Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Bringing Baby Home: Goals for the First Four Months

When I was preparing to bring my second baby home, I sat down and wrote out a list of goals to help me get through the first four months (and beyond). The goals below are what I focused on, and having these decided ahead of time was very helpful! So if you're planning on bringing a baby home soon - especially if it's your second baby (hello Keri, Kaleigh, and JoAnna!) I think you'll find this helpful. Enjoy!

{ WEEK 1 }
goal: full feedings
Every baby is a sleepy nurser to some degree, so keeping a baby awake enough for a full feeding can be a real chore. Be prepared to really put in work. Ideas for keeping awake: change diaper, undress baby, gentle tickle, something cold briefly against their foot, sit them up. If you have older kids, plan ahead for a family member to take over the bulk of your responsibilities with the older kids for several days (even a week!) so you can put all the energy you can find into full feedings. I focused on this from the first feeding with both my babies and they naturally fell into a 2.5-3 hour feeding routine within 48 hours.

goal: full naps
This is really easy at first, because baby spends something close to 20 hours a day asleep. Most newborns have no trouble sleeping anywhere, but try to respect their slumber and set them up for nice, long naps with minimal disruption. If baby cries during a nap at this age, do respond. Check for dirty diaper, hot/cold, gas/burp before assuming it's hunger (especially if baby has just had a feeding). If baby only wants to sleep snuggled up with mom or dad at this age, go with it. Your goal right now is still just full feedings and full naps.

{ WEEKS 2 - 4 }
By now your milk should be in (if you're breastfeeding), and baby has likely fallen into a 2.5-3 hour feeding schedule with 8-9 feedings within 24 hours. Baby may have even condensed night feedings as they start to take more milk during the day. So the next goals are:

goal: eat wake sleep
As baby starts to spend a little more time awake toward the end of the first month, start to implement eating, wake time, and then sleep - in that order. These are called "cycles". It's okay if every cycle doesn't go in that order, but make this the goal. Avoid nursing directly to sleep unless it's a middle of the night feeding. Start keeping notes of when your baby eats, is awake, and sleeps. This will chelp when looking for changes in eating habits, assessing wake time needs, and keeping track of how many total hours of sleep baby is getting within a 24 hour period. You can follow along with what my two babies have done here: A Year of Babywise Schedules.

During this time is when I start waking baby to eat if it has been 3 hours since the last feeding. I am aiming to get 8-9 full feedings in baby's tummy within a 24-hour period, and baby's tummy can only handle so much milk at one time (usually 2-4 ounces). So I will wake to feed baby at the 3-hour mark even if they are still sleeping. If baby doesn't get all the ounces he needs during the day because he was sleeping, he will surely be waking at night to eat to make up for the lack of ounces during the day. For my babies, this also included picking a desired wake time in the morning and desired bedtime in the evening - and always aiming to anchor baby's day around those two feedings. Again, you can follow along with what my two babies have done here: A Year of Babywise Schedules.

goal: day vs. night
Babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. Make sure daytime feedings are done with the lights on and/or in a room with natural light coming in. The more daylight exposure during wake time, the better. At night time, keep feedings dark and boring. Dim lights, no chit-chat, minimal eye-contact. Just a snuggly feeding, and then back to bed. Put baby to bed for the night after the feeding that falls around 7-8pm; any feedings after that time should be considered nighttime feedings and should be boring.

A word about nighttime feedings: some people put their baby to bed after the 7-8pm feeding and then don't feed again until baby wakes for a feeding. Others sneak in and offer baby a "dream feed" between 10-11pm. A dream feed is done in the dark and the baby is woken just enough to take a feeding and then placed directly back in the crib after the feeding. Then they let baby sleep until he wakes naturally in the middle of the night for a feeding.

goal: pause
At this age, consider pausing a moment when baby cries during sleep. If you've given baby a sufficient feeding, changed diaper, burped, and put baby down to sleep in a safe place - chances are baby is just making some normal noises during sleep. Pause - and listen. Get to know the different cries your baby makes. Pausing will be super easy if you have older kids - most of the time you will have to pause before responding to baby because you'll need a moment to secure your other kid(s) before ducking into baby's room to assess his needs.

{ WEEKS 4 - 12 }
goal: sleep routine
Once feeding are established and you've gotten to know my baby a little better, implement a sleep routine that is done before each sleep. It can be very simple: dim the bedroom lights, close the curtains (make sure the room is black), diaper change, sleep sack or swaddle, sing baby a song while gently rocking to the point of drowsiness, and then place baby in their preferred sleeping place (crib, swing, rock n' play, etc) and then leave the room. Even if baby wakes a few moments later and refuses to sleep anywhere but your arms, all is not lost. Each time you do the sleep routine is one more chance you give baby to understand how the sleep routine works.

goal: progress through newborn sleep hierarchy
The newborn sleep hierarchy is:
  1. baby sleeping when she should (by any means necessary)
  2. in her own bed (or swing or rock n' play is okay too)
  3. and then falling asleep (and back to sleep) on her own
Once you've got a sleep routine in place, assess where you are at in the newborn sleep hierarchy. Expect to stay somewhere between step 2 and 3 for quite a while. It's a work in progress.

My experience with this: with my son, we did CIO at 7 weeks old to get him firmly on step 3. Despite it working, I regret doing that. I think I was too afraid of bad sleep habits that I led with fear instead of instinct. Hindsight taught me there isn't one bad sleep habit you can't undo later, and I wished I would have been less strict with him as a baby. With my daughter, I was very consistent with the sleep routine and we ended up only needing to do CIO one time (literally one night) at 6.5 months old.

{ WEEKS 12+ }
goal: get through 4 month sleep regression
After the 3 month mark I just work on maintaining the status quo until the 4 month sleep regression has passed. My only goal for the 4 month sleep regression is to not introduce new sleep props. I do not try to break baby of any "bad" habits during the 4 month sleep regression. So - if at 3 months baby will only nap or sleep in the swing, but baby is taking full naps and sleeping well in the swing - then the swing stays until the 4 month sleep regression is over! After the 4 month sleep regression, begin working on getting rid of sleep issues that will not work long term.
Two articles I like that have to do with 4 month sleep regression:

By this time, baby's tummy has grown and is increasingly able to handle more ounces at a time. Which means baby has begun condensing feedings (especially at night!) because they are taking more ounces with each feeding. You can confidently help baby move away from night feedings at this time, and also consider if their day time feedings can be farther apart as well. Your goal is roughly 25 ounces of milk within a 24 hour period. If your breast feeding and not sure how many ounces baby is getting, consider offering baby a botle of breastmilk at the 2nd or 3rd feeding of the day to see how much they are taking. Then pump your milk for that feeding to see how much you are putting out. Neither are a perfect representation of exactly how much baby is getting from your breast during a feeding, but it will give you a ballpark.

goal: wean from "dream feed"
If you are doing a dream feed (the 10-11pm feeding), you'll want to think about weaning baby from this around this time if your baby has dropped all other nighttime feedings. My preferred method for weaning is offering only one side for a week, and then dropping cold turkey. If bottle feeding, just reduce the bottle size.

goal: transition out of swaddle
Somewhere around 4 months old you'll likely want to stop swaddling. Baby is probably working on rolling over soon, and the startle reflex is mostly gone. Even if baby loves the swaddle, once they start rolling you'll have to ditch it anyway so might as well start now and be done with it by the time baby starts rolling.

These are the priorities I focus on for myself the first 3 months after bringing baby home:
  • milk supply: extra pumping session, managing oversupply, nursing issues, etc
  • healthy diet: lack of sleep and poor diet is a lethal combo for your emotional stability
  • water: if breastfeeding, 8 ounces with every nursing session
  • physical healing: let those birth wounds heal!
  • say "no" to literally everything: ignore texts, don't return calls, maybe don't even check your email...there is nothing more important during this time than getting yourself, your baby, and your family stabilized 
  • no additional chores: if you have older kids, this will almost take care of itself because you will literally have zero time for anything extra and will care 0% about doing any chores
  • rest whenever you can: duh - but seriously, do it
  • establish routines and rhythms: as dad prepares to go back to work, do a practice day where you see what it will be like without his help, and if you have older kids try to sit down and map out what your day will look like so there is some semblance of routine and calm for all the kids and you know where the trouble points will be (maybe the kids watch a little extra TV during this season so you can work on those full feedings with baby)

Hudson Baby Swaddle Blankets (way cheaper than aden + anais!)
Soothies (for sore nipples during early breastfeeding)

For a complete list of what you need to welcome baby home, I recommend checking out Lucie's List.

This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mary: 4 Months

I could write for hours about how much we love little miss Mary. This girl never stops smiling! She is just so darn friendly, it's hard not to just spend every waking minute smiling at her! These days she's loving her jumperoo because she can "stand" in it and bounce. I recently got her set-up at the dining room table in a high chair during meals and she just sits at the table and smiles at everyone during meals. The rest of the time she hangs out on her play mat, in the bumbo chair, or in someone's arms (because she's so squishy and we just want to hold her all the time!).

We stopped swaddling her for naps and sleep over the weekend and are hoping that will help with her middle of the night wake ups. Last night it did help (!) so we're hoping to finally say goodbye to middle of the night visits to re-insert her paci (and by we, I mean Kyle...bless). She appears to have buzzed right through the 4 month sleep regression. I had to put her in the swing a few times, but now we seem to be back to normal. Doing the sleep routine with her from day 1 has really helped things. Oh the things you learn by trial and error on your first child...sorry Drew!

Her flat spot appears to no longer be flat, but I'm going to have her ped check it out at her 4 month appointment this week.

She's still nursing well, and I've added in a bottle feeding for her final feeding of the day so that she could get better at taking a bottle. That worked, and is really great because now we have some additional freedom in the evening to trade who puts which kid to bed, or for us to have a date night. I didn't really care for the nursing experience with Drew, but for some reason I'm loving it with Mary. Perhaps it is because our days can seem so chaotic with the two kids, and everything feels like it slows down when I'm nursing Mary. I nursed Drew for 6 months, and I'm hoping to nurse Mary longer than that.

We're doing the cloth diapers with Mary and not having any issues withe diapers. I would say I do cloth about 60% of the time with her. The only real issue I'm having is with her clothes. She is so tall that she's already in 9 month clothing! With the cloth diaper on, the 9 month clothing is tight because the diaper adds a little length in her crotch. But the 9 month clothing is too wide for her, so 12 month clothing would be even more wide and baggy. So sometimes I put her in disposable diapers just so her clothes will fit better and she'll last longer in the 9 month size clothing she has.

Lately I've been daydreaming about all the things I want to teach Mary about as she grows. She has no idea yet how special it is to be a woman, and I am so thankful that I am the one who gets to teach her all about it. Kyle loves the daylights out of her, and watching him love her gives me just a glimpse of what the Father's love must be like for me.

Ok, here are some pics!

Friday, November 13, 2015

BFBN Week - Friday

This week the ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are all writing on the topic of play. Below is the schedule of blog posts for the week. There will be heaps of great content shared this week, so be sure to follow along!

    Today we're enjoying a guest post from Katrina at Mama's Organized Chaos. Katrina is sharing some great tips on how you know when it's time to make a change to baby's schedule. While not on the topic of play directly, baby being on a proper eat, wake, sleep schedule greatly increases their ability to play (and learn!) during wake times. Baby's schedule changes greatly over the first 12 months, so it's important to stay on top of what baby is telling you they need. Enjoy!

    Thursday, November 12, 2015

    Ideas for Success with Independent Playtime

    This week the ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are all writing on the topic of play. Below is the schedule of blog posts for the week. There will be heaps of great content shared this week, so be sure to follow along!

    Today I'm sharing some ideas for success with Independent Play (below), and Carrie from Wiley Adventures is over on her blog talking about some great ideas for sensory play at home. Enjoy!


    Independent Play (IP) was something I had not heard about until I read the Babywise book series. IP is basically when the child plays by themselves for a determined amount of time, and it looks different at different ages and stages . While it's great when a child randomly wanders into their room to play alone for a little while, IP is something that happens daily and is in a set place for a set amount of time. The benefit of doing this is two-fold: it gives mom or dad a break during the day without having to plunk the child down in front of the TV, and it gives the child a chance to develop their abilities to entertain themselves with just a few toys or activities at hand (a lost art in the digital age, I fear...).

    My now-2-year old son really struggled to get the hang of IP. I think his struggle was a combination of things: I was unsure of how to implement it when he was younger, we lived in a small condo so space was an issue, and his personality type. We moved houses when he was around 12 months and I tried again and again over the course of 6 months. Finally, around 18 months he finally started to show progress with it. Now - at 28 months - he looks forward to 60 minutes of IP every morning. He does his IP right after dad leaves for work while my newborn is still napping which means I get an hour to myself each morning to get dressed, tidy up, and read my Bible before my day really starts.

    If you're struggling to get your toddler to do IP, here is a list of things to consider:
    • timing: my son does his in the morning after dad leaves for work. He goes up to his room to wave from the window and then we transition right into IP. Some do it late in the day when toddlers tend to get fussy right around time for mom to make dinner while everyone is impatiently waiting for dad to get home.
    • location: I tried forever to get my toddler to do IP in his open room. Turns out the room was too big for him to be left alone in, and so he does IP in his crib. I ask him every so often if he wants to do IP in his room and he says no. So crib it is. Not quite sure how I'll handle that once we transition his crib to a bed...but something tells me with his personality type he'll just still stay on his bed for IP. I know some who do it in a pack n' play in the living room or play room.
    • involvement: we got a kitchen timer and we let him push the button on the timer to signal the start of IP. I then leave the room where I am out of sight and out of mind. When the timer goes off, I return to the room with it still beeping. This was really helpful early on when he would cry toward the end.
    • length: we started with 10 minutes, and worked our way up from there.
    • out of sight out of mind: my toddler did better at first when he couldn't see or hear me, now he's ok with seeing or hearing me and still playing until the timer goes off
    • music/lights: play with this to figure out what your kid likes. My toddler doesn't like music anymore because (I think) it bothers him when he's trying to "read".
    • toys: the GAME-CHANGER for us was purchasing some new toys that are only accessible during IP. I keep them up high in his closet and he picks out 1 toy and then a pile of books from his book bin each morning. This car carrier and this helicopter really keep his attention well.. Over time we added a series of Little People scenes into the rotation as they also hold his attention well. His favorite IP books are anything in the Richard Scary collection. I really believe that it was getting the right toys and books to hold his attention that made all the difference for him. 
    If you're feeling stuck at square one with IP - keep going! Keep trying. Try new things. Don't give up. It's worth fighting for, for your toddler's sake and for your sake as well.

    Update: a few weeks after I wrote this post he started telling me "no room time" in the mornings. I took that as a sign he was getting bored in his crib. So I asked him again if he wanted to do room time in his open room and he said "yes". So we went over the rules and then I did everything the same: got out some special room time toys, set the timer, and left the room. He had said he wanted this door closed but fussed right after I left the room so I came back and opened his door but shut his child gate. He was ok with that. About 10 minutes in he came to his gate to tell me he had pooped, so I changed his diaper and then put him back in room time until his timer went off. It went as smoothly as I could have ever hoped for!

    This post contains affiliate links.

    Wednesday, November 11, 2015

    Veteran's Day Thank You

    greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends
    (John 15:13)

    A proud thank you to my two grandpas today for their selfless service to our country. The Lord saw it fit to keep them both safe and healthy all these years. My grandpa Bob has 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. My grandpa Joe has 6 children, 6 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren. Bless the Lord for these legacies!

    Robert Watson (with Drew at 2 and Mary at 1 month)
    Joe Doyon (with Drew at 6 months)

    Veteran's Day Thank You

    greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends
    (John 15:13)

    A proud thank you to my two grandpas today for their selfless service to our country. The Lord saw it fit to keep them both safe and healthy all these years. My grandpa Bob has 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. My grandpa Joe has 6 children, 6 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren. Bless the Lord for these legacies!

    Robert Watson (with Drew at 2 and Mary at 1 month)
    Joe Doyon (with Drew at 6 months)

    BFBN Week - Wednesday

    This week the ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are all writing on the topic of play. Below is the schedule of blog posts for the week. There will be heaps of great content shared this week, so be sure to follow along!

    Today Kim from Team Cartwright is talking about homemade toys. Not only are these toys easy on the budget, but they also help teach your little one how to be creative with the things they have right in front of them. Enjoy!

    Tuesday, November 10, 2015

    BFBN Week - Tuesday

    This week the ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are all writing on the topic of play. Below is the schedule of blog posts for the week. There will be heaps of great content shared this week, so be sure to follow along!

    Today Emily from The Journey of Parenthood is sharing a list of ways to bond with your kids that don't involve play. When your kids are little, play makes up a large part of their day: independent play, playing with siblings, play dates, playing at the park, etc. Play is really, really great - but we parents also need a chance to bond with our kids that don't involve play, play toys, or play areas. Check out Emily's list for some great ideas!

    Monday, November 9, 2015

    BFBN Week - Monday

    This week the ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are all writing on the topic of play. Below is the schedule of blog posts for the week. There will be heaps of great content shared this week, so be sure to follow along!

    Today Val from Chronicles of a Babywise Mom is writing about Independent Play for school-age children. In the Babywise circuit there is a lot of talk about Independent Play for toddlers (something I'll be writing about later this week!), but not often do we hear about what IP turns into as toddlers turn into young children. Val has some great ideas on how to keep this wonderful aspect of the child's day going as they age!

      Thursday, November 5, 2015

      Hansen Life: October

      I truly feel that every month is about 8 days long. I know they say that time flies when you have little ones but I thought they meant it kind of flies by a little bit...turns out it really does go quick!

      At the beginning of the month I had a small procedure on my eyelid. If you know my eye history at all, you know I'm no stranger to needles in or near my eye. Fortunately this procedure was easy and quick, and everything is A-OK. But I am now officially done with needles being in/near my eye. For life. Lord, please take note. Thank you.

      The second week of the month I was involved in a car accident. Everyone walked away from the accident, and kids weren't with me. That's really all I'm allowed to say about it right now. 

      Something that's stuck with me as a result of this accident is how thankful I am for the quality and quantity of professionals we have access to in this country. I was thinking about all of the people involved following the accident: police officers, insurance agents, doctors, rental car companies, auto body shops, lawyers...all of these people just out there working hard to do their jobs well. How blessed as we that we have access to all of these professionals within moments when needed? (The answer is "so". So blessed).

      October brought the return of kids to our house. I love being able to help my girlfriends out by watching their kids when they need it. It's been fun to have many kids back in the house again. Lots of tiny little people laughing, learning, crying, eating, sleeping, playing, and growing. Full house, full heart!

      We didn't do Halloween for our kids this year. Drew was scared by all the costumes last year, and I haven't really had an opportunity to explain costumes to him since then. If he did costume play at home I think he'd understand better, but that's just not something he's into yet. He also goes wild when he has sugar, so I didn't see much point in him collecting a bunch of candy he can't eat. And then there was Mary...she's really only into eating and sleeping still. So we decided to pass and we'll see if Drew is up for it next year! The other main reason we skipped it this year is that I was volunteer coordinating a wedding on Halloween evening. Yes, a wedding! Kyle and I periodically help with the premarital ministry at our church, and after the last series of classes we helped with I offered to serve as a wedding coordinator for one of the couples. They got married on Halloween, and it was such a fun wedding! I had to pull-back on some of my original duties because of my car accident injuries, but it was still so great to help with their big day!

      Here are the photo highlights from October:
      Drew enjoying the last few warm days with
      papa at the beach watching the trains go by
      Scenes from my eyelid procedure
      Visit to the Pumpkin Patch. We try to go the first
      weekend of October so it's not as crowded!

      Drew's beloved tractor - 2015
      Drew on the same tractor last year (2014)

      Checking out the pigs and goats

      Petting the goats
      After one time down the slide with me, we went back to the top and he
      announced "no mommy do it". He then plunked himself down, gathered up all his
      courage, and pushed himself off the edge and went down the slide alone. I cried.
      I was so, so proud of him. These are the mom moments I live for!

      Mary hanging out with dad

      Pumpkin Farm Happy Faces!

      Next year, Mary, next year

      Dad and Drew on a Dadurday at the beach

      Dad's the best!

      Drew on a "nature walk". On this day we hunted for pine cones. He's totally
      into the nature walk idea and I'm very happy we live in a neighborhood
      that we're able to go out and explore outside.
      Impromptu date night with the Hansen siblings!
      Mary is totally amped about the Jumperoo. She loves standing already,
      and I fear this baby of mine will be walking before my eyes can blink.

      Drew's always been really great about us having other kids at our house.
      It's all he's ever known, but I do appreciate that he seems to understand when it's
      time to share his toys. He also likes to "help" take care of the other kids, which warms
      my heart.  
      More Dadurday fun! I love that Drew loves his daddy so much. I was recently
      reading it's around this age that Drew will start to figure out that he's a
      boy like daddy and will naturally want to spend more time bonding with Kyle.
      While I'm sad to "let go" of my little baby, I'm so excited to slowly see him
      turn into a little boy!
      Our little darling daughter! She spends a lot her time
      sleeping right now, and when she's awake Drew is usually
      awake too so it's been harder for me to capture pictures
      of Mary's first few months of life. But I promise you she's
      this cute all the time!
      Centerpieces from the wedding - so fun!
      Kyle got to come down to the wedding after he got the kids to bed.
      He was dressed as the Pope (I guess that's his grouchy Pope face?) and I was a black cat.
      We made for an odd couple that night - maybe one of these years we'll try for a themed costume?