I'm passionate about philosophy, but after having my girls I'm even more passionate about Mommy Matters

Friday, August 30, 2013

Baby Proofing AH!

     My little girl is so close to crawling, I can't believe it! She keeps getting on her stomach and straitening her arms, then straitening her legs until she is on her tippy toes. She also gets on her knees and tries to scoot herself forward, it's so cute and amazing how quickly she is learning! It is all very exciting of course, but also scary and not always fun. All of you know why: baby proofing! We have been trying to do this little by little, taking mental notes of the things she likes to get into that are potentially dangerous and what we can do with them, but we haven't done a whole lot in actual physical changes yet.
      The other day I babysat for a friend and went from having one 6 month old to also having a 20 month old and a 3 year old. It was pretty chaotic, to say the least, and a trial by fire when it comes to baby proofing/child proofing. My books, computer, records, chargers, and pretty much everything else within a small person's reach came into question. I think I should get an award for being able to keep track of them, even when we were in the same room. It was a good experience actually, because I do know more about what I need to do in the future with Squeaker. However, that was only for a couple of hours and someday soon she will be roaming around doing the same things except it will be around the clock!
      There are so many childproofing products, I'm not sure what would be helpful or necessary. How many gates will we need and where should we put them? Should we use hardware mounted or pressure mounted gates? What type of plug covers are the best? Do we need to anchor all of the furniture? How necessary are edge guards or window guards and stops? Plus there's the toilet and kitchen cupboards. In the end, I wonder if I should just keep going without them and see what happens. However, if that means that Squeaker will end up in the hospital then I don't want to risk it.
     So, I'm thinking that anchoring the furniture is pretty important. Covering the plugs (hopefully with ones that Squeaker won't figure out how to take off) and making sure any cleaning supplies or other chemicals are in a locked cupboard. Plus stairs need to be gated off, of course. Beyond that, does it just come down to what is a nuisance? 
     I want to know why babies, and kids in general, always seem to want to get into exactly the thing you don't want them to get into. Is it a law of physics? Squeaker loves my cell phone and I don't know how to make her stop being so curious about it, without just letting her have it and then ruin it. She might not ruin it completely, but I know that she'll put it in her mouth and subsequently drench it in drool. I can tell she's going to be a handful, getting into absolutely everything she can get her hands on and then getting mad at me when I don't let her have it. Again, it's an exciting time, but also a scary/difficult one.
    Anyway, I'm a new mom who is looking up way too many unhelpful websites. We need help, what are your experiences? What do you wish you knew before your baby started crawling and walking around? What has worked for you?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

My Take on Baby Led Weaning

     I want to start off by saying a big thank you to my friends who shared their experiences with me (you know who you are). I love being able to ask other mothers about their choices and see how they do things the same or differently from how I do things. 
     So, for those who don't know what baby led weaning is, click this link. I found that website the most helpful. I have written other posts about my concerns when it comes to starting solid foods, it is a hard transition to make. However, when Squeaker was almost 6 months old she started to get interested in the foods we eat, she had doubled her birth weight, and she was sitting up without much assistance (comfortably in a high chair). So, that is how I decided to start experimenting with giving Squeaker solid foods. I heard about baby led weaning from a couple of different people, but didn't feel comfortable to start out with. Mostly this was because she was just getting used to different textures, I was afraid she would choke and I wanted to have more control of her food intake. Squeaker actually started eating solids very quickly and liked them almost immediately, so I wanted to be able to measure how much she ate of what. I started off with soft foods and would either mush them up with a fork or purée them with breast milk: avocado, sweet potatoes, and bananas mostly. 
     A few people have talked to me about mesh feeders, but I have not used them. This is mostly because we don't have any extra money right now to buy one, but I also figured that I could just purée the food or give it to her in small pieces. They do seem like a good idea though and a lot of people recommend them.
     Now that Squeaker is close to 7 months old I have been starting, little by little, to give her pieces of food that are big enough for her to hold and that she can suck on. I do, however, purée a lot still. Today I gave her a cut pickle spear and she bit off a piece that was much larger than I thought she could bite off. Luckily she coughed and spit it out before lodging it in her throat, I am pretty sure she would have choked on it though because I left the skin on. I have a friend who baby led weaned her baby exclusively and he also had a close call with a piece of pickle with the skin, but that was the only thing that he came close to choking on. Recommendation: skin the food before giving it to them. Squeaker has also bit off a large piece of watermelon and it made me nervous, but she did gum it long enough before swallowing. In the end it seems to be teaching her to eat independently and like many different types of foods. I think that when Squeaker controls her food she is more willing to try different things, but she will also just smear food around a play with it. Since Squeaker has been teething she also likes biting down on the foods I give her, like the pickle, instead of just sucking on them. I think baby led weaning could help comfort teething babies by encouraging chewing, but it could also lead to inadvertent choking like I described.
     My biggest reason for not exclusively baby led weaning Squeaker is because of the possible choking hazard. Another friend has given her baby bread with crust and two different times her baby has choked, so it might also be a good idea to take the crusts off the bread or only give your baby bread with a soft crust. I know that babies will cough or have difficulties with eating any different kinds of textures as they learn to properly work their tongues and swallow, but I hesitate to let Squeaker eat big chunks. I know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on babies, but never want to have to actually do it. 
     Another reason I have a hard time with baby led weaning: it is messy. When I give Squeaker juicy foods especially, I will strip her down to her diaper and let her have at it. I can imagine outfits getting ruined though, even when Squeaker wears a bib. It also takes me awhile to clean up afterword and she hates it when I clean off her hands and face after eating.  
     I also really like feeding Squeaker oatmeal, which I would have to give her with a spoon anyway. I guess that when parents solely baby led wean they don't give their babies oatmeal or other cereals, but I like to feed oatmeal to Squeaker because she gets her daily iron and fiber from it.
     So, there are a few things to consider when deciding to baby led wean. 
  • Cons:
  • Pros:
    • helps with interest in new foods/baby is less picky
    • don't have to purée
    • don't have to use spoons
    • promotes the introduction of diverse textures
    • baby likes eating solids more because they are in control and handling them
    • comforts teething baby
    • helps baby to develop mouth muscles and the fine motor skills of hands
    • promotes independence in general
    • helps baby to learn how to self regulate food intake 
     My recommendation: hybrid and don't leave baby alone with food (even finger foods that seem completely safe. Do what works for you and what you are comfortable with. Not all mothers or babies are the same, so follow your instincts. I give finger foods to Squeaker and purée other foods, plus I giver her some iron enriched cereal everyday. The time between when a baby cannot spoon feed themselves and when they can is a weird transition period. Take it day by day, meal by meal.  

Best sources I found: 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rules and Guidelines for Harmonious Living

     I've been considering the importance of having rules and guidelines for daily living while raising kids. Babies and children need structure and routine, but they also need to be OK with change and ready to adventure on their own. How much freedom is too much freedom and when are rules too strict? How have you found the middle ground? I'm finding it, more or less, by trial and error. 
     Here are some examples of things I am struggling with: what should I be OK with when it comes to babysitters and grandparents giving my child things to eat or play with, how many times (if any) should I pick up a toy that my baby has thrown on the floor from her high chair (possibly intentionally), how do I comfort her and also try to help her get to a point where she can comfort herself?
     The main reason that I have begun to dwell on this subject is because over this past weekend we were out of town visiting family. We had the opportunity to see my step brothers and their families, who all have children as well. We watched how other families organize themselves and how other parents discipline their children. I witnessed many things, from eating Cheetos off the floor to being put in time-out for minor misconduct. Every child is different and thrives on different forms of guidance, but there also has to be continuity with how parents treat all of their children or there will be one saying, "She was able to do that, why can't I?" and another saying, "You can't do that, only I can." 
     One topic that came up for discussion while spending time with the other mothers was that of sleepovers. I loved sleepovers growing up and during the summers, more often than not, I would either be spending the night at a friend's house or they would be staying at my house. However, it is scary thinking about how difficult it is to trust others with your own child and also sleepovers can become catalysts for mischief otherwise avoided. So, how do we decide to make a rule for our house about sleepovers? We could have them only at our house, only with family members (like cousins) instead of friends, no sleepovers at all, or trust our kids and the people they are staying with by letting them have as many sleepovers whenever/wherever? (based on how they have behaved or if they finished their chores) It's hard to know for sure, I hear horror stories about molestation cases during a harmless sleepover and imagine how easy it was for me to possibly get into trouble when I wasn't at home during the night. I think this is a rule that needs to be made and decided upon before our kids get to the age where they are asking us about it. If we already know then we won't have to debate when the time comes.
     Other things are good to have guidelines about and make decisions based on the individual child, such as sugar intake. This can become more flexible, but have a general guideline attached, such as "You can't eat ice cream until you have eaten something healthy." Then the parent can make the decision as they watch their individual children make their own choices - good or bad. Parents can also take into account how each child reacts to having sugar. 
     Anyway, these are just a couple examples of how I think there are rules that need to be made, but it is also possible to have guidelines instead of hard rules about everything. I'm learning the hard way about some things though. It took me picking up my baby's toy and giving it back to her for what seemed to be the 100th time yesterday, for me to decide that I am going to have a three strike system for this situation. She throws the toy off from her high chair and I will give it back to her once, assuming that it was an accident. I will give it back to her after she throws it a second time, but with a warning that if she does it one more time then she won't get it back. Then when she does it the third time I either leave it on the floor or take it into a completely different room so she won't be able to have it anymore. I know that Squeaker is only 6 months old, but you have to start somewhere, right? I don't want to start putting these rules into place when she is 2 years old and is used to me giving it back to her 100 times. If she starts off young with certain rules or guidelines in her daily life then they won't be such a shock later, hopefully. 
     There are some things I wish I would have made decisions about already, instead of having to take the situations as they come. For instance, some babysitters and grandparents want to give Squeaker things I'm not comfortable with her having yet, but it took me seeing one of them giving Squeaker some licks of a Popsicle to realize this. I know that a Popsicle won't kill her, but I don't want her already getting used to having sugar as a daily thing or even something that she gets occasionally, but wants more than her other food. Bananas, peaches, cantaloupe, these things should be the most sugary things she is taking into her body at this age (in my personal opinion). So now I have to back track a bit and start making decisions about what I am OK with her having and then be very clear about that when I leave her in the care of someone else. 
     I also wish that I knew better about when to comfort her and when to let her be. I'm figuring it out, slowly, and there are certain cries that I know are signs of her needing me, but she is starting to whine a lot as well. She is teething, and I want to help her as much as I can, but I also don't want her to think that I will constantly be fixing her problems and carrying her around the rest of her life. This is especially true for when we have another baby, I imagine it would be traumatizing for Squeaker to find that she is no longer the center of my universe when I have been treating her that way for so long. Now that Squeaker is a little over 6 months old I am trying to help her learn to self-soothe and cry on her own more. I am open to suggestions in this department. 
     Anyway, how did you start to decide on rules and enforce them in your home? Do you have flexible guidelines too? Are there certain rules that you wish you had decided upon earlier?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Stranger Anxiety and Other Tid Bits

     This last Friday Squeaker and I visited her pediatrician for her 6 month visit. We learned some good things that I want to share, including what is OK for a baby to eat at this age and what isn't, teething information, infant pain medication information, and rashes from drooling (including how to treat them). In my opinion the most interesting topic that came up, however, was the subject of "stranger anxiety".
     Stranger anxiety came up because lately Squeaker has been more nervous and anxious around new or different people, including her pediatrician (whom she has always been friendly and smiley with in the past). She has also become more anxious about animals, most notably dogs, and loud noises, such as the blender when I'm making her baby food. The pediatrician says this is all normal and will pass somewhat quickly, but in the future (around 13 or 14 months old) Squeaker will most likely go through another phase like this one, but even worse. It all has to do with stages babies go through when they start to observe and try to understand the world around them. The future one, which occurs with most children, can also make the child have aversions to his/her parents sometimes. I've seen kids go through this before, little ones only being able to be consoled by his/her mother (or father) and not wanting to have anything to do with anyone else. Going through it with my own child is a whole different story though. For instance, Squeaker will go through this anxiety with people she has been so comfortable with in the past (like her own grandpa) and I feel bad because the person trying to interact with her wants Squeaker to like them. It's not that Squeaker doesn't like them either, she is only a baby. No one takes it personally, of course, but it is still difficult. I hope that both this phase and the one to come are quick. Do any of you have recommendations for what helped your kid(s)? Do all children go through stranger anxiety, at least to some degree? 
     One of my friends said, on the subject of fearing animals, that all of her children went through a time when they were scared of dogs, but it passed quickly and the fear turned into curiosity instead. I hope this is the case for Squeaker. The pediatrician said that the best way to deal with it is to simply console her and make sure she always feels safe with me or her dad. "It isn't possible to spoil her during a stage of stranger anxiety," she said, "It is good for her to have a secure base wherein she feels safely protected [Husband and I] so that she feels better about adventuring on her own later." It's very interesting to me though, that some people simply innately have a deeper anxiety about strangers and new situations than other people do. It will be fascinating to watch as Squeaker grows to see how her own personality develops and find out if she is more extroverted or introverted in that sense. 
     On the other subjects we discussed with the pediatrician, she said that the only foods to really avoid at this time are: honey, milk (other than breast milk or formula of course), juices, and anything that would obviously be a choking hazard - like popcorn. The honey still is interesting to me, if anyone reading this doesn't know why babies shouldn't have honey it is because there is a small risk that it may contain spores that cause infant botulism. Milk is pretty much obvious, the baby isn't getting all of the nutrients he/she needs from other sources of milk and can even get sick from having cow's milk too early on. Juices are too sugary and aren't a good source of nutrients. The pediatrician also said that water is OK but it isn't adding anything. If the baby simply needs more fluids because of constipation or being in the sun then water is OK. The choking hazard needs no further explanation. Two foods that are OK for Squeaker now (or soon), but were not before, are peanut butter and eggs. Peanut butter, just a small amount on your finger given to your baby once a week, from this point on helps the baby's body get used to it and hopefully prevent an allergy/aversion to it later. The eggs are good to add protein into the baby's diet and can be added to his/her food intake around 7 or 8 months old. I'm excited to try different foods with Squeaker and see what she likes. So far she likes everything she has tried and really loves her grandpa's garden-grown squash. 
     Squeaker has her first tooth! It has slowly been pushing its way out for the last two weeks and is definitely visible. The pediatrician said that Orajel (and other types of topical gels) are not really helpful because they only last about 10 minutes. Most of them also contain benzocaine, which the FDA has said can give children methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobinemia is a blood disorder where oxygen that's carried through the blood to the tissue drops to dangerously low levels and can cause death. So overall, these medications are not advisable to use, which is news to me. The teething pills/tablets, according to the pediatrician, are also not really helpful but I neglected to ask for more details as to why she didn't recommend them. I think it came down to her thinking that they simply don't really help the problem or make much of a difference. However, infant/children's Tylenol is fine, as it has been pretty much from day one in very small amounts, and by 6 months old (or by a certain weight) a baby can now safely take child's ibuprofin. The pediatrician recommended both of these medications to be used as needed and only 2.5mL (1/2 tsp.) every 6 hours. I don't like using medications and try to only take them, or give them to Squeaker, sparingly. So, other things that are helpful and recommended: a cold wash cloth (wet or simply cooled in the fridge), teething rings (also possibly cooled in the fridge), cold or frozen fruits that they can gnaw on, maybe put frozen fruit or some ice pieces into one of those mesh feeders that prevent chokable chunks from getting through, etc.  
     As a consequence of teething, Squeaker has been drooling a lot. Subsequently, she has been getting rashes on her chin and around the corners of her mouth. Apparently these types of rashes and dry skin patches, even going down to the folds of the baby's neck, are normal for babies during the entire time they are teething (a few months old to 2 years). I asked what was best to use on these types of rashes, because Squeaker pretty much just tries to lick anything off that I put on them and I don't know what is OK for her to ingest. The pediatrician said that lotions are not good to use, even if they are scent free, but that lanolin or petroleum jelly (vaseline) are OK to use even if the baby licks some of it off. She added that lanolin is probably a better barrier and will stay on better even when the baby is licking it. 
     So, these are the things I learned recently and I hope they helped. Let me know what has worked for you or what questions you might have about the things your little one is going through. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Truly Important Things

I didn't think that I would get married as young as I did (20 years old), I imagined that if I got married then I would be at least done with graduate school and have a "career". I had many academic goals and hated it when people distracted me from them.
     There was a time in my life when I was 19 and decided to forgo dating for awhile, the guys I dated were weird and I didn't have fun with them. They were just distractions, I wanted to focus on school and work. Then Engineer came into my life. We were in the same institute class at the University of Utah. We were nice to each other, casually said "hello" in the mornings before class. There were a couple of times when I was curious about what he was reading or doing, but I never asked. I didn't want to get involved and I figured that if he was interested in friendship or dating then he would come talk to me. By the time it was about half way through the semester I figured he wasn't interested and we would simply continue saying "hello" every once in awhile. However, one morning before class, Engineer asked me what I was listening to. I love my music and listen to it often, plus I enjoy talking about it. Needless to say this was the right question to ask in order to begin a new kind of relationship. We talked awhile before class about the music we liked and how neither of us had been to a show in awhile, then class started and that was that. Well, I thought it was anyway. For some reason I couldn't get this guy out of my head the rest of the day, he was sweet and listened. He seemed different from other guys I knew, but I reminded myself that he had just asked me about my music and I hardly knew him. Maybe he would turn out to be a good friend, but nothing more. 
     The next time we talked before class he said he wanted to make a deal with me (I'm pretty sure "deal" was the word he used). I asked him what kind of deal and he said that since neither of us had been to a show in a long time, if either of us heard about one we wanted to go to then we should go together. I agreed to this, it sounded like a fun plan and better than him flat out asking me on a date, only to take me to a movie I didn't want to see. I decided that this was a good excuse for swapping cell phone numbers, which we did, and I actually remember thinking about how excited I was to get his number. The rest of the day I thought about how much I wanted to text him, just because I could. So, when I was on the train heading home after school I sent him a text, it was something flirty and stupid that had to do with the weather like "it's pretty windy out there, just making sure you didn't fly away". I felt like an idiot. I couldn't believe that I felt this way about a guy, usually it was the complete opposite and I only gave out my number or took a guy's number because I felt obligated or cornered into it somehow. The guy was always the one to text me first too, I didn't go out of my way to flirt with guys. Anyway, he was nice and we messaged back and forth for awhile before I decided that I would definitely need to find a show to go to soon. Luckily, I did and decided to get the nerve to ask him to go with me. That is how Engineer was clever enough to get me to ask him on our first date. I even sent him the text messages in German when I told him about it (he went on an LDS mission to Germany and was/is fluent in German). I was such a dork, using Google translate and sounded like a moron. He seemed to like me anyway, probably thought it was cute and weird.
     We went to a Vampire Weekend show, I made him a mix of their music before we went because he hadn't heard them before (this was at the beginning of 2010 when their music wasn't in commercials and video games yet). I actually went over to my friend's house and discussed what I was going to wear before he picked me up, Husband is probably going to get a huge head after reading this because I haven't told him all of these details before either. After I had my clothes right, my hair and makeup done (I actually wore lipstick, I never wear lipstick) I waited for him and began to panic when he was a little late. I remember thinking that this was the first time since I had started college that I wished the guy wouldn't stand me up and he was totally going to. (I literally did wish that the guys would just not show up so I didn't have to go, or would call and cancel.) He called me (I thought it would be to cancel), but said sorry that he was running behind and he would be there soon. I was relieved when he showed up at my door. We ate dinner before the show and I remember talking most of the time, which he was fine with because he is a pretty quiet guy at first. Seeing Vampire Weekend was really fun and we still talked between songs, got to know each other little by little. He was surprised when he found out I was only 19, I asked him how old he thought I was and he said that I seemed more mature. When he first talked to me he thought I was at least his age (21), if not older. He knew just what to say. 
     Well, there wasn't anything exciting like holding his hand or kissing on our first date, but I felt like it was still a success. He did too and we were together a lot after that. The rest is, as they say, history. We only dated 2.5 months before he asked me to marry him and "yes" was the easiest answer I've ever given to any question in my entire life. We had been ring shopping a little, I showed him some things that I liked and he made the final decision on which one. The day he asked the big question he actually tricked me because I thought he was picking me up to check another jewelry store. When he came into my apartment he said that he had something he had been meaning to ask me, very casually and I had no clue it was such an important question. Then he got down on one knee and asked me, I was so surprised and couldn't believe this was the moment I would never forget: the moment I became someone's fiancé.
     We were only engaged for a little over two months before we were married in the Mount Timpanogos temple. It was the best pain-free day of my life (the best painful day of my life being the one when I brought our daughter into the world, of course). The reason I decided to write about this today is because it was three years ago today that we were married and I am even more in love with him now than I was then. I think it is important for people, especially busy parents, to stop and really ponder upon their significant other, remembering why they chose each other and how it felt to first fall in love with them. It is so easy to forget these important things during the rat race of life, but I am grateful that I have remembered it all today. I feel closer to Husband than I ever have before because we are raising a beautiful child together.
     I didn't know that falling in love, getting married, and having a baby would become such welcomed distractions from my chosen path. I would rather be at home with them, being a stay at home mother, than employed by someone else or continuing my education away from home. The life I enjoy now has brought me more happiness than I thought possible. 
     I love you Engineer/Husband/Hot One! Thank you for being the man I need, a wonderful husband and an amazing father to our baby girl.