Controversial Breast Feeding in Time Magazine
Now to talk about a little article in Time Magazine that has been causing quite a stir in the mothering community. Everyone has an opinion about the article, the photo, and attachment parenting. Here are my initial thoughts: I hate the photo but I love the fact that it’s bringing attention to extended breastfeeding and attachment parenting. I hate the photo because it’s not natural, it’s posed, the kid doesn’t look happy and it doesn’t convey the nurturing aspect associated with nursing. We each have to make our own choices about what feels right for us and our babies and Jaime Lynne Grumet is standing up for what she believes is right for her family and that is admirable. People are very quick to judge others without having any valid information to back up their thoughts.
I’m willing to bet that a mother who stopped nursing at 12 months or earlier never heard from an extended breast feeder that they are a bad mother for not choosing to breastfeed yet extended breast feeders get a lot of slack about nursing past the age of 1. I was even told by my past day care provider that continuing to breastfeed was causing a problem with my daughters ability to self soothe and harming her development, along with some of my other parenting choices which apparently also ‘hurt her development’. I am no stranger to being criticized for my parenting choices. You might not agree with it but to tell someone that that it’s wrong and harmful is inaccurate.
The article discusses attachment parenting as well as extended breastfeeding. Attachment parenting includes ‘techniques’ such as baby wearing, co-sleeping, picking up your baby when it cries, not crying it out, and elimination communication. Even though I do use all of these methods I’ve never read a book on attachment parenting. The only baby books I’ve read are The Baby Whisperer, The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers, The Diaper Free Baby and Easy to love, Difficult to Discipline. None of these offer suggestions on how to be a good parent. All of my decisions, as the decisions of many mothers, are based on intuition and millions of years of hardwiring in the human species (a baby cries, you pick it up) and research. I am a little nuts when it comes to research, probably because I am very indecisive and I want to make sure that I’m making the right choice and there is good information to back up my decisions; and then I want to double check.
I baby-wear because I like to feel my baby close to me and sometimes I need to use my hands. Carrying around a baby carrier is a heck of a lot more convenient than lugging around a stroller. And sometimes we all want someone we love to hold us. Annabelle can’t communicate what’s wrong when she’s fussy but being worn calms her down. How would you feel if you were feeling icky, had a long day and just wanted to be held by the person you love and that person said told you to suck it up and cry it out. You probably wouldn’t feel great, and you’re a grown up and probably know a whole bunch of self soothing techniques to help you feel better (deep breaths, yoga, a long bath, working out, having a drink) so how do you think a baby feels when you ignore them? I think they probably don’t feel so thrilled to be ignored, so I choose to pick my baby up and wear her. I do own a stroller and a jogger and I use them, Annabelle loves going for walks in them, I just don’t use them very often. And NO, I am not creating a spoiled baby, there is plenty of research to back me up and many, many benefits to baby wearing.
I just touched on crying it out. I don’t like hearing a baby cry, especially when something as simple as picking her up will make her feel better and stop. This ties in with co-sleeping. Many people are quick to tell you how dangerous co-sleeping is and it can be, if you’re a wild sleeper, are taking drugs or drinking alcohol or if you don’t have the correct set-up for it. Proper co-sleeping involves many safety precautions and no matter how many people tell me that they let their kids cry it out and they are just fine, I’m not going to do it because it just doesn’t feel right to me. When Annabelle was first born she slept in her pack and play by my bed. When she was about 5 months old she moved into her crib in her room. I would nurse her and rock her to sleep (yes at 15 months I still do the same thing) and she would go to sleep in her crib. When she woke up in the middle of the night I would bring her into my bed and we would sleep together for the rest of the night. This started mostly out of necessity because Andrew was gone from the time Annabelle was 4 months until she was 8 months so that was the only way I could ever get any sleep. I figured that if she was falling asleep in her crib she would be used to it and as she got older her stretches of sleep would get longer and she would sleep through the night in her crib. Now Annabelle is usually asleep by 8pm and sleeps until anywhere between 5-7am and she’s been sleeping that way since about 11 months. Every once in a while she wakes up in the middle of the night and she sleeps in my bed and I love it. I have never let her cry it out.
Elimination Communication is a term that is not mainstream at all. I am hopeful that one day it will be. Wondering what it is? It’s communicating with your baby about elimination. It involves teaching your child to recognize when they are going potty and about teaching you their cues to know when they are about to go potty. Annabelle has been doing a lot of diaper free time since she has been walking and I tend to miss her cues so for us it’s me telling her ‘you’re going pee pee’ or ‘you just went pee pee’ or ‘poo poo’ and basically you are getting them to recognize what they are doing and eventually recognize when they are going to and communicate it to you in some way. In the beginning stages it’s the parent learning to recognize the cues when they are about to go and sitting them on the potty and telling them what they’re doing. Elimination Communication can be started with infants and most can use they potty (or communicate their need to use the potty) by 18 months. I try to do as much diaper free time as possible when I’m home and I plan on really stepping it up over the summer when I know we will be spending much more time outside in Annabelles favorite spot, the backyard. Annabelle now grabs at her diaper as soon as it is wet, she did not do that before we started practicing EC. So for those of you who have looked at those of us trying to practice EC like we are stupid and repeated that children have no ‘mind-bladder communication’ before the age of 2.5 I have one thing to say… do your research. Whether Annabelle and I can pull it off I don’t know, but I do know people that have had tremendous success and have diaper free babies under the age of 2.
How far someone chooses to take their parenting, whether letting their kids cry it out or breastfeeding and co-sleep until they’re 6 is their own business. There is tons of great research on the benefits of every aspect of attachment parenting. Hopefully the article in Time Magazine will help sway some people that are on the fence about extended breastfeeding and some attachment parenting techniques. Will I breastfeed until Annabelle is 6? Not likely. But who am I to knock a womans decision to do something that there are proven benefits to doing? Do what you think is right, stick to your guns and don’t let anyone who doesn’t agree sway you to do something you don’t feel comfortable doing. If it feels right to you it’s probably the right thing to do, no matter who doesn’t agree. Follow your intuition and for goodness sake remember that we are grown-ups, we can have different views and still be friends. Para el gusto se hicieron los colores (anyone care to offer an accurate translation?)
I know, I know, I talked a lot about research today. Instead of scattering it all over this blog post I saved it all for the end. Here it is. If you have any other research please post a comment and share it.
Benefits of Baby Wearing:
- The Natural Child Project
- Dr. Sears
- La Leche League
- More Scientifically based articles
- Fort Worth Baby Wearers
- Scientific Benefits
- Deciding if Co-Sleeping is right for you
- Co-Sleeping Benefits
- Definitions and Safety
- Checklist for safe co-sleeping
- Co-sleeping Accessories
Crying it Out/ Sleep Training