Does the “Cry It Out” Method Cause Psychological Damage?

If you simply type “cry it out method” into Google, the results are overwhelmingly contradictory and confusing. I’ve scrolled through social media and seen posts from child psychologists proclaiming, “the cry it out method is torture!” I’ve also seen articles online from pediatric neurologists saying that there’s no physical evidence suggesting that the cry it out method causes any damage, at least not the updated versions of it.

Who do we believe? Is the cry it out method damaging? Is it safe? Has it been improved upon, maybe? Do doctors against the cry it out method have an alternative suggestion for getting our kids to sleep independently? These are the questions I asked myself before researching this topic.

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

I’ve been very fortunate to have a baby that is a fairly good sleeper. From the time he was born, I stuck religiously to a nighttime routine and never tried co-sleeping (out of pure fear and anxiety). I’ve shared my nighttime routine in this blog. You can read it here. Thankfully, he has slept well most nights without needing the cry it out method or any method for that matter.

However, we’re moving into toddlerhood very soon. Things can change and sleeping habits can regress. I’m not out of the woods yet, and mama needs her sleep. As such, I looked into this “cry it out method” question and tried to decipher some train of reason within all the disagreements. Most importantly, I wanted to avoid the really bad choices.

This is what I found. I hope it helps someone…

origins of the cry it out method

Buckle up, because part is kind of sad. We can trace the notion of letting babies just “cry it out” all the way back to the 1880s. The medical community was adamant about protecting infants from germs and advised against touching them too much.

In the early 1900s, a behaviorist named John Watson argued strongly his opinion on “the dangers of too much affection,” particularly too much motherly love. He suggested that a child with an affectionate mother would turn into a useless, dependent person with nothing to offer society. Of course, now we know that to be entirely false.

Around that same time, mothers were encouraged to hold their babies only when absolutely necessary and train them to sit silently in a crib by the middle of their first year…because, according to Watson, parents shouldn’t be constantly inconvenienced by the simple existence of an infant.

We hear that more often than we realize, even today. We’re encouraged to let them cry in order to teach them independence so that we can get our lives back. It’s natural, but I would argue, as I hope most would, that John Watson was a little extreme.

Finally, the cry it out method as we know it was made popular by Dr. Luther Emmett Holt over 100 years ago. His book, The Care and Feeding of Children, was the pinnacle of childrearing education. Of course, much has changed in 100 years.2

Two types of cry it out method

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I was surprised to learn that there are actually two different types of the “cry it out” method. The extinction method and the graduated extinction method differ in the amount of attention you provide to the crying baby.

  1. Extinction: This is the most common CIO. This method instructs you to put your baby to bed and ignore his or her cries. The outcome is simple; the baby will cry until he or she literally can’t anymore. They typically give up out of shear exhaustion.
  2. Graduated Extinction: This version is more controlled. It’s sometimes called “sleep training” and is a gentler variation of CIO. Once the baby is put to bed and crying begins, you reenter to comfort your baby only every other time you hear cries, increasing the crying time with each interval.

The graduated extinction method has been adjusted in various ways over time to lighten the harshness of simply closing the door and letting your child just deal.

what are the arguments against cry it out?

Dr. Margot Sunderland, child psychotherapist with decades of experience, said:

“I would be very surprised if any parent continued to use ‘cry it out if they knew the full extent of what’s happening to their infant’s brain. The infant’s brain is so vulnerable to stress. After birth, it’s not yet finished! In the first year of life, cells are still moving to where they need to be. This is a process known as migration, and it’s hugely influenced by uncomforted stress.”

excerpt from interview by BellyBelly (CLICK HERE to read more)

This is a common argument against the cry it out method. Some research does suggest that excessive, prolonged crying caused by stress could be linked to changes in the brain during a period of vitally important growth.

Dr. Darcia F. Narvaez, professor of psychology at the University of notre dame, said:

“One strangely popular notion still around today is to let babies ‘cry it out’ when they are left alone, isolated in cribs, or in other devices. This comes from a misunderstanding of child brain development.”

“Babies grow from being held. Their bodies get deregulated when they are physically separated from caregivers.”

“The brain is developing quickly. When the baby is greatly distressed, it creates conditions for damage to synapses, the network construction which is ongoing in the infant brain. The hormone cortisol is released. In excess, it’s a neuron killer but its consequences may not be apparent immediately.”

excerpt from Dr. Narvaez’s article in Psychology Today (CLICK HERE to read the article)

what are the arguments for cry it out?

The opposing opinions on the cry it out method tend to center around the variations of graduated extinction. Most doctors agree that putting your child in the crib and letting them scream until they fall asleep is not a good idea. However, they have differing opinions on alternative forms of sleep training.

Dr. Sujay Kansagra, pediatric neurologist at Duke University, said:

“Most of the debate around sleep training stems from the process of allowing an infant to cry. For those that are adamantly opposed to letting a child cry, but are frustrated by the lack of consistent sleep, there are other sleep training techniques that don’t involve simply leaving an infant in the crib to cry endlessly. Two examples of such methods are fading and scheduled awakenings.”

excerpt from article at Duke University of Medicine website (CLICK HERE to read more)

This is the general consensus from doctors that support sleep training methods. There are other ways to help your child sleep. “Sleep training” does not refer to the cry it out method. In fact, it is an umbrella term that encompasses an array of techniques that parents may try, most of which are approved by doctors.

The approach is much gentler. Here are some examples:

  • Place the baby in the crib and soothe him by rubbing or patting his back until he falls asleep. You then leave the room and come back only to soothe again when the baby cries, allowing them to crying a little more each time.
  • Another method, called camping out, involves sleeping next to the baby’s crib until they become increasingly more sleep independent.

If you are currently trying to get your infant or toddler on a better sleep schedule, talk to your doctor. Find out what options you have. You would be very surprised to learn that there are a plethora of techniques proven to be gentler and more effective than “cry it out.”

my thoughts on the subject…

Photo by Laura Garcia on Pexels.com

As a parent to an infant, I just can’t get on board with crying it out in basically any form. My gut tells me to get up and hold my son when he cries. Of course, there have been many times that he has awoken me from a dead sleep in the middle of the night, and I would say that most of those times, my dazed reaction is frustration. However, I can’t fight the instinct. The science seems to back that instinct, so I’ll continue to lead with that.

Overall, the general consensus in the medical community seems to be that the antiquated method of just “cry it out” is just that, antiquated. It’s time to bury it. “This is how we used to do it” can be a dangerous game to play. Progress is necessary, and behavioral science is booming with progress everyday. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we, as a society, need a harsh lesson in behavioral studies.

click below to read more from pandemic-reset.com…

Sources:

  1. Belly Belly. “Cry It Out Method | 6 Baby Experts Who Advise Against It”
  2. Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR. “Sleep Training Truths: What Science Can (and Can’t) Tell Us About Crying It Out.”
  3. Sunjay Kansagra, MD, Duke School of Medicine. “Sleep training your child: myths and facts every parent should know.”
  4. Darcia F. Narvaez, Ph.D., Psychology Today. “Dangers of ‘Crying It Out'”

Learning Expressions: What Infants Learn by Looking at Us

During one of my son’s early checkups, his doctor asked me if he smiles and laughs at home. I replied, “yes, all the time.” At the next checkup, she asked the same question. And then again at the next…until I started to wonder, why does she keep asking me this? What would it mean if he didn’t? Does she think I’m lying?

The next time she asked, the conversation went something like this…

Doctor: Does he smile and laugh?

Me: Yes, all the time. Out of curiosity, why do you always ask me that?

Doctor: He’s typically very somber here; so, I need to know if he smiles and laughs at home.

Me: Well, he’s a pandemic baby. He’s been around no one but myself and my husband since birth. He doesn’t go anywhere with the exception of this office, which isn’t often. He’s probably super confused by these masks, and nothing here is familiar.

Doctor: Right, that makes sense.

Then she told me something that really sparked my curiosity about the correlation between infant emotional development and facial expression. She said that doctors often smile at babies to see if they will smile back because children that smile do it because someone at home smiles at them.

At home, where he has been with me since he was born, my son smiles when I or my husband smile; if we laugh, he will even start laughing with us. He knows our faces. He recognizes our smiles. The lady in the white coat that he has only seen for 10 minutes a handful of times in his life is likely not very familiar to him.

After this, I started to think about my behavior. When my son, Zain, was about four or five months old, we started to notice that he watches us. When my husband and I spoke to each other, he would look back and forth, watching everything we did. Sometimes, he would just stare.

I started to think about how my reactions and tone of voice must have a major affect on him. How does he process this? If I’m upset, does he know? Then I decided to dig a little deeper…

learning expressions begins at birth

Studies have shown that newborns can distinguish between the face of their mother and the faces of others within hours or even minutes after being born. It’s likely they pair her voice, which they recognize from their in utero days, with her face. I was surprised to learn that it only takes a few days for them to tell the difference between expressions like happy, sad, angry, etc.

Roughly half way through the first year, infants can match emotions depicted through facial expression with its vocal equivalent. Has a child ever turned to look at you abruptly when you say something in a more assertive or angry tone? They are likely expecting a certain facial expression when they look at you. They recognize tonal changes and look for verification in physical expression.

By the age of five, children can typically read and process facial expressions with the same understanding as adults. How they pick this up so quickly is still unknown. There are theories that children are simply born with it; others say they just learn what they see all the time. 1

Why is learning expressions important for children?

Facial expressions become a vital part of their learning process starting as early as six months. As babies begin to explore, they run into obstacles that instinctively make them cautious. How do they weigh that caution? Typically, they look at mom and read her facial expression.

Zain is almost 10 months old. He’s not crawling, but he reaches for anything and everything in sight. He has fallen over and bumped his head a couple of times. It has always been very minor, and when he does, I try to smile and keep my tone calm. I’ve noticed that if I jump up and react with distress, so does he because he always looks for me first. My reaction directly influences his.

Of course, if it hurts, he still cries, but he gets over it much more quickly if I’m calm and smiling.

what does this mean for parents?

In truth, it means we have an even bigger responsibility than simply keeping our children alive. Our interactions with them in the first months and years of their lives play a vital role in forming who they become.

“The foundations for attention, perception, language abilities and social development are built in the first year of life.”

Lisa Scott, BOLD

To be honest, when I first read this I had flashbacks of every time I turned on Storybots and put Zain in the activity table so I could get something done. The “mom guilt” is always lurking around the corner, just waiting to undo all the hard work I’ve putting into feeling like I’m doing my best. Occasionally, I have to slap her back in her corner and keep on.

In reality, we all have lives and things that keep us busy. Two working parents is not at all uncommon here. Not having every waking moment to spend with your child is absolutely normal. To be honest, it’s necessary; we all need time for ourselves. What’s important is what we do with the time we have with our children.

Studies show…

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

I’m going to link a few articles from academic studies on the importance of those first few years. Parents living in the United States should make note of this and pressure their policymakers.

I certainly do not want to step on a soapbox, but the reality is that the U.S. does not properly care for new parents. Our standards for maternity and paternity leave are rudimentary and negligent at best. We pale in comparison to every other developed country because our policymakers do not consider the science behind these formative years.

If you’d like to learn more, check out this study from the National Library of Medicine. More related studies are linked below the abstract in that link.

click below to read more posts from pandemic-reset.com…

Sources:

  1. The Conversation. “Face time: here’s how infants learn from facial expressions.”
  2. BOLD. “The importance of faces for infants’ learning.”

Montessori Toys: What’s the Hype and Is It Worth the Price?

I was first exposed to the word Montessori in my early twenties. I worked for a large bookstore chain roughly an hour away from the single-stoplight town where I spent the majority of my life. One of my co-workers, a smart, kind, talented, well-adjusted girl named Elizabeth, told me she had gone to a Montessori elementary school.

I graduated with a class of 35 students and had never even heard the word Montessori before that day. To this day, my mind goes right back to Elizabeth when I hear it, and if you have small children, you see or hear it anytime you’re looking at toys with developmental benefits.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

If you’re considering going the strictly Montessori route with your child, you may be curious about the benefits. Is it worth it? What’s makes it so expensive? What does Montessori even mean?! I asked myself all these questions and put my research chops to the test. I also tried it with my son to see how it went.

Here’s what I learned and the conclusion that I’ve drawn…

The montessori experience

Montessori toys are a product of the Montessori education system created by Dr. Maria Montessori. If you are a fan of the “all inclusive,” you will no doubt appreciate this child-focused approach to learning.

Montessori schools nurture the “cognitive, emotional, social, and physical” areas of child development.1 The key is self-motivation. The learning process is guided but self-paced, and kids are in classrooms with students of varying ages.

“Within the community of multi-age classroom – designed to create natural opportunities for independence, citizenship, and accountability – children embrace multi-sensory learning and passionate inquiry.”

-American Montessori Society

This concept was then taken from the private school sector and turned into a commercial toy venture. Now, people that cannot afford to send their children to private Montessori schools can bring the experience into their homes.

How does this translate in montessori toys?

What makes a toy Montessori? First and foremost, they should stimulate learning. In essence children learn to use the object in a way that develops fine motor skills.

Do they have to be wooden? Realistically, no, they do not have to be made of wood. In theory, Legos are Montessori, but there is a reason for the use of natural materials beyond the pleasing aesthetic. Using natural materials is obviously healthier, but it also has developmental benefits. Wooden toys provide a sensory experience that plastic does not.

Wooden Montessori toys are also better for the environment. If you are environmentally conscious, this is the best option for your family. Also, we all know that babies put EVERYTHING straight into their mouths. Toys made of natural materials are non-toxic.

Montessori toys you find for home are the same toys you would find in a Montessori classroom. They promote the same cognitive, emotional, and physical development.

why are montessori toys so expensive?

Everyone knows that top quality costs more. High priced Montessori toys are built to last. Most are made with sustainably harvested wood, nontoxic paint, safe plastics, and organic cotton. In terms of quality, they typically are the best.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that less can be more. Montessori toys are simple. Kids do not need much to entertain themselves. I love the bells and whistles. I want the elaborate kitchen toys that I can play with too, but my son is happy with an abacus and some cups.

If we limit what we buy and focus on quality over quantity, Montessori will not break the bank.

who sells montessori toys?

Thanks to the boom of the Montessori trend, there are so many companies specializing in these toys. Each of them offer something different. I’ve narrowed down my favorites based on what they offer that makes them unique:

Lovevery: montessori kits

Lovevery makes the Montessori experience so easy. You can go to their website and navigate through their entire collection, or you can sign up for Play Kits.

Play Kits are designed to do all the research for you. You received a box every two months with everything your child needs to enhance development at their stage. Everything is safe and sustainable.

fat brain toys: great selection for every age

Fat Brain Toys has a huge selection of Montessori toys for every age. You can search by age, which go all the way to teens and adults. They have great quality products at a range of prices. For someone new to the Montessori world, this is a great place to start. Also, it works well for control freaks (like myself) that want to make all the choices.

melissa & doug: affordable montessori

In all likelihood, we have all heard of Melissa & Doug. You can find their products at every major department store (Target, Walmart, etc.). They do not market themselves as strictly Montessori, but they sell many Montessori-approved products.

My son has a ridiculous amount of toys, but the Melissa & Doug activity table, gifted to him by wonderful friends, is his favorite. Everything on it teaches him important developmental skills like dexterity and object permanence.

here are a few of my favorite toys…

click for more info

is montessori better?

To be honest, I understand the appeal, and I love the aesthetic. Visually pleasing, developmentally beneficial, environmentally friendly, affordable substitutes available…what’s not to love? With that said, there is absolutely no shame in throwing a Fisher Price toy in your cart. I have combination of everything in my house.

My son has a Skip Hop push walker simply because I thought it was really cute, and I didn’t have $150 to drop on a wooden one. I will say that I do buy Melissa & Doug more often than not, and they have some great toys for older children.

All in all, do what feels right for you and your kid! No one knows your baby better than you. 🙂

Click Below to read more from pandemic-reset.com…

Source:

  1. American Montessori Society. “What is Montessori Education?”

How I Easily Got My Baby to Sleep Safely Through the Night and Regained My Sanity

To be honest, I’m the not the person that leapt right into motherhood with optimism. 2020 beat me down, and I was white-knuckling my way through most of those first few months of motherhood.

I was 32 years old when I married and 35 when I had my son last year. I had all those years to live for no one but myself. Going from that to a wife and mother was an adjustment to say the least.

Photo by David Veksler on Unsplash

Something as simple as getting my baby to sleep through the night did wonders for my mental health. I felt accomplished and was finally able to find time for me again.

wade through the noise on the internet

Swaddle…don’t swaddle. Get a Doc-A-Tot…do not get a Doc-A-Tot. Make sure you have a jumparoo…never buy a jumparoo! For your own sanity, do yourself a favor and don’t turn to Google for answers. Every search turns up thousands of pages. Every page will tell you to do something that the previous page told you was dangerous and neglectful.

If there’s one sure fire way to feel like you’re failing as a parent in your most vulnerable state, it’s by listening to parenting advice on this internet.

Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

I’ll give you an example. I bought my son a crib when he grew out of his bassinet. One night, he got his foot stuck between the bars. I went online to look for a crib bumper to line the inside, and this is what I saw…

Crib bumpers cause suffocation!

Crib bumpers save lives!”

Don’t get a crib bumper, your baby will get fingers caught in the ties!

Get a mesh crib bumper so they won’t suffocate!

No crib bumper is safe!

I didn’t get a crib bumper, and my baby lost a leg…

Not a single baby item exists that hasn’t been discredited or disapproved. You’ll go crazy trying to figure it out. I assure you, this is not that kind of blog. As a new mom, I would never give another mother unsolicited advice, and I am certainly in no position to judge.

Look, let’s be honest, four house plants died under my watch in less than a year before I had my child. I’m just grateful that I’ve kept him alive and overjoyed that he’s healthy. I’m no expert in childcare, but I’m an eager learner. I also was able to get my son to sleep through the night, safely, and I’m happy to share how. I hope that it helps some other parent currently desperate for sleep.

first, I tried the owlet for peace of mind

When I was pregnant and anxiety-ridden, I was sure I had to have an Owlet Smart Sock for my baby. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a tiny monitor that wraps around your baby’s foot and sends readings of baby’s vitals to your phone. It monitors heart rate, oxygen levels, etc…the important stuff.

It also has a base that you put in your room. The base will sound an alarm to wake you if the baby’s vitals dropped. It sounds great; I thought I would sleep more soundly. My internet connection had other plans.

It turns out that if the base loses its wifi connection…you guessed it…the alarm goes off. After a couple of lost connections and short-lived panic attacks, I gave the Owlet to my pregnant sister and became obsessed with safe sleep practices.

Disclaimer: This was not the fault of the Owlet. It is an amazing product! My sister has loved it. The problem was my terrible internet service (a problem that has since been remedied).

sleeping through the night starts with routine

Those first couple of weeks that we were home, routine seemed impossible. Once we were able to get our bearings, we started to remember what day it was and how it felt to be human again. At that point, we started working on a routine.

We called it BSBB:

  • BATH. Every night at 7:30, we gave him a bath. Sometimes, it felt impossible. I was exhausted and just wanted to skip it, but I just felt that if I didn’t stick to the routine, all my hard work would be for naught.
  • SWADDLE. I said “no thanks” to the manual swaddle and got myself a couple of Swaddle Me Baby Wraps. LIFESAVER!
  • BOTTLE. We made sure to space his feedings so that we did not feed him too close to bedtime. That way we could give him a full bottle right before bed.
  • BED. Into the bassinet he went, alone. No pillows, toys, or blankets.

He did not sleep straight through the night immediately, but slowly he started to wake up less and less. By the time he was three months old, he was sleeping six to eight solid hours without waking up. It was a HUGE relief.

reap all the benefits…

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Nighttime routine not only helped him sleep soundly through the night, it gave me much needed alone time. I would put him to bed by 8:00 and have time to relax, watch tv uninterrupted, make myself something to eat (uninterrupted), eat (uninterrupted)…you get the point.

Ultimately, getting my child on a routine, where he was sleeping alone at the same time every night, did wonders for us both. Those few precious hours at night when I got to be Kristan, not just Zain’s mom, are still so important and beneficial for me. I would argue that every parent needs them…

Click below for more posts from pandemic-reset.com…

Fed is Best: A Personal Story

If you, as a parent, have spent any time on social media, you’ve heard “fed is best.” The phrase originated in response to “breast is best,” a movement designed to encourage new mom’s to ditch the formula and try breastfeeding.

Photo by Dave Clubb on Unsplash

“Breast is best,” was not meant to undermine mothers who choose to formula feed. It started in response to the decline in breastfeeding that peaked mid-1900s. Breast milk really is liquid gold and great for baby, but after years of formula feeding becoming increasingly popular, by the 1950s, breastfeeding had developed a stigma relating it to lower socio-economic status.

In recent years, medical professionals wanted to put breastfeeding back on the radar in a good way.

the fed is best foundation

A common misconception about “fed is best” is that it argues for formula as a perfect substitution for breast milk. In reality, the phrase was developed to address an issue that originated from the “breast is best” movement…the immense pressure it was putting on mothers to breastfeed, even when it wasn’t working for them.

The Fed is Best Foundation does not encourage women to chose formula over breast milk. What it does is offer support to all parents, whether they chose one or the other. The pressure to breastfeed has, in some cases, had adverse effects on both parent and child.

What happens when a new parent has been told that breast is best and formula cannot compare? Parents who take to social media for support are inundated with misinformation:

  • “don’t supplement with formula, the baby will get confused,”
  • “don’t let them give your baby a bottle, the baby will get confused,”
  • “don’t just pump, you won’t make enough milk…”

Shaming has become an unfortunate normal for new parents. The reality is that birthers are under a tremendous amount of pressure in an incredibly vulnerable state. The Fed is Best Foundation simply wants to bring awareness to the struggle and provide support.

Fed had to be best for me

I gave birth to my son in November 2020. They ask you if you plan to “breast or bottle feed,” and I had every intention to breastfeed. I spent hundreds of dollars on all the gear and mentally prepared myself for the journey. When I said “breast,” the nurses smiled and praised me. I read the ID card on my son’s bassinet….the box for breast was checked, and the nurse drew a heart next to it with a smiley face. They approved.

Within 36 hours after my son was born, three different lactation consultants came to my room at different times. My son wasn’t getting enough to eat. I was exhausted. I had labored for 32 hours, and within that time I developed preeclampsia with severe effects. I was on a magnesium drip for two days, which makes you feel like death.

Just moments after the birth, I lost one fourth of my body’s blood at once. I was holding the baby, trying to breastfeed for the first time, when my face went white and I started to lose consciousness. Fifteen minutes later I had a blood transfusion.

At the time I didn’t even realize how much my body had been through. When the consultant came in and said “we need to talk about supplementing with formula,” I honestly didn’t feel anything. She approached the conversation as if she was preparing for me to burst into a rage. She even looked surprised when I said “yeah, that’s fine.” I just wanted to make sure my kid was fed, and I couldn’t do it.

formula can sometimes be the only option

The first three weeks of my son’s life were extremely difficult for me. I pumped every two hours. I tried feeding him directly, but he would get frustrated and give up. I googled “can breast milk come in late” at least 10 times a day looking for reassuring answers.

I called my hospital and rented the strongest pump they had. I spoke with consultants on the phone, stayed hydrated, and ate every lactation cookie available. When my son was three weeks old, we were finally able to get an appointment with a doctor who had decades of experience as a lactation specialist.

She talked to me for a few minutes, took one look at my chest, and said:

“You have mammary hypoplasia. Basically, puberty failed you. You do not have enough milk ducts to produce the milk you need. That, coupled with the hemorrhage you experienced during birth, set up a perfect storm to stop you from producing milk. ”

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

In the first three weeks, I never pumped more than 1 mL/day. If you’re not aware…that’s basically nothing. In addition to the mammary hypoplasia, which is extremely rare by the way, the blood loss I experienced stopped me from producing what little I would have produced anyway. Milk production is all about blood, according to the doctor.

I never had a chance. My child is alive because of formula. Period.

Moral of the story is…

If you find yourself in the presence of someone pouring formula into a bottle, and you feel a little judgy, keep in mind that you don’t know that person’s story. The day the doctor told me I would never be able to breastfeed, I cried tears of sadness and relief simultaneously.

I no longer had to coach myself through self-loathing every time the bottle was empty after 30 minutes of pumping at two o’clock in the morning. I put it behind me, told myself I did everything I could, and stopped at Target to buy a couple of 36oz cans of Similac.

I went home and packed up the breastfeeding supplies and put them in the closet. I never looked back. My son is happy and healthy, and I’m grateful.

What’s important to remember is that I’ve scrolled through TikTok and seen mothers on there shaming other moms for formula feeding. I’ve heard it all:

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com
  • “Why would you give your baby formula when you have liquid gold that your body produced for your child?” “
  • “Honestly, it should be considered child abuse.” (Seriously, people say nonsense like that.)
  • “You’re selfish if you don’t breastfeed.”
  • “So lazy.”

First and foremost, it’s no one else’s business how you chose to feed your child as long as your child is fed. Second, I’d be willing to bet that the type of people that say these things have never heard of mammary hypoplasia.

I almost feel lucky that I was diagnosed when I was. I wish it had been sooner. I could have saved myself a lot of time spent feeling guilty and broken. I HATED trying to breastfeed, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Not everyone enjoys it. It doesn’t always come easily. Not every baby is naturally good at it.

With that said, the moral of the story is that it takes the same amount of energy to support someone as it does to tear them down, and it costs nothing to be nice. Parents out there abandoning the breastfeeding journey because it was hard or causing you mental distress…I get it. You’re doing great. Give yourself a break.

click below for more blogs from pandemic-reset.com…

Making Space for Baby: The Diaper Caddy

In September 2019, my husband and I moved into a relatively small one bedroom apartment. We planned to stay briefly. It was just the two of us, and we were in those blissful days, pre-pandemic, when you could travel anywhere. That’s all we wanted, just to work and save so we could travel. That life seems so happy and simple in retrospect.

Five months later, I came home from work, took a pregnancy test, and hopped in the shower. When I got out, I was pregnant. Three days after that, my company laid off thousands of employees, myself included. Covid hit the U.S. with no mercy, and March 2020 wrapped me up in a tornado and spun me around for what seemed like a lifetime.

Ultimately, the original plan was derailed. We were tasked with revamping our entire lives in what felt like the blink of an eye. The small one bedroom that was meant to be a place to rest and refuel between adventures became a nest for quarantine and place to bring home our first child.

New Baby, No Room

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

I then faced a new challenge…I had to find a way to fit a baby and all the gear that comes with a baby into this small space.

What could I downsize? What was ideal but unnecessary? If you’re about to be a parent for the first time, scour the internet for those “do’s and don’ts” of buying baby stuff. You find some strong opinions on what is worth it and what’s not. Some of them are conflicting, but typically there’s some consensus.

The first thing I tackled, was the good old-fashioned changing table. It’s a staple. Typically, it comes with a matching crib as a set, but honestly, who needs it? I certainly didn’t have room for it. So, I decided to go with something more compact.

The Diaper Caddy

In reality, I can’t imagine getting up every time I needed to change a diaper and carrying my son to another room. That sounds lazy, especially since I just said I live in a small space, but, honestly, I have no excuse. As a new mom, I decided I would make convenience a priority, and it has been a blessing.

I had a choice, I could give up my king-size bed (never going to happen) to make room or I could eliminate the unnecessary. I went with the later and never looked back.

First things first, I 86’d the changing table and got myself a portable version. A diaper caddy is just that, a caddy for diaper changing supplies. You put everything you need in it to change diapers throughout a normal day. You can carry from room to room and have it on hand wherever you are.

What’s in My Small Diaper Caddy?

Smaller caddy found here on Amazon

What do you keep in it? First, what are the things that you will be reaching for all day? There are a few obvious answers:

  • For the bum: Diapers, wipes, powder, your cream of choice
  • For the tears: pacifiers (plural because at least 2 will disappear at random), small toy

Before my son was born, I bought a small caddy. A few months in, I got a bigger one. I started to use it not just to keep necessities nearby but to keep them organized. Pockets are everything!

Here are a couple of my favorite Caddys from amazon…

What’s in My Large Diaper Caddy?

Upgrading to the bigger caddy helped me stay organized. There were a few things I needed to keep more readily available:

  • Medicine bag: I learned quickly to keep all the baby meds in one small bag (gripe water, gas drops, teething tablets, pain reliever, nose suckers, med droppers, thermometer, etc.). I put it all in one small bag. At home it’s in the caddy; when we leave, it goes in the diaper bag.
  • Grooming tools: nail clippers, comb, brush
  • Changing pad: This one is important. A changing pad is what protects your couch/bed/floor from the dirty diaper changes. Parents of boys: get a big one! They can really get some impressive distance with the pee stream when they catch you off guard.
  • Whatever else you like: I keep hand sanitizer and lotion for me.

Convenience is Key

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…convenience is so important to make parent life less stressful. If I know where everything is and can grab it as soon as I need it, I have one less thing clogging my brain, which is typically at capacity most of the time.

Subscribe for more tips and let me know what items and techniques work for you. Here are a few links for some diaper caddy and changing pad options below.

click below for more posts from pandemic-reset.com

Baby Led Weaning and Purees: What Works for You?

If you are a parent, by now you have likely heard of baby led weaning. It’s the most popular of the “baby vs solids” trends. Like any new parent, as my baby approached the appropriate age, I started thinking about how I wanted to start the weaning process.

I was surprised when his pediatrician told me at his four month checkup that I could start him on solids at his age. So, I decided I was going to make his food myself…be the “all organic” mom and break out the fruits, veggies, blenders, and containers. I tried. It sucked. I quit.

To be totally honest, every new milestone gives me anxiety. Introducing a baby to solids means figuring out if your baby has allergies. My husband is self-employed, so I made him stay home every time we tried a new food. I hated the process.

In truth, I didn’t start at four months. I googled it, saw a consensus that anywhere from 4-6 months was fine, and procrastinated (in true ADHD fashion) until he was six months. By then, I decided I wasn’t going to spend all that time cooking and preparing purees just for him to not like something. Then who’s going to eat the blended broccoli? Not me. Enter baby led weaning…

I did my research and learned all the techniques. Then we tried it. Let me tell you why it didn’t work for me. More importantly, let me tell you why it’s okay not to push yourself to do what doesn’t work for you just because every “supermom” fishing for someone to criticize on social media says you should.

What Is Baby Led Weaning

Photo by Harry Grout on Unsplash

The short of it is that your baby learns to feed himself/herself from the time you start to wean them off strictly liquids. The recommended age for baby led weaning is six months, and that’s because babis typically start reaching for food at that age.

If you visit babyledweaning.com you’ll find that it seems so simple. What a great idea! Skip the mushy food, and have your baby eating like a toddler before the first year! Let’s be honest, we all want to think our babies are ahead of the curve.

However, keep in mind, this method takes patience and persistence. Motor skills as six months are lacking. Very little hits the mouth. Most of it ends up on the floor or in the lap.

A Few Things You Need to Know About Baby Led Weaning…

First, I want to say that this is not a BLW bashing post. I actually think it is a great way to start your kid on solids. I just want to offer as much information about the process as possible because I tried it and have the experience. Here a just a few things I learned along the way:

  • The bites. It might sound like you just cut up some food and give it to your baby, but the size of the bite is important. Long pieces make it easy for the baby to hold on, and small bites are more likely to cause choking. Slice everything into narrow rectangles.
  • The mess. This one should have been obvious, but what can I say, I’m a new mom. It’s a baby, so who really cares, but just keep in mind that they will get food everywhere. In BLW, they skip the sippy cup phase as well, and they start drinking water. They make cute tiny cups for them to pick up with their cute hands (and spill everywhere).
  • The gagging. This is the one that got me. Anxious parents, this one will freak you out. Keep in mind that they don’t have teeth, and they are learning to move food from the front of their mouths to the back to swallow. It’s new, and they are not great at it in the beginning, so they gag a lot. It sounds like choking and might freak you out.

All in all, this is a great way to start your baby on solids. The key is to make sure it works FOR YOU, too.

Why It Didn’t Work for Me and Why That’s Okay

I started the BLW journey because I love the idea of teaching my child to be independent. I think every parent does. That’s the appeal of it, and that’s what made it hard for me to accept that it was not right for me.

I may have mentioned this approximately 50 times, but I’m not exactly a laid-back person. For someone like me, the gagging was too much. I worried constantly that my son would choke, and even though I know how to do the baby Heimlich, my mind always went to the worse case scenario.

With all that being said, the moral of this story is that every parent has their own personal limitations. I don’t feel bad that I couldn’t handle diving right into baby led weaning.

Photo by Suzi Kim on Unsplash

My son drinks water from a transition sippy cup. At nine months, he eats cold pressed, pureed baby food (a blend of organic fruits and veggies), and he loves eggs, salmon, and chicken, which I feed to him in tiny bites now that he has six teeth.

I did what was right for me, and he is happy, healthy, and thriving. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that we have to take care of ourselves as well. “Mom guilt” is not a myth! However, I’ve learned to find balance and try to keep in mind that worrying about being a good parent is what makes me a good parent.

The Food That Works for Me

FYI, if you do want to go the puree route, I went on a journey to find the best baby food. All organic. Free of toxic metals and ingredients. Click here if you’d like to read my post about Once Upon a Farm, cold-pressed baby food.

click below for more posts from pandemic-reset.com…

Welcome to PANDEMIC RESET!!!

Baby Products, Travel, Fitness Fails and Successes, Food, and Life

So, 2020 was rough. I’m not the first say to it, obviously. Like so many others, this pandemic turned my world upside-down. I started 2020 fresh out of grad school with a new career in my field and map of plans for my future. I ended the year on unemployment with a brand new baby.


Since then, I’ve had to adjust to a new life and figure out what the post-Covid world looks like for me. Going back to work in the hotel industry is not an option, at least not for now. Therefore, here we are. I’m going to use this opportunity to do and talk about what I know and love: writing, travel, health/fitness (love/hate), baby products, and history…yes, I love history…but fun history (maybe even strange history). I’ll briefly discuss below some of the things I’ll talk about on this website.


Please join me and talk to me. We all need friends right now!

For the New Moms: Baby Product Reviews and Advice!

I spent my entire pregnancy in quarantine, which means I spent hours upon hours scouring the web looking for the best of every baby product. It was overwhelming. It was confusing and frustrating, and ultimately, it led me in circles until I found a way to reign it in. I’ll talk about everything from car seats to toys to baby food.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


Of course, after I bought products, I often found something better and bought that as well (bought a travel system for $350 before the baby came…had a baby that has been consistently in the 99th percentile for weight…had to buy a new car seat when he was only 5 months). Sometimes it worked out; sometimes it didn’t. Follow along, and I’ll talk about all the amazing “must haves” and “mistakes.”

For the Travel Lovers: Visit My Favorite Places, Like Morocco

Obviously, I haven’t traveled in a couple of years, but I’ve seen some amazing places. I happen to have married a Moroccan American, so I have had a few trips to the beautiful sights and cities of Morocco. Let me (or my husband, really) tell you about all the best towns, mountain villages, sights, souks, riads, and desert destinations to visit.

Photo by Kristan Jennings, Chefchauoen, Morocco


I can’t wait to show you The Blue Pearl of Morocco…a city called Chefchauoen that you honestly wouldn’t believe is real without seeing it in person. I’ll take you through the old medina (city in Arabic) of Marrakech, where you can stay in shockingly affordable places that you’ve only seen in movies.
In my heart, travel is life. When (not if) this pandemic settles and life goes back to normal, I will be directly on a plane to Europe and Africa for more adventures.

True Crime and Strange History Lovers: I’ve Got Some Stuff for You

Guys, this area is where I THRIVE, HONEY! If you love a creepy, true story or a some weird, little-known history, I’m your girl. I have a Master of Arts in US Social History because nothing settles my undiagnosed ADHD brain quite like some weird people doing weird stuff. Also, I love real people making change in the world, especially during times of major struggle (sound familiar?). I could literally write a book, so buckle up!

For the Health/Fitness Strugglers: Follow My Journey into Intuitive Eating

I spent my life overweight. I’m a stereotypical millennial, coming-of-age during the dawn of low-rise jeans (a felony, honestly), photoshop, America’s Next Top Model, and fat-shaming Jessica Simpson, who has never been fat. I’ve tried Paleo, calorie-counting, miracle drops and vitamins, pills that “stop fat absorption” but just really make you poop nonstop, and Keto. Frankly, I’m over it.

Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com


I’m going to discuss my journey into intuitive eating and try to battle my horribly unhealthy relationship with food. I hope to find friends with similar food issues that also dream to break the cycle before we project more disordered eating habits onto our children.

Subscribe, Like, and Comment!

Please come along with me, and hopefully we can find a way to start healing together from the nightmare of the last year (ish). InshAllah, we can learn to trust other humans again.
All Love!!

click below for more posts from pandemic-reset.com…