14 Lessons Learned from One Mama to Another

There are quite a few things that I wish someone would have filled me in on when I was pregnant for the first time and preparing for my gorgeous babe Kensli. But as most parents, we have to learn things the hard way. Which isn’t a bad thing. But… why work through all that if I can give you some advice to shed some days off of that lesson?

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After having three children and running a daycare for over a year, I have learned a few tricks of the trade. Some tips for just after birth, some for later on in life. Some are just about cheaper items I have found that are just as good as the big name brands. Some are not so pleasant. Some are difficult to follow through with, and some test your patience. Either way, I just thought I would put a list together to help new or old parents who are having a hard time.

By no way does this mean “It’s the bible, follow this list!” But more so what Jason and I have learned and has helped us. So please, don’t email me with hate mail because I’m slowly killing my children or you don’t agree with some of my tactics. If you don’t like it, stop reading and change the URL.

1) Target Brand Diapers and Walmart Brand Wipes. Through my daycare, I was lucky enough to see all sorts of different wipes and diapers come into my home without having to personally buy them myself. All my parents have to bring their own diapers, and one package of wipes, per child, per month. And I personally love Huggies and Pampers for diapers and Huggies for wipes. However, that shit is expensive!!! Of course it is, it’s the name brand crap. Well, have no fear! Target Diapers are very comparable!! They hold just as much if not more than the name brands, the sticky stuff lasts longer and feels like a better grip. And they don’t disintegrate like Luvs {don’t even get me started on that pitiful brand} Parent’s Choice wipes (purple box) are super cheap and awesome!! They are not flimsy and actually stay in your hand as you wipe. They are exactly like Huggies wipes. Love them!

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2) Food. This is probably something a lot of parents are very strict about… but we’re not. Unfortunately, I couldn’t breast feed…. I wanted to, but was only producing half of one child’s feeding, and I had two babies to feed. Even with Kensli… I couldn’t do it, although with her, I didn’t try as hard. This time, however, I tried, and I tried, and I tried. Formula was going to stretch us thin financially, and I really wanted to be able to provide for my children in that special way. And I couldn’t. And it was hard to finally just throw in the towel. But that’s for another post. This is for formula fed babes. Put one more ounce of formula in the bottle then they are eating. Whatever they don’t drink, put back in the fridge and use within 24 hours. This way, you know they are filling their little bellies completely, and once they are ready to move up in quantities, you’ll know… and are prepared that very moment. It avoids learning the hard way. Wondering why they are now only sleeping 1 ½ – 2 hours, instead of the 3-4 they were just doing last week. And wondering about this deb ogle for a week straight. You’ll notice immediately there’s less and less formula left in the bottle, know to up the quantity an ounce, and they will continue to be a happy babe for 3-4 hours.

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3) Speaking of quantities of food, here is a little tip for you. Their soft spot on top of their head indicates if a baby is getting enough food or not. If the skin is sunken into the soft spot, they are dehydrated. If the skin is level with the soft spot, they are perfect, and if it’s swollen over the soft spot, they’re getting too much food. More than they can handle. My pediatrician informed me of that, and it makes total sense now that I think of it.

4) If you know you are going somewhere for a while, or have newborn pictures coming up. Bathe and then feed your child before you go. It. Wipes. Them. Out. And they are out for hours. Wanna go to Applebee’s? Perfect! You don’t have to be there by a certain time, so bath them and feed them and you’ll have a dinner without a peep! Really, don’t be afraid to get out there with your babies~ it’s good for them to grow up going out in public. It teaches them how to act when they are out in society as they grow.

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This was Kensli getting a bath when she was just a wee little one

5) One place you don’t want to take them- Your bed! Don’t start it. Don’t even think it. At our house, our bed is my husband and I’s time. We don’t even let the dogs up there. In fact, Kensli wasn’t even allowed in our bed for months, then as she got older and understood more, we skimmed down to only when it was dark outside or if we, or one of us, were laying in bed relaxing. We didn’t want her to ever get the idea that she could sleep there. We bit the bullet and got out of bed to tend to our babies needs. Yeeees, even with the twins. I agree with the argument that it’s just easier, they fall asleep faster, which in turns mean you can go back to sleep. But, if you start that when they are young, it will continue until they’re 5. It’s incredibly hard to break once they are used to sleeping with mom and dad. Incredibly hard. So don’t ever start. Put the work and effort in when they are new, and you can sleep like a baby can be lazy later. They won’t know what they are missing if they never get the opportunity to know.

6) Skip the bassinet. No, I’m not kidding. We came home with the twins, and they started out in their cribs by themselves at 37 weeks gestational age. (They were 6 weeks early.) So trust me when I say, it can be done. We did the bassinet thing with Kensli, and I made it 6 days before I said F this. I couldn’t sleep. Every single sound I heard from her, I woke up making sure she wasn’t crawling and falling out of her bassinet and to ensure no one had broke in to kidnap her. I got no sleep. And for what? She couldn’t move. She couldn’t physically crawl, or rollover at that matter. And turns out, babies make a lot of noise when they sleep. So we weren’t making that same mistake twice. When the twins came home, they went straight to their cribs, in their own room. And I slept great that night. Aside from the hour I was up to feed them.

7) Keep your night routine different from your day routine. And stay consistant! Again, this is easy to fold and throw the cards in, but don’t. During the day, we cuddle, I feed them and play with them, they sleep in their swings without being swaddled, I talk to them, the lights are on, it’s noisy, and I love on them. Night time, on the contrary, I mean business. And that business is how fast I can get back to bed. I already have bottles with the water in them, that I made before going to bed, with the container of formula next to it. When I hear one is ready to eat, I get up, dump the appopriate formula in both bottles, get the wide awake one in position, and then go get the other and slide her next to the first one. I feed them, burp them, change them, and re-swaddle them tight and put them back down. I keep it dark in the room and only turn the hallway light on for a tiny bit of light to be able to see. They get swaddled at night time only. I do not talk to them. I don’t ooooo and ahhhh over them. It’s a slam, bam, thank you mom, type of situation. It helps them to grow up associating one routine for sleepy time and the other routine for wide awake time. And the more they realize night time is for sleep… the more they sleep. And the more they sleep, the more you sleep!! In fact, the twinnies have already slept thru the night twice… and their due date was 4 weeks ago. I say that’s pretty damn good. And it’s only going to get better!

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Ready for their first night home in their own cribs.

8) Schedules are so important. I can’t stress to you enough, keeping the same schedule makes your life sooooo much easier. This is another one that is easy to jump off that band wagon, but having 4 children and running a daycare, scheduling is what’s kept me sane. And trust me when I say, I don’t venture far from that schedule. Ask any of my daycare parents. They aren’t even there during the day, and they know. It helps babies and toddlers know what to expect. Which keeps them from wanting something and whining about it throughout the day, because they know they aren’t going to get it until X point in time. It also helps when leaving your kiddos with a sitter. It keeps that child reassured that everything is alright when the sitter follows the routine. Although all pediatricians differ on when it’s time to start a routine… I think 6-10 weeks after term date, is a pretty decent time to start. Will it be exact at that point? No. But at least starting is 3/4 of the battle. And as you mold them into the routine that fits both your needs and the child’s, you’ll notice a difference. A child’s sleeping and feeding habits become more consistent starting at about 6 weeks post due date and you might as well jump on that opportunity while they are opening the door for it. Now in no way am I telling you, “Don’t feed your baby if it’s not time!” If your child is rooting around and fussy, and you can clearly tell she’s hungry, give her a bottle! For crying out loud she’s growing like a little weed! And eventually, you’ll up her quantity and she’ll be back on her schedule. But you’ll figure all that out. It’s a trial and error, learn-as-you-go thing. Just keep at it!

9) Let your babies cry. Please, please, please calm down…. I don’t neglect any of my children. However, babies learn at a real young age, real young, that they can start to manipulate you. And it starts with seeing how fast you run to their aid when they cry. (The only time, I don’t recommend this, only because I don’t know these types of situations, is if you have an acid reflux or colicky baby) No one wants to think they were outsmarted by their 10 week old. But believe me, it happens. If you have fed them all they can take, change their diaper, burp them, make sure they are warm, and put in a safe place {such as their crib}, and they are still crying; that is them trying to manipulate you. Let them cry. They are fine. They have every need taken care of. And at this point, they are testing you. And if they are still crying after X amount of time, check their diaper to make sure nothing explosive happened in there. See if they are still rooting around or acting hungry. If either one of those options seem to be the issue, you know how to fix them. Yes, sometimes we parents want to snuggle- fine, I’m not saying you can never hold your baby! But try to pick them up when they are not crying. ‘Reward’ them for their content-ness with some snuggles. The problem is, as they grow, they start to put 2 and 2 together that if “I cry, they will come”. And it only gets worse from there. Well, I want more cheerios; if I cry, they will come. I want that forbidden item on the counter; if I cry, they will come. I don’t want to go to bed yet; if I cry, they will come. Then next thing you know, they are two, and you spend half your night rocking them to sleep. Hold your ground! You are the boss, not them. Teach them that as soon as they exit the womb.

10) Do not hold them all the time. And I am speaking for every single Daycare provider out there. The two weeks before you go back to work, start working with them on being left alone. Start training them to be content with being by themselves. Because no provider loves listening to your baby cry the entire day because they just ‘need’ to be held for 10 hours. It will not happen. Your baby is not the only child in their care. And you are not the only parent paying for child care to have your child get special one on one attention. It will make life so much easier for both you and your provider if your child can hang out by themselves for longer than 20 minutes. As they grow, it also teaches them to play by themselves. Which means better imaginations for your future 3, 4, or 5+ year old. Nothing is more sweet, more precious, and more innocent than to watch your child pretend she is fighting off pirates on her couch-ship and trying not to fall into the alligator pillow’d infested carpet water.

11) Do not hold them every single time they fall asleep. Let them fall asleep in their crib or the swing on their own. Don’t hold them and rock them to fall asleep every time it’s time for a nap. Because guess what, they’ll require it 24/7 and your daycare provider’s skin will crawl every time you walk in the door. {Thankfully, I have not had to deal with that at my daycare. But even if I did, they wouldn’t be getting special treatment and they would learn real quick they have to fall asleep on their on.} Seriously… guess where you’ll be at night if your child depends on you to fall asleep, and for some reason that night, can’t fall asleep for hours. You won’t be in your own bed… that’s for damn sure.

12) Don’t depend on that damn paci. My daycare parents know how much I hate them. I would get so angry if a child grows to depend on them and then I couldn’t find one, and then listen to a child scream for hours on end because all they want is a damn paci. Not in my house hold. That does not happen. I, maybe unlike most, can listen to a child cry for a long while. And I will only insert a paci unless they truly need it or if they’re putting their thumb in their mouth. Naptime, I am more relaxed about. But if they are not sleeping, I’m pretty tough. I don’t let my kids get used to having it all day long. But I do replace a thumb with a paci, because it’s easier to break an object in a child’s mouth than a body part that’s attached to their hand! As your child gets older, it’s harder to break them of the paci, and not to mention it is horrible for their teeth! And once a certain age is reached, and they still have a paci, lets be honest, it’s for the parents at that point. It’s easier to shove that in there than listen to them cry. Be tough. I highly recommend throwing it out cold turkey, but I know a lot of parents like to keep it around for nap time. With Kensli, the paci’s and bottle’s were shipped out the day she turned one. She never saw them again… well, eventually she did when I started daycare. But I’m hoping you’re catching what I’m throwing. I didn’t bring them out if she was having a terrible tantrum, or just… would… not… fall… asleep…without… that… damn… paci. Too bad, so sad. We dealt with it. If you only give the paci when truly necessary, breaking them of the habit is a breeze. I’m seriously tempted to create a rule for the daycare: no paci after 18 or 24 months. But… I’m still playing around with the idea.

The only time I don’t follow that rule is with preemies. It actually helps and teaches them to suck, which helps with the bottle and/or breastfeeding. NICU nurses actually put them in every chance they got. And if you think about it, it makes sense.

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13) Let your kids get dirty. Just because she’s splashing around in a mud puddle doesn’t mean you need to rush her inside and bath her immediately. Let her continue to play outside. It doesn’t hurt them. And it actually builds their immune system to be much stronger. If you let your children be messy and dirty children, then their immune system learns how to attack bacteria, thus making it stronger. Didn’t you ever notice in high school growing up, that the same city kids were sick all the time, while the farmers kids never missed a day?

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14) Use ‘No’ as early as 6 months. I have read that babies can start to understand very simple words such as no, yes, their name, mom, and dad as early as 6 months old. Maybe that’s not true, but I wasn’t going to chance it. Obviously it’s nothing to freak out on your babe for if they do something wrong. But if she grabs your hair and pulls, kindly say “Kensli, no”. And as you say it, take her hand off your hair. Not only does it help her vocabulary, but it’s a good start to the process of ‘right and wrong’, and ‘I’m the boss, and you’re not’ lessons. It eventually teaches her in a non-abusive/screaming manner that pulling hair is a no-no.

As my pediatrician told me, as long as they are fed, diaper changed, and not dropped, you can’t go too wrong. You know your child better than any pediatrician, survey, or professional guideline out there.. Do what you feel is right. And just because you are supposed to do this at this time, doesn’t mean your child is ready for it at that time. Go with your gut. It’s usually right. And hang in there. You are doing great, even if you feel like you’re failing miserably. Hold your ground and I promise you, it’ll get easier.

I’m sure I’ll do a second part to this post as I think of more items.  So ya never know, you may see another post similar to this! Full of priceless information!

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