Archive for August, 2015

Back Carry Basics

Monday, August 31st, 2015

IMAG0620So you’ve been wearing your baby for a while now, are very comfortable with front carries and feel that you’re ready to move baby onto your back. Where do you begin?

First, unless you are an experienced baby wearer and experienced wrapper, back carries are typically only recommended once your child is 6 months or older and is able to sit independently. Since you have less visual connection with a child on your back, you want him to have the muscle tone that allows him to sit up straight without slouching. You must also only use carriers that are safe for back carries, such as woven wraps, buckle carriers, and mei tais. Stretchy wraps and water wraps/slings are not safe for back carries and should not be used. Stretchy wraps, such as a Moby, do not offer the support necessary and could allow baby to lean or fall. Water products are typically designed for front carry, water use only.

If your child and carrier meet those criteria, you can now begin to practice back carries. Always start by practicing with a spotter, someone to help you should you need it, and practice over a soft surface, such as your bed. You want to first get comfortable moving baby to your back in a safe environment before attempting to do so out and about. Practicing with experienced help, such as at a BWI meeting local to you is a great start, if possible. Another good idea is to practice moving a doll onto your back and into your carrier before trying with your baby.

There are a number of ways to get baby onto your back, and how you do it will part be up to preference and part due to the type of carrier you are using. Below I’ll link to a few good instructional videos that may help you with your particular carrier, but of course, this isn’t an all-inclusive list.

  • SSC – Soft Structured Carrier – Many moms prefer the hip scoot method of transferring baby, as it has more of a secure feel to it. Personally, I was always a fan of the superman toss before my daughter was old enough to just climb on up. If neither of those feel quite secure enough for you, try this method that involves always having the chest clip buckled for additional security.
  • Mei Tai – The hip scoot works just as well for a mei tai, or you can start out with baby on your front.
  • Woven Wrap – There are many ways to get your baby onto your back when using a woven wrap. You may prefer the hip scoot (again!), or the santa toss, or another version of superman. This video shows a number of examples.

You may notice that I did not include ring slings. While there are ways to use a ring sling for a back carry, they are only recommended for advanced wearers. Back carries with a ring sling are not for beginners.

Back carries can take a lot of practice to get comfortable with. As I mentioned, if you can meet with a babywearing educator at a BWI meeting or other babywearing meeting near you, that’s your best first step toward learning to back carry. Soon you’ll be on your way to a whole new world of babywearing!

Hip Scoot 

Superman Toss

Full Buckle Back Transfer

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW with her husband and daughter. She is quite sure she doesn’t get it right all of the time.

Nine Months on, Nine Months off

Friday, August 28th, 2015

IMG_8051So your babe has reached that wonderful milestone: she’s been out of the womb for as long as she was in it. If your pregnancies are anything like mine, you’re probably enjoying her a lot more on the outside. At this stage, she’s a lot more likely to be able to entertain herself long enough for you to get a shower in, which also allows some time to do another thing that may have been put on the back burner:

The scan.

You know, the body scan. The undressing in front of the bathroom mirror and assessing all of your parts. Assessing what has gone down since the last scan. What things are jiggling more. What areas need shaving, toning, plucking, or sucking. What looks better if you stand this way, hunch that way, and man, remember when your boobs used to be up here? Nine months on, nine months off, you’ve heard before, and with this milestone, is your body measuring up?

According to any grocery store magazine stand, you should be able to have a baby and get back into your pre-pregnancy jeans as soon as you deliver the placenta. And for some women, that is absolutely true, and that’s great.

For some women, those jeans are forever a symbol of pre-mommyhood, and that’s also great. Because with the pressure on post-partum women to look like they’ve never partum’ed at all, we lose focus on what’s true: Your body did an amazing thing, and it continues to do amazing things.

Such truth is hard to remember in a culture where women are often valued as ornaments rather than as creatures of action. In a barrage of the “shoulds,” where you are burdened with what you should look like, should weigh, should fit into, repeat to yourself: I am enough. I deserve health and happiness, and that doesn’t look like one specific thing. I am a mom, and I am also a person. My value is not determined by a number or a reflection. I am enough.

Not only will your precious babes benefit from your example of self-love, and in turn learn to give themselves permission to love and accept themselves in spite of any number or reflection, you too will benefit from learning how to love and accept yourself. And you deserve those benefits—no matter what you look like.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

Did my Baby Just Talk?

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Did my Baby Just Talk? First words are one of those milestones that encompass so much. But when is it a first word? Does it only require the audible creation of sound— “ma” said twice in quick succession? Perhaps it needs to be said purposefully, toward an object or in response to a question? Does it need to be clear for anyone to understand or just a parent or caregiver who knows the child best? Is saying it one time enough to count as a “real” word?

Repetitive sounds, like mama and dada, might come out first because your child is most familiar with your encouragement of those words, but research also shows repetitive sounds are appear to be hard-wired into our brains. Ba, da, and ma so happen to be easier to say in speech development, so mama and dada are at an advantage over almost any other combination of letters in the English language.

So when can you expect those first words? Coos and babbles come first, quickly proceeded by repetition of random sounds (ba-ba-ba-ba) by eight months. Enter here the moment when almost every parent gets excited when the random repetition so happens to come in the form of “ma” or “da.” It was a video-worthy moment in our home!

But it’s somewhere between nine and fourteen months most babies utter their first purposeful word. Aside from the names of parents or other caregivers, words like no or bye-bye are also common as well as names of siblings or family pets.

Don’t underestimate how much your child can understand, though. They may only be speaking baby talk, but their minds understand more than their tongues let on. Whatever the word and whenever it happens aside, encourage your child’s development by reading books with and regularly talking to your child, and limiting television (which does not generally encourage active participation. Beyond initiating conversation with your babe, also allow your babe to start the conversation and reflect what you hear back. Play with sounds, tone, and volume of speech. Most of all, have fun!

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Fighting the Failure Mindset

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Fighting the Failure MindsetLet’s just start with me being honest: I am not qualified to write this blog. As I sit here in my home, I am truly feeling like a failure. My 3-year-old just hit her baby brother. There are random toys all over my living room floor. I just put a Disney movie on so I could get a break and get a blog or two done.

As women we were born to be moms. I have never felt something so strong. But I do have my bad days. I lose my patience. I raise my voice. I spank my child when I say I won’t. I forget to dwell on the positive. Anyone else ever feel this way?

It’s so hard to fight this mindset. From the moment we become a mom, we are faced with expectations. Will you breastfeed? Are you using cloth diapers? Did your baby come into the world naturally? Did you circumcise? Will you bed share? Are you letting your baby cry it out? Are you using rice cereal? When will you start solids? As our kids grow, the questions and lists get longer. None of us can be perfect people, but we are the perfect parent for our children. Your children are yours for a reason.

So when this mindset creeps in, what do we do? Give into it? I admit, some days I do. Some days I just want to be a hermit and hide and think about how my children will probably grow up hating me and thinking about how horrible mommy was. Then, I have a reality check.

My kids have toys–lots of them. So far today, they are wearing clean clothes and have had two meals. We’ve been to the local YMCA where they could play and laugh and learn. So far, this day isn’t a failure. There are so many blessings right in front of us. Why do we miss them? I think it’s because we just forget to look.

Am I a perfect mom? No. I’ve made many mistakes today and I would love to be able to reverse them, but I’m not a failure. I’m here for my kids. I’m here to play, to kiss away the boo-boos, and nurse and rock my little boy. I’m here for comfort. I’m here for protection.

I may not have it right today, and I can assure you tomorrow will bring its own challenges, but I am not a failure. You, mom, you are not a failure. You are a work-in-progress. You are the perfect mom for your children.

You are loved.

You are enough.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana who loves her kids more than anything.

You Can Wean at Any Age

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

YOu can wean at any age. One of the things no one tells you as a new mom is that you don’t have to tell anyone anything about how you choose to parent. Ever. Even if they ask you politely.

This is important, because as a first-time mom, everyone has questions for you, and you’re expected to answer them. You’re excited, they’re excited. It’s all very innocent, until the advice comes rolling in. There’s nothing wrong with advice. Many people feel they are being helpful, and sometimes they are.

But some people are not well intentioned. They care about control. They want you to do what they think is right by their opinion because it makes them feel smart and important. These people need to be weaned, and if you don’t know how or that you have the right to enforce informational and emotional boundaries, they can make you miserable.

For me, it was hard to start drawing boundaries. I had always been an over-sharer, and aside from making things socially awkward now and then, it was never really a problem. But once I had a baby, I felt like I couldn’t even make my own decisions anymore. Advice came at me from all directions, and the expectations that came with that advice weighed on me. I felt like I was letting people down, and I was floundering to find my footing as a mother.

So if you don’t learn to find your mother instinct or can’t hear it because other people are drowning it out, you end up bitter towards the people whose advice fails you and desperate for someone whose advice works. In the end, the only person who can raise your child is you.

What Does Enforcing Boundaries Look Like?

If you’ve never learned to keep boundaries, it can be difficult when you first start. When you feel the urge to talk about something off-limits, you have to stop yourself. You have to think ahead in the conversation, and have responses ready to go for some people. You simply can’t bring up some topics any more. The relationship with that person changes. But if they’re hurting you because you have been open with them, then it needs to change.

Sometimes, it might feel like lying. When I was at the pediatrician’s office and he asked if my daughter was sleeping through the night, I knew that he was looking for problem areas. The fact that she was not sleeping through the night at 8 months was not a problem area for me. So I said yes, she sleeps fine.

Sometimes it means keeping quiet when you would normally share something. I do this a lot when I see hot topics posted on Facebook, or when I’m in a group of people who all have the same view on politics or religion. If I think I can share something that would lead to meaningful discussion, I do. If someone asks me a pointed question about my thoughts, I share only if I think my opinion will be respected. Different people will set different boundaries. Mine even change depending on my level of patience or resilience that day.

How to Tell if You Need to Enforce Boundaries with Someone

There are a few ways I learned that certain people in my life needed boundaries:

  • They punish you for decisions or opinions that you believe in. This could be in the form of pouting, the silent treatment, embarrassing you in front of other people or online, or passive-aggressive behavior.
  • They don’t trust you. If someone constantly thinks you’re lying, is asking other family members about you, is stalking you on Facebook, or looking at your phone or email when you aren’t there, you need to enforce boundaries until there is open trust, if not longer. Mutual trust should be a cornerstone of any relationship.
  • They are constantly following up with you. When someone is following up on advice they gave you, they aren’t treating you as an adult. Knowing you’re going to be followed-up on creates pressure and stress, and when you have a new baby, you don’t need any extra stress.
  • Your relationship with them affects other relationships. It’s not your job to make anyone happy. We can’t even do that for our kids sometimes. So if someone is trying to make you fix other situations, other relationships, or change something in your life to make them happy, they need boundaries. Your baby and your family is your top priority. You shouldn’t ever be made to feel guilty for putting them first.
  • Your relationship with them affects your mood. No one should have the power to make you feel upset, stressed, or like you aren’t good enough just because of what they say. If there is a real problem that needs to be addressed, then that’s different. But if you feel stressed out by or depressed because of someone else all the time, then you need to re-examine that relationship.

When my oldest daughter was little, we were struggling with getting her to sleep in her own bed. She went to sleep fine, but woke up every night and wanted to get in bed with us. This lead to hours-long struggles that left me feeling exhausted in the morning. I lost my patience with her during the day and I felt like a terrible mom. Why couldn’t she just sleep in her own bed? What did we do wrong?

I was researching toddler sleep issues on, and one suggestion was that you should ask yourself, “If no one else knew about our sleeping arrangements would I still want to change anything?” The answer was no. She was 3. I was fine with her sleeping in our bed at night if she felt scared. I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to hurt anyone, and that one day she would probably sleep through the night in her own bed just fine. That question made it clear exactly what the answer to our problem was. It wasn’t my daughter’s night waking. It was  listening to other people’s advice.

It was such a great reminder that my decisions on how to raise my children don’t affect people outside our family. I should be free to make these decisions about what is best for my family on my own, with my own research, without feeling pressure from outside parties. That is my right as a parent, and yours too.

If someone is trying to take that right from you, then it’s time to wean. Don’t talk about parenting with them. Enforce your boundaries and live a happier, less stressful life, confident in your choices and your abilities as a mother.

Erin Burt is a mother of three girls and freelance writer who lives and writes in Oklahoma City.