Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sally Weans from Night Nursing: Book review and giveaway

I've been contemplating night weaning Emi (and half-heartedly trying) for several months now.  It's not easy, and I haven't been 100% committed, so it's been dragging on.

A couple weeks ago I learned about a new children's book called Sally Weans from Night Nursing, and I was so thrilled when the author, Lesli Mitchell, graciously agreed to send me a copy to review.

From the first page, this book really resonated with me.  In the introduction the author tells her personal story of how she decided she needed to night wean her daughter.  I'm sure many of us can relate to her experience of "doing what seemed to be the easiest thing for a somewhat restful night." (And that "thing" being, MOM = 24 HR MILK BAR!)

I'm sure most moms experience a wide range of conflicting emotions when choosing to wean.  I really enjoyed reading about the author's experience, because it helped me to know I'm not alone in what I'm feeling and experiencing.  I especially appreciated the gentle, non-judgmental tone the author used when sharing her story, and her emphasis on the fact that choosing to wean is such a personal decision.

My girls both loved the story of Sally and the big, colorful illustrations in the book.

One of my favorite things about the book is that it describes Sally's feelings through the weaning process.  The story tells how Sally feels sad that mommy said "no" when she woke up and wanted to nurse, and how she felt angry too.

That really seemed to resonate with Emi.  The day after I had first read her the story, I found her sitting with the book, looking at the pages and talking about how Sally felt sad and angry that, "mommy said 'no boo boo!'"

The story also illustrates how Sally and her mommy are able to do lots of fun things together because they get lots of sleep and don't feel tired anymore (which is the main goal of night weaning, right?!)  Emi was really excited about the thought of fingerpainting... and I think I suddenly realized why she's been waking up every morning and asking to paint!

The author ends the book by sharing her personal experience (the nuts and bolts, if you will) of how she and her husband weaned their daughter.  I found that especially helpful, and I think I'm going to try implementing some of her ideas... like no more nursing in bed!

Maybe someday, when Emi has successfully night weaned, I'll share my story of how we made it work.  But until then, if you'd like to win a copy of Sally Weans from Night Nursing please enter the giveaway!


Sign into Rafflecopter using your email address or facebook. (I promise they won't spam you :)  I always use my email address with Rafflecopter giveaways and I've never been spamed.)  The follow the prompts for five easy ways to enter:
  1. Leave a comment below with a helpful tip for weaning or a particular struggle you're having with weaning.
  2. Like The Happy Hippie Homemaker on facebook.
  3. Like "Sally Weans from Night Nursing" on facebook.
  4. Share this post with your friends on facebook.
  5. Follow @mama_lesli on twitter.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ergo vs. Boba vs. Tula carrier comparison

I used to think I knew a thing or two about baby wearing... that was, until I moved to the Bay Area!

About a month after I moved to town, I decided to go to a PAXbaby Playdate, in hopes of meeting some other like-minded moms.  It was tons of fun and I met lots of sweet babywearing mamas... and realized that I really know nothing about baby wearing!

Natibaby, KoKaDi, or Oscha wrap?

I was clueless!  (I bet there are a couple of ladies in that photo who could not only tell you the maker of each of the wraps above, they could tell you the name of the design too!!)

I had heard of Girasol woven wraps and learned a fun fact about them from someone at the playdate... Girasol makes a XELA wrap! (For any readers who don't know, Xela is my name!)

I also knew that woven wraps typically cost over $100, which seemed like a lot to me (considering I had made several wraps for as little as $5), but I learned that some hard core babywearers often pay up to $1000 for really rare wraps!

But I digress... one of the most important things I discovered at the PAXbaby Playdate was the wonderful world of Tula carriers!

Tula carriers come in some of the coolest, funkiest, and most beautiful prints I've ever seen.

They also specialize in Wrap Conversion Carriers (something I had never heard of before the PAXbaby playdate) which are made partially or entirely from a woven wrap.  Apparently the woven ones are super soft and comfy, but I don't know that I could ever bring myself to pay over $200 for ANY baby carrier!

I think the best thing about Tulas though is that they come in standard or toddler size!

A year ago, I'm not sure I would have been excited about a carrier that came in two sizes... it's kind of like the cloth diapering conundrum of whether "one-size" diapers really fit ANY size very well.  But now I'm definitely a fan of sized diapers and baby carriers!

Here's a quick comparison of the dimensions of the Ergo Original, Boba 3G, the standard and the toddler Tula carriers:

Standard Ergo
Boba 3G
Standard Tula
Toddler Tula
Back panel height
Seat width
13" (17.5" at widest point)
Shoulder strap length/ length of padding
41"/ 21"
40" /17"
44"/ 17" - 20"
Waist belt length/ length of padding
25" - 43" (51" w/extender)/ 23.5"
25" - 58"/ 25" padded
29" - 56"/ 30"

(Please note that these are estimations.  The manufactures don't disclose most of this information, so most of the measurements were taken by me with a soft measuring tape.  Special thanks to my friend Whit for getting the measurements on the Boba, since I don't have one anymore!  And I don't have a standard Tula, so if anyone does and could send me the info I'm missing, I'd really appreciate it! :o)

The first thing you'll notice is the height difference between the three carriers.

The Tula carriers fit about 3 to 5 inches higher than the Ergo (depending on the model), and that makes a huge difference in the comfort and security of the carrier!  Emi has always been a wiggly little worm and it really put a lot of strain on my back and shoulders when she would lean away from my body.  The Tula keeps her close and comfy.

Next, you'll notice the difference in the seat width.  A nice, wide seat is important for helping to prevent "dead-leg" for the baby/toddler and also for proper weight distribution for the wearer.  Ideally, the seat of the carrier should touch from knee to knee on the baby and the baby's bottom should sit lower than the knees (making a nice "M" shape).

The seat of the Boba is the narrowest, followed closely by the Ergo.  The standard Tula is only a half inch wider than the Ergo, but the toddler Tula is 5 inches wider than the Ergo and 6 inches wider than the Boba!

A cool feature of Tula standard carriers is that they sell a "Room to Grow" extension which widens the seat base and converts the standard carrier to a toddler size.  (Don't ask me how it works though... I haven't seen one in person and there aren't a lot of details on the website.)

Another difference in the carriers is the length of the shoulder strap and the amount of padding.

Tula straps have the thickest padding, but the padding is longest on the Ergo (an inch longer than the Tula, and 4 inches longer than the Boba!).  One of the most uncomfortable things I found with the Boba was how little padding there was on the straps, and a common complaint I've heard/read is that it rubs against the back of your arms when front-carrying a child.

Notice how the padding stops mid-back on the Boba, but comes all the way down
and around with the Tula and the Ergo

Another cool feature of the Tula is that it has an adjustment where the panel meets the straps that allows you to bring your baby closer or let the baby sit back from you (which is why the "length of padding" measurement is 17" - 20".)  It's really handy when nursing in the carrier!!

I would say the only drawback to the Tula is that it might not fit well around the waist if you're super petite (smaller than probably a size 24/25.)  The smallest the waist belt goes on the Tula is 29 inches, compared to 25 inches with the Ergo or Boba, but I think the measurements are a little misleading.  I have a friend who felt the Ergo was too big for her petite frame and she loves the Tula.  Also, just to give a little perspective, I typically wear a size 26/27 jean and as you can see in the photo below, I don't wear it cinched down to its smallest size.

Personally, I like the fact that the padded area is longer on the waist belt, because I find it more supportive... and it helps to hide my love handles :o)

So right now the Tula is about the only carrier I ever use.  Occasionally I use my Maya sling carrier, if I just need to make it from the car to a store without Emi running away, and once in a blue moon I'll pull out a wrap.  But there was a time that I thought I didn't need anything other than a baby wrap!

Tula has a great philosophy that I whole-heartedly agree with:
We love babywearing and all it has to offer. It's practical for the parent, it has amazing benefits for the baby and it feels so good to have your baby snuggled in close!   
We do not support criticism and looking down at parents for the type of a wrap or carrier they chose to use. We believe that every parent tries to make the best decision for his baby. 
Over the past four and half years of wearing my girls, I've discovered there really is no "best" carrier. Certain carriers are better for certain body shapes.  Each type of carrier has it's pros and cons, and work best at different ages and stages.  I highly recommend trying out different carriers before making a purchase.

If you're lucky enough to have a chapter of Baby Wearing International in your area, the leaders are a great resource for showing you how to properly use different types of carrier and they typically have a large "library" of carriers to loan/rent out.

If not, contact  One of their babywearing experts can give you a "personalized carrier prescription!"  Then you can rent a carrier for as little as $30, and as an added bonus, they'll give you a coupon for $10 off your next carrier purchase!

And if you happen to be in the market for an Ergo, I have a very gently used, super cute Galaxy Grey for sale.  I used it for just a few months before buying my Tula.  (I even have the original box and owner's manual!)  Update:  The Ergo has found a new home :)

Ergo Galaxy Grey Carrier - $70 plus shipping

 I'd love to hear from some readers... what's your favorite carrier and why?

Friday, January 4, 2013

My thoughts on nurse-ins

I've never considered myself to have much of an imagination, but a conversation I had the other day regarding nurse-ins got me thinking...

Imagine a time, a hundred-and-something years from now, when the majority of our population doesn't eat with their mouths.  The mouth, they reason, can be used for sexual purposes and therefore should only be used in private.  In order not to offend people by using their mouths (even though it's for a purpose that's not sexual) people start covering themselves with blankets when they eat or hiding in bathrooms/dressing rooms/cars to eat. 

Over time, many people decide it's not worth the hassle to eat with their mouths, so they have tubes inserted into their stomachs and inject liquid nutrients straight to the source.  Sure, they miss out on the bonding that can happen as a family at the dinner table... not to mention the delicious flavors of a home cooked meal!  But at least no one is offended by seeing a mouth (which could be used for a sexual purpose) used for something not sexual!

Ok, I'll admit it... that scenario probably seems a little bizzarre and far-fetched, but that's kind of like what's happened with breasts.  Even though their primary biological function is to nourish our young, our society has sexualized breasts to the extent that women are made to feel ashamed and embarrassed to nurse their children in public.

But it wasn't always so.  In the late 1800's, no one batted an eye at a woman nursing her baby, uncovered in a church service.  And have you seen all the paintings of Mary breastfeeding Jesus?! (My friend Paala posted several of the paintings on her blog.)  Or how about the paintings of Mary squirting breastmilk into Saint Bernard's mouth?

Why is it that nowadays many people are so offended to see a mother nursing?  Why is it that we are told we are inconsiderate exhibitionists for using our breasts for their primary biological purpose?

Although it's never happened to me, I've heard numerous accounts of women being harrassed in restaurants for nursing their babies at the table.  (I'm sure many of you heard about the incident with Dawn Holland at the Applebee's in Georgia.) These mothers are told that they need to be respectful and considerate of the other patrons in the restaurant, but it makes me wonder... how many meat eaters are asked to take their babyback ribs to the bathroom in order to avoid offending any vegetarians who might be in the restaurant?  I can imagine it's just as offensive for a vegetarian to see a meat eater scarf down animal flesh as it is for some people to see a child nurse from an exposed breast.

So what is going to change public perception?  How can we get back to the days when women felt free to nurse openly, whenever and where ever their little ones need it?  To see women nursing! 

Photo Credit: Passion For Birth

If you, as a nursing mother, feel most comfortable covered or in a private place (I did when I was first learning to nurse) then go for it!  But for those of us who's babies rip the blankets and hooter hiders off, or who don't want our babies to have to nurse in a dirty bathroom, or who just want to enjoy our food at the table with the rest of our family, the harrassment and humiliation has to stop!

And that's why I feel the need to join nurse-ins whenever I can... as a show of support for the mothers who are being harrassed, and as an effort to help normalize nursing.  If you feel the same passion for the cause, a nationwide nurse-in is being organized this weekend at Hollister in support of Brittany Warfield, a mother who was nursing her 7 month old baby, covered with a coat, on a bench outside Hollister in Houston.  (A list of Hollister stores where nurse-ins are being organized can be found on the 2013 Hollister Nurse-In facebook page.)

And one last thing... I think I've shared this before, but I love it so much that I have to share it again.  In case you still don't think women should nurse in public, here's Every NIP (nursing in public) Argument Debunked, originally written by Elsinora on but with awesome photos added by my friend Paala. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls

Welcome to the October 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Instilling a Healthy Self-Image
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared confessions, wisdom, and goals for helping children love who they are. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Image courtesy Scoobie1993

I think one of the most inspiring books I read as a new mom was Lean Mommy by Lisa Druxman, the creator of Stroller Strides.  I got the book because I was looking for some ideas for how to involve my little one in my workouts, since I wanted to get in shape without subjecting my baby to the germs in the gym daycare.  But what I got from that book was so much more than workout advice.  I got some of the best advice I've ever come across about raising a child with a healthy self-image. 

I'm sure most moms (and dads, for that matter) have things they'd like to change about their physical appearance.  But how does it affect our children when we express these desires aloud?  I had never really thought about it, but in her book Lisa Druxman explained how everything we do and say will shape how our children view themselves and impact the lifestyle habits that they will adopt.

Think about this for a moment:
A verbalized feeling-fat moment while stepping on the scale teaches a child something that she should never have been exposed to: that there is a "right" and a "wrong" way for his or her body to be. The child loves mom and at a young age would not notice her flaws. But mom's comment now zooms the child's attention to the idea that, as great as she is, mommy doesn't like herself or her body. This makes her child hyperaware of his or her own body. And he or she learns to judge their own body negatively, too. (Druxman, 187)
Wow!  Who would have thought that our own insecurities could have such an impact on our children?

I think one of the most important things we can do to instill a healthy body image in our children is to show them that we LOVE our bodies!  Be a positive role model for a healthy body image and never let your child hear you say a negative or disparaging comment about your body, or anyone else's.

Sometimes the things we say might not seem to be negative, but by placing an emphasis on the way our body LOOKS rather than how healthy or unhealthy our body is, we can perpetuate the "thin is good, thick is bad" attitude that is so common in society today.

About two months ago, just a few weeks before my hubby turned 30, he decided he was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, and wanted to get in shape!  Back in January he had gotten some blood work done as part of a life insurance application and was concerned with some of the results, so he was hoping to lose some weight and improve his health.  He took a two week CrossFit trial class and discovered the Paleo Plan, which has been life changing for us.  We've been eating Paleo and exercising regularly for the past two months, and as a result we both feel healthier and fitter than we ever have in our adult lives!

Through the process though, there has been a lot of talk about "losing weight." And the word "fat" has come up more than once.  I cringe at that word, and hearing it come from my big, strong husband... my babies' daddy and role model... made the powerful message of Lean Mommy come rushing back to the front of my mind.  Those words may not appear to be affecting our girls right now, but surely they are listening and forming opinions of right and wrong, good and bad.  Do I want my girls to grow up thinking "fat" is bad and "losing weight" or being "skinny" is good??

I had a little chat with my hubby a week or two ago and we agreed that F-A-T would be a word that is off-limits in our home.  We agreed that the way we phrase things is very important... we don't work out to "lose weight", we work out to be fit and healthy.  We shouldn't be so concerned with the "calories" we eat, but whether we are getting the nutrients our bodies need.  We want to focus on how the food we're eating makes us feel (energetic, sluggish, or sick to our stomachs) above all else! 

That's one thing that has been very apparent to both of us as we've changed how we eat... we feel so much more energetic and focused and HAPPY!  No more indigestion, bloating, gas, or fatigue.  Even my husband's hives have gone away!  Those are the things that are really important, and those are the things I want to focus on!!

Along those same lines, I'm learning it's important not to use food as a control tool.  We shouldn't require our children eat any set quantity of food or to use food as a reward or incentive.  Rather, it is important to teach our children to listen to their bodies... to recognize when they're hungry and when they're satisfied (which is different from being full )!

She never seems to have a problem licking the bowl clean when there's chocolate pudding in it!

When Gigi was a toddler I fell into the trap of saying "Please eat 2 or 3 more bites," and I would get really excited when she cleaned her plate.  To make matters worse, I would also tell her she couldn't have a treat unless she ate a good dinner.  It didn't take long before she started asking, "How many bites do I have to eat?" the moment she sat down at the table!

I knew I didn't want my daughter to be emotionally attached to -- or at war with -- food!  I wanted her to see food as a source of nourishment and energy.  I didn't want her to feel guilty if she did or didn't eat something, because I knew that could lead to eating disorders down the road.

Thankfully, around this time I was reading The Discipline Book, by Dr. Sears and it included a section on "Feeding Good Behavior."  I love the tips he offered, such as giving choices, not using food to fix emotional or physical hurts, and stocking your pantry with healthy foods and allowing kids to help themselves when they're hungry (rather than when we tell them they should be hungry)!  I think the best piece of advice he had though, was this:
Don't use food as a control tool.  Never push food on babies or children.  If they want it, they'll either open wide or pick it up themselves.  It's your job to provide healthy, nutritious food.  It's your child's job to eat it.  Never chase your child with a spoonful of anything.  Never use the threat of "no dessert" to get a child to finish his main course.  Don't even talk about how well or poorly a child has eaten.  Zip your lip.  It's his stomach. (Sears, 128)
So now that's my mealtime mantra... "It's your job to provide healthy, nutritious food.  It's your child's job to eat it."  And I'm not going to lie... I get frustrated with the amount of food that ends up wasted, but I suppose it's a small price to pay to (hopefully) prevent my daughters from having an unhealthy relationship with food!! 

Gigi still inevitably asks (almost daily), "How many bites do I have to eat?" And now I simply respond "I want you to take as many bites as it takes not to be hungry anymore!"

I know I'm not perfect, but I hope that I'm setting a good example for my daughters.  I try to show them how fun it is to exercise and how good it makes us feel when our bodies are strong and healthy.  I try to model healthy eating by choosing foods that are packed with nutrients that my body needs (or as Dr. Sears puts it, "the food that makes you grow") the majority of the time  and occasionally indulging in foods that are less healthful.  I never forbid foods, because I know that when something is off limits, it just makes you want it that much more.  I try to just practice moderation and never beat myself up over what I eat.

I hope that I can help my girls develop healthy habits now, so they will grow up to be healthy, confident girls with a positive self image.  I know my girls will be subjected to societal pressures of beauty all too soon, but I hope that by setting a positive example with my actions, and by choosing my words carefully, I will help them to love themselves and love their bodies, regardless of their size.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon October 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Why I Walk Around Naked — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she embraces her own body so that her daughter might embrace hers.
  • What I Am Is Not Who I Am — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses her views on the importance of modeling WHO she is for her daughter and not WHAT she sees in the mirror.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Verbs vs. Adjectives — Alisha at Cinnamon & Sassafras tries hard to compliment what her son does, not who he is.
  • The Naked Family — Sam at Love Parenting talks about how nudity and bodily functions are approached in her home.
  • How She'll See Herself — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis discusses some of the challenges of raising a daughter in our culture and how she's hoping to overcome them.
  • Self Esteem and all it's pretty analogies — Musings from Laura at Pug in the Kitchen on what she learned about self-esteem in her own life and how it applies to her parenting.
  • Beautiful — Tree at Mom Grooves writes about giving her daughter the wisdom to appreciate her body and how trying to be a role model taught Tree how to appreciate her own.
  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Nurturing A Healthy Body Image — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs is changing perceptions about her body so that she may model living life with a positive, healthy body image for her three young daughters.
  • Some{BODY} to LoveKate Wicker has faced her own inner demons when it comes to a poor body image and even a clinical eating disorder, and now she wants to help her daughters to be strong in a world that constantly puts girls at risk for losing their true selves. This is Kate's love letter to her daughters reminding them to not only accept their bodies but to accept themselves as well in every changing season of life.
  • They Make Creams For That, You Know — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about celebrating her natural beauty traits, especially the ones she passed onto her children.
  • New Shoes for Mama — Kellie of Our Mindful Life, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is getting some new shoes, even though she is all grown up…
  • Raising boys with bodily integrity — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants her boys to understand their own bodily autonomy — so they'll respect their own and others'.
  • Sowing seeds of self-love in our children — After struggling to love herself despite growing up in a loving family, Shonnie at Heart-Led Parenting has suggestions for parents who truly want to nurture their children's self-esteem.
  • Subtle Ways to Build a Healthy Self-Image — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM discusses the little things she and her husband do every day to help their daughter cultivate a healthy self-image.
  • On Barbie and Baby Bikinis: The Sexualization of Young Girls — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finds it difficult to keep out the influx of messages aimed at her young daughters that being sexy is important.
  • Undistorted — Focusing on the beauty and goodness that her children hold, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children watches them grow, loved and undistorted.
  • Off The Hook — Arpita at Up, Down and Natural sheds light on the journey of infertility, and how the inability to get pregnant and stay pregnant takes a toll on self image…only if you let it. And that sometimes, it feels fantastic to just let yourself off the hook.
  • Going Beyond Being An Example — Becky at Old New Legacy discusses three suggestions on instilling healthy body image: positivity, family dinners, and productivity.
  • Raising a Confident Kid — aNonymous at Radical Ramblings describes the ways she's trying to raise a confident daughter and to instil a healthy attitude to appearance and self-image.
  • Instilling a Healthy Self Image — Laura at This Mama's Madness hopes to promote a healthy self-image in her kids by treating herself and others with respect, honesty, and grace.
  • Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present.
  • Helping My Boy Build a Healthy Body Image — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers readers a collection of tips and activities that she uses in her journey to helping her 3-year-old son shape a healthy body image.
  • Eat with Joy and Thankfulness: A Letter to my Daughters about Food — Megan at The Boho Mama writes a letter to her daughters about body image and healthy attitudes towards food.
  • Helping Our Children Have Healthy Body Images — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares information about body image, and her now-adult daughter tells how she kept a healthy body image through years of ballet and competitive figure skating.
  • Namaste — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares how at barely 6 years old, her daughter has begun to say, "I'm not beautiful." And while it's hard to listen to, she also sees it as a sign her daughter is building her self-image in a grassroots kind of way.
  • 3 Activities to Help Instill a Healthy Self-Image in Your Child — Explore the changing ideals of beauty, create positive affirmations, and design a self-image awareness collage. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares these 3 ideas + a pretty affirmation graphic you can print and slip in your child's lunchbox.
  • Beautiful, Inside and Out — It took a case of adult-onset acne for Kat of MomeeeZen to find out her parenting efforts have resulted in a daughter that is truly beautiful, inside and out.
  • Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers — Shannon at GrowingSlower reflects on encouraging positive self image in even the youngest members of the family.
  • How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls — Raising daughters with healthy body image in today's society is no small task, but Xela at The Happy Hippie Homemaker shares how choosing our words carefully and being an example can help our children learn to love their bodies.
  • Self Image has to Come from WithinMomma Jorje shares all of the little things she does to encourage healthy attitudes in her children, but realizes she can't give them their self images.
  • Protecting the Gift — JW from True Confessions of a Real Mommy wants you to stop thinking you need to boost your child up: they think they are wonderful all on their own.
  • Learning to Love Myself, for my Daughter — Michelle at Ramblings of Mitzy addresses her own poor self-image.
  • Nurturing An Innate Sense of Self — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting shares her efforts to preserve the confidence and healthy sense of self they were born with.
  • Don't You Love Me, Mommy?: Instilling Self-Esteem in Young Children After New Siblings Arrive — Jade at Seeing Through Jade Glass But Dimly hopes that her daughter will learn to value herself as an individual rather than just Momma's baby
  • Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul.
  • Poor Little Chicken — Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets her feathers ruffled over her daughter's clothing anxiety.
  • Loving the skin she's in — Mama Pie at Downside Up and Outside In struggles with her little berry's choice not to celebrate herself and her heritage.
  • Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she's perfect just the way she is.

Monday, August 13, 2012

My thoughts on the new, but not-so-improved Boba 3G

So you may remember a few months back when I wrote about how excited I was to get the new Boba Baby Carrier, the Boba 3G.  I was excited about the new features, like a cell phone pocket, purse straps, and the ability to convert the carrier to an infant carrier.  Well, those cool features don't quite make up for one HUGE design flaw... the new sliders on the chest strap!

Boba 3G chest strap
Ergo/Boba 2G chest strap

I used to get frustrated with how hard it was to move the chest strap higher and lower on the Boba 2G.  Now I realize that it was a good thing.  The chest strap on the Boba 3G slides so smoothly and easily that it doesn't stay where you put it.  This isn't as big of a deal when you're wearing your little one on your back, because when the chest strap is in front, it's relatively easy to keep pushing it back down.  However, when you're wearing your baby on your front, it's not quite as easy to keep pushing the clip down in back of you. 

I would start out with the clip positioned between my shoulder blades and within minutes of wearing Emi on my front, the clip would have shifted up to the top of my neck.  Not only was this painful on my neck, having the chest clip up so high made my baby hang too far from my body, and that would cause extra strain and pain between my shoulder blades.  It also seemed to make the straps rub against the back of my arms.  I'm not sure if that was because the padding on straps is shorter on the 3G or if it's because the chest trap being positioned at the top of the neck causes the straps to pull forward more.  (Unfortunately, I sold my 2Gs before I got the 3G, so I couldn't get a picture comparing the length of the padding on the straps.)  Anyway, because of this, I couldn't handle wearing my baby on my front for more than 20 - 30 minutes.

I contacted Boba, thinking maybe I had a defective carrier, and they kindly sent me another.  (They really are a fabulous company!)  But unfortunately I had the same problem with that one.  I've had a couple of readers contact me to let me know they've had the same issues with their 3G's, so I'm pretty sure I'm not just being overly particular.

Anyway I'm super bummed, but I can't recommend the Boba 3G.  I love the Boba company and I think they make the most comfortable baby wraps I've ever worn.  And honestly, the Boba 2G is the most comfortable soft-structured carrier I've ever worn.  I'm now using an Ergo though.  While it's not as comfortable as the Boba 2G, it is more comfy than the Boba 3G (and I have to admit, I LOVE the big pocket it has on the back!)  Hopefully, Boba will come out with a 4G soon that will rectify the chest strap slippage problem... if they do, I'll be first in line to buy one!  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Weaning Process

I had planned to write this for the Natural Parents Network World Breastfeeding Week Blog Hop.  But then I realized that World Breastfeeding Week ended yesterday.  (I can't keep my days straight, since becoming a stay at home mom!)  Oh well!  I figure this is still worth sharing...

I mentioned in my last post that my almost-four-year-old has been talking about weaning, so I thought I'd write a little more about my experience with the weaning process thus far (keeping in mind that it hasn't actually happened yet!)

When I was pregnant with little Gigi, I had a goal of nursing her until she was two. I had read that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended breastfeeding for AT LEAST 12 months, and as long as it was mutually desireable by mother and child, and that the World Health Organization recommended breastfeeding for two years and beyond. I had envisioned her weaning somewhere around the age of two, and definitely before three. I personally knew a couple of people who had nursed past two, but no one who had nursed past 3 (although I had heard that Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods nursed till four). Anyway, needless to say, I never thought I'd be nursing an almost-four-year-old.

Up until the time I got pregnant with Emi Lou (right around Gigi's second birthday), I hadn't really ever put any limits on nursing with Gigi.  It was usually really relaxing for me, and I loved the closeness and the cuddle time. During my second trimester though, my milk dried up, which made it kind of painful to nurse. That was when I had to finally start setting some limits with nursing, and I suppose that is when the journey towards weaning began.

I think it's important to keep in mind, for those of us who firmly believe in child-led weaning, that the mother's feelings matter too. The nursing relationship needs to be MUTUALLY desireable and enjoyable, and if the mother is starting to feel resentful of the nursing relationship, then something needs to change.

While I was pregnant and struggling to set nursing limits in a kind and loving way, I was reading Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hilary Flower. The book was a god-send! It was full of ideas on limit-setting, such as nursing only in certain special spots, or nursing for the duration of a short song (like the ABC song) or while you count. Gigi doesn't like it when I count, but prefers a time limit like "only for three minutes" or "one more minute".

I'm not gonna lie... there were some tears when we first started setting limits. She didn't like being told to stop nursing. She had always nursed whenever she wanted, for as long as she wanted. But we talked about how it hurt me sometimes and sometimes I needed a break, and eventually we had fewer and fewer tears.  Now she's so used to me giving her the one-minute warning that if I don't give her the warning before she's feeling done, she'll say, "Hey mom, aren't you gonna tell me one more minute?"

After Emi Lou was born, we had to set more limits. Most of the time, I was able to nurse them simultaneously and everything was great, but Emi sometimes struggled with nursing and needed my undivided attention. She has also always been highly distractable, so there were some times when I would need Gigi to leave the room. That was really hard, and I tried to minimize those instances, since I knew that adjusting to life with a new sibling is such a challenge for little ones and I didn't want Gigi to feel left out or to resent her sister. But the bottom line was that Emi Lou's nursing needs came first.

Gradually, over the past year Gigi has come to nurse less and less. We've learned new ways to comfort her and to put her to sleep. (I usually let her nurse for a couple minutes and then we just cuddle till she falls asleep.) She has also more or less night weaned. Thanks to the beautiful book Nursies when the Sun Shines, she has learned that once we go to sleep, she doesn't nurse again until the sunshines. I thought that would be a hard one, considering the "nursies" are available to Emi all thru the night, but Gigi actually never seemed to notice.

So now we're at a point when Gigi nurses just two or three times a day most days, and usually not for more than 15 minutes total. I feel like she's well on her way to weaning, though I'm not sure it will happen by her birthday. I'm sure it will happen soon enough though, and when it does it will definitely be bittersweet. It's so fun to watch her grow up, but part of me wishes I could keep her my cuddly baby forever!

Reflecting back over the years of our nursing relationship, the weaning process and timeline haven't exactly happened as I had anticipated, but that's ok.  I continually remind myself that every weaning is unique.  Nursing has been an entirely different experience with Emi Lou and I'm sure weaning will as well.  I got this wonderful handout at a La Leche League meeting in Katy, Texas, and I really hope it's ok that I'm sharing it.  (I've contacted the LLL leader who I got it from to find out if she wrote it or if it's an official La Leche League publication, so that I can give appropriate credit.)  It has a lot of great tips and reminders about extended nursing and weaning, and I found it very useful...

For now, we're just doing what is working for us, and I'm happy that I'm seeing gradual progress towards weaning.  People often ask me what I'll do if she still wants to keep nursing at six or eight... quite honestly, I don't know.  As I mentioned earlier, I never thought I'd be nursing an almost-four-year-old but here I am!  I'm going to continue to be in tune with how I feel and to talk to Gigi about she feels, and hopefully she'll be ready to say good-bye to her nursies soon.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tandem nursing my growing girls

You may or may not have noticed that I haven't posted a tandem nursing update during the past year.  I guess that's because the experience has been relatively uneventful.  But considering that my post on How tandem nursing saves my sanity! is the second highest-traffic generator on my blog, I figure it must be something people are interested in, and deserves an update! 

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, one of the goals of World Breastfeeding Week this year is to  is to "plan what more can be done to support all women to be able to optimally feed and care for of their infants and young children."  I believe that tandem nursing is something that definitely can help moms to feed and care for their infants and young children, especially if they are close in age.

Now before I go any further, I should mention that I know tandem nursing is not for everyone.  I can understand why some women might feel touched out, or tied down at the thought of nursing more than one child.  For some mothers, it is physically more than they can bear or something they just flat aren't interested in.  And that's ok.  I don't think that nursing more than one child at a time makes you a better mother.  (Remember, breastfeeding is not a contest!)  For me, nursing two children just seemed a lot less stressful than weaning my first daughter before she was ready. 

It seems that often times mothers become pregnant before their nursling is physically or emotionally ready to wean.  (Can you imagine having four children under the age of four, all of whom were still nursing?!)  Continuing to nurse thru pregnancy and beyond is considered safe for most women, and can be rewarding for both mother and the nurslings.   Simultaneous tandem nursing allows mom to rest and relax while nourishing and cuddling her little ones.  (My favorite perk!)  Being allowed to continue nursing often helps older siblings feel less jealous and more accepting of the younger sibling. 

We're now going on 14 months strong (closer to two years, if you count the time I was pregnant) in our tandem nursing journey and it has been a wonderful, beautiful experience.  I love those moments when I have both of my girls curled up in my arms, nursing to sleep, and the times when they playfully "fight" over which side is theirs, covering it up, and then falling over giggling.

Of course, there have been times when I have had to limit Gigi's nursing, whether because her sister is getting distracted (wanting to play), or because my milk supply is low, or because I'm just too "touched out".  Sometimes there have been tears of protest and rejection, but I feel fortunate that, for the most part, Gigi has been very understanding and cooperative.

I'm starting to feel ready for her to wean now. I'm glad that she's at an age (she'll be four in October) that we can talk about weaning and she understands. She's been taking baby steps towards weaning over the past year, and says she's going to be done when she's four... I hope she is, but we'll see! Until then, I'm just trying to cherish sweet moments like these...

Photo Credit: Timbra/Landslide Photography

celebrate world breastfeeding week on npn

I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!
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