10 Natural Parenting Goals for the New Year

Written by contributor Megan Tietz of SortaCrunchy

Here at Simple Organic, Nicole has been sharing some inspiring ideas for green goals we can implement in the coming year.  For those of us who are parents seeking to live a little more naturally, this is a great time of year to consider how green goals can be applied specifically to parenting.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, nor is it meant to make any parents feel badly about current choices for their families.  One of the best things about the start of a fresh new year is the opportunity to be challenged. What better time than January to be bold and make a leap into something new?

Here are 10 ideas to motivate your own parenting goals for 2011:

Photo by abbybatchelder

BABY CARE

1. As Nicole mentioned in her first article on Green Goals for 2011, making the switch to cloth diapers can be a great natural choice.  Even more green than cloth?  Diaper-free!

2. Switch to a non-toxic crib mattress, or wrap your conventional crib mattress to help combat the effects of off-gassing.

3. Use non-toxic baby care products, particularly those that are free of parabens and phthalates.  (Here”s a cheat sheet from SafeMama!)

4. Consider buying dye-free, phosphate-free detergents, or just make your own!

CHILD WELLNESS

5. Thoroughly research vaccine choices. Consider a balanced approach to research by reading both Dr. Sears” The Vaccine Book and Aviva Jill Romm”s Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parents” Guide.  If you do choose vaccinations for your family, consider a wellness regime to boost health around the time of vaccinations (such as the Vaccishield from WellFuture).

6. Promote wellness naturally by focusing on priobiotics either in supplements or food form.  For children older than two, consider frequent use of elderberry syrup as a preventative during cold and flu seasons.  Elderberry syrup is also a great alternative to Tamiflu or the flu shot!

7. Get lots of Vitamin D! Vitamin D is a pivotal component of wellness for people of all ages, especially children.  The best source is sunshine, and I found this cool calculator that shows how much UV exposure you need for optimum Vitamin D absorption.  When sunshine isn”t available, look into supplements such as cod liver oil.  (Here”s a more extensive list of great sources of Vitamin D.)

8. Stock an herbal and/or homeopathic medicine cabinet. Some great items to have on hand for children are:

  • Willow & Garlic Ear Oil
  • Cherry Bark Blend for sore throats
  • Camilia for teething
  • Chestal for coughs
  • Aloe vera, arnica, and other items for a natural first-aid kit

PLAY

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

9. Begin phasing out battery-powered toys and opt for more open-ended, imagination-inspiring items for play.  If your family is like mine, this will be a marathon, not a sprint.  Focus on replacing plastic toys with play items made from natural materials.  (Why?  Read more in “” in Natural Child Magazine.)

10. Make play a sensory experience! Seek out activities, games, toys, and experiences that appeal to all five senses.  I”m in love with that invite fun with aromatherapy, and this tremendously helpful article from Mommy Poppins – “99 Sensory Activities For Any Child” -  just brims with sensory-filled ideas.

Again, this is just a short list meant to be a springboard for ideas for your family in 2011.  The path to living more naturally is broad and looks different for everyone!

Do you have any goals for more natural parenting this year? Please share them in the comments so we can be further inspired!

About Megan

Megan spends her days with dirt under her nails, paint on her shirt, and laughter in her ears, and she wouldn't have it any other way. She writes about faith, mothering, and natural living at SortaCrunchy. Read her full bio here.

Comments

  1. Number 9 has special significance right after Christmas. I am inspired to clean out my son’s toy box after reading the “Nurturing th Playful Mind” article. He doesn’t play with most of it, if for no other reason than he can’t find it at the bottom of the toybox. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. These are wonderful suggestions! There has been such freedom and imagination building we have switched, over the years, to open ended toys.

  3. Great post Megan! I made another batch of elderberry syrup just this morning! :) We do a lot of these but always a helpful reminder. Thanks for the links to homemade detergent (something I’ve been considering) and I can’t wait to delve into the article links on play . . . I need some new inspiration!

    Best,
    Sarah
    Sarah´s latest post: a new year and we’re seeking JOY!

    • I also need to really follow through on making some detergent. I bought all the supplies, but just haven’t DONE it yet. Time to try!

  4. What an inspiring article, Megan, thank you for all of the great ideas and links to follow up with! I think that is my word for the year, inspiring, and reading these ideas have inspired me to move out of my comfort zone and start living more green instead of just thinking about how great of an idea it is. We do the cloth diapering routine at home with my youngest, but now it’s time to break out some cloth wipes and start looking for more inspiring playthings and homeopathic remedies.

    • It’s funny, isn’t it? With natural living, one thing leads to another and before you know it, you’re everyone’s “hippie” friend!

  5. Like JeneeLyn, #9 resonated with me. Real play involves imagination to escape boredom. A mother-figure to me used to say “You are only as bored as you are boring…” While harsh, she had a point: use that brain, Alok, and CREATE something exciting. Your reminder is well taken!
    Alok @1NationUnderMom´s latest post: “My Toxic Baby” – A Film By Min Sook Lee

    • I can’t remember where I heard someone say, “Thomas Edison would never have invented the lightbulb if he had never been bored.” I think we moms today feel a since of obligation to keep our kids busy or entertained and it’s a big lie. Boredom is motivation to create your own entertainment.

    • I tell my daughter that and it usually gets her riled up enough to go DO something!

  6. I love these ideas. Especially about stocking a natural first aid kit and toys that are non battery operated. I think I will try to implement one new green idea a month and see how we do. So far we are paper free in the kitchen except for paper towels. Still workin’ on it :-)
    Rana´s latest post: Wordless Wednesday – Open your eyes!

  7. One thing I’d like to do that I believe is along these lines is to spend more time outdoors. We’re OK about this, but we could be much, much better. I find it hard to get us outside often enough when we’re working around naps, preschool, etc., but I know I can do it if I make it a priority.
    Two Chicks and a Hen´s latest post: A Blogiversary and a Giveaway

    • I ALMOST added that as a “bonus” at the end. It’s my own personal challenge for this year, too. It’s incredibly hard for me in the winter, but no less important, I think. Thanks for bringing the outdoors into the conversation!

    • I often find it hard too, but notice such a difference in my daughter’s attitude/behavior when we go outside versus stay in all day. I need to make it more of a priority, too!

  8. Emily @ Random Recycling says:

    I’m not familiar with anything on the list of herbal remedies, except the aloe Vera. Looks like I have some additional reading to do!
    All great reminders Megan, thanks!
    Emily @ Random Recycling´s latest post: End of season lights to recycle

  9. I’ve gotten a lot of great ideas from this site and the creative posts I’ve read here. But from my perspective, as a trained physician, it’s irresponsible to encourage parents not to get their kids’ flu vaccines. Give them elderberry, it’s great. But rob them from the best way to prevent death from the flu by avoiding a vaccine? Not good. And to suggest elderberry instead of Tamiflu? Even worse.

    I realize that a lot of moms are afraid of rare side effects or have misplaced concerns about autism risks (every study done has not found any link between autism and vaccines, and the original study that provoked fear and cost children’s lives by planting seeds of autism fear has been retracted because it was faulty and a fraud!!). Moms feel they need to “research” vaccines fully themselves before getting kids the shots. Unfortuntely, the form this “research” takes involves Google, maybe some books and blogs. Unless the mom has spent time in medical training, they don’t have the background to sift through the extensive medical literature, or understand how incredibly life-saving vaccines have been through history. They haven’t seen kids die from preventable diseases. Your kids’ board certified pediatrician has spent very long hours over the course of at least SEVEN YEARS learning the ins and outs of practicing medicine, and is far more qualified than the internet and your google search bar at treating your children. Please, do read what you can to be an informed parent, but take the advice of your physician and your child’s physician in regards to vaccines.

    Yes, every medical treatment has some risk attached, and every doc is human. But in this case, the benefit of avoiding debiltating and possibly deadly disease sooooooooo outweighs the small risk of side effects from the vaccine.

    But what bothered my even more about this part of the post was the mention of possibly foregoing Tamiflu in favor of elderberry. Tamiflu is a prescription drug given for the flu, and when started early enough can help lessen the severity, symptoms, and duration of the illness. To suggest foregoing a proven treatment in favor of elderberry is ludicrous at best, and deadly at worst! Missing out on Tamiflu when flu is diagnosed early increases the risk of death from the disease. Give your kids elderberry, too, if you want. But don’t rob them of the best treatment for flu if your doctor recommends it.

    I’ve made sure every member of my family is up to date on vaccines, including my kids.

    Interestingly, CNN has an article on the vaccine study that was shown to be fraudulant in today’s headlines: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/01/05/autism.vaccines/index.html?hpt=T1

    Again, I’ve found some helpful articles and advice on this blog. But please don’t purpetuate these dangerous vaccine fears and myths. They just don’t match up with the evidence.

    • Thank you for taking the time to add your voice of experience and education to the discussion. I think an overall guiding principle on all of the SLM sites is that we want to promote open, honest, and informative discussion, and I so appreciate that you would be so moved as to engage in this conversation!

      Vaccines are certainly a hot topic (I know – I’ve been writing about them intermittently on my own blog for years). My vaccine choices go far beyond a fear of autism, and I’ve hashed out every aspect of our choices with my own father who has a Masters in Public Health Administration. I think it’s a decision that most every parent gives considerable thought to, as well we should.

      Even in writing for an audience on an “organic” blog, I know there is bound to be diversity in opinions on this topic. I think there are many families in this audience who, for varying reasons, are not going to choose vaccinations. Many of these families would also like to promote wellness within their families. My suggestion of elderberry syrup is simply that – a suggestion. All of us are bombarded daily with information (and ads) about how, where, and when to get flu shots, but for those who aren’t going to get them, there is little information on alternatives. And so my point here is simply to share some other avenues to wellness.

      Again, I really do thank you sharing your own experience here, and I am confident there are readers who agree with you. Feedback from readers always promote balance, information, and education for all of us, and it is always appreciated.

  10. These are such great suggestions, Megan. I have a lot to tackle on this list for our family, especially when it comes to playtime! It’s hard to stick to your guns when presents come in from well-meaning family members that the kids like right away. I’m definitely hoping to simplify their toys this year.

  11. Shawn Siegel says:

    To the good doctor above: thousands of parents concerned about the use of vaccines and other pharmaceutical answers to our medical problems (and non-problems) have spent, collectively, untold hours researching the history of, ingredients in and adverse reactions to those products. To be clear, I mean studies, including from the CDC website (it’s amazing – and more than a little scary – how many pieces of information are available on their own website that contradict what they pass on to us through the mainstream media!), books by well-credentialed investigative journalists, and videos and articles by pediatricians, neurosurgeons, phrenologists, general practitioners, other medical care providers of all stripes and educations, and scientists. The education received by board certified pediatricians is apparently paltry in the realm of vaccines, for instance, judging from the number of times parents have received either no answers, or incorrect answers, to direct questions re all the aspects I’ve already mentioned. Historically speaking, the damage done by vaccines is far greater and more pervasive than the picture painted by the medical establishment – all you have to do is research the information in VAERS, our national adverse event reporting system, and then take into consideration the generally accepted estimate that only from 1% to 10% of actual events get recorded – while, conversely, the threat of the “vaccine-preventable” diseases is terribly overblown, as attested by many thousands who have experienced those diseases themselves, and/or in their children, and, in the vast majority of cases had little problem overcoming the illnesses with nurture and care to their immune systems – and without vaccines.

    As for tamiflu, in Japan, the Tamiflu label warns that delirium, hallucination, delusion, disturbances in consciousness, abnormal behavior and convulsions
    may occur in children who take the drug. All adults are responsible for deciding whether to consent to any medical procedure or treatment, for themselves or their children; and administering doctors are at all times responsible for openly providing them any and all information regarding possible negative reactions. In the case of tamiflu, for instance, it’s indeed somewhat sobering to consider that no doctors can truthfully assure any patients that they, or their children, won’t be the next to suffer any of the severe adverse reactions, because they simply don’t know ; I’ll take elderberry anytime.

    I would urge the doctor to take more seriously the opinions of those who, after study, or, more unfortunately, after personal experience with adverse drug reaction, have determined that alternative treatment is healthier for their children.

  12. Mindano Iha says:

    We are advised to take the advice of our physician. Maybe we would do so if we had confidence in them.

    We are a group of professionals who have studied several issues of vaccination for several years now, including formulation, manufacturing processes and control – physical, chemical and microbiological.

    We have regularly asked innumerable physicians who recommend vaccines ( we know many as we work with them), about vaccine composition, specific ingredients, their functions, effects, side effects including long term, interactions – and we have asked them to inform us where to find serious safety studies, (which we believe do not exist) for multiple/ co-administrated vaccines.

    The answers have not only been unimpressive. They have almost without exception been unsatisfactory and often completely wrong.

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