Tag Archives: toddler

Wraps, Carriers and Slings- Oh my!

Baby wearing. It’s not using your baby as a hat or sweater, as my husband initially may have thought!

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The term “Babywearing” refers to using a carrier to hold your baby- either out and about or at home. And I love it! Why? Using a carrier, rather than your arms- has a number of benefits.

  • It frees up your hands for other tasks while still meeting the need or desire of your little one to be held close.
  • It’s a means of transport- prams aren’t always practical and are sometimes a hindrance (though they certainly have their place!).
  • It is also often a more comfortable way to carry your baby or child than in your arms- especially for longer periods of time as good carriers and woven wraps distribute weight evenly meaning less strain on your shoulders.
  • It offers reassurance and feelings of security to your child- less over stimulation leads to less melt-downs, in my experience.
  • Slings are handy for breastfeeding. I can (and quite often do) wander my local grocery store while breastfeeding in a sling- multi-tasking win!

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A side-benefit of babywearing is that children who are used to being worn want to “dollywear”- the main benefit being the “Awwwww” factor!

There is research that shows that wearing babies is beneficial for them, and guidelines to follow to be sure you are doing it safely and correctly and there  is a WHOLE OTHER WORLD out there of carriers that you probably never knew existed- from your basic carrier found at a chain store, to much more ergonomic structured carriers, to stretchy wraps, to wovens, to wrap conversions and to culturally traditional carriers like the rebozo, the selendang or the khanga. You can buy a selendang for $15 or spend hundreds on a high-end hand woven wrap- the choice is yours and the result is the same- a happy, secure baby or toddler that has a good view of the world as well as a parent or carer to snuggle into when the world gets a little bit too much.

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Not just for mum and dad- Babywearing is a valuable skill to pass on to older kids.

Babywearing is practiced in many cultures- Slingbabies has a great summary here with some awesome pictures from many cultures showing how they wear their babies. It’s been around a very long time and fits into my parenting philosophy (something I like to call Attachment Parenting by Default– it’s not exactly been a conscious choice but rather somewhere I’ve just kind of found myself!) It’s recommended by AP godfather Dr Sears  and also by major breastfeeding support groups like the Australian Breastfeeding Association and La Leche League. Those endorsements along with the other benefits I mentioned were enough for me. My friend Kate Crawford was introduced to babywearing when she sought help for her Post Natal Depression- here is her story which she has kindly offered to share here.

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“For the first four weeks, life with a newborn was blissful. She did nothing but eat, sleep, pee and poo. ‘This is easy!’ I thought. I was happy, in love with my bub, but even then there were warning signs. The anxiety was atrocious. When she was sleeping, I felt like someone had slipped me some speed. I couldn’t keep my feet still and I was chewing my nails like there was no tomorrow. I put it down to normal new mum nerves. I noticed I felt a little better if I could see her, so I took to keeping her bassinet on the floor in the lounge and watching over her. Impractical!

By six weeks I was a mess. Bub didn’t sleep so well in the daytime any more and was colicky and crying for a few hours every evening. I fell apart. Thoughts of failure dogged me at all times. I had ruined my life. Other mums will know the feeling you get when looking over a newborn and wondering if she’s still breathing. They lie so still! I imagine for most people it’s a sense of momentary panic and perhaps a quick test with a finger under the nose to feel the breath. For me, the intrusive thought was ‘If she’s dead, it’s fixed. I won’t have to look after her any more and I can go back to my old life.’ I know, awful.

I went to a psychologist, and she asked me if I had thought about what parenting technique I was going to use. I had no idea what she was talking about – you just keep them alive, right? She mentioned attachment parenting as helpful for the post-natal depression I was clearly suffering from. I had visions of breastfeeding a four year old (the only thing I knew about the practice) and I must have made a face, because then she got all scientific on me. She explained that the evidence showed that responding quickly to your baby’s cries with comfort and wearing your child led to happier, more secure children and significantly better outcomes for mothers with PND like me. She told me to wear my baby ALL THE TIME.

Anyone who knows me would describe me as practical, logical, perhaps the anti-hippy. Psych lady had played right into my weakness for evidence. I took her advice as a prescription and wore bub constantly, except at night when she still slept soundly in her own bed despite my fears that she would get ‘spoiled’ and refuse. I don’t think I’m exaggerating to say babywearing saved my relationship with my child, and probably my husband. I fell in love with bub all over again, and it’s hard to be anxious about a baby when you can see her sleeping soundly on your chest at all times!

Now, at nearly six months, I don’t babywear constantly any more, but only because she won’t stand for it! She wants to explore and is learning to crawl (oh dear!). If we’re out though, it’s super practical and if she’s fussy for some reason it’s still a great place for her to sleep.

Oh, and if she wants to breastfeed when she’s four then whatever!”

Have a look at the gallery I put together of some gorgeous babywearing pics shared by my baby/toddler/pre-schooler wearing friends. 

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You can find more info on your local babywearing facebook page- here are a few to start you off:

Sydney Babywearers

Perth Babywearers

Brisbane Babywearing Community

Canberra Babywearers

Darwin Babywearers Inc.

Victorian Babywearers

Tasmanian Babywearers

If you can’t find your nearest group, try asking on the Baby Wearing Buy, Sell & Swap Group – I’ve always found it to be a very helpful community!

Happy Babywearing!


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I must confess…

I used to think breastfeeding beyond 12 months was kinda weird. I thought it was something only hippy, crunchy mums did. I didn’t have any clue why you’d do that. I mean, why breastfeed a kid that can ask for it? 

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Now that I think back, I never stopped feeding any of our other kids because they asked for food. So what’s the difference? 

My youngest daughter is almost 2. I don’t feel any need to wean her. The fact that she asks for milk doesn’t seem like a reason to stop giving it to her anymore. I don’t even know why it ever did. 

So i guess my confession is…I’m one of those mums!

We use cloth nappies- it’s cheaper and greener and…well…cuter! My daughter often co-sleeps. She is frequently carried in a sling. She’s never been left to cry.

I’ve done my research. I know now that breastfeeding through toddlerhood is very normal in many cultures. I know it is healthy for both of us. So I’ll keep at it.

We all parent in the way that works for us. I will say, my parenting style has evolved- my eldest child was formula fed when breastfeeding didn’t work out, she slept in her own bed and I did try controlled crying (for, like, 15 minutes total) but even my parenting style with her has changed over the years. I don’t think I was ever an awful parent- but I was a young one who had to muddle through it, often without support. To quote an extremely wise lady:

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So far, our World Breastfeeding Week blog carnival is doing great! Link your story here and enter to win a Calin Bleu wrap!

Read about the Lighter Side of Breastfeeding here and enter to win a Breastfeeding Photoshoot!

Read about Alex’s journey here and enter to win a Spectra Breastpump!

Read about breastfeeding and IVF here and enter to win an upcycled Rethread the Earth Nappy bag!

Read about Marissa’s experience using her village for support here

Linked with Button Brain for I must confess…

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Breastfeeding- the exact age to stop…

…Doesn’t exist!

In Australian society, most mums have stopped breastfeeding within the first months of their baby’s lives. There are many factors that lead to early weaning including lack of education, lack of support, early return to work, difficulty pumping and much more.

However, many cite around 4 years as an average weaning age, though there isn’t a huge amount of data to back that up and it is probably more accurate to say that the natural duration of breastfeeding is between 2.5 and 7 years. At around 7 years, humans lose the ability to nurse anyway.

But for those living in a western society who choose to continue to breastfeed beyond infancy and well into toddler-hood, perhaps even into childhood, the lack of understanding and tolerance is frankly disturbing.

Last night, this article, by Kidspot, appeared in my timeline, and I made the very real mistake of reading the comments. The article is about an English mama who is still breastfeeding her 5 year old daughter. From what she says, her daughter feeds for comfort and she will be letting her self-wean.

I don’t know if I will be breastfeeding for 5 years. I have no plans to actively wean, though I have recently night-weaned (and even that is subject to flexibility!) so I guess I will leave it up to my little girl to make that decision for herself. Approaching age 5, if she is still breastfed, I may want my body to myself again and actively wean. Maybe I won’t. I don’t know. What I will NOT do, though, now or in the future, is to suffer abuse and intolerance based on how I choose to feed my child. Standing up for breastfeeding rights is not something I’m a stranger to, but it is getting tiring, so I’ve compiled a list of the most common themes I have seen against breastfeeding past infancy, many of which have reared their ugly heads in the aforementioned Kidspot thread.

1- There’s no nutritional benefit beyond the age of (insert arbitrary number here)- it’s unnecessary.

As Sharon Spinks points out, no food loses it’s nutritional value because you reach a certain age. The idea is a bit ludicrous, really. There is even evidence to suggest mature breast milk contains higher levels of fats and energy which may have a significant contribution to the diet of a growing child. So while it is obviously not necessary, in the strictest sense of the word, it’s not without benefit. I once saw a couple pouring Mountain Dew energy drink into the sippy cup of a child who could barely sit up in the high chair they had her in at my local KFC. Now THAT is what I consider truly unnecessary and void of nutritional value.

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2- If a child can ask for it or has teeth- they are too old to be breastfed

By this logic, next time my 11 year old asks for something to eat, I should say no. I actually remember feeling this way about breastfeeding several years ago- but after doing SO MUCH reading on the subject, I can now chuckle over the lack of reasoning behind that argument. Since when do we stop someone eating or drinking based on their ability to ask for it or their dental status? The funny thing is, both my daughters have asked to be fed since birth. The newborn rooting for the breast is asking for milk just as much as the little voice that now asks me for “Mook, mummy, want some of dis!” while little hands pat my chest or the bigger voice begging me to make lasagne and offering to help.

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3- She should just express if she wants her child to have the milk.

Why? What difference does that make? Breast milk is breast milk, whether it is in a bottle, a cup of straight from the breast. This one ties in closely with the next point.

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4- It’s sexual/child abuse/paedophilia/incest/wrong/dirty/disgusting etc

No. It isn’t. the primary function of breasts is to make breast milk to feed our children. It’s really quite simple. The idea that breasts are only sexual is a man made construct that we are bombarded with constantly and the sad thing is that another consequence of this is that some mothers and their children are paying the price for that by early weaning or not breastfeeding at all. One lady commented on the Kidspot thread that her 17 month old would attempt to breastfeed in public and she would become so embarrassed that she would literally shake her off her and refuse to hold her until she weaned. Her comment just about broke my heart- she rejected her child’s attempt to be close to her, to seek comfort and food from her mother, due to what appears to be societal pressures. I find that so sad. She then added some rubbish about it being a “fact” that breastfeeding could trigger a “pelvic muscle” to cause a “small orgiasum”[sic]. Most women that I know who breastfeed don’t have a sexual attachment to it at all. It’s not sexual. It doesn’t feel orgasmic. It’s not that kind of pleasure. The pleasure that I associate with breastfeeding is generally in the closeness, the bond, with my child. I don’t know where people get some of these ideas, truly. Why is the idea that a body part can serve more than one role so hard to grasp? Take for example- the humble backside. Many people list a nice bum as a desirable feature, there are songs devoted to it, pants available to enhance it- but what does it do? The muscle itself helps us to walk, stand, sit- and also protects the opening through which we pass waste. And wind. Hot, right? So we are ok with a sexy bum that has all those other purposes- but sexy breasts that also nourish a child? Nope. Gross.

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5- The poor child might get bullied!

One way to prevent this is to raise your children not to bully others. Saying “Don’t feed your child that to avoid bullying” is akin to saying “Dye your child’s ginger hair or she might get teased for it”. I doubt many school aged kids are breastfed during school hours (ie- at school) and my guess is that it’s probably not really something they’d think to discuss. But if they did, I’d hope that any child of mine wouldn’t care in the slightest. My eldest, some time after the fact, learned that a couple of her kindy pals were still occasionally breastfed once starting school. She shrugged and went back to what she was doing before. Kids are only horrified by something if they are taught to be, so teach them that being breastfed is nothing to clutch their pearls over and this problem goes away.

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6- It will damage them psychologically, they might remember it!

Remembering being held, nurtured and nourished by your mother, how bloody terrible! The poor children! As for as psychological damage, nope, no evidence to suggest that. The research admittedly isn’t huge in this area- but what there is points to long-term breastfeeding being overall physiologically and psychologically beneficial for children.

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To summarise- breastfeeding beyond infancy is pretty normal in some parts of the world. Mothers in Western societies who do it are speaking out in what seems to me to be an effort to normalise it- not to gain attention I don’t think anyone would invite the criticism and vitriolic abuse and ignorance directed at Sharon Spinks that I have seen online. It may not be for you, that’s ok. Totally fine. But others wouldn’t have it any other way; they want to let their child decide when to wean, allowing them to make that first big decision for themselves. There is no proven harm to the practice and available evidence says there are health benefits both physically and psychologically.

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding a toddler, here’s an idea- don’t breastfeed your toddler! Or perhaps examine your reasoning, do some reading on the subject and reassess. This is the same as the debate over public breastfeeding- if you have a problem with it, recognise that it is your problem, stop projecting it on to others and expecting them to adjust their lifestyle to accommodate your prejudices and hang-ups and move on with your life.

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