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    Babywearing Over the Years

    Ever since my first baby was born, I was a babywearer! I didn't wear my babies 100% of the time, but whenever it was convenient for me, or when it was what my babies needed (which, if you have high needs babies, can be very often!). Since I retuned to working very soon after both babies were born (we own our own business), I started babywearing right from the start. My first carrier was a Snugli, which I bought from a big box store out of desperation a few weeks after my 1st baby was born, and we realized she didn't like the expensive organic pouch I bought while I was still pregnant, and she wasn’t going to be the type of baby who would lie or sit quietly while we went about our work My daughter loved the Snugli – I’d dance around while packing & shipping in our warehouse and she’d fall asleep. She really liked being held upright. I also had the New Native pouch...

    Aforementioned expensive organic pouch
    which she pretty much hated until she was able to sit up, and we could do the hip carry. When she was close to a year, after a failed attempt at an Infantino sling purchase...

    Babywearing in front of the White House - She looks comfy, but my neck is KILLING me
    (I bought one, wore it on one trip, ended up with a horribly sore shoulder/neck/back, and returned it afterwards. Though she loved it, I hated it. Interestingly, this sling was recalled several years later), I bought a more supportive and larger hip carry sling called the Mei Hip – which I adored.

    Yay, Mei Hip! Okay, this is a weird photo, but still. Yay!
    The mei hip is one of only two baby carriers I have hung on to for my kids "baby boxes". Somewhere in the middle of my daughter's infancy, we also bought a frame pack carrier so Adam could carry her (the pouch was too small for him and the snugli required a lot of strap fiddling to go from one person to another), and so we could hike with her (it had a built in backpack area & a bar that clicked out so you could set the pack down w/out taking baby out). We didn’t end up doing much hiking that first year, but it sure came in handy otherwise:

    Babywearing at a baseball game!
    Once my son was born, I realized quickly that I needed to carry him much more often than my first, because, if I wanted to be able to tend to my 2 year old, I had to have my hands free. My son also preferred an upright position, but did. not. like. the Snugli carrier (I find it so interesting the distinct preferences babies can have!). The Mei Hip didn't work well for infants, and while he did like the New Native, it wasn't that convenient to get on/off. A friend of mine made a padded ring sling for me which was wonderful & we got quite a bit of use out of it as a newborn – it was very supportive, held him comfortably upright, I was able to nurse in it, and it was easy to slip out of if I needed to once he had fallen asleep.

    Padded ring sling & my thumb sucking newborn

    As we moved into summer though, the padded sling was just too hot, so I was given a used Solar Veil sling, which became my absolute all-time favorite go-to sling (this is the other baby carrier I kept for posterity):

    Adam wearing the Solar Veil
    I recommend this sling to anyone who asks, as it is versatile – you can carry in many different positions, keeps cool in the summer, offers sun protection, can get wet & dries easily, lasts for years...

    Solar Veil back carry at three years old
    and is quickly adjustable so anyone can wear it. As he was nearing a year old, I realized though that the solarveil sling kept him very close, and he was getting squirmy and often wanted more freedom of motion - though he didn't yet walk, he wanted to chase his sister! I invested in the Ergo, thinking it would give him a bit more autonomy, while still keeping him close. Truth be told, while the ergo WAS very comfortable to wear, and Adam could wear it to, we never really got the hang of getting it on and off easily with a squirmy toddler, and once my son was back there, he often got “bored” and wanted to be down, or on my front where he could see me, so we didn’t get too much use out of it. Fortunately, there’s a good market for these, and we were able to sell it for nearly what we bought it. Go babywearingsharing!

    Relatively comfy in the Ergo
    Now that my children are 6 and nearly 4, I look back so fondly on my babywearing years. I miss it! I always loved baby wearing because I could keep my babies close, which made them happy. I could get work done while interacting with them which made me happy. I could keep them up closer to “my level” so they could see what was going on, what I was doing, and were able to interact more with the world around them than from a “stuck” position on their back on the floor or in the playpen or bouncer seat (note: we used all these as appropriate and needed, but I found it much easier to keep my babies comfortable in a sling/carrier – I always felt more intoned to their moods when they were on my body). All told, I had EIGHT baby carriers over the years (yikes)! Truth be told, I could have gotten away with about 2 – the Solar Veil ring sling and the Ella Roo Mei Hip. And as "uncrunchy" as the Snugli carrier was, it sure did serve my colicky first baby well!
    So, do/did you babywear? How many slings/carriers did you have?
    **This post was written for inclusion in the “Baby Carrier Fashion Show Link Up” at A Ruby in the Sunrise blog. Do you have a babywearing post you’d like to share? Link up!**
    Posted: Apr 10 2011, 12:08 by kelly | Comments (12) RSS comment feed |
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    Breastfeeding-Friendly Children's Books

    Breastfeeding is natural, beneficial to mother and baby, and an important part of infant development. It’s a normal function of mammals (of which we humans are one), and part of the human growth process. It is important to teach our children about breastfeeding so that they grow up understanding that it is a normal, natural process, and not something of which to be ashamed or afraid. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where breastfeeding isn’t seen as important, breastfeeding mothers aren’t given adequate support to be able to nurse their babies successfully, women are required to return to work only a few short weeks after birth (often before their milk supply has regulated), breastfeeding women are discriminated against for feeding their babies, and extended or toddler nursing is looked down upon. It just isn’t that often that our children are able to see real women breastfeeding. All of these things make it difficult to convey the message to our children – the next generation of breastfeeders – that breastfeeding is normal and a-ok.
    My oldest child weaned when she was four, and she had the opportunity to see her younger brother breastfed until he was three. He, however, will not have the benefit of regular direct exposure to nursing (since we’re not having any more children, and we no longer attend La Leche League meetings). This worries me a bit as I want him to grow up with positive images of breastfeeding, just like his elder sister did. So, one of the things I’ve done to help both of my children learn about breastfeeding is to read stories with them that involve positive images and stories of nursing mothers. Here are four of our favorite breastfeeding-friendly books:
    If My Mom Were A Platypus: Animal Babies and Their Mothers
    By Dia L. Michels
    Illustrated by Andrew Barthelmes
    This 61 page book is illustrated with colorful paintings and detailed brown and white sketches. The book features 14 animals (including humans) and details their birth process, early growth and feeding, what the animals eat and do as they grow, when they leave their mothers, and other interesting facts.
    The section on humans shows baby being born in a birth center, delivered by a midwife, with dad close by. The family in the birth illustration is Caucasian, and the midwife appears to be a woman of color. The breastfeeding information mentions nursing on cue without a schedule, starting solids around six months (with breast milk as baby’s “main meal”), and that babies “lose interest” in nursing after a few years.
    It’s full of facts about many different mammals – all written in similar format; which makes it easy to compare ourselves with other animals on our planet. It’s a fabulous book. I’d recommend it from about age three up to age twelve or so (the book recommends this for ages 8 – 12. However, my daughter reads it herself at age 6 and my son enjoys it as a bedtime story at age 3.5 – though we have to pick & choose just a few animals for each story time – it’s a longish & detailed book at 61 pages + a Glossary and Index.
    Baby’s First Year
    By Debbie MacKinnon
    Photographed by Anthea Sieveking
    This 25 book is a beautiful photo documentary about “Baby Neil”. The story follows him from birth through his first birthday. The photographs are big and bright, and illustrate tenderness and love from Neil’s whole family (Mom, Dad, and two Big Sisters) as he grows. He’s shown happy and crying and doing lots of different “baby” activities. There is one photograph of Neil nursing as a newborn in bed with mom, and a series of photos of Neil being fed AND feeding himself (hooray for baby led weaning!). Later in the book, Neil is shown riding in a backpack, a car seat, and a stroller. Neil and his family are Caucasian (and appear to be from the 80s, haha). I’d recommend this book from birth and up. Due to the use of real photographs of people it can keep a baby’s attention (though baby can’t handle the book because of paper pages, my youngest loved to look at the photos as an infant, while the story kept my then two-year-old interested).
    Note: This book doesn’t appear to be in print any longer, which is a shame. We found our copy at a library book sale many years ago – it may be available used on Amazon or Ebay.
    When You Were Inside Mommy
    By Joanna Cole
    Illustrated by Maxie Chambliss
    This 28 page book is colorfully illustrated in watercolor. It details how a baby starts as an egg (the text says, “In the beginning you were just one tiny cell. Half of the cell came from your mommy, and the other half came from your daddy”, and how grows into a baby inside a mother’s womb, during pregnancy, and is born. It mentions visiting a doctor for prenatal checkups, and baby is shown being born in a hospital. There is one illustration of mother breastfeeding baby in the hospital bed with the father next to her. The family in this book appears to be Caucasian. With bright, easy-to-understand illustrations, and simple text, I’d recommend this book for ages 1 and up (though not a board book – pages will rip!).

    Note: Though the text on this page says, “You drank milk from Mommy’s breasts or from a bottle”, there are not any illustrations of baby drinking from a bottle.
    Mama’s Milk/Mama Me Alimenta
    By Michael Elsohn Ross
    Illustrated by Ashley Wolff
    This book is lovely. Each page features a gouache drawing of different mammals feeing their babies. The text is simple, rhyming, and written in two languages on each page – English and Spanish. There are several pictures of human mothers nursing their babies...
    Mom nursing in bed (Co-sleeping with Daddy):
    Mom breastfeeding in a park:
    Mom breastfeeding and dozing (I remember those days) in a chair:

    The mothers in this book all appear to be different ethnicities. In one illustration, a mother wears a baby in a ring sling (yay babywearing!) while she and her children observe a cat nursing her kittens. It’s a sweet book about the love of mammal mamas for their babies. On the last two pages are several breast milk facts, like “Mama’s milk helps to protect babies from common diseases”. This book would be best for ages 2 or 3 and up.
    Note: The illustrations, while charming, are a bit muted and subtle, so they may not hold the interest of a young toddler or baby.

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    What are your favorite breastfreeding-friendly children's books? Please share authors & titles in the comments - I'd love to add to our collection & post again with another review in the future!
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    **ALL of the images on this blog post were scanned & edited by yours truly, KellyNaturally.com from my own book collection. If you'd like to use the above images on your website, to spread the word about the awesomeness of breastfeeding, I'm happy to share; but would please ask that you link back to my post. Thanks so much!**
    Posted: Jan 24 2011, 00:15 by kelly | Comments (17) RSS comment feed |
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    Hiking With Children

    We went hiking this weekend for Mother’s Day. It was the first real, long hike we’ve taken A.C. (after children); and Adam and I used to hike and backpack quite a bit B.C. (before children). We were super-excited, and at the same time, not quite sure how it would play out. Truth be told, it ended up as the perfect trip; I couldn’t have planned a better Mother’s Day if I’d tried. The children had a blast - they are naturals in the outdoors! And Adam and I rekindled our love of hiking. Can't wait to plan the next trip - even thinking of trying a backpacking/camping hike next time!

    The hike we chose this past weekend was in the Delaware Water Gap national recreation area in Northern New Jersey/Pennsylvania. It’s positively beautiful in that area (yes, New Jersey!) – breathtaking views, fresh air, even wild blueberries (though of course not yet in season). The weather on Sunday was nearly perfect – mid-60’s in the sun. It was delightfully cool for hiking with a pack (or child) on your back, though a bit chilly for the children, who didn’t have packs, so it kept us all moving. The coolness and breeze also kept the bugs at bay, which was a blessing.

    We hiked a circuit trail up/down Mt. Tammany. The whole hike was approximately 2.5mi, with an elevation gain of 1,200ft – I’d call it a moderate hike in difficulty. It had varied terrain – a bit flat, most rocky, some small boulders, some gravel. It’s a very clearly marked (blazed) trail, and well maintained. Perhaps best of all, the trail was sparsely populated, even for a holiday weekend, which allowed us the freedom to move at our own pace – taking in the sights and sounds of nature, relatively uninterrupted.

    We chose to hike the trail in “reverse” – starting at the Appalachian Trail which is a bit less steep at the beginning, crossing the cascading Dunfield Brook, transferring to the “blue dot” trail, and descending on the “red dot” trail. All told, with several brief rests on the ascent, a half hour stop at the top for lunch, a short tantrum, and a sleeping toddler strapped to my back for the descent, it took us a bit less than four hours. With a 2 year old and 5 year old, on moderately difficult terrain, I call that a huge success.

    For more information on the Mount Tammany hike, here are a few good links:





    Along the way, we enjoyed beautiful overlooks, streams, birds, new spring growth, and the peace and inner focus that I’ve only ever found with exertive backwoods hiking. We even picked up few cans left behind by less-than-conscientious previous hikers (pack it in, pack it out, folks!).

    I rediscovered my love of hiking on this trip. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it just as much as I remembered it B.C., and perhaps even more as viewed within the new, innocent perspective of my children – who just happen to be natural hikers and gentle embracers of the beauty of nature. What a blessing to realize that we could share something we enjoyed so much, with our kids – and find that they really enjoy it too. We're really looking forward to our next trip!

    We managed to capture some of the sights along the way with our iPhones (the joys of modern technology). Enjoy!

    Posted: May 12 2010, 00:29 by kelly | Comments (7) RSS comment feed |
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    Filed under: Children | Family Time | Outdoors | Travel