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Ecobaby has been drooling up a storm. Her fist has been in her mouth at every possible opportunity. She’s been chewing on my fingers and knuckles every chance she gets.

Not even four months old, she has only been grabbing at things with her hands for a few weeks now. She can direct objects to her mouth, but struggles to keep them there, so she has been getting very frustrated.

Normally, she sleeps through the night, from around 9:30pm until 5:30 or 6am (I know, I know, it is truly miraculous!), but last night, she woke up three separate times throughout the night.

Only three? some moms might be muttering to themselves. To them I offer a deep bow of admiration for trudging through each day under the effects of extreme sleep deprivation. You are unsung heroes, mamas!

Anyway, combining all these different clues … the drooling, the fist sucking, the night-waking … I’ve concluded that she must be teething. Or pre-teething. Whatever you want to call it, something is going on in her mouth that’s causing her discomfort and disruption of the usual program.

Having identified teething as the culprit, out came the baltic amber necklace from big sister’s jewelry box. At age 2.75, Ecogirl won’t have any new teeth coming in for a while, so her necklace can be handed down to Ecobaby for now.

Baltic amber is a fossil resin from ancient pine trees. It contains large amounts of succinic acid, a powerful anti-oxidant that has been shown to boost the immune system. Succinic acid helps restore strength and energy, enhances brain function, and reduces stress. It is also a natural analgesic and exhibits both anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties.

Reduces stress? Restores energy? Hmmm, I could really use one of these necklaces too, I think …

Baltic amber necklaces have been used for centuries to treat many different ailments. When the necklace is in direct contact with warm skin, succinic acid is released and absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream.

But how can a baby wear a beaded necklace, you might ask? Won’t she pull on it and break it, sending beads everywhere?

The necklaces are strung by hand one bead at a time, with a knot in between each bead. If your child pulls on the necklace and it breaks, only one bead will be lost instead of a whole necklace worth of beads scattering all over the place. The necklace will still be shot, but it will pose significantly less potential hazard to your little one.

You can leave the necklace on all the time, though some people like to remove it at night for fear their child will get tangled and strangled. Ecobaby is a veritable mummy when she sleeps; she doesn’t move an inch, so I feel comfortable leaving it on.

You do want to remove it when bathing, however. Soap buildup can create a barrier between the bead and the skin, preventing the succinic acid from entering the body. To keep the necklace clean, just wipe with a damp cloth from time to time.

If you have a child who is teething and you are a skeptic: just try it. At best, your child gets relief, which means you get relief.

At worst, your child looks really darned cute.

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My three month old pees and poops on the potty.

Yes, you read that right.

I put my infant on the potty. Well, hold her over it, really.

Some people who hear this are absolutely shocked and think I’m somehow abusing my child or expecting far more than what she is capable of at her young age. Others are intrigued and want to hear more. Honestly, I just want fewer dirty cloth diapers to launder. At least that’s how it started …

I started EC (elimination communication) with my first child, Ecogirl, when she was 7 months old, because that’s when I learned about it. Had I learned about it earlier, I would have started earlier. I vowed that I would start earlier with my next child.

During pregnancy #2 with Ecobaby, a friend loaned me the book “Diaper Free” by Ingrid Bauer. It really spelled out everything about EC quite clearly, down to the photographs of mothers holding their infants over a receptacle (toilet, potty, tupperware, whatever).

The theory behind EC is that babies give you cues to “tell” you they need to go, the same way they “tell” you they’re hungry, or cold, or tired, or whatever. You just have to learn to read the cues. For example, my friend who loaned me the book said her infant daughter got “squirmy” when she needed to go.

I learned that many other cultures keep their babies out of diapers from a very, very young age, even from birth. In our culture, we essentially teach our babies to soil themselves from birth, and then around age 2.5, we expect them to unlearn that behavior to “potty train”. Poor kids. They’re destined to fail, or at the very least, struggle.

(Sidenote: Could it be the agenda of disposable diaper companies to perpetuate the myth that children aren’t “ready” until sometime after their second birthday? Hmm, something to ponder …)

Anyway, back to the changing table: I placed a small Ikea potty on the table, and every time I took off her wet diaper, I’d hold her over the potty. Much to my amazement and joy, more times than not, she’d pee in it!

So far so good. But I was only getting success after a diaper was already wet. How to recognize the pee cues before the diaper became wet?

One day, while nursing, she popped off my breast and starting whining and flailing her arms and legs. I thought “She must have a wet diaper” so I got up to check, but no, she was dry. I sat back down to nurse, and she just kept popping on and off, whining, and flailing.

Back to the changing table. Now the diaper was wet!

The wheels started turning. I made the connection. By whining and flailing her limbs, she was trying to tell me she had to pee!

That moment changed everything. I learned her cues! I knew what she wanted! When her legs started doing Riverdance, she needed to pee!

In these three months of doing EC with my infant, I have learned a few things:

  • Babies pee a lot, like 30 times a day or so!
  • Babies don’t actually pee while they are asleep. They stir ever so slightly, and it is during that short waking that they release their muscles to go. My child sometimes sleeps eight hours at a stretch (yes, I know, lucky me!) and she is dry when she wakes up
  • Babies can “hold it”. Sometimes it is a few minutes from the time Ecobaby whines and flails to the time I can actually get her to a toilet (like when we’re out of the house in a store or something). I swear to you: the child actually holds it until I can get her to a bathroom, on a changing table, remove her diaper, and then hold her in position, knees up, back against my belly,over the toilet. You can even hear her letting out a sigh as she releases her muscles and goes.

By no means do I catch all pees and poops in the potty, but I catch more than I miss, and that makes me much happier with my laundry situation. Plus, she’ll be fully potty trained earlier than most kids, which will make me really happy with my laundry situation.

Yes, it’s true though, visiting the potty that many times in a day is more work and requires more vigilance, but it makes my baby happier not to have to sit in a wet diaper for even a second.

And a really great byproduct of the whole thing is that I feel like I am really in tune with her, as she “tells” me what she needs, and I attend to her needs immediately.

Let’s be clear: EC is not potty training. It’s parent training.

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