As I mentioned in a previous post, I have recently been reading Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. This has been on my “to read” list for a while, and a few weeks ago I downloaded a kindle Sample of the book, which I enjoyed just as much as I expected. Although I love to read I always feel a little guilty buying new books. I already have close to 100 unread books on my kindle (most were downloaded for free or just $1-2). There is also the wonderful resource of the library where I can get books to read without spending any money on them. I looked first to see if they library had this book for the Kindle, which they didn’t. I then almost bought it, but decided instead to borrow the actual hard copy of the book one week after Lewis and I went to story time. (What a crazy idea. Reading a book in actual book form!)
I started writing this once already but stopped when it became clear that I was on the track towards writing a 20 page essay detailing all my thoughts on this book. No body wants to read that much blabbering. (Seriously. I wrote 4 longish paragraphs all about one chapter of the book. Imagine if I wrote that much about every chapter??) I’ll just say that wow – this book really struck a chord with me and got my thoughts going.
I enjoyed this book even more than I thought I would, and actually had a hard time putting it down. I’ve been reading The Complete Collection of Jane Austen books on the kindle which is great but it is a lot at once so I needed a little break from it. I was surprised at how much Bringing Up Bébé made me really think about things and really made me analyze some of my parenting with Lewis. Especially in the section about sleep, I found myself wishing I had read this book a long time ago. In a lot of areas I found myself agreeing with the French methods and thinking “Yes! That’s exactly what I do!” and in other areas I was intrigued but felt that the French way is not for me.
There really are some big differences between the American and French attitudes towards children (at least as described by Druckerman. I don’t have any personal experience with French parenting.) Americans certainly do seem to raise “child kings” and allow their children to run the show, while French parents expect a lot more respect/patience/manners from their children. This is something I quickly realized while working with kids – if you have high expectations of children they will most likely live up to them, as long as you are consistent and respectful of them in these expectations.
I have been following Janet Lansbury’s blog for a while now, where she talks about child care and parenting from an RIE perspective. Several times throughout this book I was struck by the similarities between the French parenting and the RIE ideals. They are very similar in their respect of even young infants as full humans who deserve to be treated and spoken to as such and who can understand what is said to them. They are also both similar in their style of setting firm boundaries for the child, especially in areas of safety, but then allowing them great freedom within these boundaries. This is something I am striving for with Lewis, too. I want him to be independent and to trust his interests and instincts, so if he shows an interest in something I allow him to follow that interest provided there is no strong reason against it. This brings to mind also the “Year of YES” attitude from Play At Home Mom.
Anyway, I could go on and on about this book and all the thoughts it has sparked for me regarding eating, sleeping, parenting, schooling, etc. This really was a great book and I would recommend it to anyone, whether you are a parent or not. There is a ton of parenting advice that can be gained from it, but it is also interesting and enjoyable just as a story of this mother’s experiences raising her children in another country.
We are very lucky that my family owns a cabin on Lake Champlain, and we are able to spend time there throughout the summer. Since Chris had Monday off for Memorial Day we decided it was a perfect chance to go up for a long weekend and give Lewis his first lake experience. It was unfortunately cold and rainy on Saturday and Sunday. We spent most of our time indoors for those two days, although we did go out a little to show Lewis around and see what he thought of the lake.
Sunday my parents and one of my sisters joined us. We went out for BBQ for lunch, and then relaxed inside the cabin for the afternoon and evening and tried to will the clouds and rain to go away. Eventually by the evening the sky was mostly clear, but it was still quite chilly out.
Monday we had much nicer weather. We did some work around the camp, gardening, adding gravel to the driveway to patch the deepest/muddiest ruts, etc. We also took some time to relax and enjoy the sunshine and of course let Lewis play around more. (He loved digging his hands into the damp gravel and picking up sandy handfuls to squish around. He actually did really well with not trying to eat any of the tiny rocks, although he did pop a whole dandelion into his mouth again.)
He was really interested to try to walk into the lake, but it was way too chilly. Hopefully it will be much warmer when we are back in the end of June!
We spent a long time out in the lawn looking out at the lake, exploring the stone steps, etc. Lewis was extremely interested in the tulips blooming in the gardens, and at one point took off at a fast crawl to go explore them.
It was a very nice weekend despite the cold wet start. Too bad we had to leave mid-afternoon on Monday and couldn’t just stay there to enjoy the lovely weather!
[Two posts today, since I already did the Photo Friday post. I’ve been saving these photos to post about our fun in the water. We are going away this weekend to enjoy some time on Lake Champlain, so I wanted to get this posted before I’m away from technology for a few days. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of new photos and things to write when we get back.]
We’ve been having some not-so-awesome weather this week. Very hot and humid, plus a lot of rain. All this means we haven’t been getting outside much. I’ve been managing to get us out for a walk still most mornings, but on Tuesday Lewis fell asleep before we made it out the door to walk, and it was too hot/sticky out to go later in the day. So later in the day we went out for some water play instead!
He played with the water a bit and put all his toys in it, then decided to crawl around for a while and explore the grass, watch cars go by, etc. He doesn’t like to crawl in the grass so he stayed on the walkway the whole time and I didn’t have to worry about him going too far away. After he explored for a while he eventually came back to the water to splash more and dump it all over the ground.
We made it out to the library (for our last story hour session) on Wednesday, but then had rain in the afternoon. He was very excited about the rain. He wanted to stand at the open window watching/listening/smelling it for a while. He also wanted to go out in it. We went out with both of us having bare feet when it was just a light rain and walked around on the walkway, stepped in wet grass and walked through small puddles. We didn’t stay out too long though because it started raining harder. Mostly we just watched out the windows.
Today we had more “water play” with bath time. He always has a few toys in the bath and sucks on them a little or throws them over the side of his whale tub, but he has never gotten into really “playing” in the bathtub or splashing the water much or anything. He does like to bang his toys on things to make noise in his normal play, and today he tried to bang his rubber ducky in the bath, but got a big splash instead! This resulted in lots more fun splashing, and experimenting with his different toys to see how he could splash with each of them. It was fun watching him make these discoveries. Reminds me of how in my child development classes they were always talking about babies as “little scientists” who explore and experiment to learn about the world.
His water play also reminded me of another quote that I can’t seem to find. With both our outdoor play and his splashing in the tub he had a very serious, focused expression the entire time, with hardly a smile. But even though he was so serious looking, you could tell that he was obviously having fun and enjoying what he was doing. Somewhere I read a quote that is something along the lines of “happy babies don’t have to smile” or something like that. (I think maybe it was a quote by Magda Gerber, but I’ve tried Googling it and came up with nothing.) But basically the point of the quote is that sometimes we might see a baby with such a serious face and feel that they’re not happy or not having enough fun, and think that we need to stimulate them more or tickle them or do something silly to get them smiling and laughing, but if we just stop to observe them a bit we will see how happy and content they are in what they are doing and realize that they don’t need us always making them smile.
Of course, sometimes happy babies do smile too!
Since we’ve been cooped up inside more we’ve both started getting a bit bored and antsy (especially today since we didn’t get outside for even a few minutes.) It’s definitely important to be extra silly and playful and get some giggles going on some of the time so we don’t go crazy from the gloomy weather and being trapped inside.
Hopefully this weather clears up soon and we can get back to our fun outside play times.
I’m happy to say that Lewis is still doing great with his sleeping! I’m seriously amazed by him every day. After I put him in the crib each night and he falls asleep with no (or very little) crying I keep commenting to Chris what a wonderful amazing baby he is. We are also making progress with nap times. At first when I put him in for a nap he would get very upset, stand in his crib, and cry for however long it took me to come get him. I don’t let him cry more than 10-15 minutes at a time. I know he can relax and calm down in less time than that, so if he is still crying at that point he is either not ready to nap or just has got himself too worked up to be able to sleep.
I’ve been nursing him to sleep and putting him down asleep for naps still, but it’s starting to seem that he doesn’t actually want to nurse to sleep as much as he used to. At night times he will nurse but then start playing around instead of getting sleepy on the breast. He’s done this the past few nights and at first I thought it was a sign that he wasn’t tired enough for bed, but I decided since it was bed time and we had done our full bedtime routine I would put him in the crib and see how he handled it. Even though he hasn’t been dozing off at the breast, he goes into the crib for bedtime without complaint and plays around a bit but is asleep within 10-15 minutes in the crib.
Nap times I nurse him to sleep and carry him to the crib. Sometimes he continues to sleep, but twice now he has woken when put into the crib and then put himself back to sleep. Yesterday was a thunderstorm and it was very dark in the bedroom from the cloudy skies. When I brought him in for his afternoon nap he cried for a few minutes, quieted and relaxed for another few minutes, and was fast asleep within 10 minutes of having been put down.
He has still been falling asleep in his stroller for morning naps, but today we went for a shorter walk than usual and he was still awake (but tired) when we got him. I nursed him and he dozed off so we went in to the crib. He woke when I set him down and decided to sit in his crib instead of lying down. He didn’t cry when I left him although I heard some slight cries/complaining sounds for a few minutes. Then he spent about 15 minutes playing with his animals in the crib and making some of the funny sounds he likes to make before there was finally silence coming from the room.
I am so proud and so impressed that not only did he put himself to sleep for his nap, he also happily played by himself for nearly 20 minutes! When he was very little he would lay on his play mat and keep busy for 10-15 minutes but it has been a long time since he will willingly play on his own for more than 5 minutes. At the very least he needs to have me or Chris in sight while he is playing or he gets very agitated and starts trying to crawl through the apartment (sometimes crying, sometimes laughing) to try to find us. It is wonderful that he is learning to be alone with himself a little bit!
Lewis is 8 1/2 months old, so I’ve decided it’s about time he starts earning his keep and doing some chores around here!
Not really, but I have been letting him “help” with a few things recently. I love the fact that he is always interested in what Mommy is doing, so finding ways to get him involved seems like a great way to help keep him engaged and also set the stage for the future when he will have more formal “chores” to do.
He has been “helping” me with the laundry for a long time now, since he is often in my arms when it is time to tend the laundry. We are lucky to have our own laundry machine in our apartment, but unluckily it is the World’s Worst Laundry Machine. It is a combined washer/dryer. All in one unit, not stacked. Which means I can have laundry washing or drying but not both. It is also TINY. One load in this machine is about 1/4-1/3 the size of a load that I can fit in a “normal” machine. This means I have laundry constantly going, so there are always opportunities for Lewis to observe and help with this task. We cloth diaper, so I do a load of diaper almost every day, plus one or two loads of regular laundry. Lewis helps by playing with the drier balls, opening and shutting the door, and playing with the wet laundry when I am fluffing it up before drying. He also helps me hang the diapers up to dry by pulling his cloth wipes off the rack each time I hang them.
He is also very curious about the dishwasher. We keep it shut all the time, and discourage him from playing with it when it is full of dirty dishes, but recently I have been involving him more with unloading the dishes. When the door is open he can easily pull himself up on it to stand and reach the silverware and plates in the bottom rack. He is very good about “sharing” and handing me things when I ask for them or hold my hand out, so I have been letting him help unload the silverware. He pulls it out one piece at a time, and then I hold my hand out and say “Can I have that fork?” or “Give that to Mama please. Thank you! You handed me the spoon,” or other similar things. It is only spoons, forks, and butter knives, so not good to play with, but safe enough for him to pick up and hand to me. Once the silverware is unloaded he is happy to stand there and play with the empty bottom rack while I finish unloading the rest.
I have also been involving him a bit more in his diaper changes. We use cloth wipes wetted with water, so after I wipe him (assuming it isn’t a poopy diaper) he sometimes likes to take the wipe and try to wipe himself. He has moved it towards his mouth once and I stopped him from trying to taste it, but mostly he just “wipes” himself and drops it or hands it back to me.
Obviously these little “chores” of his aren’t actually making things easier for me and in most cases make things take longer than they would otherwise. But, they only really add on a few minutes of time, they’re setting the stage for him helping more in the future, and they are great opportunities for quality interactions, so I think it is a win all around.
Do you involve your baby in helping with “chores” or have any other suggestions for ways that a baby can get involved with what Mommy is doing?
The last time I talked about Lewis sleep progress, we were just going back to sleeping into the crib after a cold, teething, and learning to roll to his tummy. I did start off trying to put him in “awake but sleepy,” and at first it seemed that it was going to work alright with me being able to stay there, rub his back, sing to him, and ease him into sleep with no crying. This quickly degenerated into him crying when placed into the crib and trying to crawl to me. I felt bad that maybe he still wasn’t feeling 100%, it was all new to him now that he could roll over and crawl, etc. etc. So I went back to my “bad habits” of nursing him to sleep and placing him in the crib fully asleep.
This worked for us for a few weeks, but he slowly started waking and trying to crawl when placed in the crib, waking more at night, etc. etc. Same old story that we had dealt with when he was 4 months. He also began trying to crawl in his sleep, thus waking himself even more frequently and being even more upset on waking. I started feeling exhausted, falling asleep on the couch in the night, etc. all over again. I researched crawling in sleep and such, which is when I learned that sleep regression is normal for babies at 4 months and 9 months (he is 8.5). I also read things stating that for a baby who has always had trouble sleeping and gets worse at these times, sleep training can work wonders, and also that when you have sleep trained once and baby has learned to fall asleep on their own it is like riding a bike and becomes even easier when you try again. (Sorry, I didn’t save any references. You can Google it and I’m sure some of the same sites will pop up.)
As I’ve mentioned, I hate letting him cry, but I started to feel like we needed to try the sleep training again. Chris reminded me how well it went the first time and how I said I wasn’t going to go back to nursing him to sleep. I still hesitated, and put it off for another week. In the mean time I started reading Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. If you haven’t heard of it, it is written by an American mother living in France, about her discoveries of the differences between French and American parenting attitudes. I’m really enjoying it and will be doing a separate post on it once I’ve finished reading it. Anyway, the section on sleep in this book gave me another little push towards trying the sleep training again.
So, we started on Friday, and of course it has been going great. Even better than the first time. Chris gets to say “I told you so” and I get to enjoy a little more sleep and feel relieved that my baby isn’t crying for hours on end like I’m always paranoid will happen.
The first night, he cried for 8 minutes. The second night, 5. Last night he cried for under a minute and then we heard him making little sounds for a while, that sounded as though he were singing himself to sleep. He’s been waking less frequently in the night and several times I have heard him semi-wake and fall back to sleep on his own. He’s fallen asleep in some interesting positions, since he does start off by trying to crawl after me/crawl towards the door. On night 2 he fell asleep with his head on his toy leopard like a little pillow. Last night he fell asleep with his head in the corner and his elbow sticking out between the bars.
The first time we did this I was pretty strict and “all or nothing” about it. I tried to have him fall asleep on his own for bedtime, night wakings, and naps. I’ve been more relaxed with it this time, and it seems to be working well. He normally has two naps a day, and his first nap is usually in his stroller. On Saturday I tried to have him fall asleep on his own for his afternoon nap, but he got very upset in the crib and cried for more than our planned 15 minutes. I took him out, soothed him, brought him back in, and he cried even more. So Chris and I talked about it and decided that if he needs to be nursed to sleep for naps some of the time (or maybe all the time) that is ok. Naps were the hardest for him last time around, too. It makes sense since nighttime is dark and sleepy and we have our routines, where as day time is all bright and we also play with him in his crib sometimes or put him in there to play while I get dressed, so it makes sense that it would be more confusing and upsetting. Maybe once he really masters his nights we will get stricter on the day times.
I know I felt very proud of him the first time through when he started falling asleep on his own, and here I am feeling happy and proud of him again for doing so well with this. Like always, I know things will change. For instance, who knows what will happen when he starts teething again. For now I will enjoy this and feel confident that he will continue to be able to self-soothe at bedtime!
Today was a little town-wide celebration called Niska-Day. It started off with a parade this morning, and then there was a fair for the afternoon with crafts, booths selling things, music, foods, rides, a petting zoo, and fireworks this evening. We almost didn’t make it to the parade because Lewis was having his morning nap, but luckily it is a very short walk to get to where we could watch it and we made it over in time to see most of the parade (and plenty for Lewis to enjoy it and see a variety of things.)
He had fun seeing all the people and the balloons that were everywhere, although we didn’t get a balloon for him. He also liked watching the fire trucks, the trucks and cars that had flags on them, the drums in the marching bands, and other random things like the police tape line near where we were standing. He started off in his stroller and watched happily from there for a while, then eventually wanted out and watched the rest in Mommy and Daddy’s arms.
We went home, had lunch, played, and had a nice long afternoon nap. Mommy napped too. Then we got ready and headed over to the rest of the events. Parts of it, like the craft tent, ended at 5:00, which was around when we got there. Luckily for us we still got to see the petting zoo before they packed the animals back into their trailers. Lewis was excited to see and pet a hen and chicks, several goats (my favorite animal!), and a sheep.
Then we went and got our dinner. I had a pulled pork sandwich and Chris had pulled chicken. We also got loaded waffle fries. We brought Cheerios and some pear slices for Lewis which he enjoyed for a while but eventually he got interested in Mommy and Daddy’s food. We let him try a fry, which he thought was ok but not that great. He went back to eating his pear after one bite. He did keep reaching for the fries, but only because he wanted to squish them in his hands and drop them in the grass, not actually eat them.
After eating dinner we tried to go get some fried dough but it was too busy so we gave up and got fried pickles and kettle corn from some of the less-busy food booths. Yum! It was a fun busy day. Lewis did great with all the activities and didn’t get fussy or overwhelmed with any of it. He seemed to really enjoy watching everything and seeing so many new sights.