Nine month update

Ummmm….it’s DECEMBER already?! Where has the time gone?! This time of the year always seems to speed up – there’s so much to DO and EAT and CELEBRATE – but with a baby, everything has gone into warp speed.

Winston is army-crawling everywhere (to hell with crawling like a normal baby, he says) and learning to pull himself up onto furniture, toys, the dishwasher, people, dogs –  basically anything within reach. So we’re baby-proofing the house and watching him like a hawk. It’s a fun time, but so exhausting! Gone are the days when we could put him on the floor under a baby mobile to buy ourselves 2 minutes to, you know, pee in peace. Kiddo will not sit still! (See below for proof.)

In October, we took him to a local pumpkin patch for the obligatory baby pumpkin pictures. We got lucky and had perfect weather and a good-tempered kiddo who put up with our desire for hundreds of photos, and I love how the pictures turned out.


We had a very low-key Thanksgiving at a friend’s house. We (translation: Adam) smoked a turkey (which was delicious – recipe here) and brought a bourbon pecan pie, and my friend provided all the sides. It was so sweet of her to offer to host, because there’s no way I could have pulled off cooking all those dishes by myself. The day was everything I wanted it to be: focused on food, football, friends, family, and the dog show 🙂

The days are getting increasingly short, which means we had to cut out our nightly walks in the park. As a consequence, Winston finally dropped his third nap of the day (since he used to fall asleep while being pushed in the stroller). We’re now (mostly) on the 2-3-4 Sleep Routine, and it has made a huge impact on our days. Winston has been a great night-time sleeper since we sleep-trained him a few months ago, but his daytime sleep routine didn’t fall into place until recently. Now that he can stay awake for longer periods and is finally on a somewhat predictable schedule, we can plan errands and outings without fear of a sleepy meltdown in the middle of say, Target (speaking from experience).

Winston has also been on two cross-country plane trips and WOWEE talk about an experience. If you’re still childless and traveling, enjoy the hell out of those adult-only plane rides you get to take. Being spontaneous, packing light, and sleeping, reading, or watching movies on plane rides are all things I took for granted pre-baby. It’s a total adjustment. That being said, Winston was a champ on both trips and the learning curve is steep. He did well enough on the plane that we’re planning to take a cross-Atlantic trip to London sometime this summer.

At Denver International Airport, waiting for Dad to pick up our breakfast from Chik-fil-A

(9+ hours on a plane with a 15-month old. Are we crazy? You can tell me.)

We have another cross-country trip coming up for Christmas and we’ll see how it goes with our ever-increasingly mobile child. If it’s successful, I’ll do a separate post for tips and tricks of navigating air travel with a baby.

And now you’re all caught up! Have a great weekend and enjoy this holiday season!


Why the “Ferber Method” worked for us – Part II

In Part I of this two-part series, I explained all about our sleep struggles. Winston was not born a good sleeper, but I suspect that most babies out there aren’t either. We tried co-sleeping (worked for a few months) and putting him to sleep in his swing (worked for a few weeks), before we realized we needed to do some formal sleep training, so he could fall asleep on his own, in his crib.

During my frenzied internet searches (things like “why won’t my baby sleep” and “how can I convince my child to sleep in his crib”), I came across what is known as the “Ferber Method” from the book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Dr. Richard Ferber. There is so much misconception out there about the “Ferber Method”, probably due (at least on my part) to the very popular movie “Meet the Fockers“. Here’s a quote from a scene between Jack (Robert Di Nero) and Greg (Ben Stiller):

Greg: That baby might need a pull on that knocker of yours, Jack.

Jack: It’s OK. We’re Ferberizing him.

Greg: What?

Jack: The Ferber method. You let him cry it out so he doesn’t depend on coddling.

That scene, especially in the larger context of the movie and Jack’s character as a stern, uptight, unaffectionate man, had me convinced that the “Ferber method” was cruel, outdated, and not something I wanted to use with my baby.

But then I did a lot of internet research, talked to other moms (including my own, who “Ferberized” me nearly 30 years ago!), and –gasp– actually read the book. Here is what the Ferber method is not:

  • cry it out
  • anti-cuddling
  • mean
  • selfish
  • a perfect, end-all-be-all solution

I should also stop here and explain that the book, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, covers so much more than getting your baby to sleep in their crib, which Dr. Ferber refers to as “eliminating sleep associations”. There are also chapters on sleep in general (including sleep cycles and why babies sleep the way they do), sleep stages, sleep regressions, night terrors, middle of the night feedings, schedule disorders, naps, and how to deal with jet lag – basically, if it has to do with sleep, this book covers it.

Our main issue, however, was getting Winston to fall asleep on his own, in his own space (his crib), without “sleep crutches” or “sleep associations” such as being held, being rocked, or being nursed to sleep. This is covered in-depth in Chapter 4 of the book.

Here’s a brief overview of what the Ferber method is: By the age of three or four months (adjusted for gestation age), your child can, and should, learn to fall asleep on his/her own, without outside help. To accomplish this, you put your child in his/her crib at an appropriate bedtime (he helps you calculate when this should be), after a soothing and loving bedtime routine (he has suggestions on that too), and leave the room. If/when your child cries, you wait a set interval of time before going in and reassuring your child (and yourself!) that everything is fine. Ideally, this is done with a pat on the back and some comforting words, rather than picking up the baby. Then you leave again. If/when your child cries, you wait a longer interval of time, and repeat the process. On the third time, you have reached your “max wait” and use that time for all successive rounds until your child falls asleep. Each night, you increase the wait time until your child falls asleep on his/her own.

The successively longer wait times are to let your child know that they are not alone, that they are still loved, that you are still there to support them, and to reassure yourself that your child is ok, but that they can and should be falling asleep on their own, without your help.

The science behind this method is that you want your child to fall asleep under the exact same circumstances that will be present when he/she invariably wakes up in the middle of the night. The example Dr. Ferber uses is to imagine you fall asleep with a pillow, but in the middle of the night while you are sleeping, someone comes and takes away your pillow. You might not wake up when the pillow is taken, but you will wake up at some point in the night (as we all do), and instead of being able to fall seamlessly back asleep, you realize that your pillow is gone. You wake up fully, searching for your pillow. You may even get out of bed to try and find it. Instead of transitioning smoothly between one sleep cycle and the next, you are disturbed and uncomfortable, and completely unable to fall back asleep. But if you were to go to bed without a pillow in the first place, it might be a tough transition at first, but over the course of a few nights, you would get used to the new normal and sleep just fine.

To put this in practical terms, if your child falls asleep nursing, or while being held, then you transfer them to their crib, when they wake up in the middle of the night, rather than going back to sleep on their own, they will want/need to be nursed or held again. This requires your intervention, and everyone gets less sleep. But once your child learns to fall asleep on their own, they will be able to move easily between sleep cycles, barely aware that they are awake at all. Everyone gets more sleep, and isn’t that the dream of every parent?

Here’s how the Ferber method worked in our house – on the first night we waited 3, 5, and 7 minutes. On the second night, we waited 5, 7, and 10 minutes. On the third night, we waited 6 minutes, and Winston was asleep!

I’m not going to lie. The first night was Rough. Although Winston only cried for about 30 minutes total (which is less time than he normally cried at bedtime!), having to stand outside the door and wait for the time to pass was heart-wrenching. Going in to pat him on the back and tell him I loved him, then leaving and hearing his cries was like being punched in the gut repeatedly. Looking back, I know sleep training was the best decision we made, and I know that teaching Winston good sleep habits is one of the best gifts I can give him, but at the time I felt like a selfish, wretched monster.

Night two was a little better. He cried for a total of 20 minutes, and as I saw some improvement, I began to think that maybe we’d make it through sleep training after all.

Night three he cried for 6 minutes before falling asleep. We didn’t even have to go back into his room after we put him down in his crib! I was so happy and so relieved, that I started crying. By night four we had cut the crying (which was really more like fussing) down to a mere 5 minutes and I started thinking that maybe I’d eventually be able to enjoy bedtime like a normal parent.

I don’t want you to think that this was the end-all-be-all solution to all our sleep problems. We still have times when Winston randomly screams his head off for no reason, or when he wants eat three times in the middle of the night, or when he wants to get up at 4AM to party, or when he refuses to fall back asleep. But most nights, he goes to sleep between 6:30 and 7:30 at night and sleeps until 6:30 or 7:30 the next morning. He’s one of those babies that seems to need to fuss a little before he can fall asleep, but usually he fusses for no longer than a few minutes.

Of course, now that we know Winston can and does fall asleep in his crib on his own, when he doesn’t fall asleep within ten minutes of fussing, or when he wails like a banshee when he’s in his crib (like last night, for example), we know something is off. He no longer needs our help to fall asleep, so he’s usually crying for another reason. Last night he was still crying pretty forcefully after ten minutes, so I went in, picked him up, sang him another lullaby, and nursed him again before putting him back in his crib. After that, he fussed for a few minutes before falling asleep. Winston has been sick the past few days, and I rightly assumed that he wanted more snuggles before bed.

One thing I’ve learned is that my husband and I know our baby better than anyone, and we need to trust our guts. Sometimes Winston needs to fight it out on his own in his crib (if we can tell he’s overtired, or struggling to get comfortable), but some nights he needs a little extra cuddling, and that’s ok. Some nights he surprises us with how easily he falls asleep, and some nights we’re staring at the baby monitor, silently pleading with our child to fall asleep already! Parenting is a constant adventure, after all.

Overall, though, the guidance in Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems has helped us have more good nights than bad, and for that I am infinitely grateful. What are your favorite tips for getting your child to sleep? Did you do some sort of formal sleep training? Do you have a favorite bedtime routine?

Where I’ve been – life updates

To those of you who are already parents, this is going to come as absolutely NO surprise, but — HOLY COW PARENTING IS A LOT OF WORK.


I look back at my BC (before child) days and think, what did I do with all that spare TIME?! Even with Winston in daycare 3 – 5 days a week, depending on my work schedule, every minute of my day (and then some) is accounted for. There are an embarrassingly high number of days that I don’t change out of my PJs (I work from home). I don’t know where the time goes. Between work-work, house-work, spending time with my family, cooking meals, grocery shopping, the seemingly never-ending list of chores, blogging fell by the wayside. I’m hoping to remedy that in the future.

Here’s what we’ve been up to since the last post (in no particular order):

  • Sleep training. Winston hate-hate-hated his crib for the first five months of his life, but the more mobile he became, the more imperative it was that we find a safe sleeping solution. How to Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems (also known as the Ferber Method) saved our lives. More on this in another post, but the short story is that it worked miracles for us. After just a week following the book’s guidance, Winston was going to sleep, in his crib, without protest. Within a month, he started sleeping “through the night” (as defined as a 6 – 8 hour stretch, as is appropriate for his age). For a baby who was used to waking up every 3 – 4 hours (even at 5 months old), this was a game changer.
  • First plane ride. We took Winston to see my side of the family, including his 85-year-old great-grandfather (!), in Florida for a week-long trip, which meant a not-insignificant amount of travel. It’s an hour drive from our house to the Denver airport, then a 3.5 hour flight (if everything goes smoothly), then another hour drive from the Orlando airport to my parents’ house. Not to mention the two hours we spent at the airport before our flight (we wanted to get there in plenty of time). Plus, we were delayed by 2 hours on our return flight. All that adds up to a long day of travel for us adults, never mind a confused and jet-lagged 7-month-old. My husband, Adam, and I were understandably nervous, but our worries were unfounded. Winston was a champ! We also were very lucky to be seated next to incredibly understanding and kind individuals, who helped calm our nerves.
  • Therapy (mine, not Winston’s). This is another topic that I’ll delve into on a different day. After slogging through over 6 months with anxiety, insomnia (even when exhausted), shame, sadness, and just generally not feeling like myself, I finally admitted that my postpartum depression was not simply going to “go away” on its own. I started seeing a licensed therapist just over a month ago, and it has made a world of difference.
  • Teething (Winston’s, not mine). The little guy has two teeth coming in, and I can’t wait for them to get here, already! Mostly because he’ll stop being in so much pain (he frequently wakes up from naps grabbing at his mouth), but also because he’ll be even cuter (if that’s possible). It seems like we’ve tried every teething trick out there (cold/frozen washcloths, teething rings, Tylenol), but if you have any other tips, please share!
  • International vacation daydreaming. 2017 was the year first year my husband and I haven’t been to Europe since we graduated from grad school in 2011. Up until Winston’s birth, we always took at least one trip to somewhere in Europe, whether it was a month exploring Italy, spending Thanksgiving in London, three weeks in Southern Spain, or two weeks in Germany for Oktoberfest. We skipped international travel last year on our pediatrician’s recommendation that Winston get his MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, which he gets on at one-year, before we go abroad. With his one-year birthday rapidly (TOO rapidly) approaching, I’ve started brainstorming ideas for our first trip. Right now, we’re leaning toward a London and English countryside trip. The thought of going somewhere new (I’ve only ever been to London in the UK), but not too new (the lack of a language barrier is extremely reassuring) is sounding like the ideal balance. Winston already has his passport, now he we just have to figure out where to take him!
  • Developmental milestones. I cannot believe how much Winston has learned in the past few months – rolling over, sitting up, feeding himself, laughing, squealing, scooting across the floor (he’s SO CLOSE to crawling), playing with toys, the list goes on and on. As much as I want to slow down the clock, I’m also so excited to watch this tiny human learn and grow.

So much has happened, but that’s the highlight reel. I hope to be much better about updating here in the future!

Mama told me there’d be days like this

First things first – <a href=”″&gt; Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I just set up an account on Bloglovin’, so now I’m “claiming” by blog. I’m still new to this whole blogging thing, but I’ve read about Bloglovin’ on several other blogs I follow. It seems like a convenient way to read all the blogs I follow, regardless of platform, in one place. Not to mention it’s much easier to discover new blogs. WordPress hasn’t been very helpful on that front.

Today, Baby Bear and I are having what my grandmother would have called a day – emphasized with a heavy sigh and quite possibly a look towards the heavens. While nighttime sleep has lately not been an issue (knock on wood), morning naps have recently been a huge challenge. Usually we wake up around 8, snuggle in bed for the thirty minutes (we are on the co-sleeping train, more on that later), and then get up to start the day.

About an hour later, I can tell he’s sleepy. He’s fussy, fidgety, and mouthy (but won’t nurse or take a bottle). We start the bedtime routine of swaddling, rocking, and singing a lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel by Billy Joel). I put him down, followed by another few minutes of singing and rocking, then I creep towards the door. This typically gets me a solid 1.5 – 2 hour nap, at which point he’s hungry, but all smiles as soon as he eats.

The past few mornings, he wakes up screaming right at the 40-minute mark. I know he’s still tired. He knows he’s still tired. But no amount of swaddling, rocking, nursing, or singing will convince him to fall asleep again. He’s awake and he wants the whole neighborhood to know. Today I had to go around closing all the windows in our house because I was worried someone might hear his wails and call child services.

The only thing that finally (after two hours) convinces him to fall asleep is putting him in his “kangaroo pouch” aka a Baby K’tan (which is an absolute LIFESAVER).

He’s sleeping, and that’s the important part, but part of me worries that I’m forming bad habits. Will he ever be able to sleep by himself? When does he learn this “self-soothing” thing I keep hearing so much about? Why didn’t he come with an instruction manual?

Ah, parenthood.