Constructive criticism? NOT!

Constructive criticism? NOT!

Here’s what I know about parenting and raising children – regardless of what you may believe, there is NO one right way. Your way is not the only way to do things.

There is not one way to feed. Yes, I am a breastfeeding advocate and hope for all mothers and babies to have the experience as well as the long list of health benefits that comes from it. But I’ve seen many circumstances where, for one reason or another, it wasn’t working, including because the mother simply didn’t want to breastfeed. It’s my place to provide knowledge, information and guidance, and then ultimately to support the mother’s decisions that are best for her family. Not my family. Hers.

And for those who think they must criticize the breast-feeders, get over it. It’s feeding a baby. Food, sustenance, fuel, nutrition. Let it go already.

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Making nap time a positive event

Ready for nap with lovey in hand!

Ready for nap with lovey in hand!

While hiking in Black Mountain, North Carolina last summer, my friend of 25+ years and great aunt to the (overtired) little ones with us asked, "Do any children want to take a nap?” She assumed all children resisted nap time. I assured her, many children do enjoy their naps and will ask for one when they are sleepy.

My experience of working with families shows that a positive attitude toward sleep starts with putting healthy and appropriate routines in place, as well as making sleep a restorative — not punitive — experience. A client with two young children who love their naps said she is careful to present sleep in a positive light and never uses it as a negative consequence. Normalizing times for sleep and helping little ones see the benefits can create a different perspective on taking time out for rest.

First Daze & Nightzzz sleep consultant Kara Curtis recalls when she was a child her mother would tell her, “those sheets are going to feel so yummy” and she’d sign off with “I love you. Happy Nappy.” Kara says, “There is something so comforting about that little special family phrase. She definitely cultivated the idea of sleep as a wonderful luxury that was going to feel so fantastic. And I still feel that exact same way every time I get into my bed as an adult — so delighted to be crawling into my yummy sheets!”

Janet Lansbury, the author of Elevating Childcare, says there are three essential elements to a baby’s or young child’s sleep routine. She calls them the three Ps — peaceful, participatory and predictable. The environment should be peaceful without stimulation from toys, screens, light, and exterior noise. The parent should be relaxed and focused on the matter at hand, giving undivided attention to the sleepy child. Allow the baby or child to participate in preparations which can be as simple as pulling down shades, choosing a book or turning on a white noise machine. All of these steps should be predictable, “so that our children can anticipate the ritual and even lead when we invite them to make choices. Predictability breeds security, which leads to calm, which is the gateway to relaxation and sleep,” Lansbury says. 

Did you read that? Predictability breeds security. Our children feel more secure (hence, less anxious) when they know what comes next. Less anxiety equals calmer child which means easier to fall asleep.

Understandably, young children may feel like they’re going to miss out on something if they stop to sleep. While winding down for nap time, talk about what you will do after their body and brain rests. Let them know they have something to look forward to and with renewed energy to do it. 

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A former client relayed a story about her then 3-year-old daughter. She napped a bit later at home on the weekends than she did at daycare during the week. One Saturday while Mom was busy with household chores, her daughter came to her and said, “I’m ready for my nap.” This was music to the mom’s ears. “She loves sleep and told us so herself. If we don't remind her it's nap time she usually reminds us,” the mom said. 

Another former client emailed to tell us how, after using our services when her little one was an infant, the now 4 year old comes to get them when she’s ready for her nap if they get busy and miss it. “She still loves an early bedtime and gets about 11-12 hours of good sleep each night,” the proud (and well-rested) mom said. 

We love working with families early on whenever possible to establish good sleep from the start. If you need help establishing healthy sleep habits, and perhaps revamping attitudes toward sleep, get in touch. And if you already have good sleepers, tell us what worked in your home to create happy and healthy sleep habits.

Plan now to "fall back" next weekend

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We will be “falling back” on Sunday, Nov. 4, this year when Daylight Saving Time comes to an end so set your clocks back an hour before you go to bed Saturday night. Many parents worry about the fall time change, especially those with early risers. It’s not too soon to start planning for the change now and taking some gentle steps to prepare.

Our internal clock, or circadian rhythm, is set primarily by exposure to light and social cues, as well as other factors such as changes in body temperature. Plan to get fresh air and sunshine every day to help regulate circadian rhythms. 

Parents have a couple of options for helping their children make the transition off Daylight Saving, one of which is to do nothing. This is great for babies with easygoing temperaments and for parents who don’t realize it’s time to set the clocks back until that very night! Basically, you put baby to bed at the usual time and stick to your schedule. On Sunday you put baby to bed when it says 7 p.m. on the clock (if that’s bedtime) even though it’s really 8 p.m.

Some people will choose to put their baby to bed on Saturday a wee bit later than usual in hopes of moving through the change easier. It may or may not make a difference.

Another option is to slowly change your baby’s schedule in small increments four days ahead of the time change. Put baby to bed later in 15-minute increments until Sunday, Nov. 4. This includes starting naps 15 minutes later than usual, also. By the time Sunday rolls around, you should have adjusted sleep time by a full hour.



To pump or not to pump, that is the question...

To pump or not to pump, that is the question...

Mother’s Situation: I’m six months pregnant with my first child and I’m planning on trying to breastfeed. I’ll be returning to work, though, and I think it might be difficult. I’m considering breastfeeding just until I return to work because I don’t want the hassle of pumping and storing my milk. What inspires other mothers to keep on breastfeeding or pumping even after they resume working? 

As a postpartum doula who works with mothers in their homes after they’ve had their babies, I am inspired by the thought you are putting into this important decision. Many of my clients return or will be returning to work, and most of them choose to breastfeed. Many plan to breastfeed until they return to work, and some plan to continue pumping while they are working. 

Quite simply, what inspires them to continue are their babies! 

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Timing and technique are important when introducing a bottle

Timing and technique are important when introducing a bottle

It happened again. Another parent of an almost 4 month old called in a panic because their baby refuses to take a bottle. 

These kind of calls typically come around 10 to 16 weeks when Mom is nearing her return to work. Sometimes it’s from a stay at home parent or from a mother who just wants to be able to get away for a few hours without worrying if her baby is going to be hungry. 

So, what can parents do to avoid this situation? …

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Bathtime with multiples: Let’s dive in!

Bathtime with multiples: Let’s dive in!

Contributed by Karen Baker, doula with First Daze & Nightzzz and mother of teenage twins

As a mother of twins, I can attest how quickly parents of multiples learn how helpful an extra set of arms would be. We hear over and over, practice makes perfect. One way you’ll get plenty of practice juggling your babies is during bathtime. When mine were newborns, I couldn’t imagine being left alone with them for even an hour, much less bathing them by myself. However, I found that by diving into bath time (pun intended), I got suprisingly adept at juggling what felt like slippery little octopuses in and out of the tub.

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Pets and babies: Making it work!

Pets and babies: Making it work!

Here's question I got from a past client after coming home with their newborn.  

I am thinking of getting rid of my dog and cat. I just can’t handle them with our new baby. Have you had other parents who felt the same way during these early weeks and then things got better?

My answer: I appreciate your honesty. A new baby in the house is a huge adjustment for everyone, including our pets!

I worked with a family and their 3-week-old recently, and it was obvious how much their family dog means to them. The house is decorated with professional photos of the dog, comfy pet beds fill the corners and soft blankets cover special chairs. The dog had still not eaten her breakfast by the time I arrived at noon, causing angst in the mom. …

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Plan ahead for smooth summer travel with children

Plan ahead for smooth summer travel with children

Summertime is almost here and that means many of you will be traveling with your little ones. Some of my clients get nervous about traveling with their babies and toddlers for fear of upsetting well-established eating and sleeping routines, which is certainly understandable. My phone tends to ring a bit more than usual after holiday or summer travel with families at their wit’s end from lack of sleep. However, with a little forethought and planning, and some extra attention paid to your child’s needs, summer travels will yield treasured times with family and friends. …


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