Q&A: one parent throws off another’s schedule

Christine writes:

"This is more of a family question. 

I’ve noticed that Max has both good and bad times with the
sleeping.  Things had been improving, a lot, particularly with the
daytime napping, and then they tanked.  Then they got better, then
worse, etc., and I’ve been trying to monitor what’s going on in the
house that may explain this.  I finally figured it out – things get bad
when my husband is around more during the day –  weekends or university
holidays (thus, the sleep disaster that was late December). 

I’m Max’s primary caretaker and while I’m not rigid with a
schedule, I do things a certain way and Max and I seemed to be getting
into a groove.  Paul does things differently, and I want to respect
that as much as possible, since there’s clearly more than one way to
skin a cat.  However, some things that Paul does result in poor or no
daytime naps and I pay for that at night.  Plus we end up with a
grumbly baby, and that’s no fun. 

I don’t want to usurp Paul, and I don’t want to imply that my way
is "right" or "more right."  And I really rely on the time off from
baby-care that Paul gives me during those times for my own sanity.  Can
Max adjust?  Do I try to force Paul into doing things my way?

P.S. Paul and I typically communicate really well, but I’m sensitive on
this.  I got a lot more confidence in my ability to handle Max before
Paul did…he’s still a little wavery, and I don’t want to shake that
at all."

There should be a name for this common syndrome. How about Other Parent Disruption Factor? (Not that you moms and dads who go off to work all day are other. We know you’re equal parents who are completely capable of caring for your children just as well as those of us who are the primary caregivers do. But "other parent" is just easier to say and type than "non-primary caregiver" is and less derogatory than "secondary caregiver" is.)

I don’t know a single family that doesn’t have or hasn’t had some form of this problem. I think yours is more intense because Max is still so young and his sleep isn’t really that solid anyway. He may also just be a sensitive kid, which is wonderful except on this particular topic. But OPDF seems to be one of those common things that no one talks about before it happens.

The thing that made it vastly better for us is something I don’t really recommend: My husband got laid off from his job. So he was home all the time (he and I both did freelance work and just traded the boy back and forth) and became part of the normal routine. For the 15 months he didn’t have a full-time job he was also a primary caregiver, and that helped make the OPDF almost non-existent.

Except, of course, that my husband has different energy than I do. So the routines were the same, and El Chico doesn’t sleep any differently after a day with his dad, but there are things he does with his dad that he’d never try with me and vice versa. Sometimes my husband and I will compare notes and we’re just stunned at how differently El Chico (and now El Pequeño) act when they’re alone with him vs. alone with me.

People (or at least me) talk all the time about how babies learn very quickly what the rules are with different people. The classic example is that grandparents are notorious for letting kids have all sorts of foods that they never get to have at home, and the kids learn not even to expect those foods at home. But I think kids also sense different expectations and energies from different people and respond to those.

The upshot is that I’m not sure there’s anything that you could do about Max’s reaction to Paul, even assuming you wanted to. The problem doesn’t really seem to be that Max is different with Paul, but that it’s ending up being your problem because Max has crappy nights after being with Paul all day. The good news is that the more time Max and Paul spend alone together, the more confident Paul will get and the less Max will have his sleep affected by Fun Day With Daddy. The bad news is that this won’t happen in the next few weeks, probably.

I wonder if you and Paul could try to troubleshoot the routine to see if there’s anything Paul could tweak while he’s alone with Max. It’s not about making Paul do things your way–it’s about deciding together that it’s important for a 9-month-old to nap, so the nap must be respected. How Paul gets him down for the nap has nothing to do with you, and you won’t even care about it, as long as a decent nap happens. If there are other things that contribute to bad sleep (like Daddy-Max Dance Party or something similar that gets Max all riled up), those could switch to morning or very early afternoon so they aren’t still having an effect by bedtime.

If the nap is a given (and, yes, a 9-month-old does need a nap every day, and most of them need two naps at that age), then it’s really not your business how it happens, and Paul and Max will work that out. So I’d focus less on the ethics and emotion of forcing your way on Paul, and just make it a stated value that whoever has Max on any given day respects the naps. Then when you come home and find them doing some strange trust exercise game involving Max launching himself off the couch onto Paul’s chest, you won’t even have to care because you’ll know at least he had a nap earlier.

Breastfeeding: What’s the normal learning curve?

Here’s Part 2 of Jamie’s excellent series about breastfeeding for Ask Moxie. Part 1 is here.

Menita
asked: 

"What is breastfeeding supposed to feel like?  Are there
stages?  What’s the learning curve?  What would you recommend a new
mother do in the first days/weeks of her baby’s life?"

In reverse order:  What would you recommend a new mother do in the first days/weeks of her baby’s life?

Ideally,
planning for breastfeeding starts before your baby arrives.  I’m not
talking primarily about reading up on it, although that can certainly
be helpful.  I’m talking about finding support, if you aren’t close to
anyone who has breastfed happily, and about planning for birth.

A friend of mine was dissecting her first breastfeeding experience
recently and she said, "What I needed was an older sister."  While
there are no older sisters at BabiesRUs (quick! alert the purchasing
director!), when it comes to breastfeeding you can often find a
stand-in — someone to say, "Yes, it sucks right now; yes, you can do
it; yes, it’s worth it."  Even if you don’t feel that you need the information
available at La Leche League meetings, or those of another
breastfeeding support group, the connections you can make with more
experienced mothers are like money in the bank.  Or at least like money
in the Bank of Breastfeeding Satisfaction and Efficient
Problem-solving.  You can also find some support online.

Before you have your baby, think too about the support available closer to
home.  If your baby won’t latch, do you want your spouse to say, "Let
me bring you the formula," or, "Let me bring you the cordless phone and
let’s talk to the LC together"?  If your mother or your mother-in-law
will be there to help, does she know how you feel about breastfeeding?
I think it’s wise to have those conversations before you bring the baby
home, because uneventful breastfeeding is, unfortunately, not the
reality many first-time mothers face these days.

Why? Part of the answer is that uneventful birth is not the norm in the US
these days.  Keep in mind that most birth interventions can affect
breastfeeding.  Even IV fluids (innocuous enough, you’d think) are
associated with swollen areolae in the postpartum period, which can
make it tough for baby to transfer much milk.  A baby sleepy from labor
drugs may not have the first idea what to do with that breast you are
waving energetically in his face.  Which can lead to itchy nurses
saying, "We don’t want him dehydrated," which can lead to formula
supplementation, which can lead to nipple preference, which can all be
immensely frustrating.

Don’t get me wrong:  breastfeeding is a robust process and you can go on to
nurse happily after a nightmare birth and a discouraging start at the
breast.  At the same time, a typical US birth experience ends in a
medicated baby and a mother who’s dealing with a laceration, or an
incision, along with a heaping helping of doubt about her body’s
ability to do what it was designed to do.  A low-intervention birth
lays a good foundation for low-intervention breastfeeding.

Babies are born ready to suckle — they’ve been practicing sucking and
swallowing for weeks in utero.  There appears to be a sensitive window
in the first hour after birth, in which baby is primed to nurse well
and to keep nursing.  When a baby first comes to breast, he’s
practicing on small amounts of colostrum, which is thicker than mature
milk. This lets him get the hang of nursing before he’s inundated with
high-volume fast-flowing milk.

When mother and baby are both healthy, it’s a terrific idea to bring baby to breast
right after the birth, and keep him there as long as everybody’s happy
— no baths, no eye ook, no weighing and administrative folderol.  In
those first days, offer the breast whenever your baby squeaks.  Chewing
his hand?  Offer the breast.  Turning toward you?  Latch him on.
Gazing contemplatively into the middle distance?  You could give it a
whirl anyway.

If you need help, keep asking until you get it.  (Or have someone keep
asking for you while you catch up on sleep)    If nursing is painful,
find out why.   Don’t keep doing the same miserable thing over and over
again, hoping it won’t hurt so much the next time.  Look again at how to latch; consider kangaroo care
if baby doesn’t seem interested in nursing.  Don’t think in terms of a
three-hour schedule; watch for early hunger cues or early waking cues
and practice connecting baby and breast at every opportunity.   You
have a couple of hurdles to clear in the next few days, and the more
comfortable you are with nursing, the easier it is to stride right over
them.

Are there stages?

The delivery of the placenta signals the body to begin making milk in
quantity.  Somewhere between day 2 and day 6, the milk comes in.  If
baby is nursing often and effectively, you probably won’t get engorged
(engorgement = miserably rock-hard breasts, too swollen for baby to
transfer milk), even though your breasts may fill up impressively.  If
you begin to get uncomfortable, it’s important to remove enough milk to
get comfortable again, in order to ward off engorgement and mastitis.
This is hurdle #1 — the flatter nipple and firmer breast may confuse
your baby briefly.  (In point of fact, they may confuse you too.  I
know I was horrified when my breasts were suddenly bigger than my
nine-pounder’s giant head.)  With frequent milk removal, things will
level out soon.

The second hurdle:  newborn jaundice.  Most
newborns experience some degree of jaundice as their extra red blood
cells are broken down.  Bilirubin is excreted primarily in babies’
stools, and they need to keep nursing so they can keep pooping it out.
But jaundice makes them sleepy and less interested in the breast.  If
jaundice is evident before your milk is in, you may be advised to
supplement with formula.   

In my experience,
hospital staff can be a bit jumpy about jaundice.  Yes, it can be
serious.  Serious complications are unusual, though, and usually
there’s no need to interrupt breastfeeding.  Here‘s a table from an AAP publication
that may be helpful if an earnest peds resident cautions you that your
41-weeker is endangered by a bili level of 11 on day 3.  (Standard
disclaimer:  I’m not a doctor and there are multiple types of jaundice.)

During
the early weeks of breastfeeding, you’re calibrating your future milk
production.  That’s why frequent early milk removal is so valuable —
the amount of milk your baby removes from the breast in the first month
of nursing helps to determine the amount of milk available to him in
his sixth month of nursing.

After the milk comes
in, which is a clear physiological change, nursing is marked by gradual
changes more than by discrete stages.   Gradually, you and your baby
get more adept at nursing.  Gradually, your baby gets interested in
solids; gradually, solids become a larger part of his diet.  Gradually,
he nurses less, until one day he’s weaned. 

Some changes
are hidden.  You can’t see the protein ratio of your milk, the way it
changes from an ultra-digestible 90-10 whey-casein ratio when baby is
tiny to a 50-50 whey-casein ratio by six months, when you’re less
enthusiastic about cluster feedings and baby’s digestion is better able
to tackle the tougher casein curds.  You can’t see the zinc level
dropping as baby’s need for zinc diminishes.  You can’t see the
lysozyme level rising (lysozyme is an enzyme that takes out bacteria by
dissolving their cell walls) as he gets mobile and begins the quest to
fish fun things out of the toilet.  (Or the litterbox — right, Moxie? [No comment. — Ed.])

But the changes you can’t see unfold together with the ones you can.
Often, the development of the breastfeeding relationship mirrors the
development of the mother.  "I’m this baby’s MOTHER?" you may think in
the beginning, with just a hint of panic.  "I’m this baby’s mother!"
you know six months later.  You’re the one he loves like nobody else:
your arms, your voice, your touch, your milk.

What’s the learning curve? 

The learning curve varies from mother to mother.  "Give it 30 days,"
said the nurse who found me crying after my firstborn wouldn’t nurse.
I’ve heard mothers at support group meetings say that things clicked
for them with breastfeeding at about 6 weeks.   Sometimes it takes
longer to feel comfortable.  But you can know that your baby is
learning, too:  developing head and trunk control, so he’s not so
floppy; growing bigger at an amazing rate so that his mouth isn’t so
small in relation to your breast; figuring out that the breast is a
good place to be, and that you can help him when he gets hungry.  As
much as you may feel, in the early days, that you need to sprout a
third arm to discharge your mom duties effectively, it becomes second
nature over time.

What is breastfeeding
supposed to feel like?

Rachel Myr, a midwife and IBCLC in Kristiansand, Norway, says that
nursing should feel more like making a baby than like having a baby.

If you think back to your first sexual experience, pieces of it were
probably awkward and uncomfortable.  Perhaps your first dozen
encounters left you wondering what all the fuss was about.  Hardly
anyone, though, says, "Forget it.  Enough of that nonsense.  That’s
what turkey basters are for."

I hesitate to
compare breastfeeding and sex because the sexualization of
breastfeeding causes all kinds of problems.  But they do share some
important similarities:  they make an intimate physical connection
between two bodies; for most of human history they were crucial to the
survival of the species; the pituitary secretes oxytocin during both
acts.  They are both designed to be pleasurable (in differing
degrees!), but getting to pleasurable may take some time.

There is a
range of normal responses to breastfeeding.  A few women think it feels
fabulous; a few women always dislike the sensation.  Most of us fall
somewhere in between.  It isn’t supposed to hurt.  Beyond that, feel
free to define your own "supposed to."

***

In
the US right now, many, many women face pain and frustrations during
the early weeks of nursing, especially with a first baby.
Breastfeeding advocates say breastmilk is a baby’s birthright.  The
flip side of that is acknowledging that mothers have a right to skilled
breastfeeding assistance.  If it’s not working for you, there’s
probably someone who can help you:  a lactation consultant if latch-on
is going badly, an OT or speech therapist if your baby isn’t sucking
effectively, a chiropractor trained in CST
if a traumatic birth is affecting your nursing relationship.  Even if
there’s an intransigent physical barrier to exclusive breastfeeding,
partial breastfeeding may be a satisfying option for you.

Like
anything else you learn to do with your body, breastfeeding comfortably
takes practice and sometimes help.  Just as one woman may learn to knit
in an hour while another despairs of getting it after five,
breastfeeding comes more easily for some women than for others.  It
does come, though, bringing with it enjoyment, and convenience, and the
satisfaction of knowing that you can nourish and soothe your child like
nobody else.  You can protect him from disease and promote optimal
development of his brain.  You can dose him with the sleep-promoting
hormone CCK; you can reduce his risk of obesity.  Once the two of you
get comfortable, you can even do all that in your sleep.  That’s my
kind of mothering.

Q&A: criticism from family on your parenting

Melanie writes:

"Ok, any thoughts on how to deal with relatives who constantly tell
me I am doing everything wrong?  I live overseas, so each week I talk
to my parents via phone and webcam, and then spend three weeks at their
place each summer.  Since my DD Zoë was born (she is 9 months this
week!), every single phone call is filled with statements like "Of
course she is still eating in the middle of the night – you’ve
conditioned her to do that because you actually give it to her", "I
hear her fussing again – that’s because you carry her around too much",
"If you keep breast feeding, none of the rest of us will every be able
to bond with her", "Her first word will definitely be Moneth, since you
are working" (Moneth is our nanny’s name), "She’ll never crawl if you
give her everything she wants all the time", "We gave you X, Y or Z and
you turned out just fine", "Just let her cry – she has to learn X, Y or
Z sometime", "You’re spoiling her because she is your first; just wait
until #2 comes along, then you’ll be a normal parent".

Despite
the fact that my mother is a nurse and social worker, she seems to
think that everything I read about child development or milestones and
how they manifest in behavior is completely stupid – she actually makes
fun of the fact that I consult books or the internet if I am curious
about something child related.  If I hear "You read that from a book,
didn’t you?" in that condescending voice one more time I may commit
matricide.  And I’m not even expert-obsessed or anything.  We have no
sleep plan and sort of do a combination of AP and just letting her take
the lead.  I guess we subscribe to the "go with the flow" style of
parenting.

All of this has DH and I very worried
about visiting in the summer.  I can just see them trying to take over
and steamroll straight to the chocolate cake and candy.  I’d like to
work on establishing some kind of control with decisions relating to my
DD before we head back to Canada, but every time I try to discuss any
of the reasons why I do things the way I do, I am ignored, dismissed or
ridiculed.

I’ve often suspected that part of the problem is that my mother takes
personally any choices I make as a parent that are not the same as
those she made with me – like this is some kind of statement that I
think she was a bad mother.  Yikes, I guess there is a lot of baggage
here.

Any thoughts on making any of this easier?"

I think you’ve got it pegged exactly about why your mother is doing this. It sounds like she’s taking everything you do differently as an indictment of the way she raised you. Know that you are not alone, that there are many parents who are suffering through this same kind of pain (because it is extremely hurtful and it tears you down) because their parents or in-laws haven’t made any peace with how they parented way back when.

As I see it, there are three things you can do here. You can do one or two or all of them, depending on how your relationship has been and how you want things to go. Let’s talk about strategy after I run through the options.

1. Validate your mom by asking her opinion on things you don’t actually care about. This is one my mother (who was judged horribly by her MIL in the first few months) used very effectively. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, my mom would ask her MIL for advice about small things. She’d also ask for stories about my dad and my uncle. After a month or so of asking for advice, she’d start to reply to the advice with something like "Isn’t it funny? Doctors tell us to do the exact opposite nowadays!" and then she’d talk about the new information, but she’d do it in a funny and totally validating way (my mom’s slick like that). But she’d already built up my grandmother by asking for so much advice that my grandmother kind of felt like a co-conspirator instead of like my mom was judging her for doing the stuff she did (some of which was downright cruel, but my grandmother did it because her doctor told her to and she thought she was doing the best thing for my dad). It took what could have been a painful experience for both my mom and my grandmother and turned it into a way for my grandmother to heal a little from some of her disappointments as a parent, and also made a greater bond between the two women.

(Wow. That got a little maudlin. Sorry.)

At any rate, if you ask your mom’s advice on "problems" you’re having (since you live so far away you could even make up stuff and she’d never know) that gives her a chance to be the expert and validates her as a smart and worthy parent. So she will most likely back off on the other stuff.

2. Confront the issue head-on. You could say to your mother, "Mom, I’ve been wanting to talk to you about something for a long time. I’ve noticed that you are very critical of many of the decisions we’ve made about raising Zoë, and that makes me feel very sad. I feel like you don’t trust me or think I’m a good mother. I want you to know that I appreciate the way you raised me, and that even though we’re doing some things differently from the way you did them, I think you were and are an amazing mom."

3. Draw your line in the sand. Tell your mother that if she continues to criticize and second-guess every decision you make, you won’t bring Zoë to see her this summer. You’re her parents, and you have to protect her from people who try to undermine your family.

Now, the strategy. If anyone is reading this and having this problem with an in-law, not your own family, you should really only try option #1. It’s the thing that will create positive change without stress, and it isn’t your job to change the way your in-laws behave. It’s your partner’s job to confront his or her family, if there’s going to be any confrontation.

For Melanie, I definitely recommend that you try #1, just because it’s the high road and is the least stressful option. Whether you do the other two depends on how your relationship has always been with your mother. If you think your mom is normally sensible but is just letting insecurity and her sadness at not being able to see Zoë more often get the better of her, then you should probably also go with #2. Just get it out in the open so she knows you love her but that her comments are hurting you.

If you’ve always had a more little-girl relationship with your mom, doing #2 might actually help start a different dynamic between you. It will force her to see you as an adult mother, not just a little girl.

If you do #1 for a few months and do #2 and the negativity continues (or intensifies), you might have to do #3. But be sure you’re willing to follow through if they won’t stop criticizing, because once you say it you can’t back down. I sincerely hope you don’t have to miss a visit with your family, but if it means that your parents realize you’re the heads of your own little family, then you might have to make that choice.

It will also help the situation if you just stop discussing some of the things you do that you know they won’t understand. And probably at least some of those things won’t even be issues once you get to Canada to see them. You may find that when your parents see your daughter in person and how healthy and happy and brilliant and capable she is they won’t have anything negative to say about how you’re raising her. The proof’s in the pudding, after all.

Another thing to consider is that Zoë will be old enough by the time you go home to understand that there are different rules at different houses (they understand it sooo much earlier than we think they can). So even if she gets stuffed full of chocolate and cookies at your parents’ house, she’ll know that that stuff is special at her grandparents’, and not what’s going to happen at home. If it helps keep the peace during an otherwise pleasant visit, you might consider letting some of the food and "spoiling" stuff slide (assuming Zoë has no allergy or other health issues).

Now, I’m supposed to be helping you think through this, not just commiserate with you, but some of the things they say are just nuts! How do you stand it? The only thing I can say from personal experience is that if you can keep the peace while also drawing your own boundaries, Zoë will be able to have loving and rich relationships with her grandparents. And when she’s an adult she’ll realize just how difficult your parents are and she’ll thank you for working so hard to allow her to have good relationships with them.

(Oh, and if your baby’s first word is "Moneth" I’ll eat my hat. It’ll be "ball" or "cookie" or your pet’s name, just like every other kid’s first word is.)

Updated to add: If you’re dealing with a particularly wily and passive-aggressive critic, check out Menita’s technique in the comments. Pure genius.

Supplements for Pregnancy and Postpartum

Updated September 2006:

Hold off on the flax seed oil! There is some new evidence that flax seed oil may affect estrogen levels in some people, and no one seems to know exactly what that means yet. To be on the safe side, I’d switch to fish oil (not cod liver oil–too high in Vitamin A) until we get some more definitive answers about the flax seed.

I get a lot of email asking me about supplements I recommend for pregnancy and postpartum, particularly flax seed fish oil.

Remember: I am not a doctor. I am a medical hobbyist, and I tend to err on the side of not taking anything unless it’s really serious (I’ve been working on the same small bottle of ibuprofin for about 5 years). So that means my list of recommended supplements is not that long. I do not recommend anything that isn’t generally recognized as safe, but if you have any doubts, ask your midwife or doctor what she thinks about it.

Pregnancy:

1. Your prenatal vitamin. Duh, of course. But don’t freak out if you can’t keep it down or just forget to take it a lot sometimes. All the research shows that it’s more important to take a vitamin and/or have a balanced diet in the months before you get pregnant. The baby takes from your body’s stores, so you can still have a healthy baby even if you get hyperemesis and can’t keep anything down for months. But you’ll have more energy and you’ll recover faster from the pregnancy and delivery if you can take your vitamin somewhat regularly.

2. Flax seed oil or fish oil. Taking an Omega 3 supplement prevents or eases pregnancy constipation, which alone is enough reason to take it IME. But taking flax seed or fish oil during pregnancy can also make your baby sleep better for the first few months postpartum. (The abstract to back that up is here. Thanks, Amy.) Consumption of flax seed oil can also prevent or alleviate depression, which is the unspoken symptom of pregnancy. I don’t know how great the effect of the flax seed oil is on pregnancy-specific depression. Anecdotally, I was severely depressed during my first pregnancy (no flax seed oil) and only mildly depressed during my second pregnancy (with flax seed oil). There is also evidence that supplementing with flax seed oil or fish oil can prevent some types of premature birth (scroll down to "Omega-3s for Longer Gestation".

What’s the difference between flax seed oil and fish oil? I don’t think there is one in terms of results. But fish oil can give you vile burps (which some people say is alleviated by taking the capsules frozen or by taking them right before bed). Personally, I don’t even want to think about fish burps, so I take flax seed oil capsules. If fish oil doesn’t make you burp, feel free to take that instead. The dosage is 2-3 1,000 mg capsules a day (all together or separated, however you can remember to take it).

3. Chocolate. Eat chocolate. Please, for the sake of the children. The children! (FWIW, I absolutely disagree with Nigel Denby.)

Postpartum:

1. Flax seed fish oil. If you thought it was great during pregnancy, you’ll be even more impressed with what it does in the postpartum period. It continues to keep you regular (v. v. important in the first few days postpartum). It continues to prevent depression (one movement in research on post partum depression thinks that PPD is caused by a lack of Omega 3s in the maternal brain because the Omega 3s are depleted during pregnancy to go to the baby). It prevents plugged milk ducts (so does lecithin, but why not take something that will prevent plugged ducts and PPD at the same time?). It will also keep your hairy shiny and your nails strong, and keep your cholesterol low.

Ther’s no official dosage, so I just stick with 3,000 mg a day. If I skip a few days, I start to feel a little blue and a little plugged-ducty.

For more info on Omega 3s and amino acids in mood disorders (depression and bi-polar disorder in particular) check out Julia Ross’s excellent books The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure.

If you are here because you have post-partum depression, please talk to your partner and your health-care provider. Flax seed fish oil capsules, regular exercise, and talking to friends can prevent PPD and cure mild PPD, but if you are having thoughts that you want to hurt someone (like yourself or your baby) or that you need to run away or that you are not worthy of being a mother, you have an illness that can be treated. It is not your fault. Don’t try to "fix it" yourself. Tell your partner or a friend and they will help you get help. If you can’t tell anyone in your real life, email me and I’ll help you find someone near you to help you. You are the perfect mother for your baby, and you have a normal, easily-treatable illness. You won’t have to stop nursing to get it treated, either.

2. Lots and lots of water. It flushes the excess fluids from your system and makes the swelling go down faster. It helps your body heal. It helps you make milk. It helps prevent constipation. It prevents fatigue. Make sure there’s a bottle of water at your nursing station at all times. Water Duty is a great job for someone who wants to help you during the first week or so, but doesn’t know exactly what to do (like a partner or MIL who has no experience with breastfeeding). Water Duty = making sure you always have a glass/bottle of water and a one-handed snack, and holding the baby while you go to the bathroom.

3. Oatmeal. No one is exactly sure why, but oatmeal increases your milk production. A bowl or two a day should help turn you into a fine dairy cow, and it helps keep you regular.

4. Your prenatal vitamin. Keep taking it to rebuild your body’s stores so you’ll have more energy and recover faster.

5. Chocolate. Helps stabilize mood, at least for me.

If you are nursing, stay away from mint in any form and red wine for the first few weeks. They inhibit milk production, so you don’t want to ingest them until your supply is well-established.

As I said, I’m low-intervention, so the list is not that long. If you only do two things today, take your flax seed fish oil capsules and eat some chocolate.

Q&A: waking in the middle of the night and screaming

Kate writes:

"Here’s my question: My son, Brody, started sleeping through thenight at 4 months. He went 7 months without waking during the night.
Suddenly, at 11 months, he started waking at midnight- we’ll feed him
and he’d go back to sleep. He’ll wake again around 3-4 a.m., we
feed him, and then he screams (and I mean SCREAMS) for 60-90 minutes
before finally collapsing from exhaustion. We’ve tried everything-
rocking him, gas drops, singing to him, CIO (which I hated),
etc. Nothing has worked, aside from letting him sleep with either my
husband or myself on the couch. Up until this point, he’s never slept
with us. It’s been 3 1/2 months. Do you have any suggestions?
 
We do follow a very strict bedtime routine- dinner, then 30 minutes of playing,
followed by a 15 minute bath, and a final bottle before bed at 8 p.m.
 
Is he too old to be sleep trained? If not, what method would you recommend?
 

Thanks for your help!"

            

I’m going to cut to the chase: I think your son has some kind of digestive problem of the reflux/heartburn/ulcer type.

Here’s how I got there:

You’ve got the bedtime routine, so rule that out.

When he wakes up, it’s not just to play, so I eliminated having the wrong nap schedule (some kids start waking in the middle of the night for playtime when they’re on the verge of going from two naps to one because the sleep times are disturbing their body cycles).

It’s been going on for 3 1/2 months, so rule out a developmental spurt, which would last a month or two, tops.

It happens every night, so it’s not night terrors or nightmares.

He’s waking up screaming from a dead sleep, which says to me that there’s some kind of pain involved. Probably from lying flat, since he can only fall asleep on top of one of you.

My guess is that he’s having some kind of stomach trouble while lying flat that makes him wake up and think he’s hungry (so he eats again at midnight, and then again at 3) but then it just gets too painful and he wakes up and screams. You hold him upright for an hour, the pain goes away, and he can sleep again. That’s the exact cycle I had when I had an ulcer 7 years ago. It hurts, but it feels like eating will make the pain go away, but then it actually just makes it worse.

I’m assuming he’s getting a bottle of formula or milk at bedtime, then the same thing when he wakes up? During the day, does he get this same meal right before going down for a nap? If so, how are his naps? Or does he get bottles and then stay upright for an hour or so afterward? If he’s staying upright, he won’t have pain symptoms because all the acid will stay down in his stomach until digestion is in full swing.

You could try propping the head of his crib to see if he sleeps a little bit longer at an incline. If the pain is severe, though, that won’t solve the problem.

The other thing I’m wondering is what changed at 11 months to make this start happening then. Did you change formula? Or switch to cow’s milk then? If you didn’t make any change in what you’re feeding him at night, then I’d talk to your doctor to see if s/he can run some tests to see what’s causing this. Since my experience is with ulcers, not reflux or heartburn, I’m thinking he maybe somehow got the bacteria that causes ulcers (helicobacter pylori), which they can find by analyzing a poop sample. But there’s got to be a straightforward diagnostic path for reflux and heartburn, too.

I do not think this is a sleep problem. If it was, something would have changed in the last few months just because baby sleep changes all the time. It seems clearly pain-related to me. Try to watch and see what happens during the day when he has a bottle. Try propping the crib. Think back to anything that might have changed right before this started. Talk to your doctor (and emphasize the pain and screaming, so you don’t just get the "let him cry it out" crap they sometimes try to hand you because they think you’re just a "nervous first-time parent"). See what happens if you give him a banana or another food that is unlikely to cause reflux instead of a bottle in the middle of the night.

Then write back and definitely let me know what happens, because I’m going to be preoccupied with Brody’s problem until I find out what the real story is.

Q&A: toddler prefers one parent

Linda writes:

"Okay, so one of my 20-month-old twin girls is going through the"extremely attached to Daddy" phase.  It’s no big deal in regard to my
feelings, but it IS a big deal in regards to our evenings.  When my
husband gets home from work, she goes ballistic.  First, she’s just
thrilled to see him and show him her toys and have him play with her.
Then she becomes extremely fragile and freaks out over EVERY LITTLE
THING.  He can’t put her down or change his clothes or pick up our
other daughter.  We are both torn.  We want to give her all the
Daddy-love she needs.  On the other hand, is it okay to be catering to
her like this?  She is getting to the age where she can start
manipulating and becoming spoiled, isn’t she?  It’s not like when she
was a baby and her wants equaled her needs.  We are wondering if she’s
angry at him for being gone all day.  Of course, he feels guilty about
that thought and has been trying to spend extra one-on-one time with
her in hopes that this will fufill her need.  So far it’s not working.
 
For the record, our other daughter seems okay with the amount of
attention that she gets from my husband.  Her behavior hasn’t changed.
I think she’s okay with the extra attention that Daddy’s girl is
getting right now, but I (and my husband) certainly don’t want it to
continue like this forever.
What do you think?"

In four months she won’t even want your husband to look at her. I’m completely serious–some toddlers go through phases in which they don’t want anyone looking at them. They’re strange little creatures, toddlers.

It very well might be that she’s angry that he’s at work all day. Or it may be that she’s getting messages from the toddler mothership to cling to him as if her life depended on it. This is a common stage some toddlers go through. I think they’re so strange because they’re really starting to understand themselves as individuals, and they have these fierce opinions and desires at this stage. They can almost express them, but not quite, and it’s incredibly frustrating.

I thought months 18-21 or so were the worst in terms of frustration, acting out, and just generally strange behavior (like wanting to wear the same shirt day after day after day, or only eating peas, and I’d put her clinginess with your husband in that same category). Before I sat down to write this I looked in my Ames & Ilg Your One-Year-Old: Fun-Loving and Fussy to see if they had a special section about clinging to one parent. They didn’t cover it in depth at all, but the chapter with "Stories From Real Life" had all sorts of letters from poor, frustrated parents in the 1970s that sound exactly like the stuff we’re going through now. "Patrick is a Daddy’s Boy," "Twenty-One Months Can Be Hardest Age For Child," "Youngster Frightened By Rain, Fights Against Naps and Bedtime," "Little Boy Bites Less But Pinches and Shoves More," and the letters continue.

But it’s normal, and it’s not going to last. This stage is so frustrating for toddlers that to me it just makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to crack the whip and try to break bad habits or really do much discipline, because the emotions are too high and it won’t really stick as easily as it will when they hit the next law-loving phase. Do you remember when you were 14 and you just thought the world was conspiring to makes things difficult for you? I think that’s what it must feel like to be 1 3/4. The best cure for the acting out is to only enforce the rules that are actually important, try to facilitate communication as much as possible, and just hold on because in another 4 months you’ll have a much more confident, steady, fluent child who is happier more often than frustrated.

If your other daughter doesn’t seem upset by not getting equal time with Daddy, then I wouldn’t worry about it because you’d know if she was bothered by it. I’m now imagining how awful his evenings would be if both of them wanted to be attached to him at the hip.

Incidentally, the last letter in the letters section of the Ames and Ilg book is "Watching Young Child Grow Can Be A Joyful Experience." Which you already knew, but your husband may need to keep repeating to himself as he tries to walk through the house with 25 pounds of girl hugging his leg.

Q&A: 11-week-old and self-soothing

ValleyGal, like, writes:

"So I know Sleep Week is over, but I have a sleep questionanyway.  How do you “encourage” a child to develop better self-soothing
skills?  My 11 week old son is only able to self-soothe to sleep in two
places: his swing (after some fussing) and in my bed.  Now, I know that
most people would consider that an accomplishment and let him nap in the swing
(which I often do) and co-sleep (again, often done).  But, while he sleeps
like an angel when he co-sleeps, I don’t.  I barely get any
sleep.  So, I don’t want to co-sleep as a general practice.  He
will happily sleep in his crib, but will only allow me to put him down when he’s
in a deep deep DEEP sleep.  Which is fine, except now I’m so
exhausted that I fall asleep in the rocking chair and end up spending half the
night in the chair (getting painful, crappy sleep) and half the night in the
bed (also getting crappy, but less painful sleep).  I know crappy sleep is
better than no sleep and I know that at some point, he’ll be able to be
put down either awake or drowsy or mostly asleep, but I’m looking for help
in getting him there.  Neither one of us is ready for CIO, so that’s
not an option (although I am okay with FIO (fuss it out)).   

What can I do to help him develop self-soothing
skills?  Am I doomed to several more months of this and then a CIO battle
at 4 or 6 months?  Do I need to let him stay awake longer/shorter before
we start the soothing process?  Put him on a strict schedule?  Find
the magic gadget that works for my kid (crib thingie, sound thingie,
etc.)?  Am I just an anxious over-tired first time mother who doesn’t
know how good she has it?  Help!"

It is my opinion that almost nothing you do has any lasting effect on how your kid sleeps.

I base this opinion on the fact that at any given age, a huge number of babies will be displaying the same sleep "issues" (sorry for taking you back to 1992 with the lingo), no matter what their parents have done or are doing with regards to sleep. Most 4-month-olds are sleeping poorly whether they’re in their parents’ beds or in co-sleepers or in cribs in their own rooms, and I assume kids who sleep on animal skins or tatami mats or in hammocks still have the same disrupted sleep around that time, too. My friends who did CIO (or FIO, or even SIO) and had kids who slept all night at 5 or 6 months found that the sleep crept back into a few wakings, or problems going down to sleep, within a few months. And remember how thrilled I was that the flax seed oil supplements I took made El Pequeño sleep for 7 hours at a stretch during his first few months of life? Well, not even the super-powers of Omega 3 supplementation* could save me from the 8-9-month sleep regression. Talk to the mother of any 18-month-old, and she’ll say either a) "He was sleeping through the night with no problems and now all of a sudden he’s waking up 3 times a night!" or b) "He never slept through the night and now all of a sudden he’s sleeping through even though we didn’t do anything differently!" There are just crappy times for sleep that have nothing to do with the parents at all.

So I think, basically, the way your kid sleeps is a function mostly of your child’s sleep personality, and also of your child’s age.

Knowing that, I think the way you can "teach" your child to self-soothe is just to bide your time. Because the older a child gets, the better able s/he will be to soothe himself or herself to sleep. A little baby has no knowledge of the world and also no sense of time, so there’s really no way a baby that small can understand that you’re in the other room but are still in the world. For a small baby, if you’re not there, you don’t exist, and s/he’s alone in the world. Some kids are extremely bothered by that and will cry and cry, but others don’t seem to mind being alone. In a few months, though, those babies will have learned to trust that you are there, that you’ll come when they need you, and they’ll be able to determine when things aren’t bad (they just wake up between sleep cycles and can go right back to sleep on their own), or when something’s so bad that they need you (like a nightmare or hunger, which makes them cry to get you to come).

Because kids are all different, you’re going to have to really pay attention to how your child is and what he needs. There are some kids who just always need to be nursed or rocked to sleep. For months and months and months, until you think you’ve made a huge error in rocking them in the first place because now they’re dependent on it. But then one day, the kid just won’t need to be rocked to sleep anymore and will go to sleep happily and without incident. Other kids seem to need to fuss to sleep, others need to be left alone to go to sleep (I was one of those, apparently), others need some kind of music to help them get to sleep, etc. until one day it doesn’t seem to matter and they go to sleep on their own. None of us had to take our mothers with us to college, after all.

I really think it’s important to listen to your child and figure out what s/he needs, and not listen to anyone who’s trying to sell you on a one-size-fits-all method. Especially if that expert is predicting all kinds of gloom and doom about what will happen if you don’t "teach" your child to self-soothe by doing CIO. How, exactly, does crying it out teach a child to soothe him- or herself? All it teaches is not to bother crying for you because you won’t come. It’s effective in taking you out of the loop of night-wakings, but it certainly isn’t teaching your child to self-soothe–it’s actually creating anxiety in the child. (Note that I’m not talking about "fuss it out," which some kids seem to need to do to wind down, or the thing you do when you go in every 5 minutes to soothe, which seems more like sleep training the parents to me, but seems to work for some people.)

(I’m also highly suspicious of any expert that claims a baby needs to learn to go down awake and get himself or herself to sleep within the first few months. Why, exactly? Kids who are rocked or nursed down to sleep all learn to go down by themselves anyway, so who cares if they can go down awake by a certain number of months? Given the choice between rocking to sleep for 15 minutes and knowing my baby will definitely fall asleep, or struggling for 45 minutes to get my kid to go down awake with no guarantee the baby will actually fall asleep, it seems like the "going down awake" plan is the clear loser. But people believe the predictions of disaster that their child will "have problems" if they don’t get them to go down awake. I call bullshit. It seems like something designed to create guilt and feelings of inadequacy in the parents, who will then run out to buy more books from that author. Follow the money…)

(Oh, and I’m also suspicious of any expert who says that all babies need to co-sleep for any set period of time. We’re a co-sleeping family, and I think anyone who has their kid in a separate room for the first few months is a little crazy because they’re creating a bunch of extra work for themselves in the middle of the night, and who needs extra work in the middle of the night? But it’s asinine to think that all babies need or want to sleep with their parents for any set amount of time. If your baby sleeps better alone, then you’re not compromising anything by having separate sleep space. Your baby will give you cues about when it’s time to move to another bed, so pay attention and it’ll be an easier transition than you anticipate.)

So, this has been my long-winded and highly opinionated way of saying your baby is totally normal. Very few 11-week-olds can be put down without being in a super-deep sleep. None of them can truly self-soothe (although some of them don’t seem to mind being alone, so they don’t fuss, so people think they’re self-soothing). And it’s so normal to feel trapped and at the end of your rope at this point in your child’s life.

It will get better even if you do nothing. But it’s just too demoralizing to do nothing, so here are a few tricks you could try to rearrange things more to your liking:

  • Borrow a co-sleeper or take off one side of the crib and tie it to your bed to be a sidecar. Then nurse the baby to sleep and gently roll him into the cosleeper/crib when he’s asleep. Or, if your boobs are big enough, put him in the cosleeper/crib and then nurse him to sleep (on your side, boob sticking into the sidecar), then sneak out of bed yourself.
  • Get a musical lovey, like a stuffed animal with a music box in it. At a time of day when he goes to sleep easily (maybe the first nap of the day if he’s taking regular naps yet–snort, or going to sleep at night), put the lovey with the music going snuggled in with the two of you while you nurse him to sleep. After a few weeks of this, after you nurse him, when you do the transfer to the crib, wind up the lovey and put it right next to him as you do the transfer, so he gets soothed back to sleep before he really wakes up all the way.
  • Do the same thing with a non-musical lovey, although I think the effect will be stronger with the addition of music.
  • Start doing a solid routine at night. Bath, jammies, books, nurse to sleep. The same exact sequence every night, starting at the same time. In a week or two he’ll start to anticipate it and it will be easier to get him to sleep once you hit that point in the routine. This is probably your best bet, and is definitely the one thing I’d recommend to anyone, even if their child sleeps well generally.
  • Associate words with actions. Every time you latch him on, say clearly "nurse" (or whatever word you use for it). When it’s time to go to sleep, say "sleep." When you put him in the bath say "bath." In a few days or so he’ll start to put it together, and he’ll get the predictability of it. And if he’s cranky you can ask using the word, and he can tell you what he wants by responding.
  • Start watching him like a hawk during the day to see if he’s doing anything like the 2-3-4 nap pattern. If he is, run with it, because the more regular the naps are, the easier all his sleep will be. Of course, it’s usually easier to get naps into place once the nighttime sleep is more regular, but it’s worth a shot.

You’ll notice that none of these things are instant fixes, but most of them are things that will end up helping you communicate better with your son. That’s the big payoff, because once you’ve got that strong communication going, everything will be easier for both of you. Less crying, better sleeping, more laughing. For both of you.

*For those of you who have been asking for details of flax seed oil supplementation for pregnancy, I’m working on a post about it as you read this, and will get it up soon.

Q&A: high needs toddler

Lisa writes:

"I have a wonderful, active, intense one year old son who puts the "attachment" in Attachment Parenting. He was born nearly 8 weeks premature and spent 12 days in the NICU, and is now perfectly healthy and normal. His pediatrician hasn’t even bothered with adjusted age since before he was 6 months old.

My challenge is that he is literally attached to me 20 or more hours a day, often nursing every hour or more. He has never slept more than 5 hours straight, and now we’re lucky if he sleeps a 3 hour stretch at night. He doesn’t sleep if I’m not next to him (or preferably, nursing him). During the day, if I so much as walk a few feet to the  bathroom without him, he screams and wails as though his world is ending. My husband and I tried to go see Harry Potter but we had to come home 45 minutes into the movie because our son was so hysterical I was gone (he stood at the door screaming "Mama" and holding his breath). We go to playgroups a couple of times a week and it takes him awhile to warm up but he does explore and interact with the other kids. I just have to stay in the same spot, or he’ll panic.

I wear him constantly outside the house, but he’s not so keen on that indoors. And we’ve tried NCSS for the sleep issues with no success. We do have a sweet young woman come in 4 hours a week to play with him so I can get some freelance work done. So my house is a mess, I don’t get any time to spend with my husband, my clients are firing me, and I have no time to myself.

My first question is, it gets better eventually, right?

And the second question is, how can I encourage my husband to use more positive descriptions of our son, and be less frustrated when dealing with him? He tends to call him "crybaby", "whiny", "mama’s boy", etc. and insists we are never, ever having another child. It’s hard enough dealing with the baby alone for 12 hours a day, but hearing my husband’s complaints when he comes home and I hand our son over for an hour or so is the straw that’s breaking this camel’s back."

The answer to your first question is "Yes. It will get better." I don’t know if you have The Fussy Baby Book by Sears, but it will help you get a little perspective about the fact that there are plenty of other babies like yours, and plenty of other parents going through the same stuff. And that at some point it gets better. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, yada yada yada.

Really, he sounds totally normal (for a high-needs baby) to me. He’ll probably for the rest of his life be one of those cautious people who spends a lot of time contemplating before he makes his move. Which will be annoying when you’re trying to get him to do things like decide on a college, but will come in really handy when he decides not to do things like buying stock on margin.

If your son hasn’t started walking yet, he might go through yet another period of extra clinginess when he starts walking. Just so you know.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong or even unusual about him, or the way you’re parenting him. I think you have two problems that are stretching you to the brink though. The first is that you have no time for yourself. I wonder if you could get the babysitter to come for another 4-hour stretch each week. It’s crazy to think that 4 hours is enough time for someone to get everything done that she needs to get done, including working. If you had two chunks of time you could use one to work in, and the other to run errands and have some time for yourself. I think that would give you enough breathing room to carry you through the next few months until your son calms down and is able to separate a little more.

The second, and bigger, problem here seems to be the way your husband is responding to your son. It’s my guess that the same thing’s happening here that happened to all the moms in my playgroup right around this age–our husbands all thought there was something "wrong" with our kids, just because they never saw any other kids the same age. At playgroup we moms saw all the kids together, so we knew that they’d all cry at the drop of a hat. But a dad who’s at work all day and only ever sees his own kid doesn’t have the benefit of seeing what kids are really like. (I can also remember absolutely fuming because the other parents at my husband’s job were telling revisionist stories about how old their kids were when they did all sorts of things. Really unbelievable stuff like not ever having hit separation anxiety, or being able to feed themselves neatly at 8 months, etc. Not to mention the so-cliched-it’s-almost-funny "sleeping through the night at 2 months because we did CIO to get him into his own crib" story.)

To solve this, we decided to do a weekend playgroup with dads invited. My husband was not the only one who came home from that day thinking that his kid was the best of the lot! When you see your kid in comparison to other age-mates, it really drives home how wonderful your own kid is (probably just because you’re used to the stuff your kid does, and things other kids do seems so foreign). But it also shows you just how normal the really babyish behavior is.

So my first piece of advice about your husband is to try to get him around some other kids your son’s age, so he can see that your son is normal. All one-year-olds are crybabies (they cry like babies, strangely enough). And, I hate to break it to him, but this is just the very beginning of a long and crazymaking whiny period. So far it lasts until at least 4 years of age. (And I hear it starts again at age 13).

The other thing that could be frustrating your husband is that he wants to really play with your son, but your son prefers you to him. I know it’s impossible for your husband to believe at this point, but a year from now your son will be all about your husband and will want nothing to do with you (unless you’re still nursing, in which case he’ll want nothing to do with any part of you except the milk machines). It will be "Daddy!" and "ball!" and "trucks!" and all the typically male bonding things, including horseplay and goofy behavior and watching sports on TV and fart noises and endless giggles. It’s got to be so hard for your husband to feel like he really wants to play with your son, and do all those typical dad-son things, but then have your son only want you.

I think this situation could be eased if there was one activity that your son absolutely loved that only your husband did with him. That way, they could do that thing every night when Daddy was home, and your son would love it and look forward to it. Since your son is one, the first thing I thought about was a ball tower or ball popper. Kids seem to go just nuts over toys like this, and it’s something your husband will probably have fun with, too, and since it’s balls it’s ostensibly a manly activity. If you never played with it with him, your son could look forward to that activity every night with his dad.

Not that this has anything to do with anything, but if your husband really seems preoccupied by the "mama’s boy" thing, you could casually slip into conversation the factoid that Michael Jordan, the amazingly talented and unquestionably virile basketball superstar–arguably the best athlete of last century–nursed until he was 3 years old. By some people’s definitons, that would make MJ a real mama’s boy. But look how he turned out.

Keep your chin up. Once your son grows out of the true baby stage it’ll be easier for your husband to connect with him. Your son will probably always need more from you than some other kids do from their moms, but he’ll need less and less as he gets older. And any client who fires you is an absolute fool, because you take amazing photographs.

Q&A: missing the first week of Kindergarten

Tonya writes:

"I know your sons aren’t ready for Kindergarten yet, but I trust your opinion so here goes:

My sister lives in another state and she’s getting married this year. She wants to get married on Labor Day weekend.  My sister wants my daughter to be her flower girl. Unfortunately, my daughter is starting Kindergarten this fall. School will probably start the week before Labor Day, so I’d have to take my daughter out of school at least one day if not the whole week to be at the wedding. (We would be driving to the wedding because we can’t afford to fly, and the trip is about 13 hours of driving, so 2 days of driving.) I’m not willing to do this because I think that my daughter will miss out on the friendships that occur on the first few days of school. Do you think I’m overreacting? I feel bad for making my sister choose a different date for the wedding, but I also need to be an advocate for my daughter. My daughter goes to daycare/preschool everyday because I work out of the home, so I know my daughter will not have problems adjusting to being away from me. I also don’t think she will have problems making friends at Kindergarten, I just want to make sure she has every opportunity to do that."

Thanks for the vote of confidence–I hope I can live up to your expectations.

I’m going to completely leave your daughter out of it for a minute, and suggest that your sister should not have her wedding on Labor Day to begin with. It sounds like a great idea to have a wedding on a holiday weekend, because everyone has that day off so they can take an extra day after the wedding. But in reality, you’re costing them more money because all plane tickets are super-expensive on a holiday weekend, and hotels are more expensive. Plus, you’re robbing them of a holiday weekend they could otherwise spend going somewhere else or just sleeping in and drinking beer and barbecuing in the backyard or doing whatever they like to do best. Which is most certainly not going to a wedding, no matter how much they love you and want you to have lifelong happiness. (Unless they really love the Electric Slide.) So it’s actually a favor to your guests not to have your wedding on a holiday weekend.

You know, it just occurred to me that if you could convince your sister not to have the wedding on Labor Day weekend for the above reasons, then your daughter could be completely left out of it. Which would just make it easier for everyone involved.

The actual issue of whether or not missing the first few days of school is going to hurt her socially is a tough one. It’s absolutely true that she’ll be able to make friends even if she misses a few days at the very beginning of school. However, it’s also true that missing time in the first week will put her at a disadvantage and might make her feel insecure and confused. I don’t know your daughter’s personality, either. Some kids can just hop right in and not feel self-conscious. If it had been me at that age, missing a few days at the beginning of school would have made me even shier and hesitant than I already was (with the other kids–with grown-ups I was fine). Kindergarteners can be tough.

If you think it’s going to make it awful for your daughter to miss those days, then you have to go with your gut. But honestly, I’d try to see if your sister will move the wedding date (although it’s probably a little late for that by now since it’s only 8 months away) just to make it easier for her guests. If that works, then you won’t even have to consider the issue with your daughter.

Let us know what happens.

Q&A: Daycare problems

Daycare moms, we need your help! I know next to nothing about daycare, and another mom is having a hard time of it. Please weigh in with your advice and support.

Kinneret just went back to work last week, and her son is 3 months old. You can read how the first day went here.

(She’s doing in-home daycare, with two adults and four kids total, so he’s getting plenty of attention and holding.)

The next few days went well because she only worked half-days, and stayed in the daycare with him for a few hours each day to help get him adjusted. (And I was feeling like a super-genius, because my thoughts were that staying with him to help him get adjusted would take care of the problem since he would be used to the daycare provider by the time he needed to be alone with her. I fear my hubris has caused bad luck for Kinneret.) But then on Monday he refused a bottle from the daycare provider and screamed inconsolably for 45 minutes. Kinneret had to leave work to go get him.

She doesn’t have the option of taking more time off work, but she can’t "break" her baby. Any ideas how to make this easier on him (and her!) so he can be happy in daycare?