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  • How to keep your baby warm at night

    Having just posted about not putting anything in your child’s crib except for your child, I thought I would share how I keep Tyler warm at night. Even here in Southern California, the temperature does get chilly. It’s often in the 30′s when we wake up, which I realize is warm compared to some parts of the country but if you live there, you probably have your heater on at night while I don’t.

    The secret to keeping Tyler warm is simple: layers. He usually sleeps in three layers. A footless Gerber-brand thermal sleeper goes on first. This is pretty fitted so it really hugs his body. Second is a footed fleece Gerber-brand sleeper in size 12 months. Third is the same fleece sleeper but in size 18 months.

    If it’s warmer than usual, we stop at the second layer. If it’s colder than usual, I add a fleece Halo sleepsackover the third layer. If your child has outgrown a sleepsack but isn’t ready for a blanket, you might try out a Big Kids sleepsack.I haven’t needed it, but I would put Tyler in a onesie before putting him in the thermal if it were extra cold.

    Finally, flannel sheets are another way of making things warmer in the crib without extraneous items. Unfortunately, I tried flannel sheets last winter but the only ones I could find were elasticized at the corners only instead of all the way around and made me nervous. If you’re looking for fully elasticized flannel sheets, reader Carol M recommends the ones at Land’s End. If I’d known about them last year, I definitely would have bought a pair, but since I’m not sure if Tyler will be sleeping in a crib next winter, I’m going to hold off for now.

    Question for readers: What are your tips for keeping your baby warm at night?

    PSA: Don’t put a Boppy in your child’s crib

    I was horrified to read this post from Consumer Reports, which says that in 2006, three children in one county died due to the improper use of a crescent-shaped pillow in their crib. As someone who hesitated about using crib bumpers (and used only breathable bumpers), it’s never occurred to me to put anything in my children’s cribs except my children.

    But I couldn’t help noticing that one of the moms at Tyler’s daycare put a Boppy in her daughter’s crib when her daughter was about a year old. Her daughter slept on her stomach with her head and shoulders on the Boppy. I cringed inwardly but I’m not good friends with the girl’s mother, so I didn’t feel comfortable saying anything. Fortunately, this girl has moved into the next room and no longer naps in a crib at daycare.

    This seems like a good time to emphasize the importance of an empty crib. As the American SIDS Institute says, “There should be nothing in the [crib] but the baby – no covers, no pillows, no bumper pads, no positioning devices and no toys.” For more tips on preventing SIDS, visit their web site.

    Swaddling Tips

    I’d better share my swaddling tips before I completely forget what it’s like to have a newborn:

    • Find a big blanket. Most receiving blankets will work for the first month or two, and then your baby will go through a growth spurt and you’ll realize that he’s busting out of the swaddle because there’s not enough blanket to let you make the swaddle tight enough. I have friends who’ve found big blankets elsewhere, but the only one that I could find was at Babystyle.
    • Experiment with the top fold. We found that making a deep fold that was off-center toward the left was the best way to ensure a long tail for wrapping. But your swaddling technique might be different, so keep trying something new until you find a fold that really works for you.
    • In the same vein, Experiment with baby’s position. I used to put my babies a little lower on the blanket and then do a half-fold across the body in order to really get their arms into the swaddle.
    • Consider leaving baby’s legs unswaddled. It’s usually arm-waving that startles baby awake, so when Alex and Tyler grew in length, we stopped pulling the blanket up. We didn’t have a lot of blanket to work with anyway, after the deep fold at the top.
    • Make it tight. This was a little scary at first, but watching The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD helped a lot. The tighter the swaddle, the better baby will sleep.
    • Keep at it. A couple of weeks after Alex was born, we gave up on swaddling and were perfectly miserable from lack of sleep (all of us). But only a short time later, my friend Marilyn convinced me to give it another try and Alex finally slept like, well, a baby. That is, not for long, but he actually slept. Which was a huge improvement.

    Don’t forget to utilize the other S’s from the Happiest Baby on the Block: side or stomach position, shushing, sucking, shaking (jiggling, really). These techniques will soothe any baby if done right, and they’re especially great for dad to master since he can’t just latch baby onto breast.

    Uses For Baby Socks

    Parenthacks posted a suggestion to use baby socks to keep pajama legs in place. It reminded me of my favorite baby sock use: as hand mittens. I found the mittens never stayed in place, so Ellen Steinberg recommended I try “hand socks,” as I now call them. They work like a charm!

    The Shadow Rule

    I know all about sunscreen, and how important it is for Alex not to get too much sun, but I’d never heard of The Shadow Rule: If a child’s shadow is shorter than he is tall, keep him indoors or in the shade.

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