Blog to Inspire: Mama Milk Dance

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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.

Blog to Inspire entrant Code Name: Mama is Dionna Ford, a lawyer turned work at home mama to an amazing son. She’s also one of those crunchy liberals her parents warned her about. She and her husband practice natural parenting and try to live consciously.

Code Name Mama nursing toddler

A member of an online community forum recently asked: “Do you think toddlers are too old to nurse?” What followed was a variety of disapproving comments regarding breastfeeding in general and “extended” (better known as “full term”) breastfeeding in particular.

I joined the community in order to educate the ill-informed and defend those champions of lactation – the mamas who give their babies breastmilk beyond one year. I dug up some research on breastfeeding past infancy; found links and statistics; and attempted to write something coherent. (It’s hard to be coherent, though, when my almost two year old often climbs onto my lap, dives for my nursing tank top, and does scissor kicks somewhere between my body and the keyboard.) Below is an expanded version of what I posted in response.


Health Benefits to Children and Mothers

In addition to the myriad health benefits to mother and child from breastfeeding for even a short time period (1), there are even more health benefits when mothers continue breastfeeding beyond one year. Here are only a few examples of the benefits to children and mothers, all established by credible research:

  • “Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers.” (2)
  • “Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation. In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process.” (3)
  • There is “a significant inverse association between duration of lactation and breast cancer risk.” (4)
  • Breastfeeding beyond one year “can reduce your risk of ovarian cancer by about one-third.” (5)
  • “[T]he longer a woman breastfeeds, the less likely she is to get endometrial cancer.” (6)


Breastfeeding Toddlers is Normal

Much of the criticism toward extended breastfeeding has nothing to do with health and everything to do with cultural biases. Many disagree with nursing a toddler who “can ask for it (or who have teeth),” or “when it’s just used as a comfort.”

Such comments reveal the writers’ own discomfort; they are not grounded in fact. Disapproval based on comfort level is not a logical basis for discouraging mothers from breastfeeding for any length of time.

Mothers have historically nursed into toddlerhood. In fact “the median age of weaning throughout the world is between ages three and five [years].” (7) Because breastfeeding is “a heavily culturized activity, it is” influenced by the current beliefs and attitudes regarding “infant health and nutrition, . . . the nature of human infancy and the proper relationships between mother and child, and between mother and father.” (8)

Those who condemn nursing a child who is “old enough to ask for it” operate under the illusion that the breast’s primary purpose is sexual. Most people wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at giving a toddler a bottle (which is a breast substitute), or at hugging or cuddling a toddler; why should breastfeeding be different? All are forms of affection. A toddler does not see a breast as sexual, nor should anyone who happens to view the nursing relationship.

The argument that breastfeeding should be discontinued after it is “more comfort than nutrition” is similarly misguided. Aside from the established health benefits of nursing a toddler, it makes no sense to take away a food source just because it does not meet every nutritional need.

“We don’t say that children should stop eating bananas once bananas are no longer a significant part of their diet. Bananas eaten once in a while are as nutritious as bananas eaten three times a day. In fact, you might even consider the rarely eaten banana to be more important nutritionally. Why do we not see that the same is true of human milk?” (9)


Nursing My Own Toddler

In responding to the forum query and in writing this post, I examined my own reasons for continuing to nurse my son.

Nothing can soothe my toddler’s bumped head or broken heart more effectively than breastfeeding. Nursing provides Kieran security and comfort when he is feeling sad, unsure or overwhelmed. And, quite simply, we both enjoy our nursing relationship.

If I hadn’t nursed beyond one year, I would have never been able to enjoy Kieran’s impish grin before his inevitable toddler nursing gymnastics; the request for “mama milk dance!” as we swept across our living room dance floor; or waking up to his big blue eyes locked onto mine as he hugged my chest and sleepily murmured “love mama milk.”

These tender moments are memories I would never trade, and Kieran’s comfort and happiness far outweigh any possible criticism about extended breastfeeding.

_________________________________________________________________

(1) See “101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child,” http://www.promom.org/101/ (and citations therein) for some of the significant health benefits to children and mothers from even a few months of breastfeeding.
(2) “Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet” (citing Gulick, E. The Effects of Breastfeeding on Toddler Health, Ped Nursing 1986 Jan-Feb;12(1):51-4)
(3) Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet (citing Goldman AS. et al., Immunologic Components in Human Milk During Weaning, Acta Paediatr Scand. 1983 Jan;72(1):133-4; Goldman, A., Goldblum R.M., Garza C., Immunologic Components in Human Milk During the Second Year of Lactation, Acta Paediatr Scand 1983 May;72(3):461-2; Hamosh M, Dewey, Garza C, et al: Nutrition During Lactation. Institute of Medicine, Washington, DC, National Academy Press, 1991, pp. 133-140)
Toddlers who nurse also have fewer allergies, are smarter, and are well-adjusted socially. (see Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet and related citations)
(4) Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet (citations available at http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/ebf-refs.html#BreastCancer1)
(5) 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child, (citing Hartage et al, “Rates and risks of ovarian cancer in subgroups of white women in the United States.” Obstet Gynecol 1994 Nov; 84(5): 760-764; Rosenblatt KA, Thomas DB, “Lactation and the risk of Epithelial ovarian cancer”. Int J Epidemiol. 1993;22:192-197; Gwinn ML, “Pregnancy, breastfeeding and oral contraceptives and the risk of Epithelial ovarian cancer.” J. Clin. Epidemiol. 1990; 43:559-568)
(6) 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child (citing Rosenblatt, KA et al “Prolonged lactation and endometrial cancer” Int. J. Epidemiol. 1995; 24:499-503)
(7) “Breastfeeding Beyond a Year: Exploring Benefits, Cultural Influences, and More,”
http://www.llli.org/NB/NBSepOct07p196.html (citing Huggins, K. The Nursing Mother’s Guide to Weaning, Boston, MA: Harvard Common Press, 2007)
(8) Breastfeeding Beyond a Year: Exploring Benefits, Cultural Influences, and More (quoting Dettwyler, K.A. “A Time to Wean” in Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives, Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter, 1995)
(9) “Comfort Versus Nutrition,” http://www.breastfeeding.org.sg/comfort-versus-nutrition-by-kathryn-orlinsky.html

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.

Blog to Inspire: Myth: Cloth Diapers Cause Diaper Rash

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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.

Blog to Inspire entrant The Eco Chic is Calley Pate, a thirty-something wife and mother of two beautiful babies. As a mother she wants to lead by example in the hopes that her children will grow up with the knowledge and passion to make a difference.

The Eco Chic profileWhether you are considering cloth diapers or already using them one of the reasons for choosing cloth is because of your concern for the environment. You can’t see adding 6,000 disposable diapers to the landfill. But you’ve also heard that cloth diapers cause diaper rash, and that scares you.

We’ve all been there, our little ones wake from their naps and what do we find inside their diapers?

A big red diaper rash!

Admit it. When you see it for the first time, you feel like the world’s worst parent. When my son was a baby we used disposables and his little bum was always covered with a rash. No matter how much cream I lathered on his bum it was always red. Back then the world of cloth diapers was not much more than pre-folds and covers and the only person I knew who used cloth was my mom! Our pediatrician (thinking it was caused by the chemicals in the wipes) told us to use cloth wipes (wash clothes) and water. It was months before I tried regular wipes again but the rashes still appeared. This experience was one of the primary reasons I wanted to try cloth diapers with my daughter.

What causes diaper rash? There are actually many causes of diaper rash and we may need to channel Sherlock Holmes to figure it out.

  • Wetness
  • Rubbing or Chafing
  • Chemicals in urine/stool
  • Teething
  • Diet
  • Perfumes
  • Detergents
  • Antibiotics
  • Fabrics
  • Illness

And I’m pretty sure that there are more reasons that I’ve missed! Did you know that the rate of diaper rashes have increased since the development of disposable diapers? Did you know that diaper rashes are most common in babies between 9-12 months? Did you know that ALL babies get at least one diaper rash in their lifetime?

If you are lucky enough to determine WHY they have a diaper rash, you are now plagued with another challenge in the world of cloth diapers. Diaper rash creams can ruin your cloth diapers! The bases of most creams are oils which will leave a residue on your diapers and can cause them to repel…your worst nightmare!

Don’t put away those cloth diapers yet, you can help your baby and still use your favorite cloth diapers! Here are some tips to help return your babies bum to soft and smooth:

Find a good cloth diaper friendly diaper rash cream. The traditional creams that you can find at your local big box retailers are probably NOT your best choice. The cream we use on Lil’ B is more like a lotion than a cream and has always healed Lil’ Bs rashes within a day or two. Ask your favorite cloth diaper retailer what they recommend.

Don’t have a good rash cream? Try one of many home remedies that can treat diaper rash. Did you know that coconut oil and olive oil can be used to treat rashes? Or that tea tree oil can be used to treat yeast infection rashes?

Use a liner between your baby and the cloth diaper. You can use flushable liners or make your own cloth liners from fabric scraps (old t-shirts or blankets work well). When using a cloth liner, be sure to wash them separate from your cloth diapers since the creams can transfer to your diapers.

Change their diaper more frequently. Your goal is to keep them as dry as possible.

Practice elimination communication or diaper free time. Regardless of the type of diaper rash the best way to treat it is by allowing their bum to air out. Even 20-30 minutes every few hours can help keep the wetness from their red bum. Think of this as the ultimate in environmentally friendly diapering.

The most important thing to remember is that all babies get diaper rashes; they are common! Have patience and try to eliminate the causes of the rash. Don’t forget why you chose to use cloth diapers to begin with. They are better for your baby, better for your wallet, and better for the environment!

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.

Blog to Inspire: Cloth Diapers During Potty Training

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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.

Blog to Inspire entrant Stretching the One Income Dollar is Monique Rowe from Saskatchewan. She is the author of the book, Stretching the One Income Dollar, mother to two great daughters, and soul mate to Gerry.

One Income Dollar profileThere are many reasons to and advantages to using cloth diapers. First of all, cloth diapers are less abrasive against your baby’s soft, sensitive skin which causes fewer rashes than disposable diapers. Cloth is more economical because you wash and reuse the diapers instead of throwing them away after one use like how disposable ones are designed. Diapers can be very expensive if you have to keep buying them, and cloth is a onetime investment that gets multiple uses. They are also better for the environment because disposable diapers are often times not biodegradable and cloth isn’t meant to be thrown away.

The greatest advantage that a lot of parents are experiencing with the use of cloth diapers is that their babies potty train earlier than most kids that wear disposables. Babies that are wearing cloth will potty train up to six months earlier than expected -which have been proven in studies about potty training. Talking to parents who have used cloth on their babies will prove they are potty training way soon than those wearing the disposables. Cloth diapers also make potty training easier in addition to happening faster. Babies that are wearing disposable diapers cannot feel as well that they are wet. This is not such a good advantage . It is important when the babies are being potty trained that they feel the wetness. It is thought that babies want to potty train earlier because they are not liking the wet feeling from cloth. Your baby will know when to go to the bathroom because they can feel when the diaper is wet.

There are going to be a lot of accidents with babies when they are potty training. This is natural. It will be a new feeling that they have to learn to understand when they need to go to the bathroom. A great advantage of using cloth during potty training is that you’ll save a lot of money. Instead of having to buy disposable diapers after each accident, you can just wash the cloth ones and reuse them. Cloth diapers have come a long way to what they used to be like. The older style diapers were the big white pieces of flannel that looked like they could drape a small table. Today, there are so many nice colors. There are ones that are fitted and ones that have Velcro. Wow- not like it used to be. It is also so nice to not have to use pins anymore. Because of the newer features of cloth diapers that are fitted, it makes them easy to use during potty training. There are so many great leaps and bounds with the new age diaper.

Cloth diapers should be used during potty training, and before as well, because of the advantages they offer to both the parents and babies.

They are

  • convenient,
  • more economical,
  • better for your babies’ skin,
  • better for the environment, and
  • most important they will make your baby potty train earlier and easier.

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.

Cloth Diapers, Cloth Wipes, and Mama Cloth, Oh My!

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Long before I cloth diapered, I used cloth pads. That’s kind of backwards from the norm, I know, but when I first learned of mama cloth, I didn’t have a little one to diaper. I had read so much good about cloth pads, I wanted to jump right in and try it.

The very first pads I ordered were from a WAHM (Work At Home Mom). Despite the fact that stuffing them was a bit clumsy, I fell in love! I kept an old ice bucket (purchased from a thrift store) filled with water beside the toilet. I just dumped them in there and no one was any wiser as to what my bucket was for. At the end of my cycle, the entire bucket was dumped in the washer and washed clean, ready for the next month.

When I started cloth diapering, I realized how cloth diapering and using mama cloth truly do go hand in hand. I no longer needed the ice bucket, I simply tossed the mama cloth in the diaper pail I kept in the bathroom. Mama cloth and diapers all got washed together!

Then came the addition of cloth wipes. Everyone in the family decided these were a great idea. Once again, the use of cloth wipes just made sense. The diaper pail served to house them as well. Everything went to the laundry together and the whole world was a happier place.

Occasionally, family members chide me for using cloth because back in the “olden days” people would have given their right arm to have the time-saver of disposable products. However, the benefits I’ve reaped from using cloth far outweigh any time savings. Less cramps, less poopy blowouts, less clogged toilets are just a few of the benefits I’ve received. In addition to all of that, I’m helping to lessen the load this planet has to bear. So to those who say, “Oh my!” when I tell them I’m a cloth mama, my answer is, “Oh yeah!”

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.

Pregnancy by Nature carries a full line of cloth menstrual pads and other reusable menstrual products.

Double Diaper Duty

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Several of us have found ourselves diapering more than one child at a time despite our best efforts to have the last child potty-trained. However, when you cloth diaper, double diaper duty really isn’t all that bad. Here’s why:

  1. The landfills will thank you! There is nothing more disgusting to me than driving by our local landfill and seeing disposable diapers littering the fence. Because you’re doing double diaper duty, the landfills don’t have to deal with two children’s weekly stash of diapers.
  2. Your stash gets more life. There is something terribly satisfying to me about diapers being passed down from one child to the next. The ability to reuse something twofold is the ultimate definition of recycling!
  3. Laundry is worth it. One of my favorite things about cloth diapering two is the fact that my diaper pail is at just the right spot for a full load and a full line every couple of days. When you only diaper one (especially as that one gets older), you rarely get a full load at the right time to be washing.

So, be encouraged! Diapering two really isn’t that hard and the benefits of sticking with cloth diapers are well worth it on so many levels!

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.