The Children’s and Teen Health Summit

I am so excited! My friend sent me a link to some free presentations around children and teen health and parenting issues, although many of the topics would be of interest to non-parents too! There are new presentations available every day for a week and we are currently on day 3. Each talk is available to watch for 24 hours but there is also the option to purchase all 30 presentations. I started listening to a couple yesterday and just had to share. I feel that parents can be so easily convinced to do things a certain way to make sure they are seen to be doing a good job and bringing up well-behaved children, or simply because they lack the confidence to follow their own judgement, but really, we need to look deeper within ourselves and question what is really best. We must be responsible for our own lives and health and be aware of the impact our choices have on our precious children which means questioning the brainwashing information that is all around us that we often blindly accept. Many of the talks discuss hot parenting topics such as unconditional love, our expectations of our children, learning and education, relating to our children, attachment, family life, diet, pregnancy and health and well-being. Yesterday I listened to Naomi Aldort, author of “Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves” and found very much in line with my existing attitudes. It talks about how to change our behaviour as parents in order to change our children’s behaviour. However, she points out that this is not about manipulation but about allowing the child’s natural unfolding of the mind through nurturing, which results in natural co-operation without the need to control. Parents who say their children are behaving “badly” are more likely to behaving in a way that is provoking this “bad” behaviour due to their own experiences as a child or their idea of what it means to be a parent. When we address this our children will show dramatic shifts in behaviour and life is more harmonious all round! She also touched upon the topic of household chores, which I found quite amusing being subject to a rota of chores myself as a child! Could you stop telling your child to do chores completely? This morning I listened to another discussion, “The Fearless Parent” with Louise Kuo Habakus. This particular talk touches on plenty of health issues including illness, homotoxicology and vaccinations, but the theme is that as parents we should be making informed choices and educating ourselves on ours and our children’s health. It is about putting you in the driving seat and making confident choices without fear. One topic which really interested me was wifi. I have known for a while now that EMF radiation can be damaging but it really hit home just how damaging it could be and how much more vigilant we need to be with reducing our exposure. Children absorb up to 10 x radiation than adults due to immature skulls that facilitate absorption. There have been links to leukemia, brain tumors, infertility and neurological problems. Other countries in Europe are starting to ban wifi in schools whilst we are ignoring the warnings and exposing our children to more and more of this radiation, through mobile phones, tablets, wifi and more. It baffles me why a toddler needs to play on a smartphone anyway but sadly I see it all the time. If I told you that EMF radiation from these devices has been classified as a group 2b possible carcinogen (cancer causing) and that this classification is the same level as exhaust fumes, lead and DDT pesticide, would you think about taking steps to reduce your child’s exposure? You can switch off the wifi in your house, turn off your mobile phone and set limits on their own time on these devices and you WILL be making a positive change and reducing their exposure levels. Yes it is all around us, but we can take measures to reduce their direct exposure. Just like you wouldn’t want them standing behind a car exhaust breathing in all the fumes 24/7 but you would probably be happy for them to walk around a busy town with lots of cars…the closer they are to to point of radiation the more effect it will have, so start in their home environment.

Having a look at the schedule it looks like there are loads of interesting topics coming up that I am desperate to hear. Day 4 there will be a whole talk regarding the EMF radiation I have discussed. To access the presentations click here. If any of the talks resonate with you I would love to hear your thoughts!

Clarity.

As you will have noticed, I have been on a bit of a blogging break. And, like any good break, I have come back with a clear mind and having learnt a few things about myself. As this blog acts as a sort of diary on this journey of self-discovery that is parenthood, I thought it was necessary to write it all down. It might seem a little over-analysed to you, but that is because it was, and that’s OK.

I recently went to visit a couple of Montessori nurseries, with the view of completing my dreaded 420 hours work experience in order to gain my full diploma that I have been working so hard towards for what feels like forever. I had been putting this off knowing in my heart that I didn’t want to leave Poppy, but with the 2016 deadline for completion on the horizon I thought I had better face reality if I wanted to reach graduation day. I decided that maybe it was a good thing to do something for myself now that Poppy is getting that bit older. The idea was that she would attend the same nursery I worked at (in a different room) and seeing as I am passionate about Montessori I started to tell myself that perhaps this environment would help her to thrive even more. I convinced myself that I was excited about the extra work I would be subjecting myself to. I started to imagine how much Poppy would love it and that maybe by the end it would be hard to leave the wonderful place we had grown to love.

Montessori is a method of education, but I believe it is so much more than this. It is respect for the children, love of nature, trust in the human mind and body and it’s natural ability and overwhelming urge to learn and a focus on hands on experiences to satisfy those innate driving forces. Parents and teachers alike can adopt all of these principals, and much of Montessori’s philosophy fits so perfectly into our home environment, even though we are planning on going down the ‘unschooling’ route of home education. So I felt hopeful, despite our choice to stay away from school and our ‘alternative’ approach to parenting, that a Montessori environment might just be the only place I would be happy to leave Poppy. Perhaps all of my worries about how often she still breastfeeds, how accustomed she is to having me near her every minute, every day, how well I know her better than anyone else could and how when she isn’t with me I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach that something is missing…perhaps all of those worries would just fade away when we walk through the doors of that beautiful, idyllic, understanding and gentle Montessori environment. Of course they didn’t.

I was open-minded. At least I tried to be. But it dawned on me pretty quickly that a classroom, Montessori or not, was still a classroom, and a teacher, loving, caring and gentle or not, was still not Poppy’s mummy. The picture in my head of the perfect Montessori setting quickly disappeared when I noticed some fundamental ‘rules’ being broken. The baby rooms full of plastic, a teacher reprimanding a child in front of the whole class, the shelves cluttered and verbal praise being thrown around left, right and centre. To the untrained eye this might seem like no biggie, it happens all the time in regular nurseries and schools, but it goes against the most basic of Montessori principals. Being so passionate about Maria Montessori’s work – her methods and the reasons behind them – I hated to see it not being implemented in these well-regarded schools. I started to feel disheartened; my own efforts at creating a Montessori home environment weren’t looking too bad at all! But I tried to remain open-minded and told myself that it was unrealistic to expect everything to be perfect.

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Poppy playing in her Montessori inspired bedroom

As I spoke to the teachers showing me around I tried to gauge how similar their views were to my own, whether or not our alternative parenting style would fit together with the way they ran their nursery. I didn’t really care about where I did my teaching placement, but if it wasn’t right for Poppy, it wasn’t going to happen. I smiled and nodded when they said things that I didn’t agree with. I tried not to recoil in horror when I looked at their menu and saw junk food and a lack of wholesome nutrition (unfortunately true for many settings these days it seems). They answered my questions about things that they knew I felt strongly about, and their friendly voices and sympathetic eyes almost made me feel like they really did know best and I was living in cloud cuckoo land. After voicing some of my concerns over leaving Poppy, one of the teachers introduced me to the staff as somebody who was ‘very precious about her daughter, and her daughter is probably very precious about her’. Wait a minute, aren’t all Mum’s precious about their children? She said it in the nicest possible way but I have worked in childcare; she didn’t realise I knew that it was code for ‘This woman is an over-protective psycho and is going to make our lives very difficult’. The thing is I remember telling anxious parents the same thing once upon a time, that their very attached child who cries every time they leave them will be just fine, as soon as you are gone they won’t even remember why they were sad. I believed it, and sure, it may have appeared to be true. But how do we know how they are really feeling inside? Especially when we hardly know the child. Don’t get me wrong, Poppy is confident and increasingly independent and very sociable. She would be fine. And the comfort she would have gotten from a member of staff would be fine. And the reduced milk feeds would be fine. And the way that people would have spoken to her, in a tone that I wasn’t quite comfortable with, would be fine. And the fact that she would have had a biscuit as a snack everyday instead of her usual green smoothie, would be fine. It would all be fine. I suppose. But what if ‘fine’ just isn’t good enough?

I came home from the second nursery almost feeling convinced that I was being an over-the-top, paranoid, too-hard-to-please, obsessive mother who absolutely had to relax if I wanted us to fit in and be classed as almost normal. But then I realised that spending just one hour in an environment that was so far from what we now consider our normal, I was being sucked in and questioning myself where I never had before. I am so happy with our parenting choices, our life is amazing and Poppy is thriving; why should I change that to fit in somewhere we don’t even belong? The fact is, being in a nursery even for just four hours without me is most definitely not the best possible situation for Poppy right now. I knew it I just couldn’t quite acknowledge that my reasoning’s were important enough to ignore the influence of others. I had to speak to someone who would tell me I wasn’t crazy before I started to believe I was. I messaged one of my lovely friends who I know completely ‘get’s’ me when others might not. And after I had spoken to my wise friend everything was clear again. No matter how many nurseries I visit, I will never find the right one, because as she put it, Poppy and I are still one. No one can ever love and care for her like I do, understand her needs entirely, or accept and work through her overwhelming frustration and tears when her sock is just ever so slightly bunched up by her toes which means she feels it every time she steps down on that foot (this happens everyday). Most Mum’s will relate to that, and yet we are constantly given the message that we need to break away from our children, give them the opportunity to be independent or they will never learn how to be; stop holding them back, smothering them, spoiling them, molly-coddling them and learn to let go. Stop being so ‘precious’. But this isn’t a natural way to teach independence. Why is attachment so feared in our society? Since when was it so terrible to love your child so much that it hurts to think of leaving them with someone who won’t do it as well as you can. As my friend pointed out, it is human nature to protect and nurture our young, and that protection covers all manner of things, including the emotional stress of separation and all of the things in the world that you, as a parent, decide might be harmful, in any capacity, to your child, their development or well-being. Yes I go above and beyond to make sure I am doing this at all times, from the diet I feed her, to the medicines I choose to use, from the techniques I use to teach her to the way in which I communicate with her. And I will avoid anything that I believe could be detrimental to these efforts, to the most important years of her life and to our strong, secure relationship. If this means that I come across as an obsessive weirdo at times, then so be it. These little details, and the niggling issues I had with the nurseries, may be small and seemingly insignificant to others but to me they make up the beginning of my child’s life, and that is huge.

And so it was decided. I am completing my exams to be awarded a certificate but I won’t be graduating and gaining the full diploma. It was difficult for me to accept that this is not failure but another turning on our journey. I have learnt so much, and will continue to do so, and it will enrich Poppy’s childhood for sure. But for now, I need to focus on family, and just be a Mummy to Poppy…because I am the only person who can be.

As I am sure you can tell, this post isn’t just about deciding not to send Poppy to nursery. It is about the realisation that it I do not have to compromise in any area of my parenting. The truth is, I often feel awkward or embarrassed when voicing yet another opinion, or explaining to family why we don’t do things this way, or requesting that they try to do things that way. I spoke to my Dad recently about why we don’t use verbal praise like ‘good girl’ in the same way we don’t use punishment or any other conditioning techniques (I will write a post about this soon). I found myself feeling a mix of guilt and defensiveness before the words even came out. I don’t want people to feel like I am criticizing them; especially people who I know love Poppy so much. Incidentally, my Dad was, and has been with many things, very understanding and open-minded, which made me realise that I didn’t necessarily need to feel so worried. I am no longer going to protect other people’s feelings or indeed my own feelings of being judged as over-reacting, if it compromises Poppy’s chance to the best possible start in life. I have taken on that label of being a bit whacky or weird because we do things differently, but in reality I am simply passionate, dedicated and motivated to do the best I can. There is nothing wrong with that. I need to realise that so that other people can too. This post is about realising that you are perfectly entitled to be unconventional, you are allowed to want complete control over how your child is raised and you have the right to say no. This post isn’t about anybody else’s choices; it is about me not apologising for mine.
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Thank you to my friends who are there when I need that clarity, who give me the confidence to write things like this, who I would be lost without. You know who you are.

Poppy is 1!

A few days late, but here are some photo’s from Poppy’s 1st birthday on Monday. I can’t believe how grown up she is looking! I think it is about time I changed the photo at the top of my blog, and I have the perfect one in mind.

We had a lovely day with Poppy on Monday, although she was very grumpy in the afternoon due to being over tired!  We spent the morning opening cards and a couple of presents (including the chair in the photo’s and the gorgeous koala boots from Nana!), but she is having most of them on Sunday. We went to the cafe for some lunch and Poppy got given a birthday gingerbread man which she demolished! Then in the afternoon we went to the park with Poppy’s friend whilst Daddy was at work. Looking forward to Sunday and plenty more pics to follow! Thank you to everyone who wished her a Happy Birthday! Where has the time gone?

The best thing since sliced bread!

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Recipe wanted for rye bread like this that is simple and healthy!

Poppy has gone from swallowing barely anything to an eating machine overnight! Ok that is a huge exaggeration, but it feels that way!

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We went shopping yesterday and I decided to try her on a couple of new things, and they have gone down a storm! The first was Biona organic rye bread. It is really dense so easier for her to hold than bread and probably a better texture for her to manage than toast. I spread avocado on it for her breakfast and she ate two whole squares! She also munched on a couple of strawberries.

This afternoon I gave her some Kallo organic rice cake with a teeny bit of peanut butter on top. She demolished it! I mean she ate half of a big rice cake, which is huge for her! She crammed way too much in her mouth which made me slightly nervous but she managed to figure it out herself. She also had a couple of bits of tomato which got squished and some melon which she liked gnawing on but nothing went down.

This evening she had some red pepper which wasn’t successful and some orange which she just loves to suck the juice out of. And a few organic alphabet biscuits we had leftover from the cafe. I don’t want to give her too much packaged food, even organic, but she absolutely loves these and puts the whole thing in her mouth then lets it go soggy. She at about 5 of them, again, loads compared to usual. She definitely prefers things that don’t squish in her hand but do squish in her mouth! Which is annoying because I guess she won’t be getting much fruit and veg for a while. But I will keep trying! She must have been pretty full after all of that…and she hasn’t woken up yet after going to bed at 6….wishful thinking?!

One step forward, two steps back

Following on from my last post about our new sleeping arrangement I am calling out to anyone who has tried anything similar. For advice, reassurance, wisdom…As I said before Poppy was settling herself to sleep without feeding fairly often in her new room. During the evenings I simply had to go in and put my hand on her back and give her a little shh and she was back to sleep. Leading up to her middle of the night feed she was a little harder to settle and she always cried more if Tim was settling her, but it was a frustration cry and she went back to sleep without my heart breaking.

The night I published that post everything changed! Tim just couldn’t settle her. She cried but it got more and more intense until I went in and she started to settle again. One time she had got herself too worked up and needed the boob to relax again. I ended up waking up at 3.30am that morning, listening to her cry as Tim attempted to get her back to sleep (I had aimed for no feeds before 4am as she had a late one at 11.30pm) He eventually succeeded only to hear her wake again 15 minutes later. This time she didn’t accept him and I had to step in. She woke up fully and started smiling at me and stroking my face (“Aww how cute!” you say…not at this time in the morning!) There was no convincing her it was the middle of the night so I tried to feed her into drowsiness again. Long story short I got her back to sleep at 5.30am and fed her more than planned, and by the time she was asleep I was too wired myself to go back to bed. So yesterday I was a zombie. Last night I had to decide what to do, seeing as she refused Tim again twice in the evening and I ended up feeding her at 9pm. With Tim away all weekend I needed sleep so I pondered weather sleeping in her room would be enough to give her the comfort each time she woke and stop her getting herself worked up to the point that she needed to comfort feed. After all I knew she could fall asleep without the feeds, but she still needed a little support. I gave it a go, and our night was even worse. I was so tired when she woke up I could hardly be bothered to try (hence why I moved her out of our bed in the first place!), and her cry just didn’t sound like that frustrated cry, it sounded more distressed, and I cannot listen to that for too long without feeling like the worst mum ever. Coupled with the fact that she was putting her hands down my top I felt like I was completely suppressing my natural response and not listening to her. So I gave in, multiple times, and fed her throughout the night. I convinced myself that she must just be hungry, but her fluttery, lazy sucks proved otherwise! She decided it was time to get up at 5am, and as well as that her morning nap is all out of sync for the second day in a row. Back to square one?

Feeling confused, annoyed, disheartened and guilty. Go with the flow and hope she decides to play ball again sometime soon? Or push on through the heartache knowing that at least I am there with her as she cries? But what if she just doesn’t stop?! Is this her way of telling me “Yes I figured out your plan, and I gave it a go, but I don’t like it so you had better stop right now because I’m not having any of it!” I have had enough of thinking about who needs what…I have no idea what I need anymore, apart from a strong coffee.

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(Less Than) Perfect Parenting

When I was pregnant I started reading about attachment parenting and it resembled what we would have done naturally anyway. It opened up a new community to me and got me thinking about other things, such as elimination communication and home ed, which I may not have considered without the Facebook groups, blogs and small collection of AP books on my bookshelf. It made me think about more general aspects of parenting, such as the way in which you speak to your children, and how you choose to deal with specific situations, and I believe the new perspectives I have gained will benefit Poppy for her entire life. For that I am grateful for the books and the groups, but there is an element of this community that needs addressing.

Mother’s who choose to parent this way are often mother’s who have very high expectations of themselves. From socialising with many like-minded Mum’s I have noticed a few things. We over think everything, believing that all of our choices will have a life long impact on our children. We are labelled as ‘alternative’ (or other more amusing names like ‘crunchy’) and so begin to label ourselves. By doing this we inadvertently label others, which is something I never wanted to do. At first I felt like mainstream parents were judgemental of my choices, but I am starting to feel that the alternative community do most of the judging. By believing so strongly in doing everything for the best of the child, it is too easy to believe that any other way is wrong, or worse still, damaging for the child. To make sure you don’t get it wrong you seek information about every aspect of parenting from those very books that made it all sound so blissful and simple (despite the fact that at the very core of natural parenting is trust in your instinct). I have lost count of the amount of times I have read that a baby cry’s because they have an unmet need. So what if your baby just cries and you have done everything you possibly can?

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When Poppy was a newborn and suffering from her dairy intolerance, I did not know at first why she was crying. Yes she had an unmet need of sorts because she needed me to adjust my diet, but it was not something that could be solved instantly. She was fed, changed, warm, well rested, secure and in my arms, but she could not always be soothed. I had to relax and just make it easier for her by holding her, but in that moment I couldn’t make it stop. Similarly when Poppy became over tired she could not shut down, she seemed to fight her sleep to the point that she was so over tired she would scream for 4 hours until she finally gave in and fell asleep from exhaustion. There was nothing else I could have done, that was part of who she is; she was fascinated by the world and didn’t want to miss a thing, and at times even half an hour of being awake was too stimulating for her. In those early days everything that I had read rushed around my head; I didn’t think babies would cry if they had everything they needed? They don’t cry in Africa! What was I doing wrong? I tried everything to stop her from becoming over tired in the first place, abandoning my social life completely, but we still had episodes. All I could do was be there with her through the tears, letting her know she wasn’t on her own and that she was loved. There was nothing in the books that made me feel I was still doing a good job. The way I read it was that AP parenting should mean the baby has no reason to cry at all after you have responded to their needs. Maybe I over exaggerated that expectation, but being the stereotypical alternative mama I am sure I’m not the first.

Poppy settled soon enough, and now at 8 months old she is pretty easy going. She can still be distracted, but the majority of the time getting her to sleep has become easy, and we never have prolonged crying fits anymore for any reason. I am happy with all of our choices; I have completely and utterly devoted myself to her. It has worked very well for us, it has actually made life really easy, and I believe we have a very securely attached, happy little girl. But about two weeks ago I suddenly felt a page was turned. Poppy is no longer a newborn whose wants are the same as her needs, I believe they are starting to blur and she is gaining more and more understanding. There are certain things that she could probably learn not to need anymore, even if she does still want them. With our busy lives my constant devotion to her was starting to feel less natural and more forced. With Tim working longer hours I had no time left for me, and as a result I wasn’t being as good a parent as I can be. I never want to resent my child, so it was time to make some changes.

I need a bit of the old me back, and for those of you who know me well you will know that I need to really let my hair down from time to time. Rather difficult when your baby feeds to sleep, wakes up 3-4 times before you even make it to bed and then feeds throughout the night. And will not, ever, be comforted by Daddy in the night. So am I suddenly a bad mum for considering forcing my baby to change these expectations that we created just so that I can have a night out? I scanned a few forums and was guilt ridden to read that no one else would consider leaving their cosleeping, breastfeeding 8 month old baby for one night and their comments reminded me that her needs had to come before mine. But what if by compromising your own needs your child’s need for a happy and healthy mother is not being met? That was a more important long-term need in my mind.

In my confused state of mind I even typed the following into google: “Sleep training with attachment parenting.” I found blogs written by people in my position. I also found more hating from the AP extremists. I felt like there was no middle ground; you either leave your child to cry it out, which I never wanted to do, or give up your whole life for them. And then I came across something called RIE parenting which encourages listening to the type of crying and not immediately trying to fix it when it could simply be an expression of emotions. You can read more about this here and here. Suddenly something clicked. I have always known it and told Tim numerous times; there is a big difference between leaving a baby to cry on their own and letting them cry in your arms. Just like when Poppy was a newborn and I had no choice. This changed my whole perception of so called sleep training or simply teaching your baby to fall asleep alone, and I became more open minded to the gentle approaches. I will write another post about exactly what we have done and why I am happy with it soon.

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It has been just over a week since Poppy moved into her own room. I would have happily carried on cosleeping but wanted to drop the constant feeding, and I didn’t think that was easily achievable if she was in our bed. I miss the cuddles with her but am thrilled that she is now self-soothing and accepting Tim as a comfort during the night at times. She is still feeding to sleep in the evening, having a feed before I go to bed and one during the early morning, but that is massive progress. And she I not being traumatised, she has never been left on her own to cry, not even for a minute, and if she had protested too much I wouldn’t have continued.

We are still very much following a natural parenting style, but it is what is natural to us right now, not necessarily to every other AP advocate I will meet. Nor have I been converted to RIE or (heaven forbid) to baby training methods! We are simply finding what works and evolving as Poppy grows up. And I am doing my best, whilst realising I can’t be perfect. If you are a confused mama who has a tendency to put yourself under so much pressure to do the right thing, remember that there are no rules. You can, and should, allow yourself to compromise on your beliefs at times for the sake of your own sanity (even if some AP devotee on some forum somewhere has raised 6 kids back to back and tells you otherwise.)

I admit that right now I am more exhausted than I was before because this is requiring some effort! But I know that we are heading in the right direction, and I have booked a celebratory night out later in June, guilt free, knowing that Poppy will be happy in her Daddy’s arms.

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Sunshine, socialising and selfies

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We have had a lovely weekend in the sun. Saturday we went to Milton Keynes and I met up with my good friend, Beth, who has just got home from traveling. It was great to see her and tuck into a vegetarian breakfast at Giraffe!

At home we played in the garden, enjoying the sunshine and taking a few family selfies!

Yesterday Dan and Charlotte came to visit which was lovely. The weather was on our side again, so after lunch in the garden we went to the bluebell woods in Ashridge for a walk. We almost didn’t make it though as we managed to get the car stuck, on dry land! It was rather embarrassing, especially as I was in the drivers seat, but under strict instructions to “Just keep going!” from Tim. I quickly got out with Poppy and fled the scene, leaving Tim and Dan looking less manly than they probably hoped as they got saved by a couple more experienced men! It gave us a good giggle anyway.

The walk was gorgeous, I loved discussing weddings with Charlotte, and we had a slice of cake midway to recoup – does a weekend go by that doesn’t involve cake?!

Unfortunately Tim has had to go in to work today, so not quite the long weekend I was hoping for. But Poppy is such good company at the moment, chattering away and laughing with me! She seems to have eaten quite a lot today, I don’t know if it is a one off, but maybe she is more ready for food now? She has had toast dipped in soup and managed to soak up all of the soup that was in her bowl! She ate homemade homous straight off the spoon! And she really enjoyed mango. Poppy also seems to understand the word ‘Mama’ and starts saying it if Tim carries her away from me, with her arms outstretched towards me! I am sure ‘Dada’ won’t be long! She is still pulling herself up constantly, I honestly can’t keep up with her energy!

Anyway here is our weekend in pictures! (click for slideshow)

I hope your weekend was wonderful ❤

Cloth Conundrum!

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I have edited this post after realising I really was thinking out loud and it was mostly a load of irrelevant rubbish! The (mostly) important bits:

We have come to the point where we need to invest in some new real nappies, as Poppy’s covers no longer fit her. At first I was excited to get shopping! I waited for the Little Lambs sale because I had seen some pocket nappies, but for some reason I thought were 100% bamboo inside with the waterproof cover, but when they came they were full of microfiber and it would have been the only material touching Poppy’s skin! If you use cloth nappies you may already know that you want to try and avoid microfiber close to the skin as it can dry out their sensitive skin and cause god awful rashes, and you probably guessed by now, I really wanted all natural material in the most important places. Bummer. Time to start again!

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I have thought. I have googled. I have thought some more. I am totally stumped. All of the one size fits all, pocket nappies or all in ones contain microfiber or other synthetic materials, and it is usually touching the babies skin. So I started searching ‘bamboo nappies’, ‘organic nappies’, ‘natural nappies’, ‘nappies made with unicorn hair and rainbows’ …you get the idea. Unfortunately we are not rich. Right now we are quite the opposite! So when I had another facebook notification to say that Little Lambs would be having another sale later this month, which is going to include a bamboo kit for £99 (20 nappies and 6 coloured covers plus extras) I decided that could be an option. These are shaped bamboo nappies, so they go on just like a disposable but then you put the cover over the top, which is where you get to give your babe a nice colourful bum!

So I asked about the bamboo material in their bamboo kit, thinking I had cracked it, only to be told that to make a better quality, non-pull nappy, the bamboo is woven into polyester. Doh!! They said it was a miniscule amount…but even so. Polyester is bad, microfiber is bad, can’t I just wrap her up in a cloud?! And then it suddenly occurred to me, for the first time ever, that although I have been using bamboo and cotton inserts, Poppy’s covers are all synthetic materials and seeing as the prefold’s don’t cover her whole bum, her skin will be touching a fair amount of the cover as well. I honestly don’t know why this hadn’t occurred to me before, I am so careful about what I put on her skin. With all of the major nappies out there being made with nasty materials, it is difficult to realise there is any other option. But of course some of the most water resistant, absorbent, comfortable, hygienic and breathable materials are natural. If I am going to invest in new nappies, shouldn’t I use it as a chance to switch to the best possible nappies for my precious girl, and for the environment? Yes, that’s what I thought, and so my quest began.

As I said before we are not rich, and this route is not the cheapest. But I have a problem, it is something I am working on; when I know there is a healthier choice, I cannot knowingly chose anything less, even if it means digging in to my savings, and especially when it comes to Poppy. I am trying to remind myself how much money we are saving by using washables, and the fact that I will use them with number 2, and who knows, number 3, means that they are definitely cost effective in the long run.

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So my options are:

  • Continue using the cotton prefolds we have – but these do go stiff when washed, they were second hand and have probably seen better days and they could be more absorbent. We will never be able to use these at night.
  • Keep the bamboo inserts (these are 100% bamboo) that came with the pocket nappies from Little Lambs (and try and sell the pockets if anyone is likely to want pockets without inserts?!) – they are very soft and I like the bamboo inserts we have been using on the Close Parent Pop-in’s, although I have now read that apparently the ‘naturalness’ of bamboo materials is questionable due to the processes it goes through. Sigh.
  • Replace my prefolds with organic prefolds…cotton, bamboo, hemp?
  • Mother-ease organic nappy, all in one and does up much like a disposable. But these would cost a fair amount as I would be starting a brand new collection. In comparison to the bamboo kit Little Lambs are offering for example, at £99 for 20, that is a fiver per nappy. These are the same concept, but no nasty’s, for roughly £12 each.
  • Buy terry nappies – I am sure that our grandparents really did have the right idea! People are scared of them but I have watched a few YouTube videos and they look easy enough. Especially now you can get Nappi Nippa’s, so no need for safety pins. You can buy them in cotton and bamboo. Can you buy hemp terry’s?
  • Learn how to sew and make my own….

Clearly the last one is not an option, and all of the others will then require some cover consideration! Do I go for:

  • Isme Visme or other organic cotton covers (I can’t find many!) – do these go over terry cloth nappy’s or prefolds or both?
  • Use a full nappy, such as the Mother-ease, with a synthetic cover, knowing that at least it won’t be touching the skin. I could buy Little Lambs wraps for about £35 for 5. This isn’t my favourite option, and seeing as I don’t need tons of covers, maybe 3 to start with, I would rather just spend that £35 on 3 organic ones and build up my collection if and when I need to.
  • Wool covers, usually handmade on ebay or etsy, beautiful and expensive. I am intrigued by these, and would love to know people’s experiences, because to be honest I am a little daunted by them! I know that wool is an amazing thing. They say these covers do not even need washing for weeks at a time?! This would be incredible!! But how about prefolds, I guess you can’t use them with these as they are more pull on pant style? I have seen some Disana ones which are more wrap style, would a bamboo prefold work in there? And what is that process, lanolising? It all sounds very complicated to me, but I would love to hear that I am wrong. I think wool would be my first choice if it was simple and a little cheaper…as it is I am really on the fence. At around £20 per cover if I didn’t get on with them I would be pretty miffed. Having said that if they really don’t need washing often maybe I would only need two? HELP!

Maybe I could knit my own covers, if I took a few more lessons off of my Nan. At least I would know exactly what they were made of!

I feel totally overwhelmed and rather frustrated that by trying to do what is best for Poppy and the environment I am in fact met with more chemical conundrums. When I was pregnant we just bought the first I saw for sale, Bambino Mio, because someone was selling them dead cheap. In hindsight I am relieved they were cotton and not synthetic, and maybe it is a good thing that we are now so used to prefold’s whilst other people find them fiddly. Yes I love the funky designs and yes inserts that pop in place or slip into pockets are simple. Having tried the Close Parent Pop-in’s for a few weeks and seen my friends using modern cloth nappies, I was starting to steer in that direction. But the whole concept of cloth nappies is based on greener living, and surely by keeping up with trends and consistently aiming for an easier, more convenient real nappy, we are actually producing more and more synthetic nappies…isn’t that how disposables came about in the first place?

Which makes me question the whole philosophy. It is real nappy week and we are all being told to ‘Go Real’, so tell me, how ‘real’ do you go?

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Hooray for babies!

Yet another post about Poppy because I don’t have time for serious stuff! But my assignment is almost complete. I know that the family love hearing about Pops so I know they won’t complain. For the rest of you, stay tuned!

Poppy has been so happy today, it has made my studying much easier. I had plenty of breaks to play with her, and in doing so noticed a development which I hadn’t noticed before. We were playing peek-a-boo and Poppy started to pull my hands away from my eyes to find me! She has gone from looking away as soon as you cover your face, focusing on something else, to waiting and watching your hands, to understanding where I am hiding and knowing what to do to make me appear again! It might not be much, all babies do it, some much earlier, but I still think it is impressive. Not long after that I went to hang the washing outside, leaving the door half closed, meaning Poppy couldn’t see me. Within 30 seconds she had made her way around the door and was crawling into the garden towards me! It was the cutest. I disappeared from her sight but she knew I was still there. I like the idea that she can now picture me in her minds eye, maybe I am in her dreams right now!

Alongside this she is becoming more aware of cause and effect everyday. Yesterday she was playing a game with Tim; he put his head down and every time she tapped it with her hand he popped it up and and they laughed together! It was so lovely to watch as Poppy paused, smiled, tapped his head and then burst out laughing! Today she showed her understanding again when she copied me pressing the squeaky button on her toy telephone. Immediately after I did it she started bashing away laughing as it squeaked. She also has a toy that makes a funny noise as you shake it and she loves that she now knows how to do it on her own. And something she particularly enjoys is dropping food off of her high chair knowing and waiting for Oscar to come!

Sometimes it is these little things that we take for granted, we are so focused on the big milestones and physical abilities; when they roll, sit, crawl, eat, walk, talk…Babies are learning so much everyday, no adult is even nearly capable of processing the equivalent, and it all takes a lot of energy and brain power! I try to celebrate the smallest of achievements because for Poppy, it is huge!

After a busy day’s learning: I had to post this picture because I thought it looked a bit like she was rock and rolling in her sleep! 

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Poppy at 7 months

I thought my family and friends were due an update on their favourite baby (sorry about the first blurry photo!) I have an essay due Tuesday so blogging is taking a back seat but seeing as said baby is curled up asleep on my lap and all I have to hand is my phone, I thought it was a good time to write.

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Firstly I am completely cherishing this moment; after spending the best part of Poppy’s life telling everyone that she is not the sort of baby who just falls asleep in my arms, she has done exactly that twice this week. The first time we were at a friends too, so plenty to distract her, but she happily breastfed to sleep without the usual fuss when she is tired but too interested in what’s going on around her! I tried again yesterday at another friends with no luck, she got all squirmy, but to be fair to Poppy her boyfriend was watching so she just couldn’t relax!!

P1020693She is in the process of dropping her late afternoon nap, completely of her own accord. Yesterday she was awake from 3pm and still had more energy than ever at 6.30, when she is normally exhausted! It changes often though, if she wakes any earlier than 2.30pm she doesn’t last until bedtime. She is coming to the village quiz with us tomorrow so I wonder how she will be! She did very well at Nan’s party, socialising until past 9pm (as you can see from the pic on the left she is going to follow in her Mummy’s footsteps!)

Weaning: Everyone loves to hear how the weaning is going, is she eating any more now? I’ll let you into a little secret: when we were ready to start baby led weaning, I thought she would just get the hang of it immediately…despite what I had read about it being a slow process. She was so interested in what we ate and she made chewing motions as she watched us, surely she wanted to gobble it up! But that hasn’t been the case at all! She plays with her food, although usually plays with the tray or spoon more, and she does put things to her mouth, but if she swallows even one teeny bit seemingly by accident I am amazed!

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I am making much more effort to give her two meals a day now instead of just offering her bits and bobs. She has porridge or fruit for brekky and whatever I have for lunch, or leftovers from dinner the night before. Her milk feeds haven’t reduced at all, because she really isn’t eating anything! But I am not concerned, I know she will get the hang of it sooner or later, when she is ready. I can already tell that she is very independent and will not be told what to do!

Anyway, here is a video of lunch yesterday, which pretty much sums up our meal times. If you are wondering where all the food is, it is on the floor. The bouncing lasted a good ten minutes at least.

 

On the move: Poppy has recently discovered that she can crawl to me, rather than just to retrieve toys or objects she shouldn’t have, such as my camera. It is really quite sweet when I leave the room and seconds later Poppy is frantically making her way towards me. I am sure the novelty will end soon! I have definitely noticed an increase in her separation anxiety in the last couple of weeks, but that is natural at this age, and a sign that she is securely attached… go us! Unfortunately it is very noticeable during the evenings after putting Poppy to bed on her own. I know that I should just continue to settle her back to sleep each time she wakes and she should learn that although I am not right there I am still there. But as we know from the last post, I can be a tad lazy at times and have ended up bringing her downstairs on several occasions to allow myself to relax!

She has been pulling herself up on anything and everything, the sofa, the printer, the stool, me and Tim, other babies…I have a bad feeling that I will be the mum constantly pulling my child away from poor victims at baby groups as she claws at their faces and tries to sit on their laps…in a ‘let’s be friends’ kind of way of course. She is constantly wanting to stand up and can get very grumpy if you insist it is sitting down time. I thought tantrums came much later?! She had to pause in this video to chew the sofa, and she is a bit whiney as she is tired and wants to get her hands on that copy of Juno on the sofa, which she has already eaten the corner of (she will eat that but not my delicious cooking?!)

 

Potty power: Today is the second day we have had a completely dry nappy having caught all wee’s!! (so far) I am so proud of myself and Poppy, but also feel a bit frustrated with myself that I am so inconsistent. Being home all day and focusing on Poppy so much shows me just how capable she is of cueing us, but when we are out and about I hardly bother trying. I am starting to wonder if this inconsistency is worse than not doing anything at all. Maybe she is cueing me on those busy days too and I just don’t notice? Or maybe she gives up because she doesn’t expect us to take her. This morning I started off taking her regularly to see if she needed it, and by lunch time she was clearly signaling by starting to fuss during her play, and sure enough I took her every time and she went, every time! I am going to start taking a potty in the car at least so that we can give her the chance to go more often when we are out of the house. At least I know that she definitely understands the concept, and I know that in the long run it is going to make life so much easier. Poppy isn’t the one who needs to improve, we are. But we are certainly heading in the right direction…

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Socialite: We have been busy meeting up with other babies and friends as most of you will have seen on my facebook, our social calender is always full! We know a few people with babies of a similar age to Poppy, and we still go to baby groups when we get a chance. We are also hoping to meet some more home educators soon as there is a good community around here. Yesterday we went to Aylesbury to visit Mia and Noah and Poppy and her (boy)friend Noah were properly chatting to each other. One of them would say something whilst the other listened and then either giggled back or responded with babbling! It was the cutest thing. I love this age, she is just becoming such a sociable baby, she ‘talks’ to me and Tim all day long.

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Pearly whites: Her first tooth seems to be taking things slow. It has definitely fully cut through the gum but barely noticeable still. Her gums seem swollen again, so I wonder if there is another on the way? Oh and for anyone who wonders what breastfeeding is like with teeth (I get asked what I am going ‘to do’ when she has teeth quite a lot!) – so far so good, despite the fact that the toothy peg is insanely sharp!

In other news she is blowing raspberries non stop and showering us all in spit. Happy Friday! ❤