Having a baby in this age is nearly always a joy filled thing but the very complexity of our lives makes it a frightening experience. Small worries about your baby’s environment can become big ones as you are suddenly thrust into the role of protector in the crazy 21st century. Industrial Disease by Dire Straits or System Of A Down’s Toxicity lodges in my mind. Karen and I have three kids and we can relate: it rips out our heart when any of them are in any kind of danger or pain.
This documentary is director Min Sook Lee’s personal exploration of a short list of what she’s had to come to terms with as a new parent. Water, food, lead pain, PVC, bisphenol A, baby formula, disposable diapers, lions, tigers and bears! Oh my! So many things to worry about. Sook Lee took part in a panel with other mothers after the showing and stressed, as she alluded in the documentary, that you have to be gentle with yourself and decide which level on the trip down the rabbit hole you and your spouse are most comfortable at. ‘Green may be the new black’ but just because the label has green on it doesn’t it mean it’s really necessary. That should be the first question you ask yourself: do I need this gizmo or that technique?
Some choices are really anti-establishment: like the crazy act of breast feeding that so many of our parents were brainwashed into avoiding. But who profits from baby formula? Or from vaccination for that matter? Or disposable diapers? All of these are considered luxuries in most of the world’s populations. But these conveniences have many negative consequences for your child and the environment.
So what are the alternatives? Breast feeding is obvious, of course. But vaccination? There is much controversy to be had here. People used to gather for the ancient tradition of pox parties where children were willingly infected with chicken pox and other illnesses. In the documentary we get to attend a modern day pox party. This seems just so bizarre but it makes a lot of sense. And diapers? Well there’s the obvious cloth diaper option but Sook Lee showed me something new. Actually, it’s another old tradition but doesn’t have even have a name: it’s now called ‘elimination communication‘. This is potty training that starts incredibly early: even as soon as three months. The idea is to take the baby to the toilet and let it pee or poop there. An incredible number of diapers in the dump and discomfort will be prevented by this.
Kids cannot be raised in a bubble and there are so many things outside your control. But there are those things you can take control of when looking for non-toxic parenting methods. Some of these may leave your friends and family looking at you strangely (or even hurtfully because they didn’t put in the effort) but you have to be true to yourself and your child.
This 46 minute film is highly recommended for parents.
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