Do You Fit With Your Friends?

Posted November 16, 2014

I can remember pretending I did.  I went to the YWCA for a swim class with my 2-month old baby.  My reason was that thought I was lonely all day at home with no car.  Mostly, I wanted to look at other people's babies and see how mine compared.  Of course that meant I had to be with the mothers of other babies in the class, and that's when I started pretending.

"Oh, you're OK" said  one mother (loudly) whose baby was crying after having been dunked.  I wasn't comfortable with dunking - it didn't seem fair to an unsuspecting baby.  The teacher told us it was important so I did it even though it didn't feel right. But as my baby came up sputtering, I heard myself say "Oh, your're OK" as I glanced and smiled at the nearby mom I was trying to fit with. 

I didn't last long in that class.  I thought it was me being too picky but looking back, I think probably some of those moms were just trying to figure out their own place - and how to behave - in the new, new-baby world.  For me, it felt like being back in high school where I first mastered pretense.  I laughed when other people laughed and complained about the irritations my friends were so vocal about but all the while I didn't like some of the humor and hated the sense of competition.

I never really did find a new-baby friend.  Maybe you would say I was a loner parent. I spent most of my days at home with my baby, preparing the cute stories about her to tell my husband who came home wanting to hear every detail. 

What got me thinking about all this is an article I read today in Huffington Post: "What To Do When You Don't Feel Like You Fit In"  I think you'll like reading it.  It talks about having the courage to stay true to who we are inside and not pushing ourselves into uncomfortable territory just to "fit" with friends. 

Let's talk about this on facebook.  raymondparentingnews

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Filed under: Interesting Parenting Matters


Two Products for New Parents

Posted November 2, 2014

I like to keep my blogs commercial-free, so generally I avoid recommending one product over another.   I'm making an exception today as I recommend the Grobag company's Gro-Egg.  Many parents already have one in their baby's room - yet I get questions from some of you about how to keep your baby warm enough overnight, without blankets.  It's true that blankets are not rrecommended, particularly fluffy duvets.  For the most part, either swaddling or using a baby sleeping sack can eliminate the need for blankets.

But the SIDS research tells us that your baby's room temperature should be kept between 16-18' overnight.  This is cooler than most parents would have guessed.  (Expect your baby's hands to feel cool to the touch in the middle of the night. This is normal and doesn't cause wake-ups.) Overheating while sleeping in a too-warm room or with a cap on the head or under blankets - is something to be avoided for the safety of all babies.  The Gro-Egg will put your mind at rest. 

The second type of product I recommend is a small, washcloth-size cloth your baby can grab ahold of while playing and perhaps sleep with at night.  It can become a lovey, or transition object.  Here is one example. It should be small enough not to create a concern if it goes on the face, and made of material which is safe for sucking.  You can also make one yourself out of a very light-weight, small receiving blanket you won't mind cutting up.  Cut the receiving blanket into four equal squares.  Tie each square - right in the middle - with a shoestring.  Leave both ends to fan out.  Wear it around for half a day next to your skin, then offer it to your baby as you put her into bed awake.  She may toss it aside, and that's OK.  Once she takes to it, assuming she does, you have four of these comfort clothes (lovey dolls) and can put them through the wash as often as you like. 

If you have a comment or idea to add, please do so through my facebook News page here.


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Cardboard Boxes, Sand and Water

Posted September 28, 2014

The remarkable early education a young child gleans from imaginative play hasn't changed one iota since forever ago.  Neither has the irreplacable value of having mud, sand, water, mixing bowls, dolls and dress-up clothes available.  What has changed, sadly, is that many parents have come to view "early education" as being based on enrichment materials, preschool curriculums and extra-curricular activities like dance, swim and music classes for young children.

 Historically Kids have always been allowed to play, free of adult-direction. And, in the 80's and 90's new research showed how parts of the brain actually light up for children as they follow their curiosity and engage in exploration and discovery of the world around them. This came as good news for parents and people trained in early education as it gave affirming back-up for what had always been believed.

Then things went awry. The research findings were picked up by the media and the the original knowledge about the value of play was hijacked by marketers and toy companies!  Gradually the message became about the value of early stimulation and parents were bombarded with advice to purchase "stimulation" toys to hang from cribs, car seats and strollers - with the promise that these toys would make their babies smarter. Baby Einstein videos soon appeared also with a promise of educational entertainment.  As a result of these consumer messages parent began to do more entertaining of their babies. Partly this was done from pleasure, but partly out of guilt, partly to try to keep the baby happy at all times, and partly to avoid worrying that the child is "bored." Many parents still fear their baby is bored. 

It's very important that you as a parent do not get lost in those 'early stimulation' messages. For your baby, 'early education' starts as you gaze at each other and talk or mimic baby sounds as you gradually fall head over heels with each other.  The best educational materials are those you allow your baby to find around your house. Simple play props are  best for babies and toddlers. And your home is your child's first university.  The learning and brain development will be strongest and most satisfying when your baby's play is self-directed.  Puttering around, picking things up, putting them down, finding things inside containers, manipulating items of different weights and textures, reaching and pulling and climbing.  These experiences are golden for you child and the more days you can arrange for your baby or toddler to be at home, at work in their university setting, the better for their education.

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How Does a Baby Spend It’s Day?

Posted September 18, 2014

One third - One third - One third

How does a baby spend it's day?
One-third of a baby's day will be spent being fed, dressed, bathed, changed and sleeping.
One-third of a baby's day can be spent in close contact with a beloved person, gazing at each other, exploring things together, playing, singing, talking.
The last third of your baby's day can be spent in "alone time." This refers to time on the floor with some interesting items around or time in a baby chair watching the world go by. Allowing a baby to have time alone, periodically, during the first few months and beyond, gives her a head start in growing up... able to enjoy her own company.

This is how babies do their best work.  Sleeping, eating, hanging out with a beloved person and hanging out with her/himself.  it's this last one, however (hanging out on one's own) that trips up many parents.  There's that feeling that if your baby is awake you should be playing with her, making her laugh, entertaining her somehow.  If you are always entertaining, however, two things will happen.  One, you are going to tire out.  Two, your baby won't ever let you leave or stop or quit carrying or entertaining.  The easier "solution" is to head out of the house.  The park, the car, a friend's house.  Those activities are all OK occasionally, but they don't meet your baby's need to learn to enjoy his own company. 

My suggestion is to devote part of yours and your baby's week to being at home, following the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 framework described above.  Then know that there will be at least one day when you can be out and about, doing what brings you pleasure and company and just know that naps will likely be missed or happen in the carseat, but that's OK.  It's your day!  (If you have family in town, perhaps one will offer to be 'at home' with your baby so you can really feel free.)

Slowing down is good for babies and i'ts good for parents.

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Filed under: Daily Routines

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