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baby

Babywearing

Babywearing: Three easy and quick DIY sling tutorials

12 May, 2013

I simply don’t know how mothers who aren’t into babywearing do it. Without a wrap or sling how on earth do you keep your newborn happy whilst continuing to tweet on the loo/  stand in front of the fridge for endless minutes picking your way through leftovers and the chocolates your toddler received in honour of becoming a big sister/ wash off  the paint toddler has plastered all over her face whilst breastfeeding newborn? Babywearing can work for all mamas and babies – I have heard that even babies born with hip dysplaysia can wear their babies. Also, babywearing is PERFECT for disguising the fact that you are in the supermarket in your milk stained pajama top.

Like many parents we have a couple of different slings – ones for different occasions and timeframes in our daughters life. For these early days I find a stretchy wrap invaluable- it is so comfortable for me and snug for the little lady. I also find a ring sling handy too- it is easy to whip them in and out for pottytunities (we do EC with our daughters.) However, I seem to produce Gold Top milk that soon sees our babies piling on the pounds and becoming rather, um, BONNY, so by 3-4 months need to upgrade to something sturdier like my woven Didymos wrap. Most babies will get to at least 6 months with a ring sling or stretchy.

I have made each one of the following slings and recommend them wholeheartedly- they are genuinely first rate, even though they are cheapskate and will meet all your babywearing needs in the thriftiest possible manner.

1- A stretchy woven – 5 minutes to make, £7
DIY stretchy wrap tutorial

Here is how: DIY stretchy wrap tutorial babywearing

You will end up with one loooong bit of fabric (5 metres suits most, I made mine shorter, around 4 m) which can then be tied into all sorts of wraps- I use this pre-tie the most (click here for demo.)

If you use tee shirt material you won’t even need to hem it but if you use something lighter like gauze you will need to hem it to stop it fraying.

2- A ring sling, 30 minutes to make, £10Three DIY  slings babywearing

My friend made this one for me, using some beautiful sari material and some heavy duty curtain hooks. Here is an identical tutorial.

(Do excuse these heavily vintaged-up photos, I am clearly trying to hide away my pokey, tired peepers!)

3- Mei Tai carrier, 2 hours, £15

I used this tutorial from the beaut Grumbles and Grunts but adapted it to turn it into a toddler carry by making it slightly bigger and adding loads of stuffing. In some ways it was a blazing success – soooo comfortable for carting my two and a half year old about. In other ways it was an utter failure; I added so much padding (like, 2 pillows worth of stuffing HA) that it was incredibly bulky and was, strangely, like carrying a toddler and 2 pillows about…Three DIY babywearing tutorials

So maybe stick to the simple version, it should see your tot through to about two years old.

Right, I’m off to go and graze in front of the fridge again.

What stuff do you get up to with a baby velcroed on to your chest? Have you found any brilliant babywearing tutorials?

PS I’d hate for you to miss a post… enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!


Nappyfree

Beginning Elimination Communication

28 January, 2013

We have made a few parenting choices that aren’t those made by most others, but possibly the one deemed most odd was beginning elimination communication or bringing up a nappy-free baby.

I heard about Elimination Communication when I was pregnant and remember thinking it an utterly bizarre and implausible practice! Then, when Ramona was 10 weeks old, I decided I would give it a crack. (Me, on everything: “Bizarre? Hmm. I’ll try it.)

A few wees in and I was hooked! (I get a feeling this post is going to be filled with collections of words never, ever used in a sentence together before.) Within days she was responding to me helping her go in the potty and I was able to detect a few signals.

It hasn’t been a simple ride ever since, we have had a grand old share of rogue poos and wet pants. But I have loved our beginning elimination communication,  it made sense for us. I like the emphasis on babies being born with the ability to communicate and get their needs met. I love that Ramona has had a continued awareness of her bodily functions- there was no moment, which I know other toddlers have, that involved a revelation like “WHAT THE HECK IS THAT COMING OUT OF MY BUM!” I liked that we weren’t giving conflicting messages; “Wees go here in the nappy… oh, actually you are now this arbitrary age, now they go in the loo!” I like that Ramona never had her tender little bottom sitting in wee or poo for more than a minute.  It provided another channel for connection. But finally, I have definitely enjoyed the avoidance of any bribe/reward-based or punitive potty training. This has to be potty training at it’s most gentle- a pace set entirely by the child, for us it spanned two years.

Last night I mentioned the word “bath” to my just-turned-two Ramona, and got distracted by something. Minutes later I went upstairs to see Ramona running both taps, a towel helpfully placed on the side, totally nude, doing her business on the loo (no child seat) that she had evidently just discovered she could climb on to!! She is entirely independent of needing our help now and it is a complete relief knowing I will be able to concentrate on the new Spring baby’s elimination needs and leave Ramona to it.

You really don’t have to go the whole hog in order to appreciate the principles of Elimination Communication. Your babe might be a bit older-  commencing toddlerhood, or you might have brand new carpets that would not welcome even a tiny spray of newborn butt-caramel!! Wherever you are coming from, is entirely possible to help your kid understand their body, keep their bums poo free and talk to them about their elimination- all of which will make the transition to their toilet- independence much easier.

If you are wondering about Elimination Communication, or even considering doing it a little bit, this tips here might be a little bit helpful.

Beginning Elimination Communication Nappyfree Baby

1- Don’t expect a linear journey! This isn’t potty training. You don’t begin and get better and better until suddenly there are no accidents.  Some months are brilliant (for example, when Ramona was 5-7 months we rarely had accidents) and then others are a bit harder. Once Ramona was mobile she showed little interest in sitting on the potty, and it felt like a “backwards step”- try not to see it this way. It is so much easier if we can put aside our expectations and just roll with it, accepting whatever happens.

2- Learn the lingo and develop the communication. “Signals” are when they let you know they need to go- it might be squirming, crying, pursing lips, grunting or lifting legs. “Cues” are sounds they learn to associate with wees and poos, they end up being a bit of a trigger for them We used “Psst” for wee and a “poopoopoo!” for poop. “Offering” is suggesting to them they might need to go or “pottytunity” is sometimes used to!

3- Play with different places for pottytunities. Babies and tots will have a preference. Try the sink, the loo, a big potty, a small potty, by a tree. Adding variety might get them back into it. Plus certain potties are uncomfortable, so don’t insist if they aren’t up for it.

4- We ALL like entertainment on the loo, eh? A good book and a poo = perfect combo. Have a stack of toys/ books/ action songs that you do to encourage them to stay on the potty until they have been.

5- Get into a rhythm of offering at certain times. We always offered upon waking, upon leaving a place, upon arriving at a new place, upon getting in and out of the sling/ buggy/ car seat. This helps them get a sense of when their next pottytunity might be.

6- You will soon pick up a natural rhythm – for us in the early day between 3-6 months it was every 20 minutes or so. You will soon learn how long their little bodies take to process breast milk and you’ll be able to offer when you think they are due. And then they will still surprise you every now and then! Once they are drinking juice and water you will be surprised at how quickly that comes out the other end!

7- You will soon learn what you are comfortable with when out and about. We used to hide behind bushes and trees for a wee, or aim down drains in alleyways,  and do poos in a plastic bag like a doggy poop bag! Ramona didn’t used to like going in public loos at all. Other people have used the foldable portable potties, or even just an old ice cream carton. And others still don’t like offering in public at all.

8- Clothing completely depends on the season, but you will very soon discover that those baby grows with poppers are not workable! We very quickly moved on to leggings/ tights and tee shirts that could be quickly pulled up and down. Some people cut a gap in the leggings for even quicker access. Summer is the absolute best as they can be nudey pants all day!

9- Baby Bjorn do a couple of great pottys for Elimination C.ommunication We had their little potty for a while, and loved it, but we lost it on a camping trip. To eplace it we paid £1 for their potty chair on Ebay. It is HUGE but incredibly sturdy so really nurtures independence.

10 – Don’t be scared of nappies. There is a mixed feeling about this. But for a while I was hung up about putting any kind of nappy on. It annoyed me to concede to the nappy if we were in a “missy” stage after a “miss free” stage. However, when in other people’s homes, or somewhere where a miss might be awkward a nappy will help you relax and that is most important….

11- Relax. You would not believe the effect our own emotions can have on a child! They WILL pick up on any anxiety you have, and you could well get in a vicious cycle of tension based misses.

12- Avoid praise, if you can! Your child is only doing what is natural, when she does her business on the potty you WILL be thrilled. But try “Thank you for doing it on the pot, it makes it much easier for mummy” or “Doesn’t it feel nice letting it all out into the loo?” The last thing you need is a tot unable to do a poo without a clap (true story, by the way…)

13- Nurture independence from whenever they are ready. For us that was when Ramona was 1. We encouraged her to help us take her undies up and down, to wash her hands and flush the loo. Allowing them to be their own person is SO important at all times, but even more so when it comes to their bodies, eh?

14- Often, in a series of misses we just had to step right back, rather than constantly offering. Sometimes they can respond pretty sourly to us crowding them, offering all the time, which what we inevitably tend towards during a bout of misses. Better for them to miss and keep their independence then have a helicopter parent.

15- Once you get cracking join the Facebook EC group and Born Ready – the most amazing information packed website. It is vital, when choosing a more unusual path, to have people around you who have chosen the same. They are a WEALTH of wisdom and expertise and there will not be ONE issue that you come across that someone hasn’t not faced before!

16 – Consider getting some Flaparaps. They are little pants that flip open, for even the tiniest baby, we LOVED ours and highly recommend them.

There are 16 little pointers, the things I wished I had understood in my first week.  Would love to hear your thoughts on beginning elimination communication, if you are doing it, and what you would chose to share!

PS Read all my posts on elimination communication:

Beginning Elimination Communication
Ten signs your baby needs to go to the toilet
Elimination Communication with a newborn baby
Elimination communication at three months old
Elimination Communication at one – the highs and lows
Elimination communication at one –  (a poo in a shoe!)
Elimination Communication at 17 months old plus seven elimination communication tips
Elimination Communication is stress free potty training!

PIN FOR LATER:
beginning elimination communication

Attachment parenting

A sibling on the scene

25 October, 2012

Every morning when my daughter Ramona opens her eyes, she snuggles up to my face and whispers “Hello, mummy”. These days, this tiny tradition is followed up by her scuffling down and pulling apart my pyjama top and murmuring “Hello, baby” into my tummy. With no bump to reveal my 4 month pregnancy just yet my belly button is getting all the attention.

Ramona is two and loves babies. She loves babies, imaginary babies and Things that Will Do.

Ramona Babywearing

Ramona constantly has to be either pushing a buggy or wearing a baby in the sling, and I normally have to accompany her, with a Cabbage Patch Kid tied to my front.

As I cooked dinner yesterday I could hear her singing sweet nothings “Oh, baby. Good? Baby? Oooh. Baby” and looked over my shoulder to see what she was caressing with her soft words and hands.

It was a bulb of garlic.

Obviously.

Minutes later, I had to help her undo the zip on her jumper because the garlic wanted “milkies.”

(Mind you, a few months ago it was me that had to nurse the obscure objects she chose so I’m quite happy she has taken on that responsibility herself. My days of breastfeeding toy cars and lego are over for a while, thanks.)

When my mum first heard our new baby news, she exclaimed “Crumbs, Ramona will have her nose put out, won’t she?!” I guess it was in reference to the intense attachment we have, and the practices that, for us, are a big part in it. When the baby comes along Ramona will have to deal with not lying starfish like along our bed between us, she’ll learn to share Mummy’s milkies (with a human and not a bit of plastic) and she’ll have to adapt to another little mite being limpet-like in the sling.

And of course, while I feel blissfully relaxed in this pregnancy and perhaps naively optimistic about a second baby, I can’t help but feel a leeetle bit intreipidly curious about what tandem nursing will be like, and keeping them both happy during the night times.

I am fairly confident that all those juicy hormones will smother everything in glazey eyed love for a while, making it all okay for me.

And hopefully Ramona’s love for babies (and I hope she loves the new one a little bit more than the ones she frequently sits on/ covers in Marmite) will help her ride out the changes. We just have 5 months to get her used to the idea that the new kid on the block will be a bit noisier than the garlic and a bit more demanding than my belly button!

Nappyfree

7 Elimination Communication Tips you need for your nappy free baby!

1 May, 2012

Here’s a little story and seven elimination communication tips

I have had a couple of interesting emails this week. The first came from a close relative who was just expressing some gratitude for getting her started with Elimination Communication (EC or Nappy Free for something that sounds less Willy Wonkery.) I didn’t mean to get her started, it is just that one time a few months ago I heard her little 4 month old lad do huge trump. Knowing it was approaching the time he normally filled his pants, I whipped of his nappy and he proceeded to do two wees and an implausibly large dump.

Now, I am well aware this makes me seem AWFUL! Imposing my parenting way onto another. I swear, I have only done it a couple of times, once to my nephew and once to my neice, both times when their mothers weren’t around, and I would never do it to YOUR baby.

Yeah, it still makes me sound awful, eh. I’m sorry.

Anyway, while he was taking his dump, his mama came in. It was, er, a little awkward.

But she emailed this week, saying how since then he has done all of his poos in the potty – THREE A DAY!!- and it has changed their lives. He used to really struggle, poor chap, and turns out  The  Hold helps it all along.

HURRAH!

Then on the other hand, the second email. It was a friend also doing EC. Her 13 month old has turned Anti-Potty. It is a common low in this rollercoaster of EC and I really felt some of her disappointment. Those two emails really encapsulate the good and bad of Nappy Free, I reckon.

We began when Ramona was 3 months old, primarily out of curiosity but partly because I felt there must be something in it. Within days we discovered there was and we quickly hit a rhythm, catching 80% of her shizzle.

With every month that passes it is becoming less unusual that Ramona is Nappy Free. Sitting a baby on the potty at three months is ridiculous by almost everyone’s standard, sitting a toddler on the potty is pretty normal. This is a nice feeling – it is hard feeling as if you have to constantly explain yourself, particularly when people can be really quite hostile about it (for example, people “explaining” that it is physiologically impossible for babies to hold their wees in – if this is the case, how comes Ramona has held her wees since she was about 6 months?)

But with her growing up there also comes a sense that perhaps we should be further along the “potty trained” journey by now- since we have been doing it for 15 months!! Of course, it isn’t training. It is communication. And in the communication stakes we are doing superbly- oh yes. She ALWAYS tells us as she is doing a wee, even if it IS on the new carpet.

There is something brilliant about Ramona saying “POO”, walking up to the potty, sitting down and doing her business. She has been doing that since she was about 15 months old, it blew our minds the first time, and even now gives us a huge smile to see the communication effort paying off. Other signs she needs to go include grabbing her bum, patting the potty, looking very serious indeed, and pausing. (Yeah, she really doesn’t pause for any other reason!) In fact, there is a particuarly style of Serious Pause which usually means she already has a turtlehead.

With this big leap in communication comes a tiny bit of disappointment too, when it doesn’t go to plan. Until now it has been quite easy to be breezy about the misses, but now, because we know she can communicate  effectively and even sit her self down on the potty, it is a challenge not to let manipulative language in, or show signs of frustration. The last thing we want is hang ups over taking a dump.

We have by no means nailed this but still I thought this would be a nice opportunity to share…

Elimination Communication Tips:

1- The Baby Bjorn Potty Chair – when Ramona was tiny we had a little Baby Bjorn Potty, it was gorgeous but fell out of my bag on to some train tracks when we were going camping last summer. To replace it I got the BB potty chair, for £1 from Ebay. It is MAHUSIVE and I was gutted at first. But, because it is so sturdy, it means she can climb on and off and has been brilliant in fostering some independence about it all

2- Keeping the potty in the same, visible place everyday, so Ramona knows exactly where to find it.

3- The Born Ready website– a totally honest, warm community of people doing Nappy Free with their little ones. It has been such an encouragement. Also the lively Facebook group found by searching EC UK.

4- Keeping on communicating. When she has a miss we routinely say “OH! It’s a wee, wee wee goes in the potty!” and then sitting her on the potty for a little bit. We hold back any negativity. It is lovely when she grabs a rag too, and helps clean up her pee.

5- Putting nappies on. This is controversial as some wonderful ECers suggest not to. But putting nappies on every so often when we REALLY don’t want a puddle has helped us to relax and being relaxed is probably one of the most important attributes in all of this.  Little ones pick up our cues so perfectly.

6- Commitment to noises like PSST. It is remarkable how doing the PSST cue encourages Ramona to take a whizz. If she is a bit distracted doing PSST just seems to help her release her bladder.

7- High entertainment. There are certain times of the day that sitting on the potty is obviously just the perfect activity – namely upon waking. However sometimes she is so into her playing it just seems mean to interrupt. Instead we incorporate potty time- putting the potty in front of the Superhero Base (otherwise known as the Dolls House) or getting out all the best books. (I am editing this a few years later and I am not sure about this tip! I actually think that a child’s autonomy should let them do what they want with their bodies and if they don’t want to sit on the potty we shouldn’t try and manipulate that.)

Elimination Communication Tips

Ramona finding a tree to wee by

I have earlier on this blog suggested that elimination communication isn’t necessarily for everyone. But I think I might backtrack now. Not because I think  parents need anymore pressure put on them – to add cleaning up rogue wees and chasing nakey crawlers around the lounge, or any more burdens of “Eek, I should be doing this” to shoulder.

But because I think a form of elimination communication is accessible to every parent and will often times even EASE the strain of parenting. It is simply a case of adding in a bit more talk when you observe them doing their business – expressing from a tiny age exactly what is going on with their bodily functions, or, if you see your baby pushing out a wee turd, whipping of the nappy, holding them over a loo. A tiny wipe and clean up is done, nappy saved. For some babies, like the little guy mentioned earlier, getting help with the elimination could eliminate a whole lot of angst.

It seems such a shame that Nappy Free is seen as going all out- when it is essentially just about communication, something every parent is already doing.

Are you doing normal potty training, or a form of elimination communication? Have you found anything particularly ace/ hard?

PS Read all my posts on elimination communication:

Beginning Elimination Communication
Ten signs your baby needs to go to the toilet
Elimination Communication with a newborn baby
Elimination communication at three months old
Elimination Communication at one – the highs and lows
Elimination communication at one –  (a poo in a shoe!)
Elimination Communication at 17 months old plus seven elimination communication tips
Elimination Communication is stress free potty training!

PIN FOR LATER:elimination communication tips

Attachment parenting, Nappyfree, Parenting

Elimination communication with a one year old: the highs and lows of a nappyfree baby

23 November, 2011

Elimination communication with a one year old!

Oh me, oh my. I just wandered into the spare bedroom to find Ramona sitting on the bed with poo smudged around her, a huge turd sitting atop the box she used to climb up.

Now seems to be the perfect moment for a 9 month summary of Elimination Communication (EC). The highs. The lows.

Clearly, crap on the bed is a low.

Three wee’s on the floor in the lounge within the first day of having new carpet put in. Also a low.

A wee on my lap on the bus. Hmmm, probably a low. A poo in her trousers in the park. I’d go a low.

As you can see being on a nappy free journey with a tiny tot isn’t a ride free of bumps, we get quite a few bumps. But there are some great, even exhilirating, times too.

When we go a whole day with everything in the potty. When she points to the toilet when she needs to go or when she grabs her baby girl bits before she needs to go. It is nice not having to clear smeary nappy poo up each day. Even clearing it up from a bed or other non-loo (these misses happen around once a month)  seems to be less work than changing a nappy (Pick up sheet, bung in washing machine). And even though we have some tricky times (most commonly if she is teething, as if she looses sense of her bowel movements- that is when we get rogue poos) they really seem just a minor part in the whole scheme of it. And if those lows I mentioned above happened more commonly than once a month I think I would struggle! But keeping her in touch with her bodily functions from babyhood through EC  just seems kind of natural to me.

I appreciate it is not for everyone though, certainly not for the faint hearted. You have to have a certain un-fazed-ness to whip your babies trousers down in public to give her a wee opportunity in a bush, or to laugh off a sneaky public shart in the trousers.  And doing it with more than one child on the scene would be a bit of a challenge, although one I think we’ll probably have a bash at, as millions of big families manage in this way in other places.

I guess, back in the day, or in the villages of rural China, adults would all be keeping an eye on the whipper snappers, not leaving it just for Mum to watch out for baby’s toilet need signalling. The other day we were all up in London at the Occupy protest having a big fun family day- Tim and I were caught up doing games with some of the big kids. My mum was there and spotted Ramona’s “wee face”- and took her outside for a successful tree pee. It made me think how much our small, isolated lives make this kind of natural parenting a lot trickier. The more we head along this journey the more I realise how lives have moved on from that tribal parenting, and how lifethese days is just set up harder to do these kinds of things with your baby.

So there we go. Nakey bum at one, a short review. NOT a “Woohoo!! Everyone should do this!!!” parenting post. In fact, it probably made some of you vomit in your mouth a little. Sorry about that.

PS Read all my posts on elimination communication:

Beginning Elimination Communication
Ten signs your baby needs to go to the toilet
Elimination Communication with a newborn baby
Elimination communication at three months old
Elimination Communication at one – the highs and lows
Elimination communication at one –  (a poo in a shoe!)
Elimination Communication at 17 months old plus seven elimination communication tips
Elimination Communication is stress free potty training!

Attachment parenting, Babywearing, Breastfeeding, Cosleeping, Parenting

Ramona, it’s your first birthday, we’re gonna party like it’s your first birthday…

15 November, 2011

Eat pizza like it’s your first birthday…

Ramona Lily! You are ONE! It is astonishing to believe that one year ago I was groaning around in the birth pool that had been erected and filled three days earlier thinking your arrival was imminent. In some ways your Birth Day feels like yesterday- the emotions are still so tangible; the intense hunger to meet you, the frustration that your journey down was taking so bloody long, the slight apprehension of how our happy, carefree days were about to abruptly end. Yet in other ways it feels like an absolute AGE ago! You seem so grown up – how you bite the top layer of bread from your toast, the bit covered in marmite- that is just WISDOM, right there.

I remember our first week together. I was a bit shocked at the lack of overwhelming love. I had always assumed I would just be head over heels for you. Where as actually, my primary feeling was one of  “Who are you?! A whole little person I have yet to know?” I was surprised that My Bump turned into a real, tiny, individual human instead of just an extension of myself with it’s own limbs.  It didn’t last long though, before two weeks were up I sometimes couldn’t get the breath out of my lungs because I loved you so much.

I always thought the lack of sleep would be the worst thing about having a baby, as I was used to 11- 12 hours of sleep every night. Surprisingly, perhaps because of daddy’s Flat White making skills, that has been less of a big deal. I have been pleasantly surprised by how significantly the wonders outweigh the hardships. Although my nipples probably don’t agree. Sometimes I think you are gonna suck them right off.

I am so glad people encouraged me to follow my instincts with you. This led me to wear you close all day, sleep snuggled up, feed you whenever you peeped. I feel this has been just the ticket for us- you seem so content and secure. I remember a few months ago, just 2 days after you learnt to crawl, you crawled out of the room  without me, and into the garden to investigate the big kid  ruckus. I was quite relieved in that moment, as the myth that attachment parenting leads to desperately clingy babies was dissolved before my eyes. Now you are walking, and climbing, and gaining independance everyday. And soon you’ll be shouting that your skirt isn’t too short and 10pm is way too early.

I have absolutely LOVED this year with you Ramona! It has been SO fun. You make me laugh uncontrollably with your funny little dancing, weird facials and gappy teeth.

I hope I have the courage to keep mothering by instinct, to work things through with you gently, and to always treat you how I would hope to be treated, despite times when you and I might be a bit cross or grumpy.

With every ounce of love under the sun,

Mummy

This time last year, Ramona is a few hours old – clearly I have climbed that gargantuan mountain of labour and am ruddy knackered. One thing you learn the first time you give birth is that even if labour is three days long this is not an excuse to not wash your hair, or at least dry shampoo it, for goodness sake. There WILL be cameras you know.