Monday, July 29, 2013

My First Guest Post: Lila's Birth Story!

Reed and Asher were both born in hospitals. For various reasons, Ryan and I decided to use a birth center--The Birth Sweet in St. George, Utah--for Lila's birth. I'll write a post about why we made the decision later. We loved our experience at The Birth Sweet, so when my midwife, Cyndi, asked if I would write Lila's birth story for her to use on her blog, I immediately said yes. You can find Lila's birth story here if you'd like to read it!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Baby Whisperer's "Four S" Pre-nap Routine: What it Looks Like for Me

(Sleeping Lila, 5 Months Old)

Have you heard of the "Baby Whisperer"? Before I had my third baby, I had heard nary a whisper of her. But when the term "Baby Whisperer" started popping up on my two favorite baby sleep blogs, I knew I needed to find out who this Baby Whisperer was and to read her book so I could understand her full method. The Baby Whisperer is a woman named Tracy Hogg who knows a lot about baby sleep. (You can find her two books here and here.) I really liked both books but, honestly, they are a little bit wordy, so I will summarize a few of my favorite Baby Whisperer methods in the next few posts.

One of the best things I got from the Baby Whisperer was the Four S pre-nap routine. I know that everyone has a different pre-nap routine that they swear by, but this routine is a great general routine that could be personalized by pretty much anyone. Here are the basics:

1. Set the Stage: Setting the stage essentially means giving baby cues that bedtime or nap time is coming. If you use the same cues every time, baby will associate those cues with nap time and when those cues come will start preparing to sleep and won't be surprised to find herself in her crib. How do I set the stage? I'm glad you asked. I take Lila into her room, turn on her noise maker, and turn off the light. Boom. Stage set.

2. Swaddle: Lila girl loves her swaddle. After the stage is set, I swaddle her tightly. My current favorite swaddler is the SwaddleMe. The SwaddleMe is perfect for summer because it's so lightweight, and Lila generally can't unwrap herself super quickly, enabling her to fall asleep more easily.

3. Sit: This step was confusing to me when I read a summary of the step on a sleep blog. At first, I thought Hogg meant to have the baby sit on your lap and just kind of hang out--which seemed weird. After reading the books and other sleep blogs, though, I realized that "sitting" was referring to me. I sit in my rocking chair with Lila and pat her back. I usually get a burp out of her, which is good because I know gas won't bother her as much during her nap. Some babies like to be held upright during this step (like you are burping them up at your shoulder), but Lila likes to be held cradle-style. You don't want to rock, bounce, or sway with your baby during this step--which is super counter-intuitive, I know. The idea is for them to relax, not to fall asleep. And bouncing/rocking can actually overstimulate a baby--which is also counter-intuitive, right? Hogg suggests sitting for up to 10-15 minutes, until baby is very relaxed. Honestly, now that we've been doing the Four S routine for a while, Lila and I usually only sit for about 2-5 minutes before she is starting to fall asleep.

4. Shush-pat: Hogg's shush-pat method is one key she talks about repeatedly. The idea is that your baby can only focus on two things at a time; so if you are shushing (pretty loudly) and patting firmly, your baby doesn't have enough focus left to think about crying. However, I have found that shush-pat is not ideal for us. After several days of shush-patting (and nearly passing out because I was so out of breath from all the shushing), I realized that for Lila, at least, shush-patting was actually winding her up more and making her cry harder. So I pat her during step three (sit), then I put her in her bed. I leave my hand on her chest for 30 seconds or so, then I let the noise maker do the shushing for me. She is usually asleep in about five minutes. Some babies love the shush-pat, and will need to be patted after put in bed--experiment and see what works for you!

So there you have it: my version of the Four S routine. This routine takes about 5-10 minutes and has worked wonders for me--I hope it helps you, too! I started using this routine when Lila was about one month old and by two-and-a-half months she was falling asleep in her bed by herself within 5-10 minutes of putting her down! Please feel free to leave questions in the comment section below.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Heat Rash: What It Is and How to Treat It

I live in the desert. From mid-June through August, the temperature is almost always over 100 degrees and, lately, we've had temperatures hovering around 115 degrees. These extreme temperatures combined with my children's uber-sensitive skin inevitably lead to heat rash. When Lila got a particularly bad case of heat rash this summer, I decided I should learn a little more about heat rash and what to do to treat it (other than "wait for it to go away," my old standby method). And, luckily for you, I've decided to share what I learned.

What is Heat Rash?
Heat rash is, essentially, clogged pores. We sweat to cool down. When we sweat too much, our pores can clog, causing small red bumps to erupt on our skin. Anyone can get heat rash, but babies are especially prone to heat rash because their pores are so small. Heat rash is not usually painful, but it is a sign that your baby is overheated, which can lead to more serious problems.

(I like this article from for a more complete description of heat rash, if you're interested.)

How Should I Treat Heat Rash?
I used the list of treatment options from the BabyCenter article I referenced above and took the ideas for a test drive. Here is what I did and what I found to help the most:

1. Remove Baby's Clothing {Super helpful}
One of the first things I did was to strip Lila down to a diaper only. Removing her clothing helped so much that now--at least for the summer months--she basically only wears a diaper, unless we are going out. Then I dress her in loose, lightweight clothing. I have also tried just putting her in a onesie, but she still gets quite warm during her naps with any clothing on.

2. Lose the Swaddle {Utter Failure}
After removing Lila's clothes and still finding her warm upon waking from a nap, I decided to remove all that was left: her swaddle. Worst. Decision. Ever. We had one hellish day where she only took 35-40 minute naps before I decided to find a different solution.

3. Crank Up the Air {Helpful}
After I realized that getting rid of the swaddle was not an option, I decided to try making Lila's room cooler. Lila's room already has a ceiling fan that I always run at the highest setting. I don't want to even imagine what our A/C bill would be like without ceiling fans! Anyway, I decided to add an extra floor fan to her room to add a little more air flow. Honestly, the fan didn't really seem to make a difference. However, I recently removed the fan when we had guests staying at our house and I found a noticeable difference in the room temperature when the fan was gone--apparently the fan was helping cool the room more than I had realized.

4. Lukewarm Baking Soda Bath {Super helpful}
For two days (during the worst of Lila's heat rash) I gave Lila a baking soda bath using cool water. I used about 2 teaspoons of baking soda per gallon of water. I implemented the baking soda bath on day two of my heat rash treatment and almost immediately noticed a difference in the heat rash. In addition to reducing the amount of heat rash on Lila's body, the baking soda bath also really helped to cool her down.

5. Air Dry {Hard to tell--certainly didn't hurt!}
Instead of rubbing Lila dry post-bath, I patted her down with a towel. Also, per my pediatrician's suggestion, I ensured that her creases (like under her neck and between her arms) got plenty of air time. Sometimes, that meant holding her arm in the air so she could dry. If areas remain wet, baby's skin is more likely to get irritated.

6. No Lotions/Creams {Oops.}
At first, I thought Lila was just having eczema issues--all three of my kids have dry, sensitive skin, so redness is common around here. And the way I usually treat eczema is by applying aquaphor topped by a moisturizing lotion, per my pediatrician's advice. Apparently this treatment was actually making the heat rash worse by trapping moisture in to Lila's skin. Once I realized that I was dealing with heat rash, I stopped using the lotions until the heat rash cleared up. Now, while it's still so hot, I've been using a very scant layer of aquaphor as necessary for dryness.

7. Cornstarch {Super Helpful}
I didn't actually use cornstarch in my initial heat rash treatment. But, a few weeks after Lila's heat rash cleared up, her creases started to get quite irritated. So I used a very light dusting of cornstarch. The irritation cleared up immediately. Note: Do NOT use talcum powder, which is dangerous for baby to breathe!

By day two of my heat rash treatment efforts, Lila's heat rash was much improved; and by day four, the heat rash was gone altogether. We've had a few small breakouts since then, but with these treatments we've been able to avoid anything too bad.

What's your best trick for treating heat rash? Anyone have a swaddle fail like I did?