Monthly Archives: December 2011

Interesting reading

Life has been crazy busy in our household the last 2 weeks, and it felt wrong to be blogging when I had so many other things to do. I’m having a moment of procrastination, so I thought I would cheat a little and put together a list of cool things I have read in the last few weeks. I am going to do this from time to time, as I am lucky to have an amazing and diverse range of friends who read some pretty cool articles.

The first two links are about the words we use when we speak to our kids. This is something I am really conscious of, and I try to actively choose words that are not negative. However it can be a lot harder than you might think. The first link, about speaking to young girls, highlighted to me how ingrained it is to compliment girls on their looks or clothing. It is something I do so unthinkingly, that I am struggling to find new words to fill their place.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-bloom/how-to-talk-to-little-gir_b_882510.html

This second link is about the perils of praising children for being ‘smart’. I was already familiar with this idea, and have always tried to praise baby girl for her efforts (feeling especially ridiculous given that I started when she was 6 weeks old. ‘You worked hard to stare wildly baby girl – well done’!)

http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/

This next bit is copied from an email newsletter by baby guru Pinky McKay. I love her so much, as I find that there are not many baby experts that I can look up to; people who believe in intuitive natural parenting, no crying and strong attachment parenting. When this came through in her email newsletter, I really felt like there was someone out there who got me.

The thing is, parenting is a 24 hour a day commitment. We can’t expect to pop babies away like toys when we have finished playing with them or it’s not convenient for us to be present. Of course it’s great to have strategies to help everyone get enough sleep -I’m not arguing with that!   But we are nurturing small vulnerable people, not managing an inconvenience, and our choices do need to reflect this.  
 I believe a large part of the infant sleep ‘dilemma’ is that we have stone age babies in a space age world. Often our modern lifestyles are at odds with baby needs: although our lifestyles have changed, our babies have not evolved a consciousness that they are in a safety standards approved cot, with a monitor on the wall and attentive parents who will keep them safe from predators.  Babies are biologically programmed to need somebody near THEM to feel safe. Imagine if a cave mama left her baby in the back of the cave while she whipped off to pick berries. Chances are, a lion or a wolf or an eagle would have taken her baby while she was away, especially if the baby dared to cry loudly for mama. This sense of ‘danger’ is what makes your baby anxious when she isn’t close to you.  At night time, your baby’s sense of sight is at rest. He needs to rely on his senses of smell, touch and hearing to know that he is not alone and at various stages, separation anxiety will be more pronounced.  It is far better to consider that all behaviour is a communication and to ask, ‘why is our baby waking?’ than to simply try to change the behaviour, without addressing what is happening for your child. This way you can create an appropriate plan that will support your child’s wellbeing and your own needs for sleep.
This is why I am focussing on sleep in this issue of Gentle Beginnings – to offer some extra support for the pressure you may be feeling about night time nurturing. Some of the opposition to gentle baby and toddler sleep practices includes: you can’t stay in their room forever (as if they would want you to); you mustn’t start things that you can’t continue (any changes can be made ‘gradually with love’ when you and your child are ready); You will create bad habits (since when was a cuddle a bad habit?) and, your baby must learn to ‘self-settle’ -imagine, you are snuggled up to your partner and as you doze off, they poke you and say, “wake up, you must self-settle, this could create bad habits!  
Our expectations of babies who have just come out of a snug, warm womb with immature nervous systems, immature digestive systems and  whose only communication is a cry because they need someone or something, is often far from realistic. And so is the pressure to have a baby who self settles from birth and sleeps and eats according to the clock on the wall. We all need sleep but we don’t have to achieve this at the cost of a little one’s well-being, so please enjoy the information in this issue of Gentle Beginnings and share it if you know somebody who would find it help

The next one is a funny picture shared by another mummy with a young girl. The whine region and the worthwhile food cortex are quite active in my young baby!

I’m missing my blogging, but will be back into it soon. I also have some good new fodder, as I have had to use my natural medicine kit quite a bit lately.

Thanks for reading!

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Filed under Interesting reading, Sleep

The not-so-subtle art of infant communication

My baby has become a whinger. At the tender age of 10 and a 1/2 months, my sweet little angel has learned to communicate. We are yet to master more than two words, but who has to when a shriek and crying works just as well. It’s proving VERY effective for her too.

We are one of those ‘radical’ households who have a ‘no crying’ rule for our bub. I do not buy into the theory that been left to cry is in some way important for her development. However, this means that I am also not accustomed to ignoring crying. So all day long little miss has sooked and carried on, and all day long I’ve sighed and given her what she wants. Can’t reach that toy? Mummy will get it. Don’t want mummy to leave? Okay I’ll stay. Want mummy’s dinner instead of yours? Fine, have it. Oh dear! I can see a problem brewing here.

Baby girl has developed some effective methods too. Her very favourite is to grab her hand while crying and staring up at me. This has the effect of making me unsure if she’s hurt herself or not. This trick works nicely during cooking. I’m stirring the meal and next thing baby girl cries out with gusto. I spin around and there she is, holding her hand, and demanding attention. There’s no evidence of injury, but how can I be sure. I pick her up. She smiles. A point goes to the baby. Sigh.

Do I have a solution? Not yet. I have no doubt that there is a suitable response that allows me to teach my baby girl that not everything comes to you when you cry whilst still showing her that I am here to support her and help her. I just need to find it. In the meantime I can use this blog to have a little whinge…

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Zucchini Fritters

I am always looking for new food ideas for baby girl, especially finger foods. Just like us, she needs variety in her food. I made these yummy little fritters for her yesterday and they were a hit. As a bonus my husband loved them too. They made a nice lunch for me with a side salad, and were easy to re-heat in the oven today.

50g melted butter or ghee*
1/2 cup milk (I used unhomogenised jersey milk, as I can get it from a local source)
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup spelt flour (wholegrain of course!)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 small zucchini

Mix all the ingredients together, and fry spoonfuls in a generous amount of butter and olive oil (the olive oil stops the butter from burning). They will go beautiful and crispy on the outside, and stay a little mushy inside. Perfect for small babies learning about textures.

You can put herbs in for older bubs and kids, plus peas and feta for an extra treat.

I hope your family likes them as much as mine!

*A good tip to reduce washing up is to melt the butter in the same pan you are using to fry the fritters. Just make sure you wipe it clean with a paper towel so the solids in the butter do not burn.

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Filed under Recipes

Sleeping like a baby

Is there any more ridiculous statement than this? Perhaps if you are describing frequent night waking, resistance to obvious tiredness and long nights insisting someone rock, pat or cuddle you, then this statement would be apt. Its general association with deep sleep is one only the childless would be fooled into believing. Babies are terrible sleepers. Simple as that.

I’m typing this while sitting in the car. It’s parked in the driveway and I’m sucking back a hot chocolate like it’s the holy grail of stimulants (which it is to a breastfeeding mumma whose baby can’t even tolerate black tea). After yet another night waking every couple of hours, little miss had fallen into a lovely deep sleep in the car! I know the minute I pull her out she will decide that she’s slept enough and it’s playtime. Hence the hot chocolate. Fortification for the upcoming adventures.

Sleep must be the biggest issue any mother faces. It’s also the only one that there is no real treatment for. Homeopathy and osteopathy can help if there is an underlying issue, but for most babies they just need to learn to do it better. Sleep routines can take up to three years to develop, so I guess I’m in for the long haul.

I find it easier to treat me than fight baby girl. A good daily multivitamin, and some extra B vitamins and magnesium on really bad days help give me a boost. Good regular meals ensure my blood sugar is stable, removing a common source of low energy. On really bad weeks, I take a herbal formula of adaptogens – awesome herbs that help your body cope with stressors better. These really need to be prescribed by a naturopath, especially if your breastfeeding, but it is well worth the trip to your local practitioner.

Aside from that, you need oodles of patience, love and understanding. And a cafe that will bring you a hot chocolate out to your car.

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Filed under Natural Remedies, Sleep

Pretty Pink Oats

This morning I made one of my baby girl’s favourite breakfasts: rolled oats with apple and strawberry. I feel like a seasonal cheat with this dish, as apples really are a winter fruit. However, I do have a big batch of pre-cooked apple puree frozen down, so maybe it’s not too bad. I love watching her little face light up when she realises what I made for her, and she even protested when I took too long to get her the next mouthful! I thought I would share this super simple recipe with you all.

Oats are such a wonderful food for babies. They are easy to digest for little stomachs, they are a calming food that nourishes the nervous system and they are low GI, ensuring a slow release of energy for exploring the world. They are also easy and quick for me to make! The apple adds some extra fibre and the strawberries are high in vitamin C. I also add coconut oil. When bub was little she had a bout of thrush that still rears its ugly head from time to time. Coconut oil is a natural antifungal, so I started using it in her food with good results. It’s also a healthy fat source, and given that babies require most of their energy from fats, its great for all babies – especially formula feed bubs.

So the recipe…

2tbs rolled oats
1/3 cup of filtered water
2-3tbs apple puree
4-5 strawberries (organic strawberries tend to be small. You would only need 2-3 lge ones)
1 tsp coconut oil

Cook the oats with the water over a low heat, stirring frequently. You may need to add a little more water if it gets too thick. Once the oats are mushy, stir in the apple puree and coconut oil and remove from heat. Toss in the strawberries and puree. Serve with a joyous heart, knowing you made beautiful, healthy food for your baby.

This amount gives 2-3 serves for my 10mth old, depending on how hungry she is. I reheat it by placing in a glass jar in a bowl of hot water. Never microwave any food for your baby.

I would love to hear what your kids think!

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Filed under Nutrition, Recipes

Are children sustainable?

Living on a planet with 7 billion people, dwindling resources and the very real issue of climate change makes me worry about the future for my child. It also makes me wonder if it is slightly irresponsible to create more children for the earth to support. My husband and I talked about this a lot during my pregnancy, as we wanted to take a proactive role in reducing bubs impact on the earth.

It really wasn’t that hard to make some conscious decisions that reduce the impact of a new baby on the planet. Most new parents spend a fortune on brand new clothes and nursery furniture that gets used for such a short period. Disposable nappies, formula feeding (by choice, not necessity) and pre-packaged foods all lead to excess waste production, and often are linked to many transport miles. And ironically these choices can often be unhealthy for our babies too.

For furniture and clothes we had a secondhand rule. We scoured eBay and baby markets and got some great secondhand furniture. It took a bit of time, as I wanted everything to work nicely in the room but it all came together beautifully. As well as reducing the impact new furniture has on our earth, there were a couple of other benefits too. It was cheap! The whole nursery, including pictures, manchester and toys cost less than $1000. All our furniture was solid wood and good quality; second hand did not mean second best. It was also better for our little girl’s health. New furniture off-gases toxic chemicals including formaldehyde, which have been linked to cancer, asthma and respiratory problems. In the end the room didn’t look as pretty as I planned mostly because little miss moved into our room, leaving the nursery as part change room, part play room and part storage!

Toys are often super cheap secondhand, and baby markets have heaps of them. Friends have also been very generous with donating old unwanted toys. They get to clear their clutter and recycle at the same time! Lately I have been sourcing some good second hand books from Better World Books. These guys do great work – check them out. I also dusted off the old library card, and am constantly surprised by the range of books on parenting the library has.

I also use cloth nappies most of the time. Despite some controversy about the water requirements for washing, cloth nappies have been found to be more eco-friendly than disposable. I’m not superwomen, so sometimes we revert to disposables when I’m struggling to keep up with everything (I work from home and study too!), but most of the time my little girl bops around in her cute cloth bottom giving me an ‘awwww’ factor as well as some eco good feelings.

I make ALL of my baby’s food myself. She has not had one spoonful of commercial food. We source our ingredients from a local organic farmers market. Buying local also means buying seasonal. Just this morning, we noticed that the pear season is over. The only pears left are hard ones that looked bland. I was sad for a while as my baby loves pears, however watching her tuck into a nice ripe organic peach later that morning reminded me that each season brings it’s own favourites. Making all the food gives me a real opportunity to reduce the impact on the environment – and its better for my growing girl.

I’m sure as she gets older, we will learn new ways to be kind to Mother Earth, mostly though I hope we teach bub to be eco-conscious. After all the planet will soon be in that generations hands and hopefully they will do better than we did.

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Filed under Eco baby

Treating fever as a friend

My baby girl has her first real fever. I say real as it’s the first from an infection (throat), not just a vaccination-induced fever. After letting the fever run it’s course for 18hrs, it got to the stage where I had a visibly distressed child and a rising temp. So off to the doctors we go, where I am promptly handed a script for antibiotics and baby nurofen and receive no other practical advice. I think we sometimes forget that our doctors advice is not gospel; after some prodding and questioning it becomes clear that antibiotics are not vital yet. I get some guidelines about how sick is too sick (constant temp over 39, floppy, lethargic, no food intake, or still sick after 3 more days) and leave with a resolve to give my daughters immune system a chance to do it’s thing.

The truth is fever is not an evil enemy that must be stamped out promptly. It’s actually an important component of our immune system, especially for young children who have not yet developed specific immunity. Traditional healing methods, including naturopathy, actually try to enhance the fever! What a novel idea in our western culture, with it’s focus on pharmaceuticals for all pains. Obviously young babies should not be allowed to develop dangerously high temps, but reaching for the baby panadol at the first inkling of fever is also unhelpful.

So what to do? I am using a variety of herbs, homeopathic remedies, common sense and cuddles to help my baby get through.

  • I found the ‘pain and fever relief’ liquid from Brauer has been good for bringing the temp down slightly, keeping it below 39.
  • Ginger tea helps keep bub sweating; an important aspect to body temperature control.
  • Chamomile tea is helping soothe her before naps (and me!).
  • Some echinacea tincture is supporting her immune system, allowing it to actively fight the infection and providing an important immune development lesson at the same time. I found the best way to administer this was adding her daily dose to a water bottle and let her sip from it throughout the day.
  • Keeping clothing suitable and an occasional cool cloth on her head is helping her comfort levels.
  • Keeping my sweet baby in arms is giving her a sense of safety and love. We all know how nice it is when someone takes care of us when we are sick, it is therapy in itself!

The antibiotics are in the fridge, ready to use if we do need them. But for now my natural remedies are doing nicely.

(I have used the baby nurofen twice. Both times she needed sleep, but couldn’t relax due to temps approaching 39 degrees. I felt it was more important for her little body to get some rest at those times. I’m not anti-medicine, I think it has a really important place. I just feel that it should be the last resort, not the first option).

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Filed under Fever, Herbal medicine, Natural Remedies