Sleepy Baby

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Now that we’ve started to figure out Veronika’s daily routine, it’s time to set up a proper nighttime routine for her, too.

As mentioned, I don’t bother with routines for my kids when still in their “fourth trimester.” But starting about 10 days ago, we noticed a big change; Veronika stopped her evening cluster feed (which had been going pretty-much non-stop from 7 to 10 p.m.!), and instead, well, she found her thumb. And with that, she’s capable of self-soothing and falls asleep between 6.30 and 7.

So now we needed to make bedtime special. The key to aby routine is consistency. I’m still working out how to do this best with two kids, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Step 1: Bath (or cradle cap)

I don’t do baths nightly yet (too much washing can make a newborn’s skin dry), but if it’s a bath night, we start with that. If not, one night a week I comb through her cradle cap; try adding a little edible oil, like olive oil, to the scalp. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then brush through and shampoo out.

If there’s no cradle cap or bath, I still make it cozy and special to get into pajamas, with lotion and everything all laid out.

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Step 2: Storytime

Because I’m juggling two kids, Veronika’s storytime has to be while big brother has his bath!

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Yours might look a little less chaotic and a lot cozier, but I think she’s already come to associate her little bathroom chair with books, and anticipates that sleep is next – which is exactly what you want.

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Step 3: Lullabies. We do a final nurse and I sing her a special song or two.

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Then it’s lights out – and don’t forget a big kiss goodnight!

One additional item that we’ll add to her bedtime routine now that she’s old enough? A quick baby signing song. What does bedtime look like in your house? Please share in the comments!

 

Baby Sign

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I’m a firm believer in no screen time for babies until they reach two years old, with one exception… Baby Signing Time.

These DVDs, from Two Little Hands media, are a fantastic intro for parents and their kids to baby signing, a simplified version of American Sign Language. I started the videos with Travis when he was five months old, and I’m getting an even earlier jump with Veronika. Now that she’s three months old, we broke out the old DVDs.

What are the benefits of signing? Baby’s can use their hands more competently before they can use their vocal chords, which means “words” come earlier. That means less frustration for kids and for the parents who are trying to understand him.

Veronika was rapt with attention right away, since the DVDs put each word to catchy music, and show other children making the signs.

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If you don’t want to invest in the DVDs, you can always learn a few of the most common words you use in your day. Try learning the sign for milk, which is just your fist squeezing (like you’re milking a cow!).

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Water, which you can also sign at bath time, is your fingers in a W that bounces on your chin.

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You can even make up your own signs, as long as your consistent with it! The key is to use the sign every time you say the word out loud.

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I’m also hoping that signs will alleviate Travis’s frustration that his baby sister can’t talk yet. Older sibs can sign to and with baby, and open up the lines of communication earlier.

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We can’t wait to see which one is Veronika’s first sign!

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Gingerbread Pancakes

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These pancakes, redolent with ginger and other spices, are the perfect version to make on a winter morning.

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They’re especially nice around the holidays, but you can’t go wrong with them on any dark winter morning!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  1. In a large bowl combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Set aside. (Note: we didn’t have ground allspice, but the pancakes were plenty spiced without it!).
  2. Whisk together the vinegar and milk, and let sit for 5 minutes. Combine the milk mixture in a bowl with the molasses, Ener-G eggs, and canola oil
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.
  4. Heat a griddle coated with cooking spray and add about 1/3 cup batter per pancake. Cook until bubbles form on top, then flip and cook 1 to 2 minutes on the other side.

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We liked these with just a pat of Earth Balance butter, but optional toppings include sliced banana, powdered sugar, or sauteed pears.

To continue the fun, Travis and I also explored ginger in all its forms. I presented him with ground ginger, crystallized ginger, and a fresh ginger root.

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He loved taking little nibbles of the crystallized  ginger, delighting in how it was sweet and spicy all at once.

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The ginger root was a big hit. First we smelled it…

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…then tested what would happen when we grated it.

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He marveled at how the firm root became soft and wet, in just moments.

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This is a great way to talk kids about using all the senses with an ingredient, since they can touch, taste, see, and smell the varieties. You can even add pickled ginger to your exploration, if you like!

Finally, this recipe makes a great gift. Just layer the dry ingredients in a pretty jar, add instructions for adding wet ingredients at home, and present to a party hostess, friend, or family member.

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Pretend-Play Hot Cocoa

fake cocoa (6)Ok, so this cute little craft won’t really warm the kids up during the polar vortex, but it will get their imaginative juices flowing! We loved this pretend play idea from High Five magazine.

I set up a table for Travis with all the materials we’d need: newspaper, brown paper, cotton balls, and big mugs for our “cocoa”.

First we needed to wad up a piece of newspaper for each cup.

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Stuff in a mug to make a base.

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Next, rip brown construction paper into pieces; smaller is better. Once you have a lot of pieces, crumple each up.

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Add these pieces to your mug, and you’ll have a chocolaty cup of cocoa!

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Travis loved adding “marshmallows” (soft cotton balls).

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We thought it would be neat to trick his dad with this one, telling him we’d made him cocoa. Surprise! It wasn’t really meant to drink.

We also set up a little cafe for a few stuffed animal friends.

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Travis did tire of the game rather quickly after that, but some kids may want to run their “hot cocoa stand” for a while. Have fun serving up drinks, making a full cocoa cafe, and more. I’d love to hear about it in the comments!