Child spacing and attachment parenting

1.20

I haven’t written on here in a while but I have a good excuse- I’ve been really tired going through the first trimester of pregnancy :) Now I’m finally in the second trimester and the need to nap every time Jack is asleep has finally mostly passed, so I feel like I have some free time back. I’m so excited for the new baby due this summer and for Jack to have a sibling, but I think it will be a big challenge trying to get everyone’s needs met once the baby arrives.

We thought a lot about how to space our children ideally and tried to balance the fact that having a sibling close in age would be nice later in life with making sure that Jack is independent enough when the baby comes that he can take care of some of his own needs so that he doesn’t get neglected. I think that having a 2.5 year gap will work out really well for our family. Since Jack turned 2 he has been so much more independent and communicative, and his sleep has been pretty great. I think it will be a lot easier to be an attached parent with one of the kids already usually sleeping through the night, that way waking with just the baby won’t feel as tiring. Of course Jack might regress in his sleeping, but he’s also old enough to be put back to sleep with a book and songs, so my husband can always help with him (which wouldn’t have worked 6 months ago).

Some things I’ll try to do to set us up for success once the baby comes:

  • Transition Jack to sleeping on a floor bed in our room, so the baby will have some space but we’ll all be together and Jack won’t feel abandoned in another room
  • Read books about babies once we get closer to my due date, and practice things with his stuffed animals like changing diapers or baby wearing
  • Make sure I have a few baby wearing options for the baby as well as Jack who I’m sure will want to be worn as well
  • Set up some special toy baskets that Jack can play with while I nurse
  • Get Jack involved in helping as much as I can
  • Teach Jack a few more skills like putting on his shoes and pants if possible so he can be more independent
  • Get Jack a special present from the baby

Toddler toothbrushing success! (at the expense of my ideals)

eating plain sugar while baking is great for my teeth, right?

eating plain sugar while baking is great for my teeth, right?

Well, I finally have been able to consistently get Jack to brush his teeth twice a day as well as let me brush them a little too, and all I had to do was bribe him with videos… I always hoped to not let Jack watch TV much or at all for as long as humanly possible, but I was so worried about his teeth getting cavities since he eats dried fruit and gummy vitamins and cookies (but they are all organic!). So we decided that dental hygiene was more important than brain development I guess and now he watches a few video clips in the morning and evening. He even asks to brush his teeth often, because he is sadly super addicted to watching videos now! It’s pretty depressing to me that no other strategy worked, but it’s also nice to have a few minutes to get things done while he is transfixed by the screen. I totally understand how people can put their kids in front of the TV for hours now, it’s like free babysitting! I can actually clean something without Jack simultaneously making an additional mess elsewhere, or I can sit down for longer than 2 minutes at a time and write an email or make a to-do list.  The other positive thing is that now on our upcoming 5-hour flight to Pennsylvania we can have the videos as a backup in case Jack gets restless. I have been trying to make myself feel a little better about it by showing him only videos in Portuguese so he practices his other language, but then his dad showed him “the wheels on the bus” song in a cartoon and he is obsessed with that. We also found a youtube channel called TuTiTu that has super boring (aka not ADHD-causing) videos about making different things like a fire truck which Jack likes.

So there you go- my embarrassing secret to how my 2 year old brushes his teeth…

Soap for Goodness Sake shampoo bar review

It's kind of sad that this is the best picture I could find with my hair down

It’s kind of sad that this is the best picture I could find with my hair down

I didn’t get paid to write this or anything, but I wanted to share a new product I’ve been using for several months now and loving! I got the tea tree oil Soap for Goodness Sake shampoo bar because it had a 0 ranking on the EWG’s skin deep list which means no bad chemicals. I ended up loving it for many reasons!

  1. You can use it as shampoo and as a soap bar so it eliminates needing separate shampoo, soap, and even conditioner!
  2. It makes my hair less frizzy (I have really curly hair and believe it or not is used to dry way frizzier than in the picture above which is how it looks now with no product)
  3. I find I no longer need conditioner, so that eliminates a step in the hair washing process
  4. It works as well for dandruff as chemically other shampoos
  5. It’s a solid so it’s easy to take on a trip and won’t spill in your bag. It also isn’t problematic for taking in a caryyon bag since it’s not a liquid
  6. It’s on amazon which is convenient

A few things that aren’t the best about it: it seems to take more effort to wash completely out of my hair, and it does sting your eyes if it gets in them which is not uncommon for shampoo, but is still a con. It also takes a bit longer to lather into my hair rather than squirting a liquid shampoo into it.

Overall I’m thrilled with it and will definitely buy it again. I was looking for a natural shampoo option but didn’t really want to try the whole vinegar wash thing since that seemed like a hassle, so I like that this is natural and also I can just buy it and don’t have to put much work into it. It also lasts for a long time.

Failing at brushing toddler teeth

your diet of 90% refined carbs isn't going to help you teeth situation, Jack

your diet of 90% refined carbs isn’t going to help this teeth situation, Jack

Jack used to love brushing his teeth, but now that he’s almost 2 and has very strong opinions about everything it’s turning into a big struggle. I used to let him do it himself, but then I started doing it for him afterwards but that turned into a literal power struggle with me pinning down his hands which was a disaster for everyone. So now we’re back to letting him do it, but we haven’t been able to find a good way to get him to brush for longer than a few seconds.

Here are some things we’ve tried, and need to try more consistently probably:

  • Getting him an electric toothbrush is the only thing that helped a little. The first few days we got it, he brushed for a long time, but now he doesn’t anymore. At least I think it brushes more efficiently though. I have an electric one too, so he sometimes would try that and seemed to like the feeling of the vibration.
  • Telling his stuffed animals “I have a secret: Jack is great at brushing his teeth!” didn’t work at all, but I have a friend who says it works for her daughter.
  • Singing a song didn’t help.
  • Today we tried watching a tooth brushing video with a song while he brushed his teeth which worked for about 5 seconds.
  • We’ve tried having my husband or I brush at the same time, and seem very excited about it with no success.
  • I’ve also tried rewards like saying he can give the dog a treat which he loves to do after he brushes, and even giving him the reward in pieces during the process but no luck there either.

I think for now we’ll try the video for several more days to see if that works. It’s sad because I actually love brushing my teeth, so I really want Jack to have good associations with dental hygiene as well.

 

Yay, finally some gentle nightweaning success!

1.sleepy

 

I think it’s because at 23 months now, Jack has finally gotten all his baby teeth, because he started miraculously sleeping through the night recently! Just a few weeks ago he was waking up every 2 hours all night, and now it’s often times just 1 wake up, and a few nights ago he slept 11 hours without nursing! I’ve been in such disbelief because I’d basically resigned myself to the fact that I’d have a 4 year old who still woke in the middle of the night and came into my bed.

I have been (kind of inconsistently) using a gentle technique of picking 1 or 2 wakeups and nursing a little less time than Jack wants. He has never been soothed by getting patted or being sung to or anything which is kind of sad for me, so the best thing I tried was unlatching him and just rolling over and pretending to be asleep. He would usually say “more” and fuss for a few seconds, and then would go back to sleep. If it kept going longer than maybe 20 seconds or so I would turn back over and nurse him because I didn’t want him to get too upset and really get awake. I did this most nights once or twice for several weeks and saw no change.

Then one night he woke up 2 hours after bedtime as usual but I was so tired that I didn’t want to nurse and thought I would wait a few seconds before nursing on the off chance he would go back to sleep. He ended up just going back to sleep on his own, and then sleeping for 4 more hours which was a long stretch for him! I tried again the next few nights and for some reason not feeding him that first time seemed to be the key to getting longer stretches all night.

We also got the Nursies when the Sun Shines book which couldn’t have hurt, but it arrived after the longer stretches had already started. The book is really sweet though, and has beautiful illustrations. Jack loves it and likes pointing to the cat.

In general, I think this is more of a “wait it out” success story than any technique because I’m pretty convinced it was the constant teething that was really making nights rough for us. Also Jack is finally eating more solids so that’s got to help as well. But nursing him a little less and seeing if he could go back to sleep on his own seems to have helped too, so I wanted to share in case someone else is in a similar boat.

Hopefully this post doesn’t jinx us for tonight!

Getting my 2 year old involved in household tasks

montessori learning tower

Jack helping at his learning tower

Parenting a toddler has been fairly challenging lately, and Jack is definitely getting more assertive with his choices and communicating it more. Our days have been involving a lot of mini tantrums where he gets upset that he has to put on a new shirt because his current one is wet, or we need to get in the car to drive somewhere but he wants to take a walk,

One thing that seems to help us a lot is following the Montessori idea of giving Jack as much freedom as possible and letting him help with our daily activities so he has a sense of control over more things. One of his favorite ways to help has always been in the kitchen. Getting a learning tower has been one of the best things we have bought. Jack loves to wash produce, transfer it from one bowl to another, or put things in the food processor and help turn it on. He is also more likely to get excited to try foods that he helps prepare.

Jack also helps with the laundry by putting the quarters in the slots (even though he likes to play with them so it takes way longer). He will also help move things into the dryer or carry some items back down the hallway for me. When I unload the dishwasher he will help with the non-pointy silverware, and he loves helping to clean up messes with a rag. Jack has also been enjoying turning lights off and on by himself and opening and closing doors. He likes to somewhat accurately water the plants too.

There are some activities he loves to help with so much that I have a hard time completing them; if I ever get out the swiffer while he’s around I have to wait quite a while until I can get a turn with it!

Traveling with a cosleeping toddler

at the USS Midway museum

at the USS Midway museum

 

Our family took a road trip to San Diego recently, and it went much better than I expected! I was worried because all our other trips with Jack so far have been a pretty stressful disaster. I guess now that he’s 22 months we have hit a turning point, since he doesn’t hate the car, can manage to mostly sit through a (quick) restaurant meal, and falls asleep a little easier.

We rented a place through air bnb, and I chose somewhere with a king size bed so Jack and my husband and I could all cosleep comfortably. It worked out great which I was surprised by. I nursed Jack to sleep for naps and at night and he slept just as well as at home. I think one of the pros of cosleeping is that your child feels at home wherever his parents are :) I stayed in the room on my laptop when Jack was asleep to make sure he didn’t roll off the bed and also set up a barrier with pillows.

We planned some family-friendly outings like short hikes by the ocean which Jack loved, and seeing seals at La Jolla cove. We also went to the USS Midway ship which is a museum and Jack loved sitting in the airplanes! We did a mix of eating at restaurants and picking up food to eat at home since Jack can’t handle sitting still at restaurants too often, and we found nice vegan options for him and I to eat.

Jack also stayed in underwear the whole time, and we brought the potty in the car and to the rental house. We just stopped at the side of the road for him to pee on the trip down which worked out great, and it was not a problem at all.

I’m glad that the trip went so well- I think that after around 18 or 20 months things have definitely started to get easier in many ways! There are still lots of times when Jack gets upset when things don’t go his way (he is very assertive), but I try to be as AP as I can and hope that it pays off in the long run. I’m excited to plan a road trip up to Northern California in the Spring now that this road trip went so well. I’m also 5% less anxious about our upcoming plane trip across the country for the holidays :)

Potty learning success at 21 months!

toilet learning potty training 21 months early

the days of bulky cloth diapers are over!

Yay! Jack has finally graduated to full-time underwear!

Here is a recap of our journey as well as my thoughts about organic underwear for little toddlers:

Birth-1 year: we did elimination communication part-time, and used cloth diapers which I tried to change as soon as they got wet.

1 year- Jack started to be almost accident-free with pooping on the potty but was only peeing once or twice a day, and resisted going during the day if he was playing. He mostly went in the morning and after nap.

18 months- Jack started staying dry through the night all by himself!

21 months- I tried to motivate Jack to use the potty more often with a special song, keeping books by the potty, and with raisins. I was getting tired of doing cloth diaper laundry every 3-4 days so I finally started giving him half an organic gummy bear any time he sat on the potty and it worked instantly! He started only having one accident or so per day from then on.

22 months- now Jack has 0-1 accidents per day. He still doesn’t always tell me he has to go, so often I have to ask him. I try to see each accident as a learning experience and they have been decreasing. We’ve used his compostable little potty in the library and in the trunk of the car and it’s worked great!I’m SO excited to be able to do laundry once a week now!

It has been tricky to find tiny underwear though. There are some organic ones we tried:

H&M has the cheapest, and many have cute pictures

Burts bees has high quality little boxers which are mid-priced

Polarn O Pyret has great quality more expensive ones

For most of them I had to sew the waist to make it a little smaller since Jack is small (23 pounds) Also many of his pants don’t fit as well! The Kate Quinn ones fit well, but the H and M and Burt’s ones are pretty big now

Hand foot and mouth disease

toddler 21 months

Poor Jack (and his dad) caught hand moot and mouth disease a few weeks ago. It started with a fever for one night and then Jack got blisters on his feet and a few on other areas. My husband got the fever too and also felt muscle pain and like he had swallowed razor blades. I felt especially bad for Jack who at 21 months can’t really understand what is happening to him or how to tell us how he feels. I was thankful we breastfeed though because Jack barely ate any solids for a few days but nursed like crazy.

I tried a little bit of night weaning the week before but caved after Jack was waking up at night and not falling back asleep, but I was happy I didn’t stick with it because he really needed the nursing at night while he was sick. Jack was also really easily upset during the day, and would have a big tantrum at the drop of a hat. I’m so glad he is finally better because it was stressful for everyone! I’m also thankful I didn’t get HFM disease because it took my husband about a week to recover, and it would be hard to have anyone take care of Jack for a whole week. Whenever someone in the family is sick it always makes me feel grateful for our overall good health though, because we take it for granted so much of the time.

The main things that were helpful to survive HFM disease for us were:

  • new toys to keep Jack busy at home since we were not allowed to go to parks
  • finding household objects for Jack to play with (my hair rollers were a huge hit as well as an old coffee machine)
  • going on long walks in the stroller
  • making houses out of board books
  • letting Jack help in the kitchen a lot (putting items into a salad, washing things)
  • Tylenol at night even though I feel guilty giving it to him so often

Almond feta cheese recipe

almond feta cheese recipe

almond feta cheese

Jack and I have been dairy-free for over a year now, and the thing I miss the most is cheese. I’ve made cashew cheese before, but when I found out about almond feta I was excited to try something different. This cheese ended up really tasting like feta- creamy and with a little lemon zing. I think it would be even better with some fresh chopped herbs added in. I did the lazy version and bought ground almonds from trader joe’s, but you can make it with whole almonds too. If you use blanched almonds the cheese will look nice and white, but my ground almonds were brownish because they had the whole almond and it still tasted good. I followed the recipe below and let the cheese sit in cloth overnight to release extra water, but it barely released any so I think next time I will be even lazier and try skipping that step :)

*Update: I tried adding a bit less liquid and not straining the cheese and it turned out fine! Also I tried not baking it and it’s more the consistency of a dip but still tastes great!

Ingredients:

1.5 cups ground almonds 
1/4 cup lemon juice (this makes it pretty lemony, use less if you want it milder)
1/2 cup water 
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 tsp salt

Directions:

-blend everything in the food processor until it’s very smooth for a few minutes

-then put it in 3 layers of cheese cloth or a layer of a cotton cloth and make it into a ball (you can tie it with a string or rubber band), and leave it over a strainer in the fridge for 12 hours

-the next day take the ball out of the cloth and put it in an oiled dish and bake for 40 minutes at 200 degrees until browned slightly

 

It’s delicious on a salad, with crackers, on a sandwich, and would probably be great on pizza too!