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RetroGamer87
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22 Jul 2021, 7:50 pm

My partner wants to open up a new shop. She'll be away from home for a minimum of 8 hours per day, possibly much longer. I got made redundant recently so I'll be home to look after the baby.

Since she's now the bread winner I don't mind doing housework and parenting work. I don't mind this role reversal from what we had a few months ago.

But actually looking after a baby solo is a little bit scary for me. I've gotten practiced enough that now I can calm her enough to get her to sleep (if she's already tired).

I feel like my problem now is keeping her calm/entertained while she's awake. Babies get bored. She's 11 months old now. I'm very poor at nonverbal communication and she can't talk. I really feel like I don't know how to play with someone who can't talk. But I'll need to play with her because she can't always entertain herself.

Experienced parents. How would you handle this?


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22 Jul 2021, 8:19 pm

I read to my daughter as she liked to hear the sound of my voice. Age appropriate toys were helpful. She would try to copy what I did.


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RetroGamer87
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23 Jul 2021, 4:20 am

The TV is really useful for distracting her or calming her down but screentime is meant to be bad for children so regretfully I guess that can't be one of my strategies.

I have fond childhood memories of Saturday mornings spent watching cartoons, playing video games and eating sugary breakfast cereals. I feel saddened that I won't be able to share these experiences with my daughter as she grows up.

I just don't want her to grow up being taught that everything fun is bad for her. That could give her a guilt complex. I think maybe that while kids these days are more protected they also have more pressure placed on them.


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FleaOfTheChill
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23 Jul 2021, 5:30 am

My kids are grown now, so it's been awhile for me, but I was the at home parent before my kids started school. Nonverbal cues are not my strong suit either.

I established a daily routine. We followed that thing every day (for the most part). I can't recall exactly how it went now, but it was something like, wake up and get cleaned up (ie: diaper change, make bed), then we'd go and get a drink (bottle/cup/whatever) and sit on the couch and read/wake up (quiet time), then we'd get dressed and ready (hair/teeth brushed), then do some more active play (whatever was age appropriate; blocks, toys, coloring, tummy time, whatever), then I'd make breakfast and have the child watch some tv or something to occupy them while I got food together. We'd do more play after that, again with whatever toys the kid was into at the time. I'd usually offer no more than three toys to choose from and let the kid decide which one they wanted and go from there. Of course, if they changed their mind and went to grab a different one, I'd go with that choice, but I liked to let them choose without overwhelming them with choices. Then some read time again, maybe take a walk if it was getting near nap time (I had one who needed a lot of naps in the day or she was beyond cranky :lol: ) or play outside weather permitting. Do lunch after that and again, let the kiddo veg out for a bit while I got lunch together (we had videos that were only like 15 minutes long, so the timing was good for me)... anyway, the rest of the day was pretty much a repeat of chunks of time divided by active play, quiet play (reading or coloring or a puzzle...all age depending), outside activities (walking or yard/park time) naps, eating and me cleaning here and there. I only used screens for a distraction for them while making food and doing household tasks. It worked well and because I broke it up, it wasn't like they were staring at screens for half an hour a shot getting antsy and squirrely. Personally, I think small doses of screen time for kids isn't the worst thing in the world, and that's coming from a person who doesn't own a tv anymore :lol: I think that's more about balance, you know? All things in moderation.

But yeah, I'd highly recommend a daily routine. Kids seem to benefit from predictability, stability, routine... I don't know about you, but I benefit from those things as well. It also takes a lot of the 'well now what do we do' out of the picture. If you're not sure what all your daughter would like to do in the day, maybe ask your wife for some input. But kids in general are pretty good at letting you know what they do and do not want to do. If they swat the toy away it's a no, if they grab for it, it's a yes. They also don't get bored in the same way adults do. They're fine with repeating activities over and over throughout the day. I had one child who would sit on the couch for ten minutes laughing if I played peek-a-boo with a stuffed dog with her. I could do that ten times in a day and she'd love it every time, so long as I broke it up and did other stuff between those times. I'd just stop and do something else when she stopped laughing.

I feel like I said a lot, and since I'm still on my first cup of coffee, I have no idea if that made sense, was anything helpful, or if I just talked a lot. :lol:



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23 Jul 2021, 6:18 am

Give her things to explore. My nephew loved rooting through the fruit dish at that age.

Blocks are good. You build a tower and the kid knocks it down laughing like a maniac. We had some big fabric blocks that didn't hurt or making a crash when they fell.

Things that make noises when you jiggle them. Wave it round the baby and they think it's funny.



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26 Jul 2021, 6:56 pm

Very young children are fairly easily entertained, in my opinion. The hard part, for me, was keeping myself from getting bored (the answer to that is remembering to find joy in your child's joy). Playing repetitive back forth with silly words or silly faces, building and knocking things down, pushing buttons on toys, experimenting with what fits where, etc., are all fun at 11 months. This truly is a time to let yourself do some things you long ago instinctively tried to do but stopped doing after being told it was ridiculous. Ridiculous is great with little ones and, provided your play is safe, earns you "good parenting" points from the general public ("look what he is willing to do to entertain his baby! Isn't that sweet?"). Have you ever wanted to sing your heart out in the car but don't because you aren't a great singer? Go ahead and do it. Until she's older and has a finer tuned ear, she'll love it.

Other fun ideas are walks, parks, zoos, and children's museums (buy annual passes so it won't feel like a waste of money to show up just for an hour or two). On my days with the children, I usually found it was easiest on me if we went out and about, and I let the world provide the entertainment. Everything is new and worth exploring to them, and that is so fun for us parents to watch.


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SabbraCadabra
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27 Jul 2021, 12:08 am

My guy is 16 months, and he's pretty easy to entertain, and sometimes entertains himself.
I feel bad because of my Long Covid, I don't have the energy to keep up with him, but I try to do what I can.
11 months is a good time, because they're finally learning to walk, but it's also kind of a bad time, because teething can get pretty annoying sometimes, especially during feeding time. It's also going to be difficult to keep them from getting into EVERYTHING, and from chewing on things they shouldn't be (teething).

Find some toys that she likes (and a good TEETHER), and teach her how to play with them. My guy LOVES cars and balls, he recently got a lot more interested in stacking blocks and learning colors/letters...but a lot of times, he just likes to find his favorite toys and carry them around, especially if they light up and make sound/music. His mother lets him watch a lot more cartoons than I do, I don't like how he just turns into a zombie (and the music gets annoying as well).

A lot of his favorite toys are things that are not toys, like cardboard boxes/tubes, milk jugs, water bottles, etc. He seems to really like picking up heavy things, or pushing them around.

Definitely make sure she gets in a lot of walking practice. If she's not walking on her own yet, let her hold onto the side of the couch, or hold your hands, or something. She'll figure it out.

That's also around the time where they start to like being lifted in the air and held. He loves being tossed (lightly) and spun around, or rocked. You can try pushing her in a swing, or my guy also likes to sit in the computer chair and be spun. He really likes going outside, but we don't have a fence, and chasing him down the road really wears me out, so we don't go out as much as he would like (I can tell how much he loves to go out).

He loves to dance, so sometimes I'll put on music he likes, or just any old music, or I'll play the guitar (he likes to strum it too), or let him play the tambourine.

I used to read him books, but mostly he just likes to flip the pages. I need to get back on that.

But a lot of your time is going to be taken up with nap time, feeding time, and diaper changes.

Oh, bath time, too. He loves splashing around.

Maybe let her play with her spoon during feeding time? We kind of got a late start on that one, because it slipped our minds...but he got a late start on eating solid food, too. He had a lot of trouble chewing.

But really, I don't think babies get bored. Unless you're in a doctor's waiting room or something.

RetroGamer87 wrote:
I'm very poor at nonverbal communication and she can't talk. I really feel like I don't know how to play with someone who can't talk.

Oh no, definitely talk to her. Even if she isn't saying any words or syllables yet, around 12 months is where they start to understand words. "Go get the ball/where's the ball?" was one of the first things my guy learned, he knows a lot of commands, but he's still working on speaking (at six months, he used to say some gibberish words that had meaning, but now it's mostly just small syllables and babble...and "nonononono").

Basically, just think out loud while you're playing. Point at things and name/describe them. Describe things that she's doing, ask her questions.

BTW, I've read that you're supposed to avoid pronouns...so you would say like "Is that baby's ball?" (or her name), or you would say "No no, that's dad's water." It's hard to get used to.


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Sweetleaf
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27 Jul 2021, 1:37 am

I saw one video, where a mother was playing skyrim with her baby around, and the baby was laughing hysterically when she was trying to unlock a chest or door and kept breaking the lockpicks.

Your username mentions gaming, so perhaps you could find things that entertain the baby in games you play kinda like that. But well I am not so experienced with babies in general...but I did have to babysit my youngest brother when I was a teen and he was practically a baby still. But I know he always wanted to feel included, so we did our best but for sure us kids were not actually great at taking care of him. But we did at least try to include him all the time, it was just a bit much for our mom to put it on us to take care of him while she was at work.

I guess the point is is mostly they just want to be with someone, and you might have to find little things that make them giggle or things that if they are crying might help sooth them.


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hurtloam
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27 Jul 2021, 7:33 am

What about Peek-a-boo!

Hide behind a blanket or anything really, then pop out and say peek-a-boo! Never fails to entertain.



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27 Jul 2021, 7:47 am

That's great news Retro!
Congratulations on your daughter's almost-birthday and the fact you can stay home to raise her!

I tried to keep a schedule and routine in the day as much for my sake as for my babies. I remember having these basic parts of a day. I might be forgetting a few. OCD-me had a calendar where I could plot out the activities day to day, according to our energy level or the weather:

- Music time
This was the 90s so I went to a public library and borrowed a lot of children's CDs. We would listen to fun songs and I'd fly them around the room, dance with them in my arms, and help them to dance lying on their backs or standing up / bopping. I had little plastic tambourine toys, drums, rattles, rain sticks, xylophones, toy pianos, etc. I would wind down music time with the quieter, lullaby music when they got tired. We listened to a lot of classical too, including the Baby Mozart CDs, etc. My boy could eventually name all the instruments of an orchestra by ear at around age 3. He wanted to be a conductor and now he's a musician.

- Massage time
I found a book about infant / baby massage and started doing Swedish baby massage every day! I bought cold-pressed almond oil and warmed it up a little to do the massage which went in a certain order, but I can't remember the order. There were lots of techniques for breaking up gas bubbles on their tummy, and for helping their arm / leg strength develop. It was really calming and meditative because I'd put quiet Zen-type music on CD and use dim lights. I did it straight before Bath Time so I could wrap them up and send them off to bed afterward.

- Bath time
Bath time was great, with little bathtub boats, bubble blowers, and toys they pour water through like sieves or cups. I remember I had something like an inflatable condom (? lol) over the tap so they wouldn't bonk their head. Lots of cuddly towels warm and ready pyjamas for that post-massage-bath nap. Baths were also relaxing with dim or coloured light.

- Book time
Again using board books from the public library, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or picture books like PD Eastman, Dr Seuss, AA Milne and The Berenstein Bears. Sometimes I made up the words or changed them for fun, with dramatic or silly voices and sound effects. Book time also meant they could write (scribble) words on paper to make books. We didn't have audio books back then but I think it's better coming from the parent's voice anyway.

- Art time
Anything - Make a picture. Stick a sticker. Finger paint. Play doh. Hold a crayon properly. Name the art materials. Look at cartoon pictures or even great works of classic art. When we looked at art I taught colours and shapes. I remember teaching the "focal point" of pictures around age 1-2. My daughter used to love looking at a picture and pointing at or touching the "focal point", or tracing the horizon line with her finger etc. She's now a very accomplished artist and photographer btw.

- Food time
This wasn't just about eating. It was also talking about what to eat, learning the names of food by touching and holding it, watching it be prepared etc. I used to make all homemade baby food using fresh fruit and veg from a farmer's market. The outing to the market was a fun way to break up the day, but so was making the food. You can steam almost anything in a double boiler / dutch oven and puree it into soft baby food, or steam and dice it for older babies. Put pureed fruit / veg in ice cube trays to freeze and you'll have ready meals. My wee one loved steamed plums best but you can also mix flavours (apple and pear work well), and have fun with it. This is also a good time to teach basic nutrition as appropriate for their age.

- Pots and pans time
When I was washing up I'd let them bang on pots and pans with a wooden spoon like drum practice. Headache yes, sometimes. Fun yes, always.

- Cleaning time
This was actually fun. We'd handwash doll clothes in the sink with bubbles and squeeze them out. It's like water play but you're teaching good skills too. How to sweep a little broom or stack toys nicely after knocking them down a few hundred times. Arranging by colour, shape, size, etc. It's good for autistic babies who like to arrange things in rows or have order. If they aren't into rows and order at least they're learning to clean up.

- Outside time
Prams, wagons, riding toys that they push with their feet, bouncy balls, bubble blowers, wading pools, picnics, baby swings, going to the park, going to the farmer's market, going in the woodlot or even to beaches to step on sand and make sandcastles. Watching rivers flow. Identifying birds and other wildlife (turtles, cats, bunnies). Sometimes it involved the car but there was more than enough to do around the area. Be sure to name things and make it interactive.

-Toy time
Use the toys you have, sort the toys she's outgrown, teach her how to name toys, to recognise cause and effect ("When I push this button, it makes a noise!"), and how to tidy up. Some days were more animal-based with animal figurines, plush toy animals, etc.

- PE
Gross motor activities like learning to walk, clap, jump, roll, dance etc. Eventually learning to roll or catch a ball, then kick a ball. Interoceptive stuff like "what hurts?", and learning body parts.

-Toilet training time
Every day helps. My daughter wore cloth nappies, and was fully trained by around 18 months.

-Make believe time
Puppets, costumes, magic tricks, object permanence games, making up stories and imaginary lands together. Pretending to be animals and learning animal sounds.

-Parents' group
I went to a parents' group through my church and met a few other families from the neighbourhood. It was a nice routine to go every Wednesday and know I had other adults to talk to. One of them was a licensed and experienced nanny with her own baby. She ended up being our nanny when I had to go back to work.

- Nap time
How could I forget! Nap time is extremely important. Babies that age should be napping at least twice a day for a couple of hours. If they wake up, teach them to self-soothe.

We didn't watch TV or have any electronics back then. It was all hands-on with public library materials and homemade everything. We had a big wooden playpen with soft toys inside, but I barely ever used it. I loved staying home to parent, and wouldn't trade those memories for the world.

The other thing I'd recommend is keeping a diary or notes about her development. I used to write in a journal every night before bed about any milestones or fun things from the day. I took a lot of pictures (this was when you had to do photo-developing instead of digital). Looking at the pictures and talking about memories was fun because the pictures took a week or so to get developed. By then enough time had passed I could ask what they remember about that day, or use the pictures for naming people, pets, colours, shapes, places, expressions (smiles), etc.

Have a great time! I'm envious!



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27 Jul 2021, 5:22 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
If they wake up, teach them to self-soothe.

How do I teach them to self-soothe?


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IsabellaLinton
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27 Jul 2021, 5:45 pm

Image

I followed this book. I was a young autistic mother and I read a lot of books about how to do .... everything .... because I like rules and structure. The book explains a step by step routine for teaching babies to fall asleep on their own, in their own crib, in their own room, with very minimal soothing done by parents. It took about a week, and she was sleeping through the night on her own at five or six months. This was before video monitoring cameras but I had a sound monitor. I heard her cry plenty, but I kept a log journal. It showed me she cried less and less each time. It's easy to fool yourself that she's crying "forever" or "more than last time", but the objective log book will likely tell you otherwise. Every night it was less, like even 30 seconds less sometimes, but that was progress. Finally she realised it wasn't the end of the world to go to bed, and I would still exist in the morning, and she would find ways to soothe herself or stim.

Both parents would need to be on board. I was lucky that her father had left by then so I didn't have to deal with his opinions or his parents. It worked like a charm though. The only time she had difficulty sleeping after six months old was age nine, which I hear is notorious for many kids as a developmental stage.

Self-soothing specifically, I'd recommend having a predictable routine which gets increasingly cozy and soothing the closer it is to nap time. I used baby massage and the dimly lit baths with soft music. It would calm her nervous system and she'd associate the sensation of massage, oil, bath, pyjamas, etc with comfort. The music became a cue like a stim. I didn't do wind up mobiles or music boxes because they didn't last long enough. I was listening to Pachelbel's Canon when she was born so I used that a lot as her bedtime music by putting it on CD / repeat. It would be easier now with internet. Try pretty lighting with watercolours (not just a regular nightlight). Make sure she has her favourite toy if it's safe, but not enough toys that she'll start playing.

I almost forgot, make sure she's sleeping two naps in the day at the same time and in the same place - her bed. Napping in the car doesn't count. Falling asleep on you doesn't count. Babies need to be home, in their bed, on a routine that they know instinctively won't change, or they will be so exhausted they have tantrums. It's like our meltdowns. They get so overstimulated and confused about sleep / wake cycles they don't know what's going on if they sleep ten minutes here and there all day, usually sitting up instead of lying down alone. I would recommend keeping her awake as much as possible until nap time. Do outings early when she's wide awake so she won't fall asleep in the car. Try to schedule her day into whatever pattern works for her, so that she does a build-up wave of energetic things which peak and slowly relax back to fatigue and sleepiness.

I hope I don't sound preachy. Everyone has their own parenting style, but this really worked for me. Parents need to set the expectations high or babies will learn they're in charge instead of you. Once they learn that, it's hard to undo.



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27 Jul 2021, 11:28 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Babies need to be home, in their bed, on a routine that they know instinctively won't change, or they will be so exhausted they have tantrums.

Yeah, nobody told us that you have to force babies to sleep, so we had a heck of a time the first few months, until I read about it online. The "naps shorter than 45 minutes" was a real problem, too.

Now he's pretty good, we've got him down to one nap a day (I think you're supposed to start that around 8 months?), and bedtime is pretty easy most days.

Actually, bedtime might have become too easy...I always have to rock him to sleep, so I would get to watch an hour or two of television (and maybe a bit of a nap)...but now it seems like he just wants to pass out as soon as his bottle's empty (yes, I know you're not supposed to give them a bottle at bedtime), and he can't quite get comfortable in my lap, but he'll sleep almost as soon as I drop him in his crib. This just started maybe two nights ago, so I feel like I might have to start skipping the rocking+TV =(


And also, yes, the "cry it out" method works really well. I've only had to do it maybe two or three times, not even in a row. I think the first time, he cried for about 30 minutes, and I was just about to check on him, and he laid down and went to sleep.

But we have a baby monitor with a camera, so I keep an eye on him...sometimes it's hard to tell, when he wakes up crying, if it's "let him cry, he'll go back to sleep", or "he had a nightmare and needs to be held", or "he's soaking wet".


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27 Jul 2021, 11:47 pm

All good points, Sabbra! It sounds like your little man is doing really well!

I think the rule in my book was that you should always put them to bed awake, instead of letting them fall asleep in your arms and then trying to transfer them to the crib. That way they have no choice but to learn it's OK to fall asleep by themselves in their crib, without you. The sensation of sleepiness or falling asleep is meant to be solo, or as solo as possible, so they know they can do it independently. It's been nearly 25 years since I did all this so I can't say for sure that she was always awake when I put her down, but I certainly tried. I know she was awake during that one week of crying though (lol). It definitely did the trick and no, she doesn't have an insecure attachment, an attachment disorder, or psychological damage from learning how to fall asleep in the first months of her life :) (Some people like to think that).



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29 Jul 2021, 12:13 am

RetroGamer87 wrote:
Experienced parents. How would you handle this?

So how's it going so far?

IsabellaLinton wrote:
It sounds like your little man is doing really well!

He is doing pretty good, but I haven't checked in a while to see what milestones he should be reaching...
He has a doctor's appointment today, so I'm sure we'll find out.

I jinxed myself about the "sleeping good"...he didn't really get a nap today, and it took about 45 minutes to rock him to bed.
I know you're supposed to put them in their crib to sleep on their own, but it's difficult to transition to, especially when I spent about a year fighting every night to get him to sleep. But I will probably start trying, as long as this "nap skipping" doesn't keep up.


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29 Jul 2021, 6:56 am

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Try pretty lighting with watercolours (not just a regular nightlight).
Lighting with watercolours? How do I do that?

I installed colour changing lights in the living room and dining room but they can only change to simple colours like red or blue. There's no setting to immitate a watercolour painting. It's a bit tricky anyway. The dining room uses two downlights and those were a pain to install. The bedroom has four downlights and I'm not sure if I want to go to that trouble times two.


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