Monday, June 28, 2010

Our No Cry Sleep Solution

Before having a baby I thought putting a baby to sleep was a pretty simple and easy process.  However, once my son was born I quickly found out that it was a lot harder than we imagined.  As an infant he would fall asleep on almost anyone who was holding him but once they tried to put him down he'd quickly wake up crying.  He seriously was sound asleep but even the motion of putting him down startled him such that he'd wake up.  I'm a big researcher and try and seek advice when I don't know the answer.  

Since I wanted to breastfeed at least the first six months we had our son sleep in a bassinet in our bedroom for the first 3 months.  During the day I would try and put him in his crib for his naps and sometimes I would hold him while he napped and read a book.  It wasn't too long before I realized I had to put him in his crib to nap at least part of the time because there is so much to get done at home.

While I was pregnant, I discovered The Happiest Baby on the Block and we swaddling him.  That worked really well and we swaddled him at night for the first 3 months.  Some days I would swaddle him for his naps too.  As he got bigger he started preferring to sleep without being swaddled. 

After a month of being home with him we started getting on a pretty regular bedtime routine.  Bath, baby massage, story time, feeding, bed.  However, if he wasn't asleep he'd cry.  My husband and I felt bad so we'd pick him up and hold him until he fell asleep.  Many books and people tell you not to do this.  But we honestly didn't have the heart to let him cry it out.  Also being our first and only child we tirelessly took turns when he was having difficulty falling asleep.  Several books say it's important for your child to fall asleep in their crib and on their own.  Some suggest at 4 months they are old enough to "cry it out" and others suggested between 6 and 8 months.  But like I said we were never able to do this.

Now that my son is a year and I want to start the weaning process, we decided about a month ago it was time to do more research on getting your child to fall asleep.  There are not many books that promote no cry solutions so I wanted to share what has and is working for us and hope it can be of help to you.

First of all, our son was able to sleep through the night (5+ hours) from about 3.5 months.  He had only had breast milk, no formula.  So despite what some say, a breastfed baby can sleep through the night.  We did not introduce solids until he was 5.5 months.  Also, when I was still feeding him at night half the time after the middle of the night feeding I would bring him to bed with me.  I was exhausted and like I said he was easily startled.  He'd fall asleep but wake up when I put him down and I didn't always feel like re-swaddling him after we changed his diaper.  There are a lot of great resources that say co-sleeping can actual reduce the risk of SIDS if you're breastfeeding.  However, you should talk to your doctor before deciding to do that because there are also risks.  Especially if your husband moves around a lot.  You don't want to put your baby in harm's way.  But for us, it worked out fine.  Even up until he was a year old if he was having a bad night, he sometimes has night terrors and will wake up screaming, we'll bring him to bed with us.  When we travel, usually the first night or two it's easier if he falls asleep with us.  However, once he is asleep we usually transfer him to his crib because neither my husband nor I get a good night's sleep if our son is sleeping with us.

Which reminds me of another thing.  I've read countless stories of people saying if they fall asleep somewhere besides their crib they wake up scared.  I think if you are consistent in them sleeping in their crib it won't be frightening for them when they wake up.  Also according to the Baby Whisperer (Tracy Hogg's books are great), it's important to let them play everyday in their crib.  That way it becomes a familiar and fun place to be.  Our son usually now wakes up happy and talks.  Also considering the fact that he never "learned" to self-sooth at night, he knows how to put himself back to sleep for the most part in the middle of the night.  I sometimes hear him babbling two or three times a night.  If he starts crying I go in there immediately, but more often than not, he goes back to sleep.

Now back to getting him to sleep through the night.  The Baby Whisperer says we did "accidental parenting" because I nurse him and then rock him to sleep.  Honestly, I wish I would have read her book earlier.  Because if he's not close to being asleep he will stand up in his crib and cry.  Therefore, we had to change our ways.  The past two days we have gotten him to fall asleep on his own.  We continue with the bedtime routine, bath, lotion, story, nursing.  Except now when either he seems like he's about to fall asleep or the 10 minutes are up, I remove him and immediately put him in his bed.  I always kiss him and say "night, night."  He usually turns to his tummy so I pat his back and say, "night, night, Mommy loves you."  Then I hold off and stand a minute or two where he can't see me.  If he looks like he's going to get up, I pat him again.  If he does stand up, I pick him up, tell him I love him again and night night, then put him back down.  We've been doing this for a few weeks.  But the last two nights have been easier.  Two nights ago I put him down, he babbled some then fell asleep.  Last night I left the room and heard him give a little cry so I went back in his room.  He was standing up.  I picked him up, sat in the rocking chair for two minutes, then put him back to bed saying "night night" again while he was still awake.  He rolled over to his tummy, I patted his back, waited about 30 seconds then left.  He fell asleep again.

Now I know two easy days does not mean we have successfully taught him to fall asleep on his own yet.  However, we have come a long way.  At least there is not more loud crying.  Even though we did everything "wrong" according to a lot of baby sleep books, I think it's going to work out fine.  Obviously, every parent and child is different and your family has to decide how they want to teach their child to sleep.  My husband and I parent like what Dr. Sears calls "attached parenting."  Except, I don't plan on nursing my child until he's 3 or 4 and we don't really co-sleep.  However, if it's a bad night, we are not opposed to our son coming to our bed with us.  We just never felt right about letting him cry himself to sleep.  If you heard his cry, it would be hard for you too.  I hope this helps anyone who is in a similar boat that we are in.  It is okay to go with your motherly or fatherly instinct on parenting.  Also, some books said that naturally many children cannot put themselves to sleep until they are 3 years old.  I think with our child, if God blesses us with another one, we will try this earlier.  As our no cry sleep progresses, I will let you know how it goes.  

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.  If you have any suggestions on getting your child to sleep on their own without crying, please feel free to share.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Apple Pumpkin Bread

Usually people think of eating pumpkins in the fall.  While trying to give my family a diverse diet, I decided to bring out some of my favorite recipes and make them this in the summer.

This is the best apple pumpkin bread I have ever eaten.  It is an easy way to add pumpkin to your diet.  I have made this bread several times and everyone who eats it loves it.  It makes two loafs.  Enjoy!

Apple Pumpkin Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch each allspice, nutmeg, mace
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 15 oz. can Pumpkin
2 Tbs Wheat Germ (optional)
1/2 cup pecans (optional)
4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
1/2 cup apples, peeled & chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease two loaf pans with vegetable oil or non-stick spray.

Mix both kinds of flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in the large bowl of an electric mixer.

Stir together pumpkin, eggs, sugar, applesauce, honey, oil or melted butter in a large bowl.

Combine pumpkin mixture with dry ingredients, stirring only until combined. Stir in apple.

Pour half of the batter into each loaf pan and bake at 350°F for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Traveling with Cloth Diapers

Several people have asked me, "can you use cloth diapers when you travel?"  My response is "you can!" When we went to Ireland we decided not to use cloth diapers because we would not have time to wash  them.  However, if you decide to use cloth diapers when you travel there are some great options out there depending on where you're going and if you will have a place to do laundry.  Honestly, I think it's easier to use disposables unless you're going on a short weekend trip.  In which you simply bring your laundry bag with you and wash the cloth diapers when you return home. 

bumGenius Flip with Stay Dry Insert - MoonbeamLive GroVia - Full Time GroVia Diaper PackageI have two favorite cloth diapers I like to use for short trips and everyday outings.  They are bumGenius Flips (on top) and GroVia (below). Both are hybrid cloth diapers which means you reuse the cover several times (unless it gets dirty) and replace the inserts.  Flips come in organic cotton, stay dry, or disposable inserts.  GroVia comes in organic cotton and includes a stay dry booster for naps, car trips, and bedtime.  You can also purchase biodegradable soaker pads for the GroVia.  I have not purchased any of these yet.  The biggest advantage of using a hybrid diaper when you travel is they take up less space in your diaper bag and you have the option of disposing less waste if you choose the disposable or biodegradable inserts. 

I will do a video review of both of these diapers soon.  I like the GroVia more than the Flips simply because you snap the insert in the shell rather than stuff it under a flap.  Therefore it stays put easier.  Also the shell is made of higher quality.  However, if you're on a budget, Flips are something to consider.  I bought a day pack of Flips which came with two shells and six stay dry inserts for $50.  I bought three GroVia shells and six inserts for around $80.  A friend gave me a box of disposable Flips inserts that I have not tried yet.  Other than that I use the stay dry inserts for Flips and the organic cotton inserts for the GroVia.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ireland Vacation

We just got back from a week-long vacation in Ireland. We had a wonderful time. The only thing we planned before we went was some key things we'd like to do, the first and last night hotel stay, and we booked a rental car. Other than that we thought we'd take it day by day to see how our baby would do.

Finding a B&B or Farmhouse was super easy. Ireland has lots of them! We stayed two nights at a B&B, one night at a Farmhouse, and three nights in a hotel. We had a crib every place we stayed. We also enjoyed a nice Irish breakfast every morning.  Ireland B&B's and Farmhouses typically have a sign outside their door that says "vacancies" or "no vacancies."  When we saw one we thought we might like, we'd stop and look at their available rooms and ask if they had a cot (crib).  We actually turned down several because they didn't have a crib or we did not like the room set-up.  We enjoyed an Irish breakfast every morning.  A typical Irish breakfast includes eggs, porridge (oatmeal), meat, fruit, bread, coffee, tea, and juice.  The bread we ate in Ireland was some of the best bread we've ever had.

Here is a brief overview of our vacation.

Day 1 - Arrived in Dublin

Our plane landed really late in Dublin last Wednesday. We picked up our rental car and headed to the hotel.  My husband drove as the Irish drive on the left.  I was really impressed with his ability to drive a standard left handed and on the left side of the road.  Honestly, I was a little worried about our safety before we left for this trip.

Day 2 - The Rock of Cashel and the Blarney Castle

Day one we visited the The Rock of Cashel and saw Cormac's Chapel. After lunch we drove to Blarney Castle and saw the Blarney Stone - neither of us kissed it for sanitary reasons. Both castles were quite impressive. My favorite was the Blarney Castle. The grounds were beautiful too and there was a nice grassy area that we were able to let our son play on.
 The Rock of Cashel
Inside the Rock of Cashel
The Blarney Castle
Someone kissing the Blarney Stone - to kiss the stone you have to get on your back and lean your head off the ledge, it looked pretty scary
View from the top of the Blarney Castle
Day 3 - Ring of Kerry and Dingle

The next day we took a scenic drive and drove part of the Ring of Kerry. Just so you know, most of Ireland is scenic.  Everywhere we went people suggested a scenic drive which was usually an hour or more out of the way.  Some drives are worth it but if you plan on driving to the coast you will experience plenty of wonderful scenery.  We stopped in Dingle and spent the night there after visiting the Gallarus Oratory, a stone church which some believe was built between the 6th and 9th century.
 Gallarus Oratory
Day 4 - Dingle Peninsula and Kildare

We drove the Dingle Peninsula (beautiful!) and stopped at the Beehive Huts. After spending some time around there and admiring the beautiful coast we continued on. Our baby was tired and fell asleep so we decided to take advantage of this and start making our way back toward the east coast.  We ate lunch at a Pub and spent the night in Kildare at Castle View Farmhouse B&B.
 Beehive Huts
Scary little one lane road with traffic going both ways
Day 5 - Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough, Powers Court, and Bray Head

Today we drove the through the Wicklow Mountains to the coastal town of Bray.  On our drive we saw where scenes of several famous movies were filmed such as Braveheart and PS I Love You. We stopped in Glendalough, walked around, saw the monuments: Round Tower, Church, and Cemetery, and then drove to Powers Court, the home of the most beautiful gardens in Ireland. We had a wonderful lunch at Powers Court and spent a few hours in the gardens.  After Powers Court we drove to Bray Head, a touristy beach town.  
 Powers Court
Bray Head Beach
Day 6 - Day in Dublin

We decided to spend our last full day in Dublin. We ate a nice Irish lunch and walked across the Ha'Penny Bridge. We visited some nice bookstores, bought some books in British English, and went to Trinity College. My husband saw the amazing library and Book of Kells. I decided not to go in but to stay with our baby and let him play.  We ended our last night in Ireland with a very fancy dinner. I wish I had my camera. The food was not only delicious but very artistic too.
 Famous Ha'Penny Bridge
Trinity College
Day 7 - Back to Germany

We went to the airport early this morning and flew back to Germany. We had a great vacation! The Irish people are friendly and the country is beautiful. We'd love to go back some day.  
We have been to over 15 countries in Europe and Ireland is by far one of the easiest European countries to get around in.  The Irish also love children so if you can only take your kids to one European country you might want to consider taking them to Ireland.
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