Dear Woman in Target... 'Spoiling that baby' is the most important job I have

By Kelly Dirkes © 2016
Originally shared on Facebook here.
Posted to Peaceful Parenting with author's permission.

Dear Woman in Target,

I've heard it before, you know. That I "spoil that baby."

You were convinced that she'd never learn to be "independent."

I smiled at you, kissed her head, and continued my shopping.

If you only knew what I know.

If you only knew how she spent the first ten months of her life utterly alone inside a sterile metal crib, with nothing to comfort her other than sucking her fingers.

If you only knew what her face looked like the moment her orphanage caregiver handed her to me to cradle for the very first time -- fleeting moments of serenity, commingled with sheer terror. No one had ever held her that way before, and she had no idea what she was supposed to do.

If you only knew that she would lay in her crib after waking and never cry -- because up until now, no one would respond.

If you only knew that anxiety was a standard part of her day, along with banging her head on her crib rails and rocking herself for sensory input and comfort.

If you only knew that that baby in our carrier is heartbreakingly "independent" -- and how we will spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years trying to override the part of her brain that screams "trauma" and "not safe."

If you only knew what I know.

If you only knew that that baby now whimpers when she's put down instead of when she is picked up.

If you only knew that that baby now "sings" at the top of her lungs in the mornings and after her nap, because she knows that her chatter will bring someone to lift her out of her crib and change her diaper.

If you only knew that that baby now rocks to sleep in her Mama's or her Papa's arms instead of rocking herself.

If you only knew that that baby made everyone cry the day she reached out for comfort, totally unprompted.

If you only knew what I know.

"Spoiling that baby" is the most important job I will ever have, and it is a privilege.

I will carry her for a little while longer -- or as long as she'll let me -- because she is learning that she is safe.

That she belongs.

That she is loved.

If you only knew...


To connect with other gentle parenting families:

Babywearing mom or dad? The Babywearing Group:

River of Life: Breastfeeding / Natural Weaning Mural in Tijuana, Mexico

By Danelle Frisbie © 2016

A beautiful mural celebrating the joys and goodness of natural weaning is depicted on Tijuana’s largest public health care facility.  The message, painted by Ariana Escudero, is that there is no shame in breastfeeding your baby (of any age). "2 years or more" reads a part of the caption underneath this nursing mom and her little one.

Escudero painted the 45-by-15 foot mural at Hospital General de Tijuana in Zona Río, in part because of the social insults she experienced while breastfeeding her two babies.

"It seemed so important to me to bring this message in this way because many mothers will come [to the hospital], but they’ll come to doctors -- many of whom are surprisingly misinformed about breastfeeding -- just like the general public," says Escudero. This particular hospital is where approximately 90% of local mothers birth their babies, so the mural (at the hospital's main entrance) is seen by most. She continues, "Mothers who decide to breastfeed our children do not have any reason to be censored. That’s why we must normalize it to create a culture of breastfeeding, and fight for women’s right to choose [to nurse their babies]."

Myths and misconception about the normal feeding of human babies is widespread in Mexico. Many mothers say that nursing in public is even more taboo in Mexico than in the United States, and as a result most new mothers are opting for artificial baby feeds, despite the fact that this costs significantly more than breastfeeding (both in immediate formula cost and resulting health care costs for babies who become ill more often without human milk).

One local Tijuana mother, Athena Valencia, writes on Facebook, "This past Friday on a bus in Tijuana a gentleman sat next to me and my baby. From the beginning he looked kind of grumpy... My baby she fidgeted, and the only way to calm her down was to nurse her. He turned around and said, 'That's disgusting!' I felt like crying. This is one of the reasons I don't like breastfeeding in public. But at home, everything works well for me and my baby."

Another mother writes, "[This mural] is so beautiful. I've spent days with my heart broken to pieces just a few steps away from her, but always look back and think how beautiful it is for my baby to live healthy, without pain of disease, and being a mother so many things are represented in this painting."

Due to this social pressure, Mexico has one of the lowest rates of breastfed babies in any Latin American nation - at approximately 14% for babies 0-6 months.

The mural project cost $9,000 in total, half of which was funded by the city, and the other half fundraised. Crianza Alternativa wrote on behalf of this (2014) fundraising effort, "Mexico, a developing country, is particularly vulnerable on the subject of breastfeeding due to high levels of poverty and lack of education on the matter. We have become so unattached with our motherly instincts that we have doubted ourselves on simple things like, 'We can provide full nourishment for our children. We CAN breastfeed.'"

Escudero finished her fantastic work of art during July and August, 2015, and this year all mothers birthing at the hospital will be met with an empowering image as they bring their new babies into the world.

Photograph from Derrik Chinn, San Diego Magazine

Breastfeeding community and support at The Breastfeeding Group:

Excellent breastfeeding books for nursing mothers (read one before your little one arrives):

Related reading (articles at bottom of page):


Chalk the Walk!

Join us from your neighborhood sidewalk or park as we Chalk The Walk with a baby/child-friendly message! Facebook event page:

This is a fun-in-the-sun, family-friendly awareness raising project that has been loved far and wide in years past. Chalk is cheap ($1-3 at most stores) and can also be homemade (see: It displays colorful messages on any public street/sidewalk/walkway where children and their parents are otherwise free to be, and washes naturally away with the first rainfall.

Pick your passion (birth advocacy? breastfeeding? night time parenting (no CIO)? cloth diapering? gentle 'discipline'? genital autonomy?) select your message, choose your location, gather a few friends and the kids, get your chalk ready... and we'll look forward to seeing your creation this April 30th!

The 1st participant in each U.S. location will receive an advocacy bracelet, set of info stickers, or info cards to continue spreading the message. Find various types in links here:

There will also be a winner in each category who will receive $10 toward advocacy materials of your choice (breastfeeding, babywearing, birth, genital autonomy, etc.).

'Most Creative'

'Most Artistic'

'Most Catchy Phrase'

'Most Public / Biggest'

'Most Beautiful'

'Most Childlike'

Past Winners:

You are welcome to upload photos to the peaceful parenting ( and/or Saving Our Sons ( pages. To be included in the running for prizes, you must *email* your chalk photo(s) and mailing address or state location to or  Doing so will ensure we have your contact information, in case of winning.

Chalk The Walk Albums:



Note: If you do not have time on April 30th, you're welcome to create your chalking prior to this date and submit a photo during the weekend of April 30/May 1 to be included. To win as a "first in state" entry, items cannot be submitted earlier than 9am ET on April 30, 2016.

Happy Chalking! 

Category Winners

First In State Winners
(first name only for privacy)


Robin G.

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico

New York
Ayla W.

North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota

Brittany C.

Jennifer M.


Jenny C.

West Virginia

Nature Connection Pyramid

Nature Connection Pyramid

Further reading on the benefits of getting kids into nature, and many ways to do so in your family and neighborhood: NATURE BOOKS


Cloth Diapering Your Baby After Circumcision

By Kari Osel © 2016 Peaceful Parenting

Each newborn baby arrives into the world with a prepuce organ protecting his or her glans (head) of the penis or clitoris. In baby girls this organ is commonly referred to as the 'clitoral hood' and in baby boys it is often called the 'foreskin.' In some parts of the world girls or boys are circumcised, which removes some or all of this natural protective organ. In the United States, the circumcision of baby girls is illegal by federal law (FGM Bill), though many North American girls are still circumcised each year in 'underground' operations. The two most common forms of infant circumcision of baby boys are by Plastibell and Gomco.

Because a circumcised baby boy’s urethra and sensitive glans (head of his penis) are exposed to the elements, special care must be taken when diapering and tending to this surgical wound. Cloth diapers are easily stained by blood from a baby’s genitals post-circumcision. Vaseline and similar products that are used in an attempt to protect the wound and allow for healing may cause cloth diapers to repel urine. Parents whose babies were circumcised at birth often wonder what the best course of action is at this point to prevent this from happening while using cloth. The following are solutions that have been effective for other families.

1) A strip of fleece or a receiving blanket cut to the appropriate length and width, laid into baby's diaper as a liner between the cloth and Vaseline treatment.

2) A large cotton makeup pad with a dollop of Vaseline on it, applied to your baby's wound and left in place until the next diaper change. This serves as a barrier between the ointment and the diaper. Be sure to use a fresh cotton pad with each change.

3) An ointment called CJ’s BuTTer is sometimes used instead of Vaseline, which is said to be cloth-diaper safe.

4) Cotton prefolds or flats are easiest to launder and care for, to treat stains on, and may be boiled if needed. The downfall is that they do not wick away moisture as pockets (which some babies are sensitive to - leading to rash and irritation). Watching your little one and his/her skin response to different diapering methods is key.

5) Many parents who circumcise their baby use disposables until the time comes when blood stains are no longer a risk factor for their cloth stash. However, if you opt for this means of diapering your baby, be vigilant to check the amount of blood loss during any given hour, and call emergency services immediately if you notice more than a few drops of blood. Hemorrhage post circumcision happens every year in the United States, and a newborn baby only needs to lose 1 ounce of blood to hemorrhage, and 2.3 ounces to die from blood loss. Disposable diapers are designed to hide moisture (including blood) well, and will not show actual amounts lost as clearly as cloth does.

Another important point to consider is your baby’s comfort during the healing weeks. When a baby is born, the prepuce (foreskin/clitoral hood) is tightly adhered to the glans (head) of the clitoris or penis, like your fingernail is tightly fixed to your finger. No matter which method of infant circumcision is used, the prepuce must be probed and ripped apart from the glans. Next, using various methods, an amount of the prepuce is cut off (how much varies according to the individual who is cutting). This is understandably a very painful procedure, and as is the case in many surgeries, the recovery period is often just as painful (if not more so).

Because newborn babies cannot have adequate anesthesia due to their tiny, immature organs, it is especially important for care-givers to make recovery as comfortable as possible. The clitoris or penis is an area of the body that deserves special care as it is the richest part of the human body in terms of nerve endings (and feeling). Cloth diapers are often more comfortable for babies in general than are disposables, and this remains true in the case of those with wounds.

As mentioned above, cloth does not absorb as disposables do (which has the benefit of showing clear blood volume lost), and also is less likely to allow the circumcised genitals to stick to the material of a diaper (causing further pain when a healing wound must be ripped away during diaper changes). Because cloth diapers do not contain chemicals, they are also less likely to irritate sensitive skin.

It is important to change your baby's diaper promptly after urination, and most definitely after defecation, no matter the type of diaper you use post-circumcision. Urine sitting in a diaper is no longer sterile, and a diaper with urine and/or feces in it is not a healthy environment for an open wound. The number one cause of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in babies is fecal matter being pushed into an exposed urethra - whereby bacteria moves up the urinary tract. Be gentle with your little one, give pain medication as your doctor advises or according to weight, nurse often around the clock, sleep safely within an arm's reach of your baby, and change diapers frequently with ample ointment for protection and healing.

Because all babies arrive with a prepuce to naturally protect and keep things out of the urethra, and because there is no open wound while your baby is intact, you do not need to worry about infection or protection at birth when using cloth. For an intact baby (male, female or intersex) the prepuce is a self-sustaining organ and will do all the covering, protecting, and 'cleaning' that is necessary. If you opt to keep your baby intact, simply wipe the outside of the genitals with your choice of wipes, and do not allow anyone to retract your baby's prepuce (not on girls, not on boys). Intact care involves leaving everything alone (no 'cleaning' and no special care). Learn more on intact care here.

Find more cloth diapering tips and community at The Cloth and EC Group: or any of these Peaceful Parenting Discussion Groups.

I like you just for being YOU! Mr. Fred Rogers' impact on children

Author unknown.

A good portion of my pro-bono work is defending abused children. It’s a cause close to my heart. In the course of my work I met a man who was an adult survivor. You wouldn’t have known it looking at him. He was this gigantic Polynesian guy. Wild curly hair. I think of him every time I see Khal Drogo on GoT. He was counseling some of the little kids, and doing a fantastic job of it. I visited his home to get his opinion on something and I noticed a little toy on his desk. It was Trolley. Naturally curious, I asked him about it. This is what he told me:

"The most dangerous time for me was in the afternoon when my mother got tired and irritable. Like clockwork. Now, she liked to beat me in discreet places so my father wouldn’t see the bruises. That particular day she went for the legs. Not uncommon for her. I was knocked down and couldn’t get back up. Also not uncommon. She gave me one last kick, the one I had come to learn meant ‘I’m done now.' Then she left me there upstairs, face in the carpet, alone.

I tried to get up, but couldn’t. So I dragged myself, arm over arm, to the television, climbed up the tv cabinet and turned on the TV. And there was Mr. Rogers. It was the end of the show and he was having a quiet, calm conversation with those hundreds of kids. In that moment, he seemed to look me in the eye when he said ‘And I like you just for being you.'

In that moment, it was like he was reaching across time and space to say these words to me when I needed them most. It was like the hand of God, if you’re into that kind of thing. It hit me in the soul. I was a miserable little kid. I was sure I was a horrible person. I was sure I deserved every last moment of abuse, every blow, every bad name. I was sure I earned it, sure I didn’t deserve better. I *knew* all of these things... until that moment.

If this man, who I hadn’t even met, liked me just for being me, then I couldn’t be all bad. Then maybe someone could love me, even if it wasn’t my mom. It gave me hope. If that nice man liked me, then I wasn’t a monster. I was worth fighting for.

From that day on, his words were like a secret fortress in my heart. No matter how broken I was, no matter how much it hurt or what was done to me, I could remember his words, get back on my feet, and go on for another day.

That’s why I keep Trolley there. To remind me that, no matter how terrible things look, someone who had never met me liked me just for being me, and that makes even the worst day worth it to me. I know how stupid it sounds, but Mr. Rogers saved my life."

The next time I saw him, he was talking to one of my little clients. When they were done with their session, he helped her out of her chair, took both of her hands, looked her in the eyes and said: 'And remember, I like you just for being you.'

That, to me, is Mr. Rogers’ most powerful legacy. All of the little lives he changed and made better with simple and sincere words of love and kindness.

Explore the ways that peaceful parenting can empower you as a parent, and make the lives of your children even better:

Additional peaceful parenting discussion groups by subject:



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