Category: Parenthood (Page 4 of 5)

SIDS

There is an article in the Guardian today about how a study by US researchers suggests that most cases of SIDS can be explained as accidental suffocation. Often times they are cases where the babies were sleeping with their parents and suffocated on their arms or pillows, or where something soft was in the bed. Sometimes their breathing was already compromised because they were sick.
I didn’t find other mentions of this study in other newspapers, so I googled its authors and came about a very frightening presentation that included one of them. The researchers interviewed the parents of babies who were diagnosed with SIDS to find out exactly how they were sleeping, in many cases it was clear that their airducts had been or at least could have been obstructed.
As an avid cosleeper this is quite frightening information. I feel like I dodged a bullet and I wonder if I’m putting my now 13 months old baby at risk by keeping her in bed with us.

And yet another stroller…

In my life, I have collected many things: stamps, little bottles of perfume, pins, enemies, but I never thought I’d collect strollers. I’m not the kind of person who goes crazy over baby gear, I don’t like to spend money on “stuff” and I don’t have very much room in my house. Yet, three years after the birth of my first child I find myself with 3 full-size strollers and wondering if there will be more in my future.
We bought the first stroller, a Graco Travel System, before our firstborn, Michaela, was born. We knew we wanted a travel system so that we could transfer Mika from the car to the stroller with minimal problems, and indeed the stroller met my need for the first few months of Mika’s life. It was comfortable enough for her, it had a large basket, and I took it back and forth to the supermarket and library practically every day. But the stroller was a bith to fold down and when folded it was difficult to carry and occupied most of the trunk of the car. When Mika was 8 months old and we planned our first trip with the baby we knew we’d need something lighter and smaller – and we went shopping for our 2nd stroller.
This turned out to be a Peg Perego Pliko Trek – a travel system which worked with our carseat (though it didn’t lock) and which met most of our requirements: it was light, it folded down into an umbrella-shape, it folded down almost completely for naps, it came with a rain shield, it had all-terrain tires and a tray for the baby. I was in love, the stroller did well in Washington DC, in Park City, throughout Argentina, the Amish Country and NYC. I liked it so much that I stopped using my first stroller altogether (which, after loaning to a friend, I’ll probably donate to a woman’s shelter).
But, with the birth of a second baby, I needed a stroller that could accomodate two. At first I thought I could get away with using the Peg Perego and carrying the baby in a baby bjorn – my back strongly protested. I then thought I could try putting the baby in the stroller and having the 3yo ride on the little platform on the back – alas, that doesn’t work when the seat slides down. Thus I relented and I bought my first double-stroller.
It wasn’t a double stroller per se, but a sit-n-stand. That meant that I could put the carseat in the front seat of the stroller, and have my 3yo ride standing in the back. She protested a bit at being too tired and wanting to seat down, but mostly she has accepted it. I used it every day for four months to pick her up from school and stroll around town. I liked it a lot, it’s light, I can steer it with one hand, it encourages Mika to not be too lazy and it’s not as bulky as a double stroller. But alas, this week it stopped meeting my needs.
For one, my baby is growing. Soon she’ll be out of the carseat and into the stroller proper. The sit-n-stand is very cool, but its front seat only reclines a little bit. Camila looked very uncomfortable lying on it. In addition, there is barely any room to seat in the back if the front seat is reclined. That’s not a big problem if the kid in the back is standing, but Michaela has been waking up so early to go to school lately, that she is often tired by the time we head home after an afternoon of play. Yesterday she was so tired that she fell asleep standing up on the stroller. Not my ideal. Today I had her seat down in the back, but as the seat doesn’t recline she looked and felt quite uncomfortable as well.
So I relented once again, I bought a double stroller. It’s an old Cosco which I got off Craigslist for $45. I took it for a ride today and it’s definitely not ideal. It’s quite heavy and I have to fight to keep it straight on those sidewalks that slant sideways. It’s long and bulky and takes a lot of space when folded. No way I could steer it with one hand. But it does have a large accesible basket, both seats recline, and it’s considerably more comfortable than the sit-n-stand.
So here I am, with four strollers. I’ll probably get rid of the Graco one as soon as the friend I loaned it to gives it back – but I’m going to keep the rest. Mike uses the Peg Perego one when he goes out with the girls – he baby bjorns Camila and Mika goes in the stroller. Plus I figure it’ll be useful when Mika is off the stroller. It’ll probably be the one I’ll take to Argentina in my next trip, Mika will just have to accept riding on the back.
I’m also not ready to give up the sit-n-stand. I think I’ll continue using it for trips around town when I don’t think the girls will fall asleep. Eventually, though, I’ll probably sell it. Or donate it 🙂

Unconditional Parenting

I’m not a big reader of parenting books but I saw Unconditional Parenting at the library, was intrigued by the title and impressed by its long list of references. If somebody is telling me how to raise my children, I’d like to see what they say justified by some research.
The book presents a very simple idea: parents should not just love, but approve of their children unconditionally, and should therefore not subject them to either negative or positive judgements. That means, parents shouldn’t punish or criticize their children for bad behavior, but also that they shouldn’t reward them or praise them for good behavior. Ultimately, parents shouldn’t be trying to control their children.
Despite, or perhaps because I am a pretty controlling and judgemental person, I completely agree with this philosophy. I find many problems with the concept of controling a child. First, I think that it destroys trust. Ultimately, I want my child to do what I say because she trusts that I do know best in that specific instance and that I have her best interest at heart, not just because I say so. I want my child to question authority – be it the government’s, her teacher’s or mine – and I want to learn to trust my child, so that I can help her build trust on herself. Controlling her goes against that core idea.
For the first 2 1/2 years of Mika’s life, I never really had to face the issue of discipline. My expectations of Mika are fairly low (or, as I would say, realistic given her age) and she never really did anything “bad”. But we started having some behavior issues after the baby was born – her disobeying me, throwing things to the floor, deliberately peeing and pooping in the floor of her room, crying all the way home. I must confess that at first I didn’t react well to this behavior. The baby (the probably cause of the behavior in the first place) was consuming much of my time and I was too tired and sleepy to engage Mika. So instead I “punished” her. By this I mean I showed her I was angry at her, I yelled at her and even sent her to her room in several occasions. Yes, they were terrible things for me to do and I’m quite sorry and ashamed of it. And of course the behavior didn’t improve. Finally (after getting some advise from others) I decided to deal with the cause of the behavior rather than punish her for it, so I started being more sympathetic towards her, responding to her aggression in a more loving way, accepting her issues, and generally engaging her more throughout the day. The “bad” behavior stopped.
Indeed, “working with the child” is what Mr. Kohn recommends. That requires trust both on the child and yourself as a parent, and having the energy and the time to put into it, but I do believe that it pays off in the not-so-long run.
I was also glad to read Mr. Kohn’s views against using “rewards” to control a child’s behavior. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the idea of rewards, which seem to be little more than bribes to me. Now, I have used bribes in the past and I’m sure I’ll continue using them (in a more limited basis, I hope) in the future, but I hate the idea of having to pay my child to comply with my requests. Plus it creates a bad precedent and they seem to go against self motivation.
But I am more uncomfortable with Mr. Kohn’s position that “praise” is no different from material rewards, and should not be given to modify a child’s behavior. I understand his point. On the one hand, we should not be judgemental of our children. We should approve of them unconditionally and not reward them with our praise (approval) just when they do something we like. Moreover, children should develop their own internal motivators and praise, as an external motivator, may impede these from arising. On the other hand, I am not sure whether I actually use praise to encourage specific behavior as much as to show my overall approval of her. I mean, I praise her whenever she does anything she choses to do, not just things I want her to do. I praise all her accomplishments because everything she does is impressive to me (Hmm, does this show her I have low expectations of her?). Kohn says that instead of praising, I should engage her, commenting or questioning about what she does. And that makes sense, though of course praise is more expeditious.
Anyway, I have been trying to not praise her so much, but it is really hard.
A possible criticism of the book is that it doesn’t really provide specific alternatives to the reward-punishment system. What Kohn says is that you should work with your child and while that’s fine and dandy, and I think it’s likely to work in our specific case, I’m really not sure it will work with all children. There are kids who are just naturally “wilder” than others, less empathic, less adept at copying behavior – more prone to runing down the street or hitting their siblings. I think parents need a bit more guidance of what to do, if not reward or punish, in those cases.
Still, by the end of the book I was pretty satisfied with my own parenting methods. What I’m left wanting, though, is a book that will tell me how to control my impatience and my anger when I find DD difficult so that I can work with her productively.

Sit n’ Stand


Before Camila was born I thought I might be able to get away without buying a new stroller to accomodate my two children. We already had two stroller and a third one seemed overkill. Mika can walk quite well, and our Peg Perego Pliko has a very small platform that would allow her to ride standing up if the need be.
Things didn’t turn out as planned. The platform in the Pliko is almost useless when the sit is reclined all the way, you can ride on it, but only by leaning back a great ammount. Moreover, Mika immediately declared that this was her stroller, and that she wanted to sit on it. I figured she already had enough displacement issues as it was, and it probably wouldn’t help her much to be literally displaced from her stroller.
But even when I could convince Mika to let Camila ride while she woke, the logistics didn’t work well. Michaela is three and convinced she must explore every single thing in her environment, from each and every parking meter and tree, to every leaf and piece of garbage in the floor, to every vegetable, animal or mineral that chances upon her path. Walking with her is a painfully slow affair, made even more miserable by Camila’s general discomfort with stroller-riding and the likelihood of having her scream at the top of her lungs if we stop at all.
So by the time Camila was a few weeks old we realized we did need to get a double stroller. Several people, including my sister Kathy, recommended the sit n’ stand, as a smaller, lighter alternative. The reviews of it at epenions and other websites were mixed, but I figured I’d buy a used one off craigslist and if it didn’t work out, I’d sell it. So far it has been working out.
We got a pretty basic model for $45. It didn’t come with the bottom basket which I’ve read is inaccesible when the front seat is down (as it must be to accomodate an infant seat) anyway. This is inconvenient, but we take a couple of sturdy empty bags (Mike has gotten many of these at computer conferences) that we can use to carry groceries and what-have-you. This stroller, unlike newer models, does not have the attachment to lock a carseat – but ours fits quite well, and while it’s not locked in, it seems quite secure in the seat. A final problem is that the sun cover is meant for a second rider sitting down – it would be nice if it was taller and would cover Michaela while she rides standing up.
But other than that it has worked great for us. Michaela is happy to ride standing up, while when I picked her up in her own stroller she always insisted in walking part of the time, now she’s happy to just ride which makes trips back and forth much quicker. It’s true that in that position she can’t fall asleep, and generally by the time we’re headed home she’s really tired, but as I say to her, it’s better than having to walk.
I particularly like how easy the sit n’ stroll is to steer. It’s much easier than all the other strollers I’ve had, and I can even steer it with one hand if I have to. It does feel quite light as well, obviously less so when Michaela is on it. I’ve had no problems getting it over the curb and up and dow the steps at home, though I do have to face these steps straight on and make sure Camila is secured to the car seat, lest she fall down at that angle.
All this said, one of my friends has a new model (they look pretty similar) which she uses as a double stroller and she doesn’t like it at all. The stroller veers towards one side and she finds it very hard to steer. Even with the two seats in the vertical position, the basket is hard to access.
So obviously this is not a product that will work for everyone, I’m happy that so far it works for me.
As for the picture, that’s what Mika does just as soon as Camila shows signs of starting to cry.

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