Tips and Tricks in Adoption and Pediatrics

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Change The Diaper Before You Sleep

I have no idea how many families this will actually help, but this one frequently lets my daughter sleep in 30-60 extra minutes. Which is solid gold. 

We finally got to the point where our 14 month-old daughter was "sleeping through the night" (which means, waking the typical 3-5 times per night but settling herself back to sleep). But she seemed to be waking with a bulging water balloon of a diaper, occasionally with leakage. Not good.

After getting over my irrational fear that even looking into her room would wake her, I finally girded up the courage to try changing her diaper before we parents went to bed. Given all the prebed fluids she is wont to take, it's often quite wet by that point. And guess what - she never fully wakes up, even if I have to flip her right-side up (I have since perfected the upside-down diaper switch). And she sleeps in. And doesn't wake to soggy pants. 

Life is good. 

Your child may not be quite the nocturnal urinator that ours is. Or is perhaps a lighter sleeper. But do try this if you think that morning wetness is a factor. 

Spiffy ID Bracelets



Via ParentHacks comes a great idea for custom ID bracelets your kids might actually wear! Many of the young children we work with have an underdeveloped sense of stranger danger, and tendency to wander further than they should. It's important to have a safe amount of information on them should they get separated from you. Your cell phone numbers would probably do the trick, and these can fit on a trendy custom silicone bracelet. Plus, you can all wear matching family bracelets if you'd like to emphasize the family unit aspect. You can order as few as five custom bands, but make sure to order extras.

For those who can't stand having things on their wrists (that would include me), I've also had families use Tyvek tags or luggage tags worked through shoelaces. If you've come up with anything useful, please post below ...

Slings and Things

I've had a bit of a complicated relationship with babywearing, as with many other things that can get taken somewhat seriously in this town of ours. The "attachment as lifestyle" trend goes a bit far sometimes, for me. Luckily, now that I'm a dad and get to experience it myself, things are less complicated: I love it, probably more than my daughter does.

I do my best to not do the "I'm babywearing, how attached am I" look that sometimes goes with the wearing of the baby. And I try to maintain some sense of my own style (which does not generally include being draped with bolts of indigenous fabrics) while I do it. And thus, I bring you my own idiosyncratic list of fave slings and things:

Adjustable Pouches



Our favoritest, most versatile babywearing device has been an adjustable fleece pouch, from Kangaroo Korner. Works great for facing-in infant snuggles, facing-out kangaroo hold, sidelying, and my favorite, the hip carry. The sherpa fleece is snuggly, just warm enough, and stretches just right. Bonus for me: no rings, no big tails of fabric. But for those of you that can work that look, I hear ring slings are fabulously versatile, and great for breastfeeding. And for those who like being tied up, the Moby Wraps sure are popular.



Soft Structured Baby Carriers

These let you carry a baby, toddler, even preschooler facing-in, either on your frontside or back. You can adapt them for hip carry, but it's kludgey. They hurt my back a lot less than Baby Bjorns, and are more snuggly and nap-tastic. The Ergo carrier is the easiest-to-find version of this, and it works great for lots of people. We struggled with the fabric choices (they all looked a bit "I wear hemp" for me), and wound up with a Yamo baby carrier, in fabu red surf fabric, from Israel via German Ebay. Yes, people get that crazy about their baby carriers. But we sooo love it. To find people even more nutty about their babywearing than I, go to the TheBabyWearer reviews and forums. The reviews are excellent, and the "for sale or trade" section is hopping.

Hip Carriers



Our daughter ended up feeling that a hip carry was a nice compromise between snuggling in and facing out. And so along came the Ellaroo Mei Hip carrier, in a luscious array of organic fabrics. You can do this carry with a pouch or ring sling, or the Ergo-type carriers, but this one is both easy and comfortable. Ellaroo also carries more traditional Mei Tais, not to mention Guatemalan-fabric slings and wraps.

And that's what we're rocking so far ... I hear these really come into their own when you've got two kids. For toddler adoptees, the soft structured and hip carriers are a great choice, as they comfortably handle bigger kids. I hope you find one (or more) that suits you and your child. But remember - it's still OK to put them down from time to time. How else will they learn to sit/crawl/walk?

Please post your own favorites below. However, you may end up in trouble with my wife if you end up inspiring yet another carrier purchase.

Make That Lovie Funky

Lest you were concerned that I've gone 'round the bend on this James Brown business ... I'm referring to a different kind of funk. Smell. And a different kind of lovie: a Security Object, like a blanket or "taggie". Familiar caregiver smells are a potent releaser of oxytocin, the "bonding" and security hormone. You can use this to your family's advantage ...

Make your child's security object, lovie, or blankie smelly in a good way by using it during feedings. Having it close to your body can let it absorb both your own good funk and the smell of breastmilk or formula. If one parent tends to feed more often, another caregiver can use the lovie to evoke a happy-well-fed feeling when rocking and consoling the child later. That lovie can be a real help with bedtimes and daycare transitions too. Just make sure to invest in identical backup lovies if possible, and rotate them to keep them all equally funky. Wash infrequently, if at all.

The Toilet Fairy

One tip for particularly resistant potty-goers involves taking yourself out of the loop:
  • Let your child discover a fish-bowl of stickers, or cheapie toys (cheap toy + quick wrapping job = major delight), along with a letter from the Toilet Fairy. The letter can convey unwavering confidence in their eventual success, and promise a reward from the bowl for each success. This lets you be the child's ally in the process rather than the person doling out the rewards.
For other excellent tips, see this post and comments that follow:

Binky-Weaning Your Persistent Pacifist

Tip from a family of ours for binky-weaning:

Have a Binky Tree ceremony, where all of the binkies are collected and hung from a small tree in the yard. In the morning the binkies are gone and a tricycle or other gift from the binky spirits is there.

Other folks have thrown a "Paci Party", with presents, guests, and a cermonious throwing away (or passing on to the new generation) of the pacifiers. It's nice to mark those coming of age ceremonies.

Or ... if you're more tough-love and less into faeries: take a scissor and snip into the nuk part. They're not as nice that way, and kids lose interest. If you have a particularly persistent child, this may not work, of course.

Weaning Nighttime Bottles

After 6 months or so, certainly past 1yo, kids who are otherwise growing well don't physically need those middle-of-the-night bottles - they're what the behaviorists call "trained night wakers". It's up to you how aggressively you want to wean this, but here's a good tip.

Take the bottle that hurts you the most (4am, anyone?), and water it down over several nights, until you're offering a bottle of just water. That often helps the child give up that particular habitual wakeup. Remember to be brief and boring about it, as well.

Fun with Shopping Carts

Parent Hacks: Real-world parenting tips from real parents
Ed's novel grocery store entertainment hack: Do you go grocery shopping with your child? My son Joshua enjoyed going to the grocery store and seldom created an issue.Sitting in the cart in front of me was good for me, but it really obstructs the view for your child. Try turning the cart around and pushing it from the front. This places the child at the front like he’s driving. He can see everything and is seldom less than an arm's length away. Give him directions where to turn, and don’t forget to run into a stack of paper towels to two. Joshua especially liked it when I’d turn the cart sideways and drive him right up to the item I wanted. He was happy to help as all children are and quickly learned the difference between a can of corn and a can of green beans.