Saturday, January 26, 2013


It's okay to wash the baby with the laundry
if I use the gentle cycle and Dreft, right?
I love motherhood and being a mommy. It's hard work, easily the hardest work I've ever done, and I spent a summer flipping hundreds of queen size mattresses daily (physically demanding) and several years running my own business (mentally demanding). However it is also absolutely the most rewarding.

The first few weeks of his life were the roughest I've ever survived. I was weak from a difficult delivery, trying to breastfeed a baby born with an appetite when my milk hadn't yet come in, and we were under the impression that a baby HAD to sleep in a bassinet. Of course the one place the baby would not sleep was his bassinet. I got no sleep and essentially spent every waking moment nursing.

It wasn't until I just started sleeping in bed with him nestled beside me that I got any sleep at all, but I felt guilty about doing this. Wouldn't my baby spontaneously combust or something if he didn't sleep swaddled on his back in the bassinet?! No, actually. After a lot of research, this became our norm and life was much happier for both of us because of it.

After month 2, all was well. Jude developed his own schedule, slept through the night, and left me with plenty of time to at least accomplish sitting tasks (writing, chatting, gaming, art, etc.) on my own, with him in my lap (nursing, talking to me, or napping). He required very little in this stage of life, kind of like he was still in the womb. I'd read or sing to him and that was really the extent of entertainment required. Tummy Time was practiced out of necessity rather than interest.

By comparison now, Jude is a fairly needy baby, quickly approaching 4 months. He wants to be amused, stimulated, interacted with. As well he should. So long as his needs are met, he's happy. Though he dislikes everything for at least 5 fussy unsure minutes before enjoying it. He hates to be put down, especially in a reclined position, so I'm often hauling him around from the moment we get up (7am latest) until the moment he goes to bed (about 7-8pm), entertaining him in various ways. Great exercise, considering his weight and unwieldiness. My back hates it though.

While I expected raising a child would require my full attention, I did not account for all the carrying. He doesn't seem to much enjoy the Baby Bjorn style carrier either, meaning my hands are never free.

I do not believe in cry-it-out, for many reasons. First of which being the research done on its long term effects. Second being it's ineffectiveness, many babies just cry until passing out, sometimes upwards of 45 minutes -- that isn't healthy. Sure, some babies will cry for 5-10 minutes then find something interesting to distract them and be fine. This is okay. Sometimes you need to get something done and baby just needs to deal with it. If after a few minutes baby is still screaming, it's probably better to go scoop them up rather than let them drive your neighbors batty and pass out thinking you were eaten by dingos.

"There is evidence that leaving babies to cry alone can increase their emotional stress level. Researchers measured saliva cortisol levels in infants during a sleep training program in which the infants were left to cry themselves to sleep over a three-day period. The infants’ cortisol levels were elevated when they were left to cry alone, indicating a state of high emotional stress. However, the cortisol levels remained high even on the third day, after the infants had stopped crying. This implies that, even though the sleep training program appeared to "work" and the infants fell asleep without crying, their stress levels were still high. Another study found that even brief separations between mothers and their 9-month-old infants can result in elevated infant cortisol levels, indicating emotional stress."

I get moments to myself, sort of, while he eats, and count myself lucky if he falls asleep on me while nursing because he has never been much of a daytime sleeper -- not even as a newborn. At most he will sleep for an hour total each day. Not consecutively. He usually sleeps fantastically at night though, for at least 8 hours. So there's that.

Basically, it leaves me with a lot of entertaining to do. So I'm seeking ideas. I know eventually he'll be more interested in things and willing to play on his own but until then, I need ideas so my brain doesn't turn to mush.

We do a lot of walking, talking, singing, and playing with various objects. Though most toys seem to be 6+ months... I try to get him to spend at least 30 minutes a day on his playmat with me, practicing at grabbing, holding, and pulling. There's Tummy Time, for as long as he'll tolerate it, but he started rolling himself over at 5 weeks so he gets bored of that really fast. I've made it a habit after diaper changes to take him into the restroom to talk to himself in the mirror and watch himself stomp around on the counter top (supported by me of course). Every now and then he'll watch a bit of TV in my lap, but it's typically less than 5 minutes before he'd rather be doing something else (don't blame him, but it's nice when I get to sit down). In the mornings he'll tolerate his swing for about 10-15 minutes but really has no interest in it for the rest of the day unless he's fallen asleep and I can sneak him into it without rousing him. We also go to fetch the mail together in the early afternoon. Every other day or so he gets a bath, which he enjoys more now than he used to, but has yet to play in the tub.

Sometimes he'll do all of these things, sometimes he'll only want to do some of them, and occasionally none of them -- which leaves me basically pacing around the house with him in my arms for nine hours straight. Which is just... it makes me tired thinking about it.

Any suggestions? Diversity is good, even if he doesn't care yet, it's nice for me!


  1. I am trying to think of suggestions other than those things which you have already tried. From months 3-4 my youngest seemed to be fairly pleased with her Fisher Price Rainforest Bouncer. The age range of when children will use them varies, so I don't know if it would be an investment you would want to make. Once the youngest turned 5 months, she really started to enjoy her Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo, although at first her feet didn't quite touch the floor unless we added something beneath her. There are several varieties of jumperoos and exersaucers available. My older daughter has been great at helping to entertain her little sister, but alas, I don't think I could ship her off to you as I really don't trust any parcel services to 'handle with care'.

    As for things to do that don't require a larger contraption, she does like listening to children's songs, most things that have moving lights and even before she really enjoyed toys she would take a toy that had material in it that crinkled and would promptly shove it in her mouth. Another favorite seemed to be various textured materials. The baby would rub her hands over the different textures and seem fairly occupied for a short time.

    I know you mentioned trying a Baby Bjorn style carrier, but have you tried any others? I know that baby carriers can get quite pricey, but I found that the gauze wraps from worked quite nicely. The woman who makes them also has other types of wraps and slings available. I have yet to use the gauze wrap in the heat during the summer, but compared to the weight of the other available materials I thought it might be best for us. I have also heard that Ergo and Boba carriers are nice, but have not yet been able to try them since they are a bit more expensive.

    If I could remember more about the activities I did to entertain my oldest I would gladly share, but my mind seems to draw a blank. Of course that could have something to do with the stress of raising her primarily by myself in a foreign country while my husband was deployed for almost her entire first year, which in turn created quite a blur.

    Sorry if this comment isn't that helpful. I hope that you are able to find some ways to keep Jude entertained!


  2. Thanks for the suggestions! Jude does get a decent deal of enjoyment from crinkly toys. He's had little interest in his bounce seat since the first week, so now the cat has taken to napping in it. He's probably ready for an exersaucer. He has great strength and head control for his age. Always has. We were given one of the walking variety, so he would have to be closely supervised, but at least it might give me a break from holding him.

    We haven't tried other styles of carrier, though I have been curious about slings and wraps. Baby wearing would be ideal, given the situation. I hope we can find an affordable option that works for the both of us.

  3. You are most welcome! My niece suggested I look at this website when I was looking for information on wraps and slings: They have articles on the subject as well as forums full of questions and advice from people who are much more knowledgeable on the subject that I could ever hope to be. They have some members who even make their own that seem to work nicely.

  4. That site looks very helpful, thank you! I think I know how I'll be spending my free moments today. :)