A whole lot of everything

This is a multiple topics post…

We went to a baby’s first birthday party today and it really made me realize how different the 12 month old is from the 15 month old. Jack (the birthday boy) was born exactly three months after Little Bug. Three months ago Little Bug was still a baby. Now, at 15 months old, there is no baby left in her. It’s remarkable really. Jack is a baby today, but come November 27th there will be no baby left in him.

All this reminded me that months ago I intended to write everything I learned from Babywise during Little Bug’s first year so that I will readily have that information available to refer back to when our second child comes along. Then, I was looking in my post drafts on my laptop and found many of these posts I intended to write partially written but never published! So, all that to say… Those posts are coming. I’ll label them all “Babywise” and then I’ll share every “trick” I learned all the way that made life with an infant as smooth as possible.

Here are two photos for you to compare for yourself.

Little Bug at 12 months old:

00209 - DSCN3575 

Little Bug at (almost) 15 months old:

DSCN5039

There is a HUGE developmental leap from month 12 to 15! A baby becomes a TODDLER within 90 days.

Might as well do a nap update …

Like I said, we went to a birthday party today. Little Bug skipped her morning nap. By 12:45ish she was sitting in her stroller with a blank stare on her face as we were walking out of the zoo. She was tired, very tired. But there were no meltdowns and overall she was fine. However, she loves the zoo so I am sure the zoo was a huge distracter to the fact that she was tired. I gave her a cup of milk and laid her stroller back around the time that she would normally lay down for her morning nap. I thought there was maybe a 2% chance that she would fall asleep in her stroller and take a little catnap at the zoo. Yeah, I was right. She would sip her milk and then sit up in her stroller to make sure she hadn’t missed anything in the two seconds she had actually been lying down in her stroller. She doesn’t want to miss a thing. Not a single thing. (I love that about her!)

Anyway, we came home, she got a bath and was laid down for a nap. She was out like a light. Tomorrow is Sunday (her usual day to skip the morning nap because of church) so it will be interesting to see how she does tomorrow with two morning naps skipped in a row.

Last week I mentioned she was taking her morning nap one day and then skipping it the next. Well, this week she took a morning nap every morning and also took an afternoon nap. I laid her down at 10:30 each morning and by 10:45 she was asleep. I woke her up every day at 11:30 so that she would be tired enough for her afternoon nap at 3. Every day this week she laid down at 3:00 and was asleep most days between 3:15 and 3:30. I woke her up at 4:30 each day to make sure she would be tired enough for bedtime at 8:30.

The plan for next week is to continue with the two naps and reevaluate each week. I’m not going to push for only 1 nap until I see that she is consistently not sleeping for one of her naps.

This method of transitioning from 2 to 1 nap is really working well for us. I feel there is still much predictability about her schedule and I feel she is getting the rest she needs to be my happy girl!

Independent Playtime …

It’s not happening this weekend because of the party and church. Which maybe is a good thing? Maybe the break will bring back the novelty of it on Monday morning? One can only hope!

I had been doing IP closer to her naptime and after a walk outside, but I am thinking this week I will do IP right after breakfast. It is suggested that IP be done when a child is most happy. Little Bug is always eager to get down and play after breakfast because it’s her first opportunity of the day to play. So maybe she would do IP better if it was done during this time. We’ll see next week, I suppose!

Regressed

Unfortunately Little Bug has regressed some with Independent Play. 🙁

We are up to 17 minutes but more often than not, some of those minutes are spent unhappy instead of happily playing.

I’m sticking with it though because apparently it isn’t unusual for this to happen.

Also, I think there are some factors that are playing into Little Bug’s unhappiness during IP.

* She is starting to teeth again (incisors). She’s been whiny some during the day and has had her fingers in her mouth, which is a sure sign to me that she is teething.

* She is the definition of clumsy right now! She is always falling or getting herself into precarious situations that she can’t get herself out of! Twice now I’ve had to run into her room during IP because of an “I’m hurt” cry. I console her until I know she is fine and then I leave again (which of course brings a river of tears). I thought I had made Little Bug’s room completely free of “bo-bo” inducing areas, but this girl can get herself into mischief faster than I can blink.

Even in just the month that Little Bug has done IP, I’ve seen some positive changes in her, which gives me the encouragement to keep pressing on and hope that all this is just a phase or due to the factors I mentioned above and will soon resolve itself.

Little Bug now plays on her own happily while I am cleaning up after meals. She used to cling to my legs and whine the entire time and I could barely move around the kitchen to get stuff cleaned up!

Little Bug will go to her toy basket and get something and entertain herself. This morning she sat and read books to herself while I was folding her laundry. That was a first for her and a step in the right direction. I want to be able to do certain chores (like laundry) when Little Bug is awake because I feel it is important for Little Bug to see me taking care of things around the house. Life isn’t all about playing – there is work involved too! I also plan to have Little Bug help with chores so I can teach her at an early age good work ethic. (She normally does want to “help” fold laundry but today she chose to read which I was most excited about because at this stage in the ballgame Little Bug isn’t much help when it comes to folding laundry!!)

Overall, I’ve seen an increase in attention span. Little Bug used to never play with a toy for more than a minute (it seems) but now I will catch her studying the toy and actually playing with it longer than a split second.

Maybe this is because she is getting older, maybe it is because she is doing IP daily or maybe it’s a factor of both. I don’t know.

Either way, Little Bug definitely needed to increase her attention span, so I am happy with these results so far.

alternating days

Naps…

Sunday Little Bug skipped the AM nap because of church and then took a 2 hour afternoon nap.

Monday Little Bug took the AM & PM nap which both were about 1 to 1.5 hours long.

Tuesday Little Bug never fell asleep for the AM nap and then took an almost 2 hour afternoon nap.

Wednesday she went back to the two short naps of about an hour or so each.

Then, Thursday I had decided to not lay her down for the morning nap because of the pattern I had seen develop over the past week. However, Little Bug was acting very tired, so I ended up laying her down and she slept an hour. (Actually, I woke her up after an hour, which is what normally happens if she takes a morning nap.)

Thursday afternoon she lay in her bed for a hour and a half and never went to sleep!

Friday, I went to the school I used to teach at to visit the coworkers I hadn’t seen in 2 years. I got home around 11:15ish. Little Bug was being a cranky pants, so I laid her down for a nap. She went right to sleep and I woke her up after 30 minutes. I laid her down again for the afternoon nap at 3:15 and she went right on to sleep.

Saturday I let Little Bug sleep as long as she wanted for the morning nap because we were having friends over for lunch and I figured she wouldn’t lay down for her afternoon nap until late. She slept for about an hour and 15 minutes. After our friends left, I laid Little Bug down around 4 and she was still sleep at 5:30 when I went in to wake her up!

Today’s Sunday so Little Bug skipped the morning nap and is sleeping now.

So, there is a definite pattern developing here…

Seems Little Bug is alternating days and taking 1 nap one day and then two naps the next day.

I guess I could push her to just drop a nap, but I don’t want to deal with a Miss Cranky Pants every morning until naptime!

But this is progress towards being able to finally drop the morning nap!

Independent Play…

…is going GREAT!!! We are now up to 15 minutes!

When I tell her it is time to play in her room she walks towards her room!

It’s amazing really. At the beginning I had my doubts that we would ever go beyond the stage of standing at the gate and crying “Mama” for 5 minutes.

Amazingly enough that stage only lasted less than a week!

Once Little Bug learned that 1) It’s FUN to play in my room! and 2) Mama comes back when the timer goes off, she’s been a happy little camper during IP.

I’m proud of my girl! 🙂

Cracking this Case!

Today ends my 2-week experiment with Little Bug’s naps. 🙂

I’m glad I did that because it’s given me some very useful info to better figure out what her sleep needs are at 14.5 months old, because, believe me, her sleeping needs have been pretty much a mystery to me for the past 2.5 months!

But now I think I am finally cracking this case! 🙂

On average Little Bug has been taking anywhere from 30 – 45 minutes to fall asleep when laid down at 10:00am and then 2:30pm. Nap lengths averaged 1 hour. Total of hours napped per day averaged 2 hours. I saw this trend many days: If Little Bug took a shorter nap in the morning (say 30-60 minutes max) she would take a longer afternoon nap (1 hour to 1 hr 45 mins max).

Yesterday was interesting. It was Sunday so, because of church, Little Bug skipped her morning nap. We have a 45 minute drive after church because we go spend the rest of the day with Dave’s family at Dave’s parents’ house. Usually, Little Bug takes a cat nap during this time. Yesterday, I decided to try my best to keep her up. I sat in the back seat with her and kept giving her interesting things to play with. She was sooooooo sleepy and yes, cranky, but we made it without her going to sleep.

We ate lunch and then I put her down for a nap at 2:30. She went right on to sleep and slept until 4:30! I put her to bed a little early last night since she had missed her morning nap and she went right on to sleep and slept 11.5 hours.

After that successful day yesterday of only ONE nap I kept debating in my mind back and forth whether I was going to just go cold turkey and move to one nap today.

In the end, I decided not to. Based on my experiement, 🙂 Little Bug still needs a little catnap in the morning to be able to cope with life and not be a cranky pants. I don’t feel going cold-turkey on dropping the nap would be best for Little Bug at this time.

So for now, here is the plan:

I’m pushing naptime back 30 minutes. So now I will lay her down at 10:30 & 3:00. I will get her up, no matter how long she’s been asleep, at 11:30. Then for the 3pm nap I’ll get her up by 4:30 so she will be ready for bed at 8:30. I think sticking to two short naps is what she needs for now. When Little Bug completely stops sleeping for one of the naps, we will drop the morning nap and have one afternoon nap. My guess is this will happen in the next month or two. I really hope by the fall time change we are already on only one nap.

Here is something that shows babies/children thrive off routine:

Our naptime routine is to read books and then go to bed. This morning I told Little Bug it was time to read books. Then she looked up at me and said, “Yeah, Yeah” which is her way of saying, “Night, Night”! She new what was coming next!

Independent Playtime is going AWESOME!!

We are up to 9 minutes!

She has not cried or even said, “Mama” during the last few sessions! AND when I told her it was time to go play with toys in her room she actually pointed to her room asking to go!

I put the gate up as she is watching and she goes off to play with her toys.

This morning I was able to go to my room and get dressed without having to get Little Bug out of the cabinets or tell her a thousand times that pulling the toilet paper off the roll is a “no-no” because the books I have in there for her to read while I am getting dressed are completely boring, apparently. By the time the timer went off, I had made my bed and gotten dressed!

Since I was in my room and could peek on Little Bug from my door, I did! 🙂 Just like Babywise says, Little Bug was sitting there on the floor with a toy concentrating and focusing on it. It was adorable!

It was definitely hard to hear her crying at the beginning of implementing IP, but just like sleeping training her at 3 months, it is so worth it now!

Independent Playtime

***There is a post below this on how IP went today! 🙂 ***

My initial opinion of Independent Playtime was, “That is stupid!”

When Little Bug was a baby and I first read about IP from the Babywise books and Babywise blog I found absolutely no value in it at all.

I couldn’t believe they suggested I put the baby I had waited so long for in a playpen and let her play by herself for X number of minutes. It just seemed crazy to me! I wanted to be with Little Bug at all times.

So, I didn’t do IP with Little Bug.

The result?

A fourteen-month-old toddler that does not know how to entertain herself at all. With naps being crazy the past two months, I honestly have just been surviving the days in an attempt to keep Little Bug happy, myself sane and my house running in somewhat of an orderly fashion.

I have found that I am so worn out from constantly entertaining Little Bug that by the time nap time rolls around all I want to do is sit instead of the work around the house that needs to be done.

And so I went back and read about Independent Playtime and realized I made a mistake by not implementing it with Little Bug when she was an infant.

So, what’s all the hype about IP?

Well, according to Babywise you want IP to be a time when your child can "focus and play independently without having someone or something there to ‘entertain’ him" (On Becoming Toddlerwise, page 48).

During Independent Playtime children learn these valuable skills:

  • Mental Focusing Skills
  • Sustained Attention Span
  • Creativity
  • Self-Play Adeptness
  • Orderliness

Having taught 4th grade for four years I know if every single student of mine had walked into my classroom at the beginning of the year with those five skills, my entire teaching career would have been completely different! Especially, those first two skills. Man, if every single student had been able to completely focus and have an attention span greater than 5 minutes, I could have done so much more with my students’ education!

As with anything in life, there is a time for everything. There is a time for Independent Play and there is a time for play with Mama. How much IP playtime is appropriate for what age? This is what On Becoming Babywise II says about that:

  • 10-20 minutes twice a day for first few months
  • 15-30 minutes twice a day for the independent sitter
  • 30-45 minutes at least once a day for the crawler
  • Up to 60 minutes for the 15-20 month old in playpen or room

After reading the Babywise blog I found it says that children who have IP are more obedient and compliant.

I remember when Little Bug learned to crawl and started following me around the house. I thought that was the cutest thing in the world – and it was! There will still be times for that because Little Bug loves “helping Mama”, however, now I also see the importance of Little Bug learning the skills that are learned through Independent Playtime and I want to teach her those skills as well.

My end goal is one day being able to report I have a toddler who is capable of playing on her own without needing constant entertainment from mom or another source!

As you can tell from the post below, hopefully we are well on our way to reaching this goal!

just a little “Mama!” and that’s it!

When I put Little Bug in her room to play today at Independent Playtime she only protested with a little cry of “Mama!” once and that was it!

She played the entire 5 minutes happily! She was playing when the timer went off and came to her door with a smile on her face when it went off.

So, she has learned the timer is what brings Mama back – not her crying, fussing and whining! She is also learning it is fun to play with toys in her room, even without Mama!

Tomorrow I will increase to 7 minutes (baby steps, I don’t want to get ahead of what she is capable of doing!) and continue to increase as the days go on until we are at two 30 minute sessions a day.

Persistence and consistency paid off!

30 seconds cry, 4 minutes play!

I’m hopeful that we are making progress with Independent Play!

We didn’t do IP yesterday with church and then going to see family, but Saturday must have been the start of something good!

Little Bug cried for about 30 seconds and then went off to play. There was an occasional whine or “Mama” thrown in there as she played BUT much improved from last week!

I am going to give it a couple of days and then slowly start increasing the minutes on the timer. I would like for her to not cry at all before I start increasing the minutes, but I don’t have any clue when that will be.

We will just keep plugging along until we get to two 30 minute Independent Playtimes daily. Eventually, when Little Bug does drop the morning nap, I hope to have one 60 minute Independent Playtime in the morning some time after breakfast and before lunch.

Nap update:

Yesterday was Sunday so Little Bug skipped the morning nap to go to church and once again, I feel she just isn’t quite ready to drop that morning sleep. We got home from church, ate lunch and Little Bug laid down around 2. She only slept 1 hour 15 minutes. She went to bed at 8:15 (should have been earlier, but we didn’t get home in time for her to go to bed at 8) and it took her awhile to go to sleep. She wasn’t just laying in there talking and playing. She was crying and fussing on and off until she finally went to sleep around 9pm. She was overtired, I believe and had a hard time getting to sleep.

Honestly, I wish Little Bug was ready to move to one nap a day. It would open up our mornings so much. She will get there one day and I really don’t want to push her to do something I know she is not ready to do.

I will continue consistent naptimes of 10 and 2:30 this week and then look at what she did during every nap and make a decision from there about when and how many naps there will be.

If I had to guess what we will do I’d say it will be a “catnap” in the morning from 10:30-11:30ish and then afternoon nap of about 1.5 hours at 3ish, with bedtime at 8:30. Then when Little Bug starts not sleep consistently for one of those naps, we will move to one afternoon nap.

That’s my plan anyway. We will see what actually unfolds! 🙂

Making Progress!

Slowly but surely we are making progress in Independent Play.

This is how things went down today:

Daddy did IP this morning because it’s Saturday and he always gets up with Little Bug on Saturday to spend some one-on-one time with her and to let me sleep in!

Last night I asked him if he wanted to brave doing IP. He said, “Sure.”

I knew exactly when he was doing IP because Little Bug’s cries woke me up. But then, they stopped! She whined off and on, but it was certainly progress from the previous few days.

Then I thought, Maybe it’s because Daddy put her in her room. Little Bug is a HUGE mama’s girl right now.

Well, I did IP this afternoon after lunch and she did the usual cry as hard as you can and then after about a minute, she stopped!

Then she started up again for maybe 30 seconds and stopped.

For the remainder of the 5 minutes she actually sat down and played with the Noah’s Ark she has just been dying to play with since she first discovered it.

The timer went off and I immediately went into her room and told her it was time to clean up. She started helping me clean up!

Definitely progress!

I’m going to keep being very consistent with IP, doing 5 minutes twice a day. Hopefully by this time next week I can report that we have increased the amount of minutes of IP!

I’m not going to say there won’t be more mostly crying IP times, but we are certainly moving in the right direction and she is catching on to what is expected of her during IP.

methodical thinking

Independent Playtime is the same story. I am sticking to my plan though of setting the timer and coming back as soon as it goes off and cleaning up. One day, hopefully soon, she will get it.

Yesterday I couldn’t lay Little Bug down for a nap until 10:45am because we had the alarm system people out doing some work on our alarm system. They had to make the alarm go off multiple times and it wouldn’t have been fair to Little Bug to expect her to sleep through that! She went to sleep at 11:15 and slept for an hour.

I didn’t lay her down until 3:15 for her afternoon nap and she never went to sleep for the 1.5 hours she was in bed.

So, now we’re at 2 naps (this week only) that she has not fallen asleep.

I’m thinking I will continue with laying her down for the two naps at 10 & 2:30 for another week and then make a decision from there as to what we will do about naps.

There are several options:

  • Keep the two naps per day until she is consistently not sleeping for one of the naps every single day.
  • Do a flip-flop schedule: one day have two naps and the next day only one nap, then the next day do two naps again.
  • Go ahead and drop the morning nap completely and move to one afternoon nap after lunch.

If you read the comments that come in to my blog you might have laughed at one of the comments left yesterday from one of my readers. (It made me laugh anyway!) A reader left a comment saying how alike we are in the way that we are such methodical thinkers! She put into words exactly why I am doing what I am doing with Little Bug this week and next to get to the bottom of this napping problem, so I am just going to copy her words right here onto the blog:

I just love how methodical you are about most things. I am the same way and get teased so mercilessly by my husband, friends and family…but hey…if I don’t really pay attention to these patterns then how will I know when it is time for a change? I often get labeled a control freak…but really I just think I am a “need to understand” freak and the only way I know how to do that is to really pay attention to the patterns and learn from the data. I guess that is why I am an analyst in my career. But I really do think it can translate to parenthood. Really setting a routine and then seeing how that routine falls out and making changes accordingly seems so logical to me. I know many parents can just go about it without all our extra analysis and just one day say “oh..this is not working …let us try something new”….Yay for them….but for some of us…we really need to set the experiment up, gather the data…analyze the outcome and then make the change….As long as there are happy, healthy children as a bi-product….who really cares right?

I love how she said some of us need to set the experiment up, gather the data, analyze the outcome and then make the change because that is exactly what I feel I am doing with Little Bug now and I FINALLY feel like I will come up with a solution. I had actually tried the other way she mentioned for the past 2 months and had not been able to come up with a real solution and was only feeling more and more frustrated.

I also love what she says at the end about parents parenting different ways but in the end, as long as parents and children are happy then who cares about the hows. So true!

So, to anyone out there thinking we are “weird” for the way we think about things, leave us alone! (I say that in a teasing-you-back, joking-in-a-loving way!) 🙂 🙂

1 semi-play, 4 cry

Since deciding I was going to lay Little Bug down for a nap twice a day at the same times for 1.5 hours, I have gotten SO MUCH accomplished.

It is important to me that Little Bug get the sleep she needs, but it is also important to me that I have the time in the day to accomplish the tasks I need to get done around the house.

I am first and foremost a wife and mother, but I am also a home-maker and it is important to me that I have blocks of time during the day to take care of the every day tasks that must be done around the house.

I do not want Dave to have to worry about tasks around the house that I can do during the day while he is at work if I manage my time wisely. Dave has his things he does around the house (like taking out diapers and trash and the yard), but since I am a stay-at-home-mom, I feel it is my responsibility to do the cleaning, laundry, etc.. and to do it while he is away at work so that when he comes home we can spend time as a family instead of doing work.

That is why, second to wanting Little Bug to get the sleep she needs, I want naps to happen consistently each day so I know when I have these blocks of time to accomplish tasks around the house.

And I’ll be completely honest and say I also want to know when I have a block of time to do something I enjoy such as blogging :), reading and scrapbooking! Often times mothers feel guilty for wanting some time to do things that they just simply enjoy doing, but I have chosen to realize that I do not need to feel guilty if I sit down to write a blog post while Little Bug naps (as I am doing now 🙂 ) because we need this time to recharge! I admit I cannot go and go and go, especially after chasing a 1-year-old around, and then continue to go and go when she is finally resting herself. Sometimes, this Mama just needs rest too!

Today would be one of those days!

Independent Playtime was another 5 minute (or maybe 4 mins) crying session. There was a brief time that Little Bug stopped the crying but then she was back at the gate…

Work in progress. Work in progress. As soon as that timer goes off I go right in to get her and do the whole clean up routine (as Little Bug then starts to play with her Noah’s Ark that any other time of the day she is just dying to get her little pudgy hands on) and then leave the room.

I am hoping within a week ???? Little Bug will get it. I’ll just keep on keeping on until she does get it. Once we hit that 5 minutes of Independent Play with no crying we will finally be able to move to the next step of increasing the minutes on the timer until we reach our goal of 30 minutes.

I am trying to do IP twice a day (if I am home all day long) so that she will hopefully catch on quicker with more exposure to what happens during IP.

I guess playing 1 out of 5 minutes is progress, right?? A teeny, tiny, baby step towards the ultimate goal.

Switching gears to naptime now…

Yesterday (I think it was) I replied to a comment left by someone that Little Bug has only refused to not nap 1-2 times (if that) when I lay her down to nap.

We can add one more to that count now.

This morning I laid Little Bug down at 10:00. She never cried (seriously, not even a peep when I left the room which has been her standard cry time when I exit the room at naptime since she turned one) but never slept. At 11:15 she started to fuss (which is typically what she does when she lays awake for a little while and then decides to go to sleep finally). I didn’t think she’d go to sleep. I left her for the remaining 15 minutes of naptime and went in at 11:30 to find a sleeping Little Bug!

I woke her little booty up and we continued the day as if she had slept from 10-11:30. I laid her down at 2:30 and (as far as I can hear) all is quiet and she is sleeping.

I never imagined this transition from 2 to 1 nap would be so dramatic! I figured it would be like dropping the 3rd nap was. One day she took it and the next she didn’t!

Not so with this nap!

At least I FINALLY have a game-plan to figuring this out! Picking nap times, being very consistent with naps and taking notes about what she does during naps for a week I think is really going to help me finally get to the bottom of this and decide if we will stick with 2 naps for now or move to one long afternoon nap.