Our Parenting Wins and Losses

Amalia is going to be a one year old a week from tomorrow. I have no clue how that happened so quickly and I spent way too much time over the weekend weekend thinking about the last year and browsing through old photos, crying like a fool. It also got me thinking about what we’ve done well and not so well this first time around. Anel and I try our best as all new parents do but sometimes our tactics hit the nail on the head and sometimes they miss the mark.

We’ve learned a lot over the last year and I hope that some of my lessons can help you mamas and future mamas out there. Here are some of the ways where we really crushed it… and the ways where we didn’t. Plus some cute photos from the last year that are currently making me cry yet again as I write this!

Our Parenting Wins

Night sleeps: When I tell people that Amalia sleeps from 6:30pm to 7am every night and has done so since she was seven weeks old, they look at me like I have three heads. I know it sounds unbelievable but it’s true! Obviously she has her moments when sick or teething or we’re traveling, but for the most part she’s a great night sleeper. Naps are another story for another day but we always know no matter how happy or cranky or crazy she is during the day, she’ll be asleep by 6:30. And that is a really great win in my book! This was how we got her to sleep through the night and I still swear by Babywise which we started very early on.

While sometimes it sucks that we have to leave BBQs or parties early to get her to bed or to a nap “on schedule”, she doesn’t really ever have epic meltdowns (unless we stray from that plan) which is a win for everyone involved!

Establishing independence: I read in Bringing Up Bébé that French mothers give their babies a few minutes of “alone time” to establish independence from an early age. I remember one day when Amalia was about two weeks old I thought I’d give it a go. I strapped her into the Rock ‘n Play and walked out of the kitchen to leave her for five whole minutes. I was peeking around the corner to watch her the entire time because #firsttimemom and #alloftheanxiety, but she was happy as a clam just sitting there and looking around with her big, curious eyes. The next day I did it again… And I kept repeating it until it became a daily habit.

I wasn’t sure if it was working or not until we took her to a Halloween party when she was three months old. There were probably six other babies around her age, all being held by their moms. Amalia looked around the room and locked eyes with a play mat that was similar to the one she had at home. I knew she wanted to lay on it so I put her down and she was suddenly happy and smiling. I stood up to talk to another mom and she was like what just happened!?

Now that she’s pushing a year, she’s going through a more clingy phase so leaving the room isn’t as easy as it used to be, but if we’re sitting in the same room, she is great at playing on her own or “reading a book” without needing me. Alternately, she also loves to play with us or other kids so it feels like the best of both worlds.

Daycare: Figuring out childcare was quite the process. The cost of a nanny and daycare were pretty similar, but my sister and I were daycare kids and I always knew that I wanted that environment for my kids one day so it was a no brainer for me. But then I started writing about it and got backlash which was shocking to me. After a year of this parenting thing, I’ve realized that people have very strong opinions about things like this so I can let it roll off, but at the time I was heart broken. I second guessed our decision and was worried that it wouldn’t be the best place for my baby girl.

But after six months in daycare, that guilt and second guessing has flown right out the window. She is so happy being around other kids and her fun teachers all day, she learns new things and does all kinds of exciting activities. She’s comfortable around adults and kids and is starting to (kind of) even understand concepts like sharing. Daycare is definitely the best place for her right now, but I know that’s not the case for all kids and families so, as always, I encourage you to go with your gut when thinking about childcare for your own little ones.

The only major downside to daycare is all of the sickness. Everyone tells me that after the first year it gets better and that the kiddos build up their immune system, but since she’s started, it’s been rough. We’ve had everything from Croup to stomach bugs to ear infections, and everything in between.

Reading: Amalia’s love of books is definitely in her genes. Both of my parents were English majors and my mom even writes a book blog! I read every single night before bed, we’re clearly a family of book worms! From day one, I read to Amalia every single day. At the beginning it was a lot of her just staring and falling asleep half the time but I did it daily no matter what. I think it was partly that and partly her family history that has caused her serious interest in reading.

When she wakes up in the morning, the very first thing she does is point to her bookcase. I have to take her straight from the crib to the chair for a morning read. That happens multiple times throughout the day but I try to never say no unless I’m really busy or can’t do it because I want to encourage this habit! I’m hoping that it translates to her nose in a book and her schoolwork one day but who knows. Here is a list of her favorite books for the first six months.

The current list is coming soon but I’ll say now that Jamberry is still her absolute favorite followed by Snuggle Puppy. If I tell her to get either of those she goes to the shelf and picks them right out. Proud mama over here!

Not panicking when she falls: Babies fall and bang into things a lot. When she first started being mobile, I would gasp every time she hurt herself but Anel encouraged me to stay calm in those moments because she would pick up on that energy. Now when she falls over or hits her head, she just sits right back up again and keeps moving without a care in the world. I love that she has learned that lesson from an early age. Obviously there are some time when she really hurts herself and needs hugs and kisses, but when it’s a little bump, I just hold in my gasp and watch her for clues. It really works!

Our Parenting Not So Much Wins

Focusing on the future: I talked about it more in this post last week but Anel and I have been so excited for her to enter each stage of life that I think we sometimes forget to really relish in the current stages. Once we realized that, we tried to really slow down and enjoy each and every day and moment with our baby before she turns into a full blown toddler!

Napping habits: While it’s amazing that she sleeps so well at night and does a great job of napping when we’re at home, we’ve created a situation where it’s hard for her to nap on the go and even at daycare. It takes 20 minutes of crying for her to fall asleep in the car every time without fail and at the beach or on a plane? Forget it! That limits how and when we can do certain things which can be a bummer sometimes. It’s been a challenge with daycare too because she’ll only take one hour long nap on those days and is often fussy by the time bedtime comes around.  I’ve come to terms with it, but next time around I’d love to figure out a way to have the best of both worlds… Is that even possible?

Anel and I used to boast that when we became parents our baby would have to fit into our schedule and not the other way around. LOL, good one pre-baby Julia and Anel, good one!

Eating habits: When she first started eating, she would pretty much go for whatever purées I gave her but when we moved to solid foods, she got a little more picky. She was still a pretty good eater though and then a flip switched about a month ago and it’s been tough. I know there’s not a whole lot we can do about that but when it first happened I freaked out and would give her fruit or a pouch or something I knew she loved instead of letting her figure it out on her own.

Now she knows how to play me at dinnertime and she tries hard. At school she eats whatever I pack for her (lunch ideas post coming soon!) but at home it’s a bit of a battle. I’m finally establishing rules and boundaries around eating time like no more feeding the dog until she’s done and no giving in with a pouch instead of dinner. Any feedback or help here would be amazing. I don’t want mealtimes to be a constant stressor for both of us!


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  1. Gina said:

    Thank you for sharing all of this! My “baby” is 2 and I still cry every single time I look through all his old photos. I just wanted to say that I relate to your food struggles. My son used to be a great eater when we were first introducing foods but then something switched, as you described, and now getting him to eat a vegetable is the ultimate battle. I don’t have any advice but if you find any tricks that work, I’d love to read about them in a future post!

    7.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I just signed up for the Feeding Littles course so I’m hoping I learn a lot that I can share with you guys!

      7.17.18 · Reply
  2. Frania said:

    I’ve also had good sleepers from an early age as like you we kept to a consistent schedule for naps and sleeps. I loosely followed Gina Ford and put my babies to nap approx 90 min after they woke. This meant that they didn’t get over tired and associated nap with a time for rest. With time the spacing between naps increased.
    I think Amalia is entering the phase of wanting to control things in her world and testing her boundaries. With food we were consistent. And just said that’s fine if you don’t want to eat it, just leave it on the plate…..we give the children the choice to eat or not, but do not provide an alternative. In one book I read that children can go for days without eating, but they won’t let themselves starve..so you don’t need to worry in that regard!

    7.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I like that mindset a lot. I don’t want to give in and make her bratty in the future! My mom says the same thing about kids not letting themselves starve. Good reminder, thanks!

      7.17.18 · Reply
  3. Breann said:

    My suggestion with the food is to eat what she is eating. I learned that if im eating something different then my son he wants nothing to do with his food. Babies at this stage want to do what you are doing or so it seems at my home. I also save fruit for when he finishes his plate because he always gravitates and fills up on the fruit first. It works for us, good luck!

    7.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      That’s good advice, we’ll try it!

      7.16.18 · Reply
  4. Shelby said:

    July 24 is our due date for our first baby girl and we are so excited/terrified. Thanks for sharing your wins and struggles! It’s great to read that it’s fun but not all perfection. Really appreciate your candor!

    7.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Awww congrats! It’s so hard but so rewarding. You’ll be great!

      7.16.18 · Reply
  5. Caroline Thompson said:

    Take the Feeding Littles Toddler Course! It’s has been amazing for me in helping my 17 month old with eating habits. I learned that I’m often in the way and just need to step back and let them eat how and what they wish in any certain stage. It’s all about making mealtime fun and not stressful for you or baby. Follow on Instagram, too! I’ve learned so much! It is based on Baby Led Weaning (which I did not do) but still so many great pointers and techniques! Their Instagram is @FeedingLittles.

    7.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      So many people are saying that! I’m definitely going to take the online course, it looks perfect for us! Just followed on Insta too. Great tip!

      7.16.18 · Reply
  6. Katie said:

    She seems like a very happy baby and that’s all you can really hope for! We all have wins and losses and it’s a good reminder that no one is a perfect parent!

    7.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      She’s pretty happy for the most part anyway! She has her moments of course… but they all do 🙂

      7.16.18 · Reply
  7. Julia said:

    Google Ellyn Satler and DOR (Division of Responsibility) for food issues. The basic premise is that you choose what to offer and the child chooses what to eat and how much.

    7.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thank you! Love that and looking her up right now. That premise makes a lot of sense.

      7.16.18 · Reply
  8. RJ said:

    Hi Julia! I’m 6 months behind you into motherhood, and I just wanted to say thank you so much for ALL of your great motherhood posts. You have been an incredibly helpful resource, and I reference all your month by month posts often. Thank you for making pregnancy and this journey a little bit easier on us by sharing your wisdom and tips. You’re one of my top favorite bloggers for sure!

    7.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thank you so much for saying that! It really means a lot to know that my posts are helping you and other mamas out there 🙂

      7.16.18 · Reply
  9. Christine Matusek said:

    I love this post so much. You definitely have such a unique opportunity as a blogger to get so many stunning photos of you and Amalia!
    We have the same daycare issue. My little guy naps really well when he’s home with me (I WFH and he’s home 2 days a week with me, daycare the other 3) but then hardly naps at daycare. He’s in bed by like 615 those days and it’s frustrating! Maybe it’s the change in routine?
    I took the Feeding Littles infant course and it was super helpful. It made me comfortable with solids and also gave cues for how/what/when to offer!

    7.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Aww thanks so much! I just signed up for the FL course and I can’t wait to start. Anel even said he wants to do it too which is exciting slash shocking haha

      7.17.18 · Reply
      • Christine Matusek said:

        Haha – my husband kind of just lets me do my thing, but he definitely has felt way more comfortable with solid feedings knowing I did my research! I also have a couple mom friends with babies about Amalia’s age, and it seems to be a bit of a phase around that year mark. A lot is changing and these babies can control on a few things, one of which is their food choices and intake.

        7.17.18 · Reply
  10. Salley said:

    I feel you on having a picky eater. I have 2 ( a son who is almost 4 & a daughter who just turned 2). The frustrating thing for me is that my daughter loves to eat! Any kind of meat, carb (potatoes, bread, pasta, etc.) or fruit she stuff in her mouth without a second thought & eat tons of it. Veggies are pretty much a no go. My son is pretty much the same except he’s picky about what kind of meat he’ll eat (on any given day it can change) & he doesn’t eat much of anything. He will eat some veggies but that too changes on a daily basis. My theory is to just keep offering foods to them regardless of whether they have liked it before. Occasionally they suprise is on what they’ll eat. We also try not to keep much “junk” food around. I know I was a picky eater growing up & eventually I grew out of it. They’ll get there too.

    7.16.18 · Reply
  11. ohmygosh those pictures!!!! so cute and funny! as a mom of 2 now, I would say on “focusing on the future” and “napping habits” – sounds like i was the same as you with baby #1 but it was such a different ballgame with #2. it was way easier to stay in the present and just soak up the babyness with the full understanding of “babies don’t keep”. as for napping, we just did not stick to the schedule like the schedule-freaks we were with #1 probably because i think we had had it with being so strict on ourselves and also so that kid #1 could try to enjoy some of his life schedule before #2 came along.

    7.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Good to know it’s different with the second! I can already tell it will be different for us as well. Less fear going into it helps I’m assuming!

      7.17.18 · Reply
  12. Elle said:

    Love the honesty!

    Where is the top you wore for your newborn pictures from?

    7.17.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      It is an old one from Nordstrom they don’t have anymore!

      7.17.18 · Reply
  13. Meredith said:

    Just so you know, your post about sending Amalia helped me decide to just go for it and send my son to daycare. He goes 2 days a week, and this mama is so much more relaxed + happier.

    7.17.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      That makes me so so so happy you have no idea! xx

      7.17.18 · Reply
  14. erin Obrien said:

    I second Ellen Satlers book. I was at my wits end when my daughter was about Amalia’s age but things have improved dramatically (she’s 21 months).

    7.17.18 · Reply