Review: The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care

The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care

The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care

I should start this review by declaring that I am not a member of my local Weston A Price Foundation chapter and while there are some things I love about the WAPF, I don’t think it is a completely balanced approach to diet and nutrition. Some of the practices form part of my daily life: I make bone broths; I take fermented cod liver oil; I drink raw dairy; I make and consume a large amount of fermented foods. The original Nourishing Traditions book has been indispensable for me in learning how to prepare some of these dishes. There are other WAPF practices that I don’t participate in, such as eating organ meats (I do take a liver supplement when I feel I need to) or large amounts of other meat. I do eat meat on weekends and it is always organic and pasture-raised, but my personal opinion is that the WAPF focuses a great deal on meat and fats and not enough on vegetables, particularly green leafies.

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!

About informedmama

I'm an Aussie mum blogging about my parenting journey, toxic chemical-free living, healthful living, nutrition, food as medicine and my learnings as I head towards semi self-sufficiency.
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7 Responses to Review: The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care

  1. Veggie Mama says:

    Thanks for reviewing this – I was wondering if I should buy! I’m really not into the full-on paleo idea as you can imagine (but agree with the fats + less carb bits), and didn’t know if there’d be much in this for me. It appears I now need to look up The Continuum Concept!

  2. This was a really great read… its people like you that help give balance… I was heading down the raw food fruitarian / frugivore way, then my friend told me today that Steve Jobs died of pancratic cancer before he got to 60, and apparently was a fruitarian hence the apple logo ? not sure but my friend said she read it on mercola, a highly reliable source still… so all this, lately ive been craving meats, not so much dairy, not even raw dairy, just an easy organic meat & chocolate & coffee… blahdeblah, I make my own chocolate most of the time but its not that I want I want the dodgy shop bought stuff full of crap… then I realised today Im 7days out from a full moon, breastfeeding an 18month old & HUNGRY ! So while I never really made it fully raw, Im happy that I delved into it, enjoyed it, but will be putting meat back into my diet but not as heavily as before ! I love how you said need more greens… I agree ! Oh & I just looked up that book The Continuum Concept on my library catalogue right now & of course its not there. Im totally dont have time to read but I might just make some time… I wonder if its possible to borrow it ?

    • informedmama says:

      Hi Beck and thanks for your comment! You can borrow my copy of Continuum Concept next time I see you (and get my shoes back hahah!)
      The raw food thing is good, but not long term. Raw foods cleanse, cooked foods nourish. Your body is craving those foods because you need saturated fats. I really believe each person needs to decide on the right balance for themselves and to not be extreme about whether something fits in with a particular diet, but rather whether it fits in with your knowledge of food and your body. There are some things I can be extreme about, like avoiding chemical additives and preservatives in my food, but I have come to a fairly good balance for myself, after dipping my toes into raw vegan, paleo (talk about opposites!) etc. We are weekday vegetarians, although during the week we still consume plenty of bone broth and raw dairy, just not meat. On weekends we eat organic, pasture-raised beef or turkey. I would like to add more fish into our diet, but don’t know of a local source of sustainably caught, wild (not farmed) fresh fish. What you learned while exploring the raw lifestyle is incredibly valuable and you now know how to use raw foods as part of a bigger plan, not as the whole plan.

      The work of Dr Weston A Price is really comprehensive and I like it, and sometimes I find it important to go back directly to his findings rather than get caught up in the blogs and books about eating his way. Basically we need much larger amounts of vitamins A, D and K than is recommended or currently consumed by most westerners – and definitely not from supplements. Some of the healthy tribes he examined only ate meat once a week.

      Anyway, enough rambling from me! Thanks again for stopping by!

  3. Michelle says:

    Hi! Great review. Have just started reading the original nourishing traditions book myself. interested to know what strategies you would suggest instead of time out? I prefer not to use it but sometimes I don’t know what else will work! thanks!

  4. M.I. says:

    Thanks for that review–very interesting indeed. I am also disappointed that this book wasn’t grounded more in the traditional ways of raising and nurturing children, because I am certain that makes a huge impact on the child’s overall mental and spiritual well-being. Well said!

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  6. C B says:

    Helpful and balanced review! Thanks. I noted Nourishing Traditions’ recommendation for pregnant mamas to eat lots of liver on This book is prompting thoughtful discussions for my husband and I.

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