In my super-expansive 8 months as a mother (haha) I have picked up some bits of wisdom from some of the more experienced mamas I've talked to. Below are some of the best tips I've found. I'd love to hear more pieces of advice from anyone else! Anything to make this job a little easier, right?
Babies need Naked Time, people. They need to air out their tushies (this helps prevent/treat diaper rashes) and the freedom from their diaper/clothing makes it easier for them to learn new skills (like crawling or rolling over or eating their feet). Plus, they like it. My mom suggested that we lay an extra waterproof mattress pad on the floor and put a towel over it. That way if she pees, the towel absorbs it and the mattress pad protects the carpet. We recently bought a California King mattress pad to cover more surface area (see below). We're serious about our naked time 'round these parts.
Have two sets of mattress pads & crib sheets on the bed
I don't just mean "have a spare." I mean, put on a mattress pad and cover it with a sheet, then put another mattress pad OVER that and put another sheet down. This way, if your baby pukes or has a "poo-splosion" in the middle of the night, you can just peel off the top layer and go back to bed. To be honest, I think this would be even better with three layers (that way there's always a spare in case of an emergency), but that's just me. I don't remember who suggested this, but it was one of the new mamas from my Weddingbee days.
Set up a mirror for Tummy Time
My friend Ann from my Mom Group suggested putting a mirror in front of Charlie's face during tummy time. All you need is a hand-held mirror, and I tell you: it changed everything for us. Rather than faceplanting and crying endlessly during tummy time, Charlie noticed the pretty girl in the mirror and found that she could actually hold up her own head. After that, we put her in front of her mirrored closet doors and she LOVED tummy time. Below is a photo of the first time we showed her the mirror - it clearly worked for us!
Get them on a schedule
From the moment Charlie was born, my mom was a broken record: "you need to get that baby on a schedule, Sara." It took months for me to take her advice (but in my defense, I'm convinced it's near impossible to get a colicky baby on a schedule). My mom recommended the book My First 300 Babies, which she used when I was a baby. It's an old-school book and suggests letting the baby cry it out from Day 1. I'm not a fan of that philosophy, because I think babies under 5 or so months are too young to cry it out (at least Charlie was). But the book's main message is really helpful: babies like structure in their day, and need to know what to expect. Schedule time into each day for eating, sleeping, and playtime (both with you and alone). But the book that really helped us is called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, which was recommended by my friend Karen. This book talks about sleep in babies at various ages and covers no-cry and let-cry solutions. It even talks about sleep in post-colicky babies, which is a whole different animal. Another helpful method is the EASY method (Eat-Activity-Sleep-You time) from the Baby Whisperer (I'll let you click on that link, rather than bore you with the details here).
Set up "stations" around the house
This one is from my friend Kathy. She has twins and has lived to tell about it (sense of humor in tact, no less), so I take pretty much everything she says as gospel. When Charlie was about three months old, I started to get nervous that I had no idea how to entertain her. Here was Kathy's (genius) advice: "make sure you have "stations" set up for her, especially by the time she's 2 months. You kind of shuffle her around to each station until she fusses, and then you play with her, and then put her in a different station. These stations could be: activity mat (a must!), vibrating bouncy chair (a must!), swing, blanket with some toys, etc. (Add exersaucer and jumperoo as time goes on.)" This idea saved my sanity, because Charlie is easily bored. Now she spends most of her time on the floor with various toys, but if she starts fussing, we'll go into another room and play on THAT floor. She's instantly much happier.
Give your baby plenty of time on the floor
My mother kept telling me that I was "over-thinking" Charlie's day-to-day life. When I was a baby, apparently my mother laid a blanket on the ground and let me wiggle around. I think I felt obligated to entertain Charlie, so leaving her on the floor to fend for herself didn't even occur to me. But seriously, floor-time is super important. Sometimes I'd put her on her back on the floor, and other times floor-time and tummy-time were one and the same. This gave her plenty of time to experiment and learn about what her body could do, and I think it's the main reason why she learned to roll both directions and crawl. We love floor time. Thanks Mom.
What bits of advice have you received? Anything you care to share?Comment
This is kind of a boring one, but it's part of the house, right? And I love looking at the interiors of people's houses, kitchens included. So here ya go!
Sadly, this blurry mess is the only "before" photo I have of the kitchen:
This is the view of the dining room, from inside the kitchen:
The corner of the dining room, which overlooks the living room.
The main things we changed were wall color and lighting. My father-in-law insisted that we needed recessed lighting in the kitchen, and we are SO glad we listened to him. We also had a pantry-in-the-form-of-a-huge-cupboard installed for our food - so happy about that, too!
The installation of the pantry:
Dining room, after:
The dining room table is from Cost Plus World Market, which we bought a few years ago when Y worked for them and we got a great discount. ;) The photos on the wall are old photos of Oakland, which I found by googling "old photos of Oakland" (haha). The prints on the left are our Laws of the Land and Bill of Rights. We also had to get a new chandelier, because the previous owners ran off with whatever was hanging there before (if you'll remember, this condo was a foreclosure). The chandelier is from Lamps Plus.
We went a little wild with the color in the kitchen. We had a really hard time with this one (and the bathrooms) because the color of the granite is a greenish-brown and looks really sick unless it's with the right color. My Father-in-Law couldn't believe we'd chosen nine colors for our house (including two different shades of gray), but even he had to admit it looked great when it was finished!
I didn't have anywhere to store my cookbooks, so we installed an industrial looking shelf from Ikea and mounted an Ikea magnetic strip underneath for my Cuisinart blades. So handy! The painting above it is the first painting I ever did, which was when I was in college. I wanted a painting I'd seen in Bed Bath & Beyond, but I couldn't afford it, so I reproduced it myself from an image I found on Google. I would never do this now (I believe all artists deserve to be paid for what they do!), but at the time I just really wanted something bright and happy in the kitchen and I had no money. Thank you to Will Rafuse for making such happy art for the kitchen, and I'm sorry that my 18 year-old self janked your artwork.
So that's it for the kitchen and dining room! Next stop, the living room.Comment
I've received a lot of emails and Facebook messages from people who'd like to know where I bought the weekly onesies I pose Charlie in every week. So many, in fact, that I think it's about time I write a blog post about it.
They say no idea is original, and while I don't agree with that (as I'm sure most creative types wouldn't), I will say that this idea was 100% snagged from someone else. So instead of giving you a step-by-step tutorial, I'll say this:
- They aren't onesies, actually! It's the same white onesie every week, with a new number photoshopped on.
- The idea came from Young House Love, and I put my own twist on it by posing her on the same quilt every week (her head used to be smaller than one of the circles!) and adding weekly highlights.
- The lovely bloggers over at Young House Love wrote a tutorial about how they did it for their baby, and that tutorial can be found here.
- This has been a really, really fun project. I haven't skipped a week since I started (which unfortunately wasn't until she was four weeks old), and I plan to stop when she's a year. At that point, I'm going to make a big Blurb coffee table book for us, plus one for her godmother and each set of grandparents.
Seriously, this project has been super fun - I highly recommend you try it yourself! And if you don't think you have the dedication to do it every week, try it for each month. :)
Got a burning question? Ask it here!