Thursday, February 16, 2012

Raising Baby Green

Seattle baby guru Ann Keppler has mentioned Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician at Stanford, a few times during her Birth and Beyond workshops and I decided to check out his books, Raising Baby Green and Feeding Baby Green.  They had a few good nuggets of information I want to remember for future reference.

Our wonderful neighbors recently moved which means we no longer have access to a lawnmower.  Dr. Greene had some good suggestions for baby-friendly lawn alternatives (more ideas are found here:
- Baby's tears (soleirolia soleirolii): It has small leaves, and tiny white flowers in the summer.  It prefers shade a moderate moisture, and will die back during the winter in colder regions.
- Irish moss (sagina subulata): Its tufts of slender stems form a velvety soft green carpet, and has small white flowers in the spring.
- Blue star creeper (isotoma): forms a flat ground cover and blooms with blue flowers from spring to frost.  It's easy to grow and maintain.

I absolutely don't have a green thumb, but I always aspire to more plants (if only to replace the ones I've killed).  Dr. Greene gave a list of the top ten air-filtering plants (as found by a NASA study - these are most effective at removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air):
chinese evergreen
- bamboo palm
- chinese evergreen
- english ivy
- gerbera daisy
- janet craig
- marginata
- mass cane/corn plant
- mother-in-law's tongue
- pot mum
- peace lily

Dr. Greene included a biodiversity checklist in Feeding Baby Green to make sure your family's diet is varied enough:
1. Mushrooms
2.  Amaranths: beet, buckwheat, quinoa, spinach, swiss chard
3.  Umbrellifers: carrot, celery, cilantro, parsnip
4.  Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chinese cabbage
5.  Bromeliad: pineapple
6.  Composites: artichoke, lettuce
7.  Bindweeds: sweet potato, water spinach
8.  Gourds: cantaloupe, cucumber, squash, watermelon
9.  Heath: blueberry
10. Legumes: black beans, chickpeas, peas, lentils, peanuts
11. Lilies: asparagus, garlic, onion, shallots
12. Woody: bananas, plantains
13. Sesames
14. True grasses: brown rice, corn, oats, wheat
15. Rosy plants: almond, apple, apricot, blackberry, peach, pear, strawberry
16. Citrus: grapefruit, lemon, orange
17. Nightshades: eggplant, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes
18. Grapes
19. Laurels: avocados, cinnamon
20. Myrtles: allspice, cloves, guava
21. Loosestifes: pomengranate

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

What do you do all day? Revisited

 Staying at home with a baby means a lot of time you are unable to account for in the way you could if you were working outside of the home.  There is no typical day, but here is my attempt  to make an accounting of yesterday:

    1:30 - 1:50 am: get up and feed baby
    1:50 - 5:45 am: sleep (or try to fall asleep while thinking about everything I forgot to do 
                             and/or worry about baby)
    5:45 - 6 am: get up and change and feed baby
    6 - 6:45 am: try to get baby to fall asleep while also trying to rest
    6:46 - 9 am: fall asleep, intermittently waking up to make sure I haven't rolled over and    
                        smothered baby and/or keep her from scratching herself
    9 am - 10:40 am: put away dishes, do laundry, take a shower, clean/pick up house, eat
                           breakfast, catch up on e-mail, etc...
    10:40 - 11 am: change and feed baby, get her dressed for the day
    11 - 11:40 am: play with baby and eat a snack
    11:40 am - 12 noon: leave for story time at the library
    12 - 12:50 pm: story time at the library, feed baby, change baby, talk with friends
    12:50 - 2:10 pm: walk to and eat lunch, play with baby while eating lunch and talking with
    2:10 - 3 pm: walk around, stop at toy store to get her new toys, walk back to car
    3 - 3:20 pm: drive home while singing to crying baby
    3:20 - 3:40 pm: carry sleeping baby in car seat, put away dirty diaper, look at mail
    3:40 - 4:20 pm: change and feed baby, swaddle and put her down for a nap
    4:20 - 5 pm: wash dishes, fold laundry, watch tv, stop to nurse baby and attempt to get her
                        to nap longer
    5 - 5:40 pm: comfort crying baby and play with baby, video chat sister
    5:40 - 6:30 pm: drive around with napping baby running errands
    6:30 - 7 pm: come home to husband (home early, yay!), leave baby with him, take out trash, sweep
                         driveway, clean litter box
    7 - 7:20 pm: heat up leftovers while husband plays with baby
    7:20 - 7:40 pm: eat dinner with husband while baby plays in jumper
    7:40 - 8 pm: give baby a bath and get her dressed in pajamas
    8 - 8:50 pm: feed baby and put her to bed
    8:50 - 10 pm: feed cat, copy down recipes from library cookbook, clean up music library and add to
                          baby's lullaby playlist, catch up on e-mail, talk to husband, brush teeth, take vitamins
     10 pm - 1:50 am: sleep

My schedule will be some variation on this today, but there was no tangible big accomplishment.  Instead there were little things I was happy about:
      - she got in a good morning nap (and so did I) - yay!
      - watching her practice rolling over from back to front - finally!
      - getting out of the house and socializing with other adults and babies
      - finding her the baby maracas/rattle that she liked playing with in music class
      - getting some disposable diapers at a good price from another mom for our upcoming
        trip out of town
      - husband home earlier than usual from work 
      - finding a moment in the balmy Seattle evening to sweep the driveway

Yeah, not life changing events, but I'm glad I can enjoy these moments.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Sleep and babies

Sleep seems to be an obsession with all parents.  It's amazing, because I was not that concerned about sleep until about five months ago when Olivia was born.  Before that, I rarely suffered from sleep deprivation or insomnia.  When we announced we were expecting, all the parents we knew told us to enjoy our sleep while we could.  I was skeptical about this advice because I wouldn't say that I've ever valued my sleep, but instead took it for granted.  As soon as she was born, I finally understood what the hubbub was about.  Those first few weeks of delirium and sleep deprivation certainly taught me to value sleep as I never had before.

Now that I am not as sleep deprived, I have become more focused on Olive's sleep patterns.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), infants need about fourteen hours of sleep a day.  Last week, after several days and nights of fussiness and interrupted sleep, I started tracking how much she slept using an app on my phone called Total Baby. I quickly realized that she wasn't always getting enough sleep.  (The worst day, shown below, coincided with swimming class, and I do think that's related.)  

When she was younger, little O was really good at falling asleep in the moby, in her car seat, and in the stroller.  Now that she has become more aware of the world around her, she is generally wide awake in all of those places and I've realized I actually have to put some effort and thought into getting her to nap.  Sleeping at night hasn't usually been a problem and I think that's because we generally have a routine.  This involves a bath (sometimes), changing into pajamas and a night time diaper, swaddling, singing and then one last night time feed in a dark nursery.  (Sometimes a few books on sleeping and saying good night will be added in.)  She generally does fall asleep at the breast, and then sleeps through the night or wakes up once on average.  My mom, a pediatrician, chides me for feeding her when she wakes up (usually around 1 or 2 a.m.), but when you're exhausted and the baby is wailing, it is a fast and easy fix. 

Last week, Olivia began waking up more frequently, and I started to regret not heeding my mom's advice.  Some sources I've read do say that by sometime between four to five months, babies should be able to sleep "through the night."  (This means about five to seven consecutive hours.)  I asked local baby guru Ann Keppler about it, and she said that she felt it was appropriate to still feed babies in the middle of the night up to about six months. When she cries in the middle of the night, I usually wait a few minutes to make sure she doesn't just fall back asleep on her own,  If she doesn't, I try to keep night time feedings efficient.  I don't change her diaper or unswaddle her.  I just feed her and put her back down to sleep.  Once I do this, she has slept anywhere from one to eight hours more, with the norm being somewhere in the middle.  

I am also trying to pack more calories into her during the day to try and prevent the mid-night wake ups.  She's so easily distracted now and I realize that she isn't always eating as much as she used to.  (Seeing our cat or hearing her dad's voice will stop her eating.)  This means I need to make a conscious effort to go to a darkened room and not interact with her as she eats.  (Ann also recommends not feeding solids after 3 p.m., something to keep in mind for the future.)

As I logged sleep times, I realized the biggest place where Olivia was not getting enough sleep was during the day.  The first two days of trying to promote a proper nap time were tough.  She and I endured more than forty-five minutes of on and off crying, as I tried to teach her to nap.  I only did this once each day.  During the other nap times,  I let her sleep in my arms after falling asleep nursing, which sometimes lasted two hours.  (This meant sore arms, but a peaceful baby.)  On the third day, the crying only lasted about fifteen minutes, and she began napping for 90 minutes to two hours.  Mirroring the night time routine of a fresh diaper, swaddling, singing, a darkened room, and white noise also helped signal to her that it's nap time.  

The one downside to increased naps is that we are no longer as mobile and I'm finding it's harder to make plans to socialize outside the house, especially since her naps aren't yet at a regular time, but fall 90 minutes to two hours after she last woke up.  The up side is worth it though, since it means a happier, less fussy baby.  It's also giving me more time to get stuff done around the house.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Water Babies vs. Aqua Tots

We started swimming "lessons" with Olivia three weeks ago, and it hasn't been as successful as I was hoping.  Her reaction to the water is to curl up like she's a newborn again for the entire half hour we are in the pool. I thought maybe she was overwhelmed by all of the people and noise, but she usually likes this and can often be lulled to sleep by it. Local baby guru Ann Keppler said it's the temperature of the water and suggested we try water babies because the pool is much warmer. I was reading about them and it also sounds like the other parts of their facilities are also more baby friendly.

For example, at the local park district pool, there's only one changing table in the bathroom and there's always such a crush of people waiting for showers, that little O is freezing before we get one. They have two family bathrooms, but these are usually taken, and by people with kids who can dress themselves even though they are supposed to leave them open for younger kids. Poor Olive is so cold and stressed by the time we leave, and acts funny the rest of the day.

Water babies claim to have changing areas poolside where it's warm. Some of their pools are even saltwater which could be less irritating than chlorine. Their classes also seem to be more geared towards babies whereas the one we've been going to are really for toddlers. Of course, then park district's classes are 1/3 of the price.

What have been your experiences with babies and the water? Has anyone tried water babies? Is it worth about $20 per class?