I’m taking a little break from the baby item talk to write about things we did or didn’t do with Nala. A friend recently asked what we wish we would have known, and it has been interesting to think back on those early days (even though they weren’t so long ago).
One of the things that inspired the name of this blog is Tummy Time. Having studied Occupational Therapy (OT), I was aware of the necessity of Tummy Time, but with Nala’s arrival I realized how few other parents are informed about it. We were surprised by how little we heard about it from healthcare professionals as they provided other needed information for our newborn. As new parents, we were bombarded with information, toy possibilities, and other items that swore they were the thing we needed. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in that. While in a fog of excitement and anticipation, it’s very easy to just accept anything anyone with whatever credentials says, even if it’s a toy company. Thankfully, I asked one of my friends who is a pediatric OT what toys and items she recommends. She said to do Tummy Time. It’s linked to so many developmental milestones, including handwriting. That redirection was just what I needed as a reminder of the things we can and need to do that don’t cost a dime. I found this article from MamaOT about tips for Tummy Time, and it was so good to remember there are more options than just plopping them down on the floor. We started some of these things while we were still in the hospital, and thankfully Nala continued to be amazing with Tummy Time. It had always been part of her life, so she didn’t really know any different. She kept a nice round head (as opposed to some kiddos who spend more time on their backs). She rolled, scooted, and crawled before expected*. AND her penmanship is amazing! (Okay, just kidding on that last one… She’s barely old enough to hold a crayon.) Seriously though, Tummy Time is worth your time. (*Results may vary.)
Another thing I’m glad we did is start singing. I’m pretty self-conscious about my singing, but a sweet little baby won’t get upset if your pitch is off. We have been singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” (with hand motions) and the alphabet song (with American Sign Language) to Nala for most of her life. We’ve added others over time. Now when she is upset or needs to be distracted, we start singing. During immunizations, it helps to distract Nala AND us (immunizations can be challenging to watch, but they are worth it). We’ve had many a doctor or nurse hear our singing by now! I’m glad we started something so simple so early to establish it as something known and soothing for Nala.
A friend and mother of 3 gave us some advice I’m glad we followed: Don’t be afraid to continue with life and regular noise during naps. Thanks to this, Nala is pretty flexible with sleeping, and we (hopefully) won’t have to sneak around for 18 years in total quiet while she sleeps.
Crying. No, I’m not glad for crying. I am glad that we knew about “PURPLE” crying, though. We watched a DVD before Nala was born informing us that some babies have a period when they cry a LOT. Like, more than “normal” amounts of baby crying. PURPLE is an acronym, not a reference to their face color. You may want to familiarize yourself with it here. Nala did not go through this, but there were many times when she would cry and cry, and Ariel and I would look at each other and ask, “Is this the start of PURPLE crying?” Even if your baby doesn’t go through this, they will go through lots of times of crying and crying. It can be so sad to watch a tiny human, especially a human you care about so much, having such a tough time. It can be frustrating to have exhausted all options of things you know to do only to have them continue to cry. One day, when we found ourselves in this situation, we found this blog entry by Pregnant Chicken. It was a life saver to know we weren’t alone.
Life wasn’t all full of things we knew and did well, though. There are many things, and I’m sure I’ll think of more later, but this is the big one that comes to mind right now: I wish we would have trusted ourselves and our intuition more. Some things, like immunizations, are very clear in scientific research, so this is a knowledge thing instead of something to be left to intuition. Things like sleeping methods, though, have so many different routes. I like to have a nice academic outline of what to do and what to expect, but in my quest for that I got so fed up with conflicting information. There’s information from Sears, Ferber, BabyWise, the Baby Whisperer, your friend, your other friend, your friend’s friend… Everyone has a method, and everyone thinks they’re right. I got myself so worked up trying to figure out sleep that I lost sleep. One day I asked my dad what they did when I was a baby. He said something like this, “We decided when your bedtime would be, and that’s when we put you in your crib and you fell asleep.” Once Ariel and I put together some info from reading along with our growing knowledge about Nala, we were on a better track. Just the other day, we took another step towards trusting our intuition. We were going to look up some nonessential information online, but instead we decided to go with our guts instead of over-thinking it. That was a freeing moment, and we plan on more of them.
You can do it!