Archives for category: parenthood

When little darling number one was about five months old, my wife came home one day and said, ‘You know, babies don’t need nappies, they can tell you from birth when they need to wee’, or words to that effect. This had to be one of the craziest things I’ve heard in a long time. That afternoon we took off her nappy and, bizarrely enough, managed to catch lots of wees. After that I became paranoid that any second (in fact about every 15 mins) I would get a yellow fountain (or worse) headed in the direction of my nice clean pair of jeans, which happened several times. I still took some convincing that it wasn’t just chance, but with a little persistence we managed to learn the signs that she was about to wee or poo and started to catch them in a potty at a regular rate and started to relax about the jeans. By the time we got to baby number two it was a race to see who could be the first to catch a wee in the potty. I can now announce that yours truly was the proud winner of that competition and both little darlings are regular potty users.

What’s the theory behind it? After all, it runs totally contrary to everything we are led to believe, that babies cannot be potty trained before two and at earliest after their powers of speech have developed. It turns out that potty training is a retraining. Babies are born with an innate awareness of when they wee. Ok, that’s perhaps not such a bold statement. What is more is that the communicate to their parents when they are about to wee. These signs can be arm or leg movements, a certain kind of cry, or a sudden change behaviour, it depends on the baby and their age. It’s the parents who need training to pick up these signs. After about six months with nappies they stop and become comfortable just going in their nappy. The practice of not using nappies now goes under the terms ‘natural hygeine’ for the hippy inclined, or ‘elimination communication’ for those averse to the common words for what comes out of the nether regions of your little bundle of joy.

So, you never use nappies? Well, that’s not quite true. At the moment with a two and a half month old we have a muslin square wrapped around her bottom which catches anything we miss and mostly avoids having to do a complete change. Choice of clothes is quite critical – it needs to be something that is easy to take off and we generally avoid baby-grows, or tuck the flaps at the bottom up so they don’t get wet. When we are out we usually put on a complete nappy, but if we can find a toilet in time we can usually keep this dry too. My wife came back very proud from a 6 hour trip into town the other day with a dry and clean nappy. Since she was already in her own bedroom when we started, the oldest one also has a nappy at night, which is currently dry in the morning about 50% of the time. For the youngest we’re currently putting on a nappy at night and trying to catch the wees, reducing the need for changes and night-time disruption.

Does it really work and would I recommend it? The benefits are great. With every poo I catch in a potty I breathe a sigh of relief that it didn’t happen in a nappy. Using reusable nappies, we’ve also massively reduced the washing load. Ok, some days there are several changes and lots of nappies, but the trend is definitely downward. Of course, there is no need to potty train your child. I have no idea how much hassle it saves, but judging from some people’s reactions it’s a lot!

It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure. You need to be around your baby a lot for a long time, so it’s not suitable if you’re considering using child-care under the age of 18 months or so (unless you have very understanding carers). You also need to be prepared to go anywhere and expect to get odd looks in public (or a round of applause from your paediatrician who happens to be on the same tram, as happened once to us!), although no-one has ever said anything negative to us. We often carry a bucket with us just in case, so if using it in a busy street would make you feel self-conscious, maybe think again. We’re lucky that Freiburg town centre has little channels of water flowing everywhere, which are very convenient as make-shift conveniences. You also need to be prepared to ‘fail’. Whatever you do, don’t blame your baby if you miss a wee – after all they almost certainly told you so if anyone’s to blame it’s your fault! If there’s an accident and the bed/sofa/floor/Aunt Agnes is covered, just smile, clear up and move on.

Got to go, that sounds like a ‘need a wee’ kind of cry…

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If you want to be a trendy parent who is seen to taken good care of your child these days, it seems you need to sign up to attachment parenting. By my understanding this covers a range of methods designed to treat your baby in a way as natural as possible so that they have some measure of control over their tiny lives.

Wonderful stuff, but there is one aspect I remain unconvinced by: co-sleeping. That is, sleeping with your baby in the same room as you. Options range from being tucked up in the same bed, to having a bed-extension or simply being in the same room. The benefits are said to be ‘improved communication’, reassurance for the baby and making it much easier to breast-feed in the night without anyone really waking up.

Why am I unconvinced by this? Our experience with our first little darling was that she moved a great deal in the night and within a few weeks was moved into her own room. She seems to have suffered little psychological trauma from this and my wife in particular slept a lot better, even while doing night feeds. I would say that the extra rest was beneficial to everyone. Ok, that’s one anecdotal experience, but we have a couple of books that coer the subject. One is not very clear and even admits that research that has been done into the benefits is contradictory from different studies, while the other sells it as a solution to an problem we don’t really have, namely over-fatigue and a baby who just won’t sleep.

What to conclude? It seems that for the foreseeable future our latest addition will be with us and close at hand. This is for feeding and, more importantly, wees during the night (we’re not using nappies, but that’s a whole other blog). I like to think that sleeping in her own room is a step that will happen in the not-too-distant future, won’t be traumatic and will help the whole family get better rest. When to make the switch, I’m not sure. Perhaps this issue isn’t so important in itself, but is a necessity if you are trying other aspects of attachment parenting. Maybe it has just been overplayed by its proponents so that it sounds like an essential element of nouveau parentalism.

I would be interested to hear of anyone else’s experiences. Does anyone feel guilted into keeping your baby in bed with you, or just finds it such an amazing experience they would never have it any other way? One thing is for sure, it’s not for everyone but probably is for someone.

I don’t like to reveal too much about my family on the internet, but here’s the bare facts: I’m a married guy with, at the time of writing, a 16 month old daughter and number two due in about a week’s time.

Every time I look on Facebook, there’s someone else I know/knew who’s becoming a parent and often I don’t know anything about it until after the event. Congratulations to you all! You get a glimpse into the world of parenting reading these posts and it means a lot of the guys I know are Dads, but I’ve almost never had a conversation about it. I’d really like to know how other guys find being someone’s old man and share some experiences.

To kick it off, here’s the best piece of advice we were given before number one came along: when it’s 2 in the morning and your little bundle of joy starts screaming, give them as little stimulation as possible. Don’t turn on the light if you don’t need to, certainly don’t go anywhere near the radio or TV, even if it’s an extended session, and don’t even talk to them. That will teach them that it’s night-time and nothing exciting is going to happen. It feels pretty cruel, but it seemed to work pretty well for us and our bundle of joy was sleeping 8 hours at a couple of months and 12 hours after 3 months. All in all, a great tip and great for our sleep pattern and sanity.