The Quest to Help a Struggling Baby Nap – Day 4

Friday was a mess because we were out for the day. I did coincide my drive times with her nap schedule. With the unforgiving Bay Area traffic in my favor, baby took a great morning nap.

The afternoon nap did not that well. She slept on the ride home, but once I was home and parked the car, she woke up. Somehow changing gears from D to P causes her to wake. I would have stayed in the car had it not been for needing to use the restroom. She slept an hour.

When she does not nap well, night sleep is an issue. The overtired daytime leads to evening overtired; she does not get restful sleep during the night as a result.

03:30 (8/25) woke up, nursed, back to sleep
23:00 woke up, nursed, back to sleep
19:20-19:45 scream fest. Calmed down after “bzzzz” and “aaauuummm” sounds
19:15 fell asleep in crib, tried moving arm, total meltdown. Nursed to calm down
18:45 take baby to bed, nursed, read books, very tired
15:00 awake
14:00 asleep in car ride home
Did not have a good lunch or nurse well – but did meet friends!
11:00 awake
09:50 asleep in car
07:00’ish woke up and nursed

The “buzzzing” and “aum” (like the Indian aum) sounds helped calm her down. They’re sounds that mimic the womb and vibrate through your chest. Either having baby on you or their hand on your chest while you makes these sounds can help calm them.

The Quest to Help a Struggling Baby Nap

Our struggle to get baby to nap has come to a tipping point: my sanity and ability to do anything in the house.

The sleeping issues have gotten to the point that I’m exhausted because my days are spent trying to get her to sleep. All that laundry, cleaning, cooking, taking care of bunnies, playing with toddler, running errands, talking to husband, writing, doing consulting work is out the window. not to mention my displaced pelvis that keeps flaring up.

I am essentially bare boned and running ragged.

While we found some sleep solutions to improving the nap nightmare, it turned out to be more superficial.

I spend most days chasing naps with an overtired, crying baby. And this is not sustainable. I am a stay at home by choice this year, and I have better things to do with my family than chase naps.

Now that family visits are over and my husband is home for the next month, I decided I need to do something drastic. Something that will absolutely help my ten month old nap properly. She deserves good naps and she deserves my help.

From now until the day she begins part-time daycare, I am committing myself to help her nap. Forget the other sleep advice, it does not work for us. I need to come up with a solution that helps an attached baby (boob and otherwise) take restful naps.

This means I commit my days to her and her only. In my spare time (haha, that’s a joke!), I will get household work done. It also means that my toddler is at daycare/school. A toddler who is home will only distract your work. I know, this is a luxury situation, but if you can, have someone else watch your other children, while you work with the baby.

If you’re a parent struggling to help your baby sleep, join me for the next three weeks as I document our daily sleep wins and struggles.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
Day 10
Day 11
Day 12

sweet dreams!

The Quest to Help a Struggling Baby Nap – Day 2

Hello! I’m back with day two of my quest to get baby to take real, meaningful naps. If you’re just starting reading here, we have been struggling with nap issues for months. Essentially, half of baby’s life.

Catch my intro post and day 1 to get caught up.

Here was my schedule for day 2:
19:40 baby sleeping on daddy, transferred over to crib
19:25 give baby to daddy to take care of kiddo, baby angry!
19:10 take baby to bedroom, nurse, read book in bed
18:20 dinner for both kids
17:00 both kids have snack
16:30 picked up toddler from school
14:30-16:00 napped in crib, short nursing
13:30 nursed and played
10:40-11:50 napped in cribbed!
10:30 had to give a small snack to fill tummy
10:10 sat in crib, nursed few minutes
08:30-9:00 toddler drop off
07:30 oatmeal for breakfast
06:30 morning nurse
02:50 nursed baby for 10 min, then slept – middle of night feedings…sigh

The first thing you should notice is that baby fell asleep late for the first nap, at 10:40AM. That meant she had to eat a snack to fill her belly. There’s nothing worse than a hungry baby that goes down for a nap. My mistake though, we had errands to run and got home too late. I should have given her snack while on the go or as soon as I got home before beginning the nap ritual.

Nap rituals:
Today’s nap ritual was nursing in my bed, reading a book (followed by eating said book), then going to the crib. I climbed in the crib with her for both the morning and afternoon naps. There is no leave baby in crib, let cry and self sooth, then visit every 5 minutes – that does not work for us. Baby needs to know that I’m there.

While in the crib I let her play for 10-15 minutes, she love throwing out everything from the crib – it’s a game. Once she’s done doing that and acting over silly, every time she stood up I took her and laid her back down. She was not happy, not totally angry, but crying for a few seconds. Every time she stood up, I laid her back down. Rinse, repeat.

She eventually had a breakdown that was not going to be controlled by anything else other than comfort nursing. I didn’t want to, but I also didn’t want the crying to escalate. I nursed her for a few minutes (less than five minutes ), then popped her off. She whined but calmed down. She did the stand up/lay her back down routine for a few more minutes, before settling in next to me and falling sleep.

At this point, I stay in the crib for another 10-15 minutes, moving a little here and there to ensure she is truly asleep. If she wakes, I begin the disengage interaction, lay her back down, stroke her back.

Day 2 was already one of the easiest days ever in laying baby down for a nap. Let’s see what day 3 brings us!

Ready for day 3?!

The Quest to Help a Struggling Baby Nap – Day 1

Five months of trying. FIVE MONTHS.

Today was the first day little A napped in the crib for longer than 30 minutes. How long did she nap you ask?

2 hours, 15 minutes!!!

Yes, TWO HOURS AND FIFTEEN MINUTES! As a 10 month old baby, she needs that long afternoon nap desperately. Overtired babies are no fun, and this little baby here is a hot mess when she doesn’t nap properly.

Okay, I was in the crib with her for 1 hour 30 minutes, but if you’ve followed our life story with little A, napping has been a struggle. A real struggle.

But I am on a mission. Mission:Impossible. A quest to help my ten month baby take restful naps.

The next 20 days are going to be interesting. I am committing myself to lock down and spending my days with her to nap in the crib.

No more stroller walks, no more car rides, no more sleep on daddy, no more hang on mommy, no more. There will be minimal attempt to sleep train, and more an attempt to individualize and self snuggle.

This might mean me sleeping in the crib with her or letting her snuggle with me those first days, that’s fine. She needs to find the confidence and know it’s okay to sleep away from us in her mini space for short times.

In twenty days she starts PT daycare and the last thing I want is a crying baby who is left alone to fall asleep. I want her to know how wonderful naps are, and how you can be a happy baby when you have a little sleep.

Here’s to the next three weeks!

Go over to Day 2 and follow the adventures.

How to Get Your Nap Resistant Baby to Sleep

If you don’t already know, I have the baby from nightmare-land when it comes to napping. She fights naps. FIGHTS. There have been days I spend seven hours trying to get her to sleep. My friend calls it the “infinite cycle of chasing naps.”

Yes, that has been us since months 5-8. A wholesome nightmare when you have a toddler, who while thankfully is in daycare most days, renders your own day useless. Laundry? Forget it. Cleaning? Forget it. Drinking coffee? Bahahaha, no. Making dinner for everyone? Uhhh, it’s a quesadilla night for 3,546th time!

You know the feel of despair, no amount of cuddling, nursing, bouncing, swaddling, walking helped. Every time you think you figured out how to get baby to sleep, she changed the rules on you. Pretty soon her 25 minute power nap turns into snack time, turns into playing and crying, turns into lunch, turns into more playing and crying, another 25 minute nap, dinner, more crying, and then finally falling asleep. And sleeping through the night? Well…maybe. Does two night nursing sessions count as sleeping through the night?

I am here to tell you there is still hope. Real hope. I have ready every baby sleep article on the internet, my husband have followed plenty of advice and we still couldn’t get baby to sleep past the 25 minute mark.

Why do babies take short naps?
When babies fall asleep, they are in a state of light sleep. When they go into deep sleep, they are changing sleep cycles. From about six months of age onwards, babies are more aware these sleep cycle changes and they can have a difficult time adjusting to the sleep cycle changes. This light to deep cycle change happens 20-40 minutes after falling asleep. For us, this is right on target.

To amplify the situation, babies who are unable to transition from the light to deep sleep will create a habit of waking up and not falling back to sleep at all.

And we all know what a baby is when they don’t sleep well. Mini monsters hellbent on making both you and herself cry all day long.

Our baby decided she wasn’t doing anything half-baked, if she was going to take these short, power naps, then she was going to make a habit of them too!

The 2-3-4 hour awake and sleep “rule” for babies:
Baby wakes up in morning for 2 hours
Naps for 1 hour approximately
Baby wakes up for 3 hours
Naps for 1-2 hours
Baby is awake for 4 hours
Goes to sleep for the night

Of course your mileage may vary. My baby tends to like the 2-3-3 on good days and well, 4-4-1 on meltdown days.

This is where the experimenting came in. We know that our baby, like most babies, would sleep in the stroller or the car, but that didn’t always happen either. Her habit was so strong, I could walk three hours, only to have her sleep 30 minutes. Her will to full wake up in that sleep cycle transition trumped everything else. The only way to get her to fall asleep again was to actively nurse her, and continue nursing her. Not an ideal situation.

Three Solutions to get nap resistant baby to take long naps:

NO eye contact and disengage – at this moment, you are not here to play, interact or otherwise look at baby. Don’t look into their eyes.

Hold tight If she fights you, hold her. don’t let her go. She is fighting you because she knows at some point you will give up and put her down on the ground. She wins, she gets to play and become hyperactive overtired, and you lose.

Use the comfort object
– If baby likes a blanket or toy, give it to baby. Or even if baby likes a pacifier, use it, this isn’t the time to wean baby off the pacifier AND try to get them to nap.

I’ll be sharing my adventures of napping an overtired, sleep resistant baby. If you’re facing the same issues, know that you are not the only parent dealing with sleep struggles.


My Pop of Color Indian Maternity Photo Shoot

I am excited to share with you my maternity part II photo shoot! We did the first maternity photo shoot two years ago at The Lighthouse at Glen Cove. It’s this secret historic house on the water in Benicia/Vallejo, California, right in the East Bay.

Because we are one part determined and one part crazy, we had a smash cake first birthday photo shoot at the SAME beautiful venue a year later. We wore the same clothes and had similar look to the first session.

And two years after the baby #1, wed planned and executed another photo shoot, for baby #2!
I have some amazing friends and wedding professional colleagues which most definitely helps. Together we put together an elegant and uncomplicated maternity session.

Let me tell you doing a three year time base photo shoot is crazy but absolutely worth it. I wrote about how to plan a time series of family photos successfully here if you want to know more.

Tami Weis of Fancy Fig Photography photographed us for the second year in a row. She is a San Francisco Marin county based wedding and family photographer – and oomph, dare I saw her photos are stunning.

When it comes yearly photo shoots, simple elegance is your best friend. For decor, Nicole at Lifted Balloons (based in Martinez, California) provided the happy and large bubble balloons with tassels. She matched the balloons to my lehenga outfit – magenta and navy blue. Her work is lovely and durable because the streamers today hang in my children’s room.

To glam up – because you’re a mom-to-be and deserve professional care love, I worked with my good friend Timsi Malhotra. She’s a professional wedding makeup artist and just is darling. So lovely, you want to just squeeze her.

We wanted the light and airy makeup look, but not overly traditional maternity style. That is Timsi to the T! She can give you ethereal look but still have the Indian desi glam.

For mehendi I worked with Sabreena at Ritual by Design in San Francisco. You cannot go wrong with her artistry.

I’m going to stop talking and let you fall in love with the photos. Be sure to see our photos from baby #1 and the smash cake. You’re going to love our same same outfits!

How I Ended Up Crying in the Middle of a Grocery Story Parking Lot

Last night turned into one of those nights that that you don’t believe could get worse but ends up getting worse.

I was called from daycare in the late afternoon because kiddo had a big accident. It all over the floor because it (the poop) leaked from his shorts. He was so beside himself that he ran into the bathroom crying. When I arrived, the mess from the floor was cleaned up but he was still in the bathroom – he wouldn’t let daycare mom touch him.

I got him partially cleaned and we came home and showered. Spirits improved and the three of us had a nice dinner of rice and dal (simple but tasty and nutritious). After dinner, kiddo was excited to go grocery shopping to get the rabbits’ food.

For a grocery store experience with two little ones, it was easy peasy. Kiddo snacked on green beans and an apple. Sister was smiling to everyone she met. No crying, yelling, or otherwise meltdowns we associate the grocery store and baby+toddler. The gods were on our side!

Hahaha, not so fast.

Once finished with shopping, we packed up baby into the car seat and then kiddo into his car seat. All of a sudden we heard “blurp blurp”. We looked over at sister, she had thrown up all over herself, the car seat, and the car. There was food everywhere.

In typical toddler style, my son says, “it’s a mess. my car is a mess! we need to clean this is.” Yes babe, we do. And no, I don’t know what’s wrong with sister.

Pulled baby and seat out of the car, then opened the trunk of the car. Kiddo climbed in and said, “me stay here. no car hit me.” Good idea.

There we were, cleaning baby’s car seat in the middle of the parking lot at the grocery store. She was on the ground with a nice coating today’s and yesterday’s food.

In typical parent style I didn’t have wipes, though we surprisingly had a roll of paper towels and an old bottle of water. Cleanup the old fashioned way. And the irony that the we were 100 feet from the doors of the grocery store wasn’t lost on me. The grocery store was this tantalizing night club you just couldn’t get access to.

In all the cleaning up, I was bummed out. I feel alone. Nobody stopped to help or speak to me. At least 30 people passed us by. One lady stopped by and handed me a box of tissues and said, “I’ve been there”, then walked off.

But in a parking lot full of people, I was alone with a 3 year old and puked up 8 month baby. Everyone was in their own world, perhaps staring at their grocery lists or looking at Instagram – too busy to stop by and say, “hey, let me help you mom.”

It was lonely. And depressing.

We pushed on, the three musketeers. I got baby cleaned up and back in the car seat. Kiddo was happy she was looking better. We went back to our usual banter of the color of cars. Slowly driving out of the parking lot, I hear “blurp blurp” again. I call out to kiddo and he says, “baby threw up again. no good baby.”

She vomited. Again.

Drove the car back into a parking space. Baby is giggling the whole time (puking is fun?!) and brother says, “no more throw up baby. Me is here, it’s okay. Me is here.” For all that he is, he is loving brother.

This time after pulling out the car seat and cleaning up even more vomit, I had tears. I don’t know why. Perhaps because I felt lonely that the world goes by and doesn’t look at you. Perhaps because I didn’t know why baby was throwing up again. Was she sick? Is the constipation making her vomit? Is she eating the wrong foods? Who knows.

I was somewhat lucky that my husband arrived to the local BART train station after the second vomit. He met us at the grocery store and took care of the rest of cleanup. Even though it was 45 minutes after vomiting first began, I wasn’t alone anymore.

If anything from this experience I learned that if you see a mother in need or looking upset, help her out. STOP. Go see what she needs, a couple minutes of your time would mean the world to her. It’s okay to put your phone away and look at the world.

Because you don’t want to end up crying in the parking lot of the grocery store.

Desi Baby Books & Toys to Get in Touch with Your Indian Culture

I have been meaning to write this post forever. Just forever. Every time I’m on Instagram (which, face it, is all the time), I see Indian Desi inspired books, art, and projects for Indian babies and children.

Growing up, there were hardly any books for me to read and feel more connected to my culture. What was around were tiny newspaper print black and white books that just lacked quality and creativity.

I’m so glad those days are gone. Even though we don’t have a huge selection of books for South Asian children, we have a *growing* collection.

Here’s my list of go-to baby and toddler along with activities and a couple toys from small business Indians and Pakistanis. This is THE list if you’re looking for a gift or to enrich your child’s life.

The books can be bought direct from the website, Etsy, or Amazon. Some links below are affiliate and I may make a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase through it. Purchasing through these links also keep me going and pays the coffee and diaper bills! Thank you. <3 Desi Babies – Get your baby started off with Indian culture. From the adorable counting book, 10 Noisy Rickshaws, to My First Hindu Gods, these are perfect board board to introduce your little ones.

For toddlers, grab some stickers, the Indian coloring book, or the Eid coloring book. I can’t wait for my toddler to draw to his heart’s content!

Gnaana – Alphabet baby blocks in languages that’s not just Hindi! Tamil is sadly no longer available, but you can still buy blocks in Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu and Hindi. They haven’t been posting much on social media in the past months, so I’m not sure if they are in full production still, but I own both the Hindi and Gujarati block sets through their Indigogo campaign a couple years ago. Even used them in my maternity photo shoot!

Bharat Babies – Based in Massachusetts, Bharat Babies is a South Asian publisher. Creating books for toddlers and children, these are the books that make you feel like you belong. We all know what’s it like to have a different name. We know what it’s like to be the only Indian in your class. These stories will help Indian children know that they belong, they have company. Check out Always Anjali, Sarla in the Sky, Ganesh and the Little Mouse, and Indian Alphabet.

Toka Box – A monthly subscription box inspired by South Asia. Toka Junior focuses on children ages 3-5, while Toka Explorer is for kids 5-8. Each month comes with a book and activity.

Jai Jai Hooray – Not books, but lovely learning toys from Rupa Parekh. The stacking Hindu Goddess tower stands tall and powerful for any Indian toddler to feel empowered. She also stunning flash cards on Hindi gods and goddesses, perfect for those little hands to learn.

The Playful Indian – Need to send a funny card to an Indian friend? Or you love pins and hilarious coasters? You need The Playful Indian from Dina Mistry. The coloring book and greeting cards for mom, dad, siblings are most suited for older children.

Nidhi Chanani – Her Everyday Love website and shop are by far the CUTEST illustrations ever. Oh my gosh so cute. If I had all the wall space in the world, I’d probably buy everything of hers (and my son would go nuts for the elephant drawings!).

Her stories are beautiful, the artwork is inspiration, and she’s one of the few desi artists who have cards for same sex parents.

Studio Yali – For the older children who love to paint or for the kid inside you, Studio Yali has beautiful prints and peg dolls inspired by goddesses and dancers. Older children will love the coloring books and DIY peg dolls.

Hena Khan – If you don’t know Hena, you’re missing out on some of the most intricate illustrations. Her books about Muslim life jump out of their pages and into your hearts. When I bought her Muslim inspired color book, Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, I had no idea how big she was, I was just fueling my desi obsession. She has a new book on shapes, Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets, as well as books on Ramadan and holidays, Night of the Moon, It’s Ramadan, Curious George. All are available online at Amazon and even in retailers.

Meenal Patel Studio – Illustrator and author Meenal does prints (and has a fab instagram) and the adorable book Neela Goes to San Francisco. As a Bay Area girl, I highly recommend this book.

Sanjay Patel – Pixar illustrator and film creator, Sanjay has several books just for the Indian soul. Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth, the Ramayana, The Big Poster Book of Hindu Deities: 12 Removable Prints, and The Little Book of Hindu Deities are bright, pop colored books for both younger and older children. From learning about Hindu gods and goddesses to reading an abbreviated version of a classic, Patel’s drawings are modern and beautiful. I framed some of the removable prints from the Big Poster Book of Indian Deities. They are adorable! You can purchase all the books on Amazon (links above).

Do you make a South Asian inspired toy or have a book for desi children? Drop me an email at chotipreeti @ gmail . com!

3 Tips to Survive an International Trip with a Toddler and Newborn

That’s right folks, how do you survive traveling with a toddler and newborn across the world? You don’t.

Just kidding! You can travel with babies and toddlers but you need a few tips. And a lot of drinks. Hahaha.

#1 Think positively – This may sound like a bunch of juju, but you are going to make it to the destination. There maybe a lot of crying, screaming, and wondering why you choose to torture yourself, but you and the kids will reach the final destination and hotel in one piece. Take a deep breath and know you are embarking on an experience together – that is priceless.

#2 Entertain & Food
– Depending on the age of your kids, you can provide them with some entertainment. On long distance flights this may mean a lot of toys and creative ideas, short haul flights have it easy. Pack toys and books that your kids like and are light weight. Younger toddlers do well with magnets, stickers, washi tape, and lightweight books. Older toddlers can do sticker books, Duplos, dolls, cars and other imaginative play.

Pack snacks! Lots of good snacks. Don’t bring out the candy and junk food because the last thing you need is a hyperactive toddler. Pack Cheerios (puffs), small sandwich bites, non-juicy fresh fruit like bananas, blueberries, cut apples, rice crackers, cheese sticks, pouches, water bottle and milk.

#3 Give yourself a break – There will be meltdowns. You will cry, the children will cry, everyone will cry. It’s okay. Hang tight. Breathe (see tip #1!). Eat an extra chocolate for yourself. Have a drink. Don’t enforce all the rules you have at home, though please don’t be the parent who puts headphones on and ignores the kids. When you reach your destination, take a hot shower. You deserve it – love yourself.

I hate the cliche that “you can do it!” because traveling across the continent, the Pacific, the Atlantic on a plane with young ones is terrifying. All I can say is, you are not alone.

How Much Does a Newborn Cost?

There are a lot of calculators and articles telling us that babies are expensive. Really expensive. And they are partly correct, babies are expensive; but babies can also be reasonably priced.

I went through and calculated the cost of the first year of having baby. The largest cost will come from medical care, with most of it resting on labor and delivery. After that, formula/food, diapers, one time purchases (stroller, crib), come next.

Here is what I spent (I rounded up to make the numbers digestible) on our first year of having a baby in the Bay Area.

*Labor and delivery* – if you count this (I do!) – will eat your deductible right up. Mine was $3500.

*Wellness checks* – Baby visits the doctor a LOT the first year but luckily most of these visits are fully covered through employer corporate insurance or Obamacare (or maybe not in the future…).

*Not-wellness checks* – Baby will inevitably get sick. And when sick, visit urgent care if they are open, BEFORE going to the hospital (unless of course the baby has stopped breathing, is bleeding profusely, has something broken, etc…then 911 it is). Urgent care visits are a fraction of the cost of a basic ER visit.
Case in point:
Urgent care: $30
X-ray at urgent care: $90

ER visit: $400
Doctor’s overview at ER: $100

Pediatrician co-pay: $10-30

Let’s assume your baby does at least one of these things throughout the year. That adds up to: $650 PLUS labor/delivery

*Medicine* – Gripe water, tylenol, benadryl, meds add up fast. Let’s call a solid $100 on medicine. And this doesn’t include prescription drugs.


I don’t know why blogs bother to include the cost of housing in the cost of a child. Duh they take up space. But decreasing their space does not change your housing costs. And it doesn’t change your mortgage. No matter what, your little bloodsucker is taking space. For the sake of simplicity, I’m skipping this.


Months 1-2 – 10-12 diapers/day = 12*2*30 = 720 * $.18 diaper = $129.60
Months 3-5 – 6-10 diapers/day = 10*3*30 = 900 * $.18 diaper = $162
Months 6+ – 5-6 diapers/day = 6*7*30 = 1260 * $.18 diaper = $226.8
Wipes: $100
Butt cream: $100 (they’re not expensive, but you’ll end up trying 10 different brands before one works for you. Hahaha)
Total cost for diapers and wipes: ~$2300

This is where the numbers diverge. General rule is that if you hire a nanny, they will negate one of your incomes (they cost anywhere from $15-$30/hour), and daycare costs are anything between $500-$2000/month depending on where you live.

I will only say that if you stay at home, please get some help a couple times a week. You need the peace and the quiet and sanity and the ability to regroup.
Total nanny/daycare costs: $1000-$20000/year

**Clothes, toys, and cute things:**

There is SO MUCH you can buy for your adorable alien. Buy everything new, and you’ll run up the registry fast. Mix between new and used (have those friends dump clothing/toy lots), and your costs are faring much better.
Cost: $500-1000
Big ticket items are strollers, crib/dresser/changing table (though please don’t waste $1000+ on a collection), and the car sear.
Strollers: $300-$1200
Car seat: $200-400
crib/dresser/changing table: $300-$1500

Toys and books: Count on this to be a black hole of everything adorable.
Cost: $1000

So what’s the total damage for that first year of life?
or ~$30000 because you require full-time daycare.**

Ready for them to go to college? :O