Climbing out of cribs, Taking clothes off, Our first batch of stitches, and more!

In the last few months, our 3 toddlers have learned how to be expert climbers. We love to share the tricks that we have learned. First off, I am thankful that we have been extra vigilant in tethering all of our furniture to the wall and baby proofing to the max. With three monkeys running around, I wanted to feel confident that even though there are more of them than my number of arms, they are safe in our house. Somehow the kids constantly still find ways to show us what we need to add to the baby proofing list. For instance, our stairs are still gated even though they are really good at climbing chairs simply because I need a place to put things that they cannot get to! All of our cabinets are locked. except for the bathroom cabinets which we just cleared out and let the kids climb through freely as a sort of jungle gym, and our dining room chairs stay pushed against the wall all day unless we are eating so that they are not another jungle gym. 

We did have our first batch of stitches. Sweet Shepherd fell off of a little kid’s chair and hit his head at just the right spot. He wasn’t doing anything crazy or climbing where he shouldn’t. I think he might have inherited my ability to run into things and fall ungracefully. Sorry Shep! It split right above is right eye. I immediately called my wonderful pediatrician only to learn that my pediatrician does not give stitches. We had to take him to our nearest Urgent Care, but Urgent Care doesn’t open until 11am so we stopped the bleeding with neosporin and a bandaid until we could get there. Also, we went during Shepherd’s nap time with a scheduled appointment so that we could miss most of the germs in the waiting room.  I feared that it would be exhausting for him to go during his nap time, but it turned out to be amazing. He slept through all 4 stitches!! 

On another note. We have done 2 things that have been successful in helping the kids to stay in their cribs and pack-n-plays. 2/3 take naps in a pack-n-play so that they can all nap in different rooms, and we use pack-n-plays when we travel. They started climbing out of those first. Oliver was the main culprit. He would climb out but then be immediately terrified and want back in. We could tell that for our 3, toddler beds would not be a good option yet. Fixing the crib situation was easier. We first dropped the crib mattresses to the ground which instantly helped. We had to be careful to not leave a gap between the mattress and the crib rail. We put quilts and thick fleece blankets under the mattresses to make sure that the mattresses were tall enough and that there was no gap. They have been sleeping like this in their cribs for a couple months now, and it works great!

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We also had one of our 3 start to take their pajamas and diaper off in the night. I walked in one morning to a naked Lucy. She was so confused at why this was concerning. She was sitting in a puddle of pee (thankfully not poop) saying “I NAKED!” When I asked her why she was naked she said, “I pee-pee.” Well, it’s hard to argue with that. I think she might be closer to potty training than I am. I am SO NOT ready to go down that road yet. So anyway, to help them keep their clothes on, and to also help them stay in the pack-n-plays we decided to add a sleep sac into the bedtime routine. It not only encourages them to keep their clothes on, but it keeps them in the crib/pack-n-play because in the potato sac fleece they can’t use their legs to climb. And they LOVE sleeping in it! They beg to put them on at night. I think it brings them back to their swaddle loving days, but their arms are free. It zips from the bottom so it’s much harder for them to unzip it. They are currently wearing a size Large. Link for the Halo sleep sac

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This was taken the morning of their 2nd birthday, and I put them all in one crib to try and get a cute picture.  Lucy is not a morning person. haha They do NOT all sleep together. 

We have also learned that it is possible to make a 15 hour car trip in one day with toddler triplets. We left at 3am, and they slept for the first 4-5 hours, and took a 2 hour nap during the drive. It made the trip so much better with them sleeping for a good bit of it. We only stopped a couple times to eat, get gas, and stretch our legs and even then the kids stayed fairly happy. I would move back and forth between the front seat and sitting in the back to entertain.

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We also, moved the triplets car seats to forward facing right at their 2 year birthday. We love our Diono carseats that can fit 3 across on the back row of our van!! They love being able to see everything as we drive now. It is so much fun, but I am so glad that I waited until they were 2 to turn them.

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Please let me know if you have any other questions about my current triplet toddler life!! I would love to write some things that you are curious about!

Practical Things To Buy For Babies

Derek and I feel like we have a unique experience in reviewing toys and baby gear. Many families have 3 babies but having 3 at one time is rarer and means that we get to see exactly how durable an item is. Plus, if all 3 babies love a toy or item then it is definitely a winner. Furthermore, because there are 3 of them, we don’t have room at our house for toys or things that are bulky or aren’t very useful. I have had many people ask what items or toys our kids have liked so I spent the last couple weeks compiling a few lists. Today I’m posting my top 10 practical items in descending order and will post a top 10 toys, top 3 teething toys, and top 5 things that I never knew I needed – all within the next couple weeks. I also added the link to amazon for each item. Some of them have a couple links. Just click the name in red, and it will send you to Amazon so you can see or read up on the item. Don’t hesitate to ask questions!!

My top 10 favorite practical baby items

#10 Cabinet locks

We needed cabinet locks on every single cabinet in our house since we have 3 little zombies roaming around at all times! These were so easy to install and required NO drilling or tools! We had to get a couple packs so we have multiple magnet keys. We keep them all over the kitchen so you don’t ever have to go far to get one.

#9 Baby Bathtub and Bathtub Kneeler

This tub is a little pricey but someone gifted it to us, and it was AMAZING! It tells the exact temperature of the water so we knew exactly how hot/cold to make the water without stressing. It fit perfectly in our sink and in the tub. It was soft and just really helpful. Once they switched to sitting up in the tub, I would suggest getting one of these pads to keep yours knees from breaking. It makes bathtub way more enjoyable for me.

#8 Take and Toss Sippy Cups

We have tried so many different sippy cups! They can get so expensive too. These are by far the best in my opinion! We love them. Plus, they are cheap! The kids figured out how to use them easily. If they break, it doesn’t matter because they are so cheap. They are so easy to wash, and can be used for milk or water. We also have straw (camelbak style) bottles for water, but you can’t really put milk in those. These little cheap plastic cups are so good for milk AND water. Oh and they don’t leak either! It’s amazing. They also make a straw take and toss cup if you like that better. The only downside of the straw ones is that the kids can pull the straw out which can be messy, and the straw ones are not spill proof.

#7 Dr. Brown Bottles

If you are bottle feeding, find a bottle that works for you and get enough to last one full day. For us that was 24 bottles at our peak. We are now only using one at night before bed! We have always run the dishwasher once a day to clean the bottles (no more, no less). We had a little tub of soapy water that sits in our sink to put dirty bottles to soak in during the day, and at night we put all bottles through the dishwasher. I had heard that Dr. Brown bottles have too many parts to clean, but if you get one of these dishwasher baskets it is not hard at all!

#6 Rock n Play

Our 3 babies had reflux and were preemies so a rock n play was a must. The incline helps them with reflux. The NICU doctors actually suggested it to help with reflux and our pediatrician said it was great too. Plus, since it surrounds the baby on 3 sides it simulates a womblike feeling of comfort. We had all 3 sleeping in our room until month 5 so they fit easily in the room right beside us. When a baby cried, I could just reach over and rock them back to sleep without picking them up. They slept in these until they could roll back to front. We liked the manual rocker so that we could rock them only when they needed it, but some people love the automatic rocker.

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#5 Little Sound Machine

This little sound machine is SO LOUD!! It’s amazing how loud it is. You can travel with it, attach it to the car seat, or just leave it plugged up in the nursery. A good sound machine is a must. When we had 3 sleeping babies in the room next to us it was perfect for blocking out their sleeping noises but let us hear their cries.

#4 Ergo Plus Double Snap and Go Stroller and then Double Umbrella Stroller

We have triplet strollers which are great and very handy but the easiest way to transport 3 babies is to use a double stroller and a baby carrier (when small enough). This was my favorite baby carrier. And this was my favorite stroller when the babies were in their newborn carseats. We had Chicco key fit 30 carseats that fit in this stroller perfectly. We used it to go on walks, even trails, and also pretty much anywhere else we went. Being pregnant with triplets did a number on my back so I needed a carrier with really good back support and this one does! I could put it on all by myself and felt very comfortable with it. When the babies outgrew their newborn carseats, we started using this umbrella stroller and it is fantastic. It has great pockets and folds up fairly small considering. It’s sturdy and durable and has great straps. We now either use a single umbrella stroller if Derek is with me or our wagon (which is in a different list!).

 

 

#3 SwaddleMe Swaddles and Zippadee Zips

Every baby likes different swaddles so experiment until you find one that works because swaddles are the bomb. They helped our babies sleep so MUCH better. There is a reflex called the Moro reflex that causes the baby to feel as if it is free falling. Now that babies have to sleep on their backs they will involuntarily spasm and their arms will reach out for Mom/Dad. When no one is there, this can be scary for them. The swaddle keeps their arms from flinging up when the moro reflex sets in, which helps them sleep better. It’s brilliant. The transition out of the swaddle was the most feared of all transitions in year 1 for us. The zippadee zip was our lifesaver in this transition. We first started having the kids sleep in the zippadee zips for naps and slowly transitioned at night once they were ready (but not too early!). Lucy actually still sleeps in one and it’s so warm and comforting to her. Sometimes when she’s really sleepy, she actually tries to crawl into it on her own.

#2 Frog Chairs

I honestly couldn’t decide which list this one should go in. It is a favorite practical item, a favorite toy, and a favorite thing that I didn’t know that I would need! As I was researching different swings and bouncy chairs for babies, this one caught my attention because it turns into a rocking chair once the baby gets bigger. I had no idea just how much we would use these chairs though! Our babies often took naps in them as tiny babies. Being in the living room with us helped them get used to sleeping in places with more light and some noise. Then, as our babies dealt with reflux they had to rest after eating so each baby sat in their frog chair for 15 minutes after every meal. Now at 14 months, they love to climb in them and rock and think they are such big kids with their own chair. They have held up great!

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#1 IKEA High Chairs

This $20 high chair is the best! It is durable, has a strap for safety, is super easy to clean, and does not take up much space! They are perfect for us! They are so easy to take apart and put together that we will often travel with one or two.

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A day in the life…

I have people all the time ask about our schedule and “how we do it.” First of all, everyone and every baby is different. So what works for us, may not work for you. My babies were born at 32+5, each weighing very close to 4pounds. They were in the NICU for 5 weeks. I pumped breastmilk while they were in the NICU but stopped and switched to only formula (similac sensitive) when they came home. This is what worked for US but again, please don’t read this as me saying that our way is better. I know that our situation is unique. Dealing with preemies and triplets is obviously different then a singleton, BUT we have had 3 babies sleeping through the night since they were 3 months old and would love to share our schedule in case it is helpful for others. If you are trying to get your baby to sleep through the night and it isn’t going well, I always encourage people to stick to a schedule! We do follow Baby Wise/Mom’s on Call – eat, play, sleep method, but adjusted it to what worked for us. As a statistics teacher with 3 babies, I am loving all of the experiments and problem solving that I have gotten to do. I am big on isolating variables and only changing one thing at a time so that I don’t have as many confounding variables. haha You laugh, but it’s true.

Since our babies were in the NICU, the hospital already had the babies on a 3 hour schedule but they were all slightly different so we adjusted to the middle schedule and got all 3 aligned pretty quickly when they came home. Originally all 3 slept in rock n plays in our room and had to be woken every 3 hours to feed even in the night.

Here is our schedule for months 1-5:

8am – wake, diaper, bottle, “play”, sleep

11am –  wake, diaper, bottle, “play”, sleep

2pm, 5pm, 8pm,11pm, 2am, 5am,…repeat

Throughout these first 5 months, we were slowly able to drop the nighttime feeds. After 2-3 months, we were able to let them have one 4 hour stretch at night, then a 5 hour, etc. (we followed the pediatrician to know when this was allowed). Around 3 – 4 months we had dropped all but 1 nighttime feed (around 4am) and the babies were sleeping from 8pm-4am. We would diaper and feed at 4am and straight back to bed till 8am.

We would wake up the babies if it was feeding time and they were still asleep. This seems crazy to some people, but it really helped them and eventually they would wake up right on the hour and still do to this day. Before we fed, we changed all 3 diapers, then fed each a bottle, then “played” as long as possible and back to sleep. Repeat.

If and when they wake up before the next feed, we would rock, hold, use a pacifier to get them to wait. This is sometimes hard but once they get used to the schedule it is so great. At night, after we fed them, they would immediately go back to sleep in the rock n play. Sometimes we would go 2.5 hours at night if they were losing their minds and we were tired. Haha

Play time during these months included tummy time, laying on their back on a baby play mat, or just holding them and talking to them.

Nap time took place in the living room in these little fisher price infant to toddler rocking chairs that I love. I would wrap them in a swaddle blanket with their arms swaddled up. We used different swaddles for nap and nighttime. At night we used the velcro, straight jacket ones! The light in the living room from the windows and the different swaddle helped them start to differentiate between naps and nighttime sleep. We did not use a sound machine or stay silent during nap time either. They got used to napping with noise and each other’s cries and still do really well with that. Because of this, they can now nap around noises and they are not woken up by each other. Even while I write this, Oliver is in the nursery “talking” very loudly while the other 2 are sound asleep.

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Feeding was either done by multiple people all at one time or I would prop them around 3 months. Then I eventually fed the boys at the same time and then Lucy right afterward once Lucy stopped being a fan of propping.

Again if they wake up before the next feeding time, we just let them rest, put in a pacifier, rock them, but it is clearly NOT play time and we do not feed them early.

At 5 months we moved the rock n plays downstairs, moved their bedtimes to 7pm, and dropped the 4am feed. We did these changes one at a time and waited a few days to make sure each change didn’t mess them up before changing something else. Again, I have to isolate the variables 🙂 At 5.5 months we moved them to cribs. We also started having them nap in cribs at this point.

Here is our 3 hour schedule for months 5-7:

7am – diaper change, bottle, play

8am –  oatmeal cereal+veggie/fruit, play

8:30/9 – when they start getting fussy, I put them in a zippadee zip and lay them down in their crib for a nap. If they wake up early, I lay them with a pacifier in their rocker in the living room without talking to them or interacting. They just lay and relax or fuss a little until the next feed.

10am – diaper, bottle, play

11:30/12 – nap

1pm – diaper, bottle, play

2:30/3 – nap

4pm -diaper, bottle, play

5pm – feed oatmeal cereal+fruit/veggie, play

NO NAP

Bath

7pm – diaper, zippadee zip, bottle, straight down to sleep in cribs

IMG_2556This is a picture of their zippadee zips.

If they cried in the night, we would try to let them self soothe, but would often need to soothe by picking them up, bouncing a couple times, and put them back down with a pacifier. Derek and I worked out a system since he had trouble going back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night. I would usually go down if a baby cried between 9pm- 3am and Derek would go if it was from 7pm-9pm or 3am-7am. No nighttime feeds anymore though! Also, sweet Derek has always brought the monitor downstairs for at least an hour in the mornings so that I can completely zone out. haha

They started oatmeal cereal around month 4. Then, we did veggie/fruit puree around month 5. In these months, the puree and oatmeal feeds were not for nutrition but just teaching them how to eat. We didn’t worry about how much they got but just had fun trying different flavors (one at a time of course…keep those confounding variables to a minimum. haha) We first put purees before the bottle but then they wanted less of their bottle. Our pediatrician reminded us that until 12 months, the bottle is their main source of nutrition, so we switched and put the bottle an hour before purees and that was a great order for us. By month 7 they were baby food eating pros and able to stay awake for longer periods of time. Around month 7 we decided to drop a nap and switch to a 4 hour schedule.

Here is our 4 hour schedule for months 7-12:

7am – wake up, diaper, bottle, play

8am – breakfast (from 7m- 10m we still did purees but slowly weaned them into finger foods until they wanted less and less purees).  After bottle and after feeding we play.

9:30am – nap – Each baby gets wrapped in a zippadee zip. Each baby sleeps in a separate room for naps. It is mostly easier on me so that when one wakes up, I can go get that one without waking up the others.

11am – diaper, bottle, play

12pm – lunch (puree or finger food or both)

1:30pm – nap

3pm – diaper, bottle, play

4:30pm – dinner (puree or finger food or both)

6/6:30 – bath

7pm – bed – For a while we had to put them to sleep at 6:30pm because they just couldn’t make it to 7pm. They were still in their zippadee zips until about 10m when the boys really wanted to be able to pick up their pacifiers better. Starting around month 7, we only go into their room at night if they are sick, teething, or hysterical. We RARELY pick them up though. We pat them or make sure they have a pacifier, but picking up is a last ditch effort and very rarely done. This was our own version of Cry It Out. We let them cry for 5-10 minutes on their own without going in to pat them. Usually in those 5-10minutes they figure it out. If the pat did not help then we give them about 15 minutes before going in again to pat.

We are now debating dropping our morning nap and that will of course change the schedule again. I think the teacher in me loves the “lesson planning.” It does sometimes feel like as soon as we get completely used to a schedule, it’s time to switch it up and do something new, but at least that keeps us from getting bored. Also, I really do try to rest when they rest. I’m not a big napper, but am a big fan of rest (see my last post). Sometimes that means that the clothes stay unfolded or the kitchen stays dirty, but a healthy mom is always better than a clean kitchen. My prayer for those of you knee deep in middle of the night feeds, no sleep, endless diaper changes, spit up everywhere, and not knowing which way is up: May the God of peace make your eyes to see the sweet baby smiles and not just the mess around you. May He fill you with strength when you can barely open your eyes so that you are able to be fully present in this moment. May He remind you that those little fingers that grab a hold of your finger will soon grow and that spit up does wash out. May He fill you with wisdom to know when to take a break and let friends and family help. May He surround you with a community that loves you as you love your little one(s). And may you find rest, sweet rest in the midst of the beautiful chaos.