Iâ€™ve gotten a ton of parenting-related questions lately, so I figured Iâ€™d put the answers all in one post. Enjoy!
Whatâ€™s Claireâ€™s sleep like? How do you get her to sleep like that?
At 3 months, Claire goes to bed around 7:30, although actually falling asleep usually takes some time. She normally wakes up and requires comforting about 2 â€“ 3 times before sheâ€™s actually out at 8:30 or 9. I dream feed her at 10 PM, and then she wakes up typically once in the middle of the night to eat. She wakes again at 6 to snack, and then I can usually get her to go back to sleep for another hour or two, which is nice because I either 1) continue sleeping; 2) get up and work; or 3) get up and hang out with Henry alone.
I think some kids are just naturally better sleepers than others. They want to sleep more, they wake up less, they eat more during the day, etc. But I also think Iâ€™ve done a few things differently with Claire that helped a lot: from the start, we swaddled (I like this swaddle as well as this warmer option), dream fed, used a pacifier, and used the swing when necessary. I was afraid to do these things with Henry because I didnâ€™t want to create sleep dependencies, but she doesnâ€™t seem to be dependent on any of these things now (sheâ€™ll sleep with arms out of the swaddle or let the pacifier fall out). When she didnâ€™t need the swing, I put her in her crib or bassinet (and now, we never use the swing). Beyond the initial first few weeks, I tried put her to sleep in her swing or crib instead of letting her sleep on me. I also put her down for naps a lot â€“ she is just now staying awake for longer than 1:00 â€“ 1:30 hours at a time. She naps 4 or 5 times a day! Sleep begets sleep, after all. Re-reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child helped us a lot.
Also, I regularly let her fuss in her crib longer than Henry EVER fussed before I sleep trained her. Some of this is just practical â€“ I canâ€™t always jump up to rescue Claire from her crib; sometimes it takes me 5 minutes to get to her because Iâ€™m supervising Henry in the bathtub or whatever. But some of it is also that I think my biggest mistake with Henry was that I always rescued him whenever he made a peep. I trained him to expect to be picked up the moment he woke up (even if I had just fed him a full bottle at 3 AM and had merely startled himself awake). 50% of the time, she fusses and cannot work herself back down â€“ this is normal. But the other 50% of the time, she fusses for a few moments and puts herself back to sleep. I plan to sleep train her at 5 months (I CANNOT WAIT!) and know this is good practice for her. I wrote extensively about Henryâ€™s sleep patterns and eventual training (here and here). I know sleep training is not for every parent or kid, but it really worked for us.
Everything I read said that infants need predictable naps but that seems SO hard when you have a toddler. I was so good about having my infant home for naps when he was little but with #2 coming soon, I donâ€™t know how that is possible. How do you create good sleep habits but not get chained to your house?
I just try to get her in her crib/bassinet whenever possible. For both Henry and Claire, it seemed like the act of sleeping was more important than where they were sleeping. Sleep above all else, right? Again â€“ sleep begets sleep. Iâ€™d rather have her nap in the carseat than not nap at all. Right now, we are usually at home for her first nap; second nap is in the car/stroller; third nap is at home because Henry is eating lunch, having quiet time, or watching TV; fourth nap is usually on-the-go as well, but sometimes itâ€™s not. Fourth nap is always the hardest, right?
A lot of having two kids seems to be about doing the best you can. Itâ€™s hard to juggle her sleep needs with Henryâ€™s need for play and exploration, so Iâ€™m okay with on-the-go naps. I just try to make up for them when weâ€™re at home. Regarding pumping, if you pump milk, too, hereâ€™s a handy chart that lets you know how long it can sit out â€“ I usually just toss a back up bottle in my bag without worrying about keeping it cold (and then heating it up). Sometimes I pump in the car with an adaptor that plugs into the lighter; I wish I could recommend ours because it rocks but I donâ€™t know what brand it is.
Whatâ€™s Henryâ€™s sleep like these days? Does he nap?
Nope. Man, I miss toddler naps a lot. He naps about 2 times a week, but I still make him do 45 minutes to an hour of quiet time in his room every day so he can decompress by himself. On the days he doesnâ€™t nap, he sleeps from 7 PM â€“ 6:30 AM.
Why is Henry still in diapers? Are you going to potty train him soon?
Maybe. Iâ€™m letting Henry (who is 2 years and 9 months) take the lead on this. He shows lots of signs of readiness and will go on the potty about once or twice a day, but he hasnâ€™t expressed true interest in going cold turkey with underwear. I want it to be his decision, so Iâ€™m waiting for him to let me know.
How was Henryâ€™s preschool adjustment? Any tips?
It didnâ€™t go as well as I thought. Henry is super social and loves people, so I thought he would adore daycare (he goes three times a week for half days). It took him a long time to warm up and there were a LOT of tears (and sometimes, there still are). Things that helped: When I drop him off, I basically drop him and turn on my heel and bolt. Lingering makes the tears a lot worse. When my mom was here for Claireâ€™s birth, she really got Henry into a few other boys in his class. She learned their names and would talk about them a lot and basically motivated Henry to make the boys his BFFs. He really likes having close friends in the classroom, so I think talking up that aspect of it helped, too.
Howâ€™s breastfeeding going?
Well, Iâ€™m pumping again <â€”an explanation of last time. I pump all her daytime bottles + first nighttime bottle but breastfeed her in the morning and randomly throughout the day. I still have to use a shield because she struggles to latch onto my flat nipples (TMI, sorry), so thatâ€™s part of why I went back to pumping. But alsoâ€¦ I just prefer pumping. Which I canâ€™t even believe that Iâ€™m saying because I hated it so much last time. I pump really fast, so itâ€™s just easier for me than messing with breastfeeding. I donâ€™t seem to despise pumping as much this time around, mostly because 1) I knew what I was getting into and 2) I have a breastfeeding quit date in my mind already. Knowing that Iâ€™m okay with introducing formula, like I eventually did with Henry, takes the pressure off big-time.
Everyone always wants to know what the kids do when I pump â€“ Claire sits in a bouncy seat and Henry and I talk to her and entertain her. Sometimes I feed her a bottle while I pump. Henry usually chats with us, plays nearby, or watches TV. And never doubt the power of a well-timed snack!
Where are Claireâ€™s booties from?
Hah, this is seriously my #1 asked question. Her booties are the Zutano booties â€“ they are so cute and way better than socks.
Remember that orange hat that Henry wore all last summer? Where is it from?
Itâ€™s the iPlay Flap Sun Hat. It is awesome and I already bought it in a bigger size for him to wear this summer, too!
What pregnancy books and baby books would you recommend?
You asked this all the time when you were pregnant, so Iâ€™d love to know what you think now. Whatâ€™s harder, going from no kids to 1 kid or 1 kid to 2 kids?
Definitely 0 to 1. Thatâ€™s when the lifestyle shift occurs â€“ your time is not always your own, your sleep is disrupted, and you have to figure out how to parent a baby. HUGE learning curve, often very stressful. I found #2 to be so much easier because I already knew what I was doing, knew what I was getting (all the great parts of having a baby), and knew what I just to power through and survive (all the not-so-great parts that eventually pass).
How do you find time to workout with kids and your job?
Well, remember that Iâ€™m a work-from-home mom that works about 15 hours a week, so I have wiggle room in my schedule. I workout either when Henry is in school and put Claire in childcare at the gym OR I put both kids in. If you work full-time, itâ€™s definitely more challenging to make it work. We had a discussion about this on the HTP Facebook page, as well as at the bottom of this post.
Do you let Henry watch TV?
I didnâ€™t let him watch TV for a long time, but now I donâ€™t think we could survive without it. I really, really need that break during the day (especially now that heâ€™s not napping) to work, clean, or cook (or just decompress). I actually think the shows that he watches are pretty cool â€“ heâ€™s super into Octonauts and has learned SO MUCH about sea life from it. I donâ€™t let him watch commercials, and I moderate what he watches (no shows with annoying child characters or hitting, which is in a lot more childrenâ€™s programming than youâ€™d think). His screen time is limited to the TV; he doesnâ€™t use a tablet because I want him to think of TV as a special thing that we go into the TV room for, not something available in the car etc.
What monitor do you have?
This one â€“ love it! We have two cameras so we can toggle back and forth between the kiddos.
What toys are Henry into right now?
Whereâ€™s Waldo <— great sitting on the potty or car book
His plastic golf clubs
Brain Quest <— so much fun to play together!