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the newbie: Screams from the Stroller

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


This week, we’re experiencing tons of shrieks on the part of Miss June. Whether delighted, angry, frustrated or excited, she’s reacting at top volume. Her babysitter told me they’d been asked to leave Barnes & Noble because of these cries, and that made me laugh. I try to react mainly with smiles and a calming voice, but I’m hoping this stage ends soon.

A lot of angst seems to be tied to the stroller—she wants to get out of it, even though she’s still not walking; she’s still crawling like mad and trying to stand. Still, being in the stroller seems to be a huge inconvenience for her. I feel like I’m punishing her when I strap her in—she sometimes kicks and screams like a wild bull—but we have to get from place to place!

I wonder if anyone else has dealt with this type of stroller revolt. Is it best to try to talk her down? Soothe her in some way? Ignore her cries? Taking her out of the stroller really isn’t an option most of the time.

Any advice?

the newbie: Got Games?

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


It’s been raining a lot this fall, and now that June is 14 months old, I’m having to get more sophisticated in my entertainment efforts. She enjoys setting Pandora to “Call Me Maybe” radio and having dance parties in front of the mirror. She also loves tearing up a roll of toilet paper, piece by piece. I know I probably should take it away from her but it seems a small price to pay for half an hour of peace on an afternoon when we can’t get out to the park.

We also have a floor full of toys, animal flash cards and a music table, naturally. Usually a giant cardboard box is more appealing than any of that. The day when the diaper shipment comes is like a trip to Disney World—that box is huge!

But sometimes I feel like the court jester—trying everything to make the Queen laugh and laugh, and fearing her inevitable turn to the Cranky Dark Side.

I’d love to hear what other moms do to make their little ones happy on an indoor day.

the newbie: Separation Anxiety

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


While June has had a lot of time with Grandma, her regular babysitter, and the other parents and babies in our apartment building, she’s starting to get a little clingy with me — even in familiar places! Last week we went to our usual appointment at the YMCA, where I drop her off in the childcare room and then get a workout in, and she clung to me in terror and screamed.

It seemed so strange — she knows this room and these babysitters. She usually sniffles a little bit but then gets distracted by all the great toys they have and the enthusiasm of the staff, not to mention the other kids, who mesmerize her. But this time, she cried and cried as I left the room. I felt awful, but I told myself that she would be fine. I was sure that I’d return to find her happily playing with the dollhouse or the cars.

No go. About 20 minutes into my Total Body Fitness class, one of the childcare providers came to get me to tell me that June was still crying. I put away my equipment and went to get her — she looked so fearful and worried that it broke my heart.

I know that separation anxiety is normal, and she’s almost 14 months old so maybe it’s just really taking hold of her now. Still, what’s the best way to deal with it? My instinct is that I need to continue to walk away and give her experiences where she has to work through this new fear, but that’s awfully hard to do!

Any advice?

the newbie: Food Play!

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


June is now over 13 months old and eating three meals a day, along with some whole milk. I have to admit that I’ve never been much of a cook, but suddenly it feels very important to be making balanced, nutritious meals for her (as opposed to heating up ravioli, which is what I do for myself if my husband isn’t home—he’s the chef in the family).

If the baby had it her way, she’d eat bananas 24/7 (the girl asks for “nana!” all the time). She eats berries, too, and even pomegranate seeds, so we’re okay for fruit, I think. Snacktime is like a fruit explosion!

I’ve found some ways to have her eat vegetables—spinach in scrambled eggs, pureed broccoli under the cheese in a pita pizza—but I’m definitely looking for new recipe ideas. I even got the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook, but I’m not sure how much I want to use purees; I’d definitely like her to try the full vegetables, but I don’t want her to spit them out (she tends to do that).

I would love to hear what other moms do for their kids to have them try new flavors, eat well and enjoy mealtimes.

the newbie: Scheduling Time at Grandma’s

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


June just spent her first night away from home, at 13 months, at her grandparents’ place. There’s a crib (same one we have), lots of toys, and of course we brought her blankie-animal and her pajamas, anything to smell like home. She did pretty well—I know she had a lot of fun and play time with the little dogs—but her grandma reported that she went to bed late and woke up early, losing almost an hour and a half of her normal nightly sleeping time. (This gave me anxiety.)

Not being there, I can never be sure exactly what happened. I wonder, though if anyone has any advice on how to navigate the first nights away from home. It won’t be a very regular thing, but Grandma has asked that she come at least every other month or so, just so they can have quality time.

I wonder if I should just let things go and try not to worry, knowing that she’s safe and cared for. And if she misses a little sleep in exchange for spending the day with Grandma, it’s okay?

Or should I strictly outline routines and rules? I’ve tried to communicate these, but I’m not sure how specific to be. I guess I’m afraid of being overbearing about her schedule.

Any advice?

the newbie: Sleep Changes

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


Oh boy. I thought we had it down. I thought we were the golden family of sleep. I thought people who complained about restless babies were just missing nap cues or somehow timing things wrong.

I’m eating my words. While the night is still pretty solid (11-ish hours, knock on wood) June is now shifting from one nap to two—we think—and she’s absolutely tired and cranky. She does this head rocking thing that just breaks my heart. I can almost see the thought bubble above her head that reads “Soooooo tired,” but she fights it like a champ.

She really needs her morning nap, but WILL NOT take it. And the afternoon nap? It’s getting shorter and shorter. Meanwhile, she’s not well rested at all—she’s spacey and whiney and generally not in a good mood.

Everyone says “this is a phase,” but if you have any advice on how to make it through this one, I’ll take it!

the newbie: First Weekend Away!

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


My husband and I are attending a wedding later this month, and it’ll be the first time both of us are away from baby June for the weekend. She’s almost 13 months old now, and I know she’ll be fine… but there’s some nervous energy around this decision. That’s normal, right?

June’s nana, my own mom, is coming up to stay with her in our apartment, so she’ll not only be well cared for but she’ll also be in a familiar environment, her own bed, with her own chair and toys and sounds.

There’s a part of me that is so, so excited to get in the car, set out for a road trip, put my feet on the dash, turn on the tunes and fly free, baby-less for 48 hours! Imagine: going out for drinks and a fancy party without a care about when we’ll return, sleeping late in a hotel room, paying no mind to naptimes or rogue cheerios on the floor or whether all the outlets are babyproofed.

And then there’s another part of me that worries: Will she feel afraid without me or her dad there? Will she sleep well? Will she wake up and wonder where we are and if we’re coming back? Will she be hard for my mom to handle (she’s squirmy and heavier than when nana saw her last)?

I’m trying to picture bonding time, big smiles and laughs, grandparent love and rejuvenating moments between me and my husband. It’s all good… right?

If anyone has pointers to share about their first weekends away, let me know. I’m sure I’ll be checking in regularly… but hopefully I’ll enjoy the free time too!

the newbie: Saying “No”

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


I think we’ve entered a whole new realm with June since she turned one (this week!). Discipline. Now that she’s crawling and cruising at high speeds (well, pretty high for a baby anyway), she’s getting into all kinds of things. Current favorite activities include: unspooling the toilet paper, pulling on the refrigerator door, and splashing in the cats’ water dish.

I like to let her move freely in the apartment—it’s small, so I can always see her, and we’re pretty baby-proofed (stair gate, outlet covers, door latches)—but I also need to start telling her “no” at some point, right? At the moment, I say “No” calmly but firmly, and then I move her to another area so she, ideally, gets distracted.

That water bowl proves to be too much of a splish-splashy good time, though- -she races for it as soon as I put her down. I don’t want to begrudge her some summertime water fun, but I’ve got to keep her out of the cats’ eating area! I’ll find a way to rope it off, but the larger question is: Is she old enough to understand the word “no”? She certainly stops and looks my way when I say it, but then there’s a grin and she pays me no mind.

Is it too early for discipline? Time for me to start stepping in calmly but firmly? If anyone has tips, I’m all ears!

the newbie: Baby’s First Birthday

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


Miss June will be turning a year old at the end of this month. I can hardly believe it! I remember those first few days at home after she was born—how scared and in love and tired and hurt and overwhelmed and overjoyed and on-the-edge I felt.

The daunting task of giving birth is well behind me, but now I have to face… the First Birthday Party. The expectations—from grandma and other mom friends and even co-workers—seem high. Too high, maybe, for a party that the guest of honor won’t remember. I mean, have you ever been to a first birthday party where the celebrated baby didn’t burst into tears at some point? The whole thing is overwhelming. Wrapping paper! Toys! Cake! Flashbulbs! Everyone is looking at you, kid.

We’re planning a backyard gathering, something simple. I’m thinking picnic blankets and cake and bubbles for everyone to play with. But… is that not enough?

I’d love to hear what others did for a first birthday. I want it to be low-key, enjoyable, and not too overwhelming for baby June. Any ideas?

the newbie: The Doll Appeal

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


We recently had a toy swap in our building, and there’s one toy that every parent seems to want to trade away. It’s a hard-bodied baby doll with eyes that close and movable limbs, and it comes with a bathtub and a feeding bottle. To be frank, this doll is freaky.

But… the babies seem to love it! They rush up to it, hugging it and placing it in its big pink bathtub, dragging it along the grass and “mommying” it with fervor. And I wonder: What’s the deal with babies and baby dolls? Do they see themselves in its creepy blue eyes? Are they imitating the mommy role because it’s one that’s very much a part of their daily experience?

I, for one, will be happy to get June a less horror-movie version of this baby doll—that’s the plan anyway. For now, we’ll share this kooky specimen with the other kids in the building, and they’ll fight to feed her and bathe her and hug her hard, plastic body.

So, does anyone have a doll recommendation? One that both the babies and the parents can love?