ask grandma maggie

Grandma Maggie answers questions about parenting and childcare issues only. She is a mother of four girls and grandmother to two boys and two girls. Maggie is trained in early childhood education, and was the owner of a successful day care center for many years.

Due to health reasons, Grandma Maggie is not currently taking any questions.

Dear Grandma Maggie,
My husband and I have been together for six years (married for three). I am only 25 years old, but we both want to be young parents. We have been talking about starting a family for a while, but the response from family and friends has been very negative: "You have plenty of time for kids", "You're too young to have children now", "just enjoy each other while you can", etc. Although we've made our own decision to try to conceive now, we are keeping it a secret from those people closest to us because I fear their reaction. I know I shouldn't care what other people think, but I want to share this news with our family and friends. How should I respond if they say something negative about our age?
Thanks for the advice!

Dear Katie,
I would ask them who decided when they could have babie. Either that or not say a word until it was very obvious that you were pregnant. Then when they asked you why you didn't tell them reply, "You made it very clear that you would not be happy if we got pregnant and we really wanted to tell only those whou would love and support us." That should take care of it!
Grandma Maggie

Hi Grandma Maggie,

I am a first time, stay-at-home mother who is having a heck of a time getting my 19 month old son to nap (I am also 36 weeks pregnant with my second son)! He has always been a little finicky in his napping (if we had any change in schedule it would take him a day or so to recover) but we have had the same routine since he was about 10 months old; bedtime from 7:30pm-7:30am, nap from 12:30-2:30pm.

About three weeks ago he all of a sudden stopped taking his naps consistently. I feel like the turning point was when I had my Grandmother-in-law babysit and for some reason my son slept for 4 hours during his nap that day! Ever since then, I go to lay him down and he sits in his crib talking to himself and sometimes whining or crying a little. After about two hours (earlier if he is really upset and I go and get him), I feel it's been too much time and I finally get him out thinking "well at least he had quiet time". By about 5:00pm he gets very cranky, indicating he is definitely tired so I do not feel like we are done with the napping days. The longer this goes on, the more I notice an extreme change in his attitude. He gets frustrated way too easily, throwing himself and his toys around, falling/stumbling more often, crying uncontrollably, it's been a pain to get him to eat much.... so I feel like he is ridiculously overtired. We live in a rural area and have to drive 15 min or so to the grocery store/other errands and he typically falls asleep in the car, further indicating to me that he is indeed sleepy!

He also did get his bottom molars in two weeks ago, so I assume those are bothering him. I would usually give him a little baby tylenol before nap/bedtime for the pain, but for the last week I have tried baby ibuprofen since I heard it works better for teething pain. He resists taking it and seems somewhat cranky afterward, so I am starting to think it gives him a tummy ache even though I administer it with food.

His nighttime sleep is generally uninterrupted, but once or twice in the last three weeks he has woken up in the middle of the night with what seemed like sleep terrors or nightmares. He would just cry and we would go in to comfort him, then he'd go back to sleep within 20min. I researched this and it sounds like these sleep disturbances may be common in an overtired baby.

Please help! Any advice is much appreciated.

Overtired Mommy
Emily Waters

Dear Emily,

I turned 78 last week and I feel as if I just caught up on my sleep a week or so ago!

All I can tell you is that you have a sensitive son who could possibly be reacting to all the changes going on in his life, as well as perhaps slowly outgrowing his nap.

If he were my child I would try to feed him his supper early when you see him starting to get tired. I think that's the place to begin. Forget about any worries concerning his food. He will eat when he's hungry as long as food is available. Don't overwhelm him with too much
food. A few pieces of this and that which he can handle himself, things he can pick up from the tray of his high chair. When he is ready, let him down but try to last 15 minutes at the table.

Also try narrating his day as that's how kids learn to talk. It also takes up some time. "See Mama washing your high chair tray? Next time you eat it will be clean." Encourage him to help you. Then a warm bath with a few favorite toys can take up some time and relax him. A story and maybe music if he likes it, and then to bed.

Do the same routine at lunch, including the bath, and as long as he doesn't scream when you put him down, but talks and plays, that's self soothing and I think it's ok for him to be alone for a while.

Does he have outdoor time and toys? He might need more physical exercise. Drive to a park when the weather permits. Even walk around the park in town. Visit the library and ask for a book on baby massage for you, and a book on a new baby in the house for him. I am not saying they will help, but they could.

As far as what is to be when the second child arrives. don't worry about it. The second child usually adjusts to whatever is happening around the house, and one of the things that occurs is that the first baby is not the center of attention anymore and that can be a good thing.

Also I have to say that just when you get adjusted to a child's routine, it changes. That's part of parenthood. It also can be exciting.

Wising you the best,

Grandma Maggie


Hi Grandma. My name is Samantha. I am a single-mom working at a local doctor's office. I am also 7 months pregnant with a beautiful baby girl and I have another girl too, who is 3. I am getting a little worried about taking care of two children, especially one that will need to be held 24/7, and one that is wild and very curious. I am getting several months off of work to get my act straight, and my mother will be helping me whenever she can. But, when she can't is probably when I am gonna need her the most. Shopping, parks, resturants, all will be hectic. My question is basically if I should get a nanny to care for my children and go with me places, or just go cold turkey and do it myself? Thank you.


Dear Friend,

No baby needs to be held 24/7, and Abigail will be able to be partially maintained by talking to her. Whenever your mother is available, do what needs to be done outside the house. Learn to think ahead, so that when your mom has the time, you have an ongoing list for what you need at the store. If you can, take one of the children with you and let your mother with the one at home. If it's the older child, then maybe she can take her to the park to play. If she stays with the younger one then you can have mother/daughter time with your three year old.

If your mother can handle both of them, then the shopping will go much faster. Hiring help a few days a week might be a good way of testing for the help you will need when you return to work.
You are so fortunate to have your mother nearby as well as to receive such a generous leave post delivery.

Good luck,
Grandma Maggie

Dear Grandma,

I'm close to my delivery time for my son. This is it first pregnancy and I want to know from a mother's view if breast feeding is the best for my baby. I've heard from my mother-in-law that it isn't. My doctor says it's my choice. I want to know what is best for both me and my baby.


Dear Candi,

Breast feeding has been in and out of vogue for the last 100 years. It could be your mother-in-law became a young mother during a time when breast feeding was frowned upon. Thankfully it is again respected because it offers your baby an immunity for the time you breast feed that is not found in formula. I also think it's easier.

However I also deem it the choice of the mother and no one else. If there is anything that makes you uncomfortable about it, remember it is your choice.

Just love that child.
Grandma Maggie

Hi Grandma Maggie,

I came upon your page and figured I'd give it a shot on this issue we're having in our home.

My husband, kids and I just moved into a new house. For the first time we have a smoke alarm in every bedroom as well as a security system that might I add... we have no idea how to use. About a week ago, my husband was fooling around with it. I walked in front of one of the motion sensors and set it off by accident. The system started beeping, flashing and TALKING, startling everyone in the house, especially my 6yr son and 3yr daughter. I explained to them that it was just Daddy trying to figure out the system and everything was okay, but since then, getting the two of them to bed has been a NIGHTMARE.

Both of them are petrified of the smoke alarms, which flashes a tiny light every 30 seconds or so, in their rooms. They're afraid that it's watching them while they're sleeping or that if they walk under it while it flashes, it's going to go off again. My 3 year old wet her bed the other night because she was too scared to walk to the bathroom, for fear that when she walked by the motion sensor, the system would go off. We don't even put it on!

I have no idea what to do. I can't take the alarms off the ceiling. I don't want to explain to them what the system is or what the alarms in the bedrooms are for in fear of getting them more scared. Any ideas?

Dear Mom,

The first thing you do is try to track down the makers of the alarm system. Once you do that, call their customer service department and ask them how to handle the system. Perhaps you could arrange to have a representative sent to your home to explain it. If you cannot find the manufacturer, then ask the former owners of they can help you.

Next explain to the child or children it's like having a kind adult, maybe a policeman, helping you watch over them and care for them, just in case there is trouble in their room.

Either learn how to operate the security system or dismantle it in their room and put in a two way baby monitor. As far as the smoke alarms, you need to leave them as is or it would be far too dangerous for your children and you.

My best,
Grandma Maggie


Hello, My name is Amanda and I'm 27 and expecting my third child.

I'm very excited about having another child as I love my other two kids so much. I'm worried about people's reaction to the news that we are expecting again.My mother doesn't think I should have more kids (which is funny as she had 5 and adopted me)and my husband's sister hasn't been able to carry a baby to term yet. My husband is very excited and doesn't care what anybody thinks but I haven't gotten the great happy reaction that I got for either of my other two children and it makes me nervous.

I'm concerned this time that my in-laws will be upset that we got pregnant knowing that my sister in law has been having such a hard time. Any advice as to how to break the news to our families?

Worried Mommy

Dear Amanda,

We don't have babies for the happy reaction of others but for the joy we feel over what we have to offer a child. I think your husband is on the right track.

If you are not dependent on others financially or for childcare, then I cannot see what business it is of theirs how many children you have. After all, if you didn't have this baby, your sister-in-law would still have trouble conceiving. One thing has nothing to do with the other.
If I were you, I would just not make any big announcement, which could be construed as you looking for attention. At one point the family will notice you are pregnant, and when they ask, tell them, "Yes, and we are delighted by the fact." Then go on to another subject.
No one tells a couple how many babies to have. The couple is in charge of that decision.

Grandma Maggie

Grandma Maggie is not a medical professional and writes purely from her own experience as a mother, grandmother and caregiver. Her advice is her opinion only, and should only be taken as one woman's opinions, which may not be appropriate for everyone. Each situation merits its own evaluation. If seeking medical advice, please call your family pediatrician.

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