Friday, November 20, 2009

Ikea highchair best for baby-led weaning

Or any weaning for that matter. It's so cheap ($50 AUD with tray) and it's just one bit of moulded plastic which makes it really easy to clean. I thought our Fisher Price Booster Seat was simple and easy until I tried one of these. Phoebe can sit up straight and get close to her food unlike other highchairs which often recline a bit too much. You can even put it under the shower to clean it which I did for the first time tonight. And it's the height of fashion. All the caf├Ęs have them (presumably because they're so easy to clean), as do most of my friends with babies and those who don't have one want one. Seriously why do people pay through the nose for a padded piece of faff when they could grab something like this? It's yet another example of manufacturers taking advantage of parents who simply want the best for their baby.

I love our IKEA highchair and so does Phoebe. I'm sure she thinks I take it everywhere with us as wherever we are there seems to be one for her to sit in. Now that's where the Fisher Price seat really does come into its own (that and having a tray you can move in towards her to help prevent bits of food ending up on her lap). I always have it in the car in case we go somewhere that doesn't have a high chair. And as Phoebe is one of those babies that generally insists on feeding herself (i.e. messy) we even use it in the park. It's the only way I can get her to sit still whilst eating.

Check out me in my new chair!

I love it this much!

I am an eating machine.

And in other news, Phoebe definitely has a third tooth now, one along from the front right on the top. And she's turned into an Eating Machine. Seriously, today I just could not get enough food into her and she had plenty of breastfeeds too. She woke at 2am, which I didn't think too unusual as she'd been asleep since 7.30pm. I gave her a feed, she went back to sleep. All very normal. An hour and a bit later she was awake again. This happened a few nights ago and Toby gave her some water and she went back to sleep (it's very hot at the moment). Not this time. She got quite annoyed. I'd had the impression that she would have had more milk at 2am had there been more so I went in and gave her another feed. She drained my breasts and still wasn't satisfied. I went back to bed and Toby climbed in the cot with her to try to settle her. This just served to make her more angry and she screamed.

Eventually I went in and sent Toby back to bed. I removed her sleeping bag (because it was hot), and took her into the kitchen for a snack (yummy corn and corgette muffins made and created by moi) and some water, changed her nappy, put her back in her cot, sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (when I'm done having kids I don't think I'll ever want to hear that bloody nursery rhyme again) and she went straight back to sleep. When she got up at 7am she wanted a breastfeed again then this afternoon she ditched her lunchtime nap in favour of a second lunch. And still had dinner!! And dinnertime slowly eased its way into bathtime as I offered her more and more food. And she ate it all. I've probably mentioned before that the principles of baby-led weaning are that you never force them to eat and you keep offering healthy food until they refuse it. Between 3pm and 6.30pm she had a decent helping of sausage and lentil casserole, cream cheese on toast, a couple of tablespoons of yoghurt, about half a small banana, an entire milk arrowroot biscuit, a bit of prune, some grapefruit, orange, apple and watermelon, a bit of rice cake, some rusk and a tiny amount of weetbix (weetabix for the poms). There may have been more but that's all my tired brain can remember. I blame the aliens.

She felt heavier today too (before she ate all that) and when I weighed her on our not-very-accurate scales she was 9.1kg; she's hovered around 8.6 and 8.7kg for a couple of months now. Good to see she is still hovering* around the 75th percentile.

(*Would've loved to find a better word than hovering... hate using the same word twice like that... but you know... I'm really too tired to care)

Anyway, I have to go. There's a cat on my back. No, really!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

If I had to do it again... No. 1

This is the first in a series not because I have similar posts in mind but because I have no doubt that similar thoughts will occur in the future.

1. The cot
If I had to buy a cot again I would choose one with the maximum safe distance between the bars. This is something I didn't even think about when choosing our cot. I just picked one that was a good price, could be easily raised and lowered with one hand (some of them have buttons on either end that have to be pushed simultaneously to lower the side; try doing that whilst holding a sleeping baby; not that I ever raise the cot side anyway) and looked good. But now that I have spent many an hour sitting by the side of the cot, hunched over the rail, cutting off the circulation in my arms as I pat my baby to sleep, I would choose a cot with bars that I could easily get my hands and arms through. And I'd set up a really comfy mattress by the side of the cot so I could have a lie down myself. I nearly send myself to sleep on some nights and it amazes me that Phoebe can stay awake for so long.

2. The pram
Before I go on I should say that I love our Steelcraft Strider DLX in Kingfisher blue and have no regrets over choosing either that or the cot. But these are things that I didn't realise I might want out of a cot or a pram. That's not to say that had I known I would have made a different choice as we all know you can't have everything (unless you have oodles of cash and can afford a Bugaboo; but you can't easily swap between bassinet and stroller seat like you can with ours so you see, even the posh pram has it's bad points). What I wish our gorgeous babymobile did differently (other than having such wide-set wheels which make it impossible for Lucie, who has the same pram in sophisticated Toffee, and I to walk side-by-side on most pavements) is the recline levels. There are three of these, which is probably enough, but the upright never seems to be quite upright enough and the fully reclined position never seems to be quite reclined enough. A good stroller seat should go from almost flat to practically standing. But this is a very minor issue.

Another thing I'd do differently, and in fact might do if we have another baby, is I'd fork out the extra money for a car seat that goes onto the pram base. At around $300 it's hardly cheap and I turned my nose up at this when I was pregnant and choosing a pram, especially as it only suits babies weighing up to 9kg which Phoebe is now close to.

"Who would spend that much on a seat that will only do for 6-9 months?" I scoffed. "What an extravagant waste of money! No! I shall just hire a capsule from Queensland Ambulance for $70."

We certainly saved ourselves a fair bit of money but I got bloody sick of hauling that thing in and out of shops when running errands. There were a number of occasions when I didn't do quite so many things on my way home from somewhere because it was too much hassle getting her in and out of the car or because she was asleep and I didn't want to wake her. And how many times did Toby try to persuade me to place the car capsule inside the bassinet so we could push it along? Well, it was more than once. And I refused each time because it didn't feel safe. Hopefully by the time we have another baby they'll be cheaper or available second-hand because it still seems a bit damn expensive to me.

The aliens brought my baby back and they've done a reasonable job of fixing her. Here is a photo of her taken today looking gorgeous. She's getting over her cold and is just trying to catch up on some sleep. And she has at least one, possibly three more teeth coming through. I can feel her top right tooth one along from the front and I thought I could see the whites of her two front teeth just under the gums.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Aliens took my baby...

... and left one of themselves in her place.

I started writing a post about routine (to follow soon) only to have Phoebe get sick and throw herself back out of her routine.

At first I blamed Toby. He was frustrated at having to stay home for two hours twice a day so that she could sleep in her cot.

"You're frustrated?" I proclaimed. "You only have to do it two days of the week. How do you think I feel? I have to do it every day."

Anyway, this one particular day when I was too tired to argue, Toby decided that we'd stay out all afternoon and that Phoebe could darn well go to sleep in her pram.

"She doesn't sleep very well in her pram," I protested meekly. "And you'll probably only get her to sleep if you walk her in virtual silence for twenty minutes first."

He ignored me and went for a walk with Adam. I was behind with Bec and after about five minutes of the blokes chatting I figured he must have given up with Phoebe as she was standing up in her bassinet, holding onto the hood and looking out of the front of the pram. There's a reason why women were granted the position of being the primary rearer of children. Incidentally, the bassinet is now being put away for use by any future siblings of Phoebe's as it is obvious she is way too mobile for it now. Standing up... I mean, really.

So anyway, she didn't sleep and the next day was a bit out of whack but not too bad but the following day it all started to go rapidly downhill. Over the next two days she started to wake up about 30 or 40 minutes into her afternoon nap and then have another sleep when she would normally wake up. At night it would take her 30 minutes or more to fall asleep where it used to take 5-10.

It turns out that it was Toby's fault but not for the reason I first suspected. No, what had actually happened was that he had given her the lurgy. Again! (He was poorly a few weeks ago and then passed it onto Phoebe before buggering off to Sydney for the week so she was unwell for all but a day that he was gone and then made a miraculous recovery about two hours before his plane landed. Bloody typical.)

For the last three nights (not including tonight... touch wood) Toby has had to take Phoebe out in the car to help her get to sleep. She's had a disgusting runny nose, has been off her food and just generally annoyed with the world. This is a man-sized cold. I know, because Toby told me how a friend he stayed with in Sydney had it and was the angriest man in the southern hemisphere. Toby then contracted it days after arriving home and he became pretty shitty too. So imagine how my poor baby must be feeling.

Anyway, today when I wasn't looking aliens landed and took her away. They were kind enough to leave a little alien being in her place. This thing has green goo coming out of its nose (see photograph). It is very curious about our food but seems to think it is a device for testing the gravity of our planet. It knows a bit about breastfeeding but thinks it can get milk from parts of the boob other than the nipple, and even from the arm. It has a shrill shriek and it writhes around after feeding as though trying to burrow into me for a sleep (like the opposite of the film where the thing bursts out of people). It really is quite peculiar. I do hope that they bring Phoebe back tonight, preferably without her cold.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The New Routine: 8 and 9 months old

The thing with routine is that if you blink you might miss it. Really, before the age of one year (and possibly beyond that for all I know) any sort of routine you might establish is actually just a phase.

I started writing this post a month ago and no sooner did I start than she got a really awful cold, then teethed for a bit, got completely out of her routine and then set about establishing a new one which, if it hasn't changed by then anyway, will undoubtedly change on 6th January when she starts daycare.

So, just for the record, this is what I wrote on 1st November:

"Yes, it's true, we have pretty much established a routine. I feel quite confident in saying that now as it has been going on for a few weeks and we are able to deviate from said routine without causing too many headaches.

Getting Phoebe into a routine was only semi-intentional. I got the impression a couple of months ago that perhaps she was ready for a routine. She is so much more aware of what is going on around her and there is so much to fit into one day (the right amount of sleep, breastfeeds and meals) that the only way I could really be sure of what was going on was to do things at approximately the same time each day. But basically I was attempting to resolve her previously mentioned Sleep Issues.

It's been a long and at times painful journey but I think the rewards are worth it. Basically I had to spend as much time as possible over a period of a couple of weeks at home observing Phoebe. It sort of happened by accident too. One night about four weeks ago I just decided that I was no longer going to cuddle, jiggle or walk Phoebe to sleep but that she had to fall asleep in her cot. I don't know why I chose that night as we had a friend staying with us from England for a few days. He arrived at bathtime, which probably stimulated Phoebe a little too much. I spent about an hour patting her to sleep in her cot that night.

Over the following few nights we very gradually spent less and less time in her room with her while she fell asleep until eventually, the day after James left, it took about 10 minutes. During that time Toby and I devised a method of getting her to sleep in her cot, very loosely based on Tracy Hogg's Shush-Pat and Pick-Up-Put-Down methods.
  • Firstly, whoever started putting her to bed was committed to see it through until she went to sleep; there was to be no shift-changing.
  • If she was upset and crying we'd pick her up and cuddle her until she stopped. Then she went straight back into her cot.
  • We'd lie her on her tummy and hold her down, firstly with one hand on her hips and the other patting her back. If we didn't restrain her in this manner she'd roll around wildly, crawl and stand up. If she wriggled free we'd pick her up and put her straight back down again without cuddling her or lifting her out of the cot. (Note, we only placed her on her tummy as she'd started sleeping in the position by herself when she was about 5 months old.)
  • Finally we'd sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (and various other lullabies) and whisper sleep-time mantras, such as "it's okay, you're just learning how to go to sleep, good girl" etc.
Meanwhile I was also trying to sort out her daytime sleeps so that she would sleep for longer. I established a naptime ritual and if she woke up before a full 45 minutes to an hour I would stay with her and pat her back to sleep until naptime was over. In this case I assumed that naptime would be 1 ½ - 2 hours long.

It wasn't easy. Some days she just did not want to sleep or could not because she was so wound up and over-stimulated. That said, one of my fondest memories is of a day where I kept taking her into her room for a nap and she just wouldn't fall asleep so I'd get her up, give her something to eat and start the whole cycle again. By early afternoon we'd done this a few times and most recently I'd spent about an hour trying to settle her. I decided we both needed a change of scene so I popped her into her pram and walked 3km to the beach, hoping she'd sleep on the way there and again on the way home. She did but she woke after 20 minutes so I went for a coffee and we had a lovely time. She sat in her pram and chewed a rusk whilst I enjoyed a coffee and muffin before breastfeeding her. She was very well behaved and I thoroughly enjoyed her company. She only slept for 20 minutes again on the way home but I think it's an afternoon I'll always remember."

I must have been interrupted at this point as that's all I wrote. In summary, it was hard work getting her into a routine and breaking bad sleep habits. It required lots of quiet time at home, observing Phoebe and following her cues but also being consistent and encouraging her to sleep even if she didn't seem tired (babies often seem wide awake when they're overtired). In the end it only took a couple of weeks and life has been so much easier as a result. The only bad thing is that I need to be home for her sleeps as she will really only sleep in her cot and she sleeps much better if we follow her naptime ritual.

Her naptime ritual consists of a bath if she got a bit messy during her meal, be it breakfast or lunch, followed by a clean nappy and perhaps a massage to Incy Wincy Spider. Then I put her in her sleeping bag, put on her fairy lights and close the curtains and black-out blinds. We sit in the chair in her room and read two or three stories, always finishing with Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox. We have a cuddle whilst I start singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, switch off the fairy lights and place her in her cot to continue the song. There is also a blue night light in her room so I can see if her eyes are open or closed. Night time is the same but she always has a bath and she'll have a breastfeed before getting into her sleeping bag.

Once in her cot she is rolled onto her tummy and patted to sleep. We rarely need to restrain her these days. Usually it takes 10 minutes but it still frequently takes up to half an hour. If she is having trouble getting to sleep she'll shout for us to come into her room and as soon as I go in she lies down on her tummy and waits for me to pat her.

Her approximate routine when I first started this post (when she was 8 months old) was as follows:

0600 - Breastfeed
0700 - Breakfast
0800 - Begin naptime ritual
0830 - Sleep
1030 - Breastfeed
1200 - Lunch
1300 - Begin naptime ritual
1330 - Sleep
1500 - Wake
1530 - Breastfeed
1700 - Dinner
1800 - Bath
1830 - Breastfeed
1900 - Sleep
2230 - Breastfeed

This is really just a guideline. Some days she wouldn't eat much lunch and so would have afternoon tea on waking, which was really just a second lunch. Other days she wouldn't sleep for as long, or would wake up later in the morning and everything might get thrown out. And the night time breastfeed could be anywhere from 10.30pm to 4am.

In the past week she's changed again and has dropped most of those breastfeeds so her routine now looks more like this:

0645 - Breastfeed
0730 - Breakfast
0830 - Naptime
0900 - Sleep
1015 - Wake
1200 - Lunch followed by quick bath
1300 - Breastfeed
1330 - Naptime
1345 - Sleep
1515 - Wake
1700 - Dinner
1800 - Bath
1830 - Breastfeed and bedtime ritual
1915 - Sleep

Disclaimer: this seems like a really boring post but when you're the parent of a baby, especially your first, little things can seem stressful, you question yourself a lot and it is actually quite interesting to see what routines other babies follow. It's a popular topic at mums groups. I imagine I will find this quite interesting should I have any more babies and wonder when or how often I should feed them. A flexible routine takes away the guess work and can relieve a lot of stress and interestingly, most babies seem to fall into very similar routines.