Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ways to Make My Baby Not Hate You

1. Don't hold him like a baby.
Reclining is for babies, Jude thinks he's a grown-up and hates being reminded that he isn't. He's been this way since birth. His butt should be pointed toward the floor, nestled in your palm or on your arm and his head should be shoulder height or higher to promote maximum contentment.

2. If you're playing with him, make sure he knows that.
Don't just toss him into the air unexpectedly. Don't just start manhandling his ribs, knees, and neck trying to tickle him; start off slow and ramp up to full on tickling. Shit just suddenly happening to a baby kind of freaks them out.

3. Smile. Even if you're pissed or sad.
Babies pick up on facial expressions to an impressive degree. If you look angry, even if you're offering him food or playing with him, he's going to pick up on that and be upset about it. Same thing if you look sad, or have no facial expression at all. Look up Still Face Experiments on Youtube for examples.

4. Give him your full attention.
Sometimes he wants to play on his own. Sometimes he wants your full attention. Always assume the latter. Only once you are sure it's the former, should you feel free to disengage and tend to whatever else. He may act a lot like a puppy, but he is a human being and he demands (and deserves) respect. Plopping him in front of his toys and walking away doesn't display any. If you NEED to do something that's another matter, but if you just want to watch TV, read a book, or look at the Internet -- it can wait.

5. If you hurt his tiny little feels, apologize.
Babies are just developing their emotions. It is important if you've hurt their feelings to reassure them that you are sorry about it. Even if the reason their feelings were hurt is asinine. Like you made a mad face at the cat and he thought you were making a mad face at him. Your job as an adult is to make it better. Apologize, explain to him you aren't angry at him.

6. If you hurt him accidentally, comfort him.
Maybe he bonked his head on your chin or maybe he scratched himself on your fingernail, chances are the reason he's in pain is mostly his fault. Comfort him anyway. Don't minimalize his ouchies because it's his own fault. He's a baby. Just hug him and assure him it'll feel better in a minute.

7. It's breakfast/lunch/dinner time, feed him.
He eats at 10:00AM, 3:00PM, and 7:00PM. You should begin preparing his meals an appropriate amount of time in advance so that they will be ready or near ready at these times. He may be a baby but he is remarkable at keeping time when it comes to when food should enter his body. If you're late he's going to be displeased about it.

8. It's nap time, stfu and let him sleep.
He has a hard time falling asleep during the day and a difficult time staying that way. He naps at 11:00AM and usually again around 4:00PM. At these times it is your duty not to distract him by being a loud ass. If he doesn't get at least one two hour nap undisturbed, he's going to be a cranky miser until bed time. Don't complain if it's your fault. This is also applicable for the first hour of sleep during bed time.

9. He wants to be picked up, pick him up.
Babies have little understanding of the difference between a want and a need. Sometimes they want to be picked up, sometimes they need to be picked up. They don't know the difference. They become unhinged if they want something and you don't provide because they are convinced they need whatever it is or bad things will happen. Once they become more mobile on their own this won't be a problem anymore. You can't 'spoil' them.

10. Sometimes Mom is the only answer.
Sometimes something happens that only Mommy can fix. Even if you've fixed it before doesn't guarantee that you can fix it again. Every now and then the only solution is Mommy. Just hand him back to me. Don't stubbornly try to make it better yourself because for every minute he doesn't go back to Mommy his distress and subsequent crying only gets worse. I won't be judging you if you can't make it all better. I understand it's isn't anything you did wrong. If I'm not there for whatever reason, feel free to call me back. It's cool. I get it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Homemade Baby Food or Prepackaged?

This isn't a debate about which is better for your little one. While I prefer preparing my own food for baby at home using fresh bought ingredients, I totally understand not everyone has the time or desire to do that every day. Nutritionally, they are about on par. That's not what this is about though.

I know many people think their baby is a picky eater, refusing to eat certain foods outright. And that may well be the case, however consider the following before throwing in the towel:

While the majority of Jude's food is homemade, we do have prepackaged foods on hand in case of emergency. We may have run out of fruit, veggies, or something to mix them with. The food processor may be on the fritz. Whatever the case, once in a while I pull out a jar of baby food from the cupboard for him. Usually he makes a face, but eats it anyway.

But not green beans.

Up until recently this has been his only encounter with green beans and his reaction was strongly against. He would fuss after a bite, outright cry after three bites, and absolutely refuse to open his mouth anymore after five bites -- for anything, whether it was something he loved (yams!) or more green beans. You couldn't pry that little mouth open with a crowbar. He would rather go to bed hungry than eat green beans or any food that had the misfortune of sharing a plate with green beans. "He just doesn't like green beans," I thought.

Until last night.

Last night Aaron made fresh green beans for him and while he wasn't crazy about them like he is about yams or bananas, he not only ate them without incident. He enjoyed them! So, to all you Mama's out there who think you've got a picky eater on hand, try making your little one's problem foods homemade and see if that helps. Expanding the taste buds young is important. Good diet starts in the first years, so the more good-for-them foods they'll tolerate early on, the better! It's worth a shot.

Just steam 'em up and mash 'em. Most foods are soft enough that you don't need a fancy blender or food processor to make them baby-ready, those things just make it quicker.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Babies V. Puppies

When I first announced my pregnancy I heard a lot of comments from family and friends about how different taking care of a baby would be from taking care of a dog or a cat. How much harder it would be, and so much more demanding. I'm sure some of you have heard similar, whether it was when you were pregnant or merely when you brought up that you were trying for a baby.

In my case everyone was saying taking care of a baby would be harder than taking care of Neelix, my 25 lb. 3' tall cat. He's not fat, just huge. One conversation in particular, where I was saying Neelix was actually great practice for motherhood the other participant said, "Yeah, but you've never had to clean poop all the way from his butt to his head."

To which I had to laugh and retort, "Yes I have." The cat suffers from a number of issues. He needs to be bathed because he cannot reach all his own parts due to his size, he has a sensitive tummy so if I'm not very diligent in timing and preparation his meals he'll wind up exploding into poop, he has allergies that require he takes antihistamine pills twice a day, and he is afraid of the dark. Just to name a few. But I digress.

Now, don't get me wrong, particularly in the first few months taking care of a baby is extremely taxing both physically and emotionally. That generally has less to do with the baby though and more to do with the after effects of labor and the transition from being with child to with child. It's a monumental adjustment. Before your baby arrived you probably had all sorts of expectations and predictions and you're bound to find out you were drastically wrong about some or all of them. This can take some getting used to, like living with a tiny dependent stranger. But that's another topic entirely.

Once you're adjusted to raising another human being it actually parallels raising a puppy pretty accurately though. It needs to be fed, bathed, cuddled to sleep, and talked to. It will go to the bathroom at inopportune times and you'll be cleaning up after it. It will make messes, some small, some enormous and you'll be responsible for cleaning those up too. You need to teach it things. It will need its own space and toys. You will be responsible for keeping it safe from harm. It will be curious about everything and you'll have to watch it constantly so that it doesn't choke or drown or get carried off by an eagle. You're "on the clock" even when it's asleep.

So what's the difference between raising a puppy and raising a baby? The baby is actually less work overall. After a few years it will become a more independent being, capable of doing many things by itself. It will no longer poop wherever it wants to. It can clean up its own messes. It will be out of the house for several hours a day attending school. It will be able to communicate with you using English.

A dog on the other hand will always require your constant attention. You're left guessing what the hell is wrong because it can't tell you. It never leaves the house without you. It cannot feed or bath itself, or do anything other than run, chew things, and bark without your help. You are solely responsible for cleaning up all of its messes and feces for the duration of its life, which for most large dogs is about seventeen years. Basically the length of time you're responsible for a child. Except at the end of those eighteen years (barring unforeseen tragedy) the child will go on to amaze you into adulthood; the dog will just make you sad because it will have died after all that time and emotion invested.

So really if it comes between collecting "fur babies" or just having a real one, you're better off just having a real one. That said, taking care of a pet is great practice for taking care of an infant human. I would suggest anyone intending to have children raise a pet first. It will really prepare you for the commitment, frustration, and rewards of caring exclusively for another life. If you cannot take care of a pet that doesn't mean you'll be a terrible parent and should never have kids, just that you should probably hold off a while. It is a big responsibility and time makes a world of difference.

Friday, June 14, 2013

8 Months Old: Daily Schedule

A lot of people are curious, due to previous posts, how the Little Duck and I fill our day lately. Now that he is older, it's a lot easier! Upon beginning solids he immediately needed to be carried around less, freeing up my hands to get a little housework and me time. Not a lot, mind, but enough that I didn't feel like a pouchless Kangaroo anymore. Jude even settled into a fairly routine schedule, something which he had fallen out of at four months, for whatever mysterious baby reason.

So just what do we do? Our day still begins fairly early as no matter what Jude will not sleep past 7:00AM in his crib. If I desire anymore sleep after that point, I must scoop him up and bring him into bed with me. Which isn't so bad. Then it's hit or miss, he'll either fall back asleep and we'll doze until 9:00AM, or there will be some sort of distraction (Aaron, cats, neighbors) and he'll get too curious to go back to sleep and we begin our day. So our starting time varies but the rest of the day is fairly uniform.

Wake up!
Jude swings and watches Sesame Street while I hop in the shower.
Nursing and cuddles.
Playtime on the floor with Mommy!
Breakfast (1/2 a banana, 1/2 a pear, and 1/4 cup of oatmeal).
Playtime on the floor while Mommy tidies up nearby.
Nursing and then nap time!
Playtime in the play pen with Daddy!
Lunch (1 whole peach mixed with 1 tablespoon of oatmeal).
Take a walk outside, fetch the mail.
Playtime on the floor with Mommy!
Nursing and then a brief nap in Mommy's lap.
Playtime in the play pen with Daddy!
Playtime on the floor with Mommy!
Dinner (1/4 cup peas, 1 tablespoon of yams, 1/4 cup of rice cereal)
Quiet playtime with Mommy.
The Sleepening, in which baby is nursed, rocked and soothed to sleep.
Bed time.

And of course he nurses on demand during daily activities whenever he wants to, which is still pretty frequently, though he typically doesn't nurse in earnest (longer than ten minutes nonstop) until about thirty minutes before meal times, at nap times, and before bed.

I usually eat breakfast and lunch while he plays and dinner after he's asleep in his crib.

Some days we replace playtimes with long walks outside or trips to the store or a friend's house.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Solids: Example Menu & Preparing Your Own Baby Food

Little Duck started solids early at 4 months for medical reasons, but has loved every minute of it. He took to cereal on the very first bowl and has since expanded his palette to include oatmeal, pears, apples, bananas, apricots, peaches, carrots, yams, green beans, avocado, peas, cherries, strawberries, and most recently (with the appearance of his first tooth!) chicken. Mostly purees, some mashed for chewing practice.

We introduced foods to him one at a time about a week apart to make sure he wasn't sensitive to anything; that way if he was we could isolate which food it was and cut it out of his diet. He's tolerated everything really well though. Sometimes the iron content of baby cereals can give him butt troubles, but on those days a few ounces of white grape juice diluted in a little fluoride free water fixes that no problem.

His favorite food thus far is definitely bananas. The first time we gave him yams, despite liking them a lot, he cried because he wanted bananas. It was so precious. His least favorite I thought would be avocado, which he fussed about eating the first time, but after preparing it a little smoother he enjoyed it just fine. What he really wound up hating was green beans, which surprised me! He cried and then refused to open his mouth again for anything, cereal, yams, breast, for forty-five whole minutes. Haha. I couldn't even trick him into taking a bite by offering him something he liked better first because every time I gave him a spoonful of green beans he'd stop eating again! What an opinionated fellow. Eventually I had to mix them with some banana.

We make all of our own baby food, either in the handy dandy Magic Bullet, or our food processor. This way we know exactly what goes in and what comes out. It's rewarding to lovingly prepare each meal for your little one -- especially after breastfeeding. Also, doing it yourself offers a lot of flexibility! Want to make a banana, apricot, pea puree because your baby eats like a pregnant woman? No problem! Everything is fresh and tasty. We do keep some store bought jars on hand just in case something comes up. For example one night we ran out of peas unexpectedly and it was time for dinner so we just opened a jar from the pantry.

So what's the little Duck's homemade menu look like? Here's an example:
(Note: I am unable to pump BM so I have to substitute with formula or white grape juice for his solid meals.)

He nurses until he's had his fill.
1/4 cup of infant oatmeal cereal.
1/2 of a banana pureed or mashed.
1/2 of an apple or pear.
He nurses until he's had his fill.
1 tablespoon of infant cereal mixed with 1 whole steamed peach, pureed.
He nurses until he's had his fill.
1/4 cup of infant rice cereal.
1 tablespoon of yams mixed with 1 tablespoon of chicken, pureed.
1/4 cup peas.
He nurses until he gets sleepy.

Then he wakes once or twice in the night to nurse again, generally around 1:00AM and 4:00AM.

Meal preparation is relatively quick, about 10-15 minutes total, a little longer for dinner if veggies need to be steamed. Typically we prepare a few days worth of steamed veggies ahead of time and freeze them. For fruits and veggies with skin, you need to peel them for ease of digestion (until they get their first tooth, typically). And for fruits with cores or seeds you of course remove those as well. If purees are too thick I add white grape juice or breast milk (can supplement formula) to thin them out. If purees are too thin I add a little infant cereal to thicken them up. If your baby needs to put on a little weight you can add a half a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to one of his meals for added calories and healthy fats.

What's baby doing while I'm in the kitchen? I usually plop him in his high chair while preparing meals so that he feels part of the process and can observe, which he enjoys quite a lot. These are exciting times for his taste buds!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Baby Sign Language

I see ads for this all the time: baby sign language. As a deaf woman, even though I can read lips and speak just fine, sign language is something we've been encouraging with baby since day one. Babies are capable of signing their wants and needs long before they are able to speak them, so it's certainly a worthwhile pursuit. That said, I cannot fathom why anyone would pay for books, DVDs, or software to do this.

There is no difference between baby signs and adult signs. So if you know adult signs, you're all set already. If you don't, unless you plan on using ASL as the primary language in the house long term, you're only ever going to need a handful of signs. It's about keywords like, "drink," or "bed," not full sentences. If all you need is to learn a few words, there are numerous resources available to do this for free!

Such as:
Signing Savvy

The Deaf community is all about inclusion, whether you're hearing or not. You'll be amazed how many free resources are out there for those who take the time to look. Depending on where you live, you may even find ASL workshops available nearby. Unless you're taking an actual language course at a college, for language credit, there is seldom any need to invest a bunch of money.