4 Toddler Activities That Build Fine Motor Skills.

I like screen time. Sometimes I even LOVE screen time. And I don’t just mean for myself.

The first word out of my toddler’s mouth in the morning is usually, “BLIPPI!” If you don’t know who Blippi is, go check him out. You may thank me or hate me!

Lately I’ve been putting together some age appropriate activities for my 20 month old to keep him busy throughout the day that don’t involve screen time. I do this for a few reasons. I have a 6 month old who takes a morning nap and I need the house to be somewhat quiet. Now that my oldest is officially a toddler, I feel like he’s capable of learning to be quiet while his brother naps AND able to work on some fine motor skills.

My educational background is in ECE (early childhood education) so I enjoy putting these things together! Its important to remember that every child is different. I could go on a soap box about this. I take some issues with standardized education because I’ve seen the vast differences in a child’s development, during my years of teaching and now, as a mom. We’re taught 7 learning styles when studying ECE. Every human being learns differently and that is why I believe standardized education is too narrow of an approach to learning.

I digress.

Deep breath.

Today I’m going to share 4 toddler activities that build fine motor skills and that I’ve actually tested on my own toddler. The best part is you can put these things together for little to ZERO cost. I had most of these things already or I ran to the dollar store for a few things. As with all baby and toddler activities, PLEASE supervise your child.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. So when you click on a link and purchase something (anything) on Amazon I make a small commission. Thank you for supporting all the hard work I do here at The Messy Housewife.

Pom Pom Wisk

Items Needed:

  • Large wisk
  • Pom poms

This activity is pretty simple! The objective is for your toddler to pull the pom poms out of the wisk and/or stuff them back in. This is a wonderful activity that teaches a child critical thinking. It’s challenging but still simple enough that they don’t usually become frustrated.

Pipe Cleaner Threading

Items Needed:

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Straws cut in half
  • Strainer

The objective with this one is to have your child thread the pipe cleaners through the straws or strainer. My toddler took a creative approach and started pushing the straws through the strainer as well! This exercise is great for building muscles children use for their pincer grasp. That comes in handy for holding writing utensils later on.

Cupcake Pom Poms

Items Needed:

  • Tablespoon
  • Cupcake Tin
  • Pom poms

In this activity your child uses the tablespoon to scoop pom poms into the cupcake tin. Grasping the tablespoon is great for building the muscles they need to hold utensils for eating. It also requires hand and eye coordination.

Colour Sorting Pom Poms

Items Needed:

  • Coloured bowls or containers
  • Pom poms in colours that match the bowls
  • Plastic fine motor tweezers or grasping tool

This activity is a bit more advanced. The only reason I’ve done this one with my 20 month old is he’s been recognizing a few of his colours for the past month. I started working with him on colours by sorting his blocks onto the matching colour mat, on the floor in his room. So I thought I would try a colour sorting activity like this. The tweezers can be challenging but fantastic for developing those muscles in the hands. Even if your child doesn’t recognize their colours yet, it’s a great activity to try. I purchased the bowls and poms at the dollar store. You can find grabbing tools here.

A Few Things To Consider When Doing These Activities For Your Toddler:

  • Know when your child is done with the activity and that it’s ok if their attention span isn’t very long. My son is 20 months old and he can spend around 5-10 minutes on these activities. 10 minutes is an incredible amount of time and he has to be quite interested as well as motivated to last that long! Once he starts throwing things, I know he’s telling me he’s done. Developmentally, most children have an attention span of their age plus a few minutes. Do I think throwing is wrong? Nope. I actually don’t. Let me tell you why. Children are scientists. They are the BEST scientists. The are going to figure out cause and effect better, faster and more efficiently than any adult ever could. It’s innate. I let my son throw things. I don’t let my son throw EVERYTHING. I’m teaching him what is ok to throw and what isn’t. He may not understand that concept now but with time he will. So if you see a kid outside throwing rocks into a pond or kicking dirt around-probably my kid. #sorrynotsorry

  • Are they ready? 6 months ago my son wasn’t interested in doing these things. He probably would’ve put everything in his mouth or thrown it all across the room. It’s important to approach activities like this with the question: “Is it developmentally Appropriate?” If your baby/toddler is still very oral then you will have to watch them closely or choose a different activity. This leads me to my next point.

  • Don’t compare. Comparing our children to others isn’t fair to them. Take it from an ECE with close to 15 years experience working with kids. I’m not an expert but I’ve seen enough in my years working with young children to understand that they develop skills at different paces. My son is quite verbal at 20 months old. But I know another child around his age who isn’t verbal at all. I know children who started walking as early as 9 months. My son was about 15 months old when he started fully walking. Comparison usually only serves to stir up jealousy, guilt, insecurities and mean mom competition. It can also cause you to hold your child to unrealistic standards. Love your child for who he is, not who you think they should be. You’ll be surprised at all the amazing things they are capable of as they grow in the security of your love.

*I’m not suggesting that you disregard the advice of any doctor or health professional if they are concerned about something developmental with your child. If you suspect your child may need help in a specific area, please seek help.

I’ve really been enjoying new activities with my son and soon enough his little brother will be joining him. Check back for more posts on fun, developmentally appropriate (and inexpensive) activities for babies and toddlers!

Advertisements

A Toddler and Infant Routine For A Stay At Home Mama. (Revised)

A few days ago I sat down to eat my lunch after I had put both my boys down for a nap when I started to smell something strange.

Well, not really strange. It was just the smell of poop.

Instead of enjoying my warm lunch while both my boys miraculously napped, I began tearing my house apart in search of the poop smell. I don’t keep poopy diapers in the house. The cloth ones get rinsed and go straight in a bucket. Disposables go straight to the outside garbage.

WHAT AND WHERE WAS IT?!

Come to find out, my cat had pooped in my son’s overnight bag. How nice of him. At least he didn’t poop on the floor, right?

Anyways.

I wanted to share what our daily routine looks like now that Jack is 6 months old and Hudson is 20 months old. Things have changed quite a bit in the past few months! When I became pregnant with Jack, I was googling toddler/infant routines. I’m a routine person and routines help us thrive in our home. Our routine changes, based on the season and ages of my children. I also sleep train and bottle feed, in case you are wondering.

Right now we are entering SPRING and I AM SO HAPPY! We go outside as much as possible, get dirty and sunburnt. I love it! I’m also starting to do some very basic (but intentional) educational, sensory and fine motor play with Hudson. I purchased these preschool posters on Amazon and a kind friend laminated them for me. Hudson LOVES them! There are 9 posters that go through numbers, letters, colours, shapes, emotions, days of the week, months, seasons and animals.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. So when you click on a link and purchase something (anything) on Amazon I make a small commission. Thank you for supporting all the hard work I do here at The Messy Housewife.

So here is what our daily routine loosely looks like! Of course, I adjust for play dates, appointments and such.

6-7 AM Wakeup, cartoons, bottles and diaper changes.

7-8AM Breakfast, prep for Jack’s nap (dadda goes to work by 7:45).

8 AM-9:45AM Jack naps, Hudson and Mama get dressed. Sensory or independent play inside or outside.

10 AM Snack for Hudson and bottle for Jack, diaper changes, Mama does chore of the day, tidys the house etc.

11 AM Walk to the park, sometimes meet up with friends to play or sensory/independent play in the backyard.

12:30 -3:30 PM Lunch and Nap routines. *I’ve made it a rule that I do not cook, clean, fold laundry or do any type of work during nap time. It’s often the only time I get to rest during the day. I learned the hard way that not taking time for myself when the boys nap results in a super cranky mommy the rest of the afternoon.

3/3:30 PM Snack for Hudson, bottle for Jack, change diapers.

3:30-5 PM Outside play (pending weather) Sometimes we will meet up with friends again at the park or go for a walk!

5-8 PM Dinner, baths and bedtimes. This is a large window of time and I am very flexible with it for a few reasons. Jack always goes to bed an hour or so earlier than Hudson. Their bedtimes are generally consistent but I adjust according to how well (and long) they napped. My husband also works flexible hours. Sometimes he’s home by dinner and other nights he’s home after everyone is put to bed. If we can, we try to eat dinner together and tag team baths/bedtimes.

When you are creating a routine for yourself and your kid(s) it’s important to consider a few things:

  • Obviously, how many kids do you have? Based on how many and their ages, you will have to adjust for different nap times and keeping older siblings busy. Things like sensory play, busy boxes, and toy rotation can be great ways to entertain an older sibling. (When we had so much ice and snow this winter, I would fill up a small, plastic bin with soapy warm water and fun toys. I would throw down a bunch of towels on the kitchen floor, crank up the heat, strip Hudson to his diaper and let him have at it. HE LOVED IT!
  • Will you sleep train? I’m a huge sleep training advocate. Routines and sleep training flow really well together. While you can’t 100% guarantee that your children will sleep perfectly, you can certainly help them learn to create healthy sleep habits. You can read more about my take on sleep training here.
  • How important is routine to you? I know people with small children who don’t follow any daily routine and while I personally would lose my mind, I’m guessing it works for them!

I love routine because it gives me a sense of purpose in what can feel like chaos. We are homebodies most of the time. I really enjoy coming home to my own space with my family. We share our home with tenants living below us but it’s decently private and I LOVE doing my own thing my kiddos. It’s such a blessing to be home with my boys. I don’t have the pressure of an outside job and I can put their needs first. While some days are harder than others, I wouldn’t trade this season for anything in all the world!

Do you like routine or do you let loose and go with the flow? How do you spend your days with your littles?

4 Homemade Baby Formula Options

From unmedicated childbirth to cloth diapering, I’ve often been met with skepticism with some of the more labour (literally) intense approaches I’ve taken in motherhood. I see much of what I do as a labour of love for these sweet babies God has given me. I’m sure you feel the same way about how you parent!

Homemade Formula!

My journey with feeding my babies has been a long one that I’m still currently on. You can read more in depth about that here and here. This journey has brought me to making my own formula for my youngest son, Jack. He’s currently 4.5 months old. I had Jack on Costco’s baby formula. He was doing ok on it but started having some skin and digestion issues. My oldest was raised on Costco formula and he has no allergies or issues. He thrived on it! So, I’m not here to debate the ingredients or nutrition in store-bought baby formula. I’ll talk about some nutrition related facts today but not to discredit or demean the way anyone feeds their babies. It’s just part of the topic.

I have no doubt that there are some less than desirable ingredients in store bought baby formula but it’s what helped us thrive as a family for a long time. I wasn’t mentally (or emotionally) in a good place to be making my own formula, after Hudson was born. At this time in my life, I feel like I’m able to do this and I genuinely LOVE making this for my sweet baby, Jack. It’s a labour of love like many of the things I do for my babies.

I have 4 homemade baby formula options for you, if this is something you are interested in.

If you aren’t familiar with the Weston A. Price foundation, I highly recommend checking them out! They are a knowledgeable foundation with solid information and resources when it comes to nutrition, among many other topics. They offer three different variations of homemade baby formula. My sister has made their raw milk formula for 3 out of 4 of her babies. They all thrived on it! Unfortunately raw milk is illegal here in Canada, so this wasn’t an option for me. They also have a raw goat milk version of this formula. Also not quite an option for me, being in Canada. A 3rd option that WAPF offers is a liver based version. I loved the nutritional value of all these options but I felt a bit overwhelmed by ingredients and steps needed to make the formula.

One night, I stumbled across a goat milk based formula that was similar to the WAPF version but made much more simple. I cried tears of relief as I had been calculating what it would cost to put Jack on a dairy free or sensitive type formula. I was also able to easily obtain the ingredients needed for this formula.

Not only is this homemade formula cost effective, it’s SO EASY to make! It was tweaked by mama and Holistic Nutritionist, Rama Pfeiffer, along with the knowledge and expertise of Joe Stout M. S. of Mt. Capra products.

Rama talks about the difference of proteins in cow’s milk and goat’s milk and why goat’s milk protein is more easily digested. Nutritionally, goat’s milk is much higher in fat and quiet close to human breast milk, which is why many parents choose whole goat’s milk after they wean their baby. I personally do not use the powdered goat’s milk and I don’t have access to raw goat’s milk. I buy whole, pasteurized goat’s milk from my local grocery store and I dilute this by 50%, as per the recipe. I then add the remaining ingredients. I only make up to 2 days worth because I find that the formula can start to go sour if left for more than few days.

I will update this post with pictures of how I make the formula, once it’s time for me to whip up a fresh batch.

I eased Jack onto this formula by combining it with what he was currently on. 1 oz the first day, 2 oz the next, and then eventually a full 4 to 6 oz. The recipe calls for un-sulphured black strap molasses which is helpful in relieving constipation. You an add more if baby gets backed up OR less if baby is having super runny bm’s.

I’m thrilled to report that Jack is thriving on this formula. His skin issues cleared up within a few weeks and his digestive issues have eased up as well! He’s weighing close to 17 pounds. Not that weight is the only indication of health in a baby but I thought I would share his weight! I hope this post is helpful for someone out there, who is looking at different options for feeding their baby. You are doing fantastic, mama!

Feel free to ask me any questions about this formula and my experience using it. Have you ever made homemade baby formula? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or medical professional. Please talk to your child’s doctor before changing what you are feeding them.

5 Things I’ve Learned About Feeding My Babies.

There are a few things I’ve struggled with as mom that stand out more than others.

How I’ve fed my babies is one of those things. If you are a young mom like me, chances are you have struggled with this very thing. I think it’s great that we are talking about it in the mom community today. My mom says that no-one talked about it when she was in the early years of raising my sister and I. I can’t even imagine how lonely and isolating that must have felt for my mom as well as so many other moms.

When I became pregnant with my first son, I didn’t assume that breastfeeding would or wouldn’t work out. I was pretty neutral about the whole thing. When Hudson was born, we struggled to establish breastfeeding. After a myriad of decisions, I made the choice to pump breastmilk and feed that to him for 12 weeks. I couldn’t tell you if he was ever EBF (exclusively breastfed) because sleep deprivation blurs those early months. At some point in the early weeks of Hudson’s life we began introducing store bought formula to him. He thrived on both my breastmilk and Costco formula. I cried when I made the decision to stop pumping. I knew he preferred my breastmilk but I couldn’t keep going. If you’ve ever pumped exclusively or almost exclusively, you will understand how much work it is to keep up with. I remember the last 1/2 ounce I pumped for Hudson. I stood at my kitchen sink, crying quietly with the soft glow of Christmas lights behind me.

Meeting Jack for the first time!

When Jack was born he latched beautifully minutes after he came out. He wouldn’t get off the boob and basically camped out there for the next week. My milk came in within 24 hours. Because Jack was so efficient at nursing, I experienced true breastfeeding for the first time. It was like a train ran me over, on top of already feeling trashed from an intense labour and delivery. I loved those first weeks of Jack nursing as much as I hated the pain. I felt like my body was trying to kill me in the process of feeding my son. Eventually I began pumping so I could get more sleep at night. But I just couldn’t keep up with the pumping, while caring for a newborn and 14 month old. After going back and forth, I made the decision to switch Jack to formula completely when he was 6 weeks old. When Jack was 3 months old I began making his formula from goat’s milk. I’m happy to report he’s thriving on it!

Me and Hudson 2 weeks postpartum.

I want to share some things I’ve learned on this journey in hopes that I can encourage other mamas.

  • Everyone has an opinion and you have a choice. It will not matter what you do, someone will have something to say about it. People think they mean well (and they might) but you will hear all kinds of things about how you choose to feed your baby, as well as all the other parenting decisions you make. You have a choice in how you respond to people. It doesn’t have to be a war with another mama in some parenting forum over her poor choice of words. Honestly? I’ve just taken breaks from social media, situations and people if I feel like they are continually negative towards the way I parent. It’s worth it to let things go and keep moving forward!
  • Nobody has to know how you feed your baby. You might think this point is strange, but I really mean that. Nobody has to know how you feed your baby, except maybe your doctor for medical reasons. Did you know you have every right to say to someone, “He’s fed with love, thanks!” That may seem really rude or direct but maybe if we started this way, it could stop the questions (or saying things) that are pointless, time consuming not to mention ridiculous. Keep it simple, right?
  • It doesn’t matter how or why you chose to feed your baby the way you feed them. I think this has been the hardest point for me to come to terms with and actually put into practice. I mean here I am writing a blog post for the world to read, about my journey feeding my babies. When I say it doesn’t matter, I don’t mean that you don’t matter. You matter and the reasons for how you feed your baby are valid. I support you, whatever your journey looks like. But you don’t owe a single person an explanation, not even your partner. I think it’s important to include your partner in those conversations but only because you then can invite them into being a very important support person during this journey. (More on this later!) What is most important is that YOU are OK with how you choose to feed your baby.
  • Your partner is important. I can’t say this enough. The highs and lows of caring for a baby can be extremely lonely. I wouldn’t be where I am today, with the confidence, security, and firm footing in this journey, if it wasn’t for my wonderful husband. No our marriage isn’t all roses and chocolate! But his support has come through when I’ve needed it the most. I cried when he told me to put Jack on formula full time. I cried because of the immense relief, love and support I felt. I felt a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders and then I began to enjoy motherhood again. You need your partner during this season (and every season of parenting) even when it feels like all they can offer you is a literal shoulder to cry on. That shoulder is really important. Find a way to make them a part of your journey as hard as that might feel sometimes. You won’t regret it! The extra support of our families has also been a blessing. They have only ever been supportive of the way I’ve chosen to feed my babies. I can’t even put a price on how valuable that support is.
  • Love really is the most important. #loveisbest is something that I can get behind, when it comes to how I take care of my babies. At the end of the day, we all want what the best for our babies. That is going to look different for every family. I see all of you. You are important and you are doing incredible! Earlier I italicized that I made the choice to give my babies formula because I want to get an important point across. You have a choice in how you feed your baby. Only you will know what is the best for your baby AND you!

I’ve done both breastfeeding and formula feeding with my babies. I want to be clear that I’m not discouraging or promoting any one way of feeding your baby. Formula is just what worked for us and is part of our journey. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m PRO feed your baby! If you are looking for some homemade baby formula options, I’ve got you covered here.

I am here to tell you that however your feeding journey has gone with your baby (or babies) it doesn’t have to define you in the way you think. You aren’t more than or less than. You just are. And that is really important. You also aren’t alone on this journey so don’t hesitate to reach out. You can email me anytime at sarahelaine225@hotmail.com

You are present in your baby’s life, loving them and being their mama. THAT is the most important. Go, mama, go!

What has been your experience with feeding your baby? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Is Sleep Training For You? 3 Things To Consider.

If you are reading this, chances are you are sleep deprived. I am sleep deprived as I write this. I’ve been sleep deprived since January 2017. So that is about 2 years of sleep deprivation. Are you tired, mama? If I could, I’d make you cup of a strong coffee and offer my couch to take a nap on. You probably wouldn’t get much sleep though, considering I have two really loud babies in my house who can easily bring the noise to deafening levels.

Sleep. I often think about what I would tell my former self before I had children, had I the chance to travel back in time and have a chat with her. I would tell her to prepare her final goodbyes to her good friend Sleep. Cut your losses, girl and get good at making some really strong coffee! Also-invest in some solid under eye concealer because the dark circles are FOR REAL.

But let’s chat about sleep training!


Most Paediatricians recommend sleep training beginning around 4 months of age. I have found this age to be the best time to start with my babies. Did you know you can give your baby comfort AND still sleep train them? It’s possible, YAAAS!

If you get the jump on helping them learn to sleep earlier in life then you will have to do LESS work to do down the road. *Talk to your child’s doctor before beginning.

If you are doing something that works for you, keep doing it. I’m not here to tell you that you are wrong so please keep doing what works for you. Maybe skip this blog post if sleep training aint’ yoh thing, ok? If you aren’t happy with what you are doing and find yourself struggling, consider sleep training. Getting my babies on a schedule and sleep training them has been one of the best decisions I’ve made as mom. If your baby is close to a year old (or older) and really struggling to fall asleep independently (if that is what you want them to do), consider hiring a sleep consultant. Sleep Consultants have a variety of amazing methods to help families in all situations! They are worth the money!

You decide how to help your baby learn things like sleeping, even if that means baby sleeps on you or with you-you are still teaching them how to sleep. How you do that is up to you!

Here are 3 things consider if you wonder if sleep training is for you!

  • Are You Willing To Be Consistent (and slightly boring)?

If you are serious about helping your baby establish sleeping independantly , it’s important that you are consistent. It’s contradictory to the whole process if you are constantly leaving your home all the time. Your baby has to learn that their room and crib is where they sleep. (if that is where you want them to sleep). If they are falling asleep in their carseat all the time, then that is where they will associate sleep with. Babies will do what they are consistently given the opportunity to do.

You won’t always be stuck at home but from experience (and talking to other moms who sleep train) I was (and am) pretty boring the first 6 months of my babies’ lives. That might sound unreasonable but it’s all about what you are willing to invest into helping your baby sleep. How important is it to you? It doesn’t mean you can’t EVER leave your house while sleep training. But it does mean sacrificing some of your time.

I believe that if you stick to a loose routine and follow some simple sleep training tips-you will have a baby who forms some sort of predictable schedule within a month or two. Don’t believe me? TRY IT! Once your baby starts getting into a routine of sorts and is able to stay awake longer, you can start planning outings around them. While it’s hard work, it’s not so bad. I promise. It’s all about how you approach the situation. It’s just a short season of being home, in light of all the years to come when I can do whatever I want. I get to be home with my babies, take care of their needs, be in comfy clothes, eat snacks and chill. EAT ALL THE SNACKS!

My second point is something that often discourages most parents from this whole sleep training deal.

  • Are You Ok With Crying?

I believe one of the reasons that sleep training has such a dirty reputation has to do with a misunderstanding of the crying aspect. What I don’t understand is why people do not do their own research but instead come to strange and negative conclusions about all forms of sleep training. Sleep training does NOT have to involve leaving your baby alone for hours to cry themselves to sleep without being offered any comfort. I have never intentionally just shut the door and left either of my babies to cry indefinitely for hours.

A common scenario I see in parenting forums or on social media often goes like this: “Hi everyone! My baby is x months old and a terrible sleeper. I nurse (or bottle-feed), rock or hold her to get her to sleep. She’s been sleeping on me or with me since she was born. She wakes up multiple times a night and refuses to nap during the day unless I’m holding her. I’m so exhausted I can’t see straight. Help me! What do I do?”

Then I see other mamas offering simple, straight forward sleep solutions that typically fall into the category of sleep training. The original poster will immediately reply, “Oh and I won’t do anything that involves listening to my baby cry! I refuse to let her cry!” And this is the face I’m making while I read the thread——————————————->


If you absolutely can not handle your baby EVER crying then buckle up my friend. It’s going to be a long ride in parenthood because babies (as well as children) CRY all the dang time. My 18 month old cried (screamed at me) today when I wouldn’t let him touch the cat’s butthole. I wish I was joking but phrases such as, “Please don’t dip your toothbrush in the toilet,” are a regular part of my day. I digress. You might be surprised if you let little Bobby fuss or cry for a few minutes only to find that he’s put himself back to sleep. We are biologically wired to respond to the distress of our children. Again, if this isn’t something you feel comfortable with when it comes to sleep then stick to what makes your family thrive!

There are extreme methods of sleep training that leave babies to cry until they’ve exhausted themselves, which I personally find to be stressful and counterproductive for all involved. In the first few months of sleep training, I employ timed checks which you can read about here. I love timed checks and it’s what I’m currently doing with my 4 month old right now. I would also like to talk about the whole “put baby down awake” thing. Sometimes that has worked with my boys but the majority of the time, I’ve fed/rocked them until they are almost asleep, up until they were a year old. I only do timed checks if they aren’t settling after I put them down. So, yes-you can feed/rock your baby to sleep, still teach them to fall asleep on their own and not form “bad” habits! AMAZING! Bad habits. (I’m rolling my eyes). Your baby needing you isn’t a bad habit, FYI.

My last point is pretty straight forward.

  • How Hard Are You Willing To Work?

This is my most important point for you to consider. Seeing the bigger picture is important to achieving success in this process. My husband has said more than once that its worth it to slug it out and blitz this whole thing now. I completely agree! You have to know that it gets hard before it becomes easier. Just like working out, it will take time to see progress. It will feel like you do the same thing for months with little to no progress. And then it will get better. Don’t be discouraged when you face disruptions with your baby’s sleep habits. It’s normal. I said I don’t believe in regressions when it comes to babies. I do believe that developmental leaps, teething, and sickness can cause a baby to have disrupted sleep. Comfort your baby however, in these times and make adjustments. But these things are just a few reasons why I believe establishing good sleep habits from the beginning is so important. If you can help your baby establish good sleep habits, it can make disruptions and changes a little bit easier to navigate, for all of you.

My children do not sleep perfectly. Like all children, they go through seasons of great sleep and poor sleep but overall their good sleep outweighs the poor. We combined our boys into one room a few weeks ago. Yup-a 4.5 month old and an 18 month old sharing a room! It’s been almost a month of some amazing nights and some really difficult ones. I’m so tired some days, I can barely see straight. But I’m not going to quit just because it’s hard. Like all learned things, it takes time and my boys will learn to sleep through each other’s crying, wake ups and commotion.

Consider that you are giving your baby (and your whole family) the gift of sleep. It’s a wonderful thing!

Whether you are just considering sleep training, in the beginning stages or deep in the trenches, I wish you all the sweet sleep in the world. May your coffee be strong and your concealer be thick.

Do you sleep train? What has or hasn’t worked for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


A Doula’s Perspective

As a mother of two, a self-titled birth nerd, and a soon-to-be doula, I can promise you that there are so many things your OB won’t tell you. Why? Well…their job is strictly to bring the baby safely to this side of the womb. It isn’t in their job description or in their model of care to educate, offer ALL the options, or to empower you in the birth space. If you’ve had an OB who did these things for you, I’m so glad! I hope you recognize that they aren’t the norm. 

They won’t tell you these things because…it isn’t relevant to the job they need to do. It really is left to us, the mothers, to be informed and to educate ourselves. My hope is that this list encourages soon-to-be mothers and mothers expecting their second (or beyond) to recognize their freedom of choice in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. (My word is NOT medical advice. Please do your own research!)

  •  You are allowed to deny ANY procedure throughout pregnancy and labor. This includes vaginal exams, ultrasounds, tests, IV fluids, pitocin, etc. There are valid reasons that women refuse these procedures and it is worth researching each one to see how you feel about it. 
  • You can look online or ask your doctor’s office for the statistics of their care. How many of their patients are induced or get an epidural? How many require an episiotomy or forceps? How many end up needing an emergency Cesarean? These things matter, because this information may show you that the risk in choosing this doctor to deliver won’t be in the best favour of the birth you want. 
  • Your due date can be off as much as two weeks before or after. First time mothers generally will go past their due date. There is no reason to rush baby’s arrival simply because their due date has passed! Most doctors will postpone any methods of induction until 42 weeks. If your doctor suggests induction for this reason, it is perfectly ok to deny it. This is also where concerns about size of the baby come into play. The first issue here is that ultrasounds and other methods to guess baby’s size are only that…a guess. They can be off as much as two pounds. Another issue is that the majority of women’s pelvises are well equipped to open wide enough for even a large baby, especially when given freedom of movement and not required to deliver horizontally (more on that in a second!)
  • You should labor at home as long as possible even if you are set on getting an epidural. Once you get the epidural, chances are you will be confined to the bed, which can slow down labor. Being up and moving throughout even just the beginning of labor works WITH your body and your baby to keep labor going at a steady pace. 
  • The pain of contractions isn’t necessarily a BAD pain…they are the necessary pain that brings your baby into the world. Instead of running away from the pain, embracing the pain can help you endure if you want an unmedicated birth. Before giving birth, take time to rethink what birth pain is and the purpose it has. 
  • You don’t have to push on your back! In fact, this position is working against gravity because of the angle of the birth canal. Being upright, squatted, or on all fours is much more agreeable with gravity. These positions also lessen the chance of tearing. It is even possible with a low dose of the epidural to deliver in an upright position! This is definitely something you want to talk to your doctor about BEFORE its time to give birth. 
  •  Your body is capable of telling you what it needs to give birth. May it be a change of positions, a dark, quiet atmosphere, less pressure of time, etc. These things can impact our body’s ability to give birth. When we are uncomfortable, feeling pressured, feeling at odds with someone in the room, our bodies will instinctually slow labor. Listening to these things can only help labor progress in a healthy manner. 
  • They give you very little breastfeeding information, if any at all. If you feel strongly about breastfeeding, you NEED to research it yourself BEFORE you give birth!

Here are some great breastfeeding resources!

Lactation Link

Maternal Instincts by Amberly  

Kellymom

  • You will have VERY little support from any professionals postpartum. Taking care of a newborn is already hard…combine that with healing from a labor that left you feeling like a car crash victim. The majority of the attention will be on baby now, and that leaves some mothers suffering, either with physical issues or mental health issues. The biggest advice I can give is surround yourself with a support system that will recognize your needs…which are sleep, physical rest, nourishing foods, hydration, spiritual support, and time and space to bond with baby. 

The LAST thing I want to leave you with: consider hiring a doula for birth, postpartum, or BOTH! If you want an empowered birth, if you want a restful and joyful postpartum, if you want to start parenthood on the best foot you can, a doula will be a priceless service. Look beyond the price for what a doula can offer you: unbiased support, emotional coaching, a library of knowledge, help to get you the birth you want, and if you DON’T get the birth you wanted, a support through the change of plans. Chances are you wouldn’t be able to imagine doing it without her! 

Ultimately, the goal is for you to have a birth and postpartum experience that is enjoyable, empowering, and one you will look back on fondly (yes, its possible!). The bottom line is that this will look different and be unique to each woman, it won’t even look like the descriptions above, and a lot of the time it won’t go the way we planned. That is also what makes birth special: it is as unique as the individual giving birth! Treating it as such is the best way for every mother and baby. 

About The Author

Mary Moran is an emerging doula, a wife, and a mother of two babes. She lives and works in Eastern Idaho where the summers are lovely but the winter is wayyy too long! Her passion is for women to be informed, empowered, and transformed through their journey in motherhood. More of her work can be found on Instagram @marymorandoula and on Facebook at Mary Moran Doula & Educator

Why I Don’t Follow BabyWise And What I Do Instead.

So, my almost 4 month old is going through what most sleep experts would say is a sleep regression. Add to that the fact that my 17 month old is cutting 3 molars all at once and you could say we are really tired over here. I don’t know if my youngest is actually in a regression. I think regression for me just means he’s growing and learning exciting new things so sleep is for the birds. I’m tired, nevertheless.

Soooooooooooo tired. Drink ALL the coffee.

Ahhhhh sleep and babies and sleep training! If you’ve read any of my blog up until this point you will know that I’m an advocate for sleep training. I think sleep training has gotten a really bad reputation over the years and it’s a term loosely thrown around. Sleep training for one family might mean something completely different for another. And here’s the thing. Even if you are staunchly anti-sleep training, you’re still sleep training. Training is conditioning yourself or someone else to learn to do something, right? So, if you are putting your baby in a carrier and wearing them to sleep every day-you are essentially training them to sleep while you wear them. It’s not bad but it’s still sleep training to some degree.

I don’t read those articles anymore about how you aren’t supposed to make your baby self-soothe and how sleep training is dangerous. They are incredibly guilt-trippy and I don’t need that in my life, just sayin’.

Here’s the thing. How YOU choose to help your baby sleep is up to you. Isn’t that great? I think we are pretty fortunate to have a lot of options available to us and we get to figure out what works for us as individual families.

Babywise. What the heck is Babywise? I bought this book when Hudson (my first) was a few weeks old. It’s a book on sleep training by Gary Ezzo and Robert Buckman. It came out in the early 90’s when I was still a little girl. People swear by their method of putting baby on a strict schedule that follows the Eat-Play-Sleep routine. There has been a lot of controversy since the book came out about how people were too strict with feeding schedules. This contributed to failure to thrive in many young infants. That being said, I know many people who SWEAR by the Babywise method.

The general philosophy of Babywise is actually something I agree with and that is getting your baby into a routine from the beginning. But I as I attempted more of their methods with my first, I found a few glitches along the way. Here are 3 reasons why Babywise doesn’t jive with me.

  • It’s confusing. I don’t know about you but once I had babies my brain no longer functioned the way it did before. I also don’t have hours and hours every day to figure out complex schedules and routines. Babywise is very complex or at least to me, it seems that way. It has you merging schedules and feedings. It’s not an easy read and it continually changes. Yes, a baby’s sleep changes as they grow. But I feel like it can be (it is) way more simple! 

  • It’s Too Strict. SO Babywise suggests that you feed your baby on a set schedule of every 2.5 hours to 4 hours, depending on their age starting from a week to 10 weeks of age. I don’t know about you but I had a really hungry newborn. He was 9 pounds 2 ounces from birth and he gained 1.5 pounds a week, at times. He was hungry ALL the time and if I didn’t feed him he was angry baby. As well he should be! I’m not a huge fan of when babies get into snacking but I firmly believe newborns (babies under 4 months) should be fed on demand. Chances are (as I’ve seen with both my boys) their eating patterns level out at around 3 months and take full feeds. Babies go through huge growth spurts ALL the time. Please please please, FEED YOUR BABY when they are hungry.
  • My Babies Want To Be Fed To Sleep. Most sleep training methods tell you not to get into the habit of nursing your baby to sleep. Babywise is one of those especially because they teach the whole Eat-Play-Sleep method. So the idea is that as soon as your baby wakes up, you feed them. Then they “play” and then when it’s time to put them down for a nap, you do so. But there is a flaw in this oh so seemingly simple plan. Hungry babies. I’ll be honest-I tried super hard not to feed my first to sleep once I started sleep training him. I didn’t know anything about babies and sleep so I just did what I was told by many sleep sites and books. It didn’t work and I had a hungry baby who only took catnaps. Once I started following my gut instinct to feed my babies to sleep-they slept better and sleep training was (is) more successful. Look. Do you like going to sleep on an empty stomach? I don’t! In my experience with my own babies I have found that a full tummy equals good sleep. If you are worried that your child will never go to sleep without being fed, just relax. My 17 month old gets a bottle of milk before bed but he finishes it and then we put the bottle in the sink. He falls asleep great! There are ways, down the road, to gently wean your baby from needing to be fed to sleep but I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

Ok-so we’ve established that Babywise didn’t work for me and WHY it didn’t work for me. But you are probably wondering what I did instead. Well, I did a lot of things! Here are 3 things I did (and do) to establish healthy sleep habits with my babies.

  • Create An Awesome Baby Cave. A peaceful environment is conducive to quality sleep. If you think about what helps you sleep well then it’s easy to apply that to creating an ideal sleeping environment for your baby. White noise is super important in our home. My husband and I even sleep with it! I have two of these Amazon Echo Dots that we’ve hooked up via bluetooth to old iPods/Android phones. My husband ripped a continuous track of white noise onto the devices so that it plays all night long. Make the room as dark as you possibly can. As your newborn becomes a curious baby, they will learn to scan the room to look for you and just have general interest in their environment. If there is too much light, this can make it difficult for them to fall asleep. My almost 4 month old already looks for his big brother like a hawk. It makes naptime a little tricky! Grab some blackout shades to help shut out the light. Keep the room moderately cool. A stuffy, hot room is a factor in contributing to SIDS. It’s also super uncomfortable! We keep our boys comfy in a fleece sleepsack (during the winter) and breathable, cotton jammies.
  • Establish A Simple Routine. I’ve probably said this a billion times but it’s because routine, even a simple one, is so important in contributing to sleep success. I do not thrive well if I have no structure to my day. I think babies are the same way. Pick a wake up time every day and start from there. If you wake your baby up at the same time every morning and feed them-their body clock can sync to this time. Be mindful of how long your baby is able to stay awake and start nap-time before they get too tired. Don’t keep them up in hopes that they will nap longer. I’m never afraid of the early bedtime when I have a little baby and when they’ve needed it, they generally sleep even longer through the night.
  • Be Ok With Being Boring. What I mean by this is if you want to see success with getting your baby into a routine and establishing healthy sleep habits-you kinda have to be home to do that. With my first I was super strict about his routine and schedule in the beginning. With my second, I’m more flexible but I’m still pretty boring during those first 6 months. Part of that is because we have one car and my husband usually takes it. I’m totally ok with being home the majority of the time because it’s worth it for me. I’ve seen the benefits of keeping my little guys on a good schedule. If you have one baby and find yourself bored with being home all the time-take advantage of this season of rest! Find a show to binge on or a good book! I know for me that there will come a day when we can go all the time if we want. This time of being at home is just a season.

Figure out what works for you as a family and then try to stick to it, if you can. Consistency is really important when you are establishing healthy sleep habits with your baby. I’ll be the first to tell you that we don’t have it all figured out in our home. This morning both my boys were awake before 6am. I’m really tired! But we do have a foundation of sleep to fall back on and that is something worth working towards, for us.

What have you found to work for you when it comes to your baby and sleep? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. So when you click on a link and purchase something (anything) on Amazon, I make a small comission. Thank you for supporting all the hard work I do here at The Messy Housewife!