Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Adventures in Babywearing

For months now I have been wearing Wesley in a ringsling, like the one in this link, when we go on outings. When he is fussy at home, or grabbing everything in the cart at the grocery store, I just plop him right in, adjust the fabric through the rings, and go on about my business. Usually it calms him right down or even puts him to sleep!

Recently I decided to expand my babywearing experience, and began wrapping. It takes a lot more practice then other baby carrying methods, but is beyond worth it!  There are SO many different ways you can use a wrap. When Wes is feeling clingy I can wrap him up on my back and still have all the freedom I need to clean the house, do the dishes, or anything else I may need to get done!

Yesterday when we went shopping, I wore Wesley in a Front Wrap Cross Carry, like in the picture to the right, and it was more comfortable than I could have imagined.  A lot of people question me on whether he is "heavy in that thing" and honestly, he is NOT. It is sooo much easier carrying him in his sling or the wrap than it is when he is just in my arms. The carrier distributes his weight evenly across my shoulders, back, and hips, relieving my arms of the stress from his weight.

I love learning all the different ways these can be wrapped, and I take Wesley in and out of it all day to practice different carries. If anyone would like to see how it works, let me know and I will gladly show you!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Extended Rear Facing

One year and twenty pounds.  That is when people are told to turn their babies around forward-facing in their car seats.  As of 06/29/10, Wes is now 1 year and almost 25lbs, and continues to ride rear-facing in his car seat, just as he will be until he reaches the 35lb weight limit or the height limit on his Britax Marathon

Rear-facing is FIVE times safer than forward-facing, so why WOULD I turn him around?  Should I turn him because his legs might become uncomfortable? NO! Toddlers and young children are perfectly comfortable sitting with their legs pulled up or "Indian style", most sit this way on a normal basis anyway! 

 Should I turn him around if he starts getting fussy during car rides because he "can't see"? NO! I would much rather have a fussy baby than a DEAD baby. In a crash, a forward-facing child's head is thrown forward causing the spinal chord to stretch and possibly snap, which can dislocate the spinal chord from the skull.  I would by far prefer a broken leg to a broken neck.

 Should I turn him around for convenience? DEFINITELY NOT!  What is so much more convenient about a forward-facing car seat than a rear-facing car seat? I just don't understand this concept! It is just as much working strapping them in either way!  Is "convenience" really more important than your child's safety? Than their LIFE?

Although the law says you can forward-face your child at 1 year and 20 pounds, most organizations do not recommend it. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that: "..for optimal protection, the child should remain rear facing until reaching the maximum weight for the car safety seat, as long as the top of the head is below the top of the seat back".  Please spread this knowledge of the benefits of extended rear-facing, it could save a child's life.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

One day a friend and I were talking and she mentioned that she makes her own laundry detergent. I was very interested in how well it worked and how she made it, so she gave me the recipe to try it out. I excitedly told Ray all about it. That day we went to the grocery store and bought all the needed ingredients: 1 bar soap, washing soda, borax, , and a 5 gallon bucket w/ a lid to mix and store the detergent in. We headed home and made it as follows...

1- Grind entire bar of soap with a box grater (any kind of soap, we have used Lever 2000 and Ivory)

2- Heat 4 cups water on high until it reaches its boiling point, then lower the heat to a simmer.

3- Begin throwing in and mixing the grated soap until it is all dissolved into a milky, soup-like mixture

4- Next add 3 gallons warm water to your bucket (it is handy to save an old gallon milk jug for this purpose)

5- To the water add 1 cup of the washing soda, 1/2 cup of the borax, and all of the soapy mixture. Stir well.

6- At this point the soap will be very watery, let it sit covered for the next 24 hours.
7- After 24 hours removed the lid and mix again. My first batch had a watery almost jello-like texture to it, but the texture can vary depending on the kind of soap/water you use.

(I broke up all the jello-y clumps with my hands and mixed it all up as well as I could)

8- Use 1 cup for a normal load of laundry (I use a 1/2 cup more for larger loads or towels).

I use this detergent for almost all our family's laundry. The only things I don't use it on are Wesley's diapers (I use a special cloth diaper detergent for those) and any heavily soiled loads (like Ray's greasy clothes after he's been working in the garage). I have zero complaints, this soap has worked excellent for us.

Think of how expensive laundry detergent can be, and how CHEAP it would be to make your own. A box of Borax (which contains enough for about 12 batches) costs under $3.00. A box of washing soda (which contains enough for about 6 batches) costs under $2.00. And you can by a bar of soap for less than a dollar. Each batch makes 52 loads. The cost savings was more than enough to convince me to give it a try, and I love it! If you would like to save a little more money yourself, why not give it a try too, I mean, what have you got to lose?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Modern Cloth Diaper

Cloth diapers. They are nothing like the old, dingy, hard-to-use diapers that come to your mind. Modern cloth diapers are actually very easy and, well, CUTE! They go on and come off just as easily as disposables, except they are much softer and less crinkly! I only wish I had known I would fall in love with this "fluff" when I was pregnant!

Before I had Wesley, I had no idea how cloth diapers have changed. I thought they were nasty, stinky, ugly things that nobody used anymore. I didn't even discover the modern cloth diaper until Wes was about 4 months old. I was on a website for mom's called "Babycenter" and I saw pictures of these adorable, fluffy butts. I almost couldn't stand how cute some of these diapers were! I started asking questions. I asked other cloth diapering moms how much work it was to use them, how horrible the laundry was, why they chose to use them...... and I liked their answers.

I then started my research. The overload of information on cloth diapers is mind-boggling! I spent a whole week trying to figure out which kind of diapers I would most like, how I would wash them, and most importantly, how to convince Ray! I finally figured it out, convinced Ray, and ordered my first nine diapers: Happy Heinys.

Never would I have thought I would be so excited to get diapers in the mail, but let me tell you, I dug into that package like it was Christmas! I couldn't wait to get them washed and try them out! After they were all washed and ready I hesitantly put the first one on Wes. I waited, and waited, and waited, and was amazed when I found that he had peed in it, but it had no leaks! I also no longer had to worry about the chemicals in diapers causing a rash on Wesley's bottom. Since making the switch he has very seldomly gotten any diaper rash. I was hooked from the very first use.

At four months old, Wesley was still exclusively breastfed, and he had some nasty, runny poops. Everytime he pooped in a disposable it would result in a "poonami". The poop would inch up his back, out his thighs, and seep onto whatever clothing he was wearing at the time. It was horrible. Since we have switched to cloth would you believe me if I told you he has never once leaked poop out of his diaper? Well believe it, for it is true. We have had a couple pee leaks here and there, but never a poo.

Cloth diapering is not for everyone, but it really is so much better and easier than it once was. Washing them is a breeze, and putting them on your baby is easier than you could imagine. By cloth diapering you can save SO much money! I have spent under $400 for diapers, and I will never have to buy diapers again, not even for my next kids! Most people will spend at least $1500 in disposables...PER kid! I love putting a fresh, clean, fluffy diaper on Wesley's butt, if you give it a try, you may love it too!

My Breastfeeding Journey

When I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I had no clue how strong of a bond it would create between Wes and I, I just knew that breast milk is better and more nutritional than formula, so I might as well give it a try. When I later learned the full extent of the amazing benefits breast milk provides, it became even more important to me. Little did I know how extremely dear it would become to me and my relationship with Wes.

Before that first drop of milk came in I had no idea what to expect. I was nervous of my capability to do something that many women I have known struggled with. It was so perfectly natural, yet so daunting. I figured I would try it and if it worked out for us I would keep with it until my sweet baby boy grew teeth, I mean I didn't want to get BIT, right?!

Then he came. My beautiful boy was born. When it came time to nurse him for the very first time, it DIDN'T come naturally. I had no idea how to hold him, how to angle his mouth. My dear nurse had to help me several times during our hospital stay to get him latched on , or in a comfortable position. It didn't hurt the way I imagined it would. When he was latched on correctly there was only a slight tenderness, which the nipples quickly adjusted to on their own. That first week of Wesley's life was the most difficult nursing-wise, but as we grew comfortable with it and with each other it became easier and easier.

When Wes grew his first tooth around 4 months, no way was I ready to give up nursing yet! It comforted him as well as me and it gave us our own special time to get to know each other. That tooth didn't come with biting as I had thought it would, nor did the next three that popped up shortly after. I wanted to at LEAST make it to 6 months before weaning him! And when 6 months rolled around I had no desire to stop there either. I would breastfeed him for at least a year. The World Health Organization and many other organizations recommend breastfeeding for at least TWO years! Blows your mind, doesn't it?

Recently Wesley had his first birthday. He is not ready to cease breastfeeding. It makes him feel secure with his place in this world. Breastfeeding past infancy (1 year) benefits in many ways. Don't believe me? Look it up. It is normal. I know many women who have done it as well. Don't judge me or any other mother for doing what is right for their child. If you take the sexual stigma away from the breast, is breastfeeding still gross? Nasty? Wrong? I doubt it. Our society has turned something that is beautiful and natural into something that is weird and appalling. Nurturing our children is what our breasts are there for. Educate yourself before you make snide remarks about extended breastfeeding. I nurse my son with pride. I am proud of what I have and continue to give him, just as any other mother should be.