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And We're Live! Welcome to 100% Natural Parenting

Taylor Newman

Welcome to 100% Natural Parenting, a brand new blog here on Parenting.com! Many of you know me from Project Pregnancy and The Parenting Post here on the site--I’ve been blogging with Parenting for over two years now, since before my son, Kaspar, was born--but I’ll take this opportunity to introduce myself again. And then I want to learn a little bit about you, dear readers, because this blog (in a grand departure from standard ‘Me-Me-Me’ blogging tradition) will ultimately, I hope, reflect a whole range of stories and perspectives. And by that I mean... yours! Because let’s face it: one mom’s All-Natural is another mom’s Not-So-Much; this blog is all about embracing that spectrum, exploring the options available to parents in almost every aspect of child-rearing these days, and finding what works for each of us, as individuals and families, in raising our kids up healthy, happy and green.

I’m hoping to touch on both the simple steps we can take toward less toxic, more conscious family living, and also on the more extreme natural parenting adventures that some families embark on. It’s all fair game here, and you’re suggestions on topics you’d like to see discussed are most welcome! I’ll be keeping a close eye on the blosphere, and beyond, and posting twice a week about hot topics that catch my eye, and then soliciting your feedback or knowledge about them. Sounds fun, right?

I’m kind of a middle-road mama, myself, when it comes to natural parenting, which is to say that I like to keep it clean and green, but I’m also flexible in the face of reality (although my husband, Aaron, jokes that the last words I utter in this life will be “Is it organic?”). For instance, as much as I love the idea of cloth diapering, it just wasn’t a realistic option for us when arrived home with our new baby in a 400-square-foot Brooklyn walk-up without in-home laundry machines. We had a full supply of gDiapers -- which some people love-- on hand as what I thought, pre-baby, would be the happy medium between cloth and disposables. But after several clogged toilets and a lot of poopy diapers left soaking in our sink, the idea of simply tossing soiled diapers was too appealing to ignore. So I found biodegradable, eco-friendly disposables that won’t still be floating around in the ocean in 2,000 years. A truly perfect compromise for our family-- we stuck with it since making that switch-- and one that I arrived at after assessing the reality of our lifestyle, attempting to evaluate whether cloth-diapering water usage was as harmful as disposable land-occupancy, and finally asking around semi-obsessively until I found our diapering match. Lucky for all of us, the internet is fertile ground for this kind of info-seeking, and this blog should serve as a fun forum for trading tips and stories, and for helping each other out.(By the way, I do sometimes link to products, but I’m never paid by any of these brands.)

Breastfeeding was another interesting journey of compromise for me. I wanted to breastfeed successfully, and I gave it a good shot, but ultimately, after three challenging months, ended up switching Kaspar to a combination of organic formula, and, finally, breast milk belonging to a generous bestie of mine. You can read all about that (and other milk-sharing options I discovered) here. As much as I would have liked for breastfeeding to work perfectly for us, I learned through this experience-- as with so many others in my almost-two years of mom-hood-- that my job is to roll with what’s happening, open my mind to new possibilities, and pick the ones that feel best for us. Sometimes that requires some trial and error, and sometimes it just boils down to gut instinct. (As moms, we’ve all got that, and learning to listen to it is key). But no matter what, I’m committed to a policy of no-guilt, no-regrets; we’re all doing our best.

It turned out Kaspar was actually severely allergic to a lot of what I was eating when I was breastfeeding him, anyway. We hacked it through a difficult first year of full-body baby eczema and very little sleep, which proved to be a mystery to our MD’s, but culminated in a visit to the ER when Kaspar went into allergic shock after chowing on some (organic) lentils. He was a year old at the time. Allergy tests turned up countless positive results, and after discovering that western docs wanted only to prescribe steroids and Benadryl-- which didn’t help, and posed potential side effects-- we found Traditional Chinese Medicine as our saving grace. So my son now drinks hemp milk with Chinese herb decoctions. Pretty crunchy, right? But hey, it helps: Kaspar’s skin is dramatically better, and he sleeps more peacefully at night... In our bed. (Any other co-sleepers in the house? Heya!)

Sometimes our alternative choices are as fun as they are eco-conscious (full disclosure: I do make my own natural laundry detergent, but mostly because I just get a real kick out of DIY domesticity), and sometimes they’re made out of needing alternatives, because the norms aren’t working. From lactation to education, from birth and beyond, every mom is faced with a LOT of information, decisions, opinions and options. I think a lot of us are leaning more and more toward ‘natural’ parenting because, well, it feels right to us (“natural,” if you will). I’ve cared deeply about my son’s well-being from the get-go, but it’s only since his birth that I’ve really cared about the planet-- socially, environmentally-- he, and the rest of his generation, will inherit. With kids in the mix, it’s personal. All of it.

On that note, I’m looking forward to growing this community and getting to know all of you. Let’s be supportive of all lifestyles and of the many different choices parents make, and let’s have fun getting our 100% Natural Parenting journey on. Welcome aboard!

Do you consider yourself to be parenting naturally? How so? What are some topics you’d like to see discussed on this blog? What are some other blogs or sites that should be on my radar? What natural parenting success, challenges, etc. have you encountered in your lives lately?

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