Periodically, while out with other first time moms, or even via Twitter, Facebook, Babycenter, etc., I’ll get asked how we did (fill in the blank) with Tiny. While I certainly won’t claim to be an expert, sometimes hearing what has worked for someone else gives you one more thing in your back pocket for times of desperation, when it seems like nothing else has worked.
I’m probably tempting fate here and as soon as I click publish John will probably do the exact opposite of whatever has been working up until now, but I thought I’d give a rundown of some of the more common questions.
How did you get John weaned from the bottle before he was a year old? To be honest, part of it was his doing. By the time we hit about 10 months, he had already dropped the early morning bottle on his own in favor of a more substantial breakfast. As we crept toward the 11 month mark, we just started dropping bottles until the only one left was the evening bottle. At 11 months, I switched him from the before bed bottle to a bedtime snack (teeth brushing to follow), and we’ve never looked back.
How did you get him to switch from bottle to sippy, and to drinking milk? We tried a couple of different kinds (OK, maybe more like FOUR OR FIVE) before we found one he liked – the straw. I began offering him cold water in his straw sippy at meals starting around 8 months, to get him used to the idea of drinking a cool liquid (he generally drank his bottles at room temperature or warmer). When we made the switch to whole milk, he readily accepted the frosty cold beverage. Nowadays, he gets milk at meals and his bedtime snack, and water in a straw sippy is available throughout the day for him.
How do you get John to eat a variety of things? I um, just give them to him? No really, my kid only wants cheese squares and crackers. OK, here’s the deal: Just about the time they start figuring out talking and walking, they realize that they can do stuff themselves. “I dood it!” is a familiar refrain during the day here. So, I tap into that itch for independence. Instead of just putting something on his tray and expecting him to eat it, I offer him a couple of choices. Bananas or oranges? Turkey or tofu? Tomatoes or broccoli? Breakfast he eats with Daddy, but lunch is always a choice for him. Dinner is no big deal because he eats with us, and whatever we’re eating.
What’s John’s schedule like during the day? To be honest, from the hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., I’m pretty flexible. He naps once during that time period, usually two to three hours. The day generally starts around 6:30 or so, when he has breakfast with Daddy and they play for a while (Mommy gets to sleep later). When his daddy has to get ready for work, the two of them come and wake me up, and then Tiny and I play until around 9 a.m., when he has a snack. Another hour or so of playing, and he is usually ready for a nap. But if we’re out running errands, or want to make plans, he’ll stay awake until we get home. I do try to make sure he’s done napping by 3 at the latest, or bedtime can be an ordeal. When he’s up from his nap, we’ll eat lunch, play, and then maybe make a run to the park for a snack al fresco and some swing time. We play some more until the hubster comes home around 5:30, 5:45, and then he takes Tiny and the dog on a walk while I finish up dinner. We all eat, then John gets a bath and some more playtime with daddy, then a bedtime snack, teethbrushing and a story. He’s usually out by 7:30ish.
7:30? Seriously? Yes. And we have a rule (because about six weeks to two months ago, it was a giant battle to get him down), and he knows it: Mommy or Daddy will rock him and snuggle him to sleep, but he has to go to sleep. If it takes longer than 20 minutes, he will go in his crib awake. When that happens, he might squawk for a minute, and then you’ll hear him singing himself to sleep. Then, silence.
Does he wake up in the middle of the night? Occasionally, but we’ve learned the value of just waiting a couple of minutes. Since he now falls asleep on his own part of the time, he generally will go back to sleep on his own if he wakes in the middle of the night. If he doesn’t, we’ll go check on him and help him get settled again.
How do you get him to sleep that long? It used to be a crapshoot. But then I went back one day and re-read a couple of our sleep habit books, and realized that while we had a consistent bedtime routine and a consistent bedtime, we did not have a consistent wake up time. Within two days of starting to wake John sometime after 6 a.m. and no later than 7 a.m., he began sleeping through the night again and waking around 6:30 on his own. So I guess the moral of the story is to not be afraid to hit the books again (even at this stage of the game) and be willing to tweak your routine.
John is one now – are you going to forward face his car seat? No. That used to be the rule, yes, but newer guidelines strongly urge parents to rear face their child as long as possible – at least until they’re two. John will be rear facing until he’s 31.
Those are pretty much the most common questions and conversations. Keep in mind that every kiddo is different, and if we decide to give John a sibling, none of this may work on him or her. Hell, none of this may work on John in a month – that’s how kids are. But for now, it’s working, and if your routine isn’t, feel free to try some of these completely harmless and completely free tips.
What about you? Anything working particularly well in your household?