Baby Development and Opinions

7 Oct

I do not know anything more about baby/child development than what I have read in What to Expect – the First Year and the Sear’s Baby Book. My philosophy is that my child will development at the pace primarily determined by genetic make-up and only slightly, if at all, based on our interactions and stimulations. I figure if there is a problem or significant delay my doctor will alert me and we will address any issues at that time. So for the time being, we are trying to just keep our baby calm, (seemingly) happy, and meet all needs on demand.

Sometimes meeting needs entails using a baby carrier, swaddling, a swing, a bouncer,  a play gym, a pacifier, a sound machine, or some combination that involves muscles aches at the end of the day. This must be working for us; we have a thriving child and we are all (relatively) well rested. Our baby enjoys playing with us and appears to be meeting important milestones. Success!

Except, I hear, every so often, criticisms of all of our baby gadgets. For example, wearing babies inhibits motor development and does not allow them to interact and explore the world and swings keep babies laying down, inhibit motor development, and can increase the likelihood of sleep problems. While there are counter arguments to baby wearing and swing use, I think the debate is ultimately pointless.

First, parents and babies need sleep. Most babies do not just fall asleep (and stay asleep), especially in the early months, without assistance. There is only so much parents can do; baby gadgets help babies settle and sleep, allowing parents to get some rest.

Second, babies are most interested in interaction during the quiet alert state, but there are two other alert/awake states: active and crying. That means that your baby can be awake and not interested or able to interact and simply need soothing or a change of scenery (after looking at me all day I think my baby is happy to look at somebody or something else). Baby gadgets help settle babies and calm crying and fussiness.

Third, most parents and caregivers do not just watch the baby. Most of us also clean the house, cook meals, do laundry, talk on the phone, use the computer, or engage in some other task that requires putting the baby down to entertain himself for a few minutes. Without a baby gadget of some sort doing anything else during the day would be virtually impossible.

While there are certainly downsides to using baby gadgets, I don’t think that well-meaning, nurturing parents should be made to feel negligent for using gadgets if they result in improved quality of interaction among parent(s) and baby or even improved quality of life.

 

 

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Things I was not prepared for #1 – Breastfeeding

5 Oct

While I was pregnant I knew that I would breastfeed my child. The health benefits to the child (eg. reduced risk of SIDS, decreased likeliness of becoming overweight later in life, immune support, etc.) are significant and reason enough for me to choose to nurse. Breastfeeding also offers benefits to mom (eg. increased postpartum weight-loss, reduced risk of developing certain types to cancer [although I believe you need to breastfeed for a cumulative year or more to experience this benefit], etc.) and does not involve the preparation that formula requires, making night feedings slightly easier.

After one week I realized that breastfeeding is an intense choice. I was feeding every hour, and never had a stretch longer than 2 hours for the first month. At almost three months I have a 4-5 hour stretch at night, and feed every 2-3 hours during the day. The books described the bonding that occurs while nursing and encourage just sitting there and enjoying the time with your child. I tried that for a few days, but quickly found that half the time my child is dozing off and not looking into my eyes. Further, as my child prefers being held and worn than laying and sleeping anywhere else feeding is a great time for me to catch up on reading and emails (thanks to the invention of the Kindle and smart phone).

Many people and books also encourage pumping regularly so that your partner, or other caregiver, can give the baby a bottle, allowing mom to sleep (or really do anything besides feed) and the partner/father to bond with the baby. I loved this idea when I was pregnant and was ready with a pump and bottles to start at three weeks (most books and lactation consultants seem to believe that introducing a bottle earlier would create nipple confusion, although there are a LOT of exceptions to that advice).

What I learned as three weeks approached and I was starting to pump is that:

1) milk supply is not established enough to pump in the early weeks/month, so pumping enough for a feeding can take a VERY long time;

2) it requires forethought and careful planning to pump initially (difficult to come by while sleep deprived and recovering from childbirth);

3) babies feed so frequently in the early weeks that making time to pump means giving up time when you could be sleeping; and

4) while your baby is feeding from the bottle you need to pump to maintain your milk supply, which is just as labor and time intensive as feeding your baby.

Finally, I was not prepared for the impact nursing would have on my wardrobe. Everything I wear has to be easy to nurse in, and if I’m planning on going out with my baby I have to wear a top that I can discreetly arrange with one hand under a nursing cover while the other hand is holding a screaming infant. I was so eager to get out of maternity clothes and into my “real” clothes that having another kind of limitation on my clothing choice seemed crushing at first.

And now, time to feed.

Simple Dinner – 1

3 Oct

My life is different in so many ways after having a child, but one difference that I am reminded of daily is making dinner. I enjoy cooking, and used to look forward to trying out at least one new recipe a week. We ate very healthy and creative meals before the baby. But now, as my baby likes to be held almost exclusively, getting any dinner together, let alone something requiring more than three steps or something new that requires attention and precision, is just not possible most nights. This is all the more frustrating because I am really trying to get down to my pre-pregnancy weight and it’s getting colder, so I desperately a warm, filling meal that is low-fat and ow calorie, yet full of all the nutrients I need while breastfeeding.

An easy solution: Roasted Vegetables with Chickpeas

The vegetables can be chopped wearing a baby, or while baby is sleeping or otherwise engaged. I have chopped and prepared the recipe while my baby is sleeping during the late morning, and left it in the refrigerator until it is time to start cooking it. And while I think that the dish cooks best if it is stirred every 10-15 minutes, you could not touch it until it is done, and it would come out okay.

While I think this dish is tasty enough on its own, I have come up with some variations:

1. Use less starchy vegetables (squash, green beans, eggplant, onion) and serve on brown rice, whole wheat pita, or couscous.

2. Grate a small amount of a tasty cheese on the veggies (eg. parmesan, feta).

3. I love Karam’s Garlic Sauce, which is not low fat, but low enough in fat that a serving on this dish is fine (in my opinion).

4. For additional vitamins, serve on top of spinach.

Ingredients (makes enough for two adults, with some leftover)

4 carrots, peeled

1 Head Cauliflower, rinsed

1 Bunch Broccoli, rinsed

1 can chickpeas, drained

[You can use any vegetables you like: asparagus, green beans, yams, potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and onion all roast well.]

Heat oven to 400.

Chop all vegetables and place in a shallow roasting pan. Pour no more than 2 Tbsp. of olive oil onto the vegetables, and salt and pepper to taste. Place vegetables on the middle rack and stir every 10-15 minutes until done, approximately 30-40 minutes.

Hello world!

3 Oct

Welcome to my blog. I am a new mom trying to maintain my physical and mental health, while also trying to care for and  appropriately stimulate my child, take care of my two dogs, take care of my relationship with my partner, and all the other adult things that need to be done. I hope through my successes and failures I can at least entertain and at most help people. My experience is limited, but growing daily!