10 September 2012

Parenting off the beaten track

Breastmilk - the only meal you can make in your sleep!
I am what most people would call a "crunchy" or granola parent. I didn't intentionally set out to be that way, it is just something that naturally followed out of listening to my instincts. 

What makes me so granola? Well - I'm one of those cloth diapering, baby wearing, breastfeeding, (STILL at almost 10 months and with no intention to stop anytime soon), natural birthing, anti-CIO, baby-led weaning, co-sleeping parents. All of this falls into the attachment parenting model, a philosophy which has become quite popular again in recent years and has a huge following especially amongst younger moms. But this is not just simply a bandwagon that I jumped onto because it was trendy. So how did I get to where I am today?

Breastfeeding at 2 months
I always intended on breastfeeding. My mom breastfed me and in our family breastfeeding is seen as the normal way to feed your baby, so for me this was never even a question. I would breastfeed and that was that. Thankfully, I have never had any hiccups with establishing breastfeeding when A was born and we are still going strong at 10 months. Since then our breastfeeding relationship has survived me going back to work full-time when A was 3.5 months old, an episode of oral thrush (that thankfully didn't transfer to my breast) and a few painful weeks of A biting my nipple when she was teething. I am a firm believer in baby-led parenting and intend on letting her self-wean when she's ready. If this means that I'll be breastfeeding a toddler, that's fine by me. 

As far as the reusable nappies go - I never saw myself using the old terry squares, pins and plastic pants. And guess what? I don't! While pregnant I came across all the wonderful new modern cloth nappies available and I was intrigued. What started out as a simple money saving decision has evolved into a hobby - yes, I am that person who loves collecting all the different colours, prints and styles!A And even after all that - we are still saving money. Love love love it.
Cloth nappy
A in a modern cloth diaper

We were initially very much against the idea of co-sleeping - we firmly believed that our child would sleep in their own room in their cot from day one. We were unwavering on this point up until the first night home with A. When I put her to sleep for the evening I simply couldn't bear to have her in a seperate room from us and so she started out in the carry cot (moses basket) on the floor next to our bed every single night. She would wake up every few hours for a feed and I would diligently place her back in the carry cot once she was back asleep. After about three months of this, I figured out that it was just so much easier to bring her back to our bed after her first wake-up for the night. That way I could go straight back to sleep and further wakings would have minimal effect on my (and her!) sleep. This has been the perfect compromise for us and is still working out brilliantly (we just replaced the moses basket with a mattress as she outgrew it!). 

Co-napping with daddy
This method of partially co-sleeping worked beautifully with our philosophy of not wanting to let A CIO (cry-it-out). This was not something I had to research - the idea of letting her cry and not attending to her needs just totally went against my instincts. Even on pro-CIO communities, all the moms will say how hard it was for them to let their kid CIO - you can't argue with that maternal instinct. Does this mean I'm a perfect mom who never gets frustrated when my child cries? Definitely not. I get frustrated, but in those circumstances I remind myself that crying is the only way A can communicate with me. If I ignore her cries, I am basically letting her know that she doesn't matter, that her pleas mean nothing to me, that her needs aren't worth being met. 

The last couple of non-mainstream things we embraced was really just a matter of common sense and practicality - wearing A in a sling or wrap allowed me to get things done in the house and made trips out of the house so much simpler than trying to navigate a huge pram through crowds. Baby-led weaning simply made sense to us, both from a practical point of view (whoohooo - no purees to be made!) and also from a baby development point of view. Studies show that babies who are allowed to self-feed, develop healthier eating habits in the long run. 

As Dr Sears so eloquently put it: 

"It's not extreme. If you were on an island, and you had no mother-in-laws, no psychologists, no doctors around, no experts, this is what you would naturally and instinctively do to give your baby the best investment you'll ever give."



  1. Kindred spirits! Love the Dr Sears Quote!

  2. It all just makes so much sense, doesn't it? You have to wonder why every parent doesn't follow the attachment parenting philosophy ;) Love the pic of you sleeping and nursing... brings back sleepy memories xXx

  3. Beautifully put! My experience was very similar. Thank you for sharing this with the Tuesday Baby Link Up Community! I shared this on our pinterest board.

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  5. So very helpful thanks. I also gravitated to most of what you mention before I knew that what I was doing us called attachment patenting.


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