Free to be SAFE!- #TLBsafeKids with Clek

#TLBsafeKids

Hey Leakies,

It’s time to talk about practicing safe…ty.

We’re not here to feed into any anxiety or to cause any stress about your family’s safety.

Be honest, you probably do that just fine on your own.

Since so many of us parents have no problem worrying about our families we wanted to start something to actually help reduce that worry.

I know, right? How are we going to do that without alcohol?

Community. Better than fine wine.

Through the month of September and even far beyond we’re building community to share information, tell our stories, confess our fears, admit our mistakes, and help each other work out the right safety decisions for our families. Free of judgment, #TLBsafeKids respects the individual responsibility of parents for their family and trust them to make the best informed safety decisions according to their individual resources, circumstances, and access to information.

Respecting each other, ourselves, and our children, #TLBsafeKids brings together parents concerned about safety around information, ideas, and sharing our stories. And we believe it can be fun. Though there are aspects of safety conversations and education that can be scary, when we approach it with respect and a sense of fun it can become a part of parenting that isn’t dominated by fear and instead builds confidence in ourselves, our communities, and most importantly, our children. Together we are journeying toward health, safety, confidence, and awareness. Not as isolated individuals, but as a family, a community. With each other and with our kids, we’re taking steps to be confidently and freely safe. It may mean getting your car seat installation checked, reassessing your home for safety hazards, changing how you talk to your children, adjusting your sleep arrangements, fixing something broken in your home, you name it, you define what #TLBsafeKids looks like for you.

It all began in August 2014 with the first ever #TLBmoves and it took off. We cheered on some working on (and succeeding) quitting smoking, others had step goals to hit, there were those that started yoga or crossfit or pilates every day, and others started having salads every day. Getting moving together brought us closer together and we discovered that thanks to the global village of the internet, we could cheer each other on and have fun in the process. When we found ourselves stuck, we could be honest about the challenges we were facing and there would be no judgment, just support and encouragement. It was inspiring and we all wanted to keep moving. Nobody was judged and everyone was supported.

Not long after that we began dreaming about other ways we could support each other and other areas that can be difficult to address alone or where we fear judgment. Safety quickly emerged as an area that where many of needed judgment-free support and information sharing. And to safely admit our missteps along the way.

So #TLBsafeKids was born.

From sleep to babywearing, from car seats to home safety, from relationships to skin care, from health to cleaning products and so much more, we’re talking about it all with #TLBsafeKids and daring to honestly share the journey with each other without judgment. Ultimately, we believe this is the only way we can actually succeed.

#TLBsafeKids isn’t about wrapping our children in bubble wrap and keeping them from experiencing the world around them. Respectful of ourselves and our children, #TLBsafeKids aims to help each of us, parents and children alike, to tap into our own power to make confident decisions assessing risk, utilizing products, and employing strategies that allow us to live life to the fullest while being safe.

We hope you’ll join us.

It’s time for #TLBsafeKids!

Whatever area concerns you the most, our #TLBsafeKids community is here to support you. We may not have all the answers but you have our support in finding them.

Whatever your goal, you can join us for #TLBsafeKids!  This is all about embracing an intentional lifestyle that isn’t encumbered by safe practices but enhanced by them. No matter where you’re starting from and we’re here to support each other completely free of judgment each step of the way.

We have a team to help provide some inspiration, not with dictating how you decide to keep you family safe, #TLBsafeKids isn’t about acquiring a certain set of safety rules, but honest and respectful sharing of the journey we’re all on to keep our children safe. Kids in tow and personal goals put out there, our team isn’t to glamorize the journey, simply to share together one step at a time.

#TeamTLBsafeKids! Meet the five mamas who will be sharing their #TLBsafeKids journeys during the month of September:

Jessica: Founder, owner, and author of The Leaky Boob Facebook group and website; mother of six girls, ages 3, 5, 7, 12, 14, and 16.

Jasmine: is a stay at home mom of 4, 2 in heaven and 2 boys ages 4.5 years old and 7 months. Her eldest has Autism and they are currently implementing some new safety strategies according to his needs. Jasmine is a babywearing group leader in the Pacific Northwest.

Kileah: Member of TLB’s editorial team; mother of four children, ages 7, 5, 3 and 22 months. Kileah loves canning, cooking, and being with her family.

Brianne: work from home mom of 3 children, ages 11, 6, and 3 years old. Brianne is married to a fitness enthusiast but has struggled to find time for herself to do the same.

Meet our partners:

#TLBsafeKids is a big undertaking and we are so thrilled to be working with brands we believe in to bring you this event. Our partners really want to see families discovering the best safety practices for them! With information, education, and support, our partner brands is going out of their way to support YOU. Culminating with a giveaway featuring the best of all our partnering brands for #TLBsafeKids. We’ll be sharing photos of #TeamTLBsafeKids using gear from the following brands:

 

#TLBsafekids clek sponsor

Clek. Elemental safety is the Clek approach — the Clek way of thinking is about the performance of each of their products and the lives they are protecting. Essential elements and our methodology enable them to develop systems that work together to protect our kids. Manufactured in North America with a commitment to innovation without compromise and sustainability which is evident in their recycling program. Clek is striving to keep our kids safe today and tomorrow.

 

#TLBsafekids with California baby, skin deep safetyCalifornia Baby. With a mission to only create the safest natural products to soothe, nourish and smooth out life’s rough patches the natural way: one baby, one kid, one family at a time; California Baby makes it a priority to keep our kids safe from head to toe. They’re obsessed with purity and sustainability in every part of the process, from ingredient selection to manufacturing to packaging and beyond. With California Baby moms and dads who can rest easier knowing that they haven’t brought another unsustainable, toxic product into the house.

Newton Logo

 

Newton. A breathable crib mattress unlike any other. No matter where your baby sleeps, in their own room in a crib, in a crib side-car with your bed, in a crib in your room, or on a Montessori style bed on the floor, a breathable sleeping surface for you little one will let you breath easier too. Newton knows that your baby’s safety comes first and they also know how much you want to give them the right start in life. As experts in the area of sleep, they know just how important good sleep is for both of you. This is why they have devoted our time and expertise to creating a crib mattress that is not only safer, but also more comfortable.

#TLBsafeKids Health safety sponsor Crane

 

Crane. Since 2005, Crane USA has taken the lead in putting the “fun” into cool mist humidifiers, air purifiers, and space heating with a commitment to design for better living. Knowing just how much the air we breath impacts our health and safety, Crane products are functional and efficient at fulfilling your home health needs while communicating an appreciation for elegant design. With a unique sense of design and unwavering commitment to quality Crane continues to create their own distinctive interpretation of humidity, air quality, and heating solutions while remaining a step ahead of the crowd.

catbirdbaby_logo

 

CatBird Baby. Designed by a mom who needed help carrying everything with her baby, CatBird Baby Carriers are designed to be practical, stylish, comfortable, and easy to use. With a variety of products to support babywearing and make the babywearing experience even more enjoyable, CatBird Carriers are designed by a mom for moms and dads. Offering hybrid carriers along with standard designs, CatBird Carriers listens to parents and what they are looking for in a babycarrier.

Rhoost #TLBsafeKids partnering brand

Rhoost. Rhoost’s goal is to create products that allow parents to spend more time having fun with their kids, and less time worrying about them.  They are committed to creating innovative solutions that are safe for babies, safe for the environment, and easy to use. And they’ve succeeded. From baby grooming to cord winders, from finger guards to outlet covers and cabinet closures, Rhoost supports parents in safe, easy living.

When?
#TLBsafeKids runs run from September 1st-30st, 2015, but we hope you’ll keep growing, learning, and sharing long after the end of the month! (We may have something up our sleeves to that end, too!)

How?
Participation is up to you. How do you want to be involved? Want to share your story? Have some specific safety concerns you want to address in your own home? Are you passionate about certain aspects of safety and want to support others in learning about it? Is sharing the process and seeing how others are putting safe practices into place in their home helpful for you? Whatever it is, there are options for finding the way to participate that works best for you and your goals.

Where?
Anyone, anywhere can participate! We’ll be announcing some fun prizes from our brand partners this month, and those are limited to the United States at this time, but the world is your oyster if you want to get active with us!

JOIN OUR PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP (Please note: this is a co-ed community where you’ll find support as we get active and learn about safety together. Judgement free! Come as you are, this group is your #TLBsafeKids tribe!)

Who?
You, your friends, your kids, your partner, your boss, your mom, your dad… anyone!  Though The Leaky Boob is focused on encouraging families primarily through breastfeeding, we support breastfeeding moms and everyone that supports them.  Breastfeeding isn’t a requirement to participate with TLB and #TLBsafeKids.

We’ll have more updates soon – in the meantime, please follow TLB on Instagram to keep up with #TLBsafeKids. Use the hashtag #TLBsafeKids on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to share your pics. We want to see what you’re doing to keep respectfully keep your family safe and share the journey with you!

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More Than Mommy Exhaustion: How I recovered my energy and health

by Carrie Saum

Mommy exhaustion.

I know you’ve felt it. Too many nights waking up with your tiny baby, fussy toddler, or insomniac older children. Feeding on demand, pumping around the clock, midnight and 2am boob snacks that stretch to 4am. School projects, sleep regressions, a few minutes of Me Time between 11:31-11:57 pm after all the dishes are done, lunches are made, and housework is sort of caught up.

You pour another cup of coffee at noon, after reheating your first cup approximately six times in the microwave. You try an energy drink mix that your friend is selling. And still. You are so worn out, you can barely string five words together to create a coherent thought.

You resolve to take walks, get outside, or try that pilates DVD you’ve had for ages. You feel good about your choice, but you are wiped out for the rest of the afternoon, trying to recover your shaking muscles and push through the exhaustion until you can climb into bed.

You resolve to eat better, cut out the junk and convenience foods, and maybe that will help you feel more energetic, too. After a few weeks, you see a marginal improvement, but it’s not enough of a pay-off for the sacrifice you are making.

And let’s not even talk about the weight gain.

You wonder if maybe you’re missing something but chalk it up to this season in life where sleep is scarce, demands are abundant, and time for self-care is at a high premium. Of course you’re depleted. Who wouldn’t be?

A few months ago, I brought up my debilitating exhaustion to my doctor. Being a mom herself, she’s familiar with all that goes along with it. She encouraged me to see if there might be an underlying problem in addition to this season of life. She told me about a blood panel called The Boston Heart. The Boston Heart tests multiple vitamins, nutrients, and hormones using a fast blood test. Many insurance plans cover it 100%, even if you have high deductibles. I checked into my insurance coverage, and sure enough, it was covered. No money out of my pocket to get some information about unidentified issues I might have which would paint a bigger picture of my health, instead of just chalking it up to parenthood.

When my results came back, I was shocked. Even though my thyroid was in surprisingly good shape, (which I thought was the culprit), my niacin levels were incredibly low. And you know what happens when your body doesn’t have enough niacin? Your muscles shake when you exert them. Daily tasks wear you out. Do you know what makes it worse? Not getting enough sleep, too much stress, and eating processed foods.

Magnesium, Omega 3, Vitamin D3, and my progesterone were also very low, all of which are easily depleted during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Hello, depression! So, no matter how much sleep, good food, or exercise I was getting, I still felt like crap because I was drawing from a dry well.

I began supplementing with food-grade vitamins immediately, on the recommendation from my doctor. My trusty pre-natal vitamins weren’t enough for my specific needs, and I sealed them up tight and put them in my refrigerator for future use. I strategized to get veggies in every meal, and keep seasonal fruit on hand for when the sugar cravings were too much. I added as many healthy, unadulterated fats as I could. I whipped up a salad dressing using hemp seed oil, which is full of Omega 3, and a little apple cider vinegar. Buttered coffee was always on hand. We stocked our refrigerator with grass-fed meats and veggies to lightly sauté or roast as the main course for all three meals.

OvereasyFriedEggSalad

My go-to meal for quick, easy nutrition: Two sunnyside up fried eggs over greens with hemp seed oil, ACV, and dried herbs. Perfection.

Oh, and I put a total moratorium on strenuous exercise, eating out, and plans with friends before noon and after 5pm on the days I wasn’t working. I also went to bed at 9:30. It meant less Me Time. It meant I often went to bed with dirty dishes in the sink, my floors unswept, and wore the same pair of jeans six times before washing. But it was only for a few weeks and it was vital for my recovery.

I found that watering and weeding my garden while my toddler played close by was enough exertion for me. I also found that I relaxed on a deeper level than I have in years because I gave myself permission to stop trying to do it all. I just did some, accepted what I was capable of in that time frame, and waited until I felt replenished to rejoin the world.

GardenPlay

We happily kept it low key in the community garden.

After the three week moratorium was over, (and believe me, it was hard saying no to things), I started slow. I worked hard to begin refilling my very limited well. Being gentle with my body and my psyche was my number one priority. This is how I came back to the world:

  • A walk in the park.
  • Running up and down the stairs to the basement doing laundry.
  • Vigorous weeding and replanting in my garden.
  • A pilates DVD, increasing by 5 minutes at time.
  • Doing something fun before doing work. On purpose.
  • Saying yes only if it felt 100% doable and okay.

These little things added up quickly. But I want to be clear: I stopped when I was tired. Not exhausted. Not beyond my limit. Not when I was shaking and close to dry heaving. Maybe that works for some people, but it doesn’t work in recovery mode.

Last week, I took a very long walk, pushing my two year old in a stroller the whole way up and down hills that would have had me shaking with exertion after 10 minutes a few months ago. I walked at a pace I felt comfortable with. I stopped and pushed my son on a swing and then stopped again a little later to get an iced decaf coffee at one of my favorite neighborhood places. As I pushed my son up the final, excruciatingly steep hill, I huffed and puffed but I did NOT slow down. My brain wanted to quit but my body was up for the challenge. I spent the rest of the afternoon working, cooking, and playing with my son. I’m not joking when I say that has never happened before on the days I worked out.

And later that week when we braved a trip to the beach, I chased my toddler all over the beach, splashed with him in the water, and played soccer on the hard packed sand without getting winded.

MommyandEHugPoint

Playing hard at the beach with my little boy, feeling super energetic, happy, and proudly rockin’ my bikini.

These bodies of ours are amazing. We are resilient. We are tough. But being exhausted all the time is not normal. Even for you, mama. Be gentle with that body. Be kind to your skin and your bones and your blood and your squishy places and your soul. And find what works for you to feel like yourself again.

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If you like this article, check out Peace In The Passing: Why My Early Miscarriage Was A Relief and her series on #TinyTriumphs over on Our Stable Table.


IMG_2895Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.

 

 

 

 

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Get Your Move On- Family Style #TLBmoves with Tula Baby Carriers

Active family, babywearing, Tula Baby Carriers

Hey Leakies, let’s get moving!

We’re not going anywhere in particular but we are journeying toward health, activity, and awareness. Not as isolated individuals, but as a family, a community. With each other and with our kids, we’re taking steps to get more movement in our lives. That movement may be a dance party in the living room, a daily walk at the park, hitting the gym, including more veggies, setting up the blender for more healthy homemade smoothies, you name it, you define what #TLBmoves looks like for you.

It all began in August 2014 with the first ever #TLBmoves and it took off. Some of us got a little more movement in our lives, others got a whole lot more. We cheered on some working on (and succeeding) quitting smoking, others had step goals to hit, there were those that started yoga or crossfit or pilates every day, and others started having salads every day. Getting moving together brought us closer together and we discovered that thanks to the global village of the internet, we could cheer each other on and have fun in the process. When we found ourselves stuck, we could be honest about the challenges we were facing and there would be no judgment, just support and encouragement. It was inspiring and we all wanted to keep moving.

Many of us did, though our interactions weren’t as frequent with the start of school and as colder weather rolled in, many of us found ways to keep going. And here we are, nearly a year later, and we’re still moving. The push we all got from the month of #TLBmoves was motivating and we felt it was time to do it again and invite more to join us.

As parents, we have every reason in the world to be physically active; heart health, longevity, reduced health problems, strength, endurance, lower blood pressure, stronger bones, joint health, mental clarity, better sleep, and decrease in depression and anxiety to name a few. With having children though, juggling family, home, and for some, work, getting to exercise is often an overwhelming challenge. Between the media, “experts,” bloggers, friends, family, health care providers, and yes, even myself saying what is so important for children, there are just so many other aspects of a child’s development that require my attention. There is every reason in the world to not be physically active; reading to our children, providing quality meals, addressing their social needs, researching all medications/foods/education, shopping to have the “best” deals on the highest quality, spending quality play time with our children, limiting screen time, grooming them, keeping house, bonding, learning and executing proper child passenger safety (installing that perfect car seat that took 3 weeks of research and a small loan to purchase), and being sure every minute of their every day is filled with only the best developmentally appropriate activities. With all that’s on our plates, how do we find time to be physically active?

We have perfectly legit reasons to not be moving and perfectly inspiring reasons to get moving.  It’s not easy sometimes but it’s definitely worth it.

My motivation is my kids. I want to be around for a long time to be with my children and eventually my grandchildren and I can’t afford to wait to get started. They inspire me and not only for my own health, but for the health of my whole family. And now they’ve inspired me to share that motivation with you!

It’s time for #TLBmoves!

And I hope you’ll get moving with me for your own reasons.

Are you a runner? Walker? Cross-fit fan?  Couch potato looking to change? Or maybe you just want to be screen-free a little more often.

Whatever your goal, you can join us for #TLBmoves!  This is all about embracing an active lifestyle and making healthier choices, no matter where you’re starting from and we’re here to support each other completely free of judgment each step of the way.

We have a team to help provide some inspiration, not with before and after pictures, #TLBmoves isn’t about acquiring a certain body aesthetic, but with honest sharing of the journey. Kids in tow and personal goals put out there, our team isn’t to glamorize the journey, simply to share together one step at a time.

#TeamTLBmoves! Meet the five mamas who will be sharing their #TLBmoves journeys during the month of July:

Jessica: Founder, owner, and author of The Leaky Boob Facebook group and website; mother of six girls, ages 3, 5, 7, 12, 14, and 16.

Jeanna: guidance counselor and mom to a 6 month old little girl.

Kileah: Member of TLB’s editorial team; mother of four children, ages 7, 5, 3 and 19 months. Kileah loves canning, cooking, and being with her family.

Iola: Mom of Cadden, Lyam,and Eli all under 5 living in Minnesota but visiting Wisconsin regularly. Iola works out of her home, blogs here, and is a doula and advocate for improving breastfeeding rates in the black community.

Brianne: work from home mom of 3 children, ages 11, 6, and 3 years old. Brianne is married to a fitness enthusiast but has struggled to find time for herself to do the same.

Meet our partners:

#TLBmoves is a big undertaking and we are so thrilled to be working with brands we believe in to bring you this event. Our partners really want to see moms getting active and enjoying a healthy lifestyle with their families! We’ll be sharing tons of photos of #TeamTLBmoves using gear from the following brands:

#TLBmoves Title sponsor Tula Baby carriers, woven wrap and soft structured carriers

 

Tula Baby Carriers. Tula believes in supporting us all being close to our little ones AND getting moving toward a healthier way of living so much that they are our title sponsors. We aren’t just pushing our little ones in the strollers – we’re going to wear them, too! Whether it’s in the uber comfortable Standard or Toddler carrier, or in one of Tula’s amazingly gorgeous woven wraps, we’ll be wearing our babies throughout the month as we get out and move! Where will the #TULAlove turn up next? Stay tuned…

 

Maternity and breastfeeding fitness apparel

 

Bellabumbum. Committed to high quality and comfortable apparel that provides support and room to move for the pregnant or breastfeeding mom, Belabumbum creates mindful activewear for moms. With fabrics that stretch and breathe, Belabumbum clothing is designed to last with comfortable fit that suits your level of activity for many years to come. Created by moms for moms, Belabumbum knows that moms want to look good whether they’re running a race, running to the grocery store, or running after a toddler. Perfect for Boob Out Fashion and room for growing bellies, you can’t better comfort as you get moving. Through out #TLBmoves you’ll see the convertible capri pant, nursing cami, and a new sports bra that’s not yet released.

#TLBmoves sponsoring brand

Eyla’s.  A reliable source for most of your parenting needs (they don’t sell sleep, sorry), Eyla’s will keep the whole family safely hydrated with their Eco Vessel bottles in your choice of glass or stainless steel. All Eco Vessel products are BPA and phthalate free, recyclable and environmentally friendly and come in a wide variety of styles and sizes including a line perfect for toddler hands. Drink up

 

thinkbaby thinksport

Thinkbaby and ThinksportIt’s July, so the weather is hot. A big part of #TLBmoves is getting active outdoors (work that natural vitamin D!). A good, safe sunscreen is a necessity. Thinkbaby and Thinksport care as much as we do when it comes to keeping our families safe from harmful chemicals. We’re keeping sunburns at bay, minus the endocrine disruptors!

When?
#TLBmoves will run from July 1st-31st, 2015, but we hope you’ll keep moving long after the end of the month! (We may have something up our sleeves to that end, too!)

How?
Participation is on the honor system. Counting steps can be fun, but the point isn’t a number (on a pedometer, scale, or otherwise) – it’s making healthy choices and becoming more active in general. It’s all about feeling good! Moms can track their activity via whatever means they choose. (You can use a FitBit, another pedometer, you can time three five-minute songs for a dance party in your living room – it’s up to you!)

Where?
Anyone, anywhere can participate! We’ll be announcing some fun prizes from our brand partners, and those are limited to the United States at this time, but the world is your oyster if you want to get active with us!

JOIN OUR PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP (Please note: this is a co-ed community where you’ll find support as we get active and make healthy choices together. Judgement free! Come as you are, this group is your #TLBmoves tribe!)

Who?
You, your friends, your kids, your partner, your boss, your mom, your dad… anyone!  Though The Leaky Boob is focused on encouraging families primarily through breastfeeding, we support breastfeeding moms and everyone that supports them.  Breastfeeding isn’t a requirement to participate with TLB and #TLBmoves.

We’ll have more updates soon – in the meantime, please follow TLB on Instagram to keep up with #TLBmoves. Use the hashtag #TLBmoves on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to share your pics. We want to see what you’re doing to MOVE, mamas!

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Are Children Who Pretend To Breastfeed Their Toys in Danger?

The Breast Milk Baby (which has a Facebook page if you’re wondering) has people talking up a storm.  My own family had a lot to say about the doll too and I interviewed them to get their thoughts on the matter. Public opinion is widely varied, while some think it’s a great idea and would love to get their little tyke one, others are concerned that it’s the start of a new sexual revolution of youngsters.  They muse that perhaps the doll oversexualizes our daughters and may encourage teen pregnancy.  But what I find myself asking is, isn’t children copying what they see their parents do normal?  Isn’t breastfeeding the biologically normal way to feed a baby?  Does this mean that all kids that pretend to breastfeed are doomed?  And, if they are, how could it possibly be any worse than when I used to pretend Barbie and Ken had sex?  More importantly, are we really so ignorant as a society on the biological function and distinctions between breastfeeding and sex that we can somehow equate the two?

Oh my word… what kind of message are we sending our little girls with this?!

Maybe that breastfeeding is how mommies feed their babies?

Perhaps we should evaluate the potential dangers of children pretending to breastfeed their toys. Surely with some careful study we’ll be able to determine the legitimacy of the over-sexualizing and teen pregnancy concern surrounding The Breast Milk Baby.  I asked the Leakies on Facebook to send me pictures of their little ones copying their moms by pretending to “breastfeed” their “babies” to see if I could get a better grasp on the concern about children pretending to breastfeed.  Looking through these photos I’m hoping to understand what could be so unhealthy, dangerous and abnormal about this type of pretend.  We should ask these kids if breastfeeding “babies” is normal.  I wonder if their parents are concerned, I mean, with pretending to breastfeed their toys is it possible they are being over-sexualized?

Hmmmmmm… I’m not seeing it here.  Maybe the next one…

Well, she’s completely adorable but I don’t see anything that screams “teen pregnancy waiting to happen!”  Maybe one of these?

Yeah, still not seeing it.  Have to dig a little harder, I’m sure there’s something…

Oh, there!  See, there’s trouble there!  A BANDAID!  You can tell she’s up to no good… feeding that teddy bear… so cute…

Look at these smiles, clearly they are enjoying this WAY too much, they’re going to want to get pregnant just as soon as they start ovulating in about 12 years!  And after this I’m sure no education from their parents could counter that desire!

And these two?!  Tandem nursing?  WOAH!  They think breasts are for feeding babies?  They are going to be so sexually confused!

Ok, I’m just not getting it, they’re all cute but I’m not seeing anything to be concerned about.  Maybe these will help me understand the hoopla.

BOYS pretending to breastfeed dolls and stuffed animals?  Could you imagine if it was that Breast Milk Doll?  These poor boys might actually think breastfeeding is normal and not mind “sharing” their partners breasts with their children some day.  Heaven forbid!

Funny, all these little ones “breastfeeding” their dolls and toys don’t seem to be on the cusp of dangerous over-sexualization.  They look like happy, normal children, children that see happy, normal mommies breastfeeding.  Seeing as they are all quite a long way from their teen years I’m not seeing teen pregnancy rates threatening to climb to an all time high either.  And I’m willing to bet by their teen years they will have developed other interests and won’t be in too much of a hurry to breastfeed their own children right away.  If anything, all these kids pretending to breastfeed their toys really do make breastfeeding seem normal.  Certainly nothing we should be scared of as a society.

Now how is that a bad thing?

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Does or did your little one(s) pretend to breastfeed their babies?  Does it bother you at all to see children pretend that way?

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The Breast Milk Baby Doll, 4 Girls and 1 Daddy

One of my favorite photos of me as a little girl shows me at about 2.5 years old sitting on the couch next to my mom with my glasses, blond curls, my shirt pulled up and a baby doll’s face pressed against my chest.  I have the biggest cheesiest smile of a very proud preschooler because I was breastfeeding my baby just like my mom was breastfeeding hers.  That picture is featured in one of our many family photo albums.  I don’t ever remember being embarrassed or thinking it was strange.  It was just me, pretending to be a mommy and as far as I was concerned, that’s just how mommies feed their babies.  To me, it was normal.  (I search for potential warning signs of abnormal in children pretending to breastfeed toys here.)

I haven’t changed much in my opinion on that even now.  That’s just how mommies feed their babies.  To me, it still is normal.

When the Breast Milk Baby first came to the media’s attention state side (I had seen the Spanish version about a year before) I figured there’d be a report or two and then everyone would move on to more interesting topics.  Like, you know, real news.  I wasn’t going to blog about it since I don’t usually write about what’s in the news and my opinion of it would probably seem pretty obvious.  Then I kept seeing it, over and over again, different articles, news talk shows, and loads of blogs.  Everyone was talking about this thing in both positive and negative terms.  Are we normalizing breastfeeding with this doll?  Over-sexualizing young girls?  Encouraging teen pregnancy?  Making formula feeding moms feel guilty?  Making a lasting impact on the future of breastfeeding?  News commentators and bloggers pontificated on the perceived dangers or wonders of the plastic baby.  I thought I’d let them and I’d just continue on my merry way writing about whatever I want instead of the popular hot topic news.  Which is how I like it.

But then I was reading one of those articles and clicked on the video to watch the commercial for the doll.  Over my shoulder I heard “What’s that?  A baby doll?  Why is there a video about a girl playing with a baby doll?”

I invited my young impromptu audience for a viewing of the clip and asked them if I could ask them a few questions afterward.  They agreed and piled onto the couch with me their air crackling with anticipation worthy of a world premier.  It was as if we were attending The Leaky Boob film festival.  All 6 of us.

“What’s that she’s putting on?”

“Just watch.”

A giggle.

“Awww!  It’s a baby!  I like babies, mommy.”

“Is the baby eating the flowers?”

“Why would a baby eat flowers?”

“Just watch.”

A burst of laughter at the baby’s burp.  Bodily functions humor never fails to elicit a laugh from the under 14 crowd.

“Was that supposed to be a burp?”  More laughter.

“The baby burped!” Even more laughter.

“This is a weird doll.”

“I think it’s cute”

“Is the doll supposed to be breastfeeding?”

“Shhh, just watch.”

“That’s silly, babies don’t eat on top of a mom’s clothes!”

“I like it, can I have one?”

“I want one too!”

“Maybe this doll could teach little girls that breastfeeding is good, right mom?”

“The cute baby is eating the flowers mommy.”

“But mommies feed their babies UNDER their clothes, you don’t have to put something special on to feed them.  Moms just use their breasts, right mom?”

“I like the top thing, it’s pretty.  Can I have one?”

“I’m hungry, can I have some pretzels?”

The reaction of my 5 children to this doll was quite entertaining.  The 3 and 8 year old were convinced it was pretty cool and wanted one.  The 10 and 12 year old looked at it suspiciously.  The toddler started pulling at the neck of my shirt and signed milk, then please on my chest.  Not sure if it was the video or the fact that we were sitting on the couch together but she decided to she had to nurse right then.  Their reactions gave me an idea though, I should interview everyone in the family and see what THEY think of the doll and blog about the thing after all.

First up is 3YO Squiggle Bug and the shortest interview ever.  Squiggle Bug was breastfed to 22 months when we weaned due to pregnancy complications.  It was very sad, she did not want to stop and I expected her to return to the breast once Smunchie was born just 2.5 months later but she never really did though she tried occasionally.

TLB: Hey sweetie, what do you think of that baby doll?

Squiggle Bug: Awwww, it’s a cute baby eating bobbies (her word for breastfeeding).  I’m hungry, can I have pretzels.

I was surprised she understood what the baby was supposed to be doing.

TLB: Would you like a doll like that?

Squiggle Bug: *In hysterics.* I want pretzels!

Thus ends the interview and we got pretzels.  I never did find out if she wanted a doll like that but to be fair she said she did while we were watching the video and she’s never really cared about dolls at all.

Then there was Lolie.  The true middle of our 5 girls, Lolie is 8 years old, a big sister of 2 and very much a nurture.  Lolie was breastfed until about 18 months then relearned how to latch 3 months before she turned 5 when Squiggle Bug was born.  She nursed occasionally for 3 months before deciding she was too big when she turned 5.

TLB: What do you like about this doll?

Lolie: What I like about it is that the baby makes sounds.  It cries “waaaa” and the sucking sounds. It’s like it’s real. I like that there is an apron thing you put on.  And I like that it’s clothes are cute and it’s mouth is open.  I like that it eats without a bottle, like Smunchie.

TLB: Is there anything you don’t like about the Breast Milk Baby Doll?

Lolie: No.  I kind of don’t like that it’s plastic and that it would wake you up at night to eat.

I told her I didn’t think it would wake you up at night to eat and she replied “well, that’s not very real.”  Apron thing with flowers for baby doll to “nurse” from is totally believable but not waking at night is what makes this thing unrealistic.  What do I know?

TLB:  What do you think of the name “Breast Milk Baby Doll?”

Lolie:  It’s a cool name, there are breast, it has milk and it has doll and baby.  That’s what it is.  I like it, it’s hard to explain.

TLB: Do you think it’s ok for little girls to pretend like they have breasts to feed a baby?

It’s worth noting that after I asked this question she gave me the funniest look like I just asked a totally asinine question.  She might’ve been right.

Lolie: Yes. (But it sounded more like she was saying “duh” and included an eye roll.) Because you have a baby and it’s ok if you pretend because it’s like you’re a real mom.  Real moms feed their babies with their breasts, with breast milk.  Little girls should pretend to feed their babies with breast milk and bottles because real moms sometimes do both.  I don’t think it’s bad for little girls.  Little girls should pretend they are mommies.  Little kids should pretend they are mommies and daddies.

TLB: Do you want to be a mommy some day?

Lolie:  Uh-huh.  Yes.

TLB: How do you think you will feed your babies some day, when you’re a mommy?

Another weird look.  Seriously mom, what’s with the stupid questions.

Lolie: I will feed my babies with my boobies. (Again, more like “duh” and this time with a sigh as though she was accepting that her mother is an idiot.) I want to breastfeed.

We chatted for a bit longer about how wonderful breastfeeding is and how she wants to breastfeed her babies.  There was also a point where she mentioned that she wanted to let the daddy breastfeed too, not like me not letting daddy breastfeed.  It sounded like she thinks I’m really selfish in not sharing the breastfeeding opportunity.  Er, yeah.  Time to talk about gender differences again it appears.

After Lolie I chatted with Earth Baby who, at 12 years old, was trying to be very philosophical about the doll.

TLB: What do you think of this doll?

Earth Baby:  I think it’s cute but kind of strange too.  It says that breastfeeding is right.  I don’t like that she had to put something over her shirt, why can’t she lift up her shirt?  It’s not something that’s part of your body, something attached to her body, like breasts.  It’s something she has to add.  But it’s good, it tells girls you can breastfeed and it’s good and healthy and you don’t have to be ashamed but it also tells them their body isn’t good enough.  I think girls hear that a lot so I don’t like that.

TLB: What do you like about this doll?

Earth Baby:  I already said what I thought, can I go read now?

Alrighty then.  That interview was over.

Next up is The Storyteller.  Ten years old and very outgoing, even though she was breastfed the shortest amount of time of all my children, she is the most outspoken about breastfeeding.

TLB: What do you think of this doll?

The Storyteller: That it’s weird!

TLB: What do you like about it?

The Storyteller: It tells girls that breastfeeding is ok and it’s good for you and it’s the way to a healthy child.  And that nothing’s wrong with breastfeeding.  I think it’s good practice.  So kids can get the feel of breastfeeding.  They don’t need a doll to learn how to breastfeed.  They should practice feeding their baby in public it’s ok too, it’s ok to breastfeed in public because you’re giving your baby food.  I like the movement the doll makes with the mouth.

TLB: What don’t you like about it?

The Storyteller: I don’t like how you can’t… that you can’t… lift up your shirt or something.  You don’t have to have the sounds, you don’t have to.  Why can’t the baby doll know there’s a real nipple in front of it instead of that thing she put on.  The burp was so not realistic, I thought it was funny.

TLB: Would you want one of these dolls?

The Storyteller: It might be fun to play with sometimes.  Maybe.  I don’t know, I probably wouldn’t play with it.  You know what I want?  An iPod.  Can I get an iPod instead of one of these dolls?

TLB: What?  I wasn’t actually offering to get you one of these dolls, just asking if you would want one in theory.

The Storyteller: So how about an iPod?  Or if you want to get me a doll I do want a new Waldorf doll with long red hair.  Ok?

TLB: So, we’re done talking about this doll I take it?

The Storyteller: No, we can keep talking about it.  I really want an iPod…

She went on about an iPod or Waldorf doll for another 10 minutes.  You would have thought I’d pulled out my credit card to order the other doll so convinced she was that I was ready to buy one for her.

So then I thought I should ask The Piano Man.  After all, he’s the father of 5 girls, what would he think about his children playing with a doll like this?  I was particularly interested in his views regarding the perceived potential some news commentators had about oversexualizing young girls are encouraging teen pregnancy.

TLB: What do you like about the doll?

The Piano Man: The only thing I kind of like about it is that it encourages kids to breastfeed their babies.  But that encouragement could so easily come from the parents instead without the extra gear and the extra price tag and without electronically produced sounds.

TLB: What don’t you like about it?

The Piano Man: A doll won’t teach breastfeeding.  The “lesson for life” doesn’t come from a doll, it comes from seeing it done.  It’s also limiting imagination because it does something but it’s limited in what it does.  Generally speaking I don’t like dolls that make noise because in play you’re limited by the sounds the toy can make.  Gone is your opportunity as a kid to have your baby do other sounds, including silly sounds.  I find the whole camisole/apron/tank contraption confusing.

TLB: Do you think a doll like this oversexualizes young girls?

The Piano Man:  What?  That’s just stupid.  How in the world could it do that?  Barbie might but not a baby doll that pretends to do what babies REALLY do.  Where did you get that idea?

TLB: It’s not my idea.  Some news commentators and commenters on articles and blog posts brought it up.

The Piano Man: What’s wrong with these people that they’d even think that?  Seriously, what thoughts were going through their heads when they watched the video?  My first thought is people that would even think that are messed up.  My second is that they don’t have a clue how kids’ minds work and don’t interact with kids enough to really know children.  That’s just stupid.  I think it’s sweet when our girls pretend to breastfeed their babies, when they do what they see you do.  It’s sweet.

TLB: Do you think it’s possible that a doll like this could encourage teen pregnancy?

The Piano Man: *Laughs* Oh yeah, in fact we should ban all dolls because pretending to be a mommy or daddy is going to make kids want to have unprotected sex.  Where do these people get these things from?  Let’s ban play kitchens too because kids are going to want to hurry and grow up too fast if they pretend to cook.  And toy trucks and cars because that 6 year old is going to go try to drive a real car if they play with matchbox cars.  No!  It’s not going to encourage teen pregnancy!  Good grief, want to start a witch hunt for what’s encouraging kids to have unprotected sex?  Look at TV, look at the entertainment industry.  Or any celebrity, clothing style, video game, or toy that tells girls their worth is in their sex appeal.  Let’s look at all the messages we’re sending boys that a woman is only for their sexual pleasure and that somehow they have no control over their sexual urges like men are too stupid to have self-control.  And how about parents and the way they do or don’t talk about sex, let’s look there.  There are tons of legitimate areas to explore first.  Blame a baby doll?  That’s pathetic.

At some point a little later The Piano Man and Lolie started talking about the doll.  I listened in and jotted down some of their conversation.

The Piano Man: Does mommy have to put anything special on to breastfeed her babies?

Lolie: No, she just lifts up her shirt.

The Piano Man: What do you think of this doll needing you to put something on?

Lolie: It’s ok, it’s just pretending.  You have to put it on so the baby knows where to suck.  That’s just the way it works.

The Piano Man:  Would you like the doll the better with or without the top?

Lolie: I’d like a doll without the top better.

Conversation continued to swirl around The Breast Milk Baby for a few days in our house and I was asked a couple times to watch the video again.  It’s been a while now and I haven’t heard anyone bring it up again.

As for my personal thoughts on the doll, I certainly don’t see anything wrong with it and agree with most of the points my family made concerning the doll.  The price intimidates me a little only because I wouldn’t be willing to pay $89 for a plastic doll but plenty of people buy $100 plastic dolls for their kids in the form of The American Girl Dolls and those don’t even do anything special.  We already spend about that or more on handmade, all natural material dolls (Waldorf inspired) though so it isn’t exactly the cost that I find prohibitive.  However, I know that would be a major factor for many families.  The doll is a bit odd to me, I don’t like plastic toys, the halter top bothers me and I wouldn’t buy one for me children.  Still, I think it’s great to have a doll that helps normalize breastfeeding and for families where plastic toys are common anyway this doll can encourage positive attitudes on breastfeeding from a young age.  And not just in girls.  Little boys that either play with the doll themselves (I hear people everywhere freaking out at the idea) or at least see their sister or friends play with the doll will have an early precedent set that breastfeeding is just how babies are fed.  I don’t see how that could be a bad thing.  It’s just how mommies feed their babies.  Just like it’s, you know, normal.

____________________________

What do you think of The Breast Milk Baby?  Would you get one for your child?  Why or why not?

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This Moment- Spring Green Beans

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.


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This Moment- Playing On the Farm

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.


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