What Did the Indians Do?

Over the last 8 years of child rearing, I have been bold in deviating from popular prescribed parenting ideas and doing what my instincts said was right. The question I often ask myself is this. “What did the Indians (Native Americans) do?

Did they have shelves filled with parenting books? No. Did they have Pack N Plays or government approved cribs? No. I’m sure they had their fair share of surprises and problems come up that modern inventions and doctors would have helped, but overall, they did very well for themselves. They survived severe weather, hunted and gathered their food, married, reared babies, and passed down knowledge of home remedies to future generations. Respect.

Today, our society has these rules of how to take care of babies. I tried a few out when we had our first child.

Tummy Time. Did the Indians have Tummy Time? “Ok, let me just set you down here on in this grass, try not to eat the dirt. You are staying like that for 15 minutes.”

Just saying it makes me laugh! Someone decided babies should have designated Tummy Time. My kids hated it. I think I tried it twice with my firstborn and maybe a couple times with the second and third. To each their own, but in the end, babies are incredible creatures and deserve more credit.

I never made #4 do it. Nor did she spend any time laying flat on her back playing. She screamed whenever I set her down so.. I didn’t set her down. She never rolled over before learning to crawl and never got the bald spot on the back of her head. I wore her, or carried her, or had someone else carry her. Sacagawea carried her baby across our great nation. I bet he turned out ok. My one year old is speed crawls, climbs everything she can, and is on the verge of walking.

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This one really gets me. Never let your baby sleep in bed with you. Let’s ask ourselves. What did the Indians do? Imagine the wife saying “oh honey, we are having another baby, you better put up a new Tipi on the other side of this tree so she can sleep on her own.” Nope. Highly doubtful, and yet, somehow, little native babies survived and grew to raise their own young.

Being the rebel I am, I brought every one of my babies to bed with me. Most of the time, my newborns and I fell asleep nursing. I’d wake up to the baby rooting, ready for the other side. Only when the baby decided to stay up and climb and play on mommy did she move to her own crib.  We did use a cradle next to the bed, but mostly for daytime naps. I was always fast asleep with the baby nursing at night and so did not put them back into the cradle.

Dare I mention another one? This is a big one! Breastfeeding in public! AYYYY!!! The wars that rage over something so natural. What DID the Indians do?

This is so beautiful, a mommy feeding her twin babies.
This is so beautiful, a mommy feeding her twin babies.

Why has it become taboo to nourish ones baby in public but it is acceptable to have loads of cleavage hanging out? I really don’t get it. God made boobs for feeding babies.

And why do I keep hearing “you should wean that baby!” Excuse me? For one, my baby refuses a cup or a bottle. She refused any kind of solid food until she was 11 months old. I’m not going to try to starve her out. Eye rolling in progress.

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Admiring some very old art at the Safari Museum in Chanute, KS.

I asked myself “What did the Indians do?” My answer is that they nursed their babies/young toddlers until they were drinking and eating enough that they no longer needed breast milk. They did not have Nuby cups, which my daughter also refuses for now. They did not have baby oatmeal or jarred foods. And since NA mommies were always hard at work, they most likely did not sneak off to the Nursing Mommies’ TiPi to feed their babies. *anyone who knows me knows I know it’s sometimes not possible to breastfeed, that is not what this post is about so don’t get your knickers in a bunch.

That's an Amazon woman right there! Talk about multitasking!
That’s an Amazon woman right there! Talk about multitasking!

What my baby is doing is nothing crazy or weird. My others ate pureed foods and drank sooner out of sippy cups. Great. But this child does not. She’s wants to feed herself so we cut up what we are eating into tiny bites and offer it to her. Bananas and beans are her favorites.

She will drink from a cup when she is good and ready.

Can I at least cover up when I feed her? Really? Have you ever held a strong robust, squirmy baby? Arms and legs going everywhere? No, I cannot, but for your sake, I will be as discreet as I can. A lot of people stare at me when I feed #4 in public. I smile at them. They either look away and shuffle off as quickly as they can, or they smile back. They can’t see my boob and it’s not my problem if what I’m doing makes them feel uncomfortable.

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Nursing my third child on the LV Strip while visiting a close friend.

Please, next time you wonder if you are doing something right or wrong, stop and ask yourself  “what did the Indians do?”  This question does not just apply to babies either. I just love how often that question pops into my head and logic prevails.

6 Baby Shower Must Haves

My wonderful friend is about to have her first baby. Unlike so many others I know, this friend is grounded and practical about baby items.

For the most part, so was I. My husband and I did not register for a whole lot. We bought loads of comfy sleepers, a pack n play, a car seat, and a baby carrier at garage sales.

There is nothing wrong with getting all of those things brand new if you so choose. You will have to have a car seat no matter what.

Our crib was second-hand. It had been used by an older couple for their grandkids. Now our fourth baby is sleeping in that very crib. Registering for a fancy expensive crib did not register for us! Also, we thought of our friends and what they might be able to afford and kept our registry simple and full of smaller items.

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However, due to lack of experience with actual live babies, we went in unprepared. I’m here to tell you this so listen up. Babies are simple. They need to be held, loved, kept clean and warm, and loved and spoiled some more.

There are many times in my life where I reflect on how the Native Americans lived. When I do that, I realize there are many things I can live without. They carried their babies everywhere, kept them warm, and kept them close.

This made me chuckle. Just imagine Mary. No diapers, not butt cream, no baby kit. We have it so good today.

The first and last male sponsored baby shower.

The List of Baby Shower Must Haves

  1. Burp Clothes – lots of burp clothes. Guess what? Babies spit up. At least, mine did! I was shocked when # 4 gave me mostly dry burps. Get a lot and if your baby spits up a lot, burn them and get new ones for the next kid. I was so frugal we reused the same ones for 3 kids and at that point I had to toss them and start new for #4.
  2. Loads of butt cream. When you pick your favorite kind be it Desitin, Healing Balm, or Beaudreaux’s Butt Paste, go big on quantity. If your baby starts eating solids, gets a cold, or cut teeth, most likely some kind of diaper rash will follow.
  3. DIAPERS!!!! After four kids, I’ve learned folks generally like a diaper shower. It’s easy to pick out a bag or box of diapers. And you will use a lot of diapers. If you are going to use cloth diapers, consider doing just a cloth diaper shower as they cost a lot more up front, but save thousands in the end. Most likely, each guest will be willing to buy one or two cloth diaper covers with inserts.
  4. Soft, comfy, easy to fasten sleepers or onesies. Ask yourself this question. “Does my soft, tiny newborn really want to wear a stiff collared dress with a giant bow on her head?” Does your itty bitty son really want to wear trousers, a stiff shirt, and bow tie? No, probably not, but he is at your mercy. So please, have mercy and let your baby be comfortable in soft clothing. On average, my firstborn was changed 4 times a day due to severe acid reflux. I was very happy we had all those sleepers from garage sales.
  5. Blankets. Blankets, especially swaddling blankies, are so important for newborns in any kind of weather. They are skinny and can’t hold heat. Plus, think about it, they just came out of a super warm, tight, cozy environment. Swaddle them up!
  6. Baby Kit – consisting of tiny nail trimmers, a thermometer, and some sort of snot sucker. I LOVE the Nose Frieda. I wish I’d had it for all of my babies. Nothing is poked up the tiny nostril and it’s easy to clean. Kind of gross to use, mentally, but brilliant, just brilliant.

If those are the only items on your registry, you’ll be prepared to bring your newborn home from the hospital, unless you have him at home.

There are two things I personally would not have wanted to live without with my babies. I don’t believe them to be absolutely necessary like the items above, but I needed them. One is a nursing pillow like a Boppy or Brest Friend and the other is a good sling or wrap.

After four babies, I have an Infantino carrier, a ring sling, an infinity style sling(very simple), a Moby wrap (love it in cold weather), the front pack my mom used when I was a baby, and a khaki front pack that my husband uses because “it’s more manly.” I have used every single one of the carriers and loved them all.