Crawling!

Our little Lewis has finally learned how to move forward instead of just scooting backwards all around. He is still pretty inefficient with it, and prefers to be up on his feet walking with mom or dad. He’ll move himself a few feet to get to a toy or Mama, but hasn’t yet made the connection that he can use this motion to wander around and explore.

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Sensory Bottles, revisited

Alright, so I obviously had a severe case of Mommy Brain when I wrote my post on sensory bottles the other day! I managed to forget a couple of the things that I had been planning to mention in that post. I blame the fact that I am always trying to write these posts a few sentences at a time whenever Lewis lets me, or trying to fit in a whole post during one of his few-and-far-between half hour naps that he takes in a day.

So, the first thing I realized I forgot to share was this variation on sensory bottles. Sensory boxes from the Little Moments blog. This is a really great example of using what you have. She didn’t have bottles so she used little plastic boxes she already had, and they turned out awesome! I love that they are stackable.

I also really like her point about these being a great way to let baby “explore” some materials that aren’t safe for him to actually play with yet. That was part of my thought with the pom pom bottle I made Lewis. He can’t play with pom poms yet because I know he would just pop them straight in his mouth, but maybe he would like to look at them. Turns out this bottle is too boring for him, but maybe he would like it better if I took some of the pom poms back out so they had some movement in the bottle.

The other thing I meant to mention on my first post that slipped my mind was how perfect these are to pack in a diaper bag to keep busy in the waiting room or on a car ride. If you use small boxes or mini water bottles you could easily fit a couple in a corner of your bag to take along. And since they are so easy to make and have so many different options for filling them it is easy to keep them fresh and interesting.

Well, hopefully my Mommy Brain won’t get the best of me too often and I won’t have to keep writing second posts just to add something I’ve forgotten!

Baby Lap Time

Lewis and I went to our first “Baby Lap Time” at the library today! It went pretty well, despite the fact that it is at 11:15 am, which is often nap time for us. I could tell Lewis was starting to get tired as we were getting ready to leave the house, but he wasn’t too cranky and managed not to fall asleep in his stroller on the quick walk to the library.

The toddler story time seemed to be just ending as there were toddlers leaving and they had us gather in the kid’s section of the library until they were ready to have us come back to the community room or whatever it is called. The class is for birth through two years, so there was a pretty wide range of babies there. Lewis seemed to be one of the youngest. There were 15 kids and about 1/3 of them were walking plus a few crawlers.

I liked the format of it and the librarian who does it. She alternated between stories and interactive songs and had a couple teddy bears and a puppet to help with things. She also had no problem with the walkers and crawlers getting up and wandering around or coming up to her. There was one little girl who kept going up and handing her the fish puppet from under her chair and she would just say “Oh a fish, thank you.” and set it down to continue with her story.

The stories/songs lasted about 15 or 20 minutes and then she got out a big basket of toys and it was play time. We stayed for maybe 15 minutes of this and were the first to leave, but by then Lewis was about ready to fall asleep in my arms so there was no point in staying.

Lewis did good sitting with me for the first part of it. After a while he started standing up and trying to pull me to walk around with him but I was able to keep him pretty calmly sitting with me until play time started, when I did get up and let him lead me around to explore.

It would have been nice if at the start she had us go around the circle and do some kind of intro, maybe say the age of our baby or whatever. It seemed like most of the people (or at least the ones I chatted with briefly) hadn’t been before. I talked with a couple other mommies while we were waiting for it to start and during play time when Lewis was leading me around, but didn’t really get into conversation with anyone since he was on the move. It was interesting to see how some of the babies were up and moving the whole time while others sat quietly with their mamas even through the play time.

It definitely felt like we left “early” but it seemed best to leave and let Lewis have the nap he needed. I’m looking forward to going again, and I hope he continues to do as well with it. It is the same group of people for the whole session (2 months? I’m not sure.) so it seems like we will have a chance to get to know some of the other mommies and babies a little better.

Sleep Training: Mom and Dad are learning too

Well, after a great start to our sleep training, we have now had a couple much bumpier days/nights. We’re only a week and a half in, so of course I can’t expect everything to be going perfectly smoothly yet, but why does it have to feel so hard at times? It is obvious that while Lewis is busy learning calm himself and fall asleep without so much help from Mommy, Chris and I are also learning a lot on our end.

I think the biggest thing I have learned so far is that I really need to be consistent. I need to set down rules/plans and stick to them. I knew that this whole venture was going to be hard on me. I love the sweet snuggles of holding my sleeping baby for a nap, and I also hate to hear him cry. There have been a few times since we started this when I have given in to the temptation of letting him nap on me on the couch. I also have not been the most consistent in how long I will let him cry, sometimes going to get him after just 5 minutes and other times waiting the 15 that Chris and I had agreed on. I know that my inconsistencies are only making this harder on him, and I need to be firm with myself as well as with him. If I do things differently each time he isn’t going to know what to expect, he will only be more confused and upset. If I can keep myself consistent in how I handle things he will be better able to relax and feel secure knowing what is happening.

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The hardest part for me is not letting my emotions get in the way of what I know is best for all of us. For all six months of his life I have been trying my hardest to keep him happy and protect him from any hurt or sadness. I hate to hear him cry and my habit is to try to soothe him as soon as I hear the first whimpers. But of course he needs to learn to soothe himself as well. Mommy won’t always be there to shield him from everything. He also needs to learn to trust himself and to feel strong and capable. If I always step in before he even has a chance to try on his own then he will learn to always expect someone else to do things for him, and he won’t have a chance to learn his own abilities.

Last night he cried quite a bit at bedtime, similar to how he had cried on our first night of this. It feels so cruel just to let him cry like that, and both times I was in tears too. But both times Chris helped me to stay strong and stick to our plans, and both times Lewis proved how capable he is by calming himself within our set 15 minutes and eventually getting to sleep on his own. I expected to possibly be up a lot in the night after the rough start, but he wasn’t up any more than normal, and at one point in the night I even heard him wake up, make a little noise, and settle himself back to sleep.

Nap time today has been a struggle, but again I think that more consistency from me would have helped. The past two days we have somehow slept in to 10:30, when our “normal” wake-up time is between 8:30 and 9:30. Of course he is going to have a hard time getting sleepy for napping when he had all that extra sleep in the morning. I tried to move nap time later in the day, and thought he was tired enough, but I guess that is one more area where I am still learning. When he was falling asleep on me for his naps he basically just got to fall asleep whenever he wanted. Now it is up to me to learn to read his cues (yawning, rubbing eyes, etc.) and judge when he is ready to go relax in his crib for a nap.

There are definitely some ups and downs to navigate and we each have our lessons to learn, but I trust that this will continue to get easier the more we practice and work together.

Sensory Bottles

Sensory bottles are a really great home-made toy for kids of any age – infants up through elementary school. Infants can enjoy looking at and eventually rolling, shaking, etc. with the bottles. Older kids can help out with actually making the bottles, which is a great fine-motor activity. When I was working with 2-3 year olds this was an activity that we did periodically. We usually used water with beads or sequins/confetti with my class but any small item that fits through the neck of the bottle works well! During our beach them one year the kids filled them with sand and small sea shells. The more variety the better for infants, since seeing all the different materials will stimulate their sight and exploration. You can also have older kids help fill the bottles with water using a funnel, which would be a great way to learn about pouring and the properties of water. Once we had made the bottles I usually sent one home with each child and also kept a few for the classroom. These often got pulled into pretend play, especially in combination with the play food in the classroom.

Lewis obviously can’t help putting tiny objects into bottles yet, but I made several for him using different materials to fill each and he has enjoyed exploring them. He already seems to have certain “favorites.”

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The bottles have:
1) Beads
2) Green rice w/ green wooden beads
3) Red rice w/ yellow and orange beads
4) Water, red food coloring, shiny confetti
5) Small pieces of pipe cleaner
6) Pom-poms
7) Pieces from a puzzle
8) A little water with a squirt of dish soap
9) Water with cut pieces of straws

I chose to use mini water bottles as I thought this would be easier for him to manipulate. Even with the small bottles the ones that are completely full of liquid are a little too heavy for him to really handle well, and he tends not to play with these as much. He seems to enjoy the dry ingredients (the rice, beads, and puzzle pieces) that he can shake to make noise or just look at the movement of them. He also likes the bubbles and likes watching the movement of the water.

Making some music with Daddy. Lewis was shaking bottles while Chris banged on others with a spoon.

Making some music with Daddy. Lewis was shaking bottles while Chris banged on others with a spoon.

These are so easy to make, and really can use just about anything you have on hand. The rice I dyed by mixing it with a small squirt of food coloring and allowing it to dry. For older kids you could use colored (or plain) rice to make an “I spy” bottle with a variety of small items hiding in the rice. This could include tiny toy animals, buttons in different shapes, shaped erasers, or any other little ‘treasures’ you can think of. There are some great ideas in this post by The Imagination Tree. I got some of my inspiration from there, but mostly just went with whatever materials I had on hand and what I found at the dollar store. (Looking back at that post reminds me that I was planning to do one with ripped foil pieces though!).

Very focused, watching the movement of the beads as he tipped the bottle.

Very focused, watching the movement of the beads/rice as he tipped the bottle.

This is another easy homemade toy that has definitely been a success for us. Since I made so many I plan on only keeping about half of them out at a time, and then switching them out when he seems to get bored with them.

Spinning Our Wheels

Busy trying to keep up with my busy little one today (and maybe get some cleaning done??) but I thought I’d share this cute video of him playing with the stroller wheels. He has one toy car and a little toy wagon, but hasn’t shown much interest in the wheels on those. Considering getting him another (bigger) car or two, but we don’t really need to go out buying more toys all the time so it will probably wait a while. Anyway. Cuteness:

Sleep Update

We are now a week and a day into our new sleep routines with Lewis! I am amazed at how great it is going, and definitely will not be going back to our previous “bad habits.” Yesterday I finally put his bouncy seat away in the closet, something I should have done months ago since he has been too big for it for a while.

Tiny baby Lewis, just a few days old. Now when he sits in this chair his head is up to the giraffe's ears, his feet almost hang off the end, and his butt is nearly sagging to the floor.

Tiny baby Lewis, just a few days old. Now when he sits in this chair his head is up to the giraffe’s ears, his feet almost hang off the end, and his butt is nearly sagging to the floor.

He is doing really great with both bedtime and naps in his crib. Sometimes he clings to me a bit or fusses as I put him in, but just as often he has been going into the crib without a complaint. Sometimes he will cry for a minute or two, but it is not distressed crying. Since crying is one of his only ways of “talking” and communicating still, I equate this complaining cry to what will later be him saying “Mommmy! I’m hungry! Can I have a glass of water? I need to go pee!” and whatever other stalling tactics kids use when it is time for a nap/bed. He is tired and knows it, but of course wants to delay and get just a few extra minutes with mommy if he can. He has been falling asleep within ten minutes pretty much every time he is put down, and with minimal fussing. The one time that he actually cried for an extended period and sounded distressed I went to him after ten minutes and found that his diaper had leaked and his clothes were wet, so obviously that time he was really trying to communicate a problem to me and I could hear it in his “voice.”

He has been doing well with night times, although he does still wake frequently. Most nights he has been waking 4-6 times, which does seem like a lot. Chris’ sleep has been a little more interrupted with the frequent wakings, but for me it still feels like a great improvement. Yes, he is up frequently, but each time is only for 5-10 minutes to nurse and he goes easily back into the crib, and I am able to sleep in my own bed in between. Huge improvement to being out of bed for an hour or more with each waking and finally falling asleep exhausted on the couch with a baby in my arms.

For now I plan to continue getting up with him each time he wakes and nursing if he wants or just snuggling enough to relax again and go back into the crib. I figure I should give him a few weeks to really get used to putting himself to sleep, and then maybe move on to learning to settle back to sleep in the night if the night wakings are still very frequent. Maybe as he continues to adjust to this he will naturally adjust to sleeping a bit longer and only wake a few times in the night. (I would expect that 2-3 times to wake up and nurse should be plenty for him, but I guess for now he wakes for extra comfort as well since he had been used to spending most of the night in my arms.)

I am so happy with how well this is going, and still feeling super proud of my big boy.