Show Your Child Love through Babywearing

Babywearing keeps a baby close enough that parent and child have a lot of opportunity to kiss and cuddle, chat and smile.

Babywearing shows your baby that you love him in big ways, through meeting the needs that help with mental, emotional, and physical development. Babywearing also gives a parent a lot of opportunity to show a baby simple affection as they stay close and spend a lot of time face to face.

  • Kiss and cuddle. Don’t you love the smell of a newborn baby’s head? If that newborn baby is tucked under your chin, you can smell, kiss, and cuddle any time. While babywearing, your baby is within easy kissing and cuddling distance.
  • Chat. When you chat to your baby, even a very small baby, she learns the sounds of your language. Once babies understand what you are saying and when toddlers are ready to chatter away with you, you can hold a great conversation up close, face to face.
  • Feels great. Babywearing feels great, keeps baby happy, and it’s good for you and your baby.

Babywearing is a great way to show your baby love in big ways and in all of the little ways that make parenting such a joy.

Throughout March we will offer guides to getting started with some of the basic practices of attachment parenting. Next week will be Babywearing Week with coverage of benefits, products, resources, and some personal experiences.

Blog to Inspire: Being Green Never Felt So Good

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This following post was an entry in our Blog to Inspire contest. The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of Eco Baby Steps or Parenting By Nature.

Thrifty Mama Bee profileBlog to Inspire entrant Thifty Mama B’s is Shanaka B. She is a West Virginia coal miner’s daughter-in-law. She and her husband have two boys. She’s a stay-at-home mom. She started coupon clipping, cloth diapering, CVS’ing, and saving where she could in August 2008. Call it cheap, frugal, thrifty or whatever. Doing what she does has made it easier for them to be a family of four on one income.

If you’ve read my posts before y’all know I am obsessed with cloth diapers and the world that is cloth.

Why cloth diapers? I can give you a bunch of reasons why we chose cloth diapers but will only highlight a few. And just so you all know we were a disposables household, so I have nothing against parents who choose that way of life, I’m just making my case as to why we switched to cloth. I knew I wanted away from disposable diapers but didn’t know where to start.

Mama Bee 1

There was so much info out there about cloth, it is a lot to take in. I can say that switching to cloth diapers is one of the best things I have ever done (seriously). If I can help just one person understand and accept cloth diapering into their life I would be really happy. But I do understand that it is to each their own and I am not trying to push my lifestyle off on anyone. Really, though, cloth diapers are awesome. I’m about as girly girl as you can get and I have no problem washing cloth diapers. We are also a one income family of four and we could afford to buy more than half of our stash. If you truly want to make the switch to cloth you can do it! I’ve even given away 8 cloth diapers just so one person could start their diaper stash. Thats how strongly I feel about using cloth diapers.

Mama Bee 2

  1. They help save our environment. Every child that uses disposable diapers adds a minimum of about 6,500 disposable diapers (30% which are non biodegradable) to our landfills and in all those disposables are many lbs. of raw fecal matter that can spread viruses to our water supply should a crack show up in a landfill. The manufacturing of disposables also poses another threat to the environment. They require large amounts of wood pulp (aka trees) and dangerous chemical substances which can leave behind harmful byproducts. It makes me feel good that I know I’m doing my part to help save the Earth for my children.
  2. They help you save money. Yes, when you look at the initial cost of a cloth diaper you may feel that it is a bit much. I did at first. Then I sat down and did some number crunching. On average you can spend $2,000 on disposable diapers per child. That compared to the average $700 spent on cloth diapering your first child. A good thing about that $700? You can use it on the children you have after your first. Making the cost of diapering even less than disposables. The $700 mentioned may even be less than that depending on the cloth diaper system you choose to use.
  3. They are easier on the skin (babies and mine). They don’t contain any of the chemicals that disposables do. They are made of natural, chemical-free materials. Most babies have less to no diaper rash when using cloth compared to disposables because the cloth diapers are more breathable than disposables. I have hand eczema, and disposables made my eczema flare up badly.
  4. They are easy to use. These aren’t your grandma’s cloth diapers with rubber pants and diaper pins. You have a plethora of options when it comes to cloth. Velcro or snaps and your done. You can show your fashion taste on your little one’s bum. I’ve been asked, “Isn’t washing cloth diapers nasty?” My answer? “No!” Washing our cloth diapers is no different from washing clothes that got poo on them from a blow out disposable diaper or washing clothes that your little one has thrown up on. It’s all the same to your washing machine. Use the flushable diaper liners and you don’t have to mess with much of the poo. Cloth diapering can be adapted to fit any lifestyle even if you aren’t a stay-at-home parent. To me the added effort of doing a couple extra loads of laundry a week (I wash our diapers twice a week) is worth the multiple benefits to your children, the environment and your pocketbook.

Mama Bee 3

If you already use cloth diapers then you agree with my points, yes? If you don’t cloth diaper and are interested or are intrigued to make the switch, you can contact me and I can do my best to answer the cloth diaper questions you have or direct you to someone who can answer them if I can’t. I’ve already converted a family member to cloth and four friends, so I’m confident I can help you, too. Why would you not want to use cloth diapers? For every reason you have to not use cloth diapers I can give you a reason why you should. Using cloth diapers has also opened my eyes to other eco-friendly things.

Being green has never felt so good!

Read about the Blog to Inspire contest and read posts by the finalists and by the rest of the entrants. Forty-four bloggers reached out to inspire on the topics of cloth diapers, babywearing, breastfeeding, and natural parenting.

Nurturing Empathy for Nature

Child walkingMy friend has multiple chemical sensitivities. Neither her ex-husband nor her parents seem able to grasp how the environments they create effect her. When someone tells her she is imagining health issues, I see her give up a little every time.

My friend blogs about environmental impact. Despite his ability to grasp environmental issues and science, he doesn’t seem able to grasp the genuine efforts of those working to change policies and practices that could have a real impact on impact. He is frustrated, and he has blamed politicians.

I’ve been wondering lately why it is that some people seem able to put themselves in the place of others—understanding why they do what they do, understanding how they feel or why they are in pain—and others can’t seem to step outside their own experience to see another view.

To see a situation through the eyes of another is a profound step. Is it a skill? Can it be learned—and taught?

Specifically, I wonder what I as a parent can do to make sure that my children have the quality of empathy, understanding and sharing the feelings of another, particularly when they are adults making decisions that will have long-term consequences for the world in which they and their own children will live.


Research on Children and Empathy

There is plenty of research available on children and empathy. The pathways to empathic children and adults are fairly clear. A child learns to recognize the feelings of others by learning to recognize her or his own feelings.

When the New York Times published an article last week about nurturing empathy in children, a Psychology Today writer who has recently co-authored a book on empathy made a very important point: children learn empathy when their own needs are met not when they suffer. This is important because the emphasis is on the need for security in order for the child to be able to extend awareness to others. I child doesn’t learn empathy by making it through hard times but by feeling safe enough to think beyond self.


The Practical Keys to Teaching Environmental Empathy

Empathy can be learned and taught in some way at any age. Keep in mind as a parent of young children, though, that from 3-7 years old is the key time to help children make connections that encourage their empathy.

The Baby Center offers practical advice on teaching empathy.

  • Help the child name her feelings.
  • Encourage the child to talk about his own and others’ feelings.
  • Teach the child to recognize nonverbal cues.
  • And my suggestion: use nonviolent communication and positive discipline.

Make a conscious effort to engage your child in global issues of sustainability in a way that is developmentally appropriate. Help them to understand not only the feelings of those people they know face to face but the feelings and experiences of children and others around the world. The more they connect with the global consequences experienced by others, the more likely they will continue to develop that skill of empathy as a policy-making, action-taking adult.


Resources

Image © Anke Van Wyk | Dreamstime.com

Close to My Heart ~ A Baby Wearing Story

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I became a die-hard babywearer with the birth of my 3rd child in 2004. I had finally gotten the hang of it and LOVED it. So, naturally, when my 5th child, Emily, came along in 2007, she spent a goodly amount of time in some sort of fabric baby carrier. The store, the park, hiking, you name it…I wore her.

And at 7 months and 6 days, I lost her.

What I gave her ~ the comfort of mama’s closeness ~ and what she gave me in return ~ priceless memories ~ are unmatched. She would bury her fuzzy little head against my chest and fall fast asleep. I would snuggle my check against the top of her head and breathe in her sweet baby smell.

And these memories are not just mine. My husband speaks fondly of the days he would come home from work and catch a glimpse of me in the window working about the kitchen with Emily strapped to my back in a mei tai. He would come in and kiss her and kiss me and watch us as we continued about our work ~ mama and baby melded together in a domestic dance.

One of the hardest things to put away after her death was my stash of baby carriers. I wanted so badly to hold this child to my heart once again. I searched the carriers for her hair, her smell, remnants of all my memories.

This is what babywearing is. It is a mother’s love enveloping her child. It is not a fashion statement or something done in mommy martyrdom…it is me…it is Emily…sharing moments that would someday be memories…precious, precious memories.

Amy of Raising Arrows received the greatest number of your votes for The Most Inspiring Blogger in our Blog to Inspire contest.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of Eco Baby Steps or Parenting By Nature.

Modeling the Value of Reusability

I have heard a lot of parents connect their cloth diaper use to the environment AS a gift to their babies. They choose to use resources wisely and prevent massive waste buildup because they don’t want to pass the problem on to their children and grandchildren.

In testimonials at the Real Diaper Association, hundreds of parents have written about “Why I Choose Cloth.” Over and over again parents talk about the long-term meaning of their choice to use cloth diapers.


Wouldn’t You Choose Cloth Diapers Anyway?

If you have a parenting choice to make and you find that it’s both better for babies and less expensive for parents, you wouldn’t hesitate to make that choice, right? Not always, and that confuses me.

Some people (no, I’m not naming names) say that cloth diapers are just too hard. They aren’t, of course. The changing is the same and washing is easy. Why this perception of difficulty?

Even if cloth diapering were more difficult to use than the throwaway alternatives, though, given that it’s better for babies and less expensive for parents, wouldn’t you choose it anyway?

I think about other choices that my family makes now that I didn’t necessarily grow up with: reusable shopping bags and recycling. Both of these are just part of our lives. Both of these practices teach our children valuable lessons. We keep a stack of reusable bags in the house and another in the truck of our car. If we shop, we bring our own bag. That isn’t as easy as not thinking ahead, but I don’t know that teaching children not to plan ahead is the message we want to send. It probably was easier to throw all of our garbage into a bag and forget it, but I can’t say that I find the alternative difficult. We break down boxes, stack up papers, and set bottles and cans to the side. We just take our garbage out in a couple of different ways. We not only teach our children the value of recycling, but we let that lead to conversations about how to reduce the need to bring stuff into our house in the first place. Recycling and reusable bags and cloth diapers are all a little bit more difficult than putting the responsibility on someone else, but we’re teaching personal responsibility to our children. I don’t see the problem with taking 30 minutes a week to wash another load of laundry. It seems to me that it would be yet another teaching moment as we talk about values.


Modeling Values to the Sibling

If you are diapering a baby as an older child watches, every diaper change is an opportunity to model values. Explain why you choose cloth diapers. Explain what reusability and responsible resource use mean.

When my daughter used to watch me diaper her baby brother, I gave her a set of diapers for her dolls. Her dolls stayed in cloth diapers about as long as her brother did. She followed my example then articulated the reasons as she went along. Now, she understands why I remain a strong advocate for cloth diapers.

It’s tough to convince a child of the value of reusability and responsibility if we don’t model the values ourselves.