Thursday, December 2, 2010


When Leander was born his room was still a mess. It did not bother me because I thought he will live with us in the living room for a year or so. His cot and his changing table were in his room, but the playpen and all his toys cutely decorated our living space. And I thought this was the way it was supposed to be. Until I read about Montessori's thoughts on infants.

I knew that Pikler was all for the playpen, preferably outside in the garden. Well we don't have a garden and summer has been rather sad so Leander's main play area was our living room. Then I read "In a Montessori Home" which is just a brief collection of thoughts she had on infants and how the house should be prepared. In that she mentions that even those little children should have a bed they can easily climb in and out on their own to decide themselves when to sleep and when not (this especially applying to the daytime naps). Of course this bed can only be used once the little person is able to crawl but when Leander was close to 6 months old we thought this could happen anytime soon. We did not know what to expect but some early starters I know are already very active at this age.
So we decided to clear out his room and make space for him. We moved the playpen in so he could get used to being in this room, to accept this as HIS room. And suddenly the living room looked very much like us again. It was weird and at first he would not stay in there on his own for too long. But I have a chair in there too for the nightly feeding times so I would sit in the chair and read or knit or just watch him play.

Only when I was cooking or cleaning I would take him back with me to the living room so I would not have to run around and about all the time. Over the last few weeks I began to leave him more and more often in his room, I stayed in his playpen with him, hidden somewhere happily watching him learn to crawl and sit up (which he still struggles to achieve).
At the weekend we were cooking lunch for him and had him back in the living room with us. I have usually a blanket there (he rolls off pretty soon) and some toys (he often ignores cos the books on the shelf look more interesting). Jan was cooking and I sat on the sofa watching little Lman play. He had a cuddly sheep in his hands, the sheep has two straps and he was going to discover those (as those little persons do - enjoy straps and labels rather than the toy itself). But everytime Jan said something to me or made noise in the kitchen Leander would look up and "forget" to play with the sheep. He usually went back but another noise and he was interrupted again. I watched this for a while and got really annoyed.

Ever since I tried even harder to leave him in his room. I'm there with him when he is asking for me and I'm only taking him with me in the living room/kitchen for feeding times at lunch and at dinner. And quite often when I do the laundry or something all I hear from his room is some "lalala" and when I secretly go and check he is very busy discovering.

It was a very interesting experience to see him get distracted so easily.
And how many parents have their children in the living room or take them into every room in the house they are just doing something in (as far as I know even the toilet) because they are scared to leave the little ones alone for a moment? So how often do these children get interrupted in their play ?
I know not everybody has the space for an extra room for the child but in that case try and limit the surrounding actions in the area the child is playing in. And most importantly: have a constant play area somewhere, don't move your child around too much. If this space is safe you can easily leave your child in there for a moment while you go to the toilet for example.
I have discovered that Leander was really uneasy in the living room without the playpen around him but very happy in his own room. He knows this place and space and feels comfortable in it. This is where he can play and discover all straps and labels and little features in the wooden floor.

read more about the uninterrupted play here

Sunday, November 28, 2010


It is this time of year again. We are thinking about the presents for our beloved ones. Where there are new beloved little persons in the house there are more thoughts and discussions on presents in the whole family. No matter how old the little person is.

I have recently scanned through this parents forum I should actually be avoiding. Some mothers are seriously asking the question "What to buy for my 6 month old boy for Christmas?" It's not just the question, it's the answers that appeared minute after minute. Parents are sending lists and lists of toys they are buying or "ordering" form the grandparents for their children.

Our son will be 8 months old at Christmas. I do not believe that what he needs are many many presents. He does not even know the term present. How can he differentiate between a present and a household item lying around ? Don't get me wrong - I would not want to exclude my son from Christmas but I seriously do not believe that he needs boxes of presents lying underneath the Christmas tree.

Are we not all complaining about the amount of money we are spending year after year for christmas, the crazy shopping stress in the city centre or in the shopping malls the weeks before christmas, the manic consumption of stuff? So shouldn't we try and teach our children better? Let them believe in Santa, let them write wishlists. But don't let them expect the whole lot. Don't let them expect anything.
I remember one Christmas with my cousin and his sons, three of them. They had sent lists to Santa and my cousin and his wife had then "ordered" the items on the list from the various relatives. On boxing day at my granny's house, when they had received the last load of presents, they looked around the room filled with toys and asked where the missing items from the list were. I was shocked. They did not just expect anything from the list, they expected the whole lot.

So far we don't even know yet how to celebrate Christmas with our son since we are not very religious. But I know that I don't want him to see Christmas as time for presents. I do not want him to relate Christmas just with Santa. I know it will be hard as soon as he enters kindergarden and school. But I am trying to live as sustainable as possible and I do believe in a better world, I do believe that there is hope and therefore I will not give up before I have tried. So I will certainly not start the Santa-present-connection in the one year where my son will surely not realise any of the festive fuzz and buzz and stress.

What I will be giving him for Christmas this year is a relaxing and quiet time with us. Enough time for him to play and discover. Maybe I look through the box of toys I have not given him because he is busy with the ones he's got already in his playpen and quietly put this somewhere in his reach. Maybe he will make himself the present of being able to crawl or sit up.

What will you be giving your children for Christmas ? What's your opinion on this and what are you doing about it?

Thursday, November 18, 2010


A friend recently asked me about the "problems" with grandparents when you are focused on one (not very common) way of raising your child. I don't have any problems with the grandparents though, because like my child I decided to "let them be".

Obviously I thought about it before. And I haven't been as easy going about this from the start. We have also been so excited about our "method" (it just sounds so technical) that we dropped opinions and attitudes wherever we went. When this was my parents in law's house we had a discussion about the rocking, bouncing and carrying of babies. My mother in law told us proudly how - when Jan was little - his father constructed a system of strings in the bedroom so whenever little Jan started to cry they just had to pull the strings attached to their bed and little Jan went back to sleep eventually. We mentioned our approach, that we don't want to do any of this and mumbled some explanations. We also had her put Leander back on the sofa when he started crying after she picked him up. It worked. But only for him.
Ever since this discussion comes up again and again and you can tell that sometimes she is a little insecure about what she is "allowed" to do.

With my mother, who came to visit after we had the discussion with the "in laws" I decided to take the small road. I told her about Emmi Pikler, about those principles and what we liked about them. I made sure I did not sound reproachful. Because in the end they are our parents. They raised us and I'm sure they were just trying to do a good. Just like we are trying now. So I'm certainly not standing here with a parenting experience of a few months telling my mom, who raised two kids, what she has done wrong.

Of course I would love all people that have contact with Leander to be as thoughtful and respectful as I am trying to be. To be aware of the principles behind. But even we fail from time to time. And this is ok, this is how we learn, this is how we reflect. That does not mean that Leander is raised the wrong way on some days. He just learns that things can go wrong or - to not sound so negative - different. And so he will realise for himself that his grandparents do things different. Do different things to him. If they hold and bounce him up and down. Let them do so. If they pick him up without telling him before - he'll survive. It will not disturb what we have built up over time. And it will not disturb the relationship to our beloved parents.
There is the exception for the gross motor development. We would not want them to "help" Leander crawl, sit or walk. But fortunately so far they have not intended to do so.

And yes I do imagine there will be times when he is older and spending longer periods at his grandparents, that he gets home and we have to "fix" some habits. But this would be the case no matter which way we are raising our child. Because this it what grandparents are there for: to allow later bedtimes and chocolate before breakfast. And this is what WE loved OUR grandparents for.

so yeah... let them be.

on this topic also read this post by Janet Lansbury

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Before Leander went into surgery all our worries were about those long hours and how he will manage. I did not care about the days or weeks in hospital as long as he survived the surgery alright. I surely did not care about the time home after all would be over. And nobody told me about it either. It all just happened bit by bit.

The first nights at home were quite relaxing. Leander slept 4 hour intervals. This was not possible in hospital at all and I was happy he went straight back to his sleeping pattern. But he didn't. He was just exhausted. A few days later it all started. It was almost impossible for us to put him down for the night. When he finally slept he would wake up an hour later, accepting nothing but Mama and her breast. A few nights we took him into our bed, this way I could "feed him to sleep" and rest myself. Something I never wanted to do. But I figured that this was an extreme situation and needed extreme care.

The days weren't much easier. Leander was hardly able to stay by himself on his blanket or in his playpen. Even with us being around, sitting next to him and talking to him. He would not just cry but scream loud and painful. The fact that his voice was all croaky from the chest tubes in hospital made it sound even worse. More painful for him. And for us. He would just lie on his back, not turn onto his belly, not try and crawl as he did before the surgery. I felt like we had traveled back in time.

I was close to a break down. I wanted to run away. I wanted to scream loud. At the same time I wanted to help him, to show him that it's done, that we are home, that we are there for him. The more he cried (screamed) the less I felt able to convince him. Jan and me took rounds in holding him, the other one recharging batteries. Then we would swop. Some nights I went to the toilet because it was the room furthest away from Leander's room and even there I would cover my ears and hoped it would all just stop.

I was not prepared for this. I cared about his heart for 6 months. I was worried about the surgery. I was full of hope that by Christmas it would all be over. I simply did not think of the postoperative trauma and what it would be like.
I took him to a therapist. Craniosacral therapy was what a lot of people told me to do. To help him recover. To help his mind recover. The therapist, a lady about my age, asked me many questions and I told her about his behaviour and the "sleeping only by feeding". When she asked me if this was a problem for me and I said yes, because after a few days it WAS a big problem for me. For me as a person. For me as a woman. For me as a mother who surely wants the best for her son but also be herself and therefore be a good mom. Honest and Careful. She told me that I sounded like her grandma, the generation that "let the baby cry by himself", that had proper feeding hours. I was annoyed. I was angry. This woman knew nothing about my situation and how hard it all was on me. For a moment I felt yet again as if I would not be doing EVERYTHING I could to help him through this tough time. But then I left and took a deep breath of fresh Viennese autumn air, knowing how to care for my son.

I focused hard on the days. I tried to give him everything he needed but also tried over and over again to put him on his blanket, I stayed with him in his playpen and was happy when he played for as little as 5 minutes. When he cried I would hold him. The days were when I had most energy to try and try. I talked to him, explained the situation. Told him that I understood. Throughout the nights I was a wreck. I would get up, feed him until he was back to sleep. No matter how long it took. No matter how tired I was. Jan was there too but could only do as little.

What can I say? It all worked. Leander is playing all by himself for long periods again. I can manage to cook for him while he is playing. I can do the laundry. He his practicing hard to be finally able to crawl. He is angry that it does not work, so he gets loud. But he does not scream.
Last night I fed him as usual after he slept for four hours straight, I changed his diaper and thought I try to put him into his bed just like that. Awake. He turned onto his side and went back to sleep. He decided to give up on his daytime naps. Which is what he did before the surgery.

While my battery is pretty much down to zero I am happy that Leander is the boy I know.
Again patience is the key. Not the "giving him everything by giving yourself up completely" but the care, the explanations, the trying over and over. It will take some time until my battery is fully recharged but watching him active and smily after what he has been through gives me some reload every now and then.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I used to love going out for dinner. For breakfast. For lunch. For a glass of wine. I realised this when we did all this when Leander was in hospital on the ICU where there were strict visiting hours. In between we went out for food. But of course it wasn't the same. We missed him, we were worried, I even felt bad for doing "fun stuff".
We are now back home with Leander and are slowly getting back to "normal" (whatever that is with a child in the house). I have just received a dinner invitation and rejected it easily. Without my child I would never have done this. But today it felt easy and here is why:

Leander isn't even old enough to sit up by himself. We would be holding him all evening because with 7 months there is no such thing as putting him in the pram for a couple of hours. Not even for a few minutes if there are other people, food and a new environment. All too exciting.
Of course there would be more people and we could do rounds in holding Leander and entertaining him. This would mean that he is the centre of attraction, every conversation would be over as soon as he starts to cry or complain.

I wouldn't be enjoying the time because I would constantly check if he is alright, if his diaper would need change and where I could do that. I would probably realise that he is tired and feel bad because the right thing for him would be a deep sleep in his own bed.

I know a lot of parents do take their babies out for social occasions. And of course I did it a few times as well. But most of those occasions I went home early after having spent a good amount of time entertaining Leander, keeping him happy without him being happy.
This all may sound like I'm a übermother. Which I am definitely not. Because I don't enjoy having to hold my boy for such a long time, I am not this type of person that can spend hours amusing her son. And he doesn't either, he gets nervous and fretful when he's not able to move freely all by himself.

When I was pregnant I have experienced some nights out with couples and their children. And I thought "jeez I hope our child will not be as difficult in a situation like this". I did not know that it's not the child that is difficult, it's the situation, that is difficult for the child. Therefore I wait until he is older to sit and eat with us. Until then come over to my place for dinner, I'm still sociable. But I also have a child.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


We've made it. Our son had his heart surgery, we all have walked through some tough 3 weeks and we are now home, slowly recovering. Time to get some thoughts on to paper that popped into my mind during the past weeks in hospital...

It is difficult to focus on a certain parenting method in an extreme situation like this. Imagine your child being submitted to hospital. For ANY reason. Imagine him getting poked by needles to get blood samples. Measuring blood pressure or temperature sounds like an easy ride after that. But it all can be painful and stressful for a child. Especially when the pediatricians, the nurses and all the staff around are so far off a childish mind that it hurts even us parents.

Usually an exam by a doctor went like this: Door opens, doctor enters the room. Leander is playing in his bed. The doctor is putting his stethoscope onto Leander's chest, might turn him around to listen to his lungs. Serious look. Satisfied nod in my direction. And off he goes. Leander is left like a medical training object to himself. Not capturing what has happened at all. And this only in a good case. Worst case scenario - Leander starts screaming as soon as the doctor puts his stethoscope onto his chest. It does not hurt him physically. But it does hurt him mentally.

HOW HARD is it to greet the child? To look him in the eyes, acknowledge him and tell him that you will have to interrupt his play to do a quick exam? It is painful that especially those people who should know a child from a scientific point of view do not acknowledge him as a person. For them a six month old child is just a tiny person without a brain. It sounds harsh but this is what I have experienced.
During rounds the doctors would stand outside the room and discuss the patient. Then they would enter, usually around 5-6 people, one resident and a few interns. The resident would talk to the parent and the interns would play with the baby. It was terrible. Those interns standing there in front of Leander's bed holding his Mickey Mouse up and smile at him like he would be some sort of muppet to be entertained. It was his health they were discussing before. When he was a number in a chart.

I believe that there are pediatricians out there that are great with kids. That have a special way in connecting with them. Unfortunately I have not met them yet and I have met quite a few in the past 7 months. That gives me the feeling that there are too many of them that just don't know how... And yes, a day in a hospital might be stressful for the doctors and nurses. Too many patients and not enough time. But they have chosen a profession that requires more than a morning coffee and a good attitude. It requires that even in the busiest times they remember who the opposite person is. No matter how old. No matter how small.

I wish there would be a Pikler lecture in every pediatric training. Because I believe if the doctor would take the time to talk to the child, to prepare him and to explain what's happening, in many cases it would save him a lot of time of screaming and crying by a child that does not know what's happening and does not like the way things are happening to him.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Once again my friend asked me a question that made me think: "Can the rocking and bouncing of a baby can be so wrong if it is something people have instinctively been doing for so long?" I am not answering the question with a right or wrong because with babies you have to be careful, there are such and such.

I am citing another woman from a forum where I occasionally read about parenting problems and ideas. On a thread about Pikler she said: "If my baby is crying and I take her and rock her or walk around with her and she then stops crying - she had the need to be moved around and I fulfilled this need." And I am asking: "If a baby is crying in a supermarket and I am plugging her mouth with a pacifier and stop the crying - did this baby have the need to suck her pacifier and I just fulfilled that ?" Exactly.

My friend had started the rocking and bouncing after her son was a few weeks old and she found it hard to live to the Pikler method exclusively. She said it was a natural instinct and that she was also walking around the flat with her son in her arms. After a while she was frustrated, she sat down with me and did not know what to do. She was exhausted, her son was unsettled and would want to be entertained most of the time. I told her what my day looked like, that still I was not rocking my son to sleep even on really hard evenings, that only shortly I would walk around the flat with him, usually between feeding and changing times just to extend "mommy time" a bit. But most of the time he would play in his safe area, every now and then I would join him or I would just sit and observe or do the household etc.
A few days later we met again and she was much more relaxed. She had given up on the rocking and bouncing and the walking around. Instead she had bought a playpen and created a safe area for her son to play in. She said: "You know I can't entertain him 24/7 I realise how this would lack in quality. I just feel so much more with him when I have some time for myself in between."
Today she called me and said "I'm totally back on the Pikler thing. The last days have been so much easier, I am so much more relaxed and my son is too."

Since our son is some sort of best practice example but there are no siblings to compare if it's his nature or our education or both I am happy to share an experience from another person that shows what I have believed in from the start. Even before I had a child I did not understand how a child can be happy when she is upset and is bounced forth and back. And when reading in forums or hearing other women talk this is not the solution to most problems anyway. Most of the times parents talk about how they try EVERYTHING to calm their baby or make her go to sleep. They walk, they talk, they sing, they swing and when the baby finally sleeps they can't put her in her bed for hours because she could wake up and the game begins all over. So I would like to reply to the initial question with another question: "Is the rocking and bouncing of a baby really the solution to the crying or unsettled behaviour when this is going on for hours?" We may have been doing this for centuries but has it really helped ???

We have had some difficult nights with our son especially during some bad growth spurts or after a vaccination. But we usually sat down with him quietly and tried to calm him by holding and talking and stroking him. Of course it wasn't always easy but it has never taken us longer than an hour and usually he would just go to bed and sleep very well afterwards. On rare occasions I would stand up with him and slowly swing from one side to the other in very slow motions. But when I did so I made sure I'd stop right after he had calmed and that he would fall asleep without the movement.
Strangely he never insisted on being moved around either - as some women claim their children to do. How can they if they don't know it? A midwife said last week to a woman "A child does not demand chocolate before she knows chocolate."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


The other day my friend, who is also raising her child after the Pikler method, asked me "But how come it is still such a niche? It all sounds so logical but why do only so few parents pick up on it?" And I began to wonder...

The first answer I found was that Emmi Pikler is always related to her orphanage in Budapest. Most people think that it was there that she developed and researched all the principles she came up with. From this they conclude that the principles aren't compliant to single families with one or two children. This is one misunderstanding I wanted to clear up for a while now.

Emmi Pikler started to rethink early childhood development much earlier when she was a medicine student and working in a children's hospital with Prof. von Pirquet and Prof. Salzer. Both were as much interested in the children's wellbeing and motor development as they were in their health. They put the intensity of care time, a nice and friendly atmosphere and the understanding of the importance of the gross motor development as high up on the scale as the need for medication and surgery.
When Pikler's first child was born she and her husband decided to take that into account and let her move freely and patiently wait and watch her development.

Later when she was working as a pediatrician herself she developed this knowledge further and gave advice to hundreds of families. She also started thinking about the intensity of care and wrote first articles, gave lectures and in 1940 wrote her first book. This was six years before she opened the orphanage Lóczy. Only here she seriously studied and researched her insights. The way she chose nurses and gave the children a warm atmosphere, allowing them to develop freely was just extraordinary and this is what she then became famous for. It does not mean that her principles can not be adapted to children in families. If anything - most of them SHOULD be adapted - especially when it comes to care times and undivided attention the child really needs. But this is not the topic here.

The other argument that the Pikler method can be adapted to families is Magda Gerber's work. She had learned from Emmi Pikler first as a mother when she watched Pikler dealing with her daughter in a certain way and was amazed. She then worked as an assistant to Pikler in the Lóczy orphanage. In the 1950s she emigrated to the USA and worked with a pediatrician where she used the knowledge she gained from Emmi Pikler. From this experience she founded the „Resources for Infant Educarers“ (RIE) organisation where the Pikler principles are passed on to parents in classes and play groups.

Now having cleared that up I believe there are some more reasons why Pikler is still a niche.

For once - there is still a lot of belief out there that parents should not read any books on parenting or take advice from others. Many women appeal on their instincts and feelings. I thought that too until I had a child and realised that my instincts are either hidden somewhere or I am not capable of using them. And why is it that so many parents in the end do raise questions along the way? Because their instincts aren't the answer to everything and I believe it is good to have a framework to rely on and work with your emotions within that. This will help you not to focus too much on what you read but also help you when things are out of control and your instincts let you down.

Another answer to the question of this post I believe is that the Pikler method is too "cold" for many parents. When you read about it or mention it to others it does not sound like the cuddly and loving method people think about when they are expecting a baby. When people first hear about letting your child be, let it lie on the floor and play independently, don't interfere - they think this is cruel. They do not continue to read until they find out about the loving and warm intensity of care and feeding times. About the way "Pikler parents" should sit and watch their child, get to know this little human being while showing respect and appreciation.
Most parents misunderstand love with physical attachment. But there is more to it.

And last but not least I believe Emmi Pikler's principles are (don't get me wrong here) somewhat "too difficult" to some parents. Not in a way they don't understand it but in the way of patience and holding back. I have to agree - sometimes it is hard to resist to give your child this little push he just needs to finally roll over on to his belly for the first time. But look at the child's face when he finally manages himself. The happy smile of achievement. And yes, some nights are hard when you decide not to plug your childs mouth with a pacifier but help him get through the tough first weeks until he is able to find his thumb to comfort himself. But believe me - this is all worth it too (read here)
And of course - there are all these toys out there and most of them you want to play with yourself (admit it) and now this Emmi Pikler says you should let your child play alone and just sit and watch? Well yes, this can be difficult too (although she is not saying you never should - you should just wait until your child invites you to play with him). But I experience observing my child as really satisfying and much more entertaining than any TV show.

So these are a few thoughts why I believe Pikler and Gerber are still a niche. If you have some more - feel free to share and comment. Because I am not just interested in the reasons but also solutions on how to help parents find out about Pikler earlier and with a better understanding and learn about about a parenting method that is so exciting and satisfying !

Thursday, August 12, 2010


With 8 weeks our son discovered his thumb and has ever since used it to comfort himself in all sorts of situations. Every time a stranger is looking into our pram we get the same line with some sort of criticism in their voice "Oh, a thumb sucker!"

The first few times I felt weird and a bit uncomfortable just because the word itself has this negative touch to it. And of course because of the old fairy tale about the "Thumb sucker" who gets his thumb cut off with scissors because he wouldn't stop sucking it himself.

When walking pass a mother with her son the other day, the son clearly old enough to walk by himself and talk but with a big pacifier in his mouth I wondered, why this is not weird to anybody. How come something natural became something negative and something modern and plastic we accept just like that?

Once when talking about Pikler parenting classes a woman said that she has attended such class before and was shocked because she has never seen so many children sucking their thumbs or blankets before. When I attended some breastfeeding classes I thought the opposite - 90% of the children there had a pacifier in their mouth and most of them got it put in by their mothers when they started making "noises" like squeaking or babytalking.

I have to admit that sometimes it was hard before Leander was able to use his own thumb to comfort himself. But it was worth the wait. At night when he wakes up he does not cry for us to come and help him go back to sleep (unless he is hungry). Mr. thumb helps him do that. During the day whenever something is bothering him Mr. thumb is there. That doesn't mean - like some women presume - he has given up on us. When he's hungry, wet or can't get some rest by himself he will call for our help and we are there. It just means that he is not crying in every situation he is not feeling happy in. This has made our day a lot more quiet and easier too, when he cries I usually know exactly what's up because it must be something Mr. thumb can't help with.
And sometimes in the pram when on a cobble stone street makes Mr. thumb pops out of his mouth he can get him back in no time and does not need us to pop him back in. This is very helpful until he can actively grab for stuff around him.

So yes - our son is a thumb sucker. And that makes life much more comfortable. For all of us.


For almost a month now I have placed some random toys around Leander. So far he hasn't paying much attention to it. And I never forced him to and just waited.

Yesterday he discovered one of those toys. And is now busy discovering it. Isn't that just much more exciting and inspiring than placing mobiles above his head he gets bored of not being able to touch ? Watch for yourself.

Friday, July 16, 2010


A great part of the Pikler philosophy is the child's motor skills development. What she is saying is that you should not interact, not practice any sitting up, standing or walking, just let the baby develop in his own time.

Thankfully a lot of people agree with that even though they might not be convinced by others of her principles, but still when walking around out and about you see so many parents "walking" their children, who cannot do that themselves, having them sit on their laps for long coffee shop visits etc.... What struck me most though when I was reading about the development of the baby's motor skills on the internet was that most websites were advising to put the baby on the belly for some times during the day to help the child develop neck strength and the ability to lift his upper body. Rather listening to Pikler than those websites the only times I put our son onto his belly was during care times.

This week we had the third pedriatic appointment and the doctor put our son on his belly when he then instantly liftet up his entire upper body, basically "standing" on his hands. I had not seen this before and was pretty amazed.
During the last week he also practiced the comfortable lie on one side of his body.
We have not practiced any of this with him. He is 3,5months old so all of this is part of his normal development.

My advice contrary to most other internet advices on the development of babies is: Do less. Best practice is no practice!

Monday, July 12, 2010


... is what I often hear from parents especially those who are committed to the attachment parenting method. And I agree. But...

... you can form a habit. I haven't been a parent for long but I have met some women who carry their child around with them since day one. And most of them realised problems by putting their baby down just for a second. And I do believe that this might be related to the fact that those children are USED to be carried around.

Recently I answered a question in a parents discussion forum. The mother said that she is carrying around her child most of the day, she can't do anything in the household or for herself and the baby would start crying as soon as she would put him down on the blanket or sofa. Her relatives said she would spoil the child and so she was worried (and a bit annoyed by the fact of not being able to do anything at all). So I wrote she cannot spoil the child - that's right, but she can "help" him get used to be carried around and that she should try to just put him down day after day a little longer while staying with him and showing him her presence, comforting him when he gets upset.
Most of the women who replied to this post started then "attacking" me of accusing the mother of having done wrong. So me saying that her child got used to be carried around suddenly was the biggest problem and the whole discussion was on me. I can understand that it is tough to hear that you have done wrong and I didn't want to say that (and in words I never did). I just read her question and obviously she had a problem. And only later I figured out that the mothers attacking me were supporters of the attachment parenting method.

I am not a big fan of this myself for several reasons but I do think that this method can be taken too serious. When I mentioned that I am educating my child to Emmi Pikler's ideas I was told that I should not focus on it too much and should not follow ALL her principles. This was said by the women who think that you MUST have your child close to your body from day one. I agree that newborns need much body contact. But I also believe that it might help to watch your child and his reactions. Our son fell asleep on my or my husbands chest for the first days. We let him do so and even now he sometimes falls asleep "on me" when he is really tired. But he also needs his space, he loves lying around on his back and he always did. He likes the pram, only sometimes for short distances I carry him in a sling and as soon as I take him out and put him down on the sofa he stretches himself and laughs at me. He does not need to be carried around in this sling all day, he is not spoilt but he is not unhappy either. I believe he is still attached to me. So what I am saying is - before you have your child in a carrying device every day all day long - watch him. How does he feel on his own on the back for some time? Do not form a habit either way, just let him decide what he feels most comfortable with.

And don't take your child to the toilet in the sling or any carrying device with you (yes I hear women do that). A child deserves privacy. So do you.

I was inspired to this post by a recent blog post by Janet Lansbury - "Problems with attachment parenting" where a mother has addressed the same problem as the mother in the forum I mentioned above. Obviously Janet's advice is much more professional than I could write it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


For years now I have been green inside my heart, have been fighting for a greener approach and have desperately watched the world go downhill. I still fight and I try everything I can to live a sustainable live.
With the new addition to our family this is not always easy. But here is some easy facts how to live a green life with a child.

1. Reusable nappies.
The discussions on that are wide and never ending. We have not long thought about it and when we heard that the City of Vienna is supporting the use of Reusable Nappies with a 100Euro Voucher we were all up for it. And here are our experiences after almost 3 months:
- More washing? I don't think so. The little one does not have the biggest clothes and not too many of them either so we have to wash quite often but can't really make a whole load of it most of the time. Here the nappies come in handy - they fill up the washing machine so it's "worth" switching" it on. (nappies don't have to be washed at 90degrees as often thought, 60degrees is enough)
This also applies to the prejudice that more washing leads to more water use and this is not sustainable. As I said we don't wash more often therefore there is not much more water use than in another household with a baby.
- Takes longer to change? Well with the approach to take your time and undivided attention for the diaper change it is actually not much of work but fun. You just spend more time with your child and he enjoys it.
We have also realised when using disposable nappies (when on a trip for a couple of days and no chance to wash) that they let much more go through and we have to change everything more often. This in the end is much more work and again more washing so here we close the circle to the washing point.
- Expensive? Yes they might seem expensive when you first buy the whole load. But we paid 350Euros for the first batch, then we bought some more later on and spent 70Euros. Makes a total of 420Euros. How much do you spend on disposable diapers a month???
- Babies are less flexible in movement? Well I thought so too when I first used them. But now at the age of 2,5months our son is already able to move around in his crib that everytime he wakes up I find him lying crossways in it. He also moves onto one side which looks like he'd be able to turn around onto his belly very soon. And even if he doesn't - it is not a competition and so far the diapers don't seem to bother him (unless it is very hot but I guess "plstic" diapers won't be much more comfortable then either)
Summarising I can say that I love those reusable nappies and I like the fact that I am not throwing out bags and bags of plastic that take hundreds of years to degrade.

2. used clothes
We hardly buy clothes for our son. When he was born we got lots of clothes from family and friends and I believe a lot of new parents experience that. We also have friends with children that borrowed us their clothes. Children grow so fast and hardly use them enough so it's just handy to give them back and forth. I got clothes from a friend who has 3 children and the stuff is perfectly fine. The children obviously don't mind and it's not just good for your wallet. Another advantage is that after more and more washings there are hardly any chemicals left in the clothes so it's much healthier for the children to wear them.
The same applies for shoes. IT doesn't matter if a child had a bad foot movement and you use the shoes for your child afterwards. They don't wear shoes long enough that this would have a bad affect on your child's foot.
And by the way - our pram is used as well. It has cost us 50Euros, looks a bit worn but is perfectly fine. The best thing about it is that you can leave it unlocked everywhere. Nobody will steal an old pram. And even if somebody does - it had just cost us 50Euros...

3. glass bottles
I still breastfeed but every now and then I have an appointment and my husband has to feed the child. Therefore we have been looking out for glass bottles. They do exist but are hidden well behind the amounts of plastic bottles in the stores. I do agree that it is more practical to use plastic especially when the child is older and can hold the bottle himself. But the glass bottles are quite strong and if you don't let your child run around with the bottle in his hand all the time it doesn't have to be such a big problem. I have been fed with glass bottles too and me and the bottles all survived.It will also help your child realise that the bottle with tea or juice isn't a toy. You drink from it and when you had enough you put it down. Sounds easy I know and I haven't been there yet but I like to believe that it works that way.

4. the thumb
We are (well our son is) not using a pacifier. He has already discovered his thumb and is able to calm himself with it when he needs to. Right now it is rather a sign that he is hungry though which a pacifier can't help him with either. Therefore we don't have to use this bit of plastic which in most cases is full of BPA. His thumb is as natural as can be and won't fall on the floor and has to be desinfected afterwards. To name just the "green" plus points that speak for the thumb. The discussion of thumb vs. pacifier is another one and can be read here or in the world wide web everywhere...

5. Olive oil
When I was pregnant I got all sorts of sets for the newborn filled with samples of moistures, lotions and teas etc... I was confused on how to know what bathing lotion to use, what body lotion, what moisturiser??? Our midwife told us to use Olive oil instead, it's natural and good for the still very sensitive baby skin. We also use olive oil for the baby massage and our son looks well and healthy. It's a lot of chemicals we save him from taking in.

These are just 5 "green points" I can think of right now. But it has only been 2,5months now and I am sure this list can be extended. In the meantime - what are you doing to still live as green as possible in your family ? Looking forward to your comments.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


When I first heard of the existence of breastfeeding classes I had this weird imagination of women sitting around in a circle all feeding their children at the same time. A few weeks into breastfeeding I fought several problems and was desperately looking for help so I was advised to attend such a class. Well - rather a meetup than a class really.

For the circle of moms feeding their children - I was right. But it wasn't at all weird. Feeding in public still isn't easy but there it wasn't public, it was all breastfeeding moms. And they all had their little problems which in the end turned out to be mostly the same. Whatever a woman came up with - somebody in the round nodded knowingly. Despite the fact that my little son slept the whole time I felt so much better and went home knowing that it will get better. I also tried some of the advices given by the midwife there. With no result.

I went back tho because my problems hadn't been solved yet and I knew I would feel better afterwards. Again the little man slept most of the time while I was given different advice for my problems and quietly watched the rest of the discussions in the room. This was when I started to be annoyed. Annoyed by the same words and lines over and over again. Feed your baby at least 6 months full. Also keep breastfeeding for two years and more. Whatever women asked or said - she would stick to those and give lectures in long time breastfeeding. And here I was fed up with that class as fast as I enjoyed it. It has only been two months that I have been breastfeeding but there were times where I just wanted to run and buy formula and bottles and give up. And I did not have the worst of possible troubles. Feeding 6 months straight is a long time and when you are facing problem after problem, when you are frustrated and try everything you can, every week new advices - isn't it better for you AND the baby to feed formula but do it calm, relaxed and happy ?

The longterm feeding is another part that I think should be decided by the woman and child themselves. No lectures needed. No matter how good breast milk is for the baby (and I do not doubt that) - if the mother doesn't feel good about it or the baby is desperate to eat like a grown up - please let them do so ! Not every woman feels right feeding her perfectly walking, running and almost talking child with her breast and I think this should be accepted.

I went to these classes because I was looking for help with my problems. I did not want to be lectured. So I went to another class which was a mix of physical practice for the mother and breastfeeding discussions. Again the midwife would give "good advice" I had heard before which did not help. And she gave long lectures.

Ok with the lectures on the breastfeeding I could deal. It was all about breastfeeding in the end. But even when it came to other parenting topics the lectures were long and always a personal course into the midwives lives. Babies SHOULD sleep in the bed with their parents. Babies need constant body contact and want to be carried around all day. And when I heard the last lecture on how bad the gym is for you back and your body after a woman had asked when she could go back to her work out I switched off completely.

So I gave up.

What I have learned from those classes is this:

1. If you have troubles breastfeeding - don't fall into despair. It seriously will get better.
2. Whatever advice they give you. Even if it doesn't help - it seriously will get better.
3. Listen to your heart. And your baby. If you try everything you can but can't happily feed you child - leave it and feel good about it. And read this blog post for what is really important when it comes to feeding your baby.
4. Be strong about your own opinion on how long you want to feed because you may be lectured.
5. Be strong about you opinion on all parenting topics because you may be lectured.
6. Go for a coffee with another freshly baked mom instead of attending such a class and moan, laugh and talk about your new life as a mom and feel much better !

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


When you don't have a child, people accuse you of having no idea. When you have a 8 week old child people tell you to wait a few more weeks or months. In fact I believe that especially those first 8-12 weeks are very hard, nerve wrecking and therefore important.

First of all you're whole life is turning upside down.
You have seen babies cry but you have never held a screaming little red head in your arms not knowing what else to do. You deal with all sorts of feeding problems, not matter if it's noon or the middle of the night. You wonder if what you feed is enough and if the little one is developing well. And most of all you learn to not do too much.
Despite all that the child has to get used to his own new life that has turned upside down even more. And on top of all that he has to get to know his parents, those big heads that appear above his tiny head and every now and then and speak a language he just doesn't understand.

Our son is 8 1/2 weeks old it feels like we had him for years though. There have bee tough days, hard nights but also very relaxed and happy times. Never has it been easy. If he doesn't sleep you worry why and what to do. If he sleeps most of the day and the nights with only one feed you worry if he is alright. Is he eating a lot you worry if he could be overeating (if at all this is possible-but what isn't in parenting world?), if he is not so hungry you are worried if he is developing well. The list is endless.

But for now I believe we have done quite well.

I have to admit we have read a few books, sometimes I wanted to throw them out of the window and I was worried if we read too much and forgot to listen to ourselves. But in the end I am glad we read them because the helped me a lot. Being a mom for the first time you don't necessarily have all those instincts, you don't always just KNOW what to do. And you might end up going different directions.

One of the biggest problems was the crying of course. It doesn't take long to learn the difference between hungry crying or just unhappy crying. So far he is not too bothered by wet diapers, so this is usually out of the question although we do check them of course. It is easy to say you should let your baby cry every now and then and then hold this tiny unhappy person in your arms. But we figured that the holding and letting him cry does help a lot. Quite often he sleeps very long and well after a crying period, during the day he continues to play and smile and "talk" all by himself.

Another challenge were the first growing spurts. He just wanted to feed constantly and was nagging in the short periods in between. At some point I just wanted to run and get him a pacifier to save myself from feeling like a cow. I didn't and I realised that he never really needed one because those were just days or hours. If I would have given him a pacifier he would have kept him for months, maybe years. Instead he found his thumb last night and started to calm himself with that if necessary. This is a big step to his independence.

After three weeks we moved our son out of the bedroom. It sounds harder than it is. We had visited my husbands parents and there it was handy that our son slept in the room next door, there was just more space for him. This was when we realised that we slept much better with him being away a little as he makes weird noises throughout the night. His REM phases are very loud, he might even scream in his dream and I would wake up all the time. So when we got back he moved in his own room and has been sleeping there ever since. The doors are open and we do hear him when he starts to cry, even a bit nagging we hear. Once I jumped out of bed when I heard him and by the time I was in the hall he was gone back to sleep. Now I usually wait and see if he is really awake and hungry or just awake on his way back to dreamland. The reward is that since he is 8 weeks old he only really wakes up once during the night to feed.
I would not judge parents that share a bed with their children but I could not sleep and I assume I would feed my son more often because every time he would wake up I would just feed him instead of checking if there is anything else or anything at all.

A very modern way of "keeping your baby happy" are those several carrying devices. I admit that we own one of those wraps or slings (whatever they are called). I did not use them until he was able to hold his head on his own for a little bit. Of course they are quite handy especially when you have a short trip to do. We live on the third floor with no lift and with the little man developing very well (despite all my worries) it is a real workout to carry his pram up and down more than one time a day.
But those short trips I take with him in the sling are enough. For me and for him. He is just not such a cuddly person everyone is talking about. They all say that those little babies need so much body contact, love and attachment. Well he seems to be very happy just on his own lying on his back discovering he hands and fingers and the first vowels coming out of his mouth. And who says I'm giving him not enough love when I breastfeed him, take my time to change him and hold him when he needs to cry his frustration and anger all out ? I am also there when he offers smiles and happy faces and I share them with him.
I believe that there are babies that need more of all this and some don't. But I also believe that parents tend not to take their time to check what sort of person their child is. I have met several women that told me that their child does not want to lie on the back, does not want to lie in the pram. They also admitted that they have been carrying their child around from the first day. I feel free to see a connection here...

Every mother has to find her own way but she should not put her needs before her child's needs. Sometimes I do want to pick up my son and hold him and cuddle him and tell him how much I love him. But watching him play so peacefully and happy gives me the same thrill. And a smiley happy child that does hardly cry during the day should be proof enough that we are doing ok.

The books we read are:
"Your Self-confident baby" by Magda Gerber
"Tears and Tantrums - What to do when babies and children cry" by Aletha Solter
"Friedliche Babies, zufriedene Mütter" by Emmi Pikler

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


For a while now I have been watching that modern trend of carrying your infant around all day, of wrapping him in blankets and hold him onto your chest for hours and - this is not a modern trend - of bouncing and rocking him. I have never understood the parents that have been bouncing the pram with a crying baby inside like mad. Even in buses or trams that have the bouncy effect themselves. I always felt that the baby must get sick from all the bouncing. But I never had a child myself and held back. Now I fell into those discussions and I am seriously annoyed by one special argument:

"But that's what the child experienced for the past 9 months in the uterus."

Exactly. Past tense. ExperiencED. As hard as it is for the little one, this time is over.
I do agree that we should help him on his "way out" and make it as low stressful as possible. I love "Birth without violence" by Frederick Leboyer and I am grateful to have given birth in a hospital that is practicing this method. But I don't think that it is right to "pretend" a world that is not there anymore. In fact I believe that we should help the little one adjust to "our world" as much as we can. The rest is an experience everyone has to go through.

Imagine coming back from a fantastic holiday in the south, days on the beach and lots of sun. Now you are back to rainy days and work. Would you like your boss to put up a high sun and blue sky in the office while you still have to catch up with work from the past two weeks? Or would you rather face reality but take it a little slow on catching up with work and have colleagues that help you settle back in? I am not saying that this is the case most of the time, unfortunately it isn't but imagine you had the choice.

Adjusting to life outside the uterus is a process no carrying device, no bouncy chair, no tight wrapped blanket can stop, they can actually just extend that process.
So help your newborn grow into our world, talk to him, be there for him and respect that he needs time and space. Don't interfere, watch him and listen to his needs.
As hard as it sounds - this is all you can do.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


When I first heard of the Pikler parenting method I was very surprised by her attitude of leaving your child alone to play. And I was relieved. How often do you see parents and relatives take a little newborn out of their crib just like that, throw it in the air, shake it and carry it around. Without warning, without asking they interrupt the little ones action - even if that is just lying there and looking around. I always felt sorry for the baby that had no choice but be part of the "fun".

On sunday we experienced our first Pikler - situation of "Let your child be". A friend came over for a visit. I had just fed our son and my husband had changed his diaper. Happy and satisfied he was lying on the sofa still trying hard to move his hands into his mouth. Our friend went over to him, picked him up and held him in front of her face. Immediately he started crying so she began to wonder why. Nervously she started shaking and rocking him, making funny sounds and laughing. The little one continued crying until my husband suggested she should just put him back down because that might be what he wanted. Eventually after a few more rocking rounds he did not enjoy she put him down. He stopped crying and went back to his hands as if nothing had happened.

The problem with "Letting your child be" is that many parents think you are not allowed to play with your child at all, to hold him, to cuddle him. Of course you are allowed and you SHOULD do all that. But you shouldn't do it when it is convenient to YOU, when YOU have a spare moment, when YOU feel like cuddling.
Do not forget that your child is a human too and he has his needs to be alone and play by himself. A few weeks ago he was thrown out of his comfortable warm 24hour restaurant called "uterus" so he needs time to adjust to this world, to find his place, to grasp.
So rather than presenting your child with your constant presence lean back and watch him. Figure out what he is up to and what he needs when he cries. You will learn when it is okay for him to interact with you, when he wants you to hold him, to cuddle him. Enjoy those moments when it's right for both of you but also enjoy the spare time you gain by not entertaining your child constantly.

Also - A child's attention span will be much longer when it is allowed to play with something he chooses not something you put into his hands or in front of his head. See it like that - most of the time you enjoy a magazine/book/article you choose to read much more than a magazine someone just put into your hands because he or she think you should read that right now!! you want to read it when you are in the mood. And you will eventually read it. Interested. With full concentration. Your child will do the same. With the toys it chooses himself!

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Recently I have made the mistake to open a thread in a forum about all sorts of topics from pregnancy to parenting. I was actually looking for other parents that are interested in Pikler methods, who live them and have questions or experiences to exchange. Instead I got lots of answers criticising those methods and blaming me not showing my child enough love, not giving him enough body contact and all the entertainment it needs.

Whenever I talk about Pikler to other parents who don't know about her or know her but don't practice her methods I run against that huge concrete wall, get angry faces and this "Don't you criticise my parenting methods" attitude. I didn't even say "I think this is wrong" or "I think you shouldn't..." - I normally say "I don't..." (carry my child around all day, use a pacifier or similar) and the reply is "But you..." and then it comes. It seems that this method of raising a self respectful child is so not normal, that it is wrong.
I have to say that what I actually hear quite often between the lines is that parents just don't like those methods because it means they shouldn't use their child for entertainment all day, they can't hug and cuddle it all the time, they can't - by no means - help their child develop faster and better than others. Isn't that selfish? Am I giving birth to a child to spoil myself with a new toy? Does being small and new to this world mean the child wants to be kissed and hugged and cuddled all day? Doesn't a child deserve the right to think "Wow this is all new and unknown land to me, please leave me alone for a while and let me deal with all those new impressions." ?
Does a child WANT to be able to walk faster than others? Does he really want to be surrounded by all those educational toys that help him become a genius or at least Harvard student? As if he will never have the chance to develop when we don't push him early enough.

Quite often when our son cries it doesn't help to pick him up and carry him around. He still cries, he bends over and he pushes his little arms around like crazy. But when I don't pick him up but instead lean over in his bed, talk to him, take his tiny hand and tell him that I am here, that he just needs to calm down and sleep, he quite often calms down and in the end falls asleep. Of course I only do that when I am sure he is fed, dry etc... Yes, sometimes he starts crying again after a while and sometimes I let him. And he falls asleep again because he was just tired and frustrated with something I couldn't help him anyway. So I let him be frustrated as much as we need to be angry from time to time. That doesn't mean I let him alone.
It is about patience and learning that we don't have all the power about the child. That the child is a human being that needs his own space for his body but also for his feelings just like we do.

Unfortunately all this slow and of course more nerve wrecking process seems like torture for parents who practice the "I carry my child around all day because he or she WANTS that". And therefore I am a bad mother not loving my child enough.
Can those people please realise that there are other ways to calm a crying child down and that other people use other methods? And that those methods have successfully been adapted by other parents who raised self respectful kids who are happy and feel loved?

Friday, April 16, 2010


Just when I thought I shouldn't worry too much about our son because I am one of these always-worried-people he was diagnosed with a heart disease a few days after birth. It turns out to be one of the most common heart diseases there are, so far he is not suffering from it and most importantly: it can be fixed. But he will have to have surgery in a few months and will have to be hooked on to cables and wires and not home with us for a few weeks. It his hard to imagine, I probably shouldn't but then again I kind of have to prepare myself for it.

And while thinking about that all day, while watching him carefully I tend to forget to watch his regular development. To watch him just like any other child in his second week on earth. But this is exactly what he needs - normality. This is where two instincts clash. The mother instinct that is careful with the tendency to be overprotective and the instinct to raise a self confident baby that can take a lot more than we adults can imagine.

I am walking this fine line while having learned another lesson. You can prepare yourself as much as you want, the real life experience will teach you to adjust and listen. You can read books and books about pregnancy, about giving birth, about the first few months with your newborn. You can learn about parenting and figure out the way you want to go. But there is not a single textbook out there that tells you how to handle a diagnosis like a heart disease or anything else that is out there. And if you're not careful you let it all slip and become overprotective. It is a lot harder to "just let him be and watch him play". But it wouldn't help him at all when I would pick him up all the time he makes an unsatisfied noise. It won't fix his heart. And in the end - he is well and developing just fine.

So I'll continue to walk along this fine line and instead of overprotecting my son I protect myself a little by trusting him to let me know when he really needs me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


A week ago I sat on the sofa like I do now. I was wondering if the contractions I had were enough to get me into labor. A few hours later my water broke and only an hour after that I was holding our little son in my arm suddenly realising that I made it. And that from that minute I was a mother. The journey of parenting had started and I was more than ready to jump right into it.

The same day we left the hospital and made ourselves comfortable at home. Everything you think about and try to plan suddenly becomes a little routine. The changing table is used for the first time, those tiny little clothes are brought to life. And some cute button eyes are slowly opening to the world.
Since labor started in the middle of the night we hadn't slept at all and were really tired yet too excited to lie down. That we paid for with a few nerves the next night when the little one was trying to tell us that something was bothering him but we were just too exhausted to figure it out. So I left the bedroom, gave the father some silence to gain some sleep and took care of our son slowly trying to get to know him. To understand him. It worked. With me being more relaxed, taking some time, he relaxed too and we both got some sleep. Patience it was that was needed...

A couple of days later we tried to get the little one to sleep in his own bed. Of course it felt cosy having him right next to us the first night but it's just not right to have him squeezed between us with one of us always being scared of rolling over him. And also he's not a squeeze toy here to entertain us, to make us feel good. He is a human and needs his own space. It does not mean that we don't love him since that seems to be the modern answer to parents keeping their baby in their bed for months or even years.
A couple of nights it only worked for a while until he started crying. Until we figured out that it was just too cold for him so we changed the inside and now he happily sleeps in it while we can enjoy a more relaxed sleep in our bed.
The getting up to breastfeed him isn't a problem either. Women complain that it is too hard to get up with the baby so they rather have it in bed and just feed it lying there. I take my time, sit with him in the living room and talk to him while he gets fed. It's a special time and he deserves to get all attention needed.

A slight bigger challenge is the pacifier question. Well it's not so much a question for us since we definitely don't want to use one. But with him not being able to find his thumb on his own it is sometimes difficult for him to comfort himself. Of course that's not what we want anyway, we'd rather find out what's actually bothering him so he does not need to comfort himself for any reason. But with only one week gone this is a tough learning process. So far I think we are doing fine. Most of the time we actually do figure out what is wrong with him (wet diaper, too cold, hungry etc...). It takes time and certainly patience but it helps so much to get to know him better and it's much more satisfying than just stuffing his little mouth with a plastic thingy.

The most joyful times so far are the times when we just watch him like a TV show. In his wake moments we just put him on the sofa and watch him discover his hands or the world around him. Whatever of that he is realising. Over and over again he is slowly moving his hand into his mouth, still a little uncoordinated movement not knowing that it's his own hand that ends up in his mouth from time to time. But it's a learning process and we will not interfere but watch with excitement. Whoever thinks little babies can be bored is wrong. They only have a few wake moments a day and those they use happily to discover themselves. They don't need bright and shiny colourful noise making toys. They don't need mommy or daddy jumping up and down, making funny faces or carrying them around all day touching and cuddling them.
We are there for him when he needs us. That is important.

I don't know if I have thought it was easier or not. It certainly is a challenge to rather NOT do things than do too many. But it's important to listen to your own instinct. And your child. As a human, not as a helpless little creature.
A lot we have learned so far with patience being the most important one. I'm looking forward to see him discover the world and us the joys of parenting a respected child.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


There are two types of people when it comes to pregnancy literature. Some eat all the books they can find and some are proud of not having read a single page. I do admit that I had too many books which were mainly given to me by friends. So I started reading here and there and figured they all basically say the same. But NONE tells you anything about parenting. Most of them go on about pregnancy, birth and the first few weeks with the baby. They all give you the same information and half way through pregnancy I put them in the shelf cos I thought I knew enough to go through the last months.
But if I wouldn't have been given the advice of thinking about parenting before the child is born I might have forgotten about it. It's not the first thing on your mind, it is not mentioned in any of those thousands of books and you think this is something you come up with along the way. And this is the problem!

You can read about premature contractions or best ways to start labor when you get to that point. But you cannot educate a child "along the way" without having at least agreed basic thoughts with your partner. Plus for him it is much more interesting to talk about something you both have no experience in. With pregnancy he might always feel a bit behind because it's HER who's growing, who's carrying the baby, who's feeling all the changes. He is scared, he gets thrown into the whole thing when the baby is born.

One thing I really wanted to clarify with my husband were basic situations in parenting. Such as "Do we use a pacifier?" "Does the child need a certain bed time or not?" etc. His parents and mine are like day and night so I figured he must have been raised a different way than I was. So I needed to make sure that we will find a basis on how we will raise OUR own child. But this came along with the interest in Pikler and we started reading and talking and fortunately agreed in most cases. Of course there will still be situations we are not prepared for and we will have to discuss. But there is a safe basis we've laid out.

Another problem with parents who do not talk about parenting before having a child is, that they might end up making mistakes more often than others. I'm not saying we will do everything right just because we are in the safe haven of Pikler but without having any thoughts on some basic parenting questions they are more likely to do something wrong. They will discover difficult situations they haven't thought about more often and they will be nervous. And once something went wrong it will be much more difficult to adjust, to fix.

I can only speak for me - but those evenings when we sat together, looking forward to the wee ones arrival, discussing how we will raise it, teach it, watch it and enjoy it - gave me the security of us being in the right place. And after all the discussions before I got pregnant of if and when I knew we were ready for it, I knew we could do it. I knew we could do it TOGETHER.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


A few weeks ago I had friends over with their little 1year old daughter. Another friend came along with their 2 year old boy.
We weren't too fuzzed about what's gonna happen. Both kids are in kindergarden already. They kind of know how to socialize. At least that's what we thought. It turned out that the boy simply did not want to play with the girl which was fine. She did not care too much anyway. But every time she got in his way he would push her away quite harsh. It happened what was supposed to happen - eventually he pushed her so hard that she fell on the floor and hit her head. It was not that bad, but of course she started to scream. Her dad got really mad at the boy and tried to get him to apologise. His mother just hid him from that mad man and very soon she left.

Nobody really talked to each other but of course both parents have talked to me about it.

I do have my opinion but I am not the person to contact. I don't even have a child. yet. What am I to say ? And even if I say something it is most likely that they don't like it. Or at least one of them won't.

It is a difference if somebody comes and asks you for advice because he or she really needs it because he or she has a problem. But when both parents think they are absolutely right what can a person with no child tell them ?

So what do you do? So far I got myself out by mentioning that I can't say much since I don't have a child and won't know how to react in that very situation.

But I am annoyed because I have my strong opinion and I usually like to share it.
That I think is a big problem in parenting. When it comes to relationships or work problems - anything - people do listen to your opinion. Even if they don't like it. Well at least good friends do that. But when it comes to their children this is not possible. It's a really fragile topic. But this is a topic with a big impact on people's future! So really - what do you do ?

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I have mentioned how I came across Emmi Pikler and that I never really considered any other parenting method at all. How can I know that it's right what I am doing ?

Well - first of all I don't. You never do until you see the result. But I trust myself. As much as I have trusted myself through the whole pregnancy. I never really thought about what to eat and what not to eat. Because my body told me anyway. From the moment I knew I was pregnant I had this craving for fruits. Fresh fruits and vegetables. All fatty food made me want to hug the ceramic so that's what I avoided. I just listened to my body. Later on I had a craving for milk and dairy products. It was about the time the baby developed its bones. Again, my body told me and I listened. I never got into the whole vitamin pill eating because I felt that I knew what I needed and I trusted my body would continue sending me the right signals.

As a person who is quite often concerned and has no problem believing she could have all the bad illnesses there are out there I have been very calm and quiet throughout the pregnancy. I have been to a couple of prenatal diagnostic testings without freaking out about it. Which believe me I am actually good at.
In week 31 I was submitted to the hospital with a short cervix. It was two days before our wedding so I was a bit stressed what was gonna happen now. For a couple of days I was in bed with an infusion. Nothing changed. Then I realised that all I had to do was calm down, stay in bed for another 2 days and everything would just be fine. The wedding was off anyway and it wasn't a big deal after all. So that's what I did and the next exam showed that the cervix hat relaxed and I was allowed to go home.

What I am saying is that it's always in your mind. You know what's right for you. You know who to trust. And believe me: it's yourself! Follow your instincts. In every aspect of life. Of course you should also trust your own instincts when it comes to parenting. But there might be ideas and principles out there you didn't know but that actually go along with the way you think, the way you live life. That's what happened to me when I first read about Emmi Pikler.
And even if you don't agree with everything she is saying - that's fine because you shouldn't do anything that doesn't feel right. But at least open up your mind for it. And maybe you don't go either way, then you still can find your own way.

So when I heard about Emmi Pikler and her methods I just knew straight away that this is right. It makes sense, I can see myself doing the right things and I believe that it'll help our wee one do develop in its own time and pace. My husband and me talked about it, we are sure. So why waste time on considering other methods when we enjoy dreaming and thinking about what we feel is right ?

So if you ask me why I chose Pikler I will say: "Because I trust myself."


When I first tried to explain the Pikler method to non German speaking friends I realised how little information there is in English. Only through thorough research I found out about Magda Gerber and RIE - The Resources for Infant Education. Still I found it quite hard to gain proper information on the internet about the actual ideas behind those parenting principles. It's the same problem with Pikler, if you don't read her books or attend some very rare seminars you hardly find any useful information. I see this as the problem why still so many parents have not even heard of either Pikler or Gerber or the RIE. In times of daily internet use it is difficult to convince somebody of "this method out there" when there isn't much information available online. People don't buy books just like that anymore. They want websites, podcasts etc. This is why I started this blog and put a whole Pikler section up on my website.

Of course this isn't much so I am still trying to find out more - which there is. But you really have to look for it. But to be honest - who is thoroughly looking for a website about something he or she hasn't even heard of? Exactly.
For example there is Janet Lansbury who is a RIE Associate. It's a very interesting blog considering lots of problems parents nowadays have with their children. It gives logic explanations and should be read by all parents in the world. RIE though does not have much information up on their website, just advertising their classes which not everybody in the world is able to attend.

So I guess it is still up to you to find useful information and in the end you should just buy those books by Pikler or Gerber available. I can only recommend them, it's easier to go back and flip through it again than trying to find that website again you where read something about something...

Now you still might have one question - what do Pikler, Gerber and RIE have in common? It's easy, but also something you don't find out about on either website. Magda Gerber was Hungarian and learned from Emmi Pikler when she became a mother. Gerber emigratet to the US in 1957 and co-founded the RIE with Tom Forrest in 1978. It's all about the same - infant education to Emmi Pikler's principles. Now considering how long they have been out there it's a shame they are still so hidden and unheard of.

So if you are interested help spread the word. Follow the links posted or for a start just their twitter accounts:
Janet Lansbury
Nadine Hilmar

Help make sure more parents learn about Pikler so that more children can be raised according to THEIR needs!

Friday, March 19, 2010


I have been watching a woman with her 4 month old boy for a while now.
The wee one is really easy going, most of the time just lying around watching the world above him checking out his hands and tiny fingers. Every now and then he starts "talking", commenting on what he sees, then again just sucking on his hand. And this is where mommy comes back with her big hand putting the baby-soother in is mouth. He wasn't crying, certainly did not ask for it. But now he's got it, first he wonders and then obviously starts sucking a bit. A little later he's back on the talking, the dummy falls down. He doesn't even care, keeps talking. And yes... it won't take long and mommy is back with the soother.
WHY ???

I do kind of understand that parents get frustrated with their screaming kids, I see why they use the a soother to keep it quiet although I am not a big fan of stuffing your child's mouth. But why do it when the little one clearly does not even care about a soother, when it does nothing but talk to himself? How come that the soother has become such a necessity ?

I know, I'm still not in the situation to completely judge. But I am wondering. I for myself have decided to try it without, rather see my little one with the thumb in his mouth when he feels the need for it. Makes him less dependent on me picking up his soother all the time. Just to mention one great advantage.

But maybe parents have a very good reason? So far I have not heard a convincing one. Do you ?

Thursday, March 18, 2010


In between all those good advices and informations from friends there was only one that I actually listened to. I'm sorry to say that, but it was my boss, father of 4 kids himself, that told me in my 8th week of pregnancy: "The most important thing to start thinking about right now is the education method according to which you want to raise your child to. For me the most exciting moments during my wifes pregnancy where the philosophical discussions about early education."
This was when he mentioned Emmi Pikler. I never heard of that woman so I started to research, bought some books and that was me being convinced that this is the right way to raise a child. Let it discover the world in its own time and pace. Do not interfere. Instead focus on the daily care, provide a prepared and safe environment pay undivided attention when you are with the child.
Well this all sounds pretty natural at first. But there is more behind. With the Pikler method - there is a lot you can do wrong. But there is not much you have to do, to make it right.

I realised during my research, that there is some information out there. But you really have to look for it. There are Pikler toddler groups everywhere, but you have to know about Pikler when you want to join those. This is what I am missing - the information about early child education for parents. They learn all sorts of stuff about pregnancy, birth and the first few weeks. But nobody actually takes care about how so many parents raise their child. And let me be honest - it wouldn't harm if at least a FEW of them would actually get some information. It's good to follow your instincts, but it doesn't mean they are always right.

I would like to use this space to bring a bit more information about Pikler to the public. I'm doing that in English because here the lack of information is even bigger.
In about 3 weeks I will give birth to my own child and I want to share my experience with the Pikler method. I'm looking for other parents and their opinions too. Pikler or not - it would be good to also share comparison!

In the meantime I have put up some information about the Pikler method on my website since that blog here is only for the experience log.