Monday, 27 August 2012

Monday mind thoughts

Another week, another list of why Chubs is so awesome. We had two parties this weekend and she charmed her way through both of them. Slime, watermelon, dragon cakes, pass the parcle and someone's child streaking. (Ok, it was my child streaking. Don't pretend you're suprised!) Happy birthday Smidge and the warmest of blessings to my friend who is expecting the arrival of her precious bub in the next few weeks.

I have so many posts planned and half written in my head, but I never seem to have the time or clarity to write them down. Hopefully some will make it though soon!

Menu plan this week:
- Monday: Chicken tomato rice casserole
- Tuesday: Beef stir fry
- Wednesday: Bolognese
- Thursday: Stir fry
- Friday: Hot chook
- Saturday: scavenge
- Sunday: hmmmm, I think I'll wait for inspiration to strike!


Friday, 24 August 2012

Supernanny and breastfeeding advice

Last night I was watching TV and I saw an episode of Supernanny which I have been thinking about ever since. I'm a bit of a Supernanny fan - it's one of my guilty pleasures. In general, I like a lot of her methods and approaches to kids.


For those who have never seen the show, Jo Frost is the ‘Supernanny’ who goes to a different family each week. She observes for a period of time, then implements various strategies and rules and helps the parents to carry them out.


I think she generally communicates well, both with parents and children. She keeps the positive praise coming for both but isn't scared to pull up either the parents or child when needed.


Whilst she seems to have a standard set of 'rules' and 'techniques', I don't believe that she has a 'one size fits all' approach; she seems to tailor her advice and techniques for the individual families' situations. I think that the reason that she appears to have so many standard techniques and rules (for example, the back to bed technique, the schedule, reward charts and of course the infamous Naughty Corner) is that these techniques apply to may of the common issues in families.


Whilst she doesn't explicitly say 'relationships with your children need to come first' she does show this in her actions and techniques. She believes that discipline is appropriate, but that the parents need to have realistic expectations and scaffold the situation too. She thinks that it's reasonable to have the kids playing quietly while Mum cooks dinner - as long as Mum has one on one time with the kids earlier in the day. She tries to 'solve' many problems by having families spend time together doing activities and connecting. Some of her rules do seem a bit formulated and punitive for my liking, but in general they are driven by love.


Her expectations of children’s behaviour are reasonable, and she has a good understanding of what normal behaviour looks like for different children and different ages. I recall one episode where there were two (I think?) young kids who kept climbing up the doorframes and furniture. She deal with this in two ways – there was a rule that there was no climbing in the house, and the kids got taken to the playground in the park every day to ‘shake their sillies out’ (a phrase I borrowed from Playschool, not Supernanny’s). One parent once said to her that his/her toddler would go on the Naughty Spot but would then go back to doing the same misdemeanour – Jo said that the child was probably too young for the Naughty Spot technique to work, and that the parents should deal with the misbehaviour by distraction/ removal instead.


However, I was not impressed by last night’s rerun. I’ve been a little bit angry and upset, but to be honest I’m mostly just disappointed.


I would like to apologise for any errors of recall that I have on the details of the show –I can’t access it again to check the details of the ages, but the main points I have are still valid. I also feel that this would be a prudent time to point out two issues. I realise that Supernanny is primarily an entertainment program. It is highly edited to make it watchable and appealing to the most viewers. I realise that by blogging about this I am giving them free publicity and I’m keeping that well oiled machine moving along – I still feel the need to respond. I realise that the highly edited final show may not be an accurate representation of life in that household, and for me to draw any sort of conclusions requires a lot of assumptions on my part. However, this is inherent of all candid/ how to reality shows and I or any other viewer can only base their opinions on what they are shown. I hope that the conclusions I have reached are appropriate and respectful, and I thank this family for the insight into their lives.


I also realise that, unlike a scripted show, the characters in this show are not characters at all, but real people. I do not mean this blog post to be disrespectful or judgmental or snarky. I am responding in a public medium to something else which the family chose to present to me via a public medium. I hope that if the family in the show or Jo Frost were to read this blog that they would see it as respectful.


The family which Jo went to work with had four kids living with them – a 17yo? nephew who was living with them, a 13?yo son, a 6 yo daughter and a 14 month old daughter, plus Mum and Dad. In general the main problems that the wanted help with were a disrespectful attitude from the 13yo, stressful and dysfunctional bedtime, ineffective discipline (smacking) and general chaos, and the 14 month old’s ‘constant nursing’.


I am not convinced if the last one was actually a problem for the family or not. The mother ran and in home day care (similar to Family Day Care I believe) and the show said that she was constantly nursing. I am not sure if this was actually a problem for the mother, or if she was just convinced that it should be a problem. It was portrayed that the child’s constant feeding was preventing the mother from being able to get on with her day and do things. The child was very clingy, and this was blamed on the breastfeeding. Jo said at one point that if she weaned then the girl would learn that she could play on the floor with some toys where she was ten feet away from her mother and that that could be ok.


Jo said to the mother that it wasn’t her (Jo’s) decision if she should wean or not, and that it was the mother’s prerogative to continue if she wanted. However, it seemed to me that this came across as an ultimatum – keep going as you are and nothing will change (and it will be your fault), or choose to wean to fix the problem. When the mother said that she wanted to wean Jo effectively said that she had made the right decision.


I was pleased to see that Jo acknowledged that breastfeeding and weaning were emotional for the mother, however I do feel that the show made it appear that the mother was only feeding because she had some crazy attachment to breastfeeding her child and the bonding that it had, and that she was worried that she wouldn’t bond with her child anymore if she weaned her.


To be honest, I get quite annoyed when people go on and on about breastfeeding = bonding. Breastfeeding is about so much more than bonding, and bonding is about so much more than breastfeeding. For anyone to imply that one is equivalent to the other is patronising and misguided.


Yes, breastfeeding a toddler can be demanding. However, toddlers can be (are) demanding if they are nursing or not. From what I saw on the show the child seemed to have a need for constant reassurance – this is a normal toddler behaviour - and this need was met in this case by breastfeeding. I don’t see how weaning would remove this child’s separation anxiety, and indeed weaning – especially if it occurs quickly – may intensify the clinginess. Anxious, clingy and demanding toddlers and children can be found everywhere – breastfed or not. I think for Jo/ the show to blame the breastfeeding for the clinginess (rather than to see the ‘constant’ breastfeeding as a comfort measure to relieve said clinginess) shows a lack of understanding of breastfeeding, particularly a toddler.


Jo pointed out that if the child was weeks old, then constant breastfeeding would be ok. This is true. A constantly breastfeeding toddler may or may not be normal – it depends on what’s going on. The child seemed to me to have needs which were being met by breastfeeding. To blame failure to wean for those problems is like saying that I wouldn’t have a messy kitchen if my family didn’t eat, so I’d better hurry up and get them to stop eating – and if I don’t, then the messy kitchen is my fault.


I’ve said before that one of the best things about breastfeeding a toddler is that a lot of the hard work has been done. In general, there are less supply issues, engorgement and rushing home for a feed are things of the past and do you know what – you can say ‘no’ sometimes if you want. There are two people a breastfeeding relationship (usually, sometimes there’re multiples or tandem nurslings but that’s another post…) and both of them need to be happy. However, if one isn’t happy – like Mum in this case (although I’m not convinced that she actually was unhappy with feeding) then changes can be made.


Any changes (or continuing with the situation as is) needs to consider the benefits and disadvantages of all options. In my opinion, this show didn’t do that.


Firstly, what are the benefits of continuing to breastfeed? There are the nutritional and immune benefits of breastfeeding a toddler (none of which got a mention in the show) as well as the comfort benefits. There are also the benefits to mum’s health, like reduced risks of osteoporosis and various cancers. (I would argue that these aren’t benefits, but ‘normal’ and that not doing them is detrimental, but that is also a post for another day…)


The ‘logistical’ benefits of continuing to breastfeed also weren’t considered on the show. This afternoon my 14 month old toddler and I got stuck in traffic –it took us half an hour to go between two sets of traffic lights. I was passing sultanas from our ‘car container’ back to her and thankfully she was happy enough and we made it through the jam, however if we had been stuck in a tunnel or for a longer period of time, then it was good to know that I could have given her a feed if needed. (I only would have done this if the cars were stopped with engines off and people getting out to stretch their legs so please don’t worry about the safety aspects!) If the child is clingy and needs frequent reassurance – again, normal toddler behaviour – then a quick breastfeed may be enough to provide this, and then the toddler is on her way again. Without the option of a breastfeed, the child may become more clingy and need longer, more time consuming reassurance, which will foil the ‘wean to get more time during the day’ plan. A two minute feed to sleep is much faster than a ten minute rock and pat, and a quick night feed often means more sleep for everyone than resettling without a feed, and almost certainly more sleep than heating up a bottle. I’m not saying that non breastfeeding parents can’t cope with a traffic jam or a clingy child – of course all parents have different techniques and breastfeeding is only one. I am pointing out that breastfeeding can be a very useful technique which makes life logistically easier for everyone, including (and sometimes especially) the parents, and therefore I don’t think that it should be discarded without considering its value.


Here we come to perhaps the underlying issue here – I do not believe that Jo Frost values the breastfeeding of a toddler. One of the biggest indicators of this was her language. She constantly referred to breastfeeding as ‘nursing’. At one stage she said in a talking head segment (and I’m paraphrasing, like I said I don’t have access to the recording to check the wording) ‘The mother is walking around all day with the baby hanging off her hip or worse – um, how do I say it – or hanging off her breast!’ as if feeding a toddler was something extreme and shameful and for behind doors only. She claimed that the child wanted to use mum’s breast as a pacifier – that shows a lack of understanding. A pacifier is a breast substitute, not the other way around (and I say this as a mother who has used a dummy since Chubs was days old.) Both Jo and the show demonstrated that breastfeeding is not something which polite people discuss in public. I think this points to a fundamental underlying attitude where breastfeeding, at least beyond the newborn stage, is not valued. As I said above, the advantages of weaning (although I’m not convinced that they will work) were not compared with the advantages of continuing to feed.


Not only do I feel that Jo does not value breastfeeding a toddler or child, I do not feel that she is knowledgeable about breastfeeding, and therefore she should not be giving breastfeeding (or weaning) advice. Jo Frost is a nanny who has apparently worked with children in different settings for many years and has been filming the Supernanny series for many years. I believe her that she is an expert in children. As I said above, many of her techniques are educationally and developmentally sound. She has a real love of children and seems to have a set of skills which can only be developed over time and practise – she knows what she is doing when it comes to children’s behaviour. However, to my knowledge she has no breastfeeding experience or expertise. She has no children (and although inducing lactation and breastfeeding another woman’s child is possible, I find it near impossible that she has done this) and I don’t believe much experience which babies in general. Older children yes, babies not really. She has never marketed herself as a baby expert, she’s usually just kept up with the older ones. I don’t feel that being a parent or breastfeeding a child is necessarily essential to being knowledgeable about children or breastfeeding, obviously it helps but in my opinion it is not essential. However, training and experience need to fill the gap, and I don’t believe that Jo Frost has either of these in breastfeeding, and it shows. She has called in specialist professionals in the past, for example when working which children with special needs, why not enlist the help of an IBLCL or breastfeeding counsellor? For Jo Frost to be giving weaning advice is like me giving advice on how to fix your car – best avoided.


However, all of this diatribe of mine has not deal with the key issue that Jo was trying to fix – how to manage the problems that the breastfeeding was causing. This post is already lengthy and the laundry is calling yet again, so I will come back to my suggestions for this. There are many, many things which can be done to make breastfeeding a toddler logistically easier, and in my opinion most of them are far easier to implement (and more beneficial) than cold turkey weaning. So stay tuned for an update.


In conclusion, I was disappointed with this episode more than anything. There was a great opportunity to address an issue – a demanding breastfeeding toddler – and instead breastfeeding was belittled and pushed aside. Breastfeeding is certainly no stranger to poor media coverage and self proclaimed experts making up crap advice, but I guess I expected more from Supernanny. All that age appropriate, sensitive, custom tailored advice seemed to go out the window with a sugar coated ‘wean or else’. I was expecting more, Supernanny. L

Monday, 20 August 2012

Operation Sleep Rule Change - Conclusion?

Well, here it is. A tentative conclusion to the sleep changes that we've been trying. I say tentative as I don't want to jinx it, but it seems that we have success!!!!!
Chubs will happily resettle in her cot at night now. She's actually done so since the first night. It was an hour and a half of patting and rocking and panicing (on my part) and her pointing at the door and wanting to get out, but I was there to comfort and hold her. We made it to midnight and she came into bed with us then, but she seemed to have gotten the message about the 'rule change', that Mummy and Daddy's bed wasn't 'open' until later.

We moved bringing her in to our bad back by an hour each week, but she resettled fairly easily each time and we probably could have stretched her out longer sooner.

This week should be 2am, but we're just going to jump to 3am and be done with it. Whenever she wakes before 3am it's resettle in the cot, after that it's in bed with us. We could keep going and make it 5am, but you know what, getting up in the night is hard work. Perhaps the best thing about cosleeping is that Chubs can get milk, comfort and reassurance and all I need to do is roll over.

To be honest, Dear Husband and I aren't feeling as wonderfully well rested as I was hoping. As I supsected (but was dearly hoping I was wrong) I think at lot of our constant state of exhaustion is more to do with having a vibrant, beautiful, bouncy toddler than a cosleeping one. It is a bit better to have the bed to ourselves for a few hours, but the catch is that I have to get up for the first feed at 10 or 11pm, and then to resettle as required.The 3am rule will be a nice mix I think - I'll have to get up for the first feed (and then pat as needed which hasn't been often - maybe once every three nights?). It means when she wakes up at 3am/4am/ 5am she can come in to our bed and have a feed. It means that I'm only getting up for one feed in her room, then in our bed from then on. I think it's a good mix between the pros and cons of cosleeping and cot sleeping.

So, ultimately, I think that OSRC was a success. Through gentle parent led methods we were able to get Chubs comfortable in her cot for longer at night, but still have time for family snuggles in the morning. That's about as perfect as I think it gets x

Saturday, 18 August 2012

A Kilo of Kindness: It has begun!

Two lovely friends-who-live-in-the-computer have been very obliging and gave me the first three things for the list.

1. Bellatrix: I worked in aged care community and I called on an elderly lady living at home alone. She was in tears because she had put eggs on the stove to boil and forgotten about them, they had burnt and she had no lunch and no money to buy more. After I left I went and bought a half dozen eggs and a permanent marker and drew a happy face on each egg. I gave them to her and her face lit up, she said it absolutely made her day and long after she had used all the eggs she kept the happy egg shells in her kitchen. She said they always made her smile.

2: Gwen's Mum: Kindness given - a close friend was having a run of crappy luck and was feeling pretty down. I put together a package of her favourite things (e.g. cheese, chocolate, tim tams, a voucher to a yarn store) and dropped it around to her. Brightened her week a little.

3: Gwen's Mum: Kindness received - all our milk donors are special, but the very first person who offered us her freezer stash... That will always stand out in my memory. We hadn't even considered donor milk as an option - she just offered. Both the milk itself, and the very idea of using it, were the most extraordinary gifts.

View the whole list list here, and keep them coming!

Friday, 17 August 2012

A Kilo of Kindness: Launch

It is with great pleasure that I launch A Kilo of Kindness today. I've hinted at it before, and now it is here!

Every day is full of countless acts of kindness, but I would like to try to count some of them. Please let me know what kindness you have seen or done, and I will add it to the lost. Perhaps you cooked a meal for a friend in need, maybe someone else dropped your kids home from school? A shoulder to cry on, or someone helping an elderly person with her shopping. A guiding hand for someone with a vision impairment, a donation to a charity. Perhaps you have knitted a square or would like to donate to the 40 Hour Famine: Hint, it's on this weekend.

So next time someone does you a favour, or you do one for them, let me know and I'll add it to the list. Leave a comment or email me at a_kilo_of_kindness at live dot com dot au. The first comment or email I receive gets to be number one on the list, so get in quick!

I'd also love to hear your predictions as to how long it will take to get to one thousand. I'd like to think we could do it in less that a year, but I really have no idea.

So let me know how the world is a brighter place for you!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Happy Show Day!

Today is our city's show day public holiday, and I stumbled across this great article about taking kids to the Ekka. The Ekka is our town's big show/ carnival. We won't be taking Chubs to the Ekka this year, she's still too little to get anything out of it. The article gives lots of good points which could apply to taking kids to any crowded place.

We're still too little to have to have done any of this ourselves yet, but there were two ideas that I particularily loved in this article. Firstly, I liked the idea of taking a photo at the beginning of the day, so that you can show someone what your child/ren is wearing etc if they do get lost. I read about this on another blog (sorry, I can't remember where) and they said that they had started doing if for the same reason, but that it had a nice side effect - they ended up with a whole lot of regular photos of the whole family lined up. If I was a scrapbooker that might be a nice thing to do up over the years.

So check out the article for some great tips!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Operation Sleep Rule Change: update after week one

Well, one week in and things are going to plan. We've made it past midnight every night for the past week. The only night which was really hard was the first night and it wasn't too bad. I fed/patted/rocked Chubs constantly for almost an hour and a half but we got there in the end. The next six nights usually only took one resettle to get her back down until after midnight.

So for the next week, we will keep resettling her in her room until 1 o' clock. Feeding, patting, rocking- whatever we need to do, until she goes back to sleep in her cot, or until 1am comes. The aim is not to get her to sleep through, it's just to get our bed back for a few more hours. I don't regret bringing her in there at all, see my first post if you missed it.

Indeed, this last week has reminded me one of the reasons that I love cosleeping, it's so easy. Chubs wakes up, Dear Husband goes and gets her,  I roll over and unzip my top and were all back to sleep in minutes. Getting up to resettle her is a lot more effort!

 I'm in no rush to get her to sleep through the night, or to night wean.  Night waking is normal and healthy for children up to three to four years of age. As with most things, this is working for all of us so we will keep going until it's not, then we'll do something else.

So, Week Two, here we come!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Operation Sleep Rule Change update night five

Night five didn't get off to a great start. All three of us were sick, tired and grumpy. After two bites while feeding during the 'arsenic hour' I gave up. I put Chubs in the car and took her for a drive to get to sleep. I knew that bedtime was going to be a disaster, so I thought I would call it and take her f or a drive before there was more crying and stress and biting, when I probably would have taken her for a drive anyway. Generally I think it's better to make the decision early and save a tired, cranky sick baby (and mum and dad) from a stressful evening before things go too bad.

When we got in Chubs transferred to her cot ok but was soon stirring. She is sick and just want to be near us, so I put her on her fold out sofa on the living room floor with us where she slept happily for the evening. I gave her a feed joke she was asleep at 10, but she's never really fed well while sleeping, she just nods off and doesn't suck. We moved her in to the cot asleep. Dear Husband and I can't remember what time she came in, but it was quite late -about 3am or 4am. We're on a winner her I think!

Night six (Friday) and Chubs had daycare (Friday is my study day). She was shattered when she got in and we did a very quick bedtime routine so she was in bed early. Hopefully it will go well tonight!

Dear Husband and I talked about maybe moving it back to 2am for next week, but we decided just to stick by an hour a week, so it will be 1am next week. Hopefully we can keep moving it back.

Doing this is reminding me one of the reasons I'm a big fan of cosleeping in the first place -I get much more sleep when she's in bed with us. I guess it's about getting better quality sleep which is why we're doing this, but there is a lot to be said for parenting in one's sleep. If cosleeping is working for you, then keep going! If the only thing which is worrying you is forming 'bad habits' or what People think, then don't worry about it. Like I said when I first posted, if circumstances were different for us then there would be no need to change. If we had a spare bed we would probably play musical beds all night, and we wouldn't have a problem. I am glad that the changes seem to be working though, and Chubs seem to be coping with the new rules which is great.

As usual, I will keep you posted!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Operation Sleep Rule Change update: nights three and four

Night three went well. She was very tired after daycare and fell aleep in my arms at 7pm without story,  teeth etc. Chubs woke at about 10.30 and had a big feed. She wouldn't go down in ht cot but I got her back to sleep on her flip out sofa in her room. By the time I had cleaned my teeth and was ready for bed I moved her into her cot. Chubs slept there until 1:30 which was wonderful! She woke for a feed then and came in with us.

Night four she was also very tired after daycare and went to bed early, soon after seven o'clock. She stirred about 9pm since her ever present snotty nose has been keeping her up, but resettled with a feed and a back rub. I can't actually remember what time she came in, but it was definitely after midnight.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Operation Sleep Rule Change - update nights 1 and 2

Well, night one was long but it wasn't too bad. Chubs woke up fairly early at 10:15, so midnight was a long way away. She had a feed (but didn't really want it) but just kept pointing at the door, she wanted to get out. She woke up properly (which wasn't good) but we kept rocking and patting and feeding and cuddling. She was a little upset and grizzly at times, but there wan't any screaming thank goodness. She almost went back to sleeps few times, once in my arms (but then work on transfer), once in the cot but then she rolled over and hit her head on the side of the cot and woke herself up again. At 11:50 I conceded defeat and too her into bed with us - it was a case of near enough is good enough. She settled immediately and slept well for the rest of the night. I think she only had one more feed overnight, which makes me feel that she wasn't upset or anxious about the change (like when I'd tried to move her during the night.)

We made a few changes for night two. I moved her toys out of her room, since she saw them and wanted to play. We also moved her flip out sofa (usually in the living room) in, in the hope that she may be able to be persuaded to lie on that if she won't lie in her cot.

When night two came around, I panicked a bit when I heard stirrings at 10:30, but we were able to pat her back to sleep. The same thing at 11:15, with a back scratch and off again. Thankfully, she blisfully slumbered until 12:30 when she woke for a feed, but since it was past midnight Dear Husband brought her straight in and we had milky cuddles for the rest of the night.

So, two nights in and things are still on track. There's still a long way to go, but it hasn't derailed yet which is a good thing!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Menu plan

As usual, we are having a 'no frills' menu plan. Simple, easy, and fairly nutritious.

Monday: Hot chook and veggies
Tuesday: Stirfry
Wednesday: Stirfry again
Thursday: Pork bolognese
Friday: Beef bolognese
Saturday: Pasta with pesto and tuna
Sunday: scavenge

Operation Sleep Rule Change updates to come!


Sunday, 5 August 2012

Operation Sleep Rule Change

We are going to start some sleep training at our house (and I use the term 'sleep training' very, very loosely). The current situation isn't really working for us at this point in time. We have been looking at ideas and strategies to change things a little bit, but haven't yet come across a plan that we were comfortable with or that we thought would work for Chubs. It seems that we now have a plan, so I will share with you all how it goes; perhaps it might be helpful for others.

What we have done in terms of sleep (where and when) has changes as Chubs has needed to since she was born. The current situation (and it has been this way for a few months) is to have dinner/ shower at 5:30 - 6:00 ish depending on when we get home from daycare. After shower and PJs we turn the big light off in the living room and play with toys, watch TV or video clips until 7:30. Chubs then brushes her teeth with Dear Husband then has three stories with me in the living room. After that it's goodnight cuddle for Daddy, then Chubs and I go to our bed and she feeds/ cuddles to sleep there. She's usually asleep by 8pm and then I move her to her cot where she happily sleeps until 10 or 11pm ish. If she wakes before then then I can usually resettle her in her cot. She also happily sleeps in her cot for day naps and in the cot at daycare. After the 10 or 11pm wake up, however, she comes into our bed. She has a small feed but mostly wants cuddles.

We don't mind having her in our bed in principle, and she's been in there for various parts of the day or night since she was a little baby. This has had numerous benefits for all three of us. Our bed is set up for safe cosleeping, so there are no safety worries. I also realise that baby waking for comfort and reassurance that Mum and Dad are still there is totally normal behaviour, and is a sign that she has a strong connection to her father and me - that is a good thing. I'm happy to provide that comfort and reassurance over night, I'm also happy to keep feeding her overnight since she still seems to want that. However, what isn't working is having her in our bed from 11pm on, since it is impossible for Dear Husband and I to get a good (or even a satisfactory) night's sleep.

Chubs usually ends up sleeping with her head next to mine and her feet next to Dear Husband's head. She's also a fan of bed angels, and the 'H is for Hell' position. Dear Husband has neck/ back issues at the best of times due to whiplash many years ago. I'm pretty flexible when is comes to sleeping positions but when I can't carry my school books during the day because my arms are so sore - and this happens repeatedly, then the situation isn't working.

I said above that the situations isn't working for us at this time in our circumstance. When Chubs was younger she was happy for me to transfer her back to the cot once she'd come into our bed for a bit, so this wan't a problem. When the tiny child had one adult balanced on the edge of the bed and the other curled up in a ball at the foot of the bed, then we would transfer her back to the cot for another few hours. That worked well. Some people play 'musical beds' during the night, and I think that would work for us, but we don't have a spare bed to go to. (Both Dear Husband and I tried the couch at various times, but the sleep there was worse than with an oh-so-cute chubby foot in the ear.) Some babies are happy to sleep in a cot next to the bed but since I did a lot of child proofing in the living room a lot of the nin child friendly furniture (my desk, some bookshelves etc) were moved into our bedroom (since Chubs isn't ever in there alone) so there isn't any room for a cot in there now,and my Mummy instinct tells me that Chubs wouldn't be happy with that, anyway.

Chubs is happy to sleep in her cot for day naps and until 11pm, so she knows it as a comfortable, safe place. It's just that in her head from 11pm or so on, the 'Rule' is that she's allowed into Mummy and Daddy's bed. I don't regret teaching her this by accident - bringing her into bed for that first feed when I was so tired (this only started at 8 months or so?) had many advantages for all of us. The problem is that this isn't working any more. What we would like to do is just to shift the 'Rules' as Chubs understands them to say that instead of staying in her cot until 10 or 11pm, she needs to stay there until 2 - 3am ish or ideally, 5 - 6 am ish.

Two nights ago I moved her back into her cot at about 2:30am to try and encourage her to be in the cot later, but she work up straight away and I had trouble getting her back to sleep. I brough her back to bed with us but she wouldn't properly go back to sleep for an hour and wanted to feed/ comfort suck for all of that time. She wouldn't let me slip the dummy in, she only wanted me. This tells me that she was upset and uncomfortable about me changing the rules - why was I putting her in the cot at 2:30, whcih was clearly in the 'Mummy and Daddy's bed' timeslot? I must admit that I was worried here - if that left her anxious for one hour, then how will we ever get her in the cot for a few more hours?

I didn't want to do anything that would make her feel anxious, or that she's wasn't cared for. I want her to know that when she wants a cuddle, that I will be there. It's normal for children to need comfort and reassurance during the night until about three or four years of age. I'm very aware that she will grow out of this, sooner or later. She won't always want to sleep in our bed, and there will be plenty of time for Dear Husband and me to catch up when she's a teenager. (Although, a dear friend of mine is often called by her adult daughter in the wee hours to drive in and pick her up when she finishes her restaurant job in the city, so manybe I'm hoping in vain...)

However, there are three people in this bed, and two of us aren't happy. I think that it is reasonable to expect a toddler to sleep a few more hours in her cot, in which she is already comfortable, when her loving mother and father are in the next room and will come in to resettle and/or breastfeed as required. I think that this is a resonable expectation and I wanted to find a technique which was respectful of Chubs' needs to help her to 'reset' the Rules so that Mummy and Daddy's bed isn't 'open' until a few hours later.

I struggled to find a suggestion that might work. I was cautious to only ask for advice from people and places who I knew would be supportive of our 'frame of reference'for sleep. I didn't want to be told to put her on a strict routine dictated by someone who had never met her. I didn't want to be told off for cosleeping and forming 'bad habits'. None the less, it took me a while to find a suggestion which would actually be do-able for our circumstances. I did find lots of 'no idea, but we're in the same situation, so let me know what happens' comments though! I did put a comment on Pinky McKay's Facebook page which she very kindly reposted on her status, and I was overwhelmed with support, reassurance and possible strategies we could try. Thanks to all who commented, I really do appreciate it!

So, now we have a plan. We are going to try and 'reset' the sleeping rules in a gentle, workable and respectful way. Most of the sleeping procedures and changes that we have done to date have definately been on the 'baby led' end of the spectrum, this is the first time we've done anything on the 'parent led' end. The plan - Operation Change Sleep Rules - begins tonight.

The plan is to hold off moving Chubs into our bed for an hour at a time. So, for this week, Chubs won't be coming into our bed before midnight. If (or more likely when) she wakes before that we will try to resettle her, pat, rock, feed and do whatever we need to do, but it will be in her room. We will keep doing this until she falls asleep in her cot, or until midnight comes. If she's still awake at midnight then she can come in with us. Once she's learned that she can't come in until midnight (I'm hoping that this will take a week or so but it may take longer) then we'll do the same thing to move back the time to 1am, then 2am etc. Depending on how it goes we might keep pushing it back to 5 or 6 am, or we might leave it at 3am.

Of course, there's a million reasons why this might not work. Chubs might not like it at all, she might get sick, we might get too exhausted. However, this is the best plan that seems the most workable that we've come up with. I have confidence that it at least has a reasonable chance of working.

And so, I will keep you posted. It sounds like lots of people are in the same boat, so perhaps you can blog along too? Of course every baby is different and will respond differently, but I'm really hoping that this will work for Chubs.
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