Emergency Preparedness with a Toddler

Recently wildfires swept through homes in Northern California – leaving residents fleeing for their lives. The same week, the South Bay had a 4.1 magnitude earthquake. I started to feel uneasy with how relaxed I am about natural disasters. Non-profits will be there meeting our needs, right? The Trump Administration and the California government will be effective at handling the emergency, right? Google will be prepared and they will have extra food and water for everyone who shows up to campus, right?

The fact that these were some of my assumptions show how laughably unprepared I am for disaster; and the Bay Area has a real chance of having a really bad earthquake. As these thoughts sunk in, I began to panic. Would I be prepared? How would I handle things and take care of the needs of a toddler if shit hit the fan and we had to evacuate quickly or hunker down at home for days without electricity or running water? Of course, my mom-friends had similar fears and one of them re-blogged Silicon Valley Toddler’s amazing blog post about earthquake preparedness with toddlers. I cannot praise this post enough. Everyone should read it. And then when they are done, everyone should purchase their earthquake survival kits using her affiliate links while they slow clap for her thoroughness of thought.

I read her post at 11 pm one night, which was a mistake because I was awake until 1 am stressing. However, it DID get my butt in gear and get my shit together for earthquake preparedness.

I did have enough water in my house, having stocked up a few weeks before when reminded during the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. However, prior to reading her post, this was my earthquake kit:

I hadn’t even CONSIDERED that I might need to carry this thing with a toddler in my arms. Impossible. It’s awkward. It’s heavy. Oh and the lid pops off if you carry it by its handle. Useless.

It was also in my basement cellar. Which is dark and creepy on the brightest, bluest days let alone during the apocalypse, and not particularly accessible in an instant if we ever needed to leave during an emergency due to fire or flood or gas or earthquake damage.

Contents wise, my earthquake kit wasn’t a complete disaster…but it was definitely missing a few key items to be able to survive off-grid for 3 days.


Some of the items were definitely good to have around: 30 water purification tablets, some cord, a hatchet, lighters, a poncho, soap, insect repellent, a whistle and compass, garbage bags, a deck of cards, earplugs, and a combination lock.

But then I have some items that, with a toddler, are completely ridiculous:

  • 15 wipes. 15. 15 is better than none. But I need a LOT more than 15 wipes to get through 3 days of an emergency.
  • 3 (? Why 3?) decks of cards and no toys or books to comfort DK. 
  • 3 flashlights that are all out of batteries and no replacement batteries.
  • Candles but no candle holder. What, am I going to hold this in my mouth? Craft one out of mud in an emergency?
  • Insect repellent but no sunscreen (hello, California!).
  • Tylenol but no Infant Tylenol.

Additionally, I was missing key things like: food, diapers, a vessel to purify water using my purification tablets, a change of clothes for everyone, a blanket, a crank-operated radio, a knife, and a way to carry it all that wouldn’t be super inconvenient if DK and I had to leave home and meet my husband elsewhere.

Silicon Valley Toddler’s post also reminded me that we are out and about a lot, and we had nothing in the car.

In light of all of these oversights, here are the actions I’ve taken to get our family organized in the event of a natural disaster and we need to live off-grid for a few days.

  1. I bought a backpack. This one was on sale and is actually a really handy one to have around because it folds into a tiny pack. Technically a useless feature, since it should always contain our car-emergency kit, but it was on sale and not a bad addition to our home. It’s not the sturdiest of materials, but it will be fine for our car-kit. 
  2. I replaced all the batteries in our flashlights.
  3. I added a copy of DK’s favourite bedtime story, Goodnight Moon, and a small stuffed toy to provide some comfort to DK at a scary time.
  4. I added in some foil mylar blankets and some handwarmers. Yes, I bought the bulk packs. Technically we only need 3 blankets…but 10 fit in my backpack and I figure in an emergency, maybe there will be other neighbourhood children who need blankets and these can help.
  5. I added a multi-tool.
  6. I added an entire pack of wipes.
  7. I added 10 diapers in the next size up.
  8. I wrote the combination for the combination lock on a piece of tape and stuck it to the back (it won’t be much use to my husband if the combo is in my head!). I’m not sure if a combination lock will be all that useful, but I have one and it’s small and maybe it will be useful at an evacuation centre(?).
  9. I added a candle that I don’t have to hold.
  10. I added some glowsticks.
  11. I added some replacement double A batteries
  12. I replaced my all-natural clove and lemon hand “sanitizer” with some real hospital-grade Purell hand-sanitizer. I don’t want to be wondering in an emergency if my clove-lemon gel sanitized the fecal bacteria on my hands. I just want it to work.
  13. I added a pad of paper, a pencil and a Sharpie marker.
  14. I added some energy bars. I chose the ones with the longest shelf-life…
  15. I added my house first-aid kit which includes: Gauze, non-stick gauze (for burns), bandaids, tape, an ice-pack, alcohol wipes, first aid suture kit, gloves, travel sunscreen, solarcaine, Tylenol, Tums, Advil and Benadryl
  16. I added some clothespins, because they are just handy to have.
  17. I added photocopies of all of our important documents: passports, birth certificates, marriage certificate, green cards, tenant insurance, car insurance, health insurance.
  18. I added a sippy cup with a straw for DK because he loves straws.
  19. I added a waterbottle since my water purification tablets are completely useless without a vessel.
  20. I added some cash in small bills and a chequebook.

Additionally, I took some further steps:

  1. I put all of our important documents in one place in an easy-to-grab zippered pouch. My husband and I decided that in an emergency in the middle of the night, I would grab our son and he would grab the documents (unless I’m unable to get to our child and then obviously my husband is in charge of that too).
  2. I put some old shoes under our bed. In an earthquake, windows can shatter and we might be sleeping when it happens. So having shoes at the ready for our bare feet is important.
  3. My husband and I decided on a secondary safe-place that we would go to if we can’t be at the house due to fire, flood, gas or structural integrity. This way, if my husband is at work, he knows where we might be if we are not at home.
  4. I moved our emergency kit to our front hall closet so that it is easily accessible.
  5. I ordered a secondary survival kit for our car. I chose the same one that Silicon Valley Toddler recommended based on her research. It comes with an awesome backpack, which I’m going to put our house-kit contents in, and then use the contents for our car-kit. Silicon Valley Toddler decided to put her primary kit in her car because she’s either out and about in her car, or her car is parked outside the house. My husband and I share a car and he takes the car to work 2-3 times per week. So while it is possible that DK and I will be out and about in the car when disaster strikes, it is more likely that we will be within walking distance of home, so I decided to put our primary kit in the house and our secondary kit, which is also my husband’s at-work-kit, in our car.
  6. I added a change of warm clothes for each of us to the car kit.
  7. I put a recurring calendar reminder in my phone for the second Monday of the month every 6 months to check my earthquake kits and add or subtract as necessary.

I did all this during a few days of my son’s afternoon naps, and YOU CAN TOO.

Hopefully this is all time and money wasted…but I’ll certainly be glad to have spent the time and the money if disaster does strike and the worst happens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magazines for babies?

I used to get Highlights magazine in the mail as a kid. Reading the articles and stories was the highlight (pun definitely intended) of my month, especially the Goofus and Gallant cartoon. I felt so grown up, getting a monthly magazine – just like my mom who got Canadian Living and Chatelaine. 

So when I saw an ad for Highlights Hello, a magazine for 0-2, I was intrigued and clicked on the ad (good job btw Facebook on the targeted ads…). I thought, “This is silly. Babies don’t need magazines…DK would just eat it. He doesn’t know the joys of receiving mail. Probably a waste of money.”

But….It was $35 for a 12-month subscription and Highlights Hello promised an indestructible, washable, plasticized magazine just the right size for Devon’s tiny hands and with stitching instead of staples in the seam. They also promised that if I wasn’t satisfied with my first issue – they would refund me my money and cancel the subscription. I figured $35 for 12 indestructible books can’t be beat, so I took the plunge and signed us up. A few weeks later our first issue arrived!

It included a welcome magazine for parents about reading to your baby as well as the little magazine for DK. 


He is obsessed. He loves playing with paper but so often I end up picking bits of shredded soggy paper out of his mouth – but this magazine doesn’t have that problem, so he can play to his heart’s content! This has been his favourite toy this week. He’s constantly flipping through the pages, swatting it on the floor, gumming it with his mouth – and so far it is indestructible. 


The stories and games are cute and can be read/taught at different levels, so we can go back and re-read at different ages and get different things out of it. 

I also love how there are pictures of real babies in the magazine instead of just cartoons. Devon loves seeing pictures of other babies but I can never find board books at the library that incorporate real life images, so this magazine is also great for the pictures. 


I think the subscription is worth it and I can’t wait for our next issue to arrive! Devon is excited too…he just doesn’t know it yet. 

Mother’s Day

I was told that motherhood changes you, that I would know a different kind of love once I met my baby. How true. The past ten months are at once a blur and also crystal clear and filled with beautiful moments of getting to know my son. 
Dear DK,

I love the way your eyes go wide and your mouth falls open when you experience something new. Smoke swirling around the campsite. Dogs chasing each other around the dog park. Dust drifting through the sunbeams in our living room. 

I love the way you fuss in the car until I turn on some music and then you gaze silently out the window, soaking in the sounds. 

I love the way your little hand reaches up while I’m singing at bedtime to feel the way my lips move. 

I love how you smile whenever I say “zip zip” while doing up your zipper. 

I love how you laugh when you see a dog. 

I love how your eyelashes clump together and your hair plasters to your forehead when you splash yourself in the swimming pool. 

I love how you look at your dad and say “dat”

I love how cautious and deliberate you are – not wanting to make too many sudden movements in case you fall over. 

I love how you look at me with a crumpled forehead of frustration when something is just out of reach. 

I love how you glow with pride when you finally reach it and I say “yay DK!” and clap. 

I love how when you’re upset, all it takes to calm you down is read you a book. 

I love how quickly you melt in my arms and fall asleep when I touch your ear or stroke your hair. 

I love how this is the hardest job in the world but I don’t want to do anything else. 

We made you, but more than that, you made me. I was born to be your mom.

Travelling Abroad with a Baby

Recently, my husband had to go to London, England for a week of work meetings. I had two choices: stay at home alone with DK, keeping our schedule and routines,or join him in London and throw the schedule and routines out the window. DK is now 8 months old, sits up well, sleeps well and shows all the signs of becoming mobile within a month. So, it was the perfect seize-the-day opportunity to take him on a global adventure. We spent 10 days in London, and 4 days outside of London with a rental car in the Cotswolds. DK impressed me with how adaptable he was – he continued to sleep well, eat well and learned how to pull up to stand while on our trip!  

Here are some things I’m glad we did, and things I wish I had thought of. 

Best things we did:

  1. Direct flight. Flying SFO to London Heathrow is a long 10 hour flight with a baby. 5 hours in, we were just passing over New York. I think I would have cried if we had to land in New York and catch a connecting flight. Yes, flying direct is more expensive but there is a much lower chance you will lose your luggage, miss a connection, and end up stranded. 
  2. Showing up 3 hours early to check in to make sure we got a bassinet-ready bulkhead seat. Yes, I love snuggling my 8 month old in my reclining laz-y-boy. Plane seats are not that. Holding DK for more than a few hours is back and shoulder torture in those seats! We flew with Virgin Atlantic and booked through a customer service rep on the phone instead of online to make sure we got the bulkhead seats, had DK’s infant reservation all figured out and got tips on when to show up to check in, what kind of luggage we could take etc. 
  3. Night-flight. This wasn’t really planned, our direct flight left at 8 pm out of SFO and it was great timing. DK usually goes to sleep around 6:30 pm, so he was awake a little later than normal, but we did his bedtime routine as close as possible in the airport bathroom and waiting lounge and when we got on the plane, he nursed and fell asleep. We transferred him to the waiting bassinet, ate our meal provided by Virgin Atlantic, and attempted to sleep. DK slept better than he has in months on the plane, waking only once in an 8 hour stretch to eat. 
  4. Airport Hotel. We weren’t sure if DK would sleep on the plane, but I knew that I for sure would not – as I have never slept on a plane in my life unless heavily sedated and unfortunately sedation and breastfeeding aren’t compatible. Our flight arrived at 2:30 pm London time, or 7:30 am SF time, so I knew when we landed I probably wouldn’t have slept since the night before, getting up with DK at 6:30 am the day of our flight. Therefore, upon landing priority #1 was a bed, any bed. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn at Heathrow airport, which was fine and had a great bed,  but see my next section on things I would change for more on this hotel experience. Of course, DK had had a full-nights sleep on landing so he was really only ready for a few short naps –  but we powered through, napped in shifts and attempted to put him to sleep for the night at 9 pm, a time he normally takes his afternoon nap. Bedtime routine worked wonders and he fell asleep for 6 amazing hours, woke to eat and then shockingly fell back to sleep for another 6 hours. It was the best sleep I’ve had since he’s been born. 
  5. Brought his playpen. We have a travel mini Graco pack n play that he is almost too big for. If we had waited another month to do this trip I’m convinced he would be too big for this bed and would be crawling around hotel rooms. This was a handy for a sleep space for him. 
  6. Got an Airbnb with kitchen and living room. You know what sucks? Eating your room service dinner in the bathroom of your hotel room. Having an extra room to hang in while baby sleeps is the key to a fun vacation when travelling with a baby. Hotel suites in London were so expensive! So we got a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, kitchen and living room Airbnb apartment instead for a similar price AND my wonderful in-laws came to London too and stayed in the second bedroom.  What a difference a living room and stove makes! The place we stayed in was family friendly and even came with a high chair!
  7. Packed light. You’re probably laughing. Travel light with a baby?! Yeah right! No, I’m serious. We could carry everything we packed multiple blocks. We took two big suitcases: one half a suitcase for each person, and one half of one suitcase held the car seat base. We borrowed a stroller that works with our car seat. We both carried a backpack. I pushed the stroller and rolled a suitcase, my husband rolled a suitcase and carried DK’s bed. It helped that I only brought 8 days worth of clothes for each person and we did laundry at our Airbnb. It also helped that I am nursing and DK eats very little in terms of solid foods or milk from a bottle, which eliminated the need for a breastpump or baby food lugged from home.  
    All our luggage. Not pictured are the two school backpacks on our backs.
  8. Travelled with grandparents! Aside from DK getting to spend quality time with his grandparents, grandparents are also super helpful travel companions. Need to carry a stroller up or down a flight of stairs? No problem with 3 people! Need someone to watch the baby while I go to the bathroom? No problem! I am so lucky and grateful that my husband’s parents came along with us to sight see. We had a great time together. 
    Never had to push the stroller. Didn’t even have to clean off the muddy wheels. I’m spoiled.
  9. We went to London. Yes, there are so many places to see in the world, and I’m sure many of them are family friendly – but man, London was top. Change tables in every public bathroom. Free museums. Amazing, creative and totally dangerous looking playgrounds. Pampers diapers and  organic baby foods. Did I mention the abundance of diaper change tables?!
    Princess Diana Memorial Playground
    Princess Diana Memorial Playground
  10. Brought a mesh bag with small toys. We carted this bag with a few toys per day on all of our outings. The bag is small, collapsible, see-through and breathable for all the slobber covered tethers. Toy dropped on the floor of the subway? No problem, put it in the diaper bag (don’t put it back in the mesh bag of clean toys) and wash when you get back to the hotel every day. 

What I would do differently:

  1. Stay at a closer airport hotel the first night. I mistakenly assumed that an airport hotel would be near the airport. When we landed and got our bags, the shuttle bus to our hotel was a 40 minute wait and we were exhausted. We opted to take a taxi just to get to a bed faster. It cost £20. And the next morning, we took a taxi from the airport hotel to the airport rental car company…£15. I picked the hotel because of its proximity to the airport and the price – but factoring the extra £35 in taxi fare, we could have stayed at the hotel right at the airport instead of near the airport for the same price and my post-plane bed would have been that much closer. 
  2. Rented a car seat with our rental car. We opted to bring our car seat and base because we were more comfortable with installing it, DK was comfortable sleeping in it, we were concerned about taking taxis in London without it, if the bassinet on the plane wasn’t available, maybe an extra seat for the car seat would be, and we needed it to get to the airport anyways. In hindsight, we didn’t really need it – you don’t have to ride with a baby in a car seat in London taxis or transit.  We could have rented it with the car and gotten a friend to drive us to the airport in our car. Our entire time in London the car seat and base sat unused in our Airbnb. 

All in all it was a great trip! DK is still on London time upon returning home, so is waking up to play between 1 am and 3 am. But a small price to pay for how well he adjusted to travel! 

Mom guilt over the best day ever 

It was a beautiful, sunny day. DK was two months old. My house was a mess, I was a mess. I wasn’t feeling great, so that afternoon DK nursed and snuggled and slept in my arms while I ate chocolate covered raisins and I binge-watched Heartland on Netflix. 

Looking back, it was the best afternoon ever, but I didn’t enjoy it in the moment because I felt guilty about watching 6+ hours of tv on a sunny afternoon. I felt like I should have been doing anything else. Cleaning, eating something healthy, drinking more water, sleeping. “Sleep when baby sleeps” is the advice we new moms get. Yes, good advice – but DK slept best in my arms and I did not want to put him down so that I could rest only to have him wake up a few minutes later crying. It was easier to just watch Heartland and eat raisins. So I worried that he’d never sleep anywhere but my arms and I’d be one of those mothers who turns into a husk of her former self that people whisper, “she’s too attached…” behind my back. 

But time moved on and DK sleeps like a champ in his crib next to my bed. I didn’t need to worry that I was giving him a bad habit of sleeping in my arms. I lost 5 more pounds, so I didn’t need to worry that I would never lose my pregnancy weight because I ate so many chocolate raisins. My husband came home and didn’t even care that the house was a mess. The next day was sunny too, and the next, and the next (a perk of living in sunny California) so I didn’t need to worry about not taking advantage of the nice weather. You can take the girl out of Canada, but you can’t take the Canadian out of the girl. 

Now I look back on that day fondly as a very special time I spent with my son, snuggling him and watching scenes filmed just outside my hometown in the Foothills of Alberta. 

I’m going to stop feeling guilty for feeling guilty about that day. *Sigh*, being a mom is tough! 

Going to the library with a baby 

When you wake up at 4 am with a baby, by noon you are ready for a stiff drink. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing with my son and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to stay home with him everyday – but one can only take so many hours of pass the toy back and forth before needing some additional stimulation.

I try to keep us pretty scheduled as I am a planner by nature. Every morning around 9 am we leave the house. Most days we just go for a walk.  I take DK for a 5km loop around our neighbourhood that passes two parks, the library, a grocery store and a Starbucks (and yes, I almost always stop for a English breakfast tea latte). 

Once a week we head into the library to take out some books. 

Sculpture outside my local library

I love the library. I’ve loved it since I was a little girl and my mom would bring me to choose books to read for the week. As much as I love it, however, I find the library overwhelming. You could read ANYTHING. When shopping for books at a bookstore, I am limited by my available spending money. But at a library…I can take out as many books as my little heart desires (and that I can feasibly carry home). I can read them front to back, skim them, or return them unread. 

With children’s books, I could conceivably take out a hundred picture books a week and manage to read them all, but DK would quickly lose interest.   As DK is 7 months old, it doesn’t really matter what we read together, as long as we read. I get into the children’s section and I’m paralyzed. How do I choose? 

All this freedom is exhilarating but I’m also trapped by the possibilities and often leave empty handed, unable to make a decision. Does anyone else experience this?

And so, I’ve begun to take books out by theme. DK is learning to make the “deh” sound, so the first week I took out 5 books about ducks. 


Then, one morning that week we went for a walk at a local park with a duck pond and looked at ducks. We played with his rubber duck, we sang songs about ducks (5 little ducks) and we quacked. We looked at a picture of Donald Duck. 


Basically, any way I could bring up the word duck in our play, I did. 

Week two, I took out 5 books about dogs. On our walks, whenever we saw a dog I’d point at it and say, “look at the dog!” 

We sang “BINGO” and “How much is your doggy in the window?” too many times. We went and visited our friends with dogs so DK could touch and smell them. 

It’s week 3 now, and today we took out books about pigs. We have plans on Thursday to go for a walk at Rancho San Antonio to Deer Hollow Farm where I think we will see a pig. DK also loves the This Little Piggy rhyme and we have a toy pig to play with. 

I like doing the theme because it helps me stay focused at the library and it also challenges me mentally to come up with new games and activities that fit within the theme. 

Some ideas I have for future themes are:

  • Grandmas (grandma’s coming to visit)
  • Trains (stop at the Caltrain station and see the train go by)
  • Airplanes
  • Trucks
  • Cats
  • Cars
  • Birds
  • Gardens
  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Boats
  • Fish

There are a million options!

Would this method work for you? Which themes would you try?

Art with a Baby

I don’t always have my $h!t together. In fact, most days I feel like I’m running a marathon without shoes on (and I only have one kid…how do the mothers with more than one kid do it?!). But sometimes, I impress myself. Therefore, it is worthy of a blog post.

One of my “mom goals” is to do some kind of art activity with DK every month. When I was a kid, my mom sent homemade calendars to my grandparents every Christmas of our artwork and photos of us doing art. It was a nice keepsake, and I actually got my calendars back from my paternal grandparents when they both had passed away.

In January, I started documenting DK’s artistic growth by doing a monthly art project. Obviously, at 6 months…his artistic talent is limited and probably will still be limited at 12 months, so I’m not sure what kind of “growth” we will even see. But hey, at least we will see his footprints and handprints grow over the year. I hope to do a monthly art activity for the calendars over many years, so that one day he can look back and see how he just smeared paint around with his feet at 7 months…but at 3 he was painting with a brush.

Spoiler warning: If you are DK’s grandparent, you may wish to stop reading now…or you won’t be as surprised as you could be Christmas 2017.

Here are my art activities so far:

  1. January

I took an idea from Pinterest and put a sheet of paper in a ziploc bag, added some finger paints, taped the bag to the floor and let DK smoosh it around during tummy time. He mostly liked scratching the bag with his nails, which I’ll admit made me second guess this whole “mess-free finger painting” claim from the Pinterest mommy blog. Would his tiny baby nails pierce the plastic and smear paint  all over his hands? With the stealth of a cheetah would he put his paint-covered fingers in his mouth before I could stop him?

The good news is that Ziploc lived up to its name and kept that paint zipped and locked inside, despite the scratching.

DK also didn’t cry and moan in protest of being on his tummy, so I consider this art project a success.

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2. February

As Valentine’s is fast approaching, I thought we’d do a Valentine’s themed painting with DK’s footprints in bright red paint. Perhaps one of my most genius ideas was to do it with him in his Exersaucer Doorway Jumper. This way, his hands were nowhere near the paint, meaning his mouth was nowhere near the paint.

While his feet were already covered in finger paint from the footprints, I got out a big sheet of paper, taped it to the floor with some masking tape and dipped his feet in some more finger paint. He loved smearing it around on the paper!

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For clean up, I made sure I had a wet cloth nearby to wipe up any paint splatters that got on the floor, and I prepped a mixing bowl of warm water. When he was done painting, I put his feet in the water to splash around a bit, which he also loved. So clean up was mostly just wiping up a few water splashes and drying off his feet.

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Stay tuned for future art projects with DK!

 

 

Sous-Vide Save

I’ll admit, at first the concept of cooking meat in a plastic bag at bathwater temperature grossed me right out. How will I  not get food poisoning? But then my husband asked for a sous-vide cooker for Christmas, and as he is the world’s hardest person to buy for, I bought the Anova Culinary PCB-120US-K1 Bluetooth Precision Cooker from Amazon and hoped for the best.

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But now, after trying sous-vide cooked meat, I am a convert – and not just because my husband now cooks dinner. This thing is amazing for busy families.

Basically, it’s a heating element that attaches to the side of a big pot full of water. It heats the water and keeps it at a consistent temperature. You put your food down in the water in an airtight bag (I use ziploc) and set the temperature (for example, 150F for Chicken breast). It takes about an hour to cook chicken breast at that temperature, but it doesn’t overcook it if say, your kid is having a huge temper tantrum and you’re knee deep in tears. You can even cook it ahead of time and then put it in cold water once it is done to hang out and wait until you’re ready to eat it. Once you’re 3 minutes away from eating, all you have to do is pull it out of the bag and sear it in a frying pan or on the grill on under the broiler to crisp it up a bit and voila – delicious, juicy but not stewy meat. I season/marinade the meat right in the bag. So far I’ve made chicken breast, chicken thighs, steak, and eggs and the results have been flawless every time.

In my home, the hours between 4:30 and 7 are chaos. It’s impossible to cook anything, so we are either starting to cook dinner after DK goes to sleep and eating at 8:30 (too late for me) or I’m eating over the sink before I start bedtime routine before my husband is even home. With the sous-vide, it makes it easy to do the prep earlier in the day during naptime, put it in the sous-vide before we start winding DK down for bed, and then finishing the dish off with a sear and a side salad once DK is asleep.

 

 

Getting Baby to Sleep

*Warning, this post is a bit contentious – and I’m firmly in the attachment parenting camp.*

It seems like I have two choices: sleep train using the cry it out method or co-sleep. Parents who have tried it all claim that those are the only two options that work.

I’m a new mom, so maybe in six more months, I’ll also be trumpeting the “those are the only things that work” mantra – but surely they can’t be the only things that work? Right? (*cue cricket chirp*)

Right now DK is 6 months old and he sleeps in his own crib a few feet from our bed in our room. I like it this way. He’s close enough to see and I think we both feel more secure this way. It’s not exactly co-sleeping (I love my pillow and blankets too much to co-sleep safely), but he’s also not alone in his own room.

We have a bedtime routine, ending most nights with me snuggling him until he’s asleep, at which time I transfer him to his crib. He sleeps from about 6:30 pm to 11:30 pm, gets up to breastfeed and then most nights he goes back to sleep until 5:30 am. It works for me, I can’t complain. And yet I have this nagging feeling that I need to teach him how to put himself to sleep and self-soothe and if I don’t, bad sleep regressions will happen. Maybe it’s because all of my friends sleep train their kids, so I feel like I need to follow the crowd and do it too…but I just want to take a moment to stand up and say NO. I don’t want to let my baby cry it out.  And here’s why:

  • DK is just now discovering the joys of peek-a-boo. He doesn’t understand that when I cover my face with a towel that I am just behind the towel. He doesn’t understand that when I leave the room, I’m just next door and will come back. He sees me gone and thinks I am gone. Letting him cry it out alone in his crib isn’t teaching him to self-soothe. It’s teaching him that no one is coming for him. That he is all alone. What a heartbreaking thing for anyone, not just a baby, to learn.
  • Neuroscience research has taught us that infant brains have very few neural connections but that by age two they have thousands of neural connections (Narvaez, 2011). I love taking Devon out to experience the world, see new things. I want to raise a child who is curious about the world. Even though he won’t remember the trip we took to the aquarium, his brain is growing and making connections and I believe the experience at the aquarium is a formative experience that will impact how he interacts with the  world. Sleep training is the same – sure the sleep training gurus say that he won’t remember being sleep trained, but the experience of being left alone in a room, crying with no one coming to help him or comfort him is a formative experience that impacts how DK will interact and trust others throughout his life. If I said “no, sleep training is fine, it’s not a formative experience”, then I might as well also say that going outside, playing with toys or seeing my smile are also non-formative experiences for DK and that therefore I shouldn’t bother since he won’t remember. The logic just doesn’t follow.
  • There’s a reason that it is so difficult to hear your child cry and not respond…it’s not part of our innate human biology. When you think that for most of human history we lived in the bushes and had to worry about predators, it makes no survival sense to let an infant cry, alerting all the lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) to the location of a delicious meal.
  • Remember when we thought second-hand smoke was just fine? Now we know better but that can’t undo the damage second-hand smoke caused. That’s how I feel about sleep training. The studies that have been done aren’t very scientifically reliable (Narvaez, 2014). We don’t know enough yet about the long term effects of sleep training, but the experience can’t be undone. It may be long-term pain for short-term gain and I’m not willing to take that chance with my son’s mental health. I’m by no means a perfect mom, and I’m sure there are a lot of ways  I will  unintentionally  traumatize my child…but I’m not going to do it intentionally through sleep training.
  • Why do we have kids? I had DK for many reasons but one is to put a responsible, caring, curious human being on this planet. Sometimes the world is so dark, I wonder why bring a perfect little light into it only to have it extinguished by greed, hatred, violence etc. But maybe my little light is going to be the light that solves poverty. Or brings peace. Or finds a cure. I want DK to grow up feeling that he matters. That his actions influence others and that others influence him. I don’t want him to ever feel like he can only count on himself, that he can’t rely on the support of his family, his friends, his community. But I worry that sleep training teaches him that he is alone and he can only rely on himself. That no one out there will comfort him. What a terrible and unnecessary lesson to learn.
  • I look to the example set by the parents of adults I admire. They didn’t sleep train and their kids turned out to be wonderful, kind, caring, generous, ambitious, independent, curious, loving adults. Case closed.

As I mentioned above, a lot of my friends believe in the power of sleep training. And they have been in the trenches a lot longer than me. I do not mean for this blog post to upset them. These women are wonderful mothers and I respect them a lot for all the love they give their kids. Motherhood is not easy and we each know our kids best. I just know that sleep training is not for me and it’s not for Devon. And if any other mothers out there feel similarly, reach out to me. We can encourage one another and together find workable solutions that don’t involve crying it out.