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.

Documentation:
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.

Summertime Grilling Inspiration with Veggie Dogs

Summertime is all about the chilling, swimming, and grilling. But oh the grilling when you are vegetarian or vegan. What do you do then? To be honest, there isn’t an Indian version of a hot dog that’s quick to make, so other than that cheese cutlet, there aren’t many options.

Enter the vegan dog! Lightlife makes all plant based products from veggie burgers to veggie bacon to veggie dogs! These are perfect for desi kids who want to participate in all things American summer offers without the meat.

Lightlife was kind to send us some hot dogs and bacon and since my toddler son is well, in a hot dog obsessed stage. This was the perfect opportunity to create hot dog day.

Since I’m Indian, I love grilled/sauteed onions. YUMMY.

Fire up the stove and saute one onion for 10 minutes in olive oil. You want the onions to melt and become caramelized.

Once the onions are done you can turn off the stove and let them cool in the pan. On an indoor grill pan or outside grill, put the veggie dogs and bacon on. Cook on medium-high for 5-7 minutes – we like them with a little char.

Once done, well, you’re done! You could get fancy and make a chutney to go with the dogs, but we stuck with classic Americana of Heinz’s mustard, ketchup, and sweet relish. We also had the grilled onions, avocado because we are Californian, vegan mayo, and crumbled Smart Bacon.

Those little hands couldn’t wait to eat it!

For the kids and adults, we loved the soy based Lightlife dogs. It’s a great alternative to meat hog dogs and bacon, while maintaining taste. A tiny word of caution, if you a vegetarian who has never tasted meat, the Lightlife hot dogs and bacon do have a meaty flavor – it could be a taste bud surprise.

You can buy LightLife products at Safeway, 365 Whole Foods, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and many other stores.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Lightlife. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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.

Hugs!

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!

9 Tips To Have A Successful Yearly Family Photo Shoot

After surviving, planning, and executing two maternity photo shoots and one first year smash cake shoot, I wanted to pen my tips and suggestions for you to have them too.

I will give you a word of warning – hire professionals. Yes, they cost money. I am fortunate to work in the wedding industry, and it’s easier for me to find fantastic, qualified people.

For you, not so much, but do due diligence and hire pros. At the very least, you need a professional photographer and makeup up artist.

Here are my tips on doing a time based series of family portraits:

Keep it simple – Trickier than it seems. The first year we did the maternity shoot for baby #1, we had a beautiful and elaborate setup with a floral wall, dessert table, picnic rug, and wearable floral garland. I also wore two outfits – a lehenga and a saree. For someone 36 weeks pregnant, we worked 10 hours that day. Not something I recommend, but the payoff was stellar.

For the next two years hours, we paired down the decor to really focus on the family and the ability to recreate poses.

Have a playbook of simple poses – Feel free to pin any of my images or share them with your photographer. (hint hint) Simple, family images will last you a lifetime. Review the poses with your photographer beforehand, this way at the venue your photographer can figure out what is feasible.

Take a few glamorous poses – When you become a mom, you are not afforded as many options to be the stunning, intelligent glam girl everyone you knows by. This is your moment to take a few snaps.

PRINT YOUR PHOTOS – I cannot explain how imperative it is to be able to print your photos for not just the wall, but for mini photo albums. Your children will LOVE a photo book of their time in the tummy and after. You don’t want them clamoring on your computer or phone, so PRINT YOUR PHOTOS.

Do a milk bath maternity shoot – This isn’t the same as the family portraits, in fact, it has nothing to do with your family portraits and everything to do with you, lovely mom. Do something for yourself.

Hire a professional photographer – I will say this again, HIRE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER. In fact, if you hire anyone, have them be a professional. Yes, you can do your own hair and makeup, and you can even do it on a budget by heading to a Sephora (which I’ve done and was pleased with), but you can only be pregnant with each child for a certain period of time. And those children will only have a first birthday once. Please, hire a pro to make your photo shoot extra special and professional in quality.

Plan the next year – Make sure you pen mark the next year you will do the photo shoot. If possible, book your photographer and baker (for the first year smash cake). This way, you don’t have to stress about knowing if your photographer will be available when you need them. Work with local businesses you love and trust (word of mouth and the internet works wonders).

Choose decor that matters to you – This may sound strange to you, but go with decoration that means something to you. We had toy blocks, books, and trucks we love. The pink blanket featured in each of years was something I bought with my friend in Morocco a decade ago. The balloons spoke to our love of fun, while the tassels were something we could keep forever.

You can always go to the big box store to buy decoration – it eventually ends up in the trash. Instead look at instagram for individual artists that can create signs or paintings to feature in the photo shoot AND in your home. A few of my favorites are The Script Within, Twisted Pen, and Lifted Balloons, a Bay Area couture balloon artist.

South Asian women reading this…

Be proud to be Desi – Wear your clothes with pride. Put your little ones in them. Get decked out.

Your bun(s) in the oven are baking only for so long. Celebrate your time with them.

How to Help #FamiliesBelongTogether

I listened to an NPR story this week about a facility that takes cares of separated infants and toddlers. They were interviewing a pediatrician who said the place was clean and nice and well staffed. But all the tiny children were sitting quietly in the room. Eerily quiet. There was one was crying inconsolably. A staff member was offering toys and trying to console the toddler without holding her.

Yes, the staff are not to touch and comfort the children. No holding, no hugging, no snuggles.

The pediatrician said the quiet children along with the crying one, are suffering irreparably harm to their bodies. No love, no real attention, no recognition of people they know, they are living in utter fear.

The youngest child at the center was 8 months old. With no parents. No mom. No Dad. No siblings. No family.

That’s the age of our little A. She is 8 months old.

I could never imagine her being away from us. Ever. She may drive me crazy at times and refuse her naps, but she is a tiny child. Completely incapable of speaking up for herself.

My son is 3 years old. He can talk and go to the bathroom by himself, but he too, is just a tiny child, barely out of babyhood. He doesn’t understand if we, as his parents, disappear suddenly. He doesn’t know how to defend himself.

Who would help him and his sister if they were taken away from us. The mere thought of it sickens my heart and makes it heavy. There are no words or emotions I could fathom these parents who are separated feel. They too must be inconsolable and shattered.

We need to get a couple things straight. Coming into the United States, or any country, is NOT a crime when seeking asylum. In fact there are international laws and it’s one of the few the US has signed onto when it comes to human rights.

There is NO law that mandates separates children from parents. It’s a policy invention by the administration to strike fear and emphasis a zero tolerance policy against “animals” and those “infesting” our nation. Their words, not mine.

Entering the country illegally is a misdemeanor offense. There is a reason why we have misdemeanor and felony offenses – they are meant to represent the severity of the crime. Yes, people who enter the country illegally (and without seeking asylum) have committed a crime, it is NOT a grave crime. The theory of the justice system is to weigh a punishment equal to the crime committed, not to exact punishment to teach everyone else a lesson.

If you do not care and are content with the current administration policy, then I have no way to make you feel empathy or care for people. You probably are the person that spends time on a high horse screaming how immigrants have ruined your country and the coal job you had has disappeared. You probably are using an Android or iPhone built and developed by immigrants, but that doesn’t matter; they are still destroying this country.

You probably are “religious” and consider yourself a “Christian” enforcing the ways of the Holy Bible. In your view Christianity is about ridding the lazy, the illegal, and the weird from your society. Compassion is not for you. Blaming others makes you feel good about yourself. Putting other people makes you feel powerful and righteous.

If you want to help, there are lots of ways.

HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Moveon.org – For in person gatherings.

Stand For Kids – Join us this weekend by making your own solidarity lemonade stand where you raise money for an amazing group of 14 organizations working at the border, and offer your neighbors opportunities to take action including signing up to take part in the National Day of Action on 6/30 and writing postcards to kids currently detained apart from their families to be delivered by NDWA. (And if your neighbors take action, maybe give them a free cookie?)

Register your stand or find a stand near you. (We have materials you can download and use for your stand.)

Share #StandForKids and StandForKids.net with all of your friends and across social media.

Support Keep Families Together Act

Donate to the ACLU or RAICES Texas.

You can read more on Mom2.0.

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.

Existential Thoughts 108: When You Can’t Remember What You Were Thinking

Do you ever feel like you have so much to write but you don’t know when you will have time to write it down?

I feel this all the time! Just the other evening, I conjured up a masterstroke of an article in my head. I went over it, in my head. Promised myself to get a computer or dictate into the phone when the kids were asleep. Forgot about it the next and had no recollection what I was going to write about!

These rare times when I am able to write I have no idea what I want to write about. Shall I discuss my baby who never likes to nap? Or my pelvis that is still having a hard time stay in place? Or that I have no idea what I should with my life besides raise kids? Or wonder when I’ll finally lose the baby weight.

I don’t know if the multi-track thinking is the result of becoming a mother or having fast paced lives. I believe it’s a little of both mixed in with the mother’s guilt that we believe we never do enough for our family, but we are awesome.