As a first-time expectant mother and a professional nanny, I consider myself hypervigilant when it comes to new parenting and child products, practices, research and so on. I’m also quickly gearing into new mom mode, seriously considering the pros and cons of each new fad with my own little one in mind.
Sprinkled among the latest crop of new research — news in SIDS research and updated car seat safety guidelines, to name a couple — I’ve stumbled upon a few fads I’m not so sure of.
Giving coconut milk to babies?
The gist: Some parents are opting to have their babies adhere to their own dietary choices — from birth. We’re talking newborns drinking almond, coconut, soy milk or other nut-based “milks” in place of breastmilk or formula. Unfortunately, this often well-meaning practice has been shown to end in tragedy.
The latest: Believe it or not, your breastmilk is vegan, so it's perfectly safe for your growing health foodie. But if you can't or choose not to breastfeed, offering a baby anything other than breastmilk or formula (there are soy-based formulas available) before they're a year old can lead to serious nutrient deficiencies, dehydration and even death. Talk to your doctor if you're concerned or want to learn about vegan options.
Going no gender on the birth certificate
The gist: Beyond the choice of neutral clothing colors and toy choices, we now have the world’s first genderless birth certificate. A Canadian couple wants to ensure their child is not recognized as male or female but instead as “unassigned” or “undetermined” on all legal documentation. They want to leave the choice of gender up to their child.
The latest: What's the difference between gender and sex? At birth, everyone is assigned a gender, which may or may not align with their sex, which typically refers to physical attributes. There's a growing number of recognized (and some yet unrecognized) gender identities so it’s no wonder that some parents are beginning to wonder how important that choice is to provide to their child. Should your baby be given a gender label before they’re old enough to decide for themselves? This first genderless birth certificate offers options.
Heading to "unschool"
The gist: Many new parents feel the pull of wanderlust but still want to raise a family. Enter schooling kids in the wild, also known as “unschooling.”
The latest: I first stumbled across unschooling through the Born Wild project on Instagram; the families involved, I learn, feel that nature is the best classroom. They're one of many such sets of families who are leaving the traditional classroom behind for a new take. Considering the Department of Education shakeup with Betsy DeVos’s appointment a few months ago, I wonder how many more families will try it...
Trying a gentle C-section
The gist: Mamas-to-be can choose to have a “gentle” C-section. This not-so-clinical option involves a clear drape so you can see the action and immediate skin-to-skin and breastfeeding right in the operating room. Plus, dimmed lighting and soft music, if you so desire.
The latest: Gentle C-sections are meant to be less traumatic for both Mom and baby. I’m all for a better birthing experience but I'm not so sure on that clear drape...
Baking with breastmilk
The gist: OK, so this isn't so much a "fad" as one creative parent. This mama swaps cow milk for breastmilk in this recipe for brownies. And then she sent those brownies to school!
The latest: In my book, this is all types of wrong, people. It's a major health and sanitation issue (let's not forget that the FDA advises against donor breastmilk that hasn’t been properly processed or tested). Your breast milk is made by your body to nourish your child and your child alone. So when it comes to using it for brownies, just… no.