Sleep Advice

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Outlasting the Tantrum

I have had the absolute privilege to attend a two part lecture on parenting delivered by Mary Willow of Plum Parenting (click on the link to go to her website)

Munchkins has been a bit neglected recently as I have been sooo busy managing my lovely boys.  Since Mitchell's PS he has grown in leaps and bounds and in fact started commando crawling, just over 6 months old.  Cadell suffered a little from less Mummy time combined with being a nearly 4 year old, testosterone surge and learning well and trully how to push my buttons and find the boundaries.

We have also had a sleep deprived Mumma.  Mitch was sleeping through, Cadell was waking 1-2 times a night with nightmares.  He is mostly over that now but Mitch is becoming super hungry, clingy and teething, taking up to two hours to settle properly to sleep for the night and waking at least once.

Oh the endless challenges of parenting!

So Mary's talk at our local Waikato Waldorf School was very timely for our family.

She gave an example of Mum and daughter at the supermarket.  Mum usually gets her daughter a lollipop at the end of the shopping so as to get her through the supermarket without dramas.  But the dentist has said her teeth aren't looking so good and its time to cut out the bad habit.  Mum is all prepared and ready to say "Sorry darling, no lollipops today"  The fallout is intense...

The girl melts down and (goes into "hindbrain and "little self") and throws her body onto the floor, blocking the aisle for the other customers.

Sound familiar?  I fortunately have not had this at the supermarket, but we certainly get our fair share of full blown tanties!


Think about the environment you are in, customers looking at you like you are "one of those Mothers" with a demon child.  People are annoyed because of the screaming and the fact that your child is blocking the aisle.  And to top it off you have to be at an appointment in 20minutes!!!

For our family as much as possible we have always tried to ignore the tantrum, or take our son to his room when we say "come out when you can ....."  When he comes out he says he's sorry, and then he does what was expected of him.  Its worked most of the time! (Courtesy of Diane Levy "Of course I love you now go to your room")  But in this very public situation it could be a) dangerous to leave the child there by ignoring them and b) it is disrespectful to inconvenience other customers while your child has a paddy on the floor.

These are the steps Mary Willow suggested work for her (in her YEARS of experience as a Kindy teacher and Mother)  Your goal is: OUTLAST THE TANTRUM, and GET HOME WITHOUT THE LOLLIPOP!

  1. Remove the child to a safe place.  Never grab a limb, try to scoop them up or "hug" around their waist/upper body, with a hand to protect your face from a headbutt!  Preferably take them to a calmer and safer place, toilets perhaps.  NEVER make eye contact!  And don't talk to your child.
  2. Once in the better place, you have two jobs.  Be present for your child, show with your body the unconditional love you have for them by being there, but be detached.  Their work is occurring during their tantrum, crying screaming etc., they need to work this through.  You busy yourself doing something menial!  Still DO NOT make eye contact and DO NOT talk to them
  3. In time (however long that maybe!) they will begin to pull themselves together.  Do a test touch, if they escalate again they are not ready (literally a wee prod!)  If they ok with the touch then it is time to scoop them up and give what Diane Levy refers to as a "boring cuddle".  Mary suggests rocking as it is soothing.  DO NOT TALK, DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT.  If you then say "Now that was silly..." You will begin another melt down.
  4. When the childs breathing calms down then you return to the trolly, go through the checkout and go home. DO NOT TALK about the situation
  5. The "hind brain" has now laid down a new experience to replace the old.  It "heard" "I survived that, I'm alive" and a change takes place that rewires this hind brain "thinking"
The next time she goes to the supermarket, she may ask but will not melt down when the answer is no. But there you have done it!

As you can probably tell from my CAPITAL letters, the greatest thing I have learnt as a VERY verbal person with a VERY verbal son, talking will not appeal to the hind brain in a melt down situation, even post tantrum talking will not help.

This also means that when you tackle these situations, MAKE TIME.  Don't schedule a doc appointment or whatever, free up time.  As I read somewhere, when you are making a bed and your toddler tries to "help", .... you can make the bed again but you cant make the child again.  So what if you miss the doctors appointment, you can always make another one.

Anyway, my little one is having a tantrum of his own so that's all for now!  I'd love to know what works for you in these type of situations, and if this approach will work for you.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

REFLUX? or Pyloric Stenosis?

Pyloro what the ?!?!?!

In Mitchell's third week he finally gained significant weight - 320g  I was so pleased that finally all the milk I have was fattening up my wee boy nicely.  After that week it felt like everything went wrong...

His spills became massive vomits.  Both of us would need a change, and his cot too if it happened in there.  He would become very stressed if it came up his nose, then stressed from constant clothes changes, then stressed because he was hungry again.  But I kept telling myself, as I read it everywhere, not to worry it won't be his whole feed even though it seems a lot.  WQell, at the end of his fourth week he had lost 140g and had not pood for nearly 4 days.  My midwife saw him throw up and became immediately concerned at the amount coming out of him.

We tried Weleda Colic poweder which made very little difference, went to the doctor for Gaviscon which again made very little difference especially because I couldn't get him off my breast to get the bottle with Gaviscon in it fast enough before we were both covered in puke again.  Giving it to him first was not much good either because it came up again.

So we looked further into Reflux, and over supply and forceful milk ejection and so began a week of lying on my back to feed him when my breasts were full, sitting him upright to feed, feeding for only a minute and pulling him off to allow my milk to flow out onto a towel (more like squirt everywhere!), burp him and return him to feed for a further minute, while also carefully keeping him upright.  These things had the greatest effect and we got down to only 2-3 spews per day.  But still he wouldn't poo with the help of Coloxyl drops, and I was too scared to make the cycle movements with his legs.  His weight gain was very minimal, in fact he actually lost a further 50g after 2 days.

Mitchell did not show all the signs of reflux.  He was never in pain from stomach acid, was happy to feed and got very upset when I'd pull him off.  I was at my wits end.  One night after 2 hours of feeding, and cleaning up spew, changing clothes for both of us etc etc, I looked at him and thought I am so over this and exhausted I just want to put you in your cot and leave you there.  Then I cried and cried, it took us nearly two years of heart ache to conceive this little guy and here I was wanting to abandon him - I was very very low.

I just didn't feel in my heart that he had reflux.  I took him a wonderful Osteopath Marsha at the Osteopathic Clinic here in Hamilton.  She was wonderful, and Mitchell had a fantastic day, feeding well, very few spews and sleeping well.  I thought we were onto a winner.

That night he spewed a huge BROWN spew in his bed, we rung healthline who said to take him to hospital.  After seeing the registrar and then a consultant, the consultant got him to poo with a rectal examination (not nice to see your 6 week old react to that) and then said he wanted to do an ultra sound to check that the valve or tube of muscles that empties the stomach into the intestines (the Pylorus) was not overgrown with thickened muscles.  As soon as he described this my gut reaction was, oh yes that is what is wrong with my baby.  So I asked what happens next if they find the muscles have thickened?  A surgical procedure.  OK brace yourself I thought.

In order to get a clear ultrasound image the stomach needs to be empty, so our six week old baby had too fast for just over 4 hours.  The ultra sound confirmed that his Pylorus muscles were thickened, and therefore the tube narrowed (stenosis).  Normally the Pylorus is 4mm thick and 14mm long, Mitchell's was 6mm thick and 19mm long.

The major problem with Pyloric Stenosis (other than the vomiting, no pooing, weight loss etc) is that the excessive vomiting of the hydrochloric acid in the stomach puts the body and bloods into alkalosis which does all sorts of bad things I don't really understand.  The electrolytes in the blood must first be corrected with IV fluids and fasting before the baby can be operated on.

Mitchell's last feed was at 2:30pm on Tuesday, and he started an IV drip around 4pm that evening, with surgery likely on Wednesday morning.  Wednesday came and went, with surgery booked for Thursday morning, still no feeding. 

Mitchell went into theatre at 8:30am Thursday morning.  My heart was broken. I felt I had made him wrong/faulty, I couldn't do the one thing that made him happy, and is instinctual for me and that is to feed him, I felt I was betraying him by sending him off into something he had no idea was coming, I was a sworried as hell that he would react to the anesthesia, or worse that he would come back with a major complication, a different baby.  I sobbed and sobbed with my whole body.  It was a double edged sword, I knew it was for the best, but it just seemed such a horrible thing to give consent for strangers to operate on my tiny baby.  All of that on top of about 7 hours sleep in 4 days.

10:45am and Mitchell was awake and in recovery.  I still wasn't allowed to feed him so Craig had to cuddle him so he wouldn't smell me.  He had a husky cry no doubt from the tubes put down his throat, and three holes, two for the instruments above his belly button, and a bigger one in his tummy button where the camera was put in. 

Four hours after surgery he was finally allowed to feed.  He did that but pretty much slept the rest of the day. 24 hours after surgery my happy little boy emerged out of his sleepy state.  He was attached to machines to monitor his vitals with about 5 different tubes or cords.  Feeding was tricky in the entanglement.  He was all smiles and grins.  We were given the ok to go home on Friday morning, but not officially discharged til the afternoon.

Mitchell has been a completely different baby since the operation in so many great ways.  I can finally breastfeed him like I did with our first son, and he has only vomited 3 times in 3 days, mostly because he has gorged himself, or if he has been laid down too soon after a huge feed.  He is much more relaxed in his whole body, he barely cries because he is finally full. Best of all no more loads and loads of washing.

I'll post some photos and more details about Pyloromyotomy in the next post.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Me and my Boys

Our awesome friend Sacha (Photography by Sacha) has taken some gorgeous photos of our boys.  And I had to show them off...
Mitchell 2 weeks old, Cadell 3years 5 months.  Cadell is showing us his "guns"

My beautiful big boy, four weeks before Mitchell's arrival

Is there anything sweeter than a newborn sleeping?

Me, Cadell and the bump that was Mitchell

My little boy with super cool hat made by Aunty Chelle for my big boy 3 years ago.
Ahh, they make me so happy!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Latest Arrival

Our much anticipated little brother to Cadell arrived at 5.34am on April 28.  He was born much bigger than Cadell who weighed 6lb 15oz, Mitchell weighed in at 8lb 4oz

We had a fantastic, natural, water birth with most of our labour done at home (through the night with no sleep!)  A very different birth to Cadell, who was also all natural, mostly laboured at home, but birthed on dry land.  Cadell was in a hurry to come out, Mitchell just paced himself - maybe he learned that from our half marathon at 10 weeks gestation?!

Newborn Sleep

Mitchell arrived before dawn, and over the space of his first two hours in the world he fed for nearly an hour, and spent 90% of that two hours skin to skin.  He then slept and slept and slept, from about 8am to 2pm  I had to strip him down skin to skin to wake him to feed.  He then slept some more, and more.  He decided he had had enough sleep by about 7pm and feed every hour to two hours after that ALL through the night!

Because he was exhausted from being up all night, he slept well again through the day, but repeated the previous nights tricks.  When we got home - Mitchell decided this was great and spent his first night at home doing the same thing.  Thankfully the next night, our first at home altogether with big brother too he slept much better and feeding every 3-4 hours.  Thank goodness as Cadell was vomiting through the night!

We have decided to use Gina Ford's routines as a guide again.  Knowing what I also have read about controlled crying or Pinky McKay's stance against controlled crying, I haven't been opposed to demand feeding if I think he needs it.  I have also ignored Gina's advice on "no eye contact or talking" to your baby in the night.  I can't do that anyway!  I need to kiss and cuddle my little bundle!

At two weeks old our routine goes something a little like this
7:00am feed then a little time awake to talk to his brother and Dad
9:30 or 10ish feed and then try to keep him awake as much as you can keep a 2 week old awake!
11:00 or 11:30ish feed then big sleep til 2pm if I'm lucky
2:00 or 3ish feed followed by about an hour or two sleep
5ish feed with a bath sometime just before 6pm
6:30 feed bed before 7pm
Then up until 2 weeks old I would wake him about 10/10:30 to feed again
He then wakes between 2-3am naturally for another feed, and sleeps through til 6/7am
But last night he fed and fed and fed between 3pm and 6:30pm went to sleep at 7pm and I left hime to wake himself which he did at 1:50am fed, then slept through til 6:40am  what a dream child!

My current stance on sleeping is make sure they get plenty to eat between the hours of 7am and 7pm to help them get through the night.

I also think that because I am incredibly lucky with a great milk supply (or over supply) Mitchell is able to have a full tummy and only wakes to feed, or tell me he's wet through his nappy and clothes and wrap and sheets... and only cries when his tummy is overloaded and he's squirming to get wind out

Overall I am so lucky to have another great little sleeper.  And of course an awesome little boy all round!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Sleep Basics

Bedtime Routines or Rhythms
As adults we have our own little rituals and routines we go through before going to bed, so the same applies to our little Munchkins, its up to us as parents and caregivers to create these routines.

Routines will change with their age.  

With your newborn your family routine could look like this:
  1. Half Feed (one breast, or 100-120ml formula) so that his/her hunger is satisfied enough to get through bath time with causing a fuss
  2. A quiet and enjoyable bath.  Using a flannel to lay over the baby's chest to give them some security and warmth.  If your newborn REALLY cannot enjoy a bath, then look at using a warm cloth to clean around the neck and skin folds. Rosewater smells great and will also help to gently clean, put a little on your damp flannel.  Try baby massage.  Bathing and massaging should be enjoyable and calm.
  3. Second half feed.
  4. Swaddle or wrap your baby.
  5. Depending on which works best for you, you may like to cradle your baby and gently sing them to sleep in your arms before putting them in their cot/bassinet.  Or you may like them to be in their bed while you stay close to sing to them or gently rub their back or tummy.
You may also like to create other sleep associations.  
  • Our son had a dummy to settle him to sleep until 8 months old, then he replaced that with his stuffed toy donkey we all call "Horsey" which he has to have to this very day, 3 years and 4months old!  Munchkins have a great range of Nici and Lily and George products that are cute, cuddly and friendly "bed pals".
  • Other parents I know have successfully used a night light like our Giimmo Lights which can be charged and taken anywhere.  They softly glow different colours over and over again.
  • We also had a musical mobile.  Our son loved to watch his little friends circling around him, and more often than not by the time the set period of music was finished he was fast asleep.  Munchkins also stock a range of "Tiny Love" mobiles.

REMEMBER: Newborns need 16-20 hours of sleep every 24 hours.  They should sleep on their backs.

Other things may effect your baby's ability to settle to sleep such as sickness, teething, too much stimulation before bed, temperature, hunger, and wind.  If sleep seems like a distant goal, or a tiny speck of light way at the end of a tunnel, remind yourself this could be just a stage - it may feel like a lifetime but it really is only a few nights or a week tops.  Or its just those pesky teeth, or simply a hungry wee tummy. 

Bedtime Routines for 6 months + 

Keep creating a positive bedtime ritual.  You want your child to see that sleep is a pleasurable state to be in and that, there is a special time or activity that happens before sleep.

The most basic of routines would be

Whatever the pre-bedtime activity is, it needs to be calm, quiet and enjoyable.  It could be as simple as reviewing the day’s activities, and talking about tomorrow.  I love telling my son a story, I can see him creating all sorts of great images in his head, and he remembers them very clearly too.  We find all sorts of things to talk about.  Sometimes he needs me to stay in his room, so I sit at the end of his bed and have a cup of tea, read a book or knit.  Within 20 minutes he’s a goner.  Sometimes he tells me to “go and talk to Daddy on the couch” so I quickly take that cue and run!  Other times I tell him that I am going and will be back in 5 minutes to see him – I always follow through.  Often he is asleep before I get back, other times he needs several 5 minute visits.  And of course there are times when we have tears, tantrums and arguments!  He is three after all!

In my next post I’m going to review some of the behavior interventions that can work with toddlers, also how to implement a style of night time parenting that will work for you and your family.

I would love to hear what routines have worked well for you, and why you have chosen these routines, please leave your comment

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

My Personal Experience with our First Newborn

With baby number two only four weeks away I am beginning to give sleep a lot more thought than I think I did first time round.

Three and a bit years ago when wee Cadell was born, we just did what we thought was best to get him settled and sleeping and the long hot summer nights that he was born into to.  We also took a great deal of advice from Gina Ford's "Contented Little Baby" book.  Although very rigid, and at times she seems extremely structured and strict, her advice worked well for us and for Cadell.  By two weeks old he was sleeping 8 hours straight 10pm-6ish am.  Not long after that he was sleeping 12-13 hours straight.
Cadell went straight into a cot at 2 days old.  We wrapped him at night, but it was too hot for wraps during the day.

At 15 months we thought we would attempt the cot to bed transition.  It took him one night to start sleeping in his bed happily and at first he cut back a little to about 10 hours sleep, yelling out "Mum!" when he woke, but again settled in for the longer haul after about a week or so.
Our happy little man in our first attempt in his bed "toes in" as we used to say.
Just before Cadell turned two he went through a stage of "Night Terrors" waking at around 10pm screaming, looking fully awake but on another planet completely!  If we tried to comfort him, he would strike out at us as if we were trying to hurt him.  It was horrible.  Two things worked, one was going to see a homeopath who helped me gain a better insight to his personality, and secondly I would go and wake him or at least get him to stir about 15 minutes before he would normally wake screaming.  This disrupted his sleep cycle and allowed him to get through without the night terrors.

When he turned two or about that time he realised he could get out of bed all by himself!  So we would have a little early bird climb the stairs to our room often in the dark.  We solved this with an "Ok to Wake" clock that we set to glow green when its ok to get out of bed, which works the majority of the time!  He still on occasions gets out of bed just after midnight, and sometimes just needs a cuddle and to be put back in bed, other times he needs us to snuggle in and sleep with him.

Now he is three years old.  He still loves and needs his sleep (long may it last when a newborn is coming!) He has a lunchtime sleep for anywhere between 1-3 hours depending on the days activities and sickness.  And sleeps for 10-11 hours at night.
On overseas trip where we all generally slept in the same room, it was hard for Cadell when we got home for him to sleep in a room alone.  He's holding up an Eifel Tower key ring.

He is at a stage now where we have had the most difficulty with his sleep in all of his life.  We could probably remedy the situation better by keeping to a better night time routine, but perhaps we're too lazy!  He is often not a sleep until 8:30-9pm.  We eat together at about 7-7:30 so as I say this doesn't help our VERY slow eater.  Then it's shower time, brush his teeth and story in bed.  Even if we manage to get all of this done and he is in bed by 7:30 he will be up and down several times, insisting one of us lie down with him, and he won't stop talking or singing until close to 9pm.  Many people suggested to cut his day time sleep right back to an hour or less.  All this did was make him horribly grumpy all afternoon, and he still wouldn't go to sleep any earlier!  So I now just leave him to sleep during the day, and as it is getting darker at night much sooner he is returning to his better sleep habits.

Although last night after or usual routine, and telling him to try hard to get to sleep early because we had to get up early.  He yells out to me while I'm in the office "Mum I need some chocolate or else I'll be upset" I said "Well good luck cos there's no chocolate in the house!"  Cheeky Monkey.

So we have quite a text book child as I understand it, no wonder I am worrying what our second will be like!

Sunday, 25 March 2012


We start the FIVE week countdown until our second baby arrives with an awesome 20% off all duvet covers.  This includes our own Munchkins Hand Quilted brand, and the beautiful Whimsy Range.

Since there's is 20% OFF for this week only you should also grab the matching cushions and sheets sets available.

Like us on Facebook to keep up with "New Munchkin Countdown Specials" every week.