Friday, April 27, 2012

Are Attachment Parenters Giving Breastfeeding a Bad Rap?

She's not "into" carrying her baby around, strapped to her boob all day.


Future Attachment Parenters? Into baby-wearing?



That's what she told me when I messaged her about her soon-to-be first-born. I wanted to let her know that if she chose to breastfeed, I was there to help her out- be a resource. I'd be happy to answer any questions she had about breastfeeding, before or after delivery.

I remember being 19 years old and pregnant. 10 years ago isn't that long, really. And I knew that there were things I would... and wouldn't... do as a mom. I also knew there were a lot of things that just turned me off. I didn't even know what Attachment Parenting was at the time, but I knew that I didn't want to parent in that way. Yes, I wanted to breastfeed my baby, but the rest? The co-sleeping... the baby-wearing... not for me!

Thankfully, I knew a lot of breastfeeding moms who didn't practice attachment parenting. They parented more like my own mother, and reflected my values and goals. I knew that while breastfeeding had a nurturing aspect, it was first and foremost about feeding my baby, not about defining my parenting style.

Unfortunately, my young friend didn't have the same experience. We live quite a ways away from each other and haven't seen each other in a few years, so she hasn't around my growing family much. It seems that most of the breastfeeding moms around her were Attachment Parenting (AP). And it seems that she was under the impression that breastfeeding meant you had to do all these other things that go along with AP. It seems that AP wasn't a fit for her, and so she thought breastfeeding wasn't a fit for her, either.

Let's face it: because of the on-demand feeding philosophy, AP moms tend to breastfeed in public more often than breastfeeding moms who practice other parenting philosophies. So, for most people in the US, the image we have of breastfeeding moms is one of an AP mom. I have certainly had many people make assumptions about me and the way I parent based solely on the fact that I breastfeed! And for some people, AP can be a real turn-off.

But the beauty of breastfeeding is that it's not about a parenting philosophy. It's about feeding your baby.

Breastfeeding can and does "work" for parents who subscribe to all different types of parenting practices. You don't have to feed on-demand or in a sling or in a family bed or anything. You can breastfeed however you want, in whatever way works for your family. After all, breastfeeding is like chili--- best the way you like it!

So are APers giving breastfeeding a bad rap? I don't think so. But I do think that they are quickly becoming the stereotype that is linked to breastfeeding, and that can be a problem. Not because there is anything wrong with AP, but because breastfeeding is a much more broad and diverse experience than what is typically associated with attachment parenting.

What do you think? Are there other stereotypes or misinformation that is giving breastfeeding a bad rap?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Easter!


Yes, I know Easter was 2+ weeks ago. Belated as it may be, I still thought you might like to see some of our Easter pictures.

First, we had round 2 of our Natural Easter Egg Dye Experiment. We got some really cool colors this time around. (no filters on any of these... they are the actual color as captured by my iPhone in the morning sunlight. Pretty cool, no?)

Saffron Flower
Yellow Onion Skin
Hibiscus Flower
Red Cabbage, Take 2

Our church hosted an egg hunt on Palm Sunday. The kids had a ton of fun... well, at least the ones who understood what was going on:) JA did figure out that the eggs held candy, which put a prompt end to his "hunting" and a quick start to his eating!

Jelly Beans. Mmm.

This way to the eggs candy!

Look at that loot!

Nice haul!

And our best Easter Bunny shot of 2012:

Yes, our best bunny picture. At least no one is crying!

My mom was in town for Easter (which also happened to fall on Anna's birthday- post forthcoming). We were so blessed to have here. We didn't really do anything "special" for Easter, but it was a nice day all around.

Here are some of our favorite Easter pictures!

GaGa and Ava Joy

My men

My 4 blessings

GaGa and her babies

That's our Easter. How was yours?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Breastfeeding Is Like Chili

15,800,000

Source

That's how many results were returned when I Googled "chili recipe."

There's tomato-based and white chili.
Vegetarian and meaty.
Soupy and thick-as-concrete.
Mild, spicy, and flaming hot.
The variations go on and on.

But here's the thing about chili: my recipe is the best chili recipe in the world.

You were just thinking the same thing, weren't you? That your chili is the best?

Well guess what? It is.

The chili you like the best is the best chili in the world, whether it's the chili you make, or your Aunt Sally makes, or your favorite restaurant in Seattle, or wherever. Because there's no wrong way to make chili... it all just depends on what you like!

Kind of like breastfeeding.


Ava Joy nursing, just hours old.


There's on-demand, on-cue, parent-directed and schedule.
Block feeding.
Extended breastfeeding.
Exclusively pumping.
Biologic breastfeeding
Adoptive breastfeeding.
Milk sharing, donor milk, and cross-nursing.

And it's all good.

My breastfeeding is the best. And so is yours.

There's really only two rules that apply to breastfeeding: Mom and baby should be happy and healthy, and it shouldn't hurt. If your breastfeeding meets these criteria**, Congratulations!


Your breastfeeding is the best in the world!

Just like your chili.


**If your breastfeeding doesn't meet this criteria, don't worry! You just need a little more help and support! Think of it as getting a cooking lesson to improve your chili recipe. A lactation consultant or LLL are great places to start, but if nothing else, drop me a note! I'm happy to help you find the support and resources you need! 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Named: Ava Joy

I just realized I never shared the story of how Ava Joy was named. (See Anna's naming story here, here, and here. JohnAndrew's naming story is buried here.)

To be honest, Ava Joy's name was "leftover" from our girl's choice when I was pregnant with JohnAndrew.

Well, mostly.

When we were talking about names, we were having such a difficult time deciding on a first name. Since John's mother and my grandmother are named Elaine (and the name is a middle name in other family members), we were pretty sure we would use that as the "family" name component, and that it would be the middle name. Although John did try to get me to use it for a first name so that he could call the baby "E". Ummm, no.

We went back and forth on a lot of "A" names, and our baby name book was getting pretty worn. Then, one day when we were watching The Princess and the Frog with the girls, it hit me.

Source

"My girl? Ho ho ho…That’s Evangeline. She the most prettiest firefly ever did glow. You know I talk to Evangeline ‘most every night. She’s kind of shy, don’t say much, and I know in my heart some day we’re gonna be together..."

I sneaked into the bedroom where John was working on his computer and proposed the idea, and there you had it... we had a name! Avangeline Elaine.

Fast forward almost a year and a half. We pulled out Avangeline Elaine from the reserves when we found out we were expecting #4. And we were totally okay with that name for most of our pregnancy. But then, just a few weeks before I was due, I felt like something was missing... that something was wrong.

Now, at the risk of offending my mother-in-law, I am going to be completely honest with you. While we were excited to use the family name "Elaine", it certainly carried connotations with it. I love my mother-in-law dearly, but she is a bit... um, how do you say it... negative, pessimistic, glass-half-empty, not likely to look on the sunny side of life.

I believe names have meaning. The name itself, yes... but also the associations. My grandmother and my husband's mother are strong women who I am proud to have my daughter named after. But I couldn't shake that negativity.

And so, Joy.

Yes, Avangeline Elaine Joy.

To be honest, when we decided to add the third name, we didn't plan to "use" it. We thought maybe Ava or Angel for a nickname. (Well, I thought that. John still wanted to call her "E.")

But then we saw her.

Ava Joy, 30 hours old


And how could she be anything other than Ava Joy?

One of the coolest things is that Avangeline is based in the Greek word evangel, meaning good news or bearer of good news. Elaine, from the Greek, means bright light.  And Joy.

My Ava Joy. May she bring the good news of the joy found in the Light of the World.

Friday, April 20, 2012

What works for me with Babywise

Ava Joy, 4 mo. Sleeping at the hair salon.

A while back, I briefly wrote about my early experiences with breastfeeding Abigail, and how we overcame obstacles and breastfed for 18 months... Babywise being a part of that story. I also wrote about my Babywise experience with JohnAndrew. So, it's probably about time I write a bit about Ava Joy and what's working for us.

First, let me start by saying that Ava Joy has been my best nurser. This has meant that our breastfeeding experience has been not only physically easy, but emotionally pleasant as well. I did not experience PPD like I did after Abigail's birth, or even deep baby blues like I did after JohnAndrew's birth. On the other hand, I have felt physically exhausted. But overall, the only problem with breastfeeding that I have had thus far with Ava Joy was one slightly blocked duct which resolved within 48 hours or so.

Establishing an eat-play-sleep cycle with her was pretty easy. She loves her some momma milk, but also likes to play with her siblings, crack up with momma, or just explore the world. The hardest part has been the fact that we spend quite a bit of time in the car (between school pick ups/drop offs, activities, errands, etc), so while the cycle is established, a good "schedule" that gets her up at the same time each morning, napping at approximately the same time each morning and afternoon, and down to bed at the same time each night is just not happening.

I think that has a lot to do with her sleep patterns. She started sleeping through the night (7 hours) at 6 weeks. I would nurse her, burp her, then lay her drowsy self down and off to dreamland she would float.

And then the stomach bug hit.

And we went to Vegas.

And we had a big brother who was waking up 6 times a night while cutting molars.

And, and, and...

And here we are with a baby girl who still wakes frequently at night. She doesn't need to eat and is easily soothed back to sleep, but she still wakes frequently (even if she is in bed with you.) And if she is in bed with me? Well, she's not hungry and doesn't want milk, but boy, she is a picture of conflict because she wants to nurse!

Sorry, baby, you can't have one without the other.

Babywise, of course, would suggest letting her cry it out. But we know CIO doesn't work for us. Fuss for a few minutes? Maybe. But cry it out? Not so much.

So my once sleeping-thru-the-night baby is a frequent waker, and I am not getting much sleep, and our day still starts at 5:45am and ends about 11pm, and I still have sleep anxiety, so basically, I am one hot (exhausted) mess.

But the kids are happy and healthy. And school ends in 5 weeks. And I'll be with family for 7 weeks over the summer (which will hopefully mean some more support, rest, and a plan to help Ava Joy sleep a little better.)

Until then, feel free to pray for our little family! We'll take all the extra grace and mercy we can get over here!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Can crying save a baby's life?

This month is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. In some places, April 15-21 has been designated Shake Baby Awareness Week.

JohnAndrew at 14 months
Shaken Baby Syndrome continues to be an important topic in child abuse prevention. 30% of victims of SBS experience fatal injuries. Of the survivors, approximately 60-75% experience irreversible side effects of the abuse. Most victims are under age 2.

BlogHer contacted me this week about featuring my post in their network. After the touching comments I received on the post, as well as through email and Facebook, I was eager to share, because I realize how many mommas need to hear this message. 

I hope that you will check out the article and share it with friends so that we can all be a part of stopping the devastating losses of Shaken Baby Syndrome.

The Book of Jonas Book Review

I'm a re-reader.

Most books that I love, I re-read. My copies of Jane Austen's works, the Harry Potter series, and even my 8-book box set of the Anne of Green Gables series are falling apart from wear well-loved, and it shows.

It's not often that I love a book but do not plan to re-read it. The last book I read that fell into that category was The Lovely Bones.

The Book of Jonas

The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau is haunting. It's the kind of novel that leaves you with a nameless hollow ache, a heart that is wounded, a mind more open. It stays with you, even the parts that you wish wouldn't, because it rings of deep truths about the world... about love and hate and fear and hope and loss and grief and death and life.

Dau's debut novel tells two stories. First, the story of Jonas, a Muslim refugee from a war-torn country who comes to America as a teen, having lost everything but his memories of his former life. Rose is an all-American mother of three sons, including one who is MIA after a mission in Jonas's homeland. Their stories are woven together by a thread called Christopher, Rose's son and a soldier who gives his diary to Jonas before the boy emigrates to America.

If you haven't figured it out by now, I loved this book and highly recommend it. As with any great work, I feel like my words are inadequate to express both the depth of the work and the depth of my appreciation for it. So go read it for yourself!



Disclosure: Yes, BlogHer paid me to write this review, but everything I wrote here is my honest opinion:)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Kid(s) Rock Monday: A Link Up

Missy asked how cute my kid(s) are over on this week's My Kid Rocks Mondays.

I feel like I tell you about my cute kids pretty often, but the whole point is to brag on them a bit. So here goes.

Abigail


First of all, can you believe how quickly my baby is growing up? Look at her!

I love that Abigail is a voracious reader. One of my favorite things about her love of reading is that it spans many genres. She recently told me that Pissidian is the Greek god of the sea. Guess that's what happens when you read words and understand the context but have not heard the pronunciation!

And then there's things like this...

Abigail: (reading from a joke book) What's most important to a woman?
Friend: What?
Abigail: Her will.
Friend: .... uh, what?
Abigail: You know, that thing when you die?

Anna


Girlfriend is 5 now, and could she be cuter?

She got sisterlocs installed last week, and they are adorable. Requiring their own post (forthcoming.) She was quick to inform me that her hair is now so cute and when Ava Joy is one, she can have her hair loc'd, too.

The other day we were talking about Abigail doing something (going outside to get into the car after lunch, maybe?) and Anna followed up with "and then her lies." She's at that NO FILTER age:)


JohnAndrew


18 months today. I am not ready for this.

Ava Joy

Could this baby be any cuter? Someone who does not find my husband to be a kindred spirit recently remarked that one of his redeeming qualities is that he makes cute babies. I'll give him that much (and more) for sure:)

Be sure to go brag on your kids and link up to Missy's post here!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Follow Up

In July of 2008, I received my referral for Anna. It was long awaited and my excitement was through the roof. Even if there was lots of poop involved.

One of the most exciting aspects of accepting the referral was getting to share the pictures and information with Abigail. Showing and telling her about her soon-to-be sister was beyond thrilling. I am so glad I made a record of those moments.

Today, I shared that video with Anna.



How sweet is that? 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Baby got Back... and Butt and Belly


My friend Eryka is awesome. We have been friends since high school, and I have loved watching her develop her passion for health, fitness, and green living. And cooking!

And recently, I decided to tap into that knowledge.

After birthing 2 babies in 13 months, my core was basically obliterated. I have chronic back pain from hauling my big guy around since I have no core strength to support him. And also, it's bathing suit season (at least it is in Mississippi.)

What I'm saying is it's not pretty over here. Nor is it functional. So something had to be done.

That's where Eryka lended her awesomesauce and developed a core workout plan that actually is working for me. You can read more about what I am calling the Baby Got Back and Butt and Belly plan over here. It's a simple, gradual plan. It can be done on my floor without any equipment. It only takes a few minutes.

And most importantly, it has allowed me to start where I am. Because y'all, I am lazy and easily discouraged and just plain tired. And anything that would have required much more effort than getting down onto the floor to start would not have worked at this point in time.

But so far, it's working. I have actually noticed some improvement already.

If you are looking for a simple core workout that is gentle enough that a post-partum momma can do it but effective enough that you will see results, seriously--- try this.

Then let Eryka and I know how it's going!

And just for laughs, here's a little something:)


Thursday, April 05, 2012

Therapeutic Parenting: 4 Baby Steps for my Preschooler

"Therapeutic parenting." The term used to scare me. It kind of still does. Mainly because I pretty much suck at it.

I'm not saying that to illicit compliments or pity. I'm saying it because it's true. But I have mindfully been working at being more therapeutic in my parenting. I wish I had more time to read books, blogs, etc, because I know there is a wealth of information out there. But I don't, so I am kind of working with the little bit I do know, and trying to really tune in to my children for the rest.

(Yes, my childREN. Because therapeutic parenting isn't just for adopted children or children with trauma in their past. It's for my child whose parents divorced as a baby and who longed for a Daddy for years, too.)

Jamey put out a call for posts about therapeutic parenting for preschoolers, and I thought I would write up 4 parenting practices that are working for us. Like I said, I'm probably not getting all these right, but even these small techniques are having an impact on our relationship.


The Potty Break

I think it's a control thing. 

Preschoolers are all about controlling themselves and their environment. When you add a background that shifts their need to control into the next gear, it can be intense. But I have this theory. Imagine all of Anna's "control powers" stored in a bucket, as tokens. She can hand out as many control tokens to apply to a situation as she wants- until her bucket is empty. Most of the time, when she is balanced, she puts a few of her control tokens into a lot of different buckets- her attitude bucket, her activities bucket, her bodily functions bucket, etc. However, when she is unbalanced, she puts a lot of her control tokens towards one thing (not always the direct "conflict") and may run out of control tokens for other areas. This is when she goes into meltdown mode.

Now, imagine that she has to go potty. She is putting quite a bit more of her control tokens into the potty bucket, and her "bank" of control tokens is pretty low or empty. Then a stressor happens, and she has no control tokens to apply, unless she borrows from another bucket. Will she borrow from the potty bucket and risk a potty accident? Or not borrow and end up in meltdown mode? With Anna, it's usually the later.

So I've been doing a "potty break" each time I start to feel an escalation (unless she's just been to the potty.) I stop, call a "Potty Break!"  and send her to the potty (and make sure that she actually sits down and tries to go). I also take a break (usually I need one to stay therapeutic and not reactive) and go change the baby's diaper. Even if it's messy, handling the baby prevents me from getting too worked up- it actually calms me. Usually I'll call to her in the bathroom and ask her how things are going... except, you know, using "potty humor" (Anna, did you have any purple pee come out?) After we've both had a potty break, we can resume our interaction. By this time, Anna has been able to free up a lot of her control tokens to use in other areas, so with a bit of help, she can apply them to a task, her attitude, etc.

Dance the Disobey Away

Anna is a very physically active, kinetically inclined child. She remembers songs with movements better than just a song by itself. She can focus much more easily on a physical task like Taekwondo than a "still" task like reading a book. 

When I start to see a lot of "disobey" coming out, we sometimes dance it away. We'll set a timer for 1 minute, and dance our wildest dances to get the disobey out. I'm talking all sorts of booty-shaking and The Robot and anything else we can think of. When it's done, I'll sometimes ask a "test" question... "hey, is your disobey gone yet?" and we can dance another minute if its not. It's silly, it's playful, it's giving a physical outlet to that pent up emotional energy that often drives her defiance. It's good.

Photo of Your Face

Honestly, I think one of the hardest things for Anna is realizing that she can control her attitude. I mean, it's hard for ME to learn, of course it's hard for her!

Sometimes, when we are having attitude problems, I'll sneak up and take a picture of her with my phone. ThenI show it to her and ask her what her face is saying. Is it saying "I'm mad and grumpy and I hate doing this task?" Or is it saying "I'm going to get this task done so I can go play outside!" 

Actually seeing herself often provides her with a motivation to change her attitude. I'll ask if she wants a "do over" on her picture. Then she can do her task and I'll take a picture with her "new" attitude. When seeing her picture doesn't help her, I try (although often fail) to stop and provide some physical contact. For instance, if she's sorting the silverware, I'll say "Oh, let me help you!" and then I'll pick up a fork and have her "steer" my hand to the right compartment in the drawer.

Baby Sister Sitter 



One of my biggest struggles is physically connecting with Anna (or any of my kids). I am not a really touchy-feely person, and when you combine that with the fact that I usually have at least one of the babies physically on my person, I just really have little desire to touch anyone, especially not a child that's pushing my buttons. 

Anna, on the other hand, is extremely physically affectionate. She loves any physical affection, and she loves to love on others, especially her baby siblings. I've been letting her cuddle the baby more... at nap time I will often let her get in my bed with Ava Joy while I finish a few household tasks, that kind of thing. Then I will get in bed with both girls, and even if I don't full-body cuddle Anna, we can both cuddle the baby and I will maybe rub Anna's back or hold her hand while doing this. 

This is a big deal for me. This is hard for me. It's not at all where it could be, but it's a lot better than were I was. And the extra cuddles that she gives the baby are very comforting for both of them. Sometimes, if she is singing Ava Joy a song or rubbing her head a particular way, I'll get in bed and sing the song to Anna or rub Anna's head just the same way... mimicking the caresses and mothering that Anna is directing to the baby. She loves it.



That's what's working for us. What's working for you?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Natural Easter Egg Dye Experiment

For the past few weeks, my kids have been following the Feingold Diet (or, as I call it, the FGD). It's basically an elimination diet that totally eliminates artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and some other stuff (including all berries). My friend, Missy, had great success with it. I'm not sure if I am seeing the results I hoped to see, but we have been eating a lot less packaged, preservative-packed stuff than we had been.

Also, I love my bread machine. But that is a separate post.

Anyway, the whole "no dyes" thing created a small problem when it came to Easter Eggs. I love to color and decorate Easter eggs, but how would we do it this year, since the dye kits are "off limits"? Then I happened across this post, and was struck! With genius or something. But nothing dangerous like lightening.

We followed her basic method (minus the mineral oil), using ingredients that are acceptable on the FGD.

Cooking our eggs

Eggs cooling before being put in the fridge.
The girls each chose "dyes" and made the labels.

Now, I treated this as an experiment for the kids, so we ended up using various dye agents that just didn't work. Among them are lemon and lime peels. But, we did get some good colors out of other dye agents. I know if we would have left them in the fridge longer, the colors probably would have been more intense. 

Eggs after "dyeing" for 16 hours

What worked for us:

Red Cabbage (upper left)- came out blueish grey. Color intensified after 24 hours out of the dye.
Canned Beets (lower left)- couldn't find fresh beets, so used canned beets and beet juice! These looked brown after 24 hours out of the dye.
Tumeric (the yellow ones)- fun color! I wonder if curry powder would work?
Eggplant Skins (top, next to tumeric)- maybe my favorite! a tealy-blue-grey.
Red Onion Skins (bottom right)- kind of a brownish-red- you can see the colors varied.
Pomegranate Juice (to the left of the red onion skins)- this was a fun color! I would love to see what a fresh pomegranate would do!

What didn't work for us:

Carrots (top right)- ehhh. Not much color to them.
Cinnamon (bottom, between the pomegranate and beets)- these came out "slimey" and the cinnamon wiped off. I wonder if a cinnamon stick would work better?
Lemon peel, lime peel, dill weed (not pictured)- no color

We plan to make these again, but will use a different method. First I will bring the eggs to a boil in a large pot, then cover and remove from the heat. Separately, I will "cook" the dyeing agents and put it into jars with vinegar. Then I'll add the eggs. I think this will be easier than trying to cook the eggs in the dyeing agent.

That said, we already have some things set aside to try on Friday or Saturday:

Rhubarb
Fresh Beets
Sweet Potatoes
Red Cabbage (will try letting it sit longer)
Hibiscus Flowers
Saffron
Avacado Peel
Curry Powder
Ground Annatto
Cardamon Pods

Looks like there is more egg salad in our future:)

Anyway, do you have any ideas? What would you try to use for natural egg dyes?

Monday, April 02, 2012

Why I let my baby cry.

Ava Joy, 4 months. 


She just wouldn't. stop. crying.

I walked her. I bounced her. I shushed her.

She cried.

I offered the breast. The pacifier. A bottle. My finger tip.

She wailed.

I changed her diaper. I changed her clothes. I gently washed her face and burped her.

She shrieked.

I begged. I pleaded. I wept.

She screamed.

For hours, this went on. My breasts engorged, ached, and flooded my shirt with milk she wouldn't drink. Tears streamed down my face while my heart raced and my blood pressure rose.

Why do you hate me? What am I doing wrong? I asked her over and over as her tiny, stiff, arched-back body grew heavier in my arms. She was 6 weeks old. This was how we spent a lot of our time.

I read a lot of great posts from many well-meaning moms about parenting high-needs babies.

I even read some things about how allowing a baby to "cry it out" will cause brain damage.* They say that allowing a baby to cry and failing to meet it's need (and thus stop the crying) will permanently damage your baby. Some well-meaning mommas have told me that allowing a baby to cry for any period of time will cause brain damage.

What I don't hear much of is anyone telling you that it's okay to let your baby cry.

Maybe some of these mommas have lived through an experience like the first 8 months of Abigail's life. I am guessing most of them haven't. So I want to tell you something important today:

IT IS OKAY TO LET YOUR BABY CRY.

If there is one thing I know, it's this: a woman's body is designed to respond to a crying baby. And when we respond and the baby continues to cry despite our best efforts, our bodies go into high-stress mode.

Add sleep deprivation, new-mommy jitters, feelings of failure because your baby just cries and cries despite everything you do, maybe some baby blues or (in my case with Abigail) some post-partum depression... well, that's a recipe for disaster... a disaster called Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma.

You see, no one sets out to hurt their baby. Not really. But with the right combination of stressors and the depletion of coping mechanisms, the frustration of a crying baby who won't. stop. crying. will lead a momma to do the unthinkable.

But believe it or not, that inconsolable, gut-wrenching, stiff-body screaming cry pattern can be normal. And sometimes, there is absolutely nothing you can do... except wait for baby to spontaneously stop crying.

Until they do, it's okay to let them cry. It's okay to set them in a safe place and walk away. Most parents I know have had to do this at least once... depending on the child and the mental well-being of the parents, it can happen frequently. I've personally had to set down and walk away from each of my crying infants at least twice.

Some things I have personally found helpful in these times are:

  • Get outdoors- fresh air and sunshine/moonshine can have a dramatic and nearly instantaneous effect on mood and stress. Don't feel safe leaving baby indoors while you go out? Take baby with you- their cries are far less intense outdoors than indoors.
  • Get moving- Getting a brief bit of exercise- a walk around the yard, a few laps on the stairs, a few minutes on the treadmill, or even 50 jumping jacks- will give a physical vent to your emotional heat.
  • Phone a friend- Even if they don't answer, hearing another grown-up's voice in the midst of a stressful mommy moment can restore your perspective. My mom and husband have received numerous voicemails where I just describe the situation and tell them how awful I feel. Somehow, that actually makes me feel better.
  • Set a timer- When a baby is crying, it can feel like forever. I set a timer and work on a task like folding laundry for 5 minutes. Some deep breaths and the slight distraction of the task at hand can help me re-energize to attempt to calm the baby again.
  • Cry- There are times when the only thing you have left are tears. That's okay. Obviously your baby is upset- you can cry, too! There is nothing wrong with that. But when you are calm, wipe your face, then gently wipe your babe's tears away, and move forward.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Informing parents that it's okay to walk away and asking them to sign a pledge not to shake their baby has been associated with a nearly 50% reduction in shaken baby syndrome.

Will you please take time to learn more about infant crying and prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome/AHT? Even if you don't have a baby, you could be the support that parents need to help prevent a tragedy.

And if you do take a few moments to become educated, will you leave me a comment telling me something you have learned about infant crying, SBS/AHT, and prevention measures?

*Post forthcoming about this topic!
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