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Safephoto © 2008 Mark Evans | more info (via: Wylio)
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Last week’s post “3 Surefire Ways to Get Babies and Toddlers to Sleep” was one of my most widely-read posts of all time. It was also maybe the most controversial, bringing in 25 comments ranging in response from lukewarm to livid. This week I asked one of women who commented on the post, Hannah Katsman from AMotherinIsrael.com, to write something up about her cry-free approach to getting babies and toddlers to sleep…

When it comes to night-waking, parents are led to believe that it’s all or nothing: You have a choice between total sleep deprivation until your children grow up, or train your children to sleep through the night. But that’s simply not true.

Sleep experts encourage this attitude by promoting the idea that parents are negligent if they don’t teach their children to “self-soothe.” And how are parents to “teach” this skill? By leaving the baby alone to cry.

There is plenty of research about the risk of excessive crying. But my problem with “crying it out” is more ideological. Forcing ourselves not to respond to crying desensitizes parents, Leaving babies alone to cry goes against our instincts—we’ve all heard about one parent blocking the bedroom door so the other won’t run in and ruin the experiment.

We should be wary of methods that ask us to ignore babies, even if only for a few minutes. Maybe the baby doesn’t technically “need” to wake up at night, but at that moment he’s in distress. Responding is the right thing to do. Babies are social creatures and like all mammals, they want to be with their own kind. They’re not designed to cope on their own, and we shouldn’t expect it from them. We don’t teach children by withholding love and comfort until they “learn” what we want from them.

All children will sleep through the night and learn “self-soothing” on their own. I know it’s not for everyone, but I co-slept and nursed my younger children at night as long as they asked. The advantages are many: Just going with the flow. No worries about “self-soothing.” Simplicity. It’s the “lazy” mother’s way to a good night’s sleep. Most of my kids stopped waking at night, without intervention, at about two and a half years.

Nursing mothers do get better quality sleep, even though their babies wake more frequently than their bottle-fed counterparts. That’s because the mothers are able to respond to their baby quickly. Co-sleeping moms share sleep cycles with their babies, so when baby wakes up it’s not in the middle of Mom’s deep sleep. Nursing at night prevents post-partum depression, and extends breastfeeding infertility.

Lactation experts have learned that there are great differences among women’s breasts regarding milk storage capacity. Some women can store only 80 cc. (2.75 ounces) of milk in their breasts at any one time, while others can store 600 cc. or over 20 ounces. The mother with low milk storage capacity will need to nurse very frequently, but over the course of the day the baby will get enough milk. So it’s quite possible that a baby is waking at night because he is really hungry, especially the kind of baby who nurses frequently during the day. And despite the comment parenting expert quoted in the original post, it’s not the kind of thing your doctor is likely to know about. The only thing most doctors learn about breastfeeding in medical school is that it’s “best.” Older babies and toddlers may be too busy to eat enough during the day. Moms, not doctors, know best about when their babies are hungry.

Children’s night-waking is a big problem for some moms. The moms can’t function well, or are prone to illness, and they don’t enjoy co-sleeping either. (For the record, I used to be a restless sleeper and hated co-sleeping at first.) Here are some suggestions I give to moms in that situation. Maybe one or two will work for you.
• Rest at other times. Sleep when the baby sleeps. This can mean a nap, or getting to bed at the beginning of the baby’s longest stretch of sleep at night. Try a mother’s helper if you have toddlers. Or ask your husband to take over the morning or evening chores so you can extend your sleep time.
• Cut back on other activities. Can you eliminate paid or volunteer work, carpooling, or social events? The baby is just doing what comes naturally, when our busy schedules are really the problem (Facebook, anyone?). But make at least one favorite activity a priority.
• Stick it out. Frequent night waking is often temporary and caused by teething, illness or a new developmental stage. Try not to make important decisions about night-waking or weaning during stressful periods.
• Rule out physical problems. One friend realized that her 2-year-old’s frequent wakings were accompanies by gassiness. When she eliminated a particular food, he slept all night for the first time in his life. Pay attention: Children may be scared or thirsty, but they don’t usually wake up in the middle of the night just for fun.
• Take a step back. It’s not wise to start a battle over physical functions like eating, sleeping or using the toilet. When we are anxious, the child feels insecure. She then more attention and comfort, and will increase whatever activity we are trying to stop.
• Look at the baby’s eating habits. Nursing more frequently in the evening, or adding a healthy snack, sometimes helps.
• Clarify your motivation. Often mothers start weaning or weaning from night-waking because of outside pressure, whether from health professionals, friends, or family members. If the mother or baby is not really ready, the baby may pick up on parental ambivalence. Then the weaning becomes much more difficult.
• Read The No-Cry Sleep Solution. Elizabeth Pantley’s book gives excellent suggestions for gently teaching babies and toddlers to fall asleep on their own without a breast, bottle or pacifier.

I like Pantley’s child-centered approach. But when reviewing the book for this post, I recalled some points that bothered me. Pantley recommends letting a newborn fall asleep without nursing some of the time. Following this tip, she writes, will ensure that you don’t have to reread the book at 18 months. In the next paragraph she admits that this goes against a mother’s instinct, and she wouldn’t do it with her next baby!

When my youngest was born, I treasured every nursing that ended with her releasing the nipple on her own, satisfied. Then there were the nursing that ended by my getting up to wipe off a tush. Just like I advise moms not to spend their maternity leave worrying about whether their baby will take a bottle, moms of newborns don’t need to stress about sleeping habits 18 months from now.

Here’s my own bonus tip for nursing moms: The next time you find yourself drifting off during the day, take the baby into your bed and nurse him. Both of you will fall asleep nearly instantly, even if your baby just woke from a nap. This worked for me the better part of the first year. Breastmilk makes babies drowsy, and nursing releases hormones that relax the mother as well.

I loved nursing my babies to sleep. Ninety percent of the time, it’s the most convenient thing to do. If you lose that tool, it becomes more difficult to put baby to sleep when you’re in an unfamiliar place. I found that the few times when I needed to be out of the house at bedtime, my husband or the babysitter managed to find ways to get the baby to sleep.

I’ll close with a weaning story. My son was two years old, and I was pregnant. Because nursing was so painful, I had stopped except before bed and in the middle of the night. One evening, I put on a nursing jumper so he wouldn’t have access to my breasts. I turned off all the lights, and sat with him in the rocking chair. I held him or walked with him until he fell asleep. Later he woke up and wanted to nurse, but fell asleep after a few minutes of comforting. It only took a couple of nights until he stopped waking up at night. But that didn’t mean he fell asleep easily. For a long period, my husband or I lay down with him for a half hour at bedtime. What can you do? Children need attention, and some need more than others.

Every child will be ready to sleep alone and through the night at a different age. Our role is to be sensitive to our children’s needs throughout the day and night. When our children’s needs conflict with ours, we don’t have to take it lying down—we can look for solutions that respect our role as nurturing parents.

Hannah Katsman is a mom of six, including two soldiers, and has counseled nursing mothers for over ten years. Her work with young families inspired her websites: A Mother in Israel on parenting, and Cooking Manager to help home cooks save time and money. Click here to see Hannah’s 9 Reasons to cook with your kids as well as more about co-sleeping here: Should Co-Sleeping Be Outlawed?

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The dreams of life, the future of our beings, the beauty of life, hope will be fulfilled! Enjoy my friends!:)photo © 2010 UggBoy UggGirl | more info (via: Wylio)
A few months ago, my teacher Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi advised us to bless our kids before they leave for school in the morning. I’ve been blessing my kids every weekday morning ever since, and I’ve been loving it. And my kids have too. I think the Weisberg kidlings really crave that extra concentrated dose of Eema love and blessing before they rush out the door at 7:21 AM for the big wide school-ish world.

So every morning since school started, I have put my hand on the head of each of my children, and recited the required verses from the Priestly Blessing:

יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
יָאֵר יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ
יִשָּׂא יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם

 

Which means:
“May God bless you and guard you.
May God make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
May God lift up His face onto you, and grant you peace.”

And every morning, after that, I think of an issue that that particular child is struggling with (or some sort of struggle that I’m having with that child) and I give him or her a personalized blessing related to it. Here are some recent examples:
Please bless this boy that he should stop coming into my bed in the middle of the night…
Please bless this girl that she should start loving her teacher, and that her teacher will start loving her…
Please bless this girl that she should stop fighting with her sister…
Please bless this girl that her nose should FINALLY stop running…

But this morning, I had a fantastic JewishMOM lightning bolt of an idea that I really wanted to share with you…

This morning, for each of my children I said the Priestly blessing and then added, “Please bless this child that he/she should grow up to be a great light for the Jewish people!”

What a wonderful feeling it was to give that blessing.

At the moment I said it, it plucked me up by the scruff of my neck out of the sisterly bickering and the perpetually runny noses and the middle-of-the-night bargaining with my son to go back to his own bed. And it placed me, instead, twenty, thirty, forty years into the future, looking straight at the kind of grownups my kids will, G-d willing, grow up to be. Sincere, idealistic, passionate and caring people, parents, and Jews.

That switch of blessing made me look into my children’s faces as I blessed them, suddenly free of the traces of frustration that tinge my motherly life all too often. And replaced, instead, by respect and anticipation for the adults they will become. Please God.

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Baby Sleepingphoto © 2008 Sean McGee | more info (via: Wylio)
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I just had to share these incredible techniques to teach babies and toddlers to fall asleep on their own from Dina Friedman’s Chanoch leNaar Parenting Class.

I tried this technique with my 7 month old, Tsofia, and within 3 days she went from beginning 100% dependent on me to fall asleep by nursing, to falling asleep peacefully 100% on her own. This makes my life A LOT easier. And it also means that Tsofia sleeps better (she used to wake up and cry until I nursed her back to sleep, and now she just falls back to sleep on her own) and also now she can fall asleep in her carriage when I’m out, instead of crying and being miserable until I get home and nurse her to sleep.

This technique is called “Modified Controlled Comforting.” Dina Friedman estimates that the vast majority of children will learn how to fall asleep on their own within a week of starting these techniques:

For Babies ages 0-6 months
-Get your baby used to a 1)Sleep 2)Feed 3)Play 4)Sleep cycle.
-If your baby is breastfeeding, before trying this technique, consult with your doctor to make sure that your baby is not waking up and crying out of hunger.
-When baby starts getting tired, wrap him or her up in a blanket (but make sure you don’t wrap baby overly tightly or overly warmly)
-Put the baby in crib and leave the room for 30 seconds
-If baby is crying, come back into the room to comfort her. Pat the baby’s back rhythmically with your right and then left hand. You can also try putting the baby on his or side, and rocking the baby back and forth gently between your two hands. Do this until the baby calms down
-Leave room for 5 minutes
-Comfort baby for 5 minutes using the techniques above
-Leave room for 5 minutes
-Comfort baby for 5 minutes
-Leave room for 6 minutes
-Comfort for 5 minutes
-Leave room for 7 minutes
-Comfort for 5 minutes
-Leave room for 8 minutes
-Comfort for 5 minutes
Continue this until you are out of the room for 10 minutes, and continue the 10 minutes out of the room, 5 minutes comforting cycle until the baby is asleep.

For babies ages 6-12 months

-Comfort for 5 minutes (see the patting technique above)
-Leave room for 2 minutes
-Comfort for 4 minutes
-Leave room for 4 minutes
-Comfort for 3 minutes
-Leave room for 6 minutes
-Comfort for 2 minutes
-Leave room for 8 minutes
-Comfort for 1 minute
-Leave room for 10 minutes
(Continue this 1 minute comforting, 10 minutes out of the room cycle until the baby falls asleep)

For toddlers

-Establish a regular bedtime routine (i.e. brush teeth, pajamas, a story, Shma…)
-Tuck toddler into bed
-If he follows you out of the room, take him firmly by the hand and return him to his bed. Tell him with a serious voice, “If you come out again, I will have to close your door.”
-Leave room for 2 minutes
-If toddler comes out of his room, take him firmly by the hand and return him to his bed. Tell him with a serious voice, “If you come out again, I will have to close your door. You are going to sleep now!”
– If toddler comes out of room yet again, take him firmly by the hand again and return him to his bed. Tell him with a serious voice, “If you come out again, I will have to close your door. You are going to sleep now!”
– If he comes out again, return him to his bed, and close his door behind you.
-Stay out of the room for 6 minutes
-If he is crying, comfort him for 1 minute
-Stay out of the room for 7 minutes
-Comfort him for 1 minute
-Stay out of room for 8 minutes
-Comfort him for 1 minute
Continue this pattern until you are out of the room for 10 minutes— and continue the 10 minute, 1 minute cycle until your toddler is asleep.

Hope this works for all of you tired eemas as well as it worked for me! Make sure to be in touch to update me on how this technique works for you—I will be interested to hear!

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I am already 3 plus months into my EXTRAORDINARY parenting class with BRILLIANT JewishMOM-mentor Dina Friedman. The Weisberg home has been running a whole lot smoother since I started this course, making my JewishMOM life tremendously easier. I wanted to share with you moms 4 amazing parenting tools from Dina…

1. Non-Sticker Chart #1, The Gibor (Hero) Chart

Dina Friedman's Famous "High-Level Choice" Chart

This is an incredibly powerful chart that has been totally transforming my kids. Here’s how it works:
1. Choose something your child is struggling with (i.e., sharing, cleaning up after herself, being patient, getting along with others, speaking respectfully to parents)
2. This is a “Non-Sticker Chart,” which means that unlike old-fashioned sticker charts, you do NOT point the chart out to your kids and say “Whoever cleans up their toys 10 afternoons in a row will receive a new doll.” Instead, you just post this chart, and don’t say a thing about it.
3. When your child makes a high-level choice, with a lot of enthusiasm and fanfare you put a star on his chart. You tell him “You could have left your toys on the ground, but you made a high level choice instead! You cleaned up! You are are a Gibor, a hero! (Dina recommends that you feel your child’s arm as though you are feeling a muscle, and tell him you can feel how he is getting so much stronger, like a real hero).
4. Do not encourage your child by saying “I’ll give you a star if you clean up…” You just wait until after she has done the good thing, and give the star with fanfare.
5. When the child completes the chart, just erase the stars and start again. There are no prizes (remember, it’s a NON-sticker chart.) I made my own kind of prize though for my younger kids. Whoever finishes the chart gets to wear a conference pin that says “I am a Hero” to nursery school. They are SO PROUD to wear that pin!

I didn’t think this Gibor Chart would work with my kids, since they are so used to sticker charts with treats or presents afterwards. But my kids are incredibly motivated and excited about getting a star on the Gibor Chart. In general, using this Gibor chart has been phenomenally effective in helping my kids overcome their various personal challenges. In fact, last week I was looking at the list of issues each child was working on during the first round of the Gibor chart, and in all cases the issue simply did not exist anymore! The star and encouragement has been a very surprisingly effective motivator! Truly incredible.

2. The Bedtime Job Non-Sticker Chart

Bedtime Jobs Chart


Dina recommends that children should have a chart including everything they need to do before they go to bed.

Above is the chart I set up for my older girls to remind them of the one thing they were forgetting to do before they go to bed–their 10-minute nightly chore. This chart has meant that I no longer need to be the nightly-chore policewoman. I cannot tell you how much I love not having to nag!

3. Bedtime Fun
Another bedtime tool I LOVE from Dina is what she calls Bedtime Fun. What you do is you stagger bedtimes so that every younger child gets 10 minutes quality time ON HIS OR HER OWN with mommy. For bedtime fun, every child chooses what he or she wants to do with Eema. My 3-year-old son, for example, likes me to watch him doing somersaults on the bed for 10 minutes. My 5-year-old daughter likes reading, especially Amelia Bedelia. I love this time since it is so fun, and also because it is guaranteed one-on-one time with my little kids. I’d like to also start doing this with my 8 and 10 year old at one point.
I so love Bedtime Fun, it’s one of the highlights of my day.

4. The Morning Routine Non-Sticker Chart

Moriah's Morning Routine Chart


This is another amazing tool which has really transformed my mornings. This is how it works:
1. Sit down with your child and make a list of everything he/she has to do in the morning
2. Make a chart, and post it in a place your kids can see it.
3. The next morning the kids use the list to get ready. No nagging allowed. Only encouragement (i.e., “Great, you have on your socks!” or “Thank you so much for getting dressed so quickly, that’s a big help so I can get to work on time!”).
4. If the child is ready on time, he or she gets to play with a certain toy or book that you reserve exclusively for mornings.

These morning charts have brought about such a wonderful change in my mornings. I’m not sure how I ever managed otherwise!

Thank you, Dina Friedman!!!!

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Kav L’Noar provides English-speaking families living in Israel with children ages 11-18 the support services needed to address their behavioral and emotional issues. The organization’s mission is to help families build the strongest and most resilient relationships possible by offering parents and their children a place where they can comfortably share and address their concerns.

7th Annual Kav L’Noar Conference Promoting Healthy Family Relationships

Monday, January 17, 2011 Ramada Hotel, Ruppin & Herzl Blvd., Jerusalem

6:30 PM, Doors Open & Registration/Refreshments **7:30 PM – Program will begin promptly!

25 NIS/person, 40NIS/couple pre-registered, 30NIS/person, 50NIS/couple at the door

Click here to Register online

For more information call: Lisa 050-410-3215

EMPOWERING SOLUTIONS FOR TODAY’S PARENTS

AWARENESS*** *EDUCATION ****PREVENTION

Speakers include:
Rabbi Zev Leff, Rav, Moshav Matityahu; Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva Gedolah Matityahu

Rabbi Zechariya Greenwald, Dean, Me-ohr Bais Yaakov Teacher’s Seminary

Dr. David Pelcovitz, Professor of Education & Psychology, Yeshiva University

-Acknowledging that challenges are found across the religious spectrum
-Identifying warning signs of at-risk behaviors
-Combating negative influences through vigilant parenting
-Fostering resilience and enhancing self-esteem
-Accessing respected community resources for support
-Working together as a community to create positive change

Pomeranz Booksellers will offer a selection of books related to conference program

Questions can be submitted by email Kavlnoarcenter@gmail.com or can be filled out on cards (anonymously) on the evening itself for the speakers to answer

Tickets can also be purchased from community representatives
email kavlnoarcenter@gmail.com for information about your community representatives. or directly from Kav L’Noar- Keren Hayesod # 25 Jerusalem

Transportation will be arranged for those that live outside Jerusalem at an additional charge

Partially funded by Misrad Hachinuch- Machleket Tarbut Toranit

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Image courtesy of Flickr.com user Hiro 008

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9 years ago, I took a parenting class with Rabbanit Talia Helfer. I loved that class. It totally made me into the mom I am today.

But what I loved most about Rabbanit Talia’s classes was how she told us so many unforgettable stories about parenting her own children. And the story that filled me with the most longing, I think, was when she told us about the atmosphere in her kitchen before major holidays. The music playing, the laughter, the air thick with camaraderie and excitement over the fun mother-daughter togetherness and the approaching holiday.

This article by JewishMOM Ilie Ruby about working in the kitchen with her adopted Ethiopian daughter reminded me of Rabbanit Talia’s pre-holiday kitchen. Ilie Ruby writes, “I wonder if feelings of home…are created through work that is done to take care of a family, shared by a mother with her daughter, together, again and again, side by side.”

So perceptive, so beautiful. I get so stressed with my kids in the kitchen, I need total solitude and uninterrupted silence to cook. But I don’t want it to be that way anymore. Reading this article, I know I also want to share positive cooking-together experiences with my own children in my own kitchen! Please, Hashem!

The Scents and Tastes of Home by Ilie Ruby
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Courtesy of Flickr.com user mdanys

This article’s author writes: “The first time I gave my son medication, I felt like I was poisoning him.”

I think this article is of supreme importance and should be read by every single Jewish mom! About ADHD and how medication can help…

I am putting my five year old son to bed, when suddenly his hand reaches out and grabs my throat. Immediately, he transforms his action into a caress; it is as though his hand had acted on its own, and his mind only caught up with it a moment later. The threat lingers in the air as I turn out his light and leave the room.

I watch him. I see his little acts of violence. I see them often directed at me – always unprovoked, and always unexpected.

I find graffiti under the table. His destruction is subtle, and hidden. It is very hard to catch him in the act.

The cover of a new book is scratched now. It is a small thing, but when was this done, and why? I don’t ask who did this.

I am lying in bed when he comes in and throws a die at me. The die cracks against the wall over me with a sound that is sharp and menacing.

I squeeze my eyes closed. When I open them, he is still smiling.

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