it’s easy to get caught up in all the superficial parts of parenting, isn’t it? people fight about feeding and sleeping and carrying and babysitting and all sorts of other made up issues (mommy wars, you can take all the seats). it can be exhausting, especially when all you want is a little friendly advice, emphasis on the friendly, but you’re getting a side of judgement with everything.
i don’t have all the answers, but i know if there is one thing that all parents can agree on in this world where there is so much to disagree on, it has to be that we all want our babies to be as healthy as possible. find me a parent who says otherwise, and i’ll show you a liar. we might all get there differently, but the goal is the same. so today i thought i’d share my top five tips for healthy babies that have been wonderful for us with both kids.
1. regular well-baby visits. this should be a no-brainer, but i’ll say it anyway. take your kids to the doctor regularly. it’s so much easier to stay on schedule than it is to catch up, and sometimes all it takes to make yourself feel better is asking the doctor about that nagging thing you aren’t sure about (is it normal for my kid to not sleep EVER? answer: yes). plus, the better your relationship is with your child’s health care provider, the better you can work together to make sure your child’s health is the best it can be. my kids love their doctor, and because we see her on time and exactly when we should, i know that she is as up to date on my kids health as she can be, and can help me make sure they are where they need to be for all facets of their health.
2. infant probiotics. one thing that many of you may not know is that my daughter has fairly severe eczema. after lots of reading and research and trial and error, and way too many tears (hers and mine), we are pretty sure that the cause of hers was a gut microbiome imbalance. it came on later than most baby eczema does, and was closely related to her starting eat more food. we have tried many different treatments for her, and i’m happy to report that it’s mostly under control, but during this process, we found that some things had more of an impact than others. one of the simplest, yet most impactful treatment was giving her a daily probiotic.
i wish that we had known about this when she was an infant. because it turns out, babies are born with a sterile gut and depend on their moms to pass on b. infantis, a beneficial bacteria, during the birthing process. it’s this initial setup of good gut bacteria that helps fight off potentially bad bacteria as they grow – and this bad bacteria is linked to eczema, allergies, asthma, diabetes and obesity (go figure). the last 100 years have seen a dramatic change in the baby’s gut microbiome and today, 97% of babies no longer receive b. infantis at birth. an it’s not the moms fault, it’s a generational issue that’s attributed to the unintentional consequences of antibiotic use, C-section deliveries and less breastfeeding during the first six months of life. in a survey of moms done by evivo probiotics, they found that while most moms know there’s a connection between breast milk and their baby’s gut, 96% don’t know that 15% of breast milk nutrients are wasted if b. infantis isn’t present (and most likely its not).
ever since our struggles with amelia’s immune system, i’ve been determined to be more thoughtful about gut health. amelia has been taking a daily probiotic for a while now, and it has helped immensely with her eczema. with william, we’re using evivo probiotics, a probiotic naturally intended for the infant gut, and formulated to work with breast milk to promote development of healthy bacteria. evivo is the only probiotic that is clinically proven to restore a baby’s gut microbiome to its original, natural state, transform special carbohydrates found in breast milk to promote the growth of b. infantis, and defend from bad bacteria linked to eczema, allergies, diabetes and obesity. if you’re wondering at all how probiotics can help with infant gut health, visit the evivo site here, and i’m more than happy to share more details about our decision to use probiotics for our babies!
3. lots of cuddles. i mean, twist my arm why don’t you? i’m sure you have seen all the articles out about a study that was recently done that says that holding your baby is actual vital for their health and development. skin to skin contact and frequent holding of babies helps them eat better, decreases their crying, and helps them deal with pain better. it even carries over as they grow up, with the effects of holding babies often showing up in iq levels and social skills 20 years later. so, like you needed an excuse to cuddle that sweet babe even more, but there you go. don’t worry about spoiling them, you’re doing them tons of good!
4. healthy cleaning products. you guys know how i feel about cleaning products. we’re never going to be perfect, but i think we can agree that the more chemicals we can keep out of our kids bodies, the better. like, i’m never going to be able to get Mister Man to give up his scrubbing bubbles (although he did just clean his bathroom using only vinegar and water and essential oil, because he grudgingly said, “i guess we’re doing the natural thing now…”), but i can do my best to decrease the chemicals in my home.
chemicals can mess with your hormones, and your cells, and your immune system, even as adults, so imagine the effect they can have on a child! our parents and grandparents didn’t have nearly as many chemicals around and available to them when they were growing up and raising kids, so it’s something that unfortunately we have to be a lot more thoughtful about.
in case you have no idea where to start, i will be sharing my recipes for natural cleaning supples as i get to them, so here is one for homemade glass cleaner if you missed it. i also share recipes on my natural home instagram page, so give that a look if you’re interested!
5. taking care of yourself. yes. this is SO important. if you can’t take care of yourself and keep yourself healthy, then it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder to keep your little one healthy. as they say on the pre-flight video, put on your own oxygen tank before assisting others. the same concept applies to parenting healthy children. make your health a priority so that you can make your child’s health a priority.
i have talked about self-care for new moms on here before, so go ahead and take a look at that post for some ideas. some quick ideas are: taking a bath or a long shower, lighting a favorite candle or diffusing your favorite scent in the evening, watching a dumb show to give your brain a rest, reading a book if you need some mental stimulation, sitting down to drink a cup of coffee while the tv watches your kids for a half hour. whatever it is that brings you rest and rejuvenation, make time for it. you and your kids will be healthier for it.
what are some ways you keep yourself and/or your family healthy (kids or no kids!)?
we are so excited to announce that Mister Man, Amelia and i will be adding a new member to our family in october of this year!
we may be biased, but we do think she’s going to make the coolest sister ever.
so maybe my hiatus and my severe exhaustion weren’t just from the whole solo parenting gig. maybe they were also a product of this whole being pregnant gig. does this surprise anyone? everyone? no-one?
the last couple months have been mostly a blur. we found out we were expecting the day before Mister Man left for his training, and when he gets back tomorrow night, i’ll be one day shy of being officially out of the first trimester. you want to know how to make the first 14 weeks of a pregnancy fly by? do them mostly by yourself while chasing a toddler. you won’t remember a thing, even how crappy you feel.
even with all the blurriness and nausea and exhaustion, we know that God’s timing is best, and feel so blessed that we are being given the privilege of bringing another life into this world. we know that’s not always how life works, and we say a prayer of thanks every day for this opportunity.
until the next time i have the energy to write, here’s to baby z., the 2016 edition!
to the mom who feeds her baby from a bottle and the mom who wouldn’t think of any other way than breastfeeding; you’re doing it right.
to the mom whose baby sleeps in her room for months and the mom who puts her baby in a crib the first night and never looks back; you’re doing it right.
to every mother out there who follows their instincts and does what is right for their babies; you are ALL doing it right.
all babies are different. every tiny, new human is an individual right from the very start. no two babies are the same. as such, no two moms are the same. and yet all the advice given to us is done in the language of absolutes: you must wait to give a pacifier OR ELSE; you must swaddle OR ELSE; you must you must you must or else or else OR ELSE. like if you don’t do it the way the advice giver says, your child will end up stunted and dumb and a failure. yet for every single piece of advice that worked for one baby, there is an opposite bit of wisdom that worked for someone else’s. for every pacifier user there is an equally happy thumb sucker, for every snug as a bug swaddled babe there is an equally happy flailing one.
i’m about to lay some truth on you…
if you are keeping your little one full, warm, happy and healthy, YOU ARE DOING IT RIGHT. there is no right way to be a good mom, except for the way that works best for you. and you should never feel guilty about ignoring the advice people give or the snarky things they say when they find out how you parent. nor should you hide how you parent for fear of what the masses will say about it. never be shy about your choices. you are a mother who knows her child, and you are never to apologize for that.
i feel so strongly about the choices i’ve made for my little girl in her three short months of life. i will tell anyone about them in sickening detail (you’ve been warned). what i will never do is tell you that my way is the best way, or the only way. it’s just my way. it’s what works for my little diva of a daughter, and for her dad, and for me.
so go ahead and put those cloth diapers on your baby, or don’t. wear your baby, or don’t. let them cry it out, or don’t. you do you mama, and don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t doing it right.
if you hear me mention having children, and ask if i’m planning on having them soon, then tell me that i’m too young to have kids when i reply in the affirmative, my face is going to take on a funny, pinched look. it might remind you of the look on someone’s face right after they’ve sucked on a lemon. or a warhead candy. or the look someone gets when they’ve smelled milk that’s gone bad.
that look is me trying to smile at you through my thinly veiled irritation. you see, i have this thing about people telling me when i’m ready to do something that involves my family. i hate it.
maybe i hate it because i am a feminist. i grew up hearing that women are free to choose the lives that they want. and that women before me have fought for my right to choose when and how to have children. but apparently that fight only won me the right to wait until i’m thirty to have my first baby? it only won me the right to feel like the weird one in the room because i freely talk about wanting to be a mother? when did it become odd to embrace femininity as it relates to having kids? maybe that’s fine for a certain brand of feminism, but certainly not my brand.
i have been told by no less than ten peoplestrangers acquaintances over the last year that in THEIR opinion, i am too young/too newly married/too early on in my career/too something to have kids in the near future. and lest you think that i walk around willy-nilly asking people what they think of my plans to have children, these opinions were all given to me freely, without invitation. unless mentioning how much i love babies counts as an invitation. (i have baby fever, i won’t deny that, but come on!)
if i were a braver person, i would simply tell these women (because they have all, disappointingly, been women) that maybe they were too old/too fat/too skinny/too long married/too far into their careers to have had children when they did. but then i would probably get punched in the face, and i’m just too delicate for that. another reason i don’t say this is, and listen carefully because this is the most important thing, the crux of this post: it’s none of my business. just like it’s none of their business to tell me why i “shouldn’t want to be a mother right now”, and why i should “wait to be married three years before having babies”. (<– those are actual quotes from actual people that were said to my actual face)
now for the moral of this story (rant? soapbox stand?). the next time you meet someone who might be a little baby crazy, or someone who doesn’t want to have a baby for a long time, and you decide to tell them what you think about their decision, now you know what they’re thinking when their face goes like this:
or, you know, just smile and keep your mouth closed tight.
doesn’t that just sound like a boring number? that’s how old i turned today. i’ve never felt like i was getting old before, but i feel like this birthday might be the one where that feeling starts creeping its way in. and yes, i can already hear a lot of you telling me, “26 is not old! quit your whining!” and yes, i know that. i think it’s more that this is the first year that i feel that time is hurtling forward like a rocket, and i’m not altogether sure how to slow it down.
but here’s the thing. i don’t know if i should ask it to please slow down or scream that it should go even faster. because i think that 26 is going to be one of the best years ever. Mister Man and i are going to start looking for a house to buy pretty quick here. and contrary to both of our initial plans, we might be looking in the city for the first casa de zauner, which makes us both very happy for now. because i know someday we will move away from this wonderful place, but for a while at least, i can keep being a city girl.
i might even have the chance to be a city mom. you see, this is also the year that we are starting to think about adding the first baby z to the clan. this is no secret to anyone that knows me or has ever had a conversation with me that lasted longer than ten minutes. i love babies. and i definitely want onelots some of my own. and i think that the mister and i have managed to come to a consensus on when to expand this little family of ours. he loves babies too, he just doesn’t know how much yet.
tonight for my birthday dinner we made a pizza on our pizza stone for the first time. this is what it looked like:
it was one of the ugliest things i’ve ever laid eyes on. but it was so delicious. and i decided it was a metaphor for my 26th year. i might not like it on the outside, but it doesn’t matter how it looks to me, it is all going to be so good.
plus, my husband’s last birthday surprise for me was a pack of gorgeous, metallic sharpie markers. and who wouldn’t look forward to a year of writing with these babies?
i’m sure there’s a metaphor here too, but i think my capacity is one per day.