Child spacing and attachment parenting

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I haven’t written on here in a while but I have a good excuse- I’ve been really tired going through the first trimester of pregnancy :) Now I’m finally in the second trimester and the need to nap every time Jack is asleep has finally mostly passed, so I feel like I have some free time back. I’m so excited for the new baby due this summer and for Jack to have a sibling, but I think it will be a big challenge trying to get everyone’s needs met once the baby arrives.

We thought a lot about how to space our children ideally and tried to balance the fact that having a sibling close in age would be nice later in life with making sure that Jack is independent enough when the baby comes that he can take care of some of his own needs so that he doesn’t get neglected. I think that having a 2.5 year gap will work out really well for our family. Since Jack turned 2 he has been so much more independent and communicative, and his sleep has been pretty great. I think it will be a lot easier to be an attached parent with one of the kids already usually sleeping through the night, that way waking with just the baby won’t feel as tiring. Of course Jack might regress in his sleeping, but he’s also old enough to be put back to sleep with a book and songs, so my husband can always help with him (which wouldn’t have worked 6 months ago).

Some things I’ll try to do to set us up for success once the baby comes:

  • Transition Jack to sleeping on a floor bed in our room, so the baby will have some space but we’ll all be together and Jack won’t feel abandoned in another room
  • Read books about babies once we get closer to my due date, and practice things with his stuffed animals like changing diapers or baby wearing
  • Make sure I have a few baby wearing options for the baby as well as Jack who I’m sure will want to be worn as well
  • Set up some special toy baskets that Jack can play with while I nurse
  • Get Jack involved in helping as much as I can
  • Teach Jack a few more skills like putting on his shoes and pants if possible so he can be more independent
  • Get Jack a special present from the baby

Update at 18 months

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I can’t believe how fast time is passing and that Jack is already 18 months old! I remember when he was a tiny baby we’d always be the youngest ones at meetups and things, and now he is definitely a toddler! I try as much as possible to be present and enjoy each day because they really fly by, and even if we have another child it’ll never be the same as having all my time to enjoy just Jack. Some things that have been going on lately:

  • Talking: Jack is saying about 10 words or so now. It’s on the low end of normal, but hopefully he’s just a later talker like his dad was. I make sure to narrate what we are doing all day and wait for him to respond to questions so he has the opportunity to practice talking. While he says 10 words he says the same 3 most often- ball, mama, and car. So it really doesn’t feel like he’s that grown up yet, I think once he is using his words all the time it will really feel like he’s not a baby any more.
  • Eating: Jack has gradually been eating more solids. He likes most things that are breaded such as organic chicken nuggets or fish nuggets. He is also eating more fruits such as peaches. Our meals are still pretty random things at this point though, like raisins and peanut butter for breakfast.
  • Babywearing: I still wear Jack for usually either a nap or to get him to sleep for bedtime. I also use the Tula a lot for when we are walking to of from a store or part of the time we are walking our dog.
  • Breastfeeding: Jack still nurses a lot! If I’m gone for 4-5 hours for work I start feeling engorged. He also nurses every few hours at night. Once his teeth are in I’ll try to cut that down, but he keeps having teething pain at least a few weeks a month so it doesn’t seem worth it to deal with the crying and lack of sleep of night weaning just to go back on it a week later when he has horrible teething pain all night.
  • Clothes: we have still been able to stick with 100% organic clothes! I’ve been happy to find toddler clothes at H&M, Frugi, Burt’s Bees, and some random stuff on amazon.
  • Cloth diapers: Jack is wearing mostly Bumgenius 4.0 pockets now because they are easy to change while he’s standing or walking. He goes to the potty when he wakes up in the morning and usually after nap and we get almost all poops in the potty.
  • Movement: Jack is almost running now which is cute. He is also climbing nonstop! He can push a chair to the kitchen counter and climb up on it which is scary. We are looking for a used learning tower for him to make standing at the kitchen sink a little safer.
  • Playing: Jack still prefers playing with containers or laundry over mot of the toys he has! Some favorite toys that actually get used often are books, his wooden cart, and his pounding toy which he also likes to remove the pegs from and put them places.

Overall he can entertain himself for longer and longer now- sometimes 10-20 minutes, so it’s getting so much easier for me! I can now cook in the kitchen sometimes while he plays in the sink or with some containers, or I can clean while he “swiffers.” He also sits in his high chair long enough for me to eat an entire meal often, although sometimes I have to give him a little container with a lid for him to put raisins into to keep him busy at the end.

I love how he learns new things almost every day, like how to make a new animal noise. He is starting to get upset when we tell him he can’t do things, but luckily after reading a ton about positive parenting (I love the book Peaceful Parenting) I feel pretty well equipped to deal with it and help him learn to calm himself down so far. I’m sure it will get harder (but in some ways easier) as he gets older though!

Attempting minimalism with a toddler

the majority of our toys and books

the majority of our toys and books

My husband and I try to be minimalistic with our possessions, but it’s been a challenge to keep that up once we had a baby! Now that Jack is 16 months old and a toddler, I wanted to update how we’re doing. You can see a post about minimalism with a baby here or about our minimalist baby registry here.

Diapers: we are still cloth diapering which saves tons of money and decreases our daily trash by a huge amount! We love it, and while we had ammonia issues now that Jack is peeing more, the poop is also SUPER easy to clean now that it’s solid- you just plop it into the toilet (or since we do EC Jack poops in the potty most of the time which is even easier).

Food: we do baby led weaning which minimizes the need to buy special baby purees or machines to make purees (although we already had an immersion blender). Jack eats what we eat, or we buy snacks from the dried foods or cereal section of Whole foods (like unsweetened organic corn puffs). We did buy a few stainless steel espresso spoons for Jack and these thick glass shot glasses he can drink from that are hard to break. We’re skipping sippy cups since dentists don’t recommend them, and just use a water bottle on the road.

Clothes: I try to buy as much gender neutral organic clothing as I can so we can hopefully use it for another child down the line. We do laundry about every 5 days, so we try to buy only the amount of clothes we need to last us that long. Jack has a few gender neutral shoes as well.

Toys: I have a secret: Jack prefers to play with things that aren’t even children’s toys ūüėČ We have a few nice wooden toys for him, and my dad has a bunch at his house which they bought. Jack spends a lot of time playing with our pots and pans, kitchen paraphernalia, ¬†putting things inside bowls or ceramic vases, pushing our ottoman around, or playing with our dog’s (nontoxic) balls. I think we have never bought him a toy ourselves, but it’s harder to get relatives not to buy him toys and instead give him clothes or donate to his college fund. We go to the park or library playroom at least once a day, so Jack gets to play with different things there too.

Books: We have a handful of board books, most that were from my childhood and are in different languages so they can’t be found at the library. Once he gets a little older we plan to get most books from the library instead of buying them. (For my husband and I, we almost always buy ebooks now).

Sleeping: We still have our crib sidecared, and in the future may buy some kind of natural full size mattress for a floor bed. We use my old cell phone as a while noise player.

Transportation: We have a convertible car seat in each of our cars, and my dad has one also. I’m storing our Orbit nontoxic infant seat to hopefully use with another baby. We still use the City Mini stroller sometimes, but only maybe once a week. ¬†I use baby carriers multiple times a day though! I love my Toddler Tula and Bamberoo, and also use my ring sling for quick trips to the library (love the pocket which works as a purse). I put Jack high on my back in a woven wrap while I vacuum so he can see what’s going on.

Bath: Jack has showered with me since day one, or sometimes if he just has food on him I’ll do a rinse in the sink. We rarely use soap on him, and put coconut oil to prevent diaper rash and dry skin. He uses our organic towels, we don’t have any special baby bath things. For bath toys we have some bowls and a ball or two that rotate as bath toys.

Babyproofing: we bought some cheap light switch covers and a few string things to keep drawers closed, but other than that we don’t babyprrof most things and instead watch Jack and teach him to “be gentle” with the low-hanging art, or “let’s not touch the toilet water, it’s wet” etc. It’s been working well so far, but we’ll see if we need to change the plan as he ages.

Things we skipped buying: baby gates, baby monitors (we cosleep), a play yard, baby bath tub and bath products, and baby swing.

My postpartum experience

Jack at 1 day old in his moby wrap

Jack at 1 day old in his moby wrap

Now that Jack is almost 14 months old we are thinking about trying for another baby, and I have been remembering what is was like to be pregnant and deliver Jack… I can’t believe I got pregnant with him almost 2 years ago!

Here are some things about my postpartum experience that might be helpful for people expecting their first child (TMI alert though). FYI I had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery with some moderate tearing.

  1. Having a baby carrier was super helpful since Jack wanted to be held all the time. I loved my moby wrap and beco gemini (both can be organic), and know people who like the k’tan and ergo as well.
  2. I thought I would feel up for going to work a little 2-3 weeks after delivery, but I was SO wrong! Maybe some people are, but because of the stitches I didn’t feel comfortable sitting without a pillow or something for several weeks. There was also more bleeding than I realized, and that lasted 6 weeks for me. So I would advise you to plan to take at least 6 weeks without needing to go anywhere if possible.
  3. Stock up on sanitary pads (chlorine-free if possible!) since you can’t wear tampons! I hadn’t even used pads in such a long time, and I forgot they don’t work as well to prevent leaks so I also recommend having dark colored bottoms just in case of leaks. I also had a mattress protector for my bed in case of leaks at night which was a good investment. I got this PVC-free one and it works great.
  4. Try to learn as much about breastfeeding as possible before birth (check out a LLL meeting!). Most people I know had some trouble with it, so knowing what a tongue tie and lip tie are and what they look like for example can help you in case your doctor doesn’t notice (mine didn’t). If you miss things like that, it can lead to a lot of pain, so it’s better to do anything possible right away to prevent problems. We even paid $300 for a lactation specialist to come to the house on a weekend which I felt guilty about, but it’s way cheaper than a year of formula! Also lanolin was helpful for my nipples. If you’re possibly allergic to wool, you can try hard to get organic lanolin without chemicals added.
  5. Take tons of pictures! It sounds obvious but it easy to forget, and looking back I wish I had more. I especially wish I took out our nice camera more often and got good quality pictures rather than phone ones. Newborns sleep so much that it’s a great time to get adorable pictures of them sleeping on dad’s chest, on a sheepskin rug, on someone’s arm, with the dog…
  6. We waited to start cloth diapering for about a week because we were nervous, but I found it way easier than disposables and next time will start right away! Maybe even in the hospital! It also makes the pictures even more adorable.
  7. I recommend everyone reads up of safe cosleeping, because even if you never plan to, you will likely end up doing it sometime out of exhaustion. It sounds ridiculous but even having to lift your baby and put them in a bedside cosleeper seems like too much effort at 2am when you are exhausted and they fell asleep next to you while eating and you don’t want to risk waking them.
  8. I also had joint pain off and on for months after delivery, so a heating pad was nice to have for that. I guess all the hormones caused it- it was weird to have this dull pain in my back, knees, and ankles.

Facebook groups for crunchy moms

Since I’ve had Jack, I spend an embarrassing amount of time on facebook while he’s breastfeeding. I don’t know a ton of crunchy moms in real life, so facebook groups have been so helpful in making me feel like part of a community and having people to ask for advice. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Natural¬†Toys¬†and¬†Children’s¬†Items¬†b/s/t

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/402340353149076/
  • This is ony of my favorites and I’ve already mentioned it here
  • B/S/T stands for buy, sell, trade
  • It’s a nice place to find cheaper used wooden toys etc, but also to ask questions about anything crunchy

2. The babywearing Swap

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/thebabywearingswap/
  • This super addictive group is just for buying and selling used baby carriers and wraps
  • I definitely look at it while not even planning to buy anything just because the wraps are so pretty!

3.  Babywearing 102

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/Babywearing102/
  • This is the group where you can post questions about anything babywearing related, or pictures of you wrapping and they will give you tips

4. 102 Off-Topic

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/102OT/
  • This is a group to talk about anything other than babywearing, and the moms tend to be super crunchy, use positive parenting, and know about breastfeeding etc

5. The Wait It Out Method (A toolkit approach to sleep training)

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheWaitItOutTribe/
  • This group is for parents not using cry it out for sleeping, and is very helpful when you are at your wit’s end with a baby waking up all the time and want some moral support when everyone in real life seems to be sleep training

6.¬†High¬†Needs¬†/¬†AP¬†/¬†Spirit¬†Families¬†–¬†Babies¬†and¬†Children+¬†…WORLDWIDE.

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/354013614686652/
  • This group is not my favorite, but it can be helpful to ask questions about your high needs baby or see other peoples’ stories to get some perspective

7. Organic Kids Clothes Swap Sell Buy

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/468453759909391/
  • This group probably has less clothes than the group #1 I listed, but is another one to check out if you want used organic clothes

8. Elimination Communication

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/diaperfree/
  • This is useful to ask questions about specifics of EC (diaper free babies) or problem solve if you’re having a potty strike or anything

I also joined some specific groups for certain things like BumGenius b/s/t to buy used diapers of that brand, or Tula love to ask questions about what size Tula carrier to get. It’s a good idea to search for your favorite clothing brand and they might have a b/s/t group, or your favorite small stores may have a group or page you can “like” to see coupon codes occasionally. Hope this helps you waste a lot of time/connect with other crunchy parents!

Babywearing love

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I don’t know how people survive without wearing their babies, unless their baby is super relaxed and happy to lie around alone a lot, which Jack is definitely not!

When Jack was a newborn, I honestly probably wore him during the majority of his waking hours except for some tummy time, some naps, and some nursing (I nursed while babywearing eventually too). Once he started crawling at 9 months I started wearing him less, and it’s at an all time low now at 13 months, but I still wear him relatively a lot. Nowadays I wear him for at least 1 nap per day because he sleeps longer that way, so I can sit backwards in a chair and eat a meal calmly and even watch a TV show with headphones on (so luxurious!!). I also wear him on any short walks with our dog and many longer ones too, since getting the stroller up our few steps is a bit of a hastle.

I continue to wear Jack on my back to get him to sleep at night, and I’m so glad I’m doing that instead of sitting with him in the crib/bed and waiting 1-2 hours until he falls asleep on his own. That process was so frustrating for me when we tried it for a while, but when I wear him I can look at my kindle while walking and clean up a bit around the house which is really nice. (In the middle of the night Jack just nurses back to sleep though).

I also love wearing him during chores like cleaning or cooking. Recently he learned to climb on our couch so I’m nervous to leave him alone in the living room for even a second, so watching him is a little more stressful, and it’s hard to cook or do things while also watching him. Today I needed to vacuum, and it was SO much easier to put him in a wrap on my back and forget he was even there rather than having to make sure he wasn’t eating the vacuum cord every two seconds or sticking his fingers in some crevice of the machine and hurting himself. It’s pretty funny when wearing your toddler to vacuum feels almost like a vacation, huh?

I like different carriers for different things, so here is what I use typically:

Tula (toddler size) is most comfy for front carries, so I wear him on walks in it

Bamberoo has the highest back, so I wear it for naps/night time

Ring sling is smallest so I take it to the library storytime or places like that

The woven wrap can get the highest back carry so Jack can see over my shoulder, so I wear him doing chores so he can watch. I sometimes also wear it other times outside during walks, or try a hip carry on a walk if my back hurts a little.

Review of babyhawk mei tai

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My friend has a babyhawk mei tai she let me borrow, so I was excited to try it out with Jack (13 months old and weighing 23 pounds). I am always looking for carriers that have good neck support because he likes leaning his head backwards which hurts my back, but he hates having a hood over his head. 

I wanted to compare it to the carriers I already have, and the headrest was about 2 inches shorter than the bamberoo, but an inch taller than the tula. The width is also a little smaller than my toddler carriers, and the waist belt is not padded and narrower.

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babyhawk vs. toddler bamberoo

 

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babyhawk vs. toddler tula

Pros of the babyhawk mei tai:

  • It can be made of organic cotton
  • It’s easier to do a high back carry than other structured carriers
  • It can be cheaper than other carriers, especially other toddler ones
  • It folds up really small
  • It can be reversible so you have a manly print for your husband and a cute print for the wife :)
  • Pretty nice sized headrest that didn’t fold down easily
  • You can criss cross the straps behind you during a front carry which gives extra support
  • You can do a hip carry with it

 

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Cons of the mei tai:

  • The waist band is not padded so I found it to be MUCH less comfortable for wearing my heavy boy longer than a few minutes
  • The long straps you use to tie it on would hit the floor if you were putting it on outside and get dirty
  • Harder to tighten after you have the baby inside than a buckle carrier where you just pull the strap

Overall I decided it just wasn’t comfortable enough with my heavy boy to get one, and it made me appreciate my other carriers a lot more. I bet it would work better for little babies though.

Comparison of toddler baby carriers

I got a toddler tula about a month or so ago and really liked it mostly, but my husband wants a carrier whose straps can criss cross, so we are in the market for a different toddler carrier. My husband prefers the crossing straps because he thinks it feels like the backpack kind will fall off your shoulders which is understandable. I also think when you cross them it give you some more back support. It’s been tricky to find toddler carriers with crissable straps though, so here is a list of a few that I found. We also want one with a headrest as high as possible because Jack hated the tula hood over his head, but his head falls backwards when he sleeps sometimes so he needs neck support. (Spoiler- the one we decided on was a bamberoo!) Note about sizes: when sizes are listed they are usually just of the panel, excluding the belt part. They are also often listed as the width at the widest point, which is not necessarily at the baby’s legs. For example our toddler tula said it was 19 inches wide, but it was really close to 17 at the bottom of the leg opening. It fit my 30 inch tall 1 year old who weighs 22.5 pounds perfectly though.

kinderpack

Kinderpack- good headrest, no pocket but you can possibly put your keys in the pocket where you stuff the hood on top. $164. 19 inches wide and 18 tall like tula but 2 inch headrest in addition. Only a few options are organic, many have really busy prints, some have mesh.

kanga XT

Kanga- 16 inches wide. I didn’t like how boxy it looked, but it has a great headrest

ABC carrier

ABC (action baby carrier)- 13.5 width – too small for toddlers. Many designs are more subtle and nice, but no headrest

bamberoo

bamberoo- toddler is 18 inches tall (in just the panel, extra tall with headrest) and 17 inches wide. Canvas ones often have mesh and busy prints. Many wrap-converted ones are available which look nice

manduca

manduca- 13 inches wide- too small

angelpack max

angelpack- all organic! $165, small headrest toddler sized. 19 wide, 18 tall, has a pocket!

Lillebaby organic

lillebaby– about 16 inches wide. Some are organic. Can face out if that’s important to you (although not ideal for long periods)

Babyhawk oh snap (organic version)

babyhawk oh snap 16.5 width 18.5 height. I didn’t really like any of the patterns though, or how boxy the headrest looked

olives and applesauce

olives and applesauce- 16×16 or 18×18 standard vs. toddler. Cute but short headrest

Moby Go

moby go- 14 inches wide- too small. Also not labeled as being able to back carry. People have seen it on clearance at target for $40 though

beco soleil

beco soleil– 16 wide, 17 tall, has a pockeet
I ended up deciding on a wrap converted Bamberoo (that means a woven baby wrap was sewn onto it to make it look pretty and soft) because it had the tallest back plus a 3 inch headrest, and also looked nice. It sadly isn’t organic, but the wraps that cover it are Oeko-tex certified which means no pesticides and toxic chemicals. The one I found (used on the facebook babywearing swap) is also reversible which is cool. I hope we like it, since I wear Jack in a carrier every day!

Learning about woven wraps

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My first back carry with a littlefrog woven wrap

 

Since Jack is outgrowing our beco gemini and has been too big for the moby for a while, I bought a toddler tula like I talked about in the last post. I also wanted another carrier to trade off and have one to use if one is dirty, or just use different muscles in my back. I joined the group Babywearing 102 on facebook that has tons of great people and advice, and I decided to buy a woven wrap!

A Woven wrap is like a moby but not stretchy, so it can carry babies up through big toddlers. The one I got above is the Little Frog brand which is cheaper (I got it for $80 used off facebook) since other wraps can be $150 or more! But you can resell them for close to what you paid (like a tula, too).

It was suggested to buy a striped wrap first because it’s easier to see what color needs to be tightened, and I’m glad I did. Woven wraps have a big learning curve since you have to tighten them carefully so that they are supportive. I’ve had it for a few weeks and feel like I’m getting better, but still need a TON of practice!

The tula is way faster to put on (although some people get really fast with the wraps, so I’m sure that will speed up). I love that the wrap is just cotton and has no foam though. Many wraps are organic but this one is just oeko-tex certified. If I get good at it and want another better one, I would get a kokadi stars wrap which is organic and I like the style better.

Wrapping has been fun because it’s like learning a new skill/hobby, and I enjoy looking up videos and trying new carries. It’s also nice because if your back hurts from carrying around a 22 pound teething baby (hypothetically) there are tons of different ways you can wear them with just one wrap.

We’ll see how it goes! I really want to like it, but it does have some negatives like being harder to out on in public without getting it dirty and having less neck support if baby falls asleep on your back. But it’s cool that it’s an ancient thing and to think that women all around the world use similar ways to carry their babies.

Comparison of a Toddler Tula and Beco Genimi

12.19tulaI just recently bought a Todler Tula baby carrier, and I really like it! Jack weighs 22.5 pounds and is almost 30 inches tall and it just fits him. I previously used the Beco Gemini which I loved for the newborn stage through about 20 pounds or so, but recently his legs have gotten way too long for the seat and they hang down in a way that doesn’t look ergonomic. It also started hurting my back and shoulders after over 45 minutes of use, while the Tula doesn’t at all.

IMG_1855Pros about the Beco Gemini:

  • You can use it with a newborn without an insert
  • You can criss cross the straps for more support
  • It can come in organic fabric
  • I LOVE the headrest thing that can flip up or down. It provides great support during naps without obscuring Jack’s view of everything

Pros about the Tula:

  • The body doesn’t have padding (in the area behind Jack’s back it’s just canvas) so you feel closer and more able to hug them like with a wrap
  • The buckles don’t have a safety thing to push on to open them which is on one hand less safe but on the other hand easier to open
  • It’s sooo comfortable!
  • The straps adjust more (they always felt a little big on me in the Beco)
  • It’s OEKO-TEX certified (not organic though)
  • It has a pocket