I once read a definition of natural parenting that described it as “parenting by intuition.” That sounds like us. Not by what a book says, or what people recommend, but just doing what feels right for us and our baby.

I’ve been using a lot of natural products for years just because they aren’t chemical-ridden. I guess you could say we lean toward being partially and unintentionally”crunchy” (natural in child-rearing — my husband hates the term “crunchy”), but I’m not judgmental about it. I was never interested in attachment-parenting, but apparently I’m doing some of those things just because they come naturally. This video is tongue-in-cheek, but I found myself laughing at how I do say a few of these things! Hahaha, and this one is even moreso my husband!

Kinda crunchy?

My first was a natural birth at a hospital with no medical interventions or drugs. Our second was a water birth at home. (RE: Our first birth: This was brought on through our experiences with the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth. Honestly? Next time (if we’re blessed with being pregnant again) I would love to birth at a birthing center or home-birth with a midwife, only partly due to my post-labor experiences with the hospital staff, but also because during our Bradley classes we were hooked on the idea but it was too late to arrange. The L&D experience was decent, though my mobility was very limited, being confined to the bed. The little bit of laboring I did at home was much more “comfortable” when I was sitting on my exercise ball instead of our couch.) Yes, I found The Business of Being Born inspiring. Don’t hate me.

I breastfeed, but because my supply is low, we also supplement with formula. (That was a traumatizing experience and decision during our baby’s first week. I thought he was doing fine, but he went from 8 lbs. 7 oz. at birth and 8 lbs. 4 oz. when we left the hospital, to just at 7 lbs. after a week. I was devastated, but knew I had to provide for my child even if it wasn’t all exclusively from me.) I LOVE breastfeeding and it saddens me that I cannot do it exclusively. However, I’ve been taking just about every supplement to help — fenugreek, blessed thistle, oatmeal, mother’s milk tea, malt — and it DOES seem to be helping, as he’s taking the bottle less and less, and “requesting” me more often than not! UPDATE: As of Oct. 7, 2012 he had his last 4 ounces of formula and has been exclusively breastfed! Hooray! I’m hoping to nurse past one year — likely to 18-24 months if he wants to, as the World Health Organization (WHO) and even the AAP recommend breastfeeding at least to 2 years.

We cloth diaper (love BumGenius 4.0 one-size pockets!). My husband even loves it, and he built our own diaper sprayer!

We try to use natural and/or organic products, especially on our and baby’s skin, including baby wash, shampoo, lotion, oil, homemade laundry detergent, Rockin’ Green detergent for cloth diapers, homemade disposable baby wipes, cloth wipes, diaper spray for cloth wipes, reusable cloth nursing pads, crocheted wooden nursing necklaces & bracelets, homemade house cleaning spray, etc.

We make a lot of homemade things, like laundry detergent, disposable baby wipes, diaper spray for cloth wipes. I also make my own natural eye cream, deodorant, and toothpaste, and use many other natural products.

We do baby-led weaning (aka baby-led solids). His food is homemade and natural as possible — basically he eats what we eat. I also love the idea that “food before one, just for fun.” Breast milk is all they need for the first year; other foods aren’t necessary.  Here’s one good article about it, and then there’s this site all about it. It doesn’t refer to weaning in the American sense, but rather “meant in the Brit sense, not the American. In the UK, ‘weaning’ means ‘adding complementary foods’, whereas in the States it means ‘giving up breastfeeding.'” No more mush.

You just hand them the food in a suitably-sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t. (But they do, really they do… check out the baby with the pork chop).

That’s the essence of Baby Led Weaning. No purees, no ice cube trays, no food processor, no potato masher, no baby rice, no weird fruit and veg combos… just you and your child, eating food that you enjoy with you and your family.

I have co-slept on and off, though Thing 1 was in his crib within his first two weeks because my mom was visiting and she and my husband helped with midnight feedings. I never thought I would want to co-sleep, but I love it, though it’s a rarity. It’s definitely appealing! The times we’ve done it, he’s slept on my chest while nursing, and I’ve been quite aware, half-asleep/half-awake, with protection on both sides so he wouldn’t roll out. As he’s gotten older we rarely do this at this point.

I babywear — usually with our beloved Maya Wrap sling or Freehand Mei Tai. Thing 1 didn’t like the Moby at first, so we didn’t try it again until he was probably 6 months or so, and soon to outgrow it because of his weight, but he ended up loving it — I think he didn’t like his legs all cramped up inside when he was smaller, but when they could dangle he liked it. I think I’d go with a woven next time because they don’t get saggy with the weight like the stretchy Moby. But we love our mei tai!

We plan to homeschool, NOT for religious reasons, or even AP/crunchy reasons, but because we are dissatisfied with the public education system, and private schools are very costly. I, myself, begged to be homeschooled from 6th grade on. When I family moved from NY to FL at the start of 4th grade, I relearned much of what I had already learned in 3rd grade in NY. Mainstreaming students made it worse; teachers had to focus on the students who needed more help, or the few who were disruptive, and the quick-learners were left behind (so much for “no child left behind”!) and became bored.

My parents finally gave in to my pleas at the start of 11th grade, and I used curriculum from the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln for my last two years of high school, graduating with an accredited high school diploma (which was important to me). Because I had to actually read the material to do the work (in school we usually just skimmed the chapters to find the answers to the questions) I felt so much better prepared for college, and I transitioned to college easily.