Category Archives: Potty

A Peek into the Past – Infant Pottying and Diapering

 Want to learn more about other baby-friendly practices, like elimination communication, baby-led weaning, co-sleeping, and baby-wearing? Check out our book, The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First YearThe e-version is FREE from October 9-12!!

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IMG_0049Americans live in a land of extremes. Our cultural norms can shift dramatically in a matter of years. In terms of elimination, we’ve gone from strict, regimented and arguably abusive potty training, to a permissive, wait-til-he’s-ready-even-if-it’s-five approach. To set the stage for our country’s infant toileting practices, we’ll give you a crash course in the last 100 years of American pottying.

Surprisingly, we found little evidence of early EC pioneers in the States. Rather than throwing off the shackles of diapers during the revolution, our ancestors focused on tea. The good news is they left the best part of the rebellion – the part with environmental, economic, and relationship perks – to moms like us!

Starting around 1900, parents were urged by family doctors to strictly toilet train babies before they could walk. Moms were doubly motivated to train their babies. With no electric washing machines, moms were eager to stop washing diapers by hand. Health concerns also played an important role. Moms feared constipation, which can lead to many health issues. Staying regular from an early age was an important way to keep healthy. So far, so good, but here’s the catch. Rather than serving up prunes, moms inserted sticks of soap into baby’s bottom. Dr. Herman Bundesen, author of Our Babies wrote,

“Before the mother begins the 10:00 morning nursing, she should place the pot, a roll of toilet paper, a soap stick, a towel, and a glass of hot water (to wet the soap stick) upon the table within easy reach….If after several minutes [on the pot], the bowel movement does not take place…the soap stick should be inserted and held into place until the bowels begin to move, but not longer than ten minutes….If this is kept up for three or four days, the baby usually will have learned to have regular bowel movements at the end of this time without the use of the soap stick.”

Are you getting a picture of early American infant toilet training? It wasn’t a feel-good rite of passage, complete with sticker charts and M&M’s. In the 1920s, our buddy Dr. Watson also endorsed early toilet training. He told parents to hold a chamber pot under their newborn, and to begin a serious training regimen by three months. Some parents strapped their infants to small potty chairs as soon as they had neck control.

These harsh toilet training methods made a lasting impression on our society. In the 1940s, Dr. Benjamin Spock, the most prominent babycare authority of his time, revolted against early toilet training and recommended waiting until babies sat independently, around seven to nine months, before starting. But the biggest paradigm shift came from Spock’s successor, pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton, who felt children were not ready to deal with their elimination needs until 24 to 30 months.  His theory was based on observation of one-to-two year old children whose parents used rigid toilet training methods. According to Brazelton’s 1999 book Toilet Training – The Brazelton Way, fears that children wouldn’t complete training in a timely manner spurred parents to use both rewards and punishments, which traumatized young children, and resulted in constipation from withholding bowel movements; bed-wetting; and smearing stools.

Brazelton and co-author Dr. Joshua Sparrow articulated seven clear “readiness” signs. He urged parents not to begin before all seven were present. Among the signs are the ability to say “no,” bowel regularity and bodily awareness.

Brazelton’s research launched child-initiated toilet training, which is now the dominant practice in the U.S. and much of the western world. However, his work contains several flaws. He claims that bed-wetting is caused by early toilet training. Ironically, in his own study, Brazelton found that a clear majority of bed wetters were toilet trained after age two. Also, Brazelton claims that children have no sphincter control until 18 months or older. Common sense tells us this is false – if babies had no sphincter control, they would leak urine constantly, rather than releasing when their bladders are full.

It’s worth noting that Brazelton has profited from his opinion, which has in turn fed the $25+ billion disposable diaper industry. In 1998, Brazelton starred in a Pampers commercial to launch a size 6 diaper — fitting children up to 70 lbs! Though each child is different, the average 70 pounder is 10 years old! Brazelton was also reportedly chairman of the Pampers Parenting Institute, and his book Touchpoints is recommended repeatedly on Pampers’ website.

Given the “determination” of their parents in the roaring 1920s, children were using the bathroom independently at 12 months. In the 1940s, the average shifted to 18 months. By the 1960s, the average age was two years. And now, in the 21st century, the average is over three years. One third of children are still in diapers after their third birthday.[ii] Yes, America is a very progressive nation. But as we’ve seen with many babycare trends, sometimes progress is, in fact, backwards.

In the meantime, several modern pioneers have launched a small but thriving movement to gently respond to baby’s pottying cues – a practice called Elimination Communication, or EC for short – in the U.S. and other western societies. In 1980, Laurie Boucke published the first “how-to” guide, a pamphlet which she has since expanded into a book, Infant Potty Training. In 2001, Ingrid Bauer published Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene.

In 2004, the international organization DiaperFreeBaby was launched by Melinda Rothstein and Rachel Milgroom, two Boston moms passionate about educating and building community among ECing parents worldwide. A media blitz in the mid-2000s drew thousands of new ECers, who began forming local groups around the world to support each other. In 2007, author and DFB active member Christine Gross-Loh wrote the user-friendly EC guide, Diaper Free Baby.

Interested in learning how and why our babies were using the potty from birth, and out of diapers around their first birthday? Stayed tuned for tomorrow’s post for a more practical look at EC!

Do you practice EC? If not, what holds you back?

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Want to learn more about other baby-friendly practices, like elimination communication, baby-led weaning, co-sleeping, and baby-wearing? Check out our book, The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year. The e-version is FREE from October 9-12!!

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Megan McGrory Massaro is a mother, freelance writer, and author. She wrote The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year  to empower women to make the best choices for their families.

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Make Your Own DIY Baby Changing Pad

There are so many expenses that come into our lives with a new baby. Lots of “must haves” too. But as we at The Other Baby Book have found, not all of these “must haves” are actually a must.

I’m going to give you the scoop on how I created my own baby changing pad with household items in about 5 minutes.

To answer the obvious question: why not just buy it?
1. It’s an unnecessary expense
2. It will take up precious space in your house between babies
3. It will take up precious space in our landfills once someone decides to retire it.
4. Flame retardants. That’s right, some Schmo thought that you might leave your roly poly baby on a diaper changing pad long enough to allow the flames to engulf it. Not only are these harmful for the environment, they’re also bad for us and our babies. So why even bother?

Here’s how I made mine, step by step:

1. Find a stack of old towels and/or blankets
2. Identify a waterproof layer (could be a waterproof crib sheet, a chux pad, or even a plastic garbage bag.
3. Top layer: if you have a changing pad cover, it’s a great, elasticized tool to hold the whole thing together. Otherwise, a soft blanket (flannel receiving blankets are ideal) will work.
4. Take your thickest layer and fold it to the height of a tall baby (2-3 feet tall). Leave the sides long.
5. Either fold or roll the sides in from both sides to create a raised layer on each side with a valley in the middle. The valley is where your baby will lie during changes.
6. Fold the remaining layers to match the height and width of your bottom layer. Stack them on top of each other.
7. Put the waterproof layer at the top of the pile. Fold it to match the size of the whole pad.
8. Put on your top layer. If you have more than one changing pad cover, just stack them on top of each other. If one gets soiled you can just pull it off and have a clean one underneath. Same goes for soft blankets, you could have anywhere from 1-3 on top of the pile.
9. I usually add a prefold diaper on top of the whole stack for extra protection, to minimize laundry needs.

Voila, you’re done!

A safety reminder – never leave your baby unattended on a baby changing pad that’s been placed on a high surface.

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Top 3 Baby Myths, Busted.

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FrontCoverThis content was adapted from the vast archive of environmental, family and child-friendly parenting practices detailed in The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year by Megan McGrory Massaro and Miriam J. Katz. 

4 Things I’ll Do Differently – Preparing for Baby #2

img_6116I’m two weeks away from my due date, anticipating the birth of my second baby. Since becoming a mom, making my way through the first three mystifying years of parenthood, and sorting through mountains of research while co-authoring The Other Baby Book, my perspective has shifted. As a result, so have my decisions. I’ll give you a brief run down of what I plan to change this time around.

1. Birth. We’re preparing a natural home birth, a huge departure from the epidural hospital birth I planned the first time around. After sorting through the data, I found that home births were as safe or safer for healthy moms and babies, and I relish the thought of being surrounded by family and caring midwives who see birth as a empowering natural process. I also value being able to call the shots about how I labor and what happens to my baby immediately after birth.

2. Sleep. The first time around, I famously said that the baby would sleep in her crib, in her own room from day 1. I had all sorts of illegitimate fears about how bringing a baby into my bedroom might negatively impact my marriage, and misconceptions about healthy and appropriate sleep environments for newborns. This time we have a co-sleeper on hand, but we now know that the best way to optimize sleep and care for our baby will be to bring him/her safely into our bed from the start. (For a safe bed-sharing checklist, click here.)

3. Diapers. The first time around, I was afraid of the stigma and workload involved in cloth diapering. We used disposables for the first 4-5 months, though we pottied our baby beginning in her first week of life. This time around, I plan to use cloth from the beginning, and to be a bit more pro-active about pottying the baby both at night and when out on the town. With a 3 year old who’s very nurturing and attuned, I’m hoping that my little helper can help me keep our baby attuned to his/her pottying needs.

4. Baby Wearing. The first time around, I was terrified of putting my newborn in a carrier, and spent many hours holding her and sitting. With an active toddler to care for, this time around I’m planning to make a lightweight cotton wrap that I can use to tote the baby to all our activities. I’ve learned that there’s little cause for shlepping those heavy carseats everywhere, that the freer my hands are and the closer my baby is to me and to milk, the happier we all will be.

Is Cloth Diapering Really For Me?

This post is brought to you by Eco Chic Baby.

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I know what you’re thinking “Cloth Diapers” as in pins, plastic covers, swirling poop and gigantic baby booty right?!!  WRONG!!!  Cloth Diapers have come so far in ease, function, use and cuteness!  For the record it’s not just hippies that cloth diaper, modern working families are cloth diapering, stay at home parents are cloth diapering, and work at home families are cloth diapering. It is for anyone and everyone! The other thing I know your thinking is “cloth diapering is too much work.”  Well let me tell you I’m a mother of three, a doula and business owner and I cloth diaper full time. Which means…YOU CAN TOO!

When you realize the benefits of cloth diapering for your bank account, your baby and our environment, a few extra loads of simple laundry is nothing!

Here are some basic reasons on why we love cloth:

  • Save MONEY:  on average $1500 per child
  • Save the earth:  (keeping thousands of diapers out of landfills and your neighborhood garbage can)
  • Non Toxic:  (no chemicals: dixon, TBT, SAP & more) – go to realdiaperassociation.org for more information
  • Soft & Cute:  that’s right these diapers are a fashion statement and you won’t be needing diaper covers for these!
  • Save time:  no last minute runs to the store for diapers and you end up buying other items which were not on the list. Face it you are already doing laundry as a parent, a few extra loads is nothing!
  • It’s not old school!  No pins, swirling, folding etc. Diaper on, diaper off and into the wet bag until washing day.
  • It’s NOT gross or hard!  Your washer takes in some pretty nasty stuff and baby poop is not the worst of them especially if you are breastfeeding (water soluble/organic). Should you choose to use our cloth diapers, we have made it simple for you with a washing guide and YouTube videos via our YouTube Channel (Eco Chic Baby). As well as for the older babies don’t spaz about that poop just spray it with a diaper sprayer or use flushable liners!

What about blow outs and leaks?

Well cloth diapered babies have LESS blow outs and LESS leaks if used properly! I have NEVER ever known anyone using cloth that has had a “real” blow out (up the back, cut off the onesie type). The back of the diaper is a nice fit versus a flat paper that allows for up the back blow outs. Also, especially when using natural fiber diapers (organic cotton, hemp, bamboo) you will see there is little to no rashes with cloth diapers!

Is it too late?

Is your baby 6 months, 12 months and you think why start now?

It’s NEVER too late. If you have an older baby you can get by with buying about 12 diapers versus 24 or more. As well as still save money especially if used on your next child.

All done having babies is it worth the cost?

YES, even if you have one child you will save $$$ and you can resell your diapers and make some money back! Bought diapers from us? We (eco chic) will buy them back or consign them if you don’t want to fuss with putting them up for sale.

How can you save $1500 per child by using cloth diapers?

Here is the breakdown:

  • On average you are going to spend close to $150 a month on disposable diapers, wipes, diaper trash bags, trash service, gas to get you to and from the store ….and wait, what about the other things you pick up while you “just go get diapers.” Also, our cloth diapers are ONE SIZE, 8-35lbs with adjustable snaps for small, medium and large!
  • So take that $150 or to be safe $100 x that by 12 and that is ONE YEAR of your baby’s diapers!
  • So far that is $1200 on ONE BABY for ONE YEAR…now keep adding…
  • Second year $1200 and third year $1200 (as most toddlers are trained somewhere in between).
  • Now that number is $3600 on scratchy paper diapers that have toxins in them and each diaper is sitting in a landfill for almost 500 years – YIKES!!!
  • Now as you know you change a baby about 12 times a day so take that and times it by 365 and that is 4380 disposable diapers for ONE YEAR!!!!! Now because babies get changed less as they get older I’m going to throw a average number out there for 2 years of diapering.
  • You can buy 7000 disposable (scratchy paper/expensive/toxic) diapers that cost you $3600 OR you can use 24 soft ORGANIC cloth diapers (bum genius elemental) that cost you $995 – or less.
  • Now that $995 is including bells and whistles aka Wipes, Warmer, dryer balls, diaper cream, detergent, wet bags (leak and stink proof bag that is handmade, washable and cute for holding dirty diapers) and so on.

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Now let’s recap here:

  1. Do you want to buy 7000 disposables for $3600 or 24 cloth diapers for $995?
  2. Do you want to be part of the growing green movement and keep those diapers out of our landfills and keep toxins away from your precious little one? Then Cloth is THE WAY.
  3. Before you go to the biggest online retailers to buy cloth diapers, consider “shop small” as well as getting exceptional customer service along with our (eco chic baby) price matching.

If you are in the area stop in for a free cloth 101 class, set up a diaper party or reserve a diaper rental!

Do I need special detergent or creams?

YES as mentioned in our washing guide it is crucial you:

1. wash diapers every 2 days

2. use only cloth diaper safe detergents and creams other wise you clog the pores of your diapers and they leak

3. The appropriate water to diaper ratio to ensure they are clean

4. YES you must do rinse, wash, rinse!!!

5. NO fabric softeners or dryer sheets!

Want to get your hands on a copy of our Cloth Diaper Basics E book? Head over to our facebook page and share one of our statuses to get your copy!

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Guest Blogger Chrissy Helmer, Founder, Eco Chic Baby

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Chrissy is a mom of three, business owner, childbirth educator, doula, and natural living consultant. She is passionate about empowering mothers to make healthy, eco-friendly choices for their families. A few of her favorite things include: cloth diapers, baby wearing, green smoothies, eco-friendly fashion, and Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups. She and her family live in beautiful Northern California and enjoy bike riding, camping and cooking organic foods. We are a family owned and run retail/resource center. We offer cloth diapers, gear,toys, handmade clothing & accessories along with Organic Skincare, Vitamins and more. We have over 10 classes geared toward new and expectant parents with 3 of them available via skype. And check out our Eco Chic Retreat for moms to rejuvenate their mind, body and soul. To find out more about Chrissy and Eco Chic Baby, visit her website at www.ecochicbaby.org.

EC Wear L’il Baby Chaps: review


Product:  
EC Wear L’il Baby Chaps

Price: $18.00

Where to buy:  http://www.ecwear.com

Things we like:

One of the things I appreciated most about the EC Pants is the innovative design. It allowed my 17 month old daughter to independently and comfortably control her bathroom experience. The elastic waistband allowed her to practice pulling the pants up and down if she desired, however, she could use the bathroom regardless. Whether practicing EC from an early age or working on potty training, these pants can serve a variety of needs. – Kate



I loved these pants.  They are super cute and allowed my son to have warmth on his legs, while still being able to practice communicating his potty needs with me.  These were also great for nap time; we have been working on getting him to stay dry during naps, but I am too leary to just let him go competely nude.  We used these pants to hold up a folded prefold, and I was able to test for dryness throughout his nap.  I love the elastic waistband for this feature, though he is too wiggly to use it with a prefold while he is awake.  The pants are also made of incredibly soft cotton and the seams are beautifully done.  I generally don’t expect this kind of quality to come from something unless I bought it in a department store, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover how sturdily these were made.  They have done a good job standing up to washing, and the color hasn’t faded a bit.  

– Geneva




Things we don’t like:

The pants do run a bit on the large side, particularly in the thighs and legs if your child has skinny legs like mine does. I decided to wash the pants in warm/hot water to see if they would shrink some, and they did. After that initial wash, the pants fit much better and were comfortable for my daughter. The only other downside with these pants is that if your child gets them wet while going to the bathroom, you will need another pair or two to switch out.  – Kate

I would definitely agree with Kate, the pants were quite large compared to what I was expecting.  I requested the 12 month size for my 8 month old–as that is what size he was wearing in normal clothes–but these are just now fitting him perfectly, as he has just had his first birthday.  I would recommend to buy what size your child is in actual months, not based on other clothing the child is wearing.  Another thing that I was not super fond of was the fact that these have a hole in the genital area, which means that you can’t use them out in public.  We’ve been experimenting with using underwear on short outings, and I would love to be able to use these, but decency dictates that I shouldn’t.  Though they did look cute with a diaper over them, when he peed, the waistband got wet and the pants had to be washed.  I think that they are very similar to leg warmers, only slightly cuter and slightly less functional.  – Geneva


Overall rating:

I would rate these a 4/5. The design is unique, and these pants will particularly come in handy in the winter time when it’s too cold in the house to go diaperless and without pants. The pants do run a bit on the large side, so take that into consideration when ordering.  – Kate

I would also rate these a 4/5.  I think that if there was a way to cover the genital area and allow it to be worn in public, I would be able to give them a 5/5.  But for a product that I can only use at home, I think these are great!  – Geneva

Carnival: Travel and Vacation

Welcome to the June edition of Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Vacation and Travel.

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. This month our participants are sharing ideas, inspiration and information on travel and vacations! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Travel Goddesses! It has been too many weeks. It just so happens that the last installation of my Traveling Light with Kids series coincided with this wonderful Carnival dedicated to Travel and Vacation hosted by Authentic Parenting. The plus? Not only will you get my tips for traveling light, but you will also get travel tips and stories from scads of other family road (and sky) warriors. Bonus!

Without further ado…

Traveling Light with Your Toddler

So far I have given you some juicy tips about efficiently packing for yourself, lowering your overall traveling stress level, and traveling light with an infant. If you missed those posts, you can check them out here, here, and here. Now, let’s talk toddlers!

Toddlers are totally fantastic. I wake up every morning excited to see what will come out of our daughter’s mouth or what new skill she will master. They are high energy little learning sponges. These characteristics, while endearing, can make traveling a bit of a challenge. When your toddler is used to spending days at the park, exploring at the library, or playing at home and with friends, the concept of staying in one place for an extended period of time during your journey can be a bit of a challenge. Little things can make all the difference. How can you travel light, but still have all the things you need at your fingertips to pack a heavyweight punch of enjoyment for your toddler? Try these tips…

Tip 1: Smart Snacks

Is there anyone who doesn’t like special snacks on a trip? I do. And your toddler will especially appreciate them. They occupy time and really taste good. My one go-to snack of choice for airplanes and car-trips alike is freeze-dried fruit from Trader Joe’s (the strawberries are great!). They are physically light, calorically light, healthy, delicious, and fun to crunch. I find these are particularly useful on airplanes during the dreaded “we have boarded but are still waiting for everyone else to get to their seats” times. They are also stellar upon take-off and landing to keep your little one’s ears free and clear from the altitude changes. So, dig in! Just make sure to check to see if your brand has added sugar and consider making them an exciting treat reserved only for your travels.

Tip 2: The animal pillow/blanket combo

One of the marvels of plush toy innovations is the animal pillow/blanket combo. The belly of the animal is actually a blanket that has been rolled tight and has had the animal velcroed around it. It’s great for naps, chilly planes/cars, and something familiar from home that can become an instant travel buddy. Another plus? They are inexpensive. We got ours at Costco for $7. It has been worth every penny. Worried about space? Simply slip a carabiner around the neck and attach it to your carry-on bag. This is bang for your luggage buck!

Tip 3: Ditch the Stroller

You are the proud owner of a mover and groover. Don’t worry about bringing a stroller. Its heavy, bulky, and your toddler will most likely want to walk anyways. Why fuss with extra “stuff?” Traveling by plane? Don’t forget your Ergo- or Boba-style carrier for those times when your toddler love wants to be carried through the terminal and your arms are full. At this stage, they especially think its fun to ride (and fall asleep) on your back! Driving? Stick your carrier in the trunk for impromptu museum visits and hikes. They are great and all-terrain!

Tip 4: Simple Toys

If you are adventuring, the change-of-scenery is like one, big, new toybox. The bonus for you is that you can keep the toys you bring with you very simple and light. Pack a small bag for plane, train, or automobile with a Magnadoodle, stickers (this is a must), paper, and a few books. Voila! Long-time entertainment. Also consider making your toy choices unique to only the times you are traveling…it makes it all the more exciting.

Tip 5: Invest in a travel potty

Sometimes, you’ve just gotta go. For those toddlers that are already good-to-go in this area or for those still in training, this can be a total stress reliever for you and them! My current favorite is the Potette Plus 2-in-1 by Kalencom. For about $15 you can invest in a travel potty that doubles as a stand-alone and a seat insert all while fitting into a medium-sized handbag. Awesome! It brings me peace of mind knowing that I can attend to her needs whether we are hiking on the trail (please observe pack in/pack out rules), in a busy airport, or in the car without a bathroom in sight.

Tip 6: Seek out some reversible clothing

Did your strapping boy get a little too fiesty with the ketchup at lunch? Wipe off the big chunks and turn his jacket to the other side! I stumbled upon the joys of reversible children’s clothing by accident when I bought a cute spring jacket for our daughter at a consignment shop this year. We have since invested in more reversible pieces that we bring with us whenever we travel. With two sides in one, you can pack less and be less stressed about doing laundry and changing clothes during the day. When you show up at Grandma’s house for special Sunday dinner, she will be none the wiser that junior has strawberries smashed down the front of his shirt (because it’s on the inside).

Travel light and safe family road warriors, and check out my other blog posts (see above) for additional traveling light tips! Travel is an amazing experience for folks of any age, but especially our little ones. The more you travel, the more they will grow to love and appreciate the diversity of our Mother Earth. It is a gift that will live inside of them forever. That is pretty incredible! So, get out there and get going!

Stephanie is a seasoned traveler who refuses to think that owning a home is the American Dream. There are far too many amazing places to live and experience! Someday she hopes to travel to New Caledonia off the eastern coast of Australia to experience as close to what it was like to live in the Jurassic Period 160 million years ago as she can get!

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APBC - Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic ParentingVisit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Traveling with a Sick Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her tips and tricks for traveling with a sick child based on firsthand experience.
  • Educational Travel | Pennsylvania, New Mexico &; LouisianaThat Mama Gretchen relives three childhood trips while outlining a plan for future homeschooling adventures.
  • Babymoon: A Cruise in Europe — Bianca from The Pierogie Mama writes about the babymoon that she and her husband took to Europe, via a week long cruise through the Western Mediterranean..
  • Travelling with our little oneStoneageparent describes what travelling means to her family, exploring the link between attachment parenting and travelling
  • I Just Can’t Do It — aNonyMous at Radical Ramblings describes the nightmare it is trying to travel with her daughter, and how for the moment day-trips to local areas will have to suffice.
  • Carnival: Travel and VacationMacgyvermama rounds out her “Travel Light with Babies and Kids” series with some juicy tips on how to travel light and stress free with your moving and grooving Toddler!
  • Traveling: Adventure, Nature, Family — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her hopes and fears for her Great Summer Camping Road Trip with her three small children.
  • Frustration Free Flying with Kids — Based on her extensive experience flying with her family, Laura at Authentic Parenting shares tips on how to make the trip fun for you and your children.
  • 12 Awesome Toys To Bring Along When Traveling With ChildrenAriadne over at Positive Parenting Connection is sharing about toys her children love and playful ways to use them that make travel with children more fun and less stressful for the whole family.

5 Tips For Traveling Light and Stress-Free with Your Infant

Photo Credit: Dan Kuster, 2009

Have you booked your Spring and Summer travel, God(dess)? Don’t be scared, especially if you are lucky enough to have a beautiful, gurgling infant. My mom, in her infinite wisdom, gave me an awesome piece of advice when our daughter was born. She said, “Travel now while all you need is a boob and a diaper!” (or in our case, some boobies,  a baby potty, and some back-up cloth diapers). I think at the time I rolled my eyes, overwhelmed with 24/7 nursing, very little sleep, and the obligatory “peak crying” at 46 weeks.

However, as the purple haze of the first few weeks of mommyhood lifted, we began to plan trips on planes and automobiles, and it was actually fun! Most likely your first trip will be to a grandparent’s house. It is a great place to get your sea legs and adventure more from there. Please enjoy these tips for traveling with your infant…and GET GOING!

Tip 1: Bring your nursing pillow.

The breast idea in the entire world! When my husband first suggested this for our first flight from Boston to Iowa with our daughter, I balked at the idea. Seriously? That was not my idea of traveling light. But once I removed the cover and stuffed it with baby’s clothing, cloth diapers, and burp cloths I realized how brilliant this was. Not only did I have everything I needed at hand, but also had a comfy place for our daughter to sleep during the flight. The result? I nursed her during take-off, she fell asleep for the entire flight, and I got to snuggle her without getting an arm cramp while reading a book. Win win win!

Tip 2: Ditch the stroller, bring the carrier.

Strollers take up a lot of space. Babies are light and love to be close to you. Bring your carrier! You can literally sashay through the airport, adventure forever through museums, go on long walks with grandma, and sooth her if you need to. A bonus? They are all-terrain!

Choose a carrier that is correct for your babe’s development. A Moby and Baby K’tan are great for very young babies (and pack down small too). For those with more head and torso control, I recommend the Boba or Ergo style carriers.

Tip 3:  Don’t forget the duct tape!

Macgyvermama approved! Duct tape can fix anything. Got a hole in your muffler during a road trip? No problem. Need a prom dress? Whip one up! However, a roll of duct tape is also a cheap (and light) way to baby-proof where you are staying away from home. If your babe isn’t mobile yet you don’t have to worry about this, but if you have a crawler/cruiser on your hands, duct tape is just the thing you need to blast out some DIY socket covers in the hotel room. You can also use it to tie up loose curtain and electrical cords, keep drawers closed, and patch sharp corners. Remember, less stress = more enjoyment. (Just make sure it doesn’t take the paint off the wall).

Tip 4: Organize baby’s clothes

Babies are small. They have small shirts, small socks, and small pants. When packing for your child (after you have packed your suitcase, God(dess)) use small, reusable drawstring bags (or gallon Ziplock bags if you prefer) to organize clothing. One outfit (shirt, pants, socks, etc) goes in each bag. This avoids overpacking and reduces the barrier to getting baby dressed (or re-dressed throughout the day). Whoever is with baby at the time of a wardrobe change can simply pick a bag without disturbing Papa from his nap or Momma from her soak in the bathtub.

Tip 5: Leave space for pottying and/or changing

I snuck this one in to see if you were following the “Travel God(dess) 75% Rule” from our last travel post. If you have followed the rule, you already have plenty of space! Traveling by car? Leave space either in the backseat or trunk to comfortably potty and/or change your little world traveler. It is less stressful than trying to dodge dirty truckstop bathrooms with your bundle of joy. Traveling by plane? Good luck. Most planes have itty bitty changing tables and most seat inserts fit on airplane toilets. Just take a deep breath (or six) and imagine yourself in a Saturday Night Live skit.

Continue practicing Elimination Communication as much as you can while you are traveling. You will gain a lot more space by not having to pack as many diapers and a little potty/bowl is an easy thing to bring with you. You may be surprised how your little babe rises to the occasion of travel!

Worth a mention: If you are planning a trip overseas with your baby, call the airlines and reserve a flying bassinet. Baby not only can sleep in it, but it makes an excellent “play space” where baby can sit and admire her surroundings.

Next up, Traveling Light with Your Toddler! Join us in two weeks. Happy travels!

Stephanie’s daughter took her first road trip to see her Grandmother in Maryland at 4 months old. It ended up being an 11 hour trip full of traffic jams, the Jersey Turnpike, and nursing escapades. She was a complete rockstar and hardly fussed. That was more than she could say for her parents.

3 Money-Saving Tools for New Parents

Growing numbers of new parents gaining access to tools that have been used across time to save money and raise thriving babies. Check out the baby registries  of these mavericks (if you can find them, because they recognize that few items marketed as “baby essentials” are necessary or even useful), and you won’t find the funtime froggy bathtub, a baby swing, and most notably a crib. Usually, that is. It’s important to recognize that every family is different and while sweeping generalities can be used to give you a sense of their typical lifestyle choices, every family makes its own decisions independently, based on its own needs and preferences.

Anyone who’s purchased baby food, including infant formula, baby cereals and purees, not to mention all those fun teething biscuits and snacks with cartoons on the boxes, will tell you—they cost a pretty penny. But they’ve been around so long—and, more importantly, marketed so successfully—you’d never know they weren’t necessary to feed your children.

If foods like baby formula are such staples, then why aren’t babies born with a bottle and can of formula? Because they are born with something even easier to access, healthier, and cheaper. We humans are called mammals because our bodies are genetically equipped to feed our babies with human milk, and we begin making milk in preparation for the baby’s birth. It’s true, not all women make enough milk for their babies. I know—I  was one of the few who didn’t, at first. But it’s far less true than we’re led to think. More than 90% of women have enough milk, or can make enough milk to feed their babies. It’s just that new moms don’t get all the support we need to do it, in the form of skilled professionals like Lactation Consultants—or better yet, a wise community of elders—who can help us through the early days and the inevitable bumps in the road.

While we’re on the topic of baby food, I’m excited to share a revelation that changed my life, and kept our bank account healthy. Babies don’t actually need baby food! Really. I know what you’re thinking—here’s one of those blender ladies who is going to tell me to puree my own baby food. Actually, no. It’s much easier than that. Our babies—beginning around age 6 months and older—can eat the vast majority of foods that we eat. Things like whole fruit, cooked veggies and whole grains such as rice, quinoa, beans and even meat.

Not only can babies eat our food, they can also feed themselves. This is where the real fun comes in. Maybe you’ve seen a parent feeding their baby, or maybe you’ve been that parent airplaning mashed bananas into his mouth. You know that it takes both of your hands and your complete attention. You’re spooning the mush out of the jar, aiming it into the baby’s mouth, possibly making sound effects while encouraging him to eat it, then cleaning up when he’s done. Picture this instead. Cook dinner as you normally would, then put some food on his tray or plate. Let him practice picking it up, aiming it towards his mouth or just playing with it. Then clean up when he’s all done. What’s the difference between these two ways of feeding babies solid foods? In the second scenario, the parent can actually eat and enjoy the show! Chances are she has many comical pictures of her baby wearing his dinner, what with her hands free and clear. The long-term outcomes are even more impressive, though. Babies who are self-fed are less likely to overeat or be obese later in life. Not bad for budget-friendly dining.

Another top money saving baby-care secret is called Elimination Communication (EC), or infant pottying. Yes, really. Infants can be taken to the bathroom, and, in fact, they really want to be. No one wants to sit in their own filth, not even babies. Most parents who potty their infants notice that babies stop pooping in their diapers within a week or two. By tuning in to our babies’ cues, we’re able to better meet their needs. ECing parents also report less incidences of unexplained crying. You know those times when you fed, clothed, napped and changed your baby, and he still wouldn’t stop crying? Millions of parents chalk it up to a mystery of babyhood. But it just might be that your baby wants you to take off his diaper so that he won’t have to soil himself. It sounds crazy at first, I know. But pottying is fun for everyone – the baby who doesn’t have to poop in his diaper, and the parent who “catches” his eliminations and doesn’t have to change her baby’s diaper—not to mention pay for all those expensive Pampers!

We’ve all heard about life in the trenches – the first three months of a baby’s life when he’s crying all the time, waking up multiple times to feed and needing to be swaddled, rocked, pacified, sung to, driven in the car, or shushed to sleep. I’ve been there, and they were the longest and most miserable three weeks of my life. But thanks to conversations with parents in-the-know, I learned that I didn’t have to keep muscling through, all three of us miserable as my baby cried her way through the nights. I learned that I could bring her into bed with me – that bed-sharing wasn’t unsafe, as my post-partum hospital nurse had told me, as long as it was done safely. Safe co-sleeping is one of the best-kept secrets in Western society, even though it’s practiced across the rest of the world. The U.S. government in particular has done an impressive job publicizing the perils of bed-sharing, citing many tragic deaths from co-sleeping, without mentioning that they are actually 46 times less than crib deaths over the same time period.

What’s so great about co-sleeping? For nursing moms, sharing a sleep surface enables a baby to feed quickly and easily, without mom’s feet once touching the ground. (Babies who aren’t nursing are safest on a separate sleep surface, close to their parents.) For babies, who have spent 10 months in utero, co-sleeping allows them the nearness to their moms, making the world less scary and helping them relax and sleep! Also, while the baby’s lungs are developing, nearness to his mom helps him to regulate his breathing, resulting in fewer instances of apnea and SIDS.

As one who has tread both worlds with the same baby, I can tell you that the tools in our parenting toolkit have fattened our bank account, built a close intuitive relationship with our daughter and increased our sleep. Taken together or separately, the experience has been priceless.

Miriam is a fun-loving mama who literally can’t stop kissing Dalia, her delicious 2 year old.  She loves reading, yoga, crafting and helping others find their paths through life coaching. She is co-author of The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year.

What about you? What are your top money-saving baby-care tools?

Diaper Free in the Middle East

People in China are doing it. People in India, Africa, Russia, Germany and the U.S. are doing it. And a small yet determined cadre of new parents in Israel are taking the plunge.

Diaper Free is just as easy as it sounds. Take off the nappies! Either altogether or here and there for a pee break. But the implications of going diaper free in a society where it’s virtually unheard of are a bit more complex.

As a mentor with DiaperFreeBaby.org, I host meetings for parents of babies and toddlers in my hometown of Boston. But, as I geared up to spend a month in Israel, an unexpected and synchronistic connection from an EC-ing (EC stands for Elimination Communication, the gentle and connection-oriented practice of pottying your child in babyhood) Israeli mama was a lightbulb moment for me. ECing parents benefit from support, no matter where they are, because–unlike the Chinese–we live in societies where our practices are little-known. With few family members and friends to pass down the torch of initiation into this practice, finding our way alone can be challenging.

Before the first ever Tel Aviv meeting of DiaperFreeBaby commenced, Larissa and I discussed our goals. To cover some basic techniques, to provide an opportunity for like-minded parents to connect, but mostly to give parents an opportunity to tell their stories and air their challenges and questions. Six families attended, two of which included mom, dad and baby, one mom who’d left her baby at home, and three moms with their babies.

As the dads nervously expressed their relief to see another dad there, I recalled my first ever DFB meeting. My now-toddler was 2 weeks old, and my husband was the only dad present. That meeting was pivotal in our parenting journey, since it’s where we learned about co-sleeping and co-bathing, two practices that helped us to meet our daughter’s needs in a way that mainstream baby-case couldn’t.

We showed some basic pottying holds–since when you’re pottying an infant, you have to hold them over the designated spot–then briefly touched on the role of intuition in infant pottying. “I thought it was just me!” confessed a mom in joy and recognition when I discussed a phenomenon known as the “phantom pee”–when you feel as if you’ve just been peed on but you haven’t. It means your baby needs to use the bathroom. Two other moms had also experienced it without knowing what it was.

How amazing to have moms exploring this new world in a country where there are no books published in Hebrew on EC. They don’t even have appropriate words to describe the practice yet. Having read all the books I could find (and there are only four of them as of today’s count) on the matter, I was impressed by the courage of these parents, who’d scraped together all they could learn from the internet and a few like-minded friends.

Going Diaper Free was just the tip of the iceburg with these parents. One mom described how people thought she was crazy given that she gave birth in her home, something even more uncommon than in the U.S., where the practice is slowly gaining ground. All present babies were toted in carriers, a practice gaining ground in a similar fashion to the US–baby bjorns are frequently seen on the streets, and the occasional wrap. Most of them were cosleeping, a practice that made nighttime pottying easier, but also cultivates a deeper connection of trust and responsiveness between moms and babies, and makes nighttime nursing a breeze.

The language was different, but the types of comments were the same. Parenting against the grain takes dedication and resolve, yet it can get lonely. Finding like-minded parents can be a huge relief. Thankfully, Larissa has firmly taken the reins, and is hosting bi-weekly meetings all across the country. You can check out this amazing woman and her blog here (in Hebrew, but google translate can you sort through it).