Natural Baby Care


There are many facets to what’s called natural baby care. The cornerstones of this parenting theory have to do with following baby’s cues and exposing him or her to as few environmental toxins as possible, while also minimizing the amount of waste that’s created by taking care of an infant.

Breastfeeding is an important element of natural baby care. Baby should breastfeed as often as he or she wants; baby will benefit from the skin-to-skin contact and physical closeness of nursing, as well as all the beneficial antibodies and nutrients in breastmilk. Formula is seldom used in natural baby care; if mothers want to feed from a bottle, or have to be away from their babies, they prefer to pump their milk so their baby can always have it available.

Babywearing is another key component of natural baby care. Mom “wears” baby in a fabric carrier or sling that holds him or her close to her body and allows baby to see the world from mom’s (or dad’s, or any other caregiver’s) point of view while still being snuggled close to a warm, comforting body. Baby can also nurse and nap easily while being worn.

Mothers who want to practice natural parenting often use cloth diapers, which are said to minimize the effects of wetness on baby’s skin. Since cloth diapers absorb less liquid, they get wet faster, and aren’t left on the skin as long, which reduces the risk of skin irritation and diaper rash. Baby will also feel wetter faster when wearing a cloth diaper, and may fuss when wet, which will give mom a sign to change baby. Cloth diapers can also be washed, which means they don’t have to be thrown away: this results in less trash entering the waste stream. It’s debatable whether cloth diapers are really more ecologically friendly than disposable diapers, since they take so much water to wash.

Natural baby care also involves using natural baby products, such as shampoos and soaps that don’t contain potentially harmful chemicals like parabens. Parents choose products carefully, often using ones with naturally derived ingredients like herbs, fruits and vegetables rather than chemicals.

Parents who practice natural baby care don’t sleep-train their children, or use “cry-it-out” methods of regulating a baby’s sleep schedule. They believe sleep training can damage a child psychologically and create problems later in life. They prefer to gently “parent” their babies to sleep using a variety of methods, from babywearing to rocking to cosleeping.

Cosleeping is another key issue of natural baby care. Mom and baby sleep together in the same bed, rather than baby sleeping in a crib. Some mainstream physicians say this practice is dangerous, but others say it actually can reduce the risk of SIDS, because mom’s heart rate and breathing act as a regulator for baby, minimizing the chances that baby will stop breathing while asleep. Cosleeping advocates say their babies grow up happier and better adjusted.


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