Wiggle Monsters at Bedtime

I wonder if it’s just hereditary. My husband always sleeps with his head cocked at an unnatural angle, has a history of talking in his sleep and sometimes sleepwalking (well, more like sleep fixing cars). My parents, on the other hand, always joked I could sleep through an atomic bomb (that ended abruptly when I developed the mommy sixth sense upon having a baby). So it’s definitely Daddy’s fault, let’s just be clear before we begin, haha.

My oldest was always an excellent sleeper as a baby; like right out of a paid infant sleep program infomercial. She went down while still semi-awake, would chatter to herself for a while, and then sleep for 6-8 hours straight. (I know!). So whatever she did after we put her to bed we had no idea except that she would often be completely flipped around in the crib in the morning.

Turns out she must have been turning somersaults all night. Since her transition to a big girl bed, when we’ve become aware of these nightly escapades, it seems that flopping around like crazy, illogically as it sounds, is necessary to calm herself down to sleep. She pushes her butt up in the air so that she’s semi standing on her head, she lays on her back with her legs straight up in the air, she fiddles with her hands, then she flops side to side until she passes out. I’d say it’s restless leg syndrome except it effects her entire body. And she has fits of wiggles punctuating the night too.

Obviously my husband and I knew we could not possibly have the same sleep luck with a second child. And since I was able to breastfeed Number 2, our sleep routine was necessarily different as well. I learned about his wiggle addiction much earlier. As he’s nursing to sleep, Number 2 has to kick his legs (Has to. I’ve tried holding his legs against me, in a you’re safe and secure way, and he’ll struggle to get his legs free; not because he wants them straight or he’s getting into a comfy position, just to continue kicking). He also has to open and close his hands repeatedly. Usually he’ll grab around a finger or part of my nursing bra but lately he’s been going for skin (ouch!). He’s also been known to repeatedly smack himself in the face with an arm while nursing and almost asleep (not joking). And of course he doesn’t even flinch, self-inflicted face smacking doesn’t wake him up in the slightest, but I drop a blanket softly over his legs and he’s instantly awake. Anyway, he doesn’t stop moving some part of his body until he’s dead asleep and even then I’m convinced he’d still suck forever if he could.

On one level I’m thinking that all this wiggling doesn’t seem to bother my babies so why should I care? I almost want to liken it to the habit of a dog who has to turn exactly 3 circles before laying down on his designated end of the couch to sleep. Just one of those odd things, but if it makes you feel better, go for it. But on another level I’m in the shallow end of irrational paranoia predicting diseases that haven’t even been named yet. My daughter has also recently started having night terrors with no known trigger (you know, where your peaceful child wakes up in the middle of the night screaming bloody murder and then fall back asleep like nothing ever happened with no recollection of it the next morning whatsoever? fun stuff).

So I wonder if this restless routine of fighting sleep is somehow related to sleep problems in general (current or future). Or maybe it’s just something lots of kids do? Or, like I said at the beginning, maybe it’s just a way of being that runs in families. I didn’t find much in my searches online. Anyone else have a wiggle monster at bedtime?

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Infant Car Seats VS All-in-One Convertible Car Seats

I think most first time parents, or at least all the ones I see waiting in our pediatrician’s office, go for a basic infant car seat like we did. You know the ones I’m talking about; it’s got the handle on the top and the base that stays in the car. We got a Graco SnugRide 32 for our first baby. Well, infant car seats are great for a number of reasons:

Graco Snugride 35

Graco Snugride 35

  1. Portable – If baby is asleep when you park the car, you can pop the whole car seat out to carry baby undisturbed into the house. You can also easily stick most infant car seats on a travel-system stroller without disturbing them if they’re sleeping or just in a good mood (we found that getting in and out of the car seat was generally the most upsetting to our babies).
  2. Fast – It is a lifesaver to be able to adjust baby’s straps and buckle them in nice and cozy before leaving the house (especially if you had a 2 door car in the beginning like we did – what were we thinking?!). Once you get to the car, most infant car seats come with a base that allows you to secure it by setting the car seat on top and aligning it with a click. It takes about 5 seconds and you’re good to go.
  3. Winter Bonus – If you’re trying to avoid dressing your baby in bulky winter wear while strapped into the car seat, there are lots of covers for infant car seats that let you ensure baby’s warmth and optimum safety.

With time and experience, we figured out what worked best for us and what didn’t. Here’s what we did not like about our infant car seat:

  1. Heavy – There are lots of different ergonomic handle designs and arm pads you can attach, but all infant car seats are bulky, heavy, and hard to carry – it’s why they’re so safe. Remember, even the lightest car seat won’t be light once your baby is inside – and babies put on weight so fast! I dreaded carrying it just from our house to the car.
  2. Short Lifespan – Even though our daughter was a tiny thing, she couldn’t use her infant car seat for more than a year (and even if she could have fit, she really began to hate being so reclined – she wanted to see the world, look out the windows, etc.). I have noticed some new infant-style car seats with fancy multi-position bases that allow you to use them rear facing up until age 2 (or the seat’s height and weight limits) like the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 Infant Car Seat. It’s pretty amazing but still requires you to get a new seat after 2 years instead of 1.
  3. Expensive (comparably) – Our Graco Snugride 32 retailed for approximately $150. After one year we had to buy a second toddler car seat which retailed about $300 (we bought it for less on Amazon though). Luckily, our toddler car seat (more about it below) is a convertible seat and can also be used as a booster later (up to 120 lbs), so we won’t have to buy her anything else in this department.
  4. Little Resale Value – Most experts advise against buying used car seats so you may not have many takers if you try to resell (or they’ll want a steep discount… like they’ll give you $20). It is wise advice though because car seats that have been in a car accident may have hidden damage and no longer offer adequate protection. Car seats also have expiration dates because over time the plastic can weaken and safety standards can change. When you’re dealing with something that could mean the difference between life and death for your child, it just isn’t worth it. I recommend taking your infant car seat into a Babies R Us during one of their Great Trade-In Events. From the company’s website: “The Great Trade-in Event places an emphasis on specific baby products, such as cribs and car seats that, due to safety concerns, may not be the best candidates to be handed down or resold.” At least you get 25% off something new that way!
Diono Radian RXT

Diono Radian RXT

So, as you probably guessed, we did not buy an infant car seat for our second baby. We were actually so pleased with O’s toddler car seat, the Diono Radian RXT (formerly Sunshine Kids), that, seeing the acceptable weight range started at 5 pounds, we just started him out in the same model his sister loves. We’re done buying car seats for his whole car-seat-needing life!

To be honest, there have been many times I’ve wished I didn’t have to unstrap Number 2 to take him out of the car, knowing he’d wake up the minute I did. But there’s no guarantee he would have stayed blissfully asleep in his car seat like his sister used to either. So, no regrets. We upgraded to a 4 door family car a while ago (thank god), so buckling baby into his seat no longer involves folding myself into origami (the infant car seat was so annoying to carry, we sometimes left it in the car). And, as with my first, I prefer baby wearing (Baby K’Tan shout-out!) to using a stroller while they’re tiny anyway.

If you do decide to start your newborn in an all-in-one convertible car seat like we did, there are more and more appearing on the market now (like the Graco Smart Seat All-in-One Convertible Car Seat) so you’ll have a lot of choices. But, before you start shopping, I have to mention a few extra things about the Diono Radian RXT car seat that we really loved:

  1. The Diono Radian RXT can be rear-facing up to 45 lbs which makes it the highest rear-facing seat available in the US. That’s nothing to sneeze at. (heh, who says that anymore?) According to this article on CNN from Parenting.com, a study “found that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing. Another study found riding rear-facing to be five times safer than forward-facing.” And just so we’re all clear, I hope everyone knows that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends that all children be rear-facing until age 2 (or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their car seat). In her Diono, our daughter O was happy rear-facing until almost 3 years old – seriously, leg squish was not a problem.
  2. The Diono Radian RXT has a very slim profile that the brand says allows you to fit 3 across the backseat of most standard size cars. Now, we don’t have 3 kids, so I didn’t think this would be important until we tried putting O’s old Graco Snugride in the back next to her Diono (before our second was born while we were still in research mode). There was NO WAY anyone would have been able to squish into that third seat. We tried every configuration. Amazingly when our second Diono arrived, we put Olyla by the window, Number 2 in the center, and our third seat was usable for an adult.
The backseat of our car

The backseat of our car

If you’ve fallen in love with a particular All-in-One car seat, definitely share the name of it in the comments. As I said above, there are lots more brands creating their own versions since the AAP changed their safety recommendations.

*I was not compensated in any way by Graco or Diono for this review.

The Truth About Strollers – Smart Questions to Think About

Let’s get right down to it. Here are some useful things the sales people probably won’t ask you to think about when you’re looking to buy your first stroller:

  1. Will you be taking the subway/train regularly with your stroller?  If so, look for a stroller with 3 wheels instead of 4 since they’ll be less wide and take up less room. Also look for a stroller that you can easily fold 1 handed and that’s light/compact enough for you to carry with 1 hand – especially if you’re in NYC, there are NO elevators in most subway stops (found that out the hard way). My favorite and the stroller we ended up with? The popular for a very good reason Baby Jogger City Mini (pictured).
  2. Some strollers have flat, bassinet-like infant attachments, like the Bugaboo Cameleon (pictured), or the strollers can be modified to be used with an infant car seat, like most Graco travel systems. But my husband and I preferred to trade off strapping our baby to us in a wrap or carrier, so we never had any use for a cradle-type stroller design. Our daughter was always happy as long as she was snuggled up close and in the action and since she was a small baby, we carried her for at least 6 months, probably more (pregnant brain memory lapse). But depending on the size/weight of your baby and their temperament, any back problems you might have, personal preferences, etc., this might not be the same for you. If you think you want to try wrapping though, see if you can hold off on the stroller at least until baby is old enough to sit up on their own. (BTW – More on wraps & carriers coming soon in a new post!).
  3. Also, before you spend $1000 on an admittedly awesome stroller (like the Stokke Xplory pictured), consider how long you’ll use it compared to the price. For example: my daughter is just about to turn 2 and we’ve used our stroller about 10-20 times at most. We go on walks just about every day and have rigorously practiced hand-holding so ever since she’s learned to use her legs, walking is usually her preferred method of travel. We still bring out the stroller though if we’re going to be in a really crowded area or if we plan on walking around the city all day long – so definitely still useful to have a stroller, but I would have had serious buyers remorse if I’d gotten some of the other models I looked at.
    However, I often see people pushing their 4 year olds around in strollers and although I don’t see that happening for us, we’re not there yet, so who knows!? If that’s the case though, and the weight limit on the stroller is high enough (and the straps adjust in case your child is very short or tall), it can definitely be worth the money (especially if you’re planning on using the stroller for multiple children) – I think it really just depends on the child and the parents. Just something to think about.
  4. I mentioned before that we preferred to wear our daughter with wraps and carriers but the one exception was when it was cold and rainy or snowing. Of course you prefer to not go out in bad weather, but sometimes it’s necessary and baby can’t be home alone so they have to come to. I still haven’t found an acceptable baby ski mask (joke), so although you can bundle baby up pretty well from neck to toes and stick a nice warm hat on, there are days when I’ve have my face wrapped up in a scarf so I certainly wouldn’t want baby’s face exposed either, even for a few minutes. In these cases, a rain cover over the top of your stroller acts nicely as both an umbrella and wind blocker. It’s also a better way to bundle up our little toddler – even though she’d prefer to walk, mommy’d prefer she stay warm. So if you live where there’s snow or a cold wind chill, make sure the stroller you decide to get has a removable rain cover or that generic covers (like the Jolly Jumper Weathershield pictured) will fit your stroller.
  5. Two words: cup holder. Make sure your stroller at least has the option for you to get an attachment later. I found it essential (and if it’s large enough or will adjust to fit baby’s bottle/sippy cup, even better!).

 

Do you have any other slightly uncommon stroller suggestions? I’d love to hear them!

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