And then he was 1 !
Oh my goodness, where has the year gone… It has gone so fast and as I have said before, I have wanted to push pause and stop everything so that I can just enjoy this ‘soon to be gone’ baby stage. Knowing I am only having the one, I just want everything to slow down a little.
I have not written a blog for a long while, life since I returned home has been incredibly busy trying to balance single parenting, working to earn enough to pay the bills and more importantly spending this precious, never to get back, baby months with George. There is so much to share it is hard to know where to start so I am guessing it is best to start from May, our return home to Raglan.
To my delight, George started crawling a little later than most, his long lean body and quite good size head kept him in crawling mode until the week before we came home. It was so wonderful moving home, unpacking all his things and giving him the space and freedom to move, without having to be too cautious like when staying at other people’s homes, which had been out previous 4.5mths. After a couple of days of being sensitive to where I was (I was trying to unpack and clean my house and he wanted to know where I was) he soon felt at ease and with his new movement, he was able to explore freely. Our house is just perfect for this age, he can move alone and free from lounge to his room and down the hall while I am in the kitchen, being able to view him pretty much at all times without having to follow him too much, and this has enabled him to be very content in his own company and enables him to explore and discover safely without me hovering.
Because of staying with family and friends for so long I was keen to give him this opportunity for self-discovery and independence and over the past 3 months I have seen his confidence grow immensely. What has been wonderful to watch too is his social skills with moving back into our small community. With all the ‘catching up’ that is done in the street, popping into our local coffee shop, the 4 square and such like, he has watched me hug and kiss friends and now reaches out to ask for hugs with people he trusts and that I am talking to! It is a sure way of making peoples day!
I soon realized however that settling back into our own routine, having a few teary moments of financial stress, that I was not getting enough time to work and with the return to paying huge amounts of household bills, I had to look into options of care. G for the first month was in the next transition phase, moving from 2 sleeps to 1 and with that came the challenge for me of knowing when I was going to be free to do phone consultations! Some days he was on 2 shorter naps and some days on 1 long sleep…Arrh!
This pushed me into deciding on finding home based care for George here, a wonderful option for stage one of time away from me, trusting someone outside of family and friends to care for him. And lucky for us, we found a lovely mature lady who has had years and years of experience with children and has now chosen home-based care teaching. Along side this we are very blessed with a couple of dear friends and Mum who help me out when needed also. He is happy away from me and this has enabled me to guarantee time to work and peace of mind of that chance to earn some income! It is so weird being on the other end of childcare… I have the bonus of knowing when to walk away if G gives me that look or like today, was little tired and dropped his lip briefly when I dropped him off. Saying goodbye but walking away knowing that his care giver has the skills to distract him and he does indeed trust her but saying goodbye can be hard some days. The heart strings are pulled a bit but I know that his 1.5 days a week in care is socially great for him, he gets to learn different things than at home and being an only child and away from family, he gets to have more than me to trust. I do have to remind any mum’s thinking of care in the future for their babies, do listen to your gut instinct or check for recommendations before choosing care. My first choice didn’t turn out suitable for us. It is funny because I was probably being overly ‘laid back’ because of who I am and not wanting appear over the top… but lesson learnt, tick all the boxes and make sure you are 100% happy before starting with any time of care for your baby. Communication and the transfer or trust is key for both parties.
Developmentally between 10mths and 1yr there is so many fun things that we have enjoyed doing together. His love for music has grown and when meal times become a bit of a challenge with sitting still or being a little tired, all I need to do is put on either of our two top kiwi favourite’s, Poppet Stars or Anika Moa’s songs for bubba’s. It is not just children’s music he loves, a good house music beat or classical/piano music is just as much fun for him. Eating and sleeping has been wonderful however as we enter another phase of teething the eating has started to take another step backwards and the good old distraction tools have had to come back out again. Music, easy to clean items for him to play with and thinking wisely about the type of food that I am offering him. He can be very stubborn and painfully slow! When they are teething it is easy to eat, soft and tasty, small and wholesome foods. So I have gone back to mashing a few vegetables, making sweet with savoury slow cooked meals and spoon feeding him in conjunction with him feeding himself. Some who choose to do exclusive baby lead weaning may find that when they go through phases like this that their babies can start waking hungry again in the night and so to avoid milk feeding that is why I go back to basic’s, doing a mix, not exclusively one or the other. I also except with G that he can do well on a big breakfast (usually 1 piece of toast and a poached egg and maybe some fruit) then a small lunch or just light snacks between breakfast and dinner, but then at 4.30 he eats really well again. This suits me and he continues to sleep well at night. I have started eating with him at 4.30-5pm if no visitors for dinner. This too is wonderful for role modeling and evening though is it a little early, I know it makes my life easier in the fact I do not have to cook two meals in the evening and I can always have a light snack later if needed!
Keeping George well has been a mission of mine, if he or I get sick, it means financially there is no sick pay! Having a healthy diet, dressing for the climate and taking supplements to boost us both has been essential in this mission. One thing that I have noticed more and more is that I am quite old fashioned when it comes to dressing babies/children. Always having something on their feet and warm layers on their chests and covering his ears on windy or very cold days… and it does seem to be paying off with G only having 1 cold in his 1st year of life.
My be well and warm daily list is:
Wool layer on chest at all times (either a vest or a long sleeve top) – I have been blessed with using Nature Baby merino long sleeve tops and have also inherited some lovely wool Teeny Weeny things too, their all in one, PJ’s from Farmers and for mornings or after bath time, a wool vest which was handmade from an ex-clients family in Northumberland, UK.
Feet warm – He always has something on his feet. I have used socks and to keep them on I use good old-fashioned booties, these are the best for indoor play or buggy outings. And then when out and about I have been given some hand me down slippers from Nature Baby alongside some soft leather shoes.
Ears covered – When there is wind or it is cold, I have a variety of hats, wool or cotton to keep his ears covered at all times.
Probiotics – Everyday he has probiotics and has since birth. I use a brand that Q.Baby recommended to me. When we have been around sick children then I have stepped that up upon recommendation from a health professional.
So where to now, I am next looking into securing my garden so he can roam free because the other day as I was picking up wind blown limes and lemons, I turned my back so ever briefly and found that George had slipped and landed on a rotten lime!!
He just loves being part of the action like most children, getting dirty, digging and exploring but it is limiting on how much ‘work’ you can do so a pen is what I need to create for up and coming spring time, ready for planting my summer crops and clearing away gardens to create more lawn space for him to play in the summer. I have joined a programme called ‘Workaway’ where you have someone come to stay and help in exchange for food and a bed and this Sunday we have our first French tourist coming to stay for 5 days, perfect chance for doing some of this things I just cannot seem to find time to do.
I have also stocked up my cupboard with Arnica for his up and coming start to walking… he is balancing well but that big head of his does seem to throw his off balance and I fear there maybe some good bruises to contend with!
I still have to pinch myself at times, like I am sure many parents do, that I am his mum and how blessed I am to have him in my life. The joy he brings to my every day over rides the challenges that come with single parenting a baby, when they need so much of you and you have to work out the best balance between work and mothering. With the onset of teething again and traveling for work, it is challenging at the moment. I am still breast feeding and aim to get him through winter before weaning him but I am starting to feel like it is time that I look after myself a little more. While I have always been diligent about taking supplements to boost my health and well being, focusing on George more than myself is starting to show. You know when it is time to look at yourself when you are a little more emotional and energy levels are low! This is one of the challenges of being on the road a bit, you get out of little routines like this.. instead of packing my ‘well-being’ bag I pack my expressing machine and chiller packs and storage containers!!!!
George at 1yr !
George is 8 months old and an absolute character, so observant, so relaxed in himself and the world (apart from when teething!) and interested in everything one does with their hands!
Since I last wrote, he has cut 3 more teeth with another 2 on their way, making that 5 teeth in 2 months! Both his upper and lower central incisors, which came easily for him and his 1st lateral incisor, which unlike the other 4, this tooth has caused G more discomfort. As I have said to many in my position before, it is better getting them over and done with all in one go, rather than having teething symptoms on and off but nothing to show for it for months. The poor babies and mothers either way really!
G is so inquisitive and now is looking at people up and down, what they are wearing, holding or what they are doing.
His love for music is growing and I am breaking out more and more old songs from my pre-school teaching days (a helpful distraction with trying to get some food into him) and need to plan getting my piano from our family home so I can play for him.
He is showing a great interest in how things work, wheels moving on cars, light switches and remote controls. I think this boy is going to have an engineers mind (it runs in the family) with his 8-month-old interest in fine detail!
His crawling seems to have gone on a ‘pause’ mode, stopping at his accomplishment of yoga’s ‘down dog’ position. As I have mentioned previously, his larger head and long lean body makes going forward daunting for him, his long skinny arms just not up to taking the weight, alongside his frustrated personality. But he has mastered sitting and being able to reach for his own toys, occasionally making himself fall back at times (lucky for the soft carpet landing) to then be able to roll and reach something he has seen.
In the last of the warm weather, he loved being able to sit in the shallow water, splashing, reaching for shells and watching the shimmering light on the water.
He did have an unlucky experience in the shallow harbour water at Tairua however. The water was so warm and so I just removed his nappy and sat him in the water… soon after I noticed some blood on his t-shirt. My first thought was that he has sat on a sharp shell which has cut him, but then he would have complained about that, and given the amount of blood I soon discovered that he had sea lice stuck to his body in several places, sucking his juicy blood!
I had to pull them off him! They were not interested in my ankles, just his lower back and bum! But unaware, he was find=e, I did use a little Weleda rash/sting gel from the pharmacy which was open and just 2min walk away!
His latest trick is of pulling this hilarious face is definitely a product of his new teeth… he has two rather large and spaced out front top teeth which makes him look a little like a rabbit, and when wearing his lovely new Nature Baby Rabbit PJ’s, pulling his new face, it does make us all laugh.
His eating has gone out the window and while going through this next phase, the topic of fussy feeding has been on my mind, fussing feeding and how it can start and how to work through it. Often babies begin as great feeders, eating most things you offer them and love to try new things but then at some stage while teething, they suddenly go off their food, disliking things they once loved.
This is G right now, he was wonderful at eating, loved most things I gave until about 10 days ago when he started to cut his 5th tooth, one of his lower lateral incisors. He started to turn his head away sharply if offering him food from a spoon or squashing and throwing away the finger food he once devoured. There are some babies who I would say are ‘foodies’ and some that are ‘grazers’, and the later is definitely George. I know this from the way he breast feeds, never feeding if anything was going on around him from about 6 weeks of age, easily distracted, sacrificing food for entertainment! So this is fine for a couple of days but soon you may notice a little bit more grizzling, easily mistaken for teething but in fact it is a combination of teething and being hungry, especially long lean babies like George. Of course what naturally happens to babies like this is they want more milk at night! The classic ‘nocturnal feeder’ soon approaching again and so back to night ‘goal’ feeding, restricting how much he was drinking in the night so that he was still hungry in the day, hungry enough to have a little bit of food. Just as I was making progress, from our last trip away with work, and his night waking habits, he starts another round of teething and we are back to square one! Oh the joys!
Over my career I have helped so many mums with children whom are ‘fussy feeders’ and when I ask about how it started, it is either with teething or the babies personality getting bored with sitting for too long, needing to be distracted more. Most cultures around the world would find it so hard to believe that we often feed our babies and small children independently to the family, separate meal times. Having witnessed both ways and seeing how much better children eat in a group setting with a family mealtime or at daycare. It is a natural distraction/company/role modeling, encouraging those who need this to have the patience with eating or to regain interest in food post illness or teething, like my wee man.
So when we do not have this opportunity we have to add in other distractions, for example today, I used my reusable food pouch, drove to a playground (being sat morning I knew it would likely have children) and sat him in his buggy where he happily ate because he was interested and distracted in the children playing! The food went down with so much ease, it was a joke!
Tomorrow there is a forecast for rain and so I will plan to eat with him, let him share some of what I am eating (like avocado, baked pumpkin and kumara wedges) and have a few ‘tool’s’ up my belt like a whisk and wooden spoon and even use the buggy as my distractions if needed. This is particularly necessary, as I have started my ‘goal’ feeding at night.
Tonight, day 3 post his last temp of 38 degrees, and with a day of more solid food, we are aiming for a later evening 1st feed! Not 10pm or 11pm which has been his past week since his lack of solid food, tonight my goal is 1-2am, so resettling without a feed if he wakes out of habit before then! This is a challenge I have to say as when it comes to resettling him in the night, knowing he is still slightly teething and not 100% on form. Due to this I do not want to leave him to cry much, just grizzle really, and then when I go to settle him, if it takes around 20-30min, or less than an hour and is not distressing, I know it is worth the effort from both of us! With my ‘baby wrists’, (both have ‘baby wrist now’) this really hurts, as I mostly am using the pick up and put down method, which in combination of a little bottom tap or head stroke, works best for George’s personality but as he is getting more physical and heavier, these wrists of mine are really troublesome.
I wondered in the night, how many other mothers have found much difference in their wrists once they stop breast-feeding? One physio that I have seen said I should see an improvement and there are times I think to myself that I should stop for the sack of the terrible pain I am having daily, worst of all night and mornings but then a huge part of me thinks that I should just bare it for a bit longer as I am only having one baby!
I have had one of those months, it has been challenging, my wrists really painful, more travelling, leaving G for the first time and balancing work expectations and a teething baby, broken sleep again. Also moving out of my own space, or for that matter ‘our’ own space has been much more challenging than I realized. While we are incredibly lucky to have the option of staying with family, I have been finding it hard, sharing our daily routine and space with others, especially after living alone for over 10 years. I have got use to a lot of quiet time.
So while his personality brings me so much joy and his ability to settle and sleep in any place I take him, the teething and transient life we are living will not be missed when all settles down… for a while!
And the teeth just keep coming!
George was 6 months on Sunday and the past month has passed in one big blur! Currently I am working with George looking after 10mth old baby, 24hrs a day for just over a week. As I finally make it to bed at 9.50pm, I have an over-tiredness that gives you energy at night, so I decided to make the most of it and write my much overdue blog!
I made the decision to move out of my house for 5 months, to enable me to spend more time with George and have less financial stress. To pay my mortgage, rates, etc, I would need to be returning to longer hours as work and it just seems to be too soon for me to leave George, especially as he is more than likely going to be my only baby. My property has a large garden and between working, looking after George and housework, I just found there was not enough time to enjoy my days as much. So the past month I have been tidying, packing and preparing the house for having tenants in, all before I started this job this week.
December with George was a wonderful month of movement and eating… he is so long and lean, he needs little and often. He was able to benefit from a few vegetables from my garden and I added in a few other things like chicken stock for flavour and goodness at the same time learning likes and dislikes. He is going to be a fruit lover just like my brother it seems as he loved the Christmas plums and now as I try to eat anything like apricots or nectarines, I hear this sounds of him licking his lips or in some cases grizzling! I have yet to progress into any type of cereal or meat but this coming month it might be as this bowel motions has been often but on the firmer side with just his vege and fruit diet but in the past week they have started to soften up with more attention paid to combinations that I create for him. I have purchased millet cereal for to try instead of rice cereal or farex, it is rich in iron also but easier to digest for a lot of babies. Banana is not a great one I have seen over my career and while he doesn’t have too much of a reaction the bowels and a slight wheezy sound does indicate that he is not that well suited to it yet.
Today for the 10mth olds dinner I made roast chicken and so tomorrow my aim is to turn that into a good stock/broth type soup to add to his vegetables and to give him some more fat as he is still very hungry at the end of the day! I may even try his on some of the meat for the first time.
One of the down sides of working with a 10mth old and G is that he is not feeding on the breast as well in the day (distracted by the noise of dogs/10mth old Charlie and new environment) and so while I’m working he has started to wake again in the night to feed, hungry due to being distracted and the need to catch up at night on what he is not getting in the day. He really would like another bottle (watching older baby) and while I am happy to give him 1 bottle a day or occasionally 2 if out and about and he is not feeding, I am trying to keep my supply up by keeping that feed in the night going. When I finish this job I will go back to encouraging him to sleep through the night or have 1 small feed in the early hours (4-5am).
I moved G to a loose arm swaddle quite a while ago but then I had a Girl+Boy sleeping sack sent to me to trial and it has been fantastic, it is an ‘in between’ sleeping aide, it allows them freedom to move their arms but still a comfort before moving to a armless sleeping bag. I only use this at night, in the day he is unswaddled and just had a snuggle blanket which he loves to have near his face and sometimes to suck!
Several of my clients have been asking what to sleep their babies in due to this hot weather we are having and if you are using sleeping bags then you look at the weight of the sleeping bag fabric, if you are using a fan in the room or not and then short or long sleep Pj’s. The basic need is for their arms to have cover in the early hours of the morning if in a bag as their legs are taken care of. The top I have been recommending to use with a sleeping bag if house is cool or using a fan is the Nature Baby Pointelle Long Sleeve Bodysuit, it has small holes in the fabric, which means it is nice and cool but still adds that layer for comfort in the early hours. I have been using this also when windy but warm on our walks in the buggy.
Movement wise G has started lifting both knees up while on up on is arms but it is not easy as he has quite a good size head with his long lean body and often I hear him complaining and grunting with frustration at not being able to ‘quite get there’! It is very hard to watch but I try to resist intervening, I just verbally reassure him and have found that using the playpen (to keep the 10mth old off him or dogs away from him while I am busy) he has taken another step as he can push his feet up against the frame! He has learnt to raise his voice to be heard after Christmas with the cousins and family, a loud “Arrh” coming out of his mouth every so often. I think his approaching first 2 teeth contributed to this also… George cut his first 2 teeth the 2nd day at my job this past week and it has been a constant stream of dribble and administering teething remedies. I have used the Natropharm teething spray when out and about, Weleda teething powder when home and when the gums looked a bit swollen and G clamping down on my chin, I have used the wonderful Q.Baby teething gel! His sleep has not been disrupted but he did seem to like clamping down on the nipple at times – rah!
He is holding himself up so much and wanting to bounce all the time – a new nickname he has been given by our 12yr friend Harry is, Grasshopper! He so is like a grasshopper, his long lanky body and love to lip and hang out in the garden! He has got the stage he doesn’t really like being on the floor as much, he wants to be up and going, so I remain in distraction mode, trying to encourage him to gain his strength with his upper body while being on the floor. He needs to gain strength in his arms to hold up his larger head and his long body!
He remains the Inquistive little man he is, loving fine detail, movement in trees, patterns on fabric and now he is in the forward facing seat in the Mountain Buggy Urban, he is loves watching people and the environment. He is in his happy place sitting back and watching the world go by!
I’m a very tired but happy mum, longing to have a holiday in February when I move to based ourselves at my mum’s in the Coromandel, hoping to take G camping for the first time! 100% mum and G time.
Where have we been?
George is fast approaching 4mths of age, which is such a shock, where has time gone (sadly). I have loved the past 3.5mths and I only wish I could push a pause button to slow things down a little as I know the coming months are busy and he will be eager to sit, crawl and then walk before I know it.
Many people over the several years I have been working with families have talked about the 4 month old sleep regression, it is something that has become a much-dreaded phase by many mum’s and a large part of my business.
I have never believed in talking about the different stages as regressions, rather thinking about them as progressions, what do we as parents have to think about doing differently to help babies transition into their new age and stage, what we have to do to keep good sleeping practices occurring.
George has been a great sleeper, I worked hard in the first 6-9 weeks creating positive settling and sleeping routines which paid off as he 90% of the time will self-settle and sleep deeply. However I have just started to notice over the past week that he is showing me signs I need to ‘tweak’ my routine and his activities to help him transition and progress into his 4 month old baby stage.
When they turn 4 months, it is usually the time to think of them as a baby, not a newborn; they are ready for more, for change.
Some of the things I am seeing are; waking after 30-45min occasionally, taking longer than 5min to settle to sleep and not wanting to put down to play under the same baby gym or being left alone post snuggles and feeding time and wanting to stand up or be carried around so he can look at and see the world from a different perspective.
He has found his hands and is sucking on them continuously and dribbling (time to buy more of my favourite bibs from Nature Baby), sucking his swaddle or a blanket (or anything in close reach that is soft fabric!) and is watching me eat, even has started to make me feel guilty eating in front of him as he makes sounds each time I take a mouthful! I have planted in my garden food that is ready for his up and coming move onto solid food, pumpkin, courgette, carrots and kumara and there is stone fruit growing on the trees also. He is a long lean baby and I have always been a believer that you listen to your baby when it comes to starting solids, longer leaner babies are often hungry babies and quite often are ready before the 6mth goal that is recommended.
When I see the shorter sleep cycles starting I think about the time of day they are occurring as it usually means that I need to increase their physical play, increase their visual stimulation and increase their time awake, not reacting to the usual tired signs – progressing towards an increase of time awake by 15min or so.
I start thinking about his playtime and how I balance his physical, visual and communication play out over the time he is awake. Some more sensitive babies will show a little separation anxiety, starting off with just being a grizzle but soon can become a cry and so when I have seen a little sign of this with George, I have put into practice what I have talked about with clients, ‘distract before you react’… I pick up a toy or place him near something of interest so that he is distracted, before picking him up if needed.
It is a busy time but progressive and once again, if you spend time helping them by tweaking what your usual routine was, they will transition into the next phase of development without seeing negative ‘regressions’. And it is about being prepared, I’m thinking about stocking my freezer, getting bibs in stock and starting to implement change to our daily routines that will help us in the coming weeks.
Leaving the newborn stage and becoming a baby!
Its good to be a mum!
Today I had one of those moments, when you stop and look, think, I love this, it is wonderful to have George in my life! He is smiling and talking, trying to roll and even sit when lying back on my pillow.
He slept while I weeded the garden, he slept when I did my phone consults and then napped when I had friends for a cup of tea! I am grateful for the knowledge I have, to have spent the time setting up his sleeping routine so that it does make my life easier and does give me time to sit back and reflect on how lucky I am.
Today was day 2 of being home after a work road trip to Wellington, it was a mammoth trip but worth its hard work. I took a seminar for parents and teachers, focusing on the 1-4yr old age group, which was a breath of fresh air from winding and settling!
I had a few nerves in the morning as it has been a few months now since I have taken a seminar but it only took a few minutes before I got back into the swing of things. I do love working even though now with having George in my life it’s hard to juggle it all.
It all has been made much easier having my mother able to help. She came on the roadie to look after G and help ease the load of driving. The joy that Grandchildren bring for our parents and older generation is so special and unique, the love they have is so genuine because they are connected but without the same responsibilities. Well that is for some Grandparents, many now and in the past played much larger rolls, if not the main care-giving role of their grandchildren’s lives.
Love being a mum!
Sharlene was a huge help to Trish and myself. As new parents, she gave us a really good idea of how we could better understand Joshua and what he needed. As Sharlene says, there are lots of different crys that a baby has, but without the support of someone like Sharlene, we had no idea which was which!
We highly recommend Sharlene’s service and her book to all new parents. Her easy going approach makes her really easy to talk to and seeing her settle our wee boy when he’s upset is a real testament to her professionalism. Thank you again Sharlene!
My partner and I asked Sharlene to come and help us with our new baby girl after we were really struggling to know what to do and our (probably 6 weeks old at that stage) daughter was constantly crying, was losing weight rapidly and generally driving us towards a breakdown. No exaggeration – when our girl saw Sharlene and Sharlene picked her up, she started “cooing” at Sharlene and smiling like she’d never done at us! We knew straight away that she had something special. She gave us some great tips which made immediate improvements, and generally took away a lot of the stress we were feeling. She was able to give us advice on OUR situation and OUR baby, rather than just generalising like some others seemed to. We then followed her (or her book’s) advice closely on a bunch of other things from then on, and it was like we had a new baby (one who now sleeps through the night, has put on weight brilliantly, and basically just seems really happy and contented). I have recommended Sharlene (and her book) to a number of colleagues and friends, and one said that the
Thank you so much sharlene. My little boy had not slept in his cot for months before trying your settling technique. I too have your book and it is my baby bible! Highly recommend! I was going crazy before I spoke with you and was at a loss as to what to do next. Thank you…