The Big Latch On 2013

Breastfeeding the minion has been an amazing experience for me.  And I guess for her, since she does like it!  We have found a great community of other breastfeeding moms and this past weekend I got together with 14,536 of my closest friends and we all breastfed at the same time all over the world.

We participated in The Big Latch On.  We attended the gathering in Athens, Georgia and at precisely 10:30 AM the minion latched on and nursed for a minute.  It was hard keeping her on, she was too interested in all the other babies.  Potential friends!

There was one mom there who had an older daughter with her also, probably about 5 years old, and she was using the opportunity to teach her about breastfeeding.  That was pretty awesome to see.  We also got a cute little breastfeeding coloring book that will be great for the minion when she’s a little older.

It is very cool to have been a part of this.  We made it change from 14,535 to 14,536!  If the minion is still nursing next year, we will totally go again!

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A Quick List of Surprising Things I Can Do While Nusing

  • type this post
  • shop for groceries
  • read comic books
  • sleep
  • brush my teeth
  • go for a walk in the park
  • browse books at the library
  • eat dinner (well, only select things)
  • discuss very in-depth topics like philosophy, evolutionary biology, and what we want to eat for dinner
  • pet the pavlovinator (she loves to sit in my lap while I’m nursing)
  • shop catalogs for fruit trees
  • trim the minion’s nails (I bite the nails off the top hand while she nurses)
  • attend the sermon at my Unitarian Universalist church
  • garden (ok, I can tell the hero what to do and he can garden)
  • play video games (Skyrim!)

What things were you surprised you could do while nursing?

A Quick List of Free Places to Go with a Baby

  • plant nursery and look and feel the plants and flowers
  • pet store and watch the animals, especially fish
  • fabric store and explore textures
  • the library
  • international grocery store and if baby is old enough, get some fun produce to eat later
  • farmer’s market
  • look for local free concerts
  • a busy park (be safe, don’t go into secluded areas alone or just with just your baby)
  • walk around your neighborhood
  • La Leche League meetings

Do you have any additional ideas?

Sunny Summer Solstice Headband

The minion and I celebrated the summer solstice by picking some blueberries.  It was the first time the minion had eaten blueberries.  Tonight we are going to a celebration at our Unitarian Universalist church and the invitation said “seasonally appropriate clothing” so I decided to make her a sun headband.

I started out with three concentric circles of t-shirt fabric then I cut the rays of the sun in each circle.

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Then I hand stitched them together with three french knots in the center and stitched them onto a strip of regular cotton fabric.  Then I added two ties on either end of the strip of fabric.  The ties are strips of t-shirt material that I stretched so they curled up.  The idea is that you tie the red ties and thus it is fairly adjustable.

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I did iron it, but I like the way the rays curl up, it kind of reminds me of solar flares.  Happy Midsummer!

 

Baby-Led Weaning

Since I just did a post about the minion eating day-lily flower buds, I figure I should clarify.  We did not make a standard baby purée out of day-lily flower buds and have an airplane spoon fly it into her mouth.  Instead, we just let her pick it up from a plate and feed herself.  She has been doing this ever since we started her on solid food at 6 months.  We didn’t start her because she was 6 months, we started her because she could sit up on her own, was interested in our food, and was putting everything in her mouth.

We started by placing baby carrots in front of her and letting her pick them up and chew on them.  Since then she has had many other foods.  Also since then she has figured out creative ways of eating those foods with only two teeth.  She shaves off slivers of raw carrots, she sucks the juice out of cantaloupe, she even demolishes corn on the cob though I’m not quite sure how.

We practice baby-led weaning.  This is weaning in the British sense of the word meaning ‘to start solid foods’, not the American sense, meaning ‘to stop breastfeeding’.  The basic idea is that the baby knows themselves better than you know them.  They know what they like and they know what they don’t like.  They know when they want to eat and they know when they are finished.

The hope is that this will help instill self-confidence in children.  That it will help them regulate their own appetite when they get bigger and thus eat healthier.  And I add that I think it helps them develop their creativity based on how the minion eats her various foods.

It has worked great for us, it definitely fits into my lazy parenting philosophy.  Less work is easier for everyone!  It is messy (but what baby isn’t?) and takes patience as babies don’t always eat as fast as you might like.  But I think it’s worth a shot for anyone with a baby who is ready to eat.

Fabric Baby Blocks

I originally made these as a gift for one of the minion’s friends who turned one year old recently.  Then I decided my own child should probably have a set.  So here is the tutorial for the fabric baby blocks.

You will need:

100% cotton fabric

Thread

Sewing machine or patience to hand sew

Scrap fabric for stuffing

Instructions:

First I cut six 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches squares from matching cotton fabric.  Depending on how many different fabrics you have you can repeat some patterns.

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Next I stitched the squares together using a small seam allowance.  I used the edge of my presser foot to line up with the edge of the fabric.  You don’t want to sew all the way to each end of the fabric though.  Leave about 1/4 in at the beginning and end of each seam.  This is to allow for room for the corners to come together.  You want to sew them into the traditional ‘box’ configuration as seen in the photo below.

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Next you can start forming the 3 dimensional cube.  Begin to fold the box up and sew the seams on each one, keeping the 1/4 in space at the beginning and end.  On your last seam, sew the corners but don’t finish the seam in the middle because you need to turn it inside out.

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Turn your cube inside out and stuff with your desired stuffing.  I used scraps of felted wool.  Next you will fold the seam allowance into the cube and whip stitch it closed.

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The first one takes a bit of figuring, but after you have made one, they are super quick to make.  The hero now wants me to make the minion some dice!

How to Wash Diapers of the Cloth Variety

We separate the dirty diapers from the wet diapers.

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The wet diapers and diaper covers go in a cloth laundry bag that I made from the bottom of an old t-shirt.  The bag is held up by two clothespins so that it doesn’t fall into the plastic trash can that it is in.  Then we have the ‘baby bathtub’ that they gave us at the hospital when the minion was born that we put the dirty diapers in.

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We have a diaper sprayer (basically a high-powered kitchen sink sprayer that attaches to our toilet) and we spray the poo off the dirty diapers daily and just throw the whole bag of wet diapers into the washing machine as is.  We also use cloth wipes and they go in with the wet diapers.  We wash them on a sanitize setting on our washing machine using unscented castile soap at full strength if there are no diaper covers and Dapple laundry detergent if we are washing diaper covers.  The castile soap will build up on the diaper covers and make them less waterproof.

Every so often (about every 6 months so far) we have to strip the detergent from the diaper covers.  If we used castile soap we would have to do it more often.  To do this, we wash the diaper covers on high heat in the washing machine with no soap or detergent.  We do this for 2 cycles and then air dry the diaper covers.

So far this method has worked great.  We also do part-time elimination communication.  Basically we offer the toilet to the minion at each diaper change and when she wakes up from a nap.

Do you have any tricks for dealing with dirty cloth diapers?

Got Breastmilk?

The minion, the hero, and I were at Earthfare today and the minion got hungry.  Naturally, I put her up to my breast and fed her while still walking around directing the hero what to pick up.  There was a woman with her four-year-old daughter there who stopped me and thanked me for breastfeeding in public and not covering up.  She said she felt it was important for children to see women breastfeeding so that they don’t think of it as weird or something to be done only at the mother’s convenience when they have their own children.  I tend to agree with her.

We do need to educate children about breastfeeding, but don’t sign them up for a lactation class just yet.  I think it should be a more passive education.  They just need to grow up seeing mothers breastfeeding.  They need to read books where moms in the background are breastfeeding.  They need to play with dolls that don’t all come with a little plastic bottle to feed them with.  They need to see the international breastfeeding symbol in public places.  Breastfeeding needs to be normal.  Breastfeeding is normal, it just needs to be seen as normal.

It was surprisingly empowering and encouraging for the woman in Earthfare to speak up and congratulate me.  I have often heard horror stories about people approaching them about nursing in public with negative comments.  I have been lucky that no one has done that to me.

I just wanted to put this out there as a small antidote to all the horror stories and on the off-chance you see someone nursing in public, thank them for being strong and educating the world and most importantly future parents.

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Diapers of the Cloth Variety

Cloth diapers.  That phrase may conjure up horror and disgust, but it shouldn’t.  Cloth diapers can be clean, easy, and super cute!

The minion was born a month earlier than we had expected her so we hadn’t packed the hospital bag when I went into labor.  Subsequently, we forgot to bring some of the cloth diapers we had asked for at the baby shower to use on the minion.  At the hospital we were given a package of disposable diapers and told that a lot of parents used disposables until the baby passed all the meconium (sticky black poop newborns have for the first few days).  We didn’t have much of a choice at that point so we used them until she passed the meconium.  Ever since then, we’ve used cloth diapers exclusively.

Someone new to cloth diapers may be a bit overwhelmed at all the options but I won’t go into them here because there are numerous places on the internet that explain what they all are.  I’m just going to tell you my opinion about them.

Pocket diapers or all-in-ones might be a good transition to someone who is hesitant because a diaper change is just like a disposable diaper change.  We had one and decided we didn’t like it because you can’t just replace the insert if it gets a little wet.  You have to replace the whole diaper.

That is why we like simple covers.  Our favorite brand is flip.  We use a mix of prefolds and flat inserts but we like not having to change the cover every time.  This means we can get away with only having about 6 covers total. We had one wool cover and while I really like the idea of the natural fibers instead of the plastic covers, it was too hard to pull on over the diaper (and the minion’s kicking legs).

I am also a fan of one size diapers because I don’t see the point in buying something the minion is just going to grow out of if I don’t have to. When the minion was a newborn the covers were a little comically large, but she was a little small when she was born and they still worked.  Here’s a photo of the largest and smallest sizes the same diaper can be.  Also look at the cute colors!

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I’ve never tried hook and loop closures, but I don’t want to have to worry about them getting stuff stuck to them in the wash or loosing their effectiveness, or even the minion being able to pull it off.  So all of our diaper covers have snaps.

So we’re saving money, the environment, and the minion’s skin by using cloth diapers.