Sunday, 12 August 2007

Response to MEC’s remarks about Home-Education on 9 August 2007

by A Daddy

The article below appeared in the Mercury on 9 August 2007. I thought I’d make a few comments, which I also forwarded to the Mercury.
At first when I read the article I thought of this one liner – “What’s worse – Ignorance or Apathy? – Who knows? Who cares?”
I read it again and thought of this quote – “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”
Then I wondered how some people can think its right to think you’re right when you think its right to be wrong.
Then decided to write a response.
I wonder – Is it proper to slam home education by saying it has a serious negative impact on the overall development of children?
Depends – If you have interviewed every single person who ever received home education and you find everyone to be underdeveloped in some area – your “slammation” may have grounds. If not, it is worth as much as a statistic that is made up on the spot.
If someone reckons that schools are microcosms of society, it is probably also possible that that same person could surmise that an aeroplane can fly through a watermelon. You see – A watermelon is 80% water and a cloud is 80% water. An aeroplane can fly through a cloud. Therefore an aeroplane can fly through a watermelon.
If you think that education is much more than simply failing or passing, you are right. As a matter of interest – failing, passing and socialising are words that are entirely divorced from education.
Identity, purpose and legitimacy, on the other hand, is a large part thereof.
That said - One should never assume that all parents who homeschool, educate their children.
Education has to do with assisting/training an individual to reach his/her potential and doing what he/she was created for. It has nothing to do with exclusivity or academics. It has everything to do with clarity of focus.
In conclusion I can agree with Mark Twain who said – “Never let your schooling interfere with your education.”

By Colleen DardaganMEC slams home education
August 09 2007 at 07:46AM
KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Ina Cronje has slammed home education, saying it has a seriously negative impact on the overall development of children."I am utterly against it. Part of a child's learning is to socialise and learn to cope in the world. If schools are microcosms of society, depriving the child of that learning experience will have a very serious impact on overall development. "Children may do well in a subject, but education is much more than simply failing or passing," said Cronje, while confirming there had been an increase in the number of registrations for home schooling in KZN over the past year.
Home education is under the spotlight in South Africa, with research findings by the national Education Department due to be released soon.Leendert van Oostrum, head of the Pestalozzi Trust, has dismissed the findings, saying the process was flawed and the results would not accurately reflect why parents chose to school their children at home. The trust is a Gauteng-based legal defence fund for home school parents who find themselves in conflict with the Education Department."The department only tendered for a survey of those who are registered and, according to our records, less than five percent of the estimated 80 000 children being home schooled in the country are reflected on departmental records. Any research based on the number of children listed with the department cannot accurately reflect the many different reasons parents choose to home educate their children."Hersheela Narsee, head of the research project at the department, said the results of the study, which involved 2 900 registered children, were due for release in the next few months. According to the national department, KZN had more than 500 children registered for home schooling, the highest number in the country.Education spokesperson Christi Naude said the number of children registered did not correlate with the national department's figures. "We had 400 registered, but that is not accurate.Then the computers were stolen at our offices in Ulundi, so we only have records of 155 children - we have had an increase of 70 percent in registrations in the last year. However, this figure is also not reliable as many parents do not inform us when they decide to stop home schooling and send their children back to public or independent schools."Narsee described the monitoring process in KZN as difficult. "Distances and human resource capacity issues in the department are key barriers. For example, to monitor over 500 home learners in KwaZulu-Natal it would require officials to travel 60 840km and 877 man days a year for a single, three-hour visit to each of these home sites," she said.Van Oostrum said according to his records most parents chose not to send their children to public schools precisely because they didn't want them to follow the national curriculum."The new curriculum shows all the hallmarks of revolutionary education practice based on Marxist theory. Children's religious and cultural identities are shifted by interfaith and multiculturism to common identities. In fact, I believe the Department of Education's curriculum is so prescriptive, it borders on the unlawful."

Saturday, 04 August 2007

World Breastfeeding Week 1-7 August 2007

Posted with compliments of

Breastfeeding: The 1st Hour
Early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding for six months can
Save more than ONE million babies!

“It begins at birth. Our very first act after birth is to suck our mother’s…milk. This is an act of affection, of compassion. Without that act, we cannot survive. That’s clear…That’s the way of life. That’s reality.”
Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, The Art of Happiness A Handbook for Living.1998


  • To mobilise the world to the potential for saving ONE million babies starting with ONE simple action: allowing the baby to initiate breastfeeding in the first hour of life.

  • To promote immediate skin-to-skin contact of the mother and baby and continuing with exclusive breastfeeding for six months .

  • To encourage ministers of health and other authorities to include the initiation of breastfeeding in the first hour as a key indicator for preventive health.

  • To ensure that families know how important a baby’s first hour is, so that they can make sure that their babies are given this opportunity.

  • To support the newly revised and revitalised Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), with its emphasis on integration and expansion, and on the early initiation of breastfeeding.

In the first hour of life, a baby finds her mother’s breast. Together they can do it on their own, when we respect maternal/infant physiology as we provide expert maternal child care.
This is the beginning of a life-sustaining breastfeeding relationship between mother and child.

Visit to view the video

The Remarkable First Hour of Life
When healthy infants are placed skin-to-skin on their mother’s abdomen and chest immediately after birth, they exhibit remarkable capabilities. They are alert. They can crawl, stimulated by mother’s gentle touch, across her abdomen, reaching her breast.13 They begin to touch and massage the breast. This first gentle touch of a baby’s hand or head at the breast stimulates release of maternal oxytocin,9 thus beginning both the flow of milk and enhancing the feelings of love for the baby. Then the baby smells, mouths and licks the mother’s nipple. Finally, he or she attaches to the breast and feeds. This sequence of events is important for the survival of human young.

Optimal breastfeeding
The WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding recommends that children breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months of life, and then continue breastfeeding with adequate complementary food up to 2 years or beyond. Normal initiation of breastfeeding in the first minutes to first hours of life begins with skin-to-skin contact, and helps mothers and infants to achieve optimal breastfeeding. This is required in the BFHI, specifically in Step 4 of the WHO/UNICEF 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Rights
The Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises that every child has the inherent right to life and aims to ensure their survival and development. Breastfeeding within the first hour after delivery helps to ensure child survival. Women have a right to this knowledge and to receive the support that they need to initiate breastfeeding accordingly.

Why is skin-to-skin contact after birth and breastfeeding within the first hour of life so important?

  1. The mother’s body helps to keep the baby appropriately warm, which is especially important for small and low birth weight babies.

  2. The baby is less stressed, calmer and has steadier breathing and heart rates.

  3. The baby is exposed first to the bacteria from the mother which are mostly harmless, or against which the mother’s milk contains protective factors. The mother’s bacteria colonise the baby’s gut and skin and compete with more harmful bacteria from health providers and the environment, and so prevent them from causing infection.

  4. The baby receives colostrum for the first feeds – liquid gold, sometimes called the gift of life.

  5. Colostrum is rich in immunologically active cells, antibodies and other protective proteins. Thus it serves as the baby’s first immunization. It protects against many infections. It helps to regulate the baby’s own developing immune system
    · It contains growth factors, which help the infant’s intestine to mature and function effectively. This makes it more difficult for micro-organisms and allergens to get into the baby’s body
    · It is rich in Vitamin A, which helps protect the eyes and reduce infection
    · It stimulates the baby to have bowel movements so that meconium is cleared quickly from the gut. This helps get rid of the substances in the baby's body that produce jaundice and therefore may help reduce it
    · It comes in small volumes, just right for the new baby.

  6. Touching, mouthing and suckling at the breast stimulates oxytocin release – this is important for many reasons:
    · Oxytocin causes the uterus to contract. This may help delivery of the placenta and reduce maternal bleeding after the birth10
    · Oxytocin stimulates other hormones which cause a mother to feel calm, relaxed, and some would say “in love” with her baby 9
    · Oxytocin stimulates the flow of milk from the breast.

  7. Women experience incredible joy with this first meeting of their child! And fathers often share this delight. The process of bonding between mother and baby begins.

Overall, skin-to-skin contact and early feeds with colostrum are associated with reduced mortality in the first month of life. They are also associated with increased exclusive breastfeeding and longer duration of breastfeeding in the following months, leading to improved health and reduced mortality later on as well.

Is normal breastfeeding initiation in the first hour all that is needed to guarantee continued exclusive breastfeeding?
Absolutely not! Mothers need continued support to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months. The family, health workers, traditional healers and others in the community are all important contributors to their network of support. Health providers, health visitors and others need clinical training in assessment of breastfeeding, identification of problems, as well as knowledge and skills for helping the mother to resolve difficulties. Follow-up by a health worker within 48-72 hours after the birth, again after one week, and at appropriate times thereafter provides the opportunity to intervene early if there are problems, as well as to reassure the mother when things are going well.

Implementation of the newly revised and revitalised BFHI with its 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding along with adherence to The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and Subsequent World Health Assembly Resolutions provide the support structure needed to protect, promote and support optimal breastfeeding.

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is a global network of individuals and organisations concerned with the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide based on the Innocenti Declarations, the Ten Links for Nurturing the Future and the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding. Its core partners are International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), La Leche League International (LLLI), International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA), Wellstart International and Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM). WABA is in consultative status with UNICEF and an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).

More Breastfeeding information:

Thursday, 05 July 2007

My contribution to the broadening of the tax base (29 June 2007)

By A Daddy
It was a Friday morning just like any other. I woke up, got up, charged up and filled up. We still had a couple of things to do in preparation for our son, Migael, who we expected to arrive on 07-07-07. The most important thereof – my wife, Marie’s, hairdresser appointment.
At around 8:00 Marie politely informed me that 07-07-07 seemed a little too far in the future based on certain physical signals she experienced. So at around 11:00 we decided to take on the 22 km trip to the Hospital, which took us about 25 minutes, just to get some kind of indication of what our plan of action should be.
We pitched up, the nurses did their “stuff” and told us that Migael could technically arrive at any moment but their gut feeling told them there was still time.
So we went home and my wife honoured her hairdresser appointment at 13:30. When walking out of the salon at around 14:00 she told me that the contractions were about 7 minutes apart. We drove home very calmly and told my mom, who is visiting, and kids that the time has come to undertake the 22 km trip again.
By this time my wife whispered in my ear that the contractions were about 5 minutes apart. We started our journey. Four minutes later she told me that she had another contraction.
My mind started wondering to a few movie scenes that I had seen at some stage where people had to rush to the Hospital, but I knew at that time that it only happened in movies.
However when my wife whispered in my ear, three minutes later, that she had another contraction I shifted gears into movie mode.
It briefly reminded of an incident when I experienced that although a square peg doesn’t fit into a round hole, a bone can fit tightly around a dog’s teeth.
My mom started shivering, my oldest daughter reminded me that we were not driving a 4X4, my other daughter thought her dad had gone colour blind, but she sort-of enjoyed it, and my son thought he had arrived in heaven.
The traffic made me realise that the weekend had already started in Pretoria and a few frustrated people did their utmost to make sure that I wait my turn and do not pass them. (May they be blessed!)
Any case, we arrived at the hospital and informed the staff of the situation. They welcomed us back but did not understand the urgency of the situation.
I politely informed them that we had a covenant, which included short, easy, painless contractions and that it would serve them well to hurry up.
They concurred, did their “stuff”, called the doctor. She arrived. A contraction arrived. And after three pushes the tax base was broadened at 14:45.
His name: Migael
Inherent meaning: Who is like God?
Spiritual connotation: Esteemed
First blessing I gave him after his birth: I blessed him with wisdom and anointing to stand solidly on the righteous past, and at the same time to see outside the traditions and norms of the religious movement into which he has been born.
Weight – 2.85 kgLength – Perfect
Everything else – PerfectMom is doing great.
First blessing I gave her after Migael’s birth: I blessed her with having the perfect peace, not as the world gives, great perspective and great understanding.
Dad, sisters and brother are delighted.
It’s great to have the covenant keeping, Lord of Hosts, El Shaddai, Abba Father, The Faithful One on our side.

Tuesday, 03 July 2007

In Celebration of the Two. 19 June 2007.

by Cath Jenkin

the shitties

breast pads. clearly created and marketed by people who have never had breasts. and especially ones that leak.
expressing. aka the wakka wakka machine. clearly created by people who have never used their nipples for anything except erotic pleasure.
sickness. the unbearable loneliness and powerlessness that comes at 2am when you can do nothing more except hold your crying child and pray that sleep will come for both of you.
dependence. the realisation that this tiny little person is entirely dependent on you for everything. realising also that you, yourself are still dependent and feeling even more powerless to do anything.
tantrums. and oh boy, how you can throw them. one word comes to mind - retribution.
pain. the pain of childbirth is nothing, absolutely nothing in comparison to the pain you feel when you get a phonecall to say your child's been hurt and needs emergency medical attention.
disorder. nothing will ever stay clean again. ever. just give up hope of ever having a clean house ever again. but, reserve the right to complain and from young, you do them train.
metamorphosis. the constant change demanded of you as a result of the constant change that this little person is going through. don't blink, because you will miss something.
fatigue. you will never be as tired as this. ever. you will never sleep again like you used to. ever. you get used to it, you do, and by the time the teen years roll around, and all they ever want to do is sleep, your body's so well-honed to not sleeping that you get up and do random hobbies like decoupage and shit.
heartache. nothing will ever hurt you as much as when your child rejects you in favour of another. nothing will ever hurt you as much as when your child gets hurt, in any way whatsoever. they say when a child is born, the parents' souls then live outside their body. it's true. never mind heart on sleeve, try everything exposed and raw and tender and unprotected.
pooh. i have no need to explain any more on this than to say pooh.

the f**king amazings that i wouldn't trade for anything in the world, not even twelve hours sleep and a hot bath and being able to read an entire book in one sitting.

that very first smile. my dad died the same day and you looked at me and smiled. three weeks old and already more resilient than me.
that very first mama. a warm thursday evening. it just popped out, you wanted my attention so much.
those very first steps. that i watched you take as you walked from the wall and into your daddy's arms.
the love. the indescribable and overwhelming joy that rises up from a place within you that never existed before when your little rascal throws their arms around you and squeezes.
the kisses. open mouth with tongue all over your cheek, nose and including a free dose of snot and some dried up milk.
the dancing. the dancing around the lounge with you and you throwing your head back and laughing.
the giggling. when you laugh, your whole body shakes. its evidence of your unashamed aliveness that i hope will never be tainted by the world.
the singing. and the clapping. and the singing the songs with the actions.
the excitement. everything you see is like you've seen it for the very first time. "Look mama Look Look Look"
the fanclub. even when you're entirely ruined, deemed unsuitable for anybody's consumption in the adult world, rejected, dejected, and passed on by, you come home and all your little person wants is for you to hold them and sing badly to them.
the night time doo doo ritual. of kisses and stroking and you playing with my hair.
the dressing up. being able to dress you up in clothes with ears and knowing full well you'll hate me for it one day but not caring because you are just so cute, i could fall over.
the holding my hand. with your little hand in mine we read together and you point to the pictures and tell me their names.

i keep looking at you and asking myself - where the hell did the time go? what happened to the little bundle we brought home all swaddled who just slept all the time and ate and slept and cried? how is it that I know what to do now about hiccups? (thanks very much Google - three days old and already your livelihood's dependent on the internet!) how is it that childspeak, once deemed entirely undecipherable by me, is now my most common spoken language?

you've changed me, as you've grown. you've forced me to decide who i am, and who i want to be. you've helped me do things I never thought possible, and just tonight, walked over to me, put your arms around me and said "love you mama". you can piss me off and melt my heart in a nannosecond, and yet, i wouldn't change a thing.

730 days. approximately 4500 nappies down. approximately 3650 bottles of milk. more laundry than a hospital in war time. and more love than my beaten heart can hold.

thank you for being in my life, little girl.

As I write this, two years ago at this time, we were checking in at maternity where that numbnut behind the counter said "and what are you here for?" /well lady, i'm actually smuggling soccer balls and was bored so we thought we could come hang in the maternity ward for a while because we had nothing better to do. what the hell do you think i'm doing here!/. your grandparents were anxiously waiting to hear from us, i got a pipe inserted up my bum haha. my best friend was nervously checking her phone every thirty two seconds. your aunts and uncles were hopping around waiting for you to arrive. and i was wearing a burn shirt.

i will never forget how you looked when you arrived. so calm. you were so calm we were actually worried that something was wrong with you. all long limbs and tummy and haha tail, you were. of course, it took me three days to find out you had a little tail!

and now, there you are, asleep and dreaming of your barney cake and candles and swings and friends.

we love you little one. every day we are thankful for your exuberant smile and your joy for just living. thank you for choosing and blessing us.

Happy Birthday Cameron.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

International Nestlé-Free Week

As you probably know, I support the boycott of Nestlé products.
According the the World Health Organisation Authority (WHO) 1.5 million babies die every year as a result of inappropriate feeding. Despite this Nestlé continues to push its baby milks in breach of international standards.
Monitoring by groups on the ground around the world shows Nestlé is responsible for more violations than any other company. That's why it is singled out for boycott action.
If you don't boycott Nestlé already, I ask that you consider looking at the evidence and giving up Nestlé products for one week, at least.
Boycott groups around the world have declared 2-8 July to be International Nestlé-Free Week.
The boycott has forced some changes from the company, but it is still a long way from complying. Campaigners are also working for laws. Nestlé can comply when it is given no choice. It is not being asked to do something that is impossible, but without pressure it continues to put its own profits before infant health and mothers' rights.
You can find out more information and look at the evidence yourself on the Baby Milk Action website at:
You can sign up there to support the boycott.
It is important to tell Nestlé you will be boycotting it, whether it is just for the week, or until it accepts and acts on the plan put to it by boycott groups for saving infant lives.
You can telephone Nestlé on the freephone number0800 00 00 30 (Not in SA), 086 009 6116 (SA number) or send a message via its website

Wednesday, 06 June 2007


by 'Glen'

It’s true.
When you are present at the birth of a baby, that baby steals a portion of your heart for life.
It’s so true!
Especially when that baby is your first grandchild! His heart is imprinted on your soul forever. Unconditional love with no option or choice, instantly!
My experience began with the ante-natal classes where I was the ‘dad’ for the duration of Angel’s pregnancy. These sessions were mind boggling (for me any way). I already had four babies of my own and assumed I knew it all. At thirty six I was about to become a Granny and I discovered I knew NOTHING about childbirth and new babies. I knew even less about epidurals, forceps, caesareans, breech babies, premature babies and so much more that the brain blows a fuse.
However, I did learn about daddy’s-to-be who felt squeamish at the mere sight of the implements in a text book. Many a daddy had to sit with his head between his knees in those classes. The educational movies on childbirth are filmed with a ‘full frontal’ view of the mother during the birthing process and that is hard on the eyes for anyone! Dads usually stand at the mother’s shoulder during the birthing process - well in my experience that is. I must say that I still can’t get my head around the epidural part for childbirth. I do not believe that the chemicals they use are of any advantage to the mother or the baby. But I digress.
The classes prepared us as well as possible for the pending happy event. As usual, our darling boy decided that midnight was a good time to start making it known that he was ready to see us all. D-day had finally arrived!!
Although my heart was torn between pity for my Angel and her pain, sadness that she had to go through all this at the tender age of seventeen, my heart still skips faster when I remember the birth of darling Damien. When the nurse connected the heart monitor and the labour pain monitor and I heard Damien’s little heart beat I cried. It was too awesome for words. When I heard his heart beat quicken with the intensity of each contraction I was blown away.
Angel was so brave. She was blessed by a quick labour for a first baby and the birth was relatively easy. She did it all the totally natural way as God created us to do (apart from which we could not afford the alternative choices). I can still see his little head of black hair emerging and then hear his cries of indignation at being exposed to the light and air! He was the most beautiful baby! Perfect.
My heart was lost.
Angel and Damien were the focus of all of us in the theatre. I have no idea what anybody else in that theatre looked like or what they were doing. All I had eyes for were Angel and baby Damien. He had lots of dark hair where my babies were all so fair and had very little hair until they were nearly two!
I was intrigued by what happened to our new born baby once he was born, because even after four of my own natural births I had never seen or thought about it. The suctioning, the wiping clean, the keeping warm, the weighing, the measuring, the checking of reflexes – let me tell you, new born babies are as hard to measure as a wriggling python! It amused me immensely to see them attempting to measure our squirming little Damien! Even then he was wiggling and squirming around!
Then off we went to the nursery where he was dressed and I had the huge honour of giving my first grandchild a bottle of some or other liquid to drink, to cuddle him and breathe in the amniotic smell of a new baby. That intimate smell only lasts for a short time (thereafter they smell like Elizabeth Anne babies!!).
My attention was drawn away from our little dark haired bundle to the smiling new fathers in the nursery. No, not smiling, BEAMING, shining, bursting with pride and joy! The sensation of excitement in the nursery was almost tangible. I finally dragged myself away from drooling over my precious Damien to telephone his ‘Grampa’ to fetch me. I fully grasp the reason why we always get the news of a new baby so long after the birth. When you are the father it feels like a matter of a few seconds before you get to call anyone.
I popped in to see how Angel was. I was so elated by my experience I could have done cartwheels in the corridor! Angel was fine, Damien was fine and I was buzzing with a current of joy, amazement and love for my little grandson. As usual Duck’s common sense prevailed and he dragged me away at five a.m. to get some rest. We were going to visit later after all!
Rest! With all that excitement in my heart and soul? Not easily I can assure you! I ran on adrenalin for the next few days.
I have never said thank you, dearest Angel-mine, for having me with you, for bestowing such an honour on me. Circumstances happened so that it panned out that way I know. It does not make me any less grateful for the privilege of sharing such a precious moment in time with you and your Damien. I am thankful to my Father above for blessing me with such an almighty experience.
Damien – thank you for your loving nature. Your beautiful brown eyes, warm smile and huge hugs give me so much joy! You have a very special piece of my heart. It’s the part with you imprinted on it, so please, be a good person, be cautious in your decisions and take good care of my piece of heart okay?

Also check out Angel's blog, this piece was written by her "mommy darling" as frequently refered to in her blog.

Tuesday, 05 June 2007

Baby Wearing

After being introduced to a baby sling with the birth of our second child, we realized what we had missed out on with our first born. The bonding and nurturing opportunities offered to Adam definitely resulted in a happier and more confident baby, not to mention the comfort and warmth afforded during those extremely chilly winter months - both our children are winter babies.

Having being stopped many times by current and prospective parents in search of a similar product we realized the total unavailability of anything remotely similar in South Africa. Having made several enquiries to import an affordable sling we realized that in order to provide a high quality product at a reasonable price it would have to be manufactured locally. Having looked at the options we realized that with some improvements our then baby sling would provide the best base to develop from. Coming from a zero knowledge of the textile industry proved challenging but we knew that we had a wonderful product and were determined on producing it. It took over a year and several manufactures to finally produce the quality product we were looking for. aSling is 100% cotton and 100% produced in Cape Town, and is a refinement of a centuries old concept.

We have seen first hand the ongoing benefits of using aSling. Besides being hands free for the parent from birth; you are providing the best support for your baby’s developing hips and spine. aSling has been designed to reduce stress on parents neck, back and shoulders, aids sleep and allows for discreet breast feeding. Colic and reflux reduction has been widely reported by users of aSling.

It has been fantastic to have produced something that has been so well received. Having being determined to produce a high quality product, we are continually encouraged by the extremely positive feedback we receive.

To those readers who have supported us, a huge thank you and many years of happy parenting.

Keeping Baby Close

frog small From the Editor’s Desk

Baby wearing is just another one of those facets of attachment parenting that I am passionate about. It just feels so right, your baby nestled in close to your heart! After 9 months in your body what can be more natural than to nurture your baby right against it. Baby is happy and secure and mom’s hands are free to do what she needs to, it just makes everything easier, including nursing. Now don’t get me wrong baby wearing is not for moms only, my husband still carries our little one often.

Baby wearing is something that comes naturally to many cultures – just look at our African ladies wearing their babies on their backs – these babies cry less and just look so content. Westerners are finally starting to see baby wearing for the wonderful attachment tool it is. While there is loads of info overseas about baby wearing there is still sadly little knowledge about this in SA.

I have been wearing my youngest who is now a year old since birth, we have gone through different carriers in the different stages my son went through. When he was a newborn a sling worked well, but he soon started to dislike being so enclosed. I tried several of the commercially available carriers, but they just did not work for me and left my son’s legs dangling which is not healthy for hip development. I then discovered the Khanyisa African Baby carrier which till this day we can use comfortably for prolonged periods. We alternate this with a sling which, now that he can sit up in it he just loves.

While it may not always be easy to find the right carrier and some trial and error may be necessary, once you find the right carrier you will never look back. I only wish I knew about slings when my older son was small, he like most babies did not much like being in a pram and I spent a lot of time simply carrying him.

Some further reading:

There are now several slings and carriers available in South Africa that are made locally. Among these is the African Baby Carrier and aSling.

Earthbabies who we featured a short while ago have some lovely info on baby wearing and some great carriers and slings.

Monday, 04 June 2007

Writers Block

by Annie Austin

I have been seemingly suffering from writers block...
But then at three o’clock this morning it dawned on me, I am not in fact suffering from writers block! But instead from sheer utter exhaustion! The mind numbing kind of exhaustion that renders one incapable of walking up-right let alone stringing a cohesive sentence together, why do you ask am I walking around in this dazed state? What was I doing up at 3am? Could it have something to do with a certain adorable little boy who recently turned one and is sprouting yet another molar? The very same little angel who now lies sleeping in my arms, my breast firmly in his mouth, while I one handedly type this? I look down at his precious angelic face and my heart just melts all over again.

Looking around our toy strewn study, I once again think about what a wonderful roller-coaster ride the last year has been. Hurricane Ryan landed here abouts on the 4th May 2006 and has steadily been gaining momentum with every new skill acquired.

The reason I say ‘our’ study is that my sons and I share a study – we homeschool and it is easier to have everything in one room – I am sure our house-keeper who probably lives in a home smaller than our kitchen finds our living arrangements most amusing. You see we also co-sleep and with the birth of Ryan our eldest has decided that he does not like being ‘left out’ and started sleeping in our room too. So while we live in a huge old farm house most of the rooms are unused while we all sleep in one room and spend the vast majority of our day either outside or in the study.

Yes, I have a house-keeper (shock horror gasp – not very crunchy indeed!!), but I am a work at home mom (WAHM) who needs to work several hours a day, educate and love two growing boys and look after my family, find time to write; and edit this blog. Somehow house work just does not fit into the equation. As much as I am capable of multi-tasking I have not yet found the secret to being in more than one place at a time, and until I do I have a house-keeper.

So here I sit on an unseasonably wet and cold autumn Saturday wondering just what the future holds for my nearest and dearest, will their kids too have the luxury of growing up on a farm – or will life as we now know it no longer exist? Will they get to run outside in the sun, or will the atmosphere have been destroyed so much that being out in the sun will be impossible? While many people choose not to think about global warming and what the human race is doing to this planet, one look at my children is all I need to know that unless we all do something drastic here and now, they face a future far bleaker than we can even begin to imagine.

Sunday, 03 June 2007

Cloth Nappies - the Modern Mothers Choice

By Joanne Austin

Why converting to cloth nappies is the modern mother's choice -
For the past 20 years 95% of mothers saw disposable nappies as an essential item. This is beginning to change as we become better informed about the negative effects, as well as a result of the revolutionary way in which cloth nappies are now made. No Longer are cloth nappies considered the “poor relation of nappies”.

Here are a few good reasons why more & more mothers are either fully or partially converting to the use of cloth nappies.

There are 4 key reasons how re-usable nappies can benefit families and the world at large:

1. Environment / Reduce Waste:
One baby uses an average of 5000 nappies (or 5.4 nappy changes per day). Due to the plastic content disposables are not bio-degradable. One just needs to visualize the mountain of dirty disposables ending up on a land-fill site for every child in disposables over the past 20years to get the bigger picture. Can we really afford another 20/ 30/40/ 100 years of the same?
Just 20-24 re-usable nappies are needed. Washing them at 60C in an energy efficient washing machine helps reduce the global warming impact.
The "poo" in nappies mixed together with household waste lets off a gas called methane; which contributes to global warming.

Sanitary landfill sites are not designed or permitted to contain faeces and therefore have no solution to the growing number of dirty disposable nappies ending up at the dump. Basically "poo" belongs in the "loo"; which then goes through the sewerage system for downstream treatment.

In South Africa it is known that whole families live around landfill sites. Dirty disposables add to the risk of disease spreading to these vulnerable communities. There is also a risk of ground water contamination when the contents of the disposables seep through the earth.

Cape Town is currently facing a major landfill airspace crisis. Two years ago 6 landfills were operational, and a few months from now we will have only 3 operational. Of the 3 landfills, Bellville will close in approximately 2013, Coastal Park approximately 2022 and Vissershok in about 2017. Household waste is increasing by a rate 4 - 5% higher than the growing population rate in the Cape. The more affluent an area becomes the greater the amount of waste disposed in that area. Affluent areas generally use more disposable nappies and our supermarkets are reporting record sales in disposables. There are some smaller municipalities in the Western Cape with even bigger problems than Cape Town. Some will be closing in approximately 6 months time with no alternative solution.

The Johannesburg City area also has a crisis at hand.

Ten top tips to help the environment when using cloth nappies (WEN, UK):·
o Use an energy efficient washing machine.
o Wash soiled nappies at 60 degrees c.
o Wash wet nappies and waterproof covers at lower temperatures along with the rest of your laundry.
o Avoid tumble drying – hang nappies out to dry.
o Avoid soaking – store wet nappies dry in a lidded bucket.
o Avoid using unnecessary chemicals such as conditioners and sanitizers Useaneco-detergent.
o Never iron nappies (or covers).
o Extend the life of your nappies - reuse them on another baby, or give/sell them to someone else.
o Use washable liners.

2. A Healthier Choice
Disposable nappies contain paper pulp, plastic, absorbent gels, chemical additives and perfumes. All these materials impact on the health of your child as well as the environment.

The absorbing gel in nappies (sodium polyacrylate) has not been tested for long term effects on reproductive organs from 24-hour exposure. This chemical has been banned in the use of tampons because of a link to toxic shock syndrome.

Studies at University of Kiel in Germany have raised concerns about the rise in male infertility, which they link to the use of disposable nappies. Disposable nappies have been found to maintain testicles at higher temperatures, a potential cause of lower sperm counts.

There is a misconception that disposables reduce nappy rash. In fact, research studies at Bristol University, Britain indicate that the type of nappy has no bearing on nappy rash. Frequency of change and length of exposure to ammonia in urine are the factors affecting nappy rash. Any nappy left on for too long will result in irritation to baby’s delicate skin.

3. Save Money
By washing nappies at home families could save around R7,000.00 per child (add another R10 000 if the same nappies are used on the next child). Even by incorporating cloth nappies into one’s disposable nappy system families could save thousands. Hospitals can save money too by using reusable nappies on wards where disposables incur clinical waste charges. Municipal authorities save on waste disposal expenses.

4. Modern Cloth Nappies are Trendy & User-friendly
Modern reusables have advanced considerably over the years. They are shaped and fitted and fastened without the need for pins. They come in a variety of trendy styles and patterns. Colourful or natural, plain or patterned, organic cotton or bamboo, fleece or wool - there is such a range of reusable nappies that you are bound to find something to suit your taste, budget and lifestyle.
By using the advances in technology in fabrics such as breathable waterproofing, highly absorbent and natural bamboo toweling and light-weight fabrics, reusables function better than ever. A flushable & biodegradable liner can be used inside the nappy and this can be removed so that the contents are flushed down the toilet.

Commenting on the Environment Agency report suggesting disposables and “real” nappies had a similar environmental impact. Elizabeth Hartigan of Women’s Environmental Network said “Supporters remain convinced of the benefits of washable nappies. Parents can save money and reduce waste and reduce harm to the environment. The only way parents can reduce the environmental impact when using disposable nappies is to use fewer nappies and that’s not a good idea. Using real nappies puts parents in control. All you need is a sensible washing routine to really make a difference.”

As a company Mother Nature Products aim to give parents an informed choice in an effort to minimise waste and encourage natural-style health benefits. We invest heavily on the quality and performance of our products yet maintain affordable retail prices. Our service is centered on customer care and addressing our customer’s needs. Our customers are parents and their babies from all walks of life, from all over the world.

PO box 95
Kalk Bay

Tel/Fax: 021 788 9117