Keep them rear-facing

February 15, 2010

Earlier this week I took out Calvin’s carseat so that I could clean the seat and install a seat protector. He is still rear-facing and his muddy little shoes were not playing nice with the interior of my new car.  Just for kicks, I set the carseat in a forward-facing position and I let him sit in it. Wow, it was so nice… so much more room. I was tempted to install it like that, but I just couldn’t – not when he is only 17 months.

A few days later I stumbled across the following link: Why Rear Facing is Better. If you have a little one, please check this out. Just a few stats for you:

  • Forward-facing children under the age of 2 are 75% more likely to be injured.
  • Toddlers up to the age of 2 are more than 5 times safer riding rear-facing.
  • After reviewing studies from the U.S. and Sweden, a study published in the highly regarded British Medical Journal advises keeping children rear-facing until age 4.

Yes, it’s a bit of a sacrifice to keep Calvin rear-facing. He would probably enjoy the car more if he faced forward and I would definitely have an easier time getting him in and out. But I am resolved to keep him rear-facing until he reaches the weight limit on his seat – his safety is worth it.

Looking for a good convertible carseat at a reasonable price? I have The First Years True Fit and I love it. Similar to the pricey Marathon seats, this seat seems super comfy, is incredibly easy to install and one year later it still looks brand new.

5 Reasons to Comfort Nurse

February 13, 2010

1. Nursing comforts a baby. Do we really need to say more?

Apparently we do…

2. Nursing shows the baby that he can turn to his mother for comfort. He can connect with her when he needs that.

Nursing does not teach the baby to turn to food for comfort. Try offering a nursling a snack when he is in need of serious comfort – my own nursling would certainly push any food away.

3. The breast is the ultimate pacifier.

Most people would not have any problem with giving a child a pacifier when they were upset. If he’s not sucking on the breast, he will find something else to meet the need. Instead of a plastic baby soothing device – why not use the part God gave you?

4. Nursing takes the baby’s mind off of pain.

A nursing baby is a relaxed baby.

5. Nursing fosters a sense of security.

When he is attached to his mother, he knows that no harm can come to him.

Nursing isn’t just about imparting nutrition to the nursling. Connection and comfort and closeness are also important parts of a nursing relationship.

My son is 17 months old and while we don’t comfort nurse nearly as often as we once did, it is still an important element of our nursing relationship. As a toddler he gets his fair share of bumps and bruises and I can quickly comfort him when it becomes clear that he needs something more than a hug. When he is tired or overstimulated I can rejuvenate him with a quick nursing session. When he is bored and I need him to sit quietly for awhile, nursing is the go-to solution.

Thank you God, for creating such a wonderful way for me to connect with my son. I really cannot imagine what I would do without this handy solution for most any problem.

Parent’s Prayer

February 12, 2010

I love this parent’s prayer:

“O Heavenly Father, make me a better parent. Teach me to understand my children, to listen patiently to what they have to say, and to answer all their questions kindly. Keep me from interrupting them or contradicting them. Make me as courteous to them as I would have them be to me. Forbid that I should ever laugh at their mistakes, or resort to shame or ridicule when they displease me. May I never punish them for my own selfish satisfaction or to show my power. Let me not tempt my child to lie or steal. And guide me hour by hour that I may demonstrate by all I say and do that honesty produces happiness. Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me. And when I am out of sorts, help me, O Lord, to hold my tongue. May I ever be mindful that my children are children and I should not expect of them the judgment of adults. Let me not rob them of the opportunity to wait on themselves and to make decisions. Bless me with the bigness to grant them all their reasonable requests and the courage to deny them the privileges I know will do them harm. Make me fair and just and kind. And fit me, O Lord, to be loved and respected and imitated by my children. Amen”

Thanks to Molly @ Close to Home for sharing.

The Cult of Crunchy

February 8, 2010

I was so thrilled last week when my post on SIDS was featured on one of my very favorite blogs, Peaceful Parenting. I’m really trying to get in the writing habit and being able to share something that I wrote has helped keep me motivated.

However, as I was waiting for my piece to post on the blog, I was consumed by a strange fear… Am I crunchy enough? What about the times when I have been far from the model AP model? What if someone found out that I was a fraud? Surely the PP readers were far crunchier than I was, and who was I to tell them anything?

I had to tell myself to get a grip. Yeah, I rarely co-sleep these days. I eat too much junk food. Sometimes I let Calvin watch cartoons in the very early morning while I lay passed out on the bed. I don’t babywear nearly as much as I did six months ago (did I mention that Calvin is closing in on 30 lbs?). These are just some of my sins. Do they negate my AP/crunchy status?

While I love AP philosophy, I think that one problem APers tend to face is that of groupthink. We become so focused on accepted methods that we tend to forget the underlying philosophy. There are those who will overthink the use of strollers. There are those who will act like co-sleeping is the only right way to sleep regardless of circumstances. There are some who will look down upon you for night weaning. These are just a few examples – there are certainly many more. We all have strong views and that truly is great, but we must be careful as we balance what is absolutely important (parenting our children in a respectful way, fostering an atmosphere of trust) with what are undeniably good things but may look different between individual families (co-sleeping, extended nursing) with what really is entirely preferential (unassisted birth, elimination communication). To quote one MDC poster: “I think there’s a lot of judgement about what is or isn’t AP, when in reality I think the main goal is to listen to our children while we try to make it through every day.”

I think that good AP philosophy should meet us where we are. AP isn’t a list of rules but is rather an attitude – an attitude that will slowly but surely permeate our family’s psyche. I’ve witnessed this transformation especially with my husband. (It started when he agreed to leave our son intact. It continued when he began to understand why I wanted a natural childbirth. And as of late he’s even become a bit of a lactivist!) We should never have to worry that we aren’t AP enough, as though parenting perfection is somehow within our grasp if we just use certain methods. We should be careful to not view natural living as a competition that we can somehow win; we’re all on this journey to varying degrees. 

The great thing about attachment parenting is that much of it is evidence-based. If we lose that and are instead AP just because it is the thing to be, then we have really lost the main justification of AP over other philosophies. If we start to succumb to this type of groupthink then all we’ve done is create another set of cultural norms that is based in certain methods rather than an all-encompassing philosophy.

So if I ever come across as crunchier-than-thou, then please accept my apologies. I assure you that I am not. Remember that some elements of AP / natural family living are a process and not an overnight goal. I’m still working on it and I hope you’ll join me.

Link Roundup

February 3, 2010

Some of my favorites from this past week:

In the Wee Small Hours – Moxie and her readers offer encouragement to those of us still waking up at night with our young children. I know that I sometimes feel that I am the only person in the world waking up to soothe a baby back to sleep. It is good to remember that I am not alone.

Amy @ New Nostalgia posted Tips for Grocery Shopping with Kids. Calvin is only 17 months old but I have already had a few trying grocery store experiences. So far we seem to get by with a combination of babywearing and Cheerios. I will definitely use some of Amy’s ideas as he gets older.

API posted an article about Modeling AP Values. This is a really neat story that speaks volumes about why and how AP works. I loved reading (and seeing!) how AP values are positively impacting this little boy. This was inspirational and I hope to share similar stories someday.

Christianity Today recently published a great article on The Myth of the Perfect Parent. One issue near and dear to my heart is how our religious beliefs affect the way we raise our children. Too often in Christian circles I see parents who are trying to beat the sin out of their children – both literally and figuratively. A lot of Christian parenting advice really bugs me as it presents itself as the gospel truth when actually it is often mired with personal biases as well as some of the ugly sides of our modern culture. Just because someone slaps the label “Christian” on it doesn’t mean that it is so.

I happened to catch the NBC Nightly News this evening where I learned about the latest development in SIDS research. My interest was piqued even before I heard the full story: How would this compare to research done by Dr. James McKenna? What does it mean for co-sleepers? How would the mainstream media respond?

According to the study:

“Lower levels of the hormone serotonin may help explain why some infants succumb to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).”

I have a bit of experience with wonky levels of serotonin. In my experience with generalized anxiety disorder, my serotonin levels were negatively affected following a period of extreme stress. Extreme stress. You know — like the stress that a baby would feel if his parents laid him in the crib and walked out the door. Like the anxiety that would flood his little body as he wailed and waited for them to come back to him. Like the despair he would feel when they did not.

Could this new research possibly support the theory of a link between “sleep training” and SIDS?

This latest study could be an affirmation of McKenna’s position that babies are safest when they sleep within an arm’s reach of their mothers, and breastfeed on cue. Serotonin is a hormone that exists primarily in the gut of a human being. It regulates intestinal movement and operates optimally when ‘fed’ and cared for. (A hungry baby, for example, will have serotonin levels that are off kilter). Serotonin is also highly responsible for other central nervous system functions – the regulation of mood, sleep, muscle movement, appetite, learning and memory. Serotonin works as a calming hormone in the body, while cortisol (a stress hormone) spikes when distressed.

A co-sleeping baby never experiences this rise of stress hormones (such as cortisol) from being left alone to cry-it-out. Rather, a baby sleeping near his mother feels the security of her body, her warmth, her regulatory breath, right beside him. A co-sleeping baby is happy. Research demonstrates that a co-sleeping baby has natural, normal, regulated levels of serotonin. (1, 2)

Unfortunately, that’s not the way that the mainstream media may present the results. Already we see reactions like this from the medical community:

“I think the message is there is something inherently wrong in some of these babies.”

Really? Is there “something inherently wrong” with these babies?

Or perhaps something inherently wrong with the way we are being taught to parent?

References:

1) Gerhardt, S. (2004). Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain. Brunner-Routledge: New York.

2) Sunderland, M. (2006). The Science of Parenting: How today’s brain research can help you raise healthy, happy, emotionally balanced children. DK Publishing: New York.

Thanks to Danelle at peaceful parenting for her excellent editing skills!