Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We Like to Potty!

I'm not sure what possessed me to want to introduce Mary Abilene to the potty at just shy of one year old, but I know one day, Patrick came home from work and I announced "I want to potty train our daughter." Now, at 12 months and 3 weeks of age, Mary Abilene goes pee-pee or tries to go every single time I sit her on the potty!

When first announced I wanted to potty train, my husband's response was "Can you do that with a one year old?" Turns out, one year old can even be considered late. Many, many people are introducing their infants to the idea of potty training in America and especially other cultures where disposable diapers are not the norm.

In the book "Early Start Potty Training" by Linda Sonna, she explain that parents used to begin potty training much earlier than they do now. In 1961, before the availability of disposable diapers, 90% of children were potty trained by 2.5 years, which dropped to 22% by 1998. A study in Ambulatory Pediatrics in 2001 said the average age for completing
potty training was 35 months for girls and 39 months for boys. Yet, in the early 1900's infants were often held over a little pot and they became accustomed to going over the pot. The big debate at the time was whether to delay potty training to the age of two months. When automatic washing machines came along in the 1940's and washing diapers was no longer so difficult, infant potty training was out with hand washing. Proctor & Gamble began testing the first disposable diapers in 1961 and their spokesman, T. Berry Brazelton, had commercials that told parents that potty training should be done when children were older, and should be left up to the children to decide when they want to toilet train. The disposable diaper industry told parents that modern science was better than anything they had done before, and parents believed them. In 1998 Pampers introduced a size 6 diaper, and now, disposable diapers come in size 7, made for children of 41+ lbs. It seems to me that if the disposable diaper industry had its way, no one would toilet train! I can't find profit for Pampers alone, but P&G made over $8 billion last year alone.

So you may be wondering how on earth you potty train someone who can barely walk and can't talk. Infant potty training is called Elimination Communication and there are select people who do this with their baby. You basically don't "train" them, you learn their potty cues and hold them over a bowl or pot so they can eliminate. I had heard of this while pregnant, but I didn't want to obsess over my baby's bowels, so I didn't even read into it. Lately, I've seen in forums people who are having plenty of success with introducing the potty to an older baby and toddler. I thought it was a great idea, so we got Mary Abilene a potty and a book (the potty for her, the book for me.)

So we get BooBoo a little potty. (I like the Baby Bjorn smart potty. Its small, nothing fancy, but ergonomic and serves its purpose.) We began sitting her on it at opportune times, like after she woke up for the morning or from a nap. The very first morning that I put her on it - she pee-peed! Right in the potty. We made a huge to-do about it and threw her up in the air smiling and singing. Each time she goes in the potty, we make a big deal about how wonderful it is. She always wants to look in the potty after she gets up. It either has pee-pee or is empty and I tell her "Yay you went pee-pee!" or "no pee-pee. Its empty." It didn't take long at all for her to realize that she was making the liquid that was in the potty. She has also pooped in the potty several times, also after a nap or in the morning. Ever since we started putting her on the potty in the morning, she has gone. There have only been a few mornings that she hasn't gone, and that's usually because we waited too long after she woke up, or she wanted to nurse first. She loves books, so it has been very easy to sit her on the potty and read her some books. She stays on it as long as I'm reading.

As of just a week or so ago, we only sat her on it after waking times. Those were the most likely times for her to go, and any other time was a shot in the dark. We would also give her a lot of naked time, either outside, or on a big old comforter and watch her to see if she has "potty signals". I can recognize her signals while she's going, but not so much before she goes. Naked time also helps to know when she last went potty so then I can get better timing for when she needs to go next. But lately, she doesn't even need to sit long enough to read books. I sit her on the potty and then I go potty and she is always done by the time I'm done. One night last week, I noticed that she was actually trying to go pee-pee, that it was no longer just a coincidence of good timing. She goes when I go! I put her on the potty, I sit on the toilet, and every time she either goes, or makes and effort to go. Sometimes its just bad timing and she doesn't need to go - but she tries! I'm really surprised at how fast this is going. She quickly learned what she's supposed to be doing on the little potty! At first, we were just "catching" her pee-pee. But now, she truly does try to go as soon as she sits down. There is very little waiting, or hoping she'll happen to go while she's there. The next step is getting her to recognize when she has to go and then telling us she has to go. Obviously she doesn't talk much, and has never said "pee-pee" or "potty" but this is where signing comes in. We are teaching her a sign for potty and do it every time we take her to the potty and then while she's going potty.

After she goes potty, I try to leave her diaper-free for at least the next 30 minutes. Diaper-free time is really important for any baby. It helps them air out, get some light, and not spend so much time in a diaper. Sonna points out that a child only spends about 30 minutes a day either pottying or bathing, so why are they in diapers the other 23 hours and 30 minutes? Because of disposable diapers, more and more children are suffering from diaper rash (78% of them) and are being left in diapers longer because they "stay dry". The stay-dry effect is also very bad for learning to potty. If a child never knows when they go, it will be very hard for them to learn their biological cues. Sonna points out that essentially we are teaching babies to go only in their diaper. Every new parent has been sprayed on the changing table, but have you noticed that after only a few weeks or months, the baby stops spraying naked? They get used to pottying in the diaper and learns that is where potty goes. Multiply that by several years and you have a pre-schooler who has a very strong association of pottying in their diaper. They essentially can't not potty in their diaper.

I imagine some people are thinking "Well, that's cute and all, but what's the big deal?" Money is one of the big deals. The average child goes through $2,000-$3,000 worth of disposable diapers. That number could be cut in half. To me, even though I have already invested in cloth diapers, I spend money washing diapers. I also don't like to rinse out poop. Mary Abilene thinks diaper changes are a big deal, squirming, screaming, and otherwise hating every second she spends on the changing table. She only wore 2 diapers all day today. The rest of the time she spent comando. She went 4 times in the potty today. A girl that goes in the potty four times doesn't have to wear diapers! The other big deal is hygiene. Sonna spends a large portion of the book talking about hygiene and why it is important to not leave babies sitting in their own mess. Diaper rash used to be a sign of child neglect, now it is considered "normal". Urine is very acidic and can cause rashes. Poop contains lots of bacteria and that bacteria can travel to other "sensitive" places in little girl's diapers. There is also suggestion that diapers heat up testicles to an unhealthy temperature and can cause fertility issues later in life.

You might also think "It sounds like too much work to teach a baby to go in the potty." Actually, it is very little effort, and the effort that is involved is really fun! Sonna points out that the traditional potty training age of 2.5 to 3 years is when children are most stubborn and least likely to want to take time out from playing to go potty. Pre-schoolers often refuse to go in the potty, often because they do not know how. It would be like sticking an adult in the middle of the room with someone commanding them to "Go potty." This is not where I usually potty - why should I potty here, now? But a baby or young toddler loves to emulate everything their parent does. They respond really well to praise and excited voices. There is much less pressure because I don't have a potty training deadline (like some might have for starting preschool). I don't put pressure on "accidents" or have any sort of reprimand for not pottying in the potty. It is purely fun and enjoyable for both me and Mary Abilene.

I really like to call it "potty learning" as opposed to "potty training". I'm not training my baby girl, but rather, I'm helping her learn. A child needs opportunity to learn to do everything. They need opportunity to learn to crawl, learn to walk, learn to eat solid food; they just need the chance. I didn't have high expectations when we started sitting her on the potty. I just wanted to introduce the potty and help her learn the sensations and the urge to potty. I am really amazed at how quickly she is learning this and seems to really "get it", that she even wants to go in the potty. When she sits down, and starts to tinkle she smiles up at me so big. Like, "Look, Mommy! I'm doing it!" She is proud of herself, and I am so proud of her!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Easy Little Bread

I'm pretty sure there is nothing better than sitting on the kitchen floor sharing a slice of warm fresh baked bread with my baby girl. That's just what we did after this super simple bread came out of the oven.

This recipe is for all of you that would make bread if it were easier, or had the time. This recipe only takes 10 minutes to put together, 30 minutes to rise, and 35 minutes to bake. A yeast bread, just easier. And of course, it is from Heidi.

Easy Little Bread
The recipe calls for 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 AP flour, but I used all whole wheat pastry flour and it was great! Also note this makes a pretty salty little bread. If you don't want it so savory cut the salt down to only 1 tsp.
1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon runny honey
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit - 5 - 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.

Brush a 8-cup loaf pan generously with some of the melted butter. Turn the dough into the tin, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise.

Preheat the oven to 350F, with a rack in the middle. When ready, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. You can finish things up by leaving the bread under the broiler for just a heartbeat - to give the top a bit deeper color. Remove from oven, and turn the bread out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn't steam in the pan. Serve warm, on the kitchen floor, with your kids!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Your Rights!

While writing this post, I've almost constantly been hearing a certain 1987 Beastie Boys song in my head. Hm, I didn't even listen to the Beastie Boys back in the day...

Anyway, while you may not fight for your right to party anymore, a birthing mother sometimes has to fight for her right to birth the way she chooses. Particularly, you may have to fight policy in a hospital setting.

I hear so many stories that start or end with "the doctor made me...". A doctor can not make you do anything. That is illegal. However, he or she can recommend something and it is up to you as an individual and a knowledgeable adult to accept or decline. Unless it is an emergency situation, you should never be pressured into anything without being able to think, research, and pray about a procedure beforehand. This statement is specifically about pregnancy and birth, but applies to all health care decisions. The decision truly is yours. Remember, you hired the doctor... he or she actually works for you!

I say this with The Rights of Childbearing Women in mind. The following is taken from, a women's advocacy group since 1918. Some of these rights are fairly obvious to most of us, but some of them are not routinely honored in the hospital setting, or are not known by the mother. I'll point them out after the list...

The Rights of Childbearing Women
* At this time in the United States, childbearing women are legally entitled to those rights.
** The legal system would probably uphold those rights.

1. Every woman has the right to health care before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth.

2. Every woman and infant has the right to receive care that is consistent with current scientific evidence about benefits and risks.* Practices that have been found to be safe and beneficial should be used when indicated. Harmful, ineffective or unnecessary practices should be avoided. Unproven interventions should be used only in the context of research to evaluate their effects.

3. Every woman has the right to choose a midwife or a physician as her maternity care provider. Both caregivers skilled in normal childbearing and caregivers skilled in complications are needed to ensure quality care for all.

4. Every woman has the right to choose her birth setting from the full range of safe options available in her community, on the basis of complete, objective information about benefits, risks and costs of these options.*

5. Every woman has the right to receive all or most of her maternity care from a single caregiver or a small group of caregivers, with whom she can establish a relationship. Every woman has the right to leave her maternity caregiver and select another if she becomes dissatisfied with her care.* (Only second sentence is a legal right.)

6. Every woman has the right to information about the professional identity and qualifications of those involved with her care, and to know when those involved are trainees.*

7. Every woman has the right to communicate with caregivers and receive all care in privacy, which may involve excluding nonessential personnel. She also has the right to have all personal information treated according to standards of confidentiality.*

8. Every woman has the right to receive maternity care that identifies and addresses social and behavioral factors that affect her health and that of her baby.** She should receive information to help her take the best care of herself and her baby and have access to social services and behavioral change programs that could contribute to their health.

9. Every woman has the right to full and clear information about benefits, risks and costs of the procedures, drugs, tests and treatments offered to her, and of all other reasonable options, including no intervention.* She should receive this information about all interventions that are likely to be offered during labor and birth well before the onset of labor.

10. Every woman has the right to accept or refuse procedures, drugs, tests and treatments, and to have her choices honored. She has the right to change her mind.* (Please note that this established legal right has been challenged in a number of recent cases.)

11. Every woman has the right to be informed if her caregivers wish to enroll her or her infant in a research study. She should receive full information about all known and possible benefits and risks of participation; and she has the right to decide whether to participate, free from coercion and without negative consequences.*

12. Every woman has the right to unrestricted access to all available records about her pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum care and infant; to obtain a full copy of these records; and to receive help in understanding them, if necessary.*

13. Every woman has the right to receive maternity care that is appropriate to her cultural and religious background, and to receive information in a language in which she can communicate.*

14. Every woman has the right to have family members and friends of her choice present during all aspects of her maternity care.**

15. Every woman has the right to receive continuous social, emotional and physical support during labor and birth from a caregiver who has been trained in labor support.**

16. Every woman has the right to receive full advance information about risks and benefits of all reasonably available methods for relieving pain during labor and birth, including methods that do not require the use of drugs. She has the right to choose which methods will be used and to change her mind at any time.*

17. Every woman has the right to freedom of movement during labor, unencumbered by tubes, wires or other apparatus. She also has the right to give birth in the position of her choice.*

18. Every woman has the right to virtually uninterrupted contact with her newborn from the moment of birth, as long as she and her baby are healthy and do not need care that requires separation.**

19. Every woman has the right to receive complete information about the benefits of breastfeeding well in advance of labor, to refuse supplemental bottles and other actions that interfere with breastfeeding, and to have access to skilled lactation support for as long as she chooses to breastfeed.**

20. Every woman has the right to decide collaboratively with caregivers when she and her baby will leave the birth site for home, based on their conditions and circumstances.**

#9 is not routinely practiced. If this information is not received well before the onset of labor, upon admittance to the hospital a stack of paperwork is handed to a woman, who is expected to sign and perhaps read while in the middle of her birthing time. Often the paperwork is hastily signed and no one knows what any of it said. It is a very good idea to ask for all paperwork at a prenatal appointment and to carefully go over everything, and edit, before signing. Also, many risks of interventions are not clearly stated before hand. Not only is it a good idea to get paperwork and ask questions before birth, but you must do your own research.

#10 is not routinely practiced. Many women believe that whatever their doctor prescribes, they have to have. They do not know that you can refuse tests and treatment not only during birth, but in prenatal exams. You may think that if your doctor recommends it then it must be best, but again, this is where personal research and decision making is imperative. A doctor will recommend treatments and interventions for a variety of reasons including routine, policy, or personal agenda, not necessarily because it is best for your baby as an individual.

#16 may not be routinely practiced, and women are receiving epidurals and other pain relieving drugs without being fully aware of the potential side effects and risks

#17 is not routinely practiced. Many women are told to get in bed even if they don't want to. Freedom of movement is a right and should be respected. Laboring and birthing flat on your back is just about the worse position and is only practiced for convenience of the caregivers.

#18 is so important. I believe skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth is vital and the baby should not be taken unless medical attention is needed. Many tests and exams of the newborn can be done while mom is holding baby.

#20 is pretty much an unknown, and most women wait on their doctor's permission to be released instead of being an active participant in the decision.

Be prepared to fight for your right. The best way to do this is to have a written birth plan. If your plan is read by all nurses and agreed upon by your doctor, there should be much less of a fight... To party, or otherwise...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Fruit Pizza

I made this fruit pizza for Mary Abilene's birthday party. Personally, I thought it was delicious. So did my hubby, my baby, and my neighbor's baby! I got several other compliments from adults, especially about the crust. My husband thinks the crust would be a good energy bar if I stiffened it up a bit.

The recipe I found is vegan and gluten free. I really wanted a fruit pizza without cream cheese since I was serving a ton of cream cheese frosting already. I kept my pizza vegan, but used wheat flour instead of rice flour. I made this pizza in practice and then made the pudding three times before getting it right. Give this recipe a try for your next party or pot luck!

Fruit Pizza

1/2 cup coconut oil (alternatively, may substitute 1/4 the cup of coconut oil for butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry (or all purpose) flour
1/2 cup oat flour (I just processed some oats in my food processor)
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup ground or finely chopped pecans or almonds (again chopped in the food processor)
1 mashed banana

You can use full-fat coconut milk in a can or can use Silk or So Delicious brands coconut milk (sweetened) that come in the half gallon for drinking. If you use sweetened coconut milk, only add 1 tbsp sugar instead of 3. I used Silk Coconut Milk because I found the canned coconut milk to be a little weird in texture after it turned into a pudding.

2 cups coconut milk
3 tbsp cane sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
fruit for topping (strawberries, kiwis, bananas, canned sliced peaches, canned mandarin segments, raspberries, blueberries, or whatever else you have on hand)

To make the crust, melt coconut oil, then blend in sugar. Add flours, oats, pecans, and the mashed banana. Using your hands, spread onto a pizza pan until it is a thin layer. Bake at 375°F until the edges brown (around 10 minutes). Because of the banana, this crust is a bit cakier and takes longer to bake. After the edges browned, I used the broiler to crisp up and brown the top of the crust, which took just a few minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

For the filling, add cornstarch and sugar to a medium-sized pot. Pour coconut milk in and set the heat to medium. Stir well with a whisk. Stir continuously until the mixture starts to thicken and finally boil. Continue stirring one minute. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and vanilla. Allow to cool before spreading it onto the crust. It will thicken up a little more when it has been refrigerated.

After spreading the coconut milk onto the crust, decorate with your fruit toppings as desired.

Cover the whole pizza with saran wrap and chill until set, probably at least overnight is best.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Carrot Cake

This Tasty Tuesday is in honor of Mary Abilene's first birthday! I made a delicious (if I do say so myself) healthy carrot cake. I think it is a top notch cake recipe and I intend to make it over and over again. It will be my go-to birthday cake recipe until she's old enough to say "Mama. Gimme some chocolate!"

Baby's First Birthday Cake
Adapted from - great website - check it out!

2 1/2 c thinly sliced or shredded carrots
2 1/2 c apple juice concentrate
1 1/2 c raisins
2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c extra virgin coconut oil, warmed so it is liquid
2 whole eggs
4 egg whites
1/2 c toasted wheat germ
1/2 c unsweetened apple sauce
2 tbsp aluminum free baking powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1. Combine the carrots with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the juice concentrate in a medium size saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender,15 to 20 mins. Meanwhile, chop the raisins in a food processor. Add the carrots and apple juice concentrate to the food processor and pulse until combined. (I left a bit of texture to the carrots - chopping them but not puree). Let mixture cool.
2. Combine the flour, wheat germ (cooled), baking powder, ginger, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add the coconut oil to the flour and beat to combine. Then add the 1 1/4 cups juice concentrate, eggs, egg whites, and vanilla; beat just until well mixed. Fold in the carrot puree and applesauce. The mixture will be very fluffy because of the egg whites. Pour the batter into 2 greased 9X9 baking pans, or cupcake wrappers.
3. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 mins for a 9x9, 20-22 mins for cupcakes. Cool briefly in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. When cool, frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Healthier Cream Cheese Frosting
1 package of organic cream cheese (softened)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

With an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and vanilla. Add in the powdered sugar. Taste, and add more powdered sugar to your liking.

Note, Wheat, eggs, and dairy are potential allergens and you might want to feed your baby these foods separately before letting her dive into the cake.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mary Abilene is ONE!

When I was pregnant I heard "your life will never be the same." and its true, but not in the way I thought they meant. I thought they meant that I couldn't go to the movies and stay up late when I wanted - I thought they meant it as a bad thing. But I'll tell you how my life will never be the same: I have more love than I ever thought possible. I love my husband more, my parents more, and my friends more. I love my daughter like she is my own heart. She is my heart living outside of my body. I have more happiness and joy. My bar for happiness has been permanently raised. Yes, I now go to bed at 9pm, but that is not how I'm different - I'm more patient, more loving, more compassionate, and less selfish. My daughter is showing me the fruit of the Spirit every day. That's how my life will never be the same.

Mary Abilene is one year old today. What an amazing and wonderful year! She is an expert crawler, and took her first step on July 31. Today, she took several steps and kept practicing all day! She is growing before our eyes! She can say "kitty" (sounds like giddy), "mama", and "dada". She can point, wave, and sign "all done" and "more" - though her "more" is the same as her "all done", very confusing! We're still working on that one! We are also working on the sign for milk; so far her sign for milk is looking down my shirt! She is very dainty at 17 pounds and 28 and 3/4 inches long. I think her eyes are turning brown. She is an extrovert and is very independent (gee, I wonder where she gets that?!) She does her own thing and makes friends everywhere she goes. She loves to ride in the grocery cart and her very favorite thing is her kitty. Though she may not be his favorite thing (yet). She loves to pet him and give him hugs. She is such a precious little girl and I can't believe that I have been blessed with such a wonderful baby. Happy Birthday sweet Baby Abilene. I love you so much!

Monday, August 1, 2011

World Breastfeeding Week!

This week is an internationally recognized week for breastfeeding support. World Breastfeeding Week implemented by the World Health Organization is meant to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding and build support for women who want to breastfeed. You may wonder why we need awareness and support? In one of my previous posts, I pointed out that many women do not breastfeed beyond infancy. There are also countless stories of women being harassed or embarrassed for nursing in public. Just a few weeks ago I read a story of a woman on a bus in Detroit who was told by the bus driver to quit breastfeeding or get off the bus. The woman was nursing a two week old baby! Fortunately, Michigan has a law that protects a woman's right to breastfeed in public (as do most states) but the woman was harassed nonetheless!

Just anecdotally, I notice many women (from forums online and my personal friends) who have trouble or choose not to nurse beyond a few months. Is this because they do not have enough support? Is this because of priorities? Is it cultural influence? As it is, women are choosing formula over breast milk in many cases. The link above states "Exclusive breastfeeding has been recognized as the single most effective intervention to reduce under-five mortality; optimal feeding practices - including early initiation, exclusive breastfeeding and continued breastfeeding while providing safe and appropriate complementary foods - could reduce mortality among children by one fifth. Breastfeeding also helps mother and child to establish a close and loving relationship."

I'm a self proclaimed lactivitst. I love, love, love (love, love) nursing. My husband points out often that not everyone loves nursing as much as I do. That may be true, and I also recognize that nursing a toddler is not for everyone. But I am going to support and promote breastfeeding and allowing self-weaning as much as I can! There are so many more mothers who nurse toddlers and preschoolers than we will ever know because they are too embarrassed to nurse in public. That, and the simple fact that toddlers do not need to nurse as often as infants, so you rarely see toddlers and preschoolers nursing out of the house. But I say - Get out there! The only way to make breastfeeding and especially breastfeeding older babies and toddlers normal is exposure. Thankfully, I have never been harassed for breastfeeding, but if I am, you bet that stranger is going to know more about breastfeeding when I'm done with them than they ever wanted to know!