Flying This Holiday With your Baby: Set Yourself Up For Success!

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Flying + Babies + Holidays = STRESS
Or does it?

For those traveling with babies one and younger, taking a flight during the holidays is filled with questions about the stuff, the potential stress, and sleep.  As in, will the babies sleep on the plane, sleep at the destination, or sleep at all!

The National Sleep Foundation shares that babies 0-3 months need 14-17 hours of sleep a day and 4 to 11-month-olds need 12-15.  That can be 2.5 to 3 times more sleep than their parents are getting! 

Nervous about sleep options while going through the hectic lines, layovers, and new environments? Here are some ideas: 

BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

  • Consider starting a sleep routine.  Helping to signal sleep time with a song, specific book, a comfort object nearby helps babies know what to expect, and can reduce stress. The environment may change once you start traveling, but establishing positive triggers that signal rest time will help your baby adapt easier.

  • Consider introducing the travel crib before you leave home.  Will you be using a pack-n-play or other travel crib while away?   Consider using it for a week before you leave to acclimate your baby to the sight, smell, and feel of this space.  Giving them a chance to associate positive experiences with the sleeping area before leaving removes even more new-ness when you arrive at your holiday destination.

  • Consider using tools that travel.  Beyond a travel crib, some tools sleep experts recommend for creating an environment that supports safe sleep also help put your baby to sleep!  A white noise machine (or app on your phone), swaddles (for children four months and younger) or sleep sacks, and pacifiers are all tools that could be useful to offer comfort to your child without much bulk. 

  • Consider packing less than you need.  This advice may sound ridiculous, but hear us out.  Most families are not traveling to remote locations where things like diapers and wipes are unavailable.  Consider shipping some of those supplies ahead so you can use your bag space for things that matter - like snacks!

DAY OF TRAVEL

  • Check TSA Wait Times. The MyTSA App is available to check wait times for security lines at your airport.  Long lines mean you may need to give yourself more time, which may impact that last nap time at home.

  • Consider baby wearing at the airport. Babywearing devices allow for your child to be close, feel safe, and stay cozy warm - all things that can help a tired child drift off to sleep.  Consider using one of these tools as you roam through the airport, and keep the stroller nearby do the heavy lifting of your carry on and diaper bag.

  • Organize your essentials.  Regardless if you use paper tickets or digital, having a spot where you put your ID, phone, and wallet every time you are done using it will keep you from setting it somewhere or shoving it into a pocket you forget existed a few hours later.  Having small children means your attention is almost always divided, and that can cause our brains to go on autopilot. Plus, if you get stuck under a sleeping child on the plane, don’t risk waking them because your headphones slid to the bottom, and are now out of reach!  

FEEDING

Eating and sleeping often go together so have a plan for how you can comfortably feed your child.  Do you use a hand pump incase there is no plug in?  Are you bringing bottled breastmilk or formula?  Do you plan to nurse on demand?  Many airports have mother rooms in one terminal or breastfeeding pods like Mamava.  Mamava pod locations may work with your travel plans.

  • It can be helpful to give your child something to suck on while taking off and landing to ease ear pressure changes.  Breastfeeding, offering a bottle, or using a pacifier during these times may reduce discomfort, or perhaps trigger your baby to enjoy their first or last nap of the flight.

REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE TRAVELING

If things don’t go as planned, your baby is overtired, and you start to question why you are going through all the trouble of traveling in the first place, take a moment with your partner and take a breath.  You don’t have to pretend.  There is nothing wrong with you or your child.  Babies feel stress just like adults, and traveling and holidays are stressful. You can help your baby by offering them a supportive snuggle, calm reassurance, and love.

We suggest, again: take a breath, slow down, and make eye contact with someone who makes you feel seen.  Ask for a hug.  Ask for help.

As a growing family, you are not expected to have it all worked out.

Homeschooling Tools Every Family Can Use

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September…

Freshly sharpened pencils, zippers that don't snag, and velcro that hasn't fluffed itself into uselessness-- can't you feel the potential?!

For parents, this month may be the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. But, for a growing number of families, it is just another change in seasons as they've chosen home-based education.  

Regardless of your parenting style or where your children get their education, there are some wonderful parts of homeschooling that can be used right now, with both your toddlers and older children!

Here are 4 homeschooling tools every family can use!

1. Take learning out of the box.

Sitting is hard. Really, really, hard.  Part of the joy of homeschooling is letting children learn in areas that allow them to shift, wiggle, and flop. So instead of sitting at a table, consider heading outside to the lawn, park or beach and this lap desk could be used in a comfy chair, on the ground, or outside!

The other box that gets busted is where the learning happens! Because it happens everywhere!

Math is present in the recipe you make for dinner, and grocery shopping becomes an opportunity to budget, make lists, and meal plan!

Life skills are used as learning opportunities and children are able to process and help!

2. Give age-appropriate tasks.

Researchers have known for some time that participation in family responsibilities offers connection, community, and builds self-worth and self-esteem. Confident children are supported through encouragement and know they are valued. Letting a toddler unload the silverware from the dishwasher, teaching a child to sweep the floor, or giving your adolescent the task to bring their laundry basket to the washroom are all ways they see their contribution to their family through participation. Participation helps foster belonging-- and can't we all benefit from more of that?!

3. Get your child their own library card.

An incredible public resource that most homeschooling parents use is their public library! It's a free place, brimming with wonderful events, activities, books (of course), and...teaches responsibility.  Getting your own library card is part of a larger learning conversation on respect, sharing, and trust.  Let's be real, the library is one of the only places you get to take (pretty much) anything you want and bring it home for weeks for free!  

4. Monkey See, Monkey Do

One of the most basic tools homeschooling families know and use everyday is modeling.  When you want your child to learn a behavior or habit, most often it means emulating the behavior yourself.

Want your child to grab a book instead of the iPad?  You should show them reading is an enjoyable activity.  

Want your child to wake up, make their bed, and get dressed?  Invite them to help you lay out your clothes the night before and then help them lay out theirs. Ask for their help to make your bed in the morning, and offer to help them make their bed too.  

And one of the hardest areas to model is how to act when feelings have been hurt.  It is hard to decompress after a packed day, for adults and kids both. But kids are at a disadvantage - their brains have not fully developed all of the tools necessary to regulate feelings, and connect cues to appropriate responses.  Be open to your own struggles and use a time out - but not for your kids.  Don’t be afraid to model a cooling off period by saying, “I need a few minutes to calm down and think about this.  When I’ve taken a few breaths and am not so (angry/frustrated/hurt/sad) I’ll come back and we can talk.”

You are your child’s first and best teacher.  Even if you are sending them to public school.

It's 10 PM do you know where your Doula is?

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Right on time, no stress… She was so quiet letting herself in you didn’t notice she arrived. You have arranged to leave the door on the latch, so she can arrive and not disrupt the flow of the evening.

 

You hear the whistle of the kettle in your kitchen, and, she appears, holding a fresh brewed cup of the Lactation tea, she recommended.  It smells so delicious, and she assures you that it has aided nursing mother's milk supply. You hand her your baby for burping and changing while you are able to relaxingly enjoy your tea, and ready yourself for bed.

 

The confidence and comfort you have knowing that your baby is in such skilled hands, immediately provides you with a sense of calm. Your doula assures you that your infant is exhausted and she will put them down for the night. She hands you the monitor, and prompts you to take a nice bath, while enjoying your tea.

 

About an hour later you enter the kitchen, you are instantly relieved. Your doula has cleaned and sterilized all of the bottles, the dishes from dinner are washed and put away, you can hear the laundry going, and she is at the counter preparing lunches for school tomorrow and a nice healthful snack for your husband to bring to work.

 

This is your favorite part of the night, the time when you get to connect with your doula. She has set up your pump, so you can prep bottles for late night feeding, giving you a chance to sleep distraction and guilt-free. While you pump and chat, you discuss the trials and milestones of the day, ask her to bust some myths you read on the baby blogs, and you seek her advice on how to navigate a conversation with your Mother-in-Law on kissing your baby’s mouth.  Her knowledge and experience always give you the empowerment to make the decisions that will best support your family.

You know you'll sleep well tonight, and every night that she's here with you in these wonder-ful new weeks and months.

You don’t need to make sacrifices in the postpartum period to provide care for your new baby. Everything is possible with support, especially the support of a Postpartum & Infant Care Doula from Maine Doulas.

 

 

 

Spring Family Activities around Portland Maine

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Blue skies and warm breeze, sunny summer days are headed our way. Portland, Maine is absolutely beautiful during the next months. Family fun activities are abundant in Portland, our city is brimming with incredible historical sites, cultural events , fabulous food finds, not to mention the stunning landscape, lush nature, and our gorgeous waterfront.  Pack up the car, strap in the kiddies, here are 4 of our favorites.

#1: MARITIME MERRRIMENT

Fort Williams Park, home to Maine’s oldest lighthouse, Portland Head Light: 90-acres of  the walking trails, beaches, stunning coastal seascape, not to mention tours of the  lighthouse, a maritime museum, and a gift shop. The park also has a playground, and there’s a rocky beach to explore.

#2: FLORIBUNDANCE

Create a little magic during Fairy Fridays  (July & August). at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (Or learn about how a seed becomes a plant with Children’s Garden Discovery Cart. (May – June) Teach your children the power of metamorphosis during Butterfly Investigations. (June – August)

#3: BAY-EAUTIFUL

Take a ferry ride around Casco Bay to Peaks Island.  Travel around the island on bike, or kayak, don’t miss the island's old tunnels. Visit the Fifth Maine Museum for a history lesson, or check out the world’s only Umbrella Cover Museum where quirky becomes extraordinary.

#4: EXPLORATION CELEBRATION

Sink your teeth into The Portland Science Center with the final week of the Shark Planet exhibit full of real to life models of sharks and never before seen footage from the deep blue sea. If you miss this exhibit DON’T WORRY, there is always something amazing happening, with new exhibits to discover for every age at this incredible interactive science center. 

We have tons more ideas so don’t hesitate to check back with Maine Doulas for updates, each season brings unique family fun for all.

 

 

 

 

Baby Sleep Cycles v.s Adult Sleep Cycles

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It’s a bit ironic when “they “say Sleep Like A Baby because we can’t it is impossible. Only a baby can truly Sleep Like A Baby. Literally, the sleeping cycles of infants and adults differ greatly. This is not an excuse to abandon your adult sleep needs to placate those of your baby. But, it might provide some piece of mind and give you insight.

When an adult’s head hits the pillow, they can shut down. Drifting into REM and a deep sleep that can persist for up to 90 minutes at a time. This cycle persists for the length of rest. Deep sleep is where the most physical rest occurs. Experts say that adults need at least 6-8 hours of sleep. During this time adults experience mostly, deep sleep making them harder to rouse.

Infants need to ease into their sleep cycle. They literally must be put down. They then cycle in and out of REM several times before achieving no more than an hour of deep sleep. This means they are much lighter sleepers.

Since a baby is in experiencing light sleep for the majority of the recommended 13-18 hours of sleep they are way more susceptible to being woken. The slightest agitations are cause for waking.

Most common agitators are unfamiliar sounds, temperature shifts, a dirty diaper and hunger. Babies also often wake because of themselves with their own  startle reflex or moro reflex.  

This reflex is often combatted by a nice tight swaddle. Ask your Postpartum & Infant Care Doula to give you a few tips and pointers they are usually swaddle masters.

Studies have shown that putting your baby to bed while they are drowsy will provide them with the most restful deep sleep periods. However, as adults our deep sleep hits is greatest stride when we literally are so tired that we pass out. This should be NO problem for a new parent.

Hey postpartum visitor, here’s what parents wish you knew...

 

Take it from us there is nothing more exciting than the arrival home of your newborn. Everyone will want to come and greet your little one. While you want to share the joy, trust us, there will be plenty of time for that. Make sure to regulate your new routine before you overbook your social calendar. This is just one of the most important tips we can give you as a new mom. There will certainly be some postpartum visitors that trump this policy. As doulas we have been present for an early infant visit or two and have been the ones calming the nerves of families pre and post said visit. To avoid this anxiety, stop what you are doing Copy and Paste this link in their messenger.

These are our TOP 5 things most every parent wishes their postpartum visitors knew.

Rule #1

Don’t take anything personally – Right now the core family needs to bond, acclimate and discover each other as a unit for the first time. Allowing this time for family attunement will be beneficial for all in the long run. So, if you are asked to keep your distance, or be patient, understand that you are not (and should not be) the priority right now.  Also, no matter how helpful you “know” you are, you’re better off to be asked then to offer your opinion. There will be a time and place for everything now may just not be it and try not to overstay your welcome.

Rule #2

Check in – not just a call or text while you are on the road to the house. But, actually check in to see if your visit is permitted. Even if you are not coming over check in. Call and ask not only about the baby, but about the parents. Parents of newborns often need just as much attending to. Being asked how you are may make someone’s day.  Check in to see if there is anything you can bring. A little snack and some coffee always makes visits so much more tolerable.

Rule #3

Be of Service – the last thing any new parent needs is to host a luncheon for the family every day. When you come to visit, offer some help around the house. Offering to do simple chores like dishes or putting up a load of laundry can be a real help. Recommend that while you are there that a parent take a nap or a bath or find some quiet time for themselves, this is the most wonderful gift you can give them.  Providing peace may guarantee piece of mind which will also guarantee you an invitation to return.

Rule #4

Germs are the NOT welcome – whether you think it is “just” allergies or you are “over” your illness. Germs to infants and parents are never appreciated. Wash your hands when you enter the home, leave your shoes and coats at the door. In fact, if you have children of your own, leaving them home might help too. Schools are usually Petri dishes and school age children tend to carry more germs than most.

Rule#5

Wait to be asked - even if you are absolutely dyeing to hold the baby, don’t ask. Wait to be offered to hold the baby. Asking is not ok. Chances are if the parent feels comfortable with you holding their child they will put them in your arms. If they don’t please revisit Rule #1.

Sleep Debt

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Healthy sleep patterns are part of a good health regimen. So often when we are feeling off, we change our diet, increase our activity, and try to reduce our stress levels. All of these behaviors are important, but, when is the last time we clocked our sleep?

Our exhaustion, or mental recall, laziness and bad mood may all be side effects of poor sleep habits in fact we may be living our life at a deficit because of them.

The average adult NEEDS 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Subtract from that regularly and before you know it you have built up SLEEP DEBT… this debt is to be taken seriously and you need to pay off quickly.

Truth be told…Parents have been known to be able to survive on little sleep. Especially parents of newborns. Newborn parents have been known to on average lose two hours of sleep per night. This goes on until the baby is 5 months old. From 6 months till about 2 years old, parental sleep loss lessens to approximately a 1hour loss.  We are pretty sure those sleep loss numbers spike up to newborn parent levels (if not more) once teen years set in.

Listen, just because walking around with Sleep Debt is common doesn’t mean it’s OK. More rest is best. Facts are facts, and the fact is the average adult needs at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep in order to be running at full faculty.

You cannot pay down Sleep Debt in one lump sum. If you are missing an average of 1 hour per night for 5 days, sleeping an extra 5hours on the 6th day will do you more harm than good. This will completely knock you off your sleep cycle and could have effects long term.

Try adjusting your sleep schedule to increase 30 minutes at a time. Going to bed 15 minutes earlier and waking up 15 minutes later is a completely doable incremental addition to most anyone’s schedule. There are also many benefits to taking a daytime nap   if it’s possible for you to make napping regularly a part of your routine.  Slow and steady wins the race in this battle.  So be patient, take your time, and you will be out of debt and feeling good again.