Q&A: going from two naps to one

Heather writes:

"I have a 12-month old son who I believe may be starting to transition
to one nap.  However, it is so inconsistent from day-to-day.  One
morning he will only sleep for 25 minutes or so, the next, two hours.
Now, I’ve actually e-mailed you about napping problems before, but for
the last three months, he has been consistently taking two naps that
averaged about 1-1 1/2 hours.   He still seems tired in the morning, so
I hesitate to push him off for too long, but this really short morning
nap is beginning to wreak havoc with the day.  I guess my real question
is, how do you typically begin the transition to one nap?  Also, what
happens if they don’t consolidate their sleep, and end up only taking
one short nap?  Any suggestions on the whole single nap issue would be
greatly appreciated."

Gah. Napping problems really mess with your head, don’t they?

Consolidating from two to one nap seems to vary from kid to kid. It almost seems like the way boys’ voices change in junior high–some go through weeks of cracking and screeching (a la Peter Brady), while others just go from high to low overnight (which my MIL claims my husband’s did). My first son seemed to go from two naps to one in a matter of days (at 11 months), but plenty of kids spend weeks on the transition, as yours is.

I’ll answer your second question first. In theory, when kids go from two to one nap, the new single nap is longer than either of the old naps, but shorter than their combined time was. So if he used to take a morning 90-minute nap and an afternoon 1-hour nap, the new nap will probably be around 90-minutes to 2 hours. In practice, this could happen, or the new nap could be shorter (1 hour to 90 minutes) and he could increase his nighttime sleep a little. As he grows older he needs less sleep. According to the chart in the No-Cry Sleep Solution, a 9-month-old needs 14 total hours of sleep (with 2 naps totalling 2.5-4 hours), a 12-month-old needs 13-14 total hours of sleep (with 1-2 naps totalling 2-3 hours), and  2-year-old needs 13 total hours of sleep (with 1 nap of 1-2 hours). So he’s starting to need slightly less sleep during the course of the day anyway. But he’ll still probably end up getting basically the same total time over a 24-hour period, just divided up slightly differently.

About trying to transition to one nap from two: You have to look at what kind of napper he is. Is he the kind of kid who will go down for a nap when you set the stage and go through the routine of putting him down? Or is he the kind of kid who won’t nap unless he’s tired, no matter how many hoops you jump through?

If he’s the first kind (who will go down when you go through the naptime routine), I’d suggest doing a 1-2-month plan to get him from two naps to one. Start pushing his normal first naptime back by 10 minutes every few days. Let him sleep as long as he wants, but then cut his second nap shorter and shorter little by little. Eventually they’ll meet in the middle and he’ll be going down later and sleeping longer and not taking a second nap at all. It’s not going to be linear, and you’ll still have crappy days, but at least you’ll feel like you’re heading somewhere.

If he’sthe kind of kid who will only nap when he’s sleepy, change the rhythm of his day. Instead of doing winding-down activities right before his normal first nap, start engaging him in a lot of physical activity. If he’s running around like a fool at the time he’d normally be going down for his first nap, not only will he start napping later (because you can’t run and sleep at the same time), but when he does go down for a nap he’ll probably sleep longer just from being so physically tired. Of course this will be easier in the summer when you can be outside running around, but maybe you can schedule outside errands during his normal naptime that allow him the ability to run now while it’s still cold and nasty outside. If his first nap is later and lasts longer, eventually it’ll turn into his only nap.

Of course you could also just wait it out and he’ll eventually go to one nap on his own. But it sounds like it’s really bugging you, so you might as well try to do something about it, even if it doesn’t work right away. Just know that if you start to get too annoyed trying to shift his nap schedule, you can just take a breather and do nothing for awhile and he’ll eventually settle into one nap a day.

 

Q&A: getting a 4-month-old baby to take a bottle

Melissa writes:

"I am currently breastfeeding a 15 week old baby. We would like to give her breastmilk from a bottle, but so far we haven’t had a lot of luck with this.

We waited until she was about four weeks before trying and had some luck getting her to drink about an ounce, but we didn’t really keep in her "practice". Now she will put the nipple in her mouth but won’t suck on it.

We have tried all imaginable bottles and nipples. Some seem to be a little better than others, but none markably so.

I am going to return to work at six months; at the same time I’ll be introducing her to solid food. I really don’t want to do that sooner and I’d to send her with breastmilk in a bottle.

ANY ideas for helping my baby take a bottle? Brands, technique, persistance, anything?"

Well, I’m 1 for 2. My first child took a bottle easily (on the second try, at 7 weeks) and my second wouldn’t take a bottle (we started trying at 2 weeks and gave up trying at 9 weeks) until he was around 5 months or so. And he’ll only take one from our babysitter–not from me ("Are you freaking joking me, lady?!" is what his eyes say) and not from my husband ("Nice try, hairy person, but I prefer to wait for the smooth one with the milk") and not from my mom ("I like you so I won’t cry very much as you rock me, but I think we can be honest about the fact that both of us hope the lady with the milk shows up soon"). And I think he only takes it from her because he loooves her and is trying to flirt. So I’ll tell you what I know, but it may not be any more revelatory than what you’ve already been doing. Let’s hope one of the readers has the magic bullet and will post it.

Here are the basics of what I was told:

* Do not wait until your baby is really hungry to give a bottle. The baby should be interested in the milk, not desperate for it. A hungry baby will become an angry baby, who will reject anything that isn’t the norm. Nurse your baby to take the edge off and then try a bottle, or try a bottle an hour or so after your baby has eaten so s/he will be interested but not too hungry.

* Have someone who’s not the nursing mother give the bottle. Why would any baby accept milk from a bottle when warm, snuggly, good-smelling mom is right there? Instead, have your partner or someone else give the bottle. Some kids will accept a bottle from someone else when the nursing mother is still there but in another room, but others won’t take one if the mother is anywhere in the house. The nursing mother may have to leave (go get a pedicure! or read a magazine all by yourself! or drink a latte!) while someone else gives the bottle.

* Keep it fun. Even though you’re desperate for your baby to take a bottle, the baby will be more into it if it’s just a fun game. No pressure. Just dripping a little milk onto the baby’s lips, then teasing with the bottle to get the baby to try it. Eventually the baby will probably have a lightbulb "Hey! Milk comes out of this thing, too!" moment and the objective will be achieved. We hope.

* Some babies don’t want to take a bottle, but will take another kind of cup. Try the Nuby cup or straw cup or sippy cup (with the valve removed, if the baby is under a year or so). Read the comments to this post, which have stellar suggestions from readers about what worked for their kids.

Now that I’ve regurgitated the same stuff you’ve heard a million times, I’m going to go a little radical and tell you I think you should not try to make the experience of taking a bottle of breastmilk anything like actually nursing. By the time you go back to work you won’t be dealing with a teeny newborn. You’ll be dealing with a 6-month-old who will be getting curious and excited about different textures and flavors and experiences. If you can make drinking milk a new and interesting experience that isn’t connected to you (since it’ll be the daycare provider giving it to her), you might have better luck getting her to take it (since she sounds like one of those babies who doesn’t want to be "tricked" into drinking milk from something other than the breast). So it might be worth it to try giving her cold breastmilk out of a straw cup or sippy (or the Nuby if she won’t do a straw or sippy). 6 months is kind of a transitional time in a lot of ways, and some kids who are very particular about what goes into their mouths before then get more adventurous for a few weeks right around that time (which makes sense, since that’s when kids start to want to eat other foods). You might be able to use that in your favor to get her to drink cold milk out of a different kind of cup.

If you decide to adopt that approach, you might want to wait another month or two before you even try to introduce milk in a cup or sippy. That way you can be closer to the experimentation window and not spend time trying to give warm miilk from a bottle in case you end up giving cold milk from a cup later. But obviously it’s your call, based on what makes you feel better about things.

If nothing works, I think you have two options:

1. Let the daycare provider deal with it. Your daughter won’t be the first child they’ve ever dealt with that doesn’t want to drink out of a bottle. They probably have tricks we don’t know about.

2. Don’t worry about it. A 6-month-old can go a long time between feedings, and she may just rearrange her feeding schedule so she eats only solids at daycare and does all her nursing at home. This wouldn’t surprise me at all, since I know plenty of babies who are at home with their mothers who hardly nurse at all during the day, but eat food during the day and do most of their nursing in the evening and the 11 o’clock "dream feed." So I think it goes hand in hand with the age of exploration, and is quite a handy way for a baby who doesn’t like bottles to still get in enough calories while still not taking a bottle.

Good luck. I think it will end up being much less stressful at 6 months approaches than it is now.

Q&A: getting 18-month-old to eat food

Sarah writes:

"Any ideas on how to convince my 18-month-old that fruits and veggies are
not a tool of the devil??  He ate pretty much anything we put in front
of him up until a few months ago.  Now his diet is becoming
increasingly limited.  Loves cheese, yogurt and bread related items and
will tolerate the occasional banana and applesauce.  I’m running out of
ideas in how to prepare veggies to tempt him to try it.  He’s also been
known to chuck fruit back at us as well.  Any thoughts on making them
more appetizing to toddlers or am I doomed to just wait out this phase??"

Since 18 months is all about asserting control, I don’t think you’re going to be able to convince him to eat anything you want him to. Instead, you’re going to have to con him or trick him into eating vegetables.

You can con him by making a big deal about the delicious peas or carrots or whatever other vegetable you’re eating, but talk about how it’s only for "big kids" and little kids like him can’t eat any. If you make it look and sounds really delicious and like it’s something he really wants to do but can’t, he may fall for the con and beg to eat some. If it works, ride the con ’til it’s dead.

You could also trick him into eating vegetables and fruits by putting them into something else. I’ve known people who started making smoothies for their kids with yogurt and blended fruits. A friend had a muffin-crazy child who would eat anything in muffin form. So she’d just add vegetables to sweet muffins. It was disgusting, but her kid loved them. Spinach-banana muffins, sweet potato-apple muffins (which actually sounds kind of good to me), zucchini-chocolate chip muffins, green pepper-raisin muffins, etc. You could also try pancakes, which are just as deliciously starchy as muffins are and can hide all kinds of vegetables (mmmm…forbidden broccoli pancakes).

Now none of this might work. But by the time you’ve gone through all the ideas (and I’m hoping some commenters will have some other ideas) a month or two will have elapsed and maybe your son will become vulnerable to peer pressure ("Sophia’s eating peas! Why don’t you eat some peas, too?"). Or maybe he’ll be past the horrible 18-month control-freak stage and into the delightful 2-year-old stage and will eat whatever you and your partner are eating. Or maybe you’ll start drinking more wine with dinner and it won’t matter to you anymore.

At any rate, eventually this stage will pass, and he’ll eat fruits and vegetables again. And then he’ll stop eating them again, and then start, and then stop, etc. And then he’ll go away to college and it won’t be your problem anymore. So do the best you can, but don’t let it become an emotional issue for you or else it’ll take on too much importance and will stress you out for no reason.

Search phrase report, Vol. 1

I’ve been keeping track of the phrases people search on that land them here on Ask Moxie. A few are pretty funny (like "Supernanny big boobs"), but most are people looking for info I actually have to offer.

I’ve been getting a surprising number of hits for "sew your own pouch" or "fleece pouch pattern" or "Hotsling pattern." I don’t have one on this site, but I did find this super-easy pattern. If I end up sewing one (to match my ring sling sewn from this pattern) I’ll let you know how it goes. You can also check out my post on my favorite slings (and the comments, of course) to see if there’s anything else you’re interested in.

I get a ton of hits on variations of "my 9 month old won’t sleep" or "9 month old won’t sleep in crib" or "9 month old wakes up all night" or "9 month old wakes up screaming" or "I hate my 9 month old" (just kidding about that last one). If you’re at your wit’s end because your 9 (or 8) month-old is having sleep problems, you’re probably smack dab in the middle of the sleep regression before the next developmental spurt. Here’s a basic rundown of what the sleep regressions are about. And the post "9-month-old’s sleep has gone into the crapper" might be helpful, too. FWIW, the time I felt most morose and hopeless about parenting and my life was when my older son was 9 months, and I’m going through another wave of "is this all there is?" now that my younger one is 9 months. I think the sleep thing and the discouragement thing are intricately related.

For anyone looking for "sleep training" this post might help you. I’ll tell you that I don’t think letting your baby cry alone in a room trains them to do anything but shut down. You’ll have better luck teaching your child to sleep if you respond to his or her needs at night, so they learn that the world can be trusted and there’s nothing to be afraid of. If you have a kid that needs a little bit of fussing or crying for the final wind-down before sleep, you can test it by doing a very short controlled cry to see what happens. A kid who escalates will let you know right away that you shouldn’t let them cry. A kid who needs to fuss down (sometimes or all the time) will do so in a few minutes.

For anyone looking for "having another baby" or "when to have another baby" or "how long should I wait before getting pregnant again" or "pregnant again but husband doesn’t want it" (which made me sad), I’m sooo not the person to ask. My two boys (4 years and 9 months old, respectively) are kicking my ass. So I can’t recommend having another baby. But then again they love each other with such intensity and have so much fun together already and make me laugh so much that I recommend it to everyone. Whichever way you go it’s going to work out, while still making you a little nuts. I would suggest reading Siblings Without Rivalry to give yourself a good framework to help avoid the easy traps that end up setting up jealousy between siblings.

Another frequent string is "toddler won’t drink milk" or "why won’t my toddler drink milk??" or "teach toddler to drink from a sippy". I’d suggest trying another kind of milk or reading the suggestions in the comments to this post for other tips on helping kids drink from sippy or straw cups.

This afternoon we’ll be back to Q&A.

Q&A: breast pads (specifically Lilypadz)

Daphne (who is newly pregnant and either a market researcher or product liability lawyer, judging from her questions) writes:

"So. Lilypadz. Any specific feedback you can give me that would be enlightening? 

How long have you been using them? Months? A year? 2 Years?

What are they made of, by the way? Plastic/silicon/latex/NASA-developed secret substance?

How many pairs have you gone through? 

What color are they?

Are they detectable through clothes? 

Speaking of clothes/foundation garments… if you’ve used the Padz for a long time… do you NEED a nursing bra? Or can you use a normal bra at some point?

Have you had success with wearing them to bed minus the foundation garment?

Did you use them with the prior pregnancy? 

What are the noticeable differences between the Padz and antique padded
milk-absorber thingers (if you ever used the old fashioned ones)?

Do they still stick if you use ointment to preserve the integrity of the skin (cracking/chapping/etc)?

Anything else you can tell me that I might not think to ask you would also be most helpful.

Earlier tonight, my sister in law complained that her old-fashioned breast-leak-preventers were horrible.  So not only would I like to get some for me, but I’d like to get SIL some ASAP. "

That is a thorough line of questioning, Daphne. I hope never to be up against you in a courtroom.

I was told, in the breastfeeding class I took while pregnant with El Chico, that the reason some women leak is because there’s a muscle inside each breast that controls the flow of the milk. Some women have tighter muscles there (they won’t leak) and other women have looser muscles there (they will leak). The LC who led the class did not think supply was directly correlated to whether or not you’d leak (although obviously if you have chronic low supply you won’t ever get engorged enough to have anything to leak).

The difference in muscles (which apparently has some genetic component) also has something to do with the different ways women experience the sensation of milk letdown. I’ve heard some women describe it as painful, like little electric shocks, while others say they never noticed it, but most seem to feel something in between.

Also, the longer you nurse, the better your body becomes at storing and regulating supply, so the less you’ll get engorged and the less you’ll leak. All this stuff make sense to me, based on what happened to me and the women I’ve talked to about this. I stopped leaking with El Chico at maybe 4-5 months, and with El Pequeño at around 7 months. I stopped feeling the letdown with each kid right around the time I stopped leaking. I have a friend who had a huge supply (her daughter had a heart defect that caused her to need an enormous number of calories for the first two months until the hole closed up) but never leaked. I have other friends who leaked until they weaned.

So you don’t know ahead of time whether or not you’ll leak and even need nursing pads, although if you leak during pregnancy you know you’ll leak at least some once your milk is in.

And now a little review of the nursing pads I’ve tried. I’m an oversupplier, and I leak. Waking-up-in-a-puddle-of-my-own-milk kind of leaking (a problem I know tons of people would love to have even if it means you smell like a cheese factory). So nursing pads aren’t optional for me (my mom says she used to just put a cloth diaper in each side of her bra).

I’ve used disposible pads, and really really don’t like them. They are convenient, except that I always run out and then by the time I get to and from the store I’ve leaked through my bra and shirt. The adhesive never really works that well so I end up with a bunched-up pad that looks like a boll weavil in my bra and is not giving me proper coverage. They’re not absorbant enough to cover me for all night. The stay-dry material of the pads always makes me itch. And if you aren’t careful to buy disposible pads that breathe you can get a wicked infection or fungus, which just, eew.

I’ve used cloth pads and like them slightly better. They’re far more comfortable, and it’s not throwing money down a hole because you can reuse them. But I have to change them 3-4 times a day, they bunch up and are bulky even when they’re not bunched, and I have to remember to wash them and somehow keep track of the pairs (yes, I use a lingerie bag, but somehow they escape). Also, they don’t contain my nighttime output.

I struggled through with the cloth pads during my leaking time with El Chico, but lost all patience when I was leaking with El Pequeño. So I gave in to the hype about Lilypadz (despite my misgivings about purchasing a product with a Z where an S should be). Oh, so worth the $20. So, so worth the $20.

Lilypadz are clear, floppy, flower-shaped discs made of "silicone rubber compounds" that are smooth on one side and tacky on the other side. You peel them off the hard plastic discs they come on and stick them right to your skin, like pasties (link is not work safe, no no no!). They work the same way it does if you press your fingers or the back of your hand against your nipple when you feel the letdown coming–the pressure stops the milk from coming out. So Lilypadz don’t catch any milk; instead, they stop it from coming out to begin with.

Because they stick to you you don’t need to wear a bra with them (I didn’t at night), and because they’re so thin and flexible you can’t see them under clothes. A friend with no kids told me that her friend (also with no kids) wears them under skimpy outfits to prevent nipple show-through. For what that’s worth.

After you wear them you should wash them with soap and let them air dry. If you don’t wash them in between wearings they won’t stick to you that well (and milk can come out and leak down out the bottom of them). Whenever you want to you can boil them to sterilize them (boiling them turns them a little cloudy, but doesn’t affect the performance). After a couple of months mine started to disintegrate slightly. I used mine for about 3 1/2 months, at which point I stopped needing to use them (I stopped leaking) and stopped keeping track of them and one went missing (it’s undoubtedly back behind the headboard of our bed, where I can’t see or reach). The website says they last for around 4 months, which I think is probably a good estimate.

From a financial standpoint, they’re way cheaper than using disposible pads for the same amount of time. In order to have a decent rotation of cloth pads you’d probably end up spending at least $20, so you end up ahead there, too. Environmentally speaking, I liked only having two items in use that required minimal care.

The website claims that they are less likely to cause thrush than other pads are, and that makes sense to me since the milk shouldn’t even come out to get trapped next to your skin. I didn’t use mine until I was past the irritation phase of nursing, so I don’t know how they’d perform with lanolin underneath them. I’d recommend that in the first few weeks of nursing, if you’re using ointment for irritation or cracking you allow your nipples to be in the open air as much as possible anyway, so pads shouldn’t be an issue at that point.

For me at least, Lilypadz were absolutely the answer to the question "If they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they invent nursing pads that don’t make me look like an idiot and smell like a fine Stilton?".

Oh, and I have problems nursing while not wearing a nursing bra because I have a big cup size. Friends with smaller cup sizes have great success just lifting their regular bras to nurse. So the question about whether or not you need nursing bras totally depends on the size of your particular rack. You may want to check out this post about nursing bras, and especially the comments, to gather some more info about nursing bras in general.

I hope that answers all your questions, because my brain is empty now on the topic of leaking and breast pads.

Q&A: witnessing a parent abusing a child

Here’s a sad one. I don’t have a real answer for it (as you’ll see). What do you think?

Corrie writes:

"I am a 24-year-old grad student – no children of my
own, but I tend to take care of other people’s and want a family
someday.

While volunteering with my therapy dog at the mall
today, I saw a woman hit her child, hard.  I missed whatever
prompted it, but saw her ball up her fist and slam it backhanded
into her little girl (age, maybe 10?). The girl cringed away but did
not cry out.

I was with another woman and we were both
upset by it, but neither of us got involved because we didn’t want to make the
situation worse for the little girl.  In a situation like that – where
I knew the mother would resent any "interference" and I don’t have any way to
reach the child – what would you recommend doing? Its now 3 am, and
I climbed out of bed to try and process this, as I cannot sleep for
thinking of it.

I know this is a little different from your usual
question, so please feel free to set it aside if its not appropriate for your
blog.  Thanks for giving me a place to ask the question, either
way."

No wonder you can’t sleep for thinking of it. I got a little sick to my stomach just reading the question.

I’ve been in situations 3 or 4 times (always on public transportation, not-so-oddly enough) in which I could tell the parent was getting frustrated and things could escalate to abuse. I’ve tried to step in before things got really nasty in a way that affirmed both the parent and the child, by offering empathy to the parent and compliments to the child. Usually I start by trying to catch the parent’s eye and rolling my eyes in that "we’ve all been there" way. Then I say something like, "Geez, it’s rough, isn’t it? I can tell she’s really smart. It’s the smart ones that drive you crazy." Then I look at the kid and use a joking or cutesy voice to say, "Are you too smart? Someday your mom’s going to be glad you’re a brilliant lawyer or a rocket scientist, but she sure is tired right now. You two better go easy on each other." Then I try to chit-chat the mom a little more if I have time, dumb mom stuff about getting paint out of clothes or toddlers not wanting to let you get them dressed, etc., just to build community and let her know she’s not in it alone. As I leave I say something like "Hey, smart girl, take care of your mom, OK?" and then "Hang in there" to the mom with a big smile.

But.

That’s before the situation has escalated, or when you can tell it’s just a normal parent stretched to the limits (like we all are at times–ask me about the time I screamed at El Chico "You are making me insaaaaaane! Just stop asking me questionsssss!" on 2nd Avenue). Once a parent has hit a child in public, things have derailed so far that there’s really no way to try to herd the parent back into decent behavior.

I don’t think there’s any good answer to this. The best
possible result would be to be able to say something that would make
the mother decide to stop hurting her child and actively work on better
discipline and communication. The acceptable result would be to let the
child know that it’s not normal and it’s not OK for her mother to be
hurting her. But how can you do that without making it worse?

The satisfying thing to do would be to call 911, then block the mother from leaving until the police got there. But then what happens? The mother is even angrier. The child is in even more danger, and is now terrified that her mother’s going to go off to jail.

The
only-slightly-less-satisfying thing to do would be to loudly ask, "Did
you just hit your child?" and draw a bunch of attention to her. A crowd might form and start telling her she was doing the wrong thing. The good thing here would be that the child would know that the mother’s abuse was not acceptable or normal behavior. It might be the only thing that enabled her to make it until she was old enough to leave. But it could also put the child in greater danger, and who knows if any other people would back you up?

You could follow the parent and try to figure out enough information to report her to Child Services, but who knows where that would lead. There’s no guarantee there would be any investigation, even, let alone any intervention that could actually help the pair.

I was in a situation a few weeks ago in which it was cold outside and I saw a mother hitting her toddler on the face repeatedly because he wasn’t leaving the blanket tucked in over him in the stroller. I had no idea what to do, and I kind of froze, but eventually I found my voice and said the first thing I could think of. I said, "Ma’am, is there anything I can do to help you?" She looked at me like I was a crazy person, but I felt like I had to press on. "Because I saw you hitting your baby, and that’s just not the right thing to do." At that point two men walking by who had seen it also stopped and started telling her she shouldn’t hit her kid. She said, "But he’ll catch a cold! He won’t keep his blanket on!" I said, "Wouldn’t it be better for him to get sick with a cold than to have a mother who hits him? If you need any kind of help taking a break, I can watch him for a few minutes while you go get a cup of coffee and cool off." Of course she turned me down, because no one would let a stranger on the street in New York (albeit a stranger pushing a sleeping baby) watch her kid. I didn’t have any idea what to do, but she turned and wheeled the kid accross the street, so I went home.

I have no idea if this was the right thing to do. I was so shaken up by it that I couldn’t blog about it at the time. Just typing it out right now is making my stomach knot up. But I couldn’t just not say anything and let her and her son think it’s OK to hit your child like that.

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but that kid I saw and that kid Corrie saw are our own kids. They’re El Chico and El Pequeño. They’re any future kids we’re lucky enough to have, and they’re us when we were little. They don’t need to be taken away from their parents. Their parents need community support to be able to deal with the shitty, stressful, tunnel-vision-inducing aspects of parenting with love and grace and patience instead of violence. They need to be taught how to deal with children’s behavior that’s completely normal but that does threaten to make us lose our minds. They need support, and their kids need protection.

So, what do we do? What can we say? Because we can’t say nothing.

Any ideas?

Updated: Lisa C. posted this wonderful link about things to do when you witness a parent hurting a child. It especially emphasizes that you don’t want to give approval to the abuser, and staying silent implies approval and normalcy.

Q&A: introducing milk to toddler

K had an addendum to her sleeping question:

"milk, when and how to introduce it?

background: the lovely lady is 13 months and her
cousin has had terrible problems with milk allergies. apart from him
there are no known milk allergy cases in the family.

my options are:
stage two powder milk
goats milk formula powder
fresh goats milk
soy
rice milk
real normal milk [full fat]
watered down full fat yoghurt

what did you do?"

What did I do? I was still nursing El Chico at 13 months, so I didn’t really worry much about it. He was already drinking water and "bubble water" (plain seltzer/club soda) as a treat* from a straw cup by then. We have no history of allergies, and he was fine with other dairy products, so I just tried some whole cow’s milk in a straw cup one day and he liked it. I gave it to him whenever he asked for it if he was eating his normal meals. After a few months I stopped buying whole milk and gave him the 1% my husband drinks, because the logic of recommending whole fat dairy to toddlers isn’t that they necessarily need the dairy fat but just so nutty people don’t restrict fat in a toddler’s diet. El Chico ate avocados and other fatty foods (nuts, etc.) ’til the cows came home, so I wasn’t worried about his getting fat in the milk he drank. He’s almost 4, and he still mostly drinks water and milk (and apple juice at school).

Here’s the thing, though: There are plenty of cultures in which toddlers don’t drink milk, and they grow up perfectly healthy. So if you don’t drink cow’s milk or don’t want your child to, it won’t be a big deal. And if your kid doesn’t like cow’s milk, nothing bad will happen. My brother and I both despised cow’s milk as kids. I eat plenty of other dairy products (cheese and ice cream, mostly), but my brother still can’t stand dairy (he even orders pizza with no cheese). And we’re both tall (5′ 8" and 6′ 0", respectively) with no health problems and good bones and teeth**. My mom made sure we ate a variety of foods (she was a co-op hippy kind of mom) and we took vitamins, so I’m guessing we were healthier than kids who drank a ton of milk but didn’t eat much else.

Anyway, all of that is just to say that I don’t think people should be stressing that much about introducing milk to their kids. Try cow’s milk in a sippy or straw cup, and if your kid doesn’t like it, pick something else to try. Some kids like goat’s milk, but it’s way expensive and tastes too gamey to me, so I’d try fortified soy "milk" (it’s bean juice, people) or rice milk (a.k.a. horchata) instead. But that’s just me and my tastes. Some people want their kids to drink a variety of different milk-like liquids, and that’s great, too.

If your toddler is still nursing or eating a variety of foods you don’t really need formula of any kind, but if it makes you feel better to give formula, then go ahead. I wouldn’t bother to heat it up at all, because then you’ll have to keep heating it every time you give it to her.

So I don’t know. What do you and your partner drink at home? (Other than wine and espresso, I mean.) Try giving her a little to see if she likes it. If she does, you’re set. If she doesn’t, or you want her to get used to a variety of beverages, keep trying things and seeing what she likes.

*I highly recommend giving your toddler bubble water every once in awhile if you ever go to restaurants to eat. They think it’s really special, but it’s only carbonated water, so it’s fine for them, but they get to order a special drink like the adults and it helps you delay the soda question. It’s one of those ways of giving your toddler the illusion of control without letting them make a bad choice.

**Interestingly enough, my grandmother grew up on a dairy farm and has drunk a pint of milk every day of her life, had 5 kids and nursed them all for at least a year each, and does weight-bearing exercise regularly, but she developed major osteoporosis. She’s totally the outlier on the stats of bone strength and lifestyle factors. But she’s been getting chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture and taking Fosamax, and her bones are in better shape at 90 than they were at 80.

Q&A: weaning a co-sleeping toddler

Angie writes:

"My question is about weaning from the breast.  I have a 16 month old daughter who I was fortunate enough to breastfeed the whole 1st year (and now past that mark…).

She never had formula, so I made enough milk for her, ironically enough only out of one boob.  My left boob really never made much milk and I was able to "wean" her off the left boob without any problem.  I am interested in beginning to try to wean her off my milk-making boob–the right one–now.  I am not in any big hurry, but maybe by summer would be great. 

Problem is, I don’t really know where to start.  She doesn’t nurse that much anyway, so I know slowly cutting back the number of nursing sessions is the way.  I co-sleep with her & she nurses before bed (she doesn’t always nurse to sleep, ’cause I know that is a bad habit), she nurses when I get home from work and then she nurses around 4-5am so I am comfortable during my day at work, so really only 3 maybe 4 times a day.  I had a bout of mastitis when she was 11 months old and I am not looking to go there again! 

It is at the point of where my husband gives me shit about still nursing her.  When she pulls at my shirt or just pulls my tank top down to get the boob out, my husband makes a smart-ass comment.  He certainly doesn’t have any problem when he is trying to watch a movie and she is being whiny and I can shut her up by giving her "booby time".  Anyway, I still enjoy our nursing relationship, and I enjoy co-sleeping with her, but it is getting time to begin weaning.  And like I said, I want to do it SLOWLY.  How do I still co-sleep but wean her?  I don’t want her to cry a lot either.  Any advice or suggestions on this PLEASE! Thank you so much!"

So that’s the answer to the question "Can you nurse a baby if you only make milk in one breast?" Good for you for making it so far on only one engine.

Before we talk about the waening process, let me mention that there seem to be natural breaks in which kids tend to be more likely/able to wean easily than at other times. 9 months is one of them, as is 18 months. So you’re probably starting at about the right time. If you notice a lot of resistance from your daughter to dropping a nursing session, pull back and try again in another week.

Now to the actual weaning process. I don’t know which session you want to cut out first. I’d go with either the one that bothers you least or the one that bothers you most. Let me tell you how I think you should cut out each one, and then you decide where to start.

Home from work session: You will have to create a new reunion ritual that she likes just as much as nursing. Maybe blowing bubbles or tickling or something fun like that, combined with a sippy of strawberry chocolate milk and a ton of snuggling. It might only take a few days, or it might take a few weeks to get her to switch, although it’ll probably be easier if you switch up your pick-up routine a little. So if you normally nurse in a certain place right after you get home, stay away from that area of the house for an hour or so after getting home from work. If you can keep everything else exactly the same as it was before, but surgically excise the nursing part and replace it with something equally bonding and fun, she should be momentarily confused but not upset.

4-5 am session: You could either do the Dr. Jay Gordon co-sleeping nightweaning plan I referenced in this post, or you might (if you wait and eliminate this session when she’s closer to 18 months) be able to just talk about it with her that you’re not going to nurse when it’s dark out anymore. You should hype the "no nursing in the middle of the night" idea for a few nights before you actually try it. Again, you may want to create a new thing for her to do when she wakes up then, but it should be a more "disposible" thing so you’re really just transitioning her to staying asleep then instead. I’m thinking something like a sippy of water or a snuggle with a song, etc. that you can then drop in a month or two (or just leave a sippy of water on the bedside table and she can get it herself if she wakes up). If she’s really resistant to dropping this session, your husband will have to deal with her waking up then for the week to three weeks it takes her to drop it. But you said he wants her to wean, so I’m sure he’ll do whatever it takes to help the process along. Right? (Heh.)

Before bed session: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with nursing to sleep in general, but it probably is going to be easiest to drop this session since it’s not an essential part of your bedtime routine. (Since it’ll probably be the easiest to drop, do you want to do it first or drop it last? That’s totally up to you.) Again, it’s going to fall to your husband. He just puts her to bed every night for a few weeks and she’ll be totally out of the habit of nursing. If it’s too difficult the first night, you may have to arrange to be out of the house for her bedtime for a few days in a row.

Again, I think you’ll figure out what she’s willing to do now and what might be more difficult for her. If your idea is to be done weaning by the summer, I think starting now will give you plenty of time to do it slowly so she’s really OK with it as you do it. If you sense a lot of resistance or fear from her after a few days or trying to cut out a particular session, stop pressing to wean from that session, wait a few days, and then try a different one.

I also think that since you’ve had mastitis (I’m getting chills just thinking about it) and are afraid of getting it again, you might want to try to slow down your production while you’re cutting out a particular nursing session. So if you decide to start with the home from work reunion session, you could drink some peppermint tea right before you leave work or on the way to get her. Mint slows down milk production (how much depends on how your body reacts to it), so if you get in the habit of having some mint an hour or two before you’d normally nurse you might find your supply naturally slowing down just when you want it to. (If mint doesn’t do the trick, try brewing some fresh sage leaves and drinking the "tea" that results to slow down your production.)

Since your husband is so eager for you to wean her, maybe it’ll help the process if you sit down with him and ask him for his input on which session to eliminate first. Since he’s going to be the one doing the weaning from the to-bed session and he may have to do some middle-of-the-night work on the 4 am session, he should be able to help you make your game plan. If he helps make it, it’ll also help get him on board with having to participate in the process.

Good luck. I hope it goes smoothly and easily for all three of you.

Q&A: what are sleep regressions anyway?

Cat writes:

"You’ve written a number of times about sleep regression at four months
and eight months. Since we’re a few weeks away from four months, I was
wondering what exactly is sleep regression? Are there theories as to
what causes it, like some developmental milestone that all kids hit at
the same time? How long does it typically last? Do kids typically
return to their previous sleeping patterns afterwards, regardless of
how you handle a sleep regression? Anything else that would be useful
to know?"

I think "regression" is just the term people use so that parents know that the blow-up of sleep is pretty universal at certain times and isn’t just something that’s affecting one child.

I actually think regression is a complete misnomer for several reasons. First, it implies that babies’ sleep progresses in a linear fashion, with better sleep each week until the fateful day at which they sleep all the way through every single night. To put it mildly, that isn’t true. Secondly, it indicates that it’s a negative trend, when in reality it’s just a reaction to things cooking on other levels. Kind of the way you shouldn’t run right after you eat a big meal, since your body is busy digesting the food and can’t spare the energy for running.

Babies have a whole lot going on with them in general. On one level we have the physical milestones. Rachael at SparkPlugDance.org has done this amazing breakdown of the physical milestones from birth through walking and how they affect neural pathways. (She also has a great article up about how to make tummy time fun for even the biggest resisters.) On another level we have the whole feeding thing, which is quite a bit to get coordinated. First they have to get down the sucking part, then they all seem to go through that nasty "does my baby have colic or is it a GI problem?" phase at 6 weeks, then they have the growth spurts (at 3, 6, and 12 weeks and again at 6 months). They’re learning to trust you and love you. Then there’s teething, which kids can start as early as 6 weeks (mine did) and can last on and off for months before one pops through.

All of these things can affect sleep. But all of these things are kind of obvious, so if your baby’s up all night grabbing her ears and drooling, you know it’s teething. If he can’t sleep because he keeps waking up on his hands and knees rocking back and forth, you know it’s because his body is learning to crawl. Since you can see it and label it you can understand it.

Your baby is also going through enormous developmental spurts that you can’t see, because they’re dealing with cognitive processes. They work through these spurts the same way they work through the physical spurts, but when your baby is practicing recognizing patterns, you can’t see that. Leading up to the actual new skill the baby is going to go through several weeks of intense brain work and prep that you can’t necessarily see (unless you know specifically what to look for). One of the side effects of this brain work is that they don’t sleep as well as they do during times in which they’re not about to master a new skill. They may seem restless in the night (like they do sometimes when mastering a physical skill) but it’s just nothing you can see and label. So we call it a sleep regression.

Once a baby has learned the new skill, s/he will often sleep through the entire night for 1-3 nights after mastering the skill. Which is freaky from the parents’ perspective, because you go from waking 10 times one night to sleeping 12 hours the next. But it makes complete sense if you know that the baby was working on this really tough challenge and couldn’t help but wake up so often (in fact it’s probably a miracle that the baby could even fall asleep in the first place with so much going on in the noggin), and then once they’ve got it they relax and sleep it off for a couple of days, like sleeping off a crazy party. Then they’ll most likely go back to sleeping the way they were before they started working on the new developmental skill.

Everything I know about when and what the actual developmental spurts are I learned from the book The Wonder Weeks by the Dutch researchers Hetty Vanderijt and Frans Plooij. They tell you when the spurts happen (based on a 40-week baby, so if your baby was born early s/he’ll hit the spurts a little later and if s/he was born later than 40 weeks s/he’ll hit them earlier), what kinds of symptoms the baby will show while working on the new skill, how you’ll feel when the spurt is happening, how to recognize what’s going on, and what kinds of games you can play with your baby to help develop or practice the new skill. One of the things I love about this book is that they don’t tell you what to do (aside from suggesting games to play) they just tell you what’s going on. I have a definite bias against books that tell you how to raise your kids, and I love that this book is just a roadmap of what’s going on when.

According to Vanderijt and Plooij, the spurts happen at weeks 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46, and 55 (that’s as far as they studied).

I think the reason the "4-month sleep regression" is such a big deal is that babies wake up a lot in the few weeks it takes while they’re working on the 19-week spurt, and then once they’ve gone through that spurt they only have a week or two (if that) of respite before they start prepping for the 26-week spurt. So it’s kind of one long stretch of bad sleep and cranky moods during that stage of your baby’s life.

The "8-month sleep regression" (which for some babies is closer to a 9-month sleep regression) is related to the 37-week spurt. For some reason that one just seems to cause more waking, too, than some of the other spurts do. It might also be particularly hard because many babies are smack in the middle of working on crawling or walking, and also teething. (At Casa Moxie we’ve had probably 8 weeks of crappy sleep between teething, the 37-week spurt, crawling, teething, and now pulling up. Every now and then he’ll have an easy night, but boy is it rough being a 9-month-old.)

Bear in mind that individual kids have different reactions to all kind of spurts (physical, developmental, etc.). Some teeth painfully for months, while others just pop a tooth with no symptoms. Some will wake in the night practicing crawling for weeks, while others never do and just take off one day with no warning to you. The developmental spurts are the same, so you might have a kid who has 3-4 nights of wacky sleep and then learns a new skill, or you could have one that spends 3-4 weeks waking up before every spurt.

If you want to be really prepared for the "regressions," I’d say borrow or buy the Wonder Weeks book, read it, and pay attention to the signals your baby is giving you. Once you know what’s going on it becomes fasciating and annoying instead of worrisome and torturous.

Reader Tip: stopping the nighttime fears of 3-year-old

Up this afternoon: "What is a sleep regression?"

This is the power of the internet, people. Reader Laura sends in this idea they used to help their daughter stop delaying bedtime by complaining that she was afraid of her toys:

"My three year old daughter has just recently discovered
her fears—of the dark, the rocking horse, the Piglet doll… what
have you. Anything to extend bedtime and elicit sympathy.

A few weeks ago we took down the toddler bed (which was
her crib, converted) and set up her big girl bed. Everything new except for the
bed, which had been mine. She participated in everything to the best of her 3
year old ability.

Now the room was too crowded, so we had to rearrange the
decorative items and the toys. My husband BRILLIANTLY asked her to tell him
what things were too scary to stay. Everything she deemed scary was out. We
honored this completely even though it meant that some items I really liked had
to go. We were fortunate, because she did not take advantage. We also guided
her and made suggestions such as, “We can take away that picture from
your christening, but do you remember being little and how much you used to
like to look at it? Are you sure you want it to go away?”  Sometimes
she insisted and sometimes she did change her mind.

At the end of the day she had a “new” room that
she had helped to put together. Yes, this took considerably longer than it
would have if my husband had taken her to the park while I did it—but we (all
three of us, I have a great husband) turned it into nice together time to
reminisce about her baby-hood and play with forgotten toys. We even packed a
box to give away to a battered women’s shelter.

She hasn’t resisted bedtime or been “scared” of her room since. And she stays in her room in the morning now—which turns out to be a mixed blessing because I miss the snuggly wakeups!

Lesson we learned? Its hard to be three. Maybe it would\nbe easier for everybody if sometimes she got to be in control of something affecting her. Maybe we need to find chances to give her those opportunities."

That’s a great idea, Laura. (And don’t you just love when your partner comes up with something you never would have considered that works perfectly?)

3 does seem to be the age of fear of imaginary things. We went through a similar phase of being afraid of "monsters" that might or might not be in our apartment. We used a "monster scarer" to keep them out of our apartment. Our monster scarer is Maneki Neko, which someone gave me years ago as a good luck charm for my kitchen. Who knew the raised paw would scare away monsters?

Another friend used a spray bottle full of water, and before her daughter went to bed at night they’d spray the monster repellent under the bed and in the closet.

I think it’s important to give kids the sense that they can do something against the monsters in their rooms and in their lives. If anyone else has any monster-scaring ideas, please post them.