Notes of a Marsupial Mother


My father likes to point out that I am a conservative because I am fond of old things and don’t like changes. I used to agree until I recognized that I did like change and new ideas, but I find it difficult to part with objects that are either still good or can at least be used for something else. The consequence of this set of mind is that I don’t throw away eagerly and tend to accumulate stuff. One of the meanest things my mother could do to me as a child and teenager is to throw something away. I have kept old newspaper articles (certainly still of value in 30 years), old school notes, pieces of clothes (to make new clothes or at least stuffed animals — isn’t it a great way to use stuff?), pieces of broken furniture (to make new furniture!) and other random pieces. You see, this is good stuff. The kind that helps me be efficient. I am not against new stuff as long as you leave my old stuff alone.

plastic bath toy

Stuff is difficult to resist

Then there is new stuff. The kind that is given as a present and is too ugly to use and too cheap to sell, yet to throw it away would be a waste, completely inefficient. This is the reason why I sometimes get upset over gifts. I feel guilty because we are supposed to be thankful for gifts, but what am I supposed to do with a fishing rod someone finds so pretty? And does my baby really need a third set of plastic bath toys?

There is still another kind of stuff: these big and small purchases that come with a new baby. Once a baby is in sight, your home begins to fill with all these nice-to-have items. The baby gets her own stroller for a price of a small car, her own swing with a thousand buttons, a crib, a bathing tub, a play mat, a dozen blankets, a dozen bottles, a dozen pacifiers and her very own garbage can. At some point you wonder if the relation between the weight of the baby and the weight of the baby stuff  is still appropriate.

Stuff is difficult to resist, but every once in a while it’s time to say, “I can part with this old shirt sleeve. I could survive without a fishing rod. And hey, he’s just a little baby, he surely doesn’t have to contribute to so much waste.”

Elimination communication

Elimination communication: easy in summer

It’s been about five months since we have started EC’ing and all in all it is going really well.

We had some difficulties now and then, mainly teething-related (as my neighbour and mother to two put it, everything is teething-related). When Baby Roo was cutting his first teeth he produced so much drool that his stools were almost pure water at times. He was going five times a day and two to three times at night. For two months! I was pooped on without any warning a couple of times and the night-time potty sessions with the unavoidable noise of velcros almost forced daddy to sleep on the couch.

Then there were days when we just seemed to be out of sync. I am sure it sounds familiar to every EC’ing parent: you hold your baby over the toilet, he starts crying and arching his back, you figure he doesn’t need to go, but then in ten minutes he pees in his diaper/on the floor/on you.

On better days we still had a couple of misses and I worried a little every time we went out. To my surprise, EC on the go turned out to be even more effective than at home. I think, the main reason for it is that we don’t use a stroller and babies don’t soil themselves eagerly when worn. I even had a great EC day when I had two meetings with clients and took Baby Roo with me. I just asked if I could use their bathroom.

In summer, “pottying” outside is so much easier, so I have decided to switch from diapers to trainers or underwear. As an additional benefit, it certainly increases my motivation (“Oh, he is waking up and has no diaper on, quick, I need a place for him to pee!”).

Starting night-time EC

Starting night-time EC

Last month I went to my first diaper-free group meeting in the city. About 10 families attended, some still pregnant, some with newborns, some with toddlers, one consisted of a lonely father. We exchanged experiences and asked questions. The meeting is led by an experienced EC’ing mother who doesn’t use diapers at all, not even in the first days. She gave me courage to leave them at home more often too (even for longer trips in a car) and to start night-time EC, something I have always planned  but have always postponed till the temperatures are warmer (or till Baby Roo is dry at night, hehe).

The nights are not so easy at the moment and can probably be described as a potty strike. For now I am only offering the potty in the evening and then maybe once at night and change the diapers as soon as they get wet at other times. Here are some items I find useful:

Night-time EC: supplies

Night-time EC: supplies

My new green life

Life with baby brings obvious changes like never sleeping in on the weekend or giving up on the new interesting movies, but there have been less expected changes for me too.

More laundry, less detergent and the properties of hemp

Diapers drying

Cloth diapers drying in the sun

For the first time since we got our washing machine I know what its settings are for. I use gentle cycle for more water, normal cycle to remove stains. A hot cycle without detergent and a few rinse cycles help get rid of eventual soap build-up so that the laundry always smells fresh. As far as detergent goes, less is usually more. And of course I don’t use fabric softener anymore.

After starting with elimination communication I also switched to cloth diapers and trainers, which turned out to be a science of their own. In the meantime I can tell you how hemp, cotton, microfiber and fleece differ in their properties and how bamboo fabric is produced.

Learning some chemistry

I have been reading the labels before buying any food for years, and of course I wanted to be even more careful with baby meals. I have always liked the idea of cooking for the whole family and “babify” some dishes when needed: for example, puree apples for the baby and roll them into pancakes for the parents. That is indeed what we are doing now, only without the babifying part.

Baby-led weaning

Baby-led weaning

This approach is called baby-led weaning (I’ve posted some more photos here) and is about giving babies more or less the same things you are eating as finger foods, skipping the purees. At the beginning they can only swallow tiny amounts, gradually eating more and more. After three months of practice my Baby Roo probably manages three noodles and several bites of vegetables during one meal. So it is really more about cooking for myself and sharing with the baby than cooking especially for the baby. Now the majority of my food has to be healthy, nutritious, natural, diverse, unsalted and unsugared. There are almost exclusively organic products in my shopping cart these days.

And it’s not just food. Lately I have started researching the ingredients in my skin-care and cleaning products too. I ended up throwing most of them away. Unfortunately it is true that not every cream that says “baby”, “sensitive” or “with natural oils” is healthy or even “okay”. My mother went to a pharmacy recently to buy some massage oil for her grandson. The lady there told her, “Yes, it is good for babies, it is made with natural lavender and calendula oils”. Well, it turned out that the first and therefore the main component in that bottle was parafinum liquidum, or mineral oil, which is a petroleum by-product — nothing natural about it. You would think that pharmacists are more trustworthy or that the products they sell are somehow special, exclusive or at least approved by medical professionals. In reality, distributing something through pharmacies is just a smart marketing strategy.

Avoiding plastic is another recent craze of mine. BPA and PVC are the words that come to mind when I see a child chewing on a toy. Lately it’s not even about the chemicals, I just don’t want to be surrounded by plastic. It seems to be everywhere, so cheap and so low-maintenance. On the other hand, I did say some time ago, to my husband’s joy, that I could imagine Lego being my son’s main toy. Can we have wooden Lego, please?

So here I am, emptying my old creams, collecting the plastic bottles in a bag to throw away separately, cleaning with vinegar, lavender oil and black tea and awaiting a box of local organic vegetables to be delivered to my door. I hope it is not just a phase that new parents soon grow out of.

BLW: avocado
BLW: avocado
BLW: avocado

Baby Roo goes naked butt

Baby Roo goes naked butt!

I try to “watch the baby and not the clock”. I feed him when he is hungry, I help him fall asleep when he is tired, I don’t give him carrots from a jar because the doctor told me I can, but I gave him his first banana when he asked for it. The only thing I used to do differently is changing his diapers. Read the rest of this entry »

This could be a great wordless Wednesday post except that nobody has taken a picture.

Last week my parents-in-law suggested that we should try putting my marsupial baby into a stroller/pram (I feel the need to use both American and British words here so that it’s clear to everyone: I mean this thing where my baby is supposed to lie flat on his back and see almost nothing) and take a relaxing walk. Read the rest of this entry »

New mei tai on a chair


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