Welcome to the September 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Safe
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and tips about protecting our families. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
One of the glaring concerns I had when I found out I was pregnant (between my boyfriend breaking up with me and moving into a house with a month left in the oven) was my dog.
Let me introduce you to Ginger.
I stopped by car and opened the door. "Get in dog." She jumped in the passenger seat. "Good boy." (She looked - looks - like a boy). Her big, bright eyes smiled. Her tail wagged. "Dog, you are mine."
I took her to work with me, stopping on my lunch break to grab some food, a proper collar and leash, and a dog bed to chill in while she waited out the long day with me. I named her Ginger (although I think her name might have been Diamond). I half-heartedly put an ad on Craigslist, looking for her owner. I took her to the vet. At a straggly 54 pounds and probably 11 months old, I gave her love and healed her scars and made her my dog.
Fast forward two years and some change, $600 on formal training, and countless vet bills (if you're unaware, pits unfortunately suffer from a myriad of allergies... there was also the spaying, vaccinations, preventative care, and annual visits...), and we were living in a third floor, one bedroom apartment with my boyfriend and a little pineapple in my belly. Fast forward a little bit more, and it was just Ginger, the baby, and me.
People say dogs know when you're expecting. Ginger did, and she coddled me like any girl's best friend would.
But.. There I was, growing ever-pregnant with an 85 lb "vicious" dog. Oh, man. To complicate matters, we moved from my cramped apartment to a house when I had about 6 weeks left to go on the incubation. (Any move is transition enough for a human, let alone an animal).
Any animal - dog, cat, or otherwise - is a concern with a new baby. Large, small, young, old, ill-mannered, or exquisitely well-behaved. Animals are animals, and animals are not always predictable.
|The very last hour of the Ana & Ginger Era.|
In order to prepare Ginger for the baby and myself for dealing with Ginger and the baby, I set some ground rules after countless hours of researching co-mingling pet and baby ownership.
1. No dogs in the baby's room. Nil. Nada. Not until I decided she was allowed in, and at that point, she was only allowed in with me.
2. No dogs in bed. Whether the baby was sleeping with me or in the bassinet, no doggies sleeping in the bed. Again, by invitation only and only under my direct supervision.
3. The dog gets mama-only time every day. While it was hard to put Niko down for even a minute, I made sure to give Ginger a minimum of 20-30 minutes of high-quality belly rubs and nuzzling.
4. The dog (and baby and mama) get a walk every day. Since I had a C-Section and awful recovery (split incision... the nine), my mom, sister, and friends helped an awful lot with this one.
5. Ginger got her own space - her bed (okay.. beds... as she destroyed them - as she apt to break down and do - they were replaced) and toys were kept separate where she could go privately to hang out and lick her paws or whatever she wanted to do.
6. As Niko began exploring, I made sure that Ginger was up to snuff with her commands (sit, down, stop) and increased her patience to having her ears rubbed, tail pinched, and paws manhandled (all gingerly, of course).
7. I came to terms with the possibility of spending additional funds on a personal trainer or, in an extreme case, rehoming my dog in order to preserve the safety of my child. This was difficult to realize, but it was something that had to be done. Children trump pets, as they should, and unfortunately, some pets can't hang with kiddos. It's something you hope to never have to do, but you realize you may. Find a trainer in your area. Become slightly familiar with the shelters and rescues in your area and their policies (especially if you have a traditionally troublesome dog breed).
Now that Niko is older, we've laid additional rules.
8. Respect the dog. She's double his weight, with thankfully infinitesimally more patience, but he started out a little too grabby, a little too familiar, a little too quick to try to ride her like a horse.
9. Ginger needs alone time. Let her be.
10. The dog's food is the dog's food. Let it be.
11. The dog's treats are the dog's treats. We have separate treats for little boys : )
|Best Buds - Niko & Ginger|
It's a continual journey on the road to cohabiting this little corner we live in. Thankfully, we've had no (okay, very minor - minute!) issues. Preparing a pet for a baby is a task, and later instructing a baby to respectfully live with an animal is a feat. Safety for the whole family trumps all, but it is possible (and quite reasonable!) to successfully live together with children and pets. Pets are wonderful additions to families (and sort of a pre-requisite to babies for some), and I'm so happy to have such a wonderful companion in mine.
What were some of your most glaring safety concerns in preparing for a baby? Do you have a pet? How was the transition in your household? I'd love to hear! Tell me about it in the comments or on the FaceBook.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon September 10 with all the carnival links.)
- Stranger Danger — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her approach to the topic of "strangers" and why she prefers to avoid that word, instead opting to help her 4-year-old understand what sorts of contact with adults is appropriate and whom to seek help from should she ever need it.
- We are the FDA — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger makes the case that when it comes to food and drugs, parents are necessarily both their kids' best proponent of healthy eating and defense against unsafe products.
- You Can't Baby Proof Mother Nature — Nicole Lauren at Mama Mermaid shares how she tackles the challenges of safety when teaching her toddler about the outdoors.
- Bike Safety With Kids — Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs shares her tips for safe cycling with children in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
- Spidey Sense — Maud at Awfully Chipper used a playground visit gone awry to teach her children about trusting their instincts.
- Water — sustainablemum explains how she has used her love of canoeing to enable her children to be confident around water
- Safety without baby proofing — Hannabert at Hannahandhorn talks about teaching safety rather than babyproofing.
- Coming of Age: The Safety Net of Secure Attatchment — Gentle Mama Moon reflects on her own experiences of entering young adulthood and in particular the risks that many young women/girls take as turbulent hormones coincide with insecurities and for some, loneliness — a deep longing for connection.
- Mistakes You Might Be Makings With Car Seats — Car seats are complex, and Brittany at The Pistachio Project shares ways we might be using them improperly.
- Could your child strangle on your window blinds? — One U.S. child a month strangles to death on a window blind cord — and it's not always the obvious cords that are the danger. Lauren at Hobo Mama sends a strong message to get rid of corded blinds, and take steps to keep your children safe.
- Tips to Help Parents Quit Smoking (and Stay Quit) — Creating a safe, smoke-free home not only gives children a healthier childhood, it also helps them make healthier choices later in life, too. Dionna at Code Name: Mama (an ex-smoker herself) offers tips to parents struggling to quit smoking, and she'll be happy to be a source of support for anyone who needs it.
- Gradually Expanding Range — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook explains how she is increasing the area in which her child can walk alone, a little bit at a time.
- Safety Sense and Self Confidence — Do you hover? Are you overprotective? Erica at ChildOrganics discusses trusting your child's safety sense and how this helps your child develop self-confidence.
- Staying Safe With Food Allergies and Intolerances — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is sharing how she taught her son about staying safe when it came to his food allergies.
- Don't Touch That Baby! — Crunchy Con Mom offers her 3 best tips for preventing unwanted touching of your baby.
- Playground Wrangling: Handling Two Toddlers Heading in Opposite Directions — Megan at the Boho Mama shares her experience with keeping two busy toddlers safe on the playground (AKA, the Zone of Death) while also keeping her sanity.
- Letting Go of "No" and Taking Chances — Mommy at Playing for Peace tries to accept the bumps, bruises and tears that come from letting her active and curious one-year-old explore the world and take chances.
- Preventing Choking in Babies and Toddlers with Older Siblings — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now gives tips on preventing choking in babies and toddlers along with Montessori-inspired tips for preventing choking in babies and toddlers who have older siblings working with small objects.
- Keeping Our Children Safe: A Community and National Priority — September has many days and weeks dedicated to issues of safety; however, none stir the emotions as does Patriot Day which honors those slain the terrorist attacks. Along with honoring the victims, safety officals want parents to be ready in the event of another disaster whether caused by terrorists or nature. Here are their top tips from Mary at Mary-andering Creatively.
- A Complete Family: Merging Pets and Offspring — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the ground rules that she laid out for herself, her big brown dog, and later her baby to ensure a happy, safe, and complete family.
- Be Brave — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about helping her kids learn to be brave so that they can stay safe, even when she's not around.
- Catchy Phrasing — Momma Jorje just shares one quick tip for helping kids learn about safety. She assures there are examples provided.
- Know Your Kid — Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassfras refutes the idea that children are unpredictable.
- Surprising car seat myths — Choosing a car seat is a big, important decision with lots of variables. But there are some ways to simplify it and make sure you have made the safest choice for your family. Megan at Mama Seeds shares how, plus some surprising myths that changed her approach to cars eats completely!
- I Never Tell My Kids To Be Careful — Kim is Raising Babes, Naturally, by staying present and avoiding the phrase "be careful!"