Award-winning author, L.R.Knost

cosleeping

Co-sleeping Safely~Is it possible? Decide for yourself!

SIDS: The Latest Research on How Sleeping With Your Baby is Safe | Dr. Sears Official Website | Pare

Dr. Sears is considered the leading authority on gentle/attachment parenting and is a proponent of co-sleeping. Here he examines the research linking decreased SIDS risks with the increase in co-sleeping rates. Dr. Sears~ “Here are some ways to educate parents on how to sleep safely with their baby.”

 

Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone

“In Japan where co-sleeping and breastfeeding (in the absence of maternal smoking) is the cultural norm, rates of the sudden infant death syndrome are the lowest in the world. For breastfeeding mothers, bedsharing makes breastfeeding much easier to manage and practically doubles the amount of breastfeeding sessions while permitting both mothers and infants to spend more time asleep.”
 
 
 
 
 

“While many theories are flying around about the cause of SIDS, most focus on the deepness of sleep and how it affects the child’s breathing…Another theory which you may not be familiar with is that the crib mattress itself is to blame for SIDS cases…Arsenic, phosphorus and antimony are intentionally added to crib mattresses by the manufacturers as fire retardants. SIDS was very rare prior to the 1950s when these additives became standard.”

 
 
 
Practical guidelines for safe co-sleeping practices.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“By emphasizing how to create a safe sleeping environment—rather than trying to browbeat parents into avoiding bedsharing—more babies’ lives would be spared.  And as an extra plus, more families would also get a better night’s sleep!”
 
 
 
 
 
“In Japan, which is a highly modern society, co-sleeping is still the norm. Children sleep with their parents until late childhood, and many move to a grandparent’s bed when a new baby comes along. It is considered beneficial to the child and to the elderly person. It is interesting to note that Japan has the lowest rate of SIDS in the world (James McKenna, PhD).”
 
 
 
 
“L.A. may be the city of dreams. But, for us parents, Boston is the city of sleep. All of the greatest pediatric sleep doctors practice there…To us, they are superstars: Sears, Brazelton, and, of course, the great Ferber.  The man who made “cry it out” a household phrase. A man so famous that he has his own verb: Ferberize. As in, ‘We can’t go out tonight, we’re Ferberizing little Max.'”
 
  
 
 
 
 
“Whereas many Western parents view a child’s sleeping in his own bed as an important milestone toward independence, the Japanese emphasis is on promoting a sense of closeness and security in small children to help them become more confident and capable in the long run.”

 

 

Related posts:

The Gift of Breastfeeding

Baby Led Weaning

And Baby Makes Three~Surviving the First Three Months with a Newborn

Bizarre Anti-Cosleeping Ads in Milwaukee a Red Herring?

A Boy, A Girl, and A Baby~Journey to Gentle Parenting

 

 

 

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


Wishes Week 2011~Wrapping it up & putting a bow on top!

  

Thank you to all of my awesome guests this week for Wishes Week 2011! You gave me a very special birthday gift I will never forget by sharing your wishes with me. Here’s a ((hug)) for each one of you! And now, the ‘wrap up’~

 

 Glimpses My opening contribution to Wishes Week 2011~Glimpses of hope and healing

 

 

 

 

Meanderings by Rosemary Jones Gritty urban prose by one of my favorite writers…powerful!

 

 

My Parenting Wish: Through A Child’s Eyes  A beautifully intimate look at compassionate parenting by The Hippie Housewife. Love this!

 

 

Birth Wishes Thank you to Becoming Crunchy for this powerful and heartfelt look at birthing options and empowering women…awesome!!!

 

I wish that I were the Mother that I play at the grocery store.  Here is a quirky look at the realities of mommyhood by Jessica, author of Parenting Wild Things!

 

 

“What I Wish Every Mother Knew About Babies and Sleep” This wins the prize for most viewed post of the week from Adventures in Mommyhood over at Instinctual Mamas. This is a passionate, informative, and convicting article on meeting babies’ needs gently. Beautiful!

 

 

Mommy Wishes From one Mommy’s heart to yours~Mommy Wishes by The Mom: Informed

 

 

 

When God says ‘No’ ~ Wishes Week 2011 

~My closing post for Wishes Week~

 

 

Thank you to everyone who joined me for Wishes Week 2011! Your comments and ‘presence’ (lol) were much appreciated!

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


What I Wish Every Mother Knew About Babies and Sleep

My original guest post for Little Hearts Wishes Week was going to be a list of things I Wish I had Known Before I Became a Mom.  However, the sleep portion sort of took a life of it’s own on and that combined with my total disgust for so called “sleep trainers” created this post instead.  So my new wishes blog is“What I Wish Every Mother Knew About Babies and Sleep”

 

 1. There is no such thing as “Sleeping Through The Night”-

Babies do not just magically start sleeping 10+ hrs a night at 6-8 weeks old like so many claim.  The term “sleeping through the night” simply means baby sleeps for a 5 hour or longer stretch at one time, and this does not usually begin until 4+ months.  If baby goes down at 7pm and you don’t go to bed until 10, don’t be surprised when baby is back up at 12am.

Honestly, you don’t WANT your baby to sleep for long stretches like that anyways~it increases the risk of SIDS.  We now know that babies need the constant stirring and waking to keep them from slipping into too deep of a sleep that they are then unable to rouse from.

Young children do not completely develop a true sleep pattern until around age 5.  Before that the human sleep mechanisms are not completely formed.  So from birth until 5 it is completely normal for your child to wake in the night, and they will.  Each of my kids do not wake every night, but since I have four, I am up several times a night with someone (and  Sariah does wake 1-2 times every night on top of me getting up with the others a minimum of 1-2 times).

Don’t fall into the Mommy Wars of “my baby is better than yours and this is why…” 

To quote Dr. Sears: “An important fact for you to remember is that your baby’s sleep habits are more a reflection of your baby’s temperament rather than your style of nighttime parenting. And keep in mind that other parents usually exaggerate how long their baby sleeps, as if this were a badge of good parenting, which it isn’t. It’s not your fault baby wakes up.”

2. Co-Sleeping is perfectly natural, safe, and NO you will NOT end up with a 6 yr old in your bed still!-

Co-Sleeping, when done safely and correctly, will NOT spoil your baby, and actually INCREASES the success rates of breastfeeding, DECREASES SIDS rates, and will INCREASE the amount of sleep everyone gets.  Think about it, baby is right there with you (whether in your bed or in a side car crib) so when they do start to wake you can get to them quickly instead of stumbling around in the dark down hallways and into another room.  The faster you can get to baby, the faster baby will return to sleeping.

I promise it will not last forever, and your baby will eventually transition into their own bed when they are ready.  Don’t push them because, as crazy as it sounds now, when they are gone you will miss it.  I miss snuggling with my Little Man at night.  He stayed in our bed the longest of all of our kids (to date, as Sariah is still sleeping with us) and he was 3 when he transitioned into his own bed.  A far cry for the 5-6 age range so many warned me I would be “stuck” with (and honestly I would not have considered myself “stuck” anyway).

3. Babies DO need to eat/drink at night and this does not mean only newborns-

Not only do babies need the nightly wakings to keep them from slipping into too deep of a sleep, they also need the constant night feedings to grow and remain healthy.  It is not healthy, and actually can be dangerous, to try and force a baby to sleep through/skip a feeding that they need.  Babies, especially newborns-3 months, are at risk of having their blood sugar levels dip dangerously low if they go too long without eating.  If a baby wakes to eat, they are NOT trying to manipulate you. A baby cannot manipulate you, and it’s so sad that so many feel that they can.

Children from birth until about the age of 5 can and do need some sort of nourishment in the night.  They are small and still growing at dramatic rates.  Their systems are different than ours.  Honestly, I wake up 1-2 times a night needing to use the restroom and get a drink, so if I am waking up thirsty, why should I tell my kids they have to wait until morning?  My kids do not wake every single night asking for something to eat or drink, but when they do wake asking for that, I give it to them.  I never ignore them or tell them they are not hungry/thirsty.  I would not tell myself I am not hungry/thirsty when my body says I am, yet so many feel that a child’s pleas in the night for food or drink should just be ignored.

4. Please do not fall in the “sleep training” trap-

Sleep Training is harmful to babies, not only increasing their risk of SIDS, but also creating unsecure attachments which can hinder baby’s development.  I know it’s hard, trust me I do!  I have not slept through the night in almost 6 years now, not ONCE, EVER!  Someone is always waking in this house.

I know you can become desperate for sleep, but please do not ever let that desperation go so far that you do things you do not feel comfortable with.  If it feels wrong, if your body screams out at you that what you are doing is not right, listen!  Trust your instincts, not what some author is trying to sell you. They are out to make money, and that’s it.

There are several so called “Sleep Trainers” and “Sleep Whisperers” out there, each more ignorant and dangerous than the next.  This all started 50 years ago with Dr. Spock (no, not from Star trek!).  He was the original CIO (cry it out) advocate and had an entire generation of parents believing their tiny babies were out to “get them” from the moment they were born.  These “terrible” little babies were on a mission to break and control mommy and daddy, to “manipulate” from day 1 and parents had to rule with iron fists and learn to ignore those ‘manipulative” cries.  Funny how so few realize the Dr. Spock recanted everything he taught on his death bed, stating he was wrong and that babies’ cries should be responded to.  He said babies should never be left to simply CIO.   

Since then many more quacks have paraded around the same CIO dribble as Dr. Spock in a pretty new packaged selling is as “sleep training” for babies.  Currently, the worst one (in my opinion) would have to be Tizzie Hall.  She calls herself “The Sleep Whisperer” and her method “Save Our Sleep”.  Her so-called methods are what got me in such a “tizzie” that my entire blog morphed into this.

If you have never heard of her, like me, you probably live in the US.  She is really big overseas in places like Europe, the UK, Ireland, Australia, etc.  The Dangers of Baby Training (from FB) describes her as…

“She does have 2 little boys (aged 3 and 1) but wrote the book before she had children. She doesn’t have any qualifications past a normal high school education. Among other things she advocates crying, a 3 hourly feeding schedule if you BF or 4 hourly if you FF, overwrap babies with excessive bedding (which is what The Analytical Armadillo has been questioning recently), has some very misinformed views and ideas which are all based on her observations and opinions, rather than any that can be substantiated by scientific evidence and had some weird notions that babies can poo and vomit on cue to manipulate their parents. In her toddler book, she advocates the use of the ‘holding technique’ to restrain kids and teach them not to touch things (there’s a video on youtube of her demonstrating this) and thinks babies should only be fed purees until they are 12 months, then mashed food, then only real food at approx 24 months old and thinks BLW is ‘inappropriate.’ She is all over facebook at the moment (and not in a good way)…. “

These are quotes taken directly from Tizzie Hall herself either from her book or her forums/FB page.  Ironically she has tried to come back and say many of these things she never said or were taken out of context.  I have also been informed that she now charges for answers on her forum and refuses to answer anything on FB because those who were against her so called “system” would pick apart her answers….

“I often come across a baby who has learnt to vomit at bedtime during failed attempts at controlled crying. If you have one of these babies you will need to teach your child that vomiting will not get your attention or buy any extra time. This is hard, but it has to be done to stop the vomiting. The way you achieve this is to make the bed vomit-proof. Layer the towels in the bed and on the floor so it is easy for you to remove the vomit. When your baby vomits take the top towels away, leaving a second layer in case of a second vomit. If the vomit has gone on her clothing, undress her and put clean clothes on without taking her out of the cot by moving her to the other end. Do not make eye contact or talk to her while you do all this and be calm and confident through out, so you can fool your baby into thinking you don’t care about vomit.”

-This was taken directly from her book but she claims it was “out of context.” You be the judge.

To go along with this, in the article Victoria White: As a mother I take serious issue with the so- called Baby Whisperer Victoria quotes Tizzie about babies “manipulating” their parents by pooping and instructs parents to ignore this and let baby sleep in the poop to “teach them a lesson”

“‘When he pooed instead, they left him lying in his poo because they “realised” it had become “a game” They changed him after he’d gone to sleep. Don’t worry if you don’t get the bottom of your sleeping baby perfectly clean, says Tizzie, ‘a little bit of poo will not do any harm between then and the morning’.”

Or how about this winner, which is what sent me spiraling into this blog:

Question posted from a follower of the Save Our Sleep Program:

 Q ~ ‘I’ve recently started my 7 month old on s.o.s routine. Day 4 and our nights are getting so much better. Before starting bub was waking every 2 hours sometimes less. My partner and I were exhausted. The first night he slept for 4 hours before needing to be resettled, second night was 7 hours and last night was 9.5 hours. Praying tonight is 12. Two little issues, first my boobs are killing me in the mornings now- I’m so engorged. And the second issue is that i think he is getting cold at night. I sleep him in a long sleeve onesie, a sleeping bag and a cellular blanket but he manages to wriggle out from under the blanket and when i go in to check on him he is sleeping on top of the blanket, and he is cold to touch.’

Tizzie’s response:

 A ~ Do you have the bedding guide from the SOS website? It shows you what to dress bubs in for temps in various states. Best $9 you’ll ever spend! Need to make sure everything is 100% cotton (incl. mattress protector) otherwise bubs will sweat. Most of us use many more blankets than the guide, every bubs is different eg. I’m in Sydney and in a room of 24.2C my 6m has 12 blankets on + the clothing, bag and wrap mentioned in the guide.

Check out The Analytical Armadillo for a much deeper look into this issue, she actually asked Tizzie about the increased risk of SIDS in regards to babies over heating from too many blankets, here is some of Tizzie’s reply:

“As all of you know before giving any advice I do countless hours of research so I stand by all of my advice. These ladies don’t seem to be aware of the current SIDS guidelines stating as long as your babies head and face are uncovered and you are using cotton or bamboo bedding then it is perfectly safe to layer up the amount of these blankets to keep your baby warm. My opinion and research shows this in return keeps our babies in the safe back sleeping position. Also it is now clear overheating is only cited a risk factor and not as big a factor as was first thought but we do live in a generation with parents so scared of over heating their babies they are doing the opposite and under heating them which in my opinion a greater factor because a cold baby will roll to his or her tummy and sleep face down in the mattress.”

Click the link above to view her full response and so much more.

Sadly there are many more Tizzie Hall’s out there, people looking to make a quick buck on the desperation of sleep deprived parents at their wit’s end.  They prey on this desperation to get parents to do things they otherwise would never even consider.

My wish is that parents would just throw all of this baby “training” crap out the window and trust their instincts!  Listen to your baby; listen to your body.  If it feels wrong, then it IS wrong.  Your instincts are there for a reason.  My second wish, that parents would stop listening to society and believing their babies are out to “get” and “control” them.  A baby is not capable of manipulation; they have no understanding of that.  They have simple, basic needs, and their only way to communicate those needs is to cry.  Listen to their cries, respond to them, please do not ignore them.  Studies now show that when babies are left to CIO or CC (controlled cry, a so called “nicer” form of CIO where you go in every 2, 4, 6 minutes and comfort baby only to leave again) they release the stress chemical cortisol, which is DAMAGING to their little brains.  As little as 5 minutes of crying can actually cause damage and prolonged CIOing can lead to developmental delays later on.

I saw a great comparison the other day that took words about leaving a baby alone to CIO to teach them to stop “manipulating” and replaced the word ‘baby’ with ‘grandma’.  It was a mock response to Tizzie Hall, thanking her for saving the author’s sleep.  The author thanked Tizzie for giving the her the strength to ignore her elderly grandma’s cries in the night and show grandma who was boss in that house.  When grandma vomited from being so upset, the author cleaned it up and left grandma without saying a word.  After a few nights, grandma stopped crying, and the author said grandma doesn’t say or do much during the day, either, she just lays there silently.  The author broke grandma’s spirit-is that what you really want to do to your child?  Do you want to break your baby’s spirit, to teach them that mommy is “boss” and will not be “manipulated”?  Sure, CIO seems to work. Babies do stop crying at night, but it’s not because you trained them to stop “manipulating” you, you simply trained them that mommy will not respond to their needs so why bother crying.  (See full text here-Dear Sleep Trainer Expert,It was a great visual to show that we would not treat an adult like this so why is it ok to treat an innocent baby this way?

A HUGE thank you shout must go to Anneke Temmink from The Dangers of Baby Training who provided me with all of the awesome links and quotes about the so called “sleep whisperer”.  She is awesome!

 This guest post is from Christy Reed who you can find blogging at Adventures in Mommyhood: Mommy Outnumbered!
 
 

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


A Tale of Two Tantrums~A Time-In vs. Time-Out Story

[By L.R.Knost, author of Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and StagesWhispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

toddler twin girlsMattie was hungry and tired…so, sooo hungry and so, sooo tired! Her diaper was rolled under on one side, bothering her bottom, and her shoe was pinching her big toe. MISERY!

She marched…well, toddled, into the kitchen to let the big people know all about it. Mommy was making dinner, and taking a super-duper long time doing it! And Daddy was talk, talk, talking.

Mattie drew a deep breath and said, “Brrrffft umpha nay!” There! Now the big people would fix her diaper, take off her shoe, hurry up and feed her, and she could finally, finally go to sleep!

But what was this? Mommy and Daddy just smiled at her and went back to doing what they were doing! What about her bottom? What about her big toe? Didn’t they know she was hungry and tired and MISERABLE?!?

Fine, she’d just take her shoe off herself and SHOW THEM HER BIG TOE! She sat down, making that irritating fold in her diaper downright painful, and tugged and pulled on her shoe until she finally managed to pry it off, then waved her big toe at Mommy and Daddy. “Ooomm ffrr!” she insisted. But, once again, Mommy and Daddy just smiled, and Daddy winked at Mattie, and they went back to what they were doing!

Enough was enough! Mattie was just done, done, done! She threw her shoe, accidentally landing it in the pot of noodles, flopped backwards, smacking her head on the ground quite painfully, and began to kick and wail out her troubles. Daddy scooped Mattie up and headed to the comfy ‘Time-in’ chair for a cuddle.

It took Mattie a few minutes to to wind down, after all, her diaper was still bothering her bottom and she was still hungry and tired, but Daddy just cuddled her close and rocked and rocked, singing Mattie’s favorite song softly, so softly, until her body relaxed and her sobs turned into funny little hiccups that made her giggle. Then, Daddy changed her diaper…oh, wonderful relief, that annoying fold was finally gone…and Mommy fed her, and then they settled into bed for a goodnight story.

 

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Meggie was hungry and tired…so, sooo hungry and so, sooo tired! Her diaper was rolled under on one side, bothering her bottom, and her shoe was pinching her big toe. MISERY!

She marched…well, toddled, into the kitchen to let the big people know all about it. Mommy was making dinner, and taking a super-duper long time doing it! And Daddy was talk, talk, talking.

Meggie drew a deep breath and said, “Brrrffft umpha nay!” There! Now the big people would fix her diaper, take off her shoe, hurry up and feed her, and she could finally, finally go to sleep! But what was this? Mommy and Daddy just smiled at her and went back to doing what they were doing! What about her bottom? What about her big toe? Didn’t they know she was hungry and tired and MISERABLE?!?

Fine, she’d just take her shoe off herself and SHOW THEM HER BIG TOE! She sat down, making that irritating fold in her diaper downright painful, and tugged and pulled on her shoe until she finally managed to pry it off, then waved her big toe at Mommy and Daddy. “Ooomm ffrr!” she insisted. But, once again, Mommy and Daddy just smiled, and Daddy winked at Meggie, and they went back to what they were doing!

Enough was enough! Meggie was just done, done, done! She threw her shoe, accidentally landing it in the pot of noodles, flopped backwards, smacking her head on the ground quite painfully, and began to kick and wail out her troubles. Daddy picked Meggie up, headed to the ‘Time-out’ chair, and firmly sat Meggie in it. Her head hurt from smacking it on the floor, and her diaper was rubbing her raw, and she was still hungry and so tired, and now she was sobbing uncontrollably and couldn’t catch her breath.

Meggie tried to go to Daddy, but he just put her back in the ‘Time-out’ chair. So she tried to go to Mommy, but Daddy put her back in the chair again, sternly instructing her to stay put.

This time, she stayed…stayed on the raw, rubbing diaper roll, stayed away from the scary, stern Daddy who had just been smiling at her a few minutes ago, stayed away from the Mommy who had rescued her from the scary next-door doggie this morning, but was just ignoring her cries now.

It took Meggie a long time to wind down, after all, her diaper was still bothering her bottom and she was still hungry and tired, but eventually her shaking stilled and her sobs quieted. Daddy came back and spoke sternly to her, making her tear up again, then he hugged her and she laid her head on his shoulder cautiously, not sure if he was going to stay the hugging Daddy or become the scary Daddy again. Daddy changed her diaper and Mommy put her in the highchair, then went to get her plate. But Meggie was too exhausted from crying to stay awake any longer, and she fell asleep in the highchair with her tiny head cradled in her arms, still hungry.

 ~~~~~~~

Behavior is communication. As the only adults in the relationship, it’s up to us to listen.

Related posts:

Toddlers, Tantrums, and Time-In’s, Oh My!

When Things Get Physical: Hitting, Throwing, Kicking, and Biting

When Children Act Out ~ Reflecting Our Emotions

The Problem with Punishment

Bridge Over Troubled Waters~Parenting a ‘Problem’ Child

Why Whining is a Win!

Rethinking Tattling

The Incredible Power of the Whisper

The Taming of the Tantrum: A Toddler’s Perspective

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

The Thoughtful Parent’s Guide to Positive Parenting Guides

 

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


A Boy, A Girl, and A Baby~The Journey to Gentle Parenting

My sweet, quirky daughter-in-law!

Many, many years ago (more that I will admit to!) a small, scared, pregnant, teenaged girl walked down the aisle to her tall, scared, clueless, young man and they said their “I do’s.” But what were they going to do? No earthly idea! They didn’t have the internet to surf for blogs about parenting and marriage, couldn’t afford the few paltry magazines available on those subjects at the time, and weren’t convinced the way their parents had raised them was exactly what they wanted for their unexpected little blessing. So, they just joined hands and hearts and figured it out the old-fashioned way~through trial and error.

The young girl gave birth prematurely and, after a terrifying NICU stay, brought home her barely 5 lb baby boy. Since the young couple were living on one income and barely able to feed themselves, it made sense to them to breastfeed their little one. Neither one had ever even heard of a lactation consultant and no one at the hospital had mentioned breastfeeding at all, so the two young people just kept working through the cracked, bleeding nipples, engorgement, over-supply, and other issues until they got it figured out~and then they were breastfeeders!

The young girl discovered their first night home how much easier it was to simply take her baby boy into bed with her and breastfeed him when he was hungry~and then they were cosleepers!

Neither one of the young couple had ever read a parenting book and had never even heard the words ‘cry-it-out,’ so the two of them just did what came naturally and picked up their baby when he fussed or grunted or just looked cute and finally found it easier to just pop their little preemie into a baby carrier and tote him around with them wherever they went~and then they were babywearers!

As their precious little guy got bigger and began to explore his new world, the young couple delighted in everything he did and simply moved him and distracted him with songs and toys if he got into things. They couldn’t bear the thought of hurting their son, so just pulled him into their laps for a ‘time-in’ cuddle and chat if he got upset or needed to settle or be redirected~and then they were gentle discipliners!

As time went by and more children entered the family (six, to be exact!) other issues such as education and socialization had to be made, and, while at first the young couple followed the norm and the first two of their children started out in public school, it just didn’t sit well with the parenting style they’d developed. Neither one of them had ever known anyone who homeschooled, so that was a truly scary idea, but public education wasn’t for them and they were just too ‘economically challenged’ to afford any kind of private school. So, they did what they’d always done and withdrew their children from school and figured it out as they went along~and then they were homeschoolers!

Now, this journey might sound like an easy one when summed up this way, but I can assure you it wasn’t! The young couple, my amazing husband and I, encountered strong criticism of our parenting choices over and over through the years from many, and a refusal to accept or accommodate those choices from some. We were warned that our marriage would suffer at the very least, and our babies would suffocate at the worst, if we slept with them in our bed instead of putting them in isolation to sleep. We were informed that my breasts would look like deflated balloons and reach my knees by my thirties if I breastfed beyond a couple of months. We were admonished that our children would grow into spoiled brats if we responded to their needs instead of teaching them to ‘deal with it’ on their own, and would end up criminals if we encouraged and guided them instead of spanking them. We were advised that our children would be uneducated social outcasts (i.e. homeless or still living at home at forty!) if we homeschooled them instead of putting them into the institutional public education system. These challenges to our parenting style were difficult at the time, and they sometimes even resulted in people choosing to de-friend us (not facebook de-friending, silly, in real life!), but they had the powerful positive effect of making us really examine what our beliefs were and, as a result, strengthening and solidifying our beliefs and our family.

As for the dire warnings listed above: Our beautiful, strong, loving marriage is in it’s 25th year; our children all survived cosleeping (our littlest, 14 months, is still safely and contentedly sleeping in our bed); my breasts are, well, normal except for being a couple of cup sizes larger at the moment since I’m breastfeeding, lol; our children are, in order, a 24 yr old pastor (our firstborn son mentioned in the story above who is expecting his first son!), a 22 yr old family therapist, a 17 yr old entering his third year of pre-med, 12 and 5 yr old beautiful and well-behaved homeschooled girls with lots of friends (soooo not social outcasts!), and a sweet and happy 14 month old baby girl.

Our journey to gentle parenting has had another, somewhat unexpected, effect. While we may not agree with others’ parenting choices, we have been on the receiving end of criticism far too long to not have learned this lesson: Gentle parenting is for parents, too! We have learned to respond gently to our friends who don’t agree with us, even when they don’t respond gently to us. Responding with harshness and criticism doesn’t work with adults any better than it does with children! Responding gently to those who disagree with us may or may not affect their parenting choices, but what it does do is model respectful behavior and conflict resolution to our children and, most of the time, preserve dear friendships.

So there you have it~our journey to a breastfeeding, cosleeping, babywearing,

My funny, handsome ‘unexpected blessing’ on his wedding day!

gentle disciplining, homeschooling, happy family of eight! Well, including our awesome son-in-law, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and grandson-on-the-way, I guess I should say family of 11 2/3! One boy, one girl, and one baby have come a long way, Baby!

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


Sweet Drifting by Rosemary (via Rosemarinus Officinalis)

Snuggle to Sleep

Six inches of arm flop over my breast as you
press your face in close to nurse.
Each night you scoot and wriggle,
telling me with your body
no space is allowed
between us.

An ache rises up and my fierce love for you chokes until it
hurts to breathe.

The little baby body that won’t roll over yet
somehow manages to curl from her back to her side
craving closeness
stretching chubby legs to kick at me as you did in the womb.

Your daddy marvels at your instincts
your hunger for connection
and says
“She needs you”
with awe and tenderness

I wrap around you and graze your wispy hair with my lips.

Your face close to mine
your heavy eyes gaze at me and blink long and slow.
Noses touching, I breathe in your
sweet milky breath and we
sink
into
sleep
together

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.


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