A Practical Guide to Weaning Fast

Let me first say that the one and only time I weaned my one and only child was in 1982, so what am I doing writing about weaning, you might ask?

My thirty-six year old son weaned himself on his first birthday with no warning, and my poor body suffered while he loved the autonomy of his burgeoning independent nature.

This is a guest post written by my DIL, who is now the mother of my one and only amazing and brilliant grandson.
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My son turned one at the beginning of March.

I had been toying with the idea of weaning him for a couple of months.

Initially, I had tried the “only when he asks” approach, but babies are creatures of habit, so he continued to ask and I continued to feed on demand.

As soon as my son had his twelve-month wellness check and his pediatrician said he was physically and emotionally ready, I was eager to start the process of weaning.

The thought of dragging this out for six-plus weeks was too much for me, but the risks of going cold turkey are very real (infection, blocked duct, emotional trauma) so I proceeded with caution. If you do need to wean quickly for whatever reason, or your baby just suddenly rejects the breast, here are some tips to get through it more quickly.

As a disclaimer, my son was already eating three meals a day plus snacks, so it wasn’t like I was still producing a massive amount of milk. He was clearly obtaining his nutrition from other sources.

Where to start…
Start with the easiest feeds. For me, those were the ones when he woke up. I first eliminated those after naps, then morning, then before day naps, before bed, and then the dreaded night feeds…

Tips for baby…
I have been a RIE mom since day one, otherwise known as respectful parenting. The philosophy centers around honest and authentic communication as soon as baby is hours old. Even though I was tempted to put band aids on my nipples and say “mommy is sick”, or apply garlic so it would taste gross, my son and I faced the challenge together.

 

Make it positive — I bought my little guy a special cup for homemade smoothies to replace the nursing experience from his wake up feeds. My son loves rabbits, so I got him the biggest rabbit cup I could find; since he has no problem with a straw, that’s what we use, but a sippy cup would be equally successful.

Do not place yourself in familiar nursing situations — I love to read books in bed with my son in the morning, but during weaning I would get up, shower and dress, so that as soon as he woke up I took him out of the bedroom for banana and almond milk smoothie in “Rab Rab”.

(Smoothie recipes below.)

Sport the high-necks — I wore three layers to minimize the odor of milk, as well as high neck shirts that he could not pull down.

Stay busy — As we eliminated the day feeds, I made those days extra busy. We were barely ever at home so as not to place ourselves in situations where he would even think to ask.

Mr. Mousie — I bought a special blanket that I sprayed with Chanel Mademoiselle (my familiar scent), which I use to cuddle him with during Rab Rab smoothie time. (Smoothie recipes below.) This was a blanket that I could also use to place in the crib for naptime. Extra cuddles and love during weaning will help to bridge the emotional loss of breast feeding.

Change of scenery — I chose to do it while visiting Grandma. There were so many exciting things for little one to do and experience, and I got the support I needed as my body and emotions went through the change and the challenge.

Watch out for hunger — As I worked on eliminating the night feeds, I needed to make sure that he was not waking up because he was hungry. Toddlers burn through so much energy! When they have been asleep from 6.30pm, it is reasonable that at 4:00 am it might be that they need a little something in their tummy. I was focused on eliminating the breast so my milk would fully dry up, and I decided to replace those feeds with a bottle of warm milk. Try what works for you; regular organic milk, almond milk, or coconut milk.

Boundless love — I got lots of advice to let Dad go in at night so he cannot ask for milk. As part of the RIE I mentioned earlier, I faced this head on. I went in and there were moments that were heart-breakingly sad. But in my heart I knew it was time, and so I told him — I know this is hard for you. I love you so much. And found lots of ways to be close, tight cuddles, cheek to cheek.

Success! After two weeks, my little guy is completely weaned, sleeping through the night, and started walking. What a great first year!

(If your little one is also teething, try the teething biscuit recipe below. My son LOVES them!)

Tips for mom…

Sage — 
I drank fresh sage tea and infused sage water pretty much constantly. I also included fresh mint and lemon balm, but sage was my primary fluid. I was advised that you should drink it every six hours, but I had a cuppa going all day.

Cabbage Leaves — These have been used for centuries and I can see why!! I was a little skeptical at first, but they work amazingly well. For the first few days, I used them continuously during waking hours. I kept them in the fridge so they were nice and cold, which feels wonderful if you start to feel engorged. Place the stems out, and change every 30–90 mins depending upon flow.

Antihistamine — This is also meant to dry up milk. I took a non-drowsy type every 24 hours.

Warm showers — The first day I took three warm showers. I would massage my breasts and hand express just enough to make sure the ducts still had an outlet, but not too much to stimulate production.

Heating pad — I read varying accounts of this, but I did use a heating pad at times when the engorgement made my breasts feel hard and lumpy.

Ice-pack — I used this in-between the heating pad to cool down swelling. I was also using cold cabbage leaves, so the icepack was used when I was taking a break from the cabbage leaves.

Topless Sunbathing — Luckily I was weaning at Grandma’s house in Southern California, so while my little one was napping, I could enjoy some au naturale topless sage tea!

Rocky Road ice-cream — It’s important to remember that if you’re eaning fast, you’ll go through a pretty big hormone crash. Be prepared and have supplies. Pamper yourself with whatever you need to do for self care to get through PMS — ice-cream, movies, cuddles. I kept laser focused on the end-game — no more night feeds, no more gross nursing bras, and no more sanitary pads in your BRA!!! (and all over the bathroom floor).

Sleep — sleep when you can because you may need extra energy at night. If you’ve been used to nursing, dousing, and then crashing out, remember that getting a baby to sleep without popping them on the breast takes more energy and perseverance.

WAB WAB Smoothie I

Waking up in the morning and after nap

1/2 cup milk or almond milk

1 TBS organic almond butter

1/4 small banana

Sprinkle cinammon

Wab Wab Smoothie II

1/4 cup 100% organic fruit juice

½ cup purified water

Leftover kale, spinach, chard, or other leafy veg, well blended!

1/4 cup Organic whole milk Greek yogurt

Chopped/grated apple or pear or organic blueberries/strawberries

Blend all.

Teething Biscuits

1 cup almond milk or coconut water or a combination

Blend 1/2 cup dates and 1/2 cup raisins with the liquid until well chopped.

Pour into bowl

2 TBS organic agave

2–3 TBS vegetable or coconut oil

Add 1/2 cup flax meal

1 cup organic whole wheat flour (or any flour)

Oat flour is easy to make in a blender

½ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

Mix all. Add a little more flour and knead briefly to make dough pliable.

Roll into 12×14

Cut into 1inch x 6 inch slices

Roll into finger sized shapes, easy for little hands to grasp.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes and then 300 degrees for another 15 minutes turn off oven and let them cool in oven.

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Moms! Postnatal Vinyasa Yoga DVD

This is SO cool! My own very first grandchild (Angel Boy 2.0) will greet the world in a few short weeks and I can’t wait; I’m so excited!

Talk about perfect timing; I was sent a Postnatal Vinyasa Yoga DVD to review and I’m putting it in the mail now to my DIL so she’ll have it as soon after the birth as her doctor says she can start working out.

I love yoga and I know my DIL has been practicing yoga all during her pregnancy.

Postnatal-Vinyasa-Yoga-07

What a great way to resume yoga practice after the birth of your baby, starting with just five minutes of yoga a day! Just pop in the dvd, no need to even get dressed (haha), drive anywhere, and best of all, you’re in the comfort of your own home and close to that sweet angel baby.

Postnatal Vinyasa Yoga DVD features:

  • 5 Minute getting back on your mat practice
  • 15 Minute Postnatal Vinyasa Yoga practice with cesarean modifications
  • 30 Minute Postnatal Vinyasa Yoga practice with cesarean modifications
  • Diastasis Recti Self-Assessment
  • Pelvic Floor Overview
  • Guided Relaxation following each practice

Postnatal Vinyasa Yoga has been carefully crafted to allow a new mom the opportunity to resume her yoga practice slowly, starting with the 5 minute, getting back on your mat practice.

This practice is designed to get her back in touch with her body so she can safely resume her yoga practice while sending healing energy to the space where her baby lived for all those months.

Finding 15 minutes a day to do yoga is easy and mom will notice the huge difference it will make.

Just 15 minutes a day of making time for herself and the healing of her body will contribute to more positive moods, more and energy during the day, becoming a stepping stone to reclaim her health and fitness.

PostnatalVinyasaYogaDVDcaseAfter making the 15 minute practice part of her routine, new moms will be able to integrate the 30 minute practice, this is where they will really start to see the benefits in body, energy levels, strength and stamina.

Benefits of practicing Postnatal Vinyasa Yoga can include:

  • Feeling more awake and energized throughout the day
  • Balanced mood swings
  • Re-defined and re-toned body
  • Easing of neck pain often associated with breastfeeding
  • Easing of back and shoulder stress from carrying baby
  • Feeling healthy and more vital

Please consult your physician before attempting any postnatal exercise. These postnatal exercise sequences are designed for those who are in good physical condition. Prior yoga experience is preferred, however Postnatal Vinyasa Yoga is accessible to everyone if they listen to their bodies and follow Jennifer’s suggested modifications.

Check it out!
https://www.dolphinmethod.com

(I received no compensation, just product for review. All opinions are my own.)

Kangaroo Care

Happy New Year!

I learned something new—who said you can’t teach an old princess a new trick?

With my DIL just a few short weeks from meeting my adorable grandson, it’s time to brush up on newborn education.

Skin-to-skin touch or Kangaroo Care is believed to have many benefits such as regulating your infant’s heart rate (he can hear your familiar heartbeat, too) and body temperature.

It’s also very soothing to the little one and he’ll feel much less stress about the environment change if he’s in close contact with mom (or dad).

It’s been a long nine months so it’s not a hardship to actually snuggle skin-to-skin after all that time.

A newborn feels an important sense of comfort when surrounded by your familiar smell. 

Experts now believe that the amniotic fluid carries smells through the oral and nasal cavities, and studies show that babies have an easier time adjusting to the changes of environment when they can still identify with the amniotic fluid in the moments directly after birth.

Evidence shows that babies are drawn to the scent of their mother’s breast milk even though they have never been exposed before. It’s just another miracle we see as we meet our new arrival.

In the first hour after birth (and beyond), baby is sensitive to volume and he’ll feel the need to hear you speak softly, not only for a sense of comfort but out of a need to have a break from the rush of stimulation he’s feeling right now. 

To calm the heart rate, hold him close and softly sing. He’s been listening to your voice while in the womb, and if you continue to bless him with soothing sounds, he’ll  benefit from brain development and a relaxed demeanor.

Your newborn’s skin is ultra sensitive, so the soft touch and caresses that you give to him are helping the brain to mature and seek out new sensations, as well as releasing growth hormones.

Even more importantly, gentle massage of your newborn reduces the stress hormone cortisol.

More info from http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/kangaroocare.asp

Dr. Susan Ludington is one of the people who have been most instrumental in bringing kangaroo care to the United States. She has been intimately involved in many research projects, and her work is having a powerful, positive impact on premature babies and their families. In the United States, the few hospitals that regularly use kangaroo care protocols have mothers or fathers “wear” their babies for two to three hours per day, skin-to-skin. The baby is naked except for a diaper, and something must cover his or her back—either the parent’s clothing or a receiving blanket folded in fourths. The baby is in a mostly upright position against the parent’s chest.

Why does kangaroo care work? Why are Dr. Ludington and others seeing such phenomenal results with babies in kangaroo care? What is happening to the baby and the mother during this time?

One of the first things to happen is that maintenance of the baby’s body temperature begins to depend on the mother, requiring the baby to use fewer calories to stay warm. Mothers naturally modulate the warmth of their breasts to keep their infants at the optimal temperature where babies sleep best, have the best oxygen saturation levels, the least caloric expenditure, and so forth. Maternal breast temperature can rise rapidly, then fall off as baby is warmed. As the baby starts to cool, the breasts heat up again—as much as 2 degrees C in two minutes!

Being next to morn also helps the baby regulate his or her respiratory and heart rates. Babies experience significantly less bradycardia and often, none at all. The respiratory rate of kangarooed infants becomes more stable. The depth of each breath becomes more even, and apnea decreases four-fold and often disappears altogether. If apneic episodes do occur, the length of each episode decreases.

According to Dr. Ludington, during the last six weeks of pregnancy, babies sleep twenty to twenty-two hours per day. In a typical NICU, however, they spend less than two hours total in deep, quiet sleep. Most of that comes in ten or twenty second snatches. With kangaroo care, the infant typically snuggles into the breast and is deeply asleep within just a few minutes. These babies gain weight faster than their non-kangarooed counterparts, and it is interesting to note that they usually do not lose any of their birthweight.

As researchers studied brain wave patterns of infants in kangaroo care, they found two significant things. First, there was a doubling of alpha waves—the brain wave pattern associated with contentment and bliss. Second, they found that “delta brushes” were occurring. Delta brushes happen only when new synapses are being formed. So holding the infant skin-to-skin allows his or her brain to continue its work of developing neural synapses.

Dr. Ludington sums up kangaroo care very aptly by saying “Separation is not biologically normal.”

So, the moral of the story is that I knew it all along…gentle skin-to-skin touch is all-important to a newborn’s physical, mental, and emotional growth–and will help the transition from the womb to the world.

 

Photo credit: http://mrychristmas.blogspot.com/2015/07/christmas-kangaroo-clipart.html

Counting Kicks (and I don’t mean football)

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Courtesy of The Bump

It’s week 29 for my DIL’s baby boy and I’m always learning something new; there’s a lot more medicalization of pregnancy than there was thirty-plus years ago.

Is this a good thing?

I think it’s awesome that there’s a great deal of improved technology, whether it’s more specialized ultrasound or genetic testing, but I worry that too many moms aren’t their own best advocates and the science of pregnancy robs mom the JOY out of growing a little human.

It’s nice to be able to enjoy a balance and still feel like you’re important; you’re the nurturer, providing a lovely and safe environment while he grows and until that day he meets the rest of the world and becomes the most loved child EVER.

At this point in pregnancy, it’s time (if you haven’t already) to switch gears and take on the reality of becoming a MOM and all that it means—as a protector, defender, and caretaker of this precious life.

How?

By counting kicks. Fetal movement is an old school but critical method to make sure things are OK.

At this point in a pregnancy, it’s important to keep track of baby’s movements.

**Begin counting when your baby is most active, at the same time every day.

**Push gently on your belly, have a cold drink, or walk around a little if you have to wake up your baby.

**Each twist, roll, or jab counts as one movement. Don’t include hiccups in the total.

**Count until you hit 10 and log on a chart the number of minutes it took.

**If you notice a significant change, or it takes a lot longer than before to reach 10 kicks, or if there is no movement, CALL YOUR DOCTOR immediately.

As I was researching for this post, I found an organization called
Count the Kicks  http://www.countthekicks.org
and they offer a free app to keep track of baby’s movements.

My own baby boy was so active; plus my nurse mom would come over almost daily with her stethoscope and count heart rate and kicks with me, so I never felt there was a moment that he was ever in danger.

This is what being a mom means to me; loving another human so much more than you even thought possible; putting his needs, wants, and desires before your own (or anyone else’s) — with a fierce passion that never dies.

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BSensible Fitted Crib Sheet

003There are so many new products on the market to make a new mom’s life easier and baby more comfortable.

Picking the right crib sheet is an important task, because the average baby sleeps fifteen hours a day.

How can you ensure that baby gets both the quantity and quality of sleep they need?

In the old days, I had to use a bulky and uncomfortable  rubber mat under the crib sheet, and even that leaked through-I’m happy to learn someone’s created a better way.

BSensible’s Fitted Crib Sheet Select has thought of every snooze worthy detail to earn its status as the Ultimate Crib Sheet!

This super soft, breathable, waterproof, hypoallergenic, and noiseless fitted sheet and mattress protector out performs all other crib sheets so baby – and Mom – can (hopefully) sleep through the night.

It’s a sheet AND a mattress protector. And soft. What a great idea!

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The sample I received to try and review is wonderful and I’ll make sure that my first grandchild (a boy!) will have plenty of them so all of his sleeping times will be comfortable, warm, and dry.

**I was sent a product sample to review. All of the opinions are my own.

Super Baby Food Cookbook: Review

In the summer of 1981 when my Angel Boy was about four months old and just starting solid foods (in addition to breast milk), I thought seriously about imitating animals who pre-digest their food.

From Wiki:

Premastication, pre-chewing, or kiss feeding is the act of chewing food for the purpose of physically breaking it down in order to feed another that is incapable of masticating the food by themselves. This is often done by the mother to produce baby food capable of being consumed by the child during the weaning process. 

The behaviour was common throughout human history and societies and observed in non-human animals. While premastication is less common in present-day Western societies it was commonly practiced, and is still done in more traditional cultures. Although the health benefits of premastication is still being actively studied the practice appears to confer certain nutritional and immunological benefits to the infant.

I didn’t actually go to those lengths, but I did make all of his baby food from scratch. I don’t think I bought those little Gerber jars except when I had a sick kitty that needed to be nursed back to health.

Now that I’m going to be a first-time grandma, I’ve learned just how much things have changed in thirty-plus years.

I was sent this amazing book to read and review by Ruth Yaron,  Super Baby Food Cookbook.

When Ruth Yaron’s twin boys were born premature and very sick, she knew the most important thing she could do for them was to feed them the healthiest diet possible.
Unhappy with the information that was available to her, Ruth decided to do her own exhaustive research on nutrition and health food.

Although she was a whiz at programming satellites for NASA, Ruth was an inexperienced cook. She utilized her skills, developed writing technical manuals, to diligently record her research of homemade, mostly organic, whole grain cereals, fruits, and vegetables, as well as the best storing and freezing methods.

The results of her phenomenal efforts are found in her remarkable first book, Super Baby Food, which has sold over half a million copies and is now in its 3rd edition.  Fans have asked Ruth for a cookbook with pictures of their favorite recipes and in the Super Baby Food Cookbook she has delivered.

The Super Baby Food Cookbook is fully illustrated in color and includes Ruth’s easy and complete system of baby and toddler food preparation.

The “Super Baby Food Diet” is an extremely healthy diet composed of only whole, natural foods.

It is based on these major components: whole grain cereals, vegetables and fruits, yogurt and other dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Pediatricians and nutritionists agree that a semi-vegetarian diet (a lacto-ovo diet containing milk products and eggs) fulfills all of a growing baby’s nutritional requirements.

While I’m  a vegan, I understand the need for calcium and really like how these recipes include breast milk as an ingredient.

As an aside, if anyone has ever made cheese from breast milk, I’d be interested in chatting.

Yaron provides the essentials for preparing all sorts of foods for babies and young children.

The book includes baby favorites such as avocado, carrots, peaches, and pears.

 

Discover a bonus of “healthy extra” tips and how to use them in recipes, including chia seeds, wheat germ sprinkles, hemp seeds, flax seeds, and more so that every bite counts.

Here’s a small sampling of the dozens of kid-pleasing recipes contained in the Super Baby Food Cookbook:

Displaying Displaying Blueberry Purée

 2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup water

Put water in a pan and bring to boil.
Add blueberries and reduce heat.
Simmer for 15-20 minutes; blueberries should be soft and tender.Remove blueberries from pan using a slotted spoon and transfer directly to a blender or processor. Purée away.Freeze any leftovers.

Apple Smiley Face

1 apple (peeled and cored)
1 tablespoon peanut or other butter
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup or blackstrap molasses (optional)
1 pinch ground cinnamon or nutmeg

Grate the apple in a food processor.
Mix with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or other nut butter.
Add 1 teaspoon honey, maple syrup or blackstrap molasses and a pinch of cinnamon and/or nutmeg, if desired.
Add Healthy Extras —grated carrots are good.
Place on small plate and form into pancake-shaped face. Use berries or other fruit for your own decorative touches to create eyes, nose, hair, etc.

For more information visit www.superbabyfood.com or www.ruthyaron.com

 

“The “The Happy Vegan” by Russell Simmons

51SMARDTY0L._SX352_BO1,204,203,200_I’m trying to stand as tall as I can and at a vertically challenged sixty inches, that’s all I have to offer, because I need to give hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons a big huge, gigantic, massive

APOLOGY.

Why?

I misjudged him.

When I was sent his book, The Happy Vegan, to read and review, I thought it was going to be another superficial and chichi vanity publication written by a “famous person” in order to jump on the trendy new “vegan” bandwagon.

I admit that I started to read it with a closed mind.

I’ve been a vegan since 1970 and confess that I’m kind of a vegan snob, but I’m happy to say that I was wrong!

Yes, you heard me correctly; I was WRONG. (This doesn’t often happen haha)

This is a thoughtful, mindful, compassionate, and informative read about Russell Simmons’ journey and his guide to living a long, healthy, and successful life.

His writing style is down-to-earth, relatable, and I truly feel like he cares very much about getting his/our message out about the health benefits of a vegan life.

Not only is he a big name in hip-hop and a fashion entrepreneur, he’s a devout yogi, and for nearly seventeen years, Russell Simmons has been a vegan.

In The Happy Vegan, Simmons clears up misconceptions people might have about veganism and lays out reasons adopting a vegan lifestyle is in everyone’s best interest.

If Mr. Simmons can hear me…”I’m sorry. I was wrong to have misjudged you. I wish I could have met you when you were recently in SoCal. The Happy Vegan is an awesome book!

Wondering what to give (or get) this holiday season?

I 1000% recommend The Happy Vegan, authored by Russell Simmons and Chris Morrow.

Namaste.

P.S. The moral of THIS story? One should never judge a book by a preconceived notion.