Friday, June 20, 2014

MORE STUFF! Do These Things REALLY Help Our Little Ones Reach Milestones?

As I was forced to be awake early this morning for two hours straight while trying to coax my little one to go back to sleep without nursing, I started racking my brain for what else we could buy to help our situation (in addition to the sound machine, the sleep sheep, the night light turtle, etc.) Then I realized that clearly humans have been "learning" to sleep for thousands of years without electronic device assistance (or training books, for that matter, I mean, who taught Ferber how to sleep?)  What other "THINGS" have we bought to "help" our little guy reach his milestones.  I know that some of these things were actually created to help out mom and dad, but honestly, I think baby registries have gotten way out of control.  Here are just a few of the things (some of which I admit I bought or tried) that probably really did not make a difference in our little guy's development. 

*Disclaimer: I am not in any way discrediting the work of occupational therapists that help babies that show signs of delay or lack developmental skills early on.  The tools that these professionals use truly help babies that would probably have much greater issues developing as they progress in life.

1. Headphones for the belly: I'm not really sure what milestone this is supposed to aid, but I too bought in to the idea that playing classical music for my fetus would benefit his developing brain.  But what music did Mozart's mom play for him in the womb? I doubt his mom had a recording of Bach.  Perhaps there really isn't much to this one after all.

2. The Playmat: Did babies really take that much longer to learn how to lift up their head when not forced to have tummy time on a colorful mat with toys? I highly doubt there were six month old babies with floppy heads even one hundred years ago. I remember reading that it's important to have a mirror on the floor when your baby is doing tummy time to encourage them to lift their head and strengthen their neck.  Once your little one realizes there are things going on around him, he's going to work on trying to see what those things are, with or without the colorful lights and sounds encouraging it.  They really don't need all those noisy toys to learn how to respond to sound, they are going to be interested in it and they will do it whether it plays a delightful tune or not.

3. The Bumbo seat: Did babies not figure out how to sit up before they were forced into this strange seat? Were seven month old babies rolling around on the ground without the desire to sit up and take in the world around him?  Most physical therapists hate them anyway.  Why did I give in and buy it? My son seemed like he really wanted to see what was going on around him before he was able to sit up.  I probably should have just worn him in a carrier instead during those fussy times.

4. Walkers: I know for many parents and professionals these mobile playpens have already been discredited as actually delaying a child's development, but that still doesn't stop many parents from purchasing them in the hopes that their child will become mobile sooner.  After having experienced an early walker, if I were to go through it all over again, I think I'd be happy with crawling for at least a few more months. (see previous blog post about pushing the first born to develop faster and hoping subsequent children stay babies longer)

5. Anything with lights and annoying sounds: There are so many lights and sounds that exist outside in the real world that your baby can be introduced to that these inventions probably do not make much of a difference, if at all.  The real world lights and sounds are probably better anyway because introducing your child to them requires live interaction between the two of you.  And it is proven that engaging your baby in conversation about the world around them from early on actually does help brain development.   Your child doesn't need a flashing light in front of them to encourage crawling, you at a distance will be reason enough to get on the move.  Honestly, what toys did Einstein play with before there was Baby Einstein to help him develop his genius? There wasn't even electricity when Da Vinci was alive, and he is credited as the most genius genius of all time.

6. Videos and Games: I know I learned to read pretty young without videos or apps, as did most people in my generation.  So what if My Baby (can't) Read. This way I am able to edit stories I'm reading as I see fit (my son doesn't know that the Evil Queen asked the Huntsman to kill Snow White, I prefer "get rid of.") William Shakespeare definitely wasn't doing any kind of pre-preschool videos to develop his language ability.

I hesitate to put electronic sleep devices on this list.  I can't honestly say that a sound machine absolutely helps my son sleep better or longer, but I do like the fact that it drowns out other noises around the house.  His sleep sheep also helps him not to hear me as I sneak away like a criminal in the night after he falls asleep.

I'm sure as my son grows up, there will be more "THINGS" to add to this list.  The next time I see some of the "latest and greatest" or take a gander at someone's baby registry and wish I had that for my little guy, I have to remind myself that babies did just find with homemade dolls, balls, and blocks for hundreds of years.

What kinds of things did you buy that you can now look back on as a space waster?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mommy Milestones

There Are Some Things We Hit That Deserve a Celebration!

I spend a lot of time talking, educating, and thinking about all of the milestones to look for in our little ones from the moment we get to hold them in our arms.  But there are quite a few things that occur for us as moms that we should take the time to celebrate, whether it's our first child or subsequent birth.  If you have any things that you think should be added to this list, please feel free to comment below.

September '12-I was able to have the natural birth I had planned.  I was in labor for less than 24 hours, probably around 15 of which was pretty uncomfortable.  I said said some things during the painful moments that I don't really agree with now, like "Why does anyone do this more than once?!" But overall, I was happy with my decision and that I was able to do it.

September '12-I let someone hold my son without feeling extreme anxiety.

October '12-I finally figured out how to swaddle with a regular blanket.  Of course I would only resort to the regular blanket when the handy dandy velcro cheating swaddles were dirty.

October '12-I was able to leave my son with a family member while I went to do laundry.  This was the first time I had him out of my sight (besides while sleeping or showering).  If felt very odd and I hurried to get back to him.

October '12-I was able to nurse without pain. This was a HUGE milestone.  I had a lot of issues during the first month and forced myself to push through in order to exclusively nurse.  A couple of weeks in it started to hurt less, so I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

November '12-I was able to get myself and my son to leave the house and run an errand without having a ton of anxiety.

December '12-My husband and I went out on our first date since the birth of our son.  I learned a lot that night regarding engorgement and the necessity of taking my lovely pump out with me.

January '13-I went back to work and left my son at home. This was probably the hardest milestone to reach and be okay with. I cried all the way to work.

February '13-I was able to drive to work without feeling sad for leaving my son.

March '13-I was able to nurse my son in his nursery.  Now this may sound like an odd milestone if you don't know about our situation. But our home caught on fire while we were in the hospital having my son. We lived in four different places before we were able to have the homecoming I had wanted so many months before.

April '13-I was able to put my son down to a nap in his crib.  Up until this point I was only able to get him to sleep while wearing him in a carrier. Although it took quite a bit longer to get him to sleep a substantial amount of time in his crib, it was a good feeling to be able to do so.

May '13-We got our bed back! Well, this wasn't so much of a celebration, to be honest. I actually enjoyed co-sleeping and I slept better than I was going to for many, many months to come.  We did not attempt any sleep training until a few months later so I was regretting hitting this milestone for quite a bit of time.

September '13-I planned an awesome first birthday party for my little guy.  I was very proud of how it turned out and I hope he appreciates the multitude hours of effort I put in.

February '14-I finally found a brand of cloth diapers that work for both me and my son. I was finally able to cloth diaper like I had planned almost two years prior.

April '14-I slept through the night!! My son had done it a couple of times before this night, but I finally slept a decent amount without getting up to tend to him nor my bladder.

As I remember some others, I will update this post and share.  I'd love to hear what milestones you've hit and feel proud of!