the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Proper Motivation...

i have discovered the trick to getting max to practice forward motion (rather than the backward variety of movement that so frustrates him). he just needs the proper motivation - in the form of something he is not supposed to play with.

video

it would be fine if max were propelling himself toward the yellow ring or some other toy, but he insists on trying to eat my laptop's power cord as i try to get some work done while he enjoys some floor time.

man, babies are troublesome once they go on the move. gone are the days when max just played on a blanket and stayed put. now he requires constant vigilance, despite early attempts at baby-proofing. there is no such thing as a baby-proof house. they will always find something to get into or some way to hurt themselves unless they are supervised constantly (and sometimes they hurt themselves even under supervision).

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Big Baby Room - update

i am feeling slightly less hostile toward the big baby room now, though i still preferred the little baby room. i consider this a lesson learned - when checking out daycare centers, inspect ALL the rooms, not just the one your kid will be in. because babies grow and get shoved into rooms with different teachers. my mistake for thinking that organization, policies, etc. would be consistent among all of the classes. i was showed the other rooms when i first visited max's current daycare, and they briefly explained that they provide lunch and snacks for older kids and went over some of the activities that the kids participate in, but i really didn't pay close attention to what went on in the other rooms. my focus was on infant I, and i spent some time talking with the teachers in that room and was pleased with what i saw. so i paid the registration fee and got on the waiting list.

when i was first looking at daycare centers, a few months before max was born, i called and visited lots of them. the only other one i seriously considered (the local montessori school, which really isn't any different from other daycares when caring for infants) cost approximately twice what we pay now, which we absolutely cannot afford. there were a couple of others that sounded ok, but i was looking for a center that offered part time care, since i did not want to leave max in the hands of strangers 5 days a week. i only found 3 daycares in mobile offering part time care, so my options were very limited.

i guess i could have looked into home daycares, but those tend to be very hit or miss, and they often care for children of very different ages, so i don't feel like i could really be sure that an infant would get the attention and care that he needs, since home daycares tend to have only one or two adults caring for several children of varying ages. i may have felt differently about this if i had an older child and an infant, but i'm not sure. i also might feel differently if i personally knew the caregiver.

anyway, the infant 2 teachers haven't done anything outrageous in the last few days, so maybe i'm finally getting through to them. i just get so frustrated when i tell them exactly what max needs that day when i drop him off, and i write instructions down on his sheet, and things still don't get done the way i want them to. maybe i am being a heinous controlling bitch. but you know what? when it comes to making sure my kid gets what he needs? i'm ok with that.

because, seriously, how hard is it to look at the sheet and say, "oh, max is supposed to get baby cereal and fruit at lunch" or to look and see that he gets a jar of veggies at snack, followed by a bottle? not that hard. especially when this is the same EVERY DAY. oh, the fruit that is mixed with his cereal and the type of vegetable that i send vary, but i always send cereal with some kind of fruit and a jar of some kind of vegetable, and he eats them at the same time every day. you wouldn't think it would be that hard to remember. and if they don't remember? that is why parents write things down.

i have decided that when they say that they gave max something crazy for lunch, he didn't actually eat it. because the teachers don't feed the babies who get table/finger food. they let the babies feed themselves. and max? he's not good at feeding himself. he isn't supposed to be at his age. he probably won't be ready to feed himself for another month or two. and that is perfectly ok. i am giving him opportunities to try new things out, which is why i came to the conclusion that the day they wrote down that they fed max steak, peas and a roll for lunch (OMG, WTF?) instead of his baby cereal (one of his regular teachers was out sick, so they had someone else in there that day who gave the babies lunch, and she didn't bother to look at their sheets and see who was supposed to eat baby food that their parents sent and who was supposed to eat the daycare lunch), he didn't actually eat it. because he can't really get small objects into his mouth. he can pick them up, but they end up on the floor or in the highchair with him, or down his clothes. but not in his mouth. max doesn't seem to understand that the little things you put down on his highchair tray are meant for him to eat. he plays with them instead.

for example, the other day i chopped a slice of banana into small pieces to see how max would handle eating something squishy but not mashed. plus, he really likes bananas. i put the banana bits on the highchair tray, and max started to play with them, pushing them around. he picked up a few. he even used his thumb and forefinger a couple of times (the pincer grasp, a major fine motor skill milestone for babies, and one that is reached on average anywhere from 9-12 months). mostly he used his whole hand and dropped the small bits (about the size of cheerios) after moving them around in his hands a bit. none of the banana bits that he picked up made it into his mouth. i fed him a couple, and he made faces at me like "what is this?" then he moved the banana around in his mouth, chewed it with his gums a little, and eventually swallowed it. he ate 3 or 4 pieces that i fed to him. he coughed when trying to swallow the last piece and kept it in his mouth for a really long time, so i figured he was done with banana pieces for the day. maybe we'll try a few bits of avocado or squishy cooked fruit next week.

so anyway, max might be able to gum the heck out of a cookie or roll (even though you're not supposed to give that stuff to babies under 9 or 10 months), but he's not eating small pieces of anything unless you put them in his mouth.

like i said, the last couple of days have been ok. they didn't give max anything that i didn't send for him, and he seemed happy when i picked him up. hopefully that trend will continue.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Big Baby Room

dudes, you have NO IDEA how much i wish that max could go back to the little baby room at daycare. i miss the little baby room. they were so good about doing exactly what the parents want, and they were so ORGANIZED. by comparison the big baby room is CHAOTIC. and i hate it just a little. or maybe more than just a little. but i feel trapped and out of acceptable options.

here's what the little baby room (aka Infant 1) was like:
  • you write out a general information sheet for your baby, and they hang it up underneath the cubby that houses his personal effects (extra pacifiers, gas drops, spoons, jars of baby food, etc.). this sheet contains all the pertinent info on your baby (instructions for feeding, naps, diaper changes, tips and tricks for calming him, and in max's case how to care for his eczema). cubbies are arranged by birth date, oldest baby first. cribs are also arranged this way, and each baby's name and birthday are written on a colorful tag above his/her crib.
  • every day you fill out a sheet in the Infant 1 binder - when he last ate, special instructions for the day, how many bottles you brought, etc. each baby has a section in the binder with blank sheets. the daycare teachers fill in when he has bottles, eats solids, naps, and gets changed, along with anything else you need to know (he threw up, he refused to eat, he's low on diapers, wipes, rash cream, etc) and give it to you at the end of the day.
  • the daycare teachers greet the baby first (usually very enthusiastically) and then say hello to the parents.
  • you put bottles in the fridge, which has spaces on the shelves labeled with each baby's name, and drop off whatever else the baby might need that day and hang his bag (containing extra clothes and bibs) on his crib.
  • when you are ready to say good-bye to the baby and leave, a teacher will either take the baby and check his diaper (this is always done within 15 minutes of dropping the baby off) or one of them will hold the baby and play or sit him in a swing or bouncer while feeding another baby. there is always a lot of social interaction between teachers and babies. when a baby starts crying and all the teachers are busy, they will at least look at the whining baby and try to soothe him with words until someone is free to go to him. crying babies are not ignored.
  • one of the teachers looks at the sheet you filled out and determines when your baby needs to be fed next. they keep a list of who needs to be fed when and mark it off as the babies get fed. they then add the next feeding to the list. this ensures that the babies always get fed when they are supposed to. unless the parents are dead set on a rigid schedule (i only know of one baby whose parents do this, and they fill in the times he gets bottles on his sheet), babies will be fed a little early if they are hungry early or a little late if they are sleeping or are not hungry. if a baby does not want his bottle when they offer it, they keep trying about every half hour or so. the same goes if he only drinks half of his bottle. they don't just say, "well, you drank less than half your bottle. too bad. you have to wait until your next feeding." but they also don't force the babies to eat if they really aren't hungry.
  • diapers got checked/changed every 1-2 hours/as needed. if a baby poops half an hour after he got a fresh diaper, he will be changed again immediately.
  • bibs/clothes get changed as soon as they are soiled. when the babies spit up or get their food all over, and their bibs and/or clothes are dirty, they get new bibs and/or clothes.
  • the teachers do not take liberties with the babies. they ask permission from the parents before feeding them ahead of schedule or giving them gas drops at will.
  • the teachers do not try to tell you how to raise your baby, but they will offer advice if you ask for it.
  • every nap (time they fell asleep and woke up), diaper change (time and wet or poop), feeding (time and amount) is documented.
  • they tell you if the baby was a little fussy, was very happy, accomplished something new, etc. and overall seem to have a good bond with each baby. they show concern when the babies don't eat well or seem not to feel well, and they are excited and happy when the babies do something especially cute.
  • max was 4th oldest in this room at 6 1/2 months. the oldest baby was 9 months when they moved up. the two in between were 7 1/2 and 8 months.
now here's what the big baby room (aka Infant 2) is like:
  • no information sheets are displayed anywhere, even though the teachers have little or no prior knowledge of the babies. cubbies are in no particular order. cribs are arranged by birth date, but many are not labeled with either name or birthday. this includes max's crib. he is the youngest baby in this room, so his crib is closest to the door. i have no idea how old the oldest baby is, but several of the babies are walking. most of the babies are crawling. max is not there yet.
  • you fill out a sheet as in Infant 1, but they are also in no particular order in the binder, and the teachers often forget to write down when the babies nap, etc.
  • there is one shelf in their fridge for ALL THE BABIES. it is chaos. all the babies' bottles, food, and juice cups are jumbled together. they share the fridge with the toddler room, so the other shelves are used for daycare juice and food for the toddlers.
  • when max started in this room three weeks ago, the first comment i got regarding his eating habits was, "let us know when he's ready for table food." this was a week and a half after he started eating strained veggies. and he'd only tried 3 of those. he was 6 1/2 months old. wtf?
  • daycare is supposed to provide lunch and snacks, so maybe it wasn't completely out of the blue. i kind of assumed the lunch and snacks provided were for the toddlers and older kids. not the babies. daycare has 3 more rooms, besides the 2 baby rooms. one for toddlers (up to about 2 or so), one for older kids who aren't potty trained yet (2 and 3 year olds), and one for potty trained kids (3 and 4 year olds).
  • they have their own schedule and expect your baby to adhere to it. again, wtf?
  • and again, max was 6 1/2 months when he started in this room. he is only 7 1/2 months now. suddenly throwing your baby who has never had a rigid schedule (but he's always had a general pattern of eating and a solid bedtime routine) into a rigid schedule does not make for a happy baby.
  • their schedule is ridiculous and throws off our evening routine. because all they do is poke food into the babies ALL DAY. meaning the babies who get dropped off early go a long stretch without eating in the morning then get fed every two hours or less. lunch at 10:30 (wtf?), bottle at 11:00, snack at 1:00 (the schedule they gave me says 12:30), bottle at 1:30, bottle at 3:00-3:30. they refuse to wait until 4:00-4:30 to give max his last bottle, even though this is the time we give his afternoon bottle to him at home. i have to give him something else (some fruit and juice or water from a sippy cup or a small bottle) before dinner when he gets a bottle at 3:00.
  • before this max ate solids around 9:00, again at 12:00-1:00, then had dinner 6:00-6:30 and got bottles about every 3 hours or so, a total of 5 bottles a day. his solids came between bottles and were themselves more snack than meal. he wouldn't have noticed if we skipped a solid feeding.
  • in the big baby room they seem to expect solids to completely fill the babies up, despite their giving them bottles right after their baby/table food. once again, wtf?
  • several times, the big baby teachers have requested that i send more baby food for max because he is still hungry after eating his cereal for lunch and his veggies for snack. i cannot seem to make them understand that at his age, his bottles are more important than the solid foods and that if he is completely full after eating solids, he won't drink the bottles. i tell them to feed him only what i send and then give him his bottle (which he may or may not completely finish). this is enough to satisfy him, i swear. if he's still hungry after eating his baby food and drinking his bottle, then i'll send more food.
  • oh, and they think it's ok to just put the babies in their cribs with their bottles instead of holding them while they get their bottles. this is not ok. babies should be held when they get bottles. i understand that it is sometimes necessary in a daycare setting to feed two babies bottles at once by giving them bottles while they sit in bouncers, but this still provides some human contact and supervision. there are no bouncers or swings in the big baby room. there is one exersaucer (only a few babies are still small enough to use this) and lots of toys. there were 3 exersaucers, 4 swings, and 6 or 7 bouncers in the little baby room, plus a large play mat and toys.
  • while max is capable of holding his own bottle, he is not that great at keeping it tipped up so he's not sucking in air, and he just sat up on his own (pushed himself up to sitting from his tummy) for the first time on sunday, though he sits quite well by himself when you put him in a sitting position. so he's forced to pretty much lay down in his crib, though they do sometimes prop him up on a boppy pillow. babies should not drink bottles lying down. wtf?
  • diapers are changed according to schedule. so if your kid poops? and it's not changing time? he's probably not gonna get changed for an hour or two. unless it's a messy one.
  • and you know what? they probably wouldn't notice when he pooped anyway. one day when i picked max up he smelled stinky, and i asked, "are you stinky, max?" one of the teachers said, "it hasn't been that long since he got changed." like that means he didn't poop. newsflash - babies don't poop on schedule. i made her change him before we left.
  • overall there doesn't seem to be a lot of interaction with the babies. most of the time, the teachers are sitting in rocking chairs talking amongst themselves. sometimes they do this while rocking babies to sleep. talking to the babies would probably work better.
  • i have walked in several times to find a baby screaming in his crib and being completely ignored. once it was mine. i was NOT HAPPY.
  • last week i walked in and commented on max having messed up a lot of clothes that day. i did not mean anything by this - some days he is messier than others. i figured he'd spit up a lot that day. no big deal.
  • but no. that wasn't it. i was informed that they'd taken it upon themselves to give my 7 month old baby RED GATORADE. wtf? and the teacher was like, "he must have liked it because he drank a lot of it." but he then puked up the red gatorade. all over his white shirt. i thought my head would explode right there.
  • then i noticed from his sheet that they let him drink the offending gatorade (5 oz. of it - quite a lot for a 7 month old) TEN MINUTES BEFORE HIS BOTTLE. of which he drank 2 ounces. out of a 7 oz. bottle. OMG, WTF?
  • this is so not ok.
  • max does not even drink juice every day. when he does, he drinks maybe 2 oz. at a time. once he drank 4 oz. of juice. well, 2 oz of juice diluted with water. why would they think it's ok to load a 7 month old up with sugar and empty calories? right before his bottle?!?
  • all right, i will admit that a bit of gatorade is not going to kill my kid. a few sips out of daddy's glass once in a while is fine. but replacing nutrition that he needs with 5 oz. of gatorade is NOT OK.
  • i asked them not to do this again. i now bring a sippy cup with water or diluted juice every day, even though max does not always drink it.
  • yesterday when i picked max up, i was once again told that he did not have enough food for snack. he ate an entire jar of mixed vegetables. a stage 2 jar, which has 1.5 more oz. of food than the stage 1 jars i was sending before. so they gave him a cookie. once again, right before his bottle. of which he drank 3 oz. (less than half).
  • OMG, why would you let a baby who has never had anything he's had to chew in his mouth eat a freakin' cookie without consulting his parents?!?
  • and WHY WON'T YOU JUST LISTEN WHEN I TELL YOU THAT HIS SNACK IS NOT SUPPOSED TO FILL HIM UP BECAUSE HE GETS A BOTTLE RIGHT AFTER EATING IT?
  • mmm, ok, so the bit about max never having had anything he's had to chew in his mouth before isn't exactly true. i gave him half a cheerio the other day to see what he would do. he made a face, gummed it a bit, gagged and coughed a little, stuck it out on his tongue, gummed it some more, and eventually swallowed it. i decided he isn't ready for cheerios. which means he isn't ready for daycare to give him whatever they want.
  • what happened to their not giving him table food until i say it's ok? are cookies and gatorade not table food?
  • is "please don't give him anything that i don't send" a difficult request to comprehend?
  • we are still introducing new foods to max. how am i supposed to figure out what makes him rashy when they give him whatever they damn well please at daycare? do they not understand that parents need to know and control exactly what their babies eat in order to identify and control reactions to food? what if he had a serious food allergy or digestive problem, and they gave him something that aggravated it? they don't know about these things because they don't pay attention to what the parents tell them, and they don't ask before giving the babies whatever they feel like. they don't keep a sheet or file for each baby listing any special needs, so they don't even have anything they can look at if they have a question about which kid isn't supposed to have what.
  • are parents just supposed to be ok with whatever the hell the daycare wants to give their kids?
  • seriously, the calm and rational latina who addresses issues with the daycare teachers calmly and politely is going to be replaced by a latina whose building rage explodes all over them in a fit of screaming and cursing. and this is going to happen SOON. forget the fact that it's a church daycare. once the four-letter words start flying i won't be able to stop myself.
  • but i hope to avoid that.
  • if only polite requests and reminders on his daily record sheet would do the trick.