Natural, Healthy,Green Parenting

November 25, 2008 · 13 comments

Be sure to visit this parenting post for a whole list of articles on natural, healthy parenting!

Thank you to my friend, Sue, for the following GUEST POST on Natural / Healthy / Green Mothering. Sue was a natural, healthy, green Mom LONG before I even thought about trying! She’ll cover information on:

  • The most comfortable and versatile Baby Carriers
  • What are the healthiest foods for your baby?
  • Super simple cloth diapering (Visit my resources page for where to buy cloth diapers and other baby care items!)


If there is one thing I have learned about Kelly, it’s that if you have something important to say, be careful, because she just might ask you to write about it for her blog!

That’s what happened to me. “Kelly,” I said, between bites of London Broil while dining with her and a friend of ours at Kelly’s favorite restaurant in Rockford, “I just bought a new baby carrier for Matthew the other day.” (She had been impressed with my sling at last year’s Christmas party so I knew she would be interested.) Not long after I told her, she said, “OK, write about your research and I’ll put it in the natural parenting section of my blog. Oh, and add some of your thoughts about natural feeding, too!” Now since I have 4 kids, ages 9, 6, 4, and 14 months, I questioned how on earth I would find the time to actually pull this off… as I type this at my kitchen counter, I am looking back at my milk that is coming up to temperature to culture my homemade yogurt, the boys are waiting for those eggs for breakfast, and I have the sprinklers going outside…..if Kelly can find the time to blog with her 4 kids, I can too!

[OK, so now it is 2-1/2 months later and reality has set in!!….]

Ever since my oldest was born, I knew I wanted to have my children close to me. Instinctively, I knew it was good for each of them and for me, in terms of bonding and feeling close. I also knew that it would make life easier around the house for those times when the baby wasn’t ready to be put down, but I needed to “get things done”. While I usually made sure my babies had naps in their cribs to help them become good nappers, I used either a sling, front carrier or backpack to carry them while on the go.

My Sling

It’s funny how things evolve, too, in our lives. It hasn’t been until this last year, after my fourth child was born, that I think I finally nailed down the most useful carriers.

A few months ago, a friend made me an adjustable ring sling that is modeled after a Maya Wrap – I LOVED that thing! The best part about it was being able to nurse in public very discreetly. He would be completely covered from about his waist up and I could use the “tail” (the extra fabric that hangs down after it is tightened) to drape over my shoulder if I needed to. Several times I even nursed while walking, and once in the mall! (Oh, the things I have learned to do as my family has gotten larger and we’re more on the go!) Anyway, I looked in a dressing room mirror and it was completely a mystery as to what was going on under the fabric. (Is the baby just sleeping?) As he got older and wasn’t comfortable being cradled in the sling, it was nice to hold him on my hip and let the sling hold all the weight instead of my arm. He really liked being near me, and I have read that babies bond really well and are more secure if they are held for at least part of the day.

My Ergo Baby Carrier

So, now we come to the new “fandangled” baby carrier I bought last month. Matthew was getting too big for the sling, and my framed backpack carrier was just too big and bulky. What I found is called Ergo baby carrier and is actually very versatile. It can be a front carrier for infants, a side carrier, and a backpack. What is nice is it is lightweight, frameless, and packable. Furthermore, when the baby/toddler falls asleep there is a hood that the user can pull up over their head to cradle it from flopping from side to side. It fits my husband just as well as me, and our son really enjoys it. It can even go up to 40 pounds! It is tricky to get the child in there sometimes, but with practice it becomes easier. Kelly asked me if I like the ERGObaby carrier better than the Baby Bjorn, which she loved. I have never worn my baby on the front of me using the ERGO, so I can’t say if it is more or less comfortable than the Baby Bjorn. However, here are some of my thoughts: the ERGO is much more versatile (front, side, back), however I don’t think it allows a baby to face outward like the Bjorn. So to me it is a 50/50 answer. (Note from Kelly: I just found this comparison of the Bjorn vs. the Ergo.. Also at this site, Sue said that you can get them a few times a year as low as $79 in a used sale.)

Natural Feeding

Now on to the next topic Kelly asked me about: natural feeding. This, too, has been a process. I started with feeding my first two children solids (yes, all the run-of-the-mill baby food, AKA “crap” from the grocery store shelves at age 4 months…ugh!!) to feeding my third and fourth children mostly organic, homemade food at about 8-9 months. I had hoped to go right to finger food from the table, but the fact is that most babies will need to have smooth food at least for a little while. Also, foods, one at a time, should be introduced (although there are many who would disagree with me) to rule out possible allergies. Here are some tips on making your own baby food and some recipes:

  • Begin by reading this great article from Weston A. Price on feeding baby, I used it for my 4th baby; it really gives a lot of information as to what to feed baby first, last, and never!
  • Gather small glass jars with lids (put out an APB for friends to save baby food jars for you), and also ice cube trays.
  • Get a food processor or good blender, and an electric steamer or steel basket that fits into a pan.
  • Plan what you think you would like to make for your baby.
  • Buy as much organic as possible. Steam each vegetable and then puree until completely smooth (the texture may vary depending on the age of the child). Add homemade chicken stock or the water from steaming to thin it out and add a boost of nutrition.
  • Place what you think your child will eat in a day or two in the fridge, but freeze the rest in jars or ice cube trays (when frozen transfer to zip bags).
  • Never use a microwave oven.
  • Use a silver spoon; WAPF says, “The small amount of silver he will get really does help fight infection!”
  • Serve baby the same foods you are eating at the table by using a food mill. I used one by Munchkin that sells for about $7.50 in the store. It would grind the food and I would add liquid to thin it out to the appropriate consistency.
  • I received a great cookbook as a gift from my mom: Cooking for Baby: Wholesome, Homemade, Delicious Foods for 6 to 18 Months by Lisa Barnes. It goes through some cooking tips and has simple recipes that go from first foods all the way up to 18 months. While the philosophy isn’t WAP, you can weed out what doesn’t fit with what you believe to be true about eating, and use the recipes that do fit!
  • Have food, will travel: don’t be afraid to take your homemade food with you on the go. When you plan ahead and freeze your quantities for travel in the old baby food jars, it is no different from traveling with stuff right off the shelves. I just pack the jars in one of those small coolers with an ice pack made for storing breast milk that I received in the hospital at his birth. When he was into finger food, I would steam carrot sticks and green beans and then freeze them in a baby food jar. I would also take chunked cheese, and always have a banana on me. These snacks were a far cry from the O’s cereal pieces I fed my other babies, but how freeing it felt! I think my son was over one year before he even tasted one of those cereal bits!!
  • Now that my son is 16 months old, he loves smoothies (as we all do!) The only thing is, no two are ever the same. I just throw different fruits, coconut milk, yogurt, avocado(!), nuts, milk, etc., into the blender.
  • (Note from Kelly:  here’s some good info from Jenny about GMO-free soy formula for babies with reflux.)

Cloth Diapering

    And lastly, diapering baby. I have used cloth diapers for all of my children. With each one I started out using a diaper service for convenience, but then after a while I wash my own. I love using cloth diapers! They are so much better on baby’s skin and the environment. I have used pre-folds with covers, and with pins and nylon pants. But, for my 4th child, a friend loaned me her FuzziBunz. I found luxury! They are pocket diapers that have thick, micro-terry inserts. They are also fleece lined (so they take the moisture away). They are moisture proof on the outside, so no need to put a nylon pant over the top. The plastic snap fastening system allows for perfect fit.

(Visit my resources page for where to buy cloth diapers and other baby care items!)

    To wash:
    • – I dump the solid waste in the toilet before the diaper goes in the dry pail. I wash about every 2-3 days.
    • –Put a small amount of detergent (nothing with fabric softener, dyes, perfumes, etc.) into the washer and begin filling with cold water. Add a bit of Borax and then soak for 30+ minutes.
    • –Finish the cycle, and then begin the washer again, this time with hot water. Add another small amount of detergent, Borax again, and vinegar in a rinse aid ball or the fabric softener compartment as a disinfectant. Add a second rinse.
    • –I dry my FuzziBunz covers only for about 30 minutes on low (or I let them air dry). I dry the rest on high (to further disinfect).

I know one day my four little ones will be out of the house, and perhaps making families of their own. Until then, I will hold my children close, and do the best job I can in taking care of these precious gifts God has given us!

THANKS SUE!!!

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  • { 12 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Michigan Mom2three November 29, 2008 at 6:36 am

    Oh how I wish I knew then what I know now…… while I did breastfeed all my babies until a year….. I wish I would have known about Weston Price and started them on better “1st foods” (and 2nd and 3rd for that matter – I still recoil in horror at how I used to give my child a pop tart and think it “wasn’t so bad”…… or how about that “snack of cheese and sticks”?????) Atleast we’ve turned around now…….. and my kids really do eat the healthy stuff.

    Reply

    2 Lauren February 13, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    I know this post was a few months ago, but I have a few questions in regards to cloth diapering (for Sue or Kelly). I have one child and I have always used regular diapers (not cloth…gasp!!!) However, I REALLY want to try the whole cloth diapering thing when my next little one arrives in June. I have never seen information like the information above that is so great and to the point, especially for those of us who know NOTHING about cloth diapering their children. However, I have been through my fair share of “blow-outs” and honestly can not imagine keeping a diaper like that and washing it…let alone keeping it in a pail for 2-3 days! I have NEVER bought a diaper genie and I still won’t . I simply walk it outside and throw it into the garbage outside. So could you please tell me a little more about the “pail”? I am a germ freak, just to let you know. Also, I have a front loading washer and I can’t open the door after the wash has started to add the Borax (which I have no idea what Borax is). I am still teetering on the cloth diapering idea. Please, any tips or advice would be great!

    Reply

    3 Kelly February 13, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Lauren,

    I’ve never been accused of being “green”, but I’m trying to get better. That being said, I was the same way as you are with all 4 of our kids! Even Sue’s suggestions never inspired me! But I’ll make sure she sees this and she can help you more. :)

    Kelly

    Reply

    4 Sue E. February 13, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Lauren,
    I just threw my diapers in the washing machine and I remembered I needed to respond to your questions! :) Let me begin by saying that I am a germ freak, too! First of all, I usually get a diaper service for about the first 1-2 months after my babies are born. It is just one less thing to think about during that “fall-into-a-routine-and-get-to-know-each- other-time.” My service provides me with a brand new diaper pail each time and it is basically a tall kitchen trash container. It is mine to keep, and that’s what I use after service stops. I just line it with tall kitchen trash bags, and I just keep the bags in there for a month or more (I open my diaper pail and stick it outside for awhile while the diapers are washing—the smell doesn’t stay in there). I know that there are reusable diaper pail nylon liners you can buy, as well. I am assuming you breastfeed. If you do, then you know that there is really no smell to breastfed baby stool. That dreaded day comes when solids are introduced! I use essential oils to freshen the pail (tea tree is the one I have used) and I just drop about 3 drops in the pail after each diaper washing. I have also used the scent discs, but prefer the essential oil. The bottle I have lasted 18 months!!
    When the stool is mushy (sorry about the graphics, but, you know) I have found biodegradable liners that work great! You just put them as a layer between baby’s bottom and the diaper, and when baby soils, you simply flush the liner! In the past, I have soaked the diaper in the toilet, and then put on rubber gloves and rinsed it out before putting it in the pail. This was when I would say to my husband, “It is a crappy job, but someone’s gotta do it!!” I also considered at one time buying a sprayer that hooks somehow to the pipes behind the toilet that allows you to spray the soil into the toilet. Despite the messiness it is at times, I really LOVE my cloth diapers. Once you get into a routine, it really is easy. It is kind of like nursing; I found it work at the beginning, but so easy and convenient as time went on. By the way, I always have disposables on hand when it just isn’t as convenient to carry around cloth ones.
    As for “blow outs”, I have found that cloth diapers usually don’t allow it to shoot up the back like disposables do because the cloth ones are tighter around the back! :)
    Your front end loader: You add all the washing ingredients in at the same time and then soak (I assume you have a soak cycle on your machine??), so you never have to open the machine between cycles. Also, Borax is right in the laundry section by the washing soda. Just looked up what borax actually is online because I couldn’t tell you exactly and it said: “Borax (Sodium borate) is a natural mineral which is widely used in the cosmetic industry. Since it is also utilized as a detergent, many people are shocked to learn that it is also a main ingredient in their favorite brand of bath salt! Borax naturally occurs from the repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes.” I have also used washing soda instead.
    Sorry this was quite lenghthy. I hope I answered your questions. I know you are teetering on this decision. Perhaps you could try a service for a month or two and see if you even like the diapers themselves without having to wash them, and then if you do, you can purchase some of your own (or borrow from a friend) and go for it! May you feel peace with whatever you decision you make.
    Sue E.

    Reply

    5 Sarah July 20, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I have a happy and healthy almost ten month old. I have fed him mostly according to Weston A. Price standards as well as took a lot of info from Nina Planck’s book and a few other articles. He will usually eat a few bites of egg on most days but has had no interest in feeding himself although we have given him plenty of opportunity. Some days he will eat chicken and beef and random vegetables (we feed him mostly whatever we are eating) but lately he just wants to nurse. I think his top teeth are working their way down so maybe he is just uncomfortable. Although I have no problem with nursing him well past the age of one, I fear I will be constantly nursing him past the age of one. I watch my friends’ babies eat loads of jarred fruits and rice cereal and those babies are younger than mine. Why do some babies have more interest in foods than others? If I did what Nina Planck did (if I understood her correctly) and just fed him whatever he would put in his own mouth, he would eat no table food. Did any of your babies love nursing so much that is all they wanted to do? I do want to reiterate that my baby is happy and VERY healthy. I just fell like I am on a different planet from the other mothers I see.

    Reply

    6 Kelly July 20, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Sarah, I remember wondering about this, too, and with our last one I know I had these worries at exactly the same age. Here’s what I did: whenever I was working in the kitchen I’d have him sit in his seat (that attached to our bar) and let him have little pieces of food. Also at mealtimes he’d sit with us and have a little of what we were having, depending on what it was of course. It sounds like you’re basically doing that already, but if you’re just casual about it, he’ll slowly start eating more, I promise. It’s very messy, but he’ll love exploring. I used to worry, too, because hardly any actually made it to his mouth, but it really does happen sooner than you think it will. Just don’t make a big deal of it and he’ll get what he needs. :)

    The fact that your baby isn’t eating all the jarred foods and rice cereal is SUCH a good thing!!! Get used to feeling like you’re on a different planet (although as time goes on you may help “convert” a few of your friends!), being a “different” Mom who feeds your kids nourishing foods that don’t come from a drive-thru is worth it. :)

    Reply

    7 Kelly July 20, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Sarah, I remember wondering about this, too, and with our last one I know I had these worries at exactly the same age. Here’s what I did: whenever I was working in the kitchen I’d have him sit in his seat (that attached to our bar) and let him have little pieces of food. Also at mealtimes he’d sit with us and have a little of what we were having, depending on what it was of course. It sounds like you’re basically doing that already, but if you’re just casual about it, he’ll slowly start eating more, I promise. It’s very messy, but he’ll love exploring. I used to worry, too, because hardly any actually made it to his mouth, but it really does happen sooner than you think it will. Just don’t make a big deal of it and he’ll get what he needs. :)

    The fact that your baby isn’t eating all the jarred foods and rice cereal is SUCH a good thing!!! Get used to feeling like you’re on a different planet (although as time goes on you may help “convert” a few of your friends!), being a “different” Mom who feeds your kids nourishing foods that don’t come from a drive-thru is worth it!

    Reply

    8 trentlaceysunxxp August 20, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    I really liked it. But not bad, it would be to add a few important sections.

    Reply

    9 Sue E. August 21, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    trentlaceysunxxp:

    Like what sections should we add?

    Sue E.

    Reply

    10 Sandra Mort February 11, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Just out of curiosity, I was looking for something and ran across this: ” I had hoped to go right to finger food from the table, but the fact is that most babies will need to have smooth food at least for a little while.” Why do you say that? I have four kids and did exactly that — exclusively nursing to self feeding without any purees along the way. It was pretty easy and they grew just fine.

    Reply

    11 Sue E. February 11, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Sandra,
    I wanted so badly to go right to finger foods with my kids and skip the whole puree thing. So glad finger foods worked for your kids! I know some other families who were successful at going right to finger foods, too. For some reason, my kids had a pretty bad gag reflex, and I surmised that it is probably good to at least get them used to the softer foods first. Maybe my comment was misleading….
    Have a blessed day!
    Sue E.

    Reply

    12 Lauren July 16, 2010 at 7:58 am

    I wanted to respond to the ideas about carriers: I have at least 4. My favourite is a huge long strip of cloth – simple, multipurpose, great! I like the Ergos too now that my little one is getting a bit bigger … let’s see!
    But about the BabyBjorns: we have one too (I didn’t use it much once I figured out how snug and comfy the wrap was) but I recently read somewhere that it’s not good for the child’s spine. A lot of those kinds of carriers basically suspend the child by the crotch and don’t support the hips, which is very important for infants especially. Ergo does, as do traditional ring and wrap slings. If you see a photo of a mom from a baby-carrying culture you’ll notice that the child’s knees are higher than his or her hips and the back makes a contunuous C-curve, not an S. That’s what you want. Frankly, if we get this wrong my daughter wriggles out anyway.
    Babywearing is safe, practical, and ancient. With the recent tragedy of children suffocating in ring slings, I feel obligated to remind everyone that your infant’s head should be close enough to kiss whenever they’re in a carrier of any kind. You’ll know if they’re in distress, they’ll be lying in that curved position over your breasts, and get the benefits of listening to your heartbeat.
    p.s. there is some speculation that listening to other people’s breathing and heartbeats ‘reminds’ a new baby how to do this regularly themselves, and that this is why co-sleeping is related to a lower SIDS risk. This hasn’t been linked with babywearing as far as I know, but it stands to reason. Plus, worn babies statistically cry less than stroller babies. More reasons to “go traditional”!

    Reply

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