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?