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Sleep victory!

It’s nearly 1:30pm. She’s been up since 10am. Her eyes are red; she’s squirming and grizzling on my lap. At a week shy of six months old, she still needs regular daytime naps, but lately she’s been resisting sleep for hours at a time. The unfortunate result is a chronically-overtired, unhappy baby and a stressed-out mama who can’t get anything done. Today, I decide, things are going to change.

I take her to her cot, and slip her into her sleep suit. I shut the curtains and, following Mum’s advice, grab a toy (a pink hippo) with a music box installed. I pull the tail/drawstring and “It’s a small world” tinkles out. The plan is to play this every time I put her to sleep, by way of a nap-time ‘cue,’ since we have such an irregular schedule that a timed routine would be useless, and even using her cot as a cue wouldn’t be helpful as we are often out and about.

She rolls onto her side and I put my arm across her body to stop her rolling over (the result of this would be that she’d drop her dummy and start wailing). I stroke her back with my thumb while bracing her body with my hand and arm. I can just see her eyelashes, showing me if she’s still awake. For several minutes I kneel there, arm across her body, pulling the string on the hippo when it stops.

Then finally – success! She’s peacefully snoozing. I ease my hand away from her body and slowly stand up, backing away quietly lest I make a sudden noise and wake her. The next challenge has begun: making sure she sleeps long enough. Forty-five minutes later I hear the first peals of crying; she’s awake but not ready to get up. I resolve to leave her in her bed, and repeat the same process as earlier with the hippo and the arm across her body. It takes some time – she plays with the hippo and squirms and pulls her dummy out – and I almost give in, but eventually she drifts off again. So now, here I sit, blogging and eating lunch, and feeling well pleased with myself for sticking it out and making sure Miss Amelia gets her beauty sleep!

Sweet dreams, kiddo! (This is from a different day – no way I’m going into that room now to get a photo!)

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Five months old and counting! At 7kg, and back up on the 90th percentile for length after dipping down to the 50th, my little baby isn’t so little anymore.

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Four days ago Miss Amelia decided to make nightly dinner of mushed veg a regular habit – after breastfeeding she began to grizzle and complain until the food came out. She already associates spoons with food!

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Favourite activities include: standing up with assistance, squealing, giggling, giving big sloppy kisses, chatting up strangers, exploring toys and attempting to crawl (although this last one brings much frustration!).

Happy new year!!

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Sick!

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It started with a bit of lethargy during the day. Then, late that night, a fever – nothing drastic, it was 37.8. A dose of infant Panadol brought it down. Then it went up again the next day, and hit 38.7. More Panadol, and a visit to the GP, who declared it a virus and said no special treatment was required. At this point she was still happy, still playing. Yesterday she was more tired, but still played during the day – she just had more naps.

Today the fever has not got so high – 37.6 on waking – but she has been quite unhappy. She didn’t play this morning, but fed and cried and snuggled in with me. Now she is swaddled up tight (for the first time in weeks) and sleeping soundly. Hopefully this virus will pass quickly and my little cherub can go back to enjoying life!

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What are The Wonder Weeks?

It’s that time again. My placid, happy baby who runs to her own routine and only cries when she really wants something…. has turned into the child who won’t sleep, feeds constantly, and is cranky all the time! On my Facebook mothers’ groups, there are countless posts begging help for the exact same symptoms. What’s going on?!

The answer is contained in a helpful little app called The Wonder Weeks. Developed from the book of the same name, it describes babies as going through “age-linked and predictable” mental ‘leaps’ in their development. The signs that your baby is going through a leap can be summed up by what the authors call the Three C’s: that is, your baby is crying, cranky and clingy. For each different leap there may also be other things to look out for, such as feeding more, a sudden growth spurt, or becoming absent-minded.

Milly has started pulling up clothes and blankets – those little cuddle blankies have come in handy as a substitute!

Each baby grows and develops differently, so each leap will say which week it should occur, give or take a week. After a leap, there will be a particular set of behaviours you might then notice in your baby – new skills and abilities. This might include more co-ordinated movement, increasing verbal experimentation (talking!), and becoming more interested and able to interact with people and their environment. The following is a very brief summary of the first four leaps, to give you an idea of what it’s all about. Amelia is currently going through her fourth leap – probably the biggest yet!

Leap 1: Changing Sensations

Week 5

It is believed that baby’s metabolism, internal organs and the five senses mature quite quickly at this point. His or her head size will suddenly increase (to better house baby’s growing brain!) and you’ll notice bub being more alert. Baby’s range of vision grows, and he or she begins responding to you. Your baby may become able to smile socially, look intently at an object or face, spend more time awake, and respond to touch and smells differently. Signs for this leap include crying without any obvious reason, only going quiet when he or she is with you, suddenly needing to be close all the time (particularly when sleeping), and feeding more frequently.

Leap 2: Patterns

Week 8

Many of baby’s reflexes start to disappear, and he or she begins moving with purpose. This looks a little jerky to start with, as they slowly master the use of their muscles and co-ordination. They begin to recognise patterns, and distinguish between objects; they can also feel patterns with their body, which allows them to gain a sense of where their body is in space, and start to control their own position. Around this time they may discover their hands for the first time, and invest a lot of time and attention in studying them. He or she will show greater head control, and will turn his/her head toward sounds. Baby will start to flap at toys, look at patterned images and make various “grunting” type noises. Much like the first leap, he or she will want more comfort, more food (including wanting the breast but not really taking anything from it), and will also want to be entertained more and may take a while to warm up to strangers.

Leap 3: Smooth Transitions

Week 12

Get ready for bub to become less jerky, and to take movement and sight-seeing to a whole new level! Baby will learn to track an object by smoothly moving the eyes side to side, and moving the head with a fluid motion from side to side. He/she will probably start experimenting with all kinds of vocaliations such as cooing, squealing and crowing. Grab a bib, because the drool is about to begin, and with it plenty of bubbles (baby literally starts frothing at the mouth!). He or she may become able to shake a rattle or toy, and will look amused when something hits their funny bone. Look out for the three C’s (crying, cranky, clingy); being withdrawn and quiet; frequent thumb-sucking or increased need for pacifier.

Leap 4: The World of Events

If your baby is anything like Amelia, you won’t know what’s hit you when Leap 4 starts. Our happy bub had THE worst period of crying, not sleeping, and needing to eat frequently since she’s been born. This leap is a doozy: it lasts for over a month, and other symptoms include reduced head control (which we’ve definitely noticed – a bit of an odd one, but I put it down to them focusing so hard on everything else that head control kind of takes a backseat for a while); more demanding of your attention (yup!); has mood swings (I guess you could say that – one minute she’s happy, the next she’s screaming); needs to be cuddled up close for feeds; can be a bit absent or out of it. Baby is learning to put together those smooth transitions into short, familiar sequences, such as learning a song or nursery rhyme, and expanding their perception to see objects such as a bouncing ball. They’ll become all movement, and be super intent on grasping things – only now they’ll hardly miss; if it’s in their hand they’ll try to bring it to their mouth; will look around to find mum and dad; will react to their mirror image; may grumble when impatient; plus heaps more! Amelia has just discovered her feet, and has started using them to bring dangling toys closer to her hands. She can see shadows moving on the wall, and giggles when something amuses her.

How could I be mad at this face?

Each leap is just a brief time in your baby’s life, and although it can be very challenging, it’s also very exciting to see your baby suddenly learning new things and being able to do so much more. Don’t ever wish away time with your baby, even if it feels hard, because you’ll never get a second back – your baby won’t always be a baby! Do ask for help when you need it – sometimes an hour or two for yourself can be a real lifesaver; if you’ve been holding a tempestuous baby all day, you might want to call in a friend to help out with some housework.

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Hug-A-Bub wrap carrier

I’d heard a lot of good things about the Hug-A-Bub babywearing moby wrap. In fact, somewhere or other it was listed as being the best baby carrier in Australia. It’s touted as being the best for baby’s back, while offering close contact between bub and babywearer. This all sounded good, so I decided to give it a go. We loaded up our newborn and took a raccoon-eyed trip down to Baby Bunting to buy a wrap. They were running out of stock at the time, so we ended up with the slightly cheaper pocketless wrap, which they don’t seem to have anymore.

Sean was happy to try it out, and was quite pleased to walk down to his favourite cafe and get his latte with Amelia strapped to his chest. The staff there were overwhelmed by cuteness.

We tried using it out and about in the early days, but it was a little awkward, and wrapping the thing around your body without getting it all dirty on the ground is nigh on impossible. You need to have it on before you head out, which doesn’t leave much room for adjustments if you’ve set it up wrong. Thus, the pram was favoured over the wrap for outings.

Around the house, it took me a little while to get into the idea – out of sight, out of mind, it would stay hanging off the coat stand, while I tried my best to get housework done and placate a baby who really just wanted (and still wants) to be held at least most of the time. The baby swing worked for the first few weeks, but after that it got a little trickier.

So eventually I remembered the wrap, and out it came. I carefully arranged it according to the instructions on the DVD, placed my baby inside, and went about my business. At first it felt comfortable and good, but about half an hour later the whole thing would start to come loose and poor Milly would end up with her face around my belly-button and her body squashed up like a pretzel. It seems that you need to allow for the crossed part of the fabric, where baby’s bum goes, to really settle and scootch down.

Today I did it up higher than ever before. Sure enough, I was able to wear it for about 45 minutes without it moving as I bent up and down and moved about doing housework. However it was quit uncomfortable, putting strain on the middle of my back. I’m not sure if there’s just something I’m doing wrong – everyone seems to say how comfy it is – or what, but I’ve become keenly interested in backpack-style carriers, particularly the Manduca, which transfers the weight to the hips rather than the back. I’d love to find a local baby carrier library where I can try out some different options and see what works for us. If I can get motivated and actually do that soon, I’ll report back here with the results!

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Why we put blankets over prams

Pre-baby, I never really understood why mums would put a blanket up over their baby’s pram while bub was sleeping. Were they really so precious that the couldn’t handle a bit of light
while taking a nap? (I know, I was a bit of an opinionated jerk). Now, of course, I have my own baby and it all makes sense. In fact, I’m sitting on a train right now (first train ride with Amelia, into the city no less! It has gone well so far, and we’re heading home) and I have put a muslin cloth over her pram. Continue reading

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Twelve weeks today

Yesterday Amelia was feeling particularly photogenic, modelling her hoodie

I don’t have a nice picture to show for today. Amelia is twelve weeks old, and is currently going through a ‘leap’ week according to the Wonder Weeks app (installed on my iPhone). The app says that my girl is currently going through her third developmental leap, which is described as “the world of smooth transitions.” Associated abilities include smoothly tracking a moving object by moving the head and eyes in a fluid motion (which Sean noticed as he walked across the room – at first it was cute, he said, but then it got creepy as she continued to stare at him while he moved about); trying out different vocal possibilities (also noted, with plenty of cooing, gooing, gurgling, squeaking and a wonderful assortment of other noises); and rolling from tummy to back with help (which she’s not as keen on, but has done a couple of times).

The reason I don’t have a picture from today is because leap weeks are an interesting time: today Miss Milly was in a predominantly cranky, clingy mood; she played for a while, then became overtired and screamed the house down while I madly scrambled about trying to find her dummy. As well as being generally unsettled, babies will feed more often than usual during their leap (and the same with growth spurts), and sleep in little snatches, so it quickly becomes very tiring. Luckily this will tend to only last a couple of days, so we should have happy baby back again in the next day or two!