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Regardless of how hard we try as parents to protect our babies, they will get hurt.

Your baby will be learning how to sit, and fall over- several times.
Your baby will have mastered learning how to sit, and still decide to randomly forget how, fall over, and bonk her head- several times.
Your baby will be holding a toy, flailing it around, and hit herself in the face with it- several times. 
Your baby will decide to bite down on something, bite down too hard, hurt herself and cry- several times.
Your baby will decide to fling her body backwards, just as you are walking into a doorway, and hit her head on the door jamb- hopefully not several times because mama will learn it's coming.
Your baby will scratch herself with those pesky little baby nails that you feel like you just cut yesterday- several times.
Your baby will pull herself up, lose her balance and fall over, and hit her head- several times.
Your baby will stand up and not know how to sit or lay back down. So again she'll fall- several times.
Your baby will get an arm or a leg stuck in the crib rails- several times.
Your baby will walk- bringing its own set of disasters waiting to happen- several times.
Your baby will run- and all bets are off.

YOU will accidentally clip the skin of that delicate finger while you are clipping her nails. She'll bleed, but she'll hardly even notice. She'll be ok.
YOU will accidentally hit her head on the car as you are putting her in the car seat. She will cry. She'll be ok.
YOU will accidentally hit her head on the car as you are taking her out of the car seat. She will cry. She'll be ok.
YOU will take your eye off of her for a split second, and she will fall down. She will cry. She'll be ok.
YOU might even hit her head on a moving ceiling fan (or some other seemingly serious incident). She somehow will be un-phased by the incident or maybe she'll scream and your heart will break. She'll be ok.

YOU will be ok. 

YOU might decide that even though you know she is ok, you still need to check with the doctor- just to make sure. You call the after hours and tell them of your parenting fail. They go through all of the possible scary symptoms. Everything checks out ok. They still advise that you take her to the emergency room. 

YOU get to the emergency room and everyone knows your are first time parents. They tell you of their parenting fails and remind you of all of the above incidents that can and will happen. They laugh and tell you that if they came to the emergency room every time they had injured their baby, they'd live here. They reassure you that everything is ok. You feel silly for being there. You feel like you have "first time parent" written on you in bright bold letters. You are comforted by the fact that you came, and comforted to hear the stories of other parenting fails. 

YOU are not alone.
Your baby will survive- despite you.
She is built to survive.
You are built to survive.
So, forgive yourself. Keep putting her on your shoulders and running around the house- because she loves it so much. Just remember the ceiling fan the next time around. Learn from your parenting fails, and experience new ones. They will happen, expect them to happen, forgive yourself when they happen. 

One of three things happens when someone finds out I'm a stay at home mom.

1. They say "Good for you!"
2. They ask questions
3. They say "Uh, I could never do that."

First off, let me just say that I am not offended by any of these remarks. So, if you are one of the people that has said something to me, no offense taken by any means! I am, however, amused by the remarks at times!

I never envisioned myself as a stay at home mom, nor did I judge those that chose this route.  I just didn't think it was for me. Now that I am a stay at home mom, it is amusing hearing the comments and thinking back to what I once thought.

It is refreshing to hear someone say "good for you". They have either been there, are there, or wish they were there. These are the people that relate to it, understand it, and are genuinely happy that I am getting to experience it. I am this person, now. I am thrilled when I hear that someone is getting to be a stay at home mom, because I now get it. It is an amazing experience, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

The questions are interesting. They range anywhere from "Aren't you bored?" to "What do you do all day?" to "Don't you miss your job (teaching)?", and even "Why?".

Am I bored? I don't have time to be bored! This little girl of mine keeps me on my toes at all times. She is learning every second of the day, requires full time attention, and gets bored easily. So no, I'm not bored. I'm exhausted and would love to have a moment of boredom one day! When she isn't playing (and soon to be running around), she is eating or sleeping. Eating is a full time job in and of itself. I nurse her, then she eats like the cookie monster when she gets solid foods in front of her. She used to nurse 8 times a day or more. Now that she's older, she nurses 4 times a day and eats solids 3 times a day. So, just feeding her keeps me plenty busy. During her naps I get things done. I get a chance to pick up the mess we've caused during her meals and during play time, perhaps vacuum the dog hair off of the floor and clean a bathroom. I get to shower and get dressed, take care of the dogs, plan meals, cook meals, etc. I write posts on this blog when she naps, and I get a tiny bit of me time.

What do I do all day? See above. I take care of everything that my daughter needs. I teach her things, we go out and experience new things every day, I nurse her, I feed her, I soothe her, I read to her and play with her, I take care of the house, the dogs, the meals, the laundry, etc. My husband helps too, and wants to, but I try and get as much done before he comes home, so he can just spend time with us.

Don't I miss teaching? Not really. One day I might, and I'm sure one day I'll teach again. I might not be in a classroom teaching chemistry at the moment, but I'm teaching my little girl about anything and everything, every second of every day. I have to teach her how to be a kind, loving, intelligent, peaceful, reasonable, dedicated, honest, respectful, thoughtful, and focused (and more) individual. I have to teach her so many things. And it is not a "have" to, it is a "get" to! It is a huge responsibility. Much larger of a scope than I ever imagined. I have to know about colors, shapes, why the sky is blue, what every word means, and why everything in the world happens. She will ask, and I will not know all of the answers, but we will learn together. Being a parent means I have to be much more responsible for my knowledge, and that I get to impart that knowledge to her every single day. So no, I don't miss teaching, because I am teaching more now than I ever have.

Why? Why am I a stay at home mom, you ask? Well, that's easy. I want to be the one to raise our daughter. I don't want to pay someone to do something that I can do better than a stranger could. I want to be home so I am here for every special moment. All of her firsts will happen on my watch. She will learn from me, and I love that. She will grow up so fast, and I don't want to miss it. So I am taking in every moment, and taking care of my family. I have NO judgment for those that choose to not stay home. Maybe you can't afford it financially, or maybe you simply don't want to- you enjoy your career. I get it- I once thought I wouldn't want to. Now that we have a daughter in our lives, my world just changed. My thoughts on staying home changed when we thought seriously about having kids. What an amazing world it is, now!

And those of you that say "uh, I could never do that"... Again, I get it. I mean who wants to feed, play, sleep, diaper change, feed, play, sleep, diaper change, and repeat all day? I get that it doesn't sound appealing, and I get that it is not for everyone. But it is for me. I get to be a mama. There's nowhere in the world I'd rather be. I don't miss me time. I don't miss date nights. I love going out to eat as a family, and I love that my entire day consists of hanging out with the most amazing baby ever! Just remember that it's more than feed, play, sleep, diaper change. It's laughs, cuddles, learning new things, exploring, and so much more.

Sunday night, Caroline refused to eat dinner. This isn't completely abnormal for her, but she seemed a little out of sorts. We got her down from the table, finished eating and took her upstairs. Figured we'd let her have some playtime before bed. She was a little extra fussy, so I grabbed her to give her some snuggles. HOLY HOT! Caroline's skin was on fire.

I am that mom that thinks her baby feels warm and checks for a fever just in case. Probably once a week I am reaching for the thermometer because she feels hot to me. I had no idea that a fever would be so obvious.

Her entire body was hot to the touch- not just her forehead. So much so, that there was no question that she had a fever. Honestly, I am surprised she wasn't screaming her head off and more vocal about it. She is amazingly strong to be handling it the way she was. So, out came the thermometer, and sure enough she had a 103.0 degree fever.

Side note, but I have to mention: this was a rectal thermometer reading. I also checked with the temporal thermometer which said she was at 100. HUGE difference, and I am never using the temporal thermometer again. I had tested it in the past, and simply put, it is not nearly as accurate.

I knew we'd just be instructed to give Tylenol, but also knew that it was approaching the dangerously high numbers. We put a call into her pediatrician just in case they wanted us to go in. As expected, we were told to give Tylenol. I figured we'd go in every 4 hours and give it to her, so her fever might get some relief, but they also told us to simply let her sleep and schedule an appointment in the morning.

Snuggles with mama in the dark morning hours
with a cold 
compress and Ginger the giraffe. 
It took awhile to get her to sleep, but once she was out, she slept surprisingly well. She woke around 5 am, and she was still burning up. I gave her Tylenol, and by her 9 am appointment, her fever was down to 100, and she was feeling much cooler. Caroline checked out great- no ear infections, throat looked clear, etc. She simply has a virus. We got the go ahead to give Motrin as well.

Every 4 hours we'd give Tylenol, then Motrin, then repeat throughout the day. The fever was managed all day yesterday, but you could tell it had taken a lot out of Caroline. She was exhausted, fighting sleep, and simply overtired. She wanted company, but didn't want to be put to sleep. She wanted cuddles, but didn't want to be rocked. She wanted to nurse for comfort, but when she was done, she didn't want to be held. By the time night rolled around yesterday, it was a long 2.5 hours trying to get her to sleep for the night.

She was up almost every hour. She'd cry, and by the time I looked at the monitor, she'd be putting herself back to sleep and quiet again. So, I refrained from going in. I knew going in would end up keeping her up for a couple of hours, and she needed her rest. Plus, the doctor had said not to interrupt her sleep to give medicine. Even though she was going back to sleep, I'm wishing I would have gone in to give medicine, because her fever was back with a vengeance this morning. Her fever was even higher- 103.8.

I knew that she'd get sick one day. I knew that this day would come. And when it did, I was prepared to throw our schedules out the window and was ready to forget about her sleep training and rock her to sleep. It's amazing, though, how she still prefers and needs to do roughly the same routines. We were off schedule yesterday, and will be again today, since she woke up so early. Somehow, she managed to get herself back on schedule. And, while she's fighting sleep right now, and I go in to rock and soothe her, she still ended up falling asleep on her own yesterday for naps. It took several tries, and my rocking seemed to help calm her down and allow her to put herself to sleep, but at the end of the day, she seemed to need that usual routine.

Night was a different story, and nothing was working- not the usual routine, not rocking, nothing. Daddy eventually managed to successfully get her to sleep. The winning combo was holding her while walking- like we used to do back when she was teeny tiny and just a couple of weeks old. I think the walking distracts her from our goal (getting her to sleep), but allows her the comfort of being held. YAY for a daddy win!

These are such frustrating moments. All I want to do is make her feel better, and there's simply not a way. I want to do whatever she needs, except she can't tell us what that is. I would hold her all night long if it would help, but it doesn't. She tries to tell me what she needs, though, and I love her so much for this. She tells me that she doesn't want to be put to sleep, and that she doesn't want me to go. She pushes away when I try and rock her (protesting sleep), and holds on to my shirt when I try and lay her down. She tells me she doesn't want to sleep, but I know she needs sleep, and I need to go for that to happen. When I hold her, she knows what I'm trying to do. She knows that I'm trying to put her to sleep, and boy does she resist. She's smart. She's a fighter. She's independent and loving. She's sensitive and sweet. She's stubborn and focused. She's determined. She's definitely my husband's daughter, and definitely my daughter, too.

I wish she was old enough to understand. I wish I could tell her that it's going to be ok. I wish I could let her come and sleep in our bed and that she'd understand it was still time to sleep and not play. I wish I could comfort her better, and I wish she could tell me what she needs.

In the meantime, I'll rock her to sleep, if she'll let me. I'll hold her as long as she'll let me. I'll give her kisses and tell her she's loved. I'll nurse her as many times as she wants on these days. I'll give her a popsicle to suck on, and I'll hold her hand. I'll make her smile even if she doesn't feel up to it. I'll get as many smiles out of her today as I can. The schedule can wait, the sleep training can wait, the dishes and vacuuming can wait. Everything can wait, while I take care of my little girl- my strong, smart and beautiful little girl. 

NOTE: We made this change at 6.5 months of age.

Well, we seem to be on the other side now. We've had three successful days with our new schedule, and I am optimistic that she will continue to do very well with this adjustment.

I can't say for sure what happened to allow us to finally be successful at this transition, but I have a few ideas.

Before I get into how we finally did this, here is some background on our previous schedule and why we finally decided to take the plunge:

Our previous schedule (2 naps and 1 catnap)

7 nurse and solids
9 nap
11 nurse and solids
1 nap
230 nurse
430 catnap
5 solids
630 nurse
7 bed

As I explained in one of my recent posts, "Something's Gotta Give", we've actually been toying with the idea of dropping the catnap for quite some time. She always resisted the catnap, and it was getting harder and harder to put her down for it. Every time we tried to drop the nap and extend her schedule, she couldn't handle the increased wake time, and her naps would suffer as a result- going from 2 hour naps to sometimes 30 minute naps. This was obviously not going to work. This past week, Caroline refused the catnap all together and gave us no choice. Unfortunately, at the same time, she (as usual) wasn't handling the wake time well and was getting overtired. Her naps, again, dropped to 30 minutes. Normally, at this point, I would have gone back to the old schedule and tried again later. That wasn't an option this time around, however, since Caroline was boycotting the catnap.

So we plugged on.

There are several things that we did to help support her in this transition. Something clicked, and for 3 days we have now had successful naps and extended wake times, allowing us to eliminate the catnap.

Here is everything we did differently this time:

  1. Pushed through-
    Since going back to the old schedule wasn't an option this time, we were forced to try the new schedule for a full week. In the past, I had tried it for a maximum of 3 days, and if it wasn't working, I simply went back to the old schedule and tried again later. Perhaps she needed the extra few days of fighting through it to finally give in and let it work.
  2. Solid food times changed-
    We had gotten into a good routine of feeding solid foods right after we breastfed. The past 3 days we changed this due to the weather. It is so hot outside, that we needed to take our morning walk before we had our solid food breakfast. So I switched the two, which made her solid food breakfast roughly occurring 45 minutes later than normal. Perhaps this took the edge off of her hunger and allowed her to sleep longer into her 2 hour nap, after having been awake the extra half hour in the mornings due to the new schedule.
  3. Snack-
    The first successful day of our schedule, I had been planning on incorporating a snack before her second nap. Well, this mama was out at a friend's house trying to keep Caroline distracted through her extended wake time, and I forgot. So as I got her into the car, I gave her a few bites of a Hawaiian roll that I had packed for her and some sips of water. Yesterday we had a late lunch, since Daddy got to join us, and today we plan on doing the same. Again, this might have been the extra fuel needed to allow her to sleep longer for her second nap.
  4. Orajel-
    I mentioned in my previous post that the only odd thing going on with Caroline right now, is that she was pulling at her ear and making throat clearing noises. She did not have an ear infection, and while her gums are not swollen, this might be a sign of teething. So, I decided to start putting Orajel on her throughout the day. I put it on when she wakes up and right before she naps. She has been pulling at her ear and clearing her throat less often, so perhaps this was also a factor. Mama finally got the hint!
  5. Distractions-
    I didn't mess around the past few days with distractions. I usually take her out every day
    through our attempts to change the schedule, but we pulled out all the stops to distract her this go around- big time! We went over to a friend's house the first successful day. We upped our daily walk from slightly less than a mile to two miles, so she'd be out looking around more in the mornings. We have gone out and stayed out for her entire second wake time, just to make sure she was preoccupied enough that she was not thinking about being tired. It worked. She was not complaining about being tired; she was distracted and having fun. Once she fully adjusts to the new wake times and the new schedule we won't have to continue to this extent. I will still keep her walks long and we will still go on outings most days, because that's what we do, and she just loves it! This might have been the extra push she needed, though. 

Our new schedule (2 naps)

7 nurse
830 solids
930 nap
1130 nurse and solids
2 snack
230 nap
4 nurse
5 solids
630 nurse
7 bed

This was by far the hardest schedule change we've made. When we went from 4 naps to 3 naps, Caroline was actually still wanting the last nap, but she was also wanting extended wake times during the day. So it was much simpler...we extended wake times, pushed her schedule out and kept her distracted in the evenings, so she'd stay awake. This time around was the reverse- she didn't want the last nap, and she didn't want extended times. Those two things do not go together! Luckily, she is so strong and caught on so well that she has made it to the other side. She seems to be doing extremely well on this new schedule. She goes to sleep for her naps within seconds, and she goes to bed at night without so much as a sound. She is well rested in the mornings and actually waking later. She used to wake at 615/630, and now she is waking much closer to 7. All she needed was to drop that catnap. We've known it for awhile...and have finally made the change. Such a big girl she is. She'll keep 2 naps for many, many months to come!

Leading up to Caroline's arrival, I wanted to make sure her room was perfect and ready for her. Part of this task consisted of hanging bookshelves and adorning them with as many books as I could. I wanted them to face out so she could see the front covers and be involved in picking her bedtime story. This was my favorite part of the room. I took IKEA spice racks and painted them to match Caroline's room. I then went to Barnes and Noble and found a bunch of classic board books and picture books that we'd read to Caroline. It was perfect.

Little did I know, that with reading to her every night, we'd blow through these books in no time and be wanting more and more books. This is quite an expensive hobby, so I bought a collection of books all in one- Disney Bedtime Stories. I knew that would last us awhile! It did, and we read stories over and over again. Caroline might have been enjoying it, but Daddy and I wanted new books to read!

So, I decided to give the library a try. The library has turned out to be a fantastic place to meet with other moms and babies for playtime. They also have storytime and other events that we attend on a regular basis. Everything is free, and it has turned into some great outings!

I have never been one to like library books, however. They are old and musty, and I like to keep the books I read. I gave it a shot anyway, and well, I love it! Caroline and I have been going to the library about every 4 days or so and picking out 8 new picture books each time. Sometimes I go with some titles in mind that we have researched, and other times we just look for fun covers and titles and go from there. We have found some great books and even enrolled Caroline in the summer reading program. She is flying through the books, as we read a couple a day!

I wanted to put together a list of my favorites. I would like to purchase some of our favorites one day, so this list will be a helpful reminder. Of course, we can always check them out again and again. It has been really fun reading new books and finding new authors. I plan to continue this as Caroline gets more involved in reading, so this is the perfect time to start getting her excited about it.

Each month I plan on writing a post with our favorite books.

Some of our favorites this month are: 

Dear Zoo: There are surprise animals on each page, and it has a great ending.

Dragons Love Tacos: This book was very interactive with great pictures and a fun story line.

Blueberries for Sal: I'd heard of this classic, but hadn't read it. Cute story about a mama and daughter out picking blueberries together.

Disney Bedtime Favorites: This was our go to when we had run out of books to read. It has some great Disney classics that are all focused on bedtime.

The Keeping Quilt: Another classic that I hadn't read. This one is about a quilt that is passed on from generation to generation.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site: This book goes through each of the machines out on a construction site and puts each of them to bed. It is a go to in our house for bedtime.

Should I Share My Ice Cream?: Mo Willems has several books with really good teaching points. This one, of course, is all about sharing. We plan on reading more of his books.

Love You Forever: Don't read this one unless you are ready to cry, every single time!

Note: this post contains affiliate links. The links take you to amazon, where if you purchase, I would receive a small percentage of the money. There is NO additional cost to you- it is the same price you'd find if you searched amazon on your own.

Once we come out on the other side of this, I will write a post with the details of how on earth we got through dropping the last catnap. Until then, however, I have no advice!

Since Caroline was about 5 months old, she's been fighting the last catnap of the day. She would eventually go down for it, but it was a struggle. I would occasionally try and extend her wake times during the day so that we could push her schedule out and drop the catnap. This would always backfire and ruin her nice long naps. So, we'd give it a good shot for a few days, but then we'd go back to the old schedule. She wasn't ready.

She is now approaching the 7 month mark, and this week she has suddenly decided to boycott the catnap all together. She normally puts herself to sleep, but this was resulting in a screaming baby. I tried rocking her to sleep- she wouldn't have it. I tried holding her through the nap and laying down with her- wouldn't have it. Nothing is working. Her last nap ends at 2:30, and with no catnap she simply cannot make it until her 7pm bedtime.

"Mama there will be no catnap today just FYI"
So, since she is giving me no choice in the matter, I have again tried to lengthen her wake times and push out her schedule. I have also moved her bedtime from 7 to 6pm. We have incorporated a quiet time in the evenings that helps her make it through. All havoc has broken loose in this house, however. She is overtired, so her naps are about 30 min long. She is still refusing the catnap. By the time bedtime comes she crashes in SECONDS. That is- until last night. Last night was our 4th day powering through this craziness. She wasn't having it, and she would not sleep. We were up until 11pm with this silly girl last night trying to get her to sleep.

She might be teething on top of this which is an unfortunate time to do so- but you can't pick when these things happen. She has had all of the teething symptoms now for 3 months, but she has two added ones now: she is pulling at her right ear and tilting her head in that direction, and she is clearing her throat all day long. This could be teething, but there are no swollen gums, no teeth poking through, and no additional signs. This could be allergies for all we know. I do know it is not an ear infection. We took a trip to the doctor yesterday just to make sure. 

So the adventure continues. Since she is dropping the catnap on her own, her schedule simply has to change. Today we took an extra long walk as a nice distraction to keep her awake for the extra time. Caroline never sleeps on walks, she is always wide awake looking around. Today she slept, of course! 

Our previous schedule was:

7 nurse and solids
9 nap
11 nurse and solids
1 nap
230 nurse
430 catnap
5 solids
630 nurse 
7 bed

Here's the schedule we are now trying for:

7 nurse and solids
930 nap
1130 nurse and solids
230 nap
4 nurse
430/5 solids
530 nurse
6 bed

That's the goal, but honestly anything later than a 1pm nap, and anything longer than these little 30 min naps throughout the day will feel amazing right now! We are just trying to work towards this schedule, but we have to do so fairly quickly because she can't make it from 130 to 6 like she tried to do yesterday with no nap. So for now, I am following her cues, and trying to stretch her just a little bit here and there.

I am plugging along. I figure she will have to eventually just get used to the new schedule if she is going to refuse the last catnap. Hoping that something clicks soon, though, because evenings have been a hot mess. Since she hasn't napped well all day, and is not napping in the evenings, she is so overtired and won't let me set her down. She is so tired she won't eat dinner, much less let me cook it. 

When we are on the other side, I'll let you all know what finally clicked, and what allowed us to move forward with no catnap. Until then...keep your fingers crossed that this phase is soon coming to an end!

When to introduce solid foods

There is a LOT of controversy out there on when to start solid foods. So, the first thing I'll say is do your research and do what feels best for you and your family after consulting with your doctor. People that hear of doctors still recommending starting solid foods at 4 months seem to say "not all doctors are up on their research". Well, I can assure you that my doctors are up on their research, and they still think it's fine to start solid foods at 4 months, as do I having done my own research. This blog post is not going to go into why you should start at 4 months versus starting at 6 months. It will simply outline what was suggested by our doctors, and how things went for us on our solid food journey.

Our doctor's recommendations

- Single grain cereal for 1 month: there are a lot of articles out there now on how rice cereal or oatmeal isn't nutritious and urging moms to skip it all together. My doctor explained to me that these cereals are a great place to start because they contain simple sugars. I was so glad he reminded me of this, because I was ready to skip them and move straight to vegetables. Simple sugars are easy for the body to digest and give baby's digestive system a chance to adjust to something simple, before we throw more complex foods at it. These cereals do not have added sugar. All carbohydrates are sugars in the science world. Our body needs these sugars to convert into energy. These cereals also contain whole grains which we all know are good for us, and they are fortified with iron. When babies are older than 6 months they need iron in their diets. They can get it from cereal, or from sources such as meat, poultry or fish. So, long story short, our doctor recommended feeding cereal for 1 month to let our baby's body adjust to the idea of solid foods.

- Fruits and Veggies for 1 month: continue doing cereal, and start a new fruit or vegetable every 3-4 days and watch for signs of an allergy.

- All in with bite sized pieces: starting at 6 months they gave us the go ahead to do any and all foods (except for honey), and urged us to start doing bite sized pieces. The goal being that we only have 1 meal prep and she eats what we eat. With this approach we all have to focus on eating well balanced meals.

What we did with the above recommendations

4 months: We started Caroline on rice cereal. After 10 days of not pooping, mama got concerned. It is normal for babies to take awhile to get adjusted to solid foods, so this was not a reason to get concerned, but it's hard not to! We decided to switch to oatmeal. Man did the poop start flowing then! Mama and baby were happy!

1 week shy of 5 months: We started Caroline on veggies first, then fruits. We did each for a few days and introduced things nice and slow for the most part. This was the order in which we introduced new foods:
  • Sweet potatoes- a favorite
  • Prunes
  • Carrots- a favorite
  • Mango
  • Peas
  • Avocado- a favorite
  • Pears
  • Banana- a favorite
  • Green beans
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Chicken 
  • Zucchini- a favorite
1.5 weeks shy of 6 months: Caroline started mashing her gums together in a chewing motion. So, we started to introduce bite sized pieces of things. I also introduced the puff and some teething bars to get her used to holding and biting food.

6 months: We went all in. Anything we eat, we give Caroline to try. She still get's some purees, but she get's more and more bite sized pieces as she get's older. She even tried ice cream!

We have chosen to spoon feed Caroline, and to place bite sized pieces in her mouth for her. We occasionally give her something large like a roll to hold and try and bite from. She also practices feeding herself with the puffs and teething biscuits. She doesn't yet have the pincer grasp down, so it is more frustrating for her than anything if we don't help her eat. As she starts to master this skill (which already she is getting better and better), we will give her more opportunities to feed herself. Until then, we are all content to keep going as we are. 

1 week shy of 7 months: She is chewing food so well. We hardly give her any purees at this point. She has tried peanut butter, eggs,  yogurt, and all sorts of things. She has had no allergies and is loving food! One of her favorite things to eat is yogurt. She eats the stonyfield yogurt brand and sometimes has 2 a day. She also loves banana pancakes, and Hawaiian rolls.

Occasionally, she goes a few days where she seems to protest solid foods, but then she gets right back on track. She also gets annoyed at having to chew at times, but if I can successfully get her to try something without spitting it out, she usually enjoys it and wants more. 

We give her water from a sippy cup with each meal. She really started enjoying this at about 6.5 months. It also helped that we got a new cup that she just loves! The cup is called the miracle 360 cup. She drinks from it very successfully.

Our future plans

Now that Caroline is almost 7 months old, that pincer grasp is starting to show itself (more so with toys than with food). So, my goal when she turns 7 months is to give her daily practice of picking something up and eating it. She doesn't eat well when fussy, however, and she gets fussy when she can't eat. This means that I will be giving her practice towards the end of her meals, or perhaps giving her a snack to practice with. We'll have to see what feels right when we get there. 

We are continuing to phase out purees and get her eating what we are eating, and she is doing so well with it. We have maybe one fruit puree on the side, and a yogurt, but other than that she eats what we eat which is the ultimate goal.

Babies have a ton of physical growth in the first year. Most of this growth occurs during a growth spurt, and these growth spurts happen at predictable times. Obviously, babies don't have a calendar out in front of them, but they can hit these marks give or take a week or two fairly consistently.

Notice the pictures above, how much Caroline has grown in just 2 months! Her doctors appointments revealed she had grown just over 2 inches from month 1 to month 3.

How much babies grow 

In the first 6 months of life, babies can grow anywhere from 0.5 to 1.0 inch every month. They can gain up to 7 ounces a week (this is about half a pound as there are 16 ounces in 1 pound).

These are big numbers if you think about it. Your baby could be 6 inches taller (half a ruler length) at their 6 month appointment. That's a lot of growing!

Caroline was 20 inches when she was born, and at her 6 month appointment she was 26 inches long. Right on that 1 inch every month mark. 

She was 7 lbs 6 oz at birth, and at her 6 month appointment she was 16 lbs 2 oz. At 6 months she was about 26 weeks old, and she had gained an average of 5.4 ounces per week. 

In the second 6 months of life, babies can grow up to 3/8 of an inch each month. They can gain up to 5 ounces a week.

When growth spurts happen

Growth spurts happen around the same times for all babies give or take a week on either side. An easy way to remember it is 3-6-9. Growth spurts happen around the 3 week mark, the 6 week mark, and 9 week mark. They also happen around 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months. 

Remember these are guidelines. So, if at 2 weeks you think your baby might be in a growth spurt, you are probably right as that is only 1 week off of the 3 week mark!

Recognizing growth spurts

There are some tell tale signs that your baby is in a growth spurt:
  1. Waking in the middle of the night-  You'll notice this if it is out of the ordinary. In the younger weeks they may wake more frequently than you are used to. In the older months, you might be used to no night wakings and all of the sudden they are waking again.

    Go ahead and feed your baby. You'll probably notice that she is acting like you never feed her and is starving. Go ahead and let her eat as she needs the strength to do all of this growing!
  2. Waking early from naps-

    When babies are going through growth spurts they are extra hungry. They may need to eat more frequently during the day, and as a result they may wake early. Again, go ahead and feed your baby and adjust your schedule. This is normal behavior and will pass when the growth spurt is over.
  3. Baby is extra tired-

    You may find that when your baby wakes up they are still tired. Or perhaps they are wanting more naps or taking longer naps. This can happen during the growth spurt and/or directly afterwards.

    They are exhausted from all that growing. Let them catch up a bit without getting to far off of schedule (my rule is no more than 30 minutes), so they don't get too hungry.
  4. Wanting more feeds-
    Did you just get done feeding your baby an hour ago and she seems to want more? This could also be a sign of a growth spurt. She might be extra fussy, or sucking on her thumb, whining for food, etc.

    You know your babies hunger signs. Try adjusting your schedule to be 30 min earlier if this is the case.

How long will a growth spurt last?

Growth spurts typically last from 2-3 days, and in some instances can last an entire week. There may also be a couple of days after the growth spurt that they are very tired from all the growing they just did.

It may not be a growth spurt

Has your baby been off for just 1 day and you're not sure if it will continue? Is the timing a bit off, so you aren't sure if it's a growth spurt? Perhaps it is not a growth spurt. Don't forget to check for other things as well and don't just assume it is a growth spurt affecting your little one. 

It could also be....
Baby might be sick 
Baby might be teething
Baby might be in a wonder week- read more about wonder weeks here

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Dear doctor, lab tech, chiropractor, dentist, (anyone that makes appointments),

When I schedule my appointment with you, I have to work around your availability and fit it into my own. It is not always a perfect fit, but I understand that you can't perfectly accommodate to each individual person. I get it, so I'm flexible. I take the time that works the best for my schedule and I rearrange things as needed.

I value and respect your time, so I plan on being early to all of my appointments. That way, if something happens- the dog decides to get sick just as I'm walking out the door, or the baby has a pooptastrophy and I have to go back in, or I get a flat tire, or there's horrible traffic- I'll still be on time. I plan to be there early because if I plan to be on time, I might be late. I plan my life around not being late, because I value your time.

If I am going to be late- which is extremely rare- I call to tell you that I am going to be late (which really means I'll be on time, which is late in my world). It literally causes me so much stress to know that someone is waiting on me when we had a scheduled time. So, in those rare instances, please don't be snarky on the phone with me, please be appreciative that I called when so many others don't. Please just say "thank you for calling and we'll see you when you get here".

Please provide me with just half of the same courtesy that I provide to you. Please see me on time. I am not asking to be seen early, just on time. When I show up early out of respect to you, and you don't see me until well after the appointment time, don't forget how long you are making me wait. Please value my time. I might be just a mom, but my time is valuable- even more so now that I am a mom. 

I used to sit quietly and wait and wait. I would get frustrated that you aren't valuing my time, but I would still sit quietly and wait. Now, my 6 month old baby does the screaming for me. When you make us wait (and yes she will be with me), she has the potential to be very upset about it. There's not much you can do to calm a baby when they are upset because we should have been home for nap time by now, and we haven't even been called back for our appointment yet. 

My baby's schedule doesn't just change because you can't be on time for our appointment. I can't explain to my 6 month old baby that her nap is going to have to wait, but it's coming soon. I can't ask her to be patient. She doesn't understand that. But you know what she does understand? She understands when she doesn't get her nap on time. She understands that her nap is late. She understands the concept of late- and she has every right to be upset about that.

So when you don't have the courtesy to see me on time, or to call and tell me to show up later because you are running behind today, please expect my baby to be upset with that. Please get over it when my baby is crying and I can't do anything about it because you need me to be still and hold my breath. Please don't roll your eyes at me or make any remarks. Please just see me on time next time.

I am a mom and my time is so valuable. Every five minutes in my world is a big deal. You can push lunch out and have no repercussions- if I push lunch out I have a screaming baby on my hands. You can tell someone they can't come in for their appointment because they were too late, and you charge them anyways. And I? I just have to sit and wait for you to finally call me back for my appointment. 

Please value my time. Please respect my time. Don't assume that five minutes isn't a big deal, and that 20/30 minutes is an average wait time, so it's ok. See me on time. I will continue to do you the courtesy of showing up early because that's who I am, and that's what I want to teach my daughter. Just show me half of that courtesy and have the appointment be on time or call me if you are running late. Please.

Back when I was in college, I went to the shelter to find a cat for a friend. I had no idea that my life was about to change. I fell in love. The dog was just 10 weeks old and stole my heart. It was not ideal timing, but she has been the best dog I could have asked for.

Chelsea has been by my side throughout my entire adult life. She was with me when I was single, and finding my way in the world. She was understanding that I had a job to go to, and I was understanding that she wanted time with me I was the girl that left happy hour early, or didn't go because I had my puppy waiting at home for me. I loved having her there when I returned home. Just me and her, but it was a great little family.

Then Joe came along. Being in another state, he stole me away on the phone every night. Chelsea pouted and refused to lay down on the bed with me until I hung up. She'd wait under the bed letting me know she was annoyed.

When Joe and I were finally in the same state, same house, Chelsea was so happy. She let him fit right into our already started family. She had a new playmate and loved it so very much.

When we expanded the family to include Moose, Chelsea was a little annoyed again. We had to keep them separated for a few months while Chelsea warmed up to the new addition- she's not a dog fan really.

Again, though...she was accepting. Moose and Chelsea are now the best of friends. They play together, snuggle together, and give each other kisses.

When we were talking about bringing a baby into the family, we knew the dogs would be accepting again. We knew they'd love her and play with her and kiss her. We had no worries at all. In the months leading up to Caroline's arrival, we set up the high chair, and the playard. We set up Caroline's room and allowed the dogs in. They sniffed at her toys and we taught them what was off limits. They had several months of just being around her things and getting used to all the new "stuff". Moose would lay his head on my belly, and it made me so happy. I knew that he was going to be a great big brother, and that Chelsea was going to be the best big sister ever.

Chelsea is turning 10 this summer. I am so happy that she is getting to be a part of this special time in my life. She has taken on a motherly role with Caroline and checks on her to make sure everything is ok. When she cries, Chelsea can sense that it bothers me, and I know it bothers her too...she gets up watches as if to ask what she can do.  Moose is more of the sibling- always wanting to play with her. He is going to have a blast with her once she is mobile!

The dogs have been so patient with us, as they don't get as much exercise anymore. I think it all worked out great though, as they have company during the day. They used to have to wait on mama and daddy to come home for some attention. Now, I am home with Caroline with quick little outings here and there. So, they might not get as many walks right now (it is near impossible for me to take both of them and Caroline out all by myself), but when daddy has time we take them for a stroll in the evenings. They have been so amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better transition.

When we brought Caroline home, it honestly felt as if she'd always been here. The dogs were not overly excited, nor were they annoyed or jealous. They just loved her as if they always had. Maybe it's because we transitioned them and put her things out for several months before her arrival, or maybe they just knew what was about to happen. Either way, our family is so perfect. I love watching them interact with one another, and love looking through the photos and finding tails, ears, paws, noses, etc photo bombing all over the place! They are always near by and always happy.

It was once 10 times a day, now it's only 4; I share a beautiful moment with my daughter. A moment that no one else in the world will ever experience with her. I nurse my daughter and she feels comforted, satisfied, and content. In return, she makes me feel comforted, satisfied, and content.

I rub my hand across her cheek, push her hair out of her eyes, hold her toes in my hand, and gently rub her back.  She's gotten so efficient at eating, that I have to be quick to take in the moment before it's over. It's a fleeting moment now, and in several months will be gone all together. I plan to breastfeed until Caroline is 1 year old. I have 6 more months to enjoy these sweet moments.

Over the past 6 months, it has been an ever changing journey. What started as a painful (literally) daily task, has become a sweet moment that I look forward to. She used to have her eyes closed the whole time and I'd struggle to keep her awake. She never needed them open, and she could just blindly find (or probably more likely smell) her way to the sweet milk she wanted so badly. She was impatient with me if I was too slow getting ready (still is). She used to open her mouth and shake her head in excitement. Now she whines in anticipation. She had moments where she would bite down and shake like a shark (ouch), and she has moments where she is drinking so much, so fast that it starts to dribble down my belly.

Her arms and hands have been interesting to watch. At first she had tightly clenched fists that never saw the light of day. Then she learned that if she wanted faster flow, she could squeeze mama and out it would come. She then started holding on to my shirt, my bra straps, whatever she could find. She found comfort in it and was almost saying "don't go, not yet". Her hands would drop and just lightly touch my skin, tickling me so much.

Her eyes were then wide open, looking at what she was doing. They then noticed everything around them...the mole on my skin, my hair falling over my shoulder, the picture on the wall behind us. She would get so distracted that our short nursing sessions suddenly became double, even triple the time because she was so unfocused. She'd make eye contact with me and smile, and even talk to me in her own little way.

Her hands then moved from sweet, to playful and curious. She tugged at my hair, pulled at my shirt, and slapped me in the face. She found my nose and squeezed so hard. She scratched me with those little nails.

I learned to cut those tiny nails while she eats. She never puts up a fight.

Now she ever so lightly reaches out and touches my skin, my lips, my face. Almost like a blind person feeling my face, learning what I look like. She is so sweet and so gentle.

She eats quickly now. I move her upright and burp her. She turns to me and opens her mouth for a big kiss. She talks to me and hugs my face. I kiss her back and tell her that I love her too. We switch sides and repeat.

Sweet Caroline, good times never seemed so good...

We've all heard it- never wake a sleeping baby. Babies need their rest, and I absolutely agree with this. If we want our baby to sleep at night, however, we need to wake them during the day. If you slept all day, would you want to sleep at night? Healthy sleep habits are those that are not only based on how much sleep we get, but when we get that sleep.

Just something to think about- We are told as adults that we are supposed to be getting 8 hours of sleep. Let's compare two scenarios:

Scenario 1- You sleep a solid 8 hours from 10pm to 6am
Scenario 2- You sleep a solid 8 hours from 10am to 6pm

Which scenario do you want to choose? I choose #1 as 99.9999% of us would! I would be a complete mess if I chose scenario 2, because it is not the natural flow that our biological clocks are in sync with. I used to work the graveyard shift...I NEVER felt rested, no matter how much sleep I got during the day!

So now let's consider our babies. They need the appropriate amount of sleep, and it needs to occur at the right times. Most of their sleep needs to happen at night, and they need short naps throughout the day to help them not get overtired.


Let's get to the reasons that I will wake my sleeping baby:

Reason # 1: Establishing day from night

When babies are brought into this world, their circadian rhythms are not yet matured, and so they don't know day from night. We have to help them get in sync. There are several things we can do to help them.
  • Once you have the green light from your doctor, let them sleep as long as they can at night
  • In the morning and during the day, open the curtains to let sunlight in
  • Adhere to your schedule and wake them throughout the day when it is time to eat


Reason # 2: There's only so much sleep to be had

Check out this great interactive sleep chart as well!
Unless your baby is sick or going through a growth spurt, they tend to only sleep a certain amount. This varies with age, of course . This site has a great table of appropriate hours of sleep by age. I refer to this chart quite often as it is very useful. You'll notice, for example, that at 6 months of age a baby should be getting 14-15.5 hours of sleep in a 24hr period. If I let my baby sleep 8 hrs during the day, I'll only be getting a maximum of 7.5hrs of sleep at night. I want my baby to sleep 12 hrs at night, meaning I can only let her sleep around 3.5 hrs during the day. Remember it is ideal to get your baby to bed before 8pm because of the cortisol surge they get around that time-meaning any time later will potentially bring a fussy baby. Around month 3 is when I started implementing the early bedtime since you can drop the late night feed. See the month 3 schedule for more detailed information.


Reason # 3: A well rested baby is a happy baby

Well rested means that your baby is getting good nighttime sleep, and good naps. If you let them sleep late in the morning, their naps  will suffer. If you let them sleep too long for naps, their nighttime sleep will suffer. There is a balance that you need to find in order to achieve good sleep across the board. Sticking to a schedule that works is key.

Reason # 4: Predictability and routines are key

If your baby is on a schedule, they know what to expect. Everyone preforms better when they have a heads up as to what their day entails and what is expected of them. Your baby will get used to sleeping when they should be sleeping, and waking when they should be up. You will be happier as well because you'll know exactly what your day entails. You'll be able to make and keep plans because you'll know when your baby will be awake.

Reason # 5: You are setting the example and the rules

Just because your baby wants  something, doesn't mean they should always get it. They don't understand the cause and effect of "if you sleep now, you won't sleep later", or "if you eat now, you won't be hungry for dinner". It is your job to set rules and boundaries as a parent, that will instill healthy habits in the future.

Reason # 6: Healthy sleep habits = healthy baby

No explanation needed, right mamas?!?

A night in our house-

Daddy comes home from work and Caroline is usually taking her
late afternoon catnap. When she wakes, daddy gets to be the one to go grab her and say hello. She smiles and is so happy to see him. We eat an early dinner as a family. Caroline is now sampling/eating our food, so we try and prepare things that she will enjoy and be able to eat easily. We clean up from dinner and then have some family time.

Some days we go for a walk with the dogs, others we hang out in Caroline's room for some playtime. Some days Caroline needs a bath, and others she gets quiet time with daddy. We always have our family time, though.

At around 6:30pm, Caroline starts getting ready for bed. We have a consistent routine:
- Caroline breastfeeds for the last time that day
- We then get her changed into her nighttime diaper and clothes
- Mama or daddy reads her a story (we alternate days)
- Sound machine goes on, lights go off and she has quiet time until we think she's sleepy enough to go to bed (some days its only a couple of minutes, and others its 15 minutes)

We then give her lots of hugs and kisses, lay her down and say goodnight. Most days, Caroline falls asleep in a few minutes and we never hear from her again until 7am rolls around.

Some nights, mama and daddy watch a tv show or two, and some days we have dessert. Daddy and the puppies also fall asleep in a few minutes.

Then there's mama. I have every opportunity to sleep and get some much needed rest, but I can't! Caroline is sleeping and doesn't need me...but there I am, wide awake. I lay in bed trying and trying to fall asleep, but it doesn't work. Eventually, I might put the tv on, do something on my phone, or even get up and come back to bed later. Every night, though, I can't help but wish someone had done sleep training with me! My parents did sleep training with my sister, but not with me. No surprise...she sleeps so well and I do not- I never have. I lay there and think about how hard it is for me to fall asleep, and how amazingly well my daughter has already mastered this incredibly useful skill. I feel so proud of her and I am so happy that she has this skill. It is something that I wish I could have.

I find myself thinking, "if she can do it, I should be able to as well", and I close my  eyes and give it a shot. Nope. Nothing. Still awake. Some things are so easily learned as a child, and are just incredibly hard once you are an adult! It's like learning a new language- super easy for a child, super difficult for an adult.

My mind races at night. I get ideas for new blog posts and write them down, I think of things we need to finish around the house, things I want to teach Caroline, about that appointment I know I have but forgot to write down, etc. Nighttime has become my thinking time- that is if I can think over the sleeping sounds of my husband and the dogs taking large breaths and snoring away, Moose scratching the wall as he chases after a squirrel in his dreams, Chelsea whining as she chases the rabbits in hers, the baby monitor humming in my ear, and the occasional moan from Caroline in mid sleep. It's noisy, but it's our noise. Sometimes I think the noise keeps me up, but then I realized that I'd be up missing those noises if they were not there. They are comforting. They are family.

Getting the perfect timing with your baby's wake time is essential. Too short, and you will have a very difficult time getting them down for naps. Too long, and you will have a very difficult time getting them down for naps. That's right, the issues of being undertired versus overtired are very similar and often the same! They can be mistaken for one another quite easily.

When your wake time is too short

- baby might stay awake in the crib playing
- baby might stay awake in the crib fussing and crying
- baby might wake early from a nap
- baby might wake early in the morning or be up at night

When your wake time is too long

- baby will usually be very fussy and showing signs of being overtired (yawning, rubbing eyes, crying, perhaps seeming bored)
- baby might stay awake in the crib fussing and crying
- baby might wake early from a nap (they can have a hard time transitioning sleep cycles if they are overtired)
- baby might wake early in the morning or be up at night (it is very hard for an overtired baby to fall asleep and stay asleep)

Watch for cues when you are first setting up a schedule

I have listed average wake times on my baby schedules page. Just go into the specific age and they are listed at the top of each page. This is a good starting point when you set up a schedule, however, not all babies are the same. The times I have listed are average times that worked for us. If you noticed your baby getting tired before the official "nap time", note the time and put them to sleep. Don't try and push them to stay awake longer, because an overtired baby does not go to sleep easily. Watch them for a few days, and adjust your wake time and cycle if you need to.

You want to notice your baby is tired, before it becomes a problem in their minds. Here are some cues to look for:

- rubbing of eyes

- yawning

- seeming bored and fussy

- rubbing face into you or a stuffed animal

- heavy eye lids

-other (you might notice a special cue for your baby)

Once you have a good wake time in place, you can make your schedule and you won't have to watch out for these cues so closely because the schedule will naturally be putting baby to sleep when they should be going to sleep.

After a few weeks at your current schedule, you might notice that the schedule isn't quite fitting anymore. Your baby's wake time needs to increase as they get older, so you'll want to watch for signs that it is time for a schedule change.

Signs that it might be time to increase your wake time:

  • Naps seem to be getting shorter
  • It is taking longer for your baby to go down for a nap
  • Your baby is waking earlier in the morning
  • Your baby is waking more at night

Sometimes, you might notice some of the above happening, but when you try to increase the wake time, it simply doesn't work and you can tell that your baby is not quite ready for longer wake times.

Two things could be happening: 

  1. They are right on the verge of needing increased wake time and are sort of in between schedules. This is ok and it is bound to happen. Try increasing by 5/10 min instead of making huge leaps.
  2. The shorter wake time is appropriate, but they need more stimulation during the wake time. Are they waking early from naps and practicing rolling or sitting? Babies are eager to learn and practice their new skills. Give them a chance to do so before their nap and it should help correct the issue .
As new skills are learned, babies need to be provided ways to practice and like to be challenged!

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