CONSCIOUS PARENTING GUIDE


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www.consciousparentingguide.com

by Julie Le Gal Brodeur

CONTACT:consciousparentingguide@gmail.com


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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:The importance of warmth, The importance of natural fabrics, Design and simplicity of clothing, Swaddling, bedding, Bathing, Diapering (nappies), Sleeping, Health and illness, Vaccinations, Circumcision, Out and about


CLOTHING AND CARE FOR THE BABY

The importance of warmth - Babies grow and learn best when kept warm, so it is of utmost importance to dress and swaddle them well. Our bodies function better, digest better, with warmth. Keeping a baby warmly dressed and wrapped up will help it conserve heat and have energy for growing and learning about the new world it has entered. Important places to keep warm are the head, the back of the neck, the wrists, the belly and lower back, the back of the knees and the feet. Babies lose heat to the surrounding air four times as fast as adults and we loose a huge amount of heat through from our heads, so, for babies, hats are indispensable for the first months, even indoors. There are very practical hats that tie under the chin so they don't slip off, made of light merino wool for winter, or cotton and silk for warmer weather. A good way to keep the baby warm and comfortable is to dress them in layers. A cotton or merino wool undershirt with buttons at the bottom to prevent them from riding up is a wonderful base to protect from drafts.

 

Of course, it is important to make sure that the baby is not overheated, signs of which are sweating, restlessness and a red face. Overheating can lead to diarrhoea.[1] Natural materials such as cotton, wool and silk allow the skin to breathe while keeping in warmth, and so lessen the danger of overheating.



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

 

See How to make decisions

 

ARTICLES

 

Gloeckler- clothing.htm

 

Gloeckler, Michaela  and Wolfgang Goebel - Using sheep's wool.htm

 

zur Linden - keeping the baby warm - hiccups.htm

 

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

 

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The importance of natural fabrics - Natural fabrics such as cotton, silk or wool wick away moisture from the skin and allow it to breathe properly. Staying dry is half the work of staying warm, so it is good to clothe and surround the child in natural fabrics. These allow the newborn's sensitive skin to breathe well, and the thermal quality of wool is unsurpassable because it holds up to 30% moisture and still keeps in warmth. Cotton flannel is also wonderful because of its incredible softness and breathability.

 

ARTICLES

 

Gloeckler, Michaela  and Wolfgang Goebel - Using sheep's wool.htm

 

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


 

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Design and simplicity of clothing and surroundings - As is their intention, drawings and writing on clothes draw attention to themselves and often give messages of cuteness or humour to make adults smile. And though at a young age it may not seem to matter, this encourages an objectification of the child, and brings focus to the clothes rather than the baby. Clothing and bedding with stripes or plaid and strong colours are visually stimulating and do not help promote calm surroundings. Also, some embroidered images are quite rough on the inside of the garment and not comfortable for the baby, so if you can, find clothes that are plain, light coloured, and have few embellishments.

 

Many baby clothes have elastics at the waist, or are made of stiff materials that can make movement uncomfortable. If possible, find clothes that leave the child free to move, leave the waist free, and are comfortable. The more gentle to the touch and visually calm and simple the garment and bedding, the better for the comfort of the baby. Gentle clothing and surroundings also give the baby less needless stimulation and allow the newborn's focus to be directed to his most important first tasks.

 

See Respecting the baby's first tasks


How to make decisions

 

The negative effects of media

 

ARTICLES

 

Gloeckler- clothing.htm

 

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

 

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

 

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Swaddling – For the first weeks and months it can calm the baby to keep them wrapped tightly and snugly in a blanket. It often gives them a sense of security, giving them the held feeling of the womb, and it can help them sleep and not be surprised by their own startling reflex. Sometimes the pressure from the snugness can help ease the pain of digestion in the first weeks. Even up to six months, it can help soothe a baby for sleep.


 

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Bedding - Like with clothing, it is good to surround the baby with all natural fabrics as much as possible. Cotton flannel sheets and wool blankets are very cosy and warm and allow the baby's skin to breathe well and help to regulate the body temperature.  A baby usually spends most of her first months and at least half of the first year sleeping, so the materials of the bedding are very important.

 

Regular, commercial crib mattresses often contain numerous toxic chemicals such as fire retardants and materials found in plastics and foams. If you have a crib, you may want to find an organic mattress, a wool mattress or mattress cover, or other natural, non-toxic materials. A wool mattress is particularly warm and wicks moisture away both in

cold and hot weather.

 


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Bathing - Though for us a bath is relaxing, for a newborn the sense impressions during a bath can be quite intense, especially in winter with the shock of the cold air. Also, after birth, the newborn may still have some of the valuable vernix on his skin that provides nutrients and protection and is best left to be absorbed. In the first weeks, it may be better to bathe the baby only as they need it, usually once a week or twice in the summer, rather than make it a daily event. In the meantime, the baby can be gently wiped with a warm, damp cloth if they need it. If possible, it may also be preferable to avoid using soaps and shampoo the first months. A warm bath with plain water helps preserve the baby's natural skin oils intact, which soap removes. After a bath, rubbing the delicate skin with organic sunflower or almond oil, or Weleda baby oil or lotion, can help keep them warm and protect the skin from the elements. Having a source of radiant heat (as opposed to a fan) close by can also help to keep the baby warm during and immediately after the bath.

 

See Care of the newborn immediately after birth


 

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Diapering (nappies) - If possible, it's good to have natural fabric on the baby's skin. It allows the skin to breathe well as well as providing more warmth and comfort for the baby. It is preferable to change the baby's diaper as soon as they are wet or soiled, unless they are sleeping, of course, both for the health of the skin and the baby's comfort, and in using cloth diapers, one is less tempted to leave a diaper on for long periods of time.

 

At first, most newborns need about ten to fourteen diapers a day, so having a good laundry machine is important. Diaper services are a good option for those that don't have a machine at their disposal. Cloth diapers come in all sorts of shapes and designs, they are cheaper in the long run than disposable diapers and are free of potentially harmful chemicals, as well as creating much less waste. (Though if you use a diaper service, it’s worth asking how they clean them.) Cotton diapers are ideal, especially used with warm wool diaper covers that let the skin breathe. If cloth diapers are out of the question, a good option is using unbleached, non-toxic disposable diapers that can usually be found in health food stores. One can also easily make wipes with little cotton flannel squares to use with water or vegetable oil, or find natural, non-toxic, un-perfumed wipes in health food stores. Wool covers require a little more care than plastic or nylon ones, but the warmth they provide is worth it.

 

For the first week or so, the baby usually has tar-like meconium stools that can be cleaned off very well with organic sunflower or almond oil, or Weleda baby oil. The oils are plant based, and very safe, and help keep the baby's skin moisturized and promote warmth. Weleda also has a very good calendula diaper cream which is very good at preventing and soothing diaper rashes. If you can, choose plant-based creams which are closer to our own skin oils and more easily absorbed, as opposed to mineral based creams.


 

Here is an example of and a good source for wool diaper covers: www.babyworks.com


And here is a site that gives The Story Behind Wollen Diaper Covers!: danishwool.com

 

ARTICLES

 

zur Linden - nappies (diapers).htm

 

Gloeckler- clothing.htm

 

Gloeckler, Michaela  and Wolfgang Goebel - Using sheep's wool.htm

 

zur Linden - keeping the baby warm - hiccups.htm

 

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Sleeping  - Sleeping arrangements for the first months are very different for everyone. Some prefer having the baby with them in the bed for the first weeks or months, transferring the baby to a cradle or crib when he's older. Some have a cradle by the bed within reaching distance; others put the baby in the crib from the start. The important thing is that the baby and parents be able to sleep as well as possible and that the arrangement be easy, and comfortable for feeding times.

 

When the baby begins to kick out of her blankets at night, it can be a good idea to have a sleeping bag or sleep sack made of soft wool. This way the child can stay warm through the night. You can find some with zippers, but for the baby’s comfort I recommend buttons or snaps at the shoulders. Some have zippers below to keep the young baby warm during diaper changes, which is a good idea. But for older babies that mostly sleep through the night, they are not necessary.

 

See How to make decisions

 


 

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Health and illness - It's a wise thing to have a good handbook on child health (see Guide to Child Health below) at home that gives symptoms and treatments for common childhood illnesses. This will allow you to inform yourself about illnesses, help you to recognize symptoms earlier, assess their severity, and let you know when to see a doctor. Very often, common illnesses can be cured at home with simple, natural means and remedies, and rest. Staying home is less stressful for the patient. When in doubt whether to bring the child to a doctor or not, many areas have a health care phone line, so you may want to find out if yours has one to avoid a possible trip to the doctor or hospital. Also, research at a local library or on the Internet can be useful, but make sure to check the source and make sure it is current.

 

This approach to health issues will allow you to do more home care, it will keep you informed and allow you to make decisions yourself, instead of relying only on a doctor's advice. Many doctors today prescribe medication such as antibiotics much more frequently than necessary,[2] so it's important to inform yourself and do your own research if possible on the diagnosis. Ask what would happen if your child didn't take the medication or if there are natural ways an illness can be tended to, what the natural course of the illness is, etc. Make informed decisions about your child's health and get second opinions when you can.



[2] Patterson, Kay. Parents warned of the dangers of antibiotics for treatment of colds. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 27 May 2002, researched June 2009 <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-mediarel-yr2002-kp-kp02049.htm>


 

See How to make decisions

 

Guide to Child Health in Recommended reading

 

 

ARTICLES

zur Linden - keeping the baby warm - hiccups.htm

 

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


 

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Vaccinations - Vaccines have become subject to debate. I highly recommend doing your own research and finding out about the potential side effects of vaccines, the ingredients, the severity of the disease vaccines are used against and the realistic possibility of your child being exposed to it. For some of the vaccines, it may be possible to wait until the baby is at least a year old, when the child's constitution is much more stable.[3] And you may want to ask your doctor about giving vaccines individually rather than five or so at once, to give your child the time to deal with each one fully. In most places, immunization is your choice. Though some schools require it, it is often possible to be exempt for belief reasons. Get different opinions, do research, and check sources. 



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


 

See How to make decisions

 

Guide to Child Health in Recomended reading

 

See Vaccination/Immunization section in Links

 

ARTICLES

Gloeckler, Michaela and Wolfgang Goebel - Immunization.htm

 

zur Linden - vaccination.htm


 

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Circumcision - Some parents circumcise their baby boys for religious reasons, and many parents choose to do it for reasons of hygiene or because the boy's father is circumcised, but it is not generally recommended as a routine procedure.[4] The medical reasons that used to support circumcision such as accumulation of smegma under the foreskin and risk of urinary tract infections have now been disproved, and both problems are easily solved with simple washing habits.[5] And the idea seems strange that a child would have difficulty coping with looking different from his father, especially since so many more obvious things such as body shape, hair colour, or eye colour never seem to pose any problems. My thought is that avoiding the pain and shock of circumcision is better for the overall wellbeing of the baby and keeping the senses protected.[6]

 

"I feel that there is no solid medical evidence at this time to support routine circumcision. The choice is best left up to the parents. Some opt for circumcision for religious reasons, family, or cultural reasons. In other cases, I recommend leaving the foreskin the way nature meant it to be. " Benjamin Spock, M.D. [7]



[4] Neonatal circumcision revisited. Fetus and Newborn Committee, Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS), February 2009, researched August 2009 <http://www.cps.ca/english/statements/FN/fn96-01.htm#Fetus%20and%20Newborn%20Cmtt>

 

[5] Spock, Benjamin, MD and Steven Parker, M.D..  Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care. The Penguin Group, New York 1998


[6] Panksepp, Jaak. The long-term psychobiological consequences of infant emotions: Prescriptions for the twenty-first century. Wiley InterScience, Infant Mental Health Journal Volume 22 Issue 1-2, Pages 132 - 173, 25 Jan 2001, researched August 2009 <http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/76509608/abstract>

[7] Spock, Benjamin, MD and Steven Parker, M.D..  Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care. The Penguin Group, New York 1998


See How to make decisions


 

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Out and about - If you can avoid taking the baby out (especially in the city) for the first weeks and even months, you save them a lot of overwhelming sense impressions. Of course, modern lifestyles usually make it a near impossibility to keep the child protected like this, but it may be good to have in mind if you do have a choice to bring the baby out or not. When you are away from home in the first months, babies usually feel much more secure when they are as close to you and as protected as possible.

 

A sling is a wonderful way of keeping the baby safe and warm, it allows you be more aware of the baby's needs and reactions, and it calms and reassures the baby to be with you. Especially useful in the first months, are the shawl kind: those that create a kind of cocoon where the baby lies sideways or facing in, limbs all tucked in together. The advantages of this design are that the baby's limbs are warm, they can see your face, their head is supported without putting pressure on the spine, and they can fall asleep without their head flopping. It's also possible to slip out of this sling and lay the sleeping baby down to sleep more soundly. As the baby grows, the child comes to a seated position so it can even be used for a toddler. The disadvantage is that the weight is on one shoulder, so you have to remember to switch sides, and it is important in the first weeks especially to make sure the baby isn’t being smothered.

 

A carriage (pram) with shocks where the baby can lie flat and face you is a good thing to have, especially when there is a lot to carry or if you have a sore or fragile back. Laying the child on a sheepskin or a folded wool blanket helps to keep her warm and absorbs some of the shock. In summer one can cover the wool with a flannel sheet or a cotton blanket. The first year, the baby is most at peace when she can see her mother or a known face. When the child faces you, you can also see whether she is asleep, if the sun is in her eyes or if the blanket is slipping. It's possible to find models of strollers that adapt to the stages of a growing child: from laying flat and facing the mother to a seated position and facing out. Even when the child sits on his own, it can be very useful to still have them facing in for the first year to give them security and lessen the onslaught of stimulation.

 

Using car seats as carriages, though certainly practical, is not deemed an advantage for the baby's development. Car seats are necessary for the car, of course, but its good to limit the time a baby has to spend in a seated position as much as possible. In cold weather it is a good idea to keep it indoors so it's warm for the baby.

 

See How to make decisions

 

Welcoming the baby, nourishing the senses

 

On over-stimulating the baby

 

Respecting the baby’s first tasks

 

About conscious parenting


Slings

 

Sling pattern (link to free sewing pattern)


ARTICLE


zur Linden - daily fresh air.htm


 

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Conscious Parenting Guide  www.consciousparentingguide.com 2009 

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