Not the usual symptoms. Afraid to Google it. Back tomorrow. Talk amongst yourself about the best home remedies for illness. Once I have more arm strength I’ll post the spine-rubbing thing that brings a fever down (unless someone else knows it and can post it).
Here’s a really interesting one for a Monday morning. Nicole writes:
"I wanted to know if you could tell me about name changing. I changed my
child’s name 6 weeks after he was born and now I feel like the worst parent on
earth and I feel I messed the rest of his life up. Could you please help me."
You didn’t mess the rest of his life up. (Assuming, of course, that you didn’t change his name to Adolph, Saddam, Pol Pot, etc., which could make a person’s life extremely difficult.)
Names are really important, because they help define who we are. and some people definitely seem to be the perfect incarnation of their names. But I don’t think that means that only one name will fit a person, or that being named the "wrong" name will change the course of a person’s life.
I don’t know how old your son is now, but it can take awhile to adjust to a name. I was convinced for the first month that my older son had the wrong name (his dad named him). Now I can’t imagine any other name for him. One of his friends was given a name in the hospital, and when his mother came home she realized it was a name she really hated. And then she didn’t come up with one she liked until the baby was 5 weeks old, so he was nameless in that time! (I was kind of confused and flummoxed when she told us what the new name was because it was so normal and traditional–I’d thought that she had this raging internal debate over two wild names. It turned out the other name was traditional, too.) Now, of course, he totally fits his name. But you know what? He’d fit the other name, too.
There may be other issues here that you didn’t tell me, like naming him after someone you didn’t really want to name after. But if it was just a matter of changing from one name to another, he’ll grow into the name and you’ll probably look back and laugh at the first name you chose. Or else he’ll get it changed when he’s an adult and you can offer to pay the legal fees for the change.
Anyone else with big naming angst? (And if you’re talking about names you hate, better not mention the actual name in case someone else reading just named their child that name. I feel safe disparaging the names of brutal murdering dictators, but every other name is liked by at least someone out there.)
"First I do have to say how much I enjoy not only your comments but also the forum that you’ve created. Thanks!
My question is about room sharing. We have a 5 yr. old boy and 20 mo. old girl. We’ve always had them share a room but soon we’ll be moving into a new house (our first – yay!) with three bedrooms total. But we’ll also be having a new baby girl in two months. So I was thinking that it might be best to keep the older two sharing a room for awhile and make the transition to a "girls’ room" and a "boy’s room" later. But here’s the thing, my 5 yr. old has all sorts of toys that are difficult/impossible for him to play with in peace (ie. Lincoln Logs, involved puzzles, etc.) except during nap times. Would it be better to split up the older and younger siblings or am I asking for failure in the sleeping/napping department? Ugh! This seems like it should be so simple, more rooms = better/easier. But I’m having such trouble figuring it out (haha!). I think this may be one of those situations that would be greatly aided by someone with experience or at least a clearer brain…"
I love the comments, too, especially when what I say is wrong or incomplete and the commenters get to the real answer!
I think (and I know the comments are going to go a bunch of different ways) that I’d go with the big kid/baby split. Here’s why:
The two older ones already know each other and are in practice with sharing a room. It’s going to be something stable and solid once the baby comes and shakes things up for them.
I’m assuming you’ll have more room in general in the new house, so your son can play with his many-pieced toys (the bane of my existence) in another room while your daughter naps. Also, in 8 months or so the pieces won’t be as much of an issue because your daughter will be able to be more of a participant and less of a nuisance with the big-kid games.
More importantly, the baby could be a stellar sleeper or she could be one of those kids who needs a lot of help and tending for months and months. If she is, the last thing you’re going to need is to have the older children’s sleep messed up because of her. Or, even worse, her sleep messed up because of them!
That’s what I’ve got on this, but I only have two, and they share a room easily. Proposals and counter-proposals solicited for the comments section.
"As a first time mom with a 5 week old, I love your site and your discussions have helped me enormously so far. At the moment I have two questions on which I’d love your and your readers’ thoughts. First, about when are babies able to drift off to sleep on their own? Right now to get the baby down to sleep, I need to rock, jiggle, etc until he is absolutely 100% sound asleep. We do swaddle him, and that helps, but if he is the least bit awake when you put him down, he wakes himself back up and proceeds to screaming within minutes. To be clear, I’m not talking about sleep training, I know he’s not old enough, and I’m perfectly happy to nurse and rock until those little eyes close. I would just love to be able to put him down without worrying that the smallest jiggle will mean that I need to start all over again.
Second, about when can babies amuse themselves for a bit of time? For now, the baby seems to need me to constantly entertain him. He will sit in his bouncy chair for a few minutes without my attention, but otherwise if I’m not actively talking, singing, walking, bouncing, swaying or patting, the fussing begins. Again, I know that interactions are incredibly important for development and I’m not expecting independent living. It would simply be so nice to sit next to him on his mat and do something else while he plays.
I’m sure it sounds like I don’t want to parent him, and that’s not the case at all. I enjoy spending time with him and I’ve loved getting to know him so far. He’s generally a happy little fellow and only fusses when he’s trying to tell me something. It would just be good to know if this is his personality and I should get used to it or a developmental thing that will change over time."
It doesn’t sound at all like
you don’t want to parent him. It sounds like you have a 5-week-old and
your life has changed in an instant and you’re thinking, "What have I
gotten into? How much longer am I going to have to be on-duty and
present every single minute of the day?"
I can remember being a few weeks in with my first and
thinking, "OK, only 17 years, 49 weeks, and 3 days until he’s no longer
my responsibility." And I loved him so much it made me ache. I just
wasn’t used to the constant vigilance and demands on my attention.
At this point you’re just trying to keep your head above
water, really. I think the sleeping has to do with a bunch of factors.
The first is personality. Kids just sleep the way they sleep. Some go
down best by themselves, some need someone to help them for a long
time, some are a mix, and some keep changing so you never feel like you
know what’s up with their sleep.
Another thing I think plays into sleep at the beginning is
their stomachs and their size. There are growth spurts at
(approximately) 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 12 weeks, and 6 months. Not
surprisingly, these are also times when parents report that their kids
started sleeping more easily. It seems like the maturity and additional
size that happens at the end of a growth spurt sometimes helps with
sleep, too. (Tangentially-related: Did anyone else notice that their
kids’ pooping schedule changed every time they went through a growth
spurt? Or was it just my two?)
But then those combine with the developmental spurts and
physical milestones and teething to make it all kind of a
two-steps-forward-one-step-back proposition. A grand stew of confusion
and tiredness for everyone that sometimes doesn’t even make sense in
So the short answer is that there’s no real age at which
babies just start automatically going to sleep by themselves. Your son
may need to be comforted to sleep for another week, then hit a growth
spurt and start falling asleep by himself. Or he may be one of those
kids (like my older son) who needs someone to help him fall asleep (by
nursing, or rocking, or sitting in his room) until he’s 3 years old,
and then suddenly he just starts going to bed easily by himself.
He’ll probably be somewhere in between.
If you’re worrying that
your son may need to be comforted to sleep for years, don’t despair.
Even if that happens, a) you’ll survive, and b) it’s not all bad. In
some respects it was easier to get my older one to sleep because I had
a hand in the process. If I did whatever he needed at that stage, he’d
fall asleep. My younger son, who is "easier" because he cries for 10
seconds to 10 minutes and then conks out without anyone else, is kind
of a wild card. If he has the proper conditions he goes down easily,
but if there’s anything distracting or he can get free, no one can get
him to sleep.
Everyone is going to tell you in the comments section how
their kids slept at 5 weeks and then what happened later, so you’ll
have tons of data points that all add up to "There’s no way to tell and
you’ll worry about it, but you’ll also make it through and you’ll all
The playing by himself is a real annoyance, isn’t it? You just
want to run to the bathroom, but even that’s too much. First babies
don’t realistically give you more than a minute or two until they’re
able to move or control things on their own (so whenever they achieve
some kind of mobility control, whether it’s sitting or rolling or
scooting or crawling). Second babies get entertained by the first
child, so you can get a few more seconds here and there.
I think it’s totally the age and circumstance, not a personality thing
at this age.
good way to cope with this is to wear the baby in a sling/wrap/Ergo as
much as possible, because the baby benefits from the motion and the
closeness, and you can get stuff done. You can walk around outside, do
some laundry, make a sandwich, etc.
Another thing that I only figured out with my second child is
that when you have to leave the baby alone and know he’s going to cry,
you might as well double up on the unhappiness by turning it into tummy
time. Your baby probably cries when he’s on his tummy at this point.
Since he’s going to cry for the 90 seconds it takes you to go to the
bathroom or get yourself a glass of water anyway, why not put him on
his tummy before you leave? He needs the tummy time, and this way you
can at least feel like something productive is coming of your trip to
If you have a My Breast Friend, you can strap it on, sit down
at a desk and put the MBF on the desk. Your baby can lie on the MBF and
sleep or nurse, and you can type or surf at the computer over him while
This stage is tough on everyone. It’s especially tough when
everyone tells you to "enjoy this time because it goes so fast" or that
"these are the best days" or all those platitudes issued by people who
don’t have teeny infants. You feel trapped and a little freaked out,
and then guilty about not loving every second of it. It’s hard to
adjust to your old life being gone for a long time, and not really
loving the new normal. Even if you love your baby, it’s still jarring
not to be able to just think your own thoughts for 10 minutes.
But. Things will get easier. You will get some time back. You
will get yourself back. You’ll have more fun with the baby. You’ll hit
a good stride together. Be kind to yourself.
Judy Converse MPH, RD, LD of Nutrition Care for Children, responded to my post about super picky eating behavior in toddlers:
"I saw your post on this topic and have to jump in. I’m a licensedregistered dietitian in private practice who has specialized in
pediatrics since 1999.
Here’s the scoop:
Doctors always tell parents not to worry about this. Partly true:
Some defiance around foods is normal at the toddler stage. But,
toddlers are also naturally curious when they are developing
typically. While they can have jags with a certain food for a bit,
these should pass, as should the tantrums that can come with presenting
new foods. A natural curiosity to put things in the mouth and try them
normally extends to foods. In my experience, kids who simply will not
do this usually have nutrition problems that need correcting.
is not normal is for kids to continue exceedingly rigid eating patterns
into school age years. If a kid still eats five or fewer foods at age
four, that is a red flag for me. While they may get enough total
calories to keep growing (sometimes they don’t), they pretty much can’t
eat a diet that adequately meets their needs for learning, developing,
sleeping, pooping, talking – all the things toddlers must learn to
do. If a child is truly entrenched in this, a nutrition assessment can
find out if it really is cause for concern, or if all you need to do is
add a good multivitamin with minerals and wait it out.
big clue: Kids currently get many, many more meds than prior to 1980.
Antibiotics in infancy and toddlerhood can change eating patterns.
Children with entrenched, rigid food preferences often have had
antibiotics either very often (five or more rounds) or very early (in
the first 8 weeks of life). Adjusting the gut ecology back to normal
often triggers an abrupt change in food preferences in children. So,
for parents really tearing their hair out, try antifungal therapy for
intestinal Candidiasis. This can be prescription or naturopathic
(herbs and probiotics) – et voila – your picky eater suddenly picks up
fish, steak, and broccoli. The hardest part is convincing your
pediatrician to try this – they are trained to believe this is only
relevant if thrush is foaming out of your child’s mouth or anus. My
experience with this is that it does matter if there is intestinal
candidiasis without thrush, and that it responds very nicely to
treatment. There are medications like Nystatin that are very safe for
infants and children for this. Even Diflucan is now used in infants.
short, no need for parents and kids to struggle through this. You can
find out whether it matters or not with a good nutrition assessment,
and fix it."
Great information. Thanks, Judy, for setting the record straight and for giving us more clues to start piecing things together for our own kids.
"My son is almost 6 months old and is growing fine. I’ve heard from almost everyone that sleep begets sleep but not so in my son’s case. On the whole, he gets the sleep he needs in a 24 hr period (15+ hours) except that the sleep is never consolidated. He naps from 9 or 9:30am for about an hour and a half and then again at 1 or 1:30 pm for about an hour and a half. And usually a short 45 min nap at 4pm. He goes to sleep for the night anywhere between 6 and 8pm but rarely sleeps for more than 4 hours at a stretch before needing to wake up to feed.(he used to do 6 but now its never more than 4) It’s usually either the first stretch (7 to 11pm) or the second stretch (1:30am to 5am). In between (11pm to 1:30am) he sometimes wakes up and doesn’t go back to sleep (after nursing) when he’s restless. He’s not hungry, he’s not interacting with either me or my husband (we cosleep), he just looks at the ceiling and sucks his fingers while bicycling his legs and making noises. We try to rock him to sleep and he does eventually go to sleep (but only after a long time). Spending over an hour in the wee night hours rocking him back to sleep is killing us. Any tips on preventing the wake ups? How important is it for baby to be sleeping continuously? Since baby is overall getting the sleep he needs (he makes up for his night wakings with longer naps in the daytime) should I just cross my fingers and hope that he will learn to sleep longer stretches eventually?"
I do think this sounds within the range of normal for that age. Of
course, normal kind of sucks. But it doesn’t sound unusual or unhealthy.
I have a few suggestions, but they’re mostly about how you manage yourself instead of trying to fix your son’s sleep.
The first thing I’d suggest is that if he’s not crying or upset, don’t
try to get him back to sleep. If he’s bicycling his legs and you can
sleep through it, just keep on sleeping unless he starts to cry. It
sounds from what you’ve described like he’s not upset, just awake. So
you don’t technically need to be in the loop if being awake isn’t
The other thing I’d look at is the cosleeping. It seems like people
cosleep either out of philosophy or out of practicality (or some of both). If you’re
doing it out of philosophy, then you should keep doing it. If you’re
doing it out of practicality, you might want to see what happens if you
try to get him to sleep somewhere else (either in the same room or in a
different room) for a couple of nights. For some reason, some babies
seem to go through a window in which they don’t cosleep well but sleep
really well in their own space. If you’re not opposed to letting him
sleep somewhere else, you might try it for a few nights and see what
(To get a baby to sleep in a different situation, you need a really
solid bedtime routine first. Once you’ve gotten one established, keep
it exactly the same as much as possible, and vary only what you have to
to change the sleep thing. So, for instance, if your cosleeping routine
was bath, pajamas, book, nurse to sleep in the bed, then your
trying-the-crib routine could be bath, pajamas, book, then nurse to
sleep in the glider and then put down in the crib. Or bath, pajamas,
book, nurse to sleep in the bed and then transfer to the crib after 40
It also sounds like he’s trying to drop the third nap because it’s so
short, but isn’t really ready yet. He might consolidate his night sleep
once he fully drops that third nap. Which means it’s just a waiting
game. If you and your partner can figure out a way to split the
nighttime wakings in some way that means neither of you gets the full
brunt of it you’ll be better able to make it through this stretch.
He might also be up at night working on moving. The bicycling of the legs sounds like he’s a kid with places to go, and that he’s working on the skills to take him there. There’s not a single thing you can do about that, except wait for him to really start moving.
Hang in there. It gets better. Then worse. Then better. Then worse. Then better. Then you get to be the grandma and not the mom. Anyone else have anything?
Remember my childhood friend Beth, of the bento boxes for her kids’ lunches? She’s back with more coolness in parenting:
"I like to think I’m relatively
creative with my money (aka cheap). And have found a FREE activity for all
ages: letterboxing (www.letterboxing.org)
The kids (2, 5 and 8), my mom (60),
nephew (18) and I (34) did it yesterday. As it happens there is one
in our town. What fun!
So any travelers, or adventurer, that
want to do something a little different… check out letterboxing. The
stamps in the books were fun to see. And following the clues no too
hard. My 5 year old found the box, but we all had fun exploring the
surroundings after our find. Add a picnic lunch or snack, and you can have
an all day event.
What is letterboxing?
Letterboxing is an intriguing mix of
treasure hunting, art, navigation, and exploring interesting, scenic, and
sometimes remote places. It takes the ancient custom of placing a rock on a
cairn upon reaching the summit of a mountain to an artform. It started when a
gentleman simply left his calling card in a bottle by a remote pool on the moors
of Dartmoor, in England.
Here’s the basic idea: Someone hides a
waterproof box somewhere (in a beautiful, interesting, or remote location)
containing at least a logbook and a carved rubber stamp, and perhaps other
goodies. The hider then usually writes directions to the box (called "clues" or
"the map"), which can be straightforward, cryptic, or any degree in between.
Often the clues involve map coordinates or compass bearings from landmarks, but
they don’t have to. Selecting a location and writing the clues is one aspect of
Once the clues are written, hunters in
possession of the clues attempt to find the box. In addition to the clue and any
maps or tools needed to solve it, the hunter should carry at least a pencil, his
personal rubber stamp, an inkpad, and his personal logbook. When the hunter
successfully deciphers the clue and finds the box, he stamps the logbook in the
box with his personal stamp, and stamps his personal logbook with the box’s
stamp. The box’s logbook keeps a record of all its visitors, and the hunters
keep a record of all the boxes they have found, in their personal
"Hi. I’m not sure if I am worrying over nothing, but am a
little concerned about my baby’s fluid intake.
She is 7mths old. I give her a bottle when she wakes up at 7
and she drinks 210ml or 7fl oz. She has a solid breakfast about 9am and then I can
usually get her to take another one of those early afternoon/lunch time, she
has normally two jars of solid food at lunch a sweet and savoury or some
blended veg I make for her. Tea about five which is also solids normally two
jars. I then used to give her another one the same before I put her to bed but
the last three nights she has refused that.
The times I have tried to offer her water she wont take it
and I have been trying to spoon feed her baby juice as she won’t drink it from a
bottle let alone a beaker."
I’m not sure if I’m exactly understanding all the facts, but it sounds like you’re saying she has three 7-ounce bottles a day and three big meals of solids.
I think for a 7-month-old this is a really high ratio of solids to formula. Since the guideline now is not to start solids until around 6 months, and we know that breastmilk or formula is supposed to be a baby’s main source of nutrition and calories up to a year, it seems like she’s eating too many solids and not enough formula.
To remedy this, you should offer a bottle before you offer solids. Even if she only drinks a few ounces before moving on to the solids she’s still getting the good fat and calories of the bottle, plus the fluids. She has the rest of her life to eat solids, but this window of getting the high nutrient density of the bottle is very short and there’s no need to rush her out of it.
Also, there’s no need for juice, especially at this age. It can cause diarrhea or constipation, plus it’s just empty calories. If you’re concerned about her other intake, giving juice can backfire by making her less likely to drink formula.
I think backing off and offering her less food and more bottles every day will help ease your mind and get her intake back into balance.
First, if your child was fed any formula as a baby, please help your child and other kids by taking a short survey. Amanda from Environmental Working Group says:
"Environmental Working Group is collecting data on babies’ exposureto Bisphenol A (BPA), a plastic resin used to line food and formula
cans, and found in low levels in formula samples. We are concerned that
formula-fed babies have the most intense exposures to BPA of any age
group. We’ve created a survey to gather food and weight information for
is preparing an independent analysis of infant exposures to BPA to
present to the National Institutes of Health. When the analysis is
complete, EWG will send parents a customized report for their child.
The more data we collect, the more accurate our analysis will be."
Now, on to today’s question. A mom who I’m not going to name writes:
"My five-year-old daughter has some pretty bad vaginal irritation. We’ve
been to the doctor twice for it in the past year, and the doctor is
convinced the irritation stems from my daughter playing with her
genitals at night (as I don’t see her doing it during the day). But my
mommy instincts say this isn’t the answer. My daughter sucks her thumb
with one hand and usually cuddles her blanket with the other. The
thought that she’s also working self-stimulation into the picture in
her sleep is a little much. So, the question is, if she isn’t causing
the rawness herself, what is?
Let me start by saying I’ve already ruled out molestation (it’s a sad commentary on our society when this was my first thought).
I’ve thought about a detergent allergy, but as the redness is not on
the outside skin but more inside, I’m not sure this can be the answer
(though feel free to correct me). I’ve also considered toilet paper,
but she only does a cursory wipe–that is, she doesn’t dig in there–so
I’m not sure that’s the answer either.
Then I started wondering if something in her urine could be causing it.
I know that babies can get a red ring around their anus with food
allergies. Could my daughter’s vaginal irritation be caused by a food
Allergies are new territory for me, so I’m not even sure where to
start. As her uncle is a celiac, I’ve looked into a gluten allergy,
but gluten appears to be more related to the intestines. Could it be a
dairy allergy? She drinks more water than anything else, so it’s not
acid from juice that’s irritating her. She’s also had some behavioral
change that started about the same time the vaginal irritation did
(that is, she seems almost bi-polar–happy one minute, throwing a
tantrum the next). Ugh, I’m just at a total loss. I’m hoping that one
of your readers might have solved a similar issue with a daughter or
have some ideas about what I can try to help my little girl. Vaginal
pain is a terrible thing to live with."
Let me express my sincerest sympathies to your daughter. I don’t think I can imagine the pain and irritation she must be suffering.
It sounds like you’ve ruled out the big things (gluten, dairy). Have you looked at artificial colors and flavors? What else happened around the same time this started? Did you go on a trip or anything like that?
I really need to go to the readers here, because I just can’t think of anything that would cause behavioral changes and also this strange irritation that’s not either sexual abuse or some of the classic behavioral triggers (artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners). Does anyone else have suggestions? Hedra? Enu? Anyone else?
"I have a baby who will be 6 months old in two weeks and I can’t help worrying about his development. He was very big and strong from birth (holding his head up and putting weight on his legs within weeks of his birth). We do some tummy time every day but it seems he isn’t making much progress towards sitting or crawling. He still completely topples over when he is in a sitting position (I mean completely – he does not sit unsupported even for a couple seconds) and he rarely rolls stomach to back (though he easily rolls back to stomach). Should I be worried? Aren’t almost all babies sitting unsupported by 6 months?"
These milestones are a pain in my butt.
Because, yeah, it is
helpful to know what’s supposed to be happening when in a general sense
so you can have realistic expectations (I remember thinking that a
one-year-old could probably speak in complete sentences back before I
had one of my own), but at the same time kids are so varied and
variable that you can really make yourself worry over things that don’t
Remember, I’m not an expert (sooooo not an expert), but this
is what I’ve gathered from parents of kids with serious problems,
not-so-serious problems, and no real problems: The first thing to
notice is how your child interacts with you. Is your child alert and
mostly happy (unless they’re going through a cranky phase)? Will /she
make eye contact with you? Does your child smile/laugh? Is your child
interested in things? If all these are true, then things are
probably going to either be nothing, work themselves out, or be managed
in a doable manner. If these things are not true, then please ask your
pediatrician for a referral to get your child evaluated, because the
sooner you can get information the better off you’ll all be.
Now, to specifically address Susan’s concerns: The rumor that
almost all babies are sitting unsupported by 6 months has been greatly
exaggerated. Some are, but a whole bunch aren’t. Lots of times kids go
from just lying there like pitiful, frustrated little lumps one day to
crawling like speed demons and sitting the next. Sometimes they sit
first. Neither of mine sat unsupported until several weeks after they
started crawling (maybe I’m a bad person, but I thought the slow list
to the side and then the topple was consistently funny). Some kids
crawl for half a day and then start running. As long as the child is
given plenty of tummy time and not confined in a saucer for too much
time at a stretch*, they’ll develop the way they’re supposed to, which may not be on the Official Schedule.
I think that if he’s alert and responsive and grabs for things
and flaps his arms and legs and all that stuff, he’s one of those kids
who will crawl at 8 months (yay!) instead of 5 months (quick–babyproof
everything in one day!).
Now, as a public service, we will all share how old our kids
were when they crawled, sat up unsupported (if you even remember), and
walked. Please state gender and if they had any special circumstances.
I’ll go first: My first boy was born big (9.5 pounds) and crawled at 9 months, sat a few weeks later, and walked
at 14.5 months. He is a supergenius. My second boy was born smaller
(8.5 pounds), and crawled at 8.5 months, sat shortly after, and walked
at 14 months. He is also a supergenius. Both of them run just fine.
(I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that someone will
say that her kid crawled at 5 months, and someone else will say that
her kid crawled at 11 months, and if we put them next to each other at
3 years you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.)
* I’ve heard from a couple of sources that the benchmark
for saucer time is supposed to be something like 20-30 minutes 2-3
times a day. Which is about as much time as it takes you to shower, and
then get a decent start on a meal later on. Or eat an entire dark
chocolate bar slowly while reading Entertainment Weekly. If you’re
saucer-addicted and want to try some options that give more freedom of
movement, check out the article on 10 ways to make tummy time more fun