Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: What Is Natural Parenting?

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This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our Carnival coincides with the launch of Natural Parents Network, a community of parents and parents-to-be who practice or are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living. Join us at Natural Parents Network to be informed, empowered, and inspired!

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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There are a lot of things that encompass natural parenting that resonate deeply with me, but none quite so much as embracing real food. My reason why is simple. It is a natural extension of breastfeeding. It is what our bodies were designed to eat because it is what nature intended for us to eat.

Real Food is Natural

When we are born our bodies are designed to drink breast milk for at least six months exclusively, and then with the addition of solid foods; at least until the age of one, but up to age two and beyond as long as mom and child desire.

The first solids we offer our babies are fruits, vegetables and rice cereal. These are all whole foods. (I have my opinions about rice cereal – you can read them here.) As they get older we feed them pieces of soft meats (or as I chose, soft lentils and beans and hard boiled egg yolk) and expand their selection of fruits, vegetables and grains. As new moms who want to do the very best for our children, we ensure that their first year is full of nutritious options.

However, a part of knowing what solids to feed our babies comes from seeing what is available on grocery store shelves. Alarmingly, to me, in the past few years new processed baby food products have emerged that are marketed as snacks but can easily become a replacement for real food at meal times for picky eaters. So long puréed squash with no added ingredients, hello edible food-like rice rusks and strawberry banana puffs with added sugar.

Just like formula companies know how to market to families to make them think their product is a normal and healthy food, so too do most other food companies. It is easy to find oneself in the middle of the grocery store being bombarded on both sides by foods claiming to be healthy. The trick to knowing what’s best and what to avoid? Try sticking to the outer aisles. That’s where all of the fresh produce, dairy, meats and often the oils and vinegars and bulk sections with grains and dried fruits and nuts are.

Somewhere down the line, maybe when they’re one or two, maybe later (or maybe never), our babies get their first taste of sugar and/or salt. If we aren’t careful with our grocery selections we can easily wind up with picky kids who refuse the healthy stuff once they know there are better tasting alternatives.

Finding Balance in The Real World

I wish I could tell you I am one of those real foodie, health nut moms whose children only ever eat whole foods, but I’m not. While I embrace whole foods as much as possible, my kids love Cheerios and Annie’s pasta. Once a week or so they get ice cream for a treat (and it isn’t homemade). I recently bought Girl Guide cookies and before the two boxes were empty, each of my girls had about eight of them. But, like a commenter recently told me about her own family, we too try to follow the 80/20 rule. If 80% of the time we can eat healthy whole foods and 20% of the time we eat more processed kind of foods, like Annie’s pasta or a frozen pizza, then we’re actually not doing too badly.

I grew up in a household where dinners almost always consisted of a piece of meat, potatoes or rice and steamed vegetables. Nowadays, my dinners don’t look like that because we’re a vegetarian household, but my mom and grandma lay down the foundation. At the end of the day, our philosophies are quite similar. Eat nourishing, healthy, whole foods prepared with love.

Children Learn What They Live

I embrace whole, real foods as much as possible because I want my children to grow up understanding why food is important and what it does inside their bodies. I want them to be able to distinguish a whole food from a processed food and know that whole foods are better. I want to take them to farms and grow our own garden and have them understand that this is where food comes from. And yes, sometimes it also comes from machines and laboratories but the food that’s good for us is the kind you can make yourself. The kind that is traditional. Eventually they will also learn the impact certain foods have on our environment. And in choosing their foods mindfully they will grow up to be responsible stewards of our Earth. And if I can raise my children to be those people, I think I’ve done well to embrace one of the best parts of natural parenting.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaStop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone’s posts, and please visit a few to read more! Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Three of the participants below will instead be featured on Natural Parents Network throughout the month, so check back at NPN!

This list will be updated by afternoon November 9 with all the carnival links. We’ve arranged it this month according to the categories of our NPN resource pages on “What Is Natural Parenting?”

Attachment/Responsive Parenting

Attachment/responsive parenting is generally considered to include the following (descriptions/lists are not exhaustive; please follow each link to learn more):

  1. PREPARE FOR PREGNANCY, BIRTH, AND PARENTING:
  2. FEED WITH LOVE AND RESPECT:
  3. RESPOND WITH SENSITIVITY:
    • Attachment Parenting Chose Us” — For a child who is born “sensitive,” attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting “choice.” Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her experiences. (@CodeNameMama)
    • Parenting in the Present” — Acacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.
    • Parenting With Heart” — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.
  4. USE NURTURING TOUCH:
  5. ENSURE SAFE SLEEP:
    • Sometimes I Wish We Coslept” — Sheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30. (@agiftuniverse)
  6. PROVIDE CONSISTENT AND LOVING CARE:
  7. PRACTICE GENTLE/POSITIVE DISCIPLINE:
    • Unconditional Parenting” — The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)
  8. STRIVE FOR BALANCE IN PERSONAL AND FAMILY LIFE:

Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature

Holistic Health Practices

  • Supporting Natural Immunity” — If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children’s immune systems naturally.

Natural Learning

  • Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting” — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter’s needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter’s learning “challenges.” (@myzerowaste)
  • Let Them Look” — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.
  • Why I Love Unschooling” — Unschooling isn’t just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way — it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)
  • Is He Already Behind?“Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at born.in.japan will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning — naturally — every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)
  • How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning” — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child’s natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)

Healthy Living

Parenting Philosophies

Political and Social Activism

Also shared at Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade and Food On Friday at Ann Kroeker..

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40 Responses to “What Is Natural Parenting? Embracing Real Food”

  1. #1 Lauren @ HoboMama Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 3:57 am
  2. #2 Relying on Kindness « Navelgazing Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 4:03 am
  3. #5 The Natural Parenting Label Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 5:38 am
  4. #6 Jenny Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 5:47 am
  5. #7 What Is Natural Parenting to You? | Natural Parents Network Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 10:04 am
  6. #9 Because Natural comes Naturally « mommakesmilk.com Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 10:30 am
  7. #10 Reducing Screen Time « Fleeting Moments Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 11:43 am
  8. #11 Do You Have This? Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 11:59 am
  9. #13 sara Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm
  10. #14 Andrea!!! Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 1:18 pm
  11. #15 Acacia @ Be Present Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 1:55 pm
  12. #16 Dionna @ Code Name: Mama Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 2:03 pm
  13. #17 NavelgazingBajan Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 3:41 pm
  14. #18 born.in.japan » It’s Carnival Time! Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm
  15. #19 Pure Mothers Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 4:50 pm
  16. #20 Healing Through Elimination Communication Part 1 Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 6:12 pm
  17. #21 Sybil Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 6:35 pm
  18. #22 MrsH Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 10:26 pm
  19. #23 Juliette Says:

    November 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm
  20. #24 Amy Says:
    November 10, 2010 at 2:25 am
  21. #25 Luschka @ Diary of a First Child Says:

    November 10, 2010 at 2:43 am
  22. #26 Maman A Droit Says:

    November 10, 2010 at 12:44 pm
  23. #27 Christina @ Spoonfed Says:

    November 12, 2010 at 12:05 pm
  24. #28 Rachael Says:
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  25. #29 Christy Says:

    November 15, 2010 at 1:10 am
  26. #31 Growing Out of Little Potties Says:

    May 16, 2011 at 9:12 am

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