Toddlers are fast. They are sneaky. They can figure out the pieces of a puzzle and learn how to bypass a lot of systems or protections you have put into place around the home. They are the cat houdinis of human development.
Anyone with children has always had a bit of a laugh when the door knob protectors can be opened by their kids, yet flummox adults each and every single time.
Unfortunately, a few weeks ago that is exactly what happened – a very bright, precocious, intelligent little boy by the name of Elijah Marsh woke up late one night, and decided he was going to go exploring and conquer the world. He got up, knew that you needed boots because it was winter (excellent logic!), was able to get the door opened, find his way down to the ground level and all the way outside. He was found the next morning only a few hundred metres from home, and unfortunately this young bright light passed away.
You can buy the best locking system or deadbolt around. I guarantee you that toddlers can and will use chairs to be able to access it, and will be able to unlock a lot of them.
Consider using sound. Either an electronic door chime that rings everytime the door is open, or even something simpler like a set of bells or windchimes the door has to hit each and everytime it is opened. It can even be a game where your little one taps the bells on purpose when you enter or leave the home because that jangly noise is a lot of fun.
It’s something I used when my son started unexpectedly sleep walking during a severe fever and was found outside at night wandering around. We were lucky, we caught him just past the front stoop. The sound of the door opening woke up his dad, but everyday after that we had bells on the door knob. Because it was loud and is a sound that is completely and utterly out of place. It will catch your attention, even in the dead of night when you are fast asleep.
Let’s not have any more boys or girls like Elijah. Add sound to your doors to alert you and let’s keep all our children safe.
I like to change this to reflect what is really happening from day one, that the true benefit of babywearing is increased communication between parent and child. When you wear a child, not only are you that much closer to hear their cues, but they also learn how you move through and interact with the world, even right down to the simple act of breathing. How do you breathe? When do you hold your breath? How do you exhale? When do you exhale — when you are at rest, when you are excited, when you are walking, when you are talking to others? All this is part of communication.
The really cool thing about being a parent is seeing which things your baby picks up from each parent. I see this very clearly in my own children. And to think that it all started with babywearing.
So share a breath with your child and babywear today.
A terrible tragedy occurred in Toronto this past week. A three year old Houdini by the name of Elijah Marsh escaped his parents’ unit in the middle of the night, wearing only a light shirt, boots and a diaper. Because in his mind, he was a big boy – he could open and unlock the doors, put on his clothes, and knew the way outside ALL by himself.
Just in those actions we can see how he was a very intelligent boy with an intrepid spirit. Unfortunately, he also was only three, and three years olds do get lost. He was found metres away from home far too late and died shortly thereafter in hospital.
I, like other Canadians, mourn with his family. This bright, bold, beautiful boy did what most children his age would do. A light was lost in Canada this week.
Rest in peace, Elijah. Rest in peace.
An important part of Babywearing in Canada for me has always been creating community.
We have a wonderful country and a great way to make it stronger is to buy from local Canadian small businesses. Without them, our communities would be barren. By shopping locally, you create jobs for your fellow Canadians, support families, build better communities and have fun doing it! That has always been an important part of Babywearing in Canada for me.
That is why if someone posts a question on my facebook page on where to find something in Canada, I ask my Canadian business network if they can chime in, and I point out Canadian options on where to find something. I have also run a Make Canada Stronger Campaign on facebook to support the Canada you want to see in your neighbourhood. Small business owners are not only more likely to keep the money in your community by hiring local services to support their operations, you are also supporting someone who sends their kids to your schools, who cares about the development of your neighbourhood, who is just trying to make an honest living around their passions — babywearing and natural parenting.
Sure, things may sometimes be cheaper on the internet. We may occasionally get jealous of how much less it expensive it can be to purchase something over the border in the US. But think of the cost… a lower standard of living, lower minimum wage, more social dysfunctions, higher levels of poverty, and so on. Compare American to Canadian minimum wages. American wages are as low as $5.15 in some States (provided you’re not a waiter), to a maximum of $9.00 with an average hovering around the minimum federal minimum wage of $7.25, In Canada, our lowest minimum wage is $10.00 (provided you’re not a waiter), with the highest at $11.00, which means our standard of living is better and pretty consistent across the country.
I want my kids to have access to universal health care, no matter their income level. I want them to have a decent living wage, a decent minimum wage. If they end up having tough times later in life, I want the systems and the support in place until they can get on their feet again. The standard of living in the US is not the life I want for my kids, that’s for sure. This article from the New York Times has some great quotes about the truth of living in Canada, including why defending our differences, and supporting the Canadian way of life is so important.
“Our family values are huge,” said Ms. Mustachi, who has three grown children with her husband, William, 60, a millwork department manager at a Lowes outlet. “From what I see on TV, I don’t get a sense of that in the States.”
Gregory Thomas, 39, an actor and house painter who lives with his wife and two young children in Toronto, said Americans “may get more on their plate when they go to Denny’s, but they don’t have more when they go home.”
When you shop local, you are not just supporting your community, you are making Canada stronger.
You’ve tried absolutely everything. You’ve checked the bum, the clothes, tried to feed them, burp them, checked to see if they are too hot, too cold, too something… and you just CAN’T figure it out. And the crying seems to never end, it’s been going on for days and you are just so damn tired. You are at the point of no return, ready to step off that plank and into the deepest part of the ocean because you feel like taking one step more would break you.
Then to top it off, you’ve tried one baby carrier, two, three. Heck you’ve tried so many, that you feel you could write a Dr. Seuss book that goes something like one sling, two slings, red sling, blue sling. If you have gone down that list of things that might be wrong backwards, forwards, and sideways, and they are still crying, it is not your fault.
Some babies just cry more than others. Take a deep BREATH. Because when you have a baby that’s been crying, crying, crying, and you can’t solve the issue right here, right now, it’s time to focus on YOU. It’s time to take care of yourself.
REMEMBER who you are. We all had likes and dislikes before becoming parents, ways that we used to successfully cope with stress and it’s time to pull some of those out of your hat. Maybe you like music. Who cares if it’s suitable for children, if you like it, if you will be happy listening to it – for a song, for three songs, heck for the entire collection, then do it.
Get out of the house. When you feel overwhelmed and stuck, when things feel so big, start moving. Try mommy & parenting groups. If they aren’t your thing, join a walking club, get in the car for a drive, take a bus ride, slap on your headphones and go for a walk (walks are nicer if you can’t hear the crying as much).
Reach out. Go down your entire contact list, go down your entire friends list and start messaging all of them. Heck, tell them all the same story – they aren’t going to be comparing notes. And if you feel like you’re being a pain, then BE A PAIN. Invite them over, ask them to take the baby for an hour or two, get your partner involved while you go for a walk on your own.
GET help. None of us can move through life alone.
Especially if you are feeling so frustrated that you want to just shake that baby, or completely shut down and leave it in another room. Your goal right now is just to find a way through this moment. Get the help you need to move from this moment, to the next moment, and to the one beyond that. Find out what you need. Take care of yourself. DO whatever you need to do to find your equilibrium.
And pretty soon you’ll be saying, “Hey, look at me. I coped.”
Baby carriers are just a tool. There’s no magic in them and they won’t solve anything in and of themselves. But if you can move through one moment to the next, pretty soon you too will have your magical unicorn pixie dust shot.
Curious about what happens at the Ottawa Babywearing Group? Here are some recent meeting summaries.
February 19, 2015
We had a boomerang mom back in on her second maternity leave and we said hello to two new moms and babes to the drop-in this morning. All with babies ranging around the three month mark and one with a VERY cute mohawk. We got to play with a Sewfunky Gira wrap conversion ring sling, a older blue Ergo with sailboats on the lining, a new handwoven, and of course, the kit I brought along in my bag: Natibaby and a BBSlen shorty, BBSlen padded ring sling, a pod and an Ellaroo mei tai.
We briefly talked about how sometimes healing from a c-section can take quite a bit longer, and how some women still feel discomfort and pain months after their baby’s birth. We discussed proper carrying technique to avoid aggravating the incision site, which includes waiting to use carriers that attach at the waist. We played with a tummy to tummy carry with three month old L– in the ring sling, and also about how using a front pack carrier like a Snugli or Bjorn with no waist attachment is a great option until your core is feeling stronger. These carriers place the entire weight of the baby on your shoulders and are great for little bubs who have reflux and do not like to be swaddled. It is important to respect and limit the amount of carrying you do when you are recuperating from a c-section. Smaller bursts of carrying are better than one longer session.
I also got to play with the N– again today. Jen and Shannon were trying to get her into a ruck with a superman fly but she was having NONE of it. At this point, you can switch and use a Santa toss. The great thing about using a Santa toss is that you can use it to swaddle a child that is squirmy into a hammock, then lift it up over your shoulder before securing them into place. You can practice with a 5-10 kg bag of flour, or a bag of rice for all you gluten free peeps, it’s on sale with it being the Chinese New Year. The things we talk about during babywearing meetings. A proper ruck with a short wrap can be safely tied under the bum, here is a picture of me wearing my youngest with a 2.4 m long wrap.
If you’ve never learned wrapping with me, then I will let you know I like to scare the moms a bit by purposefully popping the seat when their child is in the wrap. It is a good way to show what it feels like when you are in a safe environment, what signs to look out for if a mirror isn’t handy to check the seat, and to learn what that loosening sensation can really mean.
Milkface has new nursing necklaces that features textured and wooden beads. They are very pretty and perfect for babies who prefer wood.
February 5, 2015
This meeting was a lot of fun because we had Susanne Reinhold in with her cute little girl and we did a million rucks (no word of a lie) with this six-month-old and not at any point did she do anything other than smile each and every single time she went on her mom’s back. We chose to superman the little one as it was a fast and easy way to get a crawling babe up quickly. You need to remember to cross both arms, grab both the top edge of the wrap and the baby at the top of their shoulders just underneath their armpits.
Because Susanne is originally from Germany, I didn’t have to explain why it was called a ruck carry, and she translated what ruck means in German. It means to push or toss, like in a sort of heave ho movement. Lol. Susanne’s opinion of the ruck carry? Easy! Yay – my favourite answer.
We also had an old friend visit us with her 3 year old daughter. It was great to see them again. She wanted to know how to use her beautiful Gira to carry her daughter over her winter coat when she got tired, instead of hauling the stroller about just in case it was needed. The best solution was to have the wrap around the mom’s hips prior to moving her child on her back using a hip scoot. A neat thing we figured out was that you can keep the tails of the wrap as dry and clean as possible by stuffing them into the pockets of your winter coat. Pretty cool, eh?
Susanne and I are both small business owners here in town, and I have known her for a few years. Her business is called Kangaroo Fitness and she has a pre-natal fitness series starting soon. Click on this link for more information. BTW, Susanne love the quote at the top of the page. Haven’t seen that one since university! Here’s a great picture of Susanne on my Crown of Dreams facebook page goofing around at the Baby Boom expo in 2013.
January 22, 2015
We had a lovely meeting. Today, we welcomed some moms of twins. First a set of older boys with mom Alison, and we played around with how to get a really really active boy into a back carry. He was very vocal, very opinionated, and a back archer to boot. The first time we tried superman, loading him right onto the back and he went so quickly into a back arch, that he had that wrap down at his bum lickety-split: It was like Houdini reincarnated. So we did an improvised partial rebozo carry with the long wrap, got it snug, then hip scooted him around to the back so mom could be more upright on the second pass, which reduced the little guy’s back arching tendencies.
Some babes will be very active as they get older when you are trying to get them onto your back and it can be hard to distinguish when they are truly popping out of their seat versus bouncing up and down. I do recommend, if you can afford it, a $10-$40 wall mirror for checking yourself – it is not only reassuring to see yourself as you move through each pass, but the babes also like to see their reflection when they are older and then that lets you turn it into a cool game while you’re getting them in.
The second set of twin boys were soooo new, they squeaked! They are Ottawa’s latest birthing sensation – surprise twins born naturally at full term… Dad was there too. While mom Vicky was nursing, Dad and I did a tummy to tummy carry with the other babe, then a partial cradle. It is really important that a stretchy wrap be so tight to keep it from loosening so it holds the baby’s weight overtime. Also keeping the neck extended, and the airway clear is really important.
I also got to chat a bit, discuss a small amount about how the holidays went, and I got to show Ashley how to use her new to her Psling (which she bought to support me) to hold our girl S—. I got to hold A—, which is always lovely, especially when he cuddles right down tucked in against my chest just under my chin. A baby who trusts you so much he just tucks right in like you’re part of his family is one of the best things in the world. We also got to play a little game of pass the babies as the older twins visited a little bit with everyone in the room. So fun.
It was really nice to have a mom of older twins there to share her experiences with us. To be able to cope with twins, you have to be a lot more flexible. We talked about feeding and how parents of multiples learn very quickly to be very accepting and very flexible in terms of feeding arrangements, some pump for a bit then are able to transition one or both over to nursing, with or without supplementation as needed.
There is an Ottawa Multiples breastfeeding support group run every month on the 4th Monday in the Carling area. Next meeting is this coming Monday January 26, 2015. For more information, join their facebook group. Both the group and the drop-in are run by the lovely Beth McMillan.
Another important thing to remember while parenting twins, if they are sleeping in their car seats when you get to the store, accept the pause for the gift that it is and leave them sleeping in their car seats / strollers. Then you can enjoy a coffee without worrying about spilling it on your child. Although carrying two twins looks very beautiful and can be very practical, it is okay to use a stroller and alternate their time in it and carry one at a time. Also carrying two on each hip does reduce your ability to go successfully through doors and is less supportive than having one on the front and the other on the back. A good resource in town for parents of multiples is the Multiple Birth Families Association (MBFA).
Crown of Dreams also offers courses on how to carry multiples.
January 8, 2015
It was a low key meeting, no surprise given some of the temperatures we have been seeing this week. Although, this past snowfall was lovely and fun to shovel because it was so FLUFFY! Such a relief after the mucky cement this weekend.
There was one mom who nursed her little one for a bit at the start and we had a nice chat about how important it is to have a good support network, a laugh about the comic routines of JG (what is like having a fourth baby, you are drowning and they hand you another one), and how it can take some adjusting to get used to being on maternity leave, the challenges and fun of subsequent children. Then I chatted with Elvie about the crazy situation in France, how some Europeans want American products whereas here we are all agog over EU goods as Canadians before I headed on home. Humans, they be a funny lot always thinking the grass is greener on the other side, especially since most goods you purchase are neither made in North America or Europe.
December 18, 2014
Had a fun, relaxed meeting today. Perfect for just before the holidays – and with lots of yummy treats… everything from chocolate covered raisins, clemmies, toasted coconut, lemon squares, lemon loaf, and lovely scones.
Today the important thing we learned is to never play on kangaroo. Apparently it’s nasty. We played with Jennifer’s new to her home-made pod and finally got Alex happy and smiling up into it, played around with a back carry using a Tula (and sorry we didn’t get to practice more!) and met new friends. Including a mom who may come back as she needs help with her Bjorn.
We also got to play with a handwoven TieLark wrap that is recently fresh off the loom and made locally. It was brought in by Bernadeth, who with her friend has started this company. You may recall awhile back that I posted their funding video.
For those having issues nursing, a new to us resource was discovered called Ottawa Breastfeeds. For a list of services and clinics check out their website at:
And I got to hold LOTS and LOTS of babies, and get lovely toddler smiles. What better thing can there be this close to the holidays? Except hanging out and meeting great people like we did today… We compared holiday traditions, and discussed everything from nursing issues, to fiesty interfering relatives, and wished everyone a Happy Hannukah and Merry Christmas. Happy holidays everyone!
November 27, 2014
Thank you to everyone who came today, it was a great meeting. We had some friends come back to group on another maternity leave (yay!) and we got to talking about how expressing yourself is important, especially in relation to a poor prenatal and birth experience. Jennifer is extremely active with ICANN and one of their goals is to provide support for mothers healing from caesareans. I strongly recommend tapping into this resource, the next meeting is in a few weeks at the Ottawa Integrative Health Centre (OIHC) Wednesday December 10, 2014, at 7pm at 1129 Carling Ave. For more information about what happens in meetings, please post them here or you can pm Jen directly.
Making sure you have the right support network in place once you’ve expressed your anger is important. A release of anger is cathartic if you can feel supported, but can make the anger increase if you feel like all you’re facing is isolation, loneliness, or a blank wall of indifference.
Today, we also talked about transitioning from one carrier style to another, practiced a front wrap cross carry (or three), and I even got to toss A— up into a quick ruck by jollying him into thinking it was exactly what he wanted. The truth is that sometimes we can use a variety of tricks to make it easier for your babe to accept being put in the carrier. But other times you have to decide: Your needs vs the child’s. If mobility, the need to get things done, etc, takes precedence over a temporary grumpiness on your baby’s part, then you win. It’s that simple. A bit of a bounce, some singing, a special toy can make the transition happen faster. My kid would eventually just grab my braid and cuddle it.
I also got to talk complete utter nonsense to N—, and talking nonsense to cranky babies can be so much fun (unless it’s like the millionth hour of no sleep). I got to determine the ENTIRE conversation and she got really serious and listened. Lol. I would be spooked, however, if she repeats it back to me verbatim in a few years.
November 13, 2014
We talked about a lot of different things during this meeting. The difficulties and isolation you can feel when on maternity leave, how to ask for support even if you are shy, your right to be supported, and different things you can do to find your tribe. Not everyone who babywears walks around all zen with the world, with hairy legs singing kumbaya, sacrificing all for the needs of their baby. The whole point of babywearing is to make it easier for you to feel empowered and be able to do what you love, not become someone you are not. Here are some options to combine what some of my moms love to do and still have their babes along for the ride.
City of Ottawa mom and baby bootcamp: https://apps102.ottawa.ca/Activities/ActivitiesCourseDetails.asp?cid=662441&LanguageID=1
And then party with baby which is much like Salsa Babies.
Dr. Nils Bergman is a well known advocate for kangaroo care, which is best known when you use skin to skin contact to help preemies obtain optimal outcomes due to a rough start in life. I have seen him interviewed many times, typically in videos about early infant care or which promote the right to birth as naturally as possible. He has said many, many lovely supportive things over the years – like that it is never too late to play catch-up and optimize the growth trajectory of your baby, and that anyone can be part of the child’s attachment environment.
Therefore when I read a Daily Mail article which states that he fully believes that “Changes to the brain brought on by stress hormones may make it more difficult to form relationships later on, leading to problems such as promiscuity,” I nearly fell off of my chair.
Say it isn’t so! The cure, the guarantee against this is to bedshare with your baby for the first three to four years of their lives. What the what? I quickly hopped onto the internet to see whether the Daily Mail had quoted him incorrectly. Nope, they got it right.
OH GIVE ME A BREAK!
I agree that co-sleeping can offer many benefits, but how anyone can even say some of the nonsense in this article with a straight face just slays me. Not bed-sharing until three years of age leads to greater promiscuity? Really? So if you don’t bedshare until your child is about ready to enter kindergarten, they will have such a low sense of self-esteem that they will search for approval and love in really inappropriate ways by offering to sleep with absolutely anyone who crosses their path? Apparently, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS…
None of it? JUST bedsharing, or the lack of it will cause promiscuity.
Bedsharing, like babywearing, offers a lot of benefits to be sure. The proximity effect which allows you to respond immediately to your child’s needs, the warmth provided by your body, all of that is important. But so are a lot of other things that you just don’t do in bed, like walking, talking, playing, singing with your baby, being with your partner, with your loved ones. In bed, babies don’t get introduced and interact with people in their community, they don’t get to safely explore their environment, they don’t get to see all the fullness and the emotions that are part of life such as anger, fear, happiness, sadness, joy and so much more. They just mainly sleep, poop, and nurse.
To suggest that you cannot raise healthy secure children if you don’t bedshare is ridiculous. Well attached children are raised everyday in Canada by caring parents who follow a variety of parenting styles because they meet their children’s needs as well as their own. They respond appropriately to their babies when they are crying and are upset, they play with their children, they include them in every aspect of life. They provide a proper framework to help them determine how to move through life, how to explore their environment, provide limits on what you should and should not do in various situations and circumstances.
That includes parents who babywear and don’t bedshare.