The first time your baby signs “more” during a meal, you will flip out.
I’ve been cornering new parents for a couple of years now and yammering away at them about HOW AMAZINGLY COOL the following three things are that you can do when raising your baby. Actually, I usually just talk about the first two. The third one usually freaks people out a little. Okay, maybe the second one as well… But anyway, we did these things when my son was little and they really REALLY worked for us. So, instead of cornering any more alarmed new parents, I thought I would just post them here.
#1) Teach your baby sign language. Only the coolest thing in the world. And no, you don’t need a book and DVD set to do this one. You really only need five or six signs to start. And you just do them whenever you are talking to your baby during feeding. You can start when they are four or five months old. At first they’ll just watch you. The signs are:
Food or Eat, More (as in please give me more), All done or finished, Water or Drink, and of course Momma and Dada.
If you start when your baby is about five months old, by the time he or she is eight to nine months they will start signing back. And if you keep adding new signs their vocabulary will quickly grow to hundreds of words. I have to tell you, the first time your baby signs “more” during a meal, you will flip out. It’s amazing to realize they can now TALK TO YOU. With great specificity. And this is nine months or more in advance of any spoken language. Some people theorize that signing accelerates spoken language development. What I can say is that it reduces the confusion (and crying) about what your baby needs. They can literally learn the sign for apple and then ask for one. So, have a conversation with your baby. It’s mind boggling.
Here are the six signs above that are great for getting started.
#2) Elimination Communication. Okay, this one of pretty “ew” inspiring but stay with me. Babies, as young as a month old, can begin doing elimination communication and it works like this. New babies pretty much always pee after a nap. You’ll notice they also signal they need to go (or are going) via a facial expression or a noise.
If you remove your child’s diaper or just open the front, hold them by their thighs with their back resting against your chest, they will pee into the bathtub, or the back yard, or on your neighbors’ flower garden or where ever you like, right after said nap. (Please note, this is easier when your baby can hold up their own head.) As they pee, you make an “ssssss” sound. Within a few days they will pee on command when you make the “ssssss” sound (assuming they haven’t just gone already.) So, you now have a back and forth non-verbal conversation about elimination. And, once they reach nine months or so, if you teach your little one the sign for potty or toilet, you are ready to rock.
Elimination Communication is actually how babies have been taught to potty in non-industrialized nations for thousands of years. If your child spends their days with either you, your partner, or another care giver who’s into EC, you can dramatically reduce the amount of diapers you use and eliminate the need for potty training altogether. Because, kids don’t really want to sit in a diaper full of their own poop. When diapered, they learn to get used to it, but it’s not all that fun. From about nine months on, our son rarely ever pooped in his diaper again and he peed in every parking lot in the northwest United States.
3) Co-sleeping. Yes, I also loved co-sleeping with my son. And here’s the amazing part. That stuff about getting no sleep because the baby is waking you up every three hours? My wife was breast feeding, so when our son needed milk, she gave him milk right there in the bed. Our son never made any sound but the slightest murmur in the middle of the night and she knew to feed him, falling back to sleep as she did so. Kids who co-sleep don’t have to cry bloody murder to get your attention at feeding time. And so they just never do.
When my son had a bad dream or was ill, I could monitor and calm him with one hand on him while he slept. When he got a bad cold, I could hear every breath he drew. Within a few weeks of starting to co-sleep, you learn to monitor a sick child from a light sleep state. Any anomalies bring you to full wakefulness, but otherwise the whole family sleeps.
There are things you must be careful of in co-sleeping, but the most central rule is NEVER NEVER NEVER co-sleep if you have had drugs, tobacco or alcohol in any amount. Even one glass of wine. If co-sleeping appeals to you, do some research and learn more about how to practice it safely, before you decide to do it. This is my WARNING to you. Learn to do it safely, or don’t do it.
Oh, and while I have you.
Here’s something that’s definitely not fun but I want to tell you about, because, I’m sorry to say, you will very likely encounter it. It’s called the croup. Go to Dr. Sears website and read what to do if your baby gets it. You need to know what to do well in advance because the croup can come in the middle of the night with no warning. The croup is a very distinctive honking cough that is the result of your baby’s vocal chords swelling up. It can make breathing very difficult for newborns.
What Dr. Sears says to do when an attack hits is to take your baby into the bathroom, turn on the hot shower, and let your little one get lots of steam. Look your baby in the eye as the breath the steam and encourage them to remain calm as crying only makes it worse. I did this for my six month old son and the steam made his breathing much easier in mere seconds. Otherwise, your child can be in real danger including a possible trip to the emergency room. Please read Dr. Sears entire article on croup. Do it as a favor to me.
Sorry to end on a down note, but forewarned is forearmed.
Have fun and love your babies!
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