Sunday, November 6, 2011

Blanket Time

There was a time, very early in my pregnancy, that I made a list of all of the books I wanted to read before meeting our child...books about pregnancy, delivery, baby's sleep and eating habits, parenting, and so on.  I was eager to get started because, honestly, we didn't know a THING about raising a child.  I was that girl who awkwardly held a baby at social gatherings then quickly passed the (now crying) bundle back to it's mother.  Nevertheless, I knew that we wanted one of our own, and I was excited for the opportunity to become the confident mother of a beautiful child.  I just had a bit of reading to do...

I don't have to tell you that things didn't go exactly to plan.  I never had the opportunity to read any of the books on my list (except for half of my What to Expect When You're Expecting book!)

When we came home from the hospital, I opened up the books on my list with renewed vigor...diving in where I left off.  What to Expect the First Year, Babywise, The Girlfriend's Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood...etc.

My enthusiasm didn't last long.

Samuel was so different.  The question and answer section of the books drove me to tears.  One mother is anxious about her child's continual case of the hiccups...another concerned over a rash...the next is wondering if their child is 'normal' - and I'm reading this at home with a baby who is hooked up to a whirring oxygen concentrator and a beeping pulse-ox monitor.  While the author assures each parent that they have little to worry about as long as their child has been healthy; I realized that I was sitting at the other end of the seesaw.  I knew that 25% of micro preemies end up with autism.  I knew that the brain bleed that Samuel had COULD cause problems.  I knew there was a chance he had CP from oxygen asphyxiation.  I knew that Samuel would probably be developmentally delayed.  And I knew there had been NOTHING healthy about MY child from the moment of his birth.

The chapters on feeding and sleep schedules for newborns upset me further.  How could I follow the recommendations of a person who had NO IDEA what it is like to have to feed a child every three hours, around the clock, for it's first year of life?
After only a few days and even fewer attempts at the books, I angerly hid them at the back of my bookshelf...where they still reside today.

But after reading some helpful advice from a friend's blog, I'm beginning to think the time has come to dust them off and open their pages once more.

I'm sure Blanket Time is familiar to many of you...but it wasn't to me.  Just another one of those things I missed by not reading the Babywise / Pre-Toddlerwise books.  It's really such a simple thing to be blogging about, but it has made such a difference with Samuel that I thought I would share.

Blanket Time is an allotted amount of time in the day when you ask your child to remain on a small blanket and play with a few toys that you have chosen.  This skill comes in handy when you need your child to obey you and stay put.

Like most toddlers, Samuel is always on the move.  ALWAYS.  He also has never been great at independent play (I'm sure my constant desire to work with him on his milestones caused that particular glitch.)  Blanket Time has been the perfect solution...and he LOVES it.  With the exception of our first few attempts, Samuel never tries to walk off his blanket.  He happily sits and plays with the toys until the timer goes off.  He has learned to look at books on his own without my attention.  Occasionally he will look at me and ask, "Beep-beep?"  But once I tell him no, that the timer has not gone off, he continues playing.  So far we have worked up to 10 minutes of independent play at a time.  I rotate blankets and rooms each day - to get him used to staying on the blanket no matter where he is or what's around him.

It's been a huge help for me as well.  I have used Blanket Time when I've needed to shower, when I have needed to get something out of the oven, or when we've been at the doctor's office. 

At home:

Out and about:

Thanks for sharing this tip Ashley!  You've motivated me to pull out those books from my list once again.  I'm sure this time I'll have a much brighter perspective!


  1. What a wonderful idea this is, and yes, those books are relevant now, praise the Lord!!!!

    Love and miss you all!!! OOXX

  2. Love this idea! Samuel is such a bright and well-behaved little boy! (much thanks to the hard work of his momma!) I totally agree with you on the feelings towards books. To be honest, I haven't picked one up since Pierce was born!

  3. Oh my goodness, Sarah! I so relate to you on this post. In fact, just looking at parenting books used to make me mad. I was jealous and angry and thought that nothing in them could possibly pertain to a child as complex as Jack. I still don't have much patience for those types of books, but I feel myself becoming more and more open to them... especially in these "terrible two" season we are in. Jack is definitely typical in his tantrums, so I can appreciate the pointers.

  4. What a great idea! I have always been a self-proclaimed baby lover- majored in child development and worked with babies in foster care and adoption- and yet I had never heard of "blanket time". But I love the idea. I can relate on a smaller scale with your feelings towards those books. Things are always different with triplets and I get frustrated with some of the advice because it works great with one baby...but not so much with three!

  5. I threw any baby books I had out after the twins were born. They angered me so much I couldn't stand to look at them. All the baby shows anger me too. Everyone acts like it's some major emergency that the baby is coming 3 weeks early!

    I can't imagine trying to get Cade to actually stay on a blanket for any extended period of time - Camdyn might. Samuel is super cute playing on his blanket though. Can you come train my kids to do this?

  6. This sounds great, I have never read this so maybe your friend came up with it? I also had a list of books to read, and the big thick preemie book was not one of them :) I have tried reading baby wise and though it addresses preemies a bit, I don't believe micro-preemies are the same. The first two months at home, ours ate every 2 hours!

  7. That sounds like a great idea. I've never heard of blanket time. I wish I had known about it when David was a baby. I read some of those parenting books with my first one and I don't really think they helped much. I think I tried too hard to do the Babywise method with David and it was a failure. I think the best ideas I've seen come from blogs and forums like babycenter.

  8. I definitely need to read some more parenting books. I did see one in our library at school the other day that many of my students' parents need Parenting for Dummies! I know that is not something you and I need, but the type of families we work with on a daily basis need that book! You are amazing as a mom. You are doing fabulous and look how far Samuel has come with your working and talents!

  9. A Baby Wise technique!! We are Baby Wise people. :) It is so cute how they actually understand those boundaries. Jake will stand with his toes just on the very edge of his blanket. And when our microwave timer "beep-beep" goes off, he gets all wide faced and excited because his job is to turn it off. :)Love that you're doing this!!

  10. I am glad that this technique is in parenting books because the only place I had heard of it was in one of Michelle Duggar's books. I am glad to see that it works well for someone else. Your son is soo smart and sweet.

  11. I love hearing about your son's progress. I cried when I read your posts in the NICU. I am so happy he is doing so well. Even though we obviously come from different background, I enjoy your writing. However, the only times I heard about blanket training were in association with spanking/physical hitting the kid to prevent the baby from getting off of the blanket. I really, really hope you are taking a different approach, because hitting (even slapping) a baby, and particularly a premie, is, I think, just cruel. Forgive me for saying so, I actually wish you could clarify this issue.

  12. Sophie,
    I did a little research on Blanket Time before I began using it with Samuel, and never read anything about it being associated with spanking. For the time being, Samuel has such a tender heart that all we need to do to discipline him is speak to him in a stern voice. It wasn't difficult to train him to stay on the blanket at all! I've always known that children do better with structure...and this activity certainly supported that theory!

  13. I'm glad to here that then! I won't point you out to those who do the spanking kind of training, because there's not need to lose time on them!

    Having boundaries is totally great! And I'm glad everything is going smoothly!