When I was pregnant with the little Miles chickens, and for the first three months of his life, I was obsessed with routine. I needed a bit of structure that’s true, but I also got caught up in what everyone else was doing. So many parents had sleeping routines, eating routines, and we worried about keeping baby on a schedule.
Then one night in the middle of trying to get Miles to sleep in his crib I picked him up and brought him into bed with me. Based on nothing but gut feeling, exhaustion, and mama instinct I stopped listening to the bloggers and the online experts and I listened to my heart. We’ve been co-sleeping ever since.
Life and little ones do not follow a schedule. They have no need for time, they aren’t worried about your itinerary. Before Miles, I didn’t have a routine. We live a slow, intentional life where we follow the rhythm of the day without strictly adhering to a clock or a schedule. Sure, we have loose guidelines like when we need to be at work and when Miles should be in bed, but they aren’t so rigid that we beat ourselves up.
I’m not saying that schedules and routines are bad if they make your life better. If having a routine and sleep training your baby bring you joy and make your life better then that is beautiful- and if they don’t? There is another way.
If you’re spending more time stressing and thinking about routines, milestones, sleep training, and eating schedules than just being with your little one or doing what you love most, maybe it’s time to shift. To slow down. To hit the reset button.
I have adopted rhythms over strict routines. A routine can make you feel like you’re failing because you’re not meeting high standards you’ve set for yourself. A rhythm is more fluid. It moves with you, adjusts as life does- as your baby does.
My favorite blogger & podcaster Brooke McAlary of the Slow Your Home Podcast writes beautifully about rhythm and how to suss out the rhythm of your life.
If it’s time for a shift, ask yourself the following questions.
What are my priorities/values? Is it exercising before breakfast, or taking the time to eat dinner as a family every night?
What do other people in my home need? Does my husband need time to study? Perhaps you want time to write or have a bath?
What feels positive? What makes me feel vital and happy and energetic? Make this a priority.
What can change from the current situation? It’s always possible to get up earlier or go to bed later. Similarly, if there are areas where a lot of time is wasted, this can be shifted elsewhere.
What can’t change – no matter how much I’d like it to? School times, bus and train timetables, meetings and appointments can’t change. Make sure these are taken into account and allow some wiggle-room for the inevitable delay.
Since shifting from routine to rhythm I have found forgiveness for myself. I am less stressed and more present. I have stopped comparing myself to other mamas.
Why set ourselves up in a routine that we can fail at when we don’t have to? Instead of asking yourself what you should be doing embrace the flow, choose your pace, let go of the expectations and the pressures our world creates.
“Tomorrow they’ll be a little older than they were today. This day is a gift. Just breathe, notice, study their faces and little feet. Pay attention.”
Miles is seven months old. On one hand I can’t believe how quickly it has gone, on the other I can’t wait for what’s ahead. I’m desperate to hold his hand as he walks and to hear him call me mama, and I‘m soaking up every baby coo and cuddle.
For now, as we transition, a reflection on what has gotten us through these past few months. As always, these are not necessities- they simply made life easier. All your baby really needs is you, something to eat, and something to diaper them. That being said, here are the items we loved for months 3 though 6.
This podcast & blog. Rachel Rainbolt talks though Gentle Parenting, Natural Homeschooling, Simple Living, and Family Adventure. Her podcast is easily listened to on a commute or over lunch. (I listen when I vacuum.)
This amber necklace. Amber naturally calms your baby and eases the pains of teething. They do not chew on this necklace, they simply wear it. It soothes and calms baby and in turn lessens drool. It’s a wonderful alternative to traditional, synthetic teething medicine.
This teething relief oil. Gentle herbal extracts and botanical oils to soothe babies gums. I put some of this on my own gums and it’s just gentle relief for the toughest of teething days. This combined with the amber necklace has made teething feel like a non issue in our house.
This activity gym. We bought two of these. That’s right, the minimalist parents bought TWO of the same activity gym- it’s that good. One for our nanny and one for our house, Miles loves this thing and it grows with him by turning into an activity table. Love love love. This is how we get anything done at home.
Ergobaby Omni-360. We found our Ergobaby Omni 360 on the MerCari app for half the price! Definitely look for these second hand. The great thing about this is that you can turn baby forward facing. At about four months Miles was desperate to start looking out at the world and at six months he refused to do anything but. We use it daily and have not yet purchased a stroller because we love this so much.
This diaper & wipe subscription service. 1 in 3 families struggle with diaper need. This diaper subscription service is vegan, non-toxic, delivered to your door each month, adjustable, and each purchase you make donates diapers to a mama and baby in need. We love it so much. Cloth diapering is something we absolutely want to look into but this works best for our family right now.
This cook book. If you haven’t heard of baby led weaning, check it out! Starting solids was so intimidating at first but we are in love with baby led weaning! There are tons of YouTube videos that help explain it as well.
Baby rompers. These organic one-piece rompers are the zipper-sleep suit of the summer. One piece and you have the cutest little outfit. Check out this post for other items we love to dress Miles in.
That’s all for now, we still use so many of the items in my our newborn favorites video, check it out if you’re in, or soon to be in, the newborn stage.
“As soon as I saw you, I knew a grand adventure was about to happen.” Pooh
I have received some very sweet comments from you all about Miles’ wardrobe. My sweet little chicken is 6 months now, growing every day and looking chunky and cute! I often post about my capsule wardrobe, and how I curate my closet. Today? I want to share how I shop and plan for Miles.
What I look for:
Weight not size, Miles is a bit chunky for his age so I always look at a brand’s size chart for weight recommendations rather than going by months. Every brand is a bit different in size, for example Burt’s Bees baby runs big while other baby onesies are true to size- regardless check the sizing chart!
Material, if I can find and afford organic cotton items for baby I will! Lamaze organics and Burt’s Bees are some of our favorite organic lines. If it’s not organic I just make sure it’s 100% cotton!
Comfort & ease, if the item is not comfortable Miles won’t wear it- simple as that. Look for one piece items, like rompers and sleep suits, rather than two piece outfits- unless the outfit includes a onesie!
Style, I look for neutral colors, prints and patterns rather than characters, and pieces to mix and match not “sets.” The key to any simple wardrobe are pieces you can mix and match! All of Miles clothes are similar in material and pattern so they can all be worn together in different ways.
Where I shop:
Secondhand, babies grow so quickly! The more you can find second hand the better. Goodwill always has an infant bin where you can find onesies for 50 cents each. It takes a little more time to search but I have found some amazing pieces while thrifting, including Burt’s Bees items- like new!
Independent baby onesie shops, online shops can be so helpful, especially when you’re short on time! We recently quit amazon and we appreciate small, independent onesie shops. Especially when looking for something specific, like the cute matching mama and baby items pictured above.
Burt’s Bees Baby,Burt’s baby items are all 100% organic cotton. Better for the earth, the people growing and making the cotton and better for your baby. When you can afford it shop organic! I always check the sale items, remember to check size chart’s as well. We find Burt’s Bees Baby run a bit bigger and fit Miles longer- definitely worth the money.
How I organize:
I organize Miles’ clothing by size, season and outfit. Items hanging in his closet are for future use as he grows and the seasons change. For the items he is currently wearing I organize them in a shoe rack on the back of his closet door. I mix his items to make little outfits and just grab one each morning, pop it on and he’s ready to go! This type of organization is great for poo explosions and messes as well. No need to grab items out of a drawer. They’re all at eye level and already put together in outfit form.
With items Miles has outgrown I do one of two things, donate to an expecting mama or thrift store or I put away special items in our future baby bin (words I never ever thought I would write!) I don’t hold on to too much because we wouldn’t be expecting another little chicken for a long while, but there are certain items I’m happy to hold onto.
First, let me say that all mama choices are good choices. Parents are doing the best they can to raise their little ones with all the love and care they have in their bodies. This post is, as always, my personal experience raising my baby.
I wish someone had written their honest experience about co-sleeping before I had my little one, because right now? I think a lot of mamas are doing it and not talking about it. Hiding it from midwives and pediatricians and friends and family- why? That’s a long story.
Co-sleeping was said to be a big no no after a study said it can lead to SIDs and other sleep related deaths in babies. Now, this is serious. Heavy blankets, pillows, parents under the influence, parents sleeping on couches, and parents that smoke pose real risks to their babies when sleeping with them, especially under four months.
And? Co-sleeping, when executed correctly, is perfectly safe and amazing for mama and baby. Human babies are contact seekers- what they need most are their parents bodies and their survival depends on it.
I feel robbed of those first four months of sleeping with my baby. I got caught up in sleep training and having baby sleep in his crib or in his own space apart from me when all I really wanted was him next to me.
“Balinese babies are generally held almost every moment — day and night, anthropologists have noted. And in Japan, the most common sleeping arrangement is referred to as kawa no ji or the character for river: 川. The shorter line represents the child, sleeping between the mother and father, represented by the longer lines.”
“When the mom is breastfeeding, she essentially creates a little shell around the baby. ‘The mother naturally arches her body around her baby,’ McKenna says. ‘She pulls up her knees just enough to touch the baby’s feet. Inside this shell, the baby hears the mom’s heartbeat and, in turn, changes her own heart rate. It usually slows down,’ McKenna says. ‘The baby also hears the mom’s breathing, which has a rhythm similar to the sounds the baby heard in the womb.'”
So, what am I saying here? I’m saying I’m no expert. What I am is a mama that is co-sleeping with her baby, and I wish I had done it sooner. I am following my gut, research, and eastern traditions that align with my values.
I want to live a value driven life in all things. If for you that means baby in crib day one? Great. If it means exclusively sleeping with your baby since day one? Wonderful.
Do your research, trust yourself. Medical advice is constantly changing and while so much of it is good and right, some of it isn’t. Instead of saying “don’t bed share or co-sleep” I feel we should be teaching others how to do it more safely.
“We recognize and acknowledge that bed-sharing happens. We don’t promote it, but neither do we judge people about it,” Blair says. “By doing that, you can open up a conversation with the parents about the really dangerous circumstances when you shouldn’t do it.”
“Even babies in cribs, when they’re placed close to their moms, have a similar attraction to their mother: They turn their faces to their mom for the majority of the night.”
“..babies have evolved to experience this closeness, night after night after night.”