My Best 3 Parenting Choices I Would Recommend To Anyone

When you’re first becoming a parent, you’ll find that there are so many different choices you’ll need to make. Often times, many soon-to-be moms don’t even know all of the options that they have available to them. Will you have a homebirth or a hospital birth? Breastfeed, bottle feed or formula feed? Will you use disposable or cloth diapers? Will you use plastic or wooden toys? Choosing can be overwhelming and daunting but also exciting at the same time. Just remember, you’re the mama here, so you’re in charge! It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about your parenting choices. It’s your child and you will do what you feel is best!

Before we get started, I just want to put a disclaimer that this post by no means is meant to shame other moms for their choices. If you didn’t, don’t, or won’t do the things I mention in this post, THAT IS OK. I merely want to share a few of the parenting choices I have made that I’ve really loved or been grateful for. I’m definitely not a perfect mother–no one is. We are all just trying our best and doing what works best for us and our family.

CLOTH DIAPERS

Baby in cloth diaper giving a dog a hug.

One of the parenting choices I obsessed over during pregnancy was diapers. Seriously, ask my husband how many hours I spent talking to him about the different brands, styles, how they worked, wash routines etc. when I was in my second trimester. It was so bad that one day he just said “If I let you buy them, will you quit talking to me about it?” Well, we bought them the next day. 

I’ll be honest, the original reason that I looked into cloth diapering was to save money. I had heard people talk about how much money they spent each month for diapers and I was not excited to have to add that to my budget. I watched countless videos and read articles about whether or not it was actually cheaper to cloth diaper even when you would be doing more laundry and needing to buy more soap. The consensus: yes it was cheaper. The savings skyrocketed if you had more than one child as well. As I’ve gone on in my natural living journey, I’ve grown even more appreciative of doing cloth diapers. Disposable diapers end up in landfills and they take 500 years to decompose! And one baby uses about 2500 to 3000 diapers in their first year. That’s a lot of diapers just sitting in the ground not decomposing! Additionally, disposable diapers are made with chemicals and things that should not be near your skin. We had Kylie in disposable diapers for a little bit and many of them would give her rashes because of the chemicals. I’ve also seen many moms talk about chemical burns and other issues with disposable diapers. 

I know most people’s many complaint, worry, or hesitation is dealing with the poop. I get it–that’s valid. Honestly, cloth diapers really aren’t that much different from disposable diapers with poop clean ups. As a parent, you are going to deal with poop. Sorry, it’s going to happen. But, I found that with cloth diapers, we didn’t have any blowouts. The cloth diapers’ elastic around the legs and lower back kept the poop contained to the diaper. This meant a lesser mess to clean up! 

Baby in cloth diaper eating a strawberry and peach outdoors.
Munching on strawberries and peaches in her cloth diaper outside.

As far as for non-pooplosions, the clean up is the same. Rather than a trash can for the disposable diapers, you have a diaper pail to put the cloth diapers in. While a baby is breastfed, the poop is water soluble, meaning you just throw it in the pail and then throw it in the wash on laundry day without ever needing to touch it again. You do need to add an extra cleaning step before the wash once starting solids, but if you do my second parenting recommendation, elimination communication, you shouldn’t need to do that too much either!

Lastly, cloth diapers are supposed to help with potty training as it helps with their awareness. Rather than feeling dry when they pee, they can feel the wetness and notice when it happens. Whether you do elimination communication or conventional potty training, cloth diapers will give you a leg up on that as well. 

ELIMINATION COMMUNICATION

Mom holding baby over the potty to go to the bathroom in the classic EC hold.
Kylie was around 3 months old here. We are doing the EC hold over the toilet. It was always more comfortable for us to face the back of the toilet!

I mentioned this briefly previously, so you’re probably wondering, “What is elimination communication?” Well, put simply, it’s helping your baby with their eliminating (pottying) needs just as you would when they are hungry or tired. Because we are mammals, we have a strong urge to not soil ourselves. Babies don’t want to go in a diaper, but they do WHEN they aren’t given another option. However, if you watch for your baby’s signals that they need to go to the bathroom, you can help them do this. I’m going to give a brief overview or what elimination communication is, and I’m always willing to help with any questions, but I highly recommend Andrea Olsen’s book (at godiaperfree.com) as well as her free resources such as her podcast or youtube videos. I’ve learned a lot from her and I don’t think we would have been quite as successful without the guidance from those various resources. 

Elimination communication is only a little bit more effort but the payoff is definitely worth it. Kylie is only 14 months old and I can count on one hand how many poopy diapers I’ve needed to deal with since she was 9 months old! We probably only “miss” around 20% of her pees on average. Some days we do better than others, of course. 

Baby standing on a step stool wearing tiny training pants and leg warmers.
Kylie in her training pants from Tiny Undies.

Many people start EC from birth (which I plan to do with our next baby), but we didn’t start until she was 10 weeks old because I felt I had a better handle on my new life with a newborn. Previous to EC, when she would get fussy and I knew I had just fed her, I would give her the pacifier to calm down. I thought she had reflux and that the pacifier helped with that. After observing her and starting our EC journey, I learned that that fussiness was actually her signaling to me that she needed help to go relieve herself. At that point, we stopped giving Kylie her pacifier when she was awake unless we were in a car. I learned and believe so strongly that our babies are SO smart and try hard to communicate with us. They are in tune with their bodies and the world around them, we just need to unplug and reconnect with them. 

Baby sitting on the toilet with a seat reducer. Elimination communication at works.
Kylie on the potty with the Bumbo seat reducer.

Once we started catching more, we started using diapers less. I had less diapers to wash which means that this technically also made our “diaper bill” even cheaper. It also is amazing to watch how much your baby loves potty time. Kylie would always be so smiley on the potty because she feels respected, cared for, and tended to. If you do choose to do EC, my biggest piece of advice would be to not stress. If you catch something, that’s awesome! Relish in those moments! When you miss, just move on. It’s no big deal. If you weren’t doing EC, they would have gone in that diaper anyway, so you’re still way ahead of the game. Elimination communication also helps with earlier and easier potty training–so that’s an additional bonus!

BABY LED WEANING

Baby feeding herself some of a Mexican quinoa bowl. Baby led weaning in progress.
Kylie eating a Mexican quinoa bowl.

Let me start by saying that I am a firm believer in waiting until your baby is showing all of the signs of readiness to begin solid foods and that they need to be 6 months old. Many pediatricians will recommend starting solid foods at 4 months, but your baby’s gut is still too immature and that age is from an outdated recommendation from the AAP. The AAP has since said that you should wait until 6 months to give your baby solid foods. 

So, what is baby led weaning? Basically, baby led weaning is skipping the purees and letting your baby munch on whatever you are eating! We adjusted it a little bit and didn’t give Kylie meat until she was a year old. Baby led weaning has a variety of benefits that made me want to do it even though no one else in my family has before. First, baby led weaning can be easier on your budget since you aren’t needing to buy expensive baby purees. I also learned that purees can actually make it more dangerous to introduce solid foods because of where the food goes on the baby’s tongue and how they immediately swallow it. Baby led weaning also helps your baby learn about different foods and their textures and their curious brains will love all of that stimulation! Lastly, it helps them become better/less picky eaters and they learn how to use utensils faster. 

Baby Led Weaning baby feeding herself with a spoon. Her face is covered in acai smoothie.
Kylie feeding herself some of the acai smoothie bowl with a spoon.

A big component of baby led weaning is letting your baby do it themselves. It is more hands-off and Montessori aligned, which I also like. You basically let your baby investigate the foods and practice putting them in their mouths. You can let them use their own spoon and guide it to their mouths which helps them learn that skill faster as well. 

A common worry I hear is, won’t my baby choke? I completely understand that fear and something that helped us feel more prepared was taking a CPR/first aid class with someone and we focused on practicing infant CPR. It is also important to know the difference between a child that is gagging and one that is choking. Your child WILL gag during this process. They are learning where the back of their throat is and when food hits the back of their throat they will gag just like you and I would. This is a good thing! It is their body’s way of pushing the food back to a safe spot in their mouth. Kylie has gagged many times since we have started BLW (baby led weaning) but she has never actually choked before. If your child is coughing, do not intervene! Coughing is a sign that they are still getting oxygen and their body is working to push the food out. If you hit them on the back you could actually lodge the piece of food into a spot where their body can no longer get oxygen. Instead, you want to wait until they are silent and this is when they are actually choking and need help. Like I said, we have never dealt with Kylie needing us to intervene before. I do pay close attention when she gags and look for the signs that she needs my help so that I am ready. 

Baby eating solid foods. Baby led weaning.
Honestly not sure what we are eating! But she seems to like it!

So that’s it! In my parenting journey, I am doing quite a few things that wouldn’t be considered “mainstream” but these three I have really found to benefit Kylie and I and I’ve really been glad that we’ve chosen to do them. If you are curious about the other parenting decisions I’ve made or things that we do in our home, follow along on the blog as I’ll be sharing the things I’m learning, changes I’m making, and what I think of different things. If you do any of the above things or have something that you implement in your home that you think I would like, I would love to hear about them!

10 Must-Have Plants In Your Home

Many people have plants in and around their home for decoration but did you know that certain plants can serve a secondary purpose? It is commonly known that plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, but many plants can actually help improve your indoor air quality. 

Did you know that the air in your home is polluted with all sorts of nasty things such as formaldehyde and other damaging pollutants? And those pollutants come from a variety of different sources such as: combustion sources, building materials and furnishings, asbestos-containing insulation, wet/damp carpet, cabinetry or furniture made of certain wood products, household cleaning products, personal care, heating and cooling systems, humidification devices and miscellaneous outdoor sources. (US Consumer Product Safety Commission)

If you’re a stay-at-home mom like me, that means you and your babies spend a lot of your time breathing in those pollutants. Scary! When I discovered how nasty our indoor air quality really can be–most times worse than outdoor air–I researched ways to improve our home air quality. 

While it is highly unrealistic to get new carpet, mattresses, paint, furniture etc. that are all non-toxic and don’t off-gas bad pollutants into the air, there are a few things you can do to improve the air quality in your home. First being to get rid of the the toxic things in your home that you do have control over such as cleaning supplies and beauty supplies. You’ll also want to make sure your home gets proper ventilation by opening windows or doors to let fresh air in. Now, I know we can’t always have the windows open because of various temperatures and weather circumstances, so another way to improve air quality–and decorate your space–is by adding plants around your house. 

Studies have been done to test the plants that do best with removing formaldehyde and other pollutants from the air. And luckily, the list ranges from plants that can be hung, to plants that stay on the ground. If you have pets or curious children, you’ll want to make sure the plants you choose to keep in your home are safe for the pets or you can choose to hang them to keep them out of the way. I love the look of hanging plants in bedrooms and on shelves throughout the home, and so that is what I chose to do. Many of the plants have a different style as well and so you can easily incorporate the plant that will work best in your home.

  1. Golden Pothos (removes formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide)
golden pothos indoor plants that clean the air

2. Asparagus Fern (removes formaldehyde)

asparagus fern indoor plants for natural living

3. Bird’s Nest Succulent (removes formaldehyde)

4. Aloe Vera (removes formaldehyde)

simple changes to your home to clean the air aloe vera plant

5. Spider Plant (removes carbon monoxide, formaldehyde)

6. Elephant Ear Philodendron (removes formaldehyde)

elephant ear philodendron natural living indoor plants

7. English Ivy (removes benzene)

natural living plants that purify the air English ivy plant

8. Ficus (removes formaldehyde)

indoor plants that clean the air ficus plant

9. Chinese Evergreen (removes formaldehyde)

10. Peace Lily (removes benzene, trichloroethylene)

simple natural living indoor plants that purify the air peace lily plant

Some plants are easier to care for than others, so if you have a brown-thumb or are new to caring for indoor plants, try opting for aloe vera or a golden pothos plant to start! Indoor plants are beautiful and if you choose to hang them, you can make your own macrame plant hanger that adds a bohemian look to your decor. I’d love to hear what plants you choose to purchase or what plants you already tend to in your home. 

indoor plants macrame plant hanger plants that purify the air

The Beginning

Hi! My name is Jenni and I’m a crunchy mama, wife, creative, and lover of learning. While learning more about myself and trying to find myself, I’ve learned that I care deeply about my environment and enjoy trying to be more natural in my approach to things whether that be in the kitchen cooking, beauty supplies, parenting techniques, or just cultivating a happy home. 

My journey began, like so many other mamas, while I was pregnant with my first baby. As an expecting mama, we want to learn everything we can and do the best we can for our baby. There are so many different choices and ways to do things out there that it can be overwhelming OR if you are like me, exhilarating. I never knew this about myself prior, but I love to research. I love to read and learn and will research a topic to death. Before I even got pregnant, I was sure I wanted a homebirth under the care of a midwife. My husband originally took some convincing, but then was completely onboard once he understood midwives are still medically trained and are qualified birth professionals, despite what the rest of society would like you to believe. 

Once I had hired a midwife, I became more aware of the natural side of life that I had never heard of before. I quickly and happily fell down the rabbit hole. With each decision and each step to lead a more natural life, I found myself more joyful and started to realize that this was a part of me I never knew existed. I found pride in making my own bread, trying to use less plastic, being aware of the toxins around me and making my own products instead, and relying less on convenience and more on healthy choices. 

I’ve learned a lot from other bloggers and people on Facebook groups that are so willing to share what they have learned in their own journey. I had wanted to start a blog for a long time to help expand my reach to educate and help others on their journey but I always felt like I didn’t know enough or wasn’t qualified enough or that someone else probably already had a blog about it. But, the thought of starting my own blog has continued to call to me and that passion to share and create as grown and well, gosh dang it, I am giving in. I am letting go of my insecurities and am just going to write and document my journey. Sure, it’ll be messy and imperfect but that’s life, right? This is my beginning, and I figure while I continue on my natural journey, I want to share with others that they can do it too because living naturally can be simple: hence, Simple Natural Living.