Sunday, June 13, 2010


For years now I have been green inside my heart, have been fighting for a greener approach and have desperately watched the world go downhill. I still fight and I try everything I can to live a sustainable live.
With the new addition to our family this is not always easy. But here is some easy facts how to live a green life with a child.

1. Reusable nappies.
The discussions on that are wide and never ending. We have not long thought about it and when we heard that the City of Vienna is supporting the use of Reusable Nappies with a 100Euro Voucher we were all up for it. And here are our experiences after almost 3 months:
- More washing? I don't think so. The little one does not have the biggest clothes and not too many of them either so we have to wash quite often but can't really make a whole load of it most of the time. Here the nappies come in handy - they fill up the washing machine so it's "worth" switching" it on. (nappies don't have to be washed at 90degrees as often thought, 60degrees is enough)
This also applies to the prejudice that more washing leads to more water use and this is not sustainable. As I said we don't wash more often therefore there is not much more water use than in another household with a baby.
- Takes longer to change? Well with the approach to take your time and undivided attention for the diaper change it is actually not much of work but fun. You just spend more time with your child and he enjoys it.
We have also realised when using disposable nappies (when on a trip for a couple of days and no chance to wash) that they let much more go through and we have to change everything more often. This in the end is much more work and again more washing so here we close the circle to the washing point.
- Expensive? Yes they might seem expensive when you first buy the whole load. But we paid 350Euros for the first batch, then we bought some more later on and spent 70Euros. Makes a total of 420Euros. How much do you spend on disposable diapers a month???
- Babies are less flexible in movement? Well I thought so too when I first used them. But now at the age of 2,5months our son is already able to move around in his crib that everytime he wakes up I find him lying crossways in it. He also moves onto one side which looks like he'd be able to turn around onto his belly very soon. And even if he doesn't - it is not a competition and so far the diapers don't seem to bother him (unless it is very hot but I guess "plstic" diapers won't be much more comfortable then either)
Summarising I can say that I love those reusable nappies and I like the fact that I am not throwing out bags and bags of plastic that take hundreds of years to degrade.

2. used clothes
We hardly buy clothes for our son. When he was born we got lots of clothes from family and friends and I believe a lot of new parents experience that. We also have friends with children that borrowed us their clothes. Children grow so fast and hardly use them enough so it's just handy to give them back and forth. I got clothes from a friend who has 3 children and the stuff is perfectly fine. The children obviously don't mind and it's not just good for your wallet. Another advantage is that after more and more washings there are hardly any chemicals left in the clothes so it's much healthier for the children to wear them.
The same applies for shoes. IT doesn't matter if a child had a bad foot movement and you use the shoes for your child afterwards. They don't wear shoes long enough that this would have a bad affect on your child's foot.
And by the way - our pram is used as well. It has cost us 50Euros, looks a bit worn but is perfectly fine. The best thing about it is that you can leave it unlocked everywhere. Nobody will steal an old pram. And even if somebody does - it had just cost us 50Euros...

3. glass bottles
I still breastfeed but every now and then I have an appointment and my husband has to feed the child. Therefore we have been looking out for glass bottles. They do exist but are hidden well behind the amounts of plastic bottles in the stores. I do agree that it is more practical to use plastic especially when the child is older and can hold the bottle himself. But the glass bottles are quite strong and if you don't let your child run around with the bottle in his hand all the time it doesn't have to be such a big problem. I have been fed with glass bottles too and me and the bottles all survived.It will also help your child realise that the bottle with tea or juice isn't a toy. You drink from it and when you had enough you put it down. Sounds easy I know and I haven't been there yet but I like to believe that it works that way.

4. the thumb
We are (well our son is) not using a pacifier. He has already discovered his thumb and is able to calm himself with it when he needs to. Right now it is rather a sign that he is hungry though which a pacifier can't help him with either. Therefore we don't have to use this bit of plastic which in most cases is full of BPA. His thumb is as natural as can be and won't fall on the floor and has to be desinfected afterwards. To name just the "green" plus points that speak for the thumb. The discussion of thumb vs. pacifier is another one and can be read here or in the world wide web everywhere...

5. Olive oil
When I was pregnant I got all sorts of sets for the newborn filled with samples of moistures, lotions and teas etc... I was confused on how to know what bathing lotion to use, what body lotion, what moisturiser??? Our midwife told us to use Olive oil instead, it's natural and good for the still very sensitive baby skin. We also use olive oil for the baby massage and our son looks well and healthy. It's a lot of chemicals we save him from taking in.

These are just 5 "green points" I can think of right now. But it has only been 2,5months now and I am sure this list can be extended. In the meantime - what are you doing to still live as green as possible in your family ? Looking forward to your comments.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


When I first heard of the existence of breastfeeding classes I had this weird imagination of women sitting around in a circle all feeding their children at the same time. A few weeks into breastfeeding I fought several problems and was desperately looking for help so I was advised to attend such a class. Well - rather a meetup than a class really.

For the circle of moms feeding their children - I was right. But it wasn't at all weird. Feeding in public still isn't easy but there it wasn't public, it was all breastfeeding moms. And they all had their little problems which in the end turned out to be mostly the same. Whatever a woman came up with - somebody in the round nodded knowingly. Despite the fact that my little son slept the whole time I felt so much better and went home knowing that it will get better. I also tried some of the advices given by the midwife there. With no result.

I went back tho because my problems hadn't been solved yet and I knew I would feel better afterwards. Again the little man slept most of the time while I was given different advice for my problems and quietly watched the rest of the discussions in the room. This was when I started to be annoyed. Annoyed by the same words and lines over and over again. Feed your baby at least 6 months full. Also keep breastfeeding for two years and more. Whatever women asked or said - she would stick to those and give lectures in long time breastfeeding. And here I was fed up with that class as fast as I enjoyed it. It has only been two months that I have been breastfeeding but there were times where I just wanted to run and buy formula and bottles and give up. And I did not have the worst of possible troubles. Feeding 6 months straight is a long time and when you are facing problem after problem, when you are frustrated and try everything you can, every week new advices - isn't it better for you AND the baby to feed formula but do it calm, relaxed and happy ?

The longterm feeding is another part that I think should be decided by the woman and child themselves. No lectures needed. No matter how good breast milk is for the baby (and I do not doubt that) - if the mother doesn't feel good about it or the baby is desperate to eat like a grown up - please let them do so ! Not every woman feels right feeding her perfectly walking, running and almost talking child with her breast and I think this should be accepted.

I went to these classes because I was looking for help with my problems. I did not want to be lectured. So I went to another class which was a mix of physical practice for the mother and breastfeeding discussions. Again the midwife would give "good advice" I had heard before which did not help. And she gave long lectures.

Ok with the lectures on the breastfeeding I could deal. It was all about breastfeeding in the end. But even when it came to other parenting topics the lectures were long and always a personal course into the midwives lives. Babies SHOULD sleep in the bed with their parents. Babies need constant body contact and want to be carried around all day. And when I heard the last lecture on how bad the gym is for you back and your body after a woman had asked when she could go back to her work out I switched off completely.

So I gave up.

What I have learned from those classes is this:

1. If you have troubles breastfeeding - don't fall into despair. It seriously will get better.
2. Whatever advice they give you. Even if it doesn't help - it seriously will get better.
3. Listen to your heart. And your baby. If you try everything you can but can't happily feed you child - leave it and feel good about it. And read this blog post for what is really important when it comes to feeding your baby.
4. Be strong about your own opinion on how long you want to feed because you may be lectured.
5. Be strong about you opinion on all parenting topics because you may be lectured.
6. Go for a coffee with another freshly baked mom instead of attending such a class and moan, laugh and talk about your new life as a mom and feel much better !

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


When you don't have a child, people accuse you of having no idea. When you have a 8 week old child people tell you to wait a few more weeks or months. In fact I believe that especially those first 8-12 weeks are very hard, nerve wrecking and therefore important.

First of all you're whole life is turning upside down.
You have seen babies cry but you have never held a screaming little red head in your arms not knowing what else to do. You deal with all sorts of feeding problems, not matter if it's noon or the middle of the night. You wonder if what you feed is enough and if the little one is developing well. And most of all you learn to not do too much.
Despite all that the child has to get used to his own new life that has turned upside down even more. And on top of all that he has to get to know his parents, those big heads that appear above his tiny head and every now and then and speak a language he just doesn't understand.

Our son is 8 1/2 weeks old it feels like we had him for years though. There have bee tough days, hard nights but also very relaxed and happy times. Never has it been easy. If he doesn't sleep you worry why and what to do. If he sleeps most of the day and the nights with only one feed you worry if he is alright. Is he eating a lot you worry if he could be overeating (if at all this is possible-but what isn't in parenting world?), if he is not so hungry you are worried if he is developing well. The list is endless.

But for now I believe we have done quite well.

I have to admit we have read a few books, sometimes I wanted to throw them out of the window and I was worried if we read too much and forgot to listen to ourselves. But in the end I am glad we read them because the helped me a lot. Being a mom for the first time you don't necessarily have all those instincts, you don't always just KNOW what to do. And you might end up going different directions.

One of the biggest problems was the crying of course. It doesn't take long to learn the difference between hungry crying or just unhappy crying. So far he is not too bothered by wet diapers, so this is usually out of the question although we do check them of course. It is easy to say you should let your baby cry every now and then and then hold this tiny unhappy person in your arms. But we figured that the holding and letting him cry does help a lot. Quite often he sleeps very long and well after a crying period, during the day he continues to play and smile and "talk" all by himself.

Another challenge were the first growing spurts. He just wanted to feed constantly and was nagging in the short periods in between. At some point I just wanted to run and get him a pacifier to save myself from feeling like a cow. I didn't and I realised that he never really needed one because those were just days or hours. If I would have given him a pacifier he would have kept him for months, maybe years. Instead he found his thumb last night and started to calm himself with that if necessary. This is a big step to his independence.

After three weeks we moved our son out of the bedroom. It sounds harder than it is. We had visited my husbands parents and there it was handy that our son slept in the room next door, there was just more space for him. This was when we realised that we slept much better with him being away a little as he makes weird noises throughout the night. His REM phases are very loud, he might even scream in his dream and I would wake up all the time. So when we got back he moved in his own room and has been sleeping there ever since. The doors are open and we do hear him when he starts to cry, even a bit nagging we hear. Once I jumped out of bed when I heard him and by the time I was in the hall he was gone back to sleep. Now I usually wait and see if he is really awake and hungry or just awake on his way back to dreamland. The reward is that since he is 8 weeks old he only really wakes up once during the night to feed.
I would not judge parents that share a bed with their children but I could not sleep and I assume I would feed my son more often because every time he would wake up I would just feed him instead of checking if there is anything else or anything at all.

A very modern way of "keeping your baby happy" are those several carrying devices. I admit that we own one of those wraps or slings (whatever they are called). I did not use them until he was able to hold his head on his own for a little bit. Of course they are quite handy especially when you have a short trip to do. We live on the third floor with no lift and with the little man developing very well (despite all my worries) it is a real workout to carry his pram up and down more than one time a day.
But those short trips I take with him in the sling are enough. For me and for him. He is just not such a cuddly person everyone is talking about. They all say that those little babies need so much body contact, love and attachment. Well he seems to be very happy just on his own lying on his back discovering he hands and fingers and the first vowels coming out of his mouth. And who says I'm giving him not enough love when I breastfeed him, take my time to change him and hold him when he needs to cry his frustration and anger all out ? I am also there when he offers smiles and happy faces and I share them with him.
I believe that there are babies that need more of all this and some don't. But I also believe that parents tend not to take their time to check what sort of person their child is. I have met several women that told me that their child does not want to lie on the back, does not want to lie in the pram. They also admitted that they have been carrying their child around from the first day. I feel free to see a connection here...

Every mother has to find her own way but she should not put her needs before her child's needs. Sometimes I do want to pick up my son and hold him and cuddle him and tell him how much I love him. But watching him play so peacefully and happy gives me the same thrill. And a smiley happy child that does hardly cry during the day should be proof enough that we are doing ok.

The books we read are:
"Your Self-confident baby" by Magda Gerber
"Tears and Tantrums - What to do when babies and children cry" by Aletha Solter
"Friedliche Babies, zufriedene Mütter" by Emmi Pikler