I want to share 10 parenting choices that I am currently making because I had no idea that some of these things were even things until after the birth of my son. I also had to search high and low for some of these concepts when the "normal" methods simply weren't working for us.
I share these because at times I felt like I was doing something wrong. When I found these other choices things really clicked, I felt heard and I got the "solidarity sister" moments I needed, and I haven't doubted my choices (well there is still doubt sometimes, but definitely less doubt.)
I plan to do entire posts on most of these subjects so for now, these are just the cliff note versions!
1.Co-sleeping: I didn't intend to bedshare. I didn't even know much about it until week 2 or 3 of our little Roo's life. He would not sleep longer than 20 minutes in his own space. So, we traded the bassinet and swaddles and brought him directly into our bed. I was desperate for longer stretches of sleep and found the book Sweet Sleep, which I recommend to basically anyone and everyone. The science behind it is enlightening. Because of our switch to bed-sharing, I avoided exhaustion and our little guy was a much calmer sleeper.
Just since sleep is such a big and hot topic I do have to add that Silas did not give us a 4-hour stretch of sleep at night until he was about 4 months old. He still does not sleep through the night at a year old.
This podcast on Hey Shayla is also very informative.
2. Cloth diapering: Currently we cloth diaper during the day and use disposables at night. We also use disposable diapers when we travel via plane. I have been using the Alvababy pocket diapers and couldn't be happier. We have 20 cloth diapers that we wash every 2-3 days. They have help up very well!
There are many different kinds of cloth diapers out there - pocket, all-in-one, and ones with shells. The diapers we have are pocket diapers that have been able to grow with our son since day 1. The various snaps looked a bit overwhelming at first but it is very straightforward.
The best laundry detergent I have found for them is through Essembly!
3. Elimination Communication: I had no idea this was a thing. We learned about it and started EC around 6 months and it has been working so well for us! We "catch" almost all of his poo's and he pees on the potty 3-5 times a day. EC is about reading your little one's cues and having them eliminate and get used to the potty.
Want more? There is a book called Go Diaper Free. I haven't read it yet but have listened to the author in various podcasts and felt like I had enough to at least get started.
4. Floor bed: We had a crib for about a month. Silas never slept in it and it was really only used to hold his clothes. Every time we tried to lay him in the crib for a nap he would wake up. So, we disassembled it and put the mattress on the floor. Around the 3/4 month mark, his naps would look like this: I would nurse Silas to sleep and then roll away. He would almost immediately wake once I rolled off of the bed. It was a long sl0000ow process but I eventually was able to roll off of the bed and leave the room. I would get maybe get 3-5 minutes but I felt like that was a win! (Previous to this almost all of his naps were contact naps.) That window of away time eventually grew and now he naps mostly on his own. He has even gone to his bed a few times, totally unprompted, when he is ready for a nap!
5. Having him help with household chores: We have our son help with various things around the house. For Christmas, he got a Helper Tower and he loves it. He helps with the dishes, "chops" and helps us cook. Now, most of the time this help actually creates a bit more work for us but he enjoys being part of everything we do. It also allows my partner and I some time to get things done.
6. Minimalism with toys / toy rotation: I've really been digging a lot of the Montessori philosophies. The Hapa Family on YouTube has really great content on creating a Montessori home. There is also some overlap with Montessori and minimalism. Silas does not really play with many toys but the few he does enjoy we rotate through every few weeks so he stays interested in them. And it really works! We have fewer toys scattered around our house and more focused play with a variety for him!
7. Real metal utensils for eating: We used to have silicon spoons and those did have there place but now he just wants to be like us and he wants the real deal. Making this switch has helped us with meals. He can handle normal-sized silverware really well and even likes to scoop his own food, which he still needs some help. He is much more interested in food after making the switch and it is much easier for him to hold, scoop and eat from the real utensil.
8. Convertible car seat vs infant seat: Silas hated the car seat. No one told me that a baby hated the car. I was shocked! He still isn't fond of it but he really did not like it as a babe. When he was 3 months old we switched to a convertible seat and he didn't have as major of outbursts. Making this switch meant that he was placed directly in the stroller, if he fell asleep in the car we would have to scoop him up and slightly wake up to move him, and we carry him directly from place to place. This also meant we had a happier baby who wasn't strapped down in his car seat!
9. BLW & Purees: When we started introducing Silas to solids we wanted to go the BLW route. We introduced solids around the 6.5-month mark and he really had a tough time with it. He would gag and sometimes throw up a bit. We continued to offer the food we were having but I would mush it down a bit and make it more like a puree. We kept trying mushed food but also added in purees that we made in our vitamix or by simply mashing and stirring with a fork. A combination of both BLW and purees was the best approach for us. It did not have all or nothing. Finally around 10-11 months started to get the hang of food a bit more. He still gags from time to time but he really had a hard time getting used to the new textures.
10. Nursing on demand: Pretty self-explanatory, but we nurse on demand - which sometimes feels like all the time - but I just take his cues and he gets milk whenever he wants it. At a year old he still nurses multiple times during the day. We also nurse to sleep and nurse throughout the night. He is not night weaned.
Every baby, every child, every person, and every family is so different. The above decisions are just some of the things that have worked really well for our baby, for me, for my husband, and for our family. There are so many different ways to parent and I only hope that we can all find the ways that work best for us.