Adventures in Toddler Discipline: Setting Boundaries

Avery has started standing and jumping on the furniture as a way of testing boundaries. We have told her that she needs to sit or lay down when she’s on the couch or the chairs, because she could fall and get hurt from standing and jumping. She wants to see just how far we’ll go to enforce this rule, and she needs to test us every single day in case we’ve changed the rule from the day before.

Avery: stands on couch

Me: please sit on your bum when you’re on the couch.

Avery: smirks, stays standing.

Me: Can you sit down on your own, or do you need me to help you get off the couch?

Avery: still smirking, starts stomping her feet.

Me: You’re showing me that you need help to get down. Lifts her onto the floor.

Avery: kicking and crying. Runs to the next piece of furniture, climbs up, and stands on it.

Me: Sit or I’ll help you down.

Avery: stomps and cries.

Me: lifts her down.

Avery: runs to the next chair, stands on it.

Me: lifts her down.

Avery: screams.

Me: pulls hair out in frustration.

Finally out of furniture to climb on, she gives up and runs off to play with something more appropriate. It is unclear who won.

If you’re interested in how we devise our game plan for dealing with boundary testing behaviour like this, I highly recommend two books: The Soul of Discipline and No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame.

I recommend both of these books, but No Bad Kids is a quicker read with very easy to follow ideas for actually responding to your kid’s behaviour in real time. The Soul of Discipline gets more into theory of misbehaviour and discipline.

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

The Soul of Discipline: The Simplicity Parenting Approach to Warm, Firm, and Calm Guidance- From Toddlers to Teens

Full disclosure: These are affiliate links, but I have not yet been accepted into Amazon’s Affiliate Program. I need to drive 3 sales in order for my blog to be considered for this program. If you’re interested in either of these books, purchasing through the links provided here will help me to qualify for the affiliate program. Belonging to the Amazon Affiliate Program will allow me to earn a very small commission from Amazon sales made through the affiliate links I provide on my blog.

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5 Awesome Baby Books for Raising a Socially Conscious Kid

I don’t know if these books are actually going to make your baby into a social justice warrior one day. Regardless, when I’m reading books to my baby, I do worry when they illustrate ancient gender roles, or when they are white washed. As a social justice warrior myself, it’s important to me to be able to read books to my baby that promote positive messaging about diversity, social justice, and just being a good person.

This is part 1 of a series of baby books I’m going to recommend. I figure that releasing 5 at a time makes the list easier to get through, and it also gives me a chance to hear YOUR recommendations and potentially add them to future lists.

For now, these are some of our favourites from our bookshelf. We’ve actually read them, so I can actually vouch for them. I love them, Avery loves them, and they have socially conscious messaging that support diversity and compassion for others.

Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
Fuller disclosure: This is my first time trying out affiliate links, and my approval into Amazon’s affiliate program is still pending – I need to drive 3 sales in order for my website to be approved for the program. I won’t always make posts this link-heavy, but I’ve been wanting to publish this book list for a while, and I decided it was time to try my hand at bringing in a few pennies for the links I want to share anyway. I will still only post links for books/products that I really, really recommend.

Book List for Raising a Socially Conscious Kid: Part 1


5. The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf

The Story of Ferdinand

Notes: This is a cute little book about a young bull named Ferdinand. This book would have packed a more powerful social justice punch a decade ago when it was even more unacceptable for little boys to be interested in stereotypically feminine activities, but hypermasculinity is still rampant, and children and parents everywhere still need to be reminded that boys don’t have be stereotypical boys to be awesome. The reason why I like this book over others with similar messages (like My Princess Boy) is because Ferdinand is non-human, so there are no concerns about racial diversity. I also really liked the ultimate message of non-violence in this book.
Socially Conscious Message(s): boys don’t have to be masculine to be awesome; non-violence is awesome
Types of Diversity it Encompasses: gender expression (masculinity).
Board Book Available: No


4. Mama, Do You Love Me?, by Barbara M. Joosse

Mama, Do You Love Me?

Notes: This book makes the list solely because it celebrates a marginalized, vulnerable culture, Inuit culture. It’s refreshing to see representation of Inuit culture, and it helps me to keep my daughter’s book shelf full of diversity. We also love this book because it tells a beautiful story we can all relate to about the unconditional nature of a mother’s love. Here’s an excerpt to show some of the awesomeness of this book’s message. It’s dialogue between a child, who is testing the limits of their mother’s love, and the mother, who reassures the child that even if she is angry at the child (or scared), she will always love her child.

What if I turned into a polar bear and I was the meanest bear you ever saw and I had sharp , shiny teeth, and I chased you into your tent and you cried?

Then I would be very surprised and very scared. But still, inside the bear, you would be you, and I would love you.

The illustrations are also bright and colourful and really catch a baby’s eye.
Socially Conscious Message(s): teaches about an underrepresented culture, a parent’s love is the same across cultures
Types of Diversity it Encompasses: Racial/Cultural (not enough literature represents Indigenous cultures)
Board Book Available: Yes


3. What Does It Mean To Be Kind? by Rana DiOrio

What Does It Mean to Be Kind?

Notes: One of my favourite ways this book suggests to be kind is …”allowing yourself to make and learn from your mistakes”. This is such an important lesson for raising allies and social justice advocates, because being afraid of making mistakes is a huge barrier when trying to learn about others and do right by them. A note is about the illustrator’s attempt to represent diverse races: There is an attempt, but every character in the book is pretty light skinned, even the ones who I think are supposed to be Black. But the illustrator did take racial diversity into consideration.
Socially Conscious Message(s): celebrate differences, have empathy and compassion for others
Types of Diversity it Encompasses: racial (sort of…), visible disability (there is one wheelchair), gender (sort of – there are some gender-ambigious characters).
Board Book Available: No.


2. What Makes a Baby, by Cory Silverberg

What Makes a Baby

Notes: I bought this book when we first got pregnant. It is unbelievably inclusive. Like, you didn’t know a book could be so inclusive. It tells the story of how a baby is made by making reference to parts of the body that are required (i.e., egg, sperm, uterus), and does not make reference to gender (as in, there’s none of that “when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much” barf-inducing crap). I also love that all of the characters are various colours of the rainbow, from blue to green to brown. This book is effectively for everybody, from any ethnic background, from any family dynamic. Cory Silverberg also wrote a book called Sex Is a Funny word that I bought (I pre-ordered it because I love this author so much), but that’s for older kids.
Socially Conscious Message(s): families come in all forms, people come in all colours
Types of Diversity it Encompasses: race, gender, sexual orientation
Board book available: No


1. Counting on Community, by Innosanto Nagara

Counting on Community

Notes: An adorable little book with a strong social consciousness message. This book is a counting book (One stuffed piñata, Two neighbour friends, Three urban farmers, etc.), but it’s far from your everyday baby’s counting book. The images and words will expose your baby to various cultures and ethnicities, and to pro-social ideas like protesting as a community, and pro-environmental ideas like raising backyard chickens (and ducks!). The words are simple and few and have a nice ring to them, and the images are colourful and interesting (but may be a bit complex for an infant’s brain to interpret). I love that we see our family in this book as the “urban farmers” and that we can see and imagine the friends that my baby will one day make on our street. Lovely book.
Socially Conscious Message(s): growing your own food (environmental), protest to make positive social change, participate in festivities, food and music of cultures besides our own.
Types of Diversity it Encompasses: racial/cultural
Board Book Available: Yes


What social consciousness raising books do you and your littles love?

30 Days of Blogging, Day 25

I am so thankful that Avery has a cousin the same age as her. Since her sibling would/will be quite a bit younger, it’s so great to see her forming a relationship with the other kid who will probably be with her for the rest of their lives, as long as the family stays close.

This weekend we visited my sister-in-law for an overnight and the kids, who are 5 months apart, played like it was 1999. The laughter, happy screams, and even tough sharing or hitting moments made my heart full. They are growing up together, learning from each other about how to be in this world.

Avery also has this with daycare, but I know one day we’ll part ways with our daycare provider and the friends she has made there, when school starts.

On another topic, the drive home from our visit with family showed a new, more mature side of Avery. We had a long day full of fun, and left at bedtime. Long car rides at bedtime have historically been disastrous for us – Avery gets overtired and doesn’t want to be stuck in her car seat and screams and screams (once for almost all of a 2 hour car ride). But tonight she really seemed to get it when I said we were going home and would be going to bed as soon as we got there. She was calm. She was tired, rubbing her eyes and yawning, and still didn’t sleep in the car, but she was SO PATIENT. She asked me to sing her songs, she babbled to herself, and she just sat quietly and stared off into the distance for a while. No tears. No whining. I am loving this new level of communication so much. It’s so hard when they’re little babies and can’t understand why you’re making them do something they don’t want to do, and can’t hold their delicate shit together for long. That’s not to say toddlers can hold their shit together WELL, but it sure does get easier and easier as they get older!

30 Days of Blogging, Day 19

Rain, dark and dreary skies, chilly and damp air. This January thaw will ultimately break and we’ll get more snow and frigid temps, but while it lasts, this is my kind of weather. Maybe I should live in BC or the UK… I love dark and dreary rainy days.

Having submitted my dissertation proposal to my committee, I have free time now. I’m still dabbling in developing research materials and an ethics appliction, but I also don’t want to get too far ahead of myself in case my committee suggests big changes.

Because I now have time to get all the household chores done before Avery gets home from daycare, we get to really enjoy the afternoons together. Today we spent 2 hours after her nap just finger painting and playing with playdough. It’s great for her colour recognition and naming. She can ask for blue, red, pink, and purple by name.

Also, she showed a sign of being ready to potty train (although we’re still planning to wait a bit longer). She laid down on the floor and asked me to change her diaper. As soon as her diaper was off, she jumped up, squatted, and peed (thank goodness we have hardwood!). I said “Oh! Pee!” And she started repeating, “Pee! Pee!” She was really proud of herself. We don’t yet own a potty, so I didn’t really know what to do when she decided to go on the floor. But I guess we’ll see if she tries to take her diaper off to go again, and we might have to pick up a potty sooner than we thought.

We haven’t done any potty training at all with her, but we are reading her the book Duck Goes Potty. She is obsessed with ducks, so we figured it was a natural potty training book to add to her library. I’m now wondering if she got the idea to take her diaper off from that book. Exciting times, we’re living in right now!

30 Days of Blogging, Day 18

Weaning from breastfeeding. I don’t think I’ve ever been so back and forth on a life decision as I have been with the decision of when and how to wean my daughter from breastfeeding. My blog reflects that with a mix of posts about weaning attempts and posts about how hardcore committed I am to breastfeeding.

Some days I feel like I’m ready to throw in the towel. Like I’m being tapped of my energy and life essence, or I’m touched out, or I just want to be able to have that second big glass of wine after a hard day. I look at my big, healthy toddler and I think, it’s just for me that we’re still nursing. She doesn’t need this anymore.

But then on other days I’m extremely defensive about any suggestion that we stop. I want to fight back against the stigma about toddlers breastfeeding. I shout from the rooftops that the WHO recommends breastfeeding until age 2. I want to remind everyone that breasts were made to feed children. I love how easy it is for me to soothe my cranky toddler, how easy it is for me to get her to sleep (a thousand times a night……), and how reassured I feel when she’s sick and she’s staying super hydrated because she loves nursing so much.

But today I’m flopping to the side of being ready to wean. My nipples have bloody little cuts on them from sharp fingernails and teeth. My wife can no longer sooth her through the night since we gave up night weaning. Last night she was attached to me for hours in the middle of the night and I felt a really uncomfortable surge of anxiety rushing through me. It was like restless leg syndrome in my whole body. I wanted my body back.

So once again, I’m launching a plan to wean. I’m actually considering trying to be completely done by the time she’s 18 months, which is just over one month away. The last nursing sessions to go will be nursing to sleep at nap and bedtime.

Don’t hold me to this timeline, because we all know I’m a flip flopper. But this is my current goal.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 9

It’s cold again. It’s supposed to go down to  -20°C again tonight, and it’s icy and snowy outside. It’s the kind of weather for family cuddles. The kind of weather where I miss bed sharing with my baby. 

And when your baby has another nasty cough and cold and has to choose whether to breathe through her mouth and trigger more coughing, or breathe through her nose and not get enough air to her lungs, it’s really, really hard to withhold nighttime nursing. Nursing is the throat soothing cure-all that helps her sleep through anything. 

So about that night weaning we started… the night weaning has gone out the window during my shift. While my wife is on call for nighttime wakings (from bedtime till 1am), Avery goes back to sleep with nothing more than my wife poking her head through the doorway and saying “go back to sleep.” During my shift, I’ve started nursing her again. It’s how she sleeps well through being sick. It’s the only way to get her back to sleep during her bouts of middle-of-the-night insomnia (even during my wife’s shift). 

So weaning is a discussion topic for another day (or month, or year….).

On a related note, Avery LOVES peppermint tea. It’s just a dried mint leaf from our garden steeped in hot water. And when she’s sick, a little dollop of honey is a great throat soother. 

Daycare countdown: planning sleep strategies

Avery and I start the daycare transition in 7 days. I am equal parts anxious and heartbroken, and excited for her to make friends and gain new experiences. Our daycare provider, whom I will herein refer to as Gwen, asked me to give her a list of Avery’s favourite foods and foods she doesn’t like, as well as tips for making her happy or comforted. Guess I can’t put “me” on the comfort list. 

Although I didn’t plan to be, I have been a bit of an Attachment Parent. I nurse Avery to sleep, and she naps on me for most naps. She has never been laid down in her crib and gone to sleep of her own accord. We have tried, but it’s not in her skill toolbox yet. So this makes me feel anxious as we prepare to put her in daycare. Please excuse my ramblings as I work out my worries in this post. 

Let me back up a bit and give an update about night time sleep and nap transitions. 

Avery has been showing us lately that she can put herself back to sleep when she wakes through the night, but nighttime sleep has still been a bit of a roller-coaster. Some nights she wakes every 20 minutes and bed shares for the second half of the night, and other nights she goes 7 hours alone in her crib. Sleep development is not linear, but big picture I see definite improvements. As for naps, I think she is trying to transition to one nap a day. She will often be chipper and awake until 11am, and then sleep soundly for 2 or 3 hours. With one nap a day, bedtime is a BREEZE. However, some days she is tired and cranky at 8:30am, and on those days we stick to two naps, which makes bedtime tougher because she’s just not quite tired enough. It’s a complicated phase that requires flexibility and being really in tune with her sleep needs on a day-to-day basis. 

So how does this impact our daycare prep? Back when I was interviewing daycares, I was adamant that they offer us two naps a day. I figured that because most babies aren’t ready to go down to one nap until 15-18 months, that my high sleep needs baby definitely wouldn’t be ready for one. Our provider (Gwen) agreed to accommodate, because she will only have two kids in her care for now, and they will both be 12 months. It was really great to ease my mind back when we were searching for a daycare, but now I’m thinking that the nap schedule just won’t work for us. In order to squeeze two naps into the short day before Gwen’s after-school kids arrive (and babies get picked up), naps are scheduled for 10-11, and 1-2:30. There is no way Avery will go to sleep 2 hours after waking. Not a chance.  

So for the past couple of weeks I have been trying to transition Avery to a 10am nap, and I have also been working on getting her to sleep for her nap without nursing. The 10am nap time works well most of the time, but some days she refuses completely and has one afternoon nap instead. I can only hope that Gwen will work with Avery’s day-to-day needs by helping her get to sleep with rocking if she’s emotional from being tired, or by letting her play quietly while the other baby naps if she is just too awake to sleep. 

As for the afternoon nap being too early, we are accommodating this by having me pick her up at 1pm for the first few months, until both babies are ready for one nap. However, I’m sure she will go at least the first month being too stressed to sleep during the morning nap, and will need an earlier afternoon nap. The daycare transition will probably make her tired enough to put a hold on the nap transition. 

Now on to my concern about GETTING AVERY TO SLEEP. Like most daycare providers, Gwen plans to put the babies in cribs, turn off the light, and let them go to sleep. One does not simply let my baby fall asleep. One actively assists my baby in falling asleep. I have been successful in cutting out the nurse to nap (although I passionately believe in continuing to nurse to sleep at night), but I’ve had to replace it with another sleep crutch – walking in the stroller. On the days we have one nap instead of two, it’s remarkably easier to get her to sleep. A few minutes of rocking will get her out cold, and I can even put her down to carry out the rest of her nap alone. I guess all I can do to help her get to sleep at daycare is to ask Gwen to offer her a bit of rocking, to wait until she is truly tired and otherwise let her play quietly, and to cross my fingers and pray and send positive vibes to her throughout the day and really just let it be. I’ve heard that babies will adapt to new routines with new people, and Avery has shown lots of signs that she is adaptable (in new situations, at least, but not really with new people…). 

So there’s my plan for getting through the awkward adjustment phase of Avery’s sleep at daycare. I’m super nervous, but I think/hope that 6 months from now I will look back on this and laugh and say what was I so worried about?