Sunday, August 26, 2007

She says NO, NO, NO

Pebbles, our go-with-the-flow baby, has transformed herself into Pebbles the baby who don't take that shit from nobody, not even from her mama. You know the baby. The baby that don't wear no sunhat, no way, no how. The baby that stiffens her body rather than consent to being strapped into a stroller or high chair. The one that turns into a greased pig and practically levitates rather than allow her body to come into contact with the surface of her car seat. And, yes, the baby who sings, "They try to make me go to sleep, I say, NO, NO, NO!"

All the while, Pebbles is crawling all over the house and pulling herself to a stand on every thing, including things too small to support her which tip over and let her clunk her head on the floor. Obviously, I try to prevent this when I see it coming, but I'm not always there in time.

Fortunately she still has her smiley personality, which, coupled with her growing excitement about the outside world has prevented us from throwing her out with the bathwater thus far. Her main sleep issues these days are 1) staying up too late and 2) waking up within an hour of going down. We're working on them both. For the first issue, I'm buckling down on having a bedtime routine, which I'm sure many parents have been doing since day one but for breastfed babies that fall asleep so easily during nursing in the early months, it always seemed silly to me. Anyway, nowadays we are having Pebbles sit in on one of Nutmeg's bedtime stories, then I take her to our room and change her into PJs or just a fresh diaper if it's too hot, give her some one-on-one playtime till she asks to nurse, then nurse her with the lights dimmed and if she doesn't fall asleep during that, we stay on the bed in the dark until she finally gets tired and does want to nurse to sleep. After just a night or two she seemed to get the idea that there would be no more fun after the first nursing and she's been going right to sleep then, which is usually at 9:30 but sometimes earlier.

Issue 2 was more of a challenge at first. I'm guessing she's waking up in the evening because I often bring her into bed with us after her middle-of-the-night wakeup and she's gotten used to the nice feeling of sleeping with us. After a quick check with Dr. Sears, we decided to try having Epu deal with her during this wakeup. The hope is that when she realizes that she will not get breastfed again just one hour after being fed and put down, she's stop waking up at this time.

So far she's still waking up like clockwork at 10:30, but the progress has been encouraging. I tried not nursing her once on my own and it took 2 and a half hours to get her back down. For Epu, the first night took one hour. The second took 20 minutes, and the last two nights it's been more like 5 minutes in the rocking chair.

I'm pleased not just with the rapid improvement but with the fact that I no longer have to experience that sinking feeling of being called back upstairs just as I've started to get something done in the evening.

Than there's feeding. Feeding has become fun since she's adding a lot of new foods, and because she now gets into it and likes to say, "num num num num" while "chewing" her carrot or squash puree. She's also had green beans (didn't like them), applesauce, bananas and sweet potatoes.

And, of course, infant cereal. Which has led me on a journey of discovery. When I was shopping for some instant baby cereal to get her started about a month ago, I noticed that they are all full of all kinds of chemicals. My box of regular oatmeal just says "oats" on the ingredients, but Pebbles' oatmeal says oat flour, then tri- and dicalcium phosphate, soy oil-lecithin, and on and on.

Of course, most of the extra junk is for fortifying the cereal with vitamins, but I wondered if that was really necessary for a baby who is still primarily breastfed. So I unpacked my copy of "Super Baby Food," which I remembered contained instructions for homemade baby food including homemade cereals. The author, Ruth Yaron, likes to mix ground beans in with her grains to make "super" porridge with combinations like brown rice/lentils or barley/split peas. So, I figured, the beans probably gave the cereals enough nutrition that they didn't need fortifying.

Nope. Yaron actually says that breast milk is low in iron, and that babies are born with a 4- to 6-month store of iron and then they need to start getting it from food. She fortifies her super porridge with hard-cooked egg yolk and dessicated liver, but mainly with baby iron supplements that she drops in.

While I agree with her that unprocessed whole grains cooked on your stove is healthier than highly processed and refined instant cereal, it just seems lame to go through all the effort of making your own -- buying some whole grain at Whole Foods, grinding it up in the food processor, cooking for 10 minutes on the stove -- just to have to add in all these vitamin supplement chemicals. And by the by, while at Whole Foods today I found several baby vitamin supplements but no iron drops.

So I won't be making much homemade cereal unless I come across some iron drops. But the whole thing really makes me wonder: How did human infants get enough iron before fortified cereals? Did their mothers used to feed them more red meat? Was anemia just rampant? Or does our modern Western diet leave us mothers with insufficient iron so we make iron-poor breast milk?

Please post any answers, along with a $5 bill, to the Pebbles college fund. Now I have to go, because, sadly, Pebbles heard me typing that we had been having some success with her lousy sleep patterns, and she just woke up. Epu says it's my turn.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you have a similar problem or had one anyways. My son started out as a casual and carefree baby with a laid back personality. Shortly before he turned 1, things changed. He was still a good kid but he didn’t take anything from anyone! He got a number of different baby gifts for his first birthday and threw them on the ground and would grunt and shake his head if he didn’t like the present.

He even got picky and ornery with his crib bedding. I had several different sets I used but unless it was one particular set he wouldn’t sleep and would stand up in the crib and complain. Now he’s 3 and he’s back to being a casual kid. Growing pains are wonderful aren’t they? :)

Anonymous said...

Hi--I read your blog often and really enjoy it. As someone who's just starting her family, your stories are great! I don't have an answer regarding the iron (though I am told time and time again by my doctor that foods nowadays are lacking in vitamins and minerals because of depleted soils, processing, and growing practices), but I may have some insight into Pebbles nighttime routine. I'm sure you've heard of the book Babywise. Like most baby books I read, alot of the book I'm not too keen on, you kind of have to weed through the crap in all these books for the few pearls of wisdom that they offer. One major point in the book (which is essentially about getting your baby to sleep through the night by creating a feeding schedule) is that letting your baby fall asleep while breastfeeding is not the best idea. It supposedly creates a dependency on mom for sleep and prevents the baby from learning how to sleep on her own, which creates a cycle of waking in the night that prevents the baby from getting the deep sleep that they need. While I've never tried these practices myself (I'm 6 months pregnant with my first), our friends followed the feeding pattern suggested in the book and their kid was sleeping through the night at 3 months and at age three, goes to bed right after his book with very little fanfare. Watching him has made us believers!

Anonymous said...

Here's a good website:

Anonymous said...

I would (and am going to soon!!) check out the "No Cry Sleep Solution" from Dr Sears.

Babywise is, I am told, somewhat, harsh. More schedule, but, I am not about CIO, so, it's not something I would even consider.

Good luck! I am interested in knowing how you get thru this, as I see the same 'problems' in our future (my DS is almost 7 months, now!!)

Anonymous said...

Pebbles sounds funny. You reminded me of another post.