Baby training stems from the idea that babies need to become independent as quickly as possible. It is beneficial to everyone involved if a baby conforms to some sort of schedule. The primary thought being that babies need to fit in to the family instead of the family flexing around the new child.
The starting point for all this is generally eating, which is what this blog post will focus on.
It is a commonly held belief among baby trainers that children should be fed on a set schedule so that they are able to sleep better and do not suffer from digestive problems. That may sound all well and good but there are some difficulties that immediately arise from this train of thought. The first question may be how often do you feed your baby? Baby training would have a “flexible” set schedule. That immediately caught my attention. How do you have a flexible set schedule? Aren’t flexible and set opposites? Parents who are baby training are to set a strict schedule that allows for flexibility (go ponder that one for a while). This “flexible” set schedule is desired so that you can have your baby sleeping through the night and eating on your schedule as soon as possible.
The problem with this is that most mothers who attempt this kind of baby training may soon find that their milk supply is waning. Breast milk is produced in the quantity that is demanded by a child. By setting a strict feeding schedule, a baby is not able to suck freely. Therefore the breasts do not get the message that they need to produce more milk. The baby then becomes frustrated, which in turn leaves the mother feeling frustrated. The mother may then assume that there is something wrong with her supply and there is! But since the mother wants to do what is best for her child, she continues to schedule the feedings.
If a child does not seem full enough, baby trainers suggest that you may supplement with a little formula. Thus begins a downward spiral. A frustrated mom is left with a discontent child who desires to nurse freely. However, since this is not the “right” way to parent because it leads to a child being dependent and developing poor eating habits, the mother does not give in to what her natural instinct would be or give in to what her baby is demanding.
Demanding. That is the word that makes baby trainers shudder. A child knows no other way than to “demand” her parent’s assistance. The baby knows that her very life depends on her “demands” being met.
Feeding on demand is not just a source of food but is also a source of comfort for the baby. It is one of the first ways to affirm a baby’s trust in the parent. When the baby cries, the parent responds promptly with the food/closeness that the child is demanding. The child then begins to realize that her cries of desire will be met and fulfilled by her loving parent.
Baby trainers are adamant that a baby should never be comforted by the breast. For centuries, people have been comforted by breasts! Babies are comforted by a breast as it gives warmth, smells of their mother, and nourishes them. Children are comforted by the breast as they are folded in to the arms of their mother and bury their heads in her chest, breathing in her warmth and comfort. Men are comforted at the breast, and this is not meant in any type of perverted way, but men find their comfort at a woman’s breast as well and that is where the cycle begins again. Breasts are comfort. Breasts are food. Breasts nourish a generation. Let’s not train away their beauty.
Jasmine is a co-housing community living mama with a passion for fierce writing she blogs.
Photo: Guttorm Flatabø/Flickr