Saturday, February 26, 2011

Weather Break

So, it wasn't enough to have to deal with A being sick the week before last... I had to get an e-coli-like bacteria this past week! I'm finally back to normal and hoping no one gets sick for a while.
I don't know if the Weather Gods read my blog, but they did decide to grant us a two day break with temperatures reaching above 30! (that's roughly above 0 Celsius)
So, e-coli or not, we weren't going to pass on the chance to play outside...
Wednesday, after a stroller ride on our street, A actually ventured in the snow (for no more than 10-15 minutes, but still!)


He then decided it was time for Wegmans!
We headed out to the zoo on Thursday, but I forgot my camera.
The snow was back on Friday, but at least we got some fresh air before that...thank you Weather Gods!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cabin Fever

For those of you who may not know, we live in Syracuse, NY, which gets the dubious title of "Snowiest City in the US" (not coldest, but snowiest, thanks to "lake effect" snow), we get on average around 120 inches of snow a year-- that's about 3 meters-high for my friends in the normal metric world.

Doesn't this look fun?

Well, if that wasn't bad enough, this year, it's even worse than usual. By the end of January, we had reached and surpassed the average yearly snowfall, and the snow keeps falling....
In pre-kids days, this would annoy me, but I'd find ways to make it ok (go outside, snowshoe, go snow tubing), but this year, it's gotten really unbearable.

A does not find the snow fun at all. Most days, it's too cold to go outside. The one day, two weeks ago, when it was sunny out, I offered to put on our snowsuits and go sledding. He joyfully slipped on his snow pants, asked for his mittens and proudly displayed his gloved hands... everything was going great, until we actually stepped outside... He sat in his sled, looked a me with a bewildered look (like "why are you doing this to me, Maman? I thought you said this would be fun"), and proceeded to start crying and cried until I took him back inside. I guess A's idea of fun does not include being cold.
So we play in the house, but after four months, even if the house is big, it gets a little boring... A has recently gotten in the habit of going to the door, asking for his boots and saying "partir" which means "leave", so it's not just me.

We go places, but Syracuse is a medium size city and there's only so much you can do with toddlers in the winter. There's the library, MyGym, the Y's pool, Barnes & Noble,the bouncy places, the mall's indoor playground and A's favorite.. Wegmans (for those unfortunate enough to have never experienced Wegmans, it's the most awesome grocery store on the side of the Atlantic). But every trip involves putting on our winter gear and getting in the car. I just long for those summer days when we can just step outside and run for hours after a ball in the backyard, or go for a walk, get ice cream and visit with the neighbors...
To make matters worse, I started reading this great blog (, where the family lives in Orlando and does all kinds of fun outdoors stuff all winter-long (not to mention they go to Disney as easily as we go to the library), and I am totally jealous!
  I'm running out of ideas to keep A and me happy this winter, other than moving to Florida.
I know that when A's a bit older it will get better, we'll be able to actually go skiing and take advantage of all that snow, but in the meantime we have serious cabin fever!

What about you? What do you do to keep your kids entertained in the winter?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Struggling with Naps

Sorry I have been MIA but sick children have a way of taking up all your time... A's sitter's son was sick on Monday, so I stayed home, and Tuesday when we went to the pediatrician's to check on A's old ear infections, we found out he had a new double ear infection, plus bronchitis, oh joy!

So, today's subject is naps, or lack thereof...
I have to say that we've never had much trouble putting A to sleep in his bed at night, thanks to a basic routine he knows what to expect and most nights, he's happy to go in his bed and sleep. That is not the case for naps... A basically never wanted to sleep in a crib during the day, whether at home or at the sitter's. We would sometimes manage to put him asleep in his crib (after much rocking) when he was an infant, but within 15-20 minutes, he was up and screaming. If we left him in the crib, he would keep on screaming. If we picked him up, he might fall back asleep. He would stay asleep for sometimes more than an hour if we kept him in our arms, but would wake up the second he felt us trying to put him back in the crib. So here's what we tried...
  • letting him take mini-naps
We tried to go with his flow, and let him only sleep the amount that did. That resulted in many cat-naps of 15 to 30 minutes, which worked as an infant but became a problem when he got older. It also often resulted in an overtired little boy.
  • keeping him asleep by any means
That's the one where you may think "oh, these people are nuts, they're the ones who created the problem by indulging him". Well, guess what, when you work full time and you only get two days with your child, yes, you may go to great lengths to get him to sleep a full nap, because you want to actually be able to enjoy your child for the few hours that you get to see him/her. So what did we do? We held him for his nap, we walked him in the stroller for hours (fearing any encounters with neighbors since any stop of the stroller would result in A waking up). If he fell asleep while we were driving, we sometimes extended our drive by 30 minutes to an hour (and got to know a lot about the neighboring developments).

who says cribs are for sleeping?

  • what we didn't do
We did not let him cry for naps because we followed Dr. Ferber's book (Solving Your Child's Sleep Problems) and he says that you should not let your child cry at nap time while you are letting him cry at night. Well, since we were always starting over with the night thing, we never really got to the naps. Besides, A has enough stamina to stay up all day without a nap, so I don't think that would have worked.
  • staying with him
Eventually, we got to a point where A slept a pretty good nap (one to two hours) if we laid him on our bed and sat by him the whole time.
  • The sitter problem
The one problem was that whatever we did at home, we could not expect his babysitter to do, since she was watching other children at the same time. To her credit she tried many techniques, and some worked... for a day or two... but in the end, after A turned one and he only took one nap a day, most days when I picked him up, he would have only slept 15 minutes that whole day. Needless to say, he would either fall asleep on the way home (around 5pm) or would be truly overtired for the few hours that we had to spend together.
  •  Our Solution
I got to a point where I thought something HAD to be done because it was not healthy for a 15 month old child to only sleep 15 minutes during the day. Meanwhile, I was dealing with my own struggles with a full time job I had grown bored with, and an uneven schedule that I felt contributed to our nap problems. I truly believe that routine is a tremendous help when dealing with sleep issues, but there was not much room for a daytime routine with my schedule. So I did something crazy and left my job for a part-time teaching gig at Syracuse University. This allowed me to send A to the sitter's in the morning four days a week, pick him up after lunch and take him home where we spend his nap together on my bed.
This may sound crazy to you, but it has made all of us ten times happier. I figure what's wrong with spending an hour or two relaxing, doing some work on the computer, or...blogging, if it makes A a happier, healthier child. Besides, he won't be taking naps forever. On another note, I have discovered that I truly enjoy teaching and working with college students, and am hoping that this crazy job move will result, in time, in a fulfilling new career.
  • Major Improvements
So, after almost 6 months of this system, I am happy to say that we have seen major improvements. A lays on the bed, we read a story and then, he usually falls asleep within 10 minutes, by himself, and sleeps for an hour or two on his own. I would leave him alone if it weren't for the fact that our bed is very high and I am afraid he might fall off.
Since the end of January I have been teaching a class at our local community college and it involves a long day on Friday, which means I can't be back in time to pick A up for nap. SleepyPapa and I were pretty worried about that, but it turns out A now sleeps an hour and a half to two hours on his own at the sitter's too! There he sleeps on a double bed in the same room as his buddy who has a toddler bed. (the double bed is pretty low so he can get off on his own).
Have you dealt with nap problems? What worked for you?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On Ferberizing

As I have said before, A was never a good sleeper. I think he might have been a better one if he had slept on his belly, but we were just not ready to take that chance...
 Anyway, things are always tough at the begining and we knew that, but when the sleep thing is supposed to settle down (around four months), A's sleep actually got worse! He went from sleeping for four hour stretches at night to waking up almost every hour and sometimes every half-hour after 2am. Of course, by that point, I was back to work full-time and my Mom was back in France. Needless to say, those were incredibly trying times for both SleepyPapa and I...
A was not trying to eat (at that point I was not feeding him overnight anymore), or party, he just wanted to be put back to sleep and did not know how to fall back asleep on his own. By the way, sleeping in our bed did not make any difference, he would still wake up.

Many told us to let him cry (including our then-pediatrician, but that's a story for another post), but SleepyPapa and I agreed that we didn't think it was fair to let a child that young cry himself to sleep. So we tried some other options, my mom flew back to the rescue (as I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown) and we followed the "no-cry sleep soluion" method by Elizabeth Pantley. A made a lot of progress on this method, but we were never able to complete the final part.
 In the meantime, I read Dr Ferber's book (for those of you who might not know, it's a method in which you let your child cry, but you check in and calm them down at regular intervals). Dr Ferber does not recommend applying the method before the baby is 6 months old. I do believe it's important to wait until your child is old enough to understand that you are still there, in the house, even if you're not right in front of him, so that he/she does not feel abandonned.
Anyway, we decided that this was our last option. At that point, A was almost 8 months old. Many people had told us it only took their child two nights of the method to become amazing sleepers for the rest of his/her life...
The actual training turned out not to be as bad as we thought it would be, and A did start to sleep better. But it was no miracle cure either...

For us, the method's effects only last for about a week and then we have to do it again. On top of that, anytime your child is sick (which happens to us fairly often since A is prone to ear infections), you have to start over again. So in the end, we've had to let him cry quite a bit over the past year. When he gets really angry, he can cry for two hours straight (which a. makes us feel guilty, b. keeps us awake).
Recently, after another bout of ear infections, I was talking to A and telling him that he should sleep through the night, because everybody sleeps through the night and that's what he's supposed to do. To which he answered "Maman sleeps, Papa sleeps, A cries".
So we are starting to reconsider this all crying it out thing, because it certainly has not brought us to the promised land.
Here's what we have come up with recently, that seems to work just as well without the crying part:
- if A wakes up once, SleepyPapa goes in and tells him to go back to sleep (sometimes, that's enough)
- if A wakes up more than once, I may go and sleep on the floor in his room (in recent experience, A falls back asleep, stays asleep through the night and actually sleeps through the night with no intervention on our part for the following nights).
You may think that's a silly solution, but we all sleep through the night, no one cries and we reach the same result, so why not?
- when A wakes up after 4:30 or 5am, he just comes in our bed, which we recently switched to a King Size so we can all sleep happily together.

I do have to say that I do not regret doing the Ferber method; at that point in our lives it was necessary and it did improve A's sleep. I just don't think it's a viable method for us in the long run.

Have you tried this method? Are you for or against it? What do you do to get your child to sleep through the night?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Are we big softies?

First, I am aware that some people have had trouble posting a comment. I have tried to remedy the issue, so please try again and let me know if it's still not working.
Second, one of my very good friends had an interesting reaction to my blog posts; she wonders if I am afraid of my child's reactions. I guess the dinosaur story might have spurred that one. I have to say that I absolutely welcome the comment and think it's a good opportunity for me to take a step back and look at what I do or don't do. Anyway, I gave the subject some thought and here's my take on it.

Sleepypapa and I believe that our child is a person, and as such, his feelings should be acknowledged. Everybody is entitled to their feelings, which does not mean that we have to indulge him on everything, but we do believe we should let him know that he has a right to feel one way or the other.
Do we let him do whatever he wants, whenever he wants just because we don't want a confrontation? Certainly not! There are some things that we deem important and we absolutely stick to our guns on them, even if it means A. is going to scream and get angry (that includes not watching more than one episode of his show per day for instance, or bedtime). But I do think that a child who spends more than an hour a day in a car may develop some form of attachment to the said-car and I don't see trying to ease the transition as a bad thing.
Could I have stuck him in the car and let him cry? Sure! He probably would have gotten over it eventually. However, it could have brought about another problem... a tantrum of my own. I have a really hard time staying patient when A. is out of control. Now what kind of example am I, if I go berserk because he goes berserk? I believe that part of parenting is also knowing yourself and planning for your reactions as well as your child's.

 In our case, I feel that our approach cuts down on a number of unnecessary tantrums on A's part. Most of the time, he is pretty easy going and happy to do what we ask of him and can be reasoned with (as much as a toddler can be).
I do understand that our approach takes quite a bit of time and patience and may not be possible when you have more than one child. I also think that, again, different approaches work with different personalities. A. is a very determined little boy who knows how he likes things, and does not like to be forced into things. Some kids give up more easily than others, and he does not, so I find it best to talk him into things and keep the strong-armed approach for the things that cannot be dealt with in another way.
What do you think?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Baby Whisperer doesn't whisper to me

When I run into an issue in  life, my first move is usually to consult a book. So in the first few weeks of A.'s life, when everything seemed so confusing, I figured books would probably help me get things on track. A. was roughly 6 or 7 weeks old when I checked out what The Baby Whisperer had to say...
Her basic idea is that you should put your baby on the "E.A.S.Y." routine. The acronym stands for Eat, Activity, Sleep and You. The baby eats when he wakes up,  then he plays, and then he sleeps. The You part is supposed to happen while the baby sleeps. Well, let me tell you, this method is great if your child is an "easy" baby. Those kids are probably on or close to that routine naturally, and then, the parents can congratulate themselves for putting their kid on the routine, when really, they just lucked out and had a quiet, adaptable baby in the first place. Do you think A. followed the E.A.S.Y routine?

Here are my main problems with this method:

The Cycle
The routine is supposed to run on a three or four hour cycle, which includes an hour and a half to two hour nap during each cycle. Well that's just fine and dandy except that A would only sleep ....40 minutes at a time! So here goes the rhythm.

Eat, then Play
 Another one of her things is that you should prevent your baby from falling asleep while feeding, and she suggests talking to the child while he/she nurses. She obviously didn't have to nurse A. The minute I started talking, he would stop eating. I couldn't nurse him in a noisy environment, because he would want to look around instead of eating. So quite frankly, it was just better if he DID fall asleep. By the way, isn't it a natural thing to fall asleep after you eat? Why do we take naps after lunch exactly?

The "Dream Feed"
That's another one of her wonderful ideas that turned out to be a disaster for me. It's called the dream feed because you are supposed to take the baby out of the crib and give it a breast or bottle and then put them back to sleep without really ever waking them up. You're supposed to do that around 11pm to help your baby sleep through the night. In our case, there was no way to do this and not wake him up, plus it actually made things worse, A. woke up more the nights that I tried this out.

Accidental Parenting
My last beef is with what she calls "accidental parenting". She claims you should put your child on the routine from Day 1 and that if you don't, you will fall into the "accidental parenting" trap. Oh, and she loves to repeat "start as you mean to go on", which quite frankly, makes you feel like you screwed up if you didn't do what she said.
Moms know how chaotic everything feels at the beginning, and no one should make you feel bad for not implementing some silly little routine with a newborn when you are just trying to figure out EVERYTHING! On another note, other authors, who are actual doctors (unlike my friend the Baby Whisperer), will tell you that the things you do in the first three months do not truly impact what happens after that, as far as routines go.
Let me say that I am not opposed to routines, I think they actually help a great deal to put some order  in the chaos of parenthood, and give some structure to your child. But I do think that you need to find the routine that will work for you, and for your baby, and it doesn't have to start straight out of the womb.
Finally nobody should make you feel bad about not "training" you newborn. As far as I know, I did not give birth to a circus monkey, so once again, I think working with his personality was more important than following some premade routine that may work for some, but not for all.

That's my take, did you try to follow the Baby Whisperer? Did you like it? I would love to see your comments.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Toddler Hates Our New Cars!

SleepyPapa and I got new cars over the weekend! No, we didn't win the lottery, but both our cars were getting to that point where you just need to switch them,and so we did. SleepyPapa got a new version of his SUV and I switched from a VW Beetle to a Subaru Impreza. Believe me, I am happy to forgo the flower power for the fact that I don't have to climb in the back of the car to install A. in his car seat!

My New Car!
Anyway, all that change was very exciting, except for one member of our family... A. was not happy to say bye-bye to the old cars, not happy at all!
On the way back from the dealership, he spent the ride telling me that the other car was crying because we left it. I thought he would get over it, but it got worse. The next morning, we decided to go to the pool, A. was very excited, until we got to the garage... He started screaming when we got close to my car, so we decided to go in the truck, since it's pretty similar to the old truck, but that didn't work either. He started crying his eyes out! Needless to say, we went back in the house and forgot about the pool for a while. We made a second attempt, but to no avail...
In the afternoon, we headed out to a Super Bowl party, but I had to spend the trip in the back seat while he hung on to me for dear life. Finally, this morning, he had to go in SleepyPapa's truck to go to the sitter's, he cried for a while but eventually calmed down.
I was a little worried about picking him up, so I stopped by Target to get two rubber dinosaurs, or "RRRAHs!" as A. calls them. I put them in his car seat, took a picture and brought my camera up with me to show him while he was putting his coat on. He was excited to see the picture, but still a little apprehensive when we got near the car.  In the end I have to say, my two pals the "RRRAHs!" did the trick, and he was a happy camper on the way home.
I am just hoping our next car trip goes as smoothly...

What about you? Does your child get emotionally attached to things you don't expect? How do you deal with it?

My friends the "Rhaas!"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What did we do wrong?

You are not a parent if you haven't asked yourself this question at least a hundred times... I asked it countless times regarding A's sleep. Many will tell you "holding them too much is bad", "rocking them gives them bad habits".. Was I guilty? did I create a bad sleeper?
When we took A home from the hospital... he was a healthy, inquisitive newborn. I say inquisitive because from the first moments, he would not stop observing everything (which I think ties into the sleep thing)...But from the start, we could not put A down for naps, he would just cry (and not just a whimper..). Now, I don't know about you, but I don't believe in letting infants cry. I think the shock of coming out of the womb is big enough without adding to it the idea that those grown-up people who are supposed to take care of you are letting you down already...
So, we held him, we rocked him, and did whatever we needed to get him to fall asleep and stay asleep.
After reading every book and advice there is, I came to this conclusion: I DID NOTHING WRONG. I simply responded to my baby's needs, like any good mother would.
The truth is, there are several types of babies, some are calm and enjoy sleeping a lot, some are more active and need to be with their parents more... and guess what? I got one from the second group. If I had to do it all over again, I probably wouldn't change much of what I did, because all I did was respond to a certain nature, and show my baby that no matter what, he could count on me. I hope this makes him a happy, self-confident person someday.
Do you ever think you did something wrong? Would you change how you did things in the beginning?

Here we go!

Hi all! So here I go, I have decided to start a blog and there a several reasons for it. First, I enjoy reading other moms' blogs, I find them fun, interesting, and it's always nice to know that you're not the only one dealing with challenges... Second, I would like to offer a spot that welcomes parents who have kids that are sleep-challenged, without judging them ..and maybe educate a few people about not judging other parents so quickly..
 I have to admit, I was probably one of those people before having a child. I thought for sure that parenting was responsible for 80% of the child's behavior and nature was maybe responsible for 20%--at most.... Boy was I wrong!!! My son A, who is almost two, is an amazing, fun-loving, caring ...force of nature! The only trouble spot with him is that he is just not a good sleeper. I have problably read most baby sleep books that are out there (thanks to my Barnes&Noble discount), tried multiple methods, had major meltdowns and rough mornings... Anyway, two years later, we are still dealing with it, it's gotten better but we're still not completely out of the woods and so I would like to share my thoughts, experiences, and trials with you. I will welcome all your comments, suggestions, and personal experiences, so please share!