Tag Archives: toddlers

Babies cry but…

Is it harder to love a baby that cries a lot?

Isn’t that just one big mother of a question right there?!  It’s huge!  I love this question!  I‘ve been asked this question and would like to share with you why, why I’ve been asked and why I love it.  Now if you read my blog but don’t follow me on Twitter then the last time I really blogged about my life as a new mum to Baby G was her birth story post however if you were following me on Twitter back in November & December you would have definitely been aware of some dark times here at Lancaster Towers, you may even have heard some crying and if passing seen floods of tears flowing from the door!  We are now in a good place and Baby G is a delight but for a while there things were seriously, seriously tough.  I mean like proper “considering-going-back-to-work-full-time-and-getting-a-nanny” tough!

Baby G is 15 weeks old now, so here’s a quick rundown of how those first few months with two have been. 

The first three weeks with two

Weeks 1, 2 & 3  At the beginning all was good with Baby G, breast feeding well, waking once or occasionally twice in the night to feed, sleeping most of the time.  Lil’ H adoring of his new sister but he was struggling with the change to his family unit.  His night time sleep went out the window.  My poor little guy desperately trying to make up his mummy time at night I think.  He went from sleeping through the night from being just a few months old to waking multiple times a night.  As a result of his poor sleeping his tiredness saw his behaviour spiral downhill.  Desperate to not be telling him off but everyone’s shattered, patience and best intentions have left the building and he’s being, well frankly naughty, so guess what?  He was being told off and frequently and that just made me so sad.  I kept thinking I did this to him, I knew this was all his emotional reaction to the change,  I now know and can see how hormonal a time it was too.  So positive mummy time dropped to an all time low and we spent the best part of a month in one very hideous viscous circle!

Farewell sleep, hello colic

Weeks 3-8           I had a moment of clarity amongst the fug of breastfeeding tiredness and could see the number one way to make some improvements was to tackle H’s sleep.  Bottom line was we wouldn’t be tolerating this if G hadn’t arrived so it was time.  There were two issues firstly he wouldn’t go to sleep by himself, insisting mummy/daddy stayed or he’d be out of bed and out the door.  Then there was the night waking multiple times a night.  I prioritised the night waking on the grounds it would have the biggest positive impact on his tiredness and therefore his behaviour.  We got the stair gate out and put on his bedroom for the first time ever and used aromatherapy and Indigo child essences (both which I still use).  During the day I introduced “The Sleep Fairy” and her chocolate coin incentive programme!  The premise was simple, Mummy had called the sleep fairy, she would watch over Lil’ H and if he slept in his bed all night she would leave a chocolate coin.  Lil’ H and I made a reward chart by drawing and cutting out and sticking on pictures and photographs a reward chart.  It has been invaluable to have a photo of Hugo asleep in his bed, he so clearly understood what we were asking him to do.  He loves going on the little steam train at Brookside so a straight week of sleeping in his own bed and a ticket to ride he would have! 

First night – when it came to bedtime I stayed with him whilst he went to sleep, 2am he woke, crying “Mummy” and rattling the gate, joy!  I went to him hugged him over the gate told him he was safe and told him to go back to bed.  He didn’t, I did.  I then simply spoke to him through the monitor and said Mummy would scare the sleep fairy away if she came into his room.  This was met by silence!  Quickly followed by the pitter patter of feet back into bed!  The sleep fairy came and left a coin and a very proud and not so tired boy awoke the following day.  Night 2 similar but I never went to him just spoke to him.  Night 3, the wheels fell off and I had to go into him and but of course there was no coin from the fairy in the morning L That was that though, the fairy came for three weeks and then had to be “dismissed”.  Which we did by her leaving a chocolate coin, a special present and a magic fairy wand, this is important because if we need to call the fairy back which we have had to a few times we use the wand when we are going to bed and ask her to help H sleep in his own bed.  To date it has been very effective – the Sleep Fairy and her chocolate coin incentive programme rocks! 

During all this Baby G had been a dream, breastfeeding well, sleeping well, napping well.  Toddler sleep issues resolved, make way for Baby crying issues.  It came from nowhere when G was about 3 weeks old this crying started late afternoon say about 4:30pm ish and I would get her to sleep, like to totally floppy arm asleep, put her down and seconds later eyes wide open hysterical screaming.  It was colic.  That was my worst nightmare a baby with colic and it just got worse.  It was for a few hours in the early evening which go longer ‘til it was pretty much 6 hours straight ‘til 10:30pm when she’d be fed and go to sleep and then be put down exhausted.  Then it started to start earlier and earlier and earlier and eventually it was ALL DAY.  I timed it to go to the doctors one day she cried for 5 hours between 9:30am and 4:30pm and solidly without sleeping from 4:30pm until 10:30pm.  Baby G cried for just over 11 hours that day and that was a “regular” day.  She didn’t feed well, she cried, got wind, her tummy hurt, she cried more – yet another vicious circle.  I had the infacol, the Colief, the gripe water, the Gaviscon, the massage pad, a pal on Twitter was sending reiki, the white noise of the hairdryer was rescued with a white noise CD (which is great and we still use).  I’d cut out wheat, dairy, caffeine and alcohol, I’d seen breast feeding consultants and tried most bottles (Baby Born Free have all the latest on BPA Free, were hugely supportive and deserve a thank you!)  But Baby G was still crying it was getting worse if anything, if something did work it almost never worked again there was no consistency, no pattern, preferences or routine were emerging.  My hair was going greyer I swear visibly by the day, the stress lines were deepening and arriving at a pace.  I didn’t want to go out, it was so exhausting and difficult to visit other people, I was frightened she would just scream the place down, family or good friend or not I didn’t want to be observed struggling with my Baby.  I was in yet another very hideous spiral, this time one of very real and total panic.  Life felt like a tent with no pegs in a hurricane.  I don’t believe any child is “easy” they all have their moments and challenges and it just might not be whilst they are babies but it was only now that I understood what all the conversations I heard amongst my ante & post natal groups with H were about.  Only now did I “get it”, this was the nightmare they were all going on about!

Week 8                 By the time Baby G was eight weeks old she had the six week check, all was well, I’d been prescribed the gaviscon and I had returned twice because “my baby cries all the time”.  I wasn’t dismissed to say I was would be unfair, Baby G was checked out and I was told she was fine, it would pass but to come back if I continued to be worried.  I was worried, worried it might never stop, even my mum started to say “do you think there is something wrong with her?” Family and friends would visit – arriving with their knacks, tricks, secrets, songs and rhymes and declare “oh give her to me I’ll settle her.”  Part of me is proud of G that without exception she saw everyone off and didn’t settle for a single one of their secret-special-fail-safe baby–charms!  I had seen an osteopath when I was pregnant and I had taken Baby G along when she arrived.  I was back there on an emergency appointment to see if anything had changed or could be helped or preferably fixed.  I was running out of routes to explore, next step was going to have to be… I was all out I didn’t have an next step – wait until she was 12 weeks old and allegedly all this colicky screaming would stop that 12 week milestone was a lifetime away.  The osteopath was just lovely and listened and examined Baby G, placed her hands on her head and said, almost immediately, “this baby has an ear infection”.  In my heart of hearts I didn’t really think I’d get an answer from going to the osteopath, I was just dealing with such an alien situation it made me feel better to be doing something, doing anything, I just wanted her to stop crying.  “This baby has an ear infection” I was blown away there was a possible answer, now I feel guilty that wasn’t on my radar as an option, could I have know?  Should I have know?  Oh my God I could have an answer and one that is treatable – I was excited, inappropriately pleased my baby might have an ear infection because if she does we can treat it and she won’t be in pain and she won’t be crying for unknown reasons anymore.  Baby G had her a full osteopathic “MOT” and treatment and then we headed straight back to the doctors.  I called en route as it was gone 5pm telling them I wanted someone to look in my baby’s ears tonight.  The doctor looked in her ears and confirmed.  Calpol and antibiotics were prescribed.  Calpol and 20 minutes later I had a different baby.  We had seen her smile before but we didn’t see it very often, we didn’t know that she is a smiley girl and she is.  Just look!

Happy smiley girl

Best friends are allowed

So that is why my best friend asked me “is it harder to love a baby that cries a lot?” I love that question because I knew the answer without thinking, I love the fact that I knew without stopping for a nano second, I love the fact that the question made me really think about the first few months with Baby G.  I love that question because it says so much about the strength and openness of both our friendship and the people my best friend and I are.  It’s a friendship I am incredibly proud of .

So what is the answer to the original question “is it harder to love a baby that cries a lot?”  The answer is simple “No” but there are far fewer moments to recognise, reflect and feel that love because all of the attention that is demanded and exhaustion created by the crying.  It is harder to have those moments of calm and quiet and it is those moments when you gaze at your sleeping baby and get to experience rush of love for your child flood over you.

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Girls do, boys don’t

Today Lil’ H and his best female friend AJ came to play.  They had a pretend game of trains, of course this required two trains – AJ driving one, H driving the other …

“Lets sit on the chairs nicely and see where our trains are going.” I said

“Marks & Spencers!” AJ replied

“What about your train?” I asked H

“No where, I’m not going to sit on the chair nicely!” stated H

The end!

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Wordless Wednesday – second snow day!

Bombay Sapphire, slimline tonic, ice & a slice of lime

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Potty training … in a jar!

To quote a genuine “potty mouth”, Gordon Ramsay, “Potty training, done!” 

It arrived on the “to do” list when Little H turned two years old in April.  I’ll be honest and say it wasn’t a chapter in his or my life or the childcare books I was looking forward to but the more nappies I changed the more appealing it became.  Deciding when was right for toddler H was obviously important but almost not as critical as when the time was right time for us a family.  Everyone says “do it in the summer, its easy in the summer, just let them run about naked” blah, blah, blah.  Well Summer 2009 involved us moving out of Lancaster Towers for a month whilst a new kitchen and a new bathroom were supposed to be installed!  The one month project became a four month project which left us April to September with only our ensuite bathroom functioning on the second floor.  It also made me a stressed out & heavily pregnant mummy!  I’m now a very proud mummy of two with only one of those bottoms in nappies, so this is what we did – proof you don’t have to wait until it’s Summer! 

We started back in August, we introduced the potty at bathtime started taking his nappy off before bathtime and encouraging him to sit on it, occassionally he would do a wee & we’d be delighted and he’d be pleased.  Then we started taking his nappy off after tea ’til bathtime, mixed combination of success & accidents.  Summer was passing, Autumn was looming, everything says don’t do it with a new sibling on the horizon, I was getting more pregnant, more tired, patience, in fact everything, was becoming an effort and carrying the potty up two flights of stairs was something I didn’t have to do.  So we stopped.  Just like that.  I just stopped taking his nappies off and left things as they were, Little H became a big brother and we all got used to being a family of four. 

We read lots of stories about going the the potty, there were always some in the library and we bought our favourites which include Pirate Pete’s Potty by Andrea Pinnington, Peek-a-Poo what’s in your nappy? by Guido Van Genechten and Nappy Duck and Potty Piggy by Bernadette Ford and Sam Williams – I’ve put hyperlinks to these on amazon.

I wanted to do it at home, I didn’t want nursery to do it, happy for them to support but wanted to get the back of it broken at home.  The next  “window” I could see was Christmas when H would be off nursery for a few weeks as would Mr L.  Everyone thought I was mad – Winter, Christmas, Baby G less than 12 weeks old etc. etc.  but we were accident free in three days!  Having now trained him this week I can look back at our half hearted attempt/introduction to the potty in August and see that H didn’t have anywhere near the same bladder control as he does now.  He was having a wee within 40 mins or so, when we took his nappy off last Monday he could go 2.5hrs between wees so he definately had markedly more physical control.

Potty training, I was still not really sure what I was training to be honest when I started, but there is no point if they don’t have some element of physical control.  I’d read the books and I still hadn’t found the list of “what I am training” and now I know you are training:

  1. Sitting on the potty, sitting still for long enough to use it!
  2. Recognise the sensation of needing to go
  3. Communicating the need to go in advance

I used the Gina Ford potty train in one week guide as the basis for my plan of action. Our efforts a few months ago at bathtime pretty much meant he knew what the potty was for and we would let him watch tv to encourage him to sit on it for long enough.  I also had a big jar of smarties, maltesers etc. I put all the Christmas chocolates in it and when he used the potty he could have one for a wee and two for a poo.  Day one we just let him be in pants and had a few accidents, day two in the afternoon we had pants and trousers and two accidents.  Every time we had an accident I said when you feel that your wee is coming tell mummy and we can use the potty.  Day three we had no accidents but we were still having to ask him and put him on the potty every two hours to use it.  Day four it clicked, he started saying “I need the potty” without it being a mad dash too. 

I took H’s nappy off last Monday and our last accident was last Tuesday!  H still has a nappy on at night but I have noticed this is barely wet in an morning now and I have no plans to night train him for a good while.   We are moving on to the toilet – now its a smartie only for using the toilet.  I am sure there are accidents ahead, everyone warns of a relapse, whether that is you or them getting remiss in reminding/remembering who knows but I shall carry trousers & pants and continue to be one very proud mummy. 

I’d just like to thank my Twend, Bec, over at Beetroot and Gherkins for her support and advice – she too has a toddler bottom which out of nappies and in pants – High Five Bec – we rock! xx

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The Helium Killer

A pre-post warning – if you are under 3 years old this is a sad story, if you are older I hope you will find it amusing! 

 Two months ago when Baby G was born both Baby G and Lil H were given helium balloons to celebrate  their arrival in this world and promotion to big brother respectively.  Lil H has always been a big fan of helium balloons and has had a lot of enjoyment over the last 8 weeks with it.  But 8 weeks on and what was a big, full, round balloon bobbing & bouncing along the ceiling had become a floppy, saggy, crinkly bit of foil limping around the living room floor.  Mr L put H to bed whilst I put the living room back in order returning the toys to their correct boxes and refilling the toy box in anticipation of it all being emptied again tomorrow.  This pathetic bit of foil limped towards me.  On the basis that it frankly didn’t qualify as a balloon anymore, I mean it didn’t even float for gods sake!  I didn’t think anything of picking the flaccid foil pocket up, swiftly putting it out of its misery with the kitchen scissors and then unconsciously I stuffed it in the kitchen bin.  I did all this without a first, second or any other kind of thought.  If it’s not there my little H will never notice nor know or care.  Shortly after Lil’ H appeared downstairs holding his cup requesting more milk, he then spied his consumed “fruit squeezy” from tea time and decided he’d prefer that to milk.  I told him to go back to bed and I would bring his milk up, I also told him to “pop that in the bin on your way please”.  Again I did this all without thinking, the total absence of thought is very evident at all times throughout this tale isn’t it?!

H reappeared at the kitchen door holding the flat, lifeless, bounce free bit of foil.  “Mum you squashed my balloon” he accused.  I didn’t know what to say, I think I may have even started to blush!  “Mum you squashed my balloon” he repeated louder and even sadder.  I had to turn away as I felt a bad case of the giggles coming on because he looked so, so, so disproportionately sad about this!   H was soothed with the explanation it had “popped” and returned to bed with the promise of a new one. 

Phew – thankfully he isn’t old enough to examine the evidence, if he has he would have seen the clean, sharp, deliberate cuts of the kitchen scissors wielded by his mother in the unprovoked slashing! 

I confess I am a Helium Killer!

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Where did your dinner come from?

At Lancaster Towers one of the daily unknowns is what meal times will bring with my toddler Lil’ H.  I hated weaning and perhaps the fall out of all the emotions of that is the picky, or not picky, unpredictable toddler that faces me for three meals a day.  I have a handful of balanced meal options I can present with minimal nonsense – spaghetti bolognese, sausage and mash, lasagne and fish pie.  Alongside this handful of “bankers” there are cookbooks, a bin and a freezer full of “denied” alternatives.  Just to be clear the rules around the refused meal options has small print attached – what is denied at home will be consumed (often with second helpings) at nursery – oh the power of peer pressure!

The difference in H’s eating between home and nursery is huge, probably massive and definitely really annoying.  Armed with my Annabel Karmel cookbooks I have cooked more meals for H than I have ever cooked for myself or for anyone else.  So to watch the food go from shop, to home, to oven, to table, through negotiation, some pleading, to low down tricks like dipping some in yoghurt, to flat refusal, to the bin (OK I confess I eat some!) is upsetting and being honest can be anger inducing. 

The difference between home and nursery got me thinking, what’s different and what can I replicate at home to improve my toddlers consumption?  Inviting his classmates round for tea everyday ain’t an option but helping me in the kitchen and the garden is.  H attends a Montessori nursery, one of the major appeals for me is the outdoor nature focussed activities they do, planting, growing & harvesting food from the vegetable garden, collecting eggs and helping create lunch from their efforts.  Taking involvement as the key thought I have managed to add “broccoli trees” and homemade pizza to the Toddler menu at Lancaster Towers over the last few weeks.  I don’t grow broccoli or wheat to grind flour to make pizza but H enjoys “chopping the trees” and decorating the pizza.  We talk about the food we’re using, where it comes from and it gets eaten with the special magic ingredient – pride.  Of course these are baby steps and if you were a Peeping Tom at my place last week you would have seen me cajoling Lil’ H with birthday candles using the chance to blow them out as an incentive for a mouthful of cottage pie – another of my parenting lows/tips shared – but hey it worked, we made it through another mealtime and this time had an empty to bowl at the end – success!

The Potato Story [3]So when I was contacted by the people driving The Potato Story I was really keen to support and help spread the word about food provenance.  Especially so having my own domestic challenges overcome by some of the key thinking behind the programme that undertsanding where food comes from is a key part of developing lifelong healthy eating habits in children. 

‘The Potato Story’ is part of a wider campaign by McCain called ‘It’s all good’ and is focussed on educating kids on food provenance visiting UK schools in 2009 trying to combat the shocking stats below that:

  • 1 in 10 children aged 7 – 11 think chickens lay potatoes!
  • 1 in 5 have no idea that potatoes are grown in the ground
  • 1 in 5 didn’t realise that chips are made from the humble spud

‘The Potato Story’ has been delivering its message from a purpose built double-decker bus visiting over 130 UK primary schools and has to date reached out to in excess of 17,400 primary school pupils.  My Lil’ H is preschool in age so has “missed the bus” so to speak but I wanted to write about the campaign as I have taken inspiration from it and started at home.  Come Spring time we will be planting veg in the garden and I will write more in 2010 about what we grow, cook and eat, well hopefully eat anyway!

You can see pictures of all the fun of the tour here and learn more by visiting www.thepotatostory.co.uk

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I bought my son an elephant …

So preparations for baby number two are well underway.  I am not willing to tempt fate by saying “nearly there” as my new kitchen, that’s the 20,000 swear word kitchen, has taken 83 days and still counting (it justifies a whole post in itself that tale!)  

However number one son, H’s, big boy bedroom is finished and he’s moved in – out of his cot and into a single bed – I am delighted to report the transition couldn’t have gone better.  He remains, touch wood, a great sleeper and couldn’t love his new room or the Elephant beanbag I bought him more.  I took a really lovely photo of him this weekend chilling in his room – an similar image of him age 13 in front of a computer game is, I am sure, inevitable! 

photo

I am so thrilled he loves his room as much as he does.  With so much changing in his world – from cot to bed, nappies to pants (not going quite as well admittedly!), from only child & only grand child to having the imminent arrival of a sibling in October on his horizon.  For him to love his room so much make me really happy.  His new room is where he wants to be if we’re at home, everyone who comes to the house gets “come play upstairs in my bedroom” – so sweet!

So household maneuvers continue – a bit of background for you … we thought about moving prior to baby number two but with three bedrooms and the housing market, or should I say lack of housing market, being what it is, we decided to stay put for a year or two.  Now we are rejigging how we use the space we have.  So the spare room and also my office/study have been converted into H’s new big boy bedroom freeing up his nursery for baby number two.  We have a sofa bed in the living room so will give up our master suite as and when we have guests.  Lets be honest who wants to visit anyone with two kids under three?!  More often we meet friends for weekends or holidays away as they all have babes too. 

I have set up my office/study in our loft area and I absolutely love it, just putting the finishing touches to my “hub/den/retreat” (trip to Ikea planned on Tuesday – wish me luck!) and I will post up some piccies of the finished space for you. 

The less positive side of increasing our household occupancy is that I am having to relinquish / share wardrobe space with my other half, ARGHHHH!  Some quite heated discussions have been had about clothing quantities and on that note I’m off, as R is out tonight, possession is nine tenths of the law and squatters rights rule when is comes to hanging and drawer space, well in my book they do anyway!

Ahhh, just previewed this post, I so love this photo of H, wish I’d taken it on my decent camera and not my phone though – does that happen to anyone else? 

Claire x

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