertebral sublaxation.  A healthy spinal column enables the body to heal itself, and also allows for optimal immunity.  I don't know if it's a proper way to look at it, but I think adjustments are kind of like a tune-up?  It's preventative maintenance, too.  That is hard to put a price on since we don't know what the future holds.  Financial isn't the only angle to consider, but unfortunately it's a big factor.  It has to make sense to Ryan.

Would love to hear arguments either way if you've got an opinion.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Declan's First Visit to the Chiropractor

I took Declan to his first appointment with Dr. Adams, a local chiropractor who also has a degree in Pediatrics, this morning.  I got a lot of encouragement from my friends for looking into alternate treatment for him.  Some people were confused.  I think that, despite how awesome and practical the work that chiropractors do, it is really, really misunderstood.  Somebody needs to promote them.  I'm doing my part!

The reason I am having Declan see a chiropractor is mostly for treatment of his acid reflux, but I also know that keeping his spine in alignment will "fix" or prevent other problems that we may never even know about.  The list of ailments that preventing vertebral sublaxation can prevent is extensive.  Common things that you might take your child (or yourself) to the doctor for, like ear infections, unexplained crying, growing pains, poor concentration, allergic reactions, digestive problems, etc. are very successfully treated by a chiropractor.  I learned a new term today... (did you see me use it in a sentence? (c;)

vertebral sublaxation

"A lesion or dysfunction in a joint or motion segment in which alignment, movement integrity and/or physiological function are altered, although contact between joint surfaces remains intact. It is essentially a functional entity, which may influence biomechanical and neural integrity."

Thanks, Wikipedia.

So I learned a lot.  I wish I had taken notes!  He asked me a lot of questions, then examined him with a thermo-sensor thingie.  Declan wiggled too much to get a good shot, but he got a good look at his neck vertebra and could see some sublaxation there, including a big bad one up by his head.  He adjusted him.  Declan cried a little on the first adjustment.  Dr. Adams said it wasn't supposed to hurt, but it must have been a pretty sore spot. 

He showed me on a model how Declan's esophagus might be being squeezed when his head is turned to one side.  That explains why Declan prefers nursing from one side as opposed to the other.  He also held him upside down by his feet (!!!) and then let go of one leg.  He said he was checking to see if Declan's head would turn the opposite way.  He tested both legs and it only worked on one side.  So there must have been something else out. 

He also told me that the Prevacid that Declan is on (which neutralizes the stomach acid) might be causing more harm than good.  I told him about how sometimes Declan was still spitting up when it was time for his next feeding, sometimes 3 or 4 hours after his last meal.  This confused me a lot because I know that babies' stomachs should be empty 2 hours after their last meal, especially with breast milk (it is very quickly and easily digested).  The Prevacid might actually be causing that problem because it is inhibiting the acid from digesting the food.  (A while back our pediatrician wanted to put Declan on a medicine that would speed digestion.  I didn't do it because I read on the Internet that it was a dangerous medicine.  Black-labeled by the FDA!).  So he would have been on 2 medicines and one of them would just be to "fix" the problem that the other one was causing!

Dr. Adams could not tell me to take Declan off of the Prevacid, but he did say that it might be hard to tell if the adjustments were working if his symptoms were masked.  It's my goal to get him off of the medicine, anyway, so I'm going for it! 

Before our visit was over, he had the receptionist take a picture of him and Declan.  This is cute and sentimental and all, but he also does it to track visual progress of his patients.  He actually asked me to bring in 50-100 pictures of Declan from birth to present in order to examine trends in his posture and how he holds his head.  He said he might be able to decipher if his sublaxation is a result of birth trauma.  So I have a fun project ahead for Thursday!  Dr. Adams also had me bring in Declan's carseat and he showed me some problem areas on it and told me what I can do to make it better for Declan's spine.  Awesome!

After the adjustments, the doctor said it's not uncommon for babies to take a 4-5 hour nap, or have a big diaper, haha.  Well, he just woke up from his 45 minute nap, so much for that.  Anyway, we have a follow-up on Thursday and he might get examined and adjusted again.  I should add that the examinations and consultation on kids is free, so if you're in the area and are curious about seeing if your child might benefit from a chiropractor (I tend to believe it's great for overall wellness, not just for treating problems), it couldn't hurt to check it out!  The adjustment cost was $50.  Financially, it was an easy decision for us (his Prevacid costs $60 a month!).  A small price to pay for my son's health, especially when it's medicine-free (no negative side affects!), and it allows for his body to heal itself.  I'll be making appointments for Ryan and I, too (c:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

STTN: The Loaded Question

"How is your little one sleeping?"

Is it just me, or when this question is asked amongst new moms it's almost like a test.  Sleeping through the night (STTN).  It's like the ultimate trophy for new moms.  If you've got it, you must be some kind of awesome (in other words, some kind of heartless woman who can let their baby cry it out -- aka I'm jealous of you now).  If you don't, you must be exhausted, you poor thing!

I avoid asking the question because I am afraid of my tendency to spew advice before it is asked for.  I'm in an awkward place where I don't have credentials or experience -- let alone a perfectly sleeping baby --  to give me any right to go telling other moms what they could be doing better.  I just have a passion, an awesome book, some reading I've done on the Internet, and a bunch of experiments I've run on my own kid.

Anyway, that's my disclaimer, and this is just my opinion.  I think it's awesome if your baby sleeps through the night.  I wouldn't mind it if Declan decided to start doing it tonight.  He used to for 11 blessed weeks.  I took them for granted... but that's beside the point.  I was very thankful to learn from Weissbluth that it's perfectly healthy and normal for babies 6 weeks - 9 months to have 1 or 2 night feedings.  What a load off!  That made me kinda realize that there is a lot of pressure from the American culture to get your baby sleeping through the night as soon as possible.  It's a big challenge.  Sure, I'd prefer that he slept 10-12 hours straight instead of waking up about 7hrs in to eat, but knowing that he's not "behind" really makes it not so bad.  At least for me.

Hoping it takes the pressure off of you.  If your baby is waking once or twice to eat and going right back to sleep, you've got it good.  Realize that the pressure you might feel is coming from our demanding, competitive culture, don't let it bother you if your baby isn't sleeping through the night.  Just my two cents (c:

When Declan was about 9 months and 1 week old, I used extinction to eliminate the night feeding.  It took about 4 nights of consistently not going to him, or having Ryan go in to check on him if he was really worked up), and he then started sleeping 11-13 hours straight through pretty consistently.  Every so often he'll fuss in the night - sometimes all-out cry.  This is usually because he is overtired from a couple of non-routine days.  Other times I have no idea why he does it.  Usually if I wait 10 minutes before going to him, he goes back to sleep for the rest of the night.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Napping Window

This info is for a baby 4-8 months old.

If your baby isn't sleeping as well or as much as you think he or she should, then you're probably always searching for something else to try.  You're clinging to hope that maybe this is the key.  If you're like me, you optimistically go ahead and make yourself a to-do list for next week because you just know you're going to have all of this free time to kill while your baby sleeps.

In case you don't know, my Declan (7 months old) is was a serial cat napper.  He would take four to five 30-45 minute naps a day.  Not only was this frustrating because I'm supposed to be working from home, but I knew deep down that it wasn't healthy.  I know that consolidated sleep is best (did you know that?) and that 30 minutes is like 1 sleep cycle... no bueno. 

The past couple of days I learned some more.  Short naps can be an indicator of over tiredness.  How did I miss that one?  I guess I didn't think that falling short of the recommended 14 hours minimum of sleep for his age by just an hour (he was getting about 13 hours in a 24 hour period... on good days) would still have him being so overtired that it would affect him this way.  But I'm here to say that almost enough sleep is not good enough!  The deficit, no matter how tiny you may think it is, can still cause sleep problems (like short naps, or night wakings... check, check).

So now I have something for you to try!  (Get your to-do lists ready (c;)

If your routine is loose, like, your baby is napping at different times every day (outside of a 30 minute flex range), then you may feel like you don't have a good idea of when your baby naturally grows tired.  Or maybe you feel like you do.  Either way, consider this:  very common nap windows occur at 9am and 1pm.  If your baby sleeps past 7-7:30am-ish, you might want to consider waking him or her at 7 each day in order to maintain a routine.  I know, I know, it hurts if you are accustomed to sleeping in.  But if your little one is having sleep problems, think of it as part of the solution.  Feed, play with, change your baby, etc.  But at about 8:45am, start soothing your baby down for the first nap.  Your baby probably won't seem tired at this time, but understand that you are trying to catch them before they get too tired.  When a baby gets too far into the "tired zone," their bodies release hormones to keep them awake.  That's why they fight sleep if they're overtired. "It's not logical, it's biological."  Whenever Declan fights his naps, I know it's because I waited too long to put him down.  So, the goal is to get them to sleep as close to 9am as possible. 

Over a couple of days of trying this, you may find that your baby needs to take his/her naps earlier or (be careful with this one) later.  9am and 1pm are common nap windows, but it's up to you to tell if that needs some tailoring.  For Declan, 9am and 1pm happen to work great, although he has been fighting his 1pm nap for the past 2 days, I might try to put him down at 12:45 (start soothing at 12:35) today.

Focusing on these nap windows has Declan taking 1hr 15min (sometimes longer) naps at 9am and 1pm.  I also give him another nap at 4:30pm which is ideally an hour, but it is preferable that the baby has an early bedtime rather than a 3rd nap.  We have found, at least for now, that Dec won't go down for the night unless he goes to sleep at 8pm, not a minute earlier.  I suspect that he's too overtired to calm down by then, so my plan is to get him rested up through our new improved nap routine and then try an earlier bedtime in a week or two. 

As always with baby sleep, when you're trying something new give it 4 days.  After trying it consistently for 4 days, you'll know if it's working or not.  Don't be surprised (but you're welcome to be impressed) if better naps help nighttime sleep, too!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Giving Him the First Year, My Practice of Mothering

Sarah at Emerging Mummy asked her readers to share their practices of mothering.  She has a really awesome series on her own practices.  I loved the idea, but I didn't think I would submit anything myself.  It came to me today.  Ryan, my husband, was reminding me of a principle my great-grandmother talked to him about over Christmas: give them the first year.  My great-grandmother (My 7 1/2 month old son Declan's great-great at 89 years old!) was a little bit of an entrepreneur.  She had consignment shops, a house cleaning service, and she was involved at church over the years.  When she was a young mother, though, she put these things on hold to focus on her babies. 

I think about this principle whenever I feel outside pressure to compromise Declan's schedule.  For our family, giving him the first year translates to staying home a lot.  Babies need more sleep than most people (Americans?) think.  His feeding, nap, and bedtime routines are very important to me in order to maintain his comfort and sense of security.  I want to rock him in his nursery and for him to be able to sleep in his own bed, still and quiet and clean in a fresh diaper with his blanket and his white noise; I want him to know where he is when he wakes; I want him to know that I'll come to him with big smiles when he finishes a good nap.  These things are his to rely on and he can feel that all is safe and normal.

There are things that Ryan and I miss out on because of our dedication (some may call it obsession) to our son's routine.  We do make allowances for specific occasions and on Sundays for church (our service meets in the evening).  Although it would be nice to have more flexibility to run errands, have dinner parties with friends, or do other evening church functions, we believe we are doing something more important.  I don't know many other people with young babies that give up their pre-baby lifestyle.  I understand that decision and sadly I think it's a strong aspect of Western culture, but I can't honestly say I support it (even though it's none of my business).  My husband and I believe that through this temporary sacrifice (which, let's face it, is just the beginning -- you're a parent by the way!), he will grow into a healthier, happier, smarter, and self-controlled child.

7 Months Old: All But Crawl

We're 7 months into this deal.  In case you haven't noticed, I've been making an effort to note the developmental advances he's made and record some of the things I want to remember about him at each monthly milestone.  It's already fun and eye-opening to look back at how he has changed.  I don't have a real baby book, so I'm sure one day I'll find some way to preserve these entries.

At 7 months old, he's not quite crawling.  Since the week before Christmas he has been experimenting with getting up on his knees and rocking back and forth.  More recently he spends most of his tummy time like this, whereas before it was pretty infrequent.  As of last Friday, I saw him go from this position to sitting.  I wasn't expecting this to happen before crawling, but I'm so glad because most of the time he prefers to sit instead of be on his tummy.  So now he has the ability to do it without my help (c: 

In addition to that skill, he's shown a lot of interest in pulling up.  He tries to pull up on our dining room chairs, the couch, his crib, dresser, or changing table, and of course reaches for our kneecaps when we get close enough.  He's gaining strength and confidence to make his limbs do what he wants them to.

Vocally, he's still a chatterbox when he gets going.  He likes to repeat, "RaRaRaRaRa" among other things.  He has taken to squealing/screaming/screeching/chirping really loud.  So loud and repeatedly I sometimes want to apologize to our downstairs neighbors who have two babies.  Usually the outbursts are with joy, but he sometimes uses them to express frustration.  Like if he's sitting in his high chair while I get his food ready and he's getting impatient.  One of the funniest things he does is clench his gums, open his eyes really wide and raise his eyebrows, and hold his breath while he turns red and clenches his fists.  I have no idea what this is about... I think he just likes the look of bewilderment on my face when he does it.

Over Christmas I transitioned him back to 2 solids feedings a day.  I know that what time of day he eats what doesn't matter to him, but I like giving him fruit and cereal in the morning and veggies in the evening (c: The fruits he has tried are just bananas and plain applesauce.  He usually eats those with blended up oatmeal.  It has taken longer than I thought it would, but he has come to love these.  The veggies he has tried are carrots, green peas, green beans, acorn squash, broccoli, spinach, and most recently, avocado.  I have some yellow squash in the fridge that he'll try next.  When he tries something new, it's always with a grimace and a gag, at least on the first few bites.  The only exception has been spinach.  Surprisingly, he took to that like it was his everyday favorite from the first bite.  He'll eat it cold, too (ew!).

This month I have finally managed to make myself stick to a schedule (mostly, anyway) when it comes to his sleep.  I would have thought, knowing myself and how I like to make lists and schedules, that this would have happened on its own long ago.  The problem is that even if things are going good, I have to wonder if a change would make it even better, so I change it up.  And we get thrown off.  So the past few weeks this is the schedule I've been keeping.

6:30-7am - His wakeup.  If he wakes up earlier he has to stay in bed til then.  If he is still asleep past 7:15 or so I wake him up.  The vast majority of mornings he wakes around 7am though.  I give him his medicine first thing.

8:00am - Nurse

8:30am - Fruit and Cereal

9:00am - Nap#1.  Finally these are stretching out to be an hour or more.

11:30am - Nurse

1pm - Nap#2.  Ideally, an hour or more.  Unfortunately though this one is still often short (30min).  I have been letting him cry for up to an hour.  Once he went back to sleep for another 45 min.  It's really frustrating when this one is short because a third nap comes at a really awkward time and can interfere with his bedtime.

3:00pm - Nurse

4pm - Variable Nap#3

6:00pm - Medicine

6:30pm - Nurse

7:00pm - Veggies

7:15pm - Bath

7:45pm - Nurse

8:00pm - Bedtime

Then he'll usually wake up around 2 or 3am for another feeding.

There are still improvements to be made.  His naps are still too short, and his bedtime is still too late.  This isn't just my opinion - short naps are indicative of over tiredness.  His bedtime was earlier - we tried for over 2 weeks to get him to go to bed at 7.  The problem was not getting him to sleep, it was getting him to stay asleep.  But I know that those wakeups that came after the earlier bedtime are also an indication of not getting enough sleep.  I know it sounds crazy.  But babies his age need at least 14 hours of sleep, and he's only getting about 13 on good days.  It doesn't sound like a big gap, but that hour or more that he doesn't get every day is what is causing the problems that we're having.  Most people don't realize how much sleep babies actually need.

I found a Godsend, Weissbluth has a blog.  While he can't answer all of the questions himself, there are a lot of moms on there who are extremely helpful. 

Babies Declan's age who are successfully on the Weissbluth method go to bed before 6pm, have 1 or 2 wake ups for night feedings, sleep until 6-7am, and take 2-3 solid (1-2hr) naps per day.  The bedtime is early, and yes, it does limit what we can do in the evenings a lot.  Our church meets at night.  We had determined a long time ago that Sunday nights would be an exception, a night where he could stay up later.  But now I'm wanting to get back into doing the Women's Bible Study on Wednesday nights, as well as Zumba on Thursday nights.  So it is a conflict.

I am having to remember a few principles.  One is that it is important to protect the sleep schedule.  Now that he's older, I don't have to be home all the time.  The time between his 2nd nap (once he drops the 3rd nap) and bedtime will be a great time to get him out of the house, but we'll need to be back in time to get him in bed.  The second principle is one that my Great Grandmother taught me - to give them the first year.  As a mom, you really give them more than that, but it is helpful for staying strong and justifying your "strange behavior" to others when they don't understand why you don't want to go out after 6pm.  I have been accused of "not living."  That's not it at all.  It's just that I am giving Declan the first year.  I'm trying to set him up to be well-rested, comfortable, secure.  I'm trying to give him good sleeping and eating habits that he will hopefully carry for the rest of his life. 

Anyway, I have a small soapbox for this.  Maybe I'll express myself fully in another entry.  For now, my little boy is asleep and I should be too.  Goodnight (c: