Tag Archives: Crying Infant

Anthroposophy and Infant care

This has been a post waiting to happen for some time now. And having recently received the Incarnating Child by Joan Salter, I have finally started to get my head around some of the issues that bother me about how anthroposophists (some, not all) approach babies and how to care for them.

My biggest issues are with breastfeeding, crying and sleeping. I think the broad anthrophosophical approach with toys, clothing, decor, rhythm, toiletries, media, parent staying home, not vaccinating babies etc is pretty much spot on – but weaning at 6-9 months, leaving babies to cry and forcing babies to sleep in their own beds just does not sit right with me. I suspect that anthroposophists who choose to parent their babies in this way, using justifications put forward in anthroposophical literature are missing the developmental needs of babies. As soon as the child is independent in the sense that s/he can get to where they want to be and ask for what they need, then I am more supportive of the anthroposophical approach and I think there is much wisdom there.

Weaning a baby at 6-9 months as his spiritual needs recquire him to be independent of the maternal forces of inheritance, giving him a good start in life to be a strong independent person just boggles my mind. Authors who suggest this are obvisouly not up to date with the significance of extended breastfeeding when it comes to developing the immune system and protecting the infant. I was absolutely floored to read that while breastfeeding does offer superior nutrition and it is relaxing and comforting for mother and child, on a spiritual level it is not the right thing to be doing for a modern baby with a modern conciousness. How can someone recommend weaning when it makes abundant sense to breasfeed as it is superior nutrition and it is meeting the emotional needs of the child. How can you turn your back on those truths for the possibility that spiritually it is not a good idea. That just seems ludicrous to me. If physically and emotionally it makes sense, I personally would want a lot more evidence of just how potentially dangerous breastfeeding can be on a spiritual level. So, here is a mother who is most decidedly not weaning her child any time soon, and definitly not for any spiritual reason. (I realise I may eat my words one day 😉 )

On the crying issue.

Joan suggests leaving a child to cry as it is not really distressed, not like an adult who is wracked with grief and cannot be comforted. As soon as you comfort the baby s/he stops crying and this is proof that they are not really that distressed. Again, my heart just plummeted. I am still not sure how to get my head around this. It really is just unbelievable that someone could justify ignoring the cries of a baby as it will stop when you pick them up and is therefore not that serious! Again, I have to just be thankful for my child that I have had the sense not to do what I have read/been told (that pretty much goes for any book and any person). I cannot fathom how this can be in line with the developmental needs of a baby. I get that it is hard as a parent to have a crying infant. I have been there, admittedly only with one, but I was there for 16 weeks of daily crying that did not stop no matter what I did. But for an approach that claims to be child centered and in tune with the developmental needs of children, I have to say that ignoring a babies cry is not in line with it’s developmental needs.

And lastly, sleep.

I think that where a child sleeps in a cultural expression. This post does not have the scope to go into the history of the family bed, but it is worth noting that it is relatively new that babies get their own bedrooms and are expected to go to sleep alone. I personally am wary of this drive to make babies independent before their time. They need us, our love and our attention. Emotionally and physically they are relying on us – and it is not enough to have good intentions. It helps. But an intention is meaningless to a baby. You as a parent need to respond appropriately and honestly.

As a final word. This rant may come across as passionate. It is. I am passionate about the care of babies and the power of the mother baby entity.

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Good Enough Mother

So much is on my mind and I have no idea how to bring it all together. I am hearing more and more about shaken baby syndrome (SBS) or shaken baby syndrome – scurvy and it is scaring me.  I read about it in forums and even my parents are wanting to send me an article about it. I am confused.

I read about vaccine reactions being the cause of SBS and I wonder how a vaccine can cause fractures. The closest I had thought that vaccines could come to causing SBS was a baby being found not breathing and the parent shakes him/her to try and get him/her breathing again. And that the not breathing was somehow related to the recent vaccination. I know there are people far more knowledgeable than me on this issue and I am sure I am missing important information. I was just surprised to have my parents tell me they want to send me an article about SBS for me to share with others . They are totally convinced that there are people who shake their babies and that there needs to be more awareness so that people do not do this. Then I found myself thinking that maybe there are people who do shake their babies. I remember all too clearly the complete desperation when DS was a couple of weeks old and would not stop crying and I had no idea why. In such moments maybe I was vulnerable to shaking my baby? I have also read about uncontrollable crying after vaccinations and maybe parents just do not know what to do with their child and it does not even cross their minds to think of vaccinations. Maybe parents are very stressed out with the new responsibility and often the work pressures that come with trying to balance work and family…. and a crying baby is the straw that broke the camels back so to speak, when it comes to keeping your cool. I just do not understand. I do think there is an unrealistic expectation for parents to be bringing up their young children so very alone and unsupported… but my thoughts are wandering. SBS sounds awful, whatever the reasons – all possibilities are just too awful to contemplate. I hold DS a little tighter and hope that I will never need to know the pain of admitting my infant to ER and on top of that be suspected of abusing my child. It sends shudders down my spine.

In all of my pondering this issue, I was reminded of the phrase “A good enough mother” by Donald Winnicott. There is no such thing as the perfect mother, despite our aspirations, we cannot be perfect. We cannot protect out children from every danger, large and small. It is simply not possible. We can do our best, we can inform ourselves and make the best decisions that we can. I can put rubber corners on all the low furniture corners, but that does not mean DS will not pull himself up in the sofa, loose his balance and get a bump on his head. I can put all cleaning products 2 metres up, but not think to look under the desk where DS found a small coin to put in his mouth. I know that I need to be careful and create a safe environment for my DS, but I also cannot beat myself up when mistakes happen. That is life. (my heart clenches as I write this. How can I as a mum admit that I cannot control everything and ensure that my child will be safe in every possible way? Every fibre of my being wants to ensure that DS will never need to know suffering. Oy, I guess I need to read up some more on Buddhism. Suffering is part of life – no escaping it. But how do you tell yourself that when your own child suffers?)

I often find myself thinking that sociologists will one day look back on this era in the Western World and marvel that people continued to bear children despite the awful circumstances around being a parent (and child for that matter). In Hebrew you say “hafuch al hafuch” – upside down on upside down. Everything is just totally mixed up and confused.

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