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Tips for Surviving a Young Toddler in a Hip Spica Cast

28 Sep

Tomorrow, Neola will have been in a hip spica cast for hip dysplasia for six weeks.

She only had dysplasia in her right hip, so her bright pink cast is not symmetrical — it’s down to her toes on her right leg, but only down to above her knee on the left. It also goes up to about her armpits in the back, but curves down in the front, low enough that we can see her belly button. Tomorrow she goes back to the doctor to get a new cast (there is a small possibility she will go straight into a rhino brace, but we are mentally preparing for another 6 weeks in a cast.)

I did a LOT of research online before her surgery, so we haven’t had to figure out much on the fly, which I’m thankful for. But just like having a baby, there are things I thought we would use a ton that we haven’t used much, and vice versa. So to parents who are preparing for having a child in a hip spica, I would recommend waiting to buy most things, unless you buy it from somewhere that you will be able to return it if it doesn’t work.

Diapering

This was one of the most daunting things to think about before her surgery, but honestly, it’s not that bad. You get a routine and comfort level with it, and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Her cast has gotten wet a few times (the hair dryer on the cool setting took care of it), and she’s had two decent blowouts that took a while to clean up, but changing just pee diapers is overall very similar effort-wise to pre-cast.

What has worked best for us with how small the diaper opening is in Neola’s cast is 4 steps (this is a fairly common way to diaper in a spica, so if any of this is confusing, I’m sure you can find other resources out there with more information):

1. Perimeter Diapers — We cut premie or newborn diapers in half and tape the cut end shut. We like using 3M Durapore or waterproof adhesive tape. Pull or cut the tabs off the diaper and line the edge of the diaper opening with them, absorbent side facing the skin. Tape the cut/taped end to the outside of the cast. (Our hospital lined the diaper opening with waterproof tape before she came out of surgery. With all the taping and untaping of the perimeter diapers, the original waterproof tape was starting to peel up, so we added a layer of bright pink duct tape over the waterproof tape, just on the outside of the cast.)

2. Incontinence Pad — We have found these to be better than diapers in the cast opening because they are longer and skinnier than diapers. (I read a lot of people just went down a diaper size for diapering in the cast, but with the way Neola is casted and the way the opening is cut, bigger diapers just don’t fit that well.) Because Neola’s cast comes down in the front to just below her belly button, we are able to push/pull the pad all the way up the front of her cast, with 2-3 inches to fold over the cast in front (held in place by the big outside diaper). Then there’s 3-4 inches to tuck in back to cover her bottom. We have tried Poise Regular Length Level 6 and Amazon Essentials Level 6. Both have worked well, but we like the Amazon ones better. You do have to buy quite a few at one time though.

3. Diaper Insert — Most of the time, we also put a newborn diaper over the incontinence pad just for extra protection. It’s not completely necessary though, so sometimes during the day we skip this step (especially when using the Amazon incontinence pads).

4. Big Outside Diaper — Size 7 diapers fit the best over the outside of Neola’s cast. I had read that another mom used cloth diaper covers over the outside of her child’s cast because then they could just wash them, and they were cuter than a disposable diaper. I bought some, planning to do the same thing, but they just weren’t big enough. (Single tear.) But since I bought them on Amazon, I was able to return them.

Other helpful things for diapering: hair dryer, penlight, and fabric scissors for cutting diapers

Bathing / Cast Care

We have used bath wipes from the hospital, as well as Mustela No-Rinse Cleansing Water for cleaning Neola’s exposed skin. Both work fine. We’ve gotten away with only having to actually wash her hair a couple times so far (once was after she threw up and it got in her hair — but thankfully the puke didn’t get on her cast!).

We haven’t had a huge issue with her cast smelling. I mean, it doesn’t smell like a flower garden, and there’s a faint urine smell, but overall, it’s not too bad. I have spritzed the outside of her cast a few times with water and lemon essential oil, then drying it immediately with a hair dryer.

We initially had issues with her cast getting wet (before we started using incontinence pads) and so we bought a Cast Cooler, thinking that would be the ticket to keeping her cast dry (she was often sweaty also when it was still hot outside). But we ended up returning it. It was too big to fit flatly on Neola’s cast anywhere, which meant it didn’t work properly. We haven’t really needed it anyway. The hair dryer works just fine, and we use it at least once a day. Neola enjoys the sensation.

In the past week (knowing that we were close to a new cast), I’ve also let her crawl around in woodchips, pea gravel, and dirt. I just put a sock on her casted foot to keep the stuff from getting in there. Her uncasted leg is often quite dirty.

How it started…
How it’s going.

Eating

I heard about the Nuby Easy Go Lightweight Booster Seat from several other spica parents on Facebook during my research, and bought it ahead of time from Amazon to try it out before Neola’s surgery. We weren’t sure that the belt straps would be long enough to fit around her cast, but they are!

We have enjoyed this as a way for Neola to sit with us at the kitchen table and eat, but she is able to push against the table and tip her chair back. Because we have three other kids and can’t just sit at the table with her all the time while she’s in the seat, we moved our kitchen table so that her chair is pushed against the stair railing, so that she can’t tip her chair over. This seat is also easy to bring along to restaurants. I wish we had more than one!

Neola eats all the same foods now as she did pre-cast, with the exception of super messy ones like spaghetti. None of my kids have tolerated bibs, and Neola is no exception. I bought a bib that had full-length sleeves, thinking that maybe that would help, but she still hated it. Thankfully, she has tolerated a bib “skirt” (it’s really just a wider-than-normal apron that we made ourselves) that we tie from her waist all the way around to the back of the chair. Her shirts still get dirty, but her cast is protected.

Thankfully we haven’t had any issues with Neola being constipated.

Sleeping / Nursing

Neola has been a fairly terrible sleeper her whole life (waking up 4-5 times a night) so thankfully, being in a cast hasn’t made it that much worse. I still nurse her to sleep for naps and bedtime, and then when she wakes up during the night.

At first, nursing seemed a little daunting but I’ve figured out what works for us. The glider we have in her nursery has fabric sides that are roomier and less rigid than a normal recliner so her right leg (the one that is fully casted) can fit down in the side when she’s lying on her side to nurse. When I nurse her on my floor bed in her room, I make sure that her right knee is resting on the mattress and her right foot (the casted one) is hanging off the side of the mattress (but not so far that her foot is touching the floor).

When I need to switch sides when nursing her, I’ve found that spinning her around on her back with her feet/cast away from me is the easiest way. (But that only works when I’m on the floor bed with her.) Otherwise, I have to grab her under one armpit and under one leg, sit her up on my lap, and then switch hands to lay her down facing the other way.

For sleep, she is on her crib mattress next to my mattress on the floor (this is what we were doing pre-cast and it actually has worked pretty well during the cast—we also use her mattress as a diaper changing station). Once she’s asleep, I place her on her back with her butt between two pillows — one is under her head/torso and another under her legs. She doesn’t love having to sleep on her back, but she’s doing pretty well with it considering. Since she wakes up so often on her own during the night, I haven’t had to worry about intentionally changing her position during the night.

For naps, she still likes to sleep while nursing, and we have been able to get her to fall asleep in the wagon. She didn’t initially like the Wallenberg car seat that we are borrowing from the hospital but she’s adapted to it, and will still fall asleep fairly easily in the car if she’s tired.

We tried adding neck support by velcro-ing small pillows to her car seat. It has had some success. Also, she is only unbuckled in this picture because I was taking her out of the car, and wanted to quick snap a picture of her head leaning against the pillow.

Activities

Believe it or not, we are finding the activity/entertainment aspect of her cast the hardest part. I’m sure there are unique challenges at any age, but with Neola only being 16 months now, she’s not interested in a lot of things that she would be if just six months older: playdough, coloring, screen time, board games, singing, reading books. She just wants to chew on the books, eat the playdough, break the crayons.

So what do you do with a casted 16-month-old? I’m sure these things won’t work for every child (because every cast is a little different) but these have worked for us:

* Walks / Time Outside — Neola fits nicely on our Radio Flyer push trike, Step2 rollercoaster, and Radio Flyer fabric-sided wagon. She can swing by herself or with us on our circle swing and hammock chair swing. She also fits nicely in our ErgoBaby carrier, and we borrowed a Stokke carrier from a friend that allows to her face out.

* Toys — we rotate toys every week or so, because she gets bored quickly. She has enjoyed puzzles and books (on her own) the most. She doesn’t actually do the puzzles — just plays with the pieces.

* Sitting — We made a Spica table and modified a Bumbo seat, so those are two spots she can sit to play with toys. The Bumbo tray doesn’t work anymore, but we have a big lidded tote bin that is the perfect height for her to use as a table when in the Bumbo. We also use it for storing a lot of her toys. We read a lot of people say that they used a bean bag chair a lot, but Neola hates it. She doesn’t not want to be laying down at all. Thankfully we didn’t buy a new one — we tried her in bean bag chairs we already owned.

* Crawling — Neola figured out how to crawl around a little by about week 2 of the cast. It’s hard work so she ends up kinds of sweaty, and can only do it for about 15 minutes at a time, but she loves this freedom.

Sometimes she gets stuck, but overall, she is amazingly capable in the cast!

* Getting out of the house — Whether going shopping or to a park, Neola enjoys getting out of the house and people-watching. Bonus if it’s a park that has an adaptive swing she can fit in. I also signed her (and me) up for an ECFE class on Mondays, which will give us something new to do.

* Fine Motor activities — we’ve tried a variety of activities that I found online: rescuing small toys from underneath painters tape, pulling pipe cleaners out of a colander, pushing pom poms into a spice jar, mess-free “painting” with finger paint in a ziploc bag. The painting was a total flop. The pipe cleaners were too easy. Painters tape was too until my hubby figured out more elaborate ways to tape the toys down. The only activity that she really still enjoys is the pom poms in the spice jar, and recently, popsicle sticks in a water bottle.

* Eating — Thankfully Neola loves to eat, so we feed her 5-7 times a day. It does get tricky to figure out what else to feed her, though, with all that eating! Her favorites are fruit, applesauce, string cheese, salami, and crackers. Oh, and chocolate.

If she gets recasted tomorrow, we are also planning to buy her a Wheely Bug ride-on toy and modify her Little Tikes swing, so that she has a few more options of activities.

Clothing

Before her surgery, I went through all the 2T and 3T clothes (1-2 sizes bigger than what she had been wearing) that we had saved from Neola’s older sisters, took out all the things I thought would work, and washed them. I brought several things to the hospital in both sizes. I’m glad too, because in general, 2T things are just a little too small. We also discovered that regular shirts don’t work well because of how far her cast comes up in the back — they end up just getting bunched up under her armpits.

So I ended up buying about 4 short-sleeve and 4 long-sleeve 24-month size onesies from Walmart (this fall, their Garanimals brand has some $5 bodysuits with stretchier fabric that have worked really well — the others with more standard cotton fabric just *barely* snap around her cast, though they do work too). Garanimals also has matching skirts for those, so I bought every color they had (a total of 4) in size 3T. I also bought four 3T bodysuits from Target’s Cat & Jack adaptive line (2 short-sleeve and 2 long-sleeve), but they were more like $15 each.

For bedtime, she wears the same things (minus the skirt), and we have found that a regular long-sleeve shirt stays in place okay if layered over a short-sleeve bodysuit. So we do that quite a bit too. Size 3T clothes work the best, but flowy/loose size 2T shirts and dresses work too.

We can’t get even super stretchy things up her legs to her bottom — everything has to go over her head — so bodysuits and skirts have worked really well. We’re going to need to figure out some new tricks though because fall has arrived in Minnesota! I bought some girls-size knee-high socks from Walmart but they were too tight 😢 so I need to figure out something else.

Church Nursery / Childcare

We didn’t need to worry about daycare with Neola since I stay home and homeschool our older kids, but we did want to be able to put her in church nursery on Sunday mornings and for Bible Study Fellowship on Thursdays.

So I made a sticker to put on the back of her shirt that says to not pick her up by the armpits but to make sure to support under her cast. (I just printed a word doc onto full-page label paper and cut them into squares.) We also bring her modified Bumbo to the church, and mention that she can crawl around some, so she doesn’t have to be held the whole time. We tell them to not worry about changing her diaper, and if she’s smells poopy, just page/text us. So far it has gone well with her in the nursery!

Overall

The cast-care aspect of this experience hasn’t been as bad or hard as I had feared, but the rest of the situation has been extremely challenging — mostly because she’s our fourth child. We can only put her down for 10-15 minutes a few times a day. Otherwise, she wants to be held and entertained, and even then, she’s sometimes just frustrated that she can’t do what she really wants to.

Getting school done with my older kids while Neola is around is practically impossible. My wild third child and only boy goes to preschool three days a week. My husband brings him to school and takes Neola along, so I have 45 minutes in the morning to do school with our oldest two, then Travis can usually take Neola in the afternoon for another 30-60 minutes.

Our health insurance covers a “home health aide” so we have been trying to get something going there, but it is [not] surprisingly hard to get anything done with these four kids, who are here, all day, every day. We have survived the first six weeks, but I do think we are going to need to make some changes in order to survive the next six if Neola gets recasted.

Anyway, that has been our experience with a young toddler in a hip spica cast!

Neola Bethany: 13-14 Months

24 Jul

Neola is 14 months old as of July 12. These past couple of months with Neola have been so fun! She’s not walking yet, but getting oh so close!

In Neola’s 11-12 month post, I didn’t mention anything about what we did for her first birthday. Her actual birthday on May 12 was pretty lowkey — we had doughnuts for breakfast (that we had just bought that morning from Cub), played in the rain, had McDonald’s for lunch, and went to soccer practice for the older kids at night. #fourthchild #firstbirthday

But we celebrated all four kids’ birthdays with our families on May 21. We did a (very, very loose) superhero theme. It ended up being a FREEZING day. We had the older kids’ soccer games that morning, and I ended up running home between games with Neola to get winter gear for everyone because we were all turning into icicles. For the party, we ate food and played with water balloons (for the kids, the fun of water balloons outweighed how cold it was).

Size

A week after her first birthday, we took Neola in to the doctor because she had had a ton of mucus, a bad cough, and was super fussy/clingy (unlike her), and it has been going on for almost three weeks. Turned out, she had a double ear infection. 😢 So we gave her amoxicillin for 10 days and she was better…

For about a week. Then she got the same thing again: congestion, cough, fussy. After two weeks, I brought her back in. Another ear infection. 😢 Now she was put on a stronger antibiotic, Augmentin. She hated the taste of that medicine, and it gave her a bad diaper rash.

During that same time, she got two new teeth on bottom, and two molars on top. And then she got Covid on top of all that! Needless to say, there have been some rough nights of sleep!

Long story short, I just took her in for her well-child visit on the day she turned 14 months, and she is now 22 lbs 9 oz (76%), 2 feet 7 inches tall (81%). At her (sick) doctor appointment on May 19 (only a week after her first birthday), she was 21 lbs 10 oz and 2 feet 6 inches tall.

Sleeping

Neola’s sleep is still not ideal. But since I’ve been sleeping on the floor with her (I’m on a twin mattress, she’s on a crib mattress), the wake-ups are generally not terrible (unless there are a LOT of them, then it’s painful). On an average night, she probably wakes up 2-4 times, nurses, and goes right back to sleep. On a rough night, she wakes up 6-8 times, and sometimes cries when I try to roll her back onto her mattress.

She mostly sleeps on her side, though recently she has started sleeping on her belly a little. She rarely sleeps on her back anymore. I am encouraged that there have been a few times when she has fallen asleep on her own (with me laying right there) after flopping around a bit (as opposed to nursing to sleep). She has also fallen asleep in her crib a few times after crying for 5-10 minutes (I reserve that for the times when she won’t settle down and go to sleep, even though it’s bedtime). That’s progress!

She is still consistent in her napping preferences: she falls asleep either nursing, in the stroller or in her carseat. I actually wish she didn’t fall asleep in the car so easily because she will take a 20-minute cat nap at 5 or 6 PM sometimes when we’re on our way home, and then she’s wired until 10 PM. We also discovered that she likes mowing the lawn with Travis.

Her typical schedule is wake up around 6:30 AM, first nap 9:30-10:30, second nap 1:30-3:00, bed around 7:30.

I’ve been tempted to feel guilty about Neola’s sleeping habits, and while they are often challenging (because holding a baby for naps when you have three other kids is hard), I come back again and again to the conclusion that these are just the circumstances God has for us right now, and we don’t need to “solve the problem.” Thinking that we can (and should) “fix” this leads to us trusting ourselves, instead of trusting God.

I’ve also reminded myself that all of our other kids had their own unique sleep challenges at this age, but are sleeping champs now, so we must’ve done something right! And I also found a community of people on social media who are supporting kids’ sleep habits without sleep training. Those are the messages I needed to hear: It’s ok to not sleep train! It’s ok to share a bed on the floor with your toddler! It’s just a season!

Eating

Neola is an eating champ! She eats almost anything. She loves pretty much any kind of meat (lunch meat, chicken, brat, pulled pork, pork tenderloin, taco meat, salami, meat stick, summer sausage). She also LOVES cheese (we mainly feed her cheddar and mozzarella). She also loves berries, grapes, watermelon, teething wafers, Graham crackers, Goldfish, and raisins.

I always feed her breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and then usually a couple of snacks too. Sometimes she eats a snack while I’m making food, and then she eats more while we’re eating. I’m actually kind of amazed that she’s not chubbier based on how much food she eats. 🤷‍♀️

She’s still nursing, mostly in the middle of the night, but also before both of her naps (if I’m planning to hold her, otherwise she will fall asleep in the stroller or carseat without it), and when she goes to bed. We’ve given her cow’s milk a few times, but she doesn’t seem to love it.

Like I mentioned earlier, Neola got two more teeth on the bottom middle (for a total of 4), plus two of her top molars, bringing her up to a total of 10 teeth. Now I think she’s starting to work on the bottom two molars. Teething affects her sleep a little, but it mainly makes her clingy and snotty during the day. This girl produces so. much. mucus!

Development

Neola is a mover and a shaker these days! She learned how to pull up on things and crawl up the stairs (but not down) around 13 months, and is getting into all sorts of things these days. She is pretty timid when it comes to learning how to walk though, and doesn’t even have much interest in pushing the alligator clacker around.

Her favorite activities these days are playing in the sandbox, playing in the water table, pulling tupperware out of the cupboard, crawling up the stairs, and nesting on the floor mattresses in her room. She enjoys swinging, but definitely gets to a point where she’s had enough sitting around and wants to get out. She also loves ripping apart tissues, napkins, wrapping paper, books, etc.; digging through mommy’s purse; and pulling books off bookshelves.

Neola is curious and likes checking out almost everything — except her baby toys! She plays with those the least. (After her hip dysplasia surgery, I might declutter most of her baby toys… we’ll see if she plays with them more when she’s not mobile.) Her favorite thing to play with is my earbud case (now with the earbuds taken out). She opens and shuts it, opens and shuts it.

Speaking of which, because Neola got Covid right before her surgery (and still tested positive two days before the surgery even though it had been over a week since her initial positive), her surgery got rescheduled to August 18. So we have a whole other month to do summer activities that involve water and sand. 🙂

Since her first birthday, Neola has gone kayaking on our river, boating on Gull Lake, camping at Itasca State Park, and on an weekend trip to Duluth.

She is almost always a trooper, and actually did no worse than normal with sleeping away from home, which is all I can ask for (haha!). The hardest thing about camping was that she just wanted to put the rocks at our campsite in her mouth all the time!

Of course, Neola still gets a lot of attention from her siblings. Corbin has started really playing with her too, which is super sweet overall, but he often gets a little rowdy and makes her cry.

Neola is the sweetest little girl, and we love her so much! I am really trying to soak up the baby stage with her, because it is going by so fast! She’s almost a toddler already! (single tear)

And that’s Neola at 14 months!

Neola Bethany: 11-12 Months

22 May

I failed at writing a post about Neola when she turned 11 months 🤦‍♀️ so there’s a lot to write about in this post!

11 months
12 months

Size

Neola is pretty much all in 18-month clothes these days. She can still technically wear 12-month sleepers, but they are getting too small. I need to put them away. She’s still in size 3 diapers though, and size 3 shoes. Compared to our other kids at this age, Neola is kind of a string bean.

At her first birthday party (a party to celebrate all the kids’ birthdays since they are all only 1.5 months apart)

I haven’t scheduled her 1-year well-child check yet… We found out in April (right after she turned 11 months) that Neola has hip dysplasia in her right hip. I had been noticing clicking in her hip (or knee I thought, I couldn’t quite tell where it was coming from) and asked her pediatrician about it. She wasn’t too concerned. Then I asked the physical therapist we were seeing for Neola’s torticollis (which has 99% resolved, yay!) about it, and after observing that Neola favored one leg over another, and was non-weight-bearing still, she suggested getting an x-ray. So we did, and turns out she does have hip dysplasia. We were referred to Gillette Children’s in the Cities, and had our first appointment on May 17. Neola will need to be treated, and in a spica cast for 3 months. But more on that in a different post!

At Gillette Children’s

Sleeping

Neola hasn’t made any progress in her sleeping habits, and I haven’t pushed it because of the unknowns involved with her hip dysplasia. So for now, we are just sticking with what works, even though it’s hard.

So, what does work? Well, since my last post, I finally went all in on the floor bed (I’m on a twin mattress and Neola is on her crib mattress) and took down Neola’s crib. I did that because she was sleeping better on the floor with me, and the crib took up so much space that our floor beds had to be in front of the closet, which made my pillow situation tricky because the closet doors would make noise when my pillows pushed against them.

Then
Then
Now

For Neola’s eleventh month of life, I was trying to get up after putting her down at bedtime to do dishes, tidy up, fold laundry, set up coffee for the morning, hang out with Travis a little, etc. Inevitably, Neola would wake up right after I went to bed, or wake up before I was done with whatever I was doing, so I was going to sleep around 11 PM. More recently, however, I have been so incredibly tired after getting Neola to sleep that I either have to take a “nap” from about 8 to 10, then get back up to do whatever, or just go to bed with her.

I still hold Neola for the two naps she takes a day (she usually nurses to sleep). It’s a little tricky sometimes with the other kids, but Travis is also home working all day, so he checks in on them every so often (and they go bother him some too). They often play outside during her morning nap, and the girls usually watch a show during her afternoon nap (which is when Corbin is also napping 🙌).

Soaking up the nap snuggles because they won’t last forever
She still loves napping outside.

Eating

Neola is a pretty good eater. She likes most food. Her favorites are puffs, teething wafers, turkey lunch meat, salami, sausage, cheese, clementines, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, peaches, graham crackers, and pizza. At this point, we pretty much feed her whatever we’re eating (as long as it’s soft enough).

Birthday donut 🍩

She has been mildly sick for about the past month… it started with a clear runny nose that we attributed to teething, but that continued and morphed into so. much. mucus that she would gag on the gunk in her throat and blow snot all over me while she was nursing. Then she got a bad cough, and finally we discovered just last week that she has a double ear infection. But this is really the first time she’s ever been sick, so thankful for that! I mention it here, because it did affect her appetite. But now that she’s on antibiotics, she is eating more again.

Epic snot bubble
What a legend.

Development

Neola started crawling for real the day before she turned 11 months. Before that, she would scoot around by getting on her hands and knees, and then sitting back down, swiveling in a different direction. Since she was “backing up” and not seeing what was behind her, she sometimes got herself stuck doing that…

She is very curious and loves checking things out — even outside! She has no qualms about digging in the dirt or sand, picking up leaves, pinecones and sticks, and grabbing handfuls of grass. She is even pretty good about not putting those things in her mouth.

Ice is a different story…

She is not pulling up to stand yet, but she will pull up to kneeling. We weren’t sure if we should encourage her to stand or walk with her hip dysplasia, but her doctor said it was totally fine, so we will try working with her more on that.

She still doesn’t love the baby carrier but will tolerate it every once in a while.

Hiking in falling snow

Neola can clap, and bang two toys together. She loves emptying containers, and ripping paper, toilet paper, tissue paper, etc into little pieces. She also loves grabbing books and dumping out the dog water dish.

She still enjoys going on walks (it’s still an almost foolproof way to get her to sleep if needed) and loves swinging, but beyond that, she hates being cooped up. She wants to explore!

Neola often smiles with her nose scrunched up. It is so cute!!

Other things Neola does often are rake her fingernails across my chest (so painful and it leaves scratches!) and try to put her fingers in our mouths. She also likes to try grabbing eyeglasses off people’s faces. I usually nurse Neola when she’s tired but if I nurse her when she’s not in the mood to sleep, she often gets bored and bites me. 😖

Neola still gets a LOT of attention from her siblings. Corbin has gotten better at actually playing with her, which is so sweet. He still is a little rough, but Neola rolls with the punches (sometimes literally) quite well.

Neola’s siblings push her around a lot in this truck.
The girls put that backpack on her.
The girls all wore floral dresses on the day we dedicated Neola (March 13).

And that’s Neola at 12 months!

Neola Bethany: 10 Months

20 Mar

Neola is 10 months old as of March 12!

Size

Neola went to the doctor on March 6 for her 9-month checkup, and was 20 lb 9 oz (80%), 29 inches tall (85%), with a head circumference of 18.5 inches (98%).

She is wearing mostly 18-month clothes now, though some 12-month things still fit. I will say that I have zero tolerance for annoying clothes with the #fourthchild so some things that Emma and Annabelle wore quite a bit, I haven’t used at all with her because they are just so high maintenance (mainly dresses and non-onesie shirts). So I did just buy her some more long-sleeve onesies and pants in size 18 Months, because she’ll use them even during spring here in Minnesota.

This month, I also passed along a lot of our baby gear to a friend who is having her fifth (and thought she was done after four, so got rid of her baby stuff then). I got rid of all baby clothes 9 months and under (I’ve saved a few things, but most I am donating), our Bumbo seat, Rock n Play, all our bottles, pacifiers, bouncy seat, playmat, and swing. I will probably be sad later, but right now, I am just on the high of freeing up space!

Sleeping

Neola’s sleep is still a struggle. I just went back and read all the 10-month blog posts from our other kids and it’s safe to say that Neola is the worst in the sleep department. (Neola, your sleep is the woooooorst!)

Her naps are *almost never* over an hour long (on a rare occasion, she will take a longer afternoon nap, if I nurse her the whole time). Most of the time, her naps are 30-45 minutes. She nurses to sleep 95% of the time (I try not to, but she fights me until I do it), but I can detach her, hold her for another 5-10 minutes, and then put her down in the crib. She will stay sleeping initially, but always wakes up after 15 minutes or so. So I try to only do that for her morning nap (I don’t want her to get overtired).

Because her naps are so short, she still takes three naps a day (occasionally four). She is usually up for the day around 6/6:30 and goes to bed around 7:30/8. Her bedtime should probably be earlier some nights, but that means Travis has to put the older three to bed by himself then, and I feel bad doing that night after night.

We have worked out a decent system though — once all kids have put pajamas on, brushed their teeth, and gone potty/had a diaper change, I go nurse Neola, Corbin watches iPad, and Travis reads a book to the girls. When he’s done reading, the girls go to bed, and Travis moves to Corbin’s room (Corbin has developed a bad habit of wanting us to sit in his room until he falls asleep). This is also the routine I follow if I have to put all the kids down by myself, though I put the girls down earlier and then nurse Neola in Corbin’s room while he falls asleep. Four kids at these ages/needs is a juggling act!

I’m kind of in a quandary for how to fix Neola’s sleep habits, because our house is always so loud, and Corbin almost always interrupts her naps, and how do you time a baby’s naps while taking care of 3 other kids and homeschooling?? And then at night, even if we wanted to let her cry it out, Corbin’s room is right next to hers, and the girls’ room is right below. Uff da.

Between Corbin’s intensity and Neola’s sleep struggles, this season of parenting is relentless and has humbled me more than any other, save the season of when Emma was a newborn. There is rarely a moment when I feel like I have things under control, and even when those occur, they are invariably followed by an incident that reminds me clear as day that NO, no, I do not have things under control. I am not in control. God is in control. (See me doing a science experiment about bird beak shapes with the kids {fun! success!}, followed by Annabelle and Corbin fighting over a laundry detergent pod, and it exploding all over Neola’s nursery, staining the carpet blue. 🤦‍♀️) I have many more thoughts on this, but will stop there. Maybe the rest will make it into a different blog post.

Eating

Neola is a champion eater. While we were in Florida, she decided that she didn’t want to eat purées anymore. She would let us feed her a few bites, but then wave her arms in front of her face, knocking the spoon down.

So now she eats table foods. And the only food that she has tried and not liked was avocado. She does like: grapes, clementines & mandarin oranges, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, bananas; chicken, turkey lunch meat, taco meat; teething wafers, puffs, waffles/pancakes; cheese, yogurt, scrambled eggs; cooked broccoli, bell peppers, potatoes, green beans.

She has also tried ice cream and cake, and liked those!

She is still having issues with constipation. 😕 It got better when we were taking her to see a chiropractor, so we thought it was solved, but then she started pooping only a very little bit again back in January. Our pediatrician recommended giving her watered-down apple juice, and that has helped. We’re also going to try a prebiotic. If those don’t help, we’ll probably go back to the chiropractor.

Neola is still nursing. I nurse her before every nap (trying to move this to after her naps so that she doesn’t nurse to sleep), and she still nurses in the middle of the night. We tried giving her a bottle of formula in Florida when my milk was low after being sick, but she had no idea what to do with it (we haven’t given her a bottle since she was about 3 months old). We have an anniversary trip planned in a neighboring town at the beginning of May… hoping to have a couple kid-free nights but we’ll see!

Development

Neola is mobile, but not crawling. She gets around by leaning forward on to her belly, then scooting backwards and spinning around. She also rolls from her belly on to her back, but then kind of gets stuck there. She is also not very steady standing up yet, and doesn’t pull herself up at all, though I can see that she is getting more curious and wanting to do things like that.

She started saying “nana” in addition to “dada” and it is so cute! Baby talk is just so precious. She has also started fussing a bit if she wants a toy but you don’t give it to her, or if you take a toy away from her that she wasn’t done playing with. Love seeing their personalities emerge!

Neola hasn’t figured out how to use a spoon yet, (but we haven’t really given her many chances), but she does know how to tip up a sippy cup.

A few firsts for Neola during her tenth month of life were:

* going to the ocean

* riding a Ferris wheel

* swimming (I think technically her first time was before she turned 9 months while we were in Florida but 🤷‍♀️)

She also started sleeping in my bed toward the end of February… 😩 Now I’m on a mattress on the floor in her room.

And that’s Neola at 10 months!

Neola Bethany: 9 Months

20 Feb

NINE months!! So hard to believe!

Size

Neola will go to the doctor for her next well-child checkup when we get back from Florida, and I will come update this then. But we weighed her while we were packing for our trip and weighing suitcases, and she was right around 20 lbs.

She’s still wearing size 3 diapers, but we’ll probably buy size 4 when we run out (which will be a little while as we just bought a box from Costco right before we left for Florida).

Neola is wearing all 12-month clothes, and starting to wear some 18-month too.

Sleeping

The only notable thing in the sleep department for this month is that Neola is officially out of her Rock n Play! Before we left for Florida, we had Neola start sleeping in her Pack n Play. Since she’s not close to crawling really at all, we felt comfortable using the infant insert for the Pack n Play (a shelf that keeps them up higher). We also positioned the Pack n Play in a similar spot as her Rock n Play had been, and she really didn’t skip a beat with the transition. So that’s really encouraging!

But she still wakes up 3-5 times a night. I am very thankful that she almost always nurses and goes right back to sleep, which only takes 15-20 minutes. And during those rare times when she doesn’t go right back down, she’s never crying (unlike some of our other children at this age…). I think the biggest issue with her sleep is that my milk production isn’t the best. Down here in Florida, I got (what we think was) influenza, and had a fever for about 36 hours. That didn’t help my milk production at. all. (There were a couple of nights when Neola wouldn’t even let me put her down.) We tried buying formula and giving her a bottle, but she just chewed on the nipple. So I guess I will just try to stay hydrated, eat some oatmeal, and deal with it.

As far as napping, Neola has been a good sport about taking naps in the car here in Florida. I’ve been trying to time it so that we leave to go do something when she needs her first nap, so that she gets a decent nap in the car.

Her second nap is sometimes in the car, and sometimes back at our house. And she still takes a third nap, so that kind of varies as well. To get her to nap at the house though, I have to be nursing her. If she refuses to fall asleep nursing, we have to drive her around. (Hello Starbucks at 4:30 PM.)

Once we get back to Minnesota, we’re going to really work on getting Neola to take naps on her own.

Eating

Neola is still eating primarily purées and baby cereal, though we are starting to branch out into other soft foods, like mandarin oranges, peaches, blueberries, and cheese. She is getting better at picking up food like puffs with her fingers.

Neola has 4 teeth (the 2 in the middle on the bottom and the top), and the next 2 teeth on the top (the lateral incisors) are really close to popping through.

She has bit me a few times nursing but thankfully it’s not a regular occurrence.

Development & Personality

Neola is a pro at sitting up now, and sometimes leans so far forward for something that she ends up on her belly. She can hold her weight up with her arms for 10 or so seconds, and I’ve tried getting her to bend her legs and stay up on all her hands and knees, but she won’t do it.

Neola’s favorite thing to do these days is grab fistfuls of our faces or necks, and those little nails are sharp! Goodness!

She also loves to kick both legs up and slam them down on the floor together — reminds me of when I used to bounce myself up to my feet from my back on a trampoline. We can hear her doing that in her Pack n Play, and she also does it during diaper changes.

She enjoys going for walks in the stroller, but won’t fall asleep unless she’s 1) really tired, and 2) in her carseat clipped in the stroller. I’ve had limited success with her in her Ergobaby. She really just doesn’t like facing in, I think because she’s so curious and because she really loves kicking her legs. I tried buying a cheap baby carrier down here so she could face out but it put all the weight on my back, and I just don’t want to spend a lot of money, when we’re so close to no longer needing one.

Neola still shrieks loudly when bored or tired (and with the echo in our house here in Florida… plus Corbin’s yelling… 🤪😵‍💫).

Neola has gone swimming 4 times in Florida so far! Her first time was in a 93-degree private pool 🙌. She protested briefly but then loved it. The second time she went was in a natural springs, which was around 72 degrees. Third time was a public pool around 80 degrees. And the fourth time was our community pool, which was only 70 degrees! The more she goes in the water, the more she likes it, which is good, because we go swimming at the beach a lot in Minnesota during the summer!

Neola is also fascinated with leaves, grass and sand. So you can’t just put her down outside anymore!

We can tell Neola misses her jumperoo — we miss it too! I’ve been trying to give her time standing up and jumping on my lap, but we will be happy to get home to all our baby gear!

And that’s Neola at 9 months, in Florida!

Neola Bethany: 8 Months

13 Jan

Golly, I feel like I was just writing Neola’s 7-month post. Time is going so fast! This little girl is so fun.

Size

Neola is now wearing mostly 12-month clothes, though some 9-month things still fit. She’s still wearing size 3 diapers, and doesn’t really wear shoes yet (we do have some little boots that fit her right now, but not sure what size they are)!

I haven’t mentioned this in a post yet, but with Neola (#fourthchild), we have pretty much gone the completely practical route in terms of dressing her. She will occasionally wear a dress to church, and a cute, more practical outfit when we go to homeschool group or BSF, but most of the time, girlfriend is in fleece footie pajamas. It’s just so easy and warm!

Sleeping

Nothing much has changed in the sleep department. Neola takes 3 naps a day (while I either hold or nurse her), the first about 2 hours after she gets up, and the others 2.5-3 hours after she wakes up from the previous nap. She naps for 30-45 minutes usually. Every once in a while, she will sleep for 60-90 minutes (but that requires her not getting interrupted, and she gets interrupted a lot).

She typically goes to bed between 7 and 8. When and how often she wakes up during the night is constantly different. Some nights, she first wakes up before I even go to bed. Other nights, she doesn’t wake up until 3:30. And she’s still in her Rock ‘n’ Play (but we’re going to start trying to get her to sleep in the pack ‘n’ play in preparation for our month in Florida in February). She usually wakes up for the day between 6 and 6:30.

I have been hesitant to let her squawk/fuss in the Rock ‘n’ Play, just because she’s getting too old for it, and I don’t want her to get too upset in there. But there have been a few different mornings when I hear her happily cooing a little around 6, and I wait to go into her room until she gets upset, and she actually ends up going back to sleep for another 45-60 minutes!

I have also gotten Neola to take a nap in the Ergobaby outside a couple of days (in 30-degree weather!), so that bodes well for Florida when we’ll be out and about more (but then we won’t be wearing snowpants and winter hats)!

Eating

Neola is still doing well eating solid foods. We’re sticking with the purees right now. She seems to like them better than small chunks of food — I gave her little bits of strawberry and cheddar cheese, and she didn’t seem to care for either one. But she does really like teething wafers, and she also enjoys the challenge of getting puffs in her mouth (she can kind of do it, but it’s tricky still!).

Her favorite foods are whole milk yogurt (blueberry, peach, and pear flavors); baby cereal; and fruity purees, like Pear, Banana, Apple blends, etc. She’s not a huge fan of the vegetable purees, though she will eat some.

One potential explanation for Neola not sleeping great at night is that she is getting her two top front teeth. I just noticed them poking through this past week. I’ve been giving her ibuprofen every night before bed, and try to remember to give her some before we put in the church nursery or BSF. That seems to help when she’s tired and with other people. Otherwise, she seems to be fine, as long as she gets plenty of things to chew on.

Development / Personality

Neola did roll over from back to belly a few times this month, but now she would much rather just sit up to play with toys — she gets upset spending much time on her back. She wants to see all the action (and not be stepped on, or have things dropped on her, probably!). She still tips over a decent amount, so we definitely have to sit behind her, or surround her with pillows, but she made a lot of progress in just the past couple of weeks. I also tried having her stand up and hold on to the side of the bathtub the other night while Corbin was taking a bath. She could stand for 5-10 seconds before her knees would buckle.

Neola seems to be getting tired of the same old baby toys. We are definitely in the phase of “What other random thing would be safe for me to give you to chew on?” Like this bottle of lotion. Or that marker. Or this Ziploc bag. Or an empty disposable water bottle (cap and ring removed). She, like most kids, is most interested in the forbidden things, like my water bottle or protein shake cup — especially when they have water or shake in them! If I take a drink while holding her, I have to pin her arm down so that she doesn’t reach up and grab it, causing me to spill.

Neola still enjoys her jumperoo, but we are getting rid of her playmat and swings. Even though there’s a tiny tinge of sadness in saying goodbye to those things that we’ve had since Emma was a baby, there’s more freedom! So glad to be freeing up more space in our home! Since our kids are 8 years apart from oldest to youngest, we have a decently wide swath of age-appropriate toys. And babies in particular just need so. much. gear!

This past month was Neola’s first Christmas. We spent it in Nevis with Travis’ family. I had pajamas for Neola that matched her siblings, but they weren’t fleece footie pajamas (they were out of them in that pattern 😭), and I was only about half alive because Neola slept terribly over Christmas, so I never mustered up the energy to put her in the matching pajamas.

Neola also went in her first snow fort this month (we have SO much snow!).

She also got blankets, pillows, and stuffies dropped on her from the top bunk (Annabelle); swung outside in her pink swing without being able to see anything (oops); and tried on swim goggles (hilarious). She didn’t cry at any of that! Such a good sport.

She also sported matching pigtails with her sisters. ❤

Corbin has taken much more interest in Neola the past month — maybe because she’s more interactive? Regardless of the reason, it’s adorable!

And that’s Neola at 8 months!

Neola Bethany: 7 Months

16 Dec

Neola is 7 months old as of December 12.

Size

Neola is starting to outgrow her 9-month clothes, and can easily wear her 12-month clothes now. She’s still in size 3 diapers.

Sleeping

Oh man. Sleep with this girl is rough. This past month, she has had a few 5-hour stretches but more often than not, she’s up every 2-3 hours. I definitely think she’s getting some more teeth (I recall from our other kids that teething can last for a month or more before the teeth pop through!) so I do give her ibuprofen every night before bed. But I’m also wondering if her poor napping habits have something to do with her bad nighttime sleep…

(She stayed sleeping on the floor for about 5 minutes after I put her down… we had to go somewhere and I went to find her carseat.)

Neola often only naps for 20-30 minutes at a time, which is just not long enough. It’s been hard to change that because 1) #fourthchild and 2) she won’t stay sleeping after you put her down and 3) she’s a pretty light sleeper around noise.

BUT in just the past couple of weeks, Neola hasn’t wanted to be swung to sleep in the chair swing. Instead, she’d rather be bounced in our arms, and then rocked in a chair, or nurse to sleep. I think that’s progress! At any rate, I’d much rather sit with her in the recliner than the chair swing.

I’m trying to focus on putting her down 2-3 hours after her previous nap (and not pushing her too long) and getting her longer naps — at least 45 minutes to an hour. Unfortunately that means pausing school during that time, and letting the older kids play unsupervised while I sit with her in the nursery. I don’t worry about Emma and Annabelle, but Corbin still gets into trouble (read: makes a huge mess or destroys something) every once in a while. But what can I do? Even sleep training gurus say that night sleep is usually the first to fall into place. On the other hand, it is sweet to rock Neola.

Neola has also been a stinker about switching to the crib, and wakes up even more often when I put her in there. I bought a weight sleep sack hoping that would help, and it did a little, but not enough (and Neola seems to only like the weighted sleep sack in small doses). So she still mostly sleeps in the Rock n Play. It’s just so hard to make changes that result in less sleep! We have talked about sleep training, but I hate to do that when she appears to be in pain.

I’m trying to remind myself that all of our kids had unique sleep challenges at this age, and there will be a day when she figures it out. All we can do right now is pray for wisdom to manage things well and keep trying to nudge things in the right direction.

Eating

Neola has been doing a great job eating solid foods! Most days, she eats 2-3 “meals” — usually around our breakfast time, around lunchtime, and right before dinner. So far, she has tried avocado, banana, applesauce, yogurt, baby cereal, cheese, and a variety of store bought purées — blueberry apple, butternut squash, sweet potato, apple banana grape, etc. She has liked almost everything, but sometimes she don’t seem very hungry and loses interest after 8-10 bites.

Before starting solid foods, she had had trouble with getting backed up and not pooping for as many as 10 days (apparently normal for a breastfed baby, but she seemed really uncomfortable), but we took her to the chiropractor 6-7 times, and that seemed to help. Since starting solid foods, she’s pooped every 1-3 days. She does still get kind of fussy right before she has to poop, and has lots of gas. When she finally does poop, more often than not it’s a blowout that requires you to wash the outfit she was wearing, plus anything else she came into contact with.

Development

Neola hasn’t completely figured out how to roll over yet (we are still majorly slacking on tummy time 😬 but she’s close!). She is getting better at being able to sit up on her own. She is now sitting in highchairs at restaurants, in the shopping cart at stores, and in her infant sled outside.

Neola is very curious and instantly grabs anything within her reach, which now makes it impossible to do anything while I’m holding her. She also shows her affection by grabbing my hair or neck with her iron grip and digging her nails into my skin (I have scratches to prove it!). She also gives “kisses” by putting her open mouth on my face.

She’s still very talkative and gets incredibly (somewhat annoyingly) loud at times, usually when she’s getting tired. Sometimes I’m trying to instruct the older girls about something school-related quick before trying to get Neola to take a nap, but I can’t because I can’t think or be heard over her shrieking.

Neola loves being outside, and still takes a nap outside 1-2 times a week (bundled up in her stroller).

Neola has also started to develop “stranger danger” and has gotten extremely upset a few times while being taken care of or held by someone else.

Neola loves playing with toys and can hold them like a pro now.

And that’s Neola at 7 months!

Neola Bethany: 6 Months

20 Nov

Neola is 6 months old already! Such a fun age. I love it when kids get old enough to start entertaining themselves a little, and when they start eating solid foods, it’s such a game changer. I don’t, however, enjoy the teething process, but what can you do?

Neola’s nicknames these days are Babaduke, Babadoo, Babby, Bibby Babby, and Babbalicious.

Size

At her 6-month well-child appointment, Neola was 17 lbs 8 oz (74%), 26.25 inches tall (62%), with a head circumference of 17.48 inches (95%). She weighs more than Emma did at 6 months, but less than Annabelle or Corbin did. She’s also about 1/4 inch taller than any of the others at this age.

She is wearing 9-month clothes and size 3 diapers.

Sleeping

Neola has been having some rougher nights with more wake-ups (which our pediatrician interpreted as an indicator of being ready to start solid foods). We did just start feeding her baby cereal this week (the day after her appointment) and she slept a lot better. But time will tell if that was just a coincidence.

For naptime, we still swing her in our indoor chair hammock, or get her to sleep in her carseat, either by pushing her around in the stroller or swinging/carrying her carseat around. She doesn’t fall asleep nursing during the day as much as she used to, which is probably good for the long term, but I am soooo sick of swinging her in the chair hammock. I have tried different strategies of putting her down after getting her to sleep, and am often successful in transferring her, but she almost always wakes up after 5-10 minutes.

We are also in the midst of transitioning her from her Rock n Play to the crib. We bought a Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack, which has definitely made a difference—she used to wake up immediately when we tried to put her in the crib, but now she will stay sleeping for a couple of hours at night (we don’t try at all for naps). But Neola has been dealing with a lot of congestion the past couple weeks (from teething and/or a cold) and has been gagging on mucus, so I have been starting her in the crib at night, but moving her to her Rock n Play if she wakes up a lot.

Once we get her sleeping in the crib all night consistently, I will work on putting her down for naps when she’s awake but drowsy. Someday!

Eating

Neola got her first two teeth — the bottom middle ones — about a week before she turned 6 months. And she might be getting the top two also because of the aforementioned congestion/mucus and nighttime waking. Nothing has shown up or poked through yet!

I also mentioned that we started her on baby cereal. Emma and Annabelle are all about feeding her! Neola did great. At first, she just wanted to grab the spoon because she thought it was a toy but by the end of that bowl, she was eating like a champ. Neola has grown to not like formula, and we haven’t given her a bottle since the end of August, so it will be nice that she can eat without always being nursed now.

She has also tried avocado a few times, which she seemed to like, but maybe not as much as the cereal. In the next week or two, we’ll try giving her banana and yogurt.

Development

Neola is still a very talkative, smiley girl. She is so easygoing and tolerates so much chaos and stimulation from her siblings. And she is so patient — I can know that she’s hungry or tired for 20-30 minutes, and be busy making lunch, or changing a diaper, or in the middle of something I just needed to do “really quick”, and as long as one of the big girls or I am holding or playing with her, she’s content. She does finally hit her limit sometimes though, and then she is not afraid to let you know she means business.

Neola still hasn’t rolled over at all but it’s not that surprising because we have been terrible about giving her tummy time (#fourthchild #andiveneverbeengoodatthat). She is getting better about sitting up — sometimes she has enough balance to stay up for 10-20 seconds, but most of the time, she still falls over almost immediately.

She loves her jumperoo (what kid doesn’t?), playmat, and enjoys facing out in the baby carrier (her little arms and legs go crazy!), but is becoming less and less a fan of the Bumbo seat. Which is fine, because now she can sit in her highchair.

Neola got her first haircut right around 6 months. The back of her hair has mostly been rubbed off by her turning her head back and forth when she’s trying to go to sleep. The top of her hair can’t figure out which way it wants to lay (but if you comb it over after a bath, it does mostly lay that way). But her sideburns! They were down past her ears. 😂 So I trimmed her sideburns to be above her ears, and trimmed a tiny bit off the top of her hair.

Emma and Annabelle are still very helpful and loving with Neola. Lately, they’ve been wanting to carry Neola in the Baby Bjorn — which doesn’t last long, because Neola is heavy!

Neola had her first Halloween this month. She just wore her bear snowsuit, and was a great sport tagging along for a Trunk or Treat and trick-or-treating with her siblings and some neighbor friends.

Having three older siblings means lots of chaos, manhandling, and stimulation, but Neola is so easygoing with it all!

We love our little Babadoo!

Neola Bethany: 5 Months

13 Oct

Our baby girl is 5 months old!

Size

Neola won’t go back to the doctor until 6 months, but she is definitely growing! She is now wearing all 9-month sleepers (Corbin wore that pumpkin sleeper for his 7-month photos!), and is starting to outgrow her 6-month clothes. She’s still in size 2 diapers though! She is definitely taller than our other kids were.

Sleeping

Neola’s sleep is pretty much the same as it was at 4 months. She still naps in either her carseat, the chair swing, or while nursing, for only 30-minute catnaps.

She is unfortunately still in the Rock n Play. I’ve tried her in the crib a few more times, and even kept her sleeping while I put her down, but she wakes up after only 5-10 minutes. So I’m getting the crib projector and vibration pad set up in the crib, and we’re probably going to have to do some sleep training. 😢

She sleeps for 5-8 hours straight at night, though she did sleep a straight 12 hours a couple times this past month! Her bedtimes and up-for-the-day times are pretty much all over the place, but lately, she’s been going to bed around 8 and waking up for the day around 6.

Eating

Neola is still nursing well. She has definitely become more alert though, and when we’re out in public, she pulls off a lot and wants to look around. At home though, she nurses to sleep for bedtime, and nurses and goes right back to sleep in the middle of the night. In the afternoon while Corbin naps, I often nurse her while she naps because then I get to sit in the rocking chair instead of the chair swing. Otherwise, if she’s not tired, she nurses for 10-15 minutes.

She still spits up quite a bit but I can tell already that it’s getting better. I’m very ready to not have to change her outfit 6 times a day!

Development

Neola is still a very talkative girl. She is loudest when she first wakes up, and then when she is getting tired. She’s so loud that when she is up before everyone, we have to go downstairs or she will wake them up!

This month, she figured out how to grab toys with her hands. That helps so much! Now when we put her in her carseat, she can entertain herself with a toy hung on the handle.

This past weekend, Neola took her first long car ride down to Rochester (4.5 hours). We stopped halfway for me to nurse her, and we wandered around Cabela’s, which the older kids loved. It actually went really well!

Neola is also learning how to roll over. She is *so close* to being able to roll over from her back to her belly—and if she does, she will be the first if it children to learn to roll over that way first. (Our other kids HATED tummy time, and would never voluntarily roll onto their stomachs. They learned to roll over from belly to back just to escape tummy time!) I don’t have a great picture of her attempts but this will have to do. She lays all the way over on her side, and gets her face all the way around, but can’t figure out what to do with her arms and legs.

Neola had her first “ouch’s” this month too. She accidentally slipped out of Emma’s grip and fell, thankfully just about a foot and onto the carpet. Corbin also took a pen and rather roughly drew a mark on Neola’s forehead. I’ve also miscalculated a few times while she’s in the Baby Bjorn and slightly bumped her with a door or shelf. It’s hard being a baby! Thankfully none of it was serious. As my husband always says, “Close calls are what keep us safe!”

Neola also went to her first pumpkin patch this month. She hung out in the Baby Bjorn for most of it. Such an easygoing baby (except when it comes to sleeping locations!)

And that’s Neola at 5 months!

Neola Bethany: 4 Months

14 Sep

Neola turned 4 months on September 12. This post is over a week late but I wrote it right at 4 months. It just took me this long to put the photos in it!

Size

Neola is now 15 lbs 4.5 oz (71%), 25.25 inches long (80%), with a head circumference of 16.54 inches (85%). She is starting to outgrow her 6-month sleepers but is still wearing size 2 diapers. Long and lean!

Sleeping

Neola is still a rockstar at night and usually gives me one stretch of between 5 and 8 hours. She usually wakes up around 3/3:30 to eat, then again at 6 or so. I usually put her back down until about 7:30 (unless I foolishly change her diaper between sides, then she’s awake for the day —which thankfully I only did once).

Not sure if I mentioned this in a previous post but Neola never did really like being swaddled for sleep (our only child who didn’t!). So she’s been using straight sleep sacks since about 6 weeks old. She is still sleeping in the Rock n Play. I’ve tried putting her in the crib a few times but her legs wake her up. I’m trying to muster up the courage to go for it (same with potty training Corbin!).

But during the day… 😩

I am extremely thankful for a healthy baby and for the fact that we have a few tried and true ways to get Neola to sleep, but this whole catnapping thing is for the birds. I was just reading Annabelle’s 4-month blog post and that girl took a 3-hour nap every day! But she was definitely our easiest baby. Neola hasn’t napped longer than 30 minutes since she was probably 2 months old. Our pediatrician said she might sleep more after getting her vaccinations — our other kids did — but nope, didn’t affect her at all. I’m glad she didn’t have a fever or anything, but couldn’t she have been just a little sleepier than normal?!

Since it’s still nice out, we swing Neola in the hammock swing for almost all of her naps. Her other naps are either in her carseat or while nursing. She likes being pushed across somewhat bumpy ground (like a yard) in the stroller or being swing back and forth in her carseat. I have some gnarly calluses on my right hand to prove that!

Eating

Neola is doing great nursing! She likes bottles less and less. I’m so happy that I didn’t give up and that I muscled through the frustration and discouragement.

I think she nurses every 1.5 to 3 hours, but I honestly do not keep track of the time. We just have more of an intuitive rhythm/flow, and a “when in doubt, nurse” kind of approach. #fourthchild Our days are so chaotic that I often look at the clock and realize that even though it only feels like 9:30, it’s actually noon and I have to make lunch!

Neola is still a spit-up, drool machine. She wears bibs almost all the time now, or we have to change her shirt every 20 minutes.

We plan to start Neola on solid foods around 6 months.

Development

Neola is a very talkative baby, and just in the last couple of days, she has started giggling, specifically when I tickle her neck (cleaning spit-up out of it!). She’s also very smiley and patient — she puts up with so much from her siblings!

Her torticollis is getting better — she will voluntarily turn her head both directions now (though it does seem like she maybe still favors the one side a little more). We haven’t been doing the exercises very often with her 😬 but she is getting more time in the Bumbo, Baby Bjorn, and being carried around. I’m going to break out the jumperoo one of these days too. (Update: Since writing this post a week ago, I did break out the jumperoo. She loves it!)