Tag Archives: natural parenting

Gratitude – from us to you.

Gratitude is one of the most important emotions we have available to us. It has the power to crack open our hearts, allowing new levels of love to flood in.

As rookie authors, we have many people to whom we’re grateful. Our amazing family and friends, a dynamic team of committed volunteers who seek to raise awareness about natural parenting, and our supportive community of 10,000+ readers.

On this Thanksgiving day, we want to extend our gratitude to all of you and to this beautiful world that is opening minds and hearts to the incredible power of the parent-baby relationship.

As our thanks to you for joining us on this journey, please send all of your loved ones to download a Free Kindle edition of The Other Baby Book on Black Friday – November 23.

May you and yours experience joy and gratitude today and every day.
Love,
Miriam and Megan

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Megan McGrory Massaro and Miriam J. Katz are co-authors of The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year. Readers will find eight fun-to-read chapters filled with baby-friendly practices, along with stories from moms in-the-know. In a soothing and sometimes sassy voice, the authors present compelling research on topics like birth, holding your baby, breastfeeding, infant sleep, pottying babies (yes, really!), sign language, baby-led solids, and self-care for moms. The book also features contributions from leading practitioners in baby care: Dr. James McKenna, Dr. Janet Zand, Naomi Aldort, Gill Rapley, Nancy Mohrbacher, and more.

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Mother Knows Best?

Let’s face it, when it comes to parenting, everyone has an opinion. And if you’re a parent, you’re going to get a lot of advice—wrong and right. Your challenge is to figure out what works best for you and your family.

If someone has something to share, my husband and I have always tried to listen. We’ve had a few “moments,” but we’ve also learned some pretty amazing things from friends, family, and even perfect strangers along the way. Together, we’ve taken everything we learned and tried to find the path that’s right for us.

But what happens when the one you disagree with is your spouse?  I’m sure we’ve all had, “Are you serious?” moments, but what if it’s more than that? What if it goes against something you feel strongly about? Do you compromise? Do you stand strong? Do you meet in the middle?

Natural parenting has been a wonderful option for many of us, but it also presents circumstances that not everyone understands or agrees with. In turn, some play devil’s advocate and, seeing how strong a mother feels about her choices, may share their opinions with her spouse instead.

A mom in The Other Baby Book community recently shared her own experience with this. As a mom of two and someone who believes wholeheartedly in co-sleeping, she wishes her husband supported it more than he does. Instead, he wonders if advice from friends and family to let their children “cry it out” and “learn to sleep” is warranted. Coming to a happy medium has not been easy when they share such polar opposite views. Furthermore, the lack of information for “natural” dads hasn’t made it easy.

Recently, another dad of two shared his thoughts on breastfeeding past infancy and where a dad’s opinion fits in. I certainly don’t agree with everything he said, but the article illustrates how sometimes it’s easy to focus on the mother/child relationship and overlook a father’s role in natural parenting.  I can see how a dad could feel left out and question things.

And so I wonder, where is the happy medium? With instances like these and all the ones in between, how do we find something that’s best for our entire family? Does mom really know best? Or does the best solution come when both parents have an equal say?

For my husband and me, our best decisions were made when we listened to each other. We tried to approach each experience with an open mind, discussed options, and chose what felt best for our family. Most of the time natural choices worked, although sometimes it took a mix of mainstream and natural philosophies. No matter what, it required both of us to share our thoughts and find our comfort zones.

Now that we’re parents of two, there isn’t a lot of time for communication, but the time we have is important. Like most couples, we’ve had our moments, but we believe if parents can truly listen to one another without judgment, a solution is attainable.

In the end, our children depend on us to come up with a healthy, happy solution. Getting there is never easy, but the results are worth it.

Everyone’s experience is unique. As a natural parent, how do you decide what’s best for your family? Should moms make most decisions or are dads’ opinions just as important? What do you suggest for parents who are at an impasse?

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today! *******************************************************************************************************************************

Kristen is mom to Will (5) and Joy (2).  She’s happy to be a natural mom and especially glad to have a husband who kept an open mind. She’s a better mom because of him.

Flame Retardants in the Home and What You Need to Know Now

TB 117 Label

Before my daughter was born, I thought about the type of measures my husband and I should take to ensure her safety. We considered the ways to keep her safe from physical harm and reduce her exposure to toxic everyday chemicals such as paints and finishes, cleaning products, pesticides, and fragrance (phthalate) laden products.

But one category that I think we missed or underestimated is flame retardants. The more I dig into this topic, the more unsettling it becomes. Flame retardants are in a vast majority of household goods from televisions to couches to mattresses. They can even be found in your child’s sleepwear and car seat. A study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that U.S. toddlers and preschoolers typically have three times the amount of flame retardant based chemicals in their bloodstream than the mothers of the same group. This is such a major concern because the chemical tainted dust from our household products “sticks” to the surfaces children touch and mouth on a daily basis. The chemicals affect neurological and reproductive development and the long-term effect is unknown.

So if these chemicals are so toxic, why are they in so many of our products? Obviously fires are a big concern, but what is riskier: the potential flammability of a product or the chemicals used to stop flammability of consumer products? One of the major reasons why flame retardants have found their way into so many products is because of the passing of California’s Technical Bulletin 117 which requires that upholstered furniture sold in California be able to withstand 12 seconds of open flame. Unfortunately, this mandate also applies to juvenile furniture and has encouraged the addition of retardants to a wide spectrum of products sold nationwide.

If all of this seems overwhelming to you or upsetting, you’re not alone. I have a hard time grasping why these dangerous chemicals have any right getting near my precious baby. I also don’t appreciate feeling like I need a PhD in chemistry to understand the risks as well as to find safer products. I do have a few suggestions, however:

What tips do you suggest for reducing your family’s chemical exposure?

Kate likes to drive her husband nuts by jumping down the rabbit hole of researching ways to make their home safer. Much to her husband’s dismay (and her delight), she recently chucked two old, fraying, salmon-colored (read: hideous) armchairs. The upside is that her living room now seems much lighter and larger. When she’s not calculating her next move in the battle against toxic chemicals, she enjoys exploring her new city with her little one and hubby.

It’s Easy Being Green with Your Toddler

If your toddler is anything like mine, he turns nearly every foray into the great outdoors into a goose turd and cigarette butt scavenger hunt.  My 17mo has sharply-honed radar and eagle-like visual acuity for garbage. Y’all, it’s impressive.  His curiosity and affection for litter is, I believe, rivaled only by a certain trashcan-inhabiting muppet’s. Not too long ago, my son eagerly pawed a piece of trash at the park, and I habitually offered my usual response, “Ooooh, yucky. Please don’t pick up that trash.”  But for some reason, at that particular moment, I gulped, wide-eyed, at a sudden realization: Am I inadvertently teaching my son that litter belongs on the ground? That it’s okay to toss trash in the park? Littering sucks!

From that point on, whenever he palmed a bit of garbage I offered a different response, “Ooooh, yucky. Let’s go put that in the trash can.” I have to admit that I am still squeamish about his trash handling. I mean, I want to encourage him to responsibly dispose of trash, but at the same time I don’t want to encourage him to pick up really questionable items.  I try to scan around for those kinds of items now with the hopes of beating my rubbish-loving half-pint to the nearest receptacle. Three cheers and cartwheels for hand sanitizer!

There are so many ways to be green with your little one. Yep, there are lots of practices that many of us have adopted with an eco-friendly aim: breastfeeding, using cloth diapers/cloth wipes/elimination communication, purchasing natural/organic/sustainably produced baby and household products, buying or borrowing second-hand clothing and toys, etc. These practices are laudable and awesome, no doubt, but I want to discuss things we can do with our tots, practices that actively engage them in green living and stoke their sense of stewardship for the Earth and its creatures.

Litter pick-up is one effective and free (and, heck yeah, disgusting) way to instill a bit of eco-consciousness in our tykes. These are some of the other things we do in our family with that green goal in mind:

  • We grow stuff together! I planted flowers, herbs, and vegetables with my son this spring. (I welcome dirty hands of that variety any ol’ time.) I also let him pick out the flowers for our front-porch container gardens.
  • We water our plants together every day. And, instead of buying a watering can (made out of who-only-knows-what), we made our own by reusing items we already had on hand. (Inspired by this kick-ass pin.)
  • We feed little creatures together. We have several bird feeders and have even set up a few small squirrel feeders. We spend time watching the birds and squirrels together.
  • We visit nature nature conservation centers and animal sanctuaries.
  • We visit and support our neighborhood’s weekly farmer’s market. Can my toddler understand the value of giving money directly to the person who collected the eggs/picked the veggies/harvested the honey we’re purchasing? Of course not. But he sees this nourishment just one step removed from its origin, in all its freshness and vibrant color.
  • We recycle together. Several times each week we walk out to the giant steel recycling receptacle in our street’s back alley and take turns tossing in our recyclables.
  • We play outside. Almost every day.
  • We walk. To the library. To the coffee shop. To the park. To the gelateria. To the grocery store. And on our walks we pick and smell flowers; we feel the textures of different leaves and compare their colors.

These are small, inexpensive, yet meaningful practices. We’re far from perfect.  But we hope that by enfolding our son in the practices bulleted above, by modeling an active appreciation for the natural world, by making du jour these acts of kindness and respect,  we’re creating a lush springboard for our son’s eco-consciousness.

Tell us how you are green with your little ones!

Rhianna is off to take her toddler on his post-dinner, pre-bedtime walk through the park, where she hopes to successfully steer him far from goose turds. Seriously, what is with toddlers and goose poop? Somebody, explain it to her.

Social Work Primed Me to be an Attached, Gentle Parent

I have a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree concentrated in clinical social work. When I walked across the stage in 2010 to be hooded for my MSW, snug in my uterus was the 8-week old embryonic version of the toddler who is, at this exact moment, sprawled next to me in bed, face blissfully soft with slumber.  I was clueless then just how significantly my education and career would color how I parent him.

I often say that I came to gentle, attached parenting through the back door; I ardently embraced some of its tenets long before I was ever a parent, long before I even knew there were these things called “attachment parenting” or “gentle discipline.” From the moment I saw those two pink lines on my pregnancy test, my parenting approach has been very much informed by my life as a social worker.

I  spent the 12 years preceding my son’s birth working at first in the domestic violence arena,  then in the protective services world, and, finally, in a hospital setting. When I hear or read people portraying attachment parenting as “extreme,” when I hear its practices (such as nursing beyond infancy and sharing sleep) depicted as “abuse” or “neglect,” I get downright pissed off. Because in my time as a social worker, I have been horrified by truly extreme parenting. I have cradled true neglect in my arms. I have testified against true abuse in court. There is nothing extreme, abusive, or remotely neglectful about nurturing secure attachment in your child. And people who posture otherwise need a dramatic expansion of their worldview.

Along with its extensive Code of Ethics, very specific values and principles undergird social work practice. I found that this undercurrent of values and practices naturally and effortlessly flowed into my parenting; below I’ve slightly modified some of these social work values and practices to show how they inform my parenting, swapping in the word “child” for the word “client.”

  • My child has inherent worth, dignity and strengths: My child is unconditionally worthy of my respect, and that respect is the centerpoint of my parenting. My actions as a parent are designed to nurture my son’s sense of worth and safeguard his dignity. I do not view him through a lens of deficit (what he cannot do), but rather from a perspective that acknowledges his strengths.
  • I begin where my child is: For me, this means I recognize that my child has unique needs, and these needs might vary from month to month,  day to day, even hour to hour. For example, my toddler has never slept through the night.  I remind myself that he is waking for a need, that this is simply where he “is” right now. I could  measure him against other children who were sleeping through the night significantly earlier, frustratedly and desperately wondering why he can’t string together a minimum of 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Instead, I try to remind that this is where he “is” developmentally. Sleep is a developmental milestone like any other, and he will achieve it at his own pace.
  • I respond to my child with empathy. I’m sure you’ve seen this compelling statement before: My child isn’t giving me a hard time, he’s having a hard time.  This view is grounded in empathy. Very little is as powerful as the feeling of being understood. When I respond with empathy to my child–to a hurt, to a behavior I’d like to curb, to a tantrum–I am not only acknowledging and reflecting his emotions, I am also helping to gently and naturally cultivate his own sense of empathy. I am modeling an effective, compassionate way to navigate interpersonal dynamics.
  • I respect my child’s right self-determination and autonomy. Within carefully constructed limits, obviously. A toddler’s favorite word? “No,” right? And that’s because he’s taking his autonomy for a test-drive and learning to assert himself. Engaging my child’s choice-making–however simple it may seem–fosters feelings of empowerment, stokes feelings of competence, and honors his voice. It can be this simple: “Would you like strawberries or bananas with your breakfast?” or “Would you like to put that lotion back in the cabinet, or would you like me to help you put the lotion back in the cabinet?”
  • The human relationship is…everything. The relationship I am nurturing with my son is, essentially, the blueprint for his future relationships. This is  the crux of attachment parenting, isn’t it?

And, of course, social work education is also chock full of other worthy, parenting-applicable insight, such as the stages of human and growth and development and theories surrounding attachment, family functioning, and the like.

I chose social work more than a decade ago out of passion for social justice and advocacy, and I full-heartedly feel it has made me a kinder, gentler, and saner parent than I would have been otherwise.

Rhianna returned to her social work career after the birth of her son…and lasted a whole three days before submitting her letter of resignation. She’s been a stay-home mama ever since, way more fulfilled in her role as mother than she ever was in her role as social worker. And that’s saying a lot.

Play, the Natural Family Way

The value and significance of childhood play has been broadly documented. Once believed to be an activity of indulgence, play is now understood to be a vital component of a healthful childhood and a springboard for adaptive and positive functioning in adulthood. It promotes emotional and cognitive development, cultivates social skills such as conflict resolution and cooperation, and stokes creativity. In my social work education and career, I have even studied and observed the brilliant, skilled use of play as a means of therapy for children. Play is powerful stuff!

I’ve learned in my relatively short parenthood journey that it is ridiculously easy to get pulled in by the promise of “educational” toys, music, and DVDs. Our love and dedication as parents makes us vulnerable; we lovingly want to give our babes every possible advantage towards becoming well-thought, kind, creatures. Studies have revealed, though, that those blinging, singing educational toys actually fail to deliver on their marketed promises. And others now recognize what we as attached parents have always understood: the best, most influential toy your child can have is  you.

We’ve tried hard to stem the surge of those kinds of toys into our home. We don’t buy them. Usually these toys have been given us to as thoughtful, well-intentioned gifts, and we’re grateful that someone cares enough to think of our son in this way. We pull those toys out as a matter of exception, usually for specific circumstances (like, for example, a long road trip), and as we rotate one in we rotate another out.

We’ve visited the homes of friends where shelves bulge and erupt with toys, where even I feel a bit overstimulated by the bounty of bright, loud, plastic playthings. In our home we’ve deliberately chosen to limit not just the types of toys, but also the amount of toys present. I especially love this perspective on why having fewer toys actually benefits your children. (Really, if you click on only one link from this post, make it this one. It’s an insightful read. And if you are interested in ways to cull your current toy stockpile, here are some pointers.)

We focus, instead, on time spent and activities enjoyed together as a family. Play is darn fun and can serve to expend our little ones’ bottomless energy, but it can also be a delightfully effective way to enrich attachment. And, you know what? These kinds of activities are often free or awesomely inexpensive–just one more example of how natural parents are richer.

Taking walks is a huge hit for us right now. We live just blocks away from a sprawling park with towering old trees, winding walking paths, and a safe playground. We collect leaves, smell flowers, pet moss on tree trunks, wave to robins and count squirrels. We take our shoes off and kick balls in the grass. Nature is free and wild, and little ones benefit from time spent outdoors with their caregivers.

Looking for other ideas for easy, mostly inexpensive ways to play with your toddler? Here are some fun ideas. Or perhaps other nifty ways to get your nature on with your half-pint? Here is a good place to start.

What kinds of toys does your child dig the most? What kind of activities do you enjoy doing with your kiddos? Have any favorite resources for natural play?

Best play space Rhianna ever made for her 17-month-old son? Dedicating a whole kitchen cabinet to him and filling it with random inexpensive kitchen related items like egg cartons, empty spice containers, herbal tea boxes, wooden spoons, and play food. She lives in St. Louis and spends a good deal of time in Tower Grove Park, where her toddler enthusiastically gifts her with sweetgum balls, chunks of mulch, pebbles, and beheaded flowers.

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!
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The Sleep Games

My husband and I have guided our daughter to sleep for about 430 nights now (and yes, thank a calendar for that number, not my fuzzy mommy brain). Some of those 430 nights we dreaded bedtime and fought over who would initiate sleep mode. Some of those nights she fell asleep in a peaceful slumber without much effort on our part. And there were many nights that fell somewhere in the middle. Regardless of your parenting style, bedtime can sometimes equal stressful time for newbie and seasoned parents alike.

In my pre-baby months, I really didn’t give baby sleep much thought except that I didn’t want to do a nursery. We purchased an Arms Reach mini co-sleeper (best purchase ever, by the way!), bought some king-size pillow cases to use as sheets, and got an organic mattress for it as well. That’s all we needed, right? I had heard the phrase “sleep like a baby” and assumed that means babies sleep soundly. Yep, total fool.

In reality, I didn’t actually understand the logistics of infant sleep. I guess I erroneously assumed that babies enter sleep and stay asleep in a similar pattern as adults. But in fact it is so much different! Their sleep cycles are shorter (50-60 minutes), and they just don’t sleep as deeply as adults. When we try to shoehorn babies into adult sleep before they are ready, we are ignoring their biological wiring and even basic needs.

And believe me, there were many nights that my husband and I, after listening to multiple people tell us that our baby should be sleeping longer or in her own room, tried to (briefly) make it happen. We wished so ardently for that elusive “good sleeper.” But time after time we realized that we did not feel comfortable forcing her into a sleep pattern that her little brain and body couldn’t handle. It just wasn’t our parenting style.

And as I’ve talked to more and more parents, I’ve realized that what we’ve experienced is more the norm. That it is incredibly rare for babies to sleep through the night, and most likely it’s either because they’ve either been pushed to do so or the parents have been blessed with a heavy sleeper. And if you’re pregnant now, throw out any books that promise you a baby that sleeps through the night by 8 weeks because it’s not a realistic or healthy expectation.

Ultimately, parenting a baby to sleep can be stressful or it can be a beautiful, shared moment. We have two choices as parents: to focus on the negative (my baby won’t sleep through the night!) or focus on the positive (my baby and I have a special nighttime bond). I choose the latter, and I cherish the moments my daughter is sleeping peacefully in my arms or next to me. And EVENTUALLY she’ll sleep through the night, right?

What have well-meaning friends, family, and physicians told you about infant sleep? Did you follow their advice? 

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!
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Kate has perfected the twin arts of sleeping upright and taking extreme cat naps in random places. Her favorite guilty (sleep) pleasure is taking an afternoon nap with her daughter whenever she can. Read more about her and her family at Boomerang Mama.

3 Money-Saving Tools for New Parents

Growing numbers of new parents gaining access to tools that have been used across time to save money and raise thriving babies. Check out the baby registries  of these mavericks (if you can find them, because they recognize that few items marketed as “baby essentials” are necessary or even useful), and you won’t find the funtime froggy bathtub, a baby swing, and most notably a crib. Usually, that is. It’s important to recognize that every family is different and while sweeping generalities can be used to give you a sense of their typical lifestyle choices, every family makes its own decisions independently, based on its own needs and preferences.

Anyone who’s purchased baby food, including infant formula, baby cereals and purees, not to mention all those fun teething biscuits and snacks with cartoons on the boxes, will tell you—they cost a pretty penny. But they’ve been around so long—and, more importantly, marketed so successfully—you’d never know they weren’t necessary to feed your children.

If foods like baby formula are such staples, then why aren’t babies born with a bottle and can of formula? Because they are born with something even easier to access, healthier, and cheaper. We humans are called mammals because our bodies are genetically equipped to feed our babies with human milk, and we begin making milk in preparation for the baby’s birth. It’s true, not all women make enough milk for their babies. I know—I  was one of the few who didn’t, at first. But it’s far less true than we’re led to think. More than 90% of women have enough milk, or can make enough milk to feed their babies. It’s just that new moms don’t get all the support we need to do it, in the form of skilled professionals like Lactation Consultants—or better yet, a wise community of elders—who can help us through the early days and the inevitable bumps in the road.

While we’re on the topic of baby food, I’m excited to share a revelation that changed my life, and kept our bank account healthy. Babies don’t actually need baby food! Really. I know what you’re thinking—here’s one of those blender ladies who is going to tell me to puree my own baby food. Actually, no. It’s much easier than that. Our babies—beginning around age 6 months and older—can eat the vast majority of foods that we eat. Things like whole fruit, cooked veggies and whole grains such as rice, quinoa, beans and even meat.

Not only can babies eat our food, they can also feed themselves. This is where the real fun comes in. Maybe you’ve seen a parent feeding their baby, or maybe you’ve been that parent airplaning mashed bananas into his mouth. You know that it takes both of your hands and your complete attention. You’re spooning the mush out of the jar, aiming it into the baby’s mouth, possibly making sound effects while encouraging him to eat it, then cleaning up when he’s done. Picture this instead. Cook dinner as you normally would, then put some food on his tray or plate. Let him practice picking it up, aiming it towards his mouth or just playing with it. Then clean up when he’s all done. What’s the difference between these two ways of feeding babies solid foods? In the second scenario, the parent can actually eat and enjoy the show! Chances are she has many comical pictures of her baby wearing his dinner, what with her hands free and clear. The long-term outcomes are even more impressive, though. Babies who are self-fed are less likely to overeat or be obese later in life. Not bad for budget-friendly dining.

Another top money saving baby-care secret is called Elimination Communication (EC), or infant pottying. Yes, really. Infants can be taken to the bathroom, and, in fact, they really want to be. No one wants to sit in their own filth, not even babies. Most parents who potty their infants notice that babies stop pooping in their diapers within a week or two. By tuning in to our babies’ cues, we’re able to better meet their needs. ECing parents also report less incidences of unexplained crying. You know those times when you fed, clothed, napped and changed your baby, and he still wouldn’t stop crying? Millions of parents chalk it up to a mystery of babyhood. But it just might be that your baby wants you to take off his diaper so that he won’t have to soil himself. It sounds crazy at first, I know. But pottying is fun for everyone – the baby who doesn’t have to poop in his diaper, and the parent who “catches” his eliminations and doesn’t have to change her baby’s diaper—not to mention pay for all those expensive Pampers!

We’ve all heard about life in the trenches – the first three months of a baby’s life when he’s crying all the time, waking up multiple times to feed and needing to be swaddled, rocked, pacified, sung to, driven in the car, or shushed to sleep. I’ve been there, and they were the longest and most miserable three weeks of my life. But thanks to conversations with parents in-the-know, I learned that I didn’t have to keep muscling through, all three of us miserable as my baby cried her way through the nights. I learned that I could bring her into bed with me – that bed-sharing wasn’t unsafe, as my post-partum hospital nurse had told me, as long as it was done safely. Safe co-sleeping is one of the best-kept secrets in Western society, even though it’s practiced across the rest of the world. The U.S. government in particular has done an impressive job publicizing the perils of bed-sharing, citing many tragic deaths from co-sleeping, without mentioning that they are actually 46 times less than crib deaths over the same time period.

What’s so great about co-sleeping? For nursing moms, sharing a sleep surface enables a baby to feed quickly and easily, without mom’s feet once touching the ground. (Babies who aren’t nursing are safest on a separate sleep surface, close to their parents.) For babies, who have spent 10 months in utero, co-sleeping allows them the nearness to their moms, making the world less scary and helping them relax and sleep! Also, while the baby’s lungs are developing, nearness to his mom helps him to regulate his breathing, resulting in fewer instances of apnea and SIDS.

As one who has tread both worlds with the same baby, I can tell you that the tools in our parenting toolkit have fattened our bank account, built a close intuitive relationship with our daughter and increased our sleep. Taken together or separately, the experience has been priceless.

Miriam is a fun-loving mama who literally can’t stop kissing Dalia, her delicious 2 year old.  She loves reading, yoga, crafting and helping others find their paths through life coaching. She is co-author of The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year.

What about you? What are your top money-saving baby-care tools?

Crying in Arms as it Relates to Attachment Parenting

I have been reading about a parenting approach that is getting some attention lately. I was confused by it and wanted to take a few minutes to share my interpretation of “Crying in Arms” as it relates to my understanding and practice of Attachment Parenting (AP).

My intention is to shed some light on this approach for parents who practice AP, rather than tout one parenting choice as better than another.

The concept of “crying in arms” means that after all of baby’s normal needs are met, but he is still upset, you calmly hold him in your arms. You lovingly and gently look into his eyes and reaffirm how much you love him. The goal is to provide your baby with support and comfort while he’s upset.

What It’s Not

Crying-in-arms (CIA) is entirely different from crying-it-out and controlled crying. The crying-in-arms approach does not in any way suggest that it is ever okay to leave a baby alone to cry.

Within the practice of Attachment Parenting, nursing should never be withheld from a baby. This does not mean that mom is always going to be available to nurse, but it should never be withheld because mom or dad is afraid nursing is performing a disservice to the baby.

Babies cannot be spoiled or over-comforted. They cannot over-nurse.

The Need to Cry

Some of the articles that promote CIA share that babies need to cry in order to have certain coping mechanisms developed within them. To me, this suggests that if I do not let my baby cry sometimes, I am giving him a disadvantage.

However, this goes against many mothers’ instincts–and science. Research shows that babies cry to express a need and it is our role to determine their need and meet it.

This is not to suggest that AP babies never cry. They do. And sometimes we are burned out and confused and have trouble determining or meeting this need.

Practically Speaking

I think I was so confused by the CIA approach because I did not understand where it fit into AP.  Much of what is being conveyed sounds like a repackaging of the old belief that a baby needs to exercise his lungs. And for me, choosing to allow my baby to cry because ‘crying is beneficial’ did not resonate with my instincts or what I have learned.  And it is tough to be sure when a babies needs have all been met.  Babies who are nursing can be nearly incessantly hungry, and simply need the comfort of the breast.

CIA is just a fancy name for something that I was already doing–respectfully responding to my baby’s needs.  If my baby cries and nursing (or anything else) won’t calm him down, I instinctively speak calmly to him, rub his back and try to soothe him.

As I process this practice with friends and trusted mamas, the more I understand how it relates to Attachment Parenting; it is not something to be used in place of nursing, it is another way that we can comfort a baby who simply cannot be consoled.  It is not a way to make sure our baby spends some time crying, it is a way that we can offer comfort and connect during those times when we desperately want to  soothe our baby and not even nursing will do it.

What are your thoughts? Does letting your baby cry in your arms go against your instincts?

Jennifer Andersen is a stay-at-home Mama of two kids ages 2 and 4.  Though she has never let her children cry-it-out, sometimes her husband encourages her to.

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