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Archive for the ‘Babywearing’ Category

If you have a minute please check out my article on the My Zero Waste website.  It’s all about having a ‘Zero Waste Baby’.

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Isn’t this a crazy idea?  That a child can be too attached to his or her parent.  Just the thought that anyone could think that makes me react in two ways: slightly-too-hysterical laughter and deep resounding sadness.

I have come across two examples of this within the last week.  One was a friend whose mother thought that her grandchild was too attached.  The ‘warning’ signals apparently included clingy behaviour and that the child was still waking regularly at night. 

Why do people think that a baby preferring to be with her mother is an abnormal state of affairs?  Why might we have evolved as a species to be like this?  Why can’t we accept that this is actually totally normal behaviour for a baby or young child?  Why do women, especially, have such an issue with other women allowing their children to have a natural attachment?  I can hazard a guess but genuinely, answers on a postcard please.

Similarly, why do we consider a baby waking in the night to be unusual, strange or a problem that needs to be fixed?  It is common.  So common to be considered normal I would even put forward.  It’s been documented that the vast majority of one-year-olds still wake regularly at night.  So why are we so focussed on the sleep patterns of babies?  Why is this biological disposition attributed the deciding factor of whether a child is ‘good’ (shudder)?

The second was while waiting in a queue at the post office.  A woman with a girl of around two-and-a-half was in the queue with her sister-in-law.  The sister-in-law was talking to a family friend.  The conversation went something like this:

“Yes, this is my niece Mia” gesticulating at child.  “She’s driving me mad today” (Annoying Aunt – or AA)

“oh” (embarrassed friend)

The friend tried to bend down to say hello to this child whom she clearly didn’t know, the child hid behind her mum’s legs.

This prompted AA to launch a tirade of aggressive ‘advice’ against the poor mother.  Was Mia always like this?  Answer, no she’s fine at home and with people she knows.  Well she needs to get out!  She needs to socialise.  She needs to go to nursery.  Her mother is stifling her development.  She can’t stay home all the time, clearly she can’t cope in the real world.  She needs to mix with other people without her mother…. etc. etc.  And on and on. 

Clearly AA had no children.  She was young, and yes, clearly an idiot.  But by no means is this an isolated incident.  I’m sure we all hear and meet people like this all the time.  But where has it come from?  This strange and consuming idea that young children need to socialise away from their primary carers in order to develop properly. 

Just a few minutes of thought would render the very idea ridiculous and unworthy of any more consideration.  And if a few minutes of thought are not available then the stack of evidence that ‘socialising away from a primary carer’ is harmful to young children should stamp out this loony theory for once and for all.  Yet, it is so incredibly persistant.  Everyone continues with this theory as if it’s sensible and obvious … why?  What do ‘we’ get out of it?  Obviously it frees up women to go into the labour market, and further provides lots of jobs to other – mainly – women.  Oh and lots and lots of opportunities for nursery owners to make a lot of money.  But surely this can’t be the only reason for ignoring facts, evidence and instinct.  Can it?

Assigning babies, toddlers and young children the ‘problem’ of being too attached to their parents or too clingy seems to be a national pastime.  I just can’t help wondering why? 

It seems as clear as day to me that a baby and/ or young child needs to be raised by one primary carer.  This person is his or her rock.  They provide safety and security – a soft place to land.  The child knows this person and is utterly confident in their love.  They know that they are always safe when this primary carer is around.  And if this person suddenly disappears then surely a normal reaction is anxiety until they reappear?  Until such time as the child knows that this person will always reappear.  

Surely anyone knows in their heart that this is right and good.  Compare to a young baby or child who is left with a wide variety of people and has no strong attachment to anybody.  Yes, aren’t they ‘good’.  They can be left anywhere, with anyone.  They never cry.  This child never feels safe, they don’t have a soft place to land.  We know from scientific studies that these children have abnormally high levels of cortisol in their bodies which set the ‘normal’ level for the rest of their lives at a level that is too high.  This causes them difficulties for life which include attention-seeking behaviour, risk-seeking behaviour and relationship problems.  (Check out my shop for the Margot Sunderland book which contains all the evidence and scientific data that proves this pretty convincingly.)

Would anyone honestly choose an unattached childhood for their child if they knew the lifelong consequences?  Would anyone actually think that a child could be too attached or that a normal attachment could damage a baby?  I hope not, but I fear so.  Such is the crazy world we appear to inhabit.

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Winter babywearing

I know this is an issue because people ask about it all the time!  How do you ‘wear’ a baby in a sling in winter without them or you getting cold and/or wet?Baby Sling Beach

I don’t have a child in a sling anymore, but there were a number of things that I did when my LO’s were still being worn.

The most important thing to remember is how hot both mother and baby get when babywearing.  Just this act alone can keep you much warmer than you would normally be.  If that is not enough, however, then I have some tips.

Firstly, if it was cold and the baby was asleep I would wrap a long woolly cardigan around both of us, front or back.  With the baby on the back I admit I did look like I had an odd humped back, but a thick skin is required for many of the parenting decisions I have made so I didn’t mind!  The cardigan I had was a very loose knit so air continued to circulate but it kept us warm.

If the baby was on my front I would do the same and button the cardigan up to just underneath their head.

I chose this because I couldn’t afford one of those special babywearing coats, but if you are in the mood to splash some cash then there are a few options out there.

The Mamajacket coat, thing.

The ergo baby papoose coat

The MaM coat

Warning: these coats could well be featured on ‘What not to wear’ if you get my drift!

An alternative to the coats above is the Aiska babywearing poncho which to my eyes, is a more attractive and wearable option.  Though, clearly this wouldn’t be waterproof.

There is a large selection of babywearing coats/fleeces/waterproofs at the Natural Connection website.

If your baby is still of the age where most of the carrying is done on the front, then of course you can just wear your own normal coat, and the baby can wear baby legs to keep warm.  This gives you the option of carrying an umbrella too, if it is wet.

If your baby is on your back most of the time then your choices seem pretty limited to the large-cardigan-and-hump-back-get-up or buying a special coat or poncho.  Of course, if your sling is roomy then you can wear your ordinary coat underneath the sling, pop the baby in the sling on top and put baby legs and a coat on your baby.  A little bit ‘michelin man’ but it will do the job!

If anyone has any other tips or ideas on keeping the babywearers dry and warm, I’d love to hear them!

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I have spent a fair while compiling a shop at amazon that contains only items personally tried and tested or recommended by trusted NAPfriends.

Please check it out, and let me know if you have any more recommendations for products or books that other Natural, Attached Parents might find useful.

Please visit the NAPshop from the menu above.

 

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The Ergo definately looks like a hardcore sling.  It has buckles and pockets and looks like it could withstand a lot of babywearing.

It was the sling of choice for me after a lot of trial and error.  I tried ring slings, pouch slings, the tricotti, the wilkinget, a wrap sling and of course the initial faux pas of the shop-bought baby bjorn.  Thank goodness I had lots of lovely friends who loaned me slings, or I would have been in serious debt!

Pros

  • No skill required in putting the sling on.  You clip the sling around your hips, put baby on your front or your back and then lift the sling up over your shoulders and clip it at the top.  Very easy.
  • Once on it was a piece of cake to adjust it.
  • Comfort levels huge.  I carried my youngest til he was two years old for a minimum of 2 hours at a time every day with no discomfort or back ache.
  • Doesn’t look to un-mainstream.
  • Very good re-sale value.

Cons

  • Doesn’t look to un-mainstream 🙂  (depends on your leanings whether this is a pro or con!)
  • Baby/child can’t face out on the front.  It’s an inward facing sling.
  • Other parents will rush over to ask you about it on a regular basis.

Particularly good for:

  • Longer term, comfortable babywearing
  • Use by either mum, dad or other caregiver.
  • People who are baffled by large amounts of material and tying options!

Overall I found this sling good value for money, extremely easy to use and foolproof.  I have and would recommend it to anybody who wants to babywear on a long term basis.

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This well known tome has been around for acontinuum concept bookcover while.  When I say ‘tome’ I am overstating the case – it’s actually quite a short book.

The Continuum Concept was first published in the mid 70’s so the first thing I would have to mention is that the language is sometimes pretty offensive.  Lots of ‘civilised’ ‘uncivilised’ and even regular mentions of ‘savages’ in relation to the tribes she lived with in South America.

If you can grit your teeth over this and continue reading then what you will find is an account of  Jean Liedloff’s years living and observing small tribes and societies that have so far not been touched by Western influences.

The main focus of the book is how these small societies treat children and parent.   She tells of babies being in arms continually for the early years, babies who are observing the business of being an adult and absorbing all they need to feel safe and a valued member of the community and babies sharing the family bed.  Babies fed when they are hungry (sounds so common sense like that but flies in the face of the four-hourly routines suggested by others) and having their needs met and growing up to be independent and confident adults untroubled by many of the problems facing teenagers and young adults in the UK today.

It’s very common-sense and affirming for the NAPper but has made me wonder exactly how we have come to stray so far from this natural, attached, common-sense way of raising children that people all over the globe have done for millenia.  An instinctive way which clearly works.

Liedloff is an anthropologist first and foremost, and went to South America “with no theory to prove, no more than normal curiosity about the Indians”.  What happened is that everything that she thought she knew about parenting and being a member of society was radically changed by her experiences.

This book documents her journey and findings and is interesting and thought-provoking for anybody, but specifically parents.  I would highly recommend having a read, but would advise gritted teeth over some of the language!

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