Archive for April, 2011

I am part of a group on Baby Center called Babywise Babies. One of the moms on there had a question about her newborn and how to get her to sleep better. Made me go through a couple of posts that I have written and revisit the newborn stage so I thought I would share some of my experience and thoughts on how to help your newborn sleep better.

1. You need to find the right sleep window for your baby. This it a short window of time that allows your baby to fall asleep faster and easier. If you put your baby down to early he or she might be not tired enough. If you put your baby down too late, your baby might have hit a second wind and have some nervous energy and not be able to relax enough to sleep well.

2. The length of wake time is very important. Most newborns can only handle 30-45 minutes of wake time. Wake time includes the time it takes to feed them as well. So if you wake your baby and nurse for 30 minutes, then you only have about 15 minutes left of wake time at the most.

  • My personal experience: My twin girls had a waketime length of about 40 minutes when they were newborns. It consisted of the following: Nurse, Diaper Change, Immediately Swaddle, Put in Swing or Bouncers, Watch for their eyes to get heavy, Pick up and put them in their crib, AHHH Napping! To a list of schedules I kept with my twins click here.

3. Remember that Newborns can become very overstimulate quickly. It does not take much. They just spent the last 9 months in a quiet, dark environment. All the new lights and sounds can be a bit much for newborns. Try to keep the environment quieter, calmer, not as bright.

  • My personal experience: When my twins where born, my son was only 18 months old. He was full of energy and loud. He was a very good boy, but 18 month old toddlers have a hard time understanding what peaceful and quiet are. In order to keep the babies from getting too over stimulated I kept their bouncers and swings in my master bedroom (which was on the first floor). I kept my blinds shut, but there was still natural light in the room, just not overly bright. I sometimes had quiet classical music playing if Cooper was making a little too much noise and other times I just kept no music on. The babies would hang out in their bouncers or swings swaddled up tight in there. That kept Cooper from messing with them and it also allowed me to sneak in and “peek-in” on them. Once I noticed their eyes getting really heavy, I would carefully pick them up and place them in their cribs. The girls were sleeping in my walk-in closet at the time because I did not want to go up and down the stairs for middle of the night feedings. So I did not have long to walk between their swings and bouncers to my walk-in closet where they slept. I also allowed my girls a pacifier, which I think helped them sleep too.

3. Swaddling is so important for newborns. I cannot stress this enough! The startle reflex that newborns make causes them to jolt themselves awake. They just spent 9 months all balled up tight in your womb and now they are no boundaries and it scares them. Learn how to swaddle good and tight and I promise you that your baby will sleep well.

  • My personal experience: I found the best method for swaddling was to use a modified miracle blanket wrap. See my utube video of how to do this here (I need to upload the video still, I will do this later, so check back soon). I also found that if I finished diaper changing and put the twins in their swings or bouncers without a swaddle, when it came time to place them in their crib for their nap, they would get very fussy and wake up totally as I was trying to swaddle them. Then I had to start the whole nap routine all over again. In order to avoid that this was our waketime routine:
    1. Nurse
    2. Diaper Change
    3. Swaddle Tight
    4. Place in swing or bouncer
    5. Watch for heavy eyes or eyes shutting
    6. Pick up once heavy eyed and place in crib for nap
    I could not reverse #3 and 4 or they would fully wake up.

4. White Noise works. I know that a lot of people don’t want their baby or infant to get use to white noise to sleep because they will become dependent on it. But let me say, white noise does help. It gives the baby some background noise to hear. They just spent 9 months hearing fluid, heart beating, and other things going on inside of you. It was not quiet in there. The white noise is actually calming to babies. The other benefit of white noise is that you don’t have to tip toe and whisper around your house. If you have older children, white noise is essential if you ask me. I did not want to keep telling my toddler to be quiet, he is just being a toddler. With the while noise, I did not worry so much about my toddler’s noise level.

  • My Personal Experience: All 3 of my children sleep with white noise. We have a portable white noise machine in their rooms. It is easy to travel with too. I wrote a review on the two white noise machines I have used here. You can also use a stand up fan or a humidifier to give off white noise. Music can also be used to help drown out the sound by placing some soft quiet music.

5. Room Dimming helps too. You don’t have to go out and by dark out blinds, but make sure the room that you baby sleeps in is dim and not overly bright. I have found with all of my kids that they sleep better in dimmer rooms. Babies go though sleep cycles every 45-50 minutes. At the 45-50 mark, if the baby is semi-aroused and sees light in his or her room, she might wake up and not want to continue sleeping. More on sleep cycles read this post.

  • My Personal Experience: My son Cooper is a very sensitive sleeper. The smallest sound or crack of light could wake him. As a new mom, I did not realize the power of making the room dimmer until one day I tough I would give it a try. He took such better naps from that point on. Cooper was the chronic 45 minute napper and the room dimming really helped. My twins defendant benefited from room dimming too. But now Cooper is 2.5 and my twins are 1 and I find they don’t need it quiet as dark anymore to sleep so I have started to make their rooms a little brighter.

6. Sometimes Babies will fuss in their sleep around 45-50 minutes into their nap. This does not necessarily mean they are hungry and are ready to wake up. Like I mentioned before, babies go through a sleep cycles every 45-50 minutes. At the end of the sleep cycle they are in light sleep and might wake up. Most newborns do not know how to self-sooth at this point and they start to fuss, fidget, and cry. My advice is to leave them alone for a few minutes to see if they can work it out on their own and return to sleep. If you see their fussing, crying, fidgeting getting worse, then you might want to go in your child’s room and help. I offered some advice on my post about the 45 Minute Intruder that you might find helpful.

  • My Personal Experience: With my son I wrote a lot about it on the 45 minute intruder post. With my twins, I learned to go in and put their pacifiers back in their mouths. That seemed to do the trick most of the time. If that did not work, I often would then pat their bellies and rub their heads and that helped to calm them back to sleep. I would do a very slow rhythmic pat. If after several pacifier attempts and patting and they were still not going back to sleep, I would get them up and feed them because I assumed it was a growth spurt.

Read Full Post »

My daughters Anna and Molly have quit eating Baby Cereal. This would be okay if they ate enough iron, drank formula, and ate plenty of grains in their diet- but they are not. They eat very little iron, are still breastfeed, and are still not eating a ton of finger foods that are grains. So I went on quest to find some recipes that utilize iron fortified baby cereals that I felt like my daughters would eat.

Baby Cereal Pancakes
These pancakes were a big hit with my twin girls! They make a lot so I just freezed the batch of pancakes after I made them in individially wrapped cling wrap inside a freezer bag. Then in the morning, I just take one out and pop it in the microwave for just a few seconds. A quick and easy breakfast.

Baby Cereal Cookies
This was a very simple recipe and easy to make. The girls like them. I made the cookies about the size of a quarter. They work great as a finger food at breakfast time with some chopped up fruit and a yogurt. Then the girls also have enjoyed having two of these cookies during their afternoon snack time. My 2.5 year old even enjoys these. These cookies have very little sugar- they actually only use molasses. My only recommendation is to add 7T of whole milk instead of 3T. They turn out better and more moist with more milk. They freeze well too. So if you make a double batch, you can freeze a batch to be used for later.

Baby Banana Oatmeal Muffins
I use apple sauce instead of oil, whole wheat flour instead of regular flour, and 2 mashed bananas instead of babyfood jars of banana. They turned out great! The twins loved them and so did everyone else, including daddy!

Baby Cereal Muffins

Orange Minimuffins

Wholesome Babyfood- Link to various recipes using babyfood

Read Full Post »

I love Becca’s blog called Fun & Engaging Activities for Toddlers! She has some great ideas on there for activities that you can do with your little ones. You should check it out. Remember, I have been on a quest to come up with some new ideas with the twins on how to teach them their colors. With 12 month olds, it has to be something hands-on so they can experience color through all of their senses. We do some flash cards while they are sitting in their highchairs, but flash cards for colors are not really all that engaging. So when I saw Becca’s blog post Color Mixing With Ice, I got a great idea.

What you Need:
Ice Cube Trays
Large Mixing Bowl
Food Coloring
Water Play Table, Plastic Tub, Wash Basin, or Bathtub
Measuring Cubs, Old Plastic Contains (ex. yogurt containers), and large spoons

1. In a large mixing bowl combine water and food coloring (color of your choice)
2. Pour the colored water into the ice cube trays and freeze over night.

3. The next day take the colored ice cubes and place them in a large plastic container and bring them outside to play with (or inside inside a bathtub)
2. Let your child have fun experimenting with these ice cubes inside a water play table, wash basin, plastic tub, or bathtub filled with water. Give your child some measuring cups, spoons, and old plastic containers to pick up the ice cubes with and put them inside a container filled with water.
Note: The food coloring might stain your child’s clothing. I let the girls play with the ice cubes in just a diaper. You could let your child play with this naked in the bathtub or with old clothing on that would not matter if it gets stained.

How I used this activity:
So far we used this to work on the color yellow. The girls seemed to enjoy this activity. I just played along side of them and talked about the color yellow ice cubes and then also talked about how they were melting and turning into yellow water.
The girls just got a new water play table so I let them play with the ice cubes in their new water play table. This activity held their attention for quiet a while, 15-20 minutes. The ice cubes all melted by the time the activity was over. Great warm summer day activity.

This would be a great activity to teach mixing colors to create new colors, Color Mixing With Ice, like Becca suggested. I plan on doing that activity with my 2.5 year old son this coming week.

Read Full Post »

Trying to think up some new ways to teach my twin girls their colors. I came up with this one and it was big hit! My daughters are 12 months old. This activity should only be used on toddlers who have been transitioned to whole milk and do not have milk allergies.

All you need to make edible finger paint is the following:
Vanilla Pudding Mix
Whole Milk
Food Coloring

1. Make Vanilla Pudding according to the directions on the box.
2. Add a few drops of food coloring to the pudding.
3. Mix the food coloring in with the pudding. And Presto… YOUR DONE!

How I’ve used it:
I gave a dollop of the colored pudding to the girls on their highchair trays. Then let them run their fingers through the mixture and eat it off their fingers. While they are playing with the colored pudding, I talk to the girls about the color they are using. It is a fun activity. It is a little messy so I suggest doing this activity in just a diaper. This activity held my daughter’s attention for about 10 minutes, maybe 15. After we were done with the activity, we just went outside and played in the sprinkler and water table to wash off all the pudding 🙂

One Reader Wrote me a few questions and concerns so I thought it would be worth while to include them in this post:
1) what about the sugar in the pudding mix?  are your daughters having sugar already?  or if they are having sugar-free, isn’t the chemicals in that a concern?
I use regular pudding mix that has sugar in it. They just had their first birthday and had their first taste of sweets, cake and ice cream. I figured this activity will be done, at the most, once a week and I only give them a dollop of pudding on their highchairs. Most of the pudding does not even make it into their mouths anyways. I would not want to feed my girls sugary foods daily, but a fun activity like this every once and a while won’t hurt (in my opinion).

2) i’m thinking that milk is ok?  my baby is just turning 1 this sunday, so we havent quite transitioned her into whole milk.
After you baby turns one it is okay for her to have whole milk, that is unless he or she has an allergy or intolerance to dairy. My girls are still breastfeed at 12 months, but I have introduced them to some foods recently that have whole milk in them and I know they don’t have an intolerance to dairy/ whole milk. My girls have also been eating organic yogurt since they turned 10 months old. So as long as your baby is over 12 months of age and does not have an allergy or intolerance to dairy, this activity should be fine.

3) What about the food coloring and it’s role in causing hyperactivity?
Yes, I know there are studies that show that food dye can exasperate attention deficit/ hyper activity. So if you are at all concerned with this issue, don’t do this activity. I figured that the girls eat mostly organic, homemade babyfood anyways. They get very little processed foods that contain dyes and food colorings. I think my motto is “everything in moderation”. The girls ate a very insignificant amount of the pudding doing this activity for me to really be concerned.

4) Wouldn’t pureed food do the same trick to teach the babies their colors, without any additives or sugars?
Sure thing! What a great idea. I think that babies under the age of 12 months could really enjoy this activity using their pureed veggies and fruits. So if you don’t want to use pudding with food coloring, this is a great alternative.

Read Full Post »

Poison Control

I had a scare today. My daughter Anna, 12 months, go a hold of my prenatal vitamins from under my bathroom sink. This cabinet even had a childproof lock on the door, but that did not stop anna. The prenatal vitamins also had a childproof top on them, but some how she was able to open the bottle of prenatal vitamins anyway. She probably had the bottle for about 5 minutes until I discovered her. She has two prenatal vitamins in her mouth and pink outer coating has worn off of them. I freaked out! I dug my finger into her mouth like a hook and ripped those pills right out of her mouth. Then proceeded to check the floor any other pills or wet pills. Then immediately dialed POISON CONTROL! After talking with them, she felt like Anna would be okay. She said it was a good sign that the pills where not chewed up and only wet. And since it was only two pills and she probably only access to them for 5 minutes, that she would probably be fine. SHEWW!

Lesson Learned:
1. Childproof tops are not always child proof.
2. Never keep medications in a cabinet that is reachable by children, even if they have a child look on the door. MOVE THEM HIGH. (even if childproof)
3. Keep Poison Control’s number on speed dial or taped to your fridge for immediate access.

Please write Poison Control’s number down somewhere, here’s the number:
website: http://www.aapcc.org/dnn/default.aspx

Read Full Post »

When I first wrote my post about structuring your toddler’s day, I wrote it for when my son was taking one nap a day. But most toddler’s don’t drop the morning nap and move to one nap a day until they are closer to 15-18 months old. My son Cooper dropped the morning nap at 12 months, which is early. My twin daughters are 12 months old and are still taking 2 naps a day. While there are days they only take one nap (due to activities we have planned outside the home), 5-6 out of 7 days they are still taking two naps a day. I thought it would be helpful to write out their schedule at 12 months for parents who are looking to structure their toddler’s day while still on two naps.

Click on each activity to learn more about them. Check back frequently as I add more links to the various activities as I blog about them.

For a sample schedule of a toddler on one nap a day, please see my post entitled Structuring Your Toddler’s Day (one nap a day)

7:00 Nurse, Potty, Dressed for the Day
7:30 Structured Learning/ Free Play
8:00 Breakfast
8:30 Free Play in Playroom & Circle Time
9:00 Outside Play
9:45/10:00-11:00 Nap
11:00 Nurse, Potty, Diaper Changes
11:20 Independent Play Time
12:15 Lunch
12:45 High Chair Activity (AKA Table Time/ Transition Time)
1:00 Play With Mommy inside or Outside Play
1:30 Story Time & Quiet Play with Mommy
2:00-4:00 Nap
4:00 Nurse & Snack, Potty, Diaper Change
4:30 Blanket Time
5:00 Sibling Play
5:30 DVD in Playroom (while Mommy gets dinner ready) or Play with Daddy if he is home from work already
6:00 Dinner
6:30 Family Play
7:00 Bath
7:15/7:30 Nurse/Bottles, Followed By Bed

Read Full Post »

I thought it might be helpful to share what I have been putting on the girls’ blanket for blanket time. The girls are able to stay on the blanket for 30 minutes. I typically do blanket time in the afternoon after they wake up nurse and have a snack. They are nice and rested and ready to play on their blankets without too much fussing. These toys seem to really hold their attention. What I have found to be good blanket time toys are toys that are easy to stack, open and shut, and small objects they can put inside various containers. I also have a few electronic toys that I throw into the rotation.

On a typical blanket I usually put: 1 nesting cup toy, 1 electronic toy, books, and some other toy. There are days when all I put on their blanket is the sensory tub and give them some cups and containers to place things from the sensory tub inside. These toys always work very good for independent playtime.

List of Toys I use for Blanket Time Rotation
Play food

Nesting Cups (Iplay Nesting Cups, Munckin Caterpiller Nesting Cups, and Green Sprout Stacking Cups)
Stacking Rings (Fisher-Price Star Stacker, Melissa & Doug Wooden Stacker, Rattling Stacker)
Shape sorter (Fisher Price Shape Sorter, Melissa & Doug Wooden Shape Sorter)
Small plastic animals (Farm Animals, Zoo Animals, Dinasour Animals)
Laugh & Learn Tea Cup Set
Leap Frog Birthday Cake
Alligator Piano
Old Plastic Containers (large yogurt containers, butter containers)
Large Pom-poms & Shoe box with wholes cut out in the lid to place pom-poms in and out
Clothes pins & Formula container with a whole in the top to place clothes pins through
Sensory Tub
V-Tech Helicopter
V-Tech Laptop
Leap Frog Picnic Basket
Shoe Box with Laminated Photos of Family Members
Touch & Feel Books (DK Touch & Feel, That’s Not My…. Books)
Touch & Feel Flash Cards
Shoe Box with Textured Cards (Glued different fabrics to thick laminated card stock)
Yogurt Container with milk tops to push through a slot in the lid
6 plastic bowls from the dollar tree (They use these to stack and put things inside)
Board Books

For more information about Blanket Time, please see my post entitled “Blanket Time

Read Full Post »

Do You Sew?

A good friend of mine is an amazing seamstress. Sewing is her passion! Not too long ago she decided to put her dream into a reality and she started her own sewing shop on her Etsy store and is also developing and selling patterns through her website. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything from her site, you need to check it out. She gives a free sewing tutorial on her blog weekly. She teaches little tricks of the trade and even gives you step-by-step directions on how to create your own projects. Check it out!


Read Full Post »

When it comes to schedules, I love them. I cannot say enough about them. So what’s so good about a schedule?

1. Children thrive off routine. They like to know what is coming. It helps to them to feel secure and safe when things follow a routine and pattern.
2. Schedules help parents (especially mom) know when to schedule doctors visits, appointments, and outings because they know when their child is going to nap or eat.
3. Schedules help to ensure your infant/ toddler gets the proper rest with regular nap and sleep times.
4. Schedules also help to ensure that you are feeding your infant frequently to ensure proper nutrition and growth.
5. If you have multiple children, schedules are a must! They keep you from going nuts. You are able to juggle your children’s various needs and ensure they are not just roaming the house all day long. It keeps the kids happier and it keeps mom sane! The structure also helps cut down the bad behavior.
6. Schedules also help to vary the days activities up with a good mix of different types of play and learning.

I have written several posts about schedules- Check them out!

The following two links contain babywise schedules from birth-toddler:
Babywise Schedules by Month (Version 1: My Son)

Babywise Schedules by Month (Version 2: My Twin Girls)
2-3-4 Nap Schedule for Older Babies

The following two links contain schedules and toddlerwise schedules that are appropriate for an older infant and toddlers:
Structuring a Toddler’s Day (when on one nap a day)
Structuring Your Toddler’s Day (when on two naps a day)

The following two links contain schedule suggestions for how to juggle multiple children of different ages:
Newborn & Toddler Combo Schedule & Juggling A Newborn with a Toddler

The following link contains an average amount of sleep that infants and toddlers should get. Please keep in mind these are averages. Some will sleep more while others will sleep less:
Sleep Requirements for Infants & Toddlers

Read Full Post »

I have to say, I feel like I have a pretty good schedule running for my kids every day. I like the balance of activities and it keeps them from getting bored and having too many discipline issues. See my post Structuring a Toddler’s Day for some ideas on how to create a balanced schedule for your older infant and toddler.

Where the day falls apart or does not run as smoothly is at times of transition or when we move from one activity to the next. For instance, the time in between breakfast and Independent Playtime or Structured Learning was not going very well. I was just letting the kids play in the kitchen or playroom while I cleaned up breakfast, but I found that was allowing them too much free play and often that “unstructured” time led to fights or discipline issues. I also did not want them pulling out a lot of toys and creating a mess while I was trying to clean up the kitchen and get them ready to move to the next activity. I just did not want to create more mess to clean up. I am sure you can appreciate that as a mom.

I asked my Baby Center Babywise Group how to handle these times of transition, and one mom gave me such a good idea. She told me to give them an activity to keep then occupied at the table while I clean up from the meal we just ate or while they wait to go outside and play, etc. What a simple solution, right? Well, sort of. I needed to come up with some activities that would hold my one-year old twins and my 2.5 year-old’s attention for 5-10 minutes while they stayed in their highchairs or seated at the table.

I came up with some activities that have worked so I thought I would share them with you. All the activities must be activities that your child can complete without any assistance otherwise, you will spend more time helping your child than getting ready to move to the next activity. So here are some ideas:

  • File Folder Games: Just google free preschool file folder games. You will find a ton you can print. From matching colors to counting from 1-10. Just make sure your child is able to complete these games on his or her own. You may have to play the file folder game a few times prior to using this as a transition activity so your child is familiar with how to play the game and able to complete or his own.
  • Puzzles: These are great transition activities. They are little mess, fun, and are easy to complete at the table.
  • Books: Give your child a small box of 4-5 books to look at the table during transition time.
  • Photo Album: Put pictures of your family and extended family in a photo album for your child to look at while you are moving from one activity to the next.
  • Sorting Activity: Give your child a few objects to sort into different bowls. You can use pompoms, fruitloops, different colored blocks, etc.
  • Book on Tape/CD: This is a great activity for transitions. You can rent books on tape at your local library or you can record your own voice reading a book for your child to listen to. You will need to teach your child how to turn the pages along with the read-aloud prior to using this as a transition activity.
  • Flash Cards: I bought some flash cards at the dollar store and at target’s dollar bin and punch a whole in the corner and put them on a key ring. They kids love to flip through and look at the various pictures on the flash cards. I also own some touch and feel flash cards that my kids LOVE so much!
  • Texture Box: This works well for younger toddlers. Take various different materials and textures and glue them on some index cards and store them in a shoe box. You toddler will enjoy taking them out and feeling the different textures.
  • Quiet Book: Google quiet book for different ideas on how to put together your own quiet book for your child. I have not actually made my own quiet book yet, but I have a binder with some quick activities that my 2.5 year old can do on his own, which is similar to a quiet book.
  • Matching: Give your child some cards you can do some matching activities with. There are tons of free matching games out there that you can print off the internet- just google free preschool matching games.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »