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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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    Car Trip Fun





    Traveling by car with children can be fun. Of course, it can also be boring for kids… which can in turn be frustrating or even dangerous for parents who are trying to focus on the road.
    We just recently returned from a 6-hour (each way) road trip with four adults and two children. Here are 10 ideas which have worked to help keep my children occupied and my husband and I sane (and safe while driving!):
    #1 – Wikki Stix! These things are the best $5 I’ve ever spent on a car trip. Similar to pipe cleaners in the awesomeness of range of motion and creativity – they are even more awesomely lacking in the one thing that makes pipe cleaners less-than-perfect: the sharp pointy eye-poking metal end pieces! Kids can make sculptures, wrap things up, and just play freely. They seem to be pretty much endlessly reusable as well. Creative play, no trash, no clean up… what could be better? Nothing, I tell you. Nothing.
    #2 – Paper & a Pen. Quizzes, mazes, games, writing, drawing, folding, ripping… not sure much can beat the old paper & a pen for variety. But how to use them while confined to the carseat? Daddy came up with a great idea! Buy 2 clip boards, clip a note pad to each, then apply Velcro to the top of a pen (and secure with a zip-tie), and the other side of the Velcro to the top of the clip board and… voila! Instant flat drawing space, easy to pass around the car, & no lost pen. If you have younger kids (mine are 3 & just about 6), you can do the same with a crayon or washable marker.
    #3 – Silly Bandz. Okay, okay. I even wrote a post about these. But really, on a car trip, they can be the best. Not only are they lightweight, and conveniently small, they can be wrapped efficiently and decoratively around things other than wrists – thing like: trucks, shoes, and dinosaurs. Busy hands are happy hands, I say!
    #4 – Books. (Books, and more books!) Books with flaps, with stickers, with activities. I Spy books are fantastic, come in differing levels, and even my 3 year old can do them without assistance. The old standby Where’s Waldo is always popular. There are maze books, math books, word game books (like word find or fill in the missing letter or rearrange the letters to form words), dot-to-dot books, and of course good old coloring books! And, for the independent reader, a few brand-new stories or books makes a fun treat.
    Posted: Sep 01 2010, 23:59 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    Rubber bands, mix tapes, and nostalgia





    Silly Bandz. Have you seen these? Rubber bands, in the shapes of animals & other objects. At a premium price. Kids collect them, trade them, choke on them, shoot them at other kids… oh wait, no. Well, probably yes. But it’s not a use officially listed on the packaging, anyway.
    Grandma brought each of my kiddos a pack of these rubber bracelets home from vacation last week. I don’t have a problem with silly bandz, really. I mean, except for the paying $5 for a pack of rubberbands part (the inventor of Silly Bandz? Laughing. All. The. Way. To. The. Bank.)
    Now, they’re a little too trendy for my taste, and the rebel in me wants to tell my kids to buck the trend. Yet, at the same time, they make me a bit nostalgic, if you want to know the truth. Before my own bucking-the-trend days, I was a passionate collector of rubber/jelly bracelets. Do you remember those?
    Only I think they were somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 – 25 cents a piece, back then. Ya know, back then being early 80’s. (Yeah, I’m old) I used to love those things. Love them like sleep with them, make them into necklaces, get them taken away by my fifth grade teacher, sneak into said teacher’s room during recess & steal them back…
    So it got me thinking about OTHER trendy or otherwise awesome things that make me reminisce on the good parts of my youth. Here’s what I came up with:
    Jellies. The shoes. Oh, I had this most awesomest pair of fluorescent orange jelly sandals when I was about 9. Those babies would GLOW in the twilight, man. I’d strap them on, and wait at the door, for just the right light, just as the sun set, when the sky is that weird grayish purplish color for about 10 minutes, and race out of the house down the driveway to dance in my day-glo orange jellies. Yesiree boss, I was cool. Um, by cool I mean, you know, uncool.
    And then there was Madonna. I’m not sure I can give words to just how much I worshipped Madonna as a pre-teen. She was amazing to me – the most beautiful voice, the most risqué lyrics (hey, I didn’t really KNOW what Papa Don’t Preach was about, but I sure as heck knew as a cruised along on my bike with my walkman on that it was SOMETHING my parents didn’t quite want me to listen to), and marvelous clothes. Speaking of clothes… the very first outfit that I purchased with my very own money – I’d say right around the ripe old age of 10, was (yes, I still remember it like it was yesterday, thank you very much) a white miniskirt that had a roll-down waist, and an orange (are you getting the picture here, orange was cool) slightly off the shoulder shirt with roll-up sleeves that, when rolled up, revealed orange MESH. Very Madonna-esque. Very cool (come on, it was the EIGHTIES). My mom wouldn’t let me get the studded belt. But, you know, you take what you can get. I probably wore that outfit every other day.
    (Okay, don’t have a photo of that outfit, so this will have to suffice. Me, circa 1989. Note asymmetrical haircut & beret. Really, the start of said bucking-the-trend days. Yet, note the Docksiders adorning my feet. Gah.)
    So back to the eighties & music: the mix tape. My first mix tapes were made using the radio. By this I mean that I used to hold my tape recorder up to my sister’s radio & wait with bated breath for the “good” songs (read: “Walking on Sunshine” and “Careless Whisper” and “People are People”) to come on the radio and rush to press play & record in precise unison, quickly press the microphone slot up against the speaker, then dash out of the room & make everyone promise not to go in until the song was done, to avoid any background noise. Of course, there always was background noise. Also, it was recorded in mono. But again, you take what you can get.
    When CDs came out, I was in heaven as far as mix tapes were concerned. No more tape player to tape player recording of tapes from my friends (and yes, I still have the Beastie’s License to Ill on a tape-to-tape dub. Yes I DO.). Now I could have my music in STEREO (and uninterrupted by a side-flip)! I still remember my first CDs. I used to save the long boxes the CDs came in (remember those?) and tape them up all over my walls. I shudder at the thought that I used to pay $17.99 for each CD. Highway robbery, I tell you.
    Eventually I burned all my disks into iTunes, and sold my CDs. And I swear I kept this one for posterity ONLY:
    But back to mix tapes. There was just something about them I’ve not quite managed to duplicate with an iTunes playlist. Maybe it’s the penciled-in song list on the tape label. Maybe it’s the song cutting off in the middle when you unexpectedly reach the end of the tape. There was something just very… tangible about mix tapes. I did keep a lot of my mix tapes, though I no longer have a way to play them. Relics. I just can’t part with them…
    So what else evokes memories of youth? I suppose there were the movies. There are a few movies that don’t ever get edged out of my top 20, no matter how many new movies I see. Classics, you know, like ET (I distinctly watching this from the FRONT ROW of the movie theatre and bawling my eyes out.), The Empire Strikes Back, Karate Kid, Yentl (I loved Barbara as a kid… not nearly as much as Madonna, but still. What ever happened to Barbara?), Neverending Story, The Princess Bride, Willow, Say Anything...
    And books! Nancy Drew, Watership Down, Charlotte's Web, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, Bridge to Terabithia...
    Sigh. I really lived those movies & books as a kid, not just watched or read them, ya know?
    So, back to the present. When I see my kids with silly bands lined up on their arms, I sigh a bit. Knowing they might remember them in 30 years with as much fondness as I recall mix tapes. Or maybe they’ll forget them. But for now, I’m okay with them, trendy or not. I look at them like a little sign that my kids are breaking out on their own, away from me & my ideas of what is cool or not. Which is exactly what they are supposed to do; growing up. Growing into themselves. It means we’re doing our job right.
    Posted: Jul 14 2010, 17:21 by kelly | Comments (5) RSS comment feed |
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    Keeping Your Cool





    I recently posted (and got lots of response) about kids and their emotions – particularly anger; as well as my own response to it. So, as part of my approach trying to figure out/deal with my own triggers, and help my children with their own, I ordered three parenting/discipline books:
    Screamfree Parenting, 1-2-3 Magic, and Playful Parenting. I started reading the first book, Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool by Hal Edward Runkel, a few days ago. As of today, I’m a little more than 100 pages in, and nodding my head to nearly every word of it.

    This book, so far, is inspiring, freeing, and not full of just theory (which I’ve found so many parenting books to be), but actual ideas and examples as well. The main idea I’ve gleaned so far: the realization and understanding that the only person (and thus the only person’s behavior) you can control is you (and your own behavior). In other words: you cannot control your children (nor would you want to), but you can control your reactions to your children. So instead of trying to always control their behaviors and actions, start focusing on controlling yourself and your emotional response to things, and your children will follow your lead (and become what we really want from our kids: individual, self-directed beings.... who also happen to know how to calmly work through life's difficulties = WIN!).
    The author uses lots of quotes – both his own and others’ to help drive his point home. This one I really appreciated: “Your emotional response is always up to you. You always have a choice.” So often I’ve found myself feeling at MY wits end – simply because my kids have reached their end. And its there, at that end that I’ve felt, I just have no choice: what else can I do but react with craziness to craziness (once all my attempts at reasoning, redirection, and “discipline” have been expended)? Yet, reading this book gives me a different perspective. My children’s emotions and actions are separate from my own. My children are responsible for their own emotions, just as I am responsible for mine. When I don't have to feel responsible for taking on the way they are feeling or acting, it really relieves so much pressure. I don't need to respond in kind to my 3 yo tantruming. Instead, I can be more zen & go with the flow, so to speak. To bend with their storm, but not break.
    Following that thought of going with the flow… Instead of always resisting our children’s emotions (boredom, anger, saying no), the book delves into how to acknowledge what they are feeling, to empathize, and then give them the responsibility of owning their own emotions and solving their own problems (certainly with help as is age-appropriate). The author gives a real-life example in the book (to which I absolutely related), of how to respond in a go-with-the-flow way to a child who complains, “I’m bored!”:
    “Wow, you’re bored? That stinks. I hate it when I’m bored. What are you going to do about it?” No resistance, just go with the momentum and actually join right alongside your child as she faces her own dilemma. (from pg. 100)
    Talk about awesome! That way of parenting just feels so empowering – both for parent and child! I don’t have to feel defeated by my children’s emotions, and they don’t need to feel required to have someone else always tackling the way they feel. It’s okay to just let them just be, and just let them feel, without judgment. To do so lets them know they are okay; that you know and trust they’ll make it through; that you love them, regardless of how they feel or act. And lets me take a much needed breather.
    I still have hundred or so pages to go… but I’ve already recommended to Adam that he read it when I’m finished. Here's hoping the second half lives up to the first half!
    So, have you read Screamfree Parenting? Thoughts? Any other peaceful parenting book recommendations?
    Posted: Jun 10 2010, 00:01 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    Remembering J.D. Salinger





    "What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though."
    ~ Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye)

    I can’t believe J.D.Salinger died yesterday. Not because of the dying – he was 91, but rather because I didn’t know he was still living. So all in one day, I’m hit with: J.D. Salinger is dead? Which means he was alive? (He was alive?!) And now he’s dead.
    So I admit to my ignorance. I had never done any research on the man. I was a self-absorbed teen (who wasn't?). And, I suppose I’ve never been much of an Annie Wilkes. Heck, I lived in Maine for 5 years & never once went looking for Stephen King (seriously, why didn't I ever?).
    But, with this revelation, I’m now left wondering if I had know he was alive, if maybe I’d have written him a letter – at least. Although, according to NPR, Salinger didn’t grant interviews, with the exception of Betty Eppes in 1980. I would’ve been 5 then, and hadn’t yet read Catcher; though it wasn’t far off (My mother had a rather liberal view of books: if you can read it, you can read it). I’m not sure if I had written a letter, if he’d even have read it. Yet, his books helped me slog through adolescence & provided inspiration to write. He earned a letter. I suppose this post-mortem blog post will have to suffice.
    So, I'm thinking now I’ll have to hike up to the attic & dig out all my old dog-eared Salingers, and start re-reading while waiting for the release of the “reams of unpublished fiction in a vault”, as the rumor holds. I wonder if reading Salinger as a 30-something has the same effect as reading Salinger as a teenager? Things to ponder.
    Farewell J.D.
    Posted: Jan 29 2010, 10:03 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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