Posts filed under ‘Parenting’

Baby Stuff I Love

 

When it comes to buying baby stuff, it really is a jungle out there. There are just so many gorgeous things to choose from. I was helping a newly pregnant friend put together her baby shopping list this week, which got me thinking about all the things that may be slightly outside the mainstream but that I think every new parent should have.

 

As an aside, for those of you that are interested, I found this great article on the Waldorf approach to newborn baby care.

 

So just for fun, here are my top picks for crunchy new baby essentials.

 
 Bedding

gogo

photocredit: www.merinokids.com

Firstly, may I recommend a hammock rather than a cot. Its ideal if you are intending to co-sleep as it gives a baby somewhere safe to sleep for naps, and is a perfect alternative to a port a cot as you can hang it from any door frame. Naturesway hammocks accommodate babies well past 1 year, so you will get great use out of it.

I also have to mention the wonderful merino GoGo bags – you can see from the photo how beautiful they are. Its a real shame they are now made in China, but they are exceptional quality and I really haven’t found another sleeping bag that comes even close.

Out and About

Photobucket

photocredit: dulceandzoet.co.nz

Whether you are AP minded or not, a sling  is a blessing not to be under-rated. I love my DulceandZoet sling, but I suggest you try to get in contact with a local babywearing group to see different slings in action. In New Zealand, check out www.slingbabies.co.nz. Intenational groups are listed at www.thebabywearer.com.

Even devout baby wearers usually end up with a pushchair.  If you are looking at pushchairs, give serious consideration to a Mountain Buggy. Made in clean green New Zealand, they have a great range of options for attaching bassinets, car seats, toddler seats, and they stand by their product even years down the track. We have a second hand ‘Terrain’ model, and I’m totally in love with it.

Toys and Things

floomat
photocredit:www.tagyourbaby.co.nz

I have to confess we bought a rather revolting Tiny Love baby activity gym – where the baby lies on her back and looks at dangling synthentic fleece toys. I think it was a contributing factor to Munchkin’s very flat head which took months to come right.

But if I knew then what I knew now, I would have chosen one of these taggy floor mats from TagYourBaby.  It might be made of a synthetic material but this is one case where I don’t mind – little babies spill a lot, so polar fleece does come into its own for a playmat.

You can buy some very beautiful wooden and cloth toys appropriate for little babies. They will quickly start putting things in their mouth, so natural and preferably organic materials will be so much nicer.

Baby Care

Photobucket
photocredit:www.babynecklace.co.nz

Its very anthroposophical to like Weleda products for baby, but that aside they really are lovely . I am a big fan of the calendula nappy hange cream. I also love the smell of ecostore baby products, especially their divine baby bath. And once baby starts teething, I think an amber teething necklace is a worthwhile investment.

Clothing

I really do feel that wherever possible newborns should be dressed in organic cotton – here’s some of the reasons why. It is expensive, but its one place that I think it is necessary. Second hand organic baby clothing has fantastic resale value on eEbay and TradeMe so if you think of it that way its not actually that costly!

For little ones, all-in-ones that snap all the way up the front are the easiest things to get baby in and out of. In colder weather add a cotton or wool singlet underneath, and a pure wool cardigan and hat for outings, you’ll be set for most weather.

While many people will advise you not to buy too many clothes in newborn sizes, you willeasily go through three changes of clothes a day. You don’t want to get stuck in the middle of the night with nothing to change baby into! 

Nappies

I could write a whole post just on cloth nappies (OK, OK cloth diapers for those of you in the USA).  The best advice I can give you is to find your local ‘nappy network’ – I know there are online cloth nappy communities in New Zealand, Australia, UK and US – and probably elsewhere as well.

My top pick for a little baby is a simple prefold and cover system. I love  bamboo prefolds (I use the double layered bamboo inserts – they are perfect as prefolds. For covers, wool is hard to beat. Its breathable, incredibly waterproof, and a lovely natural fibre to use. Its just a little more work than PUL but really, not as much as you would think. These are my favourite wool covers because they are just so pretty.  

I found the most useful information I found on cloth nappies came from the fabulous Snazzipants website. In particular, for newborns they say that “we usually recommend that to stay sane with your first new baby, you use disposables for the first couple of weeks. New babies are really small, and if you are going to have a fit issue, you are going to have it right at the beginning when your baby has teeny tiny chicken legs. And very explosive poo. Not the best mix!”

There is tonnes of cloth nappy information out there, and it can all be a bit confusing. But its only because they are so cute and so much fun – really, they are actually very easy to use.

I’d love to know what your favourite baby things are, so please leave a comment with any ideas that you have.

For more Works for Me Wednesday head over to http://rocksinmydryer.typepad.com
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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April 8, 2008 at 7:33 pm 5 comments

Frenetic Friday

EveryStockPhoto

Thank Spirit its Friday!

Now that we are out of hospital, and all in full health for the first time in three weeks, we feel so behind on everything. Of course, this week we have been working like mad bees to catch up.  I’m sad to say that now I am more exhausted than ever.

I should have accepted that I was behind, taken some deep breaths, and found ways to find my centre again after the stress of all our sickness. Being an ESFJ type , I really struggle to relax, particularly when everything is out of order. In fact, tidying up and straightening my world is how I do relax – ploughing through work in the midst of chaos is intensely stresful.

So given my fraught and fractious mind space at the moment, I thought I would post this lovely excerpt from the book “Children who are not yet peaceful” that I found over at Bookworm’s blog.

While this is a list focussed on the needs of children, providing these things for your children means as parents, we must become more peaceful, less frenetic, more centred.

  • A slow-paced lifestyle with long hours of sleep on a regular schedule, a nutritious diet high in protein and fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of exercise, and a generous amount of time in nature.
  • Someone to behold the child’s face with joy, hold her, hug her, and treasure her for herself alone.
  • Someone to read chapter books aloud for twenty to thirty minutes every day, at a level three years beyond the child’s reading level.
  • Someone to recite poetry every day, a new poem each week.
  • Someone to sing every day, a new song each week.
  • Someone to tell delightful stories of the child’s own life.
  • An atmosphere of open curiosity and inquiry, in which everyone in the family treasures learning.
  • Responsibility for caring for himself and his own things as well as contributing to meal preparation and the care of the house, garden, and pets.
  • A two-hour weekly limit on all screen media – movies, videos, TV, and computer games – combined.
  • Freedom from being dragged around on errands.
  • Freedom from the cynicism and sarcasm appropriate to later years.
  • Parents who say no cheerfully and mean it.
  • Parents who wait until their children are in bed to listen to music, watch movies, play computer games, and watch TV programs, even the news, that are not appropriate to the children’s ages or that would give children more media hours than is best for their development.
  • Parents who establish and uphold a family child-rearing culture that is appropriate the the child’s age and who support age-appropriate independent thought and action and an age-appropriate role in decision making in as many areas and as often as possible.

Have a wonderful, peaceful, relaxing weekend everyone.

March 28, 2008 at 12:45 am 1 comment

Why I choose ‘real’ toys

Earlier this week I was with my friend the Yummy Mummy. We were talking, as we usually do, about mothering and children. She commented that the common thread in all parenting books is to treat your child with love and kindness, and provide them with a stable, secure environment. She also commented that she personally couldn’t get that excited about things like wooden toys and not using playpens, and that surely children wouldn’t be any worse off for playing with lots of cheap plastic toys. 

 I have to say I’d never really looked at it that way. I was so convinced of the inherent superiority of what I think of as ‘real’ toys – wooden, open-ended, natural, old-fashioned toys that I had never challenged myself as to why. 

 On reflection, I don’t necessarily believe that Munchkin will somehow be ‘advantaged’ by having wooden toys, or spending as much time as possible outside, or going to a Steiner playgroup. I don’t think that she will be smarter or happier than other children who play with Barbies (urggh) or Fisher Price toys with lots of batteries and whizzy bits.  

But yet, I am very passionate about what Munchkin plays with, as those of you who read often will know. I believe that simple toys encourage Munchkin to use her imagination. I believe that avoiding ‘licensed’ toys will keep some of our pervasive consumer culture out of her childhood. I believe that natural materials means the toys are a bit safer for her to chew on. I know that natural toys, made either in a fair-trade situation or by independent crafts-people in first world nations, are better for the environment and better for the world.  

So I choose real toys, not because I think it makes me a better parent, but because of my personal values. Some of the values that I hold very dear are walking gently on the earth, respecting all human beings, and a belief in the infinite nature of human potential.  These values are expressed in everything I do, and in particular they are expressed every time I spend, or don’t spend, money. For me principles of fair trade, environmental sustainability and honouring craftsmanship are important considerations in every purchase I make.

 This isn’t to say that I only buy fair trade, organic, eco-friendly products – I don’t. Financial realities and day to day efficiency often come first … but I try to strike a balance.  I certainly hope that Munchkin’s childhood will teach her these values. I do hope that she will have a wonderful childhood – but it’s a reflection of my ‘ideal’ of a wonderful childhood.  

But I have to say, I’ve realized that as much as I care about this I would hate to be a zealot. I don’t want to ‘take a stand’ when Grandparents buy her plastic battery powered rubbish – I want to teach her gratitude and respect too. I know some parents who have had major family falling outs over the ‘toy’ issue, and I would feel so sad if I became so obsessed with this issue that I let my relationships suffer for it.

 Its easy in natural parenting circles to get caught up in the dogma. Its easy to feel that our way is somehow superior, and that all parents should be like us. By making the personal political we can become very judgmental of others. Its one of the reasons that I am so glad to have friends whose values are a bit different to mine, and who aren’t afraid to say so. The moral high-ground is, after all, a very lonely place to be.  

March 25, 2008 at 4:52 am 6 comments

Sleep baby sleep

Baby

I haven’t had a full night sleep since the Munchkin was born 16 months ago.

 Despite reading every book about infant sleep that I could find, it soon became clear that my baby was just not a ‘self-settling’ type of baby. Leaving her to cry never worked. She never did the ‘cry cry pause’ that the books talked about – she just screamed, and screamed louder. I couldn’t pat her back and ‘shhhh’ her to sleep, she would arch her back and turn purple with rage.  If I didn’t respond to her cries pronto, I would be rocking and settling for ages before she would finally settle, exhausted, on the breast.  

She would wake every 3 hours, sometimes more often, all night. Sometimes we would get a six hour stretch, and think we had made progress, but it would never last. During the day she would sleep for 20 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day. Then at about a year old that turned into 30 -45 minutes, once a day.  It was so hard to find any real support. All the mainstream books described babies that just didn’t act like mine did. The Plunket nurse and GP suggested varying styles of ‘controlled crying’ and my friends all had babies that responded to well to this sort of advice.  

A turning point for me was reading ‘The Fussy Baby Book’ and going to La Leche League. Realising that their were other babies like mine, and that I wasn’t a terrible mother was a revelation. The advice I got from the ‘attachment parenting’ school didn’t solve the problem. We were still very much sleepless in Aoteoroa. But I stopped worrying so much about it. 

I’m pleased to report that we are starting to see some progress now. For the last few nights, Munchkin has slept from 7pm till 2am or so, without waking. Its starting to feel like a pattern, so my fingers and toes are firmly crossed. Last night she fell asleep without breastfeeding, and did the same tonight … amazing. 

So to those of you expecting children and reading all about ‘accidental parenting’ and the need to ‘sleep train’ your baby, please know there are other options out there. I wish I had known about the options when Munchkin was born, it would have saved months of heartache.  

My favourite blog on this subject is Megan’s Parenting Baby to Sleep blog. Its also worth checking out Pinky McKay, Elizabeth Pantley, and good ol’ Dr William Sears. And if  you want to get a bit scientific, it have a look at Centre for Attachment. I hope you all are blessed with babies that sleep. I sincerely hope mine has turned a corner.

 PS – I’ve changed the font after some feedback that Papyrus was very hard to read. What do you think of this one?

PPS – Isn’t that a beautiful photo. Its not Munchkin , full credit can be found here.

March 23, 2008 at 7:24 am 1 comment

Blessings

I am still here … Well I predicted on Monday that it was going to be a rough week, but I had no idea how rough it was going to get. Tuesday morning I took the Munchkin to the doctor, and by Tuesday midday we were in the emergency department of Starship Children’s Hospital. She had a suspected abcess in her mouth, which could have required surgery, but thank goodness was able to be managed with 48 hours of IV antibiotics.   

Being in Starship was an incredibly humbling, terrifying and hopeful experience. There were some very very sick children there, but I personally always cry when I read about sick children so I am going to be kind and not share all the terrible things we saw and heard.  It struck me so clearly that we spend so much time as mothers worrying about ‘small stuff’, the washing, dinner, the state of the house, swimming lessons, getting children to eat vegetables.

Suddenly being around terribly sick children,  I realized how how trivial my worries are, and how much we would all sacrifice just to have a healthy, happy child.  Its wonderful to be home. I am so determined not to get sucked back in to my daily whinge-a-thon, to spend more time playing mindfully with Munchkin, and less time being stressed about the trivia of my daily life. Sadly, I’m sure by this time next week I’ll be nagging Hubby about putting his mug in the dishwasher, and wishing for five minutes of peace to write my blog. I guess that’s just reality. 

On a far more cheerful note, I  have finally our  first ‘Steiner’ doll. Inspired by Creative Play for Your Baby , I tried to make a ‘floor puppet’. I needed a fair bit of help from my mum, but here’s what it looks like.

    

Its SO much fun. I’m now working on a pompom chick and some wooden blocks. Will report in soon!

March 21, 2008 at 9:15 am 1 comment

You are your child’s first teacher – the toddler years

Sorry I’ve been so quiet on the blog front – computer issues and a wonderful weekend away have combined to keep me away from here! 

But I really wanted to share more from this wonderful book on Steiner parenting that I started to blog about last week.

 When it comes to toddlers, the Waldorf philosophy – if I get this right – is that young children exist wholly in their physical senses and their will. So for toddlers its all about  touching, tasting, hearing, smelling and seeing. They are insatiable for all these wonderful new things. One of the most important things you can do is to pay attention to all that surrounds your child. This includes the food, clothing, images, toys sunshine, sand and water. It also includes the less tangible ‘nourishment’ that comes from your warmth and love and the emotions that surround your child.  As well as the senses, your toddlers will is developing – their internal drive and motivation is still very instinctual but it is moving from the pure instinct of a baby to the ‘urge’ of a toddler. According to Steiner, will begins as instinct in a baby, then gradually changes over the years into urge, then desire then motive. Urge is still strongly connected to the body (biological urges) Such urges will further metamorphose into desire when the emotional element enters around the age of two or three. As you would expect in a Waldorf book, there is a strong aversion to the commercialization of childhood. Caution is suggested in what you bring in to your home, whether through the influence of television, so called ‘educational toys’ like computers for babies, flashcards for toddlers, or structured lessons for pre-schoolers. Instead of these more commercial activities, there is a wonderful list for each age group of suggested toys and things to do. For example, in the Toddlers chapter she suggests push toys, wooden blocks cut from various diameters of a tree, low containers for water play, a sandbox, a toy telephone, simple dolls, nesting toys, block crayons, and balls. Activities include letting your toddler ‘help’ you around the house, going on nature walks, hiding games, and lots of singing Physical activity is critical for toddlers, and Rahima explains that “when your child is first mastering new body skills, most play consists in pure movement without the element of fantasy. A young child loves to run, jump, walk on tiptoe, climb, run around or roll on the ground. Like a lamb in springtime or a young colt, your child delights in movement for the sheer joy of it” I particularly enjoyed her suggestions for discipline with toddlers. If you want to teach a certain behaviour to your child, one of the best ways is  to actually do it in front of (or with) him. This demands that we as adults get up and actually do something. Movement combined with the smallest  amount of fantasy or good humour can go a long way toward getting the child to do what you want… For example, early in the year at our Waldorf preschool, several children couldn’t sit calmly during snack time. “We sit with our feet in front of us’ we repeated again and again, as we reseated the child or showed our own straight way of sitting. After several months the children were older and able to sit calmly during snack time, and the lesson had been repeated so many times that it had begun to penetrate the body. This is certainly something that I have taken on board with Munchkin. Anyway, its late at night so that’s all for now. Normal blogging will resume soon I promise.

March 4, 2008 at 9:08 am Leave a comment

You are your child’s first teacher

I have just finished reading a wonderful book  ‘You are your child’s first teacher’ by Rahima Baldwin Dancy. I thought some of you might be interested in hearing a bit about it. It seems to be one of the most commonly recommended ‘introductions’ to Steiner education (or Waldorf education for you in the US!) and I certainly found that it gave me a good insight into the Steiner philosophy, without getting bogged down in theory or dogma.

The book covers so much ground that any review I write of it will simply not do it justice. Instead I thought I would write a few posts that focus on the parts of the book that I personally enjoyed the most.

 So to start with – what does she say about babies?

While attachment parenting and Steiner education are not the same thing, there is a strong attachment parenting ‘feel’ to this book. The author stresses the importance of a responsive mother, who is in tune with her child and provides nurturing, comfort and security. Baby carrying, co-sleeping and breastfeeding on demand are certainly supported by this book, as is a slow, gentle path to establishing daily rhythms for little ones.

In line with the Steiner belief that babies arrive from a spirit-realm, she suggests very gentle birth practices, preserving quiet and calm especially in the first six weeks, keeping your newborn warm and wearing only natural fibres, and placing blue and pink silks over the bassinet to bath baby in soft light.

 Rahima Baldwin-Dancy is far from prescriptive though, and encourages mothers to devleop their own instincts and the confidence to follow them.

 “The key, as I see it, is not to follow any “system” or “expert” to the sacrifice of your child. Try to inform yourself and ask “what does the child need in this situation for his or her best development?” Use your head, listen to your heart and make your best decisions based on what you percieve your child needs and what you are able to provide in each situation”

 I can’t personally think of any better advice for a new mum that that.

February 27, 2008 at 11:52 pm 1 comment

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