Putting baby to bed

A new study has found that infant sleeping techniques from ‘cry it out’ to ‘cuddle & coddle’ work about equally well to get baby used to sleeping alone, so long as the parents are consistent

ANYTHING you do will help a kid learn to go to sleep on his own, Ferber, schedules, cry it out, anything. SLEEP reviewed 52 recent studies of infant sleep techniques and found that as long as they were applied consistently, 80% of kids showed significant behavioral improvement: i.e., they went to sleep better.

- Daddy Types, on the NYT article.

Phew.

December 14, 2006 at 6:44 pm Leave a comment

‘Drinking for two’

One thing about pregnancy: everyone tells you to stay away from everything. Sometimes there’s good reason, with solid research to back it up. Sometimes there’s no evidence that moderate consumption of forbidden foods will harm the baby. And the biggest of the taboos is booze.

One thing is certain: drinking is a confusing and controversial choice for pregnant women, and among the hardest areas in which to interpret the research.

Numerous long-term studies, including the original one at the University of Washington at Seattle, have established beyond doubt that heavy drinkers are taking tremendous risks with their children’s health.

But for women who want to apply that research to the question of whether they must refuse a single glass of Champagne on New Year’s Eve or a serving of rum-soaked Christmas pudding, there is almost no information at all.

- New York Times, The Weighty Responsibility of Drinking for Two

Personally, I’ve stopped drinking, but I’m not going to freak out if I eat a chocolate and find it’s filled with liqueur, and I probably wouldn’t refuse a small portion of rummy pudding.

It was easy for me to quit the booze – the smell of wine and beer made me feel queasy fairly early on, and I haven’t wanted any since. I’ve heard that the later in the pregnancy, the less risk there is to the fetus from a glass of wine or beer, because most of the critical early brain development has already happened, but I still doubt I’ll choose to indulge.

I don’t blame other pregnant women from wanting a glass of wine now and then, especially with dinner. I never really noticed how unexciting the beverage choices are with dinner. I do not like to drink pop, and juice is more of a morning/afternoon bevvy for me. That just leaves me with water, tea, or (if I’m feeling fancy), Perrier. But tea has its own problems – I’m trying to limit caffeinenated beverages to two a day, and many restaurants don’t have herbal tea. Those that do usually have only chamomile or peppermint on offer. Wine with dinner is much more pleasant.

Update: UrbanMama is talking about the same thing, after having read this NYT article:

I feel like every pregnant mama tries to follow the American model of the Good Pregnant Woman: no beer or wine at all, no soft cheeses at all, no sushi, no this, no that, etc. I spent Thanksgiving week with my husband’s family, and with his side of the family being from Switzerland and a sister-in-law from France, it’s a whole different world of what’s acceptable and what is not. To them, I’m another case of the repressed American being freakishly overcautious due to media hysteria.

Perhaps it is because it’s my second child that I am more weary of the societal and cultural taboos that are pressed upon us mamas-to-be, and I’m not reading those damn pregnancy magazines or any of the books this time. I trust my doctor, and the other doctors I’ve spoken with…yet I am still fraught by the guilt that comes with crossing those lines – I love seafood, I love wine , I love Brie – and while I restrained from all during my first, I’ve come to realize what doctors have been telling me: that almost everything is fine in moderation. A recent article in the UK advocates a pregnant or nursing mama have no more than two pints of beer per week, and my doc says I can have a glass or two of wine a week and it would be safe.

Definitely a common feeling during pregnancy. Everyone has advice – and judgement – for you, no matter what you do.

December 1, 2006 at 6:35 pm 3 comments

‘High Fidelity meets high chairs’

 The New York Times writes about the latest trend of ‘hip’ children’s music. From repurposing classic rock tunes (turning Metallica’s Enter Sandman into a lullabye) to rockers releasing kid-friendly albums as side projects (Perry Farrell toured with ‘Kidapalooza’), Gen X parents are looking to instil cool in their kids right from the start.

Field observations confirm that the new breed of coolness-bestowing parent takes its music seriously. At an all-ages “Baby Loves Jazz” concert at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan in September, the air was thick with grown-up longing. Parents swayed, clapped and whistled, while their 2-year-olds fidgeted with the salt shakers on the tables.

“You could just see that parents are dying to get that awe back, the childlike awe you lose when you start forming opinions about what’s cool,” said John Medeski, of Medeski Martin and Wood, who played keyboards alongside the soul singer Sharon Jones at the show, and whose trio recently recorded a Little Monster disc for release in 2007.

“There’s been a void,” Mr. Medeski added, referring to parents. “The music becomes like medicine.”

If so, the market may be headed for an overdose. The sales gap between the kind of CDs many hip-minded parents consider pablum — the consistently chart-topping “Kidz Bop” series especially — and the indie releases they champion has never been wider. Unless the music gets television exposure or is associated with a brand like Disney, selling more than 20,000 copies is rare.

I imagine the trend is not only driven by a desire for baby to be cool, but also because parents have a hard time listening to crappy children’s songs – and if your kid likes those songs, you’ll be asked to play them over, and over, and over, and over …

November 27, 2006 at 7:22 pm 1 comment

Cutest alien baby ever!

Baby!

November 27, 2006 at 9:09 am Leave a comment

My very own alien baby!

At my first ultrasound today, I learned several very important things:

  • My baby’s heart is beating. I could see it on the ultrasound monitor, and the technician turned on the sound so I could hear. At the doctor’s visit last week he couldn’t hear it. He told me not to worry, but I did :-)
  • I have only one baby! No more ‘maybe it’s twins’ jokes! Phew.
  • My baby really does look like an alien! It’s got the face of a classic Gray.

But the one piece of information I was hoping to know was denied me. It seems in B.C. they refuse to divulge any information about the sex of the baby until after the 25th week. I asked if it was to prevent gender-related abortion, and the technician confirmed that it is the main reason. It was disappointing, but I’m also glad that it opens up the opportunity for my husband could be there for the big reveal – he couldn’t make it to this appointment.

All the other mommies told me the ultrasound would be uncomfortable, because they order you to drink a litre of water and prohibit you from peeing for several hours ahead of the appointment. But the real shocker was that when I got there, they told me my bladder was too full, handed me a styrofoam cup and told me to pee ‘just this much’. Um, okay.

Thank goodness I’ve practiced my Kegels.

November 21, 2006 at 1:20 am 4 comments

GamerDad: birthing class isn’t worth it

Taking a birthing class is just kind of expected, it seems. I’ve been reading the curriculum for some of the ones in my area, and I couldn’t help but wonder if they were really necessary, and how much I’d really get out of them.

Well, here’s one dad’s perspective:

Here’s what you’ll get at a typical birthing class:
• We practiced “breathing”. I don’t know why you need to practice this – you’ve breathed roughly 30 times a minute for something like 26 years at that point, if you haven’t mastered it by now maybe you have no business reproducing.
• We watched videos of real live births. These births had either taken place during the 70s, or were filmed at a commune someplace inhabited entirely by fat, hairy people with no inhibitions about parading around naked in front of a camera, and giving birth while they were being filmed. And fluid… there was more body fluids flying around during these births than a human body is actually capable of holding. I had the impression that several of these women actually gave birth to large water balloons, that, sadly, popped on delivery.
• They showed us around the labor/delivery ward of the hospital.
• They give you all kinds of advice. They show you all kinds of signs. They tell you thinks like the different phases of labor, how long contractions last at each sign, and when you should begin pushing. I found this rather disturbing – wouldn’t we be surrounded by people with actual medical careers who we could trust to know all this stuff and tell us what to do? Why do I need to know what a Braxton-Hicks contraction is, or how far the cervix dilates at each phase of labor? Was this a bad sitcom episode where we could expect to have to give birth in the back seat of a taxi or in an elevator that I’d need this information?
• They encouraged us to call. Call when you have contractions. Call when you THINK you have contractions. Call when you DON’T have contractions. Call when you’re not sure of something. Call when you have questions. Call when you’re lonely and need a friend. But above all, if there was anything you took away from the class, it was that you MUST CALL WHEN YOU THINK YOU’RE IN LABOR. They’ll tell you whether you’re REALLY in labor and should come in.

None of this was helpful.

Apparently everyone they called to see if they were in labour wondered why they were calling. She didn’t forget to breathe. And the nurses just seemed annoyed when he tried to make smalltalk about cervix dilation and timing between contractions. Oh and there was not nearly as much fluid as the ’70s vids seemed to show, and there was no problem finding the maternity ward at the hospital, what with all the marked signs.

November 18, 2006 at 6:41 pm 1 comment

The ‘Amby Baby’ – does it really work?

Amby Baby bedDoesn’t that baby look so peaceful? The Amby Baby bed promises even the most fussy, colicky, acid reflux-y baby will sleep better and longer if parents buy them this special ‘womb-like’ sleep hammock. The full kit, including a jolly jumper add-on for when baby’s a bit older, is around $350 CDN / $270 USD, which is perhaps a bit much to splurge on a novelty item, but may be worth it if it means the new parents get more sleep!

According to the Amby Baby Blog (an official company-sponsored blog) FAQ, the sleep hammock is recommended from birth through 12 months, and the ‘jolly jumper’ attachment is good up to 25 pounds.

A review at Thingamababy, however, suggests that babies might not get a full year out of the Amby before being ready to move on to another bed. His daughter grew out of it at 8 months. He also didn’t like that the mattress isn’t waterproof and that the frame is ugly. Until the point his daughter moved on to a different bed, however, it sounds like it did work – the baby was sleeping through the night by 4 months old.

The daddy blogging at MoreDiapers chronicled his experience with the Amby, and his initial impression was also that it was ugly, but it works:

My intial thoughts are mostly good. It doesn’t creak or groan like the Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium Swing (the closest thing I have to compare it to) and overall seems well built. On the other hand, it has the aesthetics of a school gym tether ball pole, which is unfortunate, as good looking products are important to me. That aside (and admittedly, it’s trivial), it’s proving to be a good battery free and safer replacement to the Fisher Price Aqua Swing that has been his bed, since he refuses to sleep in his crib.

Further along in the experiment, he discovered some design flaws, including squeaky, creaky sounds and a problem with the cotton sheets:

Now I know this is probably anti-crunchy to say, and the bed is decidedly pro-crunchy, but… what were they thinking? There are many great man mande fabrics that would preform better in the situation. And best of all, they woul be MACHINE WASHABLE, unlike the current design that must be washed by hand.

The Amby has the Dr. Sears vote of approval:

For restless, colicky babies who don’t sleep well in mom and dad’s bed, now there is an alternative arrangement that may give you and baby a peaceful and happy night sleep. It’s the Amby Baby Motion Bed. What makes the Amby so unique?

  • 3-D motion simulates womb environment. The Amby bed hangs from a spring, so every time baby moves or stirs in his sleep, the bed gently moves up and down, back and forth, and side to side. This is the same motion that baby cherishes both while in the womb and when you carry baby around in your arms.
  • Calms the restless sleeper. Some babies toss and turn throughout the night when they sleep in a motionless crib. The natural Amby movements give baby a more restful night’s sleep.
  • Helps babies with Reflux. The slightly upright sleep position of the Amby minimizes painful acid reflux that can frequently waken baby when sleeping flat.
  • Fits conveniently next to your bed for easy access to baby. Parents can easily bring baby into bed for nighttime feedings when needed, without having to get out of bed. Baby can easily spend part of the night in bed with mom and dad.
  • Helps babies nap longer. The Amby is also perfect for helping the “short napper” get a nice long nap that both baby and you need.

Blogging Baby has a positive review, but also a tale of a baby that was allegedly harmed by a faulty Amby bed:

The Amby Baby Motion Bed is loved by many parents. A quick search of the MotheringDotCommune forums reveals intense devotion to the product, which posters credit with giving their infants long and cozy naps – and the parents some much-needed free time. Indeed, several members of the Blogging Baby staff (including myself) own Amby beds, and are pleased with their performance.

Berryman said that she too “loved” her Amby bed – until the day she claims her son’s eyes started watering and turning red.

Berryman said that she took her son to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, where Dr. Denise John told her that a small metal obstruction had become lodged in her son’s eye. When Berryman returned home, she looked around for what might have caused the injury. Eventually, her attention turned to the bed.

“When looking at the Amby bed I noticed signs of wear on the crossbar,” she told Blogging Baby. “When I looked closer there were signs of wear on the eyebolt and spring as well. The eyebolt has grooves in it where the end of the spring rubs against it. The spring has areas of chrome plating missing where it comes in contact with the eyebolt. I discovered metal particles in both the actual hammock and the folds of the fabric that covers the cross bar.”

Back to the MoreDiapers dad, who had identified some design flaws (but did not have this problem with the metal shavings. After extended use, he praises it as ‘baby crack’ but the cotton sheets continue to be the biggest problem. Because babies are, well, leaky:

Anyway, the thing that I had the biggest problem with was the cotton material they use to make the bed. I thought then, and I think even more now, IT’S STUPID. It’s so stupid that I feel the need to have a disclaimer whenever I tell people how much I like it that the upkeep is severely hindered by its cotton construction.

Let me explain. I don’t hate cotton. I don’t want to receive any nasty letters from the Cotton Advisary and Promotion Board. Cotton is good. Long live cotton. Nope, it’s the fact that it is used to make the bed that I don’t like. Yup, washing it by hand is definitely a bummer. And drying it on the deck sucks too. But the worst part is that H needs to sleep in it about every 3 hours or so and to get it to dry in that time is virtually impossible. As a result, we leave it unwashed for too long and it starts to really stink. I mean it’s awful. Fact is, the only way we can clean it is to wash it, hang it, and take H out in the car for the day in hopes that he’ll sleep there.

I feel like the makers, in an effort to be crunchy and green, conveniently forgot that babies can’t control their bodily functions. It, like the baby that sleeps in it, gets dirty with dirty baby fluids and must be cleaned. It doesn’t make sense to have only one bed made entirely out of cotton and not be able to quickly wash it and dry it between naps. Cuz to us, this thing is like baby crack, Hayes needs it. He wants it. And when he doesn’t get it, he’s libel to shiv someone. Ok, most of that is true, but I think you get the picture.

I wonder if it’s possible to buy an extra cotton bed so that parents could swap it out for washing regularly. It does sound like the Amby works for the parents who are writing about it online, but it does sound like a pain to clean.

I’m adding it to my ‘wish list’ of stuff to buy. If it lets us have a little more sleep and a break from crying, I’m sure I’ll find it’s worth it!

November 18, 2006 at 5:58 pm 5 comments

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