Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dear babycenter, Five months, week 1

Originally posted at  There you can read commentary from my sister and me.

Dear babycenter,

Thanks for all the blog fodder. 

First up, your article "7 mommy guilt trips to avoid."  Your Number One guilt-inducer?  Feeding your baby formula.  The paragraph says, "You may feel like you're the only formula-feeding mom in the universe, but this is far from the truth."  WHAT? What woman feels like the only formula-feeding mom in the universe?  I feel constantly isolated for exclusively breastfeeding my five month old; I feel like the only breastfeeding mom in the universe.  

This is a tricky issue for me.  On one hand, I'm an avid breastfeeder.  I do tend to judge anyone who doesn't breastfeed.  But I also understand that some women have legitimate issues trying to breastfeed.  Those women shouldn't feel guilty.  But women who simply choose not to for selfish reasons?  I'm not sure I'm ready to give them a pass.   

Number 2? Using TV as a babysitter.  I can't even go there.  I have serious issues with the TV, even how much television adults in our society watch, so I better not go into how much we think it's "okay" for our infants to watch.  Television is certainly contributing to health problems in our children and adults.  It's negatively affecting our society in so many ways we can't even keep track.  So do yourself and your child a favor.  Turn off the tube.  (And don't call it the boob tube, that drives me nuts).  Go outside to play.  And if you need to get something done, find a way to involve your child, or entertain him without the television.  If I can use my sewing machine with a wiggly 5 month old superbaby in my lap, so can you.

Number 3? Being environmentally unfriendly.  I'm so tired of all the excuses for not being environmentally friendly.  We better start, as a society, being nice to this planet, or we will soon find we have nowhere to live.  Haven't you people seen Wall-E?

Number 4 – Feeding your kids junk food.  I'll give everyone a pass on this.  Unless you are cooking from scratch, you are eating junk food.  All prepared food is junk food, and most shouldn't even be considered "food."  It would take much too long to address the nutrition issue, so check out Fast Food NationIn Defense of Food, and Food, Inc. if you are interested.
Number 5 is leaving your child with another caregiver.  Gone are the days of women in the home, for the most part.  Our modern society has nearly forced us to all have two income homes.  Unless you make some serious sacrifices.  Maybe that's why it's easy for me to say "no TV."  We can't afford it, so we don't have it.  It's not possible for every family, but on one income, our family is making a mortgage payment, a car payment, and a credit card payment.  It would cost us more to pay someone to watch E than a second income would bring in.  So that's definitely one I agree with – women are forced into the workforce, so don't feel guilty about needing a babysitter. 

Yelling at your kids is number 6.  Moms should feel guilty about yelling.  At children, at partners, at anyone.  Screaming and yelling is never appropriate (unless you are at a baseball game).  Your tips about apologizing to your child were good, and I like that you identified stress as a yell-causer.  It makes me so sad when I hear parents yelling at their children for every little thing.  Most parents spend so much time trying to force their children to behave like little adults that they rob the poor children of youthful experiences.  My policy is simple - you only get told "no" if you are potentially hurting yourself, someone else, or another person's property.  Raised voices are for running in the road and putting your hand on the hot eye of the stove.  If parents yell less, children will be much more inclined to pay attention when they hear a stern voice.

The last mommy guilt trip? Not being able to afford all the extras.  If moms feel guilty about it, they should watch Babies.  This documentary follows babies from around the world through their  first year.  They all have different levels of parental involvement, enrichment activities, and nutritional levels.  Guess what?  They all reach developmental milestones around the same time.  Maybe we over-enrich our children.  Maybe music lessons and pre-pre-preschool are overkill.  Let's let our children be children, and see what happens.

Another interesting tidbit this week: Since the "Back to Sleep" campaign was initiated in 1994, more babies seem to be crawling later or skipping it completely.  Hm, interesting.  Maybe because the "Back to Sleep" campaign coincided with the arrival of infant seats and other baby propping devices.  I doubt just sleeping on the back has diminished a baby's ability to crawl, but I bet lack of "tummy time"  (which also arrived on the scene with "Back to Sleep") and being held in an adult's arms has.  The lesson?  Always put your child to sleep on his or her back, but don't overuse your 'baby buckets.' Limit (or avoid altogether) time in swings, bouncy seats, infant carriers, strollers, etc, in favor of carrying or wearing your baby.  Wraps, slings, and pouches are easy, cheap, and comfortable.  Plus they are excellent for baby's physical development. 


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dear babycenter, Four months, week 3

Originally posted at, my super secret second blog, of which I am only half the staff.

Dear babycenter,

You've done well in not giving me much fodder for the blog the past few weeks, but this week... In the words of SuperBrother, "you fail epically."

First, the leading three articles in my email include a reference to bottle feeding or formula, but no breastfeeding reference.  In fact, there's not a single mention of breastfeeding in my whole email.  Am I, as an exclusively breastfeeding mother, to be alienated so soon?  Of course, I suppose less than half your readers who initiated breastfeeding are still doing so.  But maybe if we could start to associate an infant with the breast instead of a bottle, we could help encourage women to continue breastfeeding.  I know you want to be inclusive, but as a publication that presents itself as a source of information for new mothers, you have an obligation to encourage mothers to do what is best for their babies.  And research undoubtedly shows that breast is best, hands down.

In your article How Your Baby's Growing, you say, "Even though crying is still your baby's strongest form of communication..."  WAIT.  What?  Really?  If that's true, then my baby only communicates a few times a day, and often none at all.  (Yes, he often goes a whole day without crying.)  My baby's strongest form of communication is body language, thank you.  Crying is not an infant's go-to communication method.  It's just that parents are often not tuned in to infants' subtle signs, and baby has to resort to crying.  And by giving false information like your aforementioned statement, you are only furthering the communication gap between babies and their parents.
A few notes on the past few weeks... 

In 4 month, week 2, you recommended I get my partner involved in baby care.  Seriously?  My partner's been involved since day one.  Actually, he was massaging and talking to our baby during the pregnancy, making sure I had good nutrition and plenty of rest.  I'd say he's been there since the first day one.  Maybe I'm different than most mothers.  Even though E is with me about 21 hours a day, I don't feel anxious when I leave for work in the morning and my two guys stay home together.  I feel confident in daddy's ability to care for E.  If I hadn't had a supportive and involved partner up to this point, I'm not sure we would have made it to this point.  I feel very sad for mothers who are just now going to take babycenter's advice and "get their partner involved."

The week before that, you had several quick clicks concerning solid foods.  I know we talked about this in month 3, week 4, but I'll say it again.  Leading medical organizations currently recommend breastfeeding exclusively until six months of age.  Quit talking about solids.

And finally, a quick sister-to-sister...

Last Mothers' Day, we were just discovering this whole new way of relating to each other.  We'd been in different stages all our lives and rarely able to connect in the way we could when we both became expectant mothers.  Hardly seems possible that it's been a year, does it?  That our relationship is now so changed; our definition of each other, and of sisterhood, has taken been radically altered.  We see eye to eye so very much now, it makes all those years of opposing teen angst seem like a lifetime ago.  I'm so happy to be sharing mamahood with you, and so proud of the mommy you've become.

I thought I was done, but here's "Doctor Moms Tell All."

Q: Can you spoil a baby?

A: Thank you so much, doctor moms, for being spot-on this time!  Babies have needs.  Sometimes they need food or a clean diaper.  Sometimes they need cuddles.  That's still a valid need.  Thanks for  encouraging readers to respond quickly and consistently to their babies.  Children who learn that their caregivers are reliable and loving grow up to be reliable and loving adults.

People often comment that they never hear E cry.  We always respond, "He has very little reason to cry."  We meet his needs before they become unbearably urgent to him.  He has faith in us, so he doesn't have to cry.  He simply has to remind us that it's time to eat, or sleep, or play, or give hugs.