CarNatPar

Talking To Children About Death

Six months ago, my mother was diagnosed with Peritoneal Mesothelioma and told that without treatment she would have four weeks to live. Our visas were taking longer than that to be granted – my mother lives in Australia, I live in England, and the Australian government had no sympathy or compassion and made it as hard as was legally possible for us to get the visas for reasons I’ll never understand. My mother decided to have chemotherapy so that we’d make it to her, to say goodbye, and we arrived in Australia the day before her second round of chemotherapy, a treatment that nearly killed her.

Welcome to the March 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Tough Conversations

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have spoken up about how they discuss complex topics with their children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Between my mothers diagnosis and our leaving, I wasn’t very emotional about it.

That’s what I do. I go into ‘how can we solve this’ mode, and I need time to process what I’m feeling. People who know me well know that the things I’m talking about I’ve normally dealt with. It’s when I go quiet that I’m not really coping. When I don’t know what to say I haven’t processed it yet. Really, it’s when I go quiet on a topic that those closest to me know to start worrying about it.

So, between those two dates, I was given a copy of the Mother Magazine, which had the article A sacred transition: children and the death of a loved one by Starr Meneely, of Gentle Mothering. Her mother had recently succumbed to cancer, and she had flown half way across the world with her children to be by her side.

Her words wrenched at my heart, and my emotions broke. I sat in the corner of the room at our mother’s circle and sobbed. It was the release I needed, and it provided the gateway to being able to talk about it.

I guess, then, the first lesson I learned about talking to children about death – specifically a long, protracted, pending death, rather than an accidental or sudden passing, is having at least in part dealt with some of the emotions yourself.

If I had broken down that way in front of Ameli, I fear that she would have looked at death as something to fear, something painful. (Of course, it is these things, but it also isn’t, and I think the best thing under the circumstances is to introduce death as something not to be feared.)

Telling Ameli that Nana is dying was interesting in itself. How do you convey meaning in a word that has no context? Hot you can explain by providing low heat. Run you can explain by demonstrating. How do you explain ‘say goodbye, because we are going away for a while?’ And how do you explain going away for ever? How long is for ever?

These are vague concepts, mere words, to a child.

I told her Nana was going to die and we wouldn’t see her here on earth again. She said she didn’t want Nana to die. I said none of us want Nana to die, but we all die eventually, and it’s okay.

She tried to rationalise it in her mind.

“I have a good idea! Maybe we can go visit Nana when she’s died.”

“I’m afraid we can’t visit where Nana is going. We’ll miss her sometimes though, and that’s why Mama’s a little sad.”

“It’s okay. We can just look at photos of her. That will make us feel better.”

“That’s a very good idea, I think.”

“Can I have some juice now?”

While she hasn’t been able to experience the finality of it, and doesn’t have the apprehension of the longing, it’s impossible to explain.

In fact, I’m 30 years older than her, and I find myself trying to imagine what life without my mother will be like, and I can’t really imagine it. It’s the closest I’ve come to imagining what life with a child will be like, versus what life with a child is really like. It’s oddly the same process. Simliar to our five stages of grief, Ameli seems to have traversed the stages too, but without the sense of fear or loss. She’s faced:

  1. Denial – “no, she’s not dying” – I’m afraid she is, darling, even though we don’t want her to. 
  2. Anger – “I don’t want her to die!” – None of us do, but sometimes things happen, even if we don’t want them to. 
  3. Bargaining – “I know! We can just take her to the hospital. Then she’ll get better” – Not this time. This isn’t something the doctors can fix.
  4. Depression – “I don’t want Nana to die {with tears this time}”. I know darling. Neither do I. It’s okay to be sad. 
  5. Acceptance – “When Nana dies, we won’t be able to see her anymore, but that’s okay, because one day we will be with her again and till then, we can just watch our videos of her.” – That’s a good idea girlie. Do you want to watch one now?

Something that has been helpful has been allowing her to ask questions, make {crazy} suggestions, and at times be almost hurtful in her throwaway comments – I wont miss Nana. I don’t mind if Nana dies. I don’t want to see Nana.

Separating her child behavior from my loss has been essential in gently explaining death to her. You can’t fear loss if you’ve never felt loss, so expecting an adult level of saying the right thing at the right time from a child only sets you up for pain.

I remember when my dad’s grandmother died. I didn’t really know her, and I didn’t have a relationship with her. I was really upset that I had to cancel my 13th birthday party. I saw it only in light of it’s impact on me, but having never known the loss of a loved one, I didn’t understand.

I asked a group of friends one day how you deal with this type of death, and how you explain it to a child. Most of them agreed that the children tend to accept death as another part of life. It’s just something that happens, and while they may have vague fond memories of the person, and might even ask for them, for the most part, life goes on. (Assuming it’s not a direct care giver, I think!)

Of course, in our situation, despite the terminal diagnosis my mother is still going strong, making the concept even harder to explain, but when we arrived in Australia, and the chemotherapy was eeking the life out of her faster than the cancer was, it was simply a matter of reinforcing, explaining, reminding what was going on.

Now that she is on so-called alternative therapies and thriving, getting stronger and even thinking of returning to work, it all seems a bit confusing, but, with the true resilience of childhood, Ameli carries on.

How to talk to children about death:

  • Talk to them when you are calm and relatively controlled in your grief
  • Talk to them at a good time, when there aren’t distractions and they aren’t tired or hungry
  • Explain in age appropriate terms, and according to your beliefs. We believe in heaven, so we were able to explain that we will see her in heaven again one day, once we’ve died too. 
  • Allow for questions generally based on the stages of grief – this is a good measure of their understanding too
  • Don’t take hurtful or insensitive comments personally. 
  • Be led by your child. Don’t put your feelings and emotions on them, and don’t expect them to have an adult understanding or response to your grief.

How do you talk to children about difficult situations? Do you remember when you first lost someone? How was it dealt with and how do you think it could have been handled differently?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit 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:

(This list will be updated by afternoon March 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • A Difficult Conversation — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is keeping her mouth shut about a difficult topic.
  • Discussing Sexuality and Objectification With Your Child — At Authentic Parenting, Laura is puzzled at how to discuss sexuality and objectification with her 4-year-old.
  • Tough Conversations — Kadiera at Our Little Acorn knows there are difficult topics to work through with her children in the future, but right now, every conversation is a challenge with a nonverbal child.
  • Real Talk — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama explains why there are no conversation topics that are off limits with her daughter, and how she ensures that tough conversations are approached in a developmentally appropriate manner.
  • From blow jobs to boob jobs and lots of sex inbetweenMrs Green talks candidly about boob jobs and blow jobs…
  • When Together Doesn’t Work — Ashley at Domestic Chaos discusses the various conversations her family has had in the early stages of separation.
  • Talking To Children About Death — Luschka at Diary of a First Child is currently dealing with the terminal illness of her mother. In this post she shares how she’s explained it to her toddler, and some of the things she’s learned along the way.
  • Teaching 9-1-1 To Kids — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling talks about the importance of using practical, age-appropriate emergency scenarios as a springboard for 9-1-1 conversations.
  • Preschool Peer PressureLactating Girl struggles to explain to her preschooler why friends sometimes aren’t so friendly.
  • Frank Talk — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis unpacks a few conversations about sexuality that she’s had with her 2-year-old daughter, and her motivation for having so many frank discussions.
  • When simple becomes tough — A natural mum manages oppositional defiance in a toddler at Ursula Ciller’s Blog.
  • How Babies are Born: a conversation with my daughter — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger tries to expand her daughter’s horizons while treading lightly through the waters of pre-K social order.
  • Difficult Questions & Lies: 4 Reasons to Tell The Truth — Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection shares the potential impact that telling lies instead of taking the time to answer difficult questions can have on the parent-child relationship.
  • Parenting Challenges–when someone dies — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about talking to her child about death and the cultural challenges involved in living in a predominantly Catholic nation.
  • Daddy Died — Breaking the news to your children that their father passed away is tough. Erica at ChildOrganics shares her story.
  • Opennesssustainablemum prepares herself for the day when she has to tell her children that a close relative has died.
  • Embracing Individuality — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy addressed a difficult question in public with directness and honesty.
  • Making the scary or different okay — Although she tries to listen more than she talks about tough topics, Jessica Claire of Crunchy-Chewy Mama also values discussing them with her children to soften the blow they might cause when they hit closer to home.
  • Talking to My Child About Going Gluten Free — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama concluded that her family would benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet, she came up with a plan to persuade her gluten-loving son to find peace with the change. This is how they turned the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle into an adventure rather than a hardship.
  • How Does Your Family Explain Differences and Approach Diversity? — How do you and your family approach diversity? Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen shares her thoughts at Natural Parents Network and would like to hear from readers.
  • Discussing Difficult Topics with Kids: What’s Worked for Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares parenting practices that enabled discussions of difficult topics with her (now-adult) children to be positive experiences.
  • Tough Conversations — Get some pointers from Jorje of Momma Jorje on important factors to keep in mind when broaching tough topics with kids.
  • Sneaky people — Lauren at Hobo Mama has cautioned her son against trusting people who’d want to hurt him — and hopes the lessons have sunk in.
  • Mommy, What Does the Bible Say? — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work works through how to answer a question from her 4-year-old that doesn’t have a simple answer.
  • When All You Want for Them is Love: Adoption, Abandonment, and Honoring the Truth — Melissa at White Noise talks about balancing truth and love when telling her son his adoption story.

 

Children in (Volunteering) Service

I have plenty memories of volunteering in various places as a child. There was an animal shelter we’d go to every Saturday and help clean out the cages. There were kids we’d visit in hospitals. Later, in highschool, we used to visit elderly people in an old age home and sing to them, read to them, or just do odd jobs for them. We fundraised for our club or for trips by washing cars or baking and selling cakes. We went to a very rural school in South Africa (Venda, actually) and helped with the building of a new classroom, and painted buildings in our own school. We even worked with street children at one stage. As a school group, we were very active in community and volunteering projects, and at home, my parents encouraged the same.

There were a few places we went, during the course of my childhood, Delmas, Kwasisa Bantu, Petra – all mission stations, mission schools, and outreach programmes – where we were shared in the duties of the community.

My parents were active examples of how to volunteer, always there for other people, always helping people out, caring for others and the reality of other people’s lives. I’m incredibly grateful for these experiences. I truly believe that they’ve shaped who I’ve become, and it’s something I hope to pass on to my own children too because I believe there are valuable lessons to be learned from volunteering:

  • I believe that in volunteering a child learns skills they wouldn’t have necessarily have been exposed to – painting, bricklaying, cleaning, cataloguing library books, are just a few of the ones I was involved in.
  • In volunteering, children are shown that there is more to life than the life they know and that some people have a really hard time of it, have no families, have no food or are left alone and forgotten (like children or old people who have no visitors in hospital)
  • Children learn compassion by seeing other people in less than desirable circumstances – they notice the forgotten, the street children, the homeless. They learn to not be afraid of things they don’t understand.
  • There has been some research that has shown that children who are involved in volunteering have more of an interest in their community – which makes perfect sense, really – we all care more about the things we’re interested in.
  • It gives children a sense of value, and of worth, within the context of their community and environment, teaching them that every act of kindness matters.

“One kernel is felt in a hogshead; one drop of water helps to swell the ocean; a spark of fire helps to give light to the world. None are too small, too feeble, too poor to be of service. Think of this and act.” Hannah More

I would like to think that I am raising my children to be more concerned about the environment than celebrities, more focussed on what they can give than what they receive, and aware of the feelings and realities of life as faced by other people.

I hope that, when the time comes, and they can start reaching out, no matter how child-like the act may be, I hope that it will instill in them a sense of service, and of kindness and of giving back. I don’t believe it’s ever too early to start, and as JC Penney said, ““How can we expect our children to know and experience the joy of giving unless we teach them that the greater pleasure in life lies in the art of giving rather than receiving.”

 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo 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:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon November 13 with all the carnival links.)

  • Acts of Service: The Great Neighborhood Clean Up — Sarah at Firmly Planted shares how her daughter’s irritation with litter led to eekly cleanups.
  • Running for Charity — Find out how Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her love of running and a great new app to help feed the hungry.
  • 50 Family Friendly Community Service Project Ideas — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares a list of 50 family-friendly community service project ideas that are easy to incorporate to your daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonal rhythmn.
  • Volunteering with a Child — Volunteer work does not need to be put on hold while we raise our children. Jenn of Monkey Butt Junction discusses some creative options for volunteering with a child at Natural Parents Network.
  • Family Service Project: Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina — Erika at Cinco de Mommy volunteers with her children at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, where 29% of the recipients are children.
  • Family Service Learning: Advent Calendar — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers her family’s approach to some holiday-related community service by sharing their community focused Advent Calendar. She includes so tips and suggestions for making your own in time for this year’s holidays.
  • How to make street crossing flags as a family service project — Lauren at Hobo Mama offers a tutorial for an easy and relatively kid-friendly project that will engage young pedestrians.
  • Pieces of the Puzzle — Because of an experience Laura from Pug in the Kitchen had as a child, she’s excited to show her children how they can reach out to others and be a blessing.
  • Appalachian Bear Rescue — Erica at ChildOrganics shares how saving pennies, acorns and hickory nuts go a long way in helping rescue orphaned and injured black bears.
  • Volunteering to Burnout and Back — Jorje of Momma Jorje has volunteered to the point of burnout and back again… but how to involve little ones in giving back?
  • How to Help Your Kids Develop Compassion through Service Projects — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares service projects her family has done along with links to lots of resources for service projects you can do with your children.
  • Involving Young Children in Service — Leanna at All Done Monkey, the mother of a toddler, reflects on how to make service a joyful experience for young children.
  • A Letter to My Mama — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has dedicated her life to service, just like her own mama. Today Dionna is thanking her mother for so richly blessing her.
  • 5 Ways to Serve Others When You Have Small Children — It can be tough to volunteer with young children. Jennifer at Our Muddy Boots shares how her family looks for opportunities to serve in every day life.
  • When Giving It Away Is Too Hard for Mommy — Jade at Looking Through Jade Glass But Dimly lets her children choose the charity for the family but struggles when her children’s generosity extends to giving away treasured keepsakes.
  • Community Service Through Everyday Compassion — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children calls us to Community Service Through Everyday Compassion; sometimes it is the small things we can do everyday that make the greater impacts.
  • School Bags and Glad RagsAlt Family are trying to spread a little love this Christmas time by involving the kids in a bit of charity giving.
  • Children in (Volunteering) Service — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reminisces on her own experiences of volunteering as a child, reflects on what she thinks volunteering teaches children and how she hopes voluntary service will impact on her own children.

 

How To Make The Most Of A Very Wet Summer

I’ve often said that I’m not very ‘crafty’ and don’t really enjoy too much ‘messy’ play, but any parent to a toddler knows that that just comes with the territory – either that, or your child’s not having much fun. It’s been a learning experience for me, and I must admit, it’s growing on me. Now that Aviya is getting a little older and is able to do real crafts, it’s almost fun.

I started a series recently called Andrea’s Summer Camp At Home. It came about when an old friend of mine, who now lives in Canada with her two boys, aged 5 and 2 decided that to survive the 12 weeks of summer holiday she would need a plan. Others quickly jumped on board and soon Andrea’s Summer Camp At Home was born.

 

Welcome to the July 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Creations

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared crafts, recipes, and philosophies of creativity. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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There’s a theme for each week, which has been awesome, and an activity for each day, and the best part of it has been the flexibility. We’re really enjoying it.

Here are some of our activities from week 1: Ice Cream.

Our home made ice cream truck, painting with water beads in the bath, decorating ‘ice cream’ cupcakes, (Bottom left:) making ice cream balloon shakers, cut and paste water bead ice cream cones and glitter pen ice cream, coloured popsicles. 

And here are a few activities from week 2: Wild Animals  (We actually did very few of the week two activities, and added a few of our own out of our craft box!)

Home made playdough, painting toilet rolls with glitter glue, decorated and drying, (bottom left:) painted frog, looking at the frog through the now dried binoculars, give a child two cups – one with animal shapes, one with bells – and sit back and watch what they get up to. Amazing. 

We’re now in week 3: Ocean theme and so far we’ve had two fishy-dinners this week. I work the first half of the week, so crafty fun has to happen towards the end of the week, but we’re looking forward to it. You can see what we’ll be doing though and feel free to join in! If you want more information on ASCAH, read the first post about it. You can join in at any point, too!

 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit 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:

(This list will be updated by afternoon July 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Garden Soup — Bailey finds a way to help momma Katy (from Muse of a Daffodil) in the garden.
  • This One Time, I Tried To Make a Car — Ashley at Domestic Chaos tries once again to make something crafty from stuff around the house.
  • Pin-tastic creative ideas — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how Pinterest is inspiring creativity in her family this summer.
  • Baby Hiccups In The Womb — Alinka at Baby Web shares one of the ways she bonds with her unborn baby.
  • Turtle Mosaics — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school and her little family spend a quiet hour making a turtle mosaic inspired by the work of Melanie Mikecz.
  • Edible Art Plus 8 Art Supply Recipes — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares some natural, chemical-free art supply alternatives, which are gauranteed to be tons of fun for children or all ages. They taste great too!
  • A surprise art lesson — Tat at Mum in search has been taking art lessons from her 5-year-old son.
  • Memory Creation — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about how her family aims to create as many memories as they can as a family.
  • A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words — Melissa at Momma Beer tries to replace cars with crafts.
  • My Creative Family: Sometimes Messy, Always Fun — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM embraces the messes that sometimes accompany creative play but admits you don’t always have to get dirty to have fun.
  • Fun Family Learning: Constellation Cave Tutorial — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter gives step-by-step instructions for building a fun new twist on a cardboard box playhouse.
  • Cooking… Kind Of — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings makes pizza with her daughter, hoping to inspire a love of cooking and encourage a bigger interest in food. As well as making mess and having lots of fun, of course!
  • Crockpot Refried BeansThat Mama Gretchen‘s family loves to experiment with new recipes, and today she’s sharing a kitchen success!
  • Creating Memories — Andrea at Tales of Goodness reflects on how the best creations can emerge from just letting kids be kids.
  • Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones — Tamara at Tea for Three looks for ways to add more craft and creativity into every day family life.
  • Making Fruit Leather Together — When Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work took some time to involve her children in the process of finally trying a fruit leather recipe stored on her Pinterest food board, she got more than just a scrumptious homemade snack as a result!
  • Making Glasses from Children’s Art — Mandy at Living Peacefuly with Children used her children’s artwork to make some very special glasses for her husband for Father’s Day.
  • Preparing Family Meals Together — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares how she started the tradition of creating meals together with her children, which makes family gatherings more fun.
  • It’s a trap! — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares the innovative snares her son and husband have set for her.
  • How To Make The Most Of A Very Wet Summer — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shows us the first few weeks of the Summer Camp At Home project for keeping boredom at bay.
  • Creating with… well, what do we have? — If necessity is the mother of invention, Momma Jorje thinks perhaps boredom is (or at least can be) the mother of creativity. In a pinch, she got creative with a household item to entertain herself and her toddler.
  • Creating Joy! Felt Counting Fish and other Fun — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle started creating Felt Counting Fish and then fell down the rabbit hole of fun with a number of other games.
  • I Am Going! (A Code Name: Mama Homemade Theater Production of Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie book) — This might be the finest example of child and baby acting ever recorded. Enjoy this Mo Willems treasure via video from Dionna at Code Name: Mama.
  • DIY Summer Sleep Sack for Baby Tutorial — Shannon at GrowingSlower made an organic summer sleep sack for baby, and you can too with her easy tutorial.
  • Chalk It Up! — Amy at Anktangle recounts how an impulse buy has turned into a fun collaborative activity that she hopes will continue to foster creativity in the whole family.
  • The Family Garden — Excited that her son has been a big help in the garden this year, Ana at Pandamoly shares how her garden grows and offers up some secrets on how a toddler can be a great assistant in the garden.
  • Getting my craft on — Jona at Life, Intertwined takes a trip down memory lane — and finds it in stitches.
  • Easy DIY Sandpit for Toddler Play — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares her easy DIY toddler sandpit tutorial.
  • Building Without Nails — Laura at Laura’s Blog builds a swinging bar using just sticks and twine.
  • Family Talent Show — Erika at Cinco de Mommy holds an after-dinner family talent show.
  • Ar matey! Fun and Learning with Pirate Play. Positive Parenting Connection is sharing lots of really fun Pirate-themed learning activities for the whole family.

 

10 Reasons to Choose Baby Led Weaning

I love baby led weaning and it’s one of the greatest things I’ve discovered in parenting. It always amazes me how people struggle with both the time consuming and financial burden of purée feeding.

I once tried to explain Baby Led Weaning to mothers on a parenting forum and what amazed me the most was how negative they all were: the most common argument was how ‘scary’ it sounded, or how ‘dangerous’. Which I felt was a little sad. I mean really, which parts of parenting don’t feel scary or dangerous at times?

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Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

The Carnival of Natural Parenting is hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama.

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So, here are seven reasons why I think Baby Led Weaning is better for babies:

  • Benefits of longer milk feeding/ digestive preparedness

Baby led weaning doesn’t normally start until the baby is around six months old, able to sit up on his/her own and has shown some interest in food. As a result, a baby led weaned baby will probably stay on milk feeds until around a year before solids really make up much of the diet at all. Following the ‘food is fun till one’ principle, a BLW baby will receive most of their nutrients by milk while playing with food until one, when they’ll start eating more. With my little girl, there was a marked difference in the quantity of solid food she ate before her first birthday compared to how much she ate a few weeks down the line.

Since baby is still on milk, they are getting all the nutrients required, and you don’t have to worry about force feeding a child that doesn’t want to eat.

  • Natural motion of babies mouth

The mouth is designed for food. When a baby breastfeeds, their sucking motion isn’t actually sucking at all. If you watch a breastfeeding baby, you’ll see the jaw moves almost in a chewing motion – which it doesn’t do with bottle feeding. Breastfeeding prepares a baby for chewing, and baby led weaning helps them to take food in, chew and swallow, rather than puree feeding which simply requires them to suck back (which is where choking hazards come in) and swallow.

  • Natural desire to feed self

Babies have a natural instinctive desire to feed themselves. Have you ever seen a baby fighting to try and grab the spoon? They are naturally inclined to learn to feed themselves. And why not? If your 12 month old can feed herself, you won’t still be having to spoon feed at 3 years old. And you won’t be making airoplane noises or choo chooing around the room to get your child to eat either.

  • Experience of different textures and flavours

Food is fun till one is a great, and messy, principle. It means that everything that goes on the plate becomes an experiment of flavours and textures. Mushing marrow between the fingers, slip-sliding mango up and down the plate, ‘tearing’ pieces of bread or meat, and spearing sashimi (raw salmon) Baby-led weaning breakfastare all great explorations and help prevent pickiness.

  • Promotes development of hand-eye coordination and finger dexterity

Picking up kernels of rice one at a time requires quite a bit of dexterity and concentration, so it’s great for developing these essential skills. Chasing a cherry tomato around a plate and capturing it requires hand-eye coordination. And the reward is tasty.

  • Less picky eaters

It is said that BLW toddlers aren’t as picky eaters as their puree fed counterparts. This is partly due to having been exposed to different foods (I don’t see sushi and asparagus flavours in pots), but also to the different textures so there’s not the expectation of mush – blended mush- and baby gets to know individual flavours, sharp tastes, sour tastes and so on.

  • Baby listens to own body

Although I can’t find much by way of scientific evidence for this – after all, who’s going to pay for a study that’s not going to make anyone any money? – it is anecdotally claimed that babies won’t eat food that is later found to be bad for them. I have personal experience of this with my daughter. I’m willing to trust it, because in the end it can’t hurt.

But there are also at least three benefits for mama, and the family as a whole:

  • Starting Baby-Led WeaningLess strain in terms of  time and cost

I don’t know what a month’s worth of puree feeding costs, but I understand it’s quite a lot. At least with baby led weaning, you don’t have to spend money on bottles of food, and you don’t have to spend time on spoon feeding.

  • No need to puree, easier to prepare food

Maybe you’ve always made your own purees, so it hasn’t cost you that much? That’s fine, but with no need for puree’s you don’t need to stand praparing seperate meals. You don’t have to wash your blender every day. You don’t need to buy special food pureeing equipment. You make your family meal, and everyone eats the same thing.

  • Family eats healthier, mum doesn’t finish off baby’s food

Everyone eating the same thing is also healthier for the whole family. For the most part, we all try to do the best we can for our babies, and we want to give them as healthy food as possible, which generally means the whole family eats healthier. In addition, there’s no weight gain from finishing little Johnny’s fishfingers after your own meal. What we do is simple: I prepare the same amount of food as we’ve always done, and take a few bits and pieces off each of our plates to give to Ameli. She doesn’t eat a huge amount anyway, but now that her appetite is increasing, I just make a little bit more, and any left overs go into the freezer for days when I don’t have time to cook.

These are my reasons for baby led weaning. Can you think of any more?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit 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:

  • Choosing to Breastfeed — From selfishness to self-giving, CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy lists reasons why breast is best for her and her family.
  • The Top 10 Ways to Succeed as an Working Attachment Parent — That Mama Gretchen shares tried and true ways to succeed with attachment parenting even when working away from home during the day.
  • Ten Ways Families Can Enjoy Nature (for free!) — Spring is nearly in the air, and Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction is dreaming of the fun and frugal ways that her family is going to get out and enjoy nature this summer.
  • Top 10 Nursing Positions / Situations — Momma Jorje uses her 5½ years of nursing experience to share her Top 10 Nursing Positions/Situations. She includes some adorable photos of her youngest daughter at the breast.
  • My Top Ten (plus two) Life Altering and Growth Inspiring Books — A top ten list of books from MJ at Wander Wonder Discover that changed her life as an individual, a parent, and an earth dweller.
  • Top Ten Ways to Be Present With Family — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares how to make the most of parenting and family life through being present.
  • Top Ten Reasons Why Natural Parenting Dads Are So Attractive — Nada at miniMOMist sure digs her husband, but it’s not just his good looks — it’s his parenting!
  • Top Ten Natural Tools for the Work of Play — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree offers insight into 10 natural toys that will span the early years (and save you money).
  • Top Ten Ways To Have a Harmonious Home — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her natural parenting-inspired methods for maintaining a harmonious daily life with her toddler.
  • Top Ten Reasons Why Home Birth Rocks — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares her passion for birthing at home – the natural place for natural birth.
  • Top Ten Books for Natural Parenting — Pregnancy, herbs, cooking, and healthcare — the ten books Asha at Meta Mom the most.
  • Top 10 Slacker Ways to Natural Parent — Guavalicious is happy to show you how to parent naturally the slacker way.
  • Top10 Ways to Spark Interest, Learn, and Have Fun With Everyday Tasks! — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon gives you her top 10 ways of incorporating fun and lessons into everyday tasks and chores.
  • Top 10 Tips on Authentic Grandparenting — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting offers a list of tips to make the grandparent-parent-child relationship flow smoothly.
  • Top 10 books for raising loving, spiritual children — In her ‘food for the soul’ post, Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares her favourite spiritual books. No matter what religion you practise, there’s something for everyone!
  • Top 10 Ways to Know You Are a Natural Parent — So what makes us “natural parents,” anyway? A lighthearted look at the Top 10 Ways to Know You Are a Natural Parent by the editors and readers of Natural Parents Network.
  • 10 Things That Helped Me Become a Natural Mama — The Accidental Natural Mama counts down ten things that helped her find her moderately crunchy inner mama self.
  • 10 Reasons We Unschool — Patti at Jazzy Mama explains why unschooling is the right choice for her family.
  • Top 10 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Toddler — Extended breast-feeder Kate Wicker of Momopoly makes her own top 10 list for why she loves nursing her 2-year-old.
  • 10 Lessons in 1 Year — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares 10 parenting lessons that she has learned throughout her first year of motherhood.
  • My Top Ten Parenting Tools — Amyables at Toddler In Tow names the top ten tools that have been helpful to her while learning to parent respectfully and successfully.
  • 10 Reasons to Choose Baby Led Weaning — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares ten reasons to choose Baby Led Weaning when it comes to solids.
  • Top 10 reasons to choose midwifery care — Lauren at Hobo Mama lists the features that drew her to midwives’ care for pregnancy and birth.
  • Top 10 Reasons to Co-Sleep — 10 practical, emotional, and completely selfish reasons to co-sleep and share a family bed from Lily, aka Witch Mom.
  • Top 10 Things No One Told Me About Natural Parenting — Adrienne at Mommying My Way explains that the best things about natural parenting are things she never expected.
  • Natural Parenting Benny & Bex Style — Pecky at Benny and Bex explains why Natural Parenting principles work best for her boys.
  • Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Time-Out — If you are uncomfortable using time-outs in an attempt to control your child’s behavior, try one of these gentler alternatives. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Time-Out.
  • Top 10 Breastfeeding Misconceptions — Sheila at A Gift Universe examines ten reasons women give for why they didn’t breastfeed as long as they wanted, and shows how these obstacles can be overcome.
  • Postpartum Gift Ideas — Alicia at I Found My Feet suggests a top 10 list of gifts for mother’s after giving birth.
  • Top Ten Mama Necessities Money Can’t Buy — Buying baby gear is fun, but Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama knows real parenting must-haves can’t be bought in stores (or even on Amazon).
  • The Pandas’ Top Five Crunch-osophies — Top five crunchy philosophies, as employed at the Panda Residence by Ana at Pandamoly.
  • Top 10 Reasons to Leave Your Son Intact — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children has shared 10 reasons why you should leave your newborn son intact.
  • Top Ten New Mom Survival Tools — Wolfmother shares her most beloved motherhood survival tools at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • My Top 10 Parenting Scriptures — Dulce de leche is learning to integrate faith and parenting. Whether it is breastfeeding, babywearing, comforting her children, or gentle discipline, she finds that the Bible has beautiful passages to encourage her on her journey.
  • Ten Great Spring Activities To Do With Preschoolers — Kellie at Our Mindful Life and her family have come up with a great list of activities to do together this spring.
  • Attachment Parenting in the NICU — Erica at ChildOrganics shares some strategies to help you parent naturally in some unnatural circumstances.
  • Preparing for a Hospital VBAC: My Top 10 — Thomasin at Propson Palingenesis shares 10 ways she’s preparing for her upcoming hospital VBAC.
  • 10 Ways to Reuse Yogurt Containers — Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes keeps the stacks of yogurt containers out of her recycling bin by reusing them in both practical and creative ways.
  • Top Ten Things Every Breastfeeding Mother Needs to Know — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood believes knowledge is power and wants all moms to be well informed.
  • Simply what it looks like — Andrea!!! from Ella-Bean & Co. offers a glimpse into natural parenting through the eyes of mama and babe.
  • Natural Cleaning Ideas – Top 10 — Laura at Laura’s Blog lists the ways she keeps her house clean and clear of chemicals.
  • My Top Ten Shows Worthy Of Screen Time — Tree at Mom Grooves shares her top ten list of shows that she believes are positive, educational, kind, joyful, and a nice way to share some downtime with your children.
  • 10 differences between pregnancy and parenting in Japan and the US — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry gives her impressions about differences in pregnancy and parenting in Japan and the US.
  • Top Ten “Dad” Things — Liam at In The Now talks about his favourite ways to spend time with his children.
  • 10 Most Popular Ways To Treat Cloth Diaper Stains — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey gives ten easy tips to make your diapers like new.
  • Top 10 reasons why cloth nappies are fun — Tat at Cloth Nappies Are Fun shows how using cloth nappies can brighten up your day.
  • Top 10 Books for a Natural Mum — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine talks about her Top 10 Books for a Natural Mum.
  • Top 10 Ways to Use Natural Parenting for Children with Special Needs — Danielle at Mommy Makes Cents feeds the needs of her family and special needs child through the use of Natural Parenting.
  • Ten things everyone should know about unassisted homebirth — Olivia at Write About Birth shares practical tips for women considering an unassisted homebirth and debunks some common myths
  • Ten Reasons it Felt Sew Good To Make My Own Play Food — Brittany at Mama’s Felt Cafe lists her 10 (OK, 11) favorite reasons to grab a needle and start sewing your own felt play toys.
  • Ten Reasons to Plan a Home Birth — Since a home birth can be an incredibly empowering experience, Leslie at Lights and Letters outlines ten reasons why you should plan to have your baby at home.
  • Top Ten Books for Birth, Breastfeeding and Parenting — Megan at Just Me(gan) writes about the ten books that have helped her the most in her natural parenting journey.
  • Step Away From the Amazon List — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine wishes she hadn’t bought so much useless stuff.
  • 10 Ways to Cloth Diaper on a Budget — Michelle at The Parent Vortex shares her best thrifty cloth diapering tips.
  • Top 10 Natural Strategies for Conception (aka How to Get Pregnant!) — Despite facing plenty of health issues, Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama found her way to two first-try pregnancies thanks to these natural strategies.
  • Must Read: Natural Parenting Top Ten — Amy at Anktangle wants you to do a little reading! She shares her top ten favorite books to help parents prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
  • Top 10 ways I’m not very good at natural parenting (and why I keep trying anyway) — Jenny at Babyfingers shares the ways she is imperfect as a natural parent, and why she embraces natural parenting anyway.
  • Going Granola — Tashmica from The Mother Flippin’ Blog describes the 10 ways that natural parenting sneaked up on her. She never expected to go all granola on the world.
  • My Top Ten New Mommy Moments — Melissa at The New Mommy Files recounts the ten most memorable moments of her daughter’s first year.
  • A Top Ten Letter To Me… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes herself a letter of reflections and bits of wisdom she would have liked to know as a new mama.
  • 10 reasons why I chose breast over bottles — Becky at Old New Legacy writes a quick list of why she chose breast over bottles.
  • Top 10 Ways to Get Breastfeeding Off To a Good Start — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes shares 10 effective ways to ensure breastfeeding gets off to a good start.
  • Ten Fundamentals — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante gets philosophical with a list of the fundamentals that drive her natural parenting.
  • Top 10 Montessori Principles for Natural Learning — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now gives her top 10 list of Montessori principles parents can use to encourage their children’s natural learning.
  • Ten Top Ways to Connect Kids with Nature — Terri from Child at the Nature Isle offers 10 ways to immerse ourselves in the natural world and develop a love affair with the Earth.
  • 10 Natural Baby Items I Love — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares product ideas to support your natural parenting.
  • Top 10 Things In My Arsenal of Kitchen Witchy Mama Tricks. — Joni Rae at Tales of A Kitchen Witch shares with us the simple things she would never want to be missing from her cupboards.
  • Top 10 Flower Essences for Families — Kim of Nature Baby Bloggings lists her pick of the top ten flower essence which can help ease families through the ups and downs of life.
  • 10 Family Systems and Routines That Work for Us — See what routines, organizational systems, and parenting approaches work for Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings to help avoid conflict and maintain sanity in a family with three young children.
  • Ten Things I Wish I Knew About Before Little Man — In this reflective post, The ArstyMama discusses ten things she wishes she knew more about before the birth of her son, Little Man.
  • The Top 10 Things Every Natural Household (with children) Should Have — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares a list of the most common natural products and remedies she uses for health and cleaning.
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