I forgot how to transition my toddler from bottles to solids!

Dear Is This Normal,

I don’t remember how I started to balance bottles with solids with my toddler. Now I have a 6-month-old and I don’t know how to transition her to food!

Sincerely, 
Starting solids soon

Dear Solids,

Isn’t it amazing how quickly we forget how we did all of this the first time?! I’m convinced our forgetfulness is some evolutionary fail-safe, a way of tricking us into going down the parental rabbit hole more than once. Because let’s be honest—if we remembered every single horrifying detail of pregnancy, childbirth, and toddler-parenting after our first go-around, a lot of us would have SERIOUSLY considered stopping at one. But then the good ol’ amnesia kicks in and it’s like the movie 50 First Dates except with wayyyy more bodily fluid. 

THAT BEING SAID, I actually remember so much of this particular baby stage because it happens to be one of my most favorite favorite favorite stages. When my kids started transitioning to solids, they started to feel less like fragile, helpless infants and more like tiny people who actually do stuff. This part is fun! This part is also messy, but let’s focus on the fun! Transitioning to solid foods is relatively easy, as long as you’ve got the basics down. 

Experts recommend starting your baby on solids when they’re 4-6 months old. This is around the time where they can sit upright and hold up their own head and when their tongue thurst reflex has calmed down. At 6 months old, your girl is probably ready! 

Now, in the beginning, it’s important to remember that you’re not replacing any of her bottles with solid foods. Solids should only be used to supplement or complement what she’s already getting from formula or breast milk. She should still be getting the boob or bottle every 3-4 hours. That’s about 20-28 ounces a day (including nighttime feedings if she hasn’t night-weaned yet). 

If you’re wondering how much solid food to start with for a 6-month-old, I did about 1-2 tablespoons three times a day after each morning, afternoon, and evening boob sesh. After about a month, when my babies were more interested in solids and eating more at each sitting, I flipped it. I did the solids first, followed by the boob. 

I skipped grain cereals completely (with the guidance and support of our pediatrician) and instead started with pureed fruit and veggies. Back in the day, we didn’t have services like Little Spoon, so I made their food myself. But I tell you what, I would have given my left pinkie toe for another option that didn’t require so much time and work! 

You’ve got a baby and a toddler! So fresh, organic baby food delivered right to your door, a la Little Spoon, would probably be right up your alley. 

Whatever you decide to start with, stay the course even when she spits it out (because she will spit it out). And again, like I said above, don’t focus too much on how much she’s eating, since she’s still going to be getting her bottles. Just keep introducing new flavors and textures. As she gets older, slowly start decreasing her formula or breast milk as she scarfs down more solid foods. 

Most of all, have fun with this stage! It’s amazing to be able to introduce your baby to new things, and watching a little person discover solid food is pretty fantastic! My only other tips are to use those rubber bibs that wipe clean (eff cloth bibs, for real), and always, ALWAYS mark your calendar when your baby has had beets, lest you open up the next dirty diaper/crime scene and have a heart attack. 

Happy Spooning!

Is This Normal

Setting Boundaries With The Grandparents

Dear Is This Normal,

I am at the end of my rope and need some help or advice or something to help me feel like I’m not losing my mind! My partner and I are the parents of two amazing kids. Our daughter is 3, and we just had a new baby boy two months ago. We’re slowly settling into our new normal as a family of four, and things are going well! For the most part, anyway. We’re having a pretty major issue with my in-laws. 

My parents live far away, but my partner’s parents are just a 30 minute drive away, so they have a really close relationship with our kids, which is great! The problem started when our son was born. They went from visiting every other weekend to wanting to come over every single day. But the worst part is how they’ve started to butt in on our parenting decisions and strategies and try to override rules we have for our toddler. I know they mean well, but it’s like they don’t think we can handle two kids! I’m really starting to resent them and their visits. Help! 

Too Much Nana and Papa

Dear Too Much,

Oh mama. So many people are going to read this and relate SO MUCH to what you just described. Grandparents are awesome! But a little bit goes a loooooong way sometimes and too much of a good thing can quickly turn sour. Especially if they’re not respecting boundaries and trying to assert themselves into more authoritative roles in yours and your kids’ lives. You probably don’t want to rock the boat and risk hurting anyone’s feelings or damage the relationships you have. But I’m here to tell you: one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and our kids is set boundaries.. And the sooner, the better. At least before things get really bad and you just completely lose your ish.

It sounds like your in-laws are trying to be helpful, but in all the wrong ways. While their intentions may be good, it’s clear they’re not coming across as intended. So it’s time to set some rules for grandparents. Yes, you can set rules for grandparents! In fact, I personally feel like EVERYONE should have some rules in place for the grandparents (coming from someone with an overbearing mom, hi mom). The key here is setting these rules and boundaries in a way that doesn’t hurt or alienate anyone. That’s the tricky part.

I know you’ll hate to hear it, but I think it’s time to have a family meeting with your partner and their parents. Let them know that you really appreciate them being so readily available, but that you’d like to establish a schedule for when they can come by and visit. If you’re up to it, maybe once a week! If you’d like a bit more space, set up a bi-weekly family dinner every other weekend. Make sure they understand that it’s not like you don’t enjoy their company and help (again, we’re trying to avoid hurting feelings here), but that you and your partner would like to have time to adjust as a new family of four, and give your daughter a chance to adjust to having her new little brother around. 

You can also see if they’d be up for babysitting to give you guys some one-on-one time with each child, steal a date night every once in a while, and give them grandparent time with the kids. In this meeting you want to make  them feel useful and needed, but also help them understand that you and your partner ultimately decide when and how they are most needed and useful.

After establishing these boundaries, it’s time to lay down the rules. Rule number one? You and your partner are the parents, and as such, you make the rules for your kids. And those rules need to be respected. I know some grandparents have a “No rules with grandma or grandpa!” attitude, but nope. Kids, especially toddlers, need consistency. If you have rules for your daughter at home, like no sweets before dinner or no screen time, then those rules need to be enforced no matter who she’s with. Those are rules in your home, rules for when grandparents are babysitting, and rules that apply with you leave your child with the grandparents.Help them to see that following these rules both helps your toddler and helps you and your partner. 

I know you’re frustrated, and I know you don’t want to cause a family riff. I totally get that. But it’s so important to have these conversations now. Because while your in-laws are your family, they’re not your family family, you know? You have to worry about your partner and kids, and make sure that anyone in your lives are enhancing it in a positive way by not making things harder. I hope it goes well! It might not be easy. But it’s better in the long run to lay down the law now. 

Rules Are Meant to Be Followed,

Is This Normal

My Kid Constantly Has A Cold or Something Going On

Hi Is This Normal,

I thought trying to keep my baby healthy was stressful, but now that my kid is in preschool, it’s become a really crappy full-time job that I am failing at every turn. It seems like no matter what I do, my kid always has a cold or a cough or a runny nose. We’ll get a week or two or relief, and then boom! Here comes another cold. Is this normal?! And what can I do to keep the germs away once and for all and keep my kid healthy? 

From, 

Sick of being sick

Dear Sick of Being Sick,

Ohhhhhhhh man. Do I relate to this. SO HARD. Until I had kids, I did not realize you could be sick all of the damn time! I was not prepared for the constant stream of snot. As babies, it seemed easy enough to keep them healthy—just keep them away from people and smack the hand of anyone who tries to touch their precious face. 

But now that they’re kids in the wild and surrounded by other kids? It’s a lost battle. My completely unscientific-but-definitely-true theory is that kids are gross. Germs thrive on their grimy little hands and faces. If you’ve ever seen your toddler stick their hand directly into their mouth after digging in the dirt, then you know this is just a fact. But aside from trying not to gag, what we want most when our babies are sick is to help. 

The tricky thing is, when it comes to cold and cough remedies for kids, things get a little murky. There are lots of over-the-counter medicines on the market, but they’re not recommended for kids under 4 years of age.

But! This doesn’t mean you’re SOL when it comes to cold remedies for toddlers and youngins. Good old-fashioned hot water with lemon and honey can go a long way. Pop a humidifier in their room while they sleep to help break up nasal and chest congestion. Help them get better faster by keeping them hydrated and well-rested. For an added layer of protection and help (which we could ALL use from time to time), give them a Boost(er) of vitamins and probiotics—Little Spoon’s new line of Boosters mix right in to food and drinks, so your kids will be none-the-wiser and all-the-stronger. 

Now, as for keeping them from bringing home YET ANOTHER plague, I recommend a bubble! Kidding. Kidding. Since we can’t keep our kids at home all the time, or send them out in some sort of germ-resistant force field, we have to try our hands at other ways to boost their immunity and fight off these colds. The easiest way to boost your kid’s immunity is through diet, rest, and exercise. Make sure they’re getting plenty of fruits and veggies, lots of sleep, and stay active! And above all, stress the importance of regular hand-washing. This one seems to be the hardest for them to grasp, because— again—they’re gross. I stand in solidarity with you, Sick of Being Sick. May the odds be ever in your favor.

Yours in Snot,

Is This Normal 

Normal to lose your appetite? For 3 Months?

Hi Is This Normal,

Is it normal to lose your appetite? For how long? It’s been three months and pure hell trying to keep the little supply of breast milk I have. No food sounds appetizing or appealing to me, and I find I have to force myself to eat even a little bit. Not eating enough has tanked my breast milk supply, and now I’m stressed that I won’t be able to continue for as long as I’d planned. I want to keep breastfeeding, but I also want to start to feel like myself again!

No Appetite

Dear No Appetite,

This is one of those problems that no one takes seriously. People in general are so weird about weight and weight loss. Like, they just assume that it’s always a good thing and don’t care to examine the reasons behind it. It’s a dangerous reaction, particularly for postpartum moms. When a new mom, one who’s breastfeeding, says they have no appetite? We need to listen. Well, I hear you, mama. Let’s figure this out.

It’s helpful to understand what causes breast milk to decrease. One of the main culprits during postpartum is fatigue and lack of energy. You know what can contribute to fatigue and loss of energy? Loss of appetite! When you’re breastfeeding and not taking in enough calories, your body will deplete its own resources in order to maintain your milk supply. 

The concern here isn’t just your breast milk drying up. Not eating can lead to all kinds of issues for you, like weight loss, hair loss, exhaustion, and brain fog. When you have no appetite, it’s incredibly hard to will yourself to eat. I know you’re focused on keeping your breast milk supply up, but it might be more helpful to think of your overall health first. 

Loss of appetite after pregnancy and postpartum is normal. Losing it for three months and counting? There’s likely more going on here.

Make an appointment with your doctor, if you haven’t already. Postpartum recovery is a beast! Pregnancy and childbirth wreak havoc on your hormones and can potentially do a real number on your thyroid, not to mention other super-important functional systems within your body. Your doctor can order a full panel of blood work to make sure everything is functioning properly. 

The other thing to consider and discuss with your doctor, is if your loss of appetite could be related to or caused by postpartum depression. For a lot of women, no appetite was the first noticeable sign of something being … not right. In fact for one of my personal mama role models, Chrissy Teigen, not having an appetite was what clued her in on something being wrong. Loss of appetite is a very common symptom of postpartum depression, and one that so many women blow off or ignore. 

It may feel insignificant, and it sounds like you’ve been waiting for it to get better on its own. But your body needs food for fuel in order to function. You cannot take care of another little human without taking care of yourself, too. Please make that appointment with your doctor. Your health is incredibly important and it’s OK to make it your focus right now.

Hoping You Find Some Answers (and Your Appetite!),

Is This Normal

My Kid Doesn’t Poop.

Dear Is It Normal,

Our baby was a regular pooper, right up until we introduced solids at 6 months old. Now, she’s gone from regular to downright infrequent, and we’re at our wits’ end. We don’t want to cut back on solids (she really seems to enjoy them) but how can we help move things along and keep the chute from getting so backed up?

Waiting for Number Two

Dear Waiting,

Ugh, the dreaded poop stoppage! As gross as baby poop can be (it can be so gross), it’s way more worrisome when your baby isn’t pooping. Because this is what they do, right? Eat, poop, sleep (sometimes). Constipation in the first year of infancy is incredibly common and very normal, especially once babies are introduced to solids at around six months of age. Just like how we eat things that put our brakes on, what your baby is eating can also back up their normal flow of traffic, so to speak. But don’t fret! There are lots of things you can do to get things moving right along again without making drastic changes to their diet.

It’s helpful to understand what constitutes constipation in babies. Luckily, just like everything else baby-related, there’s a chart! The poop chart notes that between the ages of 0-4 months, babies will poop an average of 3-4 times a day. As they get older and start eating solid foods, their need to go can drop down to once a day, or once every other day. The most important benchmark for determining if your little one is constipated is to compare their poops to their previous, uh, deposits. If your babe went from 4 regular loads a day to not pooping for 2-3 days at a time, they’re constipated! Also, if their poop is hard and pellet-like, or they seem to have a hard time with bowel movements, it might be time to take action.

If the back-up started when you introduced solids, take a look at the foods your little one is eating. Some first foods can wreak havoc on a baby’s tummy, like apples, applesauce, bananas, and rice cereals. Carrots and squash can also slow things down. You want to focus on high-in-fiber foods. A handy trick is to stick to the “P” purees: peaches, plums, prunes, pears, and peas. These foods can help get things moving again for your little one. 

If the “P” purees aren’t doing the trick, it might be time to pull out the big guns. But before you attempt to treat your baby’s constipation at home, always, ALWAYS check with your doctor first. Your pediatrician might suggest gentle rectal stimulation to trigger a bowel movement (yep, you heard me right) in which case you would use a cotton swab or rectal thermometer. With your pediatrician’s approval, you may have to resort to using a glycerin suppository, which is safe for babies and will typically get the flow going in about an hour. Though neither practice should be used unless you’re acting under the guidance of your pediatrician. 

Your baby not pooping is hard on everyone (ba-dum-tss!). The good news is infant constipation is rarely serious and can usually be remedied at home using one of the above-mentioned tricks. However, if your little one is running a fever, has bloody stools, cries persistently, and isn’t eating normally, a visit to your ped is in order. But for run-of-the-mill baby back-ups, stick to the “P”’s, limit their intake of constipating foods, and prepare yourselves for the poop-splosion that’s coming, because it will be … epic.

Praying for Poop,

Is This Normal

I Hate Being A Dad. What Do I Do?

Hi Is This Normal,

I’m a new dad with a 3 week old baby and a completely changed world. I know that this time is all about my wife and I’m focused on her. I can’t tell her how I’m feeling, which is utterly overwhelmed, riddled with anxiety and sick to my stomach every day. I don’t feel connected to my child. I am scared I never will. I feel like I just completely uprooted my world and I don’t even know how to process this change. I wish there was a return label. This was a huge mistake that I can’t undo. I can’t talk to my wife, friends, parents, etc. about this. I know they’ll be horrified to hear what I’m feeling. I’m not even the one who birthed the child. I have the “easy” job. I don’t know what to do.

New Dad

 

Dear New Dad,

First of all, I want to commend you for reaching out here and being open to sharing what you’re going through. It’s so important that we address the stigma of parental mental health from all angles, not just as it pertains to moms. Parenthood is scary, and it’s a massive responsibility, and there’s really nothing you can do to fully prepare for it.

You’re clearly focusing so much on your wife and how she’s feeling and recovering and adjusting, and that makes you an amazing partner. But you’re part of this, too. We know it feels like you’re the only dad in the world who’s ever felt this way, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  

Dr. Catherine Birndorf, a clinical psychiatrist and the co-founder of The Motherhood Center can attest. Here’s her take on your ‘new normal’:

This is totally normal. And believe it or not, you are not alone. I can’t tell you how many new moms and new dads feel exactly like this and are living in silence because they feel ashamed. Just like you, they feel like they can’t tell anyone because, like you said, “they’ll be horrified to hear what I’m feeling.” Feelings are just feelings – they are not actions, they don’t define you, they’re not permanent. What they are is legitimate. If you try to not feel what you actually feel sometimes things can get worse. It’s important to know that when you’re able to speak openly and honestly about how you actually really feel, the feelings dissipate. While it may seem scary to think about voicing how you feel, you will hopefully be surprised by how receptive anyone who loves you will receive this.

I don’t hear you saying you are leaving your wife, your new baby, or your new life… I hear you saying you feel like you’ve made a mistake and don’t know how the hell you will manage this all. This is a profound transition that requires time and effort to make it through. You actually need the support of those who love you and possibly a professional to help you think through how to acknowledge your feelings while stepping into this new life. It will be okay, and it will take time. Tolerating, and if you can, sharing these feelings is an important first step.

You’ve got this,

Is This Normal

 

The Motherhood Center, provides supportive services for new and expecting moms, including a range of treatment options for women suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Whether you are looking for a support group for new mothers, lactation consultation, individual therapy or more intensive services to help you feel better, The Motherhood Center offers something to every woman making the transition to parenthood. Staffed by experienced professionals, they take an interdisciplinary approach to tackling pre- and post-natal care, PMADs, and everything in between.

I resent the sh*t out of my husband.

Hi Is this normal?

My role in my household? Do everything. Manage the schedules, take the kids to and from, get them up, feed them, put them to bed, bathe them, play with them, dote over them,  prepare their meals (and ours for that matter), attend the daycare check ins, stop to get groceries, chat with the grandparents, update the friends, oh and yes i work from home (not very effectively)….you get it. Seemingly the whole shebang.

My husbands role in this household? Come home from work and have the kids run to him. Show up for a meeting and get praised for being an attentive parent. Make coffee in the morning (for the first time in weeks) and text me to get some pat on the back for it.

Listen. I love my husband. He is a wonderful father. He is all the things. I don’t even necessarily think he is doing anything wrong. But the fact that I am breaking my back and it’s considered “what I’m supposed to do” is enraging. And it’s causing me to hate on my husband. I feel bad. He really is a great partner. So am I just not a good mother and wife because I feel pissed the fuck off that everything falls on me?

UGH. Just had to get this out.

Thanks.

 

Hi! You sound frustrated and at the end of your rope and honey, you have every right to be. Is this normal? Well, yes and no. Yes, because it’s been ingrained in us for EONS that kids and house are wimmens work. Even if the wimmens have other, actual paying jobs! Our workload doesn’t somehow magically get redistributed when we have kids. It just grows. And grows. And then grows some more. Super great how society thinks we can and should do it all, even though most of us are riding the struggle bus every single day. It’s intense, and it’s an immense amount of pressure, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a mom who doesn’t feel that pressure every single day of her life. Is it normal? Unfortunately yes. Is it OK? Nope.

This doesn’t have to be your normal. It can and should change, and we have to be that change starting in our very own homes. It sounds like you have your hands full, and are balancing parts of your life on your forearms like a waitress in a sports bar during a sports ball final of some kind. Your arms must be tired, mama, and you need some help. I get that your husband works outside of the home (he gets a cookie for that, big ups to dad). But you know what? You work, too. You work hard, you just don’t leave the house to do it. If we’re going to be tasked with doing ALL OF THE THINGS in the home, then we need to start looking at the role of stay-at-home mom and homemaker as an actual freaking job. And what would you do if your coworkers slacked on their duties and put everything on your plate at work? Well, you’d complain and get a manager to kick their asses into gear, is what! There’s no reason your partner can’t bathe your kids. Or pack lunches at night. There’s no reason he can’t pitch in with chores on weeknights and weekends, or do the grocery shopping on his way home. No reason at all beyond the antiquated idea that those are YOUR jobs, and not his. This is 2019, babe. Keeping that house running and those kids alive and thriving falls on BOTH of you.

I have no doubt that you love your husband. And I’m not questioning his effectiveness as a dad and husband and provider at all! These gendered stereotypes go so far beyond your home or mine; you’re not mad at your husband necessarily, but at the general idea that this is what you’re SUPPOSED to do. That doesn’t make you a bad wife or mom or partner, not even a little bit. You’re fed up, and that’s perfectly normal and totally expected based on what you’ve said here. It’s time to have a sit down with your husband, and talk about how to equalize your lives. It’s not going to change unless you speak up and say, “Hey, this needs to change!”. Don’t get mad at him – there’s a good chance he also thinks things are this way because they’re supposed to be this way, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? Well, it’s broke. And it’s breaking you. And if he’s the good partner you say he is (and it sounds like he is), he’ll be 100% on board with fixing it.

Leveling the Playing Field,

Is This Normal

I’m afraid to be alone with my baby.

Hi Is this normal,

I am afraid to be home alone with my baby. I’m a 32 year old woman who’s always been fiercely independent and has always had my shit together. And I am too scared to be home alone with the baby that I created and brought into this world.

My wife travels a few times a week for work, and every time she does, my mom comes and stays with me. Everyone has been gracious about judging me (except myself, I’m appalled). Is this going to end? What do I do? I’m the baby here. I literally need a babysitter for myself?! This is pathetic.

Being Babysat

 

Dear Being Babysat,

Oh mama. You may not realize this, but what you just described is so incredibly normal, and we need to be talking about this way more than we do. Becoming a parent is TERRIFYING. In theory, you think it’s going to be fairly straightforward and easy. Baby hungry? Feed baby! Baby dirty? Clean baby! Baby sleeping? Watch Netflix! But in reality, it’s absolutely scary. You have this baby, and the doctors or nurses or midwives or whatever just … let you take it home. A live human person! Just, “Here ya go! Best of luck!” No manual. No training. I adopted a dog once and had to take a personality test and have a home inspection and demonstrate that I was capable to keeping the dog alive and happy. But the two kids I had? Sent on my merry way, no questions asked. WTF.

Everyone is being so gracious with you not because they feel sorry for you, but because they get it. They’ve done this, and they understand! They get that this is scary and hard. And also? People assume that women automatically have this innate mothering instinct that immediately kicks in as soon as they become a mom. And that’s not even close to the truth–at least for some of us. You are a first-time parent – you should be scared! Babies are unpredictable, and you don’t suddenly feel 100% comfortable with them just because you had one. This fear you have is not an indictment of you as a person, or as a mother, and it’s not an indicator of failure AT ALL. It is completely and totally normal and expected.

It’ll help to try and zero in on what exactly drives your fear. Is it feeling like you won’t know how to handle certain situations? Is it a fear of not doing it right, or well? The thing is, motherhood is sort of a feet to the fire type sitch, if you know what I mean. You can read all the parenting books in the world, but nothing is going to prepare you for it. You’re going to learn as you go, and with each day, you’re going to feel a little bit more comfortable and in control of the situation. Start with very little baby steps; when your mom is there, ask her to stay hands-off or keep her distance for small intervals of time, so you can captain the ship solo for a bit. Knowing that she’s there and can jump in if you need her might just give you the confidence boost you need to understand that you CAN do this. And if you find yourself in over your head with something, she’s there to help guide you. That’s what moms do! I still call my own mom at least once a week when I need help/advice/someone to hold my hand during a rough patch. Moms are pretty freaking amazing, is what.

But I also want to touch on something else. If what you’re feeling is a generalized anxiety, or you’re feeling overwhelmed or out of sorts since you had your baby, there could be something more going on. Postpartum anxiety affects approximately 10% of women, and can often manifest in symptoms similar to what you’ve described. Again, and I cannot stress this enough, it has NOTHING to do with you or your abilities as a mother. You are not pathetic, not even close – you are a new mama, and you need some help, and that is the most normal and ok thing in the world. But you may need more help than your mom or your wife can provide. That’s why we have doctors and medical professionals, who are trained to know and recognize the kind of help you might need and get you that help.

You call the people in your life babysitters, but they’re so much more than that. They’re your support system, and they’re doing exactly what you need them to do right now. Try to not be so hard on yourself, as you settle into this new stage of life and (with the help of your doctor, if need be) start to gain your footing. No one starts out being 100% comfortable with all of this. It takes time and help and love, and you’ve got that in spades. You CAN do this.

Still Scared But Slightly More Confident (It Took 8 Years!),

Is This Normal