Baby Shower for #2???

In the last 6 months I have heard of at least 4 pregnant mommy friends having a baby shower for their 2nd and 3rd babies.

I used to think that baby showers were strictly for the first born child to help prepare the parents to financially afford the baby. After that, parents are on their own to provide for more babies. With this idea in mind, Paul and I registered for a ton of gender neutral baby gear- travel system stroller, jumper, bouncer, activity table etc. Even the colors of our bottles and sippy cups are equally boy/girl. All of our big purchases were made with a different gender in mind for the possible future. We didn’t want pictures of our future son in a pink stroller, and we didn’t want to have to pay for a $300 travel system when we already had one! All of our clothes are gender specific in the hopes that ONE day we will have another girl. So lately I’ve been thinking how expensive it could be to have a boy. We’d need ALL new clothing. Then I got to thinking of a baby shower and how acceptable I really think it is.

In my opinion, a second baby shower really isn’t appropriate at all. I know there are some instances where Mom didn’t get a shower the first time around- and that’s understandable. But for different genders, same genders, different fathers, “accidents”….whatever…I think it’s inappropriate.  I guess I am old-fashioned. We have tubs and tubs  and boxes of Ava’s clothes that I keep reminding myself we’re keeping for another baby so we don’t have to purchase all new clothes.

HOWEVER. That being said, some of the newer ideas for second time+ moms have peaked my interest, and I could see getting really into some of these ideas.

Casserole Shower: Guests gather for a time of celebration and each guest provides a meal dish that the mom can store/freeze for after the baby comes or while the last week of pregnancy wears on and energy wears off.

Mom Shower: Guests provide gifts of pampering for mom only. No gifts for baby, but gifts that mom can use when she gets a moment to herself.

Life Experience Shower: Friends gather to pray, give advice for multiple children, and celebrate the life of another baby with fellowship and dessert.

Gifts of serving shower: people attend a party with personal “coupons” to present to the mom. “2 prepared meals”. “2 weeks of cleaning” “1 free night of babysitting” etc.

These are just a few of the new trends that I really like and think are acceptable. Gifts are okay for a second baby if they are personal and received personally.  I like the above ideas and I do think that every Mom should get a little attention and a party for bringing another baby into the world each time. It’s a huge life-changing experience no matter if it’s the first baby or the 12th baby.

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New Debate: Child-Safety in the Car

Thanks AAP for introducing yet another debate to the world of parenting. At the beginning of the week, the AAP released new guidelines for child-safety in the car. According to their recent recommendations, all children under the age of two should be in a rear-facing seat. Children 2-12 should remain in a booster, and all children under the age of 13 should be in the back of the car.

*sigh

I was recently reading comments from a blog informing readers of these new guidelines. ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK! Seriously. This is what I got from it: “if you care at all for your child and can put her safety over the convenience of forward-facing, then you’d turn her around.” Really? Do we need to judge each other and our decisions on this too? Is this going to turn into one of those things where we drive to church late and leave early just so know one sees that our less than two year old is forward facing?

Of course, when they present these guidelines they also share the stories of the babies who experienced internal decapitation from a car accident in a forward-facing seat! YIKES! Talk about strike of fear! Can I honestly keep my child forward-facing knowing that if we did get in an accident and something happened, I’d be at fault for not turning her around?

What about all of the accidents that happened and forward facing children were unharmed? I’d like to hear those stats too before I make my decision. For pete’s sake, my mother grew up without seat belts. How EVER did the baby boomers live for so many years?

Age. Everyone is so concerned about how old their child is when they make their decisions for transition from rear to forward facing. Age really doesn’t matter here, folks. It’s size. And with child-obesity affecting 1/3 of Americans, it’s no surprise that a lot of kids really won’t fit rear-facing until the age of 2 or in a booster until 8-12. What about the other fraction of children who were born to larger parents and inherited those growth genes?

My daughter is 17 months. She is big. At her 15 month appointment she was checking in at over 30″ and just over 26#. That’s not surprising since my husband is 6’5″ and I am 5’8″. To top it off, she seems to have inherited both of our chunky baby genes. Needless to say, our daughter is built like a 2 year old. She doesn’t look chunky, per-se, but a lot of people assume she is older than 17 months. I babysit another child who is 13 months. He is just as long as Ava, but much smaller in weight. He’s actually teeny compared to Ava and looks a ton younger due to this. He is rear-facing. Sure, his legs are cramped back there, but I would fear more for his safety in a forward facing seat than I would for my own daughter, just because they are built so differently.

One main argument that parents seem to be making is that their child doesn’t fit rear-facing. Their legs are all cramped. It can’t be comfortable. It will be so much more dangerous to have cramped legs and be in an accident. That’s actually wrong. There have been more leg injuries reported in forward-facing car seats than in rear facing. In fact, leg injuries don’t even appear in the top 5 injuries of rear-facing children, but are number 2 for forward-facing kids.

So maybe instead of worrying about age and how glad or upset we are that our children have to be rear-facing, we should all look at the weight, height, and build of our children and make our decisions from there… Then there is no room to judge. Only a parent knows their child best. My husband and I have decided to keep our daughter forward-facing. We are comfortable with our decision for now, and we’ll talk with our pediatrician at Ava’s 18 month appointment for his opinion.

I think as long as these new recommendations are just guidelines and not law, every parent should make an informed decision and feel comfortable with their decision regarding their child’s safety in the car. It is not the place of anyone else to ridicule or make this decision for parents as it only affects the parents and child.

For more information and resources where I received some of my info check out:

pioneer press

AAP site

GoodyBlog

CBS/The Early Show

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Impacted by the Media

The latest blogging prompt from socialmoms.com suggests that there has been a shift in advertisements geared towards moms and families with children. As a young mom, I haven’t really paid much attention to the shift, although I do realize that most commercials try to approach the realities of raising a child through humorous type plots. I’ve noticed 2 different types of advertising geared towards parents. The first type is the “we’ve all been there. Here’s how our product can help” plot. For example, check out this Huggies advertisement on vimeo. Pretty funny. Pretty typical that a baby causes a mess and can get into things. Pretty Realistic? Maybe not fully, but it’s spun off of the new stereotype that having a baby creates chaos.

In the past, having a baby meant bringing harmony into a family. Commercials were of cute “gerber” looking babies snuggling into pastel colored blankets. Soft, clean skin. One or two toys sitting in front of them while they play and learn new skills. In reality, how often do our babies not have something sticky on their skin. How often are their blankets fresh and clean looking, and when during the day is there only one or two toys out as opposed to 10-20? As mother’s, first we want to see a situation similar to that which we are in, and we want a solution proposed. Okay, so we know that our baby is going to get into a lot of messes through out the day. The Huggies advertisement is presenting a humorous “worst-case scenario” to us moms, while giving us one less thing to worry about: a potential diaper disaster. Let’s face it, I’d rather clean up mess after mess of toys, food, and the “no-no’s” that my daughter gets into, than a leaky diaper or a diaper that comes off during her move and groove time of day. An advertisement that describes what all of us parents go through on a daily basis, even if exaggerated, is appreciated, and even more so when a solution is offered to us as well.

Other advertisements put a humorous spin on more serious issues like child development. Check out this second type of advertisement plot in an Evenflo Ad. As mothers, we want the very best for our children. To be perfectly honest, I am a very competitive mother. I LOVE seeing my daughter hit milestones before other people’s kids. It’s awful, I know. I love teaching her new things, and watching her develop advanced skills.

Advertisements like this Evenflo commercial struck a sore spot with me and have the most impact on me. We are so obsessed with teaching and having a purpose for everything in our babies lives. A couple of weeks ago I was perusing the development charts on a certain website. I was trying to find all of the skills that Ava had mastered, and I couldn’t help but get giddy over time frames that she should have such skills mastered by. She was tapping into some skills for 24 months old at only 14 months. I wrote a blog post about how advanced she seemed with her social skills, and how I had so many plans to teach her more skills based on the chart I had seen. Later that night, I was called out for my post with comments such as “how could you rate your daughter like that. It’s like you’re giving her a score.” My heart sank at these accusations as that is not how I intended to come across. Had I really been rating my daughter and scoring her developmental achievements?

I think it is so sad that I would compare my baby to others and strive to make sure that she was developing skills faster than other babies her age. How in the world did this happen? Although the Evenflo ad presented this idea with humor, it really is a serious issue to some moms. Some of us really do put high expectations on our toddlers. Whatever happened to giving your baby a wooden spoon and a pot and allowing them to be creative in the ways they develop their cognitive skills? All of the sudden, we NEED to have the best toys with the most potential for the highest development, and instead of looking at toys that would just be fun for no purpose at all, we are only considering toys that double as learning tools.

Only one of these two types of advertising have influenced the way I raise my daughter. While the first advertisement creates a (humorous) realistic problem and provides a solution for me, the second advertising plot creates an actual mindset for me in raising her. I feel almost brainwashed that everything my daughter does should have a purpose to it. She can no longer play with toys just to play with them. There must be a hidden motive of “hey, she’ll find this fun AND she’s going to learn so much.” Please don’t be mistaken, I love teaching my daughter skills and watching her succeed so early in her little life. But there’s a fine line between letting her play with toys just for the fun of it, and creating expectations, sometimes even hidden to yourself, at such an early age.

 

 

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Spring Thinking in Sub-Zero Temperatures

So the holidays are over. The fun part of snow, chilly weather, and drinking hot chocolate by the fireplace ended when the tree and lights came down. Now what? This is my first winter as a SAHM, and it hasn’t been easy. I’ve never been stuck inside every single day until this winter, and I’ve had to do some things to help me get through the long days.

Once the Christmas decorations came down, I started brainstorming ways to spruce up our living areas on the main level of our house. We have brown couches, dark cherry tables, khaki colored walls (just picked out new paint colors but haven’t painted), and curtains with several shades of brown. Yes, lots of brown. Once the middle of January came, all I could think of were fresh flowers and apples.  The majority of our days are spent in our living room, so that was my main focus! I shopped the clearance aisles at target and found some bright red decorations for our fireplace mantel. I bought apple scented potpourri and filled some vases, and I picked up some fresh flowers. Since we spend most of our days in the back part of our house, we don’t get a lot of direct sunlight. So I make sure our front door is open every day that the sun comes out. The light pours into our foyer, and not only lights up part of our living room, but also makes us all a little more cheery during the day and really warms up the hardwood floors. It’s amazing how your mood can change with feng shui. We have light colored walls and dark furniture with an accent of BRIGHT red all over. It’s heavenly!

Our mantel with clearance decor and potpourri in vases.

Close up

I carried our red accents into the dining room since it's an open floor plan into the living room.

Another helpful way to feel “springy” in the long winter is to do a deep cleaning every week. Who has the time, right? I do! I make time every Thursday during Ava’s 3 hour nap to steam vac our hardwood floors, scour the bathrooms and kitchen, vacuum, dust, and organize the bedrooms and baby toys.

We also have “sheets day” every week (all year ’round and usually on Thursdays as well), and every body’s sheets and bathroom towels get thrown in the wash. It really helps to have that crisp, fresh sheets feeling when you climb into bed! Something I’ve done since I was three years old…making the bed every morning and opening all of the blinds really helps open up the house and makes it feel less dingy and gets rid of the hibernation feeling.

I hate clutter, so every night before going to bed, I pick up the clutter that has collected on the kitchen counters, end tables and bedroom dressers as well as put away all the toys in their correct places. That way, when I wake up and come downstairs in the morning, everything feels fresh and clean, and it’s a better start to the day than the overwhelming feeling of a mess.

To break apart our day a little, I do a structured learning time with my 14 month old and her 11 month old friend that I babysit. We focus on a skill for two weeks, and we read and sing about each skill every morning for 30-45 minutes. For example, this week we are learning body parts. We sing songs like Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes and we read books like Where is Baby’s nose? After we’re done singing and reading, the kids get free-time with the books we’ve read while I put in an educational video. The structured time has really helped the kids be less whiney and they listen better after having that 1/2 hour of learning. We’ve actually had to continue doing it with Ava over the weekends, because she really enjoys it and gets really antsy if we miss it. As the kids get older, we’ll add in more structured motor activities and craft time as well!

Every time the temperature reaches 30 degrees, I pack the kids up in the sled and we walk around the neighborhood for about 15-20 minutes. Ava loves being in the sled and I get great exercise (even if only 15 minutes worth) pulling the sled.

At least once a week Ava and I go to the play area at the mall near us. We don’t even bring the stroller. I carry her into the mall, and she walks around. Then we go to the play area, and she gets to meet new friends and play in a different environment. It’s a great way for her to blow off steam and stretch her legs- I don’t mind a little window-shopping either;-)

I’m sure there are a lot of other great ideas and ways to spend your time waiting until spring than just the few ‘going out’ ideas I mentioned. Cleaning my house and making sure there’s feng shui in the rooms in my house are mostly what help me get by so I don’t feel like I’m just waiting and passing the time for spring. I can actually enjoy these cold winter days stuck inside.

This post was inspired by Social Moms Daily Blogging Prompt

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My Baby Cost Me How Much This Year?!?!

When we first found out we were pregnant, all we heard was how expensive a baby is. Having not planned our pregnancy, we were quite overwhelmed by the numbers we were hearing. It didn’t hit home until we went to register, and after noticing the price tags on everything we were scanning into the registry, we came home really discouraged. There’s NO WAY we can afford to have this baby. What are we going to do?

Without having to get too creative, we found some great ways to save money. According to Baby Center, the average cost of a baby per year is roughly $10,158. Imagine our panic when this was the number being tossed around for 9 months. When broken down, $8,100 of that is on-going costs (baby food, clothes, toiletries, childcare) based on a monthly budget and $2,058 of that is for one-time costs like baby gear, furniture etc). Wow. After plugging in the numbers on their cost-estimate tool, I was able to get a close number to what we actually spent our first year with Ava. Our total on-going costs were $6,700 and our on-time costs were $874. Not too shabby, eh? Here’s how we did it:

Furniture:

The wonderful family that I nannied for in college was going through their baby things, and offered us a crib, high chair, and car seat. We ended up trading in the car seat and high chair for a Babys R Us trade in sale where you get 20% off a new item just by recycling your old ones through them. We bought a forward facing car seat and convertible car seat for Ava when she grew out of her infant carrier. We kept the crib which just happened to be white and matched our guest room furniture. My dad built a case for the diaper pad that we put on the dresser saving us the money we would have spent on a separate changing table. The bookshelf and nightstand were in the guest room, and now we use them for the nursery. Our recliner was a super sale at kohls, and it was given as a gift to us after we picked it out.

Ava's current nursery arrangement- everything is used except for wall art and bedding!

Baby Gear/toys:

We were blessed with family and friends who threw us THREE showers! We received most of our big baby gear supplies at our showers, so that really cut down our one-time costs. We got the travel system stroller and infant carrier. That cut down the cost of buying a separate stroller and car seat. It was pricier at first, but the snap-in snap-0ut feature of the carrier was SO convenient. Especially in our MN winters (Ava was born in November so it was perfect)! We also got our jumper, diaper pail, tons of infant toys, books, and movies for our showers. We borrowed a swing from one of the Hubby’s co-workers just to see if Ava would even like a swing. After a few months, we decided to invest in our own. Instead of high chair, we got a Chicco travel chair that just attaches to the table- saved space and money (and it’s easier to take apart and wash)! We don’t have a monthly budget for toys because Ava has TONS just from birthdays and holidays. Sometimes we will pick up something special for her, but she really doesn’t care for fancy toys right now. She L.O.V.E.S. books, and that has been our weak point. We buy kids books from the Bargain sections of bookstores, and we go to our Library almost weekly.

Chicco Travel Chair- LOVE this chair

Clothes:

Aside from clothes from our showers, we only buy outfits at full-price for special occasions like baby dedication and holidays. Otherwise, we found an AWESOME second-hand store around here called Once Upon A Child. It’s lightly used name-brand clothes for all kids sizes! I’ve found amazing deals on GAP, Old Navy, and Ralph Lauren outfits! I’m talking barely used GAP jeans for $4.00, a Ralph Lauren dress for $2.50, and other miscellaneous pants, shirts, and sweaters. We also get a lot of clothes at garage sales (which I highly recommend. You don’t have to settle for worn out clothes, and you can sometimes bargain for even cheaper prices) Does this kiddo look poorly dressed?

garage sale dress and Target clearance hat!

Food and Toiletries:

I breast fed for the first 4 months of Ava’s life. I intended to go longer, but Ava had a big appetite, and the time I was given at work to pump wasn’t long enough to keep up with her growing appetite. We got our pump from the family I nannied for. It was cleaned and sterilized several times before I used it. The pump alone saved us roughly $400.00. The Hubby and I took a marriage retreat over Valentines weekend, and 2 hours into our trip to the babysitters, I realized I left days worth of pumped milk in the freezer. Ava had formula the whole weekend we were gone, and when we got back, she didn’t want to nurse anymore :-( since I couldn’t pump enough, we decided to go to formula. At first we were buying an expensive brand of formula. After a few months of paying $100.00 out to formula, we decided to check with our pediatrician about giving her an off-brand formula! He totally okayed it, thus began our saving $50.00 per month extra just in formula. (btw, the brand was Target’s Up and Up). Whens she started on solids, I used coupons like a mad woman. We didn’t get a lot of the fancy baby treats. And when we did, (like Gerber puffs), we kept them in the diaper bag for traveling. We also bought the grocery store brand baby foods, and around 9 months, Ava started table foods. We had to adjust our grocery budget for less processed food and more healthy meals that would give Ava rounded meals.

We received tons of diapers in every size except NB for showers. So except for buying about 6 weeks worth of nb diapers, we were pretty well supplied until around month 7 or so. After that, we started buying the off-brand diapers as well. The only time we buy expensive diapers is when Ava is getting a rash on her bum. We go with “Stay Dry” types to help heal her bottom. We could cloth diaper, which I understand saves a ton monthly and is also better for the environment, but to be honest, it’s just not for me. I’ve seriously considered it and done some research, and I just don’t want to. Baby care products were given to us for showers, and we still use them: nail clippers, comb, travel supplies. We buy wipes in bulk, so we don’t even have to buy them monthly.

Things that cost us more:

Baby bath and lotion has been a little of a challenge for us since Ava has very sensitive skin and chronic eczema. We had to go through a few different lotions and soaps before we settled on a more expensive vanilla oatmeal wash. We also still use Dreft detergent. We tried going to regular detergent when Ava turned one, but her eczema flared up really bad. There are ways to make your own hypo-allergenic detergent, and I’m looking into that for when our current Dreft runs out.

We went through pacifiers like crazy! Whether we lost one while we were out, or the dog ate the nipple off of one, we were constantly buying pacifiers through her first year. And, we bought the nice pacifiers, so we paid more than the average. However, we broke Ava of her pacifier cold-turkey the day after her first birthday.

It took about 4 different brands of bottles before Ava finally settled on one type. We went from cheapest to most expensive, and she liked the in-between bottle the best! But, it was costly to buy a ton of different types for her to refuse drinking from it.

The most important thing for us over the first year was to set a budget to follow. We laid out all of our expenses and figured out exactly how much we could afford to put towards things. Because we spend more in some areas (lotion, detergent), we had to skim in others (diapers etc).

It felt really nice being able to adjust the average amounts that Baby Center automatically put into each category to lower costs. Having a baby wasn’t quite as expensive as we were told or anticipated. We didn’t go all out, and we use a lot of hand-me-downs, but Ava doesn’t know, the average person doesn’t know, and more importantly, we’re able to provide more financial stability for Ava to allow for other things like savings, bigger gifts around the holidays, and once-in-a-while random surprises!

Don’t be so overwhelmed by the costs of your baby’s first year. Take a look at the numbers, and if they ARE overwhelming look at what you can adjust and where you can sacrifice!

 

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How We Keep the Romance Alive

I’m new to twitter and have recently found a great community to become involved in via a twitter posting from Socialmoms. You can voice your opinions and ideas as well by going here!

The blogging prompt posted for today wonders how different couples keep the romance alive. My husband and I found out we were going to be blessed with a baby after only two months of marriage. As you can imagine, this ended our “honeymoon” period rather quickly. The next nine months were spent figuring out how to rid as much debt as possible before our little one arrived, if we could afford for me to quit my job and stay at home with our baby when she came, and finding a new place to live since our current rent was way too expensive for our suddenly tight budget.

How’s that for a romantic first year, eh?

Our first Christmas was spent snuggling in bed while our little one nursed quietly in between us. Our first anniversary pretty much went the same way.

Now that we are two years into our marriage and a year into parenting, we’ve finally found our groove in marriage. Here is how we keep the romance alive:

We hired a regular babysitter from our church who has committed to setting aside 2 weekend nights a month. You may be thinking, in this economy, how can you afford a regular babysitter? Well friends, we got into something really cool with our babysitter. She is currently raising money to go to Haiti this summer, so we basically have offered to support her through babysitting our little one. If we are gone for 2 hours, we pay $15 dollars towards her trip. If we are gone for longer than 3 hours we pay her $20 towards her trip. The check is actually written out to her trip fund in her name. We usually go some place really cheap, like a local cafe for cake and coffee, or we just drive around and talk.

We keep the lines of communication open. If I’m not feeling cherished or loved on enough, I let him know. Sometimes we get so caught up in the busyness of our lives, we forget that a hug or a little squeeze on the bum here and there mean the world at the end of a long day. When the Hubby walks in the door at night, I’ve usually got water boiling over on the stove, a 15 month old who won’t let go of my pant leg and keeps yelling “hot!” every time we pass the oven, and the dish water still running from when I tried to soak a few of my dinner pans early. He always comes in and puts his arms around me and kisses my cheek. In the beginning, my response to this was “can you get Ava off my leg and take the garbage out?” Who wants to come home to that, right? Pretty soon, those hugs stopped, and Hubby would walk in the door and go right for the laptop. I’ve learned very quickly to cherish that moment when he walks in the door and as soon as his arms go around me the chaos of the kitchen miraculously dissipates; the water is no longer boiling over, I don’t smell burnt chicken, the dishes have cleaned themselves, and sometimes the table is already set. I cling to those arms because I know a night filled with bath time, dirty diapers, stained clothes, fighting bedtime, etc. stretches out before me as soon as he lets go.

We try to be intentional about sharing the same bedtime. I am an early bird. Hubby is a night owl. After getting up at 6:30a, I am struggling to stay awake around 8:30p. Hubby works different hours at his job, and he is used to staying up until midnight or later! We both are intentional about heading to bed around the same time, and this requires compromise most nights. Let’s face it, I’m not really “in the mood” when I’ve been sleeping for an hour, and Hubby decides to come to bed at midnight and let his hands wander… and Hubby doesn’t like to come to bed early and get up and leave later after not being able to fall asleep. It’s taken us a long time to get here, and we don’t always make it, but usually I go to bed around 11p and Hubby does too. That way we’re only really about an hour off of the schedule our bodies seem to want us on.

Hubby and I are both social networking geeks, and we send texts to each other through out the day. “you looked really good when you left this morning!” or “Hi! I love you!” Something so quick and simple that sets the mood for when we reunite at the end of the work day! It’s nice to know that your partner is thinking of you enough to let you know about it!

I’m sure there are a ton of other ways to keep the romance alive. This is what works for us, and it’s not always perfect, and we’ve had to work through a lot to find out what works for us, but even the journey of finding out how to keep the romance alive is worth it in the end!

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Dog-training your baby

I’m talking positive reinforcement people!

Two years ago, my husband and I got a puppy. We named him Roman. He is the cutest dog ever.

Unfortunately d/t allergies and unforeseen events, we recently found a new home for him

His cuteness was probably the reason why we didn’t just drive him to a shelter and leave him there after a week. Roman is a Rat Terrier, and we took him to a training class where we were informed on the first day that a Rat Terrier is not the kind of dog first-time dog owners should get. You see, they are very smart dogs. They pick up on things quickly, and being so smart makes them more difficult to train. We were in over our heads apparently.

Through our training classes (which we unfortunately did not graduate from) we learned a lot about positive reinforcement. For every good thing Roman did, we gave him a treat; rubs, snacks, high-pitched, sing-songy voices, you name it. It just so happened that I was a stay-at-home wife for the majority of the first four months with Roman. This worked out perfectly because Roman needed a stay-at-home-mom (sahm). Training Roman was like being a full-time mommy. “No Roman!” “Roman, don’t eat that!” “Roman, Leave it!” “Roman, OFF!” I was using the same phrases over and over again, and they just weren’t working. It wasn’t until I started pairing some of the phrases with positive things, then Roman started actually listening. Example? “Roman, off!” and as he jumps off the couch, I give him a treat! Well, unfortunately, Roman learned to jump on and off things real quick just so he could get a treat for accomplishing the “off” part. We basically had a psychotic dog that would leap from couch to couch hoping to get a treat each time his feet landed on the carpet.

Much like training a dog, but quite unlike training Roman, we have “trained” our 14 month old daughter. We use a little thing called positive reinforcement. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen parents tell their young baby “no” for something he is doing, and then just sit there and expect him to listen.

I worked in the psychology field before and after we had our baby, as a Behavior Therapist for autistic children, and we strongly believed in positive reinforcement at the center. We’d carry bags of treats or special toys to reward the children for making strides in socially acceptable behaviors and accomplishing personal goals.

Although my daughter is developing typically, we use the same techniques with her. Around 6 months we started teaching Ava “no no”. Her favorite thing was to crawl over to our big DVD/bookcase and totally clear out as many shelves as she could reach. At first this was cute. Then I realized that I didn’t want her doing this forever, so I needed to start being consistent, and she needed to learn “no no”.

We used the distraction method. When Ava would start to grab for a “no no” we would point to the object and say, “Ava, that’s a ‘no no’, here, you can play with this [insert object that she CAN have].” This was a difficult task for us. It meant being very consistent and always being on our toes, ready to present something just as exciting to Ava when she needed it. It meant getting off our tired bums for another round of entertaining and distracting.

Now that Ava is older (15 months), we just tell her “no no” while we point to the object. She will usually stop what she is doing, and we reward her with clapping and exuberant verbal praises.

I babysit a little boy who is in the process of learning “no no”. He is a little more tricky. While Ava was easily distracted, this little tot is not. I will tell him “that’s a ‘no no'” and present him with something he CAN have, and he could care less. He is so fixated on the things he can’t play with. Afterall the goodies on the entertainment center are much more fascinating than a few mega blocks or musical toys- just ask the Hubby ;) I actually have to remove this little boy from the area and give him a toy to play with on the opposite side of the room. Not two minutes later, he is making his way back to the “no no”. My plan you ask? Stay consistent! He will learn! On the plus side, all of the pacing I do chasing him away from “no no’s” is helping kick me into shape for summer, right?

And to top it off, the benefit of following through and being consistent with Ava is that I now have an associate in my babysitting business. Sometimes while I am busy cooking lunch, Ava will take charge, and I can hear her calling “no! no!” from the living room. I glance over to see what’s going on, and she is pointing at the “no no” and telling her friend it’s not okay!

So dog-training babies sounds worse than it really is. Positive reinforcement is what worked for us, and it was even EASIER with the baby than it was with the dog. Thank you to my first baby, Roman, for being my parenting experiment, and helping me discover a great way to “train” my daughter. I’m just glad she isn’t jumping from couch to couch…. yet.

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