Baby Led Diaper Changing; or How to Be a Good Parent to Your Own Kid

{This post was originally published in January 2011. I am choosing to re-post it because I feel it is still relevant. It is written partly tongue-in-cheek. Edited for clarity and the purpose of  updating}

.Baby led diaper changes

I’ve got this radical new theory on baby-raising. It’s called Baby Led Diaper Changing, and I’m doing it full-time with Apollo. You see, instead of changing his diaper on a schedule, I (brace yourself) change his diapers when they’re wet. Or dirty.

Kind of crazy, I know.

Go ahead. Tell me I’m spoiling him by letting him be the one to decide when he needs a fresh diaper. Tell me he’ll never be independent, sleep through the night, learn to walk, or work for NASA. I can take it.

Okay, maybe, just maybe that was a bit tongue and cheek…but I find it fascinating to be back in the baby game after a four-and-a-half year break.

In our eighteen years of parenting, we’ve seen the change from babies should always sleep on their tummy so they don’t aspirate on their spit up and die to babies should always sleep on their back so they don’t die of SIDS. And I assure you, I am not making light of baby’s dying of SIDS. Like every parent, it’s my worst nightmare.

We’ve seen the change from live polio vaccines to non-live polio vaccines. When Adalia was born in Alaska, they had just raised the carseat law to three years…which seemed ridiculous at the time. We now live in a state where the law says kids have to stay in a carseat (or booster) until age eight. When Adalia was born we were told to clean her umbilical cord stump with alcohol every time we changed her diaper. When Tilly was born (a whole two-and-half years later) we were told to leave it alone. Tummy-time is now an organized activity and parents must make sure their babies are getting enough (but not too much) and it must always be supervised. I remember years ago at MOPS listening to worried new mothers stressed out because their six month old babies could now roll over onto their tummies during nap time. These moms would sneak into their rooms, and flip the baby over onto their backs after they fell asleep…only to then wake their babies. I am not making fun of these moms, only trying to show how our culture has made moms question their very ability as a parent.

The rules change all the time it seems.

baby-led weaning, baby and corn cob, baby amber teething necklace

Baby-led weaning is a concept that confuses the heck out of me. As far as I can tell, it means: wait until your baby is giving you signs of being ready to eat (reaching for food, etc) and then give them pieces of food that are safe (i.e. not nuts and carrot sticks). And/or give the babies what you are eating for dinner in safe textures/quantities. This concept seems so…obvious to me I find it hard to believe that it is a whole philosophy of parenting.

Here’s my real theory on parenting: do your research, know your own baby, and make the best choice possible for your own family.

There. I said it.

I’ve had babies begin solids at five months, and some begin at nine months. I’ve had babies sleep through the night at two months and some closer to a year. And now Apollo, nearly four, who still doesn’t sleep through the night due to medical issues. I’ve had babies who loved the sling and ergo and babies who hated them. Babies who crawled early and babies who crawled late. And all are apparently happy and healthy today.

Guess what? They’re all just a little bit (or a lot) different.

I choose to breastfeed, cloth diaper, hold my babies a lot and sleep with them. Apollo was breastfed until he was two and a half…and now receives formula through a g-tube.

I promise, I won’t hate you…or even judge you for making different choices. My concern is Apollo and doing what’s best for him. As long as you’re not abusing your baby, I’m good. I say instead of looking down on each other and being appalled by other parents we support and encourage each other instead. Let’s meet each other where we are and offer to lend a hand, rock a baby, or make some coffee.

Radical, I know. But that’s the kind of person I am.

 

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15 thoughts on “Baby Led Diaper Changing; or How to Be a Good Parent to Your Own Kid”

  1. I adore the picture of Apollo with the corn. I was unaware that some people change diapers on a schedule, I always just change them when they need them changed. To me the idea that there are people out there not changing them until 10 AM leaving baby in a soiled diaper for hours is shocking. 🙂

    1. bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Maddy- the part about changing diapers on a schedule was tongue-in-cheek.I was simply trying to draw a comparison between that and rigid baby schedules and rule-following vs. responding to the child.

      1. Some people parent that way…..when my 8 year old was born (we adopted) we had/have a pretty laid back view on the diaper/feeding/sleeping thing…I guess we did what is now referred to as “baby led….”

        My MIL(Bless her heart) could not quite cope with this. LOL. I remember she came to watch our son who was maybe 3 months old at the time for a few hours. She wanted to know when he ate,slept and needed changing. We both looked at each other, my DH and I, and said “when he needs to” almost in unison.

        We explained that he only cried when he needed to eat/sleep/or be changed.She seriously wanted us to name a time. I said I could give her a rough estimate on eating, but the other two she would have to figure out on her own:)

        To this day she panics my little ones are going to choke on anything smaller than an orange. Kidding..but you get the picture..just a different type of parenting I guess

  2. Amen! Baby #1 had a firm routine, preferred to go to sleep on her own in her cot and only ever had her dummy(pacifier) at bed time. Baby #7 is fed rocked/cuddled to sleep every night, has never had even one day of routine and has her dummy whenever she seems to want it. Baby #4 screamed if you put a dummy near her mouth but had (and still has at age 5) a favorite blanket, had a loose routine and would fall asleep wherever you put her so long as it was reasonably quiet. There are a few parenting “philosophies” and “movements” that when I have heard about them I thought – wow, that’s a thing? I always just did that. Or – yeah, that worked for 3/7 of my kids. My core “parenting philosophy” – Do what works, while it works, and if it stops working – change it.

  3. They are all so different. I’m always shocked at what I “can’t” do with each pregnancy. It changes so often I can’t get up. Like you, it was rubbing alcohol on my now 13 year old, and even my 8 year old, but my 3 year old I was ordered to leave it alone.

    The diaper schedule is only slightly tongue in cheek. My mother tried to get me to change my first childs diaper every 2 hours whether she needed it or not, and leave it if it wasn’t the two hour mark. “It’s what I did with you and you’re fine.”
    Well, I didn’t have endless budget for diapers and we all know babies love to poo in clean diapers…or maybe just my children? Either way, no way!!

    1. Lol..see my above comment about my MIL…maybe some a generational thing?…not all..but some:) Oh and I also did alcohol on the cord with my 8 year old and maybe 6 year old. While leaving the hospital with my 3.5 yr old I asked if we still used alcohol…the young nurse looked at me like I had 2 heads…lol

      1. Yes! I got the weird looks when I asked when I took my now 3 year old home too. “Why would you put alcohol on it?!” lol I said because that’s how you dried it out for the last decade but she didn’t seem to believe me!
        My Dad recommended burbon on teething gums(like they did to me) and my grandmother recommended a boiled chicken leg bone like she did for my father..
        Each generation does it differently.. it’s amazing we all survive lol

  4. “This is America and parenting is now a competitive sport, just like everything else.” ~from that article about leaving the kid in the car that was posted to your fb page

    So true, so true!

    Sometimes I want to go hide on 15 acres in the middle of nowhere and raise my kids away from everyone and their opinions. But then I would have to unplug my computer and stop reading the blogs of people who share my opinions 😉

  5. I agree, we need to be more encouraging of all parents. I only have 2 kids but it’s clear to me that a lot of what seems to work, may be more due to personality than the method used. I find even with older kids the competitive thing still goes on. Sad. I cringe when strangers ask what grade my kids are in. As the next questions will be: what school do they go to. Once I mention homeschooling the stranger’s defenses go up. It seems my schooling choice makes them feel the need to defend theirs.

    1. Happens to us all the time!.which is so odd since I never defend homeschooling when someone says their kids are in PS. If they ask my kids, they now just say “we don’t really do grades…we are home schooled” They are so funny.

  6. Hey, you are the mom! You know best! This I’ve learned again and again–I will never say “Yes, sir” or “Yes, Ma’am” to some doctor when I think I know better. And here in Germany, we were told the child should wander out to the back yard where he’d be sure to just poop in a corner in the grass, and somehow that would make him want to use a toilet. Ours wandered out, dug a hole, a deep one, and pooped. Only problem was, he still had on his expensive Bavarian lederhosen . . . . well, what worked for our boys was really cool bright red power rangers underpants, which the firstborn got to wear after he pooped in the potty. The other kid wanted Thomas Train cars and so, yes, I did hand him a whole $7.00 train car for every great big potty poop. For a while. I’d say I had to buy six or seven trains. With my daughter, the cute frilly pink underwear worked, and she was a lot faster than the boys.

  7. I love this post and I honestly love reading your parenting insights, so refreshing, so down-to-earth! With my first set of twis, I was very worried. I was worried they’ll get used to their pacifiers and we will be in troubles when we wanted to take them away…I was worried they will never get used to sleeping on their own if I cosleep with them. I was worried if they fall asleep in the sling regularly, they’ll demand it every time they go to sleep…NONE of this happened. We sure had lot of other issues I’ve never thought of before!

    So, with my second set of twins, three years later, I’m really laid back. I do whatever pleases them (they are but 4 weeks old). I have them in my bed all night, and whenever it’s practical during the day. If they cry, I hold them, when their diaper is soiled, I change it. Sometimes, truth to be told, they have to wait. But I’m ok with it. With four children bellow 3 years of age, I feel like I can do more than I could when I had just the first baby girls. It’s simple and it’s easy. I follow my instincts and they seem very happy babies.

    (On the side note, I have had to learn to FIGHT with medical professionals. I never let them decide about my children unless I really trust what they’re doing is right. This my sound easy to you, but being raised in 90ies in Eastern Europe, there was no such thing as opposing an authority. I had to learn that, and I’m pretty good at it now!)

  8. I know my comment is response to your fear post but I was hoping if I put it here you would see it. I have lost two babies and this was obviously heartbreaking to me. Both were stillborn (two separate pregnancies) late in the pregnancy. I’m sure at any stage it is traumatic but for me I just kept looking at them and thinking, they look so perfect, nothing is wrong with them, why didn’t they live and so much more went through my distraught mind. I stayed isolated in my house, in bed for a while, and then my husband insisted I get out to feel better. He was right but I just wanted to stay in bed and continue to cry all day. I did however go out to eat with him, I had to literally force myself to eat. I had no desire to do anything. While we were out I saw a few children and then I saw a woman with a newborn. My heart ached to have my newborn child. I was happy for her but I also would be lying if I said I didn’t wish that was me. The lady sat at the table next to us and I heard all of the sounds a precious baby makes. When we were done eating I asked her if I could hold her baby. I didn’t plan on asking this, it just came out. I was even shocked I had asked this. The woman smiled and graciously allowed me to hold her bundle of joy. Tears began to stream down my cheeks. I told her of my recent experience without going into great detail. She looked me in the eyes and said, “hold her as long as you want”. So many thoughts ran through my mind at that moment. The baby I would have had, what he would have looked like, how he would grow and change and so many more thoughts. I also thought of how kind it was for her to do this for me. She was helping me heal. I hadn’t talked to anyone about what happened. I couldn’t without crying for hours. I held, hugged and put my cheek to her babies, then I handed her back to her mommy. I thanked the lady and she hugged me. This stranger gave me a gift. Something I can never fully put into words. I did not want to steal her baby or do her harm. I just wanted to hold and feel what I could not have happen for me. To this day, this was four years ago, I cry when thinking about it. Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I type this but I felt it on my heart to share my experience to hopefully touch others hearts so they may be able to help heal others too. This stranger gave me the gift of love and I am forever blessed for this. I never say her again but this brief interaction helped me to start the process of healing. Please remember to give others the gift of love when you are able to. It will mean so much to them and it will make you think about how blessed you are. Thank you Renee for raising kind hearted children and being a kind hearted mother.

    1. bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thank you so much for sharing this story, Angie. I am so sorry for your loss. I am glad the woman allowed you to hold her baby and begin healing. Chuck and I are both in agreement about sharing our precious babies with others.

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