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There’s no science to picking a page-turner for baby, but you know you’ve found the right fit when he asks for it again and again. That’s good news since early literacy is essential to your child’s development.
Sharing your love of the written word is also an integral part of an effective bedtime routine. After all, what better way is there to end each day than having your kiddo curl up in your lap? And it doesn’t matter one bit if you reach the last page, because it’s the bonding that counts.
Pediatricians encourage reading aloud to baby as early as three months. Little does she know that those silly rhymes and colorful pictures build vocabulary and give her a head start when she goes to school. Point out letters and ask her to identify objects and before you know it she’ll be rattling off her ABCs.
Start baby’s library with this mix of classics and new favorites, organized (loosely) by age.
Following the “latest and greatest” sleep training method to the letter can leave you feeling frustrated and confused. Sometimes you gotta put the books aside and hit up a fellow mom for help. We asked parents from our inner circle who’ve recently emerged from the trenches of the early infancy stage what they wished they’d known from day one.
Consider their advice, below, required bedtime reading.
1. “Sleep begets sleep. The better the nap, the better the night.”
2. “There is no one sleep remedy for every child. Even if someone swears that a method worked for their eight children, it may not work for yours.”
3. “Keep in mind that baby sleep is completely different from adult sleep. The idea that if you put them to bed an hour later they should sleep an hour later in the morning is actually the opposite of how their bodies work.”
4. “Put your child to bed awake, so they learn how to fall asleep on their own and don't develop sleep associations. I learned the hard way, and won't make that mistake again.”
5. “You can nurse a sleeping baby, so it’s not necessary to turn on the lights, wake him up and change him during the night. It was awesome for me and him. Win-win!”
6. “If you’re going to let them cry it out, start early. We wanted to do it at 11 months, but everyone told us that 3 months is the lucky number. Babies just get smarter (and harder to resist) as they get older.”
7. “Sometimes you do have to wake a sleeping baby. For us, naps longer than three hours led to poor night’s sleep.”
8. “You may have to just wait out the tough times. Because of developmental milestones, we had very little sleep between 6 and 10 months. Luckily, our baby relearned how to sleep through the night on her own afterwards.”
9. “Give baby his own space to to sleep in. You’ll start to wake each other up if you’re in the same room.”
10. “Don’t let baby fall asleep while you’re nursing or cuddling him. It’s hard to do! They’re so tiny and cute, that you just want to hold them all the time. But it really helps if they can fall asleep on their own.”
11. “Make sure the nursery is really, really dark.”
12. “Establish a wind down routine and say lights out at the same time every night. Being able to rely on a relaxing, quiet bedtime is sooo nice!”
As seen on Huffington Post and Big City Moms, In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, Pediatrician Dr. Deena Blanchard of Premier Pediatrics offers Newton Baby her top tips for new breastfeeding moms.
When you've breastfed two kids and you are a pediatrician you might think there isn't much more to learn about breastfeeding—but you would be wrong. I had my third son a few months ago. I was nervous. It has been four years since I last breastfed and, even then, I struggled a bit in the beginning.
This time, the baby latched right away; after 24 hours, though, my nipples were killing me. I found myself with the same worries I advise mothers about. How do I know my baby is getting enough? Will this pain stop? Am I doing this right?
Our practice, Premier Pediatrics, employs a lactation consultant, Flannery Fontinell, to help support our patients. I am blessed to have Flan as an employee and also as a friend. So naturally, when my nipples were hurting, I reached for my cell phone to call her. I didn't know what she would say or how she would help but I knew I needed her guidance. I had learned from my earlier breastfeeding experience that waiting it out was not a wise idea. As expected, she was extremely helpful. I learned so much from her in the two sessions we had. Below are the top four lessons I took away from my talks with her.
1. Reframe your language
This is a huge one. Often the language we use to describe feeding is filled with negativity. "I don't have enough milk," or "he's still hungry even though I fed for an hour," or " I can't do it I had to give him a bottle!" This kind of language places blame on us, the moms. The women who just gave birth to a baby and probably haven't slept in days and are dealing with shifting hormones. Don't you think we have enough on our plate without adding self deprecating language? So reframe your thinking: rather than "he's still hungry," try "he wants to nurse." The baby may want to nurse for comfort—not because he's hungry. Who knows? The truth is that the reason doesn't really matter. Babies like to nurse. They do it a lot. If you have had the baby on the breast and you need a break, you are NOT "lazy" or "bad." You need to take care of yourself to take care of the baby. So cut yourself some slack, check your language and reframe the way you think about breastfeeding.
2. It's not a chess game; you don't need to plan eight steps ahead.
If you are anything like me, you like to strategize, troubleshoot, and have a plot out steps to success. As it turns out, babies don't run like business meetings or speaking engagements and you can't really plan ahead. I knew this, I say this to new parents all the time, but boy did I need a reminder.
3. Use support: both physical and emotional.
First and foremost was Flan’s practical advice to support my arms during a nursing
session. With my last breastfeeding experience I hadn't used any devices to assist in feeding; I now think that was a huge mistake. This time, in walks Flan with the Brest friend pillow—I admit I was skeptical. But she insisted that I needed support, so I tried the pillow and it did actually become my "breast friend." It made the whole process so much easier. My arms weren't tired and the baby wasn't dangling. I extend this as a metaphor to accept any support others offer to you. When someone wants to help you, say “yes.” Be specific and ask for what you need, whether it's help with the baby, food for your family, or just companionship. Martyrdom will get you nowhere; you will end up with a tired arm and a tired heart.
4. Rethink what you have learned and be open to new lessons.
I thought I knew how to latch a baby well but it turns out I had some improving to do. I’d gotten rusty since my last breastfeeding experience (during which I struggled) four years ago. It was hard to admit I wasn't doing it as well as I could. But with practice, the latching came. I had always thought: bring the baby to the breast not the breast to the baby. There is actually more to it than that. With repeated practice, the subtler techniques will come. In the meantime, be open to new ideas and suggestions. Hey, if it doesn't work, what's the harm in trying?
Those are four take away experiences. There is so much to learn; being open to discovering new things will make you a better parent and, in my case, a better pediatrician, as well. Reframe your challenges, accept your limitations, and celebrate your day-to-day successes. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day.
Dr. Deena Blanchard
Dr. Deena recently shared her personal breastfeeding struggles on The Huffington Post with an inspiring and informative post for moms.