Listen to my POTTY TALK on the Nourished Living Summit !

9 Apr Full-Summit-Square-New

I’m very excited that my “Potty Talk” airs today on the Nourished Living Summit!  Here’s your chance to listen free or own it forever (along with tons more!) Read on:

My talk is FREE today beginning 10 Eastern/ 7 Pacific until Friday. Here is the link to listen now for FREE:


Somehow it was put in the 3-6 month category, but I’m talking about healthy potty learning for babies on through 4, of course! And Bobby from joins me on the interview!

The best thing about being part of the Summit is being grouped with some pretty amazing doctors and parenting speakers/writers. I want  to encourage you to take advantage of all or some of the talks, presentation slides, free offers and coupon discount codes offered in this Summit!

THERE is starting 9PST/12EST today, a $20 off sale for 24hrs.

The Full Summit Package are offered at $149 through April 30th* or $127 today and includes:
Lifetime access to all 62 expert audio presentations (MP3 format);
Lifetime access to all 62 slide presentations;
Over 300 Pages of Presentation Summaries;
Over $150 Worth of Free Bonus Items;
35 Exclusive Special Offers and Discounts;
109 Page Speaker Guide;
Automatic Lifetime Access to All Future Presentations Released in 2014-2015 (including accompanying MP3s, slides, and summaries)
*The full summit package will convert to regular price of $247 on April 31st and WILL NOT offer the lifetime access to future presentations.

Purchase your Lifetime Access here:


Individual Track Pages are offered at $49 each and include:
Lifetime access to all audio presentations (MP3 format) in that track;
Lifetime access to all slide presentations in that track;
Presentation Summaries for that track;
35 Exclusive Special Offers and Discounts;
Speaker Guide
Individual track packages do NOT include Free Bonus Items or upgrades.

Get Your Track Access here:
Enjoy all the Summit has to offer! So far I have been incredibly impressed listening to the speakers!

Curly’s Coconut Carrot Cake Muffins with Honey Frosting

27 Mar

Curly’s Coconut Carrot Cake Muffins with Honey Frosting

So good you will say:

 “There is no way these are vegan, gluten free, cane sugar-free, and full of protein and fiber.”



Dry Ingredients:

1/3 cup of brown rice flour

1/3cup tablespoons millet flour

3 tablespoons tapioca flour/starch

(or Bob’s GF baking mix)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fine ground sea salt

1/2 cup organic coconut palm sugar

1 cup organic chopped walnuts
(leave out for allergy free)

2/3 cup organic raisins (I prefer golden).


Wet Ingredients:

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled. To melt oil: or spoon the oil into a small saucepan and melt over low heat.

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons organic pure maple syrup

½ teaspoon vanilla extract or the scrapings from half of a bean.

1 and ¼ cup grated organic carrots (2 large/3 small carrots). Use small grating size if possible.

Fake Egg:

Two tablespoons flax meal and 3 tablespoons water.


1/3 of a cup of applesauce or apricot applesauce.


Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Make Icing First:

1.5 cups of earth balance soy-free spread.

1 Tablespoon of sunflower butter. (Sun Butter)

¾ cup of honey.

1Tablespoon of grated roasted beet for pink color (optional)

Blend With an electric hand mixer.

Refrigerate frosting covered for 20-30 min. (longer ok)



1) In a medium size bowl, mix brown rice flour, millet flour, tapioca starch, baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt using a whisk. Set aside.

2) In a small bowl, combine coconut palm sugar, flax “egg” and applesauce with melted and slightly cooled coconut oil, and maple syrup. Mix with a spoon until smooth. Add carrots to wet mixture and mix.

3) Add wet mixture to dry ingredients that have been set aside. Mix until all dry ingredients are incorporated.

4) Fold in grated carrots, raisins, and chopped walnuts.

5) Line a cupcake pan with muffin papers of line muffin tin with coconut oil.

6) Fill each of six -10 muffin cups approximately 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until a fork comes out clean. Do not over bake and edges are golden.


Cool completely if you will frost them. Spread frosting over each muffin/cake or eat plain for breakfast!




xo Moorea

6 Tips for Encouraging Your Toddler to Play Alone

23 Mar drawing16mo


drawing16moAlmost all of my parent coaching clients eventually ask this one question:

“Is there a normal amount of time my toddler should be able to play alone?”

There is no normal amount time a todder or preschooler of a certain age plays alone. Depending on maturity and what has been expected of him so far and how available to him you have been- it could be just a random 30 seconds or up to 45 minutes. I suggest asking him for gradually longer periods of time and have firm boundaries about it. Begin with asking for 5 minutes and gradually lead up to 30 minutes and beyond as he grows. Know that a desire to play alone naturally grows in time for almost all children but that how much they will want to play alone can have a lot to do with personality type and how inclined toward imaginary play they are.

The key with all of this is that our kids begin to learn autonomy as we gradually set boundaries, take space and give space.

1) Slowly back off on involvement over time when you are sitting down and playing with him. Start with touching toys less and asking questions more.This will encourage more independent play with you very, very nearby. This one is something to just work on over time. It is a start, and can set things up well.

2) Have firmer boundaries about your time and needs. Don’t get down and play if you had said you wouldn’t, do get down and play exactly when you promised to. Be firm in communicating what you need and what is expected of him.

3) Give just two choices and repeat what is expected. “Mama needs to rock the baby now. You may either play with toys in your room or sit here with me and look at a book quietly.” If anything different is happening that bothers you, repeat what is expected and give an expiation for why you need to be doing what you are doing. “Mama’s job is to take care of baby Calvin right now. Your job is to play quietly. Do you understand that it is important that Calvin gets to have mommy time?”

4) Be very clear. If she comes to you, remind her right away of what your deal is, what you need and remind her when her play time with you will be so that she has something to look forward to. “I can’t wait to play with you now. Our play time will be after dinner.”

5) Have special play baskets or bags of activities (This Pinterest Board could help with this) that you bring out just for the times you ask him to play quietly or by himself. “You may have these water beads (a favorite of mine) to play with, but I need you to play quietly with them here. I won’t be able to play, I’ll be busy on my computer/taking care of our baby.” Put those toys away with him when you are able to give him more attention, make cleaning them up a joint activity, he will learn clean up from this modeling. Sensory activities and fine motor activities (like small tongs to pick up pompoms) often buy you the most time. I love how Montessori calls this sort of thing the child’s “Work.” In this context, “You do your work. I’ll do my work.”

6) THANK him whenever he successfully completes any decent period of time playing by himself, whether you designed the time or whether he does it on his own. “Thank you for playing alone and letting me nurse the baby/work on my computer. You are such a big boy! You can play your own games by yourself. Playing on your own is such big help to mommy. How did it feel to play alone?” In general, own your desires and preferences and acknowledge when they have been heard. This guilds mutual respect and trust.

*Note that amounts of time little ones will play alone can vacillate. At 15 months my daughter was able to focus on “writing/drawing/play doh” for up to 45 minutes and I thought that was amazing. At 4 years it is less, just 30 minutes and there were times before when it was only 5 minutes! Interests change, attention span goes up and down. It isn’t “regression” or sudden onset of ADD ;)

Love, Moorea
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Nourished Living Summit! Parents, Please Join Us!

6 Mar

I’m incredibly proud to be a speaker at this online event with some of my very favorite parenting and health thinkers in the world! Dr. Jay Gordon, Elizabeth Pantley, Dr. Laura Markham, Renee Beebe, Guggie Daly, Emma Kwasnica and more! Please Register! Its free to listen during the first part of the Summit and then you will have the opportunity own the recordings later, if you loved it. Full Line-Up At the Bottom (for some reason I’m in the 3-6yrs section so read all the way through!

The Nourished Living Summit brings together 69 natural health, wellness, and parenting professionals who are dedicated to helping parents care for their family naturally. These experts know that this parenting gig is not easy and as such are arming you with the information you need to either begin, continue, or expand your journey as a natural-minded parent.

Nourished Living Summit

The Nourished Living Summit is a FREE online event that launches March 24, 2014.

It won’t be like those other Summits, the ones were you have 24 hours to listen to 10 presentations. No – The Nourished Living Summit wants to arm you with as much information as you can absorb via an improved Summit model. A model where you will have time on your side so you can take advantage of all the incredible information these speakers are handing you. The Nourished Living Summit is showcasing 62 presentations divided into 8 thematic tracks including:

  • Pre-Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth
  • Breastfeeding
  • Health and Development for Children Ages 0-18
  • Natural Health and Wellness for the Whole Family
  • Care and Nurturing For Mothers
  • Education for Natural Minded Parents

Beginning March 24th, you will have 48 hours to listen to 3-5 presentations. Each track is divided over the course of two 48 hour periods. Presentations will stream live Monday-Saturday with Sundays off. The Summit ends on April 29th.

You MUST be registered in order to listen to the presentations. You can register on the home page of the official Nourished Living Summit website.

Want to learn more about the Nourished Living Summit lineup? Check it out!

Nourished Living Summit Collage

What are you waiting for? Go register for the Nourished Living Summit!!!


Infertility and Preconception Health
Donielle Baker
Natural Fertility and Wellness

Natural Family Planning and Ecological Breastfeeding
John and Sheila Copley
Natural Family Planning

Birth Choices
Nicole Deggins, CNM, MSN, MPH
Sista Midwife Productions

Carrying and Parenting Multiples
Trisha Gilkerson
Breastfeeding Place

Preventing Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies Before Conception
Jill Baumann, BS, NC
Guided Path To Health

Herbs and Oils for Pregnancy and Birth
Jessica Aveni
Natural Health and Prevention

Eating For Two
Courtney Hillis
THRIVE: Natural Family Living

Family Oriented Bonding
Guggie Daly
The Guggie Daly


Supporting and Boosting Milk Supply Naturally
Diana West, BA, IBCLC
Low Milk Supply and Mahala Lactation and Perinatal Services, LLC

Building Blocks To A Healthy Breastfeeding Relationship
Dionna Ford
Code Name Mama

Back to Work Breastfeeding
Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC
The Second Nine Months

Breastfeeding As A Source of Joy

Christine Poirier-Brotchie Momzelle Nursing Wear

Donor Milk
Emma Kwasnica
Human Milk 4 Human Babies

Nutrition and Breastfeeding
Becky Webb, NTP, CD (DONA)
Rooted Blessings

Inducing Lactation – One Mother’s Story
Millie Copper
Real Food For Less Money

Tongue Tie
Jennifer Tow, B.F.A., IBCLC
Intuitive Parenting Network


The Vaccine Decision – What Parents Need To Know
Jessika Bailey
Natural Mother Magazine

Gentle Sleep Solutions
Elizabeth Pantley
The No-Cry Solutions

Baby Led Weaning and Starting Solids
Kate Tieje
Modern Alternative Mama

Laura Schuerwegen
Authentic Parenting

Newborn Decisions/Newborn Care
Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D
Author of The Business of Baby

Proper Care of Your Intact Son
Jennifer Andersen
Our Muddy Boots
Larissa Black
The WHOLE Network

Cloth Diapering
Miriam J. Katz
Author of The Other Baby Book and Intuitive Life Coach
Megan McGrory Massaro
Author of The Other Baby Book

Elimination Communication
Marija Mikolajczak
EC Wear

Jennifer Wenzel
True Confessions of a Real Mommy
Julie Mangan
A Little Bit of All of It
Shannon Riley
The Artful Mama


Dr. Jay Gordon, MD FAAP
Dr. Jay Gordon

Childhood Development Disorders
Dr. Jamie Oskin, N.D.
Arizona Natural Health Center

Chiropractic For Children and In Pregnancy
Dr. Staci Borkhuis, D.C.
Cornerstone Chiropractic

Children’s Dental Health
Will and Susan Revak

Extended Breastfeeding and Tandem Nursing
Lauren Wayne
Hobo Mama

Potty Training/Learning
Robert Edwards
Squatty Potty
Moorea Malatt
Savvy Parenting Support

Fostering Healthy Independence
Ariadne Brill
Positive Parenting Connection

Children and Reading
Elaine Krishnan
Usborne Books and More 
Jana Kemp
Jana M. Kemp


Dr. Sherrill Sellman, N.D
What Women Must Know with Dr. Sellmen

Adrenal Health For Children
Michael Smith, N.D. BHSC
Planet Naturopath

Teen Health
Lydia Shatney
Divine Health From The Inside Out

Posture Makes Perfect: The Benefits of a Physically Balanced Life
Elizabeth Eckert
Word Cures

Parenting Without Stereotypes
Paige Lucas-Stannard
Parenting Gently

Raising Your Children To Know Where Their Food Comes From
Abbie Walston
Farmer’s Daughter

whole Family

Common Childhood Illnesses
Dr. Mary Bove, ND
Brattleboro Naturopathic Clinic

Skincare for Families
Jennifer Saleem
Hybrid Rasta Mama

Food Allergies
KerryAnn Foster
Intentionally Domestic

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy
Joy Moeller, BS, RDH
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist

What Every Parent Needs To Know About Gluten
Joe Rigola
Wellness Punks

How Candida and Parasites May Be Harming Your Children’s Health
Amy Love, NTP, CGP, CILC
Real Food Whole Health

Environmental Toxins
Andrea Fabry
moms AWARE

Kombucha for Families
Hannah Crum
Kombucha Kamp

mama care

Preventing Postpartum Depression
Amanda Rose
Rebuild From Depression

Herbal Support for New and Overwhelmed Mothers
Carol Little
Studio Botanica

Self Care For Moms
Lauren Luquin
Spiral Elixir

Healing from Trauma and the Benefits of Placenta Encapsulation
Stephanie Brandt Cornais
Mama and Baby Love

Getting Centered
Amy Phoenix
Presence Parenting

Mommy Tummy and Diastasis Recti
Bethany Learn
Fit2Be Studio

The Babywearing Workout
Kelly Stewart
The Babywearing Workout

Parent Empowerment

Managing Anger and Overwhelm as a Parent
Dr. Laura Markham
Aha Parenting

Attachment Parenting: Creating a Foundation for Healthy Child Development
Kelly Bartlett
Author of Encouraging Words for Kids

Becoming Aware of Possible Toxins Around your Children; Choosing Safe Products for Your Children
Dawn Lorenz
Raising Natural Kids

Holistic Fathers – Engaging and Including Dad
Billy Bradley
Holistic Dad

Creating a Natural Medicine Cabinet
Rosalee de la Foret
Herbal Remedies Advice

Sneaky Nutrition
Lisa Herndon
Lisa’s Counter Culture

Real Food For Families
Kimi Harris
The Nourishing Gourmet

Finding Community
Chara Shopp
Stitching Hearts Together
Judy Tyler
Living Healthy ‘n’ Happy

You MUST be registered in order to listen to the presentations. You can register on the home page of the official Nourished Living Summit website.


Constipation: The Other Reason to Ditch the Sippy Cup!

28 Feb


ASHA is the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. They Rock. ASHA finally came out with a blog post condemning the widespread use of sippy cups for toddlers. I’ve been hearing children’s occupational and speech therapists say this in person for years, because occasionally I work with a child with speech issues or excessive drooling and one of the first steps to improving the muscles of the mouth is to begin to use straws and then to practice using an real cup.

And yet I have another reason to ditch the sippy cup, from my own line of work: Potty. Constipation can be one of the most difficult challenges of the potty larding time. Little ones often associate constipation pain with the process of potty learning and the potty itself. In my experience, about 3/4 of potty learning refusal challenges are brought on by a run-in with The Constipation Monster. 

Traditional sippy cups were not created to help children, or with developmental progress in mind. They were created to eliminate a bunch of messes that we parents have to clean up. Not a bad idea. We already have so many messes. But chronic constipation is a different kind of mess you really don’t want to deal with during potty learning.

Most tots are not getting much out of the sippy cups and might therefore be dehydrated. This is not a universal truth, a few parents have told me that the child sucks out four cups worth a day but that is very rare. Most parents tell me they are lucky if the first fill is empty at the end of the day. Many cups are very hard to suck and this causes a child to make the effort less often than he might with a different option.  Often times, once children are done with breastmilk or bottles, the only form of hydration they are offered is water, juice or milk in a sippy cup. We are busy parents and most of us have never measured how much liquid our toddlers are consuming daily.

Dr. Sears suggests here in Parenting, that tots should hydrate based on weight.  “1 oz of fluid per pound, per day.”  If that’s true, a 40lb  preschoolers needs 10 small 4oz cups or 5- 8oz bottles. most of us can’t fathom getting that much into them, but if it happened, they would not get constipated!

Be careful not to force and just to encourage and don’t be scared by the numbers above, just try to move in a more hydrated direction. And be careful not to always count dairy milk as a fluid in these terms. Dairy can be constipating and in general isn’t nearly as hydrating as water.

I recommend switching to a sippy cup that has a straw or putting a straw in a cup if your child isn’t used to the cup alone, and then gradually over time teach and encourage cup/glass drinking as a skill.


Happy Pooping,



Potty Savvy. Savvy Gentle Discipline. Sleep Savvy. Programs to help you!


Progressive Parenting Secret #3: Boundaries

5 Feb

Progressive parenting isn’t permissive parenting.  “Anything goes”  tends to leave children feeling unsafe, without being able to predict how the one they trust most will behave. It isn’t extreme, overbearing or permissive. Progressive parenting simply blends what we know of a child’s cognition and personality with an ethic of compassion and respect for our children, ourselves, and the planet. Boundaries are an integral part of learning respect.

Boundaries. A better word for rules because nobody likes to follow rules (least of all me!!) Though some of us may even come to parenting after a history of punk or anarchist leanings (or just artistic independent tendencies), most of us will have learned that even we function better with some parameters for our work and relationships.

Most of us have learned that healthy boundaries serve us, even if we are not perfect yet at establishing our own or respecting other’s boundaries. Our children are watching us try.  Those of us who have been parenting for a while or work with children have seen the peaceful difference some boundaries make.


The First Step is Looking at Yourself. The example you want for your children to follow is of course (in the vain of Progressive Parenting Secret #1: Modeling), is to practice making and setting good boundaries in your own life. Protecting your sanity, time and body from encroaching co-workers, partners, family members  and even some of your children’s behaviors is one if the finest lessons you may ever teach by example. This includes not letting our children harm us (knowing how to compassionately curb hair pulling, biting etc), and making sure our relationship with our partner is respectful.

Does housework happen all day tirelessly or is there a time it ends and you focus on the children? What about turning off the cell phone? What about stopping what you are doing to show love to your partner who has just come home? (this is the one I’ve been working on!)

The Second Step is Listening and Watching when your child sets his or her own boundaries with you. This starts with reflecting back with “I hear you” language and narrating the scenario when your child says “No” to you and learning to keep our hands off of a child who does not want to be coerced or who has said NO (unless they or another is in danger and you must stop or move them). We must listen, slow down and spend less time belaboring our point and give more space in the challenging times.

The Third Step  is Creating and Communicating family and personal boundaries to your children (and to the other caregivers in your life.) It’s funny that I have the actual discipline of boundaries all the way down at step 3, I know. I just feel that we must set the stage for respect before we begin to suddenly introduce new rules or suddenly start enforcing old ones. Once we are a good role model and a good listener, we can sit down and think about what bothers us, what sets us off and how to clearly and compassionately communicate what we will and will not allow our children to do to us, around us, to others and in our shared home.

Write it down. Write down what you want, what you would like to change. Parenting partners and caregivers should have a meeting to get on the same page including using same process and the same language to stop dangerous or harm behaviors. “Stop. I cannot let you hit me. Hitting hurts and is not okay in our family. You may touch me gently like this…” (I teach gentle, effective discipline techniques! Please contact me if you need help.)

The Fourth Step is Consistency. Consistency is Progressive Parenting Secret #4 and is coming to you soon! Hint: It’s the clear, communicative and near-constant implementation of your boundaries with your children, even when it feels inconvenient in the moment. It’s also the absolute most difficult challenge of the early years and the most quickly rewarding. See you back here soon!

Secret Number 1:

Secret Number 2:

Love, Moorea

Moving With Children: 7 Tips for a Gentle Relocation

22 Jan



1) Pre-Game Chat and Pack. Let your child help pack up her own things. She will take them out of the box again for sure so you can just let it happen like a game or act quickly with tape! Tour the new home with your child if you can, before the move.  Talk for multiple days about what moving is and what to expect as you are packing up boxes. Be honest about why the family is moving. Ask how your child feels about moving. If the child is not excited about moving, see if another kid you know who has moved could talk about it with your child. Recount times in your childhood that your own family moved homes.

2) Secure Childcare a week or more in advance for the periods of time that furniture and boxes will be transferred. Then secure a back-up childcare option like leaving the little one with neighbors. It can be dangerous to have little ones around during this time, not to mention annoying. Sort of like when you’re trying to take out a giant armful of recycling and the cat wants to play footsie zig-zag and you step on her toe barely and she screams bloody kitty murder but you have very little sympathy.  If it is your child, you might have a hard time forgiving yourself and your child might have a hard time forgiving you for the foot stomp or the head bonk. Also, you are likely to go against all normal gentle parenting logic and YELL at your children to be out of the way for their own safety. You will also feel guilty for that. If you hire professional movers and your kids are around, the movers might get very cranky and break something seemingly on purpose. It happened to a friend of mine. Hire childcare.

3) Pack a duffle bag or backpack for each child with pajamas, two outfits and an activity or three. Beading, markers, coloring book, journal, bag of legos, etc. You THINK that the move will happen on time but it WON’T. You THINK you will have energy to unpack once everything is all in the new house but you certainly will feel deader than a doornail- like you just gave birth again but without the oxytocin. When a parent friend offers to help with your move, you can ask them to watch your kid, or you can ask them to make a cool activity bag for your child to use before the boxes are unpacked.

4) Move the children’s rooms first and make up the bed. Include ALL of the STUFFIES. Don’t leave ANY of the stuffed animals in the box because I swear that first night your child will insist she can only sleep if she has the one animal you cannot find. I learned this one the hard way. Three days later and still no Lou the Fox.  Leave out two comforting old books for bedtime. This will ease your child’s transition into the new home. But don’t open all the boxes of toys because you will instead…

5) Leave the other boxes of your child’s stuff unpacked for your kids to open. The next day when you have four cups of black tea and are finally ready to begin unpacking, you will want your child to have something to do so that you can put away the good china in peace. It will be like Christmas!! (If you want it to be like Hanukkah, you can save one box of toys or books for each night ;)

6) Give your child a sense of agency and ownership by letting him help decide where things go- both in his room and other places around the home. Ask your 3-year-old’s opinion if you are torn about whether the chair should go there..or there. Can you put non-toxic cleaning supplies in a place with easy kid access? Can a low kitchen drawer be for children’s bowls and utensils a la’ Montessori method?

Our New Montessori Kitchen Drawer

Our New Montessori Kitchen Drawer

7) Tour the House Before Bed. On the first couple of nights, make sure your young children have a quick tour of the house again. Where is the POTTY? Do we need a nightlight? Where can you find your parents if you need them? I would start out trying for the kiddos sleeping in their own beds in the new house if they are used to sleeping alone. Sleeping in your child’s bed with him if he is scared in the new room is a great idea if you don’t want to start the crawling into the parent bed from the get-go. Or if you all co-sleep- keep doing that. Though a transition to a new home can also be a great time to transition into a big kid bed if you are willing to be present and supporting  your child that night.

Special Note:  Moving is really the perfect time to use screen time to keep the tushies in one place and out of the way. It’s okay, I’m not big on screen time but moving is one of those areas where it makes sense as a special activity. The Easy Bake Oven App made it all possible for me this time around.  Totally sugar-free! But try to resist getting in on that yummy-tease action lest you be derailed from unpacking!

Love, Moorea


How to Gently End Finger-sucking, Thumb-sucking or Booger-Picking!

6 Jan

The last pic of Iris sucking her fingers. (horns she drew on herself from Halloween).

I felt a bit hypocritical after a recent post I wrote called Binky Be Gone. Sure, I have helped dozens of kids be done with the pacifier but my own kid was 3 and sucking her two little fingers (see above).  Pacifiers are just easier to get rid of because they are not attached, right? Recently it became clear that it was time to help my daughter end the finger-sucking habit. Even though the habit was waning, she had finally begun to develop some sort of large blister-callous on each sucking finger. With the process below (options A and B), finger-sucking was over in a week and it was easy and painless. My little girl was filled with wonderful sense of accomplishment! Weeks later we are still high-fiving.

Here is How to End Digit-sucking and Booger-Picking! 

1) Make sure your child is old enough to understand what they are doing and to learn or realize that the habit is either causing self harm (as in finger-sucking can damage teeth) or making people upset to see it (boogies!). Even better if the child wants to end the habit on her or his own. These are self-soothing behaviors and only a budding rational mind will be able to compete with the impetus and change a behavior. Babies should be allowed to self-soothe. Has a consequence already happened? Has someone laughed at or teased and your child was hurt, something was on the hand that made her sick or say yuck, the digit in question got swollen or infected or calloused? Did the nose bleed?

Between 2.5 and 4 is a good window. Still, don’t wait too long. Habits get more hard-wired in the brain over time. And similarly to what I say about potty learning, it isn’t as if you are going to give your child the choice to go on without this change forever, you may as well do it now, be clear that it will eventually be expected.

2) Let your child know ahead of time in a few random conversations that soon she will be big and not need to suck fingers/suck thumb/pick boogies anymore. Give it some space before beginning so that your child has an opportunity to voice concerns on her own. Let your child know that you will be on your his team, helping him figure out how to stop the habit. Have an aura of partners in crime, without the idea that you are personally going to enforce the change.

3) Give the child two choices out of the three below. These options will give the child a moment to pause before they continue the behavior and then they can make a choice repeatedly to stop.

A) Keeping band-aids around the fingers. Fun band-aids are ideal. Band-aids will help prevent the finger from getting far up enough to attack the boogers and will be very unsatisfying to suck on. But the main hint here is that it is a different feeling, something to shake up the status quo. Or…

B) Put Essential Oils under the nails/in the cuticles. You or the child may choose either a scent the child may be averse to or something fairly neutral. Try not to pick something that smells or tastes like cookies, say vanilla or orange.  I suggest something like cedar, clove etc. Though not toxic, these could still sting the eyes so dilute a drop or two of essential oil  in a tsp of carrier oil like olive, only apply a few times a day, minimally under the nails and in the cuticles and remind the child not to put fingers in the eyes. If your child touches his eyes frequently, do not use this option.

C) A logical and related reward. I’m not huge on rewards for trying to procure certain behaviors from kids, but I do admit that for kids over 3, working on a goal toward a reward can be very effective. Girls and boys can choose to aim toward a manicure with toxin-free nail polish either at home or at a nail shop. The reward could be rings (you can make great rings that fit tiny fingers and stay on if you use clear stretchy string and tiny beads). You can find stamp rings, batman rings etc.


D) Draw Finger Puppets. Use thin non-toxic markers to draw cute happy faces with clothes and hats on the digit in question. Re-apply after activity or hand washing and ask your child if she can “keep Thumb-Girl alive!” If the finger puppet gets messed up, say playfully, “Oh no, Finger Girl disappeared. I’ll draw her again. Don’t eat her/Let her get lost in your nose!”

A 5+ year-old could come up with their own  idea and you might say “Yay, let’s try it and if it doesn’t work we can try one of my ideas.” It should really only take one or two weeks at the most to break the habit with these tricks.

5) Re-Direct.  Ask your child if he knows that he is sucking his thumb/eating his boogers when you see it and offer another activity for the fingers. “Remember that fingers are for making art/ fingers are for eating snacks.” You can even teach your child to sing “Where is Thumbkin”,  “Twinkle Twinkle” or another hand game song when they realize the hand is going toward the mouth.

You can provide a replacement habit for a while. Most children shouldn’t need this and I almost fear that we set up just another habit. However, some children will have a habit so ingrained that they need any help possible including being re-directed to something easier on their body or other people’s sensibilities. If the behavior is mostly bedtime and the child already has other bedtime habits, you can re-direct attention to holding a stuffed animal, stroking one’s own hair, feeling/”fuzzing” a blanket etc. You can also try directing the child to move the hand to a pocket and keep gemstones in the pockets to feel (3yrs+).

What not to do:

Don’t compare the child to other kids who don’t have the habit.

Don’t make it all about how somebody else wants the child to stop. Focusing on negative attention may cause stress which might cause more of the  behavior you are trying to change together.

Don’t begin when the child is starting a new school or moving.

Don’t put something toxic on the digits. (aka thumb-sucking gels or mouth pieces.)

Don’t point out the habit if the child does as a comfort when they get hurt.

Don’t make it about germs. It is just as true that germs on our hands make us healthy as make us sick.  It has even been proposed (by just one scientist) that eating boogers provides a similar immune boost. Children are susceptible to fear of germs, phobias and obsessive compulsion around germs. Don’t let that be what replaces the unwanted habit.

Best of Luck!


About the Author of This Article:

Moorea Malatt is a mom and Parent Coach and Expert on Early Potty, Gentle Discipline and  Gentle Sleep learning in workshops and private phone consults at  She writes about gentle and effective natural parenting, being a mother, health, and play and more at  MamaLady Parenting. Moorea also wrote the album of songs called,  “Whip It Out: Songs for Breastfeeding”.

MamaLady’s Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Pie Crust

28 Nov

Gluten-free pie crust is often pretty chewy as was the first crust I ever made- but I’ve come up with something better than any recipe I found. By adding more coconut sugar and cider vinegar than many recipes, we add a little bit of air to offset the chewiness. I love the lemon, apple cider vinegar and salt in this recipe I threw together. I think pie crust should be a bit salty but you can use less. Enjoy! I’ll be making my first from fresh pumpkin-pumpkin pie tomorrow with this crust, but I may try substituting a half cup of the flour for chestnut flour and I will post about that!


2 cups Gluten-free flour mix

1 tsp salt

3 tablespoons coconut sugar or maple crystals

8 tablespoons coconut oil

½ cup cold water

3 teaspoons cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a pie pan with coconut oil.

2. In a medium bowl, combine gluten-free flour,salt and coconut sugar, coconut oil and vinegar.
3. Add cold water slowly while you hand-knead or quickly fork the dough.

4. Divide dough in half, keeping half covered. Turn the uncovered half of dough onto a work surface dusted with gluten-free flour and form it into a flat disk. Roll out dough with a floured rolling pin to ¼-inch thickness. Work fast as dough dries out rather quickly.

5. Carefully place dough in prepared pie pan. Crimp edges and add pie filling. cover with another layer of crust with knife vents or use rows toward the center of cookie-cutter cut-out pieces like I did with hearts here (next up, dreidels). Bake until golden brown.

Parenting, Praise, Buddhism and the Healthy Ego

10 Sep

I got the best college education in the world. It was not Ivy League or one of the Seven Sisters, but it was unique and as it turns out, even more unique in that it I actually remember everything I learned and I use most of it every day in my profession and personal life.

In a class called Buddhism for Social Justice (as taught by Ecofeminist scholar, Greta Gaard), I remember a lengthy discussion about the Buddhist concept of Egolessness as it related to women and feminism. It was posited that a Buddhist path is a tricky one for women and minorities because under the patriarchy, we are already undervalued and therefore undervalue ourselves as individuals and that a life of service to the suffering of others is already ordained for us. We decided that it makes the most sense for women to first work on a healthy sense of ego from a Western perspective before attempting to lose one’s ego on the Buddhist path. Without that, the Buddhist path could easily become another way to suppress women.

Why am I bringing this up?  Because I believe that children’s egos need to be built up as infants and toddlers and that the movement against parenting with praise might be going just slightly too far. 


There is some very western, very “American” individualist dogma surrounding mainstream parenting; babies and children should fall asleep on their own/cry themselves to sleep, we shouldn’t hold them too much lest they be spoiled, they should be so “ready” for potty training that they basically do it themselves with little or no help or teaching. And now, children should develop a healthy sense of ego on their own, outside of relation to feelings of parents and peers, as if we are not interconnected.

The movement against praise suggests that the inherent problem is that it focuses on what the adult feels instead of what the child feels. But because I teach Beginning Gentle Discipline as a path of teaching the world of emotions to our children, I know that feelings are first learned and understood through mimicry and modeling of empathy. And this is why I think that young children will learn healthy ego, self-love and confidence as they see themselves reflected in our experience of them.  

When the movement against praise goes too far, we are losing encouragement, we are losing terms of endearment, we are told to censor the sentiments of love and adoration that wish to spew forth from out parental hearts because we worry that the words we use might be somehow imperfect or damaging. We are also losing the concept of unconditional love that only a parent could possibly provide and that small children do not possess on their own. I wish I could say that small children come into the world with this but I know children too well. What is really true is they come into the world quite helpless, totally vulnerable, looking totally to parents for everything, including how and what to feel.

Of course eventually, we need a healthy sense of ego that comes from solo effort and accomplishment and reflection. But little ones also need to start with not only encouragement from us but a little praise and a sense of unconditional love and adoration. Because it is likely we are the only place where that will ever happen.  The outside world will deliver plenty of opportunities for challenge, ego-tear-down, the bully, my high school chemistry teacher who sort of encouraged me but had no faith in me.

The Alfie Kohn-esque anti-praise movement has a lot to teach in its directions toward encouragement and effort, open-ended questions, self-reflection and so I am grateful to the movement for influencing a more mindful, thoughtful parenting.

But I refuse to lose “Good Job” (I just limit it so it doesn’t get old), I refuse to lose “you are beautiful.”, “That’s awesome.” “I love that painting!”, (but I sometimes say “What do you think about this picture you made? How did if feel to make it?”. I describe how my child’s actions positive or negative affect others. I describe how I feel about my child’s actions (“ouch, that really hurt, look at the tear in my eye.”) rather than asking “how did it feel to hit mama?”)  I do this because we are interconnected. We are a family and we effect one another, what we feel about each other’s actions and accomplishments matters.

We as parents are here to teach responsibility and to help build inner confidence and independence, but we are first and foremost responsible for teaching love and compassion. Compassion for others and self and being okay with sharing our feelings of love for another person are things we only learn through modeling and we learn them very, very young. We learn them before 2 years. We learn them before we can even comprehend questions like “How did it make you feel to finish that art project?.”

When I was first studying Buddhist thought and the concept of ego-lessness with regard to issues of oppression, I decided I would take the path really slow and not dive in to some sort of Bodhisattva service spirituality because I realized that I didn’t have enough of a healthy ego to tear down yet. Instead, I studied psychology and did a lot of work nurturing my inner child (and praising, praising, praising her artwork- and I was healed!) I just think many of us didn’t get ENOUGH praise in childhood.  Open-ended questions and thoughtful encouragement are activities of the mind. Praise of another being we love feels so organic, so much of the spirit, of the heart. I just refuse to lose it.

Talk to me about praise…….  :)


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