Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Your kid's a what-a-tarian?

My daughter recently had her 9-month Well Baby check-up. Where those 9 months went so fast, I have no idea. But I'm happy to say she's right on target with her growth and meeting her milestones. Her motor skills are developing nicely and she is at a very healthy weight. I had those common parent questions for her pediatrician. When do we start brushing teeth? How many BMs should she be having a day? When do we introduce the sippy cup? How much should we be feeding her? The doctor patiently and thoroughly answered all of my questions. And then we talked about Layla's diet.

I'm a vegetarian and have been one for 17 years now. I was not raised a vegetarian, however. Ironically, I was the queen of meat for a very long time. No hamburger was ever safe around me! But when I became a teenager I decided to try my hand at vegetarianism. Initially it was for the challenge, but when I researched how animals were treated in the processing of meat and the effect it has on our bodies and the environment, my resolve to put off meat was strengthened. No more hamburgers for me, not the beef kind at least. Over half a lifetime later, I'm now a mom and it is my preference that my daughter also abstain from meat. Now, I know someone in our family is going to offer the girl a chicken bone or something, and while I'm not totally fine with that I don't think I'm inclined to freak out about it either. But as far as everyday living is concerned, I do want my daughter's diet to be vegetarian. With all the hormones they pump into food these days, I'm really not trying to buy my child's first training bra when she's 5 years old! My husband is a meat-eater and is concerned about Layla's protein intake. Honestly, I am, too. Like I said, I wasn't raised vegetarian so I don't know what it's like to feed a small child vegetarian food when they are already notoriously finicky at that age. Getting them to eat balanced meals is difficult enough without dietary restrictions.

I looked to her pediatrician for advice on the subject. Firstly, I'd hoped she'd validate my wishes for Layla's diet and allay the fears of other family members concerned about proper nutrition. Secondly, I needed some direction on what foods to introduce and when. She was so reassuring and totally supportive of this choice. She said that we already consume too much animal protein as it is and gave serving suggestions, like cooking beans a little longer than normal so that the skins are softened and easier for Layla to chew. She said soy was okay, but to introduce it over a period of a couple of days to make sure Layla isn't allergic. Nuts are a no-go until she's a year old, and after that we can give her soy, almond, or rice milk. I feel really blessed to have such a supportive pediatrician for Layla.

I know there are people all over the world who raise vegetarian children. But it's not entirely easy when everyone -- and I mean EVERYONE -- around you eats meat and feeds it to their kids. I imagine we'll have to endure questions about how we feed her and if we're giving her all that she needs. But she's perfectly healthy and incredibly smart, so I'm expecting that her development will speak for itself.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Taking a lesson from the Boy Scouts

My husband recently had a birthday and the family celebrated by going out to eat at one of his favorite restaurants. When we got to the place I looked in the diaper bag to get Layla's dinner and to my horror I had forgotten to pack it! With few options, I found myself hoofing it through Chinatown in DC, trying to find a drug store or grocery market where I could buy some baby food. When I finally found one they had all of three baby food options -- and as you can imagine I could forget about finding anything organic or all-natural. I eventually gave up, bought some Cheerios and applesauce, and headed back to the restaurant.

One of the first and most important lessons I learned when I became a mother and when I embarked on living a greener life is that our obsession with convenience in this society is a tree-hugging mom's worst enemy. Natural, organic, and non-toxic options don't often abound when you're out, even in a progressive metro area like this one. It pays to be prepared. Yeah yeah, I know that's advice suitable for all aspects of life, but it's especially pertinent now that I have an unpredictable child and am picky about how I care for her. I decided to list a few things I simply can't leave home without because I likely won't find them easily in stores if I forget them. In Layla's baby bag, you'll usually find:

Happy Baby Organic Puffs -- Layla mastered the pincher grasp a few weeks ago and can now feed herself (yay!), but even before then these were her favorite things in the world to chew, next to mommy's locs. I like to have these on hand because she's teething and prefers textural foods. so when the baby food runs out and she still wants to much, these are perfect. And they're organic!
Gerber Organic Baby Food -- We're loving on green beans, apples, and pears mostly.

bumGenius One-Size Pocket Diaper -- I like to use these diapers for outings because I never know when I'll get to change her while we're out. These have a fleece lining that wicks away moisture into a removeable insert. Layla can wet these a few times and not have the discomfort of feeling it. So I have a much happier baby when I'm running errands. bumGenius Flannel Baby Wipes -- In addition to using cloth diapers, we also use cloth wipes. Personally, I don't bother with the fancy wipe solutions some manufacturers sell. I just put a small drop of baby wash and some water in a zip bag and soak the wipes in that. It's gentle on Layla's skin and one cloth wipe goes so much further than one disposable wipe. And I also use them to wipe her face or nose and to wipe my hands if I can't get to a bathroom sink.

Wahmies Wet Bag -- This is where I stash dirty diapers, soiled clothes, and used wipes until I can get them home to wash them. The inside is made of PUL and it zips closed, keeping odors and fluids in. And those are sock monkeys on the bag. I'm not even going to tell you what I thought they were at first. *hmpf*
The Diva Cup -- Obviously for me, because you just never know. Before I got pregnant my cycle was like clockwork. I always knew when to expect it. Now because I'm nursing it's all over the place, and I expect it to be that way at least until I wean Layla. So, while I make sure she's covered, I gotta make sure I'm covered as well.

Aside from some other basics like hand sanitizer and extra socks, these are some of my diaper bag essentials. If any one of these things is missing when we go out, then it's not a good time.