Child – led Childhood

Demand Feeding. Baby Led Weaning. Child Directed Study. At what point to we just hand in the towel and say “fine, raise yourselves, you’re so good at it!”

Thing is, though, that might not be such a bad idea.

My role as a facilitator in antenatal sessions isn’t to teach, but to provide a framework where parents can discover for themselves what they need to know for their parenting journey. This is so preferable to teaching – parents are all individuals and being able to cherry pick the most important pieces of information for them personally and as a couple ensures that they receive exactly what they need (if I’ve done my job right). This saves me having to teach 100 different things too, otherwise there is no way I could provide for every parent that comes to me (there isn’t the time!). Many, of course, outright ask questions expecting answers; usually I would signpost, occasionally I’d answer. But the information they uncover for themselves is largely the bits they remember the most. And it means they, as couples, can make decisions together – and lay foundations for their family life.

My homeschooling experience is almost identical. I have a framework, but it is my sons who decide what they want to discover, how they want to learn it; I support them and come along for the ride, there with the knowledge of how to find out the information. It is the skill of learning how to learn that I am ‘teaching.’ This would be the same in an ideal school. Child directed study is becoming part of many curriculums.

Should my parenting be any different? Am I there to tell them what to do, how to be; even who to be? Or am I supposed to, like above, provide the framework so they can grow themselves up? A Child led Childhood.

Research is consistently showing that allowing babies from birth to determine their day (feeds, sleep etc.) increases cognitive development throughout childhood, lowers risk of obesity, increases dexterity , improves speech development, social development… They do better with adults being catalysts and support for their development, rather than directly interfering with it by being parent led. Why should this stop out of babyhood?

This can sound extremely bizarre to adult ears. How can children possibly understand or know what they need?

I wonder whether many adult’s reluctance to hand over the reigns is their own internal power struggle saying that they should be in charge.

Oppression is the powerful majority controlling lives and removing rights to the powerless minority. The movement of ‘Childism’ is one which argues that kids need to be respected as human beings, and to treat them as people of unequal worth to adults, and to dismiss their perspective or experiences due to differences in their in size, experience and power is to be discriminatory, oppressive and abusive to children.

April is Child Abuse month, where we look at child trafficking, neglect, pedophilia, child slave labour, domestic abuse and every other horror perpetrated towards children in one big umbrella of abuse. Perhaps it should all, like murders and abuses of other minorities, be called crimes of prejudice. These, like violent and abusive acts towards POC and the LGBTQ community are named as acts of homophobia and racism, should be named as acts of childism.

That is the extreme end of the scale. Ordinary Parent led parenting is nothing like abuse. But perhaps the beginning of solving childism is for all parents to trust their children to occasionally make some decisions about themselves for themselves. Maybe, letting the kids take the reins every once in a while on their own lives wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

They can’t do a worse job of parenting themselves than adults have thus far.

My two definitely do a much better job of it than me.



Article on demand feeding milk and child development

Article on baby led weaning and child development

Article on child directed learning –

Article on childism

Bedtime Routine

“You’re not going to get any sleep when that baby arrives.”

One of the most common pieces of advice to new parents is to get the baby into a bedtime routine so that mum and dad can schedule in some sleep. Many different pieces of research from a spectrum of different child care areas have shown that having a routine is a very healthy thing for a child to have-in terms of education, behaviour and physical and mental health. In Behavioural Sleep Medicine, it is shown that parents who attend parenting classes or parent groups were much more likely to have an established bedtime routine by the age of 3 years than those who didn’t, so people who work with parents in these important days have a big part to play in a parent’s choice of implementing a bedtime routine at some point with their baby. All this left me with a question.


If you should have a bedtime routine for your child, when do you start it?

In a group of over 400 families all with sleep problems in their children, researchers gave half instructions of a basic time for bed, and the other half a specific routine. Introducing a bedtime routine resulted in much less behavioural problems in the children and much happier mums. The age of the child participants was over 7 months old-so problems with sleep had been identified.

But then, if it’s ‘supposed to be’ before 7 months when ‘normal’ children are in some sort of routine (the kids above all weren’t), when should you start thinking ‘ok, they should be in a routine now… I’ll go get help.” 2 weeks? 6 months? Ever?

Quote from Baby Centre:

When your baby is as young as six weeks or eight weeks old, you can start to follow a set pattern every night. Your baby will quickly come to appreciate the consistency and predictability. It will help her learn sleep habits that will stand you both in good stead for the future.”


What about attachment? Closeness? Isn’t this all just ‘Cry it out’? And what about baby staying in the same room with you until 6 months! SIDS, people!

Also, this sounds much more like scheduling than routine. They’ve worded it like what I feel routine means – doing the sort of same stuff in around the same order about the same time to help someone predict and get ready for what happens next – but they mean scheduling – forcing things to happen at the exact same time in the exact same order to force someone to act a certain way. Are 6 weeks olds supposed to know anything other than how cuddles feel, how to get milk, how to vomit, and need-clean-bum-now-have-clean-bum feelings?

What happened to baby led care – something that DOES set children up well for the future #theresafutureblogpost.


Some questions for readers to ignore completely.

What should parent practitioners be telling parents about Bedtime routines?

What age should started implementing a bedtime routine?

Should you implement one at all?

Should you ever ignore the routine for a family party or event?

Can the routine change between carers?

Does it change with subsequent children?

I honestly don’t know. If you are a parent going through sleep issues with your children, I apologise for having no answers! All I can tell you is what I did:

I found out about co sleeping #theresanotherfuturepost.

If you want to find out about co sleeping, this is an amazing website:

Behavioral Sleep Medicine (Volume 9, Issue 4, 2011 pages 237-242) Parenting Services May Be an Opportunity for Improving Bedtime Routines Among At-Risk Preschoolers (Anne Martina, R. Gabriela Barajasa, Jeanne Brooks-Gunna & Lauren Hale) (accessed 01/12/13)

A Nightly Bedtime Routine: Impact on Sleep in Young Children and Maternal Mood (2009)

Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, Lorena S. Telofski, BA, Benjamin Wiegand, PhD and Ellen S. Kurtz, PhD accessed 01/12/13

Tongue Tie

Original post:

I read this article and shared it on my facebook wall. As a SAHM (stay at home mum) sharing medical articles my Aunt can scroll past while searching for the next angel-based-meme is how I pass the time between cleaning toddler debris and ‘Help, I’m pinned down!’ naps.


As my latest share, I felt it only appropriate it be the subject of my first blog post.


Neither I nor my children have a tongue tie. Not surprising, as different research suggests that it’s only somewhere between 4-10% of the population who has one. And yet, tongue tie contributes massively to breastfeeding difficulties (some estimate a quarter of chronic breastfeeding problems are due to ties), and also speech impediments and eating problems. As a-person-before-kids, I had never even heard of them. As a peer supporter, I hear of them on a weekly basis; specifically, on the local health service’s reluctance to do anything about them. If mum can somehow convince her healthcare providers to agree to having a frenulotomy (a tongue and tie separation surgery), the procedure is performed with appointments given often weeks and months into the future – compounding breastfeeding problems for baby (often in great pain from gulping air, and having health problems associated with poor weight gain), and horribly painful breasts for mum, which almost always leads to breastfeeding cessation.


Many experience health professionals whom are indifferent to their wish to carry on breastfeeding; many parents I have spoken to were outright told “why not just switch to formula?” This comment often given by health visitors concerned about the lack of weight gain. This does nothing more than make the mother feel horribly guilty –  for is there no greater gauge for ‘good mothering’ than a baby’s weight gain? And often, the tongue tie prevents efficient formula feeding too, so the big switch is for nothing.

Why the reluctance?

Here: a dentist explains that cutting ties on the lip can cause scar tissue that permanently leave a gap between the front adult teeth, which can’t be fixed with braces, and that leaving the tie until the adult teeth have come in makes fixing a gap easier.

I can’t really consolidate the two camps of ‘poor weight gain from bad latch to nipple and/or bottles, colic, nipple damage, cessation of breastfeeding, poor weaning, speech problems’ etc. VS might have a gap in the front teeth as a teen.

gap790b7b71b5cb06bacaf9eb831c23c64aI think they’ll be OK.

Also (if you are a parent you will have seen on many forums) that if left too late, having the tie cut doesn’t solve the problem-the baby has the habit of the shallow latch, and it takes weeks for a new successful latch to commence.


I can however understand a parent’s reluctance to have a surgery, however minor. In no way should a frenulotomy be mandatory – tongue ties do not always cause problems, the cut can hurt, and the tie can heal and return if not managed well and parent’s aren’t supported in the management.

Nice Guidelines suggest the tongue tie be done as early as possible if causing problems. The Baby Friendly initiative: has slightly different suggestions, but along the same lines. Tongue tie separations are good, and do impact positively on successful breastfeeding.

As a non-initiative writing person, I cannot speak for the world as a whole, I can only speak for the parents I hear from every week.

I do believe that the services to provide a frenulotomy should be ON THE POSTNATAL WARD, and easily accessible in the community, and that the identification of all types of tissue tie in the mouth should be taught well, and training maintained, so that the staff on the ward can identify ties better, and more importantly, inform PARENTS better about their options. And that if the mother wants a frenulotomy done, that that wish should be granted-it affects the mother’s health too, after all. Breast tissue damage is no small thing, and the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother (reduced risk of cancer for instance) are many and important.

Until then, It’s down to wonderful people like this person in my local area: to charge very reasonably for it.

Tongue ties.


If you want.

Also, as you have valiantly made it to the end of my blog, please read the original post. It is quite excellent.