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Rylan 6 Month Summary

I seriously cannot handle how big Rylan is getting. I feel like with Brandon (our first) I couldn’t wait for him to crawl, talk, eat real food, etc. But with Rylan, I’m thrown off when he starts growing up. He’s at that perfect little age where he’s still really portable (no plethora of toys or ipads needed for a quick trip out), but engaged enough to have fun with. I’ve never been one of those overly emotional mothers, but after packing away some of his “6-month” clothing that was too small, I got a little teary eyed. My sweet baby is growing up!

And boy is he growing! This kids likes to eat like it’s nobody’s business. We are full on with the solids this month. So far he has had rice cereal, sweet potatoes (1st food!), pears, peas, carrots and oatmeal. I honestly think he would start shoveling potato chips into his mouth if I let him. Pretty much the only time we hear him whine is when we aren’t getting the food to him in a fast and continuous stream. This has made our family dinners a little more rambunctious than normal since I like to feed myself as well, which invariably causes a pause in his meal. 🙂 Can I just tell you, as a mother who has had a “non-eater,” not having to coax every last bit of food into him is like heaven. I fully appreciate the gift that is this kids appetite! I’m only feeding him solids at lunch and dinner so far, since the mornings are bound to be hectic this month with Brandon starting school 2 times a week, but I think the kid will be clamoring for it soon.

Rylan’s reflux seemed to peak this month, so we’ve switched his meds up to Prevacid twice a day. It’s still not great, and I’m still doing more laundry than any woman (or man!) should ever have to, but let’s say he’s gone from spitting up 30 times a day (I kid you not) to like 15. So I’ll take it. Brandon took a good year till he was ready to come off the meds. Hopefully Rylan will fare a little better, but as for right now he seems to have it just as bad.

Rylan has definitely become more engaged this month, and has been loving the various toys and contraptions we’ve pulled out of the closet (just as a note for all you second borns out there – we have had some new additions, it isn’t all hand-me-downs!). He is forever trying to stick things in his mouth, and will steal that phone/cookie/cocktail out of your hand if you aren’t careful. Whereas Brandon was never really into toys, Rylan seems mesmerized by a new rattle or soft toy. It’s really cute and makes his short bouts of independent play time easy.

His sleeping is still going great, and I’ve tried to be more predictable about his morning nap, making sure he is in his crib most days as opposed to letting him sleep in the stroller. This consistency has really helped to lengthen his afternoon nap, and now I know that he will take a good 2 – 2 1/2 hour nap every afternoon. I think he might be ready to drop his 3rd nap in a month or so, as he has missed a handful of them and has been well rested enough to make it to close to bedtime without getting cranky. Most days he still falls asleep for about 30 minutes during that nap though, and will play quietly for the rest.

Here’s a typical day for Rylan at 6 months:

  • 7:30 am – wake-up, get dressed and bottle (8 oz with 1 1/2 tsp rice cereal)
  • 7:45 – breakfast w/ Brandon (usually in bouncy seat, not eating solids here)
  • 8:15 – Outside!
  • 9:30-11 – nap #1
  • 11 – “play” with Brandon
  • 11:30 – Independent Play (blanket time while mom preps lunch)
  • 11:45 – bottle
  • 12 – lunch (we introduce new foods at this time, so not to mess with bedtime if he has an adverse reaction).
  • 1-3/3:30 – nap #2
  • 3:15/3:30 – bottle
  • 3:30 – “play” with Brandon (tummy time) or Outside
  • 4:45-5:30 – nap #3
  • 5:30 – independent play in play pen
  • 6 – dinner with family
  • 6:40 – bath
  • 7 – bottle (8 oz with 1 1/2 tsp rice cereal)
  • 7:30 – bedtime!

Happy half birthday little guy! We love you!

All pictures are courtesy of the amazing Laura Stone of Artstar Photography. Laura did our wedding photos and was kind enough to do some family shots of us when we were back in GA. I could not recommend her highly enough!! She also has a beautiful blog that showcases some of her work.

Independent Play – Starting Early

Establishing independent playtime can be a great gift to both children and parents. It allows the child to learn to entertain themselves and also provides a wonderful environment for experimental learning, since mom and dad aren’t there to help them out. For the parents, independent playtime means a break in the day that they can use to accomplish any number of things (or accomplish nothing by cruising the internet the whole time- not that I’ve ever done that), knowing full well that their child is in a safe environment.

We started Brandon out with independent play when he was only a few months old, and now at 2 years, he will play happily by himself for up to an hour in his room (he might actually go longer, but that’s the longest I’ve ever kept him in there). On most days, we do two 30-minute sessions – once while I’m showering in the morning and once in the evening while I’m cooking dinner. He actually looks forward to it, and is more well behaved on days when he gets some time alone. We started Rylan out early as well, and now at nearly 6 months, he does 15-minutes on a blanket while I prep lunch, and 30-minutes in a playpen while I cook dinner.

Here’s some of my keys to implementing independent playtime for your young baby (before they can crawl):

  • Start Early – I know it’s hard to part with your little love in the first weeks they are home from the hospital, but as soon as you can stand it, leave them alone on a playmat (or under a mobile in the crib – just need something for them to look at) for a few minutes at a time, several times during the day. They may fall asleep during these early weeks (and then you do the happy dance), but as time passes they will become more engaged.
  • Start Small – Try 5 minutes twice a day, then 10 minutes twice a day, etc. until you work up to a point you are comfortable with. The key is getting your baby used to the fact that they don’t need mom and dad there to entertain them all the lit long day.
  • Schedule the Time – If your baby is a little older and has a good routine going, make independent play a regularly scheduled part of your day. Try and do it at a similar time each day, so the baby knows what to expect (they know more than you would think).
  • Create the Space – I currently use a blanket on the floor (over padding) and a playpen. Whatever you use make sure it is safe. If your baby is rolling over, they could easily roll off a blanket, so you have to be sure there is nothing nearby that could be harmful. If I’m going to leave the room at any point, I use the playpen just to be sure. I also use a video monitor if I’m leaving the room.
  • Hide – Your baby will be better able to focus and less likely to call out for you if they don’t see you, but you still need to be able to observe them. Try and keep yourself out of their line of sight, but where you can still safely monitor how things are going. I love a video monitor for this.
  • Make it Fun – Put a mobile on the playpen, some mirrors in the corners, and of course, a few soft toys. The toys should be things that the baby can explore independently and safely. Be careful to not put too many things at one time though, as you want them to learn to focus and not be over stimulated (which can lead to crankiness very quickly in small babies). Rotate the toys every so often to keep it interesting.
  • Avoid Overuse – Don’t leave your baby in independent play for so long that they become bored and frustrated. This is a time meant to ease them into it, and for their (and your) enjoyment. It’s great to be able to comfortably leave your baby in a playpen while you attend to another child or other emergency, just try not to abuse it.

Have you had any luck/problems with independent playtime? Do your kids enjoy it?

And don’t forget to comment here with your ideas of a 7-30 day fitness/diet challenge to win a sleek kitchen scale!

Setting the Mood for Sleep

Setting the appropriate mood is one of the most important things you can do to encourage your child to sleep. I think it’s helpful to remember that you can’t actually force your child to sleep, but you can make the environment as relaxing, comfortable, and conducive to sleep as possible. Like most things, consistency is the key, and maintaining a similar sleep environment and routine will allow your child to anticipate bed and nap times. Here’s what has helped my kids:

1) Keep it dark – Most people simply sleep better in the dark. I recommend getting blackout shades (these are a great, inexpensive option) or even taping up black garbage bags over the windows. If you are able to blackout a room during the day, there will be consistency between night and daytime and you won’t have to worry about early wakings due to sunlight. While some older children might need a small nightlight, young babies don’t yet know to be afraid of the dark and can actually be distracted by small lights (like on a monitor or temperature device). We use black tape to cover over any small lights in the room.

2) Play with the temperature – I know that a lot of experts argue that we need cooler temperatures to sleep well, but I think that a comfortable sleeping temperature is a personal preference and you need to experiment to see what works best for your child. Some like to be bundled up, but have the air at a cooler temp, while others might want minimal clothing in a warmer environment. Pay attention to your child and see when they tend to sleep best, and also what they were wearing. Personally, my kids sleep in full footed sleepers (or long pjs with socks) year round, but Rylan likes it set cooler than Brandon. For infants, you have to be mindful that you don’t want to overdress them since it can be a SIDS risk.

3) Love the lovey – An age appropriate lovey can be a huge comfort to a child at bedtime. If you are strict about it, and allow the lovey only to be used during sleep times, it can also be something that your child actually looks forward to come bed or nap time. This is important to remember if you don’t want your future toddler to walk around with a worn out blankie all day. Personally, I don’t have too many qualms about this, and Brandon can have his lovey if we are traveling, watching tv, or going for a long run – but that’s a whole different topic! A lovey is also a great replacement for the pacifier. I am not a fan of the pacifier. If your child is old enough to locate their pacifier in the dark and pop it in their mouths, that’s fine, but I don’t want to be the mama doing that for them all hours of the night. My kids both suck on their lovies, and have been able to find them themselves if they are dropped since they were a few months old (3 months is when I first introduced a lovey to Rylan).

4) White noise – A white noise machine is an easy way to block out any errant noise and can be very soothing to a baby. The machine should be positioned far from the crib, but turned to a level loud enough that it will actually be effective. We bring ours with us every time we travel, which is a great way to signal to your child that it’s time to sleep even if they are in a different environment.

5) Make it comfy – A comfortable but firm mattress is a good place to splurge when it comes to the nursery. Some kids can sleep on harder surfaces, like a playpen, but if we are traveling we like to line the playpen with quilts (underneath the sheet) so that it is more cushioned. Both my kids also like fuzzier sheets.

6) Have a consistent routine – This is probably the most important point. The actions you take before you bring your child into their room (which has been prepped accordingly) should be consistent so as to give them a clear signal that it is time for them to relax and sleep. Before bed you might do a bath, bottle, book, and prayers. You can then do a modified version before naps – like a book & prayers. I also like to do the pre-bed/nap routine outside of the nursery, so that when we walk into the room it is already dark and the noise machine is on. Whatever it is you do, just try and stick to it each time you put your child to sleep.

What are some of the things that you’ve done to help make your child’s environment more sleep conducive? Have you stuck with the same things or has your child’s preferences changed over time?

Rylan 5 Month Summary

Oh, my happy little boy! Rylan really seems to be growing up so fast, some part of me wishes he could stay this precious little baby forever. Having the experience of already having a baby has taken a lot of the pressure off this time around. You aren’t questioning every decision you make, or stressing about the little details like you did with the first. It’s quite a relief actually, and I find I’m truly able to enjoy Rylan at this stage.

This was a pretty exciting month for him. He went on his first plane ride down to Georgia to see my family (was excellent and slept most of the way), then was showered with attention once we got there. I feel bad that he might not be getting as much attention as he should when we are at home, but I guess most parents of multiple children feel that way. If he is starting to fuss, usually all it takes is for me to look at him and he breaks into a huge smile, like “Yay, you’re still here!”. I hope he’s just as easy to appease as the years go on!

Rylan is a determined little fella. I’ve called him my little snapping turtle since he was born, as he has a way of inflicting serious pain on any appendage he can get his mouth on. Most of the time he can be found with his two right fingers in his mouth, happily sucking away. He finds ways to grab a hold of things (hopefully toys) that I would have thought far out of his reach. The other day he grabbed Brandon’s cereal bowl and yanked it out of his hands. Not an easy task stealing cheerios from a 2-year old.

“Please share!”

Sleeping has been stellar. Still 12 hours a night and 3 naps. He’s super attached to his lovey and generally doesn’t cry at all as long as he can get his hands on him. He’s been rolling over from stomach to back for some months now, but found he had rolled from his back to his stomach in the night after waking him up one morning in GA. A side note for new parents – try not to freak when your baby does this the first time. If they are able to get to their stomach on their own, then they will be fine once they are there. Try and work with them being able to consistently get turned over to their backs during the daytime, so that they will have this ability (and you will have the reassurance that they can) during the night.

I totally stopped breastfeeding in the last couple of weeks. I had wanted to make it to 6 months, but it ended up being time for both of us. Rylan is a big boy and seems to get hungrier everyday. We’ve even taken to adding rice cereal to two of his bottles. He got some cereal on a spoon one morning while on vacation, and I will start him on more solids soon (much to the horror of my pediatrician – they strictly believe in waiting till 6 months). His reflux is rearing its ugly head again, and we are back to wearing bibs for most of the day, even after increasing his medicine dosage. It’s no fun – let’s just say I have a love/hate relationship with my washer dryer.

Here’s a typical rundown of his day:

  • 7:30 am – wake-up, get dressed and bottle (8 oz with 1/2 tsp rice cereal)
  • 7:45 – sit in bouncy chair as we have breakfast
  • 8:15 – watch mommy do laundry/chores
  • 8:30 – playmat time
  • 9 – out and about, will sleep on & off in the stroller (at home naps from 9:15-10:45/11)
  • 11 – “play” with Brandon
  • 11:45 – bottle, then hang out while we have lunch
  • 12:30-2:30/3 – nap
  • 3:15 – bottle
  • 3:30 – “play” with Brandon (tummy time)
  • 4:30 – nap
  • 5:30 – independent play in play pen
  • 6 – dinner with family
  • 6:40 – bath
  • 7 – bottle (8 oz with 1/2 tsp rice cereal)
  • 7:30 – bedtime!

Happy 5 months sweetheart!

Getting Your Life Back After Baby

I admittedly read way too many parenting books before Brandon was born. I would literally read every book out there that anyone with an opinion had touted as the latest and greatest in the parenting world. It probably just confused me with too many methods and thoughts, and it took a long time for me to get out of my head what kind of parent the books were telling me to be and what kind of parent I actually was/wanted to be. I was convinced that I needed to be this hippie lovin’, no schedule, nurse whenever my precious little baby wanted kind of mommy (this also fell in line with what my pediatrician at the time was telling me). Although most of these books never flat out said it, they pretty much expected you to meet every demand your tiny addition would make, regardless of how it affected your life, or if it was even reasonable (like feeding every 2 hours at 4 months old!).

Fast forward 5 months later, I was a wreck. Brandon would wake-up 10 times a night and was completely unpredictable during the day. I never slept more than a couple hours at a time and felt like a walking zombie. Being the type-A person that I am, having no clue how our days/nights were going to go drove me nuts. I couldn’t understand how any mother out there ever got her act together after having a baby.

At our wits end, Brad and I finally called in Dream Team Baby sleep consultants to help us get Brandon sleeping at night. Not only did they do just that, but they also showed me a totally different picture of what motherhood could be like. They immediately put Brandon on a strict schedule during the day and used a version of “cry-it-out” to get him to sleep at night. It was incredibly hard the first day, but after 3 nights, he was sleeping 12 hours and taking 2 solid naps during the day. Hallelujah, praise the Lord!

By not giving into Brandon’s every desire (i.e. me comforting him multiple times during the night and letting him set the schedule during the day) we had regained our control as the parents. I finally knew what to expect during the day and could actually get out for a run or lunch with a friend. I could plan things! I also had enough energy to do them since we were all finally getting a decent amount of sleep at night. It is no exaggeration when I say that sleep training, scheduling, and a bit of parental control literally gave me my life back.

There is no one-size fits all solution, but I would say the secret to getting your life back after baby is doing just that, get back to your life. Hire a babysitter, enlist the help of friends, let your child be a little uncomfortable as they work through the fact that the world doesn’t revolve around them. I’m not saying let your newborn go hungry, but be reasonable. Respect your needs as well as your child’s and don’t think you have to give up your own life to be a good mother.

Here’s a list of a few practical things that have helped me:

  • Sleep Training – not for everyone, but it does work and it works fast.
  • Scheduling – I’m a hyper-scheduler by nature, but I think just having a similar flow to your days is helpful.
  • Parental Control – what I mean by this, is understanding that you’re the parent and you know best. There will be a day when your toddler will cry and yell because they want to run into traffic, which you obviously won’t let them do. Crying or being uncomfortable does not mean that you are being a bad parent, it’s actually what it takes a lot of times to be a good parent.
  • Independent Play Time – Brandon plays happily in his room for an hour everyday by himself. It is wonderful and heavenly, but it took a lot of work to get up to this point. We started young and with only 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, etc. Very worth the effort!
  • Babysitters & Housekeepers – if you can afford to, hiring good help is one of the best things ever. Get out of the house without the kids.
  • Planning – from weekly menus to playdates, having an idea of what’s going on helps me immensely.
  • Delegate to Dad – give Dad a task that is all his. Brad is in charge of baths in our house. It’s a wonderful break for me at the end of the day, and since the bath is his domain he doesn’t have to worry about me nagging him because he does something a different way than I would have (like filling the water up too high). Dad’s like having an area of expertise where they don’t feel like they are going to be critiqued every 2 seconds.
  • Chocolate and Wine – every tired mom’s best friend. 🙂

For the first few months you certainly have to give up a lot of your time and energy to your new bundle who relies on you for everything, but as they get older, making an effort to regain some of your time and freedom is beneficial to the whole family. You will feel better and your kids and spouse will have a much happier mom and wive.

My Favorite Baby Must Haves

Rylan is just over 4 months old and here’s a list of what I simply can’t live without for him…

Bjorn Carrier – We have two, but this one is the best for lighter babies. It’s so easy to use and the baby can face towards or away from you. I have Rylan in this all the time so that I can do things with Brandon and use both hands.

Aden and Anis bamboo swaddle blankets  – So soft and pretty. We only swaddled Rylan for the first month, but I use these to cover the stroller or bjorn so he doesn’t get sun (or touched by creepy people on the street). The Sleep sacks with swaddle attachments are also a must-have if your baby is breaking out of normal swaddles. The Miracle Blanket is even tougher for them to get out of, but it’s kinda a pain to do up, especially after a diaper change at 2 am. I’m also obsessed with the Aden and Anis burp cloths/bibs. They are the perfect size and shape and I love that they serve multiple functions.

White noise machine – Blocks out all kinds of noise when the baby is sleeping. With a toddler and a crazy dog running around this is a must have.

Summer Infant Video Monitor – This one is the best!! We’ve been through 3 different brands and they all broke on us within 6 weeks. This one has been going strong for a year plus now, and we even added a camera so we can watch both of the boys rooms. It has a scan feature that automatically switches between up to 4 cameras every 8 seconds. Perfect for when you are sleeping and want something that is going to monitor multiple children.

Stroller(s) – You gotta have one, and if you live in NYC it better be good! We actually have 3, and I love them all for different reasons. A Maclaren for easy fold-up, great for when we are going to be taking a cab or car someplace. An UppaBaby with an attached rumble seat, which I use when I have both kids but will be in a more cramped place, like Whole Foods. And a double BOB running stroller. Even though the BOB is enormous, it’s probably my favorite. We have the car seat adapter and I’ve been running with Rylan since he was 3 months old. It’s insanely heavy with both kids and the car seat, which has really kicked my butt into shape. It’s a large stroller to have in nyc, but I like that both the boys can see out. It also does amazing in the snow!

Fisher Price Bouncy Chair and Play Mat – We have some of the other “cooler” versions (that cost like 4x as much), but you just can’t beat the classics. They have more bells and whistles and the kids generally respond to the colors and lights. The others might look better with your decor, but you will be running out to get the gaudy bright colored jungle of toys sooner or later.

Play Pen – We have a Graco, but I don’t think it matters what brand. You just need a place where you can put the baby down and know he’s safe for a few minutes. I actually do “independent play time” in the play pen. I have a mobile and a handful of soft rattles in there for Rylan and he will hang out there for 30 minutes most days while I cook dinner. Brandon did his independent play time in there until he was 18 months old and then switched to his room. It’s also a great place for them to sleep if you are traveling.

Medela breast pump – If you are planning on breast feeding, a good pump is a must. I know there are people out there that never end up giving their baby a bottle, but this mommy needs a break every once in a while. Not to mention that a pump can help you with supply issues. If you are not getting enough milk, pump in between feedings to increase supply. Too much milk and all you have to do is pump a little before you start feeding to keep from drowning the baby. I actually started exclusively pumping for Rylan after about 2 months. I just found it quicker and easier to do things on my schedule and I’ve never really been skilled enough to breastfeed in public. I would highly recommend getting a double pump. It just makes life easier and every minute counts when you have a newborn. – I seriously don’t know what I would do with out them. I get deliveries multiple times per week. They are quick, reliable and easy to deal with if anything every does go wrong.

I would love to hear from you what make your must-have for baby list!

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