6 lessons our 6 kids have taught us in fostering sibling bonds + 6 #BecoSiblingLove carrier packs

by Jessica Martin-Weber
This post made possible by the generous support of Beco Baby Carriers.

E and C together outside

When I was pregnant with our second child, I was pretty good at keeping a journal for our first born with regular entries sharing not only what she had done and milestones she had reached but also my feelings along the way.  First child/new parent kind of thing, I’m not even kind of keeping up with journals for the girls now, they get about two entries a year.  A few of my entries from those early days record both my excitement and concern about adding a child to the family, all normal thoughts when adding a new baby.  Worried about how I would love another child as much as my first born, wondering how I would be able to give both the attention they deserved and I thought required, anxious about possible jealousy as a result, and afraid that my children wouldn’t get along.  That last one was one of my greatest concerns.  My own relationship with my siblings up to that point had been tenuous at best and I wasn’t sure how to foster a bond between my own children that would invite them to have a meaningful relationship with each other beyond “hey, we’re family, you’re supposed to love each other so get along.”

Today our 6 girls share a bond I could never have imagined and my relationships with my siblings is improving.  Though they have their share of squabbles, necessary interactions for learning how to manage conflict and establish boundaries (we utilize the Peace Path for helping our children develop conflict management skills), all six of our children have a connection they each treasure and actively cultivate which for all of them began before the new sibling was even born.  It hasn’t always been easy and there was a period of regression with our first when our second was born and we all laugh at how when our third came along her big sister regularly asked if the new baby could go back in my tummy for a few months.  But these minor hiccups have only served to strengthen their relationships, not weaken them.  As Erica E. Goode said:

Sibling relationships – and 80 percent of Americans have at least one – outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, resurface after quarrels that would sink any friendship. They flourish in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, warmth, loyalty and distrust.

Our eldest, 15yo Earth Baby, babywearing our youngest, 20 month old Sugarbaby in a Beco Soleil with our second youngest, 4yo Smunchie, babywearing her own baby in a Beco Mini.

Our eldest, 15yo Earth Baby, babywearing our youngest, 20 month old Sugarbaby in a Beco Soleil with our second youngest, 4yo Smunchie, babywearing her own baby in a Beco Mini.

Encouraging their connection has been intentional on our part.  As their parents, we have learned how us valuing their relationship helps them to value it as well, and truly valuing it, not having expectations of simply getting along to keep the peace.  Respecting their individual yet communal needs to develop their ties based on their own personalities and interactions in order to have authentic relationships because they want to, not just to make us happy, has given us all the space needed to know not only ourselves but each other.  We’re still learning but here are 6 of the lessons we have learned as we journey this path together.

  • Positive talk.  Before our children are even born we talk them up to their older siblings and their older siblings up to them.  It’s not fake either, we honestly believe that they are incredibly lucky to have the others in their life and that our children are some outstanding people, we can’t wait for them to meet each other.  Hearing us not only talk positively about their siblings but of them to their siblings is inspiring and confidence building.  We continue this long after birth.  I will never forget when our then 5 year old lovingly whispered to our 4th baby at a few months old as they were on the bed together while I cleaned up after a diaper change where she had assisted me as I talked her up to her baby sister: “mommy is right, I DO love you lots and lots.  I will never stop loving you.”  Cue happy mommy tears.

    Sibling love, Beco Sibling love #becosiblinglove

    The Storyteller and Lollie

  • Play Games together.  From the earliest age with rhymes, massage, peek-a-boo, and finger plays, connecting through play bridges age gaps and interests.  This Little Piggy, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, and other repetitive rhymes are perfect, even toddlers and preschoolers can enjoy sharing those with a younger sibling and may spare you some repetitions.  Don’t let siblings replace your own play time with baby, but involving older siblings and giving them one on one time to play together will have a lasting impact on their relationship.  Try some other creative activities as well, older siblings will love sharing these experiences of play together.  Our bigger girls always love making the newest baby laugh, it’s a treasure to share and games are an active way of connecting.  As they get older they build their game playing repertoire from recognized free-style games (hide and seek) to structured games (Candy Land) to made-up games that become family favorites.  Games can be a family affair but some of the deepest connecting times happen with one on one games.  Which brings me to my next point…

    We were missing one that day but that didn't stop their games.

    We were missing one that day but that didn’t stop their games.

  • Get out of the way.  It can be so easy and in many ways necessary to never leave your children to interact on their own together, particularly with a very young baby.  While it is important to supervise young children with an infant, giving them the space with you present to touch, play with, and connect with a new young sibling will have lifetime pay off.  Sitting on the couch well supported by pillows and mommy and daddy’s trusting encouragement at as young as weeks before turning 2 years old, each of our 5 big girls have glowed with love as they held their newborn baby sister.  As the get older, trusting them with their younger siblings even more, letting them do caregiving that we typically assume such as diaper changing and babywearing develops their own confidence and connection.  When the youngest is old enough we begin encouraging quiet times and naps with a sibling.  Our 20 month old and newly turned 4 year old share a room together now and one recent evening I heard the toddler cry out and by the time I got to their room they were cuddled up together in one bed sleeping peacefully.  They still join us in our room early every morning for a few hours but they have the giggles of going to bed together and the comfort of each other through the night.  Getting out of the way can be hard, finding a balance between safety and providing opportunity can be challenging (and do make sure everyone is safe) but more than likely it will be letting go of your own desire to control that will be the most difficult to overcome.  Though it may mean things won’t be done exactly how you would do them or there may be a bigger mess as a result, getting out of the way will allow your children to develop their own experiences together and define their relationship together outside of their parents.  Worth any cleanup required.

    #becosiblinglove, sisters

    Struck down with a nasty virus, sisters offer each other comfort.

  • Nurture their nurturing side.  Children, at least young children, like to emulate their parents and caregivers.  This aspect of their development is crucial to their learning life skills.  Helping with household chores, copying parents leisure activities (i.e. reading), and mimicking caring for babies and small children.  Dolls and plush toys can help meet this need but don’t limit it to pretend.  Even very young children can help with caring for their younger siblings in simple ways.  Toddlers can give kisses, help with bathing (wash baby’s toes with the wash cloth!), fetch toys and other items, perform to entertain baby (my toddlers love to dance for their baby sisters, not sure the littlest was ever impressed but the big sister felt important in that moment), offer comfort, and participate in snuggles.  There is something about a toddler gently patting a baby saying “it’s ok baby” that makes me melt.  Preschoolers can do these same activities plus play games with the baby, listen for baby to wake from a nap (hopefully not wake baby from the nap…), assist with feeding times*, distract a slightly older baby when upset or a parent needs to go to the bathroom, and many more activities based on their capabilities.  We have even let our preschoolers babywear their new siblings briefly with us right there to support.  It can take more time and it isn’t always exactly helpful but it is special.  School aged children can step it up even more including watching younger siblings for a parent to take a shower, introduce new games, babywear, respond to the baby’s cries (my bigger girls will actually call dibs on getting a crying little one), cuddle them when sick or tired, take them for walks, and more.  Be respectful of their capabilities and don’t expect them to take your place, our children know they can always refuse opportunities to take on these responsibilities and sometimes they do but overall they enjoy the chance to be the one extending care.

    2yo Squiggle Bug watching over 5 month old Smunchie while I observed from the sink doing dishes.

    2yo Squiggle Bug watching over 5 month old Smunchie while I observed from the sink doing dishes.

  • Gifts to share.  We don’t expect our children to share their personal belongings out of obligation but we do intentional have quite a few play things that don’t specifically belong to any one person.  Be it a bottle of bubbles to share together or a kitchen set, having playthings that belong to all of them and are more fun when shared with others encourages interactions together which goes a long way to securing those sibling bonds.

    #becosiblinglove

    3yo Squiggle Bug and 1yo Smunchie making felt food together.

  • Dolls and plush toys.  Copying mom and dad in caregiving helps little ones recognize the dependency of infants and toddlers as they care for their own “babies.”  My children have used their dolls to work through their own issues with their siblings, creating scenarios of jealousy or frustration that they coach their “children” through.  This important play helps them with their own feelings.  Transitioning the youngest to being a big sibling when a new baby is on the way is supported by encouraging them to care for their own babies and when they don’t get to be worn as often as before the new baby, having a carrier for their own baby makes that transition so much easier.
    #becosiblinglove, Siblings, Frejay dolls

    Sugarbaby isn’t a big sister but she loves taking care of her dolls too.

    Sugarbaby caring for her Frejay mom and baby doll even while she gets néné.

    Sugarbaby caring for her Frejay mom and baby doll even while she gets néné.

I love watching our children together.  My heart nearly bursts as I see the love they share.  So strong is their connection sometimes I feel like I’m intruding.  They will have conflict and at times jealousy but with empathy and conflict management skills the basis of their relationship will remain strong and true.  Our children are blessed to have each other and we are, in turn, blessed that they have each other.  Having multiple children may not be for everyone, certainly having a large family like ours is not right for all parents, but the friendships our children have built in through each other is one of the best things we’ve ever done for our children.

To see more of our 6 daughters’ interactions, follow me on Instagram at jmartinweber.

I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at. – Maya Angelou

*Breastfeeding assistance can include helping mom get anything she needs, keep mommy company with a story, share a snack with mommy, etc.  Those that bottle feed can include preschoolers and older children in the feeding times by helping them give a bottle and instructing them how to do so and sharing the experience with them.  My babies have all received bottles at times when I had to be away from them for work reasons, left in the care of daddy or another trusted caregiver, their big sisters have loved getting to give them a bottle when I was away.  Once solids are introduced, be it baby-led solids or baby food, sharing the adventure of new tastes and textures can be a lot of fun for everyone.

To celebrate fostering sibling bonds, Beco Baby is giving away 6 sets of carriers in honor of our 6 girls and the connection they share.  Each prize pack includes a Soleil ($140 value) and a Beco Mini ($30 value) to encourage your bigger littles to practice their nurturing and copying mommy and daddy.  Use the widget below to enter the giveaway and happy bonding, happy babywearing to your family!  Open to USA residents only.

#becosiblinglove

#becosiblinglove
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Every day is breastfeeding day

World Breastfeeding Month/Week is great, a time to raise awareness, share information, celebrate, do crazy huge giveaways, encourage, and share stories.  But I have to be honest here, I’m only a tiny bit into it.  Why?  Because as a breastfeeding mom and a supporter of breastfeeding moms, it’s world breastfeeding DAY every day and everywhere.  It’s just a part of what I do, a part of my life.  Breastfeeding is more than the biologically normal way for me to feed and care for my babies and toddlers, it has actually become one of the most important tools in my parenting tool box.  It tops the list.

Breastfeeding and babywearing, parenting power tools each in their own right, together strategically efficient.  It’s not they have to go together but when they do it’s a win win for all involved.  Ring sling, wrap, soft structure carrier, whatever your favorite carrier is, it can be one of the most supportive tools to your breastfeeding.  And like breastfeeding, as a mother of 6 active little girls, babywearing is a tool I use every day, everywhere.  As World Breastfeeding Month draws to a close, I want to share how babywearing can be a useful tool not only for your parenting in general but specifically related to helping you reach your breastfeeding goals.

#bfbw365

How Babywearing can help you reach your breastfeeding goals:

Babywearing makes for easy skin-to-skin care.  If the wearer is topless or wears a low cut top with lots of skin available and baby is naked or close to naked, babywearing can easily facilitate the important skin-to-skin access that all babies benefit from specially in the early days but even Zrejnuk,.aching far beyond.  Why is skin-to-skin contact so great?  Helps baby regulate breathing and body temperature, better blood sugar levels,  maintains baby’s heart rate and blood pressure, encourages breastfeeding, promotes emotional bonding, reduces infant and maternal/paternal stress, can help prevent or lessen postpartum depression, is comforting to baby, reduces crying, helps developmental process, lowers anxiety, and so much more.

Babywearing keeps baby close for ease in picking up hunger cues.  Even if it isn’t the breastfeeding mother always wearing the baby, any caregiver can easily and quickly pick up onp] baby’s cues that it’s time to eat, allowing for a quick response which will help the mother’s supply and baby’s stress levels.

Babywearing enables mom to be active while being close.  Whether she’s working, doing chores, or caring for other children, babywearing keeps baby close and let’s her multitask her responsibilities.  Moms that feel like they can keep up with their other responsibilities while caring for their infant are more likely to reach their breastfeeding goals because they won’t feel trapped in their home.  Having a happy baby safe and secure and being able to be productive in other areas is a huge confident boost that will go a long way not only in her overall parenting but can directly impact her breastfeeding goals.

Babywearing encourages breastfeeding in public.  Have baby, will go out.  Since babywearing can help moms be on the go it can also help them breastfeed in public.  Moms isolated and stuck inside their house often struggle with anxiety and postpartum depression.  Both babywearing and breastfeeding can simplify getting out and being active in social settings, reducing the risk of isolating mothers and developing postpartum depression and/or postpartum anxiety.  Once she works out how to breastfeed in a carrier (tip: practice in front of a mirror to see what it looks like- you’ll be surprised how incognito breastfeeding in a carrier can be if you are concerned about that.), breastfeeding in a carrier can be much easier than using a cover if mom feels she should, easier than taking baby out of the carrier and feeding even if she feels she doesn’t need to cover, and easier than a bottle of expressed milk or formula.  And it takes us back to the previous point, mom can be active not only while being close but actually while breastfeeding.  Because when you have a 3 year old and a new baby, sitting down in a quite setting with a pillow and staring into your baby’s eyes while they feed for the 67th time that day (I exaggerate… 24th time that day) isn’t always possible.  Being able to feed your baby and keep up with the 3 year old is priceless!

Babywearing helps normalize breastfeeding.  You read that right and no, it’s not a stretch.  Since breastfeeding is encouraged and supported by babywearing the more families that utilize it the more breastfeeding will increase in both numbers and visibility.  As more and more women begin to confidently feed their babies with their breasts, breastfeeding will become more and more normal.  Like walking, when breastfeeding is normal there will be better support available for those that may encounter difficulties because it simply won’t be acceptable to ignore breastfeeding problems any more than it would be acceptable to ignore problems walking.  Babywearing helps normalize breastfeeding by encouraging breastfeeding, helping more moms breastfeed while out, and supporting moms in reaching their breastfeeding goals.

Even for moms that aren’t comfortable feeding in their carrier (but don’t despair if you struggle with feeding in the carrier, it may get easier with time, in a different carrier, or with practice and help from someone) babywearing can be a useful part of your breastfeeding journey and even help you reach your breastfeeding goals for many of the reasons listed above.

World Breastfeeding Month?  Just a month?  It’s great but that’s just a drop in the bucket.  I breastfeed. I babywear. Every day. Everywhere. 365. Way beyond World Breastfeeding Month.

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Do you breastfeed every day?  Everywhere?  Does babywearing help you? 

If it’s always breastfeeding day for you or has been, share the breastfeeding and/or babywearing love by posting a photo of you breastfeeding and/or babywearing (or the badge or banner below) and let others know!  Use the hashtag #BFBW365 on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and help normalize breastfeeding and babywearing for all parents.

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BFBW365

#BFBW365

 

This week The Leaky Boob is teaming up with Beco Baby Carriers to encourage breastfeeding every day, everywhere.  In showing their support they are also sponsoring a chat on The Leaky B@@b Facebook page on Thursday, September 5th, 2013 at 8pm Central for an hour about breastfeeding 365 and what’s in your parenting toolkit.  We will be giving away 4 Beco Soleils with accessory packs as part of the chat.  RSVP for the chat using the chat below and participate on Thursday, September 5th, 2013 for a chance to win a carrier to help you breastfeed and babywear every day, everywhere. 
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Attached in reality- Beco Soleil giveaway

There are many philosophies and theories in parenting but the application of these ideas varies greatly in their manifestations.  The reality isn’t always what we expect and as parents we have to make adjustments along the way.  Taking time to explore our own aims and desires for our parenting journey is important, shaping how we apply whatever philosophy feel right for our family and moving from an idea to intentional steps in reaching those goals.  Sharing that exploration with others on the parenting journey can help provide us with more tools for the path and open our minds to consider other approaches we may have thought we understood and dismissed prior to engaging in conversations with other parents only to discover that our definition was too narrow.

Jamie Grumet from I Am Not the Babysitter and Beco Baby Carrier share about moving from philosophy to reality in our parenting.  Exploring developing attachments with our children, babywearing, discussing attachment parenting, Jamie opens up with The Leaky Boob community, getting real about what it’s really like as an attachment parent and encouraging families.

You can find the chat threads full of information here:

Welcome, questions

What is attachment parenting?  What’s your parenting style?

Myths of attachment parenting

Babywearing, bonding, and breastfeeding in a carrier

Adjustments of parenting: finding time for your partner, yourself, and other interests

Handling criticism

What our children can teach us

Additional giveaway

Whatever parenting style label you feel fits you, one thing is sure: when you have very young children, a baby carrier is an incredibly helpful tool in your parenting tool box.  Which is why Beco is giving away another Soleil ($130 value) as part of today’s chat.  Act fast, it’s a super quick giveaway and we don’t want anyone to miss out!  To be entered for your  chance to win, simply use the widget below.  Good luck!

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Eighteen ways to support your breastfeeding partner and a Beco Soleil giveaway

This post made possible by the generous support of Beco Baby Carrier

Babywearing daddy

When talking about breastfeeding we naturally spend a lot of time and energy working with, talking to, and sharing about women and babies so it may come as a surprise to you to hear that I feel breastfeeding is not a women’s issue, rather a humanitarian issue.  Which means it’s a men’s issue too.  Breastfeeding may seem like it’s about moms and babies but in reality breastfeeding is about the family and all of humanity.  It matters not just to those doing it and those receiving it but the value of breastfeeding extends to those that used to breastfeed, those who support those who breastfeed, those who know someone who breastfeeds, those who love someone who breastfeeds, and those that helped make the baby that breastfeeds.

Partners, this post’s for you.

I thought about having Jeremy write a post on dads and breastfeeding related to Father’s Day but that was about the equivalent of saying “hey, it’s the holiday to celebrate you… here’s more work for you to do!”  Instead we’re heading down the “brag about your partner” path.

Recent research suggests that one of the most important contributing factors in a woman reaching her breastfeeding goals is the support she receives.  Those closest to her and health care professionals can have the most impact on her breastfeeding experience.  Partners, this means you!  Your role in breastfeeding, even though you’re not the one putting the baby to your breast, is not to be minimized.  You matter, a lot.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret: when you help support a mom according to her needs, she will fall more in love with you.  Check out this thread on The Leaky B@@b Facebook page to see more about that.  Women are strong and determined and are equipped to breastfeed just fine on their own without support but when we don’t have to… it’s a beautiful thing.

I’m confident I could breastfeed just fine without The Piano Man’s support but I am grateful I have my partner’s support non the less. With so much emphasis put on being a “real man” in culture today it could be easy for him to not be willing to support me breastfeeding or think there’s no room for his involvement but his role is important, valuable.  Real man?  There is little I find more attractive than an involved partner, equally parenting in a setting of equal support and respect for each other’s contribution in the family.  That’s sexy.  And totally worth celebrating.

Eighteen ways to support your breastfeeding partner and bond with your baby

  1. bath time- a favorite recommendation for the non-breastfeeding partner is bath time.  It gives mom a break, accomplishes an important tasks, creates an opportunity for skin-to-skin, and can’t be multitasked.
  2. play time- even from the time they are first born, babies play.  The method just changes.  As newborns, talk to them, hold a toy steady for them to examine, holding them securely rock and dance with them.  As they grow, the play becomes more active.  I love watching my husband play with our children no matter what their age, they bond, I get a break, and I see the tender, fun-loving side of my husband that I love so much.
  3. get her water and make her be comfortable for feedings- breastfeeding is primarily between the mom and baby but there is no reason others can’t be involved.  Sit with them, talk with them, physically support her and metaphorically support her, be involved in the connection.  Even if it is 2am.  By taking care of her by getting her water, snacks, pillows, or anything else she needs, you are involved in the feeding and care of your child.
  4. learn about breastfeeding- read the science behind breastfeeding and encourage her by sharing that information.  Find resources and share them with her, learn what a proper latch looks like, and ask her what you can do to help.  If she’s pumping, help set up the pump and wash parts.  You don’t have to be left out but you may have to involve yourself.
  5. encourage her- think your partner breastfeeding is amazing?  TELL HER.  Do you think the expression on her face when she looks at your baby at her breast is beautiful?  Let her know.  Are you proud of her?  Respect her?  Communicating your support and doing so often goes a long way in her feeling like you’re really present.
  6. make the call- is she struggling with breastfeeding?  Is she in pain?  Worried?  Find the name and number of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and make the call.  Then get her to the appointment.  You could be responsible for saving that breastfeeding relationship.
  7. run interference- is there an annoying individual pressuring her to use formula?  Find ways to keep them at bay.  Has someone criticized her breastfeeding?  Ask her if she wants you to say something or just wants your quiet support while she stands up for herself.  In those early days, help her get the rest she needs and hold the boundaries for her to heal from birth well so she can focus on establishing her milk supply.
  8. adjust expectations- things have changed, her body, the family dynamic, sleep, you name it.  Having your expectations remain the same simply isn’t realistic and it could greatly damage your relationship.  For everyone, have a discussion about realistic expectations in everything from financial decisions to responsibilities, from conversations to chores, from physical intimacy to sleep.  Be real and be flexible and you will all end up stronger.
  9. massage- offer to give your partner a back rub and even if she’s touched out, she’ll probably welcome that physical closeness.  Learn infant massage and give your partner some space to herself while you soothe and care for your child.  Massage is powerful.
  10. send her away- if baby is fed, consider sending your breastfeeding partner out of the house for an hour or so while you take on all the care.  Bonding with your baby while she’s gone and giving her some time to hear her own thoughts can strengthen you all.
  11. cosleep- while it may not be for everyone, done safely, cosleeping provides the space for some deep connections for the family.  Do your research before making the decision and if you cosleep make it an intentional choice (not falling asleep on accident on the couch with your newborn) and you’ll find it simplifies breastfeeding at night and puts you right there to not miss out on any of the night time parenting opportunities.
  12. get up- maybe you could sleep through all the night time feedings but if you wake and help get baby (if they aren’t right there in the bed with you already) then you become the promise of milk for your hungry baby.  It can be pretty lonely feeding a baby in the middle of the night, don’t miss out on the chance to be present with them.  Get up, change the diaper, hand baby to mom, get her a drink of water, and keep her company before you go back to sleep.  Everyone will think you’re pretty awesome.
  13. solids- when it’s time to introduce solids, get involved in the action!  However you decide to get your baby started on solids (check out baby led weaning or baby led solids- SO fun!) there’s lots of room for the non breastfeeding partner to take the led.  You’ll have a blast and so will your baby and chances are strong your partner will love watching you help your baby explore new tastes.
  14. do some chores- think about it this way, if you help with the stuff around the house like dishes, laundry, vacuuming, etc., you free up more time for all of you to connect and rest.  This will help your bond with your child by modeling healthy adult behavior and balance and by making sure their mother isn’t too drained and stressed.  This will help your bond with your partner because while doing the dishes isn’t exactly sexy, her NOT having to do them is.
  15. diaper changes- sure, it’s poop and pee but it happens regularly and is a great opportunity for face to face interactions.  Hearing my husband talk to our baby or make silly faces that make them laugh as he changes their diaper always makes me smile.  I love that he’s such a good dad.
  16. cook- whatever it is, learn to cook something and do it regularly.  Humans bond over food which is part of why breastfeeding is such a bonding experience but it doesn’t stop there.  Cooking for your partner and your children forges deeper connections, sharing that meal together (and expressing gratitude for the one that prepared the food!) is sharing a nourishment that reaches the soul.
  17. soothe- if, for some strange reason, the breast can’t soothe your upset child at some point, take a turn trying to soothe them.  I’m not sure how but my husband has a magical soothing touch and there has been a point with all of our children where he is the only one that can comfort them and get them to settle to sleep.  Even the boob won’t work.  When he gets them calmed, I’m calm knowing they were in the arms of someone that loves them as much as I do.
  18. babywearing- all the celebrities are doing, wearing a baby is the trendiest accessory these days.  Seriously though, get a carrier you feel comfortable in and take turns with your parter having your baby attached to your body.

Real Men of AP Jamie Grumet

My friend Jamie Grumet from I Am Not the Babysitter celebrates these involved partners too and I just love her “Real Men of AP” series highlighting attached dads, see her post about her husband Brian, A Real Man of AP.  From babywearing to breastfeeding support, Real Men of AP are the partners that aren’t afraid to forge deep connections with their children, biological or otherwise, even if it means bucking what society tells them is required to be a “real man.”  Nurturing, giving, and in tune, these guys step up their manliness factor not in spite of but because they participate in tea parties, run the vacuum, and with lots of cuddles.

This post went live Thursday and then vanished as a result of some technical problems.  Preparing our eldest daughter to leave for the rest of the summer, I tried to juggle the issues with the site and having my attention focused on her and getting her ready to leave on Father’s Day.  The Piano Man encouraged me to let it go and just be present with my family.  So this post is late, very late, but somehow it feels right that it’s so late because it was my very own Real Man of AP that saw my stress in the midst of it all and reminded me of what’s really important and I took the time needed to pour into my family and it was good for my heart.  When I think of the guy I co-parent with I see the guy that helps me be the kind of parent I want to be even when external circumstances make that challenging.  A man that reminds me it can be ok to disappoint others in some areas so I can be so present with my family.  Today that’s what I think of when I think of my Real Man of AP.

The Leaky Boob is teaming up with Jamie and Beco Baby Carrier for a great giveaway and sharing information about how to form strong connections with our children.  We want to see the Real Men in your life and how they are attached and connecting with your children, whatever that looks like.  Then on Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 10am Central, we’re having a live chat sponsored by Beco Baby Carrier with Jamie Grumet from I am not The Babysitter about developing those attachments with our children, babywearing, discussing attachment parenting, and taking a look at parenting beyond a theory or philosophy in the real world.  Share your images and stories of a Real Man of AP and enter for a chance to win one of 3 Beco Soleils (retail value $130/each) and attach drool pads, a coordinating hood, and an infant insert with accessory pack (retail value $40/each) and you can keep the attachment going with a carry-all bag (retail value $25/each) that attaches to the carrier.  Let’s show the world what a Real Man of AP looks like, use the hashtag #RealMenofAP on twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and FB so we all can see (and tag us!) and we’ll share our favorite images on the Facebook pages of I Am Not the Babysitter, Beco Baby Carrier, and The Leaky Boob and visit the Real Men of AP tumblr.

Beco Soleil dad

Quick info on the Beco Soleil:

  • 3 carry positions: front, hip, and back.
  • Built-in waist belt pocket, key and toy ring
  • Carries 7-45lbs
  • Carrier weight 1.1lbs
  • Material: 100% cotton
  • Seat: 16″ and 17″ tall
  • Shoulder straps extending from 18″ to 45″
  • Waist belt extending from 27″ to 59″
  • Recommended fit for adults 5′ to 6′ 5″
  • Compatible accessories: hood, drool pads, infant insert, carry-all

Good luck and we look forward to seeing and hearing your pictures and stories!  See the widget below to enter.
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Nothing Freaky About This Friday! Friends Forever Beco Soleil Giveaway

Beco Soleil

This week has been fun, no more freaking out about carriers being given out before they are released and TheBabyGuyNYC, Beco Baby Carriers, and The Leaky Boob are back to being BFFs. Every day this week Jamie and I each have been giving out one of the new Soleil carriers from Beco and today we end with friendship restored, handing out the 9th and 10th carriers.

I got to give this carrier a try and I liked it. I have worn 11 month old Sugarbaby in it on my front and my back. A snapshot look at the differences between the Beco Soleil and the Beco Gemini: the Soliel can’t face outward but can do back/front/hip carries. It’s an open carrier like the Gemini (no panel between baby and the wearer). The back doesn’t come up AS high but it is still very supportive. The Soliel has an accessory pack you can customize for coordinating prints, etc. with a detachable bag that covers that middle print panel (so switch out prints, try a solid, AND have a place to hold your stuff), a hood, etc. It has a nice wide seat with padded legs supporting baby and toddlers much better, a pocket on the waist belt, and more adjustable options for improved comfort in the fit. The retail on both is $130, the Soleil also has an option accessory pack available for purchase that includes another hood (to mix and match prints and solids), infant insert, and drool pads. Comfortable and easy to use, I think this is a great carrier choice, whether it would be your only carrier or one of many.

Since I’ll be asked, yes I could breastfeed in the Soleil though it took some work to figure out. The seat is so well constructed to keep baby high that dropping down to breastfeed wasn’t as easy as it is in the Gemini. Moms with very large or low hanging breasts may have some difficulty.

smaller

Some quick details on the Soleil:

It’s not available until next month, the winners of these giveaways will be the first to get their hands on this new carrier.
3 carry positions: front, hip, and back.
Built-in waist belt pocket, key and toy ring
Carries 7-45lbs
Carrier weight 1.1lbs
Material: 100% cotton
Seat: 16″ and 17″ tall
Shoulder straps extending from 18″ to 45″
Waist belt extending from 27″ to 59″
Recommended fit for adults 5′ to 6′ 5″
Compatible accessories: hood, drool pads, infant insert, carry-all
Use the widget below to enter the giveaway, for one Soliel carrier and you can enter here AND over at The Baby Guy on his Facebook page. These giveaways are open to US and Canada residents only. Thanks for participating!

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Kiss and make up and wear babies! Beco Soleil giveaway

Beco Soleil giveaway

My 10yo wearing 11mo Sugarbaby in the Beco Soleil

Remember the Beco Soleil carrier drama?  Well, it all worked out!  (See the FB status from them.)  The good people at Beco were very easy to work with and just all around great and want to get these carriers into your hands.  Even though the Soleil isn’t officially release or available for sale anywhere, Beco wants 10 lucky people to have them, the winners will be the first people under the sun to have the Beco Soleil.  Sweet!

I got to give this carrier a try and I liked it.  A snapshot look at the differences between the Soleil and the Gemini:  the Soliel can’t face outward but can do back/front/hip carries. It’s an open carrier like the Gemini (no panel between baby and the wearer). The back doesn’t come up AS high but it is still very supportive. The Soliel has an accessory pack you can customize for coordinating prints, etc. with a detachable bag that covers that middle print panel (so switch out prints, try a solid, AND have a place to hold your stuff), a hood, etc. It has a nice wide seat with padded legs supporting baby and toddlers much better, a pocket on the waist belt, and more adjustable options for improved comfort in the fit. The retail on both is $130, the Soleil also has an option accessory pack available for purchase.  Comfortable and easy to use, I think this is a great carrier choice, whether it would be your only carrier or one of many.

Since I’ll be asked, yes I could breastfeed in the Soleil though it took some work to figure out.  The seat is so well constructed to keep baby high that dropping down to breastfeed wasn’t as easy as it is in the Gemini.  Moms with very large or low hanging breasts may have some difficulty.

Some quick details on the Soleil:

  • It’s not available until next month, the winners of these giveaways will be the first to get their hands on this new carrier.
  • 3 carry positions: front, hip, and back.
  • Built-in waist belt pocket, key and toy ring
  • Carries 7-45lbs
  • Carrier weight 1.1lbs
  • Material: 100% cotton
  • Seat: 16″ and 17″ tall
  • Shoulder straps extending from 18″ to 45″
  • Waist belt extending from 27″ to 59″
  • Recommended fit for adults 5′ to 6′ 5″
  • Compatible accessories: hood, drool pads, infant insert, carry-all

Use the widget below to enter the giveaway, for one Soliel carrier and you can enter here AND over at The Baby Guy.  These giveaways are open to US and Canada residents only.  Thanks for participating!

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Can’t we all be friends? Beco Soleil giveaway

Beco Soliel baby carrier

After getting to try the Soleil for the first time on Saturday, I just knew I had to share the new carrier with the Leakies.  I was visiting in Austin just as the Beco Team and Jamie, TheBabyGuyNYC were there and we got to meet up and try the Soliel for the first time.  It was too perfect, we had to work together to share these new carriers.  Thankfully, carriers package up small so fitting 5 boxes wasn’t too much trouble to bring them home with me.  The Beco Team seemed excited to share the carriers with Jamie and I, and we discussed a joint giveaway for our readers.  A win-win!  It was a great conversation over BBQ and we planned the whole thing, it was going to be fun, half the boxes for him, half for me.  All for you.

So we shared pictures on Instagram (find me here and Jamie there), twitter, and Facebook and told our followers to stay tuned for the giveaway details.  It was fun, exciting, and everyone had lots of questions about the Soliel.

But somehow there was a miscommunication and Jamie and I found ourselves in the middle of this:

Soliel carriers release

 

Now, no worries.  We’re all good people involved here that want to encourage and support families.  I have no doubt that with our common goals we’ll work things out just fine.  I have loved working with Beco and they are TLB sponsors that prioritize supporting breastfeeding families by partnering with us.  They are a great company and this was just a misunderstanding that I’m certain will be resolved in a way that works for everyone.  Probably you too, dear reader.

So now, instead of giving away the carriers I thought we’d be giving away, Jamie and I are offering up the Soleils Beco sent us each to try.  He and I are both sharing those with you while we smooth things over with the good folks at Beco.

Some quick details on the Soleil:

  • It’s not available until next month, the winners of these giveaways will be the first to get their hands on this new carrier.
  • 3 carry positions: front, hip, and back.
  • Built-in waist belt pocket, key and toy ring
  • Carries 7-45lbs
  • Carrier weight 1.1lbs
  • Material: 100% cotton
  • Seat: 16″ and 17″ tall
  • Shoulder straps extending from 18″ to 45″
  • Waist belt extending from 27″ to 59″
  • Recommended fit for adults 5′ to 6′ 5″
  • Compatible accessories: hood, drool pads, infant insert, carry-all

Use the widget below to enter the giveaway, one a day for the next 5 days for one Soliel carrier and you can enter here AND over at The Baby Guy.  Help us out though, visit the Beco Facebook page and tag them in tweets showing them love and asking them to let us keep the carriers to giveaway using hashtags #soleil and #beco.  Please no bashing or attacking them, show your faith in this company that values families so much and let them know how excited you would be to win one of these carriers.

Please Beco, let us share these carriers!  Let’s keep being friends.

Soliel controversy TheBabyGuyNYC The Leaky Boob Beco Soliel

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It doesn’t have to be all or nothing

by Kari Swanson

full term breastfeeding

My daughter was placed on my chest immediately after my obstetrician finished stitching up my c-section incision. She latched onto my breast and started breastfeeding right there in the operating room. Last month we celebrated her third birthday. She knows that babies have mama milk. She also knows that big girls have mama milk until they are ready to stop having mama milk. I expect that sometime between now and the time she is around 5 years old she will gradually wean.

Some might consider the fact that my daughter is 3 and still receiving breastmilk to be extreme, but anthropological evidence indicates that this is biologically normal for a young hominid primate. That being said, it is probably no surprise that I consider myself to be a lactivist. I believe that human breastmilk is the biologically normal food source for human infants and I volunteer as an admin on The Leaky B@@b in order to support other breastfeeding mothers and to help normalize breastfeeding in a culture that has largely lost sight of the real reason women have breasts.

What may come as a surprise to some is that my daughter and my son before her received formula in addition to breastmilk. Why? Because I work full time outside of my home and I am among the unlucky few who truly do not respond well to breast pumps. For whatever reason my body just does not give up the gold for a machine despite my supply being more than adequate. After a time, despite numerous tips and tricks, pumping whenever and wherever I could, I ceased to be able to pump enough milk to entirely meet my babies’ nutritional needs while they were separated from me while I worked.

With my daughter I was fortunate to be able to spend 3 months home with her after she was born, and to spend 3 months thereafter working half time. I pumped at home before returning to work and I pumped before work, during work, after work, and on non-workdays once I returned to work. I had a small stash of milk in the deep freezer when I returned to work, but it was quickly depleted. When I first returned to work and pumped I easily had enough milk by the end of the day to send to the daycare without dipping into my frozen milk stash.

I determined how much milk my daughter needed in her daycare bottles using an iPhone app called “Breast Milk Calculator.” The app uses the baby’s weight, age and number of feedings in the previous 24 hours to suggest how much milk he or she needs per feeding. Using the app I determined exactly how many ounces she needed per bottle. The number of feedings was based on the number of hours she was away from me and how frequently she would normally nurse.

But, just as it had when my son was a baby, my pumping output dwindled over time. Eventually I was pumping less than an ounce per side per pumping session. I used up my entire frozen milk stash. Despite my best efforts at around 6 months I was no longer able to pump enough to send only breastmilk in my daughter’s daycare bottles. So, I sent as much breastmilk as I could and to make sure she had sufficient nutrition I sent formula too.

When my daughter was a newborn she, like her brother, needed supplementation. They both had jaundice and they both lost more than the usual amount of weight after birth. Although her condition was better than her brother’s had been (he was a very sleepy 37 weeker with more severe jaundice), my daughter was also a slow gainer. So, the IBCLC we saw recommended supplementation while I built up my own supply. When my son was a newborn he received formula supplementation, but my daughter received donor breastmilk, or as we referred to it “Auntie milk”—because our milk donor was my sister who was still breastfeeding her toddler son at the time my daughter was born.

By the time my daughter was in daycare full time and my pumping supply could not keep up with my daughter’s demands my sister’s son had weaned. I considered donor breastmilk, but decided against it. My strong, healthy baby did fine on formula, and I felt that the relatively limited supply of donor milk in my area should be available to babies for whom formula was not an option, babies whose mothers could not breastfeed them at all or whose health really warranted the exclusive use of donor milk. So, we chose formula instead.

I already knew exactly what formula I would choose for my daughter if I reached this point, because I had read quite a bit of research about formula before I had my son. I looked up numerous scholarly research articles and reviews of the literature about formula on PubMed. At that point I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I had been given the somewhat unhelpful advice that my desire to breastfeed and to go back to work full time were “setting [myself] up for failure”. So, in case that was true I did all of that research about formula and based my decision on what I had read. (Bear in mind that my son was born in 2004 and donor milk was not as prevalent, except from milk banks by prescription and at a rather high price.) Despite many assertions otherwise, infant formula is an acceptable, nutritionally adequate alternative to breastmilk and is a much better choice than the milk of any other mammal or milk made from plants.

Eventually both of my babies received only formula in their daycare bottles. Both times the amount I was able to pump became miniscule compared to the amount they needed and the stress and frustration of pumping so little became too much for me, so I stopped. They both did fine on the formula they received part of the time, so I felt comfortable giving them as much as they needed while they were separated from me. My daughter had breastmilk exclusively, either at the breast or in bottles, for more than 6 months. They were around the same age when they started receiving formula alone in their daycare bottles: 7-8 months. Despite this both of my babies continued to breastfeed whenever they were with me. They never experienced nipple confusion, expressed a preference for the bottle, or had nursing strikes. They both stopped receiving formula when they no longer needed bottles at daycare.

So, yes I am a lactivist. I believe breastmilk is the biologically normal food for human infants. But, breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

 

You can read more from Kari over on her site and enjoy her thoughtful, thorough writing and beautiful photography.

__________________________

Did you respond well to breast pumps?  Have you had to supplement?  If so, what did you use?  Were you able to supplement and still reach your breastfeeding goals?

__________________________

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The Babywearing Bond… with a giveaway

Sleeping on daddy in the Beco

Squiggle Bug, 20 months, sleeping in the Beco on Daddy. She had insisted on wearing her helmet.

Last week I was thinking about all the ways we connect and bond with our children.  Looking at the little rituals and and space we create that give us moments to express love on a daily basis I was reminded of times of sweet connection.  For many of us, when we’re pregnant, we rub our bellies to sense our babies and demonstrate our growing love.  After birth, skin to skin cuddles, kisses, nuzzles, and breastfeeding, to name a few, help us both to connect with our child and to communicate love.  Caring for them and meeting their needs for warmth, shelter, food, and hygiene, bonds our families closer together.  Including them in our activities, having them close to be a part of what we have going on and not passively set aside, gives us the opportunity to bond through shared experiences.

 

Babywearing did not begin to be an important part of our parenting until our third child.  With our first two daughters, we relied heavily on our stroller and our arms.  We had a carrier but it was horribly uncomfortable and it never felt right.  When desperate I would use it so I could vacuum once in a while but the carrier hurt my shoulders, my back, and I couldn’t help but think probably my baby too.  They just looked so awkward with their legs and arms jutting out and I was anxious they weren’t really secure.  Through bath time, reading together, snuggling in bed, play time, and of course breastfeeding were our primary ways of developing connection.  We added baby wearing with our third daughter when we discovered the ring sling and both The Piano Man and I regularly wore her at home and while out.

 

We wore our babies because they liked it.  Not because of a parenting style, not because of a trend, and not because of a philosophical belief.  Before we’d ever heard of attachment parenting, Dr. Sears, or even the term “babywearing,” we wore our babies.  It just felt right.  They were clearly happier closer to us and our own stress levels were reduced when they were content.  Having them close facilitated a deeper connection making little kisses, conversation, and attention to their needs easier with juggling the demands of our older children, home life, and even working full time.

 

When our fourth was 8 months old we expanded our babywearing to include a soft structured carrier when some friends went in together to get us a Beco Butterfly II.  They picked a print I loved, which I found exciting, but ultimately it was the comfort, ease, and practicality of the design that made the Beco my favorite carrier.  But I wasn’t the only fan of the carrier.

 

By 10 months old Sugarbaby had become deeply attached to our Beco.  If she saw it on the closet shelf she would squeal, flap her arms, smile, and radiate excitement.  If we didn’t respond by taking the carrier out and wearing her, tears would inevitably ensue.  After wearing her, when we would take her out of the carrier, she would pitch a fit even if it was obvious she wanted down and would only settle if we gave her the carrier to play with by herself on the floor.  She was obsessed with the buckles and it wasn’t long before her verbal vocabulary was made up of “mama,” “dada,” and “Beco.”  Her 3rd word.  The Beco ranked pretty high in her life.  There were times that I wondered if she was more attached to the actual carrier than she was to me.  Reality was, as much as she loved that carrier, what made it so special was that it kept her close to her mommy and daddy and sometimes even a big sister would wear her.  It was the bonding.  For the longest time she would chatter about the Beco but nothing made her happier than being in the Beco on one of us.  “Beco” was her third word because just as mama and dada meant love, so did “Beco.”

 

beco mini

Squiggle Bug wearing her own “baby” now. (Disclaimer: it is not safe to have a real baby facing out when wearing them on your back. This particular 5 year old felt it wouldn’t be a problem for her doll.)

Today, 2 babies later, that carrier is still an important part of my ever growing wrap and carrier collection.  It has held up through 3 babies now and been loaned out a few times as well.  Some day I imagine we will enjoy carrying grandbabies and creating new intentional opportunities to express love with little ones.  I doubt I’ll ever get rid of it because it represents one of the ways we bond with our babies and holds so many memories of connection, closeness, and love.

 ____________________

How do you enjoy bonding with your little ones?  

In what ways are you intentional about creating connections to express love and be close?

 ____________________

I shared this story with my friends at Beco and they loved that “Beco” was Squiggle Bug’s 3rd word and meant so much to our family.  In honor of Squiggle Bug and to help more parents and babies enjoy the bonding experience of babywearing, Beco is giving away 3 Gemini carriers (perfect for breastfeeding in) and 3 Beco Minis so your little ones can care for their babies like you do.  Be sure to like Beco on Facebook so you can keep up on sales, news, and great baby wearing and parenting tips and information.  To be entered in the giveaway, use the widget below.

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Babywearing chat with PAXbaby.com

breastfeeding and babywearing, paxbaby.com, woven wrap, ring sling, breastfeeding

TLB sponsor PAXbaby.com brought a live chat with our readers on The Leaky Boob Facebook wall, giving us the opportunity to chat about all things babywearing.  It was great fun with great prizes (the randomly selected winners notified via email) and lots of information.  If you have questions about babywearing, visit these archived threads to hear from other Leakies and Jillian with her PAXmommies sharing their experience and expert advice.  So grateful for the support of PAXbaby.com!

Introduction and sharing favorite carriers

Overwhelming world of carriers- where to start, user friendly, carriers and baby ages, getting started

 

Breastfeeding and babywearing- which carriers and tips

Breastfeeding in a woven wrap hip carry video

Babywearing the newborn- carrier options and safety information

Babywearing past the newborn stage

Babywearing for plus-sized and large breasted moms

Why have more than one carrier?  The benefits of a carrier stash

Back pain and babywearing

General questions for the PAXmommies

Babywearing and weather considerations- hot, cold, and wet

PAXbaby email sign up for more information

 

 

 

 

 

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