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!

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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 @ Strocel.com 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.

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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…

Birth

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.)

Touch

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.

Milk

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

Sleep

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.)

Potty

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

Relate

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

Eat

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

Flow

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?

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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:

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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:

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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!

Ingredients

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

 

Method

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.

 

 

Natural Mastitis Cures and Prevention

Mastitis.

The name itself sounds pretty awful. If you grew up in even a slightly rural area, the word may ring a bell. Isn’t that an infection milking cows get!? Yup. And nursing mamas, too. I know—I had it twice myself.

A few days after my first sweet girl was born. I just assumed all new mothers felt like they had been run over by a truck. My whole body was hot with a fever, but my breasts were red, inflamed, and on fire! Think: flu + engorgement + childbirth recovery. Eek.

My midwife was clear: I needed antibiotics. Antibiotics?! I just endured a day of unmedicated childbirth because I wanted to keep my baby pure and medication-free. This seemed like the cruelest of ironies. My midwife called in the prescription but I never picked it up. I knew enough about natural healing to know antibiotics were not the only remedy, despite her advice. After some research, I felt armed to fight the infection, and now I’m excited to provide it for other moms who want a natural alternative for healing….

I’m blogging at Authentic Parenting today. Head over there to read more about simple, natural ways to prevent and treat breast infections.

Sunday Surf: Food for fun and food for thought

Turino, Italia

Lazy Almond Butter Cups @ Good Girl Gone Green

Almond butter + chocolate + 10 minutes = amazing.

Does iPhone’s Siri Thwart Social Intelligence? @ Parenting for Peace

Marcy Axness is my new favorite parenting writer/researcher. She’s awesome. Check out this counter-cultural post on the affects of social media and technology.

Infant Sensory Play @ Play at Home Mom

Great ideas for playing with wee ones!

 

For more Sunday Surf reading fun, check out Hobo Mama!

Nursing and Pregnant Mothers’ Snack: Easy Baked Custard

I love eggs. I love milk, especially the raw stuff. This baked custard has been my go-to dessert in late pregnancy, and now as a nursing mama, as I try to maximize my nutrients and stay fueled. It’s fast. It’s easy. There are three ingredients (or four if you’re ambitious). It’s breakfast, lunch, dessert…and maybe even dinner.

Ingredients
4 cups of milk

  • If you use raw milk, supposedly the custard will be runnier unless you heat it to 160 degrees. I have never done that, and still have a great consistency.
4 eggs

1/4 cup maple syrup (or more if you really like it sweet)

  • honey or sugar may also be used, but maple syrup yields a flan-like flavor

1 teaspoon vanilla (homemade is easy!) (optional)
sprinkle of nutmeg on top

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Blend milk and maple syrup together. Add eggs. Blend well. I use a stick blender.
3. Fill  ramekins 3/4 full or if you want to be super simple, a 9×9 pan.
4. Fill 9×13 dish with 1-2″ of water.
5. Place ramekins or pan in the large dish.
6. Sprinkle nutmeg on top.
7. Baking time seems to vary depending on how full the cups are, how large they are, and your oven. In general, ramekins will take about 30-45 minutes (raw milk takes longer!). A toothpick will be your best gauge of doneness.
8. Remove ramekins from dish and cool before refrigerating.

This post is part of Painfree Pregnancy’s Sunday Superfood carnival.