Piper – 16 weeks 

Piper turned 16 weeks on Thursday 14th September, making 14th September to 20th September her 17th week of life. Here’s what was going on for her this week.

What we did: after moving house on Tuesday, we spent the first few days unpacking, hanging curtains and assembling flat pack furniture. Piper was great at amusing herself on her playgym as we got on with sorting things out.

Sunday we went to my in-laws for lunch, along with my sister-in-law and her family, two of her friends and my brother-in-law. John stayed for lunch but then had to go to work. Piper grabbed some sleep in the arms of my sister-in-law’s husband, but otherwise was awake and playful. She especially enjoyed our walk to the South Bank in my arms (I had forgotten the sling). 

On Monday I had to go into work for a training session. My mum came to look after Tom, but I hadn’t had enough time to pump for all the feeds we’d be missing so I had to take Piper with me. She did amazing. Slept in the sling for the first session and then alternated between dozing and chatting for the second. My colleagues were very impressed!

Tuesday we spent the morning back at the old flat. John took Piper with him and Tom to get a haircut (they got a haircut, not Piper) so I could concentrate on cleaning. She napped briefly in her buggy and then in the car seat while I finished up cleaning.

Wednesday she accompanied Tom and I to Tom’s new nursery for his first day of settling. I tried to fit it into her awake time but she did fall asleep in the sling on the way back. Then my sister-in-law came round in the evening to see the new flat and have dinner. Piper treated her to a few smiles before obligingly going to bed a bit early.

Feeding: another good week. She missed a few days of having her bottle whilst we were sorting the flat but returned to it with no issues.

Sleeping: never smooth is it! I had gotten complacent because Piper seemed to be doing OK settling in the new flat. Then it all went wrong! Thursday night she screamed for almost an hour at bedtime. I tried everything: checked nappy, burped, removed blankets, jiggled, patted, picked up, put down… Nothing worked. Finally I just stroked her hair (because I really wanted someone to be doing that for me at that moment) and she suddenly spit up a bit of milk and fell asleep. John wasn’t home so I had this to deal with on my own. A big glass of wine was needed after I finally got out of the room at 20.30! Fortunately she then slept until 4.15 and went back down after her feed with the dummy.
I had a few issues settling her for naps Friday afternoon and even resorted to the dummy for the cat nap as I was short on time to get her down and Tom bathed before she needed to be up again. Friday bedtime was another shocker – I was in the middle of settling her when Tom started crying. Rushed to him to find he had broken a music box he has and there was glass everywhere. So I had to put Piper on the bed and go clear up. By the time I got back to her she was very upset so I shh patted in my arms and then jiggled her down in the cot. She was asleep by 19.45 so a big improvement on Thursday night.

Saturday night she again wouldn’t settle, despite my attempts to shh pat and jiggle her down. Finally she fell asleep at 20.30 after an hour and a half of trying. She just didn’t seem very sleepy.

I had originally thought that she was struggling with the move, but, as it had lasted several days, I began to think she might need a longer awake time at this time of day, since she seemed to be extending her wake times generally. The next four days we were away from home and off schedule anyway, but I decided to try making both the third and fourth naps catnaps and therefore extending the final awake time to two hours. I’m trying to preserve our current bedtime as it fits with Tom, otherwise I’d have dropped the fourth nap altogether and moved bedtime earlier. The days we were out and she missed naps she went down fine which supported my theory that she was simply not tired enough.

Several nights this week she woke up because she’d managed to get her arms out of the swaddle and then struggled to get back to sleep even after I reswaddled her. I searched the Internet for solutions and decided to try this “secret swaddling” technique. I used a receiving blanket and our love to dream swaddle and so far it is working well.

Working on: she’s getting better and better at self soothing with her hands during awake time and often finds her thumb. She seemed a little less interested in trying to roll back to front this week because she was so busy with her hands. Now we have more space we have her playgym permanently out and she is loving exploring the different toys. She still loves nappy off time and is at her most active during it.

Other things: She’s up to size 3 when she wears disposable nappies.

She has suddenly extended her awake times and can now manage an hour and a half for most, though it depends how well she has napped.

I have started putting her down in the room she will share with Tom for her first nap, so they can both get used to her sleeping in there. The first time I tried it he woke her up twice! Now I am trying to keep him out of there so she can sleep well.

I’m introducing her to a muzy comforter in the hope that she will eventually adopt it as a transitional object. So far she just has it at story time and I am sleeping with it so it picks up my scent. Soon I plan to move onto having her hold it during feeds, especially at bedtime, so she associates it with comfort.

Schedule: since her awake times have extended her schedule changed again this week. Since we were out and about so much it wasn’t actually like this any day but in theory it is now as follows:

6.00 – awake and feed

7.30 – nap 1 (this and next nap interrupted at 45 minutes and extended with dummy)

9.30 – feed

11.00 – nap 2

13.00 – feed

14.30 – nap 3

15.15 – feed

16.45 – nap 4

17.30 – feed

18.00 – nappy free play

18.30 – bath and pjs

18.45 – stories

19.00 – feed

19.15 – cuddles

19.30 – bed

Once swaddle issues were resolved, one feed sometime between 2.00 and 4.45. Occasional early morning wake up around 5.30 but back to dozing with dummy.

Piper – 15 weeks

Piper turned 15 weeks on Thursday 7th September, making 7th September to 13th September her 16th week of life. Here’s what was going on for her this week.

What we did: the first part of this week we were mainly at home as I had a lot of sorting out to do before the big move. On Monday my mum came over and took both Piper and Tom to the park so I could concentrate on the packers.

Tuesday was moving day! Piper, Tom and I went over to the new flat first thing to make sure everything was clean and ready. Piper napped in her old Moses basket in the bathroom in the morning. Once the movers arrived I popped her in the sling and she dozed on and off whilst I unpacked, but didn’t get a full nap in. Wednesday was dedicated to unpacking so poor Piper has had to amuse herself quite a lot.

Feeding: Piper seemed especially hungry this week, though it didn’t appear to lead to any more feeds at night. She drank her first 6oz bottle. We’ve moved her up to the larger bottles. 

On Sunday, I was the one to give her the daily bottle and, though she was sucking hard, after 10 minutes she had only managed to drink half an ounce. I moved her up to the size 2 teats and she drank the whole thing straight down. 

Nursing was all smooth this week with no issues.

Sleep: after last week’s schedule change I have relaxed on my sleep tracking somewhat, though I am still monitoring night waking. We had some really good nights this week, including the night before the move when she slept from 7pm to 5am! So close to sleeping through. We had a total of four nights where she only woke once for a feed and didn’t need the dummy at all. 

Trying big brother’s bed out

However we also had some bad nights this week where she woke super early for her feed (ie round midnight) and then was unsettled for most of the night. She didn’t seem hungry but was just not able to get back into a deep sleep so kept needing the dummy reinserted.

There were a couple of nights where she woke up in the early hours because she had managed to escape the ‘inescapable’ miracle blanket swaddle. I therefore tried her in our new love to dream swaddle since that has a zip, but the extra movement for her arms seems to make it harder for her to settle. One nap she cried without stopping for 20 minutes and I eventually gave her the dummy because I couldn’t get her to settle without it. Once she’s asleep though it doesn’t seem to make her wake up any more often. It’s probably a matter of letting her get used to it but with all the unpacking to do I didn’t feel ready to go through the transition process so we’ve gone back to the miracle blanket for the moment. Fingers crossed she doesn’t start rolling in the meantime.

Piper is still waking up 40 minutes into each nap and needing the dummy to resettle. We also had a lot of naps disrupted this week due to the move.

Three nights in a row (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) she randomly woke up 40 minutes after I had put her down for the night. She wasn’t crying so much as shouting (what the baby whisperer calls a mantra cry) so we gave her a bit of time to see if she would settle and each time she was back asleep within 10 minutes with no intervention from us. 

Working on: her hand coordination has taken another leap forward this week and I have really noticed her purposefully grabbing onto things. She can also bring things to her mouth fairly accurately. We got the playgym out for her this week as we now have space for it in the new flat. She loves batting at toys but can get a bit overwhelmed with the music so we mostly leave that off. 

She’s still arching her hips up and round a lot but hasn’t moved any further towards rolling. When she is sitting on our laps she will often push herself forward as if trying to launch onto the floor.

Piper is definitely no longer a newborn. My dad hadn’t seen her for a few weeks and commented on how alert and engaged she is now.

With my mother in law in the new flat

Other things: She loves her dad. If she’s beginning to get a bit fussy during playtime he can often get her back smiling again just by lying down next to her. She also finds it hilarious when he sneezes. 

I finally got round to asking her last godparent if she would be a godparent this week so she now has three. No Christening arranged yet but I’ll let the dust from the house move settle before organising that.

She’s started really splashing around in the bath and will give big grins when she does

Nappy rash is finally almost gone

Schedule: same as last week in theory though the move has meant everything has been a bit disrupted. For some naps she was still deeply asleep at feed time so I let her go up to half an hour later before waking her.

Goodbye to you

It’s moving day! We’ve been working towards this ever since our offer on the new flat was accepted in April and, up until a few days ago, I was looking forward to finally living in our own place with nothing but excited anticipation.

Ever since Tom’s last day at nursery last week though I have been feeling surprisingly emotional. Although I am excited for this new chapter in our lives, we will be walking away from the flat and area that have been our home for 4 years now.

Goodbye to the flat which has been our longest home since we got married. Goodbye to the flat we brought both our babies back to after they were born, where we have navigated sleepless nights, cloth nappies and weaning.

Even more painfully, goodbye to the landscape that has been such a big part of our son’s life. Goodbye to the marshes where he took his first steps. Goodbye to Leyton Jubilee Park where he first went on a swing, down a slide, and tasted a blackberry. 

Goodbye to our walk to nursery, to our doctors’, to the library. Goodbye to my commute, my tai chi class, our NCT group.

Tom won’t remember this place that was his first home. But I will. And I will miss it.

Piper – 14 weeks old 

Piper turned 14 weeks on Thursday 31st August, making 31st August to 7th September  her 15th week of life. Here’s what was going on for her this week.

Where we were: after such a busy August and knowing we are moving house next week, I kept us mainly at home this week. We did go out to Pizza Express for Tom’s third birthday on Thursday, but managed to forget both the buggy and the sling! Piper is not a huge fan of her car seat but she did sleep in it for 20 minutes or so and we took turns to hold her. 

John’s parents came to visit on Saturday to drop off Tom’s presents but Piper managed to sleep right through their visit. We spent Wednesday doing a last few little bits and pieces in the new flat, so she was back to napping in her old moses basket in the bathroom.

Feeding: finally a week where both bottles and nursing went without issue! I increased her feed interval to 3hrs20 for most feeds this week. I also started offering a full feed at 18.00 instead of just one side, since she kept dozing off during her bedtime top up feed and not eating as much as she had been, so I was hoping that increasing the 18.00 feed might help her go longer at night.

Sleeping: are you ready for more detail than you could ever possibly need? Sleep was a real focus for us this week after such a crappy time last week. For sleep we follow many of the suggestions in the Baby Whisperer books and I also got some advice from the Baby Whisperer forum on how to change things up. Although naps were still being interrupted at 40-45 minutes (regardless of wake time), this is very common at the three to five month stage and she was still going back down with the dummy, so my main concern was addressing the multiple night wakings and early morning waking.

The suggestion from the forum was that we should be working on lengthening her awake times, especially for that first nap. A too early first nap is often the cause of early morning wakings. Piper had already started going longer between her last nap and bedtime which had made bedtime much smoother, so it made sense to work on the other awake times. We started to aim for 1hr30 for that first awake time and 1hr15 for the others (up from an hour).

To assess how the new wake times were working, I obsessively catalogued the time she woke, time I took her for her nap, time she went to sleep and timing of mid-nap wakings, then any night wakings, to see if any pattern emerged. This meant staying in the room with her whilst she fell asleep but I did my best to stay out of her eyeline in the hope that my presence wouldn’t become a prop for her.

It quickly became clear that 1hr30 was going to be a stretch for her. She was getting very fussy and just seemed overtired. This then got worse throughout the day so she was getting very cranky in the late afternoon. After a few days with no improvement I decided 1hr20 was a better mark to try for the first awake time and 1hr10-1hr15 for the others.

The first night on the new regime went much better. She didn’t wake for a feed until 1.45, an hour later than she had been, then went back down until 5.15, which I extended to 6 by giving her the dummy. The second night wasn’t so good, as she woke twice again for feeds and then again at 5.15 (again gave her the dummy until 6). The third night started well and she didn’t wake until 2.43, but I had to then give her the dummy as she wouldn’t go back down, so ended up reinserting it about every hour until we got up at 6.

Sunday night everything fell apart. She woke at 22.45! I had to check the clock several times to make sure it was right. Then she woke on and off throughout the night, with 2 hours as the longest stint. I checked the Wonder Weeks app and, sure enough, she had entered the next leap which is the super long one that usually correlates with the four month sleep regression.

Seeing that she was in the leap, I had pretty much given up the idea of getting a good night again until the leap was over. Tom stopped sleeping for longer than 45 minutes day and night during the regression (but then slept through from 20 weeks).

Naps went as normal the next day (ie interrupted and extended with the dummy) but she was extremely cranky in the afternoon and spent from about 15.30 to 16.00 just sobbing inconsolably in my arms.

Fortunately, she had calmed down by the time we had to leave to get Tom from nursery and was actually very happy looking at everything whilst in the sling.  She slept maybe 15 minutes in the sling on the way back but then wouldn’t go back down in her cot so I just gave her the dummy then got her up at 18.00 for her feed. That night was brilliant! She woke at 2.09 for a feed and I took a bit of extra time to burp her, then gave her a 10 minute cuddle after, as I do before bedtime. She went into her cot still wide awake but instead of crying for the dummy, she just chatted to herself for about half an hour and then went to sleep by herself. I had to wake her at 6.09 to start the day! It was the first night in a really long time that I hadn’t had to give her the dummy at all.

Looking back at my log, I could see that our best nights had been after picking Tom up from nursery, which meant she’d only had a short nap on the go rather than an (interrupted) hour and a bit in her cot. I decided to try cutting that nap to just 40 minutes (so one sleep cycle). To achieve that she would either have to be up an extra half hour before bedtime or would have to be in bed longer for the nap before so she could go down later. As she was already struggling to make it to bedtime happily, I opted for making the third nap 2 hours rather than 1hr20, hoping that if I offered the dummy again when she woke around 15.20, I might get an extra sleep cycle out of her.

Tuesday and Wednesday nights were both good too – she woke for a feed at 4.45 on Wednesday morning and 3.15 on Thursday morning and both times went back down straight away and slept until 6. Fingers crossed keeping that last nap short has solved our night issues for the moment. Naps still need a lot of work but, until the dust is settled from our move, I won’t have time to tackle these properly. The advantage of the longer wake times is that she is settling much more quickly for naps now and is usually down in 7 to 8 minutes rather than the 10 to 15 it was taking. But we are still getting her waking 40 minutes in and having to give her the dummy in order to extend.

Working on: Piper is getting really good at holding things now and always seems to have something in her grasp. She grabs my hand when I’m changing her and tries to put it in her mouth and will do the same to any toy, musy, or other random object that comes close. 

She is also moving her legs and hips around a lot, especially during nappy off time, as if beginning to prepare for rolling. She uses her feet to push herself towards a toy which is slightly out of reach.

She has finally worked out how to suck on her fingers and will do this every now and then during playtime, but still doesn’t seem to be able to keep them in her mouth for very long. We are pretty sure though that she will be a finger or thumb sucker very soon.

Other things: Her nappy rash was still not gone and I eventually realised that it is actually a yeast based rash, which is why my normal remedies weren’t working. Tom almost never had nappy rash so it took me a long time to realise that this one wasn’t reacting the way it should. I am now treating her with an anti-fungal cream and it looks to be clearing up quickly.

Piper has had a ridiculous amount of hair from birth. She looks like the porcupine from Surf’s Up and it is the first thing people comment on when they meet her. It is still really thick on top but she is beginning to go bald in the back now from constantly rubbing her head on the sheets.

Up until now we have only ever given her the dummy to extend naps or night time sleep. But she was getting a bit fussy during story time with Tom in the evenings. Since I’m usually on my own at that time of day, I can’t separate out their bedtimes any longer, so I gave her the dummy so that Tom could still have a restful bedtime ritual. Other than this we are still limiting its use to the cot so that it remains a sleep signal for her.

Piper had her 12 week jabs on Tuesday – yes almost 3 weeks late. She was booked to have them the week before but the appointment was cancelled because the nurse was unwell. She cried really hard when she had them done and took a while to calm down, but hasn’t had any after effects.

During her bout of inconsolable crying on Monday she did find her fingers and used them to calm herself down, but then kept losing them again. She would find them, calm down, lose them, and then cry harder because she had lost them. It was heartbreaking. Babies are badly designed!

Since Piper is finding her fingers and also looks to be working towards rolling, I want to start weaning her off the swaddle once we have settled in after the move. She wasn’t quite ready for one hand out last time I tried, so I have decided to try transitioning her first to an arms up swaddle which will give her some movement but will still help to minimise her startle reflex. So far she has only used it when we were at the new flat for a day but she did some really good napping in it and had worked out how to use her hands to keep her dummy from falling out. We went cold turkey with Tom (because the zip broke on the swaddle we had been using and we thought we might as well) and suffered a lot of bad nights because of it, so I’m hoping the slow and steady route will work better with her.

Schedule: lots of changes this week as I was working out what would work best for her. By the end of the week we had landed on something that seemed to be working, which looked like this:

6.00 – Wake and feed (woken if not already awake)

7.15-7.30 – down for nap 1 (this and all other naps were interrupted at 40 minute mark and extended with dummy)

9.20 – Feed then playtime

10.30-10.40 – down for nap 2

12.40 – Feed then playtime

13.50-14.00 – down for nap 3

16.00 – Feed then playtime

17.10-17.20 – down for catnap

18.00 – Feed

18.15 – Nappy off playtime

18.30 – Bath and pjs

18.45 – Stories with Tom

19.00 – Top-up feed

19.20-19.30 – down for night

One motn waking somewhere between 1.30 and 5 for a feed, then back down.


The challenging toddler years…

Is Tom actually a toddler anymore? Or does three count as a preschooler or something instead? Either way, he’s a far cry from the adorable 13 month old he was when I first started this blog and an even further cry from the tiny newborn in the picture on our desk.

To say that I have found the toddler years challenging would be a major understatement. Tonight, to take a fairly average example, I have told Tom off for hitting his (3 month old) sister, endured a whining marathon because I turned off the TV, and had a relatively lengthy argument about whether or not he had kissed his sister good night (He had. He just wanted to put off bedtime as long as possible so was insisting he hadn’t made the kissing noise, so it didn’t count). All this between 6.30 and 7.00 pm.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the bones of this boy. He’s bright and articulate and funny. He does crazy dances and tells me long stories and makes his dinosaurs pretend to take naps. Life wouldn’t be worth living without him. But he is also argumentative, willful and infuriatingly cheeky. No one can press my buttons the way he can.

Deep down though, I know the problem isn’t him. He’s a very normal toddler. If anything, he is actually more on the well behaved side, at least according to everyone else who knows him. The problem is me. Lack of sleep and the constant work of parenting a young baby are making me impatient, snappy, and sometimes scary-shouty. Instead of remaining calm and establishing firm limits, I’m losing my temper, shouting, and acting like a child myself. None of which helps Tom to behave well.

Something needs to change. And since Piper doesn’t look set to start sleeping better anytime soon, it isn’t going to be getting more rest…