Because the original Nourishing Traditions book has been so useful for me, I pre-ordered the Baby and Child Care version as soon as I heard it was going to be released. I was excited when it was delivered and I could finally read it! Having two small children, I am always happy to learn more about nourishing them.
There is a lot to like about The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care by Sally Fallon Morrell and Thomas S Cowan. Some of it is exceptionally well-researched (other things I thought were a little sketchy or questionable, see further below). I could never list all the awesome things the book discusses, but some of the highlights for me include:
- Discussion about healthy fats. Many parents and parents-to-be are scared of fats because we’ve been fed a lie about cholesterol. I’m not afraid of fats and believe they are essential to nutrition and development, especially that of children, but as I mentioned above I sometimes feel the WAPF goes overboard with this.
- Exploration of the vitamins and minerals needed prior to conception and during pregnancy.
- Discussion about toxic chemical exposure in every day life/products and the risks of this during pregnancy.
- An examination of what is in modern infant formula.
- Comprehensive suggestions for treating common childhood ailments using natural approaches rather than mainstream medicine.
I also found myself reading and rereading a few things in the book that made me go hrmmmm:
- A suggestion that it is not necessary to consume large amounts of water before and during pregnancy (p35). Apparently, the best way to hydrate your body is to ‘consume plenty of healthy fats, because fats provide the most energy on the cellular level – much more than carbohydrates and proteins, and the by product of this energy is water’. I don’t know enough about this matter to comment further at this stage, but I find it strange that drinking water would be discouraged.
- “Attachment parentings can interfere with a child’s need to learn about the world on his own, and his gradual emergence into his sense of independent self” (p156). Clearly, the authors have confused attachment parenting with helicopter parenting. One of the greatest outcomes of attachment parenting is confident and secure children who are not only independent, but highly inter-dependent.
- A suggestion that a baby play pen is a good idea to ‘protect baby from being stepped on’ (p160). As far I have ever seen, baby play pens are good for two purposes – keeping little hands away from the Christmas Tree, and having a safe place for mum to iron.
- Promotion of the time-out technique for dealing with inappropriate behaviour (p173). I’ve worked with enough children in my career and read enough literature on child behaviour and development to know that time-out is an ineffective, overused and misunderstood tool that adults resort to when they have no clue otherwise how to deal with their child’s actions (thank you Super Nanny). In many cases it’s the parents who need time out from the situation to cool down and gather their composure. I’m not about to tell anyone how to parent, but I will say that when a child is sent to time-out to ‘think about their behaviour’, you can be guaranteed they’re thinking of anything BUT that.
- An apparent misunderstanding about baby-led weaning. The book says that baby-led weaning is to be resisted and that baby’s parents should be squarely in charge of what baby eats from the beginning. I did a combination of purees and baby-led weaning with both my children, and I was always squarely in charge of what they ate and what they were offered. Part of my role as a mother is to prepare nourishing foods for my children. Whether they pick at it and hand-feed themselves or whether I offered it mushed up on a spoon is irrelevant. The book fails to recognise that a child can only choose food from that which they have been offered or is available. If only nourishing food is offered and available, then that is what the child will choose.
I must admit I am surprised that with the concept of Nourishing Traditions being about adopting traditional methods of preparing foods as observed in ultra-healthy non-western people groups, I expected the book on baby and child care to promote more traditional and indigenous ways of nurturing (not just nourishing) little ones, such as babywearing and co-sleeping. I guess we always have The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff for that!
With all its good bits and all its interesting bits, I still have one as-yet unmentioned gripe and disappointment with The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care. Not enough recipes!