AP and Grandparents

We moved to another country when I was 6 months pregnant. Leaving all our extended families back home, they weren’t quite aware of our parenting choices.

We had decided to co-sleep with our daughter so we didn’t buy a crib/cot for her. During the early weeks, my mom was quite anxious that we might roll over her. As weeks passed she would ask me, again and again, when we would buy a bed for her. I explained her that we loved her being with us in the bed and they shouldn’t worry. Above the safety measures, they were also worried that she wouldn’t leave our bed once she got used to sleeping there.

We had the chance to go back home when our daughter was 4 months old. During this holiday, mom saw first-hand that co-sleeping was perfectly safe and it was lovely having your newborn beside you. It also made night time feeding easy for us.

Once our baby was 6 months old, she began to ask when we would start her offering solids. My daughter was not interested yet. But mom and grandma were very concerned. They’d ask me every time, as if I was depriving her of food. I’d tell them that, during the first year, solids are only for fun and tasting. As long as the baby is breastfeeding and gaining weight, there’s no need to worry.
During our visits to home, they had the chance to observe our child and our practices.

My mom loved wearing her first and only granddaughter and taking her on walks. We talked a lot about attachment parenting, about why we have to fulfill our little one’s needs during their childhood and how such children turn into well adjusted adults. We talked about extended breastfeeding and why we had the intention of co-sleeping until our daughter feels ready to move to her own bed. I’m very happy that she understands it all and has become very supportive.

Recently mom told me that my cousin and her wife decided to let their baby cry-it-out. Hearing this broke my heart, but after all, everyone has their own parenting choices and unfortunately there wasn’t much to do.

Last week, as I was speaking with my sister (she’s expecting her 1st baby, due in November), she told me that mom had told her to make a decision about the baby’s sleep arrangements. She added that deciding where the baby would be sleeping was very important, as any change to that affected the baby badly. I was glad to hear that she mentioned the family bed, and that she has normalised this in her head.

Now, if only she doesn’t ask me repeatedly when we would wean Defne now that she’s 18 months old!

Moving House

Over the last few weeks, the Half Pint Pixie household has been busy moving house and settling into our new home, thankfully we’ve had help from the brisbane removalists. During this time, Littlepixie has taken quite a stretch both physically and developmentally. She has so many words now, only yesterday she ran out into the garden, then promptly ran back to the path exclaiming “grass cold”, yes Irish summers are amazing, cold wet grass is quite normal!

I do, however, have a point to my little tale of moving house, and it is this, I really think that out of all of us Littlepixie found the move the easiest as we also went as far as looking solutions online on how to get rid of fleas so the moving will be comfortable and nice. I think our parenting style had a lot to do with that. By listening to her, watching her reactions and respecting her little self, we could see things from her point of view.

Sometimes that meant one of us taking her off to play elsewhere, other times it was an acrobatic nursing session on the floor surrounded by bubblewrap and newspaper and frequently it was as simple as popping her up into a sling to watch all the action.

She was a little distressed to see all the boxes getting packed, so we made her an area where she could safely climb on the packed boxes, et voila, an instant adventure play centre!

The day of the move, Mr. HPP went ahead with the movers to take out his pool table, actually he found a great Pool Table Removals that did all the work for him, and then  set up our bed in our new bedroom. But before that, the wise thing he did was to apply for a u.s. mail address change, because he knew that the process was lengthy. When myself and LP followed later we showed her our big family bed with the familiar blankets and we all sat on it and played games for a while. Then she was happy to see the rest of her new house.

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After a full day of exploring and moving houses with the house movers, LP slept soundly that night, and why wouldn’t she? New house, but mama and dada were still there beside her at bedtime. Even though so much was different, she knew the important things were still the same.

Since we’ve moved there are days when LP goes through little periods of needing to be held more. I’m sure many people would dismiss this as a clingy phase, but I think she just likes to know that all is still safe in her little world even though the wider world around her looks all different. f you are looking for a cheap man and van company in London to help collect, deliver or move items in and around London then look no further! We have a fleet of man with a van drivers waiting for your call. We have a range of different size vans and a fleet of van drivers to give you the right solution for your needs. We can supply helpers as well as the van and driver and we can load and unload your belongings. We are happy to move single items or complete home / office moves and are thankful to the LA Movers  who helped us alot in moving, we are really grateful we hire them.

So we hold her more, we leave the buggy at home and I take her to the shops on my back. We hang out the laundry while she sits in the ring sling. We walk around the house and back garden while she sits in a hip carry, latched on and drinking her milkies.

She’s only small and she derives so much security from being close to us, I know that while she’s snuggled close to me or Mr. HPP she can observe the world and formulate her plans for exploring it in a few minutes time, but for a few moments she can just snuggle there in the sling, all cosy and safe.

So what I’m trying to say is that while moving house is supposedly one of the most stressful life events ever, it’s a lot easier if you’re a cosleeping, nursing, slinging toddler, even if your new garden has cold wet grass in the middle of summer!

Now would anyone like to call around and unpack some boxes for us?

Babies in the Workplace

One of the first questions expecting mothers get when sharing their good news (after “Is it a boy or a girl?”) is, in my experience, are you going back to work? It’s a tough question. It’s a loaded question. And now, thanks to Carla Moquin of the Parenting in the Workplace Institute, it’s a question that can be rephrased:

Are you taking baby to work with you?

Out of financial necessity, Carla had to make the unexpected choice to return to the workforce four weeks after the birth of her second daughter. Years later, she runs the Parenting in the Workplace Institute, has written both an ebook titled Babies at Work: Bringing New Life to the Workplace, and just released a how-to guide for parents and companies interested in implementing a babies in the workplace program.

I spoke with Carla last week about the great potential these types of programs have for fostering community and providing parents who choose to return to work with options beyond traditional daycare.
Continue reading “Babies in the Workplace”

Role Model Parenting

This summer marks my 20th anniversary of parenting. Right this moment, my 4-month-old daughter is nursing in the sling strapped to my chest. My (almost) 14-year-old daughter is stomping noisily up the stairs in protest after having some kind of disagreement with her 5-year-old sister about the last dish of mac & cheese. My 19-year-old son is throwing a load of laundry into the washer. This is my life: a bit chaotic, a tad overwhelming, and completely filled with people I adore. I’m not sure if I accurately recall my life before I started my journey into parenthood two decades ago. Those childless years of my life must not have been very important to me since I have so many rich, vivid and love-filled memories of my life since then. I wouldn’t trade the life I have now, even if I could remember why I would want to. Each of my children has presented unique challenges, and have provided unparalleled joys.

I certainly did not begin this journey into parenthood with the AP Principles conveniently written down for me. I could not have found them online (yeah, that’s right, I parented for almost 11 years without the infinite wisdom of the Internet! Gasp!) I had the standard parenting library of the time: Dr. Spock, T. Barry Brazleton, and Penelope Leach. My parenting bible was LLL’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding which I turned to for all things breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding alike. I felt I was doing the best that I could with the tools that I had. Judging from the results, my instincts weren’t too bad. I look at the two teens who live in my house, eat all of the food, and call me mom, and what I see (most of the time) are helpful, spirited, creative, compassionate, respectful people.

I sometimes worry that my older children missed out on the benefits of Attachment Parenting because I did not have access to all of the information that I have now. Looking back I can see that I did okay. I wore them in backpacks and carriers whenever possible. I certainly thought of them as complete, conscious humans right from the start. I breastfed despite facing downright disapproval from many of the so-called parenting authorities in my community at the time. I often told people that they were sleeping through the night in their own cribs, when they were, in fact, in my bed nursing all night long.

My first born is about to be unleashed into the world when he goes off to college this fall. In addition to most of his possessions, all of our mismatched towels, and a crate of Ramen Noodles, he will also be taking along 14 years of big brother experience; 14 years of living in a family where healthy pregnancy, normal childbirth, and extended breastfeeding were modeled for him as each of his little sisters were welcomed into the world. He doesn’t run away or apologize for coming into the room while I am nursing. He sees my husband being a supportive and loving father. I have no doubt that someday he will take all of these examples and create his own parenting philosophies. My (almost) 14-year old daughter was the photographer for our recent homebirth and is super excited about finally being allowed to have a sling of her own to wear the baby in. I am confident that she will make loving, informed parenting choices for the rest of her life. Getting kids to accept your quirky parenting stuff when they are very young is a given–they love you and think you are the sun, the moon, and the stars. Pulling it off when they are in the midst of high school, hormones, dating, punk music, and Nietzsche, is a whole different story.

So even though I might not necessarily have been the ideal Attachment Parent when they were babies, I certainly have given my older children a gift I consider to be equally valuable: an example of parenting their little sisters that they will always remember and that I am proud to have modeled for them. My son won’t have to rely on vague, hazy memories of his youngest siblings nursing when it comes time to support his future wife and baby on their breastfeeding journey: he has never known any other way for babies to be fed. My daughter will never fear the unknown, or need to hear me reminisce over photographs of her own birth to feel confident when it comes time to give birth to her own babies: she has seen the power of birth up close and in person. They have been here every step of the way and have been involved in the process of learning and growing right alongside of me. Despite all of these wonderful examples, I trust that they will give me a few more years before I have to become an Attachment Grandparent, though!


Torso? Of Course-O!

Back Torso Carry

Q: Can you teach me to wear my baby on my back in a Torso Carry?

A: Sure can. Let me tell you why I love the Torso Carry. If you have never tried a torso carry (fabric is wrapped exclusively around your torso excluding the shoulders entirely) you are in for a treat. This wonderful position is exceptionally comfortable. Baby rides a bit lower on your back than some other back carries and ends up riding essentially on the top of your bum. Baby’s bottom is lower than his knees for optimal hip abduction. Baby’s arms can be tucked in the fabric or out (as in the above picture).

Because torso carries do not involve the shoulders, this is a great carry for people with neck or shoulder trouble. Quick and comfortable, you are going to love this carry. You can use many different pieces of cloth for this carry. Here are some ideas: a wraparound carrier, a podaegi, an extra-long Rebozo, a thin beach towel, or a Simple Piece of Cloth, with the dimensions and features which I described here.

Here is how I got my 8-month-old on my back: Start with baby on your hip. Lean to the side and scoot her back as far as possible. Bring your arm up and over baby’s head and catch her under the bum. Remain leaning forward and make your back flat like a table. Hop her around to your back until she is straddling the center of your back, piggy back style.

Then you just need to wrap the carrier around you and baby. In this series, I am using a woven Gypsymama wrap. This is very similar to how we wrap ourselves in a towel (tuck under our armpits and roll) except that you will be leaning forward and you will be including a baby.

Start by holding your fabric in the center and pulling it up and over baby’s back. The top edge should be at baby’s neck, bottom edge at baby’s knees. Hold the top edge taut (to hold baby in place) and pull the fabric straight forward and tuck one side way under your armpit. Tuck the other side under your other armpit and then gather both edges together and ROLL the fabric across the front. This top edge roll must be tight with baby flush against your back. Tuck the bottom edge under baby’s bum, bringing it forward with the fabric under baby’s knees (feet should be out), bum lower than knees.

At this point baby is pretty secure and you just need to finish up with the bottom edges. I usually just cross them over each other, do a U-turn and then tuck them up under the front. If the ends are quite long, you always have the option of crossing them back around baby and then tucking them up under in front. It does not really matter how you choose to finish, the success of this carry comes from a secure top edge roll.

The little scientist

Long before our daughter was born, I decided to be a stay-at-home-mom and I love it. I can’t say it’s always easy. Looking after a toddler requires lots and lots of energy. But then it also provides lots and lots of hugs and kisses!

As a first time mom, when my daughter was a newborn I wasn’t able to imagine her as 2 year or 3 year old little girl. She is almost 18 months old now and she’s turning into a little girl before our eyes.
It sounds like a cliché when people tell you that they grow so fast. I have now understood that it is so true!
Gone are the days when she’d sleep happily for hours in the sling. My daughter is a busy toddler now.

She enjoys climbing, giving mommy and daddy anxious moments. She loves looking into the drawers and cupboards and see if there is anything of interest.

She likes helping mommy when I’m cleaning the house.

She is interested to see and observe everything that happens in her environment. After some observation, she tries to mimic us.

I always try to respect her behaviors, but there can be times when I am not-so-patient. For example, last weekend we had a nice day out and about. It was time to go home. We were all very tired and hungry. As I was putting her in the Ergo,she was trying to take her flat feet footwear off which made me a bit angry. I didn’t show my feelings to her,but you know, I was grunting a bit.

Then I came across this article by Jan Hunt and I liked her analogy:

A two-year-old is a very curious person, always experimenting, always exploring. He is in fact, a scientist! And if you look at his activities in that way, it can change your perspective and allow creative ideas to emerge, making life easier for you and for him.
I’d like to suggest an exercise to try. For one day, picture him not as a small child, but rather as a visiting scientist. Pretend this scientist is staying at your home for a day. This person needs materials to use, needs time to do his research, and will need your assistance from time to time. If we had a visiting scientist at our house, wouldn’t we feel curious ourselves as to what he is doing, and wouldn’t we feel honored to be helping when we can? That’s exactly the right attitude to take with a busy toddler.

This shifted my perspective: My daughter had just discovered that it was very fun to take off the velcro straps of her shoes. She had no idea that I was hungry and tired. Being upset would only make me feel worse.
Instead of being frustrated with our children when we have very little time or patience, we should make time for honoring their activities.

This is a very special stage in their lives and we should join their “research” and feel as excited as them.

Babywearing Improv

Q: Soft baby carriers look so simple. Do I really need to buy one? Couldn’t I just use what I already have or make my own?

A: Yes, absolutely. The most basic baby carrier is a Simple Piece of Cloth which can be made in to a tie sling, a torso carrier or a wraparound carrier. You may already have a suitable piece of fabric on hand (think shawls, sarongs, large scarves, sheets, tablecloths…) You can go to your local fabric store or even most discount stores and choose your own fabric for a few dollars.

Your fabric needs to be at least 25 inches wide and should be mostly cotton, breathable, resilient, washable, and preferably have a bit of diagonal give. Try not to get fabric that is too thick or you will have trouble tying it. Cotton mesh fabric works well. Follow this general guideline for fabric length: For a tie sling or a torso carry, most people need about 2.8 yards, for most wraparound positions, choose between 4.6 yards (up to 140 lbs and 5’8”), 5 yards (up to 180 lbs and 6’ tall) and 5.5 yards (over 180 pounds and 6 feet tall).

Take your carefully selected, measured Simple Piece of Cloth and have some fun. If you have a short piece (about shawl size), wear your older baby (6 months plus) in the hip carry in a tie sling. You may also want to try the torso carry (fabric is wrapped exclusively around your torso excluding the shoulders entirely). Check out this great video from Tracy at www.wearyourbaby.com of 3 month old baby Charlie on his sister’s back in the Torso Carry using a shawl. This is such a great, simple carry. After seeing this video, I immediately tried it with my 8 month old Julia and it was so comfortable. Quick, easy, comfortable, hands-free magic! Because torso carries do not involve the shoulders, this is a great carry for people with neck or shoulder trouble.

With a slightly longer fabric, your fabric will function as a wraparound carrier and you may want to wear your newborn in a wraparound position in the front or enjoy the ease a convenience of the rucksack carry on your back.

In a pinch, I have used a light throw blanket to wear my baby on my back for a much needed nap while visiting my in-laws. With a minimal time and expense you can and should use a Simple Piece of Cloth as a great way to carry your precious baby. Anyone else have stories (or resources) to share about using a Simple Piece of Cloth to carry baby?

For you more crafty folks, stay tuned next week for resources for sewing your own baby carrier.

Editor’s Note: The links to Wear Your Baby are no longer valid as the site is no longer online.

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