Sunday, March 28, 2010

Teething Wisdom

Would you believe this happy little guy of mine is teething? Just a week ago he was cringing in pain with swollen gums as his top two teeth made their debut. My poor baby!! Clay seemed to be exibiting those classic signs of teething at about 5 months old - the drooling, slobbering, knawing-on-nuckles, nursing non-stop and the "mama-hold-me-and-make-it-better" general misery. His first bottom teeth came through at about 6 1/2 months and now he's working on the top. For a week his gums we so swollen they looked bruised and blue. I can't imagine the pain! My first, Ruby, seemed to get her teeth without even noticing, so I was unprepared this time around. Of course I want to help my babies with as little medication as possible and I am open to trying anything that is safe and time-tested. Naturally, I turned to the wisdom of my fellow Sage Femme mamas - I polled my Facebook friends, fellow doulas and even mothers from the generations before us! Here are some suggestions I've gathered as well as some general guidelines on how to help your babe get through teething safely and naturally.

Some of you may remember my giveaway a few weeks ago with Inspired by Finn. They sell beautiful Baltic Amber jewelry and specialize in amber teething necklaces for babies and toddlers. The giveaway is now closed, but remember that all of my readers are eligible for a 20% discount when you enter the code "Blog68" at checkout. I just got Clay's necklace ("maple syrup" colored) and he has word it 24/7 since it arrived in the mail. I think it has helped tremendously! He is his usual cheerful self again after a nightmare week of teething. My hubby isn't a huge fan of his boy wearing a necklace but I think it's adorable and say, "oh get over it - whatever works, works!"
Mesh feeders have been a life-saver for many moms. This relatively new invention allows a baby to try new fruits or vegetables in their purest form without the risk of choking. Many moms recommended filling one with frozen fruit or vegetables (or how about frozen ice cubes of breastmilk?) for a teething baby to knaw on for comfort. This is a great idea and will keep an older baby content for quite awhile! However, if you have an early teether who can't sit up yet or doesn't have the eye-hand coordination to hold  the feeder in their mouth, you may need to offer some more assistance.
When choosing a "teether" for your baby, be sure to choose from the many non-toxic options that are becoming available these days. Those old plastic key rings we all grew up on were loaded with dangerous chemicals and plastic stabilizers. Look for products that are free of BPA, PVC and Phalates.Here are two cute examples - Sohie the Giraffe, made by Vulli, is made of all safe rubber materials and is soft and liable and lots of fun for babies to chew on! These beautiful maple teething rings are smooth hardwood perfect for babies to cut teeth on, and free of any toxic varnish or paints. Safe Mama has an excellent list of teethers that are toxin-free on their website. Of course, a cold washcloth soaked in water or juice and frozen bagels are also popular choices, too!
I cannot personally vouch for Gum-omile yet because I haven't tried it. It is a natural, herb-based product used to rub on sore gums, like mainstream Orajel. The main ingredient is soothing chamomile. Some of my friends swear by it!!
For years I have used Bach's flower essences, mainly Rescue Remedy, for a host of different ailments and in stressful moments. As a doula, I use Rescue Remedy for laboring moms when pain or anxiety overtakes them. I've discovered that it works well for teething babies, too! Many friends suggested the old fashioned remedy of a drop of rum or brandy or even vanilla extract - alcohol - to rub on baby's sore gums. Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic mixture in an alcohol base and works very well rubbed on the gums, but has the additional benefits of calming homeopathic flower essences as well as the alcohol. Mamas can take some too, when baby has been up all night screaming! Good stuff!

One of my trusted remedies for teething pain is Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Tablets. It is especially helpful for those wakeful, restless and irritable moments in the middle of the night. The main ingredient is homeopathic chamomile. 


I hope you've found some of these suggestions helpful! Do chime in in the comments section if you have any other tips and tricks! Now go enjoy those adorable, snaggle-toothed, slobbery sweethearts of yours!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Songs From My Heart...

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ~ Red Auerbach 

I'm taking a little detour from my usual banter about birth, babies, and mothering to share some recordings I made with my husband this winter. It seems we've both rekindled our passion for making music together as a team, and it began when we started working on some recordings for a Christmas project. These recordings are super simple, recorded quietly in our basement family room while our daughter Ruby slept upstairs and while Clay, just a newborn, sat in my lap or nursed. (You can hear him making his musical contributions occasionally) Just wanted to share!

River by Joni Mitchell

Into the Mystic by Van Morrison

All My Tears by Emmylou Harris

Jesus Savior Pilot Me 

Old Pictures by the Judds

Goodnight My Baby by the Kingston Trio (a childhood christmas favorite!)


Monday, March 15, 2010

Nursing on the Job

Roselle Park councilwoman nurses baby at meetings so other mothers can too

By Eliot Caroom/For the Star-Ledger

March 14, 2010, 6:12AM
un0314breastLNS.JPGRoselle Park Councilwoman Larissa Chen-Hoerning, with her newborn son, Enzo, discusses an ordinance with Councilman Modesto Miranda at a council meeting earlier this month.
ROSELLE PARK -- The strongest public statement at this month’s Roselle Park council meeting was never entered into the minutes.
Near the end of the meeting, 3rd Ward Councilwoman Larissa Chen-Hoerning brought her 6-week-old son, Enzo, onto the dais with her and began to breastfeed him while the council debated an ordinance regulating overnight truck parking on borough streets.
Chen-Hoerning said that she doesn’t think the act of nursing her baby, discreetly shielded from view by the desk in front of her, should be stigmatized as dirty or shameful.
“I want to help women say ‘Someone else is out there breastfeeding, and maybe it’s OK to do,’” Chen-Hoerning said last week.
Mothers in the United States often face complaints when they nurse in public places like restaurants or stores, according to La Leche League International spokeswoman Loretta McCallister. Over the past few years, a woman was kicked off an airplane for breastfeeding her child, and after Facebook removed photos of a mother and her baby, a petition sprang up on the social network titled “Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!”
But McCallister said despite all of the grassroots support, she has never heard of an elected official like Chen-Hoerning breastfeeding her baby while conducting official business at a public meeting.
The Roselle Park councilwoman is not new to advocating for nursing mothers.
Last summer, at the behest of a then-pregnant Chen-Hoerning, Mayor Joseph DeIorio proclaimed August “Breastfeeding Awareness Month” in the borough.
On several occasions since his birth in January, Enzo has dropped into Roselle Park council meetings for a snack. No one on either side of the dais has batted an eye.
“I was telling someone about it the other day, and they said, ‘Do you nurse on camera?’ and I was like, ‘Well, yeah,’” Chen-Hoerning said.
After the meeting, resident Eugene Meola said the baby was so quiet he hadn’t even noticed him during the meeting. Other residents, Chen-Hoerning said, have expressed their support for her. Former councilman Jacob Magiera, who attends many borough meetings, said last week the councilwoman is modest and perfectly within her rights.
“If other council members don’t object to it, she’s entitled to do what she wants to do,” said Magiera. “If that’s her forte, God bless her.”

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cloth Diapering 101... Part 1: Do Your Homework

So, you think you wanna cloth diaper, eh? Let me guess, you caught wind of the trend of returning to reusable cloth diapers instead of disposables. You want to save money; you'd like to try "going green".  So being curious and open-minded, you tried a Google search to learn more. And when you saw about 2 billion websites on the subject and the hundreds of options and styles that are available now, you ran away from your computer screaming, "But I thought they were just squares of cloth and plastic pants!!! There are too many choices!! Somebody help me!!!!!" OR perhaps you have looked into cloth diapering your baby a bit, but have met with only sharp criticism from well-meaning friends and family who say, "Why would you volunteer to do that? It's too much work!" or "My grandmother cloth diapered her kids and had to boil the diapers on the stove - Gross!" or "I bet you don't really save any money when you consider the electricity and water to wash them." ........
     What you need, my dear, is a friend. An experienced mama to come alongside you and show you the way. It's not that hard. Cloth Diapering is simple (once you choose your diapers and settle into a routine), frugal, definitely "green" and even FUN!
   In the coming days/weeks, I will be posting a series of guides to cloth diapering. I used cloth part-time with my first baby and now full time with my son and have helped countless doula clients and new mama friends navigate their way through Modern Cloth Diaper Territory. This Cloth Diapering 101 series will include:

Part 1 - Do Your Homework - a brief intro and some resources to get you started
Part 2 - Ten things to Know
Part 3 - Laundry Day! Everything you need to know about caring for and laundering diapers


Instead of reinventing the wheel and writing a complete list of the reasons why and how to choose cloth diapers, I just want to point you in the right direction. There are some fabulous resources out there, and that's where I recommend getting started.

 1. Research the "Whys" and decide if the benefits of cloth diapering are enough to convince you that an extra one or two loads of laundry a week are worth it. Examine the cost savings, environmental impact and health benefits.
2. Research the "Hows" of cloth diapering by learning about your style choices - there are sooo many brands o choose from and many different features, but only really a handful or different styles. My friend Christine, a WAHM who runs Essential Saltes Baby diapers breaks it all down for you in the best graphic depiction of the choices available that I've seen. Check out her "How to Get Started" guide. is a great resource for articles on all topics pertaining to cloth diapering and thousands of product reviews by experienced mamas and papas. is an online forum that invites users to chat about diapering and buy, sell and trade gently used diapers. An excellent way to learn more and make some frugal investments! is an online boutique (as well as a brick and mortar shop that you can visit, if you are lucky enough to be near Ithaca, NY) that offers a fantastic cloth diapering TRIAL package. For very little financial investment, they will send you enough diapers in a variety of styles to try for one month. You can send back what you don't want and stick with the brands you like best. How cool is that??

Be sure to check back soon for the next installment of Cloth Diapering 101!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Consignment Shopping - Frugal and Green!

All the cool Mamas and Papas know that when it comes to being Frugal and Green, consignment shopping is where it's at. Why buy expensive, new clothing for your baby when he or she will only grow out of it before you even get the tags off? If you have a keen eye you can shop thriftily and still dress your baby in the best of the best. There's a popular trend these days in seasonal flea-market sized kid's consignment sales, where you can find nearly everything you will need for your little one's wardrobe and  nursery gear. When you begin your spring cleaning and start weeding out Junior's closet, you may even find a few items that can be sold at a consignment sale to earn back a few precious pennies. (Of course, donating to charity or passing down hand-me-downs is also highly encouraged by Sage Femme Mama!)

I am thrilled to see that baby consignment sales have made their way to Central New York. I love the thrill of the hunt. I'm not a name-brand-name-dropper but I do just love when someone comments on my kiddo's cute Gymboree or Baby Gap outfit and I can proclaim, "I found that at a consignment sale for $2!!" And don't even get me started on garage sales (Mommy Crack!!)...

Sweet Little Repeats brings you a great way to Buy, Sell & Shop for New and Gently Used, high quality children’s clothes, toys and gear. 
At Sweet Little Repeats, you will find items in “Like New” Condition!
This is also a great way to Recycle the Items your Children have outgrown and Earn Money for them!
Come shop and be sure to bring your friends for great deals!
Please go to to register to consign or volunteer!

Locations: East Area Family YMCA, Fayetteville, NY:  sale dates: April 9th-11th
                  North Area Family YMCA, Liverpool, NY: sale dates April 30th-May 2nd                                                                                            

If you live in the Capital Region of New York State, you must check out the monstrous consignment sale called Pass it On. This baby and kids sale has grown so much in the past few years that the consignment items fill an entire indoor field house to bursting at the seams. Expect long lines, fussy toddlers but AMAZING deals.

Pass It On Children's Consignment Sale
New and Gently Worn Children's Items at Bargain Prices!
March 16-20 (Our 16th Sale!!!!)
Over 20,000 Sq. Ft. FILLED!    525 Consignors !

Be sure to keep an eye out for consignment sales that may be coming your way this spring... Happy Hunting!!