Thursday, December 31, 2009

Being Present in the Moment

Many in today's society are guilty of being on their phones a little too much- texting and/or answering a call while at dinner, pretending to be listening to someone while glancing at their phones to check for an email. We all know this is extremely bad etiquette, but it goes beyond that. I have to admit that I was among those people until sometime last year when my life coach and I started talking about the importance of "being in the moment."

I had come into her office for an appointment and I was fuming over a rude email that someone had literally just sent me. The first few minutes of that session were wasted as a read the email to her from my phone and talked about what it meant. Ok, so I am paying a life coach to help me with specific things that we had already outlined. Instead of taking real advantage of the time I had with her, I was allowing this email to interfere. Why do I need be available to everyone at all times and answer every email immediately? Although it never really occurred to me before that breakthrough moment, I don't. I don't have to. I can ask for people to be patient and respect my time and they will. After thinking about what that meant, logistically, for my personal and professional life, I canceled the media bundle on my blackberry. Ahhhh... sweet freedom.

As I have continued to do more personal work in my life, I have also found that severely limiting t.v. and other media consumption is a good thing as well. Instead of the whole family gathering together and sitting in front of the television, why not turn it off? That might give you the opportunity to talk about something you wouldn't have otherwise. Maybe you could pull out a board game and have some interactive fun with your loved ones.

Since I have eliminated many of these type of distractions in my life, I am now free to be more present in the moment and enjoy the people around me. Am I always good about this? No, not always. One of my action steps for 2010 is to limit my Facebook time to once daily for a maximum of 15 minutes. It's so easy to allow yourself to be consumed with things in life that do not matter. I encourage you to look at what those things in your life are and correct it.

For some more info on this topic in relation to parenting, read today's API blog post called "Fully Present"

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Attachment Parenting (AP). What's that About?

Before Muffin was born Luke and I talked a lot about how we wanted to raise our child, things our parents did with us, what we felt was good and bad from that and we came to the conclusion that we wanted to follow the Attachment Parenting model. For us, it is what seems to go along with our natural instincts as parents. Just like anything else, we pick and choose what works for us and throw out what doesn't.

In this post, I am attempting to give an overview of what AP is and how you can put it into motion in your own home. I highly recommend anything from the Dr. Sears library. "The Baby Book" by Dr. William and Martha Sears is like our Baby Bible!

Dr. William Sears is widely know as being the "founder" of AP. The following information is straight from the horse's mouth.


Attachment parenting is a style of caring for your infant that brings out the best in the baby and the best in the parents.


1. Birth bonding
The way baby and parents get started with one another helps the early attachment unfold. The days and weeks after birth are a sensitive period in which mothers and babies are uniquely primed to want to be close to one another. A close attachment after birth and beyond allows the natural, biological attachment-promoting behaviors of the infant and the intuitive, biological, care giving qualities of the mother to come together. Both members of this biological pair get off to the right start at a time when the infant is most needy and the mother is most ready to nurture.

"What if something happens to prevent our immediate bonding?"

Sometimes medical complications keep you and your baby apart for a while, but then catch-up bonding is what happens, starting as soon as possible. When the concept of bonding was first delivered onto the parenting scene twenty years ago, some people got it out of balance. The concept of human bonding being an absolute "critical period" or a "now-or-never" relationship was never intended. Birth bonding is not like instant glue that cements the mother-child relationship together forever. Bonding is a series of steps in your lifelong growing together with your child. Immediate bonding simply gives the parent- infant relationship a head start.

2. Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is an exercise in babyreading. Breastfeeding helps you read your baby's cues, her body language, which is the first step in getting to know your baby. Breastfeeding gives baby and mother a smart start in life. Breastmilk contains unique brain-building nutrients that cannot be manufactured or bought. Breastfeeding promotes the right chemistry between mother and baby by stimulating your body to produce prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that give your mothering a boost.

3. Babywearing

A baby learns a lot in the arms of a busy caregiver. Carried babies fuss less and spend more time in the state of quiet alertness, the behavior state in which babies learn most about their environment. Babywearing improves the sensitivity of the parents. Because your baby is so close to you, you get to know baby better. Closeness promotes familiarity.

4. Bedding close to baby
Wherever all family members get the best night's sleep is the right arrangement for your individual family. Co-sleeping adds a nighttime touch that helps busy daytime parents reconnect with their infant at night. Since nighttime is scary time for little people, sleeping within close touching and nursing distance minimizes nighttime separation anxiety and helps baby learn that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a fearless state to remain in.

5. Belief in the language value of your baby's cry
A baby's cry is a signal designed for the survival of the baby and the development of the parents. Responding sensitively to your baby's cries builds trust. Babies trust that their caregivers will be responsive to their needs. Parents gradually learn to trust in their ability to appropriately meet their baby's needs. This raises the parent-child communication level up a notch. Tiny babies cry to communicate, not to manipulate.

6. Beware of baby trainers

Attachment parenting teaches you how to be discerning of advice, especially those rigid and extreme parenting styles that teach you to watch a clock or a schedule instead of your baby; you know, the cry-it-out crowd. This "convenience" parenting is a short-term gain, but a long-term loss, and is not a wise investment. These more restrained styles of parenting create a distance between you and your baby and keep you from becoming an expert in your child.

7. Balance

In your zeal to give so much to your baby, it's easy to neglect the needs of yourself and your marriage. As you will learn the key to putting balance in your parenting is being appropriately responsive to your baby – knowing when to say "yes" and when to say "no," and having the wisdom to say "yes" to yourself when you need help.

As defined by Attachment Parenting International website:

The long-range vision of Attachment Parenting is to raise children who will become adults with a highly developed capacity for empathy and connection. It eliminates violence as a means for raising children, and ultimately helps to prevent violence in society as a whole.

The essence of Attachment Parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children. Attachment Parenting challenges us as parents to treat our children with kindness, respect and dignity, and to model in our interactions with them the way we'd like them to interact with others.

If you are interested in learning more about AP from resources beyond the Sears library, I highly recommend "Attached at the Heart."

In Attached at the Heart, there are 8 major principles that are outlined, which coincide with Dr. Sears' "Baby B's". Here is a short summary:

Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting

Become emotionally and physically prepared for pregnancy and birth. Research available options for health care providers and birthing environments, and become informed about routine newborn care. Continuously educate yourself about developmental stages of childhood, setting realistic expectations and remaining flexible.
I wasn't exactly preparing for pregnancy when we became pregnant. It happened the first month we decided to try. Of course, I didn't think it would really happen that quickly, so I was in disbelief for the first trimester that it did actually happen that quickly! Ideally, I would have spent some time actually preparing before I got pregnant. Luke and I did extensively prepare for the birth of Muffin by attending Bradley Method classes for 12 weeks and hiring a doula to assist.

Feed with Love and Respect

Breastfeeding is the optimal way to satisfy an infant's nutritional and emotional needs. "Bottle Nursing" adapts breastfeeding behaviors to bottle-feeding to help initiate a secure attachment. Follow the feeding cues for both infants and children, encouraging them to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Offer healthy food choices and model healthy eating behavior.
For us, bottle feeding was never an option. There was no reason why I couldn't provide the best nutrition for my child, so I did (and will continue to until she and I both decide it is a good time to stop.) We did require some help from a lactation consultant once we were home, as the ones at the hospital weren't all that helpful (or maybe I was just too sleep deprived to soak in all of the information.) But once we got it down, it is as easy as can be!

Respond with Sensitivity
Build the foundation of trust and empathy beginning in infancy. Tune in to what your child is communicating to you, then respond consistently and appropriately. Babies cannot be expected to self-soothe, they need calm, loving, empathetic parents to help them learn to regulate their emotions. Respond sensitively to a child who is hurting or expressing strong emotion, and share in their joy.

Use Nurturing Touch
Touch meets a baby's needs for physical contact, affection, security, stimulation, and movement. Skin-to-skin contact is especially effective, such as during breastfeeding, bathing, or massage. Carrying or babywearing also meets this need while on the go. Hugs, snuggling, back rubs, massage, and physical play help meet this need in older children.

Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
Babies and children have needs at night just as they do during the day; from hunger, loneliness, and fear, to feeling too hot or too cold. They rely on parents to soothe them and help them regulate their intense emotions. Sleep training techniques can have detrimental physiological and psychological effects. Safe co-sleeping has benefits to both babies and parents. And to answer your question, yes Luke and I safely co-sleep. I will do a separate post on co-sleeping later.

Provide Consistent and Loving Care
Babies and young children have an intense need for the physical presence of a consistent, loving, responsive caregiver: ideally a parent. If it becomes necessary, choose an alternate caregiver who has formed a bond with the child and who cares for him in a way that strengthens the attachment relationship. Keep schedules flexible, and minimize stress and fear during short separations.

Practice Positive Discipline

Positive discipline helps a child develop a conscience guided by his own internal discipline and compassion for others. Discipline that is empathetic, loving, and respectful strengthens the connection between parent and child. Rather than reacting to behavior, discover the needs leading to the behavior. Communicate and craft solutions together while keeping everyone's dignity intact. Yes, this means there will be no spanking for our little ones. We believe there are far better ways to teach your children other than hitting them.

Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

It is easier to be emotionally responsive when you feel in balance. Create a support network, set realistic goals, put people before things, and don't be afraid to say "no". Recognize individual needs within the family and meet them to the greatest extent possible without compromising your physical and emotional health. Be creative, have fun with parenting, and take time to care for yourself.
Easier said than done? Yes. But very important!

AP is something that Luke and I are passionate about. We feel like it is the best thing for us and our child. It helps us to stay in tune with her needs and respond in a loving way. It forces us to constantly be aware of the messages we are sending Muffin through our actions.

What parenting model do you follow? What are your thoughts on Dr. Sears "7 Baby B's?" Do you agree with them or not?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cry it out (CIO): 10 reasons why it is not for us

In case anyone isn't aware, Luke and I don't do "cry it out" with our little Muffin. It goes against our parenting instinct and feels like a very mean thing to do. We want to communicate to our little Muffin through our actions that we are there for her, we love her, we will try to fix whatever is hurting her, etc. A friend of mine who has a very cool blog herself, (check it out sometime) sent me a link to a very good article on crying it out. Here is the direct link but I have copied and pasted the text below. I hope if you CIO maybe this article will help you reconsider. The thought of a little babe left to scream and cry until he/ she falls asleep breaks my heart.

Cry it out (CIO): 10 reasons why it is not for us
by phdinparenting on July 5, 2008

Intuitively and instinctively, the cry it out (CIO) method (also known as sleep training or ferberizing or controlled crying) of getting a baby to sleep is not something I ever felt comfortable with. And as I did research on infant sleep, I learned about what normal infant sleep is and I also learned more about the reasons why the CIO method is harmful. There are numerous scientific and emotional reasons why we have chosen not to let our babies cry it out, which I have summarized below.
1. Cry it out can cause harmful changes to babies’ brains

Babies cry. They cry to let us know that they need something. And when we don’t respond to those cries, it causes them undue amounts of stress. Science has shown that stress in infancy can result in enduring negative impacts on the brain. Prolonged cries in infants causes increased blood pressure in the brain, elevates stress hormones, obstructs blood from draining out of the brain, and decreases oxygenation to the brain. Excessive crying results in an oversensitive stress system (likened to a faulty burglar alarm in one book) that can lead to a fear of being alone, separation anxiety, panic attacks and addictions. Harvard researchers found that it makes them more susceptible to stress as adults and changes the nervous system so that they are overly sensitive to future trauma. Chronic stress in infancy can also lead to an over-active adrenaline system, which results in the child using increased aggression, impulsivity, and violence. Another study showed that persistent crying episodes in infancy led to a 10 times greater chance of the child having ADHD, resulting in poor school performance and antisocial behaviour. However, if you consistently soothe your child’s distress and take any anguished crying seriously, highly effective stress response systems are established in the brain that allow your child to cope with stress later in life.
2. Cry it out can result in decreased intellectual, emotional and social development

At an American Academy of Pediatrics meeting, infant developmental specialist Dr. Michael Lewis presented research findings demonstrating that “the single most important influence of a child’s intellectual development is the responsiveness of the mother to the cues of her baby.” More specifically, other studies have found that babies whose cries are ignored do not develop healthy intellectual and social skills, that they have an average IQ 9 points lower at age 5, they show poor fine motor development, show more difficulty controlling their emotions, and take longer to become independent as children (stay clingy for longer).
3. Cry it out can result in a detached baby

Researchers have shown that although leaving a baby to cry it out does often lead to the cries eventually stopping, the cries do not stop because the child is content or the problem has been alleviated. Rather, they stop because the baby has given up hope that a caregiver will respond and provide comfort. This results in a detached baby. Detached children are less responsive, appear to be depressed or “not there” and often lack empathy.
4. Cry it out is harmful to the parent-child relationship

A child that is left to cry it out is less likely to turn to the parents in times of need. Being attended to as a baby is the most basic of needs and if a child learns at that point that she can count on her parents to respond to her needs, then she will also turn to them later in life when she needs their support. But I worry that if I leave my children to cry it out, then they will not see the point in reaching out to us if they have problems later in life and could try to deal with serious issues like bullying, drug addictions, teenage pregnancy, gambling problems, or flunking out of school on their own or turn to peers. Unfortunately, those problems are often too big for a teenager to be left to deal with alone or with peers and it can have disastrous results ranging from making poor decisions all the way to committing suicide out of a feeling of hopelessness.
5. Cry it out can make children insecure

Children whose caregivers are not consistently responsive and sensitive, often become insecure. Long-term studies have shown that secure individuals are more likely to be outgoing, popular, well-adjusted, compassionate, and altruistic. As adults, secure individuals are likely to be comfortable depending on others, can develop close attachments, and trust their partners. Insecure individuals, on the other hand, tend to be unsettled in their relationships, displaying anxiety (manifesting as possessiveness, jealousy, and clinginess) or avoidance (manifesting as mistrust and a reluctance to depend on others). Parents that use the cry it out method often do so because they are afraid that their children are becoming too dependent. However, an abundance of research shows that regular physical contact, reassurance, and prompt responses to distress in infancy and childhood results in secure and confident adults who are better able to form functional relationships.
6. Cry it out often doesn’t work at all

Some babies will not give in. They are resilient or stubborn enough that they refuse to believe that their parents could be so cruel as to leave them to cry to sleep. So instead of whimpering a bit and then drifting off to sleep as some supposed sleep experts would have you believe happens, they end up sobbing and sobbing and sobbing for hours on end. Some end up vomiting. Many end up shaking so hard and become so distraught that once their parents realize that CIO is not going to work, the baby is shaking uncontrollably and hiccuping, too distressed to sleep and too distraught to be calmed down even by a loving parent.
7. Even if cry it out does “work”, parents often have to do it over and over again

I can’t imagine putting my child through one or several nights of inconsolable crying to get her to go to sleep and I certainly can’t imagine having to do it over and over again. However, that is the reality for many parents. I hear people tell me that they always let their child cry for thirty minutes to go to sleep. Or that they have to start the CIO sleep training process all over again after each round of teething, each growth spurt, each developmental milestone.
8. Cry it out is disrespectful of my child’s needs

So-called sleep trainers will tell you that after a certain age, babies do not have any more needs at night. Some claim this is after a few short weeks, others after a few months, others after a year. Regardless of the age that is assigned to that message, to me it seems wrong. I’m an adult and yet there are days when I need someone else to comfort me. If I’ve had a really stressful week at work, if I’ve had a fight with someone that is important to me, if I’ve lost a loved one, then I need to be comforted. But how would I feel and what would it do to our relationship if my husband closed the door and walked out of the room and let me “cry it out” myself? I’m an adult and yet there are nights when I am so parched that I need a glass of water or I am so hungry that I need a snack. I’m not going to die if those needs are not met, but I am going to physically uncomfortable and unable to sleep soundly. If I were to let my child CIO, it would be like saying that his needs are not important and that to me is disrespectful. To quote Dr. William Sears on the sleep trainers, “Parents let me caution you. Difficult problems in child rearing do not have easy answers. Children are too valuable and their needs too important to be made victims of cheap, shallow advice“.
9. Deep sleep from cry it out is often a result of trauma

Babies who are left to cry it out do sometimes fall into a deep sleep after they finally drop off. And their parents and sleep trainers will hail this as a success of the CIO method. However, babies and young children often sleep deeply after experiencing trauma. Therefore, the deep sleep that follows CIO shouldn’t be seen as proof that it works. Rather, it should be seen as a disturbing shortcoming.
10. Our World Needs More Love

Rates of depression are skyrocketing. Violent and senseless crimes are on the rise. As human beings, we need to spend more time being there for each other, showing compassion, nurturing our children. Learning that you can’t count on your parents to be there when you need them is a tough lesson to learn that early in life and can be a root of many of the social problems we are facing today. I want to give my kids every chance possible of escaping depression and staying away from violence. And I’m convinced that nurturing them and responding to their needs at night, as I do during the day, is the first step in the right direction.

Those are our reasons for not using the cry it out method. What are yours?

Do you need some gentle sleep tips? See Gentle Baby and Toddler Sleep Tips


The following sources were used in the development of this post:

* Dr. Sears – Science Says: Excessive Crying Could be Harmful to Babies
* Margaret Chuong-Kim – Cry It Out: The Potential Dangers of Leaving Your Baby to Cry
* Paul M. Fleiss, M.D., M.P.H, F.A.A.P – Mistaken Approaches to Night Waking
* Australian Association for Infant Mental Health – Position Paper 1: Controlled Crying
* Alvin Powell – Children Need Touching and Attention, Harvard Researchers Say
* Pinky McKay – The Con of Controlled Crying
* Linda Folden Palmer – Stress in Infancy
* Gayle E. McKinnon – CIO? No! The case for not using “cry-it-out” with your children
* Macall Gordon – Is “crying it out” appropriate for infants? A review of the literature on the use of extinction in the first year
* Elizabeth Pantley – The No Cry Sleep Solution (book)
* Katie Allison Granju – Attachment Parenting (book)
* Dr. William Sears – Nighttime Parenting (book)
* Margot Sunderland – The Science of Parenting (book)

Note: Please note that not all of these sources look specifically at crying it out. Some of them look at the risks of excessive crying in general. It is my opinion that excessive crying is excessive crying, whether it happens at night or not. Also, as I discussed in my follow-up post Cry it Out (CIO): Is it harmful or helpful? and Another Academic Weighs in on CIO there is no evidence that cry it out is safe, despite what its supporters will tell you.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Modeling a Positive Body Image

Children pick up on everything. I mean everything. So as a parent, I give thought to things that I never really cared about before. For example, I was showing my mom some photos of Muffin that I had taken last week. We were all standing in my office, Muffin on her Mimi's hip. After seeing a photo of herself with Muffin and Santa, my mom says "Oh my gosh, I am so fat!" That really made me think...

As women, we are all guilty at times of this- me especially. We see thin models with perfect skin and hair and somehow feel like we should all look like this. It is stupid and unrealistic. I am going to really focus on modeling a positive body image for Muffin from now on. It would absolutely break my heart if I ever heard her say "Oh my gosh, I am so fat!" I want her to know that no matter what her outward appearance is, she can be comfortable in her own skin.

Modeling a positive body image is something that will truly be a challenge for me. Six months after having her, I am within 5 pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight. But I wanted to lose 15 lbs before I got pregnant. I have a two 6 inch areas on the front of my belly that have stretch marks. My belly still has lots of extra chub on it. My breasts aren't small anymore and I miss that.

I am going to work on accepting these things about my new body.

Unlike my triathlete husband, I have been unwilling up to this point to make the sacrifices necessary to get down to my "ideal" size. I love my sweets. Seriously, if I pass on a brownie, it is because I am ill. I don't like going to the gym and I will truly find every excuse not to go. And if I can't think of a good excuse, I will just tell the truth and say "I don't feel like it!" I tried to start running and then had some major problems with my hip (related to my pregnancy and scoliosis, I think.) I do periodically go to a class at the gym with my sister and I enjoy going... once I am actually there. Actually getting the energy to go is another story, hence the word periodically. I am really looking forward to the spring when I can take Muffin for walks because I enjoy it and it will help me slim down too.

It is not my intention to make a crazy New Years Resolution to get back into a size four. I just want to work on something that I want for my daughter-- I want to be comfortable in my own skin so I can show her that she can be comfortable in her own skin. I will not say negative things about my body anymore and I will try to control my internal dialogue about my body. This body has served me well and created a beautiful life. I am thankful for that miracle.

If you are having the same issues, I advise you to take a look at this website: The Shape of a Mother.

How have you dealt with the changes of your body after having children? What do you do to model a positive body image?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Baby Wearing: Fashionable, Functional and Beneficial!

I am rarely caught without my Moby Wrap. Luke and I both have "worn" our little muffin since the first days she was at home. Most folks compliment us on how cool the Moby Wrap looks. Although looking cool is at the top of mine and Luke's list of important things in life, we also realize that there is much more to baby wearing. The benefits to baby are numerous:

* Babies cry less. Research has shown that babies who are carried cry less overall. In cultures where babies are carried almost continuously, babies cry much less than those in non-carrying cultures.

* Good for baby's mental development. Babies spend more time in a "quiet, alert state" when carried - the ideal state for learning. Their senses are stimulated while being carried (yet there is a place to retreat too). When carried, your baby sees the world from where you do, instead of the ceiling above his crib or people's knees from a stroller. And the extra stimulation benefits brain development.

* Good for baby's emotional development. Babies are quickly able to develop a sense of security and trust when they are carried. They are more likely to be securely attached to their care-giver/s and often become independent at an earlier age.

* Good for baby's physical development. By being so close to your body's rhythms, your newborn "gets in rhythm" much more quickly. Your heartbeat, breathing, voice and warmth are all familiar. Research has shown how this helps newborns (especially premature babies) to adapt to life outside the womb.

* Good for babies whose mamas are depressed. Babies who are not held need more verbal interaction and eye contact, just to be reassured that you're there. Carrying your baby is a great way to connect with her (and provide stimulation too) without the "burden" of having to interact. Of course your baby is "right there" to enjoy whenever you feel like snuggling, kissing or talking.

* It's great for other people who look after your baby: Partners who work away from home, relatives and babysitters all have a ready way of connecting with and soothing your baby when they wear him/ her too!

We also really enjoy the fact that we can "hold" our little muffin and still have two hands to cook, clean, fix a plate in a buffet line, check out at Walmart, etc., etc., etc. Let's see you easily do any of those things with a baby on your hip!

Here is Aunt Becca wearing Muffin at the opening of the new Target in Middletown

Here is Daddy wearing Muffin during some play time with the mirror in the bathroom

And here is Mama wearing Muffin during one of her naps

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why Delay Solid Foods?

Lots of folks that I talk to like to ask questions about Muffin, like "How is she sleeping?" and "Is she on cereal yet?" Well, those are among the many questions that I usually respond with short answers to, but they are pretty complex issues. It sort or reminds me of how people ask you "How are you today?" expecting you to answer "Great!" They don't want to sit and listen to the fact that you've had the crappiest day ever, you are running late, your dog got ran over, etc., etc, etc. You get my point.

Muffin has not had cereal or any other sort of baby food yet. As parents, Luke and I decided that we want to follow the guidelines that have been set forth by the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which clearly state that babies should be exclusively breastfed for at least the first six months of life.

The following organizations recommend that all babies be exclusively breastfed (no cereal, juice or any other foods) for the first 6 months of life (not the first 4-6 months.)

* World Health Organization
* US Department of Health & Human Services
* American Academy of Pediatrics
* American Academy of Family Physicians
* American Dietetic Association

Most babies will become developmentally and physiologically ready to eat solids by 6-9 months of age. For some babies, delaying solids longer than six months can be a good thing; for example, some doctors may recommend delaying solids for 12 months if there is a family history of allergies.
* Delaying solids gives baby greater protection from illness. As long as mama is breastfeeding, baby gets her immunity to illness!
* Delaying solids gives baby's digestive system time to mature.
* Delaying solids decreases the risk of food allergies.
* Delaying solids helps to protect baby from iron-deficiency anemia.
* Delaying solids helps to protect baby from future obesity.
* Delaying solids helps mama maintain her milk supply.
* Delaying solids helps to space babies.
The more frequently a baby nurses, the less likely mama's fertility will return. This is obviously not a dependable form of birth control, but it is helpful.
* Delaying solids makes starting solids easier. Baby can feed herself and is less likely to develop food allergies.

For more information on breastfeeding, I have found that one of the best sites out there is Check it out. Here is a direct link to a more detailed article about delaying solids.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lessons Learned During the Christmas Season

Of course, if you are a Christian, it is important for you to make sure that your children know the real meaning of Christmas- the story of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Aside from that, there are also many other lessons to be learned during this season. In particular, I have given some thought to the messages we communicate, either verbally or non-verbally, about financial responsibility and the need for "things" in our lives.

I cringe at the thought of standing in line for hours to get the "IT" toy for the year. I feel bad for the parents that actually do that. I know parents want to make sure their little ones have a wonderful Christmas and I do too. But let's stop and think about the messages we may be conveying to our little ones by getting them lots of expensive things. Is it telling them "I need lots of "stuff" to be happy?" or "I have to have the coolest gadget to keep me occupied?" or "My parents buy me expensive things because they love me." Or perhaps a younger mind might think "Santa Claus brings me nicer, more expensive gifts the more well-behaved I am."

Now, I am not in any way implying that it isn't acceptable to indulge your child every once in a while with a cool toy that you have to save up to get. I am just encouraging people to think about what messages we are communicating to our children through our actions over a period of time.

Muffin is still very young and has plenty of toys already. Our house is small and we literally cannot buy lots for her; we just don't have the room to fit anything else! I have bought her a few books that will be wrapped under the tree. Luke is planning a gift for her too, although I'm not sure what he has decided on yet. Needless to say, we are not breaking our budget this year and will not any other year. When she is old enough, we will probably do crafts and bake goodies as gifts, and maybe even an annual charity, like Angel Tree, or serve meals to the homeless. Simplicity is key here. Giving to others is kind and it's fun, but it doesn't require spending much money.

What lessons are important for you to teach your children this time of year? What special traditions have you started to reinforce family bonding or teach lessons?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

...On the Topic of Breastfeeding

Unfortunately, babies don't just get hungry at home. They get hungry at the mall. They get hungry at the restaurant. The get hungry at the library. They get hungry at church. And they even get hungry at Target!

My sister, an executive with Target, forwarded this info to me from Target Headquarters:

Tom Lyden, investigative reporter at Fox News in Minneapolis, is reporting on an incident that occurred this week at the Eastland Target store in Michigan. The incident involved a guest who was breastfeeding in our store, and resulted in a call to law enforcement by the store. Tom contacted Target Communications seeking comment. The following messages were shared:

* Target has a long-standing corporate policy that supports breastfeeding in our stores. Guests who choose to breastfeed in public areas of the store are welcome to do so without being made to feel uncomfortable. Additionally, we support the use of fitting rooms for women who wish to breastfeed their babies, even if others are waiting to use the fitting rooms.

* We regret that the situation escalated and have apologized to the guest for her experience.

* To ensure nursing mothers feel welcome in our stores we are reinforcing our breastfeeding policy with our team in all 1,744 stores across the country.

So, despite the fact that there was a really unfortunate incident that happened in Michigan, this has caused Target to re-train their team members on the policy. Good for you, Target!

In 2006, Kentucky passed legislation that affirms a mother’s right to breastfeed or express breast milk in public. The law says breastfeeding or expressing milk for a child “shall not be considered an act of public indecency and shall not be considered indecent exposure, sexual conduct, lewd touching, or obscenity.”

No one blinks an eye at a mama who pulls out a bottle to feed or comfort her baby. But when a breastfeeding mama feeds her baby in public, everyone is all up in arms. Give me a break. Why is this even a topic of debate requiring legislation? I don't know. Check out this link.

As breastfeeding mamas, we are giving our babies the most nutritious food available. I don't know how in the world something so natural has become such a deviation from the norm, but I am going to continue to meet my child's needs, in public or not. I have never had any problems feeding Muffin in public, with the exception of a glare or two, probably because I am as discreet as humanly possible. But it is not something I am ashamed of or try to "hide away" to do.

I am quite proud that I have chosen to give my baby the best start she can have. Hopefully I can serve as inspiration to brand new mamas or mamas-to-be who see me out. Breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your baby and it can be done in public without giving on-lookers a peep show!

What are your thoughts on breastfeeding? Do you use nursing cover-ups while breastfeeding in public? What is your favorite nursing accessory? I couldn't live without my Bebe au Lait!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Being a New Mama

Since my little muffin was born in June I have fully embraced my new role as a mama. It is an adventure, with highs and lows just like every other aspect of life, but it is truly the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I started this blog to keep a record of my triumphs and failures and to share a little piece of me- and what it's like to be muffin's mama. I hope that maybe I can inspire other moms as I share my story!