You know you are a hippy-mama (or papa) when…

How many of these can you tick? Frankly, two or more and you are a hippy-mamma! I know, I know, you don’t think of ¬†yourself as a hippy… the question is ‘do other people?’

For the record, I am not the hippiest hippy in the valley, I tick 14 out of 20 of those. Now, fess up and leave a message if any of these sound like you :p  Feel free to add your own on, too!

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Edit [Jan/6/2013]: Yes, I went for sillyness here rather than full acuracy. My back never ached wearing my baby – who I continued to carry in an ergo until she was past 2, for example…

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How my daughter continues to blow my little mind with her little hands

Mommy’s swelling pride means the first thing I want to share with you all is Anya’s signing progress. I just find this whole ‘human learning to communicate’ journey endlessly fascinating. Anya seems to pick things up so quickly. I have to tell someone or I’ll burst! I try not to go on about it (too much) in person, in mommy groups or the like… but yeah, with you guys I let it out, to get the bragging out of my system, so to speak. Anyway, we all know all babies are amazing and to each of us our own baby is the best – of course – and to each of us it is, of course, true. Here is my truth:

At one year old (yes Anya has turned one!! – awesome) Anya now has over 50 signs. She went through another cognitive-development spurt, clearly. For a couple of weeks she was picking up signs at a rate of up to 2 a day – just fantastic to watch. She has also been building her repertoire of ‘words’ (with sounds for sleeping, pig and, the old classic: fart) so that brings her overall vocab to about 60 concepts.

Baby sign language improves our life in a myriad of small and great ways. One of my fave signs is ‘music’. When I am out with Anya in the baby-carrier she’ll sign for me to sing to her and then, when I stop, she signs for ‘more’. I love it. It is like having an audience cheer and shout encore. I also really enjoy that she calls food ‘mmm’ (not a sign, I know, but cute). There are not many people who greet my food with so much enthusiasm. Got to love that. Other favourite signs include computer, ‘there is none’/empty, tree and sleep (as in ‘dada is sleeping on the bed and snoring like a pig’ – I kid you not, she has pretty much signed that whole sentence… or at least that sentiment).

Anya also now has combinations of signs like ‘more milk’. Or she’ll combine sign and sounds by doing something like sign ‘where is’ and add the word ‘dada’. Cute and clever, no?

The other thing I think is fab about signing is the insight it gives me into the thought processes of a pre-verbal baby. For example, if we are indoors playing and Anya suddenly signs ‘bird’ it can take me a few seconds to realise she is saying she just heard a bird, outside. Who knew babies can hear and identify things out of sight, even when seemingly concentrating on an activity at hand?

So you can see, I am more and more sold on this signing thing. It is a lot of work, or at least it was to get it going in the start. It kind of has its own momentum now and is just fun, so that keeps us motivated. But I really enjoy it and I can see what a kick Anya gets from it, each time we respond appropriately to a request or communication of hers. She gets a real glint of joy and recognition in her eye. I can’t imagine not signing now and I find myself wondering how other moms communicate to their babies: how do they know what they want, what excites them, what they are thinking about? I know they make do but it seems so much more practical and rewarding to sign, now that I am into it. I’ll fully admit I do it as much for me as for Anya but she is clearly getting a lot out of it and I have read the research results: this stuff has positive impact on learning for life, not just as toddlers. I am lucky I stumbled across signing and grateful I stuck with it. Thanks California for your crazy hippy parenting ways!

Blimey!… I thought I was a hippy! Californian parenting practices that shock even me.

I thought I was a hippy until I moved to California.

These are the most leading edge natural birth and childcare trends I have come across since moving here (though admittedly some I have heard about through my British friends!!):

– Lotus Birth: where the umbilical cord is not cut, but instead the placenta and cord are nurtured (kept in water) until they naturally fall off the baby. Needless to say I did NOT try this one, thankfully, because my baby’s cord stump didn’t fall off for quite some days. Can’t imagine carrying around a placenta as well as a baby for all those days. Can you imagine what visitors would think?! (not to manage the nice doctors at UCSF where I gave birth!!). See for yourself, here: http://www.lotusfertility.com/Lotus_Birth_Q/Lotus_Birth_QA.html

– Placenta Encapsulation: yep, I know many cultures eat the placenta after birth. In fact I heard humans are the only mammal species where the mom does not eat the afterbirth. Still, in California, we have combined nature with technology and many mommies I know swear that it was their placenta capsules or tincture (made from their own placenta, of course) which proved miraculous in helping them recuperate from giving birth and prevent postpartum depression. Some people even keep it for years as it is said to be fabulous at treating the symptoms of menopause. Again… I didn’t try this (maybe next time?!). See what is said about it here: http://placentabenefits.info/about.asp

– Elimination Communication: this was another one I literally thought was a joke the first time I heard of it. It is not. Again I know several parents who are doing this with their babies, now. In a nutshell it is about ‘catching’ your baby peeing and pooping and over time teaching them an association so that they learn to go in a potty or toilet pretty much from birth. Saves a fortune on diapers and spares parents from the nightmare of potty training later on (as the baby was just taught ‘good’ habits from the start). As with placenta-eating this is purported to be a modern adaptation of an approach practiced historically and still today in many traditional cultures. I am actually quite intrigued by this, now, having heard more about it and, though, I didn’t start right from birth, I may give it a little bit of a whirl. They say babies often prefer this (than sitting in their own poo and pee). Fair enough. More here: http://www.diaperfreebaby.org/

– Baby Lead Weaning: this is a bit of a misnomer really, from the little I know of it. It should be called Baby Lead Solid Food Introduction… I see why they went with the former! Basically, instead of starting a baby off with purees at six months, this is about really being responsive to a babies cues and introducing solid foods (alongside breastfeeding) when the baby is ready and then only the foods the baby can and wants to eat by themselves. It is another baby-centered practice (which is probably why it appeals to me). So instead of soft, spoon-fed purees, the baby sits at the table with us and is given chunks of food that she can handle and put in her mouth herself. You can expect a good few weeks of pure exploration, just tasting and feeling, enjoying the textures and the play but eventually they learn to feed themselves, following their own appetite and satiety. They learn to manage and control their own food intake at an early age, which is supposed to be great at laying down the foundations for healthy eating for life… so they say. Read more here: http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/babyledweaning.htm

These are just a few of the trends I am learning about which are completely new to me (and I thought I knew all the way-out, natural nut beliefs going). These practices seem to fit comfortably alongside water births, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, breastfeeding-on-demand , non-violent communication and a whole load of other sensible ideas with fancy modern names which I am already completely sold on. Hmm… what next, I wonder?!