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In: Baby

February 12, 2013

Baby Sleep Logic 101

People who think that sleeping like a baby is a good thing clearly have no clue what infant sleep really is like. Unless they mean to say that they wake up every few hours, want to sleep anywhere but in their bed, and can only fall asleep with the help of pacifiers, white noise machines, or by sucking their thumb.

When such clueless people (aka me 3 years ago) have a baby, they will try to apply their adult sleep habits to how their kid behaves or how they expect them to behave. Especially when babies are out of the newborn stage and start resembling a human, it just happens naturally to expect babies to follow common sense sleep logic. After only a few weeks of disappointment and sleep deprivation you begin to understand that they don’t. But you still wish they did. Then, when you finally gave up hope that they ever will sleep like a normal person, for some reason you still instinctively treat them as if they did. Only when you have fully and totally accepted that they just don’t make any freaking sense, is when they will surprise you with sleeping like a pro. Only for one night, of course.

SleepyKid-2

After months of frustration, I compiled this 101 of baby sleep logic to keep reminding myself that kids aren’t just small versions of us. As a parent of two ultimate sleep fighters, I might have dealt with some of these issues to the extreme and I am sure that other babies follow different nonsensical patterns. Luckily our babies were pretty good night sleepers and only had problems with naps during the day. And – I just broke baby sleep rule number 1:

1. Don’t jinx yourself. The day you brag about how well your child sleeps, it will be over. It’s like they want to prove you wrong and practice their rebellion early on. So do your happy dance quietly, but never ever post any sleep success on Facebook.

2. Babies only sleep long / deeply / independently / (enter your happy word here) when you don’t expect it or it’s super inconvenient. Not when you need to get something done or at their regular bed time, only when you actually have places to be.

3. On that same note – kids only sleep in on weekdays when you already have a tight morning routine, so you will end up having to wake a sleeping baby (=#1 parenting sin).

4. Babies wake up earlier the later you out them to bed. The natural bed time for most babies is earlier than you think / than it is convenient for going out for dinner. So, you might have the genius idea to try to push their bed time later. Sure enough the kid will wake up at 5 AM the next morning. Trust me, don’t you ever mess with a bed time that works for your child!

5. Also, the less / crappier a baby sleeps, the less / crappier a baby will sleep. Unlike an adult, kids won’t make up for sleep deprivation the following night. Once their regular sleep pattern is disturbed, it can only get worse and takes at least two days to go back to normal.

SleepyKid-3

6. Most babies don’t just close their eyes when they are tired and magically fall asleep by themselves. Those hilarious videos on Youtube where a baby falls asleep with his face in the food bowl only happen to 1% of us parents and only when you let your baby get seriously overtired (see rule #7 for overtiredness). The other 99% need to be put to to sleep by your active effort. Rocking, Singing, holding for 30 minutes have been reported in our house only to lead to a 30 minute nap.

7. When toddlers get overtired, they don’t voluntarily go to bed, but go nuts instead. They will run in circles, throw toys, yell at the top of their lungs, and go deaf as far as your reprimands are concerned. Afterwards they are so amped up that they will take twice as long to fall asleep as usual.

SleepyKid-7

8. Most babies need to learn how to fall asleep independently. In one way or another. After dealing with putting your fussy baby to sleep for a few months it is very likely to get fed up and just let them cry themselves to sleep. It happens to the best of us. And then magic – suddenly your kid knows how to fall asleep. For Felix all it took was one time of crying for 3 minutes until he realized: “Wait, I can do this.”

9. It takes only one day to untrain good sleep habits, but a full week to retrain. Typically happens when your kids are sick or teething, that you just have to rock them to sleep again even though you know they are perfectly capable of falling asleep by themselves and you have already done everything you can to alleviate their pain.

10. Night terrors are very different from nightmares, and you won’t know which one your kid has when you hear them crying in the middle of the night, until you go into their room. If you are able to calm them down, then it was a nightmare. If they freak out when they see you and then continue to scream the house down for the next 20 minutes, it was a night terror and the best approach would have been to stay the heck out.

 

Well then, good night everyone!

December 6, 2012

Family of Four

You ask – we answer.

So, how are we doing as a family of four?

  • Milo is still great with Felix. He sings him songs, makes him smile, and generally just cares for his wellbeing. When we are driving in the car and Felix starts to cry, Milo tells him ” No weinen, Felix. Gleich da” (“Don’t cry Felix, almost there”) He even said it the other day without Felix in the car when we were approaching our house and then got all concerned when he noticed that Felix wasn’t with us.
  • Milo is good with us now too. Right after Felix’s birth he had a major power struggle / tantrum phase. Whether it was related to Felix’s birth or just coincidence (Hello terrible twos!), we will never know. There were weeks when he would do only the opposite of what we said, not follow the simplest request, and throw things on purpose just to provoke us. All day long. Every single chore like a diaper change, getting him to eat, or change his shirt became a power struggle. But somehow we got through it. With lots of patience and persistance. I guess Milo understood that some things in life are non-negotiable and the only place his tantrums will get him is his room.
  • We, the parents are close to a burn out. We are basically just functioning. Taking care of babies, work, taking care of errands, sleep for a few hours. Repeat. At the end of the week we really miss spending quality time with each other and somehow manage to squeeze in an hour long in-house date night. But with Felix becoming less needy and Milo being pretty cooperative these days, things are definitely starting to look up.
October 10, 2012

The Booby Trap

Disclaimer: This is a post about female breasts – mine to be precise – and there won’t be any photos. This is a vent about my love-hate relationship with breastfeeding.

I breastfed Milo for 6 months and thought about quitting every single day. In the end a dehydrating attack of food poising made the decision for me. I am hoping for something similar to happen with Felix again. Not the food poisoning (most liquid evacuation of my body ever!!!), but something that gets me off the drug at a reasonable point of time.

Yes, breastfeeding is a drug. Once you start it, it is really hard to say no to the rush of Oxytocin from it – that blissful hormone that balances out at least a little bit of all the other stress. Why did I start breastfeeding? Because it’s the natural thing to do, it’s best for baby, and it’s free. Also it is kind of convenient not having to remember to pack any more stuff in the diaper bag (bottles, formula). And not having to clean bottles. I also can’t deny that I really dig my temporary boob enlargement. Finally some normally sized breasts that fill out bras.

It will be a sad day when they disappear forever. But also a liberating day. Breastfeeding is a very exhausting one-person job. A job that is entirely on me – day and night. If you know me, you know how independence is the essence of my being and being pinned down like that is causing slight symptoms of depression. Not only because of breastfeeding, but in combination with total exhaustion I secretly cry a little bit every day.

I hate breastfeeding with a passion. When baby just wants to use me as a pacifier for hours, when I have to be sitting down in a quiet spot at an event instead of being able to join in on the fun. When the boobs get too full and you have to abort any activity or outing after 3 hours just to get back home to being sucked empty again. Also, breastfeeding is very messy. Milk. sprays. everywhere. I go through at least three burp cloths a day just to catch half of the leaking milk and will still find milk spots on all our couches. For something that’s so natural, breastfeeding is not as easy as it should be. I think I don’t know any mom who hasn’t had issues with undersupply, oversupply, baby not latching right, food sensitivities via breast milk, etc.

My boob’s problem is a forceful let-down. Meaning that the milk shoots out very fast and strong. Causing baby to pull off and it spraying everywhere. Alternatively causing him to gulp, swallow lots of air, and become very gassy and miserable. I could pose the question if this really best for me and my baby, but it doesn’t matter because I know I will keep going anyway.

August 16, 2012

Felix Is Here!

On August 13th, 2012, our second little boy Felix Julian Tran was born. He entered the world with a strong cry at 10:13 AM, weighing 8lbs 2oz and measuring 20 inches long. We are all doing well adjusting to the life of a family of four. Here are some first pictures. The full birth story is coming soon.

 

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July 25, 2012

At Terms

Baby and me, we are finally at terms. Full term that is. I have been carrying him for 37 weeks now and hope that he has baked enough to enter the world. Things could go down any day any time now and we are as ready as can be to meet the new little guy. Let’s check real quick:

  • All major home renovations finished or not planned until next year 
  • Mama not sleeping well anymore
  • Baby room set up
  • Newborn diapers bought
  • Two final name choices on hand
  • Have one last date night for the next half year
  • Hospital bag packed
  • Functional washing machine delivered
  • Find camera charger

Yep, I think we are pretty ready. Stay tuned for baby news within the next three weeks.

We haven’t done any product reviews on here for a while, but this one I really wanted to share with you. Even though I am not sure if our recent toddler sleep success is directly related to using this sleep trainer (it might just be a coincidence or a phase like so many others), I definitely think that it is a great product and could help some desperate parents with early bird kids.

Here is our sleep story: Milo has always been an early riser. Just like his mom he gets tired when the sun goes down and is wide awake at sunrise. As opposed to me his inner clock is stronger than any blackout curtain or blind. In the first 20 months of his life he has probably slept longer than until 7 AM only a handful of times. His usual wake up time used to be anywhere from 5:30 to 6:30 AM and he would announce it with a loud yell for MAMAAAA! So no sleeping in for me either.

When we got back from our trip to Germany in May I feared for the worst jet lag considering that his inner clock would be set even earlier. So, while we were in Germany I ordered this sleep trainer. At that point it seemed to be the best product on the market and after using it I can confirm that it has some major advantages over other similar products.

Here’s the big idea: You set the desired wake-up time. For the beginning of the training set the time to the current wake-up time and then move gradually later each time after the kid has adjusted. At wake-up time the display will change from a blue star to a yellow sun. Explain to your child that it is time to get up only when the sun is up. In the evening you can activate night time mode at any time – the sun will set and turn into a blue star. Explain to your kid that the star is now asleep and he has to sleep as well until the sun rises again. Little stars go out one by one and show the progress of the night.

Pros:

  • Big display with big and easy to understand symbols
  • Works as a night light with 10 different settings of brightness
  • Works as a digital clock during the day
  • Also has a separate timer for a day time nap
  • Can be used as an alarm as well
  • Has a key lock that prevents kid from turning on day-time mode himself
  • Comes with a story book that explains how it works to the kid

Cons:

  • Currently not available in the US. Therefore higher shipping costs, longer delivery, and has to be used with a plug converter.
  • Key lock only available for locking night time mode, but not to lock in day-time mode

Other things to consider: I think this clock works best for kids that are old enough to understand consequences and connections like “if … , then …”. I also communicated to Milo that not only does he have to stay in bed until the sun comes up, but he also has to be quiet so that he won’t wake up the star. I ordered the clock from Langtoninfo and had no problems with shipping and everything arrived in good order within the time frame that was promised.

Recently Milo has been staying in his bed/room quietly until I go get him. I set his wake-up time to 7 and that is usually when I go in. Most of the times he is already awake, but overall there are way more days now that he sleeps closer to 7 than to 6:30 AM. On some days I accidentally slept in until 8 and still didn’t hear a word. Only his diaper was overflowing by that time. So, he doesn’t even wake me up anymore once the sun is up and he is allowed to. Therefore I am not sure if it is really the clock’s contribution that makes him stay quiet in the morning or he just enjoys his alone time in his room. Either way I think that this sleep timer can really help getting into the right sleep mood. Ask me any questions you might have.

 

May 1, 2012

Good Night Moon

Man, I feel like I am running on steroids these days. No idea where all this energy is coming from, but I take it. After we finished the new guest room it took me only 2 weeks to complete the new nursery. And now we will get started on ripping down wallpaper in the big basement room. Just trying to get as much in the house done as possible before the third trimester heaviness and then newborn craziness sets in.

Luckily the nursery wasn’t too big of a project because the walls were already a neutral tan color that anybody can live with, so we didn’t have to paint for this room makeover. It is definitely a more toned down baby room than Milo’s bright blue and green, but hey – nothing to say against saving some time and effort and working with what you got. So all I had to do was to bring in a little bit of color and some baby appropriate decor. When I found these two mustard colored metal stars at my favorite thrift store for $6 the theme was set and stars and moon and night in general.

Perfect to set the mood for a well sleeping baby, right? I decided to pair the mustard yellow with a dark night blue and found those brand new black-out curtains for $10 on Craigslist. On the wall opposite of the crib I painted a big moon in the same color as the metal stars and added two wooden stars. Milo already loves that trio, he goes over to his brother’s room every morning and says hello to the moon. There is something about murals that makes him talk to our walls a lot.

For above the crib Linc and I made this starry night sky light board. I’ll post a separate tutorial for this thing soon. 

The most time-consuming project was painting all these tiny wooden stars yellow and stringing them up to hang as a mobile above the changing table.

See how Milo is thoroughly testing the new room for his little brother? I am afraid he loves it almost more than his own room right now and I really need to come up with something spectacular for his now empty wall.

Some other wall space in the baby room was filled with these prints I found and put in cheap frames from Walmart. That’s also where the $15 neutral rug came from.

Since Milo already switched to his big boy bed, we were also able to move the crib over and put the comfy nursing rocking chair in the room. Together with a new crib skirt and color matching sheets this room is officially ready to welcome baby in a few months.

All set for sleepless nights. Bring it on, baby!