Working at home

The baby seems to be (knocking on wood) emerging a little from the worst of the sleep regression, though he still giggles himself into full alertness (how can something so cute be so frustrating) if I try to put him down drowsy in his crib for naps.

Whatevs. Parenting isn’t supposed to be easy, right? If he’s making my heart soar 75% of the time, and the other quarter of that time is spent rocking him and doing deep breathing exercises, I’ve got it pretty good, I think.

The Husband and I will be hosting a Sleep Summit at the end of this week to try to hatch a plan moving forward (a plan that doesn’t involve one of us taking impulsive and drastic measures on a whim.)

In the meantime, my parents have returned from their first vacation in a week. And as much as my 18-year-old self would be doing a spit-take at this next sentence, here goes: I missed them and I’m really glad they’re around.

Both of my parents adore The Baby. My dad is retired/disabled and thus is around during the day when he’s not taking care of my grandfather and is good company as I adapt to SAHM-hood. He’s also great with The Baby. But my mom is FANTASTIC with The Baby and can keep him occupied and giggling for a good long time. Her many years as a home child care provider are really shining now that she’s a grandmother.

She is currently at the park with The Baby so that I can get some rush freelancing work done. This is the first outing The Baby has gone on with someone other than his parents. While a gigantic part of me wishes I were also at the playground with them, I’m grateful to be able to hand him over so I can clock some time and earn some cash.

I came to a good break point while awaiting some feedback so I might go do something reckless like take a shower.

One last thing: Thanks to everyone who commented with well wishes and commiseration and book suggestions and sleep training (or not sleep training) suggestions in response to my previous post. Sometimes motherhood can really knock you off your feet. Thank you for helping me back up. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Working at home

Baby led weaning, indeed!

adventures in baby led weaningI hadn’t heard about Baby Led Weaning until I was pregnant and a friend asked if I planned to try it, but once I started reading about it, I was committed. It makes a lot of sense to me that babies should be given lots of variety, and the agency to decide what they want to eat and how much of it. As someone who was fed purees as a baby and grew into a kid who didn’t eat anything but peanut butter and jelly, mashed potatoes and chicken nuggets until basically college, I wanted to give The Baby every opportunity to start off on the right foot with food.

When I explained to my mom what BLW was, you’d have thought I was explaining how I was going to feed The Baby lit firecrackers and broken glass. When she was raising kids, purees were the only way to go because choking.  (As the BLW book explains, gagging ≠ choking, and babies gag easily and regularly as they figure out how to manipulate food in their mouths. As long as you’re supervising and not giving them nuts, whole grapes or other obvious choking hazards, they’re going to be fine.)

And while my mom still is adorably cautious about the whole ordeal (she peeled cherries for The Baby and then proceeded to cut them into pieces about the size of a small booger), I think at this point her delight in The Baby’s messy, exuberant dinners has diminished her fears about having to rescue him from a too-big piece of food.

This all started about a week ago. Although The Baby has been advancing pretty rapidly developmentally, sitting up with very little assistance needed, putting anything in sight in his mouth and gnawing on it with his gums, everything I’ve read has said not to start BLW until baby hits the six month mark, that any earlier than that is just too early for the baby’s digestive system and can up the risk for choking.

But I was holding a fussy The Baby at the dinner table during family dinner on Sunday, trying to finish up my corn on the cob so we could get him to bed, when he grabbed the other end of the corn cob and started chewing and sucking on it with the determination of a starving dog.

After that, The Husband and I tiptoed around the fact that this particular baby was leading us headlong into a new phase, trying to stick to the 6-month recommendation. The Husband would surreptitiously let the baby suck on the bitten side of a whole apple; I’d offer a chunk of banana in the mornings after TH left for work. Finally, unceremoniously, we gave in and started offering food on the regular. Each day The Baby has tried something new, and each day he has impressed us with his enthusiasm for whatever’s on the table (and his capacity for making a gigantic, gigantic mess.)

Here’s a short list of things The Baby has *eaten so far during his short but promising career:

  1. Corn on the cob
  2. Apple
  3. Banana
  4. Toast fingers with apple butter
  5. Cheddar cheese
  6. Mushrooms, beet greens and carrots out of a tomato-based soup
  7. Broccoli
  8. Penne pasta with broccoli and chicken
  9. Roasted potato
  10. Asparagus
  11. Roasted green beans
  12. An assortment of Indian food on naan
  13. Watermelon
  14. Peaches
  15. Frittata with spinach, onion and cheese
  16. Roasted sweet potato fingers
  17. Rice with sweet potato and chick peas mixed in
  18. Cucumber sticks
  19. A taste of mom & dad’s morning smoothies (usually beets, bananas, blueberries, spinach and almond milk)

So far, he hasn’t outright rejected anything, though the texture of cheddar cheese threw him a bit, and the tartness of some fruits makes him go a little walleyed. I’m really happy we opted to go this route and can’t wait to continue exploring new tastes and textures with my favorite little gourmand.

As a bonus, his eating our dinners has forced me to step back toward healthier meals from my exhausted and defeated approaches to dinner in the recent past. Someday soon I’ll revisit Weeknight Meal Wednesdays with a BLW-friendly meal.

Join the conversation: Did you go the BLW route? What were some of your baby’s favorite foods? Any tips for someone just starting off?

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Baby led weaning, indeed!

First Father’s Day Card from The Baby

DIY Father's Day Card from the BabyI’ve been meaning to share this craft since last weekend, but life got in the way again. It was The Husband’s birthday last weekend, and The Baby and I decided to make him a birthday card. I love how it turned out, and it was easy and fun to make, so I thought I’d share it with the wider momosphere in time for Father’s Day.

The Baby has been a kicking machine since he can-canned his way out into this world. He’s one of those babies who prefers to stand assisted on your lap than to sit. As I’ve mentioned before, his nickname is Kickpuncher because of all his flailing.

This craft actually first emerged on Mother’s Day, when I woke up early in the morning and tried it out on a pair of canvas totes for both of The Baby’s grandmothers. My tactics got a little more refined for this birthday card, but the essential formula is:

paint + kicking baby feet + surface = awesome abstract art

DIY First Father’s Day Card from the Baby

Materials

  • Watercolor paper
  • Non-toxic paints
  • Masking tape
  • Sponge brush or other paint mixing tool
  • A big piece of cardboard or wide, shallow box
  • A large container to use as a palette – even big paper plates work
  • Dish tub or other baby-sized bucket
  • Old towels and old wash cloth
  • Baby soap
  • Blank card and envelope
  • A helper or a place to put baby where he can’t reach his feet
  • Mod Podge

Instructions

Take some time to prep. This is best done outdoors or on a floor you can wash up quickly (obviously, avoid carpeting.) Put on some old clothes, strip The Baby down to his diaper and let him play nearby while you set up.

Lay out the cardboard or box and tape a few pieces of watercolor paper to it. You can also use the masking tape to mask off some parts of the paper to make a decoration.

20160527_112822
Tape your paper to the cardboard.

Fill the dish tub/baby tub with warm water and add a few squirts of baby soap.

Pick your paints. I used acrylic because it’s what I had on hand and it says on the bottle it’s non-toxic, but do your own research. Tempera paint is probably better. I like to hold up two paints and let The Baby pick his favorite. I squirt out some of this color onto my palette (I used big paper plates for the Mother’s Day craft and that worked really well; I couldn’t find them so I used bread pans for this one. The Baby has monster feet so this was kind of tough.) Anyway, for the Father’s Day card, I cut in some white to whatever color he chose, but only with about half the paint, to give it some variation. The picture below is just the tinted paint, but in the other half of the pan I squirted just the red, so he’d basically get a foot with each color. You can also do two similar colors (red and orange, say) in one go.

paint palette
Paint palette with The Baby’s first color selection, mixed in with a little white paint.

Pick baby up and hold him over the palette and let his feet press into the paint. Then pick him back up and hold him over the paper. If your baby isn’t squirmy, maybe you’ll get some neat footprints. But as I said, my baby is part Tazmanian devil and I wasn’t expecting or intending to get footprints, just fun colorful smears.

Once you’ve gotten a few good smears of your first color, dunk baby’s feet in the dish tub and give them a decent wipe-off with the wash cloth, pat dry. (Don’t worry about getting them immaculate; as you’re going to repeat the first several steps again.)

This is where it’s nice to have a helper to hold the baby, while you reset your paints. The goal is to keep baby from reaching his lower half, where there could be paint, at any time during this activity.

I did a total of three colors (with the white tint each time), as selected by The Baby. I let them dry for just a few minutes, basically the time it took me to clean baby’s feet and get new paint ready.

Baby footprints painting
A blurry photo of the finished painting. The Baby is an athlete and an artist!

Once you’re done, give your baby an actual bath. (Full disclosure: The Baby had green toenails for a few days afterward… whoops.) Also, the underside of your baby’s diaper will probably be a beautiful piece of art all its own, but resist the urge to keep it.

Once your baby’s artwork is dry, you can cut it to fit the front of your blank greeting card. (I suppose you could paint directly onto the card, but the watercolor paper doesn’t wrinkle when it gets wet, so it looks nicer.) I used Mod Podge to glue the painting onto the card and then put a coat of Mod Podge over the top of the painting too, to give it a little sheen.

Finished Father's Day card
Here’s the finished card. I cut and glued The Baby’s painting to a blank craft-paper greeting card.

There you have it! Easy, colorful Father’s Day card. I still have the other half of the painting that I plan to cut into strips and glue onto other, smaller cards I have, to use as thank-you notes. The next time I do it I think I’ll mask off the center of the card so I have a blank strip to write “Happy Birthday.”

It’s clear that The Baby has a blast when we do this, feeling the slippery paint on his feet, seeing the cause-and-effect of his kicking, and getting to splash around in the tub. And I like to think I’m instilling in him an early sense of generosity and the importance of appreciating others. I know he’s too young to really understand what we’re doing, but I figure if I start early, he’ll absorb the lesson more thoroughly as he grows.

Join the conversation: Have you enlisted your baby to help with any gifts or craft projects? How are you planning to celebrate your partner’s first Father’s Day?

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First Father’s Day Card from The Baby

Five things about five months old

5-month-old baby!

Another milestone day in TLMB household – The Baby turns five months today. I find myself on these anniversary days thinking back to what I was doing five months ago at this very time. Today, The Baby tosses in his crib, deciding whether to take a longer nap or not. Five months ago at this same time, I was being ushered into the labor room at the hospital, hoisting up my hospital gown to get a monitor belt wrapped around my improbably big, quaking belly. By the time he is going down for his next nap, five-month-ago me will be cradling his slippery body on my chest, losing my breath with the shock and beauty of him.

In celebration of five months, here are five things I am marveling at about having a five-month-old.

1. Rolling right along

The Baby has had the front-to-back roll mastered for a good long time now, but just two days ago he confidently started rolling from back to front. He has also started scooting backward on his belly, and can hold himself up in crawling position for a few wobbly seconds. This leap in coordination and core strength make him one step closer to toddling around. It’s so exciting to see him figure these things out, but seeing as we still need to unpack before we can really start baby-proofing, I’m grateful he’s still pretty good at staying in one place.

2. My hacking, cackling comedian

The Baby spends lots of time playing with his voice. While sometimes he wants to engage in a “conversation” of sorts with me or whoever is around, other times it’s clear he’s just singing to himself and doesn’t want to be interrupted. One of his favorite things to do is to make fake coughing sounds. I can’t figure out if he thinks it sounds like laughter, or what, but it definitely gets a reaction from people, and that’s his obvious goal. He’ll hack away while I’m changing his diaper or carrying him through the grocery store. When I meet his eyes, they sparkle like the punchline of a joke and we both crack up.

3. We love routines

I’ve whined and whined about short naptimes, and just in the span of a week they’ve finally started to get a little better. His appreciation of his *swaddle and dark room during naptimes means there is no hope of me getting to sleep in his carrier, or the stroller for that matter (sigh), but I’ll take a good hour and a half nap any way I can get it! He’s even started letting me (every so often) put him down in his crib with his eyes dozy and falls asleep with the weight of my hand on his chest. I know celebrating this victory publicly means he’ll probably quit napping altogether, and I also acknowledge that baby sleep is among the most boring topics imaginable, so I **promise to shut up about it for a little bit.

4. I bet I could eat more than you.

I’m not sure why I thought my pregnancy-followed-by-early-breastfeeding appetite would start to wane as the baby got bigger, but sweet cheesecake was I wrong. I wake up every morning looking about as skinny as I’ve ever been (which is a middling, sturdy figure, even still) because The Baby snacks throughout the night and I don’t. But as soon as my feet hit the floor I’m raiding the cupboards like I’ve never seen food before. Take today, for example: The Husband makes us both a smoothie before he leaves for work, so I chugged that, followed by a Peter Fox-sized bowl of cereal and a fiber granola bar. By 9:30 a.m. I had made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I ran an errand and then had a cereal bar when we got home to tide me over until The Baby’s nap when I could eat a proper lunch. For “proper lunch” I had three halves of long-ago frozen twice-baked potatoes with spinach and cheese (the last vestiges of my nesting freezer meals), along with another peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Of course I have to eat a lot… The Baby is almost 18 pounds of pure ravenous baby meat and until he starts eating solids in any significant volume, I am a walking, talking, calorie factory for him.

5. He knows what he wants

The Baby has been smiling and cooing for awhile now, but it’s just been the past few weeks that he’s started to show real preferences and reactions to the world around him… like when his dad comes home from work and he lights up, or when I take away something (like a magazine) that he’s dying to eat whole, and he gets angry. I know both ends of this spectrum will blow up as he approaches toddlerhood, and it won’t be quite so fun when he’s prostrate on the grocery store floor because I won’t let him open a box of breadcrumbs and throw it around like confetti, but right now it’s really fun to see it emerging.

*I know, he’s rolling over front to back. But not in his swaddle, yet. And I have a video baby monitor I watch all the time, so I’m not going to let him flip over in his swaddle. Don’t freak out on me, Internet.

**I do not really promise to quit complaining about baby sleep. I can’t stop myself.

Parents: What struck you about the five month mark? What does your baby do to make you laugh?

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Five things about five months old