Hey TIME (and everyone else): There is a mommy war, but this isn’t it.

People have been asking my opinion on the TIME magazine “scandal” for the past 48 hours. Every time I respond, I feel a little dirtier. Giving my opinion suggests that I should have an opinion, and that infers that the TIME issue has something to do with formula feeding; that a story on attachment parenting must, by default, be inflammatory to those who do not breastfed.

But in my opinion, this media frenzy has nothing to do with the breast/bottle battle.

Well, for the most part it doesn’t.  The TIME cover story is actually about Dr. Bill Sears, whom I feel has everything to do with the topics I cover. I could critique his methodology all day long (and I would love to, should anyone care to give me the editorial space to do so). Unfortunately, no one is really talking about Sears, except in the most cursory of ways. The other 99.99% of the focus is on the cover image, and the fact that some families choose to continue breastfeeding longer than our society has deemed acceptable.

In my 2010 post on extended breastfeeding, I mused that

{extended breastfeeders} are probably…pretty sick of being judged, just like we formula feeders are. It seems that in this country, at least, you can only win the Good Breastfeeding Mom Award if you nurse for the standard year. Any less, or any more, and you’re made to feel like a selfish, negligent parent – for different reasons, of course, but the end result is the same. I’ve seen people comparing breastfeeding an older kid to child abuse; formula feeding moms have dealt with the same accusation. I’ve heard people call extended breastfeeding “selfish”, saying that the mother is trying to infantilize her growing toddler. And as we all know too well, formula feeding is synonymous with self-serving behavior in many people’s minds…being an FFF is not just about defending formula feeding. It’s about defending the right for ALL mothers to feed their babies (or toddlers) in the best way they see fit. Don’t get me wrong; it’s understandable to feel uncomfortable seeing something you’re not used to seeing. We don’t see many walking, talking, kids still nursing in this country; it’s just not the norm. I doubt it will ever be. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good choice for certain families, and hey, if it works for them, then that’s all that matters.

Since writing that article, I’ve become quite close with several “extended” breastfeeders (I hate that term, because why is it “extended”? Because some women continue nursing after the AAP recommendations state is necessary?) and I feel even more protective of those breastfeeding-longer-than-our-society-thinks-is-normal. Frankly, some of the most compassionate, non-judgmental breastfeeding advocates I’ve encountered fall into this category. 
The problem is that the “experts” who advocate for “full-term breastfeeding” are often the same folks who are constantly berating those who formula feed; the same folks who are holding one type of parenting up as “the best” and all others as sub-optimal. This puts people on the defensive, and it leads to the kinds of comments I’ve seen in the last few days, the kinds of comments which make me feel like everyone is Missing. The. Point. The hurtful comments about formula feeders that I see make my blood boil, but the comments I see from mothers disparaging breastfeeding as a practice embarrass me. I don’t want to be associated with those who make these comments, and yet I feel a responsibility to provide a safe place for all formula feeding moms, especially those feeling disenfranchised and tired of defending their feeding method. I have to believe that these comments come from that negative space, rather than a true belief that breastfeeding is “dirty” or “selfish”. 

And yet, taking this a step further, one could easily argue that the cruelest lactivists on the internet are motivated by similar feelings of disenfranchisement and resentment. So what is the difference?

When it comes to most breastfeeding-related media blitzes, the difference is that one side has authoritarian voices joining their catcalls. When representatives of the AAP are making snarky statements about formula feeding and obesity, the comments of the virtual peanut galley become far more potent. It is no longer a mommy war. It is just one group getting bullied by a much stronger opponent.

In the fallout from the TIME examination of attachment parenting, the extended breastfeeders have become similar victims. Their choice is no longer valid because the medical authorities have not dragged out a large body of evidence supporting it as a health-enhancing act. Therefore, it becomes a choice, and within the realm of infant feeding, choice is a myth.  Choice is like a screwed up version of Tinkerbell. It doesn’t have a right to exist unless enough people are clapping their hands in support of it.

There is a Mommy War, and anyone who says there’s not is either a) tremendously confident in their parenting skills b) a Luddite with no internet connection or c) someone who is far enough away from the baby years to have selective memory of how competitive and hard the first years of parenting can be. There is a very real, and very dangerous Mommy War going on surrounding infant feeding, and it is a war provoked by parenting experts, medical professionals, and (in my opinion) misogynist jerks who feel it is their male privilege to tell a woman what it is to be a mother.  But extended breastfeeding is not part of this Mommy War; in fact, in many ways, the Mommy War only lasts for the first year or two, when the (supposed) “critical” period for attachment and foundational health is happening. A mom who has spoken out against judgment and whose only crime entails feeding her son from her breast while looking like a hipster fashion model (because seriously, my only issue with this woman is that I am disgustingly jealous of her physique and the confidence she’s mastered at tender age of 26) is not a solider in the Mommy War, and I sincerely hope she doesn’t become a casualty of it.

The Mommy Wars are not about parenting styles. The Mommy Wars are about experts – and consequently the mothers who are looking to these experts for guidance during a fragile and intimidating time in their lives – attempting to validate parenting choices/philosophies by marginalizing or insulting others. (For proof of this, check out AP guru Kathy Dettwellyer’s comment on this particular piece from the TIME issue). Heck, a lot of the time, those perpetuating the Mommy Wars aren’t even mothers.

Attachment parenting is not limiting to women; making attachment parenting the superior choice is. Extended breastfeeding is not extreme; claiming that it is necessary for emotional or physical health is. Formula feeding is not anti-breastfeeding; claiming that formula feeding is better because you think breastfeeding is “gross” or “weird”, is.

I believe that for the most part, mothers are too busy to wage wars. Instead, we are trying to survive the often klutzy dance that is modern motherhood. But I think we all need to try a different dance for awhile, and it involves some artfully placed kicks to the posterior regions of those who capitalize on our need for validation. That would be a skirmish worthy of a TIME spread, wouldn’t it?

Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.


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58 thoughts on “Hey TIME (and everyone else): There is a mommy war, but this isn’t it.

  1. Girlfriend, I don't think I've ever agreed with anything you've ever written more than this particular piece. Bravo!

  2. Bravo!
    Time's editors knew that the provocative headline and the very sexy/slightly confrontational stance from the hot mother will get the internet talking. That's all that I can really say about this issue: it's a clever publicity stunt and it'll sell some magazines!
    But in a way I'm glad this article (and cover and headline) came along because the response to it highlights just how little relevance the “mummy wars” has to my actual day to day life.
    I simply couldn't care less anymore whether another mother is still tit-feeding her three year old, from a stool or otherwise. It's obviously working for her. I don't feel any guilt that it's not how I play the game. If they judge me, it's only because they drank the Sears Kool-Aid, which means it's not coming from a real place anyway.

  3. “The Mommy Wars are about experts – and consequently the mothers who are looking to these experts for guidance during a fragile and intimidating time in their lives – attempting to validate parenting choices/philosophies by marginalizing or insulting others.” Well yes, but the foot soldiers are often mothers. If I had a penny for every time I got a raised eyebrow or judgey look or unsolicited comment on something to do with my child (“Is he warm enough? are you sure? Oh look, he seems to be hungry.” “You left a bit of drool on his chin there.” “Can you believe parents who do x/y?”) I would be able to pay off a few months of student debt. Even the passive aggressive “we do this because it's important to us and doesn't take that much effort” – usually a line used by crunchies who swear it's really quite easy to BF/pump/puree your child's own organic food/use a sling all the time while holding down a job carries its judgement and suggests that if you really cared about your child and weren't a lazy junk-food inclined parent you would do the same. Yes, parents use experts to back up their cases but most of the time IMHO the judgey ones simply don't think anyone's individual circumstances should matter, and that how children are brought up is a public concern. This is fuelled by articles on childhood obesity and other public health studies, but also by parents being insecure in their choices or feeling that it had better be worth it to slave over that BFing/pureeing/babywearing because the alternatives must be awful.

  4. Well, well said. This is why I am such a big fan of the FFF. It is so easy to retreat into defensive corners, to point fingers and to judge each other when in reality there is absolute reason to so. This post is a wonderful reminder of that.

  5. Uh, in reply to your first paragraph – I suspect the reason everyone's asking for your opinion isn't because this has anything in particular to do with formula feeding. I'm guessing it's because you're an incredibly smart, articulate, flat-out awesome woman with a great take on the Mommy Wars in general, and if the rest of the world is anything like me then they like hearing your opinion about stuff. (And the rest of this post just confirmed that. 😉 )

  6. thank you for this. i just found your blog (and read about your book on the UC press's website, i can't wait to read it) – i struggled so much with breastfeeding and exclusively pumped for

  7. I feel the same way – I have now been defending my AP practices until I am blue in the face, because that Time cover and article are making people think that AP is so “out there”. Also, my mother, who did extended BF and was a LLL leader, is furious over the cover because it will set back the normalization of breastfeeding. So yeah, this is not helping anyone!

  8. The whole thing makes me sad because I've been trying to 'normalise' AP with my extended family for almost 7 years and I feel all that's been done is make it all seem weird and dangerous.

    AP shouldn't be about the method in which you feed your baby. Breasts are a vessel. Bottles are a vessel. NG Tubes and Gports are vessels. It's about the people feeding the baby.

    We choose to parent in a very gentle manner, but we do have a high needs kid with Autism. To parent any other way wouldn't be right for her. And to me, that's what AP is about. Loving your kid the way your kid needs it.

  9. This is exactly how we use AP as well – I don't think there is one “right” way to do AP. It should look different based on each individual child.

  10. I find this interesting – lots of sensible, balanced people I respect consider themselves AP parents, as do a lot of more zealous folks who believe you're a bad person if you don't anticipate a child's cries or if you put convenience above the child's needs. I remember finding the Sears Baby Book rather closer to the more zealous side, and checked his website and it looks like there has been some softening with postscripts but the gist of it is still the same: http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/attachment-parenting/what-ap-7-baby-bs

    this part actually touches on what scares me more about the idea of AP – that mothers should be addicted to their babies, not want to spend time apart from them, and are good parents only to the extent that they can prove they are sensitive to their children. http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/attachment-parenting/what-attachment-means

    To suggest that only AP-practising parents “feel for their baby” when s/he is colicky is insulting – it's miserable for everyone to hear a baby cry, yet babies communicate mainly by crying so it's really quite sensible and normal to learn to distinguish different kinds of needs expressed through crying. There's such a strong passive-aggressive tone of judgement in the very vague AP recommendations, which is what bothers me – suggesting that the be-all and end-all is to be maximally attuned to and sensitive to your child, and that if you fail even once and put your own needs first you are scarring the child. All the postscripts and caveats in the world about “use it as a tool” and “it's just an approach” don't say anything about where to draw a line between the child's needs and the parent's health, sanity and autonomy (esp professional autonomy, and the mother's career). The Sears approach and that of many other published AP advocates strikes me as fairly insistent on the ideological coherence of the whole AP package and makes it difficult to use bits and pieces of methods as tools. I say this as someone who did sleep with the baby in the same room for the first 6 months, did try to use a carrier (baby hated it), and did BF for a while – all good things, but I didn't need AP to tell me these were useful parenting tools.

  11. I have heard some of the APers, suggest that all of those Sears AP tenets are not what it is about. According to them, it is about being responsive to your child. IF that's the case then we are all APers.

    I suspect there is another subset of APers who would be horrified that I said that, because according to those guys, it is about being responsive to your child in the “RIGHT” way and by not giving your child “the best” (the best according to them), parents who stray from the AP tenets are NOT responding or not responding appropriately to their children.

    If a given woman wants to follow AP practices, good for her. IF another woman doesn't, good for her too. It DOESN'T MATTER. I too, am sick of this “mommy war” crap. I'll admit I find it entertaining at times, but many women take it very seriously.

    Ultimately, I don't care that some people think I'm a bad mother, or less of a woman or whatever. I don't need to impress a bunch of strangers online, and my friends in real life never say things like that to me. I don't need anyone's permission to parent the way I do. The vast majority of parents love their children and want to give the children the best THEY CAN PROVIDE, taking their life situation into account. There's nothing to fight about.

  12. I recently read Understanding Attachment by Jean Mercer and I highly recommend it for those interested in the what psychological professionals mean by attachment, and it isn't what the Sears' claim. The Attachment Connection by Ruth Newton is also good, and likewise grounded in science, although I liked the more academic focus of the other book. Quite frankly, AP doesn't have empirical support for its claims. Yes, responsiveness is important, but there isn't evidence that one way to meet your baby's needs is better than another. If AP methods works for you, great! If they don't, there's no reason to try to do them.

  13. I think the Sears are a case of 1 family who published a book, got rave reviews and a community built around it.

    Look, I love my kid. I consider myself quite an eco-mum, quite AP, but if I don't get my space, I'm NOT a good mum.

    AP is about anticipating the needs of your FAMILY and working to achieve it in a continuum, vs the scheduled aspect of controlled crying, etc.

    There is SO much more info on AP than the Sear's family. They're a business, and like a lot of businesses, they've created a culture that thinks they're the origin of the idea.

    Which is bull.

    Have you seen the High Needs baby book? It's utter, complete bullshit tripe. To suggest reflux as a mild affliction that couldn't possibly upset a family is, in my opinion, negligent.

    AP is about creating a secure base for your family. If that base is secure, everything around it flows better because of ATTACHMENT. It's not about boobs or babywearing or militant ego maniacs trying to rule the mommy empire.

    It's about the actual psychological idea of attachment, a permeable intangible concept.

    I think it's quite fucked up what the SEARS have done and create this belief that you must be attached to your child at all hours. That isn't actually what AP is about. It's about what SEARS BRAND are into and so they can sell you gadgets.

  14. That's interesting. I'm familiar with the psych concept of attachment esp the animal studies but those are limited in their prescriptive scope, IIRC, to the very early months. I think Amy's observation and yours about being responsive to the child and considering the child's needs encapsulate the way a lot of folks I know understand AP but I wonder how we can define “security” for a child when the child is also being socialized and does need to adapt somewhat to parents' schedules and needs. I'm personally quite opposed to the old-school “make your child follow your schedule strictly or you're spoiling them” approach and yet the message I hear from a lot of contemporary AP advocates seems to go to the other extreme, i.e. any time you knowingly do something less than ideal for your child or that makes them unhappy in any way (e.g. put them in day care, ignore them for half an hour so you can relax and talk to a friend or watch telly, whatever) you are a Bad Mother (let's face it, they aren't judging dads) who will Scar Child Forever. I'm not surprised to hear that Sears had his own Freudian issues with distant parents because it sounds like the overcompensation of a hurt child who didn't quite grow up to understand that adults have lives.

  15. And P.S. I find a lot of the AP anxiety about leaving your child or not giving them “the best” to be rooted in fear – you can't trust anyone else with your child, you can't even trust yourself to make a fair assessment of when your needs come before the child's, etc. And then there's the fear from those who had authoritarian parents or negligent ones (as they remember them) that they will damage their children as they themselves were damaged emotionally. As someone who wrote a great essay on Sears once said, it hits parents at a very sensitive time and in a very sensitive place – you can have a loved and possibly spoiled baby or an unloved and emotionally scarred one, and all that stands between the awful second choice is your willingness to do everything possible to be a good AP.

  16. I think Time Magazine should be ashamed of themselves, but I'm sure they are just happy to be selling magazines. I am sad that the backlash from this article will include my in-laws smugly feeling that they are right and I am wrong and that “extended” breastfeeding is gross. I have not read the article, but since it seems to be saying that “extended” breastfeeding is “extreme,” I am sure that is what will come across to mainstream America.

  17. I completely agree. I did nurse my older daughter until she was 25 months old and I am nursing my 16 month old with no end in sight. And now my in-laws who are really grossed out by breastfeeding – especially a baby over the age of 12 months – are being vindicated by the media.

  18. Yeah, I love that Dad never have any influence, anything bad is always Mom's fault. 🙂

    By putting the child's mood as the main priority, I think people who do that are setting themselves and their children up for hard times. Most people don't have access to the “best” all of them time, plus “best” is subjective anyway. No one gets their way all of the time, and no one is the center of the universe. I believe that teaching children that they are the most important person and what they want/say goes is doing them a huge disservice.

    I will consider myself a successful parent, if my children grow up to be independent, self sufficient and hopefully happy young men. They will have to learn to deal with disappointment to get to that point. They had a lesson over the weekend in fact, when we left to go home after a fun outing and they cried and wanted to stay longer. Well, we went home anyway, too bad for them. But…they also got over it in a few minutes (and after they were fed, their being hungry certainly compounded the issue).

    And I'm not saying that AP parents always behave that way (keeping child happy above all else) but I think I am referring to the same group that Perfesser is.

  19. Ugh on the in-laws – I absolutely hate when grandparents feel they should control how their children parent (my ex-SIL was somewhat over the top in her AP about 15 years ago but I was always shocked that her father lectured her about weaning – !) That stupid Time cover *does* seem to associate BFing with the far nutty extreme (anyone else think the choice of very tall toddler/petite mother was meant to show extended BFing as maximally bizarre? All the people I know who BF toddlers have them cuddle up on their laps). Sorry you're dealing with that.

    A propos, check out these “outtakes” for the cover photo”
    http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2012/05/martin-schoeller-for-time.html

  20. The Sears' are the ones who coined the term “attachment parenting.” They are the inventors of the concept, that is why they are so strongly associated with it.

    The psychological concept of attachment and the secure base is something that children develop naturally, as long as they have “good enough” parents who try to meet their needs, and don't have their own psychological issues, depression, addictions etc. preventing them from meeting their babies' needs. There is no evidence that co-sleeping vs crib sleeping or even sleep training, or sling vs Snugli vs stroller, or breast vs bottle, makes one iota of difference with regard to a child developing attachment. The psychological concept of attachment has NOTHING to do with attachment parenting.

  21. Interestingly, the evidence seems to be that “good enough parenting” is actually better than “perfect parenting” because dealing with frustrations, miscommunication and then correcting that, etc. is part of growing and developing. This is touched on in the book The Attachment Connection.

  22. I think a lot of the techniques the Sears have espoused were around LONG before they decided to make money by fear-mongering all parents into them. ;P

  23. “To suggest reflux as a mild affliction that couldn't possibly upset a family is, in my opinion, negligent.”

    Particularly because that reflux could be as a result of a food allergy, such as a dairy allergy. I'm sorry, but any doctor with a concept of ethics needs to acknowledge that reflux can mean a SERIOUS medical condition, and strongly encourage parents to explore all reasonable avenues to determine a cause. Also, an ethical doctor will show compassion toward those who are in pain, including the very youngest of us all. To minimize the pain of a newborn is, just as you say, negligent. Insanely so.

  24. I like to think of it this way: if I don't respect my needs to a reasonable degree, that teaches a child to not respect my needs, either. It teaches my daughter that her needs aren't worth much either, because she's a girl and may someday be a mom.

    I'm not saying that techniques like breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, etc. are incompatible with respecting a mother's needs. Plenty of moms find these things not only beneficial, but pretty darn convenient too, and props to them for figuring that out.

    But if a mother is being driven to the brink by any of these things, sacrificing her health and sanity for them, then I think the same old risks vs. benefits assessment needs to be done. Nothing in life is without risk, it's just a matter of whether that risk is important enough to consider. If, say, breastfeeding is proving too risky, then one of the benefits in giving it up may be teaching older children a valuable lesson that mom's mental/physical health matters to the family, too, and that the children should grow up valuing their own mental and physical health.

  25. It sounds like some of the backlash against the Sears is a desire to be mindful of that psychological concept of attachment, and include the options of using techniques that may be a bit out of the mainstream (e.g. BFing a toddler) in order to accomplish that, without mandating those options for all.

  26. Fantastic post! The Mommy Wars drain me 🙁 I am a childbirth educator, and BF counselor (but only when asked) and I hate seeing moms look so defeated when they are subjected to the Wars that they didn't even know were out there! Why can't we just have information and help each other without judging. I think the labels are detrimental (like “crunchies”) because it pigeon holes people and makes them feel like they have to parent a certain way or they're alienated. I've been labeled as “crunchy” (shudder) because I breastfeed, baby wear, cloth diaper…but I also vaccinate (boo hiss go the “crunchies” you're not one of us now!) It's what works for me and my boys just like being a fearless formula feeder is what works for you and your family. *sigh*…can't we all just get along and share info and be supportive? All I ask is for parents to make informed decisions. If that informed decision leads you to FF, go for it…if that decision leads you to BF for 5 years, go for it…anyway, thank you for the insight.

  27. Can't agree more. It is so unbelievably frustrating trying to find out information on parenting techniques when they are all lumped together as an ideology instead of as tools in a toolbox. I was very down on baby-led weaning until I talked to bottle-feeding parents who had used it; otherwise, the BLW resources seemed so anti-bottle and anti-formula as to be useless and irritating. I'm not a clone of anyone else and neither is my child. We're going to do what works for us and leave the rest, and there should be nothing wrong with that.

  28. Becky, that's interesting, is that book by professional psychologists? I always wondered about the gap between the basic concept of attachment as one read about it in textbooks in college and the vision of AP.

  29. Huh…I always interpreted baby-led weaning as start giving solids when baby shows and interest, introduce new foods appropriately (meaning one at a time so you can watch for allergies) and if baby shows disgust for a particular food, then don't force your baby to eat what he/she doesn't want. Clearly, this has nothing to do with bottle or breast.

    I realize that baby led weaning also includes nursing until the child decides he's done nursing..is that considered the actual definition?

    I know a woman who made a big deal about baby led weaning, and her interpretation was: no purees, just give baby whatever you are eating. She posted a picture of her 6mo old baby with a big ol' broccoli tree. I didn't say anything, but I didn't do it that way because I was afraid my children could choke. And also, even if the baby gnaws on the broccoli, she clearly wouldn't be getting much nutrition from it. Looking at it that way, it's almost more like teasing the baby–here's some food you can't really eat yet! Anyway, I don't see how this is baby-led weaning, if it was the mother who decided when to introduce solids regardless of the child's desires. Also, I'm pretty sure the 6mos old didn't ask for broccoli.

  30. It took me a really long time to just move past the parenting suggestions and the feeling of judgment from my own family. And even though I FF 1 child I still feel the need to defend my choice to FF my second, especially since I have a few really crunchy friends. I've been trying so hard to just separate myself from the mommy wars and it's taken a good 2.5 years to get to where I am now, which is being able to blow off and even laugh at a lot of the comments or statements.

    AP is good when it works for the family, I personally prefer co-sleeping because I can just pat them back to sleep when they get restless. I personally believe that if they are truly hungry a light pat won't put them back to sleep so that's what I do. I also cloth diaper to save money and honestly, I think cloth diapers are really cute on my kids.

    That said, a mom needs time to decompress and if they can't trust other people to help out how is that going to help their kid as they grow older? Sure it might be hard when you know to to calm the baby faster than say your spouse or the person who wants to help, but it is a really important step in being a mom. I wouldn't leave my newborn overnight with someone, but when I feel the time is right when they are older I'd consider it, for my son that was 2.5 and with my mom. I don't know about leaving him with non-family members yet as he has a strict diet due to allergies.

  31. Yes, it is by a professional psychologist! I preferrered Understanding Attachment as a review of the scientific understanding of attachment, and that book does touch on AP and whether it is related to Attachment Theory, but Attachment Connection is an application of the research on attachment and affect regulation to parenting.

  32. AmyM – There are two interpretations of BLW: the British definition of weaning, I guess, which is “baby beginning to eat other stuff” and the more American connotation of “weaning off boob/bottle.” We did BLW, but it had little to do with nursing – we “weaned off” the boob when I was done with it; I didn't ask my child's opinion. =) So in that sense, I don't think it has anything to do with formula vs. breast, except that many BFers also (or alternatively) interpret it to be the weaning off kind…so I think that's the confusion, and the negativity Teri maybe experienced.

    As for the hunk of broccoli, yeah, that's what we did. =) The goal was to have him explore foods and practice chewing before he needed to get nutrition from them. Since all his nutrition was coming from liquids at that point, it didn't matter if all he did was gnaw on a stalk of broccoli or a pineapple spear, it was just to get him used to new flavors and new textures. We never fed him any baby food/purees except when traveling. I think that's why some BFers (erroneously, IMO) can get high and mighty with BLW – if you're doing the “no baby food” version, baby should be getting nutrition from liquids, i.e. breast milk, and if you're giving formula, that's SO inferior to EVERYTHING that you should probably stop ASAP and solid it up right away! Or not because baby should lead the way! Oh no! Your baby is so screwed either way!! Panic! Panic!

  33. “I think that's why some BFers (erroneously, IMO) can get high and mighty with BLW…”

    That's what I ran into, a lot of people who did BLW who were insisting that you can't do it with a bottle-fed child. And who would want to do a healthy thing with a bottle-fed child anyway, you already ruined her virgin gut and destroyed her health and turned her into a future axe murderer anyway, if you really cared about your child's health you wouldn't be feeding her rat poison, blah blah blah. 😛

  34. My kids have only stayed with my inlaws overnight. They are so amazing and the only ones I trust with my kids. Both my kids stayed the night with them from 6 months old and on. And since I was done breastfeeding before 6 months, I was able to do it. It was hard, but I am SO glad I did it. They wanted the kids before they were 6 months old! But I put my foot down and waited until the kids could roll over on their own.

    And now that my kids are 19 months and 4 years, they LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their grandparents. It is so adorable. They get so excited when they come to pick them up. They have so much fun and experience different things with their grandparents. And my husband and I get 2 blissful nights a month to ourselves, which is wonderful for our marriage.

    The way I look at it, it is my job to take care of my kids, but it is also my job to give them a variety of experiences so they can learn and grow. To me, this is just a part of it.

    I know so many moms who “brag” about how they haven't been away from their kids overnight EVER and their kids are 6 years old. And that is fine. But I always sense this fear of the unknown in them. The truth is, if you trust he people your kids are staying with, then there is nothing to lose and a ton to gain. I wish people wouldn't parent out of a sense of the unknown. It is sad because, in the end, the children and the kids lose in this situation.

  35. Oops … meant to say “parent out of a fear of the unknown”! And “the children and the adults lose in this situation.”

    This is when you know it is late and time to go to bed!

  36. I can't speak for everyone who uses AP, and I know there are some very permissive parents who claim to be AP, but are actually just really permissive parents. We don't put our daughter's mood as the main priority – I think it is doing them a disservice to artificially control the environment to prevent them from being anything but happy all the time. That doesn't help them learn to regulate and control emotions. Where the AP comes in, for me, is that we use positive guidance and gentle discipline to help her navigate through her emotions, instead of punishment. But if she does something that hurts another person, we make sure that she knows it, and give her the chance to feel bad/upset about it instead of just smoothing over it or “fixing” things. We always focus on the positive, as in, what she is supposed to do and what she can do differently next time, but we definitely want her to experience the emotions involved with things not going her way or hurting someone, either physically or emotionally.

  37. Hehe, that sounds like me re: gentle and permissive parenting. I do not, however, associate that approach with what I read in Sears about AP, but more with other child discipline specialists. Hey, whatever works, is what I say, and whatever reflects your values and what values you want your child to learn.

  38. Baby-led weaning always strikes me as a classic example of how something that should be about making parenting *simpler* ends up instead being about rules and complexities and blah-blah-blah.

    Summary of BLW: We used to think babies needed to start solids at the sort of age where their mastication and digestive capacities are only up to dealing with having tiny bits of purée spooned painstakingly into them. We now know practically all babies are fine with delaying solids until the sort of age where they're sitting up, grabbing things, and putting them in their mouth – in other words, exactly the skill set you need to be trying solids that haven't been smushed up for you. So, when your baby's around that sort of age (approx 6 months, give or take), try giving them some bits of food they can experiment with eating, and see how they get on. Obviously, as they get older and better at it you'll up the amount of food you can give them, until bit by bit you get to the point where they can eat proper meals. Oh, yes, and don't forget to give them some cutlery/more liquidy stuff once you feel they're up to experimenting with it. End of. How in holy hell anyone manages to write multiple books about that, or come out with pronouncements about how it 'should' be done, is beyond me.

    BTW, the 'hand your child some broccoli from your plate' thing is exactly how I did BLW with my second daughter. It was BLW because I let her decide whether she wanted to take the stuff, eat it, drop it on the floor, or what. If I'd waited until she could actually ask me for particular foods, she'd have ended up pretty hungry. 😉

  39. My boys have had overnights at both sets of grandparents' houses, and one of my SILs. (they are 3 and their first overnight wo/mom and dad took place at 9mos old) It's always been fun for them (and the relatives that want to have them overnight). We haven't hired any babysitters for nights out, because we can't really afford to pay them and also go out to eat or whatever, but whenever one of our relatives is up for doing it for free, we take advantage. 🙂

    I think it is healthy for parents to get breaks from their children occasionally, and also for the children to get a break from their parents. And not everyone in the world does things like we do in our house, so it is good for them to learn to adapt to the rules wherever they are.

  40. That's awesome!! My parents live across the country and my husbands live midway in. I think I would have let my son stay overnight sooner, but I had to wait until my mom came out and it was because I was having our second. We're moving back out to CA here shortly and I'm thinking of asking them to take our son overnight now and again if it works for them. I could use the break…love him dearly but I'm still trying to adjust to our newborn and he wakes at night still.

  41. Oh, I SO agree!! Besides the basic things that Sears decided to include in his “attachment parenting guidelines,” people have thrown a whole lot of other stuff in there that has NOTHING to do with how we interact with our children (like cloth diapering, organic, home made baby food, etc). AP doesn't mean what it used to, and it doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. In my ideal world all babies would be loved, cherished, cuddled, protected, cooed over, and always feel like their needs were being met (ie, newborns not left alone to cry themselves to sleep). Children should trust us, come to us when they need something, and feel safe when with us. THAT is what AP is to me.

  42. They picked that photo because it was the most extreme. Mother and child aren't embracing, they're in a totally unnatural position, moms pose makes her look like a biatch (I haven't even read the article, I refuse to, so I don't know if she SOUNDS like a biatch, too), AND especially because this three year old looks like a SEVEN YEAR OLD!

  43. I've always considered myself AP. With my first baby, I had never even heard the term, I just what felt right and worked for my kiddo. Turns out, I happened to meet all the AP criteria. I totally agree that what AP is all about is being responsive to your child's needs. I've never thought it was about how we feed our babies and never thought for a moment that women that FF couldn't be AP. Maybe I'm just a “bad” AP mommy lol.

  44. YES! I HATE that some people think we need to buy into an entire philosophy or use NOTHING at all associated with that philosophy. Parenting is a la carte. There is nothing wrong with doing what works!

  45. There are two forms of weaning. As soon as you introduce solid foods, you're beginning the weaning process. When someone talks about BLW, they're talking about nursing until the child no longer wants or needs to nurse. It's about waiting for the child to be ready. Some people would take the stance that how mom feels about continuing to breastfeed doesn't matter,…. I am not one of those people. I'd never recommend going “cold turkey,” though, because engorgement hurts lol.

  46. I think to call the AAP a big hitter vs the interested parities in selling formula is a distortion of how much capital rules in our society.

    I agree about the “experts” throwing fuel on the fire, but we have to look at who the experts are. Kathy Dettwellyer is an anthropology professor, she writes about whats normal for our species, she is not an Attachment parenting guru. Its not the same as being someone who wrote a baby book based on their own unproven theories.

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