Monday, February 28, 2011

Baby Led Weaning

Baby still loves avocado but we're currently in a on/off stage of eating it seems. People often comment at how convenient it is that Baby feeds herself and that we don't have to try and convince her to open her mouth while we quickly deposit some food from a spoon on her tongue. We do actually feed her with a spoon once in awhile. Until recently, we spoon fed her yogurt. And for a little while I was spoon feeding her stewed prunes every morning (to keep things moving along...).
photo (and spoon) courtesy of Auntie A
For the most part however we've tried to follow a baby led weaning (blw) approach to eating. It's oddly named because I don't feel it actually means they are weaning themselves from breast milk (or formula). That seems to be the name that has stuck though so I'll go with it.

There are several well documented signs to being ready to start solids at all (whether you are doing blw or purees or cereal, etc.). These are some of the ones I've heard (there may be others but these seem to be the most common).

  1. Your baby can sit up in a high chair on their own. (Personally, I don't think this means sit up completely unassisted because I know lots of babies that can sit perfectly well in a high chair but can't actually get into sitting position on their own yet. But that's just my opinion.) This is an important one because of choking risks. Your baby should at least be able to sit up straight and steady and hold their head up.
  2. Tongue thrust is gone. This one seems obvious to me. If you put something in your baby's mouth and it automatically comes out seemingly unwillingly, I would guess they aren't physically ready for solids. I see a lot of moms pushing food back into their babies mouth over and over again and it just seems odd (and a bit frustrating) to me.
  3. They have at least one tooth. This one doesn't make much sense to me to be honest. Some baby's don't get their first tooth until past 12 months and are able and ready to eat before then. However, I think it's a good guideline because for the most part it does seem that teeth come in around the time all the other "conditions" for starting solids are met.
  4.  Baby is at least 6 months old. There has been some recent controversy around this but I'm too lazy to look up a link to the article that came out.
  5. Baby is developing their "pincer" grasp. The idea here is that if a baby is ready to try and pick up food, they are likely ready to eat.
  6. Interested in food. This is an interesting one. Most people I know with babies always exclaim "they are so interested in our food" and "they stole the food off our plate." I don't doubt these claims. Baby was the same way. However, I realized that if I had had a plate full of rocks and was sitting at the table with them that Baby would have been just as interested. However, I do think this is a good guide - don't force it if your baby isn't interested.

I think one important idea from all these recommendations and the idea behind baby led weaning is to not push your child to eat before they are developmentally ready.  To show respect for your child's readiness and uniqueness. This may happen at 6 months or at 9 months. It really does seem to vary a lot. We chose blw because it's what we were most interested in and what made the most sense to us. I know others that did a combo of blw and purees. And others that only did purees. We've all had different challenges. I've seen all these babies get to the same place in their eating habits and nutrition eventually.

I guess rushing with solids is another way to push our children to grow up. I tend to lean the other way. I don't want Baby to grow up! Well, not too quickly anyway. I may even be guilty of going too slow on some things but eventually I get there. I figure if I'm going too slow, Baby will let me know. I'm committed to following her lead on most things and so far we're doing ok.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

I'm really enjoying my time at home with Baby these days. She is so busy and interested in everything. Her communication skills have advanced so much and I'm amazed at what she understands and what she can "tell" me now. She only actually says 3 words consistently (Mama, Mommy and baby) but she is so eager to tell me things and show me things and sometimes explain in great detail what she wants or what she's doing.

We started sign language with Baby at about 1 month. I've since learned that it isn't actually necessary to start that early and that starting around 4 or 5 months is probably fine. At about 8 or 9 months she started signing "milkies" (our word for nursing) but it wasn't always consistent. I was thrilled however and immediately showed her the "more" sign a couple of times. She literally picked that one up immediately. However, "more" became her sign for everything and she stopped doing "milkies" for a couple of weeks. Then she started doing "milkies" very consistently and dropped the "more" sign altogether. She still signs "milkies" when she wants to nurse and she seems to understand the word too. We also introduced "change" for changing her diapers and it's actually made diaper changes more pleasant lately. She is so busy and hates laying down to get changed but if we explain to her what we're going to do and sign it, she doesn't always put up quite so much of a fuss. She signs "eat" sometimes but not as consistent. That could be because she doesn't eat a whole lot these days. We don't push her and have been doing baby led weaning since the beginning. The next sign we're going to try is "drink" and "thank you."

It makes a big difference that she is able to sign to us what she wants rather than screaming or crying and us scrambling about to find out what the heck she wants. It must be so frustrating to not be able to express yourself to someone when you have something important to say! She is already showing signs of being very chatty and I can't wait to hear her little voice chattering away at us.

If you are in the Vancouver, BC area and want some formal help with sign language, Aimee from Adar Birth Services teaches workshops as far as I know. Aimee is amazing and ended up being one of two doulas that attended Baby's birth. We had never met her - she was the back up doula when our doula was late getting to us. So yeah, she's also a doula if you need doula services!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day from Baby

Baby and I decided to surprise Mommy with a special Valentine's Day message when she got home from work. It only took me about 15 photos to capture the message on camera. Baby is far too busy these days to wait for me to get the perfect shot.

What do you mean "show you my shirt?"

Oh, you mean this shirt?

Oops, I can't right now, my hand is stuck!

La la la la la la

Ta da! Here it is! I Love Mommy!

My Affair With Cloth Diapers

I don’t think I’ve ever gotten around to sharing our experience with cloth diapers. I’m surprised with myself that it’s taken me this long because I love cloth diapers! I’m definitely not a clothes or fashion hound or even gadgets but wow, I love the design, look and performance of a good cloth diaper. Is there a name for someone who geeks out on diapers? A DEEK maybe?

I've decided to choose Valentine's Day to share my love of cloth diapers. Yes, that's how deep my love runs.

Our cloth diapering planning started early. While waiting for Baby to arrive and on the advice of our doula, Michelle, we bought one package of newborn diapers and we received a pack as a gift as well. Michelle suggested we “save” our cloth diapers and use sposies for the first few days until we were through the meconium days. We were also nervous about how to use our new fancy diapers so we followed Michelle’s advice and ended up using paper for the first week or so. Also, doing laundry the first few days just seemed like something from a whole other world during the intensity of newborn-ism.

We started using cloth diapers around 3 weeks I would say. We used them exclusively for quite awhile - including night time but more recently I'd say we use them only 85-90% of the time. That percentage includes using paper at night to avoid night time changes. I haven't been able to find a night time cloth solution that can keep Baby dry for 12 hours. She is a heavy wetter at night. What follows below is a breakdown of the types of diapers we use and why I like or dislike them.

When I was pregnant we bought 30 2nd hand inserts/prefolds from a local mom. She had purchased them in Japan. I’d never seen the design before but they looked interesting, they came with some covers and she assured us they were top quality. They sort of looked like the roll of towels that you used to see in public washrooms a lot. Remember the one you used to pull down on until you got to a clean bit? They were like a big loop, soft cotton and we folded them so they were about 12 layers thick. I also made some more traditional prefolds out of bought diaper flannel and some out of an old flannel sheet set I had. Both the Japanese and home made prefolds were amazing and we used them for the first 7 or 8 months.

Since then, we’ve bought some Bummis organic prefolds in the larger size. I like them a lot but they are quite bulky. However, we do still use them the most.

Oh, by the way, we tried using a snappi but found them unnecessary. We've always just folded the prefold and and wrapped the cover around it.

We also received some hemp/cotton Jamtots inserts and some bamboo/cotton snap inserts. The hemp was way too bulky when Baby was small but they work great now folded in half in a cover. And the snap bamboo inserts work well in pocket diapers because they are quite absorbent and trim. We had a couple of microfiber inserts that came with some pocket diapers we bought but they stunk up really quickly and now live under the kitchen sink and are used for cleaning the floor.

For the first 6 or 7 months we used Bummis covers and gPants. I had also made a couple of fleece covers but they were too big for Baby as a newborn and then we forgot about them and they were too small. Oops. The Bummis covers were great, only leaked on occasion and fit very well. We had some with snaps, some with Velcro, some with leg gussets and some without. I prefer Velcro with leg gussets. The Gpants also worked well when Baby was smaller – we used them with the Japanese prefolds but they seem very bulky with the Bummis prefolds so we don’t use them that much anymore.

My new favorite cover is the Flip (same company that makes BumGenius). We only have two but I’d love to buy more as they have never leaked, they are super trim and the insert that comes with each cover  is a nice, soft, good sized organic cotton. They are “one size” covers and snap around and up so they can be used for quite some time.

We received 4 Baby Kanga pocket diapers when Baby was first born. They are one size and have the snap up and snap around design. I have mixed feelings about them. They fit well, they are super cute and come in great colours but they leak often. I thought it was a my washing technique and that maybe they were repelling the moisture or something but I’m not convinced that’s what it is. We then tried BumGenius pockets as I had read that they were the Cadillac of diapers. They come with a microfiber insert (mentioned earlier). I HATED the insert almost immediately. It felt weird and started to smell within a few weeks. I do like the way the diaper fits and they are super cute but again, I find it leaks sometimes and I just don’t like taking that risk. Needless to say we didn’t buy anymore. I know people who swear by the BumGenius pockets and that is all they use but they just weren’t for us. I want to like them but I'm not convinced yet. Overall, we are not terribly impressed with pockets in general, regardless of brand. They don't seem to be any more convenient than prefolds and covers.

There are lots of other brands and designs and configurations. I obsessively surf online and look at cute, amazing diapers but in reality we have a pretty simple system that we're all happy with.

Any questions? Leave a comment! Also, I'm always on the lookout for a trim prefold/cover combo so please share if you have one I didn't mention.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Social Butterfly

I think Baby may be an extrovert. In her 13 months of life she has never "played strange" with anyone. Ever. I keep expecting her to go through her separation anxiety phase or to become clingy or something. But nope, she loves people and the busyness of life in general. She boldly walks up to a group of 3 or 4 year olds at the local kid cafe to get involved with whatever they're doing or community center play gym or even a coffee shop full of adults. Her openness and confidence is awe inspiring.

I'd like to think that our early constant baby wearing, our bed sharing and the fact that I've never been away from her for longer than a couple of hours a handful of times has something to do with it. That's the theory. That AP'd babies will grow up more secure and confident. It makes sense to me and it's one of the reasons why I choose to parent the way I do. I believe if she's secure and confident at home then that will carry on outside of the home and eventually when we're not around. As I said, it seems to be working. Of course, part of it may quite likely be just her personality and her age but I still think we're giving her a good start on things. I get to take some credit, right?

It's intense, parenting the way we do. It's hard sometimes and tiring and I sometimes wonder if I'm a complete failure and if what we're doing is wrong or, more often, "too hard." So, it's good to see some results and to feel proud and validated.

Although I want her to be confident and brave and independent, at the same time, I want to hold on to her and keep her safe and have her all to myself. She's already growing up so fast and physically can move away from me so easily now! But she always comes back and settles in close and for now I'm going to soak that all up before this confidence thing really gets out of control ;)