Just another post about weaning from breastfeeding and #sleep.

Sorry to those followers who like to hear new stories about my goings-on. This is old news. We’re trudging through the challenging and sad territory of weaning from breastfeeding with a toddler who has only ever been able to sleep through breastfeeding.

It’s been about a month since we night weaned again (I say again because we night weaned a few months ago but that attempt only lasted two weeks). There have been two – maybe three – nights where I’ve broken down after hours of middle-of-the-night wakefulness and nursed my toddler back to sleep. Other than that, she only nurses twice a day – to sleep for nap, and to sleep at bedtime. She has handled the night weaning well for the most part, and doesn’t ask for milk through the night anymore. Thankfully, there really weren’t very many tears over the change. Occasionally when she’s having a rough time with a cough or congestion, an itchy rash, or being overtired she’ll ask politely for milk, but when I calmly say “no milk until bedtime” she doesn’t ask again. She has unlimited access to hugs, kisses and cuddles, as well as warm mint tea for that belly-warming feeling.

The first time we tried night weaning, she ended up sleeping through the night for the first time ever. I thought night weaning was our golden ticket to better sleep. I thought she was only waking so much at night because she had become conditioned to get milk at those times, and by de-conditioning her, she’d no longer wake. But last night, not unlike every other night this month, she woke up 5 times and stayed awake from 1am until 3am. And then she was up for the day at 4:30. She’s at daycare right now, but I’m just waiting for the call that she needs to come home early to sleep (she does half days and has her nap at home with me after lunch).

We’re just as exhausted as we were when she was an infant. It has me aching to spend a night in bed with her, letting her nurse freely through the night, so we all get a good sleep. But we keep hoping that eventually she’ll figure out how to fall back asleep without milk, and we don’t want to drag this process out by taking a step backwards.

This experience has reinforced my decision to not sleep train her using conventional methods – it’s right for some kids, not right for others. She’s the kind of kid who will stay awake ALL NIGHT LONG to get what she wants. In the crib, she would have cried for hours. In her toddler bed, she can get up and get a stuffed animal she wants, she can come and get me from my room without crying for me, she can easily remove or get another blanket… I’m happy we waited to try independent sleeping (without nursing or co-sleeping) until she was actually independent. I think she would have been awake just as much had we done it earlier, but she would have been a lot more distressed about it.

So life now is a waiting game, and we’re just trying to survive while we wait. We’re doing what we can to help her sleep – cuddles, reassuring cheek kisses, lots of rest through the day – but nursing through the night is no longer a tool in our toolbox. We want to see this through.

Wish us luck…

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18 months

Height: 33 inches

Weight: 29 pounds

Clothing size: 2/3T

Eighteen months is kind of a milestone for me. I had the idea that Avery at 18 months would be happier, easier to communicate with, more fun, and more independent. And she is all of those things!

As with any age and stage of development, though, there are ups and downs. Let’s start with the awesome things she has started to do that make life more enjoyable.

She asks to colour, or to play with playdough, and she’ll sit at the table doing these independent activities, by herself, while I do dishes or make a meal. We go for walks outside without the stroller, and she splashes in puddles and crashes through the snow. And at this wonderful age, she happily holds my hand without a fight.

She sits down and takes off her own boots, mits, hat and coat (although she still gets stuck in her coat).

If she spills something, she gets a cloth off the kitchen counter (yes, she’s that tall) and wipes it up. She picks up garbage laying around the house and carries it to the garbage can (did I just admit that my house is littered with garbage?)

Her language is starting to develop more rapidly. One day she could suddenly say “Cheerio”, and the next day she had mastered “turtle”. She can identify and say (more or less) a few colours now: pink, blue, purple, yellow and orange.

She has gotten scary good at animal sounds. She even does the elephant sound using her arm as the trunk, and cats are now called “Meow” instead of “cat”. My favourite is the monkey sound: “ooh ooh ooh ooh!” and sometimes “ah ah ah ah!” I hope I always remember the adorable way she pronounces things right now. My favourite is whale, which she pronounces “whay-oo.”

Her favourite song is row row row your boat. She asks for us to sing it with her (and do the rowing motions) by starting us off with “row row row.” We watch a music video to this song on the YouTube channel Super Simple Learning Songs and she demands it on repeat. I have to say, I approve of her rather peaceful choice in kid music.

She can also repeat the numbers 1, 2 and 3 and can identify them whens she sees them in print. We’re pretty sure she knows the letter A. When we write her name she points at and says “A“. Interestingly, she just recently started talking in her sleep, too. Language is definitely blossoming.

Although her mind is burgeoning with new information, there are some challenges to this age as well. For starters, her sleep and separation anxiety haven’t changed much. She is still incredibly glued to me, and is going through a phase of waking as soon as I leave her side. Thank goodness we invested in a comfortable twin mattress for her room…

And on the flip side of her loving to wipe up messes, she can’t stand it when her toys are confined to a basket and she needs to dump everything all over the floor, even if she’s not playing with it. When she’s done colouring she whips the crayons across the room, or sweeps them all on the floor with one, agressive arm motion. She is also the messiest eater our daycare provider claims to have ever seen. She has diverse interests – cleaning and making messes.

She has entered the picky eater stage. Her favourite foods are less favourite and more like tolerated. Those are: Pickles, goldfish, berries, bananas, and sometimes peas. She has a particular affinity for gherkin pickles and will stand at the fridge saying “pee-ls? Pee-ls?” until we get her one. She’s a bottomless pit for pickles, and we usually stop her at 3.

Finally, the biggest challenge with this age is the boundary pushing and the refusal to listen. We’re trying to take it all in stride and appreciate this new behaviour for what it is (a natural part of developing as an autonomous person), but boy oh boy does it wear us out.

The next time I update on Avery’s development will probably be when she turns two. I have no idea what life will be like by then, but for now, I want to fully appreciate all that makes my 18 month old who she is. She’s friendly and loving, she thrives being out of the house and around people, she gives kisses to mere photos of any kind of animal, and she tries her mightiest to get calm snuggles with her face nestled into the cats’ fur. She’s loud, she makes hilarious and strange noises, and she talks constantly (even though most of it is still gibberish). She loves to make people laugh, but she can also be intensely serious. She can give a wicked evil glare, and she has an evil laugh to go along with it. She is a seriously awesome little person. Happy 18 months, Avery!

One of those days…

We started night weaning Avery again last night and it was a LONG night. Not too much crying, but she just couldn’t get herself back to sleep without nursing. It was a cranky start to the day at 3am.

I put Avery down for an early nap, but she couldn’t stay sleeping without me by her side. So she napped for an hour (her usual is 2.5 hours). She woke cranky. She also needed help getting her digestive system to clear out, so I gave her a little grab’n’go packet of pureed prunes and I turned my back to get her the rest of her lunch. When I turned back toward her, I saw brown sludge EVERYWHERE. She had squeezed the packet over her head. It covered her clothes, her hair, the chair, and the floor.

While I was cleaning that up I noticed a puddle under fridge. I traced it to a litre of maple sap that froze solid, broke the mason jar it was in, and then thawed in our stupid fridge (it was likely not the fridge’s fault – Avery likes to push the temperature change buttons that are stupidly placed at toddler height on the outside of the fridge.).

So I started sopping up a litre of sugar water from the fridge and floor while Avery screamed and screamed as I pulled her back from climbing in the sticky, wet mess.

In my haste to rinse out towels and cloths and get back to the growing puddle, I knocked an extra big beer bottle off the counter that I had removed from the fridge to wash off. The bottle hit my ankle bone on its way to the ground. The lid popped off and foamy beer went everywhere. My ankle was throbbing and quickly swelling up.

Avery was still screaming, probably because I was swearing and showing a level of frustration that she has never seen in me before. I continued to try to mop up sap AND beer from all over the kitchen while she screamed and tried to climb up my legs.

I then attempted to place the broken mason jar in the garbage and it broke more, slicing my finger. Now I’m bleeding, my ankle is throbbing, and I’m still trying to rinse cloths and wash the sticky off the floor as Avery tries to walk through it, still screaming.

Finally, I quit trying. I took both of our sticky wet socks off, poured myself the remaining beer from the burst open bottle, put Moana on, and sat on the couch with Avery until she calmed down enough for me to start dealing with the rest of the mess.

At some point I’ll get out the mop and properly clean the floors of the prunes, sap, and beer. Maybe. Maybe we’ll live with sticky floors forever.

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.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 23

For today’s post I’m just going to share a blurb from the parenting book I’m reading right now (The Soul of Discipline by Kim John Payne). This passage spoke to me as I find myself correcting behaviour with every turn these days. Instead of getting frustrated or losing patience, I want to keep this in mind:

One effective way to teach your child the importance of respectfulness is to sweat the small stuff. You can insist daily that they behave respectfully in all the little ways. No big lectures needed. Simply stand firm when the line of respectfulness gets crossed.

Every time you insist on respectfulness or true courtesy, you are exercising his or her waiting muscle. Every time you pause and ask your child to reframe some comment, put-down, or mannerism that is disrespectful, you strengthen his or her impulse control. Every time you insist on table manners or pull your child aside and say, “No. We don’t use the word ‘stupid’ in our house; we do not say that in our family,” you are teaching him or her the language of respect and encouraging impulse control, little by little.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 8

The word of the day is Patience. 

As we inch closer to the ripe old age of 2, the “terrible two’s” start earning their name-sake. For about a month or two, Avery has been having regular tantrums. They happen over silly things like not being able to get the puzzle piece in the puzzle on the first try or get her sock off in the car, but also over legitimate emotions like learning to accept the realities of “no”, and as per my last post, sometimes the tantrums are caused by separation anxiety. My strong-willed little 16 month old will sometimes have up to a dozen tantrums in a day. 

Luckily they’re usually short, lasting just long enough to get a few tears down her cheeks, get her face good and blood-shot, and do some minor damage to my hearing. Yesterday she tantrumed for 45-minutes – just an ear piercing angry scream, stomping through the house. I don’t even remember what it was about. Probably that I wouldn’t hold her while I was making dinner. 

Dealing with a tantrum-throwing child requires So. Much. Patience. The trick is to not give them any kind of big reaction, which means remain calm and let them get it all out while somehow simultaneously teaching them that yelling and hitting isn’t how we communicate our needs. I sometimes offer her a big hug while she screams, but that more often than not gets me punched in the face. 

I try to see these tantrums as a good thing – she feels comfortable letting her true emotions out, she is developing her emotional regulation skills (early stages, obviously…), and she is finding her power and voice to fight for what she wants. 

I appreciate the developmental milestone that is having tantrums, but it’s still a less than enjoyable part of parenthood. Patience is the word of the day for more than just the patience it requires to parent through tantrums. I want to be patient with all of the hard parts of parenthood and let myself slow down to appreciate the good parts. I find myself wishing away toddlerhood for a future time when she can be reasoned with, when she sleeps through the night, when I get to hear, in her own words, her own voice, about all the complex thoughts going on in her head… But toddlerhood is also an amazing time and I don’t want to take it for granted. I don’t really want my little girl to grow up. I need patience to appreciate the now. 

30 Days of Blogging, Day 7

The word of the day is Freedom.

The freedom I’m talking about today isn’t anything extraordinary for an able bodied person – it is the freedom to move about my own home how and when I please. Freedom to take the garbage out, go to the bathroom, shower, move from one room to the next at my leisure. But I have a toddler, and thus, I don’t have this freedom.

Does anyone else have a toddler who clings to your legs and tries to climb you, red faced and screaming, when you do something so bold as to try walking into another room without them? When I’m holding my toddler and I say any of the following phrases, she clings to me like a spider monkey with a death grip:

I just have to go and…

I’m going to put you down for a second…

Can I just…

I’ll be right back…

I have to heat up the car before we leave for daycare in the mornings, and when I peel her off of me and walk out the front door she sounds like she is experiencing the worst heartache of her young life. Every time.

Doing the dishes and cooking dinner is a constant battle to keep her happy on the floor. I just can’t do these tasks while holding a 30 pound kid anymore.

I deal with this separation anxiety as the internet has told me to – with calmness, briefness, and always keeping my promise about coming back. But I think the only real solution is time. I know she’s securely attached, because she is completely happy to be left with people she trusts (her Mo, grandma, daycare provider), and her reaction to me when I return is a healthy amount of happiness (“You’re back! Let me tell you in baby gibberish about all the fun I had while you were gone!“) The problem is  not about me leaving her with other people, it’s about the anticipation of separating from me. 

If you can relate to how oppressive this can feel as a parent, please vent with me in the comments! It’s always nice to feel less alone.