I refuse to label my parenting. I’m just a parent. I do what I feel is right. I do what I have researched and studied to be right. I question everything. EVERYTHING. I take notes and compare and discuss and debate. All the time. And I’ve come to my own conclusions about how I feel is the best way to parent and the way that I feel will help Garrett to develop into a happy, healthy, well-rounded, vibrant young man. But if I don’t label, someone else always will.
In my life, I often hear the term “earthy crunchy” thrown around like it’s a bad thing. Because someone isn’t following the standard, conventional, quick and easy way of doing things, they must be weirdos. Or hippies. Or something else that is just wrong and not okay at all. This is especially relevant when it comes to child rearing. We all know there’s many “teams” when it comes to child rearing. Everyone has to take sides, and someone has to be wrong. And you have to wear your label. And it better be the same one as mine.
So, some of my parenting style falls into the earthy crunchy category. Not all of it, for sure. For instance, I use disposable diapers instead of cloth because that just wouldn’t work for my family right now. I work outside of the home and don’t stay home with Garrett. As much as I would love to, that just wouldn’t work for my family. I didn’t make my own baby food because the task seemed too daunting and my freezer was already full of breast milk. But there’s a lot of things that I do do that get pegged as earthy crunchy. But ya know what? They’re the RIGHT things for me and my family.
I breastfeed, and I intend to continue past one year
This has been a little bit of an issue for awhile, but it’s especially coming up now that Garrett is reaching a year old. One year is what the AAP recommends, with 6 months being the maximum, but it’s by no means the minimum. I have absolutely have no intentions of putting Garrett to bed on the eve of his first birthday and then locking down the boobs after that. I plan to wean him gradually, as he is ready. Whether this takes one month, six months, a year… whatever works for us. Even if he’s walking and talking and asking for it. I get the comment all the time, “You’re going to quit when he can ask for it, RIGHT?”. Well, we will see.
I practice some aspects of Baby Led Weaning
This is where I probably confuse and frustrate people. I won’t allow just anyone to stick just anything in my child’s mouth. But do I feed him from my plate? Absolutely. Garrett is mostly eating table food now, but that doesn’t mean that I’m okay with people giving him whipped cream and bread rolls. I’m very conscientious of what goes into my child’s mouth. He eats so little food that I want to be sure that what does goes in the best choices. Absolutely no need for him to fill up on things that will not benefit him. Plus, I’m trying to build healthy habits for him.
Not all night, every night, but most early mornings, Garrett ends up in my bed to nurse and snuggle.
I wear my son – facing me, in a wrap or sling
This is where I was definitely called “earthy crunchy”. I ran around touting the glories of my second-hand Boba Wrap for a long time, and people around me were baffled. They were all used forward facing structured packs and were and still are resistant to carriers that allow for a more natural hold. I’m not really sure why… but whatever floats your boat, people.
I choose organic food and products as much as I can
This just makes sense to me. If I can buy one kind of snack crackers for $3 and the organic kind for a mere 50 cents more… the choice seems clear to me. I also feel like the companies that produce organic products care more about our children and care about the product they produce a bit more than regular companies. Maybe this is me projecting. I don’t know. But I prefer to both support companies that use organic growing processes and feed my child organic products. Does anyone REALLY want chemicals in their food? Really?
I choose not to give my son fluoride supplements
This is another controversial one. Because clearly if I don’t give fluoride to my infant then I WANT his brand new teeth to be decaying as they emerge. Guys? Have you ever heard of dental fluorosis? Do a google image search. Or even just one of “too much fluoride”. It’s HORRENDOUS. Did you also know that there is no upper limit of fluoride established? So we don’t know exactly how much fluoride causes dental fluorosis. I’ve discussed the issue with a trusted dentist and he agrees that choosing not to do oral fluoride is the right choice for my family.
I’ve used breastmilk to treat pink eye
This is still a running joke at work. Someone has an itchy eye? Have Ashley squirt some breast milk in. But ya know what guys? IT WORKED. My kid’s eye was itchy and red one afternoon, and a few drops after dinner and again before bed, and he woke up clear and comfy. (*disclaimer* I used an eye dropper with expressed milk. I did not physically squirt anyone in the eye with breast milk.)
We do not sleep train
I absolutely refuse to let Garrett cry himself to sleep at night. It happens on occasion in the car, but there’s not a lot I can do about that. However, his bed is a safe, comfortable place where he can rest peacefully. I never want him to feel lonely, scared, abandoned, or helpless while he’s alone in his bed. So this means that at 9 months old my son does not sleep through the night. But I’m okay with this. He knows that if he cries in the night, someone is coming to help him. Bedtime, however, is almost always a breeze. Even if he doesn’t fall asleep when I nurse and rock him, I can lay him down in his crib and after a few minutes of playing and sometimes some quiet fussing, he goes right to bed.
My son very rarely wears shoes
He owns two pairs of shoes that currently fit, and he has worn each one just a few times. For special occasions or if he’s wearing an outfit that matches them really well. My son doesn’t walk so there’s no need for shoes. They’ll just get in the way while he’s crawling anyways. And even when he does walk, he probably won’t wear shoes that much either unless he’s outside on a surface that may injure his feet. Our feet were made for walking. And that’s just what they’ll do. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
There’s a lot of other things that will arise as Garrett gets older, I’m sure. By I just have his healthy, safety, growth, and development in mind at all times. Just like all other parents, whether they’re earthy crunchy or not so much.