13 Simple Natural Parenting Techniques You Can Try Today!
As a mum, I’m always looking for ways to make my family a little happier and healthier. For me, I’ve found that balance through natural parenting!
My journey to natural parenting is just that – a journey. I am not ‘perfect’, and that’s the way I like it. But I am always trying to find what fits best for my family, and implementing these natural parenting techniques has helped me to feel more relaxed and happy!
Read on to discover 13 simple natural parenting techniques you can try today!
1. Prepare For Your Birth And Be Fearless!
Natural parenting, attachment parenting, gentle parenting…..whatever you call it. It begins before birth. Natural parenting relies heavily on following our instincts, and birth is about as instinctual as it gets!
We are constantly told that we are too old, too small, too overdue, too big to have a ‘natural’, unassisted birth. But this is simply not true. Your body was made to do this and too many women are having traumatic birth experiences because they are made to feel out of control.
Preparing for your birth is one way to ensure that you can birth naturally and without fear.
Read more about why preparing for birth is important here. And get a free birth plan template too!
2. Use Feeding Time as Bonding Time
The bond between parent and child is at the heart of natural parenting, and during the early stages, this bond is cultivated while feeding. We all know the amazing benefits of breastfeeding, but this is not an option for everyone. So whether you are able to breastfeed or are bottle feeding, use this time for bonding!
A baby’s eyesight can only focus about 8-15 inches away. This allows them to see their parent’s face perfectly from the breast position. Allowing them to make eye contact with, and to study their parent’s face.
This beautiful evolutionary adaption means that your baby will associate the comforting and nurturing feeling of being fed with YOU – helping to lay the foundation of a healthy attachment.
3. Practice Nighttime Parenting
Getting our babies to sleep through the night is a big deal! We are told when they should be sleeping through, and we are also told exactly how they should be sleeping.
But taking away those expectations can really help you to relax and be flexible when it comes to your little one’s schedule. Because lets face it, you’re on their time now!
Nighttime parenting is about removing those expectations and being willing to feed and comfort during the night. Babies are brand new to life, and they are unaware of ‘night’ and ‘day’. All they know is that they need you to meet all their needs, no matter the time of day.
You may choose to safely co-sleep to assist in nighttime parenting, or you may choose other sleeping arrangements. Either way, engaging in nighttime parenting helps to promote that bond and secure attachment that every child needs!
4. Have Some Skin-To-Skin Time
Skin to skin contact between babies and parents has so many wonderful benefits!
Research has shown that engaging in skin to skin contact straight after birth can help an infant to stabilize their blood sugars, regulate their temperature, and maintain better physiological stability than infants who are taken from their mothers following birth.
Skin to skin contact also releases oxytocin – the ‘love hormone’ – in the brain. Oxytocin has been shown to increase maternal bonding, and helps parents to feel more relaxed and calm!
5. Give Baby-Wearing A Try!
Baby wearing isn’t for everyone, but it has many benefits and I found it helped make those early few months a little easier!
A newborn baby has just spent the first 9 months of their existence floating peacefully around your womb. In the womb they were gently rocked and cradled, and soothed by the constant beating of your heart.
Baby-wearing helps with the transition to the outside world! Your baby can lay their head on your chest and hear your heartbeat. They are also being gently cradled and as a bonus, they get all of that loving contact they crave!
Some people choose to exclusively baby wear, and others choose to limit baby wearing to certain times or circumstances. I found baby-wearing to be helpful during shopping trips, or when I was trying to get things done around the house.
6. Try Some Positive Discipline
Positive discipline is a respectful way of teaching good behavior. The concepts behind positive discipline include:
- Mutual respect. Adults model firmness by respecting themselves and the needs of the situation, and kindness by respecting the needs of the child.
- Identifying the belief behind the behavior. Effective discipline recognizes the reasons kids do what they do and works to change those beliefs, rather than merely attempting to change behavior.
- Effective communication and problem solving skills.
- Discipline that teaches (and is neither permissive nor punitive).
- Focusing on solutions instead of punishment.
- Encouragement (instead of praise). Encouragement notices effort and improvement, not just success, and builds long-term self-esteem and empowerment.
Practicing positive discipline has helped me to have a calmer toddler who rarely (ok, sometimes :P) throws tantrums, and who is aware of her own emotions and needs.
You can also find some helpful ideas on how to discipline a toddler without hitting here.
7. Take Some Me Time
I cannot stress this enough! Looking after yourself and making sure your mental wellbeing is in check is vital to being the best parent/partner/person you can be!
I personally struggled with postpartum anxiety (read about it here), and quickly learned that I needed to look after myself too!
Maybe it’s something as simple as taking a bath or watching your favorite TV show. Or maybe you can go for a run, or practice some meditation. For me, I find working on personal projects, such as this blog, helps me to develop as a person outside of being a mother. And this is essential to my wellbeing!
8. Connect With Nature
Natural parenting is all about fostering a connection with nature!
Getting outdoors and exploring nature with your kids has both psychological and physiological benefits.
Recent research has started to show that being outside is important for children’s physiological development, being outside can even improve their eyesight!
Not only this, but connecting with nature has been shown to decrease stress and improve resilience in children, and has also been shown to improve their cognitive functioning.
Lastly, developing an appreciation for nature at an early age fosters an intrinsic motivation to protect our planet!
9. Eat More Whole Foods
Whole Foods are foods that are unrefined and unprocessed. Such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Adding more whole foods to your child’s diet helps them to get all the nutrients they need, which is important for their physical development and psychological wellbeing.
It’s been shown time and time again that chemically processed and refined foods are detrimental to our health (read more here).
Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly fine to eat processed foods in moderation (we love a good burger and fries), but taking steps towards a more wholesome diet is an important part of natural parenting!
10. Try Some Sensory Play
From birth, children explore the world through their senses – vision, touch, taste, smell, hearing, and proprioception. Stimulating and engaging these senses is crucial to a child’s development.
In a natural setting, a child’s senses are stimulated a lot more than in a man-made setting. They can hear the sounds of animals in the distance, smell the earth, feel the rough textures of the trees and the smooth textures of the rocks. They also have to navigate uneven terrain.
Engaging in sensory play helps to recreate this natural setting by stimulating all of those senses. Not only does sensory play help a child’s development, but it can also prevent sensory meltdown and improve attention and concentration. If a child it not used to having their senses stimulated, it can cause them to be easily overwhelmed in a situation that has a lot of things going on – leading to sensory meltdown!
Getting used to having their senses stimulated helps improve concentration and attention. For example, if they are engaging in play with another child, they will be able to block out surrounding stimulation and concentrate on the game! Read more about sensory play here.
11. Be Conscious Of Your Ecological Footprint
Caring for the environment starts in your own home, and setting a good example is important!
As parents, we play the biggest role in changing and shaping the future generation, and one way that we can do that is by teaching our children about how to care for the environment. Show them how to recycle and try using biodegradable products!
Like I mentioned before, fostering a connection with the environment is also an excellent way to teach them about nature and why it’s important for us to care for it!
12. Look Into Holistic Healthcare
Families who practice natural parenting often look at health holistically.
The World Health Organization defines health as a state of total physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.
This means that in order to keep your family healthy, you must make a conscious decision to take a holistic approach to health.
You can do this by engaging in regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, looking into complimentary healthcare, and even practicing meditation.
13. Follow Your Instincts
Finally, the most important natural parenting technique is to follow your instincts! Do what feels natural for you and your family, and listen to that inner voice!