CONSCIOUS PARENTING GUIDE


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www.consciousparentingguide.com

by Julie Le Gal Brodeur

CONTACT:consciousparentingguide@gmail.com


SITE MAP FOR PRINT VERSION

WELCOME,     ABOUT,     PRE-CONCEPTION,     PREGNANCY,     PREPARING FOR BIRTH,     BIRTH,

THE FIRST MONTHS,     CLOTHING AND CARE FOR THE BABY,     THE FIRST YEAR,     FROM ONE TO THREE,

ARTICLES,     RECOMMENDED READING,   LINKSBIBLIOGRAPHY


ON THIS PAGE: Early parental devotion, The first forty days, Welcoming the baby,nourishing the senses, On overstimulation, Respecting hte baby’s first tasks, Slings, Crying, colic and teething


THE FIRST MONTHS

Early parental devotion - The best thing one can do for a newborn, baby and child, for their first years, is to devote oneself to their well being with gladness, and have a sense of gratitude for the gifts of life. As parents, we are given an intimate and delicate task. Developing patience, true attentiveness, compassion, honesty, and being present, are the greatest gifts one can ever give a child. Studies clearly show that the first six or seven years of life, and most especially the first three, have the most significant influence on brain development and subsequent learning, behaviour and health. Though they mostly fade from the child's memory, the effects of impressions, experiences and interactions with people at this time last a lifetime. [1] The first years are so very short and go so quickly in the big picture of life. As a parent, raising oneself to this task can be an enormous challenge, but your efforts will benefit your child for the rest of their life.


"Only through faith in yourself and in your own life can you respond to a new life given you [...] according to the needs of that new life." Joseph Chilton Pearce from Magical Child [2]


What you do in detail is less important than the kind of person you try to be and the thoughts and ideas you carry. It is not enough to hide things from children while allowing yourself thoughts not intended for them. We must have and live the thoughts that we feel could and should live in the child. This is uncomfortable but nevertheless true.” Rudolf Steiner [3]



[1] Norrie McCain,  Hon. Margaret and J. Fraser Mustard. Early Years Study. Publications Ontario,  Toronto 1999

 

[2] Pearce, Joseph Chilton. Magical Child Bantam Books New York, 1989


[3] Steiner, Rudolf. The Education of the Child Anthroposophic Press, Hudson, N.Y. 1996


See How to make decisions


Clothing and care for the baby


The negative effects of media


ARTICLES


Kabat-Zinn-attunement to babies.htm


Winnicott - the mother's contribution to society.htm


Winnicott - the newborn and his mother.htm


Dunbar Mother's thoughts on infant.pdf


Lozowick,Lee  - good beginnings.htm


zur Linden - caring for a sick child - the mother's love.htm


zur Linden - clothes for the baby and small child.htm


Baldwin Dancy, Rahima - About conscious parenting in our modern age.htm


Baldwin Dancy, Rahima - Conscious parenting - what can help us on the way?.htm


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The first forty days - In many countries such as India, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Korea, in Arab and some European countries, there is a custom of letting the mother and child rest for forty days after the birth. The first forty days of a child's life are considered especially holy and are treated with great reverence. The mother and child are indoors, protected, and quiet. The mother is supported by her mother and family members, treated to special food and does not take up household tasks but rests and gathers her strength. There are few visitors, and in many places, visitors are only allowed after forty days, after which there is a naming ceremony or a blessing of the child in front of the community. There is wisdom in these customs.


The first weeks of a baby's life are very important for his adapting to a whole new world and physical circumstance. In the first forty days or six weeks, minimizing outings and visitors may be best to allow the baby to come gently into the world, giving him time to find a rhythm and rest, and for the mother to recover. To help recovery and the repositioning of the organs, it can help the mother to lie down frequently, especially in the first ten days, and to start practicing Kegel exercises to tone the pelvic muscles. Also, having help with cooking, cleaning and with care of the baby allows her to sleep, helps recovery, and can help to avoid postpartum depression.[4]


"Watch how people approach your newborn baby and you will notice that they radiate warmth and a benign quality. They will smile, conduct themselves with fewer inhibitions, exude gentleness and exhibit a lightness of being. This is the baby's doing and to respect it we have to put aside our adult assumptions and be prepared to enter a realm we have forgotten."

Christopher Clouder and Janni Nicol from Creative Play for your Baby [5]



[4] Gaskin, Ina May. Spiritual Midwifery. Book Publishing Company, Summertown 2002


[5] Clouder, Christopher and Janni Nicol Creative Play for your Baby Hachette Livre UK Company, London 2007

See Doulas


Baby equipment


How to make decisions


The negative effects of media


ARTICLES 


Salter, Joan - first forty days.htm


Gaskin, Ina May - post partum depression.htm


Winnicott - the mother's contribution to society.htm


Winnicott - the newborn and his mother.htm


Pikler, Emmi - crying.htm


zur Linden - daily fresh air.htm



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Welcoming the baby, nourishing the senses- The impressions and experiences of the first months of a baby lay the foundation for their whole life. [6] In view of this, what are the impressions a baby has in the first months of its life? What does the newborn need to best start to learn and grow? Because the baby comes from such a sheltered place, in the first weeks and even months, it is reassuring for her to be close to her mother or within hearing distance of her voice, where she is close to something familiar. It is of great benefit for the baby to breastfed for the first six months, if this is possible for the mother. [7]


Studies have shown that how a child is received, the mother's attitude towards the infant, and what the infant experiences in the first months has a significant effect in long-term health and development. [8] Intense or constant negative adult emotions, even if not directed at them, can deeply affect the child. Overstimulation and interruption can exhaust them and hold them back from important learning tasks, just as under-stimulation and lack of needed attention and care can also inhibit their development.


By creating a quiet, simple, warm, nurturing environment, we allow the child to 'awaken' at their own pace. We can provide quiet rooms that are visually appealing and not too cluttered or busy, that are free of strong perfumes and smells, and have gentle lighting, and we can clothe and swaddle the baby in warm, soft, natural fabrics.


By giving gentle, loving care, and by responding to their cries and expressions, we foster a sense of trust and faith in the world. And by respecting the learning tasks they have in the different stages of development, and not rushing them, we allow them to learn when they are ready. Creating an atmosphere of peacefulness and gratitude, and surrounding the baby with beauty, natural human sounds, sounds of nature, singing and gentle, live music [9](avoiding recorded music) eases their way into life and allows them to grow and learn freely.


Hands continue the infant’s first connection to the world (outside of nursing). Hands pick her up, lay her down, wash and dress and maybe even feed her. How different it can be, what a different picture of the world an infant receives when quiet, patient, careful yet secure and resolute hands take care of her—and how different the world seems when hands are impatient, rough or hasty, unquiet and nervous. In the beginning, hands are everything for an infant.” From Peaceful Babies—Contented Mothers by Dr. Emmi Pikler [10]



[6] Kabat-Zinn, Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn. Everyday Blessings - The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting. Hyperion, New York 1997


[7] Gartner, LM, et al.. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. National Guideline Clearinghouse www.guideline.gov Pediatrics 2005 Feb;115(2):496-506., 8 March 2009, researched August 2009 <http://www.guideline.gov/summary/summary.aspx?doc_id=6499&nbr=4072&ss=6&xl=999>

 

[8] Dunber, Flanders. The Effect of the Mother's Emotional Attitude on the Infant. Psychosomatic Medicine, Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine Vol. 6, Issue 2, 156-159, 1 April 1944, June 2009 <http://www.pschosomaticmedicine.org/cgi/reprint/6/2/156.pdf>


[9] Arnon, Dr Shmuel. Live Music Calms Premature Babies. BBC News online, September 3, 2004, researched June 2009 < http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3624442.stm>

[10] Pikler, Emmi, Friedliche Babys, zufriedene Mütter. Pädagogische Ratschläge einer Kinderärztin Herder Verlag, Freiburg, Germany 2000


See The importance of breastfeeding and colostrum


The baby's surroundings


Baby equipment


How to make decisions


Clothing and care for the baby


Respecting the baby's first tasks


Observing stages


The negative effects of media


ARTICLES

Jane Swain - Pikler’s Trust in the Wise Infant.htm


Salter, Joan - nourishing the senses, eyes and ears.htm


Pikler, Emmi - development of movement- stages.htm


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On over-stimulating the baby - I'm sure many of us know the experience of having gone to a new place, a museum or gallery and having felt quite saturated or overwhelmed after a short time from the new sense impressions and concentration required. This is what the newborn baby experiences in her waking life. Imagine you are unable to shut out sounds, light or smells and you are brought to a bright, loud, smelly place. This can often be the newborn's reality when she is brought to public places such as loud streets, parties, shopping malls, grocery stores, etc.


Surrounding the child with gentleness in every way allows her to awaken to the world softly, and allows her to meet her surroundings out of her own interest and ability. When we observe a newborn startling at very little sounds, we can become aware of impressions that are likely coming at her too strongly or too fast. Eventually, a baby that is constantly over stimulated will become dulled to the stimulus:[11]


"When sense impressions are devalued like this [by overstimulation], the accompanying alienation from reality cripples genuine interest in the world." from A Guide to Child Health by Michael Glöckler and Wolfgang Goebel[1]


It is possible to stimulate babies and young children enough for them to learn to walk, read and develop other intellectual talents earlier than they would at their own pace. However, this redirects energy that would be used to develop healthy organs and a strong bodily constitution. Pushing a child too early into intellectual activities can be a detriment to them developing later into healthy, independently minded, well-rounded, creative human beings. [12][13] Of course babies are very resilient and will come through all sorts of circumstances with great health and vitality. But the question here is: what can best support a child to become healthy and capable in all spheres of life, even into adulthood?


Keeping the baby in gentle light, quiet, and soft, natural surroundings will foster a healthy start for learning, socializing and for physical abilities. Parents, siblings and the world of nature around us are more than ample stimulation for a baby. It isn't necessary to have bright, squeaky toys or any media such as TV, radio or recorded music. A newborn has all the stimulation he needs just learning about the world and moving his limbs.



[11] Glöckler, Michaela and Wolfgang Goebel. Guide to Child Health. Floris Books, Edinburgh and Anthropsophic Press, Hudson, New York 1990


[12] Zur Linden, Wilhelm, MD.  When A Child Is Born. Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont 1998

[13] Elkind, David. The Hurried Child. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., Reading, Massachusetts 1989


See The baby's surroundings


Respecting the baby’s first tasks


Learning and over-stimulation


How to make decisions


The negative effects of media


ARTICLES

Davis and Keyser - on Stimulation.htm


Pikler, Emmi - crying.htm


Pikler, Emmi - development of movement- stages.htm


TOP


Respecting the baby's first tasks - At birth, babies have a few basic physical abilities such as sucking and grasping. They can hear and see, but do not yet fully make sense of their sense impressions. Everything is new, much must be learned. And learning takes focus and concentration. Some of the child's first tasks in life are learning to see as we do, finding thumb and fingers, recognizing their own hands and objects, moving arms and hands purposefully and coping with a new way of assimilating food. Their development evolves quickly through the first year or so: learning to lift the head, move the limbs, roll, sit, crawl, maybe even stand and walk, experimenting with sounds and learning to speak. These are tremendous tasks, and they are not things one can teach the child, they learn these things on their own. So how can we best allow for the child to be able to fulfil these tasks in a harmonious, healthy way? What is the best supportive environment?


Perhaps the first helpful thing is to be aware of what the child is doing, what they are learning, by observing them and allowing them the quiet, the physical space and freedom to do their task. Watching a child learn to see, to observe them watching their own hands with fascination, learning to grasp a cloth and pull it with both hands, can fill one with astonishment and wonder at the innate perseverance of the child - and at the amount of time and work required to learn to do the simple things we do thousands of times every day.


For the first months, laying the baby flat on his back allows him to learn to move hands, arms and legs freely and, eventually, find uprightness on his own. His hands are free to find each other, play with things, and the baby is able to try turning and rolling without hindrance.[14] Laying flat also allows the healthy development of the bones by keeping pressure off the base of the spine and hips - which an assisted seated position creates. A basket or carrycot can be a good place at first, and when the baby starts to move and roll, one can lay a thick wool blanket or a sheepskin on the floor, out of drafts, to keep the baby warm.


Though we often enjoy helping babies sit or learn to walk, and though they often respond with joy at the new task they are accomplishing with our help, it does take away the child's opportunity of learning to learn and persevere, as well as giving a false sense of accomplishment. [15] We often bring babies into positions they would not be able to find by themselves, and help them or rescue them in moments of frustration when they are trying to roll over, sit up, stand or walk. If a child is left to find rolling over, sitting, standing and walking on their own, they may learn more slowly, they may even be furious with frustration in moments, but they learn at their own pace, and their abilities reflect their physical readiness. They are also more likely to be in control of their bodies and so to be more careful and able. So when a baby is frustrated, rather than help them immediately, we can be present with them in what they are trying to do, and yet let them find their way by their own means. Of course each situation must be judged individually, but asking oneself if it is necessary to intervene can be a helpful support to the child in the long run.


Another aspect to keep in mind is our interaction with the baby when we are changing their diaper, dressing them or moving them in any way, is to try to include the child in the process by being present in what we are doing, speaking to them in a simple, quiet way and having patience to allow them to respond as they get older and more able to participate.



[14] Pikler, Emmi and Anna Tardos Laßt Mir Zeit, Richard Pflaum Verlag, München 2001

[15] Pikler, Emmi. Friedliche Babys, zufriedene Mütter. Pädagogische Ratschläge einer Kinderärztin. Herder Verlag, Freiburg, Germany 2000



See How to make decisions


The negative effects of media


ARTICLES


Jane Swain - Pikler’s Trust in the Wise Infant.htm


Davis and Keyser - on Stimulation.htm


Pikler, Emmi - development of movement- stages.htm


TOP



Slings - When the baby just needs to be held, a sling can be very useful in the home. For the first months, it is helpful when the baby can be wrapped up comfortably in a horizontal position and kept warm with arms and legs tucked in together rather than separated from the body, and facing up rather than out or in. It is just important to make sure the baby’s face is free – that the baby isn’t at risk of being smothered.


Here is a site that has a free pattern if you wish to make your own:

www.handmade-adelaide-baby.com


see Out and about


ARTICLE


Pikler, Emmi - development of movement- stages.htm


TOP



Crying, colic and teething - The baby's first weeks and months can be very intense both for the newborn and for the parents, especially if the baby cries a lot. Many babies find digestion painful at first, and the mother can help by looking at her diet for irritants being passed on through the milk such as intense spices, caffeine, and by drinking herb nursing teas such as Weleda nursing tea, or you can make your own mixture with this recipe:


Nursing tea recipe: (Not for pregnant women.)

1 part anise seed

1 part fennel seed

1 part fenugreek seed

1 part lemon verbena (you can also add raspberry leaf)

2 part caraway seeds

Use a teaspoon per cup let steep for 5-7 minutes.


If the baby's gums are swollen, if he is teething, homeopathic teething drops or gel can be of great help. They can be found in health food stores.


But sometimes crying is just a fact, sometimes for hours, even at regular times of day, sometimes most of the day, especially in the early months, and the best thing to do is to be calm, hold the crying child, be caring and trust that this too shall pass. However, if the crying persists and seems worrisome, it may be wise to see a doctor.


If you are at your wit's end, it's a good idea to give the baby to someone else, or to put the crying child down in her crib or in a safe place and leave the room to give yourself space to compose yourself. Sometimes when one is exhausted, it just seems impossible to cope. If you have strong negative emotions toward the child, call someone you can talk to, or even a crisis line so you can vent or find help.


See About conscious parenting


How to make decisions


ARTICLES


zur Linden MD - Crying.htm


Remo H Largo - crying.htm


Pikler, Emmi - crying.htm


zur Linden - keeping the baby warm - hiccups.htm


zur Linden - caring for a sick child - the mother's love.htm


TOP


Conscious Parenting Guide  www.consciousparentingguide.com 2009 

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Copyright © Julie Le Gal Brodeur 2009         Updated Sept 12, 2010