Friday, October 15, 2010

Question and Answer Friday

This is your chance to email, facebook, or comment questions. I'll pick some parents to help me out with giving some different answers. I had so many great questions/responses that I'm breaking them in to 2 days...check back tomorrow for: When did you know your baby was ready to switch from pureed food to small chunks? How do you juggle having more than one child, especially when you have a newborn (not sleeping through the night, feeding all the time, etc.)

First, a little bio on the Mamas featured: 

Rachele; mom to an adorable 3 1/2 year old girl and a sweet 1 year old boy. She's the author of Rhubarb Jam.
Katie H; mom to Hudson, a handsome 18 month old boy.
Katie B; featured the other day as a Transparent Moment. Mom to a beautiful 6 month old little girl. She's the author of Being the Browns.
Nikki; a brave mama with 4 kids; a 5 year old girl, twin 3 year old girls, and a 1 year old boy. Crazy? Maybe. But oh so cute (and I may or may not be envious!) She's the author of Ninja Mom.
Calah; Mom to 3 handsome boys. Trey is 6, Bryton just turned 2, and Greyson is almost 4 months old. 
Yours truly;  Mama to two cute little boys; an almost 4 year old, and an almost 2 year old. And author of this here blog :)

1. Did you teach your kid(s) sign language? If so, at what age did you begin and how many signs? What were the easiest signs for you to teach/them to pick up? If not, why not? 
    Rachele: Yes. With our daughter we started about 9mo, with our son closer to 12mo. We taught over 100 signs to our daughter. We were much more consistent with her so with son, he has learned only perhaps a dozen and is far from consistent with them. We got a lot of help from using the Signing Times series on DVD (taken from their old TV episodes). Easiest signs are: milk, eat, water.
     Katie H:  I taught our son, Hudson, to sign around 6 months or so when he started eating solids. I wanted to teach him how to ask for more without whining or slapping his hands on the tray. I taught him more, milk, food, please, thank you, drink, all done, and change. I bought a great book called Baby Signing 123. I took sign language as a foreign language in college and I currently teach sign in my KG classroom so I am very comfortable with it. Hudson caught on but didn't sign right away. He new what I was saying but he just watched. A month or so later he started copying all the signs. He is VERY verbal so I've quit signing as much because he wants to learn the words. Sometimes I say the word and do the signs.
     Katie B: My daughter is 6 months old. I am just beginning to start to teach her sign language. We are beginning with one sign as of of now and hope to work up to about 5 signs.
     Nikki: I taught my first born baby signs using the Baby Signs book. We began around 6 months, the same time that she started table food. I found that meal time was an opportunity to sit with her (helpfully captive in her high chair) and work on the signs. We probably got up to somewhere around 25 to 40 signs. It was a fantastic language builder. I've used signs with all of my kids (she has 4!) to some degree or another. And, because we use them only casually around the house, not in conjunction with a caregiver, I've felt free to invent signs that work best for us.
     Calah: I didn't teach my kids sign language. By my own choice I preferred to just teach them to say it than to sign it first. I think though in some cases my kids were the exception cause Trey and Bryton both verbally communicated fairly early for boys. So, when they started showing verbal communication skills I just ran with it.
     Greta: We attempted sign language with our first. We started at about 8 months. I taught him all done, more, and eat. I was afraid to teach him too much more because I had been reading at the time that it can delay speech. We weren't consistent and he became more interested in speaking so we just gave up. Our second we attempted all done but he would just do the sign on his tray resulting in everything getting smashed around his plate or ending up on the floor. He's been a really late talker (and is frustrated by it) so the whole "delayed speech" because of signing is thrown out the window--he would have been one to really benefit from signing.

2. What did you do to reduce/prevent stranger anxiety?
    Rachele: With both kids, I started using gym daycare 2-3x a week when they were about 4 or 5mo. Dropoff and pickup all within an hour. I think it helped some, but that said, every kid goes through stranger anxiety and it seems to hit somewhere between 9mo and 15mo. They get over it but it will still happen in phases, I think! 
     Katie H: I don't know if I've crossed this yet. I think me working has helped him to not be afraid of other people. When Hudson was a baby, we had a nanny and my mom watch him. Now he goes to daycare 3 mornings a week which has helped him be comfortable with other people. I would just say socialization in general; from swim lessons to library "lap sit" time, etc.
     Katie B: The fear of strangers may still come in time, but I let friends and family hold her whenever they want so she gets used to being with others. She interacts with strangers at the store or out and about and I let her do so.
     Nikki: I encourage the kids to wave and say hi and the like when we are together in public places. As they've aged we quietly instituted a policy that it's okay, even expected, to engage with strangers when Mom and Dad are around. The best place to practice this? The grocery store. Lots of people to interact with, but baby (or toddler) feels safe in her seat in the shopping cart.
     Calah: I feel that with Trey he has this sort of hesitation with strangers. I don't know if I instilled that in him or if that was sort of an in born thing. We have worked on it, and he is much, much better now. I have just taught him that it is not a problem if someone says hi to say hi back but only if he feels comfortable with it. I don't force it too much cause I'd rather my kids be overly cautious in this area than too friendly and trust any and everyone I guess.
     Greta: With our oldest we were consistent with was taking him to the church nursery which I think helped a lot. He was never really too shy and didn't really go through stranger anxiety until the beginning of this year when we started him in a preschool. With Kai we had taken a break from going to church because every time we did the kids would get sick. Now he's (whether a result of not going or not) fearful of strangers (and even our parents for awhile) and it's something we're still battling with. We try to make leaving a game. We blow kisses, catch them in the air, and smack them on our cheeks. So far it's been working (at least with our parents)...the true test will be leaving him with a stranger.

3. Do you use the same bedtime routine at night as you do during the day for naps?
     Rachele: No. Nap (routine takes 10-15min) is a very abbreviated version of bedtime, which much longer (routine takes 30-45min). I have heard several times that napping and sleeping are learned in different parts of the brain, and I have heard a lot of moms swear this is true, so I don't put much stock in napping routines or skill translating to bedtime, or vice versa.
     Katie H: I followed the Babywise book which is all about a schedule. I love that thing! For Hudson he would eat, play, sleep, repeat. I started stretching his feeds to eventually every 4 hours and then followed a routine. He knew what was happening and what was expected. For bedtime, we do a bath (almost every in the summer:( ), Bible story, prayers, and then put him in his crib. He loves his naps/or nighttime sleep! I usually use this phrase when getting ready for a nap or going to bed "Do you want to go see dog and bearie?" He usually says "Yah" Then I say "Lets go get in your crib" and he almost always squeals with excitement.
     Katie B: Our nighttime routine is its own thing. I don't have much of a routine for naps besides zipping her in her sleep sack and giving her a little "shhhh" in her ear for a minute before laying her down. But I guess for both nap and nighttime, she does go in her sleep sack, we turn on the fan, we lay her down and give her a blankie to cuddle. But for nighttime there are many more steps (naked time, bath, lotion, feeding, story, etc)
     Nikki: We have the same routine for daytime sleep as we do for nighttime sleep. Except, we add a prayer at night.

     Calah: I don't always use the same routine for nap times as I do for night. The simpler you can keep it the better, especially if you have more than one kiddo.    
     Greta: Now we don't but it was sort of similar when they were each babies until about 14 months. Bedtime was just a longer version. For both we would read a story, close the blinds, give special blankies and turn on the fan. With bedtime we would do a bath...every night, then follow nap time routine, but I'd also sing songs and say prayers as they lay there in the dark. 

Readers: I know this is a lot of text, but what do you think? Should I continue it as a weekly or bi-monthly addition to the blog? Do you find it helpful? Next week I have some questions about "How did you know you were ready for a baby?" "What is the best/hardest part about pregnancy?", etc. Anyone want to help answer a few?


  1. Oh, I think I'm going to enjoy your blog very much!

    Especially these questions: "How did you know you were ready for a baby?" "What is the best/hardest part about pregnancy?"

    Yeah, those hit home (:

    So excited to find your blog!

  2. Hi! Thanks for coming over to my blog and commenting! Following you now. Looking forward to reading your blog!

  3. Thanks for linking this up under baby sign language posts! This is a great feature. I love hearing all of the different mom approaches. I see that Greta had heard that unfortunate myth that baby sign language can delay speech. That's too bad! The truth is actually quite the opposite. In addition to the mounds of anecdotal evidence, there has also been federally funded long term research that supports the hypothesis that baby sign language actually helps children acquire verbal language faster and easier than their non-signing peers.

  4. @Amber--It was too bad...because of it we didn't do it with our 2nd son. Huge mistake. He would have benefited soo much from it. He was so frustrated that he couldn't talk and only just in the past month (he's 1 next month) has he started actually speaking much. I love that you do the baby signs as a part of your blog. Great idea!

  5. LOVED reading the answers to the questions that I had. I LOVE the variety of answers and different things to try. I LOVE reading your blog Greta, for advice and also for realizing that I am not the only one who has these feelings! I love the question and answers, I'd say keep the coming!! I think they are very helpful.

  6. Sorry, my only blog is my kindergarten page, so thats what it came up as! St. James Kindergarten is Noelle!!

  7. Just getting to this! I love this so much! I honestly do this exact thing with my girlfriends via email. I send mommy questions (that I may be fuzzy on) and in reply get 3 or 4 different answers from my mom friends. It's SO helpful as is this.