To My Children: It’s Not Your Fault

An unhappy woman sits in a child's bedroom with her head in her hands. She is holding a soft toy that belonged to her child. The bed in front of her is empty.

An unhappy woman sits in a child's bedroom with her head in her hands. She is holding a soft toy that belonged to her child. The bed in front of her is empty.

 

I’m sorry I am not a perfect mother. But I know I am the perfect mother for you! I may not keep a perfect schedule. Or a perfect house. Sometimes I have no idea what to make for you to eat, and I feel paralyzed. I don’t always have all the answers to your questions. Sometimes I say the wrong things. Sometimes I cry. 

 

It’s not your fault.

 

I’m sorry it made you feel sad, when you saw me crying. Or saw me hurting. I want you to know what it’s like to really feel, and not pretend to you that this world is always a happy place. I want you to know that emotions are not something you must fear and avoid, but rather experience, and grow from. Allowing yourself to feel, makes you a stronger person. But sometimes it can be too much for your little mind, and you don’t know quite how to handle it.

 

It’s not your fault.

 

I’m sorry for the times I get angry, and raise my voice. Sometimes parents get frustrated because there are a whole bunch of big people things we have to do, and sometimes it feels like too much. And sometimes getting loud feels like a good release.

 

It’s not your fault.

 

I remember when I was your age. And when I felt the tension and anger from my parents. I remember thinking that I must be a bad person. That they must be angry because of me. And I started to believe that I must be bad. And that stayed with me for a very long time.

 

It wasn’t my fault. And I’m not bad.

 

Sometimes parents hurt. Sometimes we feel angry. We want to stay strong all the time, because we want to protect you. But when we try to stay strong all the time, well sometimes the feelings inside build up, and just come right out!

 

It isn’t your fault. And you are not bad.

 

I’m sorry that I’m not a perfect mother,

but I know that I’m the perfect mother for you

What? You don’t give your kids cow’s milk?!

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cows milk or breastfeeding

It cracks me up the, the horror on people’s faces when they hear I don’t give my kids cows milk. It has become the socially acceptable thing to do– without knowing exactly why. The Dairy Board issues “health claims” which really don’t have a strong basis. Once again it’s all marketing. Literally. I remember when I would not start weaning my 1 year old from my milk (read here the ingredients in human milk) to pasteurized cow’s milk I had a well-meaning friend warn me several times that he may be at high risk for rickets.

I’ll start by saying that I understand dairy is a complex topic. Am I opposed to all dairy? Not necessarily…not raw, from pasture raised cows (the enzymes break down the casein and it is more easily digested and handled by the gut), the milk fat is not removed, it is nutrient dense, and it is not homogenized…but good luck finding real milk. I am still learning about raw dairy, and haven’t tried it yet. If you can find it and have access to it, you can learn more about raw dairy here: This is an awesome resource.

My focus on this post is pasteurized dairy from confined grain, corn and soy fed cows, and why I do not buy into the hype or give it to my kids.

I remember when I was a child (in the 1980’s) we had several dairy farms right around the corner from our house. The cows were out grazing all day long– you could smell the cow manure but it was almost a pleasant smell of summertime in the country. One of the Farmers had an ice-cream shop and general store. We would walk there and get some fresh local grass-fed ice-cream. One of the Farms was on a hill…I remember playing in the field with my friends and getting chased by a cow down that hill and running all the way home. We use to walk around the corner of our street to a dead end street to “pet the cows” and feed them “cow flowers” out in the big pasture. It’s sad that all those farms in my hometown are gone now and that pasture is now filled with houses.

It’s funny how on many milk cartons you see pictures of cows out grazing in pastures. Last year my son’s preschool class went to visit the local dairy “farm” that supplies much of the milk to the local convenience stores here in Upstate NY. The cows were all standing in stalls in their feces. They were all 100% grain-fed (along with corn and soy) and the stench was awful. Nothing like the sweet grassy manure smell growing up. I won’t get into to many more details. I don’t want to start getting too idealistic and lose readers that way. However, my point is that the model of farming has changed drastically over the years, and this affects the final product. I’m sure much of it has to do with politics and government subsidies. Even the milk sold in glass jars locally here at the farmer’s market is from grain-fed cows, pasteurized, and homogenized. It’s just sold in fancy glasses…and they charge more for it.

Most of the milk we consume and believe is making us strong comes from confined grain-fed cows. These cows are not eating their natural diet of grass, at all…and therefore missing out on the high levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid– a potent cancer fighter) and there is an omega 6 to omega 3 imbalance. High omega 6 consumption and low omega-3  is a leading cause of inflammation in the body.

According to Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple,

Cows raised on pasture produce milk fat with an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of 1. Yes, equal amounts. A balance. Grain-fed cows, on the other hand, produce a ratio tilted heavily toward omega 6.”
If you are regularly consuming cows milk each day…that is a very high omega 6 consumption!

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/grass-fed-butter/#ixzz2NdymmxKv

When cows milk is pasteurized all the beneficial gut bacteria, probiotics and live enzymes are killed off. The good saturated fats are usually removed (because of the “low fat” and “fat free” craze so it is stripped of its nutrients). Then we add “vitamins” to it and tell the public we must consume it for strong bones! However, does the public know that the calcium in cow milk is not all bioavailable? What that means is that the body does not easily absorb and assimilate it like it does the calcium from other sources. There are certain minerals (co-factors) needed for calcium to be absorbed. Therefore the “however many” milligrams of calcium it says you are ingesting, you really are not.

The casein in cows milk is a foreign protein and can be very hard on the gut. The body then tries to reject it. This can lead to many different inflammatory and immune responses including skin conditions like eczema, asthma, allergies, and autoimmune issues. The body wants to reject these proteins and this creates an immune system response.

So what about CALCIUM? 

THIS ARTICLE from Whole 9 explains calcium thoroughly (way better than I could try to take on):

“Our first mistake is thinking that bone health is all about calcium, the second is believing our intake of calcium is all that matters. If this was true, then how do you reconcile this?

The United States has one of the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world,
despite having one of the highest calcium intakes.

It makes no sense… unless there’s more to the story than how much calcium we’re taking in. It’s also about how much we’re able to absorb, and retain. And factors like our dietary habits, our lifestyle, and the aging process all contribute to calcium absorption and retention.

  • The phytates in foods like whole grains and legumes form complexes with the calcium and other minerals in the plant. This renders the calcium virtually impossible to absorb, and limits its bioavailability (the amount that can be effectively absorbed and used by the body).
  • Whole grains may also promote a loss of vitamin D, a critical element of bone health. Low vitamin D3 levels (from diet and a lack of daily exposure to sunshine) inhibits calcium absorption.
  • Stress affects HCL production in the stomach (and impacts normal digestion), which can have a negative effect on calcium absorption.
  • Age also negatively impacts calcium absorption – on average, adults absorb about 20% less calcium than children.
  • On the other hand, adequate protein in the diet increases calcium absorption and stimulates the production of hormones that promote new bone formation. This effect is more than sufficient to counter the increased urinary excretion of calcium observed upon increased protein consumption.

Finally, one additional note: vitamin D3 and K are both fat soluble – meaning they require some fat to be absorbed in the bloodstream. So a low fat diet (like the kind we’ve all been advised to eat for the last 20 years) may impair your body’s ability to absorb these two vitamins, which can also diminish bone health.”

Read more:  http://whole9life.com/2012/02/what-about-calcium/

 

In THIS ARTICLE by Diane Sanfilippo (nutritionist, author, and blogger at Balanced Bites) Diane explains:

“We can see in a day’s worth if USDA meals that the RDA is slightly exceeded at 123%, while the Paleo diet (PD) comes a lot closer than parents might assume at 90%. Now, I wasn’t specifically searching for calcium-rich foods when I calculated this day, but you can see how a child can easily come close to the RDA for calcium without a DROP of dairy in his or her daily diet. That said, even at 90% of the RDA, the amount of calcium that’ll be absorbed by the child’s body is likely going to be much higher since the cofactors for calcium absorption are higher across the board in the PD day. Vitamin and mineral cofactors required for calcium absorption include Vitamin D (56% in Paleo vs 12% in USDA) and Magnesium (103% in Paleo vs 87% in USDA). So, by allowing a child to eat a diet that is not only fairly high in calcium from non-dairy sources but also providing balanced nutrition to allow for the absorption of calcium, it’s clear that the need for dairy in the diet as a calcium source is overstated and inaccurate. [4] Furthermore, studies show that the phytic acid in grains (specifically whole wheat products in one study) reduces the absorption of dietary calcium from milk products, which would likely then leave the USDA diet at a much lower level of bio-available calcium than the PD. [5]”

Do I think conventional dairy affects everyone? Probably not everyone.  Do I think we should consume it? Most definitely not.

So what do my kids drink? They happily drink water, occasionally homemade juice (I’ll get into conventional orange juice and fruit juices in subsequent posts), and almond milk. You know what? I am really not concerned about their mineral intake. They eat tons of fresh produce and they run and play! My kids occasionally have dairy at school functions, when we visit family, and we do occasionally get local soft serve ice-cream in the summer (and then pay the price afterward). I also buy Kerrygold 100% grass-fed cheddar and butter. So we are not completely dairy-free. However, I do my best to limit their consumption as I truly believe conventional dairy can do more harm than good, and I believe is not necessary for them to have in their diet as we have been led to believe.

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Primal Babywearing!

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 baby10

Most of my post focus on primal nutrition-eating like our early ancestors. I also like to shift the focus every now and then to other “primal” topics that I am passionate about. I am a Mom of 2 beautiful boys ages 6 and 3. I am also a certified breastfeeding counselor/educator. I had to overcome many breastfeeding obstacles, and love to help new mamas out. One of the things I found that made breastfeeding easier for me was “babywearing.” I was introduced to the world of babywearing (outside of the bjorn) with my second son. I wish I had discovered it sooner with my first! Babywearing literally means wearing your baby in a wrap or a sling. There is something very primal about holding your baby close to you. My hope is that you will have an open mind and possibly learn about something that may not be culturally normal, yet has been practiced for many thousands of years.

In Western culture we are taught that if we hold our babies too much we may “spoil” them. Children do not spoil. Nurturing them does not make babies turn “rotten.”Meeting their needs for proximity and touch does not make them become more “needy” children. These are all myths!  Follow your instincts. Ignore unsolicited advice. You will hear it ALL many many times. Don’t doubt yourself. Pick that baby up and love him. Another saying I hear frequently that drives me crazy is the “is she a good baby?” Because in our culture “good” babies do not cry or fuss. Think about it, does expressing your needs make you bad? Seriously? Babies should not be labeled good or bad based on their temperament. When they cry it is because they have a need-that is the only way they know how to express themselves.

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What are the benefits of wearing your baby?

*Newborn human babies are the most neurologically underdeveloped mammal. According to this: “Human babies enter the world utterly dependent on caregivers to tend to their every need. Although newborns of other primate species rely on caregivers, too, human infants are especially helpless because their brains are comparatively underdeveloped. Indeed, by one estimation a human fetus would have to undergo a gestation period of 18 to 21 months instead of the usual nine to be born at a neurological and cognitive development stage comparable to that of a chimpanzee newborn.”

*Babywearing makes a nice transition from the warm cozy womb into the loud, bright, and overstimulating world. It gives them a safe and warm place right up against your skin. Being skin to skin helps to regulate baby’s breathing and heart rate. Mom and baby can be in tune with each other, and mom can read baby’s early breastfeeding cues before he starts crying.

*Wearing your baby promotes attachment between mom and baby. Babies have needs to survive and physical touch and proximity are among these needs.  Wearing baby helps regulate her neurologically. Babies can smell mama, hear her heartbeat, hear her voice, feel her warmth. Mama can smell baby and feel baby which helps with bonding. Baby feels safe, calm, and secure. You can even nurse baby while in the sling or wraps.

According to Dr. Sears: “It’s easier to understand babywearing when you think of a baby’s gestation as lasting eighteen months – nine months inside the womb and at least nine more months outside. The womb environment automatically regulates baby’s systems. Birth temporarily disrupts this organization. The more quickly, however, baby gets outside help with organizing these systems, the more easily he adapts to the puzzle of life outside the womb. By extending the womb experience, the babywearing mother (and father) provides an external regulating system that balances the irregular and disorganized tendencies of the baby. Picture how these regulating systems work. Mother’s rhythmic walk, for example, (which baby has been feeling for nine months) reminds baby of the womb experience. This familiar rhythm, imprinted on baby’s mind in the womb, now reappears in the “outside womb” and calms baby. As baby places her ear against her mother’s chest, mother’s heartbeat, beautifully regular and familiar, reminds baby of the sounds of the womb. As another biological regulator, baby senses mother’s rhythmic breathing while worn tummy- to-tummy, chest-to-chest. Simply stated, regular parental rhythms have a balancing effect on the infant’s irregular rhythms. Babywearing “reminds” the baby of and continues the motion and balance he enjoyed in the womb.”

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*Babywearing makes life easier for you. Your hands are free so you can go about your day! I literally did everything with my son in the wrap or sling. I washed dishes, cooked, played with my 2 year old, went hiking and even grocery shopping. I didn’t have to carry that big car seat around like I did with my first son (before discovering the world of babywearing). I would scoop him right into the wrap and go about our day. He was safe, secure, content, happy. He nursed when he needed to, and slept when he needed to, all on mommy. He literally lived in there for months and months. I could spend my time playing with my 2 year old!  and you know what? My “baby” is now a very happy, content, and independent 3 year old. He is confident, loving, and has a wicked sense of humor. I am by no means saying that babies “must” be worn by mama, and must be worn all the time. I’m saying have an open mind and try it out! Families obviously have many different dynamics. If mom is working, having a caregiver or family member wear baby can help make the transition easier for baby, and baby can still reap the benefits of being held close. Dads can help soothe baby by babywearing as well!

Here I am snowshoeing and pulling my 2 year old in a sled while baby is sleeping on me in a carrier:

 

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*When baby is sick he can be close to mommy or daddy. I found this helped make him feel better and he rarely cried even though he felt lousy. In the pictures below my baby was sick-in the second one it was summertime and he had the coxsackie virus. He didn’t eat or drink much of anything for over a week. He just nursed a tiny bit, and hung out on mama. Some babies have GERD and need to be upright or they are in pain. I was able to nurse my baby in the moby wrap while in an upright position. This made him more comfortable and made nursing in those early days much easier for both of us.

baby4 baby1

 

*Babies worn in slings are happy! They cry less!  In cultures where babywearing is the norm, babies rarely cry. Crying is exhausting for parents and babies, and floods baby with the stress hormone cortisol. Babywearing is helpful for colicky babies (both of mine were) Babywearing literally saved my sanity! I think that many of the parents who discover “babywearing” are the ones who have high need babies and are looking for ways to soothe them. 

*You can “wear” baby down at bedtime! Ever hear the term “witching hour” …those evening hours where baby cries for no apparent reason? Put baby in the sling or wrap and and they can ease into sleep for bedtime…I did this often and then would slowly slide him out of the sling and into his little basket! Here is a picture of him after being in the sling and falling asleep at night…I transferred him into his little basket. You can see the little red lines on him from being all wrapped up on me.

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*Babywearing is fun! Not only is it easy, but it can also be enjoyable-especially for taking walks, hiking, and going places.  Toddlers enjoy being “worn” as well-it helps calm them down when they are overstimulated or tired. You can carry them on your back, hip or front depending on your preference and the type of carrier you have.

My favorite carrier by far is the moby wrap. It takes a few tries to get it down good, but that wrap was a lifesaver for me!

*regarding babywearing safety: there are some unsafe baby carriers out there. Deep pouches or bag-like slings (some even come with elastic edges) are not safe. You would never want to put a baby deep inside a deep pouch where they cannot get air. Here are some resources on safety:

http://babywearerscircle.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/the-ultimate-guide-to-babywearing-safety-unsafe-slings/

http://www.hobomama.com/2010/10/international-babywearing-week-safe.html

 

Here are some other great babywearing resources:

http://babywearinginternational.org/

http://www.thebabywearer.com/

http://www.attachmentparenting.org/parentingtopics/babywearing.php

Links to evidence based articles:

http://www.thebabywearer.com/index.php?page=bwbenefits#Benefits

A guide to help choose the best carrier for your needs: 

http://www.thebabywearer.com/index.php?page=whattype

A great book for children about babywearing around the world:

http://www.amazon.com/Ride-Mothers-Back-Carrying-around/dp/B006TR1UAM

 

 

* Please note: This is a personal blog. I am not a Doctor or a Dietician. All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.