What Is Natural Parenting?
Natural parenting is an umbrella term for a number of parenting ideologies that all have the same goal: to birth and raise our children the way nature intended.
Natural parenting encompasses ‘gentle parenting’, ‘attachment parenting’ and ‘conscious parenting’ practices.
The underlying philosophy behind natural parenting is to parent consciously and instinctively. And to meet our baby’s needs. Of course, we all want to meet our baby’s needs. But conventional parenting has shifted considerably from how nature intended us to meet them. And this can be a problem!
We are raising the first generation that is expected to die before their parents
We live in a society that has changed dramatically over the past few hundred years. This might seem like a long time, but from an evolutionary perspective, it’s a mere blip! As humans we haven’t had a chance to evolutionarily ‘catch up’.
We evolved over millions of years to live in a natural environment. As a result, mental health problems are on the rise. We are more depressed and anxious. There is an obesity epidemic, and we are raising the first generation that is expected to die before their parents.
As a parent, you play the most important role in shaping our children’s future. Your relationship with your child is the first one they’ll ever know, and the most important one.
The connection between parents and children is one of the most important determining factors of emotional health and wellbeing. And encouraging this attachment is at the heart of natural parenting.
The Basic Principles of Natural Parenting
Attachment/Responsive parenting generally includes the following practices:
- Prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
- Feed with love and respect.
- Respond with sensitivity.
- Use nurturing touch.
- Engage in nighttime parenting.
- Provide consistent, loving care.
- Practice gentle, positive discipline.
- Strive for balance in personal and family life.
You may choose to breastfeed, baby wear or co-sleep. Or perhaps you only choose to do one of those things. The most important factor is that you make conscious decisions about what feels natural for YOU!
Enjoying And Caring For Nature
Families who choose to parent naturally foster a connection with the environment. They do this by making conscious choices to minimize their ecological footprint (for example, by using cloth or biodegradable diapers, choosing organic, and supporting local economy where possible). And by engaging in outdoor activities as a family.
Again, it may not be possible to do all of these things! But caring for the environment begins in our own homes, and encouraging our children to do the same is important. Being in nature is also important for our family’s psychological wellbeing, and our children’s developmental growth!
Choosing Holistic Healthcare
Families who choose to parent naturally have a holistic approach to healthcare. This includes eating a balanced diet, getting adequate exercise and employing both Western and complementary/alternative medicine.
It also involves making conscious decisions about their family’s healthcare, and doing independent research before making any health decisions.
Finding Your Own Normal
Parents are thrown advice left, right, and centre. But natural parenting is about listening to that inner voice. The one that tells you to hold your baby, despite people telling you they will become spoiled.
It’s about following your instincts, and finding what is most natural for YOU. It’s about parenting consciously and independently of what society says is ‘normal’.
Use your voice, because your baby doesn’t have one yet, and do what you KNOW is best for them!