Natural parenting, also called natural family living and linked to attachment parenting is an age-old philosophy of parenting that promotes relying on instincts to guide you in the care of your child. By being sensitive and responsive to your baby’s needs, you teach them respect and show them they are important.
The end goal is to raise children who are more independent and self-confident in the long-run. Dr. William Sears, M.D. says children who are accustomed to having their cues trusted by their parents grow up to trust themselves.
This doesn’t mean you “let your baby run your home.” It does mean parents base their authority on love rather than fear. Natural parenting is a decision to embrace the change children bring into your life as a blessing rather than a burden.
Natural Parenting Tools
No parent-child relationship is exactly the same, so getting to know your child as an individual is of principal importance when it comes to meeting his or her needs. Here are a few tools you can use to sharpen your intuition and deepen the connection you have with your baby.
- Natural childbirth
Natural birth is pursued by many mothers who want to minimize the involvement of drugs so that mommy and baby can be alert when they lock eyes and begin the bonding process. Mothers who plan to use natural birthing methods often find a sense of empowerment from the process. As natural parenting advocate and author of Natural Family Living: The Mothering Magazine Guide to Parenting, Peggy O’Mara puts it, “it can mean giving birth to a new version of yourself.”
Breastfeeding moms and babies experience the benefits of oxytocin, the ultimate bonding hormone. Click here to read about other benefits of breastfeeding.
Cosleeping via room or bed sharing is a way to stay connected with your baby throughout the night. Bed sharing is frowned upon by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics as a preventative measure to prevent child suffocation and SIDS.However, Notre Dame sleep researcher, James McKenna, suggests there is a stronger link between SIDS and solitary sleep. Co-sleeping is a way of life for parents in most other countries and has been that way for centuries. In his 2005 study, Why Babies Should Never Sleep Alone, McKenna and fellow researcher Thomas McDade say:”SIDS and infant mortality rates in general are decreasing to record low levels in Japan in parallel with increases in nighttime bed sharing. In most other Asian cultures where cosleeping is also the norm (China, Vietnam, Cambodia andThailand) SIDS is virtually unheard of. “Whatever your stance, know that parents who practice safe bed sharing and/or room sharing practices say they and their babies get more quality, uninterrupted sleep.
- Healthy Holistic Living
Many parents are having success taking a holistic approach to their baby’s health. Holistic medicine emphasizes prevention and takes into account not only the physical condition of your child, but also the emotional and spiritual condition.With the help of holistic practitioners, families resolve common childhood ailments by adjusting nutrition and strengthening the immune system. Parents can gain a sense of empowerment by learning to use natural parenting remedies and cures for baby health issues ranging from colds and flus to attention deficit disorder.
- Responsive Parenting
Parents in tune with their instincts respond to their baby’s cries rather than letting them “cry it out.” Over time they become quite skilled at detecting their baby’s behaviors or messages and can meet their child’s needs sooner.
Babywearing achieved through baby carriers, promotes closeness, healthy development of motor skills, soothes babies and aids learning.
- Bonding activities
Sometimes we have to remember to take a break from the routine and have some fun with our babies and toddlers. Carving some time out to read baby books, dance to silly music or go to the park can create lasting memories and foster wellness at the same time.
I didn’t start out my parenthood journey with an intention to follow someone else’s rules about how I should birth and raise my child, nor would I recommend that to anyone else.
Following a rigid checklist of do’s and don’ts is a set up for failure and self-disappointment. No new parent needs that extra pressure.
Instead, I simply followed my instincts with each new decision — in many ways I was natural parenting without knowing it. When I finally did pick up a book on the topic I was affirmed by the scientific studies and the growing number of parents that support many of the decisions I’ve made.
As a piece of advice, I recommend combining your instinctive approach to parenting with the healthy approach to marriage – compromise. That’s right my husband doesn’t agree 100 percent of the time with me and my maternal instincts. This has resulted in many “spirited” debates.
However, I try to remember that two parents in a happy, loving relationship is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give to a child. It influences how your child values himself and relates to the world around him.
In other words, pick your parenting battles wisely and be willing to think out of the box to make sure that everyone’s needs are met. This includes your needs as a woman and mother. I’ll share more anecdotes on this topic as this site grows.