Monday, March 17, 2014

Nurture vs. Nature

I had every intention of reading Baby Wise before Graham arrived, but instead I spent the last couple weeks getting my substitute plans ready for my classroom, and before I knew it, it was time for little Graham to make his debut. I was never too worried about what to do once he got here since so many of our friends had already had babies, some were even on their second. I felt like we had plenty of great advice to go on, and all my questions/answers were just a text away. 

On the other hand, registering was extremely overwhelming and I don't know where I would have begun without my sister in law, Ashley. She truly completed my entire registry while I walked around clueless about most of the items I needed. Bottles, diapers, strollers, carseats….there's a lot a baby requires! Meanwhile all mommy and daddy want is sleep! Luckily for us, Graham has always been a great sleeper and since he's an easy baby most of the time, I'm sure it's just his nature, but I'd like to think some of the routines Brian and I put into place helped make life with newborn Graham easier. We found that these six items really were, and most of them still are, a blessing when adjusting to this new lifestyle.  

This book probably deserves the most credit for any decisions we made about developing our routines, and actually I'm not the one who read it. I read The happiest Baby on the Block Guide to Great Sleep, and did eventually watch the dvd for this book, but Brian is the one who read and relayed the information to me. From this book we learned that most other mammals stay in their mother's womb for the equivalent of a fourth trimester and the only reason we don't is because our bodies aren't designed to deliver babies that large. This is important to know because it means that a baby's environment needs to closely mimic the only one they have known for the past nine months especially since they're not ready to leave it for a couple more months. Swaddling, white noise and bouncing/rocking are easy ways to make this happen.

Most everyone I know with a baby has the "Sleep Sheep" version, but I was having a boy and the giraffe seemed a little more masculine. At the last minute I second guessed myself and was just about to exchange it for the sheep when Brian provided his two cents and said he preferred the giraffe. It ends up the two animals don't have the same sounds so I'm thankful I stuck with "Gerry." We really only like one of the sounds that he plays, but it's the perfect white noise for Graham. We started using Gerry from day one. He would travel in Graham's stroller during the day and would transition into the crib at night. (Actually I have a picture of Graham in his crib the very first night and he wasn't in there), but it wasn't long after that we learned Gerry was an important part of Graham's sleep routine. He makes every road trip with us. When Graham was two months old we traveled to Abilene and Gerry was in the trunk. Graham started crying so Brian pulled over to get Gerry, turned him on, placed him on Graham and shortly after we had a snoozing, peaceful baby. 

"My baby doesn't like to be swaddled!" I've heard it a million times and I am guilty of saying it too UNTIL I watched the Happiest Baby DVD. 

Here's a pic of Graham from the first night in the hospital. Proof of hating the swaddle and wanting his hands free. 

WOW! is really all I need to say to describe this blanket! Graham used to officially "wake up" and by that I mean scream, whenever he had fully escaped the swaddle. Luckily this usually wasn't accomplished until a reasonable hour (give or take 7am), but there were several nights, IN.A.ROW. that he escaped in the middle of the night (3-5am). I understand that this is expected of infant babies, but once you've experienced consecutive full nights of sleep, it's pretty hard to go back. So the third night of waking up, I walked into his room, not very happy, and said, "we are going to the store to purchase a sleep sack tomorrow." So while I sat in the chair nursing him, I googled info about sleep sacks and miracle blankets and every article I read said the miracle blanket was the best swaddle on the market. I couldn't understand why I wasn't feeling the same way. So I got smart and I You Tubed a video of someone using the miracle blanket and I will never forget the excitement that came over me! I tried it on Graham and woke Brian up at 3am to tell him that the miracle blanket IS amazing! I never read the directions and had been using it wrong. I couldn't wait to show Brian in the morning and I couldn't wait for Graham to go to sleep the next night! In my opinion, this is probably hands down one of the most important necessities for little babies to get a good night's sleep. I learned that when they do break out of the correctly used miracle blanket, they're too old to be swaddled. This happened to us the day Graham turned 3 months old. I was so sad to say goodbye to the swaddle, but it all worked out and I am thankful for my time with the miracle blanket. 

4. Fisher Price Swing

We were fortunate enough to borrow one of these from my brother and sister in law so that we could have one in our bedroom and one in the living area. Graham really did spend at least the first month of his life in this swing. He slept in his crib during the night, but all his naps were taken in the swing. Also, when Graham woke up around 5/6am in the morning, ready to begin his day, I put him in the swing in our room until I was "rested" enough to hang out. If it was a time when he "should" have still been sleeping, I put him in there swaddled. Otherwise I would just always make sure he had a blanket over his legs so he would stay warm.

The swing we own is battery operated so it was always important to keep lots of D batteries on hand. Now they make them where they plug into the wall. I love the idea of the Mama Roo swing since it is supposed to simulate a mommy's movements, but I couldn't justify spending the extra money when Graham loved the regular swing so much. 

5. Praise Baby DVD

My mother-in-law gifted this dvd to us before Graham was born, and it has certainly been a blessing. I probably pulled it out during the first or second week Graham was home. I know babies like when you sing, but I don't have a very pretty voice (and by that I mean, I cant't carry a tune…according to Brian.) so it helps to have some background tunes to sing with. When Graham would wake up to eat in the middle of the night, of course he would fall asleep while nursing, and then by the time I had woken him up to finish nursing, he wouldn't go back to sleep for at least an hour so we used to sing these songs in the living room while I'd bounce him or I'd let it play while he was hanging out in the swing. An hour or sometimes two wide awake in the middle of the night??!! but I'd just make the most of it. The swing was usually pretty good about soothing him so I could use this time to get some dishes cleaned or fold some laundry so I didn't have to during the day. Then once those eyes started getting sleepy again, I was quick to put him in the crib, hoping for at least 3 or 4 hours of sleep. 

Around 2 to 3 months, we would have to turn this on when Graham was upset and it was an instant fix! When he was old enough for the exasaucer/bouncer I used to put him in it and turn on the DVD while I would prepare dinner in the afternoons, and it was a solid uninterrupted 30 minutes of entertainment. Sometimes I would do the same in the morning to take a shower. I can picture him now, chewing on Sophie and staring in a trance at the babies on the tv. 

Cartoons don't hold Graham's attention for more than a minute, but I can turn on this DVD and he will literally sit there the entire time and giggle on and off at the babies.

It's an added bonus that all the songs remind me of youth group and camps from junior high/high school. 

This is a clip of Graham watching a Baby Einstein video which has almost exactly the same effect, but I can't sing along with this video so we didn't start using it as young as the Praise Baby video. 

6. Homedics Baby Sound Machine

I've watched my niece and nephew use this sound machine in each of their rooms for the past couple years and always knew my little one would have one too. This machine really is amazing. It is not very large so it won't take up much room on your night stand which is a plus since I have a humidifier, lamp, and picture frame all squeezed onto the same tiny table. This machine both makes sound and projects a pretty large scrolling image on the ceiling. It gives you three different projection cd's so you can change the image if you want to.  It also has seven different sound possibilities. Three are lullabies and four are white noise options. One even simulates the sound of a heartbeat which we used the first couple nights to make little G feel at home. Twinkle, Twinkle is the only one I know the words to really well so there have been numerous times in the past where I would turn that on and sing to help soothe sad little Graham. 

I'm sure it's partly Graham's curious personality, but the projection has been great because we could put him in bed tired, but not asleep and he would stare at the projector until he fell fast asleep. This probably started as young as 8 weeks. I would hold and bounce him for just a minute or two before he would start looking up and become mesmerized by the projector. At that point, I knew it was safe to put him in bed since it distracted him from "needing" me. It also makes a great night light.

I love the sound machine during the day because I can turn it up louder than usual with hopes of preventing Graham from hearing Caesar barking, builders jamming to music, or an accidental doorbell ring. 

Both the projector and sound stopped working over time (about 6 months), but I had used it every night for 12-14 hours and during nap times. I read the reviews just recently and despite many people mentioning that it stopped working, it still received at least 4 out of 5 stars. In fact, I took the box and machine back to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and they replaced the machine free of charge. 

"My fingers may be small, but I can still wrap DADDY around them."

Only time will tell, by having another, whether or not these sleep remedies really do work or if Graham's just that easy going. He's not perfect all the time, but I do know the Praise Baby video hasn't failed us yet, and I can promise you we haven't traveled once without Gerry the Giraffe or the sound machine. I'm thankful we've outgrown the swing and the swaddle, and can't believe my little guy is turning one in just 10 days! 

1 comment:

  1. So happy to help! :) can't believe my little nephew/Godson is about to be ONE! Just can't believe it!