Thanking the advertisers and some requests

Very special thanks to our advertisers! (Why I say "our" when it’s really just me is beyond me.)

BabyDagny.com now has bamboo blankets and bathrobes. Have you people felt bamboo fabric? It’s super-soft, and very absorbent, and as long as you don’t have a pet koala, it’s great. And did I mention soft?

Read MSNBC.com to see how your marriage stacks up to the marriages of the people who went on camera with them. I love advertisers who promotoe voyeurism…

FireHouse Dog is a movie about a dog who fights fires and rides a skateboard. ‘Nuff said. I trust you’ll be there opening weekend, as I will.

Now, Gretchen has a request. She’d like to know how to go about finding a pediatrician when you 1) are new to the area and don’t know other parents yet, 2) work full-time, 3) have a list of 20 doctors that are on your plan, 4) have a 2-year-old who takes a long time to warm up to people and even longer to warm up to doctors, and 5) have no babysitter so you’ll have to take your shy toddler along on all the visits to meet the doctors. Alternately, if anyone can just suggest a great doctor in Cleveland, that might be even more helpful to her (but less helpful to the greater knowledge base).

Also, just so you know, if you use pocket diapers (they’re a kind of cloth diaper) and are looking for super-thin, super-absorbant stuffers, the Trader Joe’s super dish towels (made of viscose) sold in a 2-pack work really well. Go figure.

Q&A: 6-year-old and clothing battles

Liz writes:

"I’m struggling with my 6 year old daughter and her clothing.  Every morning it’s the same scenario…. we try to get dressed, she flings herself and saysthis or that doesn’t feel right.  When shopping for her clothes – I try
to buy only comfortable items, no wool, no "scratchy" fabric, etc….
We waste a lot of money on her clothing since she will just reject an
item and never try it again.  I’m getting extremely frustrated and want
to stop this early morning craziness!"

All my readers will say to have her pick her outift the night before, including undergarments and shoes, and lay them out so she can get dressed quickly in the morning. And that will be great advice, unless she does that but then refuses to wear them the next morning.

My suggestion is to figure out if there’s something she’ll wear consistently. Any outfit at all, no matter how boring. If
there is, then buy at least 5 of them and have her wear the same thing every
day. This will help if there’s really something bugging her about other clothes. (And you never know. One friend’s daughter wouldn’t wear anything with fasteners. Another would only wear pink things.)

If
there’s nothing she’ll always wear, then I wonder if it’s a control
thing for her, and would try to look at what else is going on in her
life that makes her need to control her situation so completely. This could be just a different version of the whole "I’m not eating anything you try to give me" thing that is so common in toddlers. If you can figure out ways to give her more control in other areas, and then establish a consistent pattern for choosing clothes (like having her choose the night before and then stick to that choice the next morning), you might be able to stop the battles.

Good luck. It’s not fair–you really shouldn’t have to deal with clothing battles until your daughter turns 12.

Q&A: “in denial” about CIO?

Pamela writes:

"I’m the mother of a wonderful 10 month old boy. Wonderful in every respect except that he’s a terrible sleeper at night. I haven’t gotten a decent (more than 3 consecutive hours) amount of sleep since the 4 month sleep regression. He averages 3 wakings a night, around 11pm, 2am, and 4:30am. I’ve been holding out doing any sleep training in the hopes that he’ll start sleeping through the night on his own.

Am I kidding myself? I hear of people saying their baby finally started sleeping through the night at 11 months, but were those kids waking up this much? I’m trying to keep the faith, but it’s hard.

We don’t have any problems putting him down at night (I nurse him, and put him in drowsy or sometimes asleep) and I generally nurse him when he wakes as well. Please give me some encouragement to keep
Ferber and Weissbluth at bay, or tell me I’m in denial, and my kid really does sleep worse than others and needs intervention."

Well, the only people who talk about sleep are the ones who have good
sleepers. Basically, anyone who’s tried something and it worked will
rave about it, but people who try something that doesn’t work think
it’s their fault so they don’t say anything about it.

So for every kid who started sleeping through the night at 11
months, there are an equal number who didn’t start until 15 months
(another really common time–both of mine didn’t sleep through until
then, which is strange because they slept so differently from each
other in every other way), and probably an equal number who didn’t
really sleep through regularly until 2 years. And for every kid for
whom CIO worked, there are an equal number whose sleep got even worse
because of CIO, or for whom it just didn’t do anything.

Now: I do think you can kind of predict which kind of kid you
have and when they’ll sleep through. Basically, if you have a kid who’s
just a nightmare sleeper in every way–can’t get to sleep easily, won’t
stay asleep, has big problems in the middle of the night–those seem to
be the ones who won’t sleep through until 2 years (or even longer, God
help their parents). If you have a kid who can fall asleep but just
wakes up a lot (like yours and my second one–which I absolutely don’t classify as a "terrible sleeper" because I’ve just heard of so many worse sleepers, but no one’s telling you that because they’re afraid to say anything when the conversation turns to sleep) and doesn’t seem to be
particularly upset during the night, just awake, those seem to be the
15 monthers. The ones who are great sleepers in general but just go
through the normal sleep regressions are the ones who sleep through at
11 months.

Not that it’s always like that, of course, but this is what I’ve observed from people I know IRL and from the emails I get. (Read the rest of the post before you leave your comment telling me I’m dead on or full of it. :-))

Add
in the other factor that really influences whether or not you do CIO,
which is how your child responds to crying. If you have a kid who gains
tension by crying (so if you let him cry he’ll escalate and get more
and more upset), you’re an unwitting dupe if you do CIO because you’re just going
to make it worse for all of you. If, however, you have a kid who seems
to need to cry/fuss to tap off some energy (like some adults feel
better after "a good cry"), then the kid might actually need to cry for
a few minutes to go to sleep. My first was the first kind, and my
second was the second kind. (And yes, I was one of those "I could never let my precious child cry to sleep!" people until I had a kid who cried himself to sleep while nursing. Kids just seem to know what they need.)

To me, since you say he falls asleep easily by being nursed or
comforted to sleep, I personally wouldn’t mess with that by introducing
CIO into the mix. Certainly not to get him to sleep initially. I might
try a modified approach for the middle-of-the-night wakings of not giving him the nursing, but still responding to him, to see how he responds. In other words, get your partner
to take a shift of 3-4 nights in which he responds to your son at night
(I might still do the 2 am feeding, since it’s totally possible that
your son is actually hungry then, especially if he’s an active kid).
Some babies wake up out of habit, and if there’s no reward of nursing
they’ll just stop waking up then because it’s not worth it to them.
If he cries and it’s Daddy who shows up instead of the milk machine, he might just stop waking up because it’s not worth his time. But sending in your partner is still gentle parenting that won’t scare
him or make him feel alone (although it very well might piss him off).

I’d give it a try for 4 nights or so to see how he responds to
not getting you and your magic breasts in the middle of the night. It
might go well (my older one dropped the 11 pm feeding in a couple of
days this way and I was totally flabbergasted because I thought it
would be a huge fight, whereas my younger one freaked right out when we
tried that approach).
If it doesn’t, you’re out nothing but 4 nights in which you didn’t have to do all the wake-ups.

Basically, it’s kind of a choose your own adventure depending
on your child’s temperament, so I’d just try some easy readjustments
for a few days each to see how they work out before you jump to the big
guns of CIO. Which might not even work anyway on your particular kid,
so don’t believe the hype. (Don’t , don’t, don’t…)

If it makes you feel any better, I remember with both kids
just feeling like 9-10 months was absolutely killing me with the
endless sleep drama (and mine weren’t even that dramatic, just waking
up). I think it’s when we parents really start hitting the fatigue stage.
But everyone else seems to have a peppy, precocious sleeps-14-hours-at-a-stretch kid who’s also walking and can say 5 words and sign 30. It makes you feel like a loser. A puffy, incompetent, wrung-out loser. Things are much better at around a year, even if your kid isn’t
sleeping through reliably then. Maybe only because you can tell yourself that if you made it through one year you can make it through 17 more.

Commiseration? Anecdotes? No philosophical debates, please, just things to make Pamela feel better.

(Breakfast meeting, lunch and dinner planned, about to check the weather to choose clothes for Monday…)

Two Follow-Up Questions about WOHMing

More questions for you. (You are all so helpful!):

In the comments, Charisse asked if people would post how many kids they have, old their children are, and how long the morning routine takes.

By email, Lisa asked if we’d share what kind of childcare arrangement we have and how we decided on it and how it’s working out for us.

My answers:

I have 2 kids who are 5 years and 22 months. The routine has been taking 90 minutes from the second they wake up, but I think it would expand to as much time as I gave it. I maybe could do it in 60 minutes if I had to. But who knows, since it’s barely been a week.

My childcare arrangement is a combo of a babysitter who comes to our apartment and their dad having some half-days this week. Then there will be some vacation time, then a full-time babysitter at our apartment.

For us it’s pretty much the only option because in our part of NYC the waiting list for an acceptable daycare is 3-6 months. And my 5-year-old is in school 3 afternoons a week, so we’d have to jerk him out of that to go to daycare anyway. There is no home daycare (which would probably be my first choice otherwise) in this part of the city, so that’s not an option. We’re sucking up the cost (which is astronomical but not that much different than two in daycare would be), but it makes things waaaay easier for me since the kids don’t have to be dressed and I don’t have to pack bags for them before I leave. They like to eat when they first get up, but the rest is just conflict resolution.

Now you share.

(This post written at 9:30 pm, right after I picked out my outfit–lingerie and all–for tomorrow and assessed my lunch situation for tomorrow.)

Kudos and a Confession

Kudos: You guys are the best. Really. I have no idea how I attracted the best commenters on the whole internet, but you are consistently helpful, supportive, fonts of good information, and funny. I feel so lucky to have you all read the questions and offer up your experience and expertise.

Confession: I was going to try to continue on with Ask Moxie without any bumps, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. So the reason for the non-posts since last week is that I got a full-time job and haven’t quite figured out the WOH mom thing yet. The process of getting the job was bizarrely fast (from sending my resume to going on a business trip[!] was 8 days), but I’m enjoying it and the child care thing seems to be working itself out.

No, I’m not ever going to blog about my job, mostly because I don’t want to get fired, but also because they’re all really nice, competent people so what would I say? "M told a funny joke and we all laughed, then we went back to work." I will, however, say that we have free organic coffee and lots of windows in the office.

In the meantime, while I’m figuring out how to get myself out of the house in the morning and then come home and do everything I used to do all day, I might not get an Ask Moxie up every day. I’m guessing it’ll take me 2-3 more weeks to iron the schedule all out and get back to five posts a week. Please stay tuned.

Now, can anyone give me tips on sequencing in the morning? I seem to be drying my hair in a fluster every morning and bolting out the door without having a chance to eat or pack breakfast. The only element that can’t move is that I still nurse El P as soon as he wakes up, about 90 minutes before I have to be out the door. (Oh, and nothing is too obvious. I had this amazing flash of insight last night that I could pick my clothes out the night before and save some time the next morning. Duh.)

Q&A: getting on the same page with parenting approaches with your partner

Frequent commenter Amy writes:

"My husband and I are expecting our first child together (I
have a 4.5 yr old and a 7 yr old from a previous marriage) in May. The closer I
get to delivering the more nervous I get about his parenting philosophy. He is
a self-professed “old school” kind of guy about most things in his
life. This causes a little bit of conflict when it comes to raising the older
kids, but he pretty much defers to me in the end as the “expert”. I
assume it’s easy for him to do this as he doesn’t see them as “his”
kids. Yet this baby *is* his and I
fear that our styles are really going to clash. For example, I breastfed the
older two kids for 14 months and 12 months respectively. Both of them are still
very touchy-feely and attached to me. (I see this as a positive thing, he sees
it as negative). He blames their behavior on the breastfeeding and general very
hands-on parenting. He’s even suggested I not breastfeed this one so as
not to have the same results with an attached child. His theory? He wasn’t
breastfed and he turned out just fine. Another example—last night at the
dinner table I was telling the kids about their sleeping habits as babies.
Eldest child was a terrible sleeper, part of which I credit to his personality
and part to the fact that at the smallest whimper I picked him up. Second baby
was a great sleeper—again partly due to personality and partly due to the
fact that I didn’t pick her up at the slightest noise. I went on to tell
them about how much they cried in the night as newborns and this is where my
husband jumped in to say that we’ll just let the new baby cry from the
get-go because as I proved with baby #2 CIO is the way to go (though he didn’t
get that letting her whimper for 2 minutes was not CIO). I tried to explain
that you can’t just let a newborn CIO, but he countered with disbelief.

What I need is a book or a website (or series of sites) that
will bring him up to speed on modern parenting philosophy. I’m about as
moderate and mainstream in my parenting as you can get, so I know I’m not
asking him to raise this child any differently than most of our friends are
raising their children. But I refuse to use 1960s parenting skills just because
that’s how he was raised (and remember… he turned out just fine!).
He’s an academic and a teacher so he can appreciate recent studies on how
babies/children develop and learn, and how to discipline. (I think he probably
really needs some info on bonding as he seems to think that just being
biologically linked to the child does the trick.) But I need something that’s
not in your face or outside the mainstream, just informative so that when he
and I talk about how we want to do things he’s got the right info and not
what his mother has said worked for her over 40 years ago (and I’m
beginning to fear that this parenting experience might be akin to raising a child
with an in-law!). If it can be a great read, even better! So, any book or
website ideas to bring my husband into the 21st century in terms of
parenting?"

Hmmm. This is an interesting question, because there’s so much going on here:

1. How can you help him develop his skills as a parent without taking over the experience for him?

2. How can you help him respect your experience and skills?

3. Is there anything to be done about the fact that he sees the attachment your older children have to you as negative?

4. What books/websites can we suggest to help you?

To me, it seems like the biggest problem is with #3, that he sees attachment as a bad thing. I wonder if he’s in touch with how this is influenced by and affects his relationship with his own parents, and how he doesn’t need to replicate it with his own kids. If I ran the world I’d tell you he needs to get in to see a good therapist who knows something about family systems theory ASAP to help him work out at least a few of his own issues (cough * denial * cough), but I’d bet cash money that he’d never go to see someone because he "doesn’t need to."

I also wonder how this view of attachment (and, consequently, comfort and acceptance) plays out in the relationship the two of you have and how that’s going to change once the baby comes.

So I think I’d maybe be looking at this from a whole family point of view, not just a child development point of view. The problem here is that I don’t know of any mass market books that talk about attachment within the whole family. There are all kinds of self-help books (the Harriet Lerner Dance of Anger series, for example), but none that your husband would be willing to read if he doesn’t know that lack of attachment is a problem.

Which leads to the other problem, #4. I can’t think offhand of any parenting books that are going to make a case for attachment as a good thing without sounding too preachy and granola. The obvious choices for gentle parenting and a more attached way of dealing with kids are the Katie Allison Granju Attachment Parenting book and the Dr. Sears The Baby Book, but I doubt your husband will take either of these books seriously, as they both tend to be so far away from what he believes in that they’ll be suspect from the outset.

I’m wondering if any readers know of any books specifically about caring for babies that take the same calm, matter-of-fact tones that Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott (and two excellent books based on Ginott’s work, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Faber and Mazlish and Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen) does. What I love most about the Ginott book (and the other two) is that it’s so caring to everyone involved. It is clear about setting loving boundaries, but also being very kind in helping your child learn both self-control and expression of feelings.

So. I can tell you what books I wish I could recommend, but I don’t know if they exist. Readers? Are the books of my dreams out there, just unread by me so far? What about websites? And has anyone been in Amy’s shoes and worked through it?

Q&A: poop problems

Today we have two vastly different poop problems, neither of which I have any magic for.

Kim writes:

"My 2 1/2 year old is just about potty trained…the only time she wears a diaper is occasionaly to  poop in which case she requests a diaper.  She has pooped on the potty but is leary of it for that purpose.  The problem we have run into is that now she gets the urge to go but stops herself.  She doesn’t really want to put a diaper on nor sit down on her potty.  So now she is constipated and afraid of going because she knows it’s going to hurt…sigh.  It’s awful.  We did a little google research and came up with a name for this "condition", functional fecal retention.  As it is now she has not pooped in 5 days and she says her belly and her bum hurt.  Again, it’s awful.  So what do i do…the poor thing is afraid to poop!  I know I have to get things to be… umm easier to exit.  But is that going to solve it?  Help…!"

I get this question every once in awhile and really don’t know how to solve it. It happened to a preschool friend of ours, and eventually his doctor put him on a stool softener so it would never hurt when he pooped. It still took him the better part of 6 months to get back into the habit of pooping without holding back.

I think the first step is to give her more fiber and cut out the binding things in her diet (rice, bananas, apple, Veggie Booty, and dairy) to make it easier for her to poop. If that helps, then you’re home-free and just need to maintain no pressure on her to poop where she doesn’t want to until she’s ready to. If it doesn’t help, then you’re goign to ahve to turn this over to your pediatrician and see if s/he can refer you to a poop specialist who really knows what to do about this problem.

Elise writes:

"My son is four and a half months old, and he has been sleeping through the night (7pm to 5:54/6am) for a month.  He usually has one bowel movement a day, and these used to typically happen in the mid morning. But for the last four nights, he has awakened crying at 4am with a dirty diaper.  His poop is normal, but it obviously bothers him too much to go back to sleep.  After we changed him, he struggles with going back to sleep.  Do you have any suggestions to get him to poop during the day?"

This is going to sound completely and utterly insane, but my one suggestion is for you to drink a cup of coffee (regular or decaf) and then nurse him half an hour later. (Assuming you’re nursing.) For some reason, some babies seem to react to the coffee in their mothers’ systems the same way most adult men react to drinking a cup of coffee. If it works for your son, then you’ve pretty much figured out how to time his poop.

Overall, though, many kids change pooping patterns when they hit a growth spurt. (Each of mine changed pooping patterns entirely when they hit the 3 week, 6 week, 3 month, and 6 month growth spurts. It was very strange.) It’s possible that your son is going through some kind of growth spurt right now and will go back to what he was doing before in a few days. I certainly hope so, because waking up to change a diaper when your baby would otherwise (let you) sleep through is downright unconscionable.

I hope the coffee works.

Q&A: sippy cups for tweeners

A funny question for Wednesday.

Anonymous writes:

"Hi Moxie,

I’m engaged. My fiance and I often talk about children and how we
want to raise ours when we have them. Both of us tend to notice other
parent’s parenting techniques and think of what we would do
differently. We spend a lot of time with his parents and his brother
who has kids. His oldest is 11, almost 12 and still drinking from a
sippy cup. This is the only thing that they drink out of. I’m wondering
what kind of affect this will have on their children’s development. Is
it safe behavior? I thought sippy cups were only for toddlers."

First of all, I think it’s excellent that you and your fiance are doing so much thinking and talking about this now, before you’re even ready to think about getting pregnant. Having all these conversations now is going to save you a lot of time and aggravation later.

Second, kids this old are using sippy cups?! I’ve never heard of this.

On one level I can completely appreciate that this eliminates spills and messes in the house. But there are other ways to achieve the same goal that doesn’t have kids who are almost pubescent drinking out of baby gear. Sports bottles or straw cups will cut out the spills equally well.

I don’t think there’s anything specifically bad about kids that old drinking out of sippy cups, and it’s certainly nothing to spend time worrying about. But there’s no real purpose to sippy cups anyway (other than mess containment) from a developmental point of view. It’s not a skill that builds to anything else or is used later in life. So why use them instead of something the kids wouldn’t be embarrassed to use in public?

I guess I also wonder how old the kids are going to be before they have to learn not to spill regular cups. Because they aren’t going to be able to use sippy cups for the rest of their lives. Imagine going out to a business lunch and using a sippy cup.

What do you guys think about sippy cups for 11-year-olds?

Q&A: babies taking too-short naps

Babies are strange. Exhibits A and B come from readers Paula and Katherine.

Paula writes:

"My DD2 is 4 mths old.
Has been a great sleeper, still is, but we now have the delightful 45 min sleep
cycle kicking in! She wakes up ON THE DOT of 45 mins of when she went to sleep.
Sometimes she’ll go back off to sleep but a lot of the time she needs me to get
her back to sleep. That’s OK, but I have a 3yo as well so I can’t spend a half
hour every 45 mins getting DD2 back to sleep IYKWIM.

DD2 will show tired signs about an hour after being awake. I’ve been putting
her down, up until a week or so ago she’d sleep 2-3 hours solid. Could this be
the problem? Should she be up longer now, then maybe she’d sleep longer? I
remember something about being up for 1.5-2 hrs now and then down for 2?

Please help a weary
mum who thought I was doing so great with 2 kids, but now I’m not so
sure!!!"

Katherine writes:

"I’m hoping you can help me shed some light one this.  My daughter will be 6 months old on March 20.  Since the end of January, almost all of her naps have been exactly 30 minutes. She takes at least 4 or 5 a day.  Thirty minutes is clearly not long enough for her.  She’ll usually wake up relatively cheerful, but get tired and cranky pretty quickly.  I don’t think anything is physically bothering her.  I sat in her room once for the entire duration of one of these naps.  She slept peacefully without moving a muscle and then at 30 minutes her head turned to the side and her eyes popped open.  She saw me, grinned and that was the end of the nap.  There’s no coaxing her back to sleep at this point.  I’ve read about going into a baby’s room 10 or 15 minutes before you expect them to wake and stroking their face or something to cause them to stir and restart the sleep cycle.  I haven’t had any luck with this approach.

I’ve read all of your posts on sleep and sleep regressions.  She will be 25 weeks old on Wednesday, so we’re approaching the 26 week developmental spurt.  This started just before the 19-week spurt.  Do you think this is just related to these spurts and will end on its own within the next few weeks?  I just can’t understand how it’s always exactly 30 minutes.  It’s like someone put an alarm clock into her skull and I can’t find the snooze button.  Her night sleep has suffered somewhat lately as well.  She went from sleeping 12 hours with only one wake-up to waking up 3 or 4 times a night.  But thanks to your sleep regression post, I can understand that and am hopeful it will end soon.

The only thing that ever helps her nap longer is if she sleeps on her belly.  I put her down on her back, but sometimes in the process of falling asleep she’ll flip over.  Given her age and the fact that she sleeps in an empty crib on a firm mattress, I feel ok about not flipping her back over.  If she’s on her belly she sometimes sleeps longer, sometimes wakes up after 30 minutes as usual but then goes back to sleep after a few minutes of fussing and sometimes wakes up after 30 minutes and won’t go back to sleep.  This is odd to me as she generally hates being on her tummy, tummy time has always been a struggle for us.  Since she usually hates being on her tummy I couldn’t put her down that way even if I wanted to, she has to do it herself.  I do catch myself HOPING she’ll flip over and then feel guilty about it.

Any thoughts or suggestions?  This is really getting me down because I work 20 hours a week from home.  So I have to get up at 4 am to get hopefully 2 hours in, try to squeeze some more work into nap time, and then finish up after she goes to bed.   The work I do really requires me to concentrate for more than 30 minutes at a time.  Since her night sleep isn’t the greatest either I am needless to say very, very tired."

(And I bet all of your SAHM and WOHM friends keep going on and on about how you have the best of both worlds working from home, don’t they? The grass really is always greener.)

I think both Paula and Katherine have babies suffering from the throes of major developmental spurts (as Katherine herself assessed). You really can NOT underestimate how much these spurts can screw kids’ routines and sleep up. It’s mystifying.

(I also think–and this is JMO and should not be constituted as advice from an expert because you all know I am not one–that Katherine’s reaction to the belly sleeping is totally appropriate. Her daughter can easily roll herself over at this age, and it’s just not realistic to be constantly watching so she can flip her back onto her back at this point. I think if you had a chronically ill child or preemie this wouldn’t necessarily be the case, but for a strong healthy baby who can roll it seems not to be much of a worry at this age.)

It’s normal. It’s happened to millions of babies and mothers. But it still sucks. Sucks sucks sucks. The baby’s tired. You’re tired. You can’t relax or get anything done while the baby’s asleep because you know it’s only a matter of (very little) time before you’ll hear the yowl and have to go in to pick up your still-tired child.

You start to feel a little like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

But then, one day, magically your child will sleep for 60 minutes. And then before you notice it’ll be 90 minutes.

So, knowing that eventually it will resolve itself (whether you do anything or not), the trick is to have some coping techniques. Here are the ones I employed (with various degrees of success) when my kids were doing the short-nap rigamarole:

1. Know that it won’t last forever (this was a lot easier with the second child than with the first). Just knowing it’s not going to be the rest of your life will probably help your mental state.

2. Consider naps in motion. It won’t help you get anything done at home or take a nap yourself, but if you put the baby in the car or the stroller and drive/stroll around the baby might sleep a little longer at least for that nap.

3. Pretend you have Stockholm Syndrome and that the short naps are a feature instead of a bug. Short naps are way better! It means you can get out of the house again to run some more errands! You feel soooo sorry for those poor chumps with babies who sleep for an hour or more at a stretch!

4. Put the Rolling Stones’ "Mother’s Little Helper" on repeat play and dance during the entire lousy 30 minutes of every nap, snickering evilly.

5. Get a friend or relative or hire a babysitter to come hang out with the baby for a few hours one afternoon to give you a break. At least that way the short naps will be someone else’s problem for at least one afternoon.

Everything else I think I’ve blanked out. But that’s good news, too! Some day you won’t even remember how awful this phase was.

Anyone else?

Q&A: short end of the stick

Daylight savings time! Gah. No matter how many times we go through it, it still screws us up in my house. (Tips for dealing with it in the link.) Feel free to post all DST-related complaints in the comments section.

And now a question that will surely give all of us a case of the Mondays. Kelly writes:

"I do hope you can help!  I have a 2.5yr old boy who’s absolutely in love with his penis.  That’s fine, and I know it’s normal and don’t want to discourage him or make him feel bad or that it’s wrong or anything. However, he’s constantly trying to get at it, and very regularly pulls off his clothes during nap time or at night to play with himself.  Not too much of a problem, save that he’s not even remotely potty trained, which ends with a lot of washed sheets and middle-of-the-day baths. It’s also causing a problem in that he loves his 3mo brother’s as well and though he’s not allowed to touch it he loves watching us change the baby and asks for us to change him and throws tantrums when we close the baby’s diaper (to which we now try to take the baby into another room to change, but that’s not always an option).  Is there any way we can get his hands out of his pants and keep his crib dry without affecting his future attitude towards masturbation (which we view as healthy and normal) or sex or his body?"

I always kind of feel bad when people write in with philosophical problems with their kids masturbating, but at least they’re pretty easy to address (kids need to explore their bodies, just let them do it). A logistical problem with masturbation, however, while easier emotionally, is much more complicated to come up with decent advice.

As I see it, you have a few options:

1. Potty train ASAP. It won’t do anything about his trying to get at his penis constantly, but it’ll mostly fix the mess and clothes-washing problem.

2. Put him in shirts that snap at the crotch inside long pants that he can’t easily get undone. Solves the access problem, but will probably cause fights while you’re dressing him.

3. Go crazy with penises all the time–talking about them, playing with anatomically correct dolls (some here and here), drawing pictures of them, etc.–and see if that helps calm him down about his own (or at least his brother’s) penis.

4. As much naked time as possible (this will also help with potty training). If he has more access in general, he may not be so desperate to do it when he needs to be clothed. The big problem here is that he could get really cold if you’re in a climate that’s still in winter.

It seems to me that the big problem here is that he’s still on the young side to be able to understand that touching himself is fine, just not at certain times. And, even then, the standard "That’s something we only do in our own rooms or in the bathroom" line (works equally well for masturbating and for nose-picking) doesn’t help with your problem.

So I’m not really coming up with anything sure-fire. I think if none of the above suggestions affect his need to get at his penis at night and naps, you are going to end up just waiting it out. In another 6 months or so he’ll be better able to understand situational rules and that he can touch himself, just not when his clothes need to stay fastened.

If anyone else has anything, feel free to jump in.