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Ep. 142- Breastfeeding and Toddler Behavior Issues: Interview with Expert Gia Gambaro Blount

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EP 142 TODDLER WITH GUEST WITH ADS

Heather: Welcome to the Milk Minute Today, everybody.

Maureen: Today we have a special guest to talk to us about nursing, toddlers, the biting, twisting, pulling, screaming, sweetness, tenderness, and cuddles are all things that we expect when we nurse that toddler.

But we’re bringing on an expert today to maybe help smooth all those things out. Toddlers are so sweet, but so challenging. As Heather and I both know, as we currently both have toddlers and breastfeeding them is just a whole different ballgame. So I really just cannot wait for our guests today.

First, we’re gonna thank some patrons though, and read a question.

Heather: Yes, we would like to give a shout out to Courtney h as well as Amanda Martinez. Thank you so much for supporting the show monetarily. And you know, please let us know what you need. Our patrons have access to us and can message us whenever, so we are happy to help and return the

Maureen: favor.

And a quick reminder that we both offer private consultations. Our links are always in the show notes, so let us know how we can help you more. Just wanna help you . Well, let’s read a question and then we’ll take a quick break and welcome

Heather: g. Okay, today’s question is from a, a buddy of mine. This is from Amelia, and Amelia says, Hey Heather, hope you’ve been well.

Klaus is 10 and a half months old getting right to it. We are moving in two weeks. Thankfully, it’s only about 10 minutes away, but one nagging uncertainty that I have is how I’m gonna move all my frozen breast milk. I have easily 200 to 300 bags frozen in the fridge, freezer, and deep freezer. They don’t take up a ton of space in either one.

The tricky part is that we will need to move both our fridge and deep freezer to the new house. There is no refrigeration there that will already be set up. So I need to empty out what we have here, move the fridge and freezer there, set them up, then restock them with our food slash frozen items, including the breast milk.

We have a moving company moving all of our things, so we are a little bit at the mercy of their timing. How would you suggest navigating. , we thought about getting some coolers, but I’m wondering if there’s any way around having to buy half a dozen coolers for one event, plus we will have other frozen food to move as well.

Hopefully not much, but there’s only so much we can eat in the next two weeks. Would love to know your thoughts. Thanks so much. Do you

Maureen: think it would be possible for the moving folks to move the freezer

Heather: full?

Maureen: That’s what I told her. Yeah. So if they can do that, what I would do is take all of your frozen stuff, put it in the freezer duct tape it’s shut, and plug it in outside and wait for them to come

Yep. And then when they come, you can unplug it. It will not get cold. It will not get warm at all in the 10 minutes. Even if it takes them like three hours to really fully move it. Those deep freezes, the food in them is safe for about 24 hours unplugged if the freezer’s full. Right. And that’s like from the c d C in the case of power outages and stuff.

But if you have to take it out, you’re gonna have a much shorter timeline that that food is

Heather: safe. . Yep. I’m glad you said that because that’s exactly what I told her. Mm-hmm. , I was like, duct tape that thing Close and, and bat your little eyelashes at the moving guys and be like, please move all, move all of this and put a giant sign on it that says breast milk inside.

Do not open. Even if

Maureen: you have to like have them load the freezer up empty, put all the food back in it, in the truck, and then drive it. Like, it’s not the greatest scenario, but it’s the best one I can think of. Plus at least, you know, it all fits. Yeah. Funny enough, there used to be a farmer at our farmer’s market who would do this with their freezer every week full of meat.

They’d just put it full in the back of their truck, drive to the market, plug it back in, sell people meat, and then unplug it and

Heather: drive home. . That’s right. Yeah. Also, that’s a lot of breast milk for a 10 and a half month old. Yeah. So I don’t know if you’ve considered donating, but you could, you know, keep a hundred bags of, I’m sure there’s, since I know you probably six ounces in each bag, so, , you could keep 600 ounces for yourself and donate the rest if you feel so inclined.

Sure. Might be better. Purchasing a bunch of coolers that could be,

Maureen: and just so everybody out there remembers, our friends that Share the Drop have launched their app and they now have a function on their website where you can join their sharing community without downloading an app. Because I think they were having trouble with the Apple App store specifically, so they worked around it.

Heather: this is great. Good question. Yeah. All right let’s take a minute. Thank a sponsor, and then we’re gonna bring on our very special guest. Yay.

You guys breastfeeding for busy moms. My little breastfeeding clinic isn’t so little anymore. I’m

Maureen: so excited that not only can people book with. In person here or virtually, but they can book with the other IBCLCs in your

Heather: clinic. We also do accept some insurance directly. A lot of insurance will actually pre-approve you for a certain amount of visits, even prenatally.

So please head on over to breastfeeding for busy moms.com and check out the services tab to see if your insurance is approved. Book with me or one of my IV CLCs, and we would love to work with

Maureen: you. You can do prenatal consults. What else can they do, Heather?

Heather: Well, I often work with people who have supply issues.

We’ve got pumping, troubleshooting. We’ve got preparing to go back to work, weening starting solids. We really cover the entire journey. So if you’re struggling, stop struggling and just schedule with me or somebody on my team at breastfeeding for busy moms.com.

Heather: Today we have a very special guest on the show. Welcome Gia. Gambaro Blount, she’s a parenting consultant. Child development professor and parent educator. She has her MA in early childhood development and 20 years of experience helping families get to the root of behavior challenges while maintaining warm and trusting relationships centered in authentic connection.

Gia is a mother of two children so different from one another. They have challenged her understanding of parenting theories and deepened her awareness that there is no right way to parent. Well, that’s comforting to start with . So thank you. Thank you for being here. We really appreciate you coming on and chatting with.

Gia Gambaro Blount: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really looking forward to this.

Maureen: Well, last week Heather and I chatted about how breastfeeding is going with my toddler Lyra. And it’s my second time nursing a toddler. And while I’ve definitely like improved my parenting game from one to the other, there are still days that I feel like I just have no idea what’s happening.

So , we would absolutely love to chat with you about toddler manners, while breastfeeding, because so much of our lactation education is crisis driven and it is all about the first six months and pretty much everybody is just left on their

Gia Gambaro Blount: own after that. Yeah, that’s such, such an interesting point that it’s crisis driven because as we know later with the toddlers, they feel like it’s their own crisis

So there’s a through line there.

Heather: That’s true. A new crisis every three and a half minutes, . Exactly.

Gia Gambaro Blount: Exactly. .

Heather: So why don’t we begin with bodily autonomy? So when you ween over years, it’s a very slow process of reclaiming your body. And how the heck are we supposed to get these toddlers on board with that?

And what can we do to keep them from seeing our bodies is as like a self-serve all you can eat milk bar.

Gia Gambaro Blount: That’s such a good question and I love the new language we have around body autonomy. Toddlers know this instinctually, everything’s mind, mind mine, or no, no, no. So they know very well their own boundaries.

So I think like the first place that we can start with understanding body autonomy is looking at this breastfeeding or nursing as a two-way relationship, right? Oftentimes as parents, we look at our babies and don’t wanna upset them or hurt them, or we set boundaries for them, or we help them with this or that, but we, we count too, our bodies count too, so we can make boundaries with our own bodies and use.

For modeling and for teaching when and where we are comfortable to be open for business. So oftentimes I start with the concepts of access and amount as our starting point for understanding the dynamics of nursing a toddler. So when and where and how much are kind of the variables that we can play with.

And then the relationship is the reasons that they want to nurse. So is it for comfort? Is it for the gooey connection for the warmth, you know, or just a habit. Like sometimes you see toddlers just like kind of mindlessly doing it. Mm-hmm. . So how do we keep them from seeing our bodies as self-serve? Is that we don’t see our bodies as self-serve and we.

Finding ways to limit access that is comfortable for us. So it could be like, oh, you want some, let’s go to our chair. Let’s go to our special spot, or let’s go in this room. Or if you’re out somewhere and you don’t want to do it, you could have your secondary location, right? So for kids starting to slow down the, the access or for the parents, try slow down where the access is.

If you are out in the world, you can pick like your car or a blanket, something that kind of changes the dynamic of the access that they have. So that’s one way that we can stop being like open for business all the time, is just change location. . I think that’s

Heather: really interesting because I do a lot of that just with breastfeeding babies too.

Mm-hmm. , you know, like creating a buffer between the, the night, night booby and sleeping. And I always tell people it can be like a two minute buffer because two minutes to a baby is like an hour to us. Like time just moves so much slower when you’re a kid. I have no concept of time. No concept of time. So by you like taking that extra step to go to the car or like getting the blanket out and putting the blanket down, I mean, who knows by the time you lay the blanket down, they might be like, never mind, I saw Butterfly and I’m running away now.

Gia Gambaro Blount: Exactly. The urgency is over. Yeah. But

Maureen: how do we get them past that urgency when it’s kind of the only thing on their minds, you know, how do we teach them patience? Because after age one, They’re mostly ready to move beyond the like quote on demand part of breastfeeding and getting that message across to toddlers who have zero concept of time.

You know? And when we say not now or in five minutes, they just, that feels like forever

Gia Gambaro Blount: to them. Yeah. So you guys are so right on what they don’t know how to tell time, but they do know how to feel the rhythm of their day. And that is the way that young children tell time. So for example, if we ever talk about like separation anxiety in my consultations or my classes for preschool, we always talk about pick up and drop off times next to a scheduled event in the school.

So you’ll say something like, mommy comes back after story time instead of 12 o’clock. Mm-hmm. . And we can do the same with nursing. You can. Connected to anchors in their schedule, so you’re not having it just free floating. So that’s, that’s also limiting the amount. So remember we’re looking at the two variables that we can kind of play with, which is the access and the other is the amount.

So if they come to you and wanting nursing, you could say, oh, have we had our story time yet? Or whatever. Is something scheduled in the day you’d be like, oh, we’re not back from the park yet. Or you can use the schedule to help them track when that, to have that prediction of when the next feeding will come.

Heather: That is interesting. Can I talk about myself for a minute, ? Of

Gia Gambaro Blount: course.

Heather: So I would not say that scheduling comes naturally to me. And when you go from feeding on demand for so long especially with your first baby, it felt very out of control for me. Like I could not, I could not get a schedule for myself because I often feel like I have a toddler brain where I need someone to tell me what my schedule is.

Like I completely lose it postpartum when I don’t have like, work to go to at a certain time with deadlines and expectations. And then you’ve got this kid who seems to be dictating everything. And I see these other parents who seem to like really understand that the kid moved in with them and they didn’t move in with the kid.

you know, . And so, I guess what I’m asking is, could you speak to those of us that maybe don’t do so well with naturally scheduling things for family life and like how we can maybe build in a handicap for people like us? Yeah,

Gia Gambaro Blount: that’s such a good question and I appreciate looking at it. Maybe through maybe a neurodiverse lens, right?

Like we don’t all think that way. So I would say the easiest way to kind of find that temporal rhythm in your day is to follow what your body can do. So your body probably has some kind of need, want schedule usually around food or sleep. So if you can anchor one or two of those, that’s a good starting point.

So like, let’s just say, , you can anchor breakfast time. You wake up and you know you’re going to eat. Maybe that is your starting point is just like, breakfast is at seven, that’s my anchor. Or maybe eight to give yourself more time. You’ll know kind of what works for your wake up times and your family flow, but you can set one anchor in the day around something you know that has to get done.

And that could be for around food or it could be around sleep, or if you want to be extra, you could do one of each. But this is more for you to feel sane and get through your day. If we’re thinking about how to do that for kids, knowing if they get to a nurse or not nurse, then I was kind of saying whatever prediction they already have to put it next to one of those.

So for example, if you go to the park every afternoon, which. . It’s probably not typical , but then you say after park time. But for those that don’t have that kind of like structured schedule, then I would just take it to that level of finding one or two anchors in your day for you to feel like you can build from there.

Does it need prediction for all the other things, but at least you have a starting point. Hmm.

Heather: That’s good. Like it, it would have to be for me after mommy has one cup of coffee in her body. .

Gia Gambaro Blount: Yes, exactly. Yes. Something you can just, you can throw an anchor into your schedule based on whatever makes sense for you.

Like all of us have something that we need, like just stay alive, like food and sleep.

Maureen: Right. . I like. That’s a great way to think about it. I like that. Okay, good. Okay, so I’m gonna, I’m gonna give you a very common complaint that we hear from parents who are nursing toddlers. As you know, toddlers get really busy with their bodies and they also can get really lazy with their latch and breastfeeding.

A toddler kind of feels like you’re having, like yoga or gymnastics, like imposed on your body sometimes. So especially when we’ve got like, really not a lot of verbal communication, how, how can we get the point across to them that we need to be calm and gentle and that, you know, I have feelings too, .

Gia Gambaro Blount: Yeah.

And this hurts my body. . So I have a few responses for this one cuz this is, like you said, it’s very common. And I, the first thing I wanna say is that a distracted eater or a, a distracted, you know toddler at the breast is actually good news. It means they’re noticing the world around them. There’s a, they’re noticing all of the different changes and sights and smells and sounds and all of that means their synapses are firing and they’re learning about the world.

So all of that is good news. It’s just unfortunate that it could hurt us and it makes things complicated. So we could use what we know about the toddler monkey brain, right? Where they’re jumping all around and we can use that in our favor. So there’s a few things that that I would suggest. One. If it’s possible that you have, like I said before, that, that the access is located to a certain spot in the house.

So when you’re home, you have your spot, your cushion, your rocking chair, this corner of the couch. I’ve heard little 18 month olds. 19 month olds go Couch. Couch. And what they mean is I want to nurse . So you’re trying to uncouple a few things here, right? The, the nursing for comfort, for habit but before we go down that road, so first is finding the location that you want to take them to.

That will help with the quote unquote laziness or the distractibility, if you can. What’s distracting in the environment. I know that’s a simple slam dunk. That doesn’t always work. So the second thing is for you to impose a cue. Something else that can happen while that’s happening that has that feeling of peace, calm, quiet, centered groundedness.

Most likely you already have a white noise machine. Maybe you have a salt lamp in the house, or maybe you can use your voice. So if we are connected to them and have a two-way kind of feedback loop while they’re nursing, then that can help reduce the outside distractions. So using a cue and using your own feedback loop, singing a song, telling a story, eye contact during that time.

Now the second reason that that is so helpful is because if and when you are ready to wean or just slow down the feedings in general, not be done, but just slow them down, then you can start to stack this comfort of reading and nursing, singing and nursing talking and nursing something. Maybe you’re narrating like, oh, it’s such a fun day today.

So far. We went to the park. We saw a butterfly. Like maybe you’re just talking to them while they’re nursing. What is nice about this is that eventually you are going to slide apart these two activities. So they still get that warmth, that gooey connection, that you know, that warmth of your lap and your time and your attention.

But you start to slide apart the activity from the nursing. So first it’s stacked nursing, and let’s just say we’re singing, and then you start to slide it apart. So you’re singing while they’re nursing. Then when they’re done, you can continue to sing another song and then put them down and go on with your day.

Eventually it’s gonna feel just as fun to sit. on your lap and sing a song when you’ve taken away the nursing. That’s the gentle, slow approach is the stacked activity. So one gets removed and the other one stays in place. We still get cuddle time, we still get connection, we still get eye contact and we’re still singing our song.

Just what’s missing is the nursing now. That’s

Heather: great. And actually, let me, let me double down on that and ask you a follow up question. Sure. Do you think it’s possible that these toddlers think that you like breastfeeding and that’s why they continue it? Because that’s one of the ways that they show you love and they’re just like looking for other ways to show you love.

Aw,

Gia Gambaro Blount: I love that question. It tells me a lot about your connection with your own children, , like that’s very sweet, but. , developmentally speaking, that’s very unlikely. This what they call like the theory of mind, like the ability to put your mind into somebody else’s and imagine what they’re thinking. Mm-hmm.

doesn’t really start taking place till somewhere magically between three and four, typically around four. Right. And that’s

Maureen: why we tell people, babies and toddlers can’t be manipulative because they can’t predict what you would think in reaction to what they’re

Gia Gambaro Blount: doing. Yeah, exactly. They really can’t put themselves in your brain and look out of your eyes.

And they have the weirdest and most fun studies to prove this

Maureen: you mean toddlers must be

Heather: joyful. Really? Yeah. Tell us about

Gia Gambaro Blount: it. Tell us about, you would like to hear it. Okay. Well, one of the, the most famous ones is, and they do it for three, four, and five year olds. And they see like, when does this happen? When does it take, like, when does this change take place? And so this study is that they bring in a three, three-year-old and they show them a box of crayons and they say, what’s in this box?

And a three-year-old who’s super verbal will say crayons. And then they open the box and there are in fact crayons in the box. And then they ask a three-year-old to remove all of the crayons and replace them with birthday candles, which fit neatly in there. . So they fill it all with birthday candles.

They close the box and now they say what’s in the box? And the kids say, there are birthday candles in the box. Three-year-olds say There are birthday candles in the box. Yes, you’re right. Okay. Now they bring in somebody from outside that has not been in the room and they say, what do you think? They think is in the, the, the crayon box?

It’s closed. And a three-year-old mind will say, birthday candles, , because they, they know there are birthday candles in there. They can’t even begin to imagine that not everybody on the planet knows that that changes around four years old. Then they bring in a second person and they say, what do you think?

They think is in the box? And then they get it. Then they’re like, they think crayons are in there, and they just played a trick on them because there’s really not crayons in there. They’re birthday candles, . Oh, okay. So that’s that perspective taking, right? That, that you can understand someone’s perspective.

There’s more like, PI is one of the greats in child development, and he did like these mountain studies about perspective. There’s a ton out there, but that’s why it’s unlikely that your toddler thinks this is for you. What’s more likely is that they feel that feedback loop of warmth and connection, and it feels good to be looked at in that way.

It feels good to them to have that warmth and connect. . Hmm. Yeah. Especially

Heather: when the other 90% of the day you’re looking at ’em in a much different way. Like, , don’t you dare, you know, my daughter started telling me, don’t you dare, and I’m like, uhoh. That must be something I’m saying. .

Maureen: Our, our current major problem is my toddler who broke her wrist beating her brother with her wrist brace,

Gia Gambaro Blount: Oh no. Which is like

Maureen: very

Gia Gambaro Blount: painful. I’m sorry to hear

Maureen: that. She doesn’t care about that. does. Have a new weapon

Gia Gambaro Blount: though, . I know, I know. Ugh. Well that’s something we could talk about too. That’s my day to day talking about . Toddler tantrums. That’s all I talk about. .

Heather: Oh my gosh. You know what is so funny? It’s like we know as parents like we’re most of the problem, like they’re just being themselves and our reactions and just our expectations and oh, I bet it is like very therapeutic to meet with you and have a consultation and just leave feeling like, okay, it’s something I can change cuz my kid isn’t broken.

These are some things that I can do. that makes it fixable. Yeah. Which makes it like a lot more tangible to have some like hope at the

Gia Gambaro Blount: end. . Yes. We can do perspective taking so we can see that they’re doing the best they can with the skills that they have and not, not have expectations that we can’t maintain for ourselves.

I see that all the time with this. Oh yeah. You know, all this emphasis on emotional regulation and emotional vocabulary and emotional intelligence. I’m like, oh my gosh, we’re asking two year olds to do things that grownups can’t do. absolutely doesn’t mean we don’t teach it, but it means that it’s to have the realistic expectations.

Maureen: Yeah, I, every time I feel bad about my kids, you know, acting up in public or like, say we’re at the grocery store and they’re crying, I’m like, have I cried in the grocery store? Yes. , yes I have.

Heather: And I am 33

Maureen: years old, so this is fine. , yes, they’re gonna be fine. ,

Gia Gambaro Blount: they’re gonna be fine. Or, or even more than that is, do you want to cry in the grocery store and you’ve told yourself some story that that’s not good, or you’re not allowed, or that, that you’re silly or your feelings aren’t valid or you don’t wanna upset other people.

And really all you needed was a two minute cry, , you know? And, but we get all in our head about it. Toddlers don’t have that perspective, so they feel their feeling, they let it ride, and then they’re out the other side.

Heather: God. I love that about them though. I really do. and, and honestly, there’s probably someone listening right now with Air Pods and crying at the grocery store.

Like this is for me. . . Exactly. Oh, well this has been so great so far, but let’s take a quick break to thank one of our sponsors, and when we come back, we’re gonna talk about tandem feeding and so much more.

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Let’s take a quick break to thank our sponsor. Aero Flow

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Go ahead and check out the link to Arrow Flow in our show notes and order your pump through them. Welcome back everybody. We are here with Gia and we are just so excited to ask her all these questions. I mean, it’s probably arguably too many questions for one interview, but we’re gonna try our best.

So do you have any good advice for people who are tandem feeding and how can we preserve our sanity with a constantly feeding newborn and a demanding

Gia Gambaro Blount: toddler? Yeah, such a good question and I have so many parents that ask this question as well. I would say, if possible, to talk about this before the baby comes.

So I’d like to first talk to expectant parents and then talk to the ones already in the trenches. When you are expecting, and you know that most likely you’re gonna do tandem feeding, and even if you are not, your toddler is going to be very curious when you start nursing the new baby. So if at all possible to start doing one of the tricks before the baby even comes home.

And that trick is to build some kind of treasure basket or treasure box that only comes out when you want to do a nursing. And here’s, here’s why it’s a trick, is because you want to practice doing that before the baby ever gets there, if possible. And the reason that is, is because otherwise the child believe, could believe that it’s related to the baby rather than to the activity.

So we want to uncouple as much as possible , and this is true for all kinds of stuff, like the baby car seat or the baby rattle or the pack and play or whatever. It’s not for the toddler anymore that you bring those things out early and you start to practice boundaries around these things before the baby gets there.

So the rules are about the equipment and the stuff and not about the baby. So we don’t wanna blame throw the baby under the bus before they even come to this planet, right? So that’s, that’s one thing. So c creating this little treasure basket will have things that are, you know, toddler friendly. You can just go shopping in your own house.

Like you just find stuff like lift the flap books, touch and feel books sticker books and anything that’s kind of like a fun little manipulative it, it’s constantly changing what they like. Wiki sticks, like whatever they like, and you just put that all in a little basket and you hide it away and you can start to bring it out for their snack time.

Right, so you can have a child have their snack and their activities because that’s where it’s gonna go. What, we know this. Mm-hmm. , this is where it’s gonna go. When you start nursing, your child’s gonna be interested, they’re gonna disrupt, they’re gonna suddenly have an owie and they’re gonna suddenly be hungry, like something like that’s going on.

So it’s side by side, sitting together, side by side with your little treasure box, and there might be a few little snacks in there. And they do that not on your lap because you’re imagining that you’ll be holding an infant. So that’s what for expectant parents, you can also do that with lap time activities like reading, start to do side by side reading and start to give it a name so they know sometimes we’re side by side and sometimes it’s, you’re on my lap and you can, you don’t have to call it side by side, that’s too much of a mouthful.

But it could be together time or lap time. Something simple. Yeah. I love that. I would’ve never , I

Maureen: never

Gia Gambaro Blount: considered that. It goes a long way, right? Because suddenly your arms are full and you can’t have two kids on your lap at the same time. It’s, it’s a juggle. So again, if we don’t wanna blame the baby, then we can start having these side by side activities and naming it so we have some kind of tether to what the expectation is.

So, you know if you call it together time, then they know they’re not on your lap and they get this treasure box with special little snacks in there. And that’s the other thing of when you’re nursing the new baby coming home, is that you want to. Help your child through their lens so it’s not be gentle with the baby, right?

It’s like what you can do for them. So it could be like you get pizza , right? And the baby doesn’t get anything except milk, right? So you can start to build up their side of things and also introduce, one of my favorite parenting strategies for toddlers is upskill to upskill them in any way possible.

This age of development, they are so desirous of doing things on their own. They really crave independence and they love to show you what they can do. So give them jobs. Give them jobs to help the baby.

Maureen: Yes. Give them something to do. This is my favorite, favorite time to give jobs. Cuz when they’re like four or five, they don’t care anymore.

Gia Gambaro Blount: Exactly, yes. It’s so true. You have a short window where they, where they feel very proud of their ability to do things that are, that are normally what they see their adults doing. Oh yeah.

Maureen: My one year-old’s favorite game is to pick up trash and throw it away, which my seven-year-old just sheds trash like everywhere.

he got, so

Heather: it’s perfect. You know, like Pigpens symbiotic relationship. Yes. . Well, I can also confirm this because Heidi, my daughter, is about to be four next month and she recently stopped throwing away her pullup from the night before. Like she used to do a great job of getting up in the morning, take off her peepee, pull up and throw it in the garbage.

And her new thing is throwing it on the floor while sucking her thumb, looking me dead in the eye next to the garbage can and going, I want you to do it. .

Gia Gambaro Blount: Oh, that’s a, yeah, that’s a whole different thing. , I mean, she, I’m

Heather: throwing down the that’s power struggle. Yeah. Throwing down the peepee diaper, like she’s throwing down a gauntlet and I’m like, let’s go.

Gia Gambaro Blount: Yes, . I’ve been waiting my whole life for this moment. . .

Heather: So what I started doing, tell me if this is wrong. I’m like, let’s do it together. And I put my hand on top of her hand and then we pick it up together and throw it away. It feels like a lot, but like win-win or

Gia Gambaro Blount: lose loose. Sure. That will be a temporary, that will be a temporary fix.

I would, so how upskill would work in that is, I would say something like, you might be ready not to have a diaper anymore. , that would be the upskill, right? So it’s like, what’s the next, if you always, if you think about early childhood as steps towards independence, right? Like they’re taking steps. They’re taking steps.

You want to imagine the next step for her and maybe on the floor there where she’s throwing the diaper, you put a little potty or something, right? So that would be the upskill. What’s the next step? And then you don’t talk about throwing the diaper on the floor. You talk about the next step and see where she and her four year old brain thinks the next step is.

Cuz it’s always slightly, it creates a dissonance. It’s slightly out of reach, just a little bit. It’s not deep end. It’s something that’s just slightly out of reach. So, oh you, you’re not wanting to put your diaper away. Do you think you’re ready not to have a diaper? Should we try doing nighttime peas instead?

Hmm, that would be the upskill.

Heather: Yeah. I’m gonna keep you posted. I will implement this new plan immediately and email you next week, .

Gia Gambaro Blount: Yeah, please do. Please do. . Thank you for that. My

Maureen: goodness. Yeah. Well, so I wanted to mention episode 75 is our interview with Laura Bik, where we focus just on tandem feeding and all the things that worked for her.

So if you guys are like, yes, that’s where I need to focus head over there as well. So a lot of parents don’t want a tandem feed, right? They find out they’re pregnant, they’re still nursing a toddler, and they’re like, okay, we need the fast weening plan . And on this show we talk a lot about slow weaning and baby led weaning.

So like weaning a toddler in a short span of time seems really daunting to me, and I don’t know if you have any advice about that.

Gia Gambaro Blount: Yeah, it is really tough because like we said at the beginning, there’s so many reasons for nursing, right? There’s comfort if you get hurt, there’s the habit, just the habit of it.

you know there’s the connection piece. So I, if at all possible, it’s usually there’s something going on for a quick prescription, for ending or for weaning, if at all possible. I prefer the slower version, but if that’s not possible, then the next thing would be. having a plan for dealing with big feelings because it’s very hard to go from this source of comfort to not having it anymore.

It depends on the age of the child. So you were saying like if there were one or two or three, and they would be very different approaches for each of those age categories. There is a shift in development at around 18 months. You probably noticed it with your own. And that’s where they have long-term mem more long-term memory and a lot more language that they are expressing.

So our plans will change. So I, I guess what I’m saying is I don’t ever recommend quick and fast weaning if possible, but if necessary that the actual toolkit that you’ll need to build up are ways to help your child grieve. grief, those things. Now there are some tricks to make it a little bit easier.

Yeah. I’ve heard all kinds of wives’ tales. I’m sure you’ve heard some funny things in your own career, but like saying that your boobs have an owie and putting a band aid on it, , it’s like, yeah, you know, that’s one. Like there’s those things having your partner use. For the times that there’s typical comfort feeding, like mornings or mm-hmm.

bedtimes you know, there are those kinds of things, but in general, I recommend a slower weaning process where we do the layers of activity, right? Like the book, the song, the q, the q, the salt lamp, like something. And then we slide them apart. That’s ideal. , typically the hardest feedings to drop is, I’m sure you both know this, are the mornings and the evenings Yes.

Or anything around sleep. Yeah. And that’s, that’s where we want to be able to have them have that same feeling of warmth and connection without the nursing. I have been asked before, you, you, you haven’t asked me this, but I, I can imagine that listeners are asking, well, if you’re reading a story or singing a song while you’re nursing, won’t that be a trigger for them missing the boob?

If you’re singing that same song or reading a book, won’t they just be like, you’re singing a song I’m supposed to be feeding right now? So what I always say to that is, there’s no way they’re gonna forget anyway. Yes. They don’t forget. Right. They don’t forget. So it’s, it’s, this is hard and you can do it.

That’s really what it is. It’s not trying to trick them into forgetting that they ever nursed. It’s gonna be that, that you, the grownup, can help them navigate the grief and loss and transitioning into a different stage of life, which is, yeah, there’s a lot of good things, right? Like you get to, I don’t know, go to preschool or get, you know, whatever.

There’s lots of other good things on the other side, but it’s sitting in the sadness with them and giving them the tools to handle hard things and survive. That’s

Heather: heavy .

Maureen: It is, yeah. It’s, it’s really important to remember though, especially for those two and three and up, I, I weaned, well, I didn’t wean him, my son weaned when he was just about four years old, but it was like a six month process of me hyping up, being four years old, where I was like, when you are four, you’re not gonna need to nurse anymore.

It’s gonna be

Gia Gambaro Blount: amazing. , Uhhuh, , Uhhuh, .

Maureen: And it worked really well. But yeah, you know, I mean, he’s, he’s seven and he like, clearly remembers nursing because it was not that long ago. And he, he’ll still be like, oh, it was really nice when we did that . Aw, yes. You know, they’re, they’re, they’re not gonna forget.

They’re not

Gia Gambaro Blount: gonna forget we, I want that. No, it’s

Heather: so sweet that he remembers. You had said slow and you know, slow is better. And a lot of our listeners like hard numbers that I know are almost impossible to give because every kid is different. But when you say slow, what do you think that means? Slow

Gia Gambaro Blount: weening.

Okay. Well first I just want to go back to what we said about the access and the amount. Those are the variables that we can play with. So there you can fir pick one. You can’t do both, right? So first I usually suggest that you pick the location, right? So that is a weaning process in and of itself, that it’s not the drive by.

We like nursing, right? Like wherever you are at any moment, they just lift your shirt and get a little bit. So this is that buffer that you were talking about. So auto correcting or riding the ship to the location of when they have access, that usually takes about three weeks. . So there’s your hard number,

Okay?

Maureen: I am like, no, keep

Gia Gambaro Blount: going. I love this, this hard numbers. Let’s do it. And then after that, you can start to play with the amount, right? So if you’re nursing, that is minutes. If you’re bottle feeding, that is ounces. Unless you have see-through boobs, which would be amazing, . And you can do both the minutes and ounces, , pat and pending.

That feels, yeah, that feels like a mistake in nature. Like we should be able to see . There should be a gauge . I know. I agree. So either it’s minutes or it’s ounces. And this is where we do the layering, right? So now you’ve spent your three weeks and it’s only in the rocking chair. Or if you’re out in the world, it’s in the car if, if that’s what you pick.

Or under a blanket, right? If that’s what you pick. So now you’ve got that down. Now you’re gonna start re removing minutes. And increasing whatever the other layered activity is. The song, the storytelling, the actual reading, a book, whatever that is. Then you’ll do that. You’ll pop them off. You’ll continue doing the story till it’s finished or the song until it’s finished.

If you’re switching sides, you could do the same thing. So let’s say one side is Twinkle Twinkle, but you are knowing that you’re gonna pop off as soon as that song is done or halfway through, depending on your minute marker, right? If it’s like one minute per side then the song. , you might have to finish it halfway, pop them off, pause the song, say something, some disruptor like, now we’re changing sides.

Like something that’s not the go leg. Right. and like flipping over the record. Right. And then go to the other side and then finish singing the song or sing it again. And then take them off and then be like, let’s sing another song and I’ll give you a big hug and you’ll rock or hug or whatever else is a way that you have connection and sing your other song or finish your story or whatever it is.

So you want to have a little more, it’s, it’s counterintuitive cuz it’s like more time before it’s less time. Yeah.

Heather: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. So I guess what you’re saying is make sure you’re in a good place mentally before you start this. Yeah. Because you gotta be consistent

Gia Gambaro Blount: about it. . That’s true for so many of the things with raising our children.

Mm-hmm. is that we, we offer as much consistency as possible so their brain can find the prediction. That’s the, that’s the symbiosis. You hear a lot like consistency and prediction, but the roles are separated. We are consistent. So they get prediction and once they pick up on that prediction, then you have a whole different like temporal rhythm to your day and your habits and your connections and all of it gets a little bit easier cuz they have that prediction.

Now this

Heather: is all very interesting. I am really noodling on this one over here, , thinking about, well you had said your kids were super different. Mine could not be more different either. Yeah. And I’m just thinking about how each kid kind of triggers me differently. , you know? Mm-hmm. . Um, And so when they’re both in the house at the same time, and I’m parenting, I feel like I’m two different parents from like minute to minute parenting my son and parenting my daughter.

And I, I mean, does it matter? Are you meeting like consistency of schedule or like consistency in your responses to kids or consistency? Probably all of it. Yeah.

Gia Gambaro Blount: No for, first of all, we are different people to each human, right? And that’s, that’s a good thing. Otherwise, we’d have to check under our skin to see if we’re made of wires, cuz we’d be a robot , right?

Like we we’re supposed to have a two-way relationship based on our uniqueness. And that will look very different for every member of the family. And every connection will be different. And that’s why I also say for parenting with partners is if they do bath differently than you, good. Let them. Mm-hmm.

there’s not a right way. They’re gonna do their own thing. They’re building their own relationship. That

Maureen: is sometimes harder than parenting . Yeah.

Gia Gambaro Blount: Just letting your partner parent . A hundred percent. That is so hard. Yes. Or having your parents witness your parenting. Oh no. We were

Maureen: special actually going into the holidays right now.

Oh yeah. And I’m like deciding whether or not we’re gonna visit everybody. Mm-hmm. . And I’m like, oh, can I go through that again this year? Because that was so hard

Heather: last

Gia Gambaro Blount: year. .

Heather: It’s so hard. It is. Yeah. They look at you and they’re like, you’re just gonna let that go. And I’m like, Ugh. Yes, I am . I am. I’m like, I’m, I’m gonna pick a different battle later.

So I am gonna let that happen. It’s gonna be okay. I can’t have crying before 5:00 PM We got a lot of daylight left. Yes.

Gia Gambaro Blount: Gotta make it to the end.

Heather: Yeah. Well, you know, so big emotions. Big changes. Lots of our listeners are bringing home that new baby, and we’re trying to teach our toddlers how our bodies are going to be used.

So maybe we’ve weaned our toddler, and it’s been a while since they’ve breastfed and we’re about to breastfeed this new baby. And this happened in my family, even though my son was five when my daughter was born, he wanted to taste my breast milk. Mm-hmm. . He was like, what would happen if I sucked on your boob?

Do I even know how to suck? You know, so he had all of these like, very verbal conversations with me about it, which were funny to me and like, cool. Mm-hmm. . But a lot of younger kids will just fully just attack you physically and just try to suck on your boob and try to like do all of these things.

anything to say about how to like talk to your toddler about your body and how it’s being

Gia Gambaro Blount: used? Yes, I do. So teaching boundaries needs to start with the concrete things that they can touch, feel, see, and understand. So we’re surrounded by physical boundaries, so things like the. , the gate, the garage door, the fence.

Right? So you can start by just showing them things in the world that help keep us safe or tell us what’s expected here. Like the sandbox has this perimeter around it. Otherwise there’d be sand everywhere, right? Like you’ll just start to get them to have that concrete understanding of what a boundary is.

That physical lived touched experience of understanding boundaries. Then you can bring it a little closer to personal boundaries. And to do that, I like to use a tool, a physical tool, to take it from that physical lesson. Those lessons you just did. Into the ones that are a little more invisible. So using two hula hoops to kind of show everybody has this invisible space around them, and we ask for consent or permission to go into.

Somebody else’s or who we allow into ours. This is another really important one around the holidays and around family. Like, oh yeah, do you want uncle so-and-so just like picking up your kid without permission or mm-hmm. giving kisses or like, you know, this whole idea of consent permission, all of that is really important so we can teach it using this concrete tool of using hula hoops.

It’s a little tricky when it’s with the immediate family, the nuclear family of the household because we do get a shorthand and we do get to break some rules, right? So we do have to like maybe hold them down to get a shot or we have to like force them into a car seat, or I just had like a toddler that had to get an iv.

So there is like certain times where we cross that, like, respect of your body because we’re mommy or daddy or, or a doctor. So besides those outliers, We do, we can’t teach model and reinforce consent into their bubble and theirs into yours. And also agree on a shorthand. Like you could always hug and kiss mommy until I say no.

Right? So that way you’re not having like a million permissions and consent conversation today. Can I hug you? Now? Can I, I mean, if imagine asking your child every single time that you had to touch them would be hard. So you can do like a, like an all but you know, asking for exceptions. So the hula hoop idea is to create this invisible space to make it visible and you can teach them how you could do that with other people, right?

Like you can go ask permission to give a friend a hug, and if uncle so-and-so asks you permission that you can say yes or no cuz he’s in your hula hoop or not. And then when the baby is there, you can talk about that personal space, like, oh, I’m in my hula hoop right now. Now is the time that you would have to ask to come in.

So again, if we’ve uncoupled. Teaching about these things, when the baby’s not present, the better because then it’s not about the baby. But if not, it’s never too late. I mean, these are ongoing lessons. There is even a third layer, and that’s the emotional boundaries, right? Even more invisible, which is our feelings and holding boundaries around our feelings, kind words you know, kindness, compassion, all of those things can cross boundaries as well.

So this is also lifelong learning about boundaries. But the simple answer is that your body is your body. The mom, that’s nursing. And you can hold your, no. And that’s where we go back to what we said before, is handling our children’s discomfort or sadness on that. Things are changing and evolving and they might not get access where they used to.

And that can be heart. and sitting with that heart and the grief and the loss, but also remembering that they get, they get to do a lot of things that a baby can’t .

Heather: Oh yeah. They, they get to, and they love that independence. Once they finally own it, then it’s almost like, oh my God, now I can’t control the independence

You know, so , so say that toddler, you know, with the help of the hula hoop and we’ve got the treasure chest of activities, and they’re like, actually this is pretty darn good. I’m like really feeling my toddler self. Do they ever then, I mean, do they ever, I know that they do, but what would you do in the situation where your toddler is like, fine, you’re stuck there in your stupid hula hoop.

Feeding my little brother. I’m going to go open the garage door and walk to the neighbor’s house, , because you can’t do anything about it because you’re sitting there because this is my daughter’s new thing, cuz she’s super tall is mm-hmm. . She will open the garage door and just leave in her pajamas with no shoes.

And obviously we lock the door. She’s very smart. . Yes, yes. We have alarms on the doors. Mm-hmm. so we know what she’s leaving and my neighbor understands the drill, brings her back. We have a conversation about it. But how about these toddlers that are taking advantage of the fact that you’re, you’re kind of tied down a little bit.

Yeah. You’re

Gia Gambaro Blount: on in an island. Yeah, this is a really good question and obviously that’s like a huge safety concern, right? Like that’s, even though the, the, the neighbors helping out, that’s just not fun for, for you to be worried about that. For sure. So the treasure box isn’t working. The upskill isn’t working, is what I’m guessing.

Like you’re saying like, oh, do you wanna open the fridge and get your own breakfast? Have you tried like a really good upskill for her? Something that’s a little bit hard?

Heather: She does a lot of really hard things. She’s like a forager. It’s very strange . I mean, she’s even pretty emotionally complex, but I just yeah, I don’t know.

She, I, I, I feel like she’s already above her level, , so I’m afraid to give her even more independence than she already has cuz she’s kind of using it all against me at this time. .

Gia Gambaro Blount: Well, what do you think, what do you think is causing her to leave? Is it needing your attention? Like, what is her root for? .

Heather: She seems to like really enjoy feeling like a boss.

And maybe she wants my attention, but she gets a lot of it. . Yeah. Yeah, so, so I’m not a hundred percent sure, but she’s like, she likes it. She’s proud of herself. I think she likes to get a rise out of people too when they see her show up at their house and they’re like, Heidi, what are you doing here? And she’s like, I’m here cuz I wanna be here.

Gia Gambaro Blount: Now one of the things that might be helpful for that is to change your morning routine so we can disrupt any same old, same old. So we don’t like, it’s like changing dance moves, right? , like if we’re always starting the day the same way, then she’s going to remember this is the thing that she can do. I mean, we’d have to pick apart like what your day looks like, but just making something up.

If it’s normally that, that like morning feed and that’s when she takes off. Like is there a way that you could change the game? Maybe you guys start on the couch with books or a show or something that will really capture her attention. And then the nursing, the baby’s on the, like on the down low, right?

Like then the baby gets picked up and not get, doesn’t get fed right away, if that’s possible. It’s kind of like trying to change the dynamic so the same old neural pathway doesn’t get activated. Well, mom’s busy again, so I’m going to go out the front door. That’s what I did last time. So that’s like super prevalent in her brain.

If we change, sometimes they’re forced to change because the. , they just can’t follow the same neural pathway this time. So can you pick a part in your morning where you could do something that’s so different that it might not allow that memory or the same move to take place again?

Heather: I think honestly, just listening to talk, probably starting with outside time.

Like even in pajamas, just like, yeah, I was just thinking that.

Maureen: I wonder if you need to get her up and you’re like, all right, sneakers on, let’s go. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Right out the

Heather: door. Run you like a greyhound around the neighborhood and then we’ll, there you go, come back and eat breakfast. Yeah. She, I think generally my kids are pretty energetic, so if they’re, if they’re like chilling, eating their breakfast way to put it, watching, watching tv.

If they, I swear if they watch more than 30 minutes of tv, their, their little brains start to melt and then they act out. So I. . I don’t know. Yeah, I think that’s probably what it needs to, to be

Gia Gambaro Blount: wonderful. She, you could even throw her in a jogger, go for a walk, and I’m sure you’ve done this, I’m sure you know how to walk a nurse like it’s, it’s not for the faint part, but it can happen.

Heather: Well, actually I don’t have a newborn. We’ve talked about it, but I am afraid . So I was, I think it’s valid. Is valid. I was, I was generally asking for other people who might have kids similar to mine that would like to do

Gia Gambaro Blount: that. I see, I see. So you, you’re not in a, you’re not stuck on the couch nursing. She’s just, you’re not capturing her before she does the same old, same

Heather: old, everybody ready for school.

I’m, I’m just trying to do the dishes. Yeah. And she just escapes . But yeah, the, and then when she does that, I’m like, God, I could never have another baby. Like she is an actual walking safety hazard. . But I see. You’re right. And I, I think that there’s always, there’s always a solution. to work towards. And I think having a professional like you to talk with is so helpful and I am so glad we found you.

Can you please tell us how other people can find you and work with you?

Gia Gambaro Blount: Yes. Thank you so much for that. This has been a pleasure. So I do have my own website. It’s my name, Gia Gambaro Blount, and on there you can book sessions with me. I also am brand new to Instagram . I’m trying to build my platform there where I give lots of, of the talks that I do.

I’ll either do like pictures of me doing the presentation, but I often do my presentation notes. So that’s, it can be a really good resource. Just the information on there. I just did a whole series on reasons for sleep resistance and so that that can be helpful on there as well. So those are the two ways that you can find me my full name either on Instagram or my website.

Heather: That’s amazing. And of course, all of those links will be in the show notes. And I highly suggest everyone go check you out because I’ve been on your Instagram and it is helpful. And I’m going to continue scrolling on your Instagram because clearly , we have a lot of work to do. , thank you. Thank you for that.

Absolutely. Alright everyone, well we’re gonna take a minute to thank a sponsor and then we’re gonna get into one of our favorite segments of the show. The award in the al.

Maureen: Heather, have I told you about my new favorite place to get nursing brass? Ooh, tell me. It’s called the Dairy Fairy. The Dairy Fairy offers bras and tanks that try to solve the challenges that come with nursing and pumping. Their ingenious intimates are beautiful, supportive, and can be worn all day long.

Heather: Oh, you’re allowed to look good and feel good about yourself while wearing a nursing bra? Absolutely.

Maureen: And they offer sizes up to a 52 G.

Heather: Oh, amazing. I’m so glad a company is finally realized that a DUP is not a large. Absolutely.

Maureen: And I, it’s so affirming to feel included in sizing and not feel like I’m asking for too much that clothing fits my body.

Well, what else do we get? Well, if you guys follow the link in our show notes, you can use the code Milk Minute at checkout for free shipping on all domestic

Heather: orders. Oh, thank you so much. Dairy Fairy.

Gia Gambaro Blount: Absolutely.

Maureen: Once again, that’s the link in our show notes and use the code milk minute for free shipping on all domestic orders.

Gia Gambaro Blount: Well that was

Maureen: wonderful and I think we both needed a little bit of parenting advice cuz we started the day very sad about our

Heather: parenting . Yeah, we, you can’t win ’em all. But it really does help to feel like you have some direction and some skills and not like you’re just parenting from the hip and hoping they’re not gonna be in therapy talking about you someday.

And I think it’s always so

Maureen: helpful to have a little bit of feedback on what’s age

Heather: appropriate too. Yeah. I forget cause we work with babies so often that it’s like, what am I even doing? Yeah. So it was

Maureen: wonderful when, you know, to have those reminders from GIA about like, no toddlers don’t think that they can’t, it’s

Heather: fine.

Well I think so much of what we think about feeding our toddlers is that. You know, they are gonna be destroyed about like us emotionally separating, feeding, and, and she’s like, well, I mean, the answer is yes, but you know, there’s ways that we can mitigate it. Yeah. And so just knowing that the expectation is that all toddlers are gonna have feelings about it and that yours isn’t extra upset more than other kids because you’re worse at doing the weaning process, you know?

Mm-hmm. . It’s just kind of nice to have that baseline. Well, I think

Maureen: everybody should go schedule a consultation with Gia and . We should all become find, find a little bit more like ease in parenting . Yeah.

Heather: If you’re pregnant, confidence, schedule a visit two years from now. . Yeah. . All right. Well, we have an award to give today, which I’m super pumped.

This award goes to Lauren V, who is one of our patrons, and Lauren says, I advocated for myself, my baby, and our breastfeeding journey. I saw so many lactation specialists, both inpatient and outpatient, as well as our pediatrician with no help. I did my own research, reached out for help in online forums, and started listening to the Milk Minute.

I finally found an independent CLC who suggested I get my baby checked for a mouth tie. At six weeks old, we finally found out she had significant cheek, tongue, and lip ties that all needed revision. We are now 10 weeks old and exclusively breastfeeding without a fricking nipple shield. I hated that thing.

Oh, and we listened to the Milk Minute Podcast all day, every day.

Gia Gambaro Blount: Aw, that’s so

Heather: wonderful. That is so sweet. That makes my whole day, this day is getting better and better. .

Gia Gambaro Blount: Let’s

Maureen: see. Well maybe we should give you the. Tongue tied Detective Award.

Heather: Ooh, the Tongue Tied Detective Award. Yes, Lauren, go on with yourself.

That’s amazing. Yeah. We’re

Maureen: super proud of you for advocating for yourself. It is much harder to do than you would think. . Yeah. Okay, well, I’m gonna read a quick Apple review that makes my heart melt a little bit. . This is from Amanda Colina and she said, super grateful for Maureen and Heather as they provide so much breastfeeding knowledge and education and humor.

When I was pregnant with my first, I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but didn’t put much or any effort into learning about it. I quickly found out it was much more difficult than I anticipated. A friend shared their Facebook page and podcast with me, and I instantly became hooked, and I had never found much interest in podcasts before.

I find myself listening to their episodes several times, and they always have exactly what I’m looking for or need in the moment. Although breastfeeding didn’t come naturally to me, I credit my ability to continue to successfully feed my son at 4.5 months and counting from a helpful I B C L C, and of course, the Milk Minute Podcast.

Aww.

Heather: Thank you. Oh man. Okay. I’m full of warmth and light again. I’m feeling the sparkle. Come back. We can take on the day. Yes. Carpe diem

Maureen: guys. Carpet. Well thanks so much for listening to another episode of the Milk Minute

Heather: podcast. The way we change this ginormous system that is not set up for lactating parents is by educating ourselves, our loved ones, our friends on anyone with a toddler.

Maureen: Absolutely. If you guys wanna support this podcast, cuz you love it and you think we’re amazing cuz we are, you should join our Patreon, patreon.com/milkman podcast. Give us some money, we’ll give you ad-free episodes, extras. We tell you secrets we don’t tell anybody else? Big secrets stuff.

Heather: Big secrets.

Yes. You wouldn’t believe how big. Very secret secrets. . Okay, well, we’ll see you all next week, . Yeah. And share this show with a friend in indeed. Please, please, anyone with a toddler really needs to hear what Gia has to say clearly. Bye bye.

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