I’m writing this as my living children are just over two years old. I’ve learned a ton and hope you find some if it helpful and FREEING, too. The absolute most important section is at the very end, so scroll down there if you don’t want to read through all of this kerfuffle. 😉
EDITED: I made a new post about our updated practices here: The Holistic Mama’s Medicine Cabinet (Drug-FREE)
Medical Care: I ALWAYS recommend working in conjunction with an ob/gyn or MFM and ALWAYS delivering at a hospital with a true Level III/IV NICU. I also live in the crunchy world where birthing centers and home births are the norm. While I completely understand the beauty and want for that, I cannot say it is a good idea in any situation. Seconds matter. Having to get in a car and drive even just across the street could be the difference between LIFE and DEATH for mama or baby. I know most pregnancies and deliveries will be totally and completely normal and without incident. However, I make decisions based on risk – risk of needing an intervention and not getting it in a timely fashion vs. risk of delivering in a hospital. I spoke with one birthing center to educate on TAC and she was insistent that they only allow births of completely normal pregnancies. While that’s a good stance and a fine idea, too many in my infant loss and IC community know that pregnancies are often completely normal until they simply aren’t and the baby is coming and that’s it. Too late. Therefore, I depart from my crunchy friends on this point and only recommend a hospital delivery at a true level III/IV NICU. I’d urge everybody to look at it through that lens and not disregard my opinion as biased.
Chiropractic Care: besides keeping mama healthy, chiropractic care can keep mama comfortable. Round ligament pain, baby sitting on a nerve, a breech baby, etc can all be helped by chiropractic care. A good chiropractor can also give specific nutritional counseling that can help relieve many issues and prepare baby for a good start. (to be clear, the nutritional impact on baby begins long before conception) Additionally, we feel chiropractic care is essential to preventing illness, combating illness more effectively, and staying well overall. Our first stop for needing medical intervention beyond Mama is always the chiropractor.
Our DFW top chiro pick is Dr. Joe DuChene www.duchenenaturalhealth.com
Myofascial Release Therapy: If there are prior pregnancies or gynecological/uterine surgeries, having an experienced practitioner perform myofascial release therapy is an excellent way to have uterus in tip top shape for holding baby. Scar tissue can be released and myofascial restrictions freed up so that the womb will expand as needed by baby. Definitely find somebody very experienced and frequently practicing with pregnancies. The John Barnes website is a good place to start.
During pregnancy, I would also plan and schedule an appointment for the week after baby arrives. Babies benefit tremendously from myofascial release. Oftentimes, restrictions form around the dural tube and cause feeding/digestion issues that make baby miserable. Frequent pediatrician visits, zantac prescriptions, special formulas, and panic about GI referrals can often be avoided with releasing the myofascial tissue. My own daughters benefited from myofascial release therapy by having their tongue and lip ties non-surgically released allowing for breastfeeding, releasing restrictions around the dural tube eliminating acid reflux and painful gas (some gas is normal!), releasing restrictions around the kidneys allowing for proper elimination (we didn’t even know this was a problem until we saw the difference afterwards), and reshaping head without a helmet due to plagiocephaly (helmets are not ideal and can cause problems). Later impacts of myofascial release therapy included one daughter (suspected CP) beginning to use both sides of her body completely and my other daughter breathing normally (slightly blocked airway due to myofascial restrictions) and walking/running normally. This is also an excellent therapy when accidents like falling out of shopping carts occur (after an ER and chiro trip, of course)
In case I’m not being clear: schedule your baby immediately for myofascial release therapy with an experienced infant therapist. Post-pregnancy mama’s body would also benefit greatly from myofascial release therapy.
Our DFW (and surrounding states!) pick is Frankie Burget www.windsongtherapy.com
Massage Therapy: I tried massage therapy during pregnancy and found no relief, but I also may not have been going to a great practitioner. However, in general, massage has never been awesome for me and I much prefer myofascial release and chiropractic care.
Acupuncture: YES. Besides preparing the womb for baby and encouraging initial blood flow establishment, acupuncture helped with my energy levels and my nausea.
Our DFW pick is Deb Duvall www.livingchiacupuncture.com
Look at a Weston a Price diet (the book Nourishing Traditions) or a paleo diet, but in general no processed foods, significantly increase intake of protein and vegetables. Possibly add desiccated liver to your diet. No sugar and caffeine are good ideas, as well. Hopefully, eating clean whole foods was established prior to pregnancy.
A good thought is to understand that pregnancy nutrition isn’t just for nourishing the baby in that moment, but it’s helping to establish the health of baby for the rest of his life. Placental encapsulation is also a great thing to consider, but can only be done if the placenta is healthy and that comes primarily from nutrition. Good nutrition is also key for breastfeeding later on, as well. Whatever mama eats, baby is eating. If you wouldn’t give baby a Sonic drink, then Mama shouldn’t have it either.
This could be never-ending, so I’ll say that mama ought to work with her medical care team ESPECIALLY chiropractor to determine the best supplements. Muscle test all of them, as well.
We prefer supplements that are food based and minimally processed like Juice Plus. And, whether you know you have MTHFR or not, taking a methylated B vitamin product is not going to harm anybody as opposed to a folate only product. Seeking Health, Thorne, and Apex are some excellent brands to consider.
Avoid synthetic things like folic acid (folate or methyl-folate are the real thing) and “enriched” foods.
Our DFW pick would be nutritional counseling with LeighAnne Duchene or chiro Dr. Joe DuChene www.duchenenaturalhealth.com/
During pregnancy, attend a breastfeeding class to get a good overview and understanding of how the mama/baby breast relationship works. Latch matters. Supply/Demand matters. There are a ton of myths about breastfeeding, but the bottom line is that it’s hard and it’s worth it on so many levels. Having good support and education on the matter can make all the difference.
Allow me to emphasize the importance of latch. Mamas will panic and ask all the time how to increase supply – the answer is to feed the baby. As baby eats more, breasts will produce more. BUT if the baby isn’t latching correctly and drawing out milk efficiently, then the breast will not get the signal to produce more. And no additional milk will come. There are many easy fixes for latch issues. Tongue and lip ties often go missed (though I have no idea why!), and are easily corrected with myofascial release therapy or a laser cut. My own children had never breastfeed ever the first four months of their lives and my supply was about nil due to that. When they were finally released from the NICU and able to see a competent LC, tongue tie and lip tie were identified as the culprits immediately. Why on earth the 12 hospital LCs I worked with daily for 4 months didn’t identify them, I’ll never know. But after myofascial release therapy to release the tongue and lip ties, both babies breastfed right away.
Our DFW lactation consultant pick is Mellanie Sheppard or her partner www.forbabiessake.com – they offer excellent preparing breastfeeding classes (GREAT SHOWER GIFT!) as well as free support group meetings.
Our DFW pick for myofascial release therapy is Frankie Burget www.windsongtherapy.com
Your little one will not need to see a dentist for a couple of years unless there are tongue tie or lip tie issues (or something else unique) – more on that below. We do not see a pediatric dentist, but a family dentist with many pediatric patients. While there are many reasons to see a pediatric dentist, we could not find one in line with our wellness paradigm. It is important to us to have a dentist who understands the role of nutrition in oral health as opposed to simply brushing. We also wanted somebody who grasped the problems of sodium fluoride. Our current dentist holds the philosophy that function trumps intervention, and that is definitely in line with our approach. Our DFW pick for dentists include Dr. Stacy Cole www.svcole.com/ or Drs. Attar or Sprinkle pridedentaloffice.com/. Drs. Attar and Sprinkle are definitely more holistic than Dr. Cole, but Dr. Cole is very parent-decision supportive.
You’ll need to decide for yourself the impacts of sodium fluoride, whether to use sealants or not (beware of the chemicals in the sealants), whether root canals are okay, etc. Remember, just because it’s a common practice does not mean it’s best for long term health. Don’t underestimate fermented cod liver oil, cell salts, trace minerals, fermented foods, etc. Some cavities can even be remineralized! See Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel.
We make our own toothpaste following Wellness Mama’s remineralizing toothpaste recipe (wellnessmama.com/2500/remineralizing-toothpaste/). While our little ones also use this toothpaste, just using coconut oil alone is a good way to get them started. We also use Bass toothbrushes that are much gentler than regular toothbrushes (www.orawellness.com/bass-tootbrushes.html)
Tongue/lip tie stuff is serious. It can have long term impacts. So, I’ll share some info here: Tongue/Lip Tie Info
Please attend a class by a local chiropractor on how to understand vaccines. Despite popular media or crunchy parents’ cries, each parent needs to understand the full impact of vaccines fully on their particular child. I am neither pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine; however, the decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate should not be automatic. It should be fully researched and prayed upon for each individual child. The risk of a contracted disease impact vs. the risk of a vaccine injury needs to be weighed out for each child. Whether you vaccinate or don’t, you are responsible for your child (nobody else!) and you need to be completely comfortable with your choice. Check out this series of four blogs on understanding how to think through it: www.family-wellness.com/vaccines-part-1/
Our DFW pick for a vaccine class is Dr. JimBob Haggerton www.family-wellness.com You may need to call and ask when the next class is and ask to be put on a notification list. It usually costs $5.
I find it advisable to have on one board and have an established relationship with a practice just in case. Conduct interviews/visits with pediatricians while you are pregnant. Most will meet with you for free. We do attend all of our wellness checks and will see the practice if my mom stuff and chiropractic care fails to heal. We travel over an hour to see a holistic pediatrician because he is supportive and encouraging of our natural remedies, educated on natural remedies, and also an expert on MTHFR, which impacts every facet of our family’s health.
Make sure your pediatrician has the same vision/paradigm as you for health and healing.
Our DFW pick for pediatrician is Dr. Randy Naidoo www.shinepedatrics.com
Oh if I’d only known then what I know now! Look, over the counter medicines and prescriptions are NOT the only options (and are rarely the best options!) for our babies! So many of their discomforts can be solved easily, non-invasively, or with gentle natural solutions! I am not opposed to drugs and acute medical care when it is needed, but it just usually is not. Also, availability – or even ‘natural’ – doesn’t mean without impact. If it’s powerful enough to help, it’s powerful enough to hurt.
I really want to emphasize that YOU are responsible for your baby – nobody else! I realise you likely do not have a medical degree. But you need to understand that every person has a specific set of tools and a paradigm they operate out of. If I take my congested, coughing baby to the pediatrician, he is likely going to give antibiotics – because that’s the tool he has available. If I take him to the chiropractor, he is likely going to do a neck adjustment – because that’s the tool he has available. Those doctors choosing those tools does not necessarily mean that was the best thing for your baby! It may be, but it may not. Please understand this concept before choosing a treatment for your child. Know that you have options and you are not limited to just one tool! Other mamas in your community will be excellent resources on this front.
Also, PREVENTION is key! Live a life so that your child can be WELL and his body is equipped to combat whatever comes his way! For our family, that looks like this most of the time:
- Eat wholesome, nutritious foods
- Minimal consumption of processed foods
- Being physically active (nothing specific, just running, jumping, swinging, climbing, digging, etc.)
- Being in the sunshine! Without sunscreen! Gasp! (lots of reasons – check out Wellness Mama)
- Regular chiropractic visits (once monthly or so)
- Follow a rhythm/routine for most of our days concerning eating, sleeping, working, playing, resting
- RESTING on a daily basis
- Supportive supplements:
- Juice Plus
- Cod Liver Oil (rotate from the three listed below)
- Vit D3 drops
- A couple of other things specific to our medical needs of MTHFR (neuromethylation cream, AF Betafood)
- Vit C in the winter
Somewhere in here, I need to mention poop, so here it is. WATCH THE POOP! This is a great indicator of what’s going on in your baby! Diet, teething, illness, etc all impact poop. Watch it – it’s a check God graces us with multiple times daily!
Homeopathic Remedies are my number one pick. Most people do not understand homeopathy. For a basic overview, the free book Beyond Flat Earth Medicine is an excellent basic guide (just google). Rather than working in the realm of substances impacting cells, homeopathic works in the realm of electrical frequencies impacting cells. Classical homeopathy relies upon finding each individual’s constitutional remedy (good luck getting that for a baby!), but contemporary homeopathy is more allopathic in that it treats symptoms. Homeopathic Medicine for Infants and Children is an excellent on-hand resource. If you get the wrong remedy, there’s no harm done. If you get the right remedy, you’ll see symptom relief within seconds. It’s truly amazing and has become our family’s number one go to for all things. It’s inexpensive, non-invasive, and completely effective. Homeopathy depends on the minutiae so you want somebody dedicated to understanding that completely. In DFW, our pick for homeopathic guidance is Dr. Alex Bekker as opposed to a naturopath.
Essential oils are all the rage right now, and for good reason: they work! I’m of a more cautious mindset on essential oils because they are, in fact, powerful and not without impact. But they are an excellent tool and certainly far superior to liver damaging, glutathione draining Tylenol. We prefer Young Living or Plant Therapy (though our experience with PT has not been as effective as with YL), and we definitely avoid store brand essential oils that aren’t pure essential oil (regardless of label claims). The book Gentle Babies is a great resource to have, though I hesitate to use peppermint and eucalyptus on little ones so I modify the book recommendations on that.
Some basics to start with:
- Breastmilk! Use it for everything!!! Diaper rash, pink eye, nasal congestion, bug bites, etc. This is a reason to pump and keep forever!
- Homeopathic probiotics – see your chiropractor
- Colloidal Silver (no more than 10ppm) – DFW pick is Dave’s Naturally Healthy Solutions
- Tea Tree Essential Oil (melaluca a.)
- Lavender Essential Oil
- Frankincense Essential Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Hyland’s Teething Tablets
- Boiron’s Camillia (for teething or anxiety)
- Hyland’s Tiny Cold Tablets
- Baltic Amber necklaces – I’m putting this here to highlight their existence, but decide if they are right for you. Some people will get an anklet and keep a sock over it.
- Coconut Water (NOT Pedialyte!)
- Head scan thermometer
- Thermometer dedicated for rectal use – mark ‘RECTAL’ on it so you know. Besides taking a rectal temp if doctor desires, the silver part of the thermometer can be circled around the inside circumference of anus in order to stimulate a bowel movement during times of constipation.
Additional items in my cabinet include:
- Various homeopathic remedies, both singles and combinations
- Various essential oils
- Cell Salts (Bioplasma)
- Raw, local honey
- Nordic Naturals Fish Oil
- Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil (Rosita)
- OmegaCo3 (Apex Energetics)
- Turmeric (Inflavanoid Intensive Care)
- Pure Radiance C powder (Synergy)
- Bovine Gelatin (Great Lakes)
- Chlorella Tablets (Sun)
- Apple Cider Vinegar (Braggs)
- Organic Garlic and Organic Onions ALWAYS
- Coconut Oil
- Bentonite Clay
- Colloidal Silver (no more than 10ppm)
- Olive Leaf Extract
- Dried herbs for infusions
- Herbal salves and tinctures
- Elderberry Syrup
- Activated Charcoal
- Grapeseed Extract
- Gentian Violet
- Corganic Probiotics – Infant and Adult
- Epsom Salt
- Magnesium Oil Spray (Ancient Minerals)
- Several Diffusers
- Nebulizer with face mask
- Nose Frieda, though we actually prefer the hospital nasal aspirator
- Children’s Benadryl – this is the only drugstore medicine we have in our home, but keep it on in case there is an acute allergic response that my homeopathic remedy doesn’t solve within 5 seconds. UPDATED: Nope. No longer needed. Learn about Apis homeopathic remedy.
Resources we regularly utilize include:
- Homeopathic Medicine for Infants and Children by Dana Ullman
- Family Guide to Homeopathy: Symptoms and Natural Solutions by Andrew Lockie
- Herbal Medicine for Beginners by Rosemary Gladstar
- Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family by Rosemary Gladstar
- Essential Oil Pocket Reference by LifeScience Publishing
- Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern
- Ebook How To Treat Fevers Naturally (please don’t medicate away a fever!)
- ecourse A Parent’s Guide to Natural Remedies http://jubileehealth.org/shop-2/
- Nourishing Traditions by Sally Falon
- Nourished Baby by Heather Dessinger
- DIY Organic Beauty Recipes by Heather Dessinger
I’d be remiss to not mention somewhere in here that we have been able to eliminate all chemicals from our home by changing to using Norwex products and Thieves household cleaner. I’m probably going to look at Birch Basics in the future, since it can be used on people, too. Here’s my review of Norwex products and where you can buy them from me (I do earn some sort of commission, but IDK what it is. Mostly, I just want you to know how awesome these products are!): Norwex Review
I’m a minimalist at heart. For example, my kitchen is bare bones when it comes to equipment because I try to find one tool that will be hard working for a myriad of tasks. Having twins in a 1200 square foot home makes me the same way with baby equipment. A friend asked me if I felt it was plausible to have a baby in a one-bedroom apartment. YES! You do what works for your family and remember the most important thing your baby needs is Jesus, safety, love, food, and YOU. Additionally, I have learned a great deal about the brilliance and joy of Montessori, so I’ve modified my list to reflect that. You’ll notice there are not items on here from every aisle at Babies R Us. That’s okay…I didn’t leave anything out. These are my must-haves for future babies:
A place to sleep: we enjoyed the Arms’ Reach Cosleeper (full size) when they were tiny, but moved to cosleeping around 7 months. While we utilize traditional cribs for napping and sleeping now, in the future we will probably not use cribs or a cosleeper at all, but follow a Montessori nursery set up with a futon mattress (or intellibed!) on the floor and Moses basket for littles. I enjoy an earthing mat on my bed and will definitely have one for future babies. They enjoy it on my bed as do the dogs. Everybody sleeps better with it. www.earthing.com/ I’ll also be sewing a topponcino for future babies. michaelolaf.com/store/product1.html Google it for mom reviews. Also, baby needs to sleep on back not tummy until he can roll himself over. Significant reduction in SIDS when the US made this the standard. Although there is also some speculation that SIDs could be due to off-gassing of mattresses. That’s another reason to consider a futon mattress or an intellibed.
A note on sleeping: Hubby and I did a rotating sleep schedule the first little bit. He would go to bed around 6pm and I’d stay awake until after the midnight/1am feed. He would wake around 2am and stay up while I slept until he left for work around 7/8am. This way we both got solid hours of sleep. The sacrifice was those couple of feedings when they had to have a bottle instead of the breast, but sleep was more important for us at that point.
A place to lounge: we loved our boppy pillows with waterproof covers (sew removable cotton covers to match your home décor!) and our bouncy seats (recover to match your home décor!). For older babies, we did utilize stationary jumpers, but I think that was a twin thing. I will likely not use those for future babies because I think they are overstimulating. Instead, I’ve seen something that looked like a little cloth table with a seat in it so that baby could stand/sit/bounce naturally. And instead of loud bright toys, Mama could place a simple wooden object for baby to examine. No Bumbos as they’re bad for baby’s development – that goes for walkers, too.
A place to change/dress: You do not need an elaborate set up. And a lot of mamas get away with bins and using their own bed. I found having everything I might need in one central location to be helpful. But, more importantly, I wanted the child to understand from the beginning that there is a designated location for dealing with elimination. I didn’t know how naturally Montessori I was. A larger idea outside of potty stuff was the idea of introducing process/routine. This was an easy, natural way to do that.
A way to carry: we are big-time baby wearers. We loved loved loved our Moby wraps (took about ten Youtube videos and practice times to master). A number of options are available and you may have a local babywearing group who can loan you various ones to try. In DFW, check out FortWorth Baby Wearers on FB. In addition to bonding with and soothing baby, baby wearing eliminates the need for tummy time as core muscles can be exercised this way. It’s also a great way to breastfeed in public without anybody knowing if you’re concerned about that.
A way to transport: get a car seat. One for each car is a luxury. Convertible seats are popular, but we sure did enjoy our infant seats. Check http://csftl.org/ for the best reviews. Also be sure to find a Certified Safety Technician to show you the proper way to install your seat in your car. And DEFINITELY keep your child rear-facing for way longer than what you think – like I can see my children being four years old and still rear-facing. Seriously. The statistics on reduction in head traumas is absolutely staggering.
As far as strollers go, I used our double stroller a handful of times only. And that was just due to having twins. For a singleton, I doubt I’d ever use one. And, I’ve not used one since they learned to walk.
A place to feed: initially, feeding baby happens a lot. A LOT. Make it comfortable for all of you. At some point, you’ll want to move the child along to independent eating. Highchairs are fine and we used the ones that strap onto dining chairs. The Stokke and other growing chairs like it are fabulous if you have the money for one. Despite our Montessori preference, we enjoyed those because it allowed for family eating. We teach our children that meal time isn’t just for eating, but for our family connecting. So, whether food was a part of it or not, the foundation of connection was set. Another option is a weaning table – and these are wonderful! They are small tables and chairs appropriate and safe for little ones – way younger than you likely think. We have a regular child’s table for the girls now and what we do is breakfast and lunch at their small table. I pull up a stool so we are still relating. Then, we do dinner with Daddy at the family dining table. OR, we sometimes let them eat separately but join us at the table for family time after they finish eating. There’s no hard/fast line here – but think about independence as well as communion. (note: we did only use our chairs for around 6-8 months before the girls preferred a regular dining chair at our family table – they just flip it around backwards and sit up on their knees to eat. It works for them and us, so that’s where we followed the children to!)
A way to feed: even if you breastfeed, it’s nice to have some bottles on hand. We like Dr. Brown’s glass bottles, but will also be using stainless steel bottles in the future. (16 per baby would be luxurious! First few months, only need the 120oz ones, but after that, the 240 oz ones are necessary) Other bottles may be fine, but if you have issues, you’ll eventually end up at Dr. Brown’s anyway. So, let your showers buy you these to start. (note: speech pathologist told us to avoid avoid avoid Tommee Tippee, though I can’t remember why) Some breastfeeders will only utilize a syringe to feed baby in order to avoid nipple confusion, but we didn’t find that necessary and our LC educated us on the way to bottle feed that mimics breastfeeding.
A breastpump was necessary for our NICU time and my return to work time. I both rented a Medela Symphony and owned a Medela Pump in Style. Whichever you get, make sure you have extra tubing on hand (you’ll need it at 2am on a Saturday) and make sure it’s a double electric pump. Get a hands-free bra to go with it or make your own from a sports bra. I daily pumped in the car on the way to/from work that way. For that, be sure to NOT get the car charger adaptor, but a plug-in adaptor for the car. We also really loved our Lawn drying rack. Bonus, they sell it in white now! And, it’s sleek enough that it can be tucked into a cabinet instead of taking up counter space. Milk Storage Bags or volufeeders (if you have a nicu stay, stock up on those volufeeders! Seriously, take home about 40 every single time you leave the nicu!)
You’ll also want some sort of cloths for wiping baby’s mouth or spit ups etc. I sewed a million out of pretty little fabrics (cotton print on one side, flannel on the other) and made sure to put two seams in them to make tri-folding easy. Bonus: as my girls got older, it was a great easy way to teach them folding and let them practice. At two years old, they now regularly fold square/rectangle items from the wash.
Food: breastmilk from a well-nourished mother is best. Let me emphasize well-nourished. If mama is eating McDonald’s daily, I’d question that breastmilk being the best for baby. There are many commercial formulas available and even specialty ones pre-digested or soy only, etc. Without going into the dangers of those (but PLEASE don’t give your child soy!), I’ll simply advocate homemade formula. We follow the Weston A Price raw cow’s milk formula recipe. We did muscle test the girls to see that every ingredient was agreeable and that is a must. There is also goat milk and liver broth based recipes. Any of those are far superior to commercial formulas. They are inexpensive compared to commercial formulas, can be made well ahead of time, can even be frozen, and are simply wonderfully nourishing without junk in them.
As far as solids, we follow the child and looked for clues as to when to start solids. There is no one age for all children. Baby led weaning worked well for us. While I did make our own purees for one round, that was before I learned about baby led weaning, so I won’t be doing that again. Baby eats what we eat, though food under one is just for fun. I’d like to emphasize the importance of following a no GLeNS diet for babies (grains, legumes, nuts, seeds). Baby’s pancreas just doesn’t produce the required amylase for digesting those things and it can cause long-term health issues. Bonus for parents was that we got to clean up our eating substantially by cutting those things out. Good first foods include bone broth, egg yolk, shaved raw liver (frozen), butternut squash, avocado, etc. Mommypotamus’s ebook Nourished Baby is an excellent guide.
Stimulation/Play/Work: There is absolutely nothing at Toys R Us your baby needs. I promise. A simple mobile of primary colors, a mirror on the wall at his level, a few sanded maple objects, some black/white geographic prints, and maybe a small stuffed animal with a distinct face are about all baby needs. Look at the beginning infant toys on Montessori websites such as www.beginningmontessori.com/complete-package/ to see what I mean. Read Montessori From the Start just to get an understanding of how the baby’s mind works – whether you pursue Montessori or not. (and ignore the breastfeeding advice in the book) Looking on Pinterest for ‘Montessori Baby’ items will be an easy resource.
Clothing: We had a ton of clothes. We used about two things. I’d say let your friends buy you cute little items, but you really only need a few onesies and leggings and socks (for warmth) for a really really long time. As far as shoes go, I would not put shoes on them until they had learned to walk. Even now, we only wear shoes if we have to. I want them retaining a natural sense of balance and being in contact with the earth’s electrical frequency as often as possible.
Laundry Soap: Just wash in water. Or use Molly’s. Or Make your own. I mean, those are actual chemicals in commercial soaps and the skin is a huge sponge. So, if you wouldn’t feed it to baby, then don’t put it on his skin. Definitely no fabric softener. Just use vinegar in the rinse cycle. If you really want a scent (which I don’t advise for littles), use wool dryer balls with a few drops of an essential oil on them during the last ten minutes of the dry cycle. Better yet – hang your laundry in the sun!
Diapers: It may surprise you to learn that we did not cloth diaper. We were blessed with so many diapers as gifts that we did not have a need to purchase any for their first year! However, we also did not have diaper rashes either. If we had, the disposables would’ve gone away immediately. I do know we will cloth diaper in the future. I feel rather strongly about it from a health perspective knowing what I know now. But, you’ve got to do the best you can. Additionally, good advice from my friends was to wait until baby is born and then try a variety of brands to see which works best for baby’s shape. So, make friends with mamas who cloth diaper. 😉
As far as a trash can goes for disposables, you don’t need a diaper genie or other fancy contraption. Use baking soda, change your trash can often. Hang some charcoal bags in the receptacle if needed. And, hey, breastfed baby poo doesn’t even smell!
Wipes: Make your own or just use cloths and a water spray bottle. The wipes warmer is wonderful, but I’m not sure how to utilize that without commercial wipes, and I think those are pretty irritating to baby. Pinterest is full of recipes, though Wellness Mama has our favorite wipes recipe. I have a friend who told me she sprays her baby’s bum with colloidal silver (no more than 10ppm) at every change and he’s never so much as had a red spot!
Side note: At some point, the child will grow out of diapers. Our philosophy has been that we don’t really know any 20 year olds who don’t know how to go to the bathroom, so we haven’t focused much on it. One day, my children just decided they wanted to go to the toilet. I then discovered that we had, in fact, been doing toilet learning all along (as opposed to potty training). The subtle difference is that we simply approached it like everything else: we’ve modeled it (they see us in the bathroom), we’ve explained it, we’ve provided opportunity for them to do it (they have small potties because we think squatting when eliminating is paramount to health – check out Squatty Potty’s video to understand why www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYcv6odWfTM). So, that’s it. Some days they are all for using the potty and some days they aren’t. We just go with it. Too many other things to focus on… You might Google ‘toilet learning’ for a more articulate Montessori explanation.
Bathing: Surprisingly, babies don’t really need baths. You can just wipe them down with water whenever you like. We definitely enjoyed bathing with baby as a bonding time, but it wasn’t for cleaning. Please avoid popular commercial baby washes. They’re horrible. Johnson & Johnson is even illegal in European countries. If you want a store wash, at least check on www.ewg.org to see a hazard rating. Mild Baby Castile Soap is an excellent cleanser if you need one. Or, make your own foaming soap with water, castile soap, jojoba oil, and a foaming soap dispenser. I like this better than just castile soap because that can be a bit drying. Check Pinterest for recipes.
For shampooing, we only used water on baby. Now at two years old, we wash with rhassoul clay and aloe vera juice (they mix it up) about twice a month.
Nails: forget clipping! Just use a nail file.
Lotions: Coconut oil is great if your little one can handle it. We use homemade lotion bars from Wellness Mama’s recipe that have shea butter, mango butter, beeswax, and a bit of lavender. However, we don’t use lotion unless we need it. Babies likely don’t need lotion every day. Seriously.
A note on skin issues: The skin is an indicator of health. If there is a rash or eczema, that is a symptom of something else going on. Dairy sensitivity? Gluten sensitivity? Sluggish liver? MTHFR? Speak with a holistic chiropractor or naturopath about it – don’t just medicate away the symptom!
INSTRUCTION FOR SANITY – also see INTENTIONAL PARENTING
First, you need SUPPORT!
- A mama whose children are grown people and they have a heart and character like what you want your children to have. Ask that mama to show you how she did it. This should be a long-term relationship and will be challenging to your own walk!
- A mama whose children are slightly older than yours (with the same heart on raising children as you). She will remember the specifics of transitioning from breastfeeding to solids or toilet training, etc. She’ll know current practices and have thoughts on them. She’ll be able to offer very specific insights into the very specific challenges you’re facing.
- A mama whose children are the same age as yours. You will need to laugh and cry and get ideas and try things at the same time as this mama. Compare notes! LAUGH!
- A GROUP of mamas who are all doing their very best to mama their own children – of all ages. Facebook is a great place for this, but find a closed group.
In addition to all the mama support, all of these relationships will give and need marriage support, too! That is an INTEGRAL part of you being the best mama you can be. Don’t forget your husband!
Despite my best friend (a mama of older twins) telling me for years to start from day one, I didn’t start these things until I was about to lose my sanity around 10 months.
- Baby sign language (more, please, thank you, all done, hungry, help, etc.) because whining and screeching will drive you – and them – up the wall. Give them a way to communicate
- Blanket time – start baby on blanket with a few choice items. Leave baby there for a set time letting him know it’s his blanket time and he is to stay on blanket and play quietly until mama retrieves him. Start this from the beginning instead of at 10 months when they flip out and you have to train 30 seconds at a time. But learning they can trust mama, learning how to be by themselves, learning how to obey boundaries – well, all of that is key to baby growing happily!
- “Yes, Mommy!” – From day one, let them know after every instruction you give, they are to say, “Yes, Mommy!” – and before they speak, they sign it. At first, this will seem silly. But, oh you will feel like such a wise mama about 18 months in! This is the beginning of equipping your children to obey with a happy heart.
- Teach baby how to fold his hands. This will help so much later on! Start playing/practicing/modeling it from the beginning. Same with sitting on their bottoms.
- Holy moly, get a routine going! In the near future, I will post some links to routines at various ages. You NEED routine. They NEED routine. Not a schedule, but a rhythm.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST…
- Baby needs Jesus just as much as Mama does! Pray with your baby! Choose a designated reminder time, too, like every time you change baby’s diaper. Days get hectic and prayers can get forgotten, so it’s essential to have a trigger to remind you.
- Read the Bible and share Scripture with your baby from the very beginning. It’s God’s DIVINE Word – it’s for EVERYBODY including babies!
- Mamas, read The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson because you need to know God has a real purpose for you in the dirty diapers and sleepless nights
- Other favorite books include Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp, Effective Parenting in a Defective World by Chip Ingram, Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman (EXCELLENT chart in there that shows what the heart issue may be causing a behavior problem), Parenting with Scripture by Kara Durbin, and Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson.
- Practice asking forgiveness now. You’ll need to do it a lot with baby!
- Whatever reserve you have, pour it into your marriage. Your husband still needs you. You still need him. And you’re in a season where baby is very demanding, so you’ll have to make special time for your marriage. I don’t really care if you have a date night or not – we didn’t – but make sure you are stealing a moment to be a wife.
- Learn to say no. No, I can’t come. No, you can’t visit. No, I can’t do that for you. You will never ever ever get these days back with your baby. Stay home. Lounge. Rest. Feed baby, sleep, set up new ways of managing your home. Pray. Immerse time into your marriage and into your Bible. There are a lot of good things you could be doing, but make sure they are the best things for your family. You are the only one God is holding responsible for that child. Give Him your best. And that’s a huge paradigm shift, but you need to catch it: This is good, but is it best?