Posts Tagged ‘co-sleeping’

Sunday Surf: The Real Deal

Usually I cheat and make Sunday Surf on a theme to provide information. Today is the real deal. These are just articles and things I’ve looked at that I think are worth sharing:

Building a Table (from Palumba)

From Conception to Birth

Trying to Conceive Naturally: What Are the Next Steps? (Natural Parents Network)

TTC (trying to conceive) is a hard place to be. I didn’t explain in my miscarriage post, but trying to conceive after that felt like a whole to do. About the only thing that actually helped was acupuncture. (I had an extra long cycle that got cut down by about a week, and regulated my hormone levels a bit, I believe.) Still, I did the thermometer, ovulation kits, herbs and more. In the end, I got fed up and gave up trying and that was the time we conceived my daughter. Interestingly, it also happened to be one year to the cycle of my lost baby’s conception.

This is a great NPN post sharing the range of options available to those TTC .

Please Sign Here, You Have No Rights (Birth Without Fear)

Technically, you can go into a hospital with a napkin that says “I consent to

Mother and Baby: Positioning after Birth (Delayed Cord Clamping: Cord Clamping Information and Research)


“I do wonder if more women gave birth without interference (or out of water maybe), would we be more accustomed to seeing mother-directed third stage of labour – where women might have a short rest before attending to her baby – and have a greater appreciation and understanding of physiological fetal-to-neonatal transition?

It is instinct in some mammals to rest in the first 30s-1m or so after birth – leaving the baby undisturbed during placental transfusion. Do we have these same instincts, to be above our babies, to gaze at and touch our babies, to watch them breathe and check the cord…before lifting our babies up?



I found this company after looking for solid wood tables for my daughter. They are pricier than plastic counterparts (or DIY, if you can/are interested in making your own things). All of their products are beautiful, however, so they make a good suggestion for folks trying to buy you stuff that maybe you don’t want… grandparents. This stuff is built to last and inspire the imagination. Here’s more about them:

“We specialize in organic, natural, sustainably built, handmade children’s items created from all natural materials. Palumba’s offering of safe, non-toxic childrens toys, musical items, art supplies and clothing are all dedicated to the natural home.

Best of all, 80% of our toys are made in the USA; the rest are crafted in Fair Trade Cooperatives. All of our toys are made without any toxins or unsafe parts. They are all of heirloom quality, hand crafted and sustainably made with care and integrity.”

Understanding Brain Development in Young Children

Some recent research on how the brain develops, how it is constructed and periods of brain development (language, physical, emotional and so forth). Of course the point is that children’s brains are laying the wiring down in the first years. Here’s the conclusion:

“The development of a child’s brain holds the key to the child’s future. Although the “first years last forever” in terms of the rapid development of young children’s brains, the actual first years of a child’s life go by very quickly. So touch, talk, read, smile, sing, count and play with your children. It does more than make both of you feel good. It helps a child’s brain develop and nourishes the child’s potential for a lifetime.”

Idea List for Toddler/Preschooler Activity Bags (Intrepid Murmurings)

This post is an absolute gold mine of ideas for keeping little hands engaged and exploring — easy, quick and packed full of potential! Seriously, every one is something doable, creative and fun!

Finished Chair!


Best of 2011 from Natural Parents Network Volunteers

Take the time it takes to surf through these links — awesome stuff! These piqued my interest:

        • Why Do Children Have More Food Allergies Than Ever Before? — I don’t want to give things away because it’s an important read….
        • An-depth and informative post about the menstrual cup option, specifically the Diva Cup.
        • A bittersweet post about an (abrupt) child-led end to a cosleeping relationship — of course this made me want to stare at my daughter in the middle of the night and hug her close, especially with another baby on the way and our solo time in bed ending….
        • 80 Uses for Coconut Oil gave me lots of ideas of what to do with the super good stuff I got from a local guy at our coop. This stuff is good for you–all of you!
        • The Best First Food for Baby made me understand why my daughter might have eaten the way she did on our baby-led solids journey. Fascinating!

One Teacher’s Approach to Preventing Gender Bullying in a (1st Grade) Classroom

One of my former students brought this to my attention. It made me think about all the ways in which my environment as a parent trying to raise my daughter is gendered from before birth. Try finding a “girl” shirt that doesn’t have ruffles or puffs or shiny bits or flowers. Even Melissa and Doug has a toy in a “friendship” set (pink and flowery) and a “vehicles” set (primary colors and all vehicles). This article took a glimpse into the classroom to see how these gendered realities are affecting children and their relationships.

Don’t Fix These Toddler Struggles

Loved this post because it not only normalizes the struggles that toddlers have but gives confidence and encouragement to caregivers to trust children and their natural learning processes. What seems like a problem to the adults isn’t necessarily problematic to children…

The Tandem Mommy (

As someone hoping to see if the tandem experience is for my daughter and I (and baby #2), this post felt like a real, honest and helpful post. As always, the comments are good to go through as well.

Sunday Surf: Alternative Parenting Info for Family and Friends

Holidays and celebrations usually mean family get togethers and all that comes with those situations.

For many, this is a joyous time when perhaps people who rarely enjoy sharing the same space have a day or more to “live together” in some ways. What happens when the small family unit chooses to live differently than the family at large? For parents who subscribe to alternative/gentle/positive/natural/attachment whatever you call it parenting, the coming together of different styles of raising children can cause tension and frustration. Some families also have a hard time over the phone or the internet.

A few things I think cause trouble are a lack of compassionate understanding of the various “sides” and feelings of judgment and defensiveness that block communication. This happens for everyone, but it seems that the hows, whats and whys of a less typical type of parent are less known (and also, therefore, respected?). I know I wish that my family could read some of the articles that shape my parenting choices.

What follows is a rough draft of my dream list of 10 blog posts to give someone a sense of where I am currently coming from as a mother. (Yes, I reserve the right to change and learn and grow.)

***Last minute addition!***

I just found this post on the 10 RIE principles of caregiving, and it addresses all the main issues I’ve been trying to raise with my own family. I may even share it with said family…….

10 Articles to Help Understand My Parenting Aspirations

Gentle Sleep Resources

Anyone who has said they “slept like a baby” has probably never actually had one.

It’s all well and good to joke, but mamas and papas who are chronically sleep-deprived probably feel more like crying than laughing.  Each new developmental stage seems to bring a shift in sleep habits as well.  It’s hard.  Really hard.  I have been there — several times.  And I know many families who have been and are at their wits’ end.  It doesn’t matter where your baby is sleeping (bed, crib, hammock), with whom they are sleeping (mama, papa, siblings), what sleep associations they have (sucking, noise, motion) or how long they are “supposed” to be sleeping for (16, 14, 12 hours a day).  Newborns to babies to toddlers to preschoolers and beyond; each stage has its own unique quirks and challenges.

It’s normal for parents to want more sleep.  And it’s also normal when they start having some strong feelings when their current sleep decisions are no longer beneficial or even adequate.  Flexibility is key.  The needs of the entire family must be taken into account – over and over again.  This is normal.  What was working before needs to be tweaked, shifted or completely overhauled!

It’s important to know that you don’t need to sacrifice gentle parenting in order to save your sanity.

Here are some of my favorite resources that have helped us “save our sleep”!  In creating this list, I have tried to include resources that have tips for a wide variety of family sleep styles.

  • is a breastfeeding website run by an IBCLC.  Lots of great advice and a book recommendation page.
  • Dr. Sears is wonderful! He coined the term “attachment parenting” and all of his suggestions reflect this philosophy.  His books “The Baby Book“, “The Baby Sleep Book” (much the same information as in “The Baby Book”) and “Nighttime Parenting” (an older version of “The Baby Sleep Book”).
  • Elizabeth Pantley is all about “no-cry” solutions, including books on “The No-Cry Sleep Solution“, “The No-Cry Nap Solution” and “No-Cry Sleep Solutions for Toddlers and Preschoolers“.
  • Dr. Jay Gordon (pediatrician) has a gentle method for changing sleep patterns, intended for babies older than 1 year.  He has also co-written a book called “Good Nights“.
  • Dr. Momma‘s website has lots of evidence-based articles on why CIO (“cry-it-out”/Ferber method) is physiologically and psychologically damaging to babies.
  • Hand in Hand Parenting talks about the reasons why children’s unresolved feelings might be waking them up at night and how to help him/her work through them.
  • Hypnobabies has a toddler sleep CD that helps 1-4 year olds relax and fall asleep.
  • Have you considered using homeopathy?
  • Tribalbaby has some tips on nursing to sleep and other sleep associations you can make

Co-sleeping Flipbook

Back when the video monitor worked, I used to love to stalk my loved ones like Big Brother. Such sweet moments.

I thought I would provide the context for that B/W from the “Co-sleeping Is Safe!” post. I love this little series of photos I captured, taken over about 15-20 minutes. It is a perfect example of how someone (my husband) could go from a totally unaware, deep sleeper to a careful and connected sleeper. My daughter and husband sleep better together than my daughter and I do. Just one more way she is more like him than me……





Co-sleeping Is Safe!

I went to my local Whole Foods the other day, and since I brought my own bags I got some wooden nickelsto put into one of two donation boxes. They always have two choices, but they change every few months or so. After the choices changed recently, one of the new organizations is a program that gives cribs to families. My immediate thought was, “What is my other choice?” However, I took the time to read the summary of the organization’s work and mission.

I usually don’t get angry that quickly, but what I read had my blood boiling instantaneously.

The summary basically said they give cribs to low-income families. We are a co-sleeping family and not fans of cribs, but I reserve the right of other people to sleep as they wish. What got my back up was the line that this organization seeks to educate families about the dangers of co-sleeping. Co-sleeping is unsafe, the summary said.

As I said, I am a fan of freedom, so I didn’t want to destroy the organization or anything. If people want cribs and can’t afford them, and other people want to give them, then that is their use of freedom. Still, when I went to check outrecently, I told one of the checkout clerks, whom I see regularly, “I was disappointed to see that the summary of one of the organizations for the nickel donations mentions a false statement about the safety of co-sleeping. Who can I talk to about getting that line removed from the summary?” He said that this is something I feel passionate about, so I should speak to the manager. As we spoke, though, I realized a better approach. I left, telling him that I thought it was better to bring in some articles citing research. “Otherwise,” I said, “I’m just some lady saying something I think. I am not just saying something. My belief is that co-sleeping is safe is founded on research.” So it is.

Below are some articles that I (or you!) can provide someone who needs information on the fact that…


Guidelines for Co-sleeping (from Kellymom site below)

  • Parents should not sleep with their babies if they are smokers or have ingested alcohol or drugs. — This is what leads to misinterpretation of the research on co-sleeping. It is dangerous for parents whose alertness and awareness are compromised by cigarettes, excess alcohol or hard drugs.

  • Bedding should be tight fitting to the mattress.
  • The mattress should be tight fitting to the headboard of the bed.
  • There should not be any loose pillows or soft blankets near the baby’s face.
  • There should not be any space between the bed and adjoining wall where the baby could roll andbecome trapped.
  • The baby should not be placed on his stomach. — I disagree with this as a blanket statement. I believe it depends on your bed and your baby. My child sleeps safely and well on her stomach.
  • Some sources also say not to put a baby on a waterbed to sleep.


Helping Children Sleep

In the early days, weeks and months after birth, sleep is a focus. Indeed, for at least the first year everyone wants to know how you are sleeping. Sometimes in conversation I get the feeling I am supposed to feel guilty or ashamed for still co-sleeping with my little one or for nursing her to sleep, but I don’t. Sometimes her teeth hurt or she missed me because I worked late or she was busy all day hanging with her friends and family; then, at night, she wants to be close and nurse. I understand, I don’t mind any sleepiness. Nothing seems as hard as those early days.

Back in those times, exhausted, desperate for information, I found a wonderful article: Helping Young Children Sleep. The gist of the article is that sometimes sleep disturbance is caused by pent up emotions. If you listen to your child’s feelings, they can offload emotional tension (what they know to do innately), get to sleep and be happier beings.

What do I mean by listening to your child’s feelings to help your child sleep? You can read the whole article for stories and examples. This is my own, recent experience followed by excerpts from the article I found helpful.

Tonight, my little girl told me (signed) she was sleepy and walked over to the stairs to go upstairs. We went into the dark bedroom, and, as I put on her diaper after some diaper free time, she goofed and giggled with me while she wiggled in a funny little shiver motion and made a little noise. As I zipped up her Woombie sleep sack/swaddle, something about that strange wiggle of hers told me she was wound up inside. As I put clove oil on her gums (to numb the pain of teething), I felt a teeny tiny point of her very first tooth edge…finally! I imagined that such a long, painful process now at its peak would cause me to have some feelings.

She began crying but not moving to nurse. Not saying anything, I held her close but a bit loosely so she could choose to get milk or to have some feelings. I had done this a few times when she was very young, but since then each time the idea floated into my mind she didn’t seem to want to have a feelings session. This time was a bit surreal, as if we seemed to both know that her crying was just to get her feelings out.

She did the textbook back arch and leg shoving, essentially throwing her head back and howling at points. I was not a bit disturbed by her wailing and writhing because it was clear that she could have milk whenever she wanted or get her arms out of her swaddle whenever she wanted like she always does. I did have to check in at one point because it seemed to be going on longer than I expected at first. (In fact, it was at most five minutes.)

She started squirming down towards milk a little while after she finished getting out her feelings and instantly went from crying loudly to nursing, done with the session. She nursed a good deal and was deep asleep in less than ten minutes. She slept soundly for over six hours, something she has only done once in the last four months or so.

Listening to a child’s feelings (being there, embracing and observing, often silently) rather than trying to solve a child’s problem seems like one of the hallmark lessons of parenthood.

I can see how this will come in handy in the future. For now, I just feel like something momentous happened between us — one of those moments when you feel effortlessly in the flow of the universe. I felt a raw closeness I haven’t felt with her since she was a dependent newborn. There was a trust there between us, a feeling of letting go on her part, and then there was her sweet sleeping face. Yes indeed. Sure did like and appreciate this article.

Here are the parts of the article that I found most helpful.

The principles on which this approach is based are these:

  • When children can’t sleep through the night (and there are no health or developmental issues such as a fever or a growth spurt), the cause is most likely some kind of emotional tension that bubbles up in the child’s mind during sleep.
  • Children’s tensions are relieved when an adult can stay close and listen to how the child feels. The crying, struggling, perspiring, and trembling that children do actually heals their fear and grief, if a parent can be reassuring and attentive. Expressing intense emotion is the child’s own best way of getting free of feelings he harbors. Those feelings have sprung from some difficult, unwell, or restless time, either recent or long past.
  • Children’s systems are built to offload feelings of upset immediately and vigorously. But our training as parents is to stop them from offloading their feelings! We are taught to give them pacifiers, food, rocking, patting, scolding, and later, time outs and spanking, if the crying or screaming goes on for more than a minute. We are taught to work against the child’s own healthy instinct to get rid of bad feelings immediately.
  • So our children store these upsets, and try many times a day to work them out, usually by testing limits or having meltdowns over small issues. If they can’t offload them during the day, the feelings bother them in the night.

If daytime listening isn’t enough to ease night waking, listen at night

For nighttime work on fears, here are the measures that work very well. You may need to take a week to set things up so you can get an extra nap during the day, or buy earplugs for the rest of the family, or warn the people in the apartment next door (earplugs for them might be a thoughtful touch).

  • Listen to him cry. If he trembles, writhes away from you, arches his back, shuts his eyes tight, and makes lots of motion, things are going well. Those signs indicate that he’s offloading the fears that won’t let him or you rest. It looks and sounds awful, but he’s using a powerful healing process—one he was born to use—he’ll be able to sleep well afterward. Some children will work on their feelings for a whole hour before they relax and fall fast asleep. As you listen, your child absorbs your love.
  • Once he is crying vigorously, you may be able to bring him into your arms and hold him while he cries. After a few moments of crying, many children have grabbed onto the feelings they need to release, and being held by you doesn’t distract them from crying hard. Other children stop crying the moment they are held close. If your child stops crying in your arms, remind him that it’s time to go back to sleep, and move slowly toward putting him back to bed. Keep moving until he remembers the feeling he’s working through.
  • Allow your child to struggle as he offloads his fears. Children working through their fears usually cry without many tears, look terrified as they cry, and struggle constantly, as though they want to get free of your embrace. However, if you let them go, it breaks the safety they need to keep working on the feelings. They don’t need to be held tightly. They need to struggle mightily, with you giving them a “corral” in which to act powerfully. The feelings they are working through may be connected to earlier times when they felt both frightened and helpless. They must struggle while they cry, to counteract the memory of being so helpless, and regain their self-respect.
  • Remember as you listen that your child has everything he needs. He has you watching over him, he has your warmth, and he is safe right next to you. He can’t tell all is well because of feelings inside of him, not because of something lacking in the present moment.
  • Allow him to cry until he either is happy to be put back to bed, or until he falls asleep in your arms. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on how many feelings have been pressing on him.
  • Observe his behavior the next day. Generally, children who get a good chunk of crying done are able to make visible gains in confidence, closeness, and relaxation. Sometimes you’ll see gains in their physical skill and courage. Sometimes, after a parent has listened at length for the first time, the child’s instincts say, “At last! They’re listening!” and he finds ways to set up another big cry the next morning. If you can listen again, his load will be lightened once more. It might take several listening “sessions” before a child is able to sleep better, but you will see some positive changes in his functioning that will tell you he’s making progress.

The Nature of Family

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of family and what family means in our modern world and in the United States in particular. This questioning arises most naturally when the way I have chosen to live, how I have given birth to and am raising my child and what I believe and hope for seems, at times, radically different or even diametrically opposed to the vast majority of the people around me and society at large. What does family mean to a first generation East Indian who grew up in rural Kansas but now lives outside a major city? What does family mean to a homebirth, breastfeeding, baby-wearing, co-sleeping, EC-practicing mama?

We are born into our families, rather than choosing them, as we might our friends, based on similar personalities, interests or belief systems. Every family is different, but each family must navigate the waters of relationship. More than ever, now that I have my daughter, I believe that family is created intentionally. This is clear even from the fact that some children are given up for adoption; in those cases, family is intentionally not created at birth for whatever reason but, hopefully, is created with great intent later in life.

What does it mean to create family? As a mother of a one-year old whose parenting choices alone often relegate her to minorities within minorities of society, I find myself thinking about this often. In India, both of my parents had time in their lives where they lived in a more universally traditional way, with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and distant relatives all packed in under one roof in a family compound, so to speak. Understandably, family was whoever lived in the “house.” Though extensive, it was indeed immediate family, and, by the nature of life, often included neighbors or other non-blood relatives. Stories of huge groups of children and adults literally gathered around light in the darkness listening to stories made up on the whim of my own grandfather or singing bhajans led by my mother’s cousin’s cousin’s wife, stories that seem out of some version of a book called Laura Ingalls Wilder Goes to India where everyone’s working by candlelight and going hungry.

Here in the United States at this time, immediate family often means the parent(s) and child(ren). What a fraction of the people that family once was! Those few people surely would spend all their time together, more than their counterparts of the past, would they not? No! It somehow means fewer people to share the load of living. Granted, the sea of societal structures and self-destructive sloganism brutally bombard these tiny rafts of familial relationship. In fact, many of us feel ourselves floating alone through the trials of life. What happened to family?

Creating family requires conscious intention. How do I do this when my small, immediate family of four is strewn across three states and thousands of miles? Then again, today’s technology allows me to blog, Skype, Facebook, email, scan, fax, and phone my child’s grandparents as well as mail them things next day or even same day! My mother raised me in Kansas while my Indian grandparents, eight times more distant had to have someone go down the block to the corner store to get on the phone call list so they could call us. Logic and reason suggest that creating loving and close family bonds with access so many methods of connection should be relatively easy, a matter of effort rather than intention.

Family for me has felt both immediate and elusive. Barriers of culture, communication, emotion, and perception pop up to block connections I intend to make. Hurt feelings and confusion abound, but perhaps this is part of my parents having raised me in a country and culture with such opposing values to the ones of their own upbringing. Respect, seeming simple and singular in definition, somehow contradictorily means hearing out ideas and agreeing to disagree versus doing whatever I say or letting me do whatever I want in the face of disagreement. Vertical and horizontal hierarchies create very different feelings of family.

For me, creating family for my daughter has meant that I have intentionally explored and chosen to implement a number of independent ideas that work together cooperatively to create a community around my little raft of a family despite differences and difficulties with my immediate family. Indeed, creating a family, even within the intimacy of our three-piece immediate family, requires all my intention and spirit when I find myself having to give the very energy I would devote to creating family with my loving husband, who is a wonderful father to my precious daughter, while I am, essentially, a mother to other people’s children. In the environment and structure of this country and culture, driven by time and money, it is actually more efficient for me to think about Living Family rather than creating family.

Living Family means many things to me, but all help me stay focused on the goal of creating a  sea of family and a community in which to live and ideally thrive. Living Family means:

  1. being in and living from the present moment
  2. creating structures and routines that support family bonds
  3. expanding the limits of family to other families that support the family life I intend to create ….. in essence, creating a community of others who want to consciously create family in a vein similar to ours
  4. make a living…as opposed to making “it,” whatever “it” is…in a way that allows my “selves” to not be so separate from each other and/or from family
  5. living our family life in such a way that allows us, others as well as the natural world to live and thrive while being mindful of resources and relationships

Having this goal feels lofty to me. It requires that I shift my whole focus and think broadly and creatively. It also feels vital, however, if I want to reach any semblance of traditional family connections and experiences of shared living. My daughter has just turned one. Now, with this intention, we begin the journey towards a Living Family….

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