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!

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 :)

Thinking about night weaning options at 21 months

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Jack is 21 months old now, and we are thinking about trying to night wean (again). I am fine waiting until Jack does so naturally but my husband wants to do it now, so we are going to try a gentle and gradual approach. I have read so many different approaches to it, so here are some of the ones I was thinking about (I tend to overthink things a lot, and want to minimize sadness for Jack and imagine what I would prefer if I were in his situation). Any of the things we choose would NOT leave Jack to cry alone, ever. However there will likely be some crying because Jack is very “spirited.” The crying is always so hard on me especially because he doesn’t like me to touch him so I can’t hold him, but at least a loving parent will be with him to support him, so I think of it as crying in arms, not cry it out.

1. The method I’m going to try first is having Jack wait longer and longer periods until he can have milk. I think I will start at his first wake up after 11pm, so that eventually the goal is him sleeping from 9:30 to the morning without his every other hour wake ups. I will start with a few seconds of him waiting and gradually increase it to a minute, then eventually longer and longer. The goal is that at some point he will fall asleep during the wait and get more and more practice sleeping without nursing. I will tell him that the milkies are busy making more milk, but we can have some later. I think that makes sense to me, and also doesn’t rely on him understanding about the day versus night which I don’t think he does yet. I like that he knows he will get to nurse eventually, and that I can feed him if he gets too upset. I just hope he is able to wait long enough to fall back asleep…

2. My next option in case that never works is nursing him to sleep and then making him a little to see if he can go back to sleep on his own while very groggy. (If it didn’t work, I would nurse and  barely wake him the next time). Once that worked consistently and Jack was a little more used to falling asleep that way, I would try to nurse him to 95% asleep and take him off my breast to see if he could fall asleep, and then keep shortening it.

3. The next option I would try is letting him nurse a little and then refusing to nurse again until he sleeps and wakes up again. I tried this several months ago and only was able to get him to sleep in a baby carrier but then he would wake when I put him down and get upset again.

4. We tried once having my husband put Jack to bed, but that was a disaster several months ago. This could be an option if nothing else is working, but I feel bad having Jack lose not only his main way to get to sleep but also his favorite parent. I think if we tried this I would set a cutoff for how many minutes he could cry and then I would come back and we wouldn’t do this method any more.

Even though Jack waking every 2 hours is kind of tiring, it’s not that back because we cosleep. I’m really not looking forward to having him possibly get upset at night and then be up for hours because he gets all riled up :( I hope by some miracle he can just so gradually get used to something that there are no tears!

Transitioning away from sleeping in a carrier

 

asleep in a woven wrap
asleep in a woven wrap

 

Since he was born Jack has been falling asleep for naps and bedtime in a baby carrier probably 90% of the time. I did it because it was easier to get him to sleep and stay asleep, and I enjoyed walking around with him because I could look at my kindle to pass the time or talk on the phone.

At 15 months, my husband had been wanting to transition him to falling asleep in bed, so my mom was visiting for a week and agreed to help me. I had tried several months ago but it took Jack hours to sleep and was too stressful for me to stick with it. This time though, I think he was developmentally ready and it was so much easier!

Our plan was to do our night time routine (book, diaper change, nurse in bed), play a lullaby on repeat in our room (he sleeps with us in a sidecared crib), keep the room dark, and not let him off the bed. If he cried I would hug him or breastfeed him but not let him leave the bed or carry him. I think this method is similar to the “crying in arms” technique. There is no way I would feel comfortable leaving my baby alone to cry, and even a few months ago I felt really upset about not picking him up if that’s what he wanted.

The first night we let him get really tired and put him to bed at 10pm. He was overtired and cried for a few minutes and then nursed. He alternated crying, nursing, and crawling around in the crib for about 45 minutes before he fell asleep. It was way better than the last time I tried which involved 2 hours of lots of crying (all with me hugging him). The next day we did bed time at 9 and it took about 30 minutes with just a little crying, and the days after that have been just a little crying and then nursing for 20-30 minutes. I’m glad Jack can go to bed without needing to be walked around now, and especially that it felt like he was ready for the change. The next step will be trying to get him to wake up less at night to nurse, but I’m worried that will be really hard!

Update at 15 months

1.sleepy

Jack is 15 months old now, and just within the past week started walking all the time. It’s really mind-boggling and amazing to watch a baby learn a whole new skill like that. It took several weeks of him walking a step here and there before it just seemed to click one day. It was probably the how to walk DVDs we play him… just kidding!

For several weeks now Jack has been switching off and on between mostly 2 naps a day but sometimes just 1. He’s always tired for his morning nap 2-3 hours after waking up, but sometimes he just doesn’t fall asleep for the afternoon one. Then we have a tricky situation where he gets exhausted by an early time like 5pm and I don’t know whether to let him sleep or not. The other day he took a 10 minute nap after breastfeeding at 5, but then stayed awake until 9pm! So I think from now on I’ll try to keep any really late naps to 5 minutes and see how it goes.

Today for example Jack woke up at 7am and napped from 10-11:30. I tried to get him to nap again between 2:45-3:15 and he wouldn’t fall asleep while I walked him around in the carrier, so we skipped the afternoon nap. I took him to the park at 5 to keep him busy and now he’s passed out after breastfeeding at 6:30. Hopefully he’ll stay asleep all night!

Jack’s also been crying more lately and putting his fingers in his mouth so I think he’s getting a canine tooth. We always have a hard time deciding about giving tylenol (all the chemicals and possible side effects vs. don’t want our child to be in pain or never sleep) so I’ve been trying to limit it to once a night. The ingredients list is frightening though- I don’t know why medicine for children needs artificial colors and flavors…

Jack has also started (finally!) eating some more solids, but still not a lot compared to other kids. The things he likes are either puff type textures like cheerio-type things or these baked pea snacks, or mushy stuff in a spoon like egg salad and refried beans. I need to think of some more things to offer him though, maybe that will help him sleep more…

Daily schedule at 14 months

2.5

 

Jack is 14 months old now, and I thought I would write out a typical day for us so that I can remember what it was like later. Yesterday I wrote down what time everything happened at, but it does vary day to day. He takes 2 naps and usually sleeps from 7 or 8pm to 7am (waking up about every 2 hours to eat). He nurses about every 3 hours during the day.

7:30am- wake up, use the potty, play, eat some organic unsweetened cheerios, walk the dog around the block

8- I cook breakfast

9- Breastfeed

9:20- I eat some breakfast while Jack eats some freeze-fried fruit and corn puffs, then clean up Jack, do dishes, and clean the eating area

10:20- put Jack in the carrier and he sleeps within a few minutes. I eat the rest of my breakfast/brunch

11:30- Jack wakes up, breastfeeds, and uses the potty

12-2:30 go to my dad’s house and spend time with grandparents, grandma takes Jack for a walk with her dog, and my dad watches Jack while I exercise a little and do a small sewing project

2:45- arrive home and breastfeed

3-4:10 nap in carrier while mom eats

4:10 Jack eats his dinner, clean up afterwards

4:45- walk the dog for a longer walk

5:15- take a bath

5:45- breastfeed

6- walk to Trader Joe’s to buy groceries

6:20- playtime and clean the kitchen

7:10- I cook some somewhat healthy dessert for tomorrow

7:30- bedtime routine (books, change diaper, breastfeed)

7:45- put Jack in the carrier and he falls asleep after a few minutes, then transfer him to the bed. I sit next to him on my laptop and relax and watch a TV show with headphones. He wakes up to eat once every few hours.

Just imagine how exciting our laundry days must be!

 

My postpartum experience

Jack at 1 day old in his moby wrap

Jack at 1 day old in his moby wrap

Now that Jack is almost 14 months old we are thinking about trying for another baby, and I have been remembering what is was like to be pregnant and deliver Jack… I can’t believe I got pregnant with him almost 2 years ago!

Here are some things about my postpartum experience that might be helpful for people expecting their first child (TMI alert though). FYI I had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery with some moderate tearing.

  1. Having a baby carrier was super helpful since Jack wanted to be held all the time. I loved my moby wrap and beco gemini (both can be organic), and know people who like the k’tan and ergo as well.
  2. I thought I would feel up for going to work a little 2-3 weeks after delivery, but I was SO wrong! Maybe some people are, but because of the stitches I didn’t feel comfortable sitting without a pillow or something for several weeks. There was also more bleeding than I realized, and that lasted 6 weeks for me. So I would advise you to plan to take at least 6 weeks without needing to go anywhere if possible.
  3. Stock up on sanitary pads (chlorine-free if possible!) since you can’t wear tampons! I hadn’t even used pads in such a long time, and I forgot they don’t work as well to prevent leaks so I also recommend having dark colored bottoms just in case of leaks. I also had a mattress protector for my bed in case of leaks at night which was a good investment. I got this PVC-free one and it works great.
  4. Try to learn as much about breastfeeding as possible before birth (check out a LLL meeting!). Most people I know had some trouble with it, so knowing what a tongue tie and lip tie are and what they look like for example can help you in case your doctor doesn’t notice (mine didn’t). If you miss things like that, it can lead to a lot of pain, so it’s better to do anything possible right away to prevent problems. We even paid $300 for a lactation specialist to come to the house on a weekend which I felt guilty about, but it’s way cheaper than a year of formula! Also lanolin was helpful for my nipples. If you’re possibly allergic to wool, you can try hard to get organic lanolin without chemicals added.
  5. Take tons of pictures! It sounds obvious but it easy to forget, and looking back I wish I had more. I especially wish I took out our nice camera more often and got good quality pictures rather than phone ones. Newborns sleep so much that it’s a great time to get adorable pictures of them sleeping on dad’s chest, on a sheepskin rug, on someone’s arm, with the dog…
  6. We waited to start cloth diapering for about a week because we were nervous, but I found it way easier than disposables and next time will start right away! Maybe even in the hospital! It also makes the pictures even more adorable.
  7. I recommend everyone reads up of safe cosleeping, because even if you never plan to, you will likely end up doing it sometime out of exhaustion. It sounds ridiculous but even having to lift your baby and put them in a bedside cosleeper seems like too much effort at 2am when you are exhausted and they fell asleep next to you while eating and you don’t want to risk waking them.
  8. I also had joint pain off and on for months after delivery, so a heating pad was nice to have for that. I guess all the hormones caused it- it was weird to have this dull pain in my back, knees, and ankles.

Facebook groups for crunchy moms

Since I’ve had Jack, I spend an embarrassing amount of time on facebook while he’s breastfeeding. I don’t know a ton of crunchy moms in real life, so facebook groups have been so helpful in making me feel like part of a community and having people to ask for advice. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Natural Toys and Children’s Items b/s/t

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/402340353149076/
  • This is ony of my favorites and I’ve already mentioned it here
  • B/S/T stands for buy, sell, trade
  • It’s a nice place to find cheaper used wooden toys etc, but also to ask questions about anything crunchy

2. The babywearing Swap

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/thebabywearingswap/
  • This super addictive group is just for buying and selling used baby carriers and wraps
  • I definitely look at it while not even planning to buy anything just because the wraps are so pretty!

3.  Babywearing 102

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/Babywearing102/
  • This is the group where you can post questions about anything babywearing related, or pictures of you wrapping and they will give you tips

4. 102 Off-Topic

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/102OT/
  • This is a group to talk about anything other than babywearing, and the moms tend to be super crunchy, use positive parenting, and know about breastfeeding etc

5. The Wait It Out Method (A toolkit approach to sleep training)

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheWaitItOutTribe/
  • This group is for parents not using cry it out for sleeping, and is very helpful when you are at your wit’s end with a baby waking up all the time and want some moral support when everyone in real life seems to be sleep training

6. High Needs / AP / Spirit Families – Babies and Children+ …WORLDWIDE.

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/354013614686652/
  • This group is not my favorite, but it can be helpful to ask questions about your high needs baby or see other peoples’ stories to get some perspective

7. Organic Kids Clothes Swap Sell Buy

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/468453759909391/
  • This group probably has less clothes than the group #1 I listed, but is another one to check out if you want used organic clothes

8. Elimination Communication

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/diaperfree/
  • This is useful to ask questions about specifics of EC (diaper free babies) or problem solve if you’re having a potty strike or anything

I also joined some specific groups for certain things like BumGenius b/s/t to buy used diapers of that brand, or Tula love to ask questions about what size Tula carrier to get. It’s a good idea to search for your favorite clothing brand and they might have a b/s/t group, or your favorite small stores may have a group or page you can “like” to see coupon codes occasionally. Hope this helps you waste a lot of time/connect with other crunchy parents!

Bedtime routine update

IMAG0563

 

I’m pretty proud of myself that I’ve stuck with the bedtime routine since late December, so about a month now! Every night I read a book or two to Jack (while he tries to eat it or climb off the couch), put on his night time diaper and pants, and rub some coconut oil on him as well as some oil with lavender essential oil. Then I breastfeed if he seems hungry, and lastly walk around with him in the carrier until he falls asleep.

The routine definitely hasn’t hurt, but it hasn’t made bedtime magically super easy either. I try to start between 7 and 7:30, but he’s often not asleep in bed until 8:30. I don’t mind walking him around all that much because I look at my kindle while I walk and think of it as extra exercise, but I sometimes get frustrated if I keep walking and then take him out to feed him and then walk again and breastfeed again… But I’m sure as he gets older it will get easier. I keep hearing around 2 years old things get a lot easier with sleep.

Having the crib sidecared to our bed has been working great. I know my husband wants him to be in his own room, but I love the baby snuggles, being able to make sure he’s breathing whenever I want, and mostly not having to get up from bed to nurse! My friends who did cry it out still feed their babies once or twice a night, and the idea of walking to another room at night and back seems pretty horrible to me.

So while things are far from easy, I’m so glad I never let Jack cry all alone and I’ve taught him that I’m always there for him during the day or at night :) I want him to feel like he is loved all the time, and I’m sure when I’m old I won’t regret losing a few hours of sleep in order to have a great trusting relationship with my child and have gotten hours of extra snuggles at night.

New years and new bedtime routine

12.28larder

 

Happy new years from me and Jack! I am not doing anything and hope to be asleep by midnight… oh life with a baby.

Poor Jack is getting 3 molars now, so his sleep has been majorly messed up. Over the last few weeks either he wouldn’t fall asleep until 9 or 10, or would wake up in the middle of the night for an hour or two.

I decided to try a bedtime routine (since I’m not letting him cry so there aren’t a lot of other options). I tried halfheartedly before but felt that when he was younger he didn’t really notice so I got lazy.

Here’s our new routine: (has worked pretty well for 2 days now)

-Read book(s)

-Change into night-time diaper (pocket diaper with extra stuffing)

-Put coconut oil on, and use some oil that has lavender essential oil (lavender may help sleep, or the scent could become an association with bedtime at least)

-Get in the tula carrier and get walked around with dim lights while mom sings

hopefully it helps!