Monthly Archives: July 2013

Hardly anyone leaves their child in their car seat maliciously - most deaths in hot cars are a result of a careless mistakes by a loving caregiver.

Tuesday Tip: Hot Cars and Car Seats

We have all read the heart-breaking stories of children being left in cars – intentionally or unintentionally, they are tragedies that could be avoided.

The tips listed below are from an article entitled, “Temperatures soar in hot car demonstration” from the Alice-Echo News Journal, a newspaper in Texas.  That is another place that knows all to well the soaring temperatures of the hot summer months!

  • Never leave your car keys where children can get them.
  • Keep car doors and trunks locked at all times, even in the garage or driveway.
  • Teach children not to play in or around cars.
  • Never leave your child unattended in a car, even if the windows are down and a wind shield shade is in place, not even just to run a quick errand.
  • Make sure all children leave the vehicle when you reach your destination.
  • Don’t overlook sleeping infants!
  • Make sure that the seat belt and seat surface are not too hot before buckling up your child.

Read the whole article:  http://bit.ly/16ygIb9

We used to use a cool-seat car seat cooler in our kiddos car seats to keep the buckles cool.  I never thought of the fact that it ensured that we took them out of the car.  How?   By leaving the cooler in the front seat when I left the house, it reminded me to put it in the car seat when we got to our destination, thereby reminding me there was a baby in there!

Not that I would like to think I could forget them!  The reality is that it’s not always the “bad parents” who make that mistake.  Sometimes it’s the “good parents” who have a change in routine that day; it throws them and they very regretfully forget that their child is along for a ride with them.

We have misplaced our cool seat, and I ran across another idea that I wanted to share – it was buried in the comments of another car seat article, so I couldn’t post it easily.  Here it is with my own twist:

  • Place a large stuffed animal in each of your children’s car seats – make each one individual so you can associate the toy with the child, or label it.  I will be labeling mine since we have four car seats and I know I won’t remember name associations on busy days.
  • As you put your child in their car seat, or they seat themselves, place their stuffed animals in the front seat of the car.
  • When you get to your destination, trade back…as you take a child out, put their stuffed animal back in their car seat.  This way you know that all children are safely out of the car with no risk to being left alone and overheat in your parked car.
  • The added benefit of this tip in our hot weather is that the stuffed animal can absorb the heat beaming in through the windows, keeping the buckles and straps cool until our return from running errands.

This is definitely a tip we will be implementing.  While the point of the cool seat was to keep the car seat cool to the tough, I also had to try to remember a towel to keep the car seat from getting moist as the ice packs defrosted in the cool seat.  Don’t ask me how often our kiddos had a moist car seat after we got back from doing our grocery shopping :/

Do you have any hot car/ hot car seat safety tips to share?

Nursing our sweet child

Tandem Nursing…Extended

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about breastfeeding multiple children. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 22nd through August 4th!


I got pregnant with our third child much sooner than we expected, and because I was having contractions every time we breastfed, my doctor recommended that I stop breastfeeding.  She told me that my body was responding appropriately to the oxytocin that is produced every time I nursed, and that my body could spontaneously abort the pregnancy if I didn’t stop.

I was heartbroken because of all our children, our second child really needed the benefits of extended breastfeeding.  He has had food allergies since birth, and on top of that, he had an episode of RSV as an infant that left him with symptoms of asthma.  He definitely could have used the extra immunity and nutrition of toddler feeding.  However, since we had already had one miscarriage, I knew I would regret another one.   We weaned within a week of deciding to preserve the pregnancy.

After our third child was born, I began the process to become a childbirth educator.  As part of my training, I had to attend two La Leche League meetings.  At one of the meetings, I met a mom who was in her third trimester and still nursing her toddler.  After the initial shock and heartbreak, I pulled myself together and started asking her questions.  Did she have contractions when she nursed?  Was it uncomfortable?  What had her doctor said?  I learned that nursing through the pregnancy had been possible for her, so that was one sliver of hope that maybe I wouldn’t have to do an emergency weaning if I got pregnant again.

As a childbirth educator, I also got more involved with our local birth community.  Thanks to the different events around birth and breastfeeding, I kept running into a mama who nursed through her pregnancies and was nursing a toddler as well as her infant!  Not just one nursling, but two at a time!!  Wow!  This really opened my eyes to the possibility of nursing past the second birthday.  Here was living proof that tandem nursing was not just for twins.  Tandem nursing could also apply to siblings of different ages.

Empowered by these examples, I was determined to at least try to nurse through a pregnancy.  I was hoping I would get to be a tandem-nursing mama, however a safe pregnancy was first and foremost in my mind.  My original goal was to allow our child and I to determine the end of our breastfeeding relationship together. From the anecdotal stories I had heard about pregnancy and breastfeeding, I figured one of two things would happen.  Either our third child would stop nursing if and when the milk changed flavor after the pregnancy was established, or that he would lose interest once the milk dried up or changed to colostrum.

We got pregnant again when our third was 18 months old.  Just as before, I would start feeling contractions when he nursed.  Instead of worrying this time, I reminded myself that I knew two women who had nursed through pregnancies.  I held onto the idea that if they could do it, so could I.  When I felt contractions as I nursed, I started doing self-talk with my body and our baby.  I would repeat this mantra:  “Everything is okay.  Baby, you are safe.  These contractions are making milk.  Stay safe inside. I love you.” It know it might sound a little crazy, and am in no way suggesting that this will work for everyone.   However, it did work for me. I was grateful the relaxation and the calm frame of mind let me accomplish our goal.

Well, much to my surprise, I neared the end of my pregnancy and I still had a nursling.  Now he was two years old.  I could see that I had colostrum – and I could smell that it was salty.  I asked our child, “Are you sure you still want to nurse,” to which he emphatically shook his head, “yes,” and continued on.

Besides the mama examples, I credit my success in tandem nursing to the support from my local La Leche League chapter.  One of the leaders had nursed an infant and a toddler and she told me what to expect.  She also told me how to handle inquiries about the amount of nutrients for each child.  Here is what I learned:

  1. Once my milk came in, it was going to be like sweet cream for my toddler and to expect a new surge of interest.
  2. Set firm expectations with our toddler – when we would be breastfeeding, and how was that time going to work: feed the children together, feed them independently, would there be specific places that would be our nursing locations?  Once I set those parameters, try to stick to them since consistency works well with toddlers.
  3. Feed the baby first – she suggested making that a non-negotiable.  She also suggested to get my partner’s buy-in on that.  With both of us reminding our toddler that the baby nursed first, and my partner helping him wait patiently, we could be sure that the baby was going to get the nourishment she needed and that her needs were met before we traded the kiddos.
  4. I read and sent these two resources to a family member, who was very concerned about tandem nursing and the baby getting enough of the milk that she needed.  It came up in almost every conversation as the due date approached.  HERE is an article from the La Leche League website (they have since added THIS collection of links to their site), and HERE is another great link list from the trusted KellyMom page.

By educating myself on the possibility of nursing through a pregnancy, and preparing myself for tandem breastfeeding, I was able to accomplish my goal…I was allowing our child to determine his weaning schedule.  I was honoring his need to breastfeed, and I was not feeling any remorse about the choices I made.  We welcomed a healthy daughter in October of 2011, and I have been breastfeeding both children since then.

Yes, both.  As it turns out, I did more than accomplish my goal of simply nursing through a pregnancy.  I did get to be a tandem-nursing mama, and for a lot longer than I expected.  He is going to turn four tomorrow.  I can now say I am an extended breastfeeding mama.

I stopped nursing in public with our toddler as my pregnancy progressed.  I found it very hard to get comfortable as my belly grew, besides the fact I had two other children to keep track of.  Other than making the decision to nurse at home, I didn’t think anything of nursing a two-year old.

Then his third birthday came and went.  He was only nursing in the morning or at night, sometimes for a nap.  I started to wonder what house guests would think, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.  The relationship has still been beneficial to both of us.

He is one of our healthiest children – any cold he does get passes quickly and without incidence.  Last winter, his younger sister went on a nursing strike.  With his help, I was able to keep my supply up between his nursing and some hand expression.  He got a nasty stomach bug this spring – while it lasted 24-48 hours in the rest of us, he and his little sister only had it for a few hours.  Recently, he caught a cough that was going around.  As an experiment, I increased his breastfeeding – it seemed to help!

It has been a quandary.  While it has been great to increase the amount he nurses under beneficial circumstances, in the back of my mind I worry about sending him the wrong message.  While I treasure being a source of nourishment and antibodies, I feel like it is important for him to start finding other coping mechanisms as he turns four.  While I can never replace the health benefits of nursing, I have to trust that he has a well-developed immune system that can cope well enough without breastmilk.

In the last two weeks, I have definitely started to see a decrease in his interest to nurse.  Part of it has been the message my husband and I have been relaying to him.  We remind him he is going to be four, and we wanted him to start finding other ways to self-soothe when he was tired or upset.  We agreed that it was important to expand his repertoire of coping techniques.  I also think part of it is the natural weaning – although he still asks, he nurses for literally 60 seconds, and then he is off and running in a different direction.

I am finally going public with our extended breastfeeding story because it may help another mama look at her choices with more confidence, or maybe even consider extended nursing as a possibility.  I want other mamas to know they are not alone if they want to breastfeed through a pregnancy.  I want to lend courage to another mama who may feel pressure to wean a toddler although she and her nursling might not be ready.  My favorite idea that has guided me through this extended breastfeeding relationship is from our La Leche League group: Breastfeeding is a dance.  Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.

My extension to that thought:  You continue the dance as long as it is mutually beneficial.  When one of you is ready to stop dancing, you honor each other with a mutually peaceful and loving transition.

Wishing you breastfeeding mamas a beautiful dance with your nurslings!  Enjoy the dance in the moment.  When the music ends and it’s time to clear the floor, I hope you leave the floor with happy memories.  Go forward with the knowledge that you and your child will continue to be a great team as you move onto the next chapter of your relationship.

 


 


 
Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

As Norman Vincent Peale said, "Thoughts are things."  One of my goals is to start each day with deep breaths and peaceful, empowering thoughts.  Here is my focus for the upcoming week.

Thought Of The Day

As Norman Vincent Peale said, “Thoughts are things.”  One of my goals is to start each day with deep breaths and peaceful, empowering thoughts.  As I get good at that, I will be adding on so we create our own family routine to start each day connected and whole.

This is my focus for the upcoming week.

How do you honor your Sweet Peas?

Cooking together: Sunday Morning Pancake Breakfast.  Getting the kiddos to choose the recipes and participate in the preparation makes for eager eaters!

Cooking with Sweet Pea Kids

We have been moving towards a whole food diet since Night Owl presented with food allergies as an infant.  The food that is easy to throw into the grocery cart for most families is not an option for us.  He is allergic to wheat (gluten), eggs, peanuts, coconut, hazelnuts, soy, watermelon, sugar, food dyes – all the prepackaged conventional snacks and treats are out for us.  People see that list and they feel sorry for us; they wonder out loud what there is that we can eat.

Answer:  Everything else.  I adjusted my outlook from despair at all the things he was allergic to…I had those moments when I wondered if we were ever going to eat “normally” again.  Now I look at it this way: those are only 8 foods/groups in the wide world of food.  We can eat millet, rice, corn, and quinoa based carb foods.  He can eat potatoes.  He can eat all the rest of the fruits and vegetables.  I looked it up…he has between 1,000 to 2,000 to choose from, depending on how you categorize the list.  Puma presented with the gluten allergy two years ago, so we made the switch to a gluten-free pantry and pretty much never looked back.

It has been the best thing that has happened to our family.  While some people struggle to make that transition from processed junk food and empty calories, our bigger challenge is how to change it up with the seasons.  How do we ensure that our kiddos have the best organic and conventional produce to choose from so that we save money and eat well at the same time?

With a little menu planning and information about produce, it’s actually very do-able.  We use the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists to decide which produce to buy organic and which crops to buy conventional.  We look through our cookbooks and find recipes that fit in with the ingredients that are in line with produce that is in season.  Now we are ready to make our shopping list for the farmer’s market and our local grocery store.

Here are our favorite cookbooks.  We have found that by working together as a family to choose recipes, the kiddos are vested in eating the food they help to prepare.  By allowing them to choose which recipes to try, there is a higher likelihood that they will taste the food that is served at mealtimes.

Superfoods for Babies and Children by Annabel Karmel

Superfoods for Babies and Children by Annabel Karmel

This is one of my favorite books for first foods.  Puma didn’t start solids until she was 11 months old – at her age, we used a food mill to grind up whatever we were eating and she ate on her own soon after that.  Since she pretty much started with whole foods, this was a great guide to help me design a plan for introducing solids.  We still use it today since there are a lot of whole food recipes that do not include Night Owl’s allergy foods, and the ones that do are easily modified.  One of our favorite recipes is the Broccoli Mac & Cheese.

Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

Here is another favorite as families learn to eat first foods and beyond.  I made my own baby food for NIght Owl, and then followed suit with Charger.  Since I was making purees to feed the boys, I used them in the rest of our dishes to add flavor and nutrients.  Our favorite recipe in here is the spinach and carrot “infused” brownies.  I still use the tip of mixing purees into tomato sauces – that red hides just about everything.  Since we are not pureeing anymore, I do shred our fresh market vegetables into the sauce and simmer it on the stove.  The house smells amazing, and I watch with delight at mealtime as Sweet Pea Kids (and Dad!) lick their plates clean.

Weelicious by Catherine McCord

Weelicious by Catherine McCord

This has been Puma’s favorite book, as you can see by all the pages we have marked.  We are stuck on the Apple-Cinnamon pancake recipe – life-changing!  It was easily modified for our gluten-free, egg-free kitchen, and we have experimented with different fruits and add-ins.  It is by far Sweet Pea Dad’s favorite pancake recipe *ever*.  He, more than anyone, laments the shift to the gluten-free lifestyle.  We have also made some of the soup recipes, and are slowly working through the rest of the recipes we have marked to try out this summer.

Kid's Kitchen Cards from Barefoot Books

Kid’s Kitchen Cards from Barefoot Books

These are a brilliant concept from Barefoot Books.  There are 40 boardbook-type recipe cards with an illustration and ingredients on the front, and the instructions on the back.  Each of the kiddos can take turns choosing a card and deciding what to try for a snack or a main course.  Our favorite find in this stack has been the fruit kebabs.

Sweet Pea Families: Cooking with Sweet Pea Kids

The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas

This is the last book that makes the trip with us pretty much wherever we are going to stay for a while.  After watching the documentary “Forks Over Knives” this year, one of my goals is to have at least one vegetarian family meal every day.  I have been vegetarian for 13 years now.  Sweet Pea Kids have been vegetarian until their first birthday, and then they eat meat as it appeals to them.  After seeing the devastating effects of meat and current practices around the meat industry, I am more mindful of teaching our children that meat is not necessarily a staple at every meal.  They are learning more about healthy protein options…here is my proud mama moment from last week:

Night Owl eating out - nothing on the menu appealed to him, so he ordered his own smorgasbord for lunch!

Night Owl eating out – nothing on the menu appealed to him, so he ordered his own smorgasbord for lunch!

Bon appetite!  I would love to hear your  tips and tricks for engaging your children in healthy eating – what does your family do?

Sweet Pea Kiddos eating a healthy, whole food snack. Sliced fresh fruit, vegetarian cheese, and raw cashews

Sweet Pea Kiddos eating a healthy, whole food snack. Sliced fresh fruit, vegetarian cheese, and raw cashews

Enraptured with our newest addition

Exploring Attachment Parenting

Great news!!  There is a new support group in the Phoenix, Arizona area for parents who want to learn more about and practice Attachment Parenting.

I had the pleasure of attending the first meeting yesterday.  It was so great to be in a room with 6 other families who are seeking to nurture their families the AP way.  Dr. Sears is credited for coining the term “Attachment Parenting” and with bringing awareness to it in his book, The Attachment Parenting Book.  Here is his explanation of what it is from his website, www.askdrsears.com:

Attachment parenting is a style of caring for your infant that brings out the best in the baby and the best in the parents.  Attachment parenting implies first opening your mind and heart to the individual needs of your baby, and eventually you will develop the wisdom on how to make on-the-spot decisions on what works best for both you and your baby.

A close attachment after birth and beyond allows the natural, biological attachment-promoting behaviors of the infant and the intuitive, biological, caregiving qualities of the mother to come together. Both members of this biological pair get off to the right start at a time when the infant is most needy and the mother is most ready to nurture. Bonding is a series of steps in your lifelong growing together with your child.
http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/attachment-parenting

Amanda Santana is the facilitator for the Phoenix group.  She is certified through Attachment Parenting International.  Her goal is to start a support group to educate and empower other parents, and to find people who are interested in becoming certified so that there can be co-leaders in place to start more groups throughout the Phoenix area.

The topic of yesterday’s meeting was, “What is Attachment Parenting?”  The next few meetings will be devoted to exploring each of the eight principles of AP in more depth.  The group will also talk about how to incorporate them into your family life if you think that the principle will work for you.

One of the takeaways from yesterday’s meeting:
4 P’s to help you identify child(ren)’s needs

  • Proximity – babywearing and co-sleeping for maximum comfort children 
  • Protection – practicing safe sleeping and babywearing
  • Predictability – responding to baby’s cues as they are demonstrating their needs
  • Play – provide a safe environment for discovery, and as the child grows, facilitating interactions that empower and teach children about peaceful social interaction

The other take-away from yesterday that I want to share with you:
The Eight Principles are guidelines.
Amanda emphasized that Attachment Parenting provides guidelines.  The Eight Principles are not Hard and Fast Rules.  They are ideas that have worked for other families to facilitate peaceful parenting.  Your attendance does not mean that you have to accept all eight principles.  A family does not have to practice or own any of the principles that do not “fit”, they just have to honor that other families may choose differently.

Amanda also stated that while the goal was to work through the eight principles in the next few meetings, she is open to being flexible.  The support group addresses topics as they arise as per the needs of the group.  If she is a cluster of getting emails along the same topics, she will bring them up to the group for discussion so that meetings are useful and relevant to those they are attending.

The group will be meeting on the third Thursday of every month at 10:00 am.  It is held at the Moxie Midwifery office, 5505 W Chandler Blvd Ste #5, Chandler, AZ 85226.  For any questions about Attachment Parenting or the Phoenix support group, you can reach Amanda via email at AZNB.Amanda@gmail.com

HERE are some questions to discuss with your partner whether you are expecting, living with a newborn, or rethinking your parenting style with older children.  We worked through these to help clarify what our goals were for our family.  As it turns out, a lot of what Attachment Parenting believes are choices that fit for our clan of six.  Even if these answers don’t lead you down the path to attachment parenting, having some clarity about your goals as a family may be helpful in guiding you to the choices that are right for your family.

What do you think – have you explored Attachment Parenting?  Has it worked for you? Please leave us a comment – it will be moderated and posted.

More about Attachment Parenting:
From Dr. Sears

From Attachment Parenting International:

Disclaimer:
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman, Bowman House, LLC and Cassandra Okamoto accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

Child Spacing: Pregnancy #2 & Beyond

 

Before my son, T, was born I wanted four or five children. I loved pregnancy and couldn’t wait to experience it again and again. Giving birth was a little bit harder; post partum recovery was a doozy and taking care of a newborn, oh. my. goodness. I swore off having any more babies’ f o r e v e r.

About a year later, amidst tons of dirty diapers, still waking at all hours of the night, and breastfeeding on demand, I began to see sets of siblings running around.  Lo and behold, my empty uterus began to ache. I figured I was elbows deep in the full-time, always-on mom mode and I might as well have two babies! The first year is the hardest, it really does go by quick, having them close in age will be difficult but rewarding and let’s just doooo iiiitttt! :) After stopping to think about it more though there really is a lot of additional things to consider. I figured I would share the different factors we looked at and what we found.

Fertility: During months 3, 4, and 5 post partum it seemed my cycle was trying to return, it never quite made it though and since then there have been no indications at all that my body is ovulating, I am now 16 months post partum, 26 months since my last menses! For some women fertility during breastfeeding is not an issue, but for many it is. I also don’t know how comfortable I am getting pregnant on the very first or even second or third cycles post baby – in my mind my body is still getting used to and figuring out my new hormone levels and for me personally I think I would like a few “trial” runs before the real deal, to me it seems that this would lead to more optimal conditions and a greater chance of a successful, healthy pregnancy. In order to “try” for another child I would have to take measures of increasing my fertility, either with herbs, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, etc. to guide my body to do something it isn’t entirely ready to do on it’s own. Often times the body needs help in certain areas of functionality and I am definitely ok with that, but not sure it is the right time to enlist this help just yet. Another way to help increase fertility would be to cut back on nursing, which leads right in to my next topic of consideration…

Breastfeeding/Weaning: Most of what I have read says fertility increases in women enough to stimulate ovulation when babies/children are no longer nursing at night and if not then, more than likely when nursing is down to 2-4 times a day or there is a four hour period between nursing sessions. My son nurses constantly, we night weaned for a bit but now are back to night nursing and mostly nursing on demand during the day as well. He uses nursing as a huge comfort tool and often just “checks in” with me for a few quick sucks and then is back doing whatever he was concentrating on previously. We had a brief encounter at 14 months with sudden weaning when I wished to stop nursing altogether, but now at 16 months I am hoping for child led or natural weaning. Which, let’s be real, probably won’t be until at least two and I would be willing to bet actually much longer. After talking with my husband, paying attention to T’s desires, habits, and needs, and self-reflecting we, personally, are not comfortable weaning our first baby in order to conceive a second baby.

With that being said though, I am really not keen on nursing through pregnancy or tandem nursing. Pregnancy took a lot from me, pregnancy #2 will be even more physically demanding due to caring for and chasing after a toddler. I know myself and do not want to start resenting my nursing toddler while I am tired, hormonal, and not in my usual state of mind. I also know that those first weeks and months of caring for a newborn are extremely hard for me physically and emotionally and I believe we will all have the best shot at surviving as harmoniously as possible if only the new baby is nursing. So do we allow T to entirely self wean and then start ‘trying’ for a sibling? They could be 4, 5, 6 years apart on that path. At this point I feel like I am definitely over thinking things, so what do the facts say? What actually happens in the most natural of settings? For this I look to research of primal/rural cultures…

Natural Child Spacing & Rural Populations: Most rural populations practice ecological breastfeeding, very similar to what my son & I do. This practice is said to delay the return of menses until 14.6 months on average, with most women conceiving again between 18 & 30 months post partum.When studying rural women in Rwanda who do not use contraception it was found that 75% of mothers conceived between 24 & 29 months post partum. Studies conducted among Kung¡ women show they naturally conceive again around 35 months post partum. There is also evidence that waiting to conceive until at least 18 to 23 months from your last pregnancy produces better outcomes for baby. There are also various studies that show that as the time between pregnancies goes down, the risk for Autism in subsequent babies goes up.

The Powers of Nature: After reviewing the facts and pondering the many unanswered questions I still had regarding what we should actually do, it was my husband that brought me back down to earth, as he so often does in these types of situations. He explained that we try our hardest to align our lives with how humans once lived. We try to connect with our inner “natural” needs, desires, and treat our bodies as close as we can to the ways in which they thrived for tens of thousands of years prior to more ‘civilized’ conditions. If we trust in our bodies abilities to heal, grow, change, and adapt on it’s own we can trust that they will create children as close or as far apart as is best for all of us. If T is still nursing enough that my body is unable to conceive than neither T nor myself are ready for another baby. When he is nursing an amount small enough for fertility to return than his need is decreasing and he is closer to weaning and closer to being ready for a sibling. Although there can still be many outstanding questions (some I have thrown out above) we believe in the power of nature to guide us through life, birth, death, and conception, family planning, child spacing is no different.

I know that, “letting whatever happens happen” is not a profound conclusion or advice, but I think if there is anything that becoming a parent has taught me it is that there is a large element of control that you have no choice but to give up. For us, it makes sense that this also applies to baby #2. I know not everyone is in the same situation or even has the same factors as us to consider but as of now we are just happy to enjoy our son and meet his needs as best as we can. As day-to-day life changes, we will reflect and readjust accordingly.

What about you, are you thinking about baby number 2 or 3 or more? Did you plan or influence your child spacing? How? I would love to hear your stories and/or input!

Letting child follow his body's cues

Elimination Communication (EC): Tales of a Diaper Free Baby

Posted by Cassandra Okamoto

I first came across Elimination Communication way before I was even pregnant. I read all about it here, here, and here, and after devouring up all of the information, testimonials, FAQ’s and concerns it just made so much sense to me and sounded completely “do-able” whenever we decided to have a child. My husband was definitely not convinced. He was used to me coming to him with “extreme” ideas: Let’s eat vegan! Let’s have a completely vegan life! Let’s eat all raw! Do NOT get the dog his shots! Throw away all of the cleaning products, now! Don’t flush the toilet if it’s just pee! Pee while you shower!

But no diapers on a baby? Potty training an infant? He was definitely skeptical.

Whenever EC comes up in conversation most people do refer to it as “infant potty training” but that really was never what it was about to me, or even it’s appeal. I loved the idea of giving baby an opportunity and space to relieve him/herself and not forcing him/her to sit in wet or soiled diapers unnecessarily, which could be in conflict with his or her natural, instinctual desire. Below is our journey practicing EC with our now 15 month old.

When my son, T, was first born we started cloth diapers pretty soon after and although EC was still on my mind, we were in strict survival mode – washing diapers was all I could manage. Around 14 weeks post partum we were getting in a little better hang of things and I ordered Diaper Free Baby off of Amazon to read up on the specifics of how to implement with my now almost 4 month old.

We started by just letting him be naked on some towels and whenever he would pee or poo I would make the pppppsssssssss sound for him to try & start associating that sound with the sensation of going. Next I would hold him in the squat position over the toilet… he did NOT like this. A lot of the other moms we spent time with regularly that had babies only a couple weeks or months older than my babe were having tons of success with EC in practice and I was determined to keep trying… so the next thing I did was buy the BABYBJORN potty chair.

My son was actually not into this potty either, he wasn’t really able to sit by himself and although we could hold him on it for a few seconds before he started fussing it was never long enough for him to relax enough to go to the bathroom. We “caught” a few pees but that was it…

Baby-led potty-training w/ 16-week old

Baby-led potty-training w/ 16-week old

So after this (when T was 15/16 weeks old) I gave up on EC for a while. I got super sick right after that and my husband and mom were on baby duty for a couple of days and it all kind of went out the window.

But, around the time T was about to turn six months old, I got the itch to start up EC again and it was a whole different experience!

As soon as he would wake up in the morning the first thing we would do is take him to the regular potty, hold him over in the squat position and wait until he peed. He was totally comfortable in that position now & would never fuss!! He would always pee in the morning and then we would do the same after every nap. He almost always went, and we even caught a few poos this way too! I journaled about an after nap EC experience we had during this time that said “you woke up from a long nap kind of fussy (which is rare, you are usually only fussy when you wake up prematurely) so I took your pants & diaper off and went straight to the bathroom and almost immediately you pooed a TON & then peed, wooo hoooo!”

We would still make the ‘pppppppsssssssss’ sound when he was going in hopes that he would start associating that & the squat position with eliminating. I still had not noticed any cues from him: certain faces, grunting, etc. that indicated to me that he had to go but we kept doing the ASL potty sign too, and stayed hopeful that sometime soon he would catch on to that or we would start to notice some sort of other pattern or something. It really excited me! Diapers are really NOT exciting at all, but this was. It was so nice to not have to wash as many diapers, ESPECIALLY poo ones now that he was eating solids, and it felt like we are just making huge strides in our communication with each other, I loved it. My husband would take him to the potty too, which was awesome!

After he was sitting up really well unassisted, around 7 months, we started setting him on the small potty chair again. He was much more comfortable at this age and would sit for a while, playing with toys or just hanging out with us. He would poo & pee, too! We started taking him not just after naps but at all different transitions, when he would wake up, when we got out of the car seat, when we got out of the carrier, before we left the house and sometimes a few minutes after nursing. When we would arrive somewhere I would take him and hold him over the toilet in a public restroom, or often times just outside of the car in the parking lot! We were getting in a really good groove and it didn’t really take much extra effort at all, just undoing & redoing diapers but it wasn’t that big of a deal.

We also bought a few more little potty chairs from IKEA to have around the house so we weren’t always running to the bathroom. Having them scattered about was really convenient for us and I loved that T was comfortable and happy sitting on them.

Baby-led potty-training in progress

Baby-led potty-training in progress

Baby-led potty-training at playtime

Baby-led potty-training at playtime

This went on for a couple of months and then T started crawling, yay! Not so great for the potty though. Now he was able to climb off of the little potty whenever we would set him on it, he was MUCH harder to manage during diaper changes as he just wanted to roll over and go, go, go, and it was much more difficult to watch for any “signs” that he needed to go to the bathroom when he was off exploring.

Potty chairs are fun to play with though!

Potty chairs are fun to play with though!

This was a big time of transition for us, T loved being mobile, his mood was dramatically different, and it was the beginning of a lot more bodily independence between him and I. I was ok letting EC take a back burner for a while. He was learning and exploring and discovering at such a fast rate and we as parents were now deep in the “how to” of balancing freedom and safety and boundaries and awareness with a mobile child.

We changed houses a lot during the next months, stayed with different family members, moved states, but we always managed to spend time outside and I almost always gave T some diaper free time each day.

Around 12 months I noticed that he seemed to have more awareness of when he had to/was about to go to the bathroom. He would be naked outside and he would always look down before he peed, when he had to poo he would usually stand up and hold onto something, still and quiet for a bit, then go. This was huge to me! I felt like if he was aware of what was about to happen it would only be a matter of time before he would be able to communicate it to me or take himself to the potty to go.

He is now 15 months old and that is pretty much where we are. In the morning when he wakes up we go to the potty and he almost always goes pee, same when he wakes up from his nap in the afternoon.  He spends a lot of time during the day diaper free and almost always looks down before he pees, sometimes I am fast enough to put him on the potty other times I wait until he is done and then put him on the potty anyways and explain to him that the potty is the best place to go. I can usually tell when he is about to poo and if we are able to get his diaper off and get to the potty in time we do. I honestly don’t see us being diaper free outside of the house for a long while, it isn’t something I am pushing for and I am all about making things as easy and convenient as possible when it comes to being out and about with a toddler. I believe as he can start communicating more he will tell me when he is ready! I know he is only 15 months which is still very young when it comes to “potty training” but at this point it is not a stressful thing for us and I hope it continues that way over the course of the next year.

Letting child follow his body's cues

Letting child follow his body’s cues

Our EC story is a very part time one, but I am grateful to have come across the knowledge early and give T the opportunity to get comfortable on the potty and relieving himself outside of a diaper from a young age.

What are your experiences with EC? Have you heard of it, tried it? At what ages? We would love to hear your story!