Our Baby Class

Friday, June 28, 2013

Guilt-Free Parenting (kind-of)

As 21st century parents, it is easy to burden ourselves with guilt and anxiety about whether or not we are doing the absolute best as parents.  We start making parenting decisions before a child is even conceived, making proclamations about what we would or would not ever do as parents.

Then children arrive.  We find that many of those bold proclamations don't work out the way that we expected.  Or a child cries and cries, and we find that we can't keep our patience.  We find ourselves defending our parenting decisions to family, friends, and even strangers.  The internet is funky like that.

There are the so-called "Mommy Wars," which tend to be more mainstream moms versus the "crunchy moms."  Flame wars erupt on blogs and Facebook posts with moms attacking each other. (I'm focusing on moms here simply because I haven't seen too many dads involved). Even within each "side" of the war, there are skirmishes, mutinies, and other divisive attacks.

Ladies (and gentlemen): Stop.  Parenting is hard enough.  Listen to each other. Be able to say: "This worked for me. This did not work for me. Your experience might be the same or different. As parents, we do what we need to in order to survive sleepless nights and long days."

Here's my own before and after:
Then: "I think I'll probably breastfeed for six months, but I'll definitely stop after a year.  It's creepy when children can ask for it."
Now: We're ten months in (almost), and I have no plans to stop anytime soon. Partially because I've realized there's nothing sexual about it and partially because I've learned that extended breastfeeding is normal in much of the world and the World Health Organization recommends continuing until at least the age of two. I'm also grateful to be able to do this for my child when many women cannot. More on that another time.

Then: "I'll never let my baby sleep in my bed. It's dangerous and establishes bad habits!"
Now: It started by accident. She slept with me because I'd fall asleep nursing her and be too tired to return her to the bassinet.  And then I realized I loved waking up and looking at her little baby face.  At six months, she transitioned to her own room because that's what worked for our family of three (partner input is so important!), but she still sleeps with us occasionally.

I've changed my opinions on many things along the way. Plus, I sometimes lose "crunchy" points because I vaccinate on time and I had a hospital birth that resulted in a c-section.

Luckily, I've found a couple of other moms who help a lot! The three of us can share the good, the bad, and the ugly, and we refuse to judge each other for differing opinions.  We don't all agree on all parenting decisions, religion, or politics, but we have a great time together.  We try to avoid feeling guilty because we know that we are doing the best we can to make the right decisions for our children.

My point is: if we spend less time judging others and attacking them, we might be able to feel less guilty about our own decisions.  The great thing about this is that it works beyond just parenting.  Try listening without judging when you disagree politically or religiously! It's hard. Really, really hard.  But you might learn something.

Why can't we all just get along?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's a Wash

Growing up, I helped my older siblings take care of my nieces and nephews.  I remember the exact scent of Johnson's Baby Shampoo. I loved it so much that I used it myself, long after baby-hood.  When I brought my own daughter home from the hospital, the hospital sent me home with a sample size bottle. I looked at that tiny bottle, filled with amber liquid, and felt nostalgia wash over me.

Then I looked at the ingredients on the bottle produced by the brand "new mothers" have trusted for "more than one hundred years."

Here they are:
Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, PEG-150 Distearate, Fragrance, Polyquaternium-10, Tetrasodium EDTA, Quaternium-15, Citric Acid, Yellow 10 and Orange 4. May also contain: Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide.

Water is harmless enough.  But the second ingredients, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, was voted "Allergen of the Year" by the American Contact Dermatitis Society in 2004. PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate is also an allergen. PEG-150 Distearate can contain impurities linked to an increased risk of cancer.  According to Cosmetics Info, PEGs should not be used on broken or irritated skin.  Tetrasodium EDTA is listed as one of the "Top Five Chemicals to Avoid" on Bubbleandbee.com.  It's made from known carcinogens, including formaldehyde, and easily penetrates the skin.  If you're looking for formaldehyde, Quaternium-15 may also be for you. It's also a known allergen, especially on infants' skin. "Fragrance" seems harmless enough, except that companies are not required to name which of more than 3,000 chemicals could be responsible for the fragrance.  According to the Environmental Working Group, one in twenty of these ingredients rates a score designating it as a "high hazard." 

Nostalgia or not, I did not feel comfortable putting these ingredients on my daughter's soft, sensitive skin.  Instead, I use Burts' Bees Shampoo and Wash for babies, rated a 2, or low hazard, by the Environmental Working Group. It's still not perfect, but even the unidentified fragrance is guaranteed to be free of common toxins, such as phthalates, parabens, sulfates, and petrochemicals.  All but one ingredient have a low hazard rating, most of zero or one.  Limonene is the sole exception, a moderate risk score of six. 

Here are the ingredients, in comparison:
aqua (water, eau), decyl glucoside, coco-betaine, lauryl glucoside, sucrose laurate, glycerin, parfum (fragrance), betaine, sodium cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein, coco-glucoside, glyceryl oleate, sodium chloride, xanthan gum, glucose, citric acid, glucose oxidase, lactoperoxidase, limonene.

What do you use for cleaning your children? Or, for that matter, what do you use for cleaning your own body?  Later, we'll be talking about shampoo bars.  

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