Google+ Authentic Parenting: April 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011

How to Nurture Your Childs Potential (rerun)

In our competition based society, a lot of parents wonder what they can do for their child to grow up to be the best possible them they can be. From the day our children are born, we fret about how to guide them, what to teach them, what to buy, so they can florish. Every mothering and parenting magazine we read reminds us we have to grasp every valuable second to promote their awakening.
Now I do believe there are things to be done to open up your child to the world and to their talents, but I also think this is being highy exagerated in our culture. So this is my guide for you...

1. Don't stress out...
Placing too much of a focus on the development of your child, will only detain them. Even from very young, children sense when their parents are anxious and this works counterproductve.

2. Let your children lead the way.
Follow their interests, let them show you what they want to learn and help them only if they so desire.

3. Strew!
Strewing is a term often used in unschooling, it means casually leaving things linger around your child for him to pick up or discard. Now we're not only talking books here. Any variety of things can spark an interest in your child: fruits, beads, toys, games... While your child still chooses what sparks his interest, you may still point out things that you find worthwhile.

4. Don't place too much focus on linguistic and mathematical intelligence...
Even though these are the most valued skills in our society, there are at least 7 forms of intelligence, so that leaves 5 others your child can be accomplished in.

5. Games and toys
are a great way for your child to learn and devellop himself. Pick the right toys and games and join in every once in a while.

6. Fun
Fun is by far the most important factor in achieving anything for your child. If they are not enjoying themselves, they will not benefit from the experience.

7. Explore the world, go outside, travel.
There are so many things to  learn, see, feel, touch, it would be a pity to pass on all those marvels. Travel leaves few people untouched. The exitement of new surroundings, meeting new people, the clash of cultures...

8. Craft and art supplies
These are great things to have lying around. Invest in a wide variety of paints, coloring material, beads, rope, etc... and leave them at your childs disposal.

9. Books.

Image: Ian Britton
Even though books should not be your primary focus in sparking interests in your child, they are a great secondary tool. Access to a good library (or establishing a varied collection in your home) is a nice idea if your child needs to do additional research, or if they are just looking for a good read.

10. Computers and the internet
Both can be used in a variety of skill building. As social networks, as recreational or research tool. You can choose to be present if they go online, or not.

11. Be a role model.
A parent who is open and interested in the world will most likely raise an interested child.

To conclude, I'll say it again: relax. You don't have to be on them all the time for them to reach their full potential, on the contrary. Ingenuity sprouts from nescessity. Let them find things out for themselves as much as possible. They'll thank you for not being in their hair all the time, and this way, you can make some time for yourself... maybe you have some potential to devellop too.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Childhood Obesity

written by Sally

Many experts indicate that the current generation of children may not outlive their parents due to chronic diseases associated with childhood obesity. Obesity is an epidemic responsible for conditions like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes in children. These two conditions were previously seen in adults. As a result of the increase in these illnesses at a younger age, health insurance and medical costs will be impacted.

Unhealthy eating habits contribute to childhood obesity

One reason for the rise of childhood obesity over the last two decades is the abundance of high calorie and high fat foods available to children. Today's busy families eat out more than those in the past. They spend about half of their food budget on foods eaten away from home. When children get a steady diet of hamburgers, french fries, fried chicken and pizza, it is very easy to put on weight. Add to these foods unhealthy calorie-laden soft drinks, and it is no wonder children are getting heavier.

The lack of physical activity is a factor in childhood obesity

Schools have reduced the amount of time children spend playing outside. In times past, recess was an important part of every school day. Currently, in most schools children are not engaged in daily physical activity. There is a strong emphasis on end of grade testing, so academic preparation takes precedence over physical activity. At home children are often sedentary because of interest in video games and computers.

What can be done to address childhood obesity?

There are ways to stem the tide of childhood obesity. First, children should consume healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. Fruits and vegetables contain healthy nutrients and fiber. Fiber helps the body feel full and that means children will eat less. Older children should consume whole fruits rather than fruit juice. Fruit juice contains a lot of calories from sugar. Low-fat dairy products help children build strong bones.

Foods prepared at home tend to be healthier than fast foods. Meats and poultry prepared at home can be cooked in healthy ways such as grilling, baking or broiling. This reduces the amount of fat. A home prepared meal can contain less than half of the calories in a typical fast food meal. Preparing meals at home is also a way to reduce the amount of salt, sugar and cholesterol children consume. Taking time to eat a home prepared meal also causes families to eat at a slower pace which can lead to eating less, rather than gulping large amounts of food.

Helping children increase physical activity is another way to combat the obesity epidemic. Physical activity is important in controlling weight because it burns calories that would otherwise be stored as body fat. Children should play outside or get some type of moderate physical activity at least 60 minutes each day. This can be achieved by helping with outdoor chores like washing the car, weeding the garden and walking the dog. Adults can help children to be active outdoors by limiting screen time. Screen time includes television, video games and computers.

Sally is into everything healthy, she blogs at Eat, Breathe, Blog


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Failing School Because You Are Fat

Malaysian repord cards will now include grades based on the student's BMI, as a strategy to battle obesity. Lower scores on the BMI will allegedly warn parents that they have to pay closer attention to their kids diets, because hey: they are fat.

First of all, there is lots to say about the use of BMI as an indicator of obesity. It is hugely flawed, and that has been proved and discussed all over. That's saying enough for the sake of this article.
But not only is BMI a faulty device, so is grading. And grading on physical appearance... this is just wrong in so many levels that it makes my head spin.
In school, a child many children find themselves already in an uncomfortable situation, because they are away from home and the people they love, they might encounter road block in the form of bad grades, difficulties concentrating and maybe bullying... so we'll just add to this by grading them on something they themselves can't control. This is telling them that they are to blame for being 'fat', that their 'fatness' is a flaw and that they are less of a person because of it.
A while back I shared an article where kids as young as three years old attributed term such as 'stupid' to imagery of a larger person. If now, kids can fail because of their weight, will this not increase the stupid fat person stigma? Didn't anyone think this through?
While obesity is indeed an ever growing health issue, adding more fat stigma to the world is really not a healthy strategy. Shouldn't governments better spend their time and energy on the companies that are sprinkling sugar, salt and corn syrup over everything and are calling it healthy? I think I could single handedly come up with a dozen obesity battling strategies without having to shame the children who suffer from it.

But no, they probably don't want to bite into the tax revenue they get from the companies adding all this shit to these kid's food, they don't want to improve mother's situations so they would be able to stay home and care for there children, and they sure won't touch the schools who are making kids sit down eight hours a day, because that would undermine consumerism.
Instead, let's make those fatties feel even worse about themselves, so later on they will require plastic surgery and diet pills, to keep the bussinesses going!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Impact of Bodily Alterations

I shared an article about bikini waxing a while back, in one of my Sunday Surfs (I would get the link for you, but I currently don’t have access to internet, so my husband does the posting, while I do the writing at home). The conclusion was that when waxing your genitals, you are not alone on the table, you have to consider every other woman who might be pushed into it because of your doing. Because everything we do to alter ourselves, normalizes body alterations.

We live in a world where we - women especially - are obliged to always look our best. But our best - as we know so very well, since we are constantly reminded by ads and commercials - is not ours to obtain. No matter what we would try, “best” is not in our realm of natural possibilities. So to look our best, we must result to the services of estheticians and hairdressers, to creams and make-up, to enhancements and plastic surgery.
Indeed, our best is locked away somewhere with a very big price tag and the question is: how far are you willing to go to obtain it?

So we pluck and tug and sweat and have stuff removed here and stuff added there. But to what price?

Because not only are we literally paying the price for the products and the services, we are pushing every other woman - to start with our daughters - to do the same. We are telling them, by our own body alterations, that they too are inadequate.
When we shave our legs, we are telling the world that unshaven legs are inadmissible.
When we brush our hair, we tell our sisters that undone hair is unruly.
When we alter our breasts, we tell our daughters that their natural form is somehow inadequate.

All alterations of our physical selves - however pleasing the process may be, most often it is not, and closer the torture, we impose this on ourselves to create an image towards the outside world. We don’t undergo these dreaded actions for ourselves.

Take the act of leg shaving. I used to have my legs waxed, but that is simply not an option any more here in Africa, so I shave. I do admit that I am not very regular and if I look down right now, I think I should be wearing pants instead of shorts, if being proper was on my mind.
However neglectful I can be about it, my unshaven legs are on my mind. I often sigh to myself that I should really take a moment to shave.
But if it would be just me? If I were a Cameroonian woman, my hairy legs would be a sign of beauty. I would flaunt them for all the world to see.
Yet for ow, I persevere, and show the world that it is ok to be unruly at times. That you don’t have to be groomed to perfection, that make-up and hair brushing and shaving and the like should indeed be returned to the realm of the private.
As for now, my unshaven legs, un-dyed hair with no specific cut, my clothes who are mostly made out of 4 dollar fabric, are a political statement, by which I hope to communicate to all women that I may encounter that it is ok to just be, without all the alterations. And that you can even be beautiful and secure that way.

I am not saying that we should forgo grooming altogether, just that we must be aware of the implications they have. That we must become conscious of it’s cultural imprint on us, and - most importantly - on its futility and dispensability.

Sadly, most people just think I have ‘gone local’ and I know that many women would be appalled upon reading this. (The reactions upon the “Smelly White Men” article come to mind).


Monday, April 25, 2011

The perversive effect of tests, scores and grades

Testing completely ruins a childs social relationships. Testing not only creates different attitudes between siblings and peers, but also between the parent and the child.

When a children have been tested and graded, they are no longer seen as the individuals they are. Instead, they become the living transcripts of grades and scores. This leads to a distorted perception of the unique child and to an entire set of expectations posed upon the child by parents and teachers. This in turn might end up becoming a self fulfilling or self denying prophecy.
The child that has a good score, will be treated as a good student and can receive a boost in self esteem, leading him to perform even better, solely by the simple feeling of being acknowledge. Yet the student that scores badly may come to think that he's no good at anything and this may reflect upon his future grades.

Being graded often becomes the onset of an entire series of attitudes in parents. They might feel a child that scored badly needs some motivation, and move towards carrot and stick methods (f.e. If you score above average this semester, you will receive a playstations), resulting in the child cramming, only to get the reward, but not for self improvement.
In bettering his grade, a child will be praised, while a child that lowers his scores will be scolded.
Children who maintain high scores become 'neglected' because they are good students any way and don't need further attention. They do well enough on their own.

For the tested child, learning becomes a competion, in which he does or does not desire to partake. He may decide that he's not good enough and slip down the ladder of good grades, which may result in being transferred to less demanding classes or even special needs structures.
He might decide that he needs to be the best and study merely for grades, not for learning. 'Crammed' subjects are not assimilated and thus add up to little or nothing in the long run.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Surf

  • Meredith Barth writes about activism: "It's genuinely wanting the very best for everyone around you. It's heartfelt compassion and love for the anonymous people whose homes you pass on your way to the store, the drivers who wait at red lights with you, and the kids in the shopping cart next to yours."
  • A couple of things you really should know about the air your child breathes at
  • What you can do for your children to pause sexualizing of young children
  • The Homemade Deodorant on Angry Chicken makes me wish I still lived in Ivory Coast where shea butter was sold on the side of the road for a couple of pence... minus the war, of course.
  • Elliot Barker questions the lack of interest in parenting in an 1983 article on The Natural Child Project
  • 10 Rules To Raise Terrific Kids, a newsletter from Dr. Laura Markham really nails it on this one. If you haven't subscribed to her newsletter yet, this might be a good time.
Visit the newest Sunday Surfers: Karen's Healthy LifestyleBecoming CrunchyAdventures of a Thrifty MamaTouchstonezThe New Mommy Files. If you want to find out who else is surfing, go to the Sunday Surf page.
If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab. Newest Surfers will be added to the following Surf, older Surfers are listed on the Sunday Surf page. If you're Surfing and you have a button for me, email it to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Alienated and Brainwashed (Or Why We Shouldn't Get Angry At The opposition)- rerun

I have often wondered how come so many parents take birthing and raising their child as it comes and never think about it twice. Even if it feels unnatural. Even if they sense it is wrong.
I was never able to understand this and it often made me so angry. I know a lot of my fellow AP moms feel the same... like you would want to smack them up a little until they see the error of their ways. Until they admit they are wrong and stop attacking what is right.
I have thought about this long and hard and I think I have found the answer. I think there are two parts to explaining why this is happening. Why they don't renounce what is so obviously unnatural.

1. Alienation
2. Indoctrination

These are the two pillars of the society we as Westerners are living in. And society is making pretty damn sure that they are being applied.

From birth children are being alienated from their parents. As soon as they are born, they are taken away from the only thing they know and trust, their mom. And taken away in such a violent way, with the harsh sounds and the lights, sometimes prodded, mutilated, pushed and pulled... They can only be off to a bad start.
All warmth and nourishment a child should get is replaced by cold plastics. Bottles, blankies, teddy bears, none of it real!
This goes on as they are put into seperate rooms, alone, in the dark, in cages (called cribs). THey are put on the floor because heaven forbid we should spoil them with our touch. They are taught that no man shall be trusted, not even those we hold dear, not even our own parents. And that we are all inherently alone in this world. When they are about three months old we dump them in a strangers home with a bunch of other kids were they are given only basic care, until they are old enough to be shipped off to school and out of their parents' hair until nightfall.
They are constantly told to grow up. To be individuals, to be autonomous.

And another very important factor in our society is to not make them think or learn anything for themselves. They are spoon fed until the age of two and suck on bottles until they are three. What they learn has been selected and pre-chewed. What they do in their spare time has been organized for them. All attempts a child gets at thinking or doing something on their own get nipped in the butt as soon as the mere thought occurs. Colour between the lines! Stay in the line! Sit up straight! Quiet! Grown-ups talking.
The importance of having your child do chores, of having him perform, play an instrument, go to this and that class, have so many friends, go through this and that developmental stage at that particular age... Parents get so focused on the 'numbers' and on drilling their kids to be prepared for society, that all that was humane seems to be sucked out of parenting.
All this does is create meek and obedient consumers, ready to fill the void in their souls with product, premolded play dough people.
It does not differ much from treatment children got in the Third Reich, save from the fact that at least they were more overt at trying to strip generations of their freedom in order to create the ideal soldier to follow orders without arguement and the ideal incubator where the girls were concerned.

Yet we choose to ignore this, or we are too hypnotized to see it. If you think about it, it is quite a surpise that some people are able distance them from this mass hypnosis. Because it takes more than just acknowledging the fact that there's something seriously wrong, it also means you have to denoince what was done to you as a child. And this is quite a big step. Think about the dog, beaten by its owner, lying adoringly by his offenders' side, unable to rise up against the force used against him.

So if you get angry at once ignorant remarks, once clear lack of judgement... calm down. Do your best to explain, if possible, for they are asleep and must be woken gently.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Being naked approaches being revolutionary; going barefoot is mere populism.
- John Updike


When Getting Dressed Is An Issue

My daughter resists the idea of clothes. If it was up to her, she’d be naked all the time. Result is that she is naked pretty much all the time, who is to disagree? She has spent most of her life in a tropical climate where wearing clothes is indeed more a nuisance than a comfort. Moreover, here in Africa, kids just mostly don’t war clothes. In Cameroon, even adults would walk around in their birthday suits, and nobody would bat an eye, here in DR Congo, kids run around naked or almost nude up until they hit puberty and in Ivory Coast it was a usual sight to see kids just wear a T-shirt, nothing else.
In the African countries we have lived in, babies and toddlers would mostly be naked, and once they reached childhood, it depends on the morals of the country. In Ivory Coast kids dressed earlier (perhaps because of the bigger Muslim influence?).

Yet in Europe, naked kids are just not tolerated. “Indecency”, stranger danger, pedophilia and a less tolerable climate are the main culprits. But how do you make a small child understand that suddenly, the rules have changed, just because you are in a different country?

I believe that getting dressed is as much of a developmental stage as walking, talking or getting potty trained. I think, if left to their own devices, kids just wouldn’t get dressed (much) until they hit puberty, as a result of a combination of wanting to belong to the adult world and their changing body and the feelings that brings along.
Mainly - if the climate factor is out of the question - getting dressed is pretty much a question of shame. Small children aren’t ashamed of their bodies, so they don’t think twice about running around naked. They don’t see their bodies as sexual devices, so they don’t ‘get’ why nakedness would be inappropriate.

I think childhood nakedness shouldn’t be made too much of an issue. In fact, we should probably celebrate their sense of self-confidence and awe of their bodies, in order to raise confident adults. The choice to eventually get dressed should be theirs.

Sadly, in the Western World, it doesn’t always work that way, and when we leave the safety and confinement of our house, sometimes our children really do need to get dressed.
Here are a few pointers on making getting dressed a bit easier:

  1. Have them pick their own clothes when you buy them. Even when they are very little, they have preferences to certain patterns, textures and colors, when they are involved in picking the clothes in the store, they will be more inclined on wearing them.
  2. Have them pick their clothes out of the wardrobe. When they are very little, lay out two or three options, so they don’t get overwhelmed. Once they are a bit older (two, two and half) they can pick out of the full range.
  3. Being dressed is more important than being in style. It doesn’t matter if what they pick doesn’t match or if it’s shorts over pants with a dress, as long as they are dressed, it OK. Moreover, clothing is a way for them to express themselves, to seek the limits and possibilities of their bodily image. Grant them the experiment.
  4. If they are particularly resistant, think about where it is really necessary for them to be dressed. They can easily be naked in the car (maybe just wrapped in a little blanket), or in the garden, or at grandma’s house... Decide when it is really necessary, so it doesn’t become a constant battle.
  5. Making clothes together is also a great motivator to wear that special self-made item. You don’t have to be a couture-grade seamstress to do so, you could also just decorate T-shirts together with fabric paint or fabric markers, embroider, or sew on embellishments... the choice is vast and there are options for any talent and any budget.
  6. No Shaming!!! This is probably the most important pointer in this list. Shaming is a widely used tactic for kids who don’t want to get dressed, but it does nothing for the cause and only makes your child feel bad about it’s body, something we should avoid at all cost (society at large already does everything it can to reduce their bodily esteem). Don’t say they’re not pretty naked, or they’d look better dressed, or the pretty girls wear nice dresses, etc... there are so many other things to do and say, you don’t need to result to shaming. We should all be very careful about what we say to our children about their and our body anyway.
  7. Positive enforcement. When they do get dressed, notice. Say something nice, like: “I like how you matched that outfit”, “Those pants are a good choice for the walk we’re taking”. Don’t forget: positive enforcement is not praise, there’s a big difference. Positive enforcement is to pay attention to the desired behavior, not to praise it. Praise is right there next to shaming. (For those who are raising a brow right now: telling your child it looks good in a particular piece of clothing makes them doubt if they also look good without it).
  8. Make it into a game. Everything works better with children when it’s fun. You can easily make a game out of it: make a train of clothes and ask your child to put on everything on it’s trail. Count the number of clothes you are wearing and have them put on the same amount.
  9. Dress someone (or something) else first. Getting them involved in the process of dressing will make them more inclined to do so themselves.
  10. Point out other people’s clothes. “We’re going into the store, you see, all the people in the store are dressed. Do you want to put on your clothes to? See, that boy is wearing pants and a T-shirt.”
  11. Make it a question, not an order. Asking for your child’s cooperation is always a better strategy then ordering around. The mere order will make them reluctant to collaborate.
  12. It’s not about winning. If you see the issue as a battle, chances are it will be. See it as a way to find new strategies, learn a few things about each other, practice negotiation.
  13. It’s not about you. Your child not wanting to get dressed is not about getting in your air or deliberately going against you. It’s simply a stage they go through, a phase in which they explore their bodies and the world. Don’t fret about it.

I hope this was helpful. Feel free to put in your two cents on the topic and leave a note if you too have some handy pointers on the issue.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Quote Of The Day

"The guys who fear becoming fathers don't understand that fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man. The end product of child raising is not the child but the parent."
- Frank Pittman


Cloth Diapering: The Options

Originally posted at Good Goog

Image: MissMessy
So you have made the decision to use cloth! Congratulations! Nature and your baby’s bum will be thankful. But how do you start? What do you buy? Where do you buy? And how much do you need? With all the choices modern cloth offers, it is easy to be puzzled.

There is a vast choice in diaper formats, this post will try to explain what each kind of diaper represents.

Paper Insert or Liner
Paper inserts are thin sheets of paper (or other material) that you can use to put inside your diaper - no matter the kind you are using - closest to the baby’s skin. These are used to make poo clean up easier, they are not a necessity. When they are soiled with feces, you can just flush them away or compost them, when they are just soaked with urine, they can even go in the wash (some brands several times).
Some babies always poo at the same time, so they an be used selectively too. It’s up to you and your preferences.

Inserts can be made out of different fabrics, most commonly fleece, flannel or jersey. They are used inside a pocked diaper or on top of a prefold or fitted diaper (on the inside). They can be thick or thin, used single or double. They can come with snaps to keep them in place or just loose. Some babies just pee a couple times a day, large amounts, and others do several tiny pees. Find out your baby’s rhythm and experiment.
Unlike Disposables, cloth diapers do not keep your baby dry. These layers are there to prevent your diaper from leaking and to evacuate some humidity away from their bum, not to have them sitting in their urine for hours.
When you first start diapering, you may have to check your baby very frequently, by touch or looking inside the diaper, after a while, you will get comfortable with using cloth and will be able to see they have soiled their diaper just by sight or weight (and sometimes smell) of the nappy.

Silk Insert
When your baby has a rash or very sensitive skin, you could opt for silk inserts. They are all natural, but a little more expensive then other types of inserts. When you are using silk, you won’t be putting a paper liner on top, as you are using it to protect and heal your babies skin.

Image: Tiffanywashko
AIO stands for All In One. It is basically the closest CD option to disposables when it comes to learning curve. The name already says it: you’ll have to put on just one diaper and your baby is ready to go. Generally, AIO’s are made of a PUL-outer layer - which is waterproof to prevent leakage, fleece or flannel or jersey inside and padding. It can be a pocket variation or you can use an insert. Some AIO’s are indeed just the one piece diaper, but they are rare, and not very handy. 
AIO’s are a great thing to have for when third parties care for your child, when they re not used to loth diapering, since it is the same action as putting on a disposable (the inserts can already be put in the pocket beforehand, or snapped in), or for outings, since it makes for less stash to bring along.
AIO’s can be fitted with velcro, snaps or used with a diaper closing system (read Nappi Nippa’s and Snappi’s).
If you want to protect the inside of your AIO from discoloring, and make cleaning up after poo easier, you can still use a paper insert, it makes cleaning up after poo a little easier.
I wouldn’t recommend AIO’s as your day-to-day diaper, because the whole thing has to be washed every time, so the PUL-layer will wear rapidly. For small babies the AIO can be a less comfortable option, because - given that they’re just one big thing - they’ll adjust less easily.
As they are made of a big number of layers, they dry rather slowly.

Diaper Cover
No matter the diapering option you go for, you will need some covers (except with AIO’s). Now covers come in different shapes and sizes too. The two big options are wool or PUL. Your cover will be washed less frequently then the diaper, as it won’t get soiled very often. If needed it can just be rinsed.

  • wool
: They are breathable and natural, whereas PUL covers are synthetic. They hold 30% of their weight in liquid before feeling wet. They need to be treated with lanolin every so often to remain waterproof. The fun part about wool covers is that you can easily knit them yourself and you can go wild with the colors and the designs and you can knit long covers for wintertime (no pants needed). Or you can up-cycle shrunken sweaters for this purpose. Patterns are found for free online. They do have to be hand washed, but are naturally antimicrobial, so this is only when they are soiled.
  • PUL
: There are again several options within the PUL-cover. You can have them custom made at several businesses. They can come with snappi’s or nappy nippa’s, snaps or velcro.Velcor wears quickly, but is easily adjustable, whereas snaps only offer you the positions in which they are attached (less adjustable).

Flat diapers resemble what our grandmothers used. They are just a flat piece of cloth that you fold for size and secure with a safety pin (only use special pins for babies with a security cap)or diaper closing system (read below). You could reuse your family’s old diapers and throw a cover over it. Given the available options, I think this system is a bit dated. You can find some picture on how to do the folding here. Obviously, the learning curve for flat diapers is rather high.
The advantage is that they’re really cheap, you can easily make them yourself out of old sheets and they can serve other purposes when they are no longer needed as diapers (cleaning cloth...) and they dry really fast.

A prefold resembles a flat diaper, in that they are just rectangles of fabric, however, here they come in different sizes, and they do not need to be folded and wrapped around the baby. Basically, you could see it as a big liner you put in your cover.
Again, this is a very cheap option and can easily be a DIY thing with materials you already have at home. By using prefolds or Flat CD’s you don’t need to invest in inserts (you can still use paper liners if you like to) and they take very little time to dry. I also wrote and article on additional ways of saving money while cloth diapering.
See how a prefold works here.

A pocket is a diaper that - as the name indicates - consist of a body shaped diaper with a pocket/bag where you can put the inserts. They can be contoured or fitted. With a pocket, inserts don’t need to be attached to the inside (some systems use snaps for this, which can create irritation on the baby’s skin). They are just put inside the pocket, so you can easily adjust the amount or thickness of the insert.
Pockets take the most time to dry out of the diaper options where you need a cover.

Contour diapers are hourglass shaped diapers. they can come with snaps or velcro or any other diaper closing system. The difference between contour and fitted diapers is minimal, and most sites will mix these terms up. For me, contour diapers are without elastics at the legs and are a little less leakage proof.

Fitted diapers come with snaps or velcro, they fit closely to the body and generally consist of two layers of fabric, with some padding in the middle. They generally have elastics around the inner leg. They can be made out of a number of fabrics. Use of fitted diapers is vary easy and similar to disposables.
Both fitted and contour can either be pocket or not pocket and take longer to dry than prefold or flat diapers. Both require a diaper cover.

One size or Grow-diaper
Some brands have one size diapers. This is less expensive if you’re on a budget, as your diaper will go from newborn to potty trained. However, on a small newborn these can be inconvenient. If you tend to have big babies, they can be a good idea.
They generally offer a range of two to four sizes, adjustable by snaps.

Trainer or Pul-Up
Similar to disposable diapers, there are now trainer pants available for potty training your baby. Usually they are in pull up version, a bit like waterproof underwear. I am not particularly fan of trainers, but they can be handy if you have a child that has the occasional accident.

Diaper closing systems: Nappi Nippas & Snappi’s
Image: Jillian's Drawers
Nappi Nippa’s and Snappi’s are special diaper devices to close them. The advantage here is that you don’t need snaps (who can be difficult to perfectly adjust) or velcro (that wears pretty quickly). You can use them on old diapers where you took the velcro off. They go on any diaper (except prefolds) and you wouldn’t need many, because you reuse the same one over and over. They don’t get dirty, because they are on the outside, and if they do, you can just rinse them.

When you are making your choice in diapers, keep the fabric in mind too. Depending the climate of where you live, you will need warmer or more breathable fabric. Your kid will be sporting a big package on their bum, so if you live in a tropical climate, like I do, you’ll have to opt for the very airy breathable materials like cotton or hemp, whereas if you live in a cold climate, flannel and fleece are more appropriate. If you live in a region with a big seasonal difference in temperature, you could get a variety of materials.

I hope that this list made things a little clearer for you to make your choice. Remember, you don’t have to buy everything at once. A lot depends on your baby and your lifestyle. You can’t predict your baby’s habits and you can’t know his size in advance. Get a few samplers to start off before your baby is born and go from there once you get into the routine. You can easily order cloth diapers online, so you don’t have to worry about shopping for them during your babymoon.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quote Of The Day

"Women complain about premenstrual syndrome, but I think of it as the only time of the month that I can be myself."
— Roseanne Barr


Greening up Your Period: a DivaCup Review

Tampons and menstrual pads have a huge ecological impact. They are made from petrolium derived products, they are chemically treated and they end up in landfills, incinerators or wastewater by the ton. The bleaching and manufacturing process uses big amounts water and energy. Some figures:

In 1999, about 2.5 million tampons, 1.4 million pads, and 700,000 pantyliners were flushed down the toilet daily.(1) In the US and Canada alone, more than 12 billion pads and tampons are tossed annually. The average woman throws away between 10,000 and 15,000 tampons, pads, and applicators over her lifetime. (2)
Aside from it's environmental impact, there's also the toxicity of menstrual supplies. everyone's heard about Toxic Shock Syndrome, which is a rare bacterial infection. They can also trigger allergies. But most of us don't realize that tampons are bleached using chemicals, mainly chlorine dioxide. The FDA's cautious stance on this is that chlorine dioxide, though elementally chlorine free, can still "theoretically generate dioxins at extremely low levels,"(2).  When you use a tampon made of rayon, the process to transform wood into rayon uses hundreds of different chemicals, some residue is bound to linger on. Furthermore, even though they are individually wrapped, they are not sterile (and you are inserting them inside your body). If you research the topic, you will find that there is great dispute to how many illnesses may be caused or influenced by tampons, but the fact that there is dispute should already make you wary. Better safe than sorry.
Commercial menstrual pads aren't harmless either, they can be the cause of chronic vulvar itching and irritation, caused by the chemicals in the pad and the chafing of the skin from contact with the pad.
Menstrual blood in itself is not irritating to the vulva, even if in contact for 48 hours.

Knowing all this, I set out to green my period too. And as a very welcome side-effect, reduce the amount of stock I had to have, since getting your shopping done here in Congo is rather tricky and very irregular to say the least.
I bought a trial pack of cloth pads of different shapes and sizes at a mom-owned handmade store I also bought some cloth diapers from, and I also got the DivaCup. I have yet to use the pads, as I didn't have washing facilities at my disposal during my last period, but I did use the Divacup.

Image: Mama's & Kindjes
For the first time in over a year, I was actually excited to get my period, with the anticipation of using the DivaCup. Now I have to say that it does have a learning curve and I did have some leakage the first tries. But I stuck to it and got a bit handier towards the end.
There isn't a lot too it and certainly nothing to be afraid of. The DivaCup comes with a multi-language manual where everything is neatly explained, and if that isn't enough, you can find a lot of support online.
Basically all you do is insert it with one of the described techniques and rinse it with a neutral soap every time you need to change it.

It said that you only have to change it a couple times a day, but as I tend to pee rather often, I found myself rinsing every time I went too the bathroom (at least I got to practice my skills).
A neat thing about it is that you discover how much you bleed, which for me was a huge amount, much more then the leaflet said (my daily flow was what they predicted for an entire period).

When inserted correctly, you don't feel the DivaCup at all, and you can wear it at night, in the bath... You don't need additional pads or liners (but I would suggest using them in your learning phase, as things can get a little messy when you're still trying).
Overall, it was a big success and I would recommend it to everyone. it isn't any more 'dirty' or 'icky' or whatever then using a tampon, it reduces the amount of stuff you have to carry along when you're flowing and it's a one time investment (which you will have won back after three or four periods).

An alternative to the DivaCup is the Lunette, made in Finland,which I haven't tried myself.

(1)Recycling and Waste Reduction Statistics
(2)The Environmental Magazine, The Hidden Price of Feminine Hygiene Products


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Quote Of The Day

“Laughter is like changing a baby's diaper. It doesn't permanently solve any problems, but it makes things more acceptable for a while.”
- Anonymous 


Natural Parenting Blog Party at The Peaceful Housewife

For two weeks, between the 15th and the 30th, The Peaceful Housewife is hosting a Natural Parenting Blog Party, as a way to get to know each other better and to get to know some new blogs at the same time. There are some gems on the list already, and it's not too late to hop on! Again, April proves to be a very busy and exciting month (spring is in the air?).

The Peaceful Housewife

She asks some questions for bloggers to answer for the new visitors, but they are mostly of a personal nature and this is not really a personal blog. Although I do draw from personal experience and share the occasional anecdote about my little nature loving child.
For you first time visitors: I am a Belgian expat wife and mother. I have lived in several African countries and have very recently moved to DR Congo. We have one child who is nearly three (how fast does time go when you have a child). We're unschoolers, we eat paleo, and there's probably a bunch of other labels I could throw in but I don't have the energy. I am pretty much a passionate person and that's why I write this blog.
I am also a writer for a number of other publications, such as SQUAT, Life Learning Magazine and Natural Life Magazine. You can also find me on twitter: @Mamapoekie and on Facebook

You'll find many different things on here. I do a lot of guest posts, to get fresh ideas (if you are interested in guest posting you can read my page on contributing). I write about everything child related, about feminism and unschooling and health and women. Breastfeeding and peaceful parenting are some of my hot topics. But the best way to discover what I write about is to browse the pages of this blog, maybe start y having a look at my Best Of (though they could really use some dusting off).


Monday, April 18, 2011

Quote Of The Day

While breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it is the best choice for every baby.
~ Amy Spangler


Extended Breastfeeding?

Written as a submission for the April carnival of Breastfeeding, hosted by Blacktating.

When I set out to breastfeed my daughter, we planned on going up to one year, on the advice of my OB/GYN. In Belgium, breastfeeding beyond 3 months, when mothers take up work again, is already considered extended, going up to six months is really long. Beyond that... is straight out weird.
At that point I thought so too, but if breastfeeding up to a year would be good for my child, specifically considering I had gestational diabetes, why not offer her the best start imaginable.

Detail "Let The Children Come To Me", Lucas Cranach
One year became two years, and two will soon become three, and the end of our nursing relationship is no where near. We just moved on, day after day. When her first birthday came up it seemed off to quit, she was still so small. Her second birthday seemed so arbitrary. Any predefined moment in time would have been strange to just quit, as she is clearly not ready yet, and neither am I.

Over those years I read a lot, learned a lot and came to the conclusion that our nursing relationship would continue until she decides to quit.

It also became clear that a lot of women end their breastfeeding relationship because they don't see breastfeeding beyond a certain point as appropriate, or because they don't know how to juggle breastfeeding and work, or they lack support to nurse beyond a certain point.

Every culture has established its own arbitrary age up to which which breastfeeding is considered 'normal' and everything beyond that is 'extended'. Resulting to such language only makes it clear that you are indeed doing something out of the ordinary, something that is not considered 'normal'.
If we seek to normalize breastfeeding, specifically beastfeeding beyond that arbitrary point in your child's life, we should avoid using terms as 'extended', 'long term' or 'prolonged'.

Calling it 'extended' breastfeeding is not supportive, it is not motivating, as it suggests going against the grain. It needlessly singles out women who have just lactated on beyond an arbitrary moment in time.

We, lactivists, bloggers who promote breastfeeding, nursing mothers, should refrain from using these terms. In an effort to normalize breastfeeding beyond infancy, or any breastfeeding at all, watch your language!

Read some of the other posts:

Mama Alvina of Ahava & Amara Life Foundation: Breastfeeding Journey Continues
Elita @ Blacktating: The Last Time That Never Was
Diana Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC: Old enough to ask for it
Karianna @ Caffeinated Catholic Mama: A Song for Mama’s Milk
Judy @ Mommy News Blog: My Favorite Moments
Tamara Reese @ Please Send Parenting Books : Extended Breastfeeding
Jenny @ Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: The Highs and Lows of Nursing a Toddler
Christina @ MFOM: Natural-Term Breastfeeding
Rebekah @ Momma’s Angel: My Sleep Breakthrough
Suzi @ Attachedattheboob: Why I love nursing a toddler
Claire @ The Adventures of Lactating Girl: My Hopes for Tandem Nursing
Stephanie Precourt from Adventures in Babywearing: “Continued Breastfeeding”: straight from the mouths of babes
The Accidental Natural Mama: Nurse on, Mama
Sarah @ Reproductive Rites: Gratitude for extended breastfeeding
Nikki @ On Becoming Mommy: The Little Things
The Artsy Mama: Why Nurse a Toddler?
Christina @ The Milk Mama: The best thing about breastfeeding
TopHot @ the bee in your bonnet: From the Mouths of Babes
Callista @ Callista’s Ramblings:  Pressure To Stop Breastfeeding
Zoie @ Touchstone Z: Breastfeeding Flavors
Tanya @ Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Six misconceptions about extended breastfeeding
Motherlove Herbal Company: Five reasons to love nursing a toddler