9-12 Month Baby Routines

As promised, this is the last part of the baby-related series of March.  I have written a lot about the importance of routines and patterns in my life.  I have found that routines have become an even more important aspect of my days since Hudson’s arrival.  The tough part with baby routines is that babies are changing SO much from a month-to-month basis that I have found our routines need to be adjusted relatively frequently.  Nap times and nap frequency changes a lot and this has a big impact on the whole day’s routine.  Since Hudson is already almost 10-months old, I am going to focus on his current routine, which I imagine will stay relatively similar for the next couple months.  Every day is different, but I have found that ever since he has turned 9-months, his naps have become extremely predictable.  He is now down to just two naps a day.  He usually has his morning nap at 9 am and his afternoon nap at 2 pm.  There could be a slight variance if his morning nap was shorter, but for the most part, these are the two times he naps.  I have loved having these very predictable times because it allows me to fill in the spaces between naps more easily.  I would probably bore you if I went hour by hour and explained Hudson’s typical routine, so instead I am going to break it down into the three parts of the day and give general ideas and inspiration for 9-12 month old baby routines based on what we have found successful.

Morning Time: 7:00-11:00 am 

  • Wake baby up at a consistent time.

 I used to not do this.  If he slept past 7 am, I would let him.  It is so hard to wake up your baby especially when they are finally, actually asleep.  However, I have found, especially at his age now, that it is much better to get him up around 7 am.  As tempting as it is to allow him to continue to sleep, so I can continue to enjoy my morning quiet time, I am learning that sticking to a wake up time is better for the both of us.

  • Start day slowly.  

The day always seems to be better when I allow those first couple hours of the morning to be a slow start.  I typically never plan anything before his first nap.  This allows for a solid two hours in the morning with the ability to slowly wake up to the day.  We usually read a book or two.  We say good morning to the tree and wall and neighbor’s house outside the window.  We pet Nala and tell her good morning.  I re-heat and sip my coffee.  Now that Hudson is a full-on crawler, I usually let him explore and crawl around in the living room a bit before breakfast.  Of course not all days allow for slower starts, but especially during the week, I really try to move things slowly before 9 am.

  • Get all ready for the day BEFORE nap time

I used to leave Hudson in his pajamas for his first nap, but recently learned it makes much more sense to get him all cleaned up and dressed before I put him down for his nap.  Part of the reason I do this is out of necessity.  He usually is a complete mess after his breakfast.  Quinoa cereal is usually smeared all over his little body.  Bananas are stuck in his hair.  Prunes cover his face.  The other reason I get him all clothed and ready is that I don’t want to waste the time once he wakes up from his nap.  When he wakes up, all I have to do is quickly nurse him, grab the diaper bag, and we are out the door!

Afternoon Time: 11:00 am-2:00 pm

  • Schedule an outing.

Typically, right when Hudson wakes up, we leave the house.  This outing will vary based on the day.  As of recently, it usually is a trip to the park to play with friends in our MOMS Club or a grocery store run at Trader Joe’s or a run in the jogger on the strand.  Sometimes the outing is fun, like baby yoga; and sometimes it is more practical, like running errands.  Especially at this age, what seems to really matter is that we are getting out of the house and he gets the chance to interact with other people and babies.  Anytime I have to go to the grocery store or go to an appointment, I know to schedule it during this time slot.  I also try to have specific outings for certain days of the week.  For example, Wednesdays are usually story time or yoga, Thursdays we always go to Trader Joe’s, and Fridays we usually go to the park or beach.  I find it really helpful to have these weekly patterns.

 

  • Be home for nap time.  

Just as important as the outing is the nap time.  I used to be out during nap time and Hudson would often take his second nap in the carseat.  There are definitely certain days where there is no getting around that, but as much as I can control it, I plan to be home for that 2 pm nap time.  The afternoon nap is a really important time for me to get some rest and get a few things done around the house before Lance gets home.  Also, I find that Hudson gets an overall better rest when he naps in his crib.  I always try to cap our outing to around 12:30-1:00, so we can get back home, feed Hudson lunch, and allow him some freedom to play before he has his last nap of the day.

Evening Time: 4:00-7:00 pm 

  •  Allow for independent play time. 

Hudson typically wakes up around 3:30.  By the time I’ve nursed him and changed his diaper and read a book with him, it is time for me to start dinner.  I use this time to give him some alone time to play on his own.  Hudson is around people a lot of the time, so I really want him to learn how to also be adaptable and learn how to entertain and play on his own.  Usually, I will put some toys in the pack ‘n play for him to play with as I begin to make dinner.

  • Eat dinner together.

We are early dinner eaters.  We usually eat around 5 pm or sometimes even earlier.  Since Hudson has been in a high chair, eating together at the dinner table with all three of us is very important.  It can be hard especially when it takes a lot of energy to get Hudson to eat anything at all, but I think this routine is an essential one for our family. No matter what happened in that day, we will find ourselves together again around the table.  We pray. We eat. We slow down.

  • Create a bedtime routine.

After the dishes are cleared, Lance usually takes Hudson and Nala for a walk around the block.  This is another important part of our routine because it gives Lance some alone time with Hudson, which they both enjoy.  It also gives me time to clean up or take a shower.  Once they return, the bedtime routine officially begins.  This is going to vary from family to family.  Create a routine that works the best for your baby and family.  For us, we give him his bath early.  We used to bathe him right before bed, but found that he needed to play between bath and bed to get fully tired.  Lance is in charge of everything bath-related.  He is the master bath giver.  Again, this time allows for me to just watch Lance be an amazing dad or get a load of laundry folded.  Did I mention that Lance is the best? He really is.  This is a slight side note, but it is so helpful to find routines and parts of the day that your spouse can be in charge of.  Lance and I function as a team.  For the days and weeks to work, we both need to hold our weight.  After bath time, the rest of the evening unfolds with pajamas, a little more play time, a story read, prayers, and milky.  Sound machine is on.  Night time teddy bear is playing music.  Hudson is snuggled up in his sleep sack. And I tip toe out of the room.  Unfortunately, even at 9-months the day does not end here and he typically gets up 3-5 more times until the next morning.  But we’re working on that, aka praying he sleeps through night soon!

Obviously, no day is exactly the same.  Some days we hit this routine spot on.  He naps perfectly.  He plays perfectly.  He sleeps soundly.  But, there are days, many days, that just don’t look like that.  This is our routine for the most part, but the fact is, when you have a baby, sometimes you need to let go of routines on those days that are just a struggle.  You have to be okay with that short nap.  You have to be okay when you cancel the outing.  Routines are good.  Actually, they are great and incredibly helpful, but at the end of the day, they are just a guide.  They need to be adjusted, changed, and added to.

5 Ways To Not Go Crazy Making Baby Food

Before I was even pregnant, I used to dream about being a mom. In these dreams, I would imagine two specific things: planning birthday parties and making my kids snacks. These were two aspects of motherhood that I was so excited about. I am literally living my dreams right now! I am making food for my baby and I am beginning to plan his first birthday party. Why does it not feel as exciting as I had dreamed about a few years ago? Why has my excitement turned to stress and anxiety and control? Don’t get me wrong, I am super excited to plan Hudson’s birthday, but the whole making him homemade, organic baby food is getting old and tiresome. I had this vision of what it would be like. I would create these nutritious and tasty meals for my kids and they would neatly gobble it up and praise me for being such a caring and loving mother. They would eat every crumb. They would thank me for all the time I spent in the kitchen. They would ask for seconds. They would tell all their friends about the amazing meals and snacks their mom makes. I know this all sounds crazy but if I’m honest this is the picture I had playing in my head. I am just a few months in to the food making process and I already know how false this picture is. Most days Nala ends up eating more of the food I make for Hudson. Most days he spits it out and throws his spoon in my face. Most days he gobbles up the sweet store bought applesauce but turns his nose to the chia pudding or kale sweet potato purée I freshly blended up in the Baby Bullet. By the end of the day I am left overwhelmed and frustrated with a dirty kitchen and one very messy baby.

I am learning a lot in the kitchen right now. I am learning my efforts will not always be returned. I am learning that part of feeding a baby is learning to let go of control. And let me tell you, that is a hard one for me. I truly did not realize how controlling I was until I had a baby. What a sin of mine! I am slowly, emphasis on slowly, beginning to let go and be okay with smeared beets all over his high chair and crumbs completely covered on the floors. I am letting go of my ever-so tight grip on that spoon and learning to offer it to him, to allow him to try on his own, to give him more freedom and be okay with the mess that comes with that. This is easier said than done. This is especially hard when I spend so much time looking up recipes, boiling fruits and veggies, grinding up quinoa, and lots of blending. It makes my whole body tense when I see the chicken coconut curry recipe I made thrown on the floor. It drives me slightly crazy when I bake pumpkin flax biscuits and he turns his nose to them. I have said “I give up” countless times to Lance at the dinner table. But, for some reason I find myself in the kitchen the next morning trying something new. It usually ends in the same way, messy floor, messy baby, food mostly eaten by the dog, but I am learning the importance of consistency and trying again and again. There are lots of disaster meals, but there are little victories that keep me returning back to the kitchen, back to the baby cookbook, back to the blender.

I am absolutely no expert when it comes to baby food making. Just a mama that desperately wants a happy, healthy and well-fed little one. So from one mama to the next, here are a few ways to help you not go crazy when it comes to making food for baby:

1. Allow Room for Grace

Like the whole title of my blog, this mama needs grace when it comes to baby food. There seems to be a lot of pressure in the arena of feeding baby. I see other blogs and flip through cookbooks and wonder how anyone has the time or patience? It feels overwhelming. It feels unachievable. Allow room for grace. Realistically, you’re not going to be able to make a new, gourmet recipe every meal. Use leftovers. Dig into that freezer stash. Keep it simple. You don’t need to be a top chef to feed your baby well. Just good ingredients and lots of patience.

2. Be Well-Stocked

The fact of the matter is I just don’t have the time or energy to make fresh, homemade food for every meal. Don’t be afraid of the occasional pouch bought at the store or teething crackers from the package. Hudson loves Happy Baby Organic teething crackers and literally did not even want a bite of the made with love pumpkin teething biscuits that came hot out of the oven for him. Some battles are just not worth fighting. We both are happier when I just buy the packaged crackers. Also, when I am pinched for time it is super helpful to just pull a veggie or fruit pouch from the cabinet. I also think it is a great idea to make baby food ahead of time and get a freezer stash going. I wish I did a better job at this, but I always have at least a few servings of pears or peas in the freezer. On those crazy nights, I can just pop it out and it will be ready in just a few. Also I love to have at least one leftover serving from the dinner meal that I can use as a lunch for him the next day. I also found myself on days where the freezer and cabinet were empty and I did not want to go through the tedious process of chopping, boiling, and blending; that I gravitated towards easy foods like avocados and bananas. It is nice to always have a bowl of these easy to mash foods. Final thing that helped in terms of being well-stocked is to have a big container of applesauce on hand. Apples blend great with all sorts of other fruits, veggies, and cereal. I tried making homemade applesauce at the beginning, but it honestly is just easier to buy it. I found myself putting the time in to make it and it barely made much at all. I just get the organic jar at Trader Joe’s and this saves time and allows me to quickly add it to his oatmeal in the morning.

3. Be Adventurous at Home

Restaurants with a baby or kid are already stressful, there is no need to add to it by brining foods they don’t already eat well. Introducing new flavors and textures and even spices early on is super important, but there is a time and a place. A nice restaurant might not be the best place to bring beets. And I am saying that from lived experience. It happened and let’s just say there was red everywhere. Now, when we go out, I try to plan accordingly. I’ll try and give him a veggie or some type of food he doesn’t eat as easily before we leave and then when we are out, I’ll feed him something I am confident he will eat well. For example, I might order a side of avocado or bring a pouch that he has shown to already really enjoy. Be adventurous with your little one. Try new foods. Throw in chia seeds. Add the garlic. But maybe try these more out of the box foods at home.

4. Make Meals for Whole Family

This is a big one! You can’t really do this for the first couple months they are eating, but once they are around 8-9 months they can really eat what you are eating as long as it is blended or chopped tiny. Finding recipes that worked well for the whole family has been the best thing for us. I checked out this book from the library, Growing Up Gourmet. I think I’ll need to eventually just purchase a copy because I use it basically every day. There is a whole section of the book dedicated to meals for the whole family. Most of the recipes are relatively healthy, delicious, and easy to keep dairy-free. It makes my life so much easier to just have one dinner to make. The only thing I need to do differently is blend up Hudson’s portion. Hearty soups are great because they have lots of veggies, flavor and are easy to blend.

5. Don’t Give Up

“I give up!” is my go-to phrase at the dinner table. Making homemade meals for baby is no joke. It’s hard work and it’s even harder when your baby throws it everywhere and cries every time the spoon is near. You are going to be tempted to just buy the purées packed with sugar and close up the kitchen. I know I have. But there is something really fun about making your own meals for baby and trying new flavors. Keep trying. Stay consistent. Keep offering lots of vegetables. Don’t give up. Also make it fun. Hudson’s pediatrician reminded me at our last appointment that feeding baby should be fun. At this point, most of their nutrition primarily comes from milk. This is really just for practice and starting healthy habits. As much as you can, keep it light and fun. I definitely fail in this area a lot of time, but I am trying.

No matter how you choose to feed baby: homemade, store bought, purées, baby led weaning, formula, breastmilk; what really matters is the heart behind it and a growing baby. Each family is different. What works for you, might just not be possible for the next. As long as baby is given the nutrients and love he or she needs, then you are doing a great job! It is easy to let the stress get in the way of it all, but I am daily learning to let go and enjoy the messy and unpredictable process of feeding baby.

Letter to My 15-Year Old Self

Yesterday was my 25th birthday.  I am officially a quarter of a century.  I have entered the mid-twenties.  For some reason this year feels significant to me.  I think back to 10 years ago and I am proud of who I am becoming and the family Lance and I have started.  I also hopefully think ahead 10 years to the future and I have so many goals and dreams as to where I would like to be at 35.  In honor of 25 years, I wrote a letter to both my past and future self.  Here is the first letter:

Dear 15-year-old self,

Hi Kelli Sugimoto, this is Kelli Capel writing to you.  In 10 years, a lot is going to change for you.  You will get married, you will have a baby, you will come to truly know Christ.  These are the big ones, but your next ten years will be filled with little moments, little decisions that will change everything.  You are going to feel lost at times and uncertain that you are making the right decisions, but I just wanted to reassure you that you are.  Even the mistakes, led you to the life I am currently living and it really is a beautiful one.  It is so full with family, friends, the sweetest little boy and a man that loves you.  I know what you are dreaming about right now and I am pleased to tell you some of those dreams will happen in just a few short years.

Right now you are probably just in the midst of figuring out that you really love to run.  It is your freshmen year and I know you have no idea what running will become.  You are entering a chapter where running will be everything.  It is going to teach you a lot.  It is going to build within you a determination and a strength you did not even know you were capable of.  It is also going to test you.  It is going to wake you up and make you realize you are much more than just a runner.  It will show that running is a good thing, but it is not the thing.  It will get you places and open doors and give you things.  This is a lot of vagueness, all to say this: keep running, keep chasing dreams, keep getting better, keep putting in the miles and the minutes, keep believing you can.  Running will begin as the everything and it will end as really nothing, but I am learning right now that it will come back to be something really beautiful again; just with a different look.

Along with running, you are also forming some very important friendships.  Some of those friends, you are going to lose touch with and that is okay, but some, specifically a couple, will be your two best friends, 10 years later and beyond.  Enjoy your time with them now.  Things will change very quickly.  Definitely not for the worst, but it will be different.  You will all live in different states and your time together will be limited.  Soak up your time with them now.  These girls will stand by you at your wedding, they will be there for your baby shower, they will drive to see you in Arizona.  They will love you in the good and the hard.  They will be true friends through and through.

As with your friends, spend as much possible time with your family.  As strange as this may sound, you only have about 3 more years of living at home.  You only have 6 more years of being unmarried.  In three years, it will be different.  In six, entirely changed.  Your time at your family home is limited.  Appreciate it as much as you can now.  Thank your mom more for always helping pack lunches and making breakfasts and loving you so well.  Thank your dad more for all his support and believing in you always.  Spend more time with your sister.  Tell her more often all the amazing strong qualities you see in her.  Give more cuddles to your dog, Jack, he will pass in just a couple years. Go and visit grandma as often as you can.  When she tells you to “run along now” stay longer.  Treasure this season with your family.

I know now you are not even really thinking about dating or boys, but just remember the real man will come in the form of a very good friend. He is more than you are even dreaming about.  Therefore, do not take the different heart breaks too seriously.  As dramatic as they feel at the time, God has something infinitely better planned for you.  All the disappointments are one step closer to finding the life He has intended for you.  I don’t want to tell you who your husband will be (some things are better left as surprises), but trust me when I tell you that he is perfect for you.  He will be the man that helps point you back to the cross.  Through your friendship, you will be reintroduced to church and find out what it means to truly be in relationship with Jesus.  Reality LA will be an important church and community for you in the coming years.  I know right now you go to church, but I am so excited for you to fully see what it looks like and feels like to have a personal relationship with God.

Remember how you always dreamed about being a teacher and a mom?  These dreams comes true.  Teaching will be hard at times, but by the time you leave for the next dream to happen, you will have a heart so much fuller than when you began.  You will come to find that you learned more as a teacher than you ever had as a student.  You will realize that teaching is not always about the deliverance of content as it is about the example of love and kindness you can set for your students.  It turns out this is what they will really remember about you; not the proper placement of a semi-colon.

You will leave the classroom for a bit and enter your next dream.  Motherhood.  Your baby boy is more precious than you can even imagine.  He has your nose and his father’s eyes. Even in just the first few months, he is going to teach you a lot about sacrifice, patience, and love.  There is not much else I can tell you on this, considering I am just a few months in, but I am sure my future self will have some good lessons to prepare you for.

I want to leave you with these final words.  You have so much to look forward to.  There is amazing and beautiful things ahead.  A common thread you will be faced with is lack of confidence in your abilities.  Whenever you are in those places of doubt whether it be on the line of a race, in a classroom of students, up late with a sleepless baby; remember that God made you ready for each of these different seasons.  You were made for this.  Don’t ever forget that.

Love,

25-year-old self

 

 

This Mama Needs

This mama needs a lot of things. Coffee, patience, rest, gratitude, exercise, time. Amongst those things, the first and most important is Jesus and His abundant grace. I need His new mercies every. single. day.  Actually, I need them every single moment. Becoming a mom has shown me a lot about the current state of my heart.  It has shown me I am more selfish than I realized. That I have way less patience than I thought.  And it has ultimately shown me the really ugly parts of my heart that I have not needed to deal with for a while.  Becoming a mother has shown my deep insecurities.  It has revealed a heart that is so attached to the approval of humans. It has shown how uncomfortable I am at getting out of comfort zones.  It has shown me my longing at being perfect for my own self glory. Before Hudson, I could much better pretend that I had things together.  Now I have a 4-month old that is not intuned to my ever present needs to be perceived as perfect.  I have lost all control and through this loss I am left with a heart that is full of anxiety, stress, and insecurity.  This mama is tired. This mama is burnt out at trying to be perfect. This mama needs grace.

I feel so overwhelmed with this new role of motherhood.  While I also have a new type of joy I have never felt before, I also am living through a season where my needs are outweighing my haves.  Thankfully I only need one have: Jesus.  And I already have Him.  He has me.  And while I have a mighty long list of needs, I can rest in the knowledge that Jesus knows each of my needs and His love for me remains constant. My prayer is through this blog of grappling through my own ever-present need for Jesus’ abundant grace, that you too can remember that even when it feels like you have nothing together, that God loves you with a crazy love and He showers you with grace in all of your imperfections.