Rear Facing is the Way Forward

Guest Post by Evelyn Pederson of As you know, The Other Baby Book focuses on the first twelve months of a baby’s life. But since most parents use a convertible car seat at some point during baby’s first year, it’s valuable to project forward as parent to a toddler, and to share the benefits of keeping your child rear facing as long as possible. The first child restraint for a moving vehicle was in 1898 – a bag with a drawstring, designed to fasten to a seat. These restraints changed in form and function, and took almost a century to be mandated by law. Now, it’s illegal for your child to roam about the car freely, but as recently as 1984, only half of children from birth through age four were in restraint seats! Once car seats became the norm, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that children should be turned forward once they were at least 20lbs and 12 months of age. But in March 2011, the AAP issued a new recommendation, based on solid science: we should keep our children rear facing

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until they outgrow the weight limits of their convertible car seats, which is usually between 30-40lbs. As research continues to prove the benefits of rear-facing, more and more manufacturers are designing seats that can keep a child rear facing up to 55lbs. Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding how to position your child:

  • Rear facing is actually safest for all car passengers, but especially for infants. Tiny babies don’t have much strength in their necks, which puts them at a much greater risk of injuring their spinal cord if they are facing forward during a frontal car crash.
  • In a rear facing car seat, the effects of the crash are spread over the larger area of the child’s back, neck and head, reducing the stress placed on the child’s head and neck.
  • When rear facing during a frontal impact, your child’s neck won’t be snapped forward, greatly reducing the risks of internal decapitation which, in most cases, is fatal.
  • Though rear-facing may not be as effective in a rear crash, the probability of a rear crash is far less — 72% of crashes are frontal impact and 24% are side impact. Rear crashes generally happen at lower speeds, translating into a lower chance of injury.

Many parents wonder about their child’s legs. Just because your growing babe has to bend or cross his legs doesn’t mean he’s at risk. There are no rear facing crashes on record where a child’s legs have broken. However, there are many recorded cases where a head/neck injury could have been prevented due to a child facing forward too soon. Even if his legs were at risk, most of us would choose a broken leg or two over a fatal spinal cord injury any day.

What’s so bad about Wi-fi?

Technology has dramatically changed the face of motherhood. One hundred years ago, most women relied on a small, tight-knit community for support. Now, almost every home has a computer, and likely a laptop. From mom blogs to support forums, scholarly research to online shopping, women have access to almost any type of information or service necessary. It’s hard to underestimate the benefits of technology. But according to Eve Greenberg, “We are conducting a human experiment on a massive scale by exposing a large population worldwide to radio frequency radiation without understanding the long-term biological and health consequences.”[i]   We’ve been groomed to think that a home, a store, or a city enabled with Wi-Fi is an ideal setup. Few of us consider the unseen consequences, maybe because we assume that new products are tested for safety before they’re rolled out en mass. Cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra asserts, “The greatest threat to health in this millennium is wireless technologies, without a doubt.” And babies, children, and fetuses, are the most vulnerable to electromagnetic fields. Cell Phones. Any discussion of the harmful effects of cell phones would be incomplete without discussing the most dangerous usage of phones – texting, or talking, while driving. Drivers who text are eight times more likely to get into an accident, and those engaging in conversation on a handheld are four times more likely to crash than a driver who is not using a cell phone, approximately the crash rate of drunk drivers. Prevention is the best way we can protect the next generation. Children’s immune systems are not fully developed, and yet they absorb more energy than adults from the same cell phone. A phone’s cellular energy is absorbed directly into the mid-brain of a child, as opposed to just the temporal lobe of an adult.[ii] Mid-brain tumors are more deadly than tumors on the perimeter of the brain, so babes directly exposed to cell phones are in double jeopardy. In addition to affecting their physical health, cell exposure carries an increased risk of behavioral and social problems in children.[iii] When mothers used a cell phone during pregnancy – and really, what pregnant woman hasn’t? – kids were found to have a 53% increased risk of behavioral and social issues. Risks rose to over 80% if, by age seven, the child used a cell phone himself. A pilot study[iv] found the sleeping environments of pregnant women had 22x higher levels of electromagnetic fields when offspring were later diagnosed with autism.   Text Box: Common Sources of Radio Waves Outdoors: broadcast and cell phone antennas, radar, people using cell phones Indoors: cell phones, cordless telephones and their base units, wireless computers and their wireless routers, mice and printers, Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, microwave ovens, wireless security systems, wireless baby monitors and medical monitoring equipment. Tips to Reduce Wi-Fi and Cell Radiation

  • Go retro. Plug all computers into hard-wired Ethernet, cable or phone lines.
  • Replace cordless phones with corded phones in areas most exposed to baby.
  • At home, keep your cell phone on airplane mode and use a land line.
  • When out and about, keep cell phone away from baby. Never let baby or young kids talk on a cell phone and consider using a shielded case for your phone and a headset.
  • If you’re pregnant, avoid cell phones as much as possible.

[i] Greenberg, E. “An Activist’s Journey to Raise Awareness about Electromagnetic Pollution,” published by Explore! Volume 19, Number 4, 2010
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Research by Om Gandhi, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Utah published in “Public Health SOS: The Shadow Side of the Wireless Revolution,” by Camilla Rees and Magda Havas, PhD

[iii] Kheifets, Leeka; Repacholi, Michael; Saunders, Rick; van Deventer, Emilie. The Sensitivity of Children to Electromagnetic Fields. Journal of Pediatrics 2005; 116; 303-313
[iv] by Deitrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD et al
[v] Adapted from Greenberg, Eve. “An Activist’s Journey to Raise Awareness about Electromagnetic Pollution,” published by Explore! Volume 19, Number 4, 2010  

Standing up for Global Motherhood

Motherhood The last frontier in the trinity of protection-worthy causes is global motherhood. When you’re up to your ears in spit-up, laundry, and dust bunnies, fighting for an intangible cause may not be first on your priority list. But ask any mom, and she’ll tell you you can’t separate being a mother from motherhood at large. How our society views mothers likely will impact your daily life, whether it’s the adoption of laws that protect a women’s right to breastfeed in public (or not), legislation that demands more rigorous and stringent testing for plastics manufacturers, or mandates around paid maternity and paternity leave. Many of the moms we talked to spoke critically about the perception of motherhood in the United States. Motherhood has the strange position of being both revered and dismissed. It’s almost as if its very difficulty renders it too undignified a

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position to respect. The things that mothers do are so basic and so ubiquitous as to be almost unnoticeable, and it seems like the more lip-service is paid to honoring mothers, the less actual attention and appreciation they receive. Courtney Motherhood is often regarded with ambivalence and hypocrisy. We tend to equate “parenthood” with “motherhood” – thinking and assuming that mothers are, or should be, primarily responsible for child-rearing. This allows men to get credit for “babysitting” when they watch their children and also, unfortunately, causes many businesses to look askance at men who want to take more than two weeks off to bond with their new babies, since that early bonding is seen as the province of mothers. Aside from that issue, our culture seems to like the idea of mothering/parenting much more so than the actual nuts-and-bolts of it, the inconvenience of which our society seems greatly bothered by. We still apparently haven’t resolved whether we think it’s progressive or damaging to children for mothers to work outside the home, so we pass judgement on women in each camp. And while we have token conversations about the need for greater work-life balance and making it easier for working mothers to maintain a career, we don’t do anything that would actually help in that regard, such as federally or employer subsidized (and/or on-site) child care. We think a three month maternity leave policy is wildly generous, but even that is hard to find, and almost never 100% paid. Then we make working mothers feel guilty about not being fully committed to their career when they have to stay home to care for sick children, take time out of the workday to pump, turn down work-related travel or late nights at the office because of their responsibilities to their children, etc. In the meantime, our culture has a ridiculous obsession with mothers returning to their physical pre-baby state. It seems like every week another women’s magazine has a cover featuring a celebrity mom in a bikini six weeks after giving birth. All of this suggests that our culture, overall, values motherhood only insofar as it doesn’t change anything other than providing said mother with a cute little baby to tote around and show off. Heaven forbid it actually alter her work functioning, physical appearance, or sociability. ~Heidi, mom to Sam We can’t validate those feelings enough. It’s frustrating to be life-bearers and life-sustainers, and yet be so brushed aside. But what’s a mama to do? You likely don’t have time to knock on your Congressman’s door, but maybe you do have time to sign up for email alerts from MomsRising, a non-profit that brings together millions of people who share a common concern about the need to build a more family-friendly America. Often an email to your Congressman can be equally effective – and far quicker. Finding ways to support other mothers, whether it’s setting up a calendar to bring meals to new moms, or e-lobbying for paid sick days for the 48% of moms who don’t have them, you can make a difference. Make sure it’s something you’re passionate about, and something that comes organically, as an extension of who you are though, or else you’ll likely give it up. We don’t want to leave you with just the downs though. Though motherhood can be tough going, the joy our little ones bring us is equally hard to put into words. Motherhood: at various times sweet, inspirational, alarming, charming, frustrating, exhausting, perplexing, exciting, liberating, fulfilling, irritating, confidence boosting, confidence shattering, and, for many women, the most important thing they’ve ever done. Women usually want to be “the best mother they can be” but figuring out what that means, and how to do it without losing oneself, often feels overwhelming. But being your child’s best mother isn’t as hard as many women these days make it out to be. Despite the proliferation of books on parenting; products advertised as indispensable; and well-meaning advice, being a great mother requires no expensive equipment and can be accomplished easily by following a few guidelines. Here is a list of mothering behaviors I’ve found essential to being a the best mother I can be: • Nurture the person my child is – not the person I wanted to be, or even the person I wish my child was, but the person my child wants to become. • Set limits that are appropriate to my child’s age, ability, social situation, and your values • Provide structure • Be consistent and reliable • Have fun • Accept myself, my mate, and my children fully and lovingly • Be kind and considerate to my loved ones • Include myself on the list of people about and for whom I care. • Remember that perfection does not exist • Understand that learning to tolerate frustration – by occasionally needing to wait patiently, take turns, or not getting exactly their way, is essential to building character and is good for children • Enjoy my children If you provide adequately (not spectacularly, but adequately) for your children’s material, intellectual and physical needs, truly love them unconditionally while offering proper guidance, you will be a wonderful – and happy – mother. Each day brings new joys, and I know that there are so many more to come. For me, nothing has ever surpassed the moment of putting each of my newborn babies to my breast for the first time, right after they were born. It was true joy for me to do this after 9 long months of waiting to meet them, see them, hold them, and find out if they were boys or girls! ~Amanda, mom to Rose, Ryan, and Colin At about 3 months old, my daughter started touching her own face and body – in essence, she was discovering herself. Then at about 4 months old, she discovered me. We were laying in bed facing each other (we were co-sleeping at that time), and all of the sudden I felt her tiny hands exploring my face. It was like she understood, for the first time, that I was part of her world. It was a priceless moment. ~Debbie, mom to ? I sense that both women and men in our culture are struggling with the tension between still seeing the need to empower women and coming to the reluctant conclusion that feminism missed the mark in so many ways. People don’t really know what to do with stay-at-home moms anymore. I think they’re often publicly dismissed as having little impact on society, but at the same time they are secretly envied by many of their working-outside-the-home counterparts. We know deep down that mothers are supremely important in the lives of their children and so we pay lip service to the idea, but we often act in ways that suggest we wish it weren’t so. ~Francine

Why Natural Parents are Richer

The New Baby Basics

The New Baby Basics

At long last, we’re excited to share the secret to being a richer, happier parent.

It’s true, natural parents are richer than other parents. Not because we earn more, but because we spend less. Check out our baby registries (if you can find them, because we recognize that few items marketed as “baby essentials” are necessary or even useful), and you won’t find the funtime froggy bathtub, a baby swing, and most notably a crib. Usually, that is. It’s important to recognize that every family is different and while sweeping generalities can be used to give you a sense of their typical lifestyle choices, every family makes its own decisions independently, based on its own needs and preferences.

What is a natural parent? While there are many ways to define a natural parent, it’s essentially a parent who takes care of his or her child using traditional, time-tested practices that help to enhance happiness, health and the bond between parent and child.

Anyone who’s purchased baby food, including infant formula, baby cereals and purees, not to mention all those fun teething biscuits and snacks with cartoons on the boxes, will tell you—they cost a pretty penny. But they’ve been around so long—and, more importantly, marketed so successfully—you’d never know they weren’t necessary to feed your children.

If foods like baby formula are such staples, then why aren’t babies born with a bottle and can of formula? Because they born with something even easier to access, healthier, and cheaper. We humans are called mammals because our bodies are genetically equipped to feed our babies with human milk, and we begin making milk in preparation for the baby’s birth. It’s true, not all women make enough milk for their babies. I know—I  was one of the few who didn’t, at first. But it’s far less true than we’re led to think. More than 90% of women have enough milk, or can make enough milk to feed their babies. It’s just that new moms don’t get all the support we need to do it, in the form of skilled professionals like Lactation Consultants—or better yet, a wise community of elders—who can help us through the early days and the inevitable bumps in the road.

While we’re on the topic of baby food, I’m excited to share a revelation that changed my life, and kept our bank account healthy. Babies don’t actually need baby food! Really. I know what you’re thinking—here’s one of those blender ladies who is going to tell me to puree my own baby food. Actually, no. It’s much easier than that. Our babies—beginning around age 6 months and older—can eat the vast majority of foods that we eat. Things like whole fruit, cooked veggies and whole grains such as rice, quinoa, beans and even meat.

Not only can babies eat our food, they can also feed themselves. This is where the real fun comes in. Maybe you’ve seen a parent feeding their baby, or maybe you’ve been that parent airplaning mashed bananas into his mouth. You know that it takes both of your hands and your complete attention. You’re spooning the mush out of the jar, aiming it into the baby’s mouth, possibly making sound effects while encouraging him to eat it, then cleaning up when he’s done. Picture this instead. Cook dinner as you normally would, then put some food on his tray or plate. Let him practice picking it up, aiming it towards his mouth or just playing with it. Then clean up when he’s all done. What’s the difference between these two ways of feeding babies solid foods? In the second scenario, the parent can actually eat and enjoy the show! Chances are she has many comical pictures of her baby wearing his dinner, what with her hands free and clear. The long-term outcomes are even more impressive, though. Babies who are self-fed are less likely to overeat or be obese later in life. Not bad for budget-friendly dining.

Another top money saving secret shared by natural parents is called Elimination Communication (EC), or infant pottying. Yes, really. Infants can be taken to the bathroom, and, in fact, they really want to be. No one wants to sit in their own filth, not even babies. Most parents who potty their infants notice that babies stop pooping in their diapers within a week or two. By tuning in to our babies’ cues, we’re able to better meet their needs. ECing parents also report less incidences of unexplained crying. You know those times when you fed, clothed, napped and changed your baby, and he still wouldn’t stop crying? Millions of parents chalk it up to a mystery of babyhood. But it just might be that your baby wants you to take off his diaper so that he won’t have to soil himself. It sounds crazy at first, I know. But pottying is fun for everyone – the baby who doesn’t have to poop in his diaper, and the parent who “catches” his eliminations and doesn’t have to change her baby’s diaper—not to mention pay for all those expensive Pampers!

We’ve all heard about life in the trenches – the first three months of a baby’s life when he’s crying all the time, waking up multiple times to feed and needing to be swaddled, rocked, pacified, sung to, driven in the car, or shushed to sleep. I’ve been there, and they were the longest and most miserable three weeks of my life. But thanks to conversations with natural parents, I learned that I didn’t have to keep muscling through, all three of us miserable as my baby cried her way through the nights. I learned that I could bring her into bed with me – that bed-sharing wasn’t unsafe, as my post-partum hospital nurse had told me, as long as it was done safely. Safe co-sleeping is one of the best-kept secrets in Western society, even though it’s practiced across the rest of the world. The U.S. government in particular has done an impressive job publicizing the perils of bed-sharing, citing many tragic deaths from co-sleeping, without mentioning that they are actually 46 times less than crib deaths over the same time period.

What’s so great about co-sleeping? For nursing moms, sharing a sleep surface enables a baby to feed quickly and easily, without mom’s feet once touching the ground. (Babies who aren’t nursing are safest on a separate sleep surface, close to their parents.) For babies, who have spent 10 months in utero, co-sleeping allows them the nearness to their moms, making the world less scary and helping them relax and sleep! Also, while the baby’s lungs are developing, nearness to his mom helps him to regulate his breathing, resulting in fewer instances of apnea and SIDS.

Are natural parents really richer? As one who has tread both worlds with the same baby, I can tell you that the tools in the natural parenting toolkit have fattened our bank account, built a close intuitive relationship with our daughter and increased our sleep. Taken together or separately, the experience has been priceless.

Miriam is a fun-loving mama who literally can’t stop kissing Dalia, her delicious 2 year old. Miriam’s other loves are her husband Misha, and escaping the Boston winters with friends and family in Israel. She loves reading, yoga, crafting and helping others find their paths through life coaching.

*****************************************************************************************Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!


The New Myth of the Stay at Home Mom

  When I was in college, I took a class called “Gender and Inequality.” We learned about feminist issues and read Betty Friedan’s “Feminine Mystique.” In the 1963 book, she argued that the women of her age were unhappy from being confined in the roles of mother and wife. In the decades that followed, women were “liberated” from the home and it seemed that women could have it all: a thriving career and a happy home life with kids.   Except as many mothers now know, this is far from reality. Whether a stay at home mom or a working mom, it is IMPOSSIBLE to have it all. There just isn’t enough time or money. And that’s the reality of it.   But lately I’ve seen women embracing stay at home mom status as the answer to it all. Our mothers’ generation fought to be in the workplace and now we’re fighting to be back in the home. And so in the 80′s we had the power mom. Today we have the new SAHM. And I believe that this new view of an old role can be just as damaging as the one Friedan pushed. Please read further…   SAHM: The Stay at Home Mom Otherwise known as the “new overachiever.” Being a SAHM is suddenly the new career. The purpose driven life. We don’t just cook, clean, and tend children. We KNIT. And not just knit, but matching sweaters for the whole family (and the dog.) We COUPON. And you can’t just do regular couponing these days, but everything has to be EXTREME. We are learning all of our grandmothers’ trades: canning, baking, preserving, sewing, and even cloth diapering has made a comeback. We don’t just play with our kids, we EDUCATE them. And we’re not just moms who happen to be at home anymore, we’re HOME MANAGERS (anyone heard that term floating around?) To top it all off, now every SAHM is also a mommy blogger, projecting images of a perfect home and happy family out into the blogosphere. But where is the line between perfection and the cold truth of reality? On one hand, I think it’s wonderful that the shame of being a SAHM has lifted somewhat. Women are learning useful skills to take care of family and home. And it can be so incredibly enjoyable and fulfilling. But on the other hand, I think this mentality can lead to an unhealthy focus on the pursuit of the unattainable. We’re not concerned with keeping up with the

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Joneses anymore, but keeping up with other moms. I came to this conclusion recently when I was thinking that maybe I should learn to knit. For those of you who know me, I couldn’t possibly sit still long enough to weave bits of yarn between two needles. But for some reason, I felt like I SHOULD be doing it. And that is the root of the problem: SAHMs are not successful at their “job” if they aren’t doing it ALL. Many left the workforce to avoid this mentality, but guess what? It followed us home. I’ll be the first to admit: there are usually piles of dirty dishes in the sink, dog hair floating across the floor, and mounds of laundry to be washed EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I get bored during the day and follow news stories religiously to have a connection to the world outside my home. I miss regular adult conversation, but I love being with my daughter. Everything is a trade-off. And I know behind those perfect Instagram, Pinterest, blog photos of domestic life, are homes filled with women trying to keep up. Facing kids who are messy, a husband who is tired from work, and a day in which there is not enough coffee in the pot. And I’m ok with that, because sometimes reality is more refreshing than idealism. So just as Friedan liberated women from the domestic life, I say let’s liberate ourselves from the idealistic, unachievable idea of the perfect mom. Whether you stay at home or work, cut yourself some damn slack. I know I am. Put away your plans to freeze meals for the next month, bake bread, or organize one more closet and go put your feet up. And guess what? Your family will love you just the same.       Kate is a stay at home mama who is terrible at clipping coupons, drinks her coffee black, and can bake a mean apple pie. She blogs about her adventures on the homefront at Boomerang Mama.

A Hearty Hello, from Rhianna!

Rhianna and Arlo

Is it super nerdy to say right here, in my very first sentence of my very first post on The Other Baby Blog, that I am pretty darn stoked to be plucking out words in this space? I’ve been following The Other Baby Book on Facebook for many months now, quietly enjoying a spirit of camaraderie with my fellow mamas there who dare to question the mainstream parenting ethos. If you also follow TOBB (and if you don’t, you should), chances are that we have been nodding our heads together at the insightful commentary there, while drinking our much-needed morning coffee. And since we’ve been unknowingly sharing morning coffee and mental high-fives across the vast interwebs together all this time, perhaps a proper introduction is in order!

I am the sometimes-bedraggled, always-smitten mother of a rambunctious, moppy-tressed 15 month old boy named Arlo. About a year ago I quit my job as a hospital social worker a few days after returning from my maternity leave. I naively assumed that I’d sail through my back-to-work transition, that it might be a little difficult that first day, but that I’d acclimate and all would be well. Except it wasn’t. It sucked. I hunkered down in my office with a wad of tissues in one hand and a picture of my bebe in the other, and spent my time sobbing to the beat of my breast pump.

I had thoroughly underestimated the power of attachment, y’all, and I was unmoored and rudderless in the absence of my baby. In those preceding eleven weeks filled with the blissed-out closeness of babywearing, of nursing on cue, of honoring and responding to his needs, and of sharing sleep with him, I thought I was nurturing my son’s secure attachment to me. Turns out that attachment parenting fortified my attachment to him. I had never before imagined or expected to be a stay-home parent, but I quickly tendered my resignation with unfiltered relief and confidence that it was the right decision for me.

Parenting Arlo has been a total trip, a journey both exhilarating and exasperating. In this time I’ve realized–rather sharply–the necessity of good support, of communing and commiserating with like-minded parents. My parenting choices have sometimes left me feeling on the fringe, regardless of my conviction and committment. I’ve fielded skepticism from my pediatrician for declining and delaying certain vaccines. I’ve deflected criticism that I’m spoiling my child by holding him too much and responding to his crying. I’ve stood my ground in debates over why my husband and I chose to leave our son intact and why we share sleep. I’ve gotten the stink-eye from strangers for nursing my toddler in public.

Those experiences are irritating at best and compound a hard day of mothering at worst. And those experiences are precisely why I relish opportunities to connect with other folks who also embrace natural, gentle parenting approaches. I hope that is what you can find here with me at The Other Baby Blog:  a space for connection, community, support and solidarity.  Okay, and maybe a dash of nerdiness and excitement here and there, too.

Rhianna is blogging in the middle of her relocation to St. Louis, where she hopes to find other mamas who share her her nerdy enthusiasm for new blogging ventures,  old Nancy Drew hardbacks, wool dryer balls, and cloth diaper-friendly diaper balm.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

With two very active toddlers, we’re hesitant to embark on a trip across the country to promote our book. We’re so excited to get the message out there, but at the same time, we need to stay true to our parenting, which means our girls come first. So to strike a balance between work and love, we’ve decided to run a Virtual Book Tour. We’re adding new “stops” every day, but here is our list so far.

April 2ndProgressive Parenting Radio Show

April 4th – Jan Hunt at Natural Child Project

April 5th – Ariadne at Positive Parenting Connection

April 7th – Jennifer @ Hybrid Rasta Mama

April 9thNatural Parents Network

April 11th – Corey @ Conscience Parenting

April 12th – Dulce @ Dulce de Leche

April 17th – Leslie @ The Mom: Informed

April 18th – Krissy @Keen for Green

April 19th – Interview @ Little Hearts Books

April 22nd – Interview with Amber Strocel @ Podcast

April 23rd – Larissa @ Diaperless

April 25 – Jenn @ Organic Mama

April 26th – Jamie @ I Am Not The babysitter

April 27th – Kristen @ Natural Birth and Baby Care

May 3rd at 12pm – Special Guests on Isis Parenting’s Breastfeeding Webinar @ Isis Parenting

And if you’re in the Boston area, we’ll be hosting a book launch party at Isis Parenting in Needham, June 2nd from 3-5pm!

Have suggestions? Add to the comments and we’ll do our best!

I’m a Natural Parent But…

Welcome to the “I’m a Natural Parent – BUT…” Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. During this carnival our participants have focused on the many different forms and shapes Natural Parenting can take in our community.


You did WHAT?!

What is a “natural parent” anyway? If you’re not natural, does that mean you’re unnatural?

Just so we’re on the same page, here’s a working definition. Natural Parenting (NP) includes being respectful and responsive toward your children, leaving a small footprint on the earth through environmentally conscious decisions, and embracing holistic health, which includes gentle alternatives to conventional medicine. (The Natural Parents Network defines NP in detail if you’re interested in more.)

That plays out in so many different ways, though. If you read blogs or attend NP playgroups, it’s not uncommon for a little doubt to creep in. We often portray the best of the best when we’re putting ourselves out there on the web or in person, but that’s often doing a disservice to other moms who feel like they simply can’t live up. “Eek! I don’t raise chickens/make my own elderberry syrup/knit sweaters/fill-in-the-blank.” Chin up, mama! None of us are perfect. In fact, many of us are far from it.

So, in keeping with the eight chapters of The Other Baby Book, here’s a dose of my reality.

I’m a Natural Parent but…


I had a hospital birth AND asked for an epidural. Multiple times. (Dear husband was so kind to remind me I didn’t really want one, and looking back, I’m very grateful.)


After a year, I started to bribe Anabella with snacks to ride in her stroller on longer trips, rather than hop in the carrier, which did a number on my back.


When my extended family asks, “How long are you going to do that for?” I resent the need to educate them.


At the tail end of being a single mom for a week while Mark was off on business, I let Anabella cry in her co-sleeper for 55 minutes, in hopes she would go to sleep before midnight, and stay asleep for more than 40 minutes. (For what it’s worth, that was far and away my lowest motherhood moment ever.)


Nighttime pottying sucks. I wish Anabella would just happily fill up a disposable diaper and sleep through the pees.


Anabella learned her ABCs by watching Elmo Learns his Letters…in the car.


We’ve eaten non-organic produce from The Dirty Dozen.


Sometimes I don’t eat lunch. Or wash my hair. Or my jeans. I’m still working on self-care.

I’m a Natural Parent And…I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What’s your reality?


This carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that “natural parenting” means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that “natural parenting” means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that “natural parenting” means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Spiced Beef Stew

My favorite meals are the ones that come together in less than ten minutes, but taste like they’ve taken all day to prepare. The only way I really know how to make that happen is in the slow cooker. So, I’m adapting most of my best recipes and so far, so good. Last night, I mastered a pretty amazing stew. The depth of flavor in the sauce is matched with beef and fruit that melt in your mouth!


2.5 pounds stew beef (Swap the beef for chicken or lamb if you’re looking to mix things up.)

6 cloves of mashed and diced garlic

1/2 c olive oil

4 teaspoons cumin

1/2 t ground ginger

1 t each: salt, turmeric, paprika, ground pepper

1 T cinnamon

3-4 cups beef or chicken stock (If you’d prefer a thicker stew, add less stock.)

1.5-2 cups dried prunes or apricots

1/4 c flour (optional)

garnish: cilantro



Mix olive oil, garilc, and spices in your slow cooker.

Add beef.

Pour stock over the beef.

Cook on high 6-8 hours.

About a half hour to an hour before you’d like to eat, drop in the fruit, and take out about 1/2 cup of stock. Mix the hot stock with the flour, to create a slurry. Then, add back into the stew, stir, and recover for about 30-60  minutes.

Serve over plain couscous, rice, or eat as a stew.


This post is part of The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter.