The 4th Trimester for Adopted Newborns

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I could have tightened up my wrap job, but he was sleeping and happy so I was happy.

I can’t remember where I first heard about the 4th trimester (it’s originally from The Happiest Baby on the Block) idea, but I love it. I’ll admit that I’m a crunchy parent (we did elimination communication for goodness’ sake), a crafter, and a snuggler so this concept that a baby needs to be treated almost like they are still in the womb for the first three months after birth already fit in with my world view.

Babies cannot be spoiled.

Babies need to have every one of their needs met.

We were matched with a newborn through our county’s foster-adopt program. We were able to pick him up right from the hospital. We had plenty of swaddling wraps (both thin cotton and heavier cotton), material to babywear him in, and plans to do kangaroo care (skin-to-skin contact) as much as possible. The first three months are a blur. I’m glad that I take lots of photos because I don’t remember much of it.

Most of the photos show tired parents with a baby within arm’s reach. Some photos have the baby sleeping or resting on the chest of a tired adult. Sometimes when you’re tired and you hear a baby crying it’s frustrating, just remember that crying, fussing, etc. is the only way that the baby has to communicate with you. For babies that have been adopted, being held and cared for might be even more important. Each child has their own backstory, some kinder than others. For some children that were adopted from the foster care system, and some through private adoption too, they have already had some negative experiences.

We picked up our baby at the hospital, but I have no way of knowing what kinds of experiences he had before we met him. To help him feel welcome into our family, we made sure to give him the opportunity to be close to us and snuggle with us. All babies need to be responded to and cared for, but the 4th trimester is even more important for babies that have been adopted.

 

Being a Crunchy Black Parent

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Doing our world schooling thing in Salvador, Brazil.

I joined a Facebook group for crunchy Black parents and until I joined, I wouldn’t have thought to call myself “crunchy”. Lol I know that there are some things that we do that other Black parents don’t do but I don’t think of us as hippies or anything.When I delved into the terminology a bit more, I came to understand just how crunchy I am … or possibly scrunchy. Lol

Crunchy parents tend to be more all-natural. Silky parents tend to be more traditional. Scrunchy parents tend to be a mixture of both. Here are some things we do, in no particular order, that apparently make us crunchy:

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Our son is not impressed by Kirstenbosch Garden in Cape Town, South Africa. Lol

 

#1 Babywearing

We started babywearing when our son was about 3 months old. Until that point, we were carrying him around in his car seat. That thing is HEAVY! Lol Once I realized that I could use a little piece of material to attach him to my chest I was in love. It made me hands-free and helped us bond. Talk about a win-win. We transitioned over to a mei tei when he was about six months old and haven’t looked back. He’s almost 2.5 years old and we still carry him when we plan on doing a lot of walking or when we know there will be tons of people around.

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#2 Baby-led weaning (aka No Rice Cereals)

Everyone knows that babies should drink milk (or in our case formula) until their first birthday but starting your baby on solids is a whole ‘nother deal. I knew I wanted to make his baby food from fresh veggies starting at 6 months but I hadn’t yet learned about baby-led weaning. Basically, baby-led weaning means that you make foods a bit softer/easier for your baby to eat while not creating purees.

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#3 Cloth diapering

Cloth diapering is cheaper than disposables and some would argue better for the environment. I really wanted to use cloth on my little one, but I couldn’t get the hang of it so we used cloth mostly at home and used disposables while on the run.

#4 You dabble in composting

We attended a seminar on composting from our county and the idea took root. I love the idea of not creating as much waste and then trying to use some of the waste you still create. Our county offers a simple composting tube for $10. If you do it right, it produces little smell and created great fertilizer for your home garden.

#5 You have a garden

We went our house, so we haven’t created an in-ground garden. Instead we do pots. It’s easy to do, super cheap (non-gmo seeds are a few dollars a pack), fun to watch grow, and yummy to eat.

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#6 You used elimination communication

I found out about elimination communication before we were matched and loved the idea of it. Many cultures around the world use elimination communication and have used it for hundreds, probably thousands of years. Anyhoo, when our son was around three months old we started watching for signs of when he needed to eliminate and then sat him on a potty training toddler toilet. Around 13 months old, he could signal that he needed to eliminate. Kids are going to go anyway, this just made for fewer diapers for us to change.

#7 You’re considering World Schooling

Kids are learning from the day they are born and some would argue before. We had very different experiences in K-12 but we’ve both come away with the same idea: we’d prefer not to place our kids in the K-12 school system. Once that decision was made, we had to decide whether to homeschool (have class at home), unschool (let the child lead the learning), or worldschool (use the world as your classroom). We chose worldschooling because we love to travel and it would expose our children to lots of different ways to live all around the world.

#8 You believe in gentle parenting

We are not perfect parents but he is a perfect kid. We are making an effort to speak with him in a respectful way and encourage him to feel all of his feelings. He’s a raucous toddler. He likes to throw things down the stairs and leave toys all over the house. He rarely has temper tantrums though. His adoption worker says it’s because our house is so calm. We rarely yell, we try to stop problems before they occur using H.A.L.T. and we don’t believe that he is “too old” to be held or made to feel secure. I’m not saying that we don’t have problems. I’m saying that we try to deal with those problems in a respectful way to all the stakeholders involved.

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Travel toys in Johannesburg, South Africa rental house.

#9 You limit plastic toys in your home in favor of wooden ones.

Wooden toys have fewer chemicals and encourage a child to use imaginative play because they only do what imagine they do. When people started giving us toys most of the toys were of the plastic/singing variety. We did let him keep a few, but most of them were donated. I want him to be able to use his imagination and lead the play, not follow the directions of some toy created by some adult in some lab somewhere.

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I sewed this felt campfire, logs, and stones set.

#10 Borrow, Buy Used, Buy New

For me, part of trying to be “natural” is not spending tons of money on non-essential things and using, or re-purposing, what I already have. I sew soft toys for our son pretty often and almost all the rest of his toys are used. Every piece of clothing and”baby stuff” (blankets, burp cloths, etc.) that he has is something that a friend gave us or something that we bought used. I know as he gets older, we’ll probably have to buy more new things but we try to minimize as much as possible.

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Our little one munching a snack while I put groceries in the car.

#11 Extended rear-facing car seat usage is a must.

This was one of the ones that I didn’t realize was crunchy. Studies have shown that the longer your little one is rear-facing the better chance they have of surviving a car accident. While I hope that we’re never in a car accident, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry, no? Our little one is almost 2.5 years old and is still rear-facing. We hope to keep him rear-facing until he’s four years old. We’ll see. Right now, riding backwards doesn’t bother him so … shhhhh … don’t tell him that other kids his age are not rear-facing.

#12 You taught your little one baby sign language.

They say that most toddlers become frustrated because it’s challenging for them to communicate. One way we’ve tried to help with this is by teaching our little one baby sign language. We used free videos from YouTube. We learned together and he has been signing since about 11 months old. He doesn’t use it as much now that he can talk, but it’s there for him when he needs it.

Since we rarely hear about other crunchy parents of color, please, please, please leave a message below if you’re crunchy or scrunchy (I love typing that! Lol). If you have a blog, link to that. It would be great if we could meet IRL sometime.

 

 

 

 

First Time He Decided to Use the Pot

Adventures-in-the-Elemination-CommunicationI always hear about kids not wanting to sit on the pot. This kid has been using it since he was two months old (we’re working on elimination communication) and now he seems to think it’s a chair! Lol

I put him on the pot every morning and when he wakes up from naps. This morning, I went to take him off and he was like, “Noooo”. He wanted to finish watching his videos while sitting on it! Lol I put him back on it and a few minutes later I noticed that he was pooping. After a few minutes I asked him if he was done and he seemed okay with me taking him off. Sure enough, there was poop!

This was the first time I felt like he chose to use the pot. As a baby, we’re just doing stuff to him and I’m never really sure if he cares one way or the other. Today was proof that he’s growing and up and understands the function of the pot. Whoo hoo!

Folding Prefold Cloth Diapers

When we first got the baby we used regular diapers, but now that we’ve been doing elimination communication (which we love!) I’ve wondered about moving to cloth diapers to help out the environment (no plastics in the landfills) and help him want to urinate in the pot instead of on himself (who wants to sit around in a wet diaper?).

I got some prefold cloth diapers and started using them but soon realized …. I don’t know what I’m doing! Lol I put the diaper flat, laid him on top and safety pinned the side together. The diaper stays on, but it looks … off. YouTube to the rescue! I found some really helpful videos and I thought I’d share one that shows how to do different folds.

Elimination Communition New Position

Adventures-in-the-Elemination-CommunicationSince I’ve been on the elimination communication (or infant potty training) adventure (he’s four months old) I’ve been putting him on the pot facing me. I imagine how an adult would sit on the toilet and tried to mimic that.

In the last few days he’ll defecate in the pot but has been hesitant to urinate in the pot. I was wondering what happened and how I could change it when I remembered something from Infant potty training : a gentle and primeval method adapted to modern living. Many of the photos in the book of people of color using elimination communication had the child lying back in the parent’s arms while the parent held the child’s legs. Hmmmm …

A new position to try elimination communication.

A new position to try elimination communication.

I decided to try that position and sure enough … he relaxed into my arms and urinated! I’ve been doing it for a few days now and he seems to like it.

What positions do you use?

 

Elimination Communication and Newborns

Elimination communication pot used with our newborn.

Elimination communication pot used with our newborn.

I decided to see if we could use elimination communication with our newborn. We started June 11th and it’s been going pretty well so I thought that I’d give a little update.

When we began the baby was 2 months old. He’s 3 months old right now. The first time I’m tired it, I woke him up in the morning and put him on the pot (we use a Phillipe Stark). I made the “psssssst” sound to let him know that I wanted him to urinate. He sat there for about 3 minutes and wouldn’t you know ….  he urinated! I guess it’s not rocket science ….  if a baby wants to go … they are going to go regardless of if they are in a diaper or on the pot ….  I was thrilled either way.

That was a little more than one month ago and by George … I really think that he gets it. In the last three weeks I’ve only changed one poopy diaper. In the morning, I put him on the pot first thing. If he has to defecate, he goes then. Throughout the day I may or not put him on the pot depending on what we have going on.

Did you know that you're supposed to flush poop and NOT throw it away in the diaper?

Did you know that you’re supposed to flush poop and NOT throw it away in the diaper?

Using elimination communication is nice because it gives us another way to attach to each other and there’s less mess. Just as with diapers, you have to dump the feces in the toilet. Just as with diapers, you have to pay attention to how often you change the baby. Just as with diapers, it’s pretty expensive … no … wait … this is nice because it also helps cut diaper costs. If I can get him to use the pot at the least 3 times a day that saves me at least 90 diapers per month. That’s almost a full box … about a $27 savings every month.

We start baby sign language when he turns 4 months old. My guess is that our elimination communication will increase as we get better at catching his cues and will really take off when he is able to tell us (using sign language) that he needs to use the toilet.

What has your experience with elimination communication been?