I hope you had a great holiday season--ours was very low key and relaxing, which was lovely. Tucker spent some nice time visiting with my brother Tom, we drank a lot of eggnog, and there were several naps in front of the tree. (And those were the adults!)
Nights have continued to improve since I last wrote about our sleep training escapades. Tucker was back to a 3 or 4 a.m. feeding for a while, but for the last week or so has been sleeping 11-12 hours most nights. Last night he woke up at 4 for the first time in a few days but he went back to sleep on his own, without eating (or crying).
Naps are still up and down, but I’m starting to have hope for future improvements. Last week I was despairing—he’d dropped from 45 minute naps to 30 to 20, and I didn’t know what to do. Two things are helping a bit:
-We FINALLY got blackout shades for the nursery. We’d been living with the weird green roller shades that came with the apartment, but the room gets direct sun in the afternoon and it really wasn’t dark enough. I priced out options several places, and ended up ordering simple honeycomb shades from blinds.com. I ordered the white, 3/4” and I’m thrilled with them. They were easy to install, sort of: Our window frames are such hard old wood that the drill bit got stuck while I was drilling pilot holes, and I had to call Tom in a panic for advice. And then the drill battery kept dying and the screws started to strip out, agh. But the handyman in our building showed me that machine screws (where the head of the screw is hex-shaped) can be tightened using the ratchet-ish part of a screwdriver with interchangeable bits! So handy to know. Anyway, the hardware itself is really easy—to top-mount, you just use one screw on each bracket and then snap the blinds in place. They look neat and tidy compared to the old roller blinds, and while there isn’t a perfect light-seal (we did an inner-mount) the room is WAY darker than ever before.
-I gave in to every piece of advice, ever, and started doing a very, very consistent routine before every nap. We:
-Put on his sleepsack
-Close the blinds and turn on the little lamp
-We sit down in the chair and I give him a pacifier (which he now takes out immediately) and a doggie blanket (which he....seems to like? Not sure yet.)
-We read Hippos Go Berserk
-I sing him Lullaby of Broadway
-I rock him a little bit, either shushing or singing Paul Simon’s “St. Judy’s Comet” as we go over to the crib
-After a minute or two I put him down in the crib, pat and shush a little if he gets thrashy, and leave the room.
For morning naps, it works like a charm. Sometimes he’s really thrashing his arms around as I put him down, but usually I can leave the room and he doesn’t make a sound. Over the weekend he woke up at 30 minutes but Ben went in and popped the pacifier in and soothed him for a minute, and he then slept for another HOUR! It usually doesn’t work if I do that; I guess he smells milk? (Though I’m writing this during a nap, and he woke up at 32 minutes, I went in and soothed him back to sleep, and he’s been back sleeping for 17 minutes...) He slept an hour on Monday, but usually it’s more like 40 minutes. I’m hoping that in the next few weeks he’ll start consolidating his naps and sleeping longer.
In the early afternoon we’ve been back to long walks for long snoozes (I’m now that cranky old lady who calls the Cambridge Snow Removal Hotline to tattle on people who haven’t cleared their sidewalks!); then in the late afternoon I try to get him down for a little catnap so he can get through his bath and everything without being way overtired, but he rarely will go down then. Instead we end up just cuddling or playing very, very quietly.
Ok, so I know I kept talking and talking about Seventh Generation diapers and the amazing deals on Amazon, etc. Well, I have to admit that we finally got fed up. Tucker was blowing out of the diapers ALL THE TIME, and I kept thinking it was that he was between sizes, but....it was all the time. Sometimes up to four blowouts a day. We went through a HUGE thing of Oxiclean in record time, soaking stains out. Finally we used up the size 2 case and he was ready for size 3, so I took the opportunity to try out Target’s Up & Up brand, which my trusty friend Lauren had recommended. (I’m really sensitive to smells and I can’t stand the perfume in the major brand diapers, which is why we’ve been trying so many alternatives!)
Lauren liked them because they have polka dots instead of cartoon characters (the 7th Gen are plain, no pattern, which is also nice). Valid—the dots are adorable, in green and blue. More adorable? A 90% reduction in poop-bedecked clothes. Seriously. These diapers are amazing, and maybe we’re just in love because we’re all PTSD about the months of gigantic blowouts up the back and out the sides every time he pooped, but there have been some impressive feats of containment performed since we switched diapers.
The diapers are unscented, they have really soft stretchy tabs and good velcro, and they have extremely generous double gussets around the legs. I’m thrilled with them, especially at $19.99/case. (For comparison, at Target a 76-pack of size 3 Seventh Generation is $19.99 (.26/diaper), the Up & Ups are 144 to a case (.14/diaper), and a 144-count of Pampers Cruisers is $35.99 (.25/diaper). The name brands are way cheaper with Subscribe and Save on Amazon, but still a couple cents per diaper more expensive than the Up & Up.)
Polka dot diapers! Yay!
Kate Flaim is a freelance journalist and food blogger based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.