Monthly Archives: July 2013

DIY 10 Minute No-Sew 100% Cotton Gauze Wrap Baby Carrier

Step one: Buy fabric. (I use “Island Breeze 100% cotton gauze from fabric.com) You will want 5, 6 or 7 yards depending on your size and what carries you want to be able to use. I’m 5’11 and I can use a 5y, 6y and 7y wrap. My partner is 6’2 and about 200lbs and he can use a 6 or 7y wrap. My daughter’s grampa is significantly larger and he can use a 6 and 7y wrap. If you have a heavier child more fabric gives more support (more layers) but can also be harder to use if you’re not familiar with wrapping.

Step two:  Cut Fabric. Once you have the fabric lay it down and fold it in half lengthwise. Use sewing shears or sharp scissors to cut the fabric along the fold. Congratulations you have two “wraps”.

Step three: Wrap fabric. Use  as you would use any other wrap. The Island Breeze gauze doesn’t fray significantly at the edges so it doesn’t need to be hemmed.

This is not a stretchy wrap. The gauze has a slight give to it but it is supportive.

Word to the wise: Read up on safe babywearing. Unsafe babywearing can kill or injure a baby. You don’t want to tie too loose (baby can fall out), too tight (baby will be in your face or unable to breathe), You want to choose a safe position that allows you to make sure baby’s airway isn’t obstructed. And you don’t want to accidentally drop the baby while getting them into the wrap. If baby is able to break out of the wrap by stretching and leaning back then it’s not wrapped snugly enough. If there are worn spots or tears in the fabric you don’t want to continue using it as it might tear further. You’ll know if you have it wrapped right because baby will be comfortable, you will be comfortable, and there will be no way for baby to fall or escape.

A note about the fabric: Keep in mind that I am not affiliated with fabric.com and cannot guarantee that what I have purchased (Island breeze gauze) will be what you purchase. Use good judgement. If you get something very flimsy that can’t support the weight of your baby, don’t use it. The gauze that I use is lightweight and sheer but very very strong.

What Exactly IS the Wait it Out Method of Sleep Training? WIO Defined

What is WIO?
WIO or the “Wait it Out” Method of sleep training is a method with a few core beliefs:

1- Independent sleep is developmental not behavioral. 
2- Needing comfort and closeness is an instinct not a preference.
3- Cries are communication not manipulation.
4- Babies can slowly and gently learn to be comfortable with independent sleep as they are developmentally ready.
5- The path each baby will take to independent sleep is unique.
6- The progression to independent sleep does not always feel like forward momentum.


So is WIO “doing nothing”? 

No.  For some families WIO is literally just waiting it out for as long as it takes. For other families such as mine the “waiting” is waiting out developmental milestones that cause increased needs. We actively pursue independent sleep through gentle nighttime parenting. We consider cries to be communication and we stay responsive to them.

So is WIO anti-CIO?
No. WIO is not anti CIO.  The two methods are very different approaches. One of the core beliefs of WIO is that cries are communication. Many methods of CIO take the stance that cries are manipulation. The methods and beliefs behind the methods are very different. WIO is not a reaction to CIO, it’s a very different method.

How do I WIO?
There is no one size fits all magic sleeping method of guaranteed success. Each parent has a toolkit. The tools that fit in this toolkit are going to be unique to the parent and the child. Tools that work for one parent will not work for the other parent (even with the same child). Tools that work for one child will not work for another child (even with the same parent). Tools that work at one developmental phase might not be needed at another developmental phase.  (WIO Toolkit: http://nurshable.com/2012/09/13/the-wait-it-out-toolkit/ )

What if things get worse when I WIO?
Progress doesn’t look like one two three baby’s born and does these things and then sleeps. A baby moves through different milestones and will typically experience different periods of disrupted sleep due to developmental milestones, growth spurts, teething and illness. This is normal. These phases are commonly called “regressions” but they’re actually a part of PROGRESS towards independent sleep. http://nurshable.com/2012/11/16/sleep-associations-sleep-regression/

Do I have to co-sleep in order to WIO?
Absolutely not. Co-sleeping doesn’t work for everyone. It’s one tool that might or might not fit in your toolkit. Some babies will take well to cosleeping. Others will not. Some parents will feel safe cosleeping. Others will not. Cosleeping will improve sleep for everyone in some families. In other families it will not.

Do I have to breastfeed in order to WIO?
Absolutely not. Breastfeeding can make WIO easier in some ways. But if you’re not breastfeeding you can still WIO.

Is there any science behind WIO?  

Here is a variety of links that talk about normal infant sleep collected by myself and members of the WIO support group on facebook. Some of these links focus on CIO. I am including these not because they are “anti CIO” but because they explain why responding to your baby is appropriate.

http://kellymom.com/parenting/nighttime/sleepstudies/

http://neuroanthropology.net/2008/12/21/cosleeping-and-biological-imperatives-why-human-babies-do-not-and-should-not-sleep-alone/

http://worldbabyreport.com/maternal-infant-sleep-study-rebuttalmoms-and-babies-deserve-better/

http://babygooroo.com/2012/08/nighttime-breastfeeding-maternal-mental-health/

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/sleep-problems/5-reasons-why-high-need-infants-sleep-differently

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130107110538.htm

http://resources.thefeministbreeder.com/babies-toddlers/babywearing/babywearing-beyond-the-cute-baby-carriers/

http://www.ahaparenting.com/ages-stages/newborns/case-against-ferber-sleep

http://www.parentingscience.com/sleep-tips.html

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/why-i-no-longer-believe-babies-should-cry-themselves-to-sleep/article622978/ 

http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detsleepthrough.html

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201112/dangers-crying-it-out

http://www.drmomma.org/2009/12/sleep-training-review-of-research.html?m=1

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/1998/04.09/ChildrenNeedTou.html (added 7/20/2013) 

Still we snuggle, fifteen months old. The rise and fall of my breath rocks you to sleep wherever we are. White sheets of a hotel room, white sheets of home, in a field of butterflies and clover, in a berry bramble as I pick wineberries with you in your wrap. Quiet. Peaceful. You simply fall asleep held near. So it has been since your birth and so it will be for the rapidly passing days of your babyhood. Soon you will do as your brothers each did and peel off in independence, craving your own space more than my closeness.

I can wait it out. And not only wait it out, but savor the moments.

A lump in my throat of happy bittersweet joy, so obvious how time has flown since you were small and new in my arms. Look at how long you are now. How big and strong and independent. I smile at how you melt against me as you give in to sleep. I get to watch your sleepy smiles when you need to be held through your nap. I get to witness how you wake up silent sometimes and just lay there taking in the world around you before you clamber back to me with a smile on your face.

You are not all grown yet. You are not an adult, a teenager, an adolescent, a grade schooler or even a preschooler. You are a young toddler who is still learning much about the world.

I hold you close because right now this is what you need. And I have made this choice to meet your needs with joy and to spend our time memorizing the beauty of ordinary moments.

Oh how I will treasure these memories when you stand before me all grown. And oh how I hope you cherish these moment if you choose one day to hold a sweet little child all of your own.

You will hear many things from many people about the things that you “need” to do. And if you feel those needs strongly, I will support you in whatever way you wish to parent. But if those “need to do’s” run against the grain of your heart.. If you wish to hold your baby near.. It is something for you to cherish, guilt free. You do not have to train your child to sleep. Sleep is something they can learn in the simple easy comfort of your arms. This is how each of your brothers learned, and this is how you learn now as you are small and lovely in my arms.

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April “Gentle Parenting Conference” in Philadelphia Area- Vote?

Everyone has been talking about doing a gentle parenting conference/get together. I decided to take the plunge and see what type of interest there would be.

If there was a “gentle parent conference” in April in the Philadelphia area, would you be likely to show up? I can take a stab at organizing something/getting sponsors/etc if there’s enough interest. :)  It would be “Wait it Out”ers, breastfeeders, babywearers, gentle discipline-ers, etc.

Comment below about the feasibility of your coming/if you’d be interested in volunteering some special skill, etc. :)

I can do Philly in April regardless of the size. Three people in a coffee shop? I’m there. 200 people in a biggerish space? I can figure out the logistics. Just need to know who’s in so I can figure out how to do it and what type of “it” it might need to be.  

Being a Powerful Parent and Raising You With Empathy

Dear Daughter,

I hold you close. Lithe little toddler body squirming against me as you try and settle. Small human child. One day you will be big and tall and strong. A grown woman, not the little girl I hold now in my arms as you try to relax and sleep. Not the little kid whose body is frantic to move and bursting with energy that even a whole day of play can’t consume.

I see many things in you.

You are my mother who wishes for a happier childhood. You are my father who wishes he had been taught instead of forced. You are each of my friends who wished their parents had talked more and been more involved. You are the cousin who was terrified of the night but who slept alone. You are me when I was small and cried alone in the bathroom because someone told me that emotions were manipulative.

You have grown into none of these things yet, and I hope you never will. You are small and have this chance to grow without this sadness and those regrets.

This is the power that I have. To raise you up full of peace, joy, and with healthy boundaries that I gently teach you to understand.

Parenthood is nothing like what I thought it would be when I was a child myself. It is not a seat of power from which someone mighty rules. Don’t get me wrong, I feel powerful as a parent, but not the type of power that I imagined as a child where things would just fall into place. Rather it’s the power of a strong rain that can easily batter young plants into the mud. It’s the power of a strong wind that can simply topple young trees. It’s a looming thing. An overpowering thing. A crushing thing that when wielded without empathy.. It can simply be destructive. Yes, I’m bigger than you. I’m taller than you. I can tower over you like a mountain and force you to bend to my will.

I don’t want to. I won’t.

I do not remember bending easily to the will of others as a child. Instead I held my spirit carefully inside and learned to simply avoid anger and annoyance as I struggled to form into a woman who would be everything that she needed to be. There was never a punishment that made me realize the error of my ways when I did something wrong. Rather it was when the grownups around me showed true emotion that showed me what things were valued, what things were sorrowful, what things were joyful, what things were appropriate, what things were helpful. I remember every “no” as leaving a void that did not easily fill with “yes” things without first being surrounded by many other little no’s that tried to redirect me by creating walls of negativity instead of simply and gently showing me a better way to act, a better way to ask, a better thing to do.

I’ve found rapidly that being a powerful parent means sitting down so that I am no taller than you are. Embracing you with open arms and helping you put your struggles into a context that you can understand. It means listening to the words that your older brothers have, even when they frustrate me and even when I disagree with them. It means slowing down instead of speeding up. Of gently putting my foot down rather than stomping it in a grown-up tantrum. It means hugging you close when a “no” is upsetting, but quickly showing you all the things that are around you that are a “yes” and that you can immerse yourself in without worry.

Being a powerful parent means raising you with empathy. It means being open to the delightful good that is inside of you rather than fearing everything that you will ever do wrong. It means snatching up your little hand with glee and running down the paths that we can explore together in your childhood rather than sitting back and directing you with a series of negatives in the hope of your finding a more positive path to follow.

Being powerful means teaching you that you have power inside of you as well rather than being afraid that you’ll find that out on your own and that it will be the end of parental dominance.

I’m big enough and strong enough to acknowledge that you are a person. Fully formed and full of thoughts and feelings of your own. I understand that my job is not to imagine a different child and force you to bend to the shape of a mold, but rather it is to keep you safe and teach you as you explore and learn.

I’m powerful not because I’m bigger and stronger and more intimidating than you. Not because I can bend you to my will and force you into things and deny you freedom or ownership of your things. I’m powerful not because I can yell louder than you can or because I could hit you.

Oh gosh, no. I’m powerful because I have the world to show you, daughter. Because I have many things that I have learned that I want to teach you. Because my arms are there for you to find comfort in when you make mistakes that you regret. I’m powerful because I can sit next to you when you’ve made a huge mistake and I can forgive you for the hurt that you caused because in that moment I’m trying to help you navigate the ways to make it better. I’m powerful because I’m a teacher. A shower-of-things.

I’m powerful because I am mindful of the power that a parent has during those moments where they feel powerless. And because I’m not afraid to approach you softly when you’ve gone hard and resistant.

I want to raise you without the sadness that I see in so many people whose parents saw them as something to conquer and control or whose parents saw them as something to put on a shelf and ignore.

I’m powerful because I allow myself to feel empathy, not because I’ve chosen to parent you without sympathy and with force. I’m powerful because I walk along side you rather than avoiding your journey when it is more difficult than my own.

You’re small still, but I see so much of my mother in you. She sees herself in you as well. “It’s like seeing pictures of myself when I was little… If I had a happy childhood.” she says sometimes. All of the pictures of her when she was your age show a somber sad little face. She wanted to be taught instead of trained. The only thing that her training taught her was that she was “borned bad”. She said that when she was not even two. Borned bad.

You, dear girl, were borned good. So very very good. And so very very human. Full of mistakes to make and things to discover. Your grandma was too. The power I have as a parent is that I have the ability to choose to make sure you know this. That you were born good. While you might grow to make bad choices here and there- as we all do… YOU, your spirit and your heart.. YOU were born good.

And I will never let a moment of my own upset allow me to try and convince you otherwise. I will be as big and powerful and strong as I can, and I will hold my empathy through my upset.

<3 Mama

Illogical Logic and Your Three Year Old Scientist

When my oldest was three I was cutting up some food for him. “That piece is too big!” So I cut a smaller piece. “That piece is too small!” so I cut a piece in the middle. He pondered. He looked at it. It was not right. He looked for words. “That piece is too… tooo… MEDIUM!”

Ahh.. The illogical logic of a three year old. Everything is wrong. Harry and Mary Contrary were clearly three years old and going through that divine time of frustrated declarations that things are just too darned medium.

Three year olds are scientists. They are reverse engineering the world around them. They’ve been provided with this huge thing called language. Their brains are exploding with new connections. They are able to imagine things that they haven’t heard words for yet. They’re able to understand that words can command actions and that sometimes words can change things and that other times they cannot.

They’re toddling through the minefield of communication and logic.

And their effort look a lot like the early efforts at walking. Awkward. Off balance. Lots of falling. Frustration.

They have no “common sense”. They can’t tell the difference between “It’s bedtime. You are going to go to bed now.” and “It’s not raining outside.” So they try to change the rain with words. They try to change the rule with words. They try to change the shape of their breakfast with words. And slowly they learn the things that can be changed with words and the things that cannot be changed with words. They learn the words to change another person’s behavior (“Please”) and the words to express what they are seeing inside their imagination when something is “too medium” (triangles not squares, cut the chicken between those two grill lines please.) Adults get frustrated when they don’t have the words, too! Or when their words don’t seem to be understood. Just think about how annoyed some adults get when their cappuccino is too much like a latte because their mental picture of a cappuccino didn’t match up with the barista’s mental image of a cappuccino.

This is what learning looks like. Three year olds have no “common sense” because common sense is learned through experimenting and seeing the results. Children don’t learn the reasons behind common sense by simply listening. They learn obedience. Obedience will fail them the second they don’t have someone to obey.

When I was eighteen I started teaching myself how to be a computer programmer. The way I learned was by opening up code written by someone else and making changes. Most of the changes that I made broke things in rather random ways. Slowly I learned not only how things worked but also how they failed. Had I learned strictly from a book I’d know how things worked but I wouldn’t understand how they broke. And when you’re trying to fix something you need to know how things break so that you can recognize the broken bits and you can dig them out and fix them.

This is what three year olds are doing. They’re working through logic by breaking the logic. They’re working through logic by exploring. By making changes that do not work. By being scientists. Scientists have no common sense. They put it aside and do ridiculously dumb things to see what works. To confirm their suspicions. To discover.

Your three year old isn’t being contrary to spite you.

He’s doing science. He’s learning common sense. He’s exploring all of the things that we take for granted because we learned them so long ago ourselves. He’s being brilliant. Inquisitive.

So how do we deal with this little doer-of-science?

I repeat the things that will not change calmly. I understand that they can be upsetting. I know that when I’m learning something new and I’m upset I need to step away for a bit to calm down. I recognize this in my child. If they are not able to calmly accept something that will not change, I help them step away for a minute and then we approach the same problem from a different angle.

I am not afraid of their upset. I am not frustrated by their upset. I do not get angry or afraid or sad or frustrated when my fifteen month old falls during the process of walking. I can be there for her emotionally while she deals with her upset. The same thing for my three year old. I can be there for him when he’s crying because he can’t make the rain stop by commanding the clouds. I can be there for him when he’s upset because he can’t change bedtime by declaring that it’s morning. I don’t need to try and change these things, but I can recognize how frustrating it is for this newly minted explorer of logic.  I can help him find the words to express the frustration and to communicate more clearly about what it is he is trying to do.

“I’m upset because I want the rain to change. The rain won’t change. Can you tell me why the rain won’t change, mommy?” Of course I can! And then we can go splash in the puddles. Because even when you can’t change something you can find things to enjoy and other questions to explore.

And the toast thing? Ahh.. Yes. It wasn’t that the piece was too medium at all. It was that he didn’t have the words to tell me how he wanted it to be cut. When I told him I couldn’t see the picture he was seeing in his head and that he could show me with his finger how he saw it.. I learned that he was hoping for long straight lines, and after that he knew to ask for “stripes”. Tantrum solved. Language barrier conquered. Frustration dealt with. Lesson learned: Ask for new words to describe the picture that you see inside your head.