Mayim Bialik Talks Attachment Parenting with CBB
Having recently received a mommy makeover courtesy of What Not to Wear, actress Mayim Bialik is back to work after the birth of her second son.
We chatted with the former Blossom star — mom to Miles, 3 ½, and Fred, 9 months — about the makeover experience last week and here’s what she has to say about her newly expanded family and their adventures in attachment parenting in the final part of our two-part interview.
Celebrity Baby Blog: Tell us about your latest projects.
Mayim Bialik: I had a guest spot on Bones, and I just did this part on Saving Grace. I also optioned a set of novels called Rashi’s Daughters by Maggie Anton, so I’m working on that. That’s kind of it! I’ve been auditioning since Fred was 3-months-old or so. But being with the kids is most of what I do, most days.
How is it auditioning and working being a nursing mom?
It’s hard. Filming Saving Grace was the most that I’ve had to pump routinely. My first son didn’t really take a bottle, and I didn’t like giving bottles. But at this point in our life and career, we don’t feed solids until after a year, so he’s just in breast milk — it’s a lot of milk. But I remember when my first son started eating solids, it gave my husband a little more flexibility, activities and distractions. It’s just him with both boys. He’s incredible. He’s home a lot because he’s a grad student, so it’s not like it was a surprise for him or the kids to be with their father. But it’s hard.
Auditioning, I’m away for just an hour or so, but with Saving Grace they filmed really late, I was there for nine hours when I thought I’d be there three or four. It was hard, but an interesting experience to be a pumping mom for that day. I’ve never done that before, and give women who can pump at work so much credit. I have friends who’ve done it for a full year. I give people any credit for nursing and pumping, but I got a very small taste of the challenges.
Reader Izabela wants to know if you’re still breastfeeding Miles.
No, he’s 3 ½ now and he weaned a little after 2. He’s still very attached to the breasts. His “breast friends,” he calls them.
What other attachment parenting techniques are you and your husband into?
We do the EC thing, elimination communication. We bedshare. We are a natural living family. We make our own shampoo, our own granola, our own cleaning products. We’re a non-obnoxious green family I like to think! We’re generally kind of holistic.
For people who don’t know a lot about EC, or think it’s crazy, can you talk about how it works for you?
The fact is, it’s a huge time commitment to observe and learn the signals that babies give when they are born, and when they go to the bathroom. With my first son I started at six months, and it was pretty difficult. With our second son we started at day two and it was not very difficult. I do believe babies are born potty-trained. They’re born knowing, and are able to give subtle signals that become very prominent if you reinforce them.
The entire concept is not to potty train them, it’s not to do reward and punishment, I don’t clap my hands and say, “Good job.” It’s a very Zen, meditative experience of learning the signals, being able to respond to the signals. The level of communication you can achieve with an infant is really profound.
How is Miles with using the toilet now?
With Miles we started at 6 months, he stopped peeing in diapers at 12 months and was in undies at 18 months. This is with no coercion and no reward. He also did not speak. He could sign for potty before he could eat solids, walk or speak.
Did you get into this when you became pregnant?
I was always a natural, environmentally-conscious person, but we had friends who were doing the natural family living/homebirth thing – we’re also homebirth people – so we started seeing the choices and getting educated. We’re both very meticulous people, my husband and I, so we did a lot of research and reading about the scientific aspects of parenting. So that’s why we chose attachment parenting. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it works for us.
When did you become interested in the parenting style you chose?
I didn’t know much about it – I knew a bit about child development – but a friend of mine who has two kids started showing me how she was living her life. Another dear friend of mine was also doing similar parenting. So a lot of key people in my life started teaching us about it. At first, I thought a lot of it was crazy. I didn’t know what elimination communication was and it sounded totally insane, and now here we are with our 9-month-old pooping on a potty. So we love it.
Reader Nicole wants to know if Miles was born at home. We know Fred was. And how did Miles enjoy being part of Fred’s birth?
Miles wasn’t born at home. We had two days of labor and did natural induction because I had gestational diabetes. We ended up going to the hospital when I stalled at nine centimeters. He was born naturally at the hospital though.
Fred, yes, was born at home, and Miles was able to watch the whole thing from his high chair while eating granola. Fortunately it was a very fast labor because I think Miles would’ve been bored if it was longer than the hour and a half it was. He loves it, he still talks about it. It was something we talked about with our pediatrician, and believed very strongly in older siblings being present, and giving the choice. We gave him a choice before, we prepared him with videos about homebirth that our midwife prepared. Even during, I said, “If Miles wants to go the next room he can!” But he said, “No, I fine!” He got freaked out by the blood, but it was still nice.
Reader N.S. remembers reading about your contemplating whether or not to vaccinate the kids. What decision did you reach?
We are a non-vaccinating family, but I make no claims about people’s individual decisions. We based ours on research and discussions with our pediatrician, and we’ve been happy with that decision, but obviously there’s a lot of controversy about it.
Reader Izabela asks if you plan on sending the kids to school.
Miles is just 3 ½, so he hasn’t been to school yet, but we’re part of a home schooling community where he takes a little French class and we’re starting to explore what it’d be like to school in group settings, but not a school per se.
I’m starting to open a possibility in my life, as a side thing, of being of service in the home schooling community too and offering a science class, and I’m working on a curriculum for a Hebrew class, too.
Reader Erica wants to know how you’re using your PhD.
Whenever I have interaction with people it’s an opportunity to learn about the brain and human interaction. I have been doing some grant review for an organization that raises money for the syndrome I work with, which is Prader-Willi syndrome, but for the most party I use my scientific background to be called Dr. Mom in this house.
Do you anticipate using it in some professional capacity in the future?
The thing with that kind of neuroscience is that if you’re not doing a post-doc and currently doing research, it very quickly becomes a not-current degree. At some point, I could teach at a community college level. But very quickly the information in neuroscience outclasses your degree if you don’t stay very current.
What was your motivation for pursing a PhD?
I did my undergraduate degree in neuroscience and Hebrew and Jewish studies, and at that point there wasn’t acting stuff going on. I thought I’d want to be a professor. I thought I’d do a research professorship after my doctorate. But once I got married and started making parenting decisions, that’s when I realized that the general lifestyle of a research professor wouldn’t be compatible with nursing on demand and being with my kids all day. I wanted to finish my degree because I valued the research I did and cared about the syndrome I worked with, but felt it wouldn’t necessarily be compatible with my lifestyle especially because of our parenting.
Reader Erica wants to know your thoughts on your kids pursuing careers in show business, either as children or as adults.
I think for my kids’ temperaments, it’s not a good choice. They’re shy and gentle, especially Miles. He wouldn’t do well with people in his face telling him what to do. He does well with my husband and me in his face telling him what to do! But the industry is very hard for young kids. I started at 11 ½, which is considered late – many kids start when they’re 2. It wouldn’t work for a mellow, gentle lifestyle, which we promote for our kids. When they’re older, I guess it’s up to them what they do.
Reader Frum Fan wants to know if Kalamazoo will be released on DVD?
I did an indie film called Kalamazoo before I got pregnant with Miles. I don’t know if they’ll release it – they had problems with distribution – but it’s a sweet little film about three women who go to their high school reunion in the Midwest. Josie Davis was in it, who was in Charles in Charge, so that was pretty cool.
Reader Becky would like to know if you are planning to have more kids.
At this point we’re trying to cope with two! We’re still young so we have time to decide. They’re spaced two years apart, these two, and it’s close. I don’t think we’ll be doing that again.
Reader LJ wants to know what a typical day in your life is like?
If there is one! We do one home day a week when I do chores and make granola. We do things with other home schooling families about two days a week, like park days and French class. Other than that we do errands. I don’t do anything separate from the kids – that’s what life is like. If I have auditions, then my husband is home with them. Life is pretty mellow. We don’t eat out much – we cook at home a lot.
Are you vegetarians? Kosher?
I’m technically a vegan, but I do eat egg if it’s in things. And that’s how we raise Miles, too. I cook meat for my husband, which is Kosher, but we don’t have a vegan house, just Kosher house that has vegan options for everyone.