Monday, July 26, 2010

Thank God my husband loves me.

I am pretty sure my husband is now convinced that I am at least 50% hippie. I was holding steady at about 25% hippie with my ideas on natural childbirth and breastfeeding. After watching Orgasmic Birth on Netflix (don't be turned off by the name- it is a great documentary!), I dropped to a mere 12.5% hippie (after all, I was not suggesting giving birth to my child while kneeling on my deck!) With the cloth diapering and planning to make all my own baby food, I was back up to at least 25% hippie. And now I am springing another idea on him... and I am pretty sure it is going to land me at least at the 50% hippie mark.

See, this idea really makes sense to me. I mean, not only have women been doing this for thousands of years in cultures all around the world, it is something that, even without knowledge of it or knowing what to "call" it, I find myself doing with my own children. I know it works with my kids at their present ages, and I am pretty sure it is simply my lack of awareness that has kept it from working with my kids when they were younger.

John thinks it is funny that I can look at Abigail and tell that she needs to go sit on the potty and not get off until she has pooped. I am pretty attuned to my kids potty needs, and might actually be more aware of their need to go than I am of my own need (at least in a non-pregnant state. With a baby bouncing on my bladder, it is hard not to be acutely aware of my need to go.) In fact, this is how most parents start potty training their kids- the parents realize that a kid needs to go and then take them to the potty until the kid connects their successes on the potty with the urges/feelings they have beforehand that indicate they will be needing a potty soon. Parents teach their kids to be aware of their body's signals so that kids can use those signals to trigger a trip to the potty.

As a culture, we are lead to believe that these signals can be learned by children around age 2 or 3. But is that because those signals are not present before that age? Not at all! Even when Abigail was tiny I learned her signals that indicated she was getting ready to poop. (That's when I would quickly pass her off to another person and go "lay down for a quick nap" or something:) Besides the signals of grunting, pulling her legs up, grimacing at times, etc, there was also the fact that she was a pretty routine pooper. I could guess that within 20 minutes of finishing a meal, she would be ready to poop. Most babies are like that... there are signals and routines that are recognizable to most caregivers.

So why do we wait until a child is 2 or 3 to begin to teach them awareness of these signals? I am guessing it is because we believe that developmentally they are not "ready" or able to learn those signals. But then you have kids like Abigail who potty trained fairly early and very quickly which makes me believe it is us as parents and caregivers that are holding the children back from attending to these cues, not the children's abilities or lack thereof.

In fact, we give positive reinforcement to children of all ages for their self-awareness of other signals their body sends. We learn how to distinguish the "I'm hungry" cry from the "I'm so tired I just need to fuss a little to calm down" cry from the "OUCH!" cry, and we respond to those signals to meet children's needs. All of the so-called child development experts out there reinforce this idea that we can read our children's signals and meet their needs accordingly. We even teach our kids sign language as infants so that they can better communicate their needs. But somewhere along the way, we have lost the knowledge and training of other types of signals our baby sends us... and my guess is it happened with the advent of the diaper service and/or disposable diaper, or whenever it was diapering became "easier" for the average housewife.

Which brings me to my next "hippie" parenting idea. Let me start by saying that this experiment in parenting is still being researched (waiting for my books to arrive from Amazon) and that it is in no way a novel idea. In fact, it was while doing some research on cloth diapering that this method first came to my attention.

Have you ever heard of Elimination Communication (EC) or Natural Infant Hygiene? Neither had I, until yesterday. But the more I read about it, the more it just made sense to me, and the more it fit with the beliefs I have that God equipped us as parents with everything we need to be able to parent our children in loving, attentive, caring ways... including our intuition and ability to "know" our child(ren). The idea is that as we learn about our child and get to know them, we can learn their routines and signals, trust our intuition, and even offer positive reinforcement and cues to help them learn the best time and place to eliminate. It's not "potty training" so much as teaching them to be aware of their body's needs and having the appropriate response... much like we teach them to be aware of their need to eat and then having the appropriate response. The goal is NOT to get them out of diapers as quickly as possible, but rather to teach them healthy elimination patterns- just like we teach our children healthy eating patterns (ie- at when you are a little hungry, not when you are starving; stop when you are full; eat a variety of foods including fruits and vegetables each day; etc.)

I am ordering a few books to look into this further. There is a one book that really talks about how to use this technique when you are not going to be the sole caregiver of your child and when your child will be spending time in day care or out of your care. I am excited to learn more about it, and see how to apply this method of teaching self-awareness to your baby. And while this certainly puts me at borderline attachment parenting (which neither John nor I buy into), and propels me farther and farther into the hippie parent mode, I think John and I are going to give it a try.
But don't worry honey, I still shave my armpits and legs (and plan to do so as long as I this belly allows me to continue to bend at the waist), so I don't think I will ever be 100% hippie:)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I have just discovered your blog and find it very interesting.
I just wanted to share the fact that my mom did just that 26 years ago with my little brother, without reading anything but solely out of intuition and common sense. My brother was also a routine pooper and my mom started putting him on the toilet at the age of 3 months each time she recognized the signs of pooping time. And it worked wonderfully. After a while, he was clearly asking to go in his own baby language that my mom knew how to decipher and was potty trained (at least for poop)very early (I mean, as a baby; although I can't remember the exact age, I think he was around 5-6 month old)
Good luck!


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