One of my most frequently requested topics is all about Charlie. I try to keep a balance between talking about motherhood and not around here because I know there are a good amount of readers who aren’t in that stage of life just yet. However, in all truth he is the star of the show now, well beyond fashion and fitness and home stuff. If this blog were a true reflection of our day to day I would share those behind the scene moments on a daily basis but I still enjoy showcasing my passions with you, too.
It’s crazy to think that Charlie has been in our lives for 19 months. The late nights when I wrote about our first month together, three months together, wanting it all, a goodbye to breast feeding, six months together, a letter to myself and a letter to my husband – it hasn’t always been easy but I know that I am a better person since becoming a mom. Every day with Charlie is the best day. He lights up every room and truly gives life a new meaning.
So in 19 months, do I know anything? Probably not. But there are certain things that have worked for us and have definitely made life easier. Let me start by saying that all babies are different (I truly, truly believe this!) but I do think that they are creatures of habit. We are all about creating routine and here is what has worked for us…
Sleep training Charlie
Before I had Charlie, I read all of the books about sleep. Since becoming a mom my opinion has changed a bit. If you are one of the lucky ones whose baby slept a full night at 8 weeks – YOU ARE BLESSED. This is one example of a trait that I think a baby is born with. Some babies are amazing sleepers, some need some training. Charlie needed some training (and it wasn’t a short process). It’s hard in the beginning because most babies need a few weeks to figure out their days/nights (make sure they nap in a bright room and night routines are dark). Just remember to have patience and give yourself and baby some time.
The first 2-3 months are all about making sure your baby is getting enough nutrients through breastmilk/formula. Your baby will be waking up every 3(ish) hours and that is just how it’s going to go. Mama is going to be short on sleep for a bit. Eventually this stretched to 5 hours and then you can push baby’s boundaries a bit once you know they are getting enough calories during the day. Breastfeeding doesn’t always make it easy to know just how much your baby is consuming (unless you are pumping and bottle feeding). This chart was a really important tool for me as a new mom and gave me piece of mind that Charlie was satisfied enough to start stretching his hours at night.
During the day I made sure Charlie was eating every 2.5/3 hours – no long naps. Once Charlie was 8-10 weeks old I really started focusing on getting him on a sleep schedule. This started with naps and trying to avoid the inconsolable crying period/over-exhaustion. I followed this chart religiously (and have passed it along to so many friends!) and I promise, if you follow this and get them down for a nap right before their wake time length runs up, your baby will go to bed smoothly! It was a game changer for us and eventually determined a good bedtime that wasn’t 11pm.
Our schedule looked a lot like this: feedings at 6am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm and 9pm with the goal of him sleeping from 9pm – 6am at 10 weeks. Our one set back was that Charlie struggled with horrible acid reflux. He was eventually put on medication which helped but he spit up a lot and wasn’t fully satisfied once it was time to go to bed. This was a struggle so just a reminder that if your baby sleeps through the night once, training isn’t necessarily over. *Note, at this point Charlie was still sleeping in a bassinet in our room and we decided it was time to move him into his crib.
At around 10 weeks, Charlie seemed uncomfortable at night which I mentioned on social media and a reader recommended I try diffusing essential oils in his room at night. She actually sent me a DoTerra diffuser and I ordered Young Living’s Gentle Baby oil (which she recommended). We used it the first night Charlie was in his own crib and he slept 11 hours straight. I didn’t know what to do! I remember sleeping 7 hours straight and sprinting into his room to see if he was still breathing. Granted, this didn’t last forever but we have diffused oils in his room every night since and it is something he can count on to create that bedtime feeling. We used Gentle Baby for probably 3 months and now diffuse Lavender every night.
Ok anyways, I digress. The true game changer in us sleep training Charlie was Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit. We used it from 3-6 months and Charlie slept through the night almost every single night. You can read more about it here but it is a great transition from the swaddle to just being free in their cribs. I truly believe that the Sleep Suit taught Charlie to be a good sleeper. When we moved Charlie into his crib I think it felt like he had all this room and the Sleep Suit helped him to feel comforted. We still diffused oils every night and he was a dream for three months. But, once they start to roll over it is time to transition out of the sleep suit and it took us about a week to get Charlie comfortable with sleeping in just his pajamas (we tried a sleep sack but decided we would just put him in footed pajamas).
At this point, we had to use the cry it out method. I had a long talk with our pediatrician about this and one thing that really resonated with me was she said “the greatest gift you can give your child is the gift of a good night sleep.” Meaning, you can’t console them forever, they need to learn to put themselves to sleep. It took us three loooooooong nights but Charlie was 6 months old, we were used to him sleeping through the night and at this point I was like “you’re fine.” Ha, that makes me sound horrible. I know his cries so well and knew that all he really wanted was some comfort. The first night we put him in his crib he cried for 42 minutes – it was awful, and I’m talking WHALING cries but eventually he fell asleep and slept until the morning. The next night he cried for 24 minutes and the third night he cried for 6 before falling asleep. Despite some random colds, bad dreams, travel, etc. he has been an amazing sleeper ever since. I know this method sounds like torture but teaching them to put themselves to sleep means that when they wake up in the middle of the night, they know how to roll over and fall asleep themselves = more sleep for mom and dad.
Charlie now sleeps with a blanket and two stuffed animals that he talks to before he goes to bed and when he wakes up in the morning. He sleeps from 7pm to 6am with a 2.5-3 hour nap during the day (this has been his schedule since around 6 months – he used to go to bed at 6pm but now it is 7pm). Long story short, it’s a lot of trial and error. We could have probably used the cry it out method earlier but the Sleep Suit had been recommended by so many friends and honestly, I was way more comfortable letting him cry it out at 6 months old than at 3 months. All in all, I don’t think my technique is very impressive but it is what worked for us! I do also think that his acid reflux (which he grew out of at 7 months) made it harder for me to not feed him at night since I wasn’t aware of how much he was getting. At 6 months I stopped breast feeding and started on formula (+ solids) and it made a world of difference in his weight gain and consumption.
If you have any specific questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me directly!
Working at home with Charlie
This question makes me laugh because I have to ask “do I actually get work done? No.” I feel so lucky that I get to stay home with Charlie and also have my own career. However, before having Charlie I totally thought I could do it all without skipping a beat. WRONG and it has become even harder now that he is a walking, talking animal. I do have a babysitter twice a week and once we move to the suburbs he will be starting day care twice a week. Honestly, aside from those two days, I choose to spend my time with Charlie. I work in the mornings, during his nap and at night and the rest of the time I choose to be with him. Yes that means fewer posts, taking on fewer projects, slower growth, etc. but I want to be his mom first. Especially now because soon school starts and he won’t be home with me anymore. Time with him seems so fleeting and I don’t want to look back and say that I chose to work instead of spend my days with him knowing that I can do both. He joins us on our shoots, he runs errands with me, he helps me get ready. Yes some days are stressful but it’s how I choose to do it.
What do Charlie’s meals typically look like?
Breakfast: Eggs or peanut butter toast, turkey sausage, fruit and yogurt. Sometimes all of these together, sometimes one or the other when it comes to protein.
Lunch: PB&J or grilled cheese or mac and cheese, grapes, Pirate’s Booty, tuna salad, avocado, frozen peas.
Dinner: Turkey meatballs or chicken fingers or hamburgers, avocado, corn, green beans, Dr. Pragers Broccoli Littles (or Kale Littles), fruit.
Snacks: Bananas with peanut butter, frozen grapes, string cheese, peaches, pouches, yogurt.
This is just a sampling! I haven’t gotten my act together yet to cook dinner so we can all eat together. Right now Charlie eats at 5:30pm and we eat around 7pm after he goes to bed. Any tips for getting on the same schedule?? I think I just need to get cooking earlier!
What kind of convertible car seat do you use for Charlie?
Where is Charlie’s crib from?
I get questions about his nursery all the time and all items are linked in this post!
What are Charlie’s favorite toys (over 1 years old)?
What are some fun activities you do with Charlie in the city?
We go to Tunes with Tim at Monica & Andy (he has 12 classes per week, you can see his schedule here), Charlie takes My Gym classes on Monday mornings, we do Goldfish Swim School on Thursday afternoons, he loves going to the Nature Museum, the Lincoln Park Zoo and Maggie Daley Park (or any park with slides and swings).
Traveling with Charlie
We are definitely not pros when it comes to traveling with a baby but one thing we make sure to do is research/prep depending on where we are going. We always like to call to see if wherever we are staying has a crib (usually this is a yes), if we are renting a car we see if there is an option to rent a car seat, if not we bring ours and check it using this bag. There are also some great companies in big cities that allow you to rent anything you may need – pack and play, car seat, high chairs, strollers, etc. We travel with our GT City Mini Stroller because it is lightweight, easily folds up and can be checked at the gate/used in the airport. I usually try to buy all of his groceries upon arrival but at this point he pretty much consumes everything that we eat. I do bring a small cooler bag with a bottle and a few snacks. We hope to book our travel around his nap schedule but if not I usually keep him awake to nap on an afternoon flight or if it is early morning we just anticipate him being very awake 🙂 The farthest we have flown is to San Francisco and Turks & Caicos, both flights there were terrible but you manage. First class upgrades make a world of difference! It is hard to get comfortable for your child when there is barely enough room for yourself.
I feel like I’m missing a million questions so feel free to leave additional questions in the comments and I’ll try to add them in as the day goes on! xoxo