Monday, 27 May 2013

Parenting Influences through Social Networking

How much influence do you have on your Facebook friends? How much do you think they can learn from what you post or comment on?

A few weeks ago a friend posted this on my timeline…

"You know when you comment on something and it comes up on the ticker and your friends can read it? Well, I read some of the things you comment on and I think I now know more about parenting than some parents do."

This is coming from a 22 year old childless student. So I thought I'd test her on what she'd learnt from me. I compiled a questionnaire reflecting a variety of natural and attachment parenting topics, which she answered without the aid of any internet searches! Here are the questions and her answers...

1. Fill in the blanks:
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for __6 months__
and continuing to breastfeed alongside food until at least __12 months +__.

2. What percentage of babies are breastfed at birth in the UK (according to latest figures)?
About 80%

3. What percentage of babies are breastfed at six months old in the UK (according to latest figures)?
Errrm, don't remember! 20% ish?

4. Why can't formula milk for babies under six months old be advertised or included in promotions?
I'm not totally sure, but I think it's because formula milk doesn't contain the antibodies that breast milk does, so advertising or promoting formula would give the impression that it's okay, when really they should inform you of the benefits of breast milk and risks of formula, especially for babies under 6 months.

5. Why shouldn't a bottle be given to a breastfed baby?
It could confuse them so they don't take to the nipple as well?

6. Which method of weaning enables a baby to feed themselves from the start and have full control over their food and nutritional intake?
Baby-led weaning.

7. Why shouldn't babies under a year old eat honey?
There's a risk of botulism. I think they're more at risk the younger they are.

8. Why should you not bathe a newborn baby for at least the first day and preferably longer?
They're born with natural skin protection that shouldn't be washed off… and I think it's best to keep the cord dry till it falls off. Also, they're not really dirty!

9. Why is it important to respond to your baby's cries?
They don't cry for no reason! It might be hard to tell why they're crying if you don't think anything is wrong, i.e. they're still dry and fed, but they need comforting. Maybe they need reassurance that you're still there and still care about them. When you think about it, it must be scary being a baby and not understanding the world properly yet, so it's understandable that they cry so much. Ignoring your baby when they're crying could lead to some attachment issues.

10. Explain the differences between these two baby carriers (showed her photo of BabyBjorn on left and Mei Tai on right)…
The one on the right is a lot more comfortable for the baby because they're in a proper seating position with their whole bum taking the weight. It looks better for the parent too because it isn't hanging as low as the other one, so looks like a more natural way of carrying. The one on the left looks like the child is finding it difficult to get comfortable and looks a bit unstable - clinging on! And the legs are dangling in an awkward way and it looks like the sling is giving him a bit of a wedgie! Can't be good for the child if it's "sat" like that for long walks.

11. What is Elimination Communication?
The practice of letting / encouraging the infant to use the potty whenever they need to go, instead of or alongside wearing nappies (just in case). You will know when they need to go similarly to how you know they want a feed - they will show you in some way so you will pick up on behaviours which mean it's potty time. It can be done soon after birth.

12. What happens during the "four month growth spurt"?
The baby grows a lot quicker than usual so will want to feed a lot more often to get the nutrition to grow and for energy.

The answers can be found below but I think she did rather well and her answers that aren't quite right are still very good educated guesses! I take this as being positive, especially for the next generation of parents who we can influence. There are always going to be people who have different opinions and will choose to take a different direction with their parenting, but even if just a small proportion of our friends read and take notice of what we discuss and comment on then we have made a small difference.


1. Six months.
Two years.

2. 81%
See no.3 for link.

3. 34% (any breastfeeding at all, not necessarily exclusively breastfed).
1% exclusively breastfeeding.

4. It is against WHO Code of Marketing of breastmilk substitutes.

5. It can lead to "nipple confusion" and baby often starts to refuse the breast, detrimental to breastfeeding relationship.

6. Babyled Weaning

7. Due to risk of botulism.

8. Effects baby's body temperature and instinctive behaviours such as breast crawl. It washes off the vernix which is protecting the baby's delicate skin, strips the skin of its natural oils and dries out the skin. 

9. "Prompt responsiveness leads to a solid foundation of trust and a secure attachment.
Babies who are left to cry it out alone may fail to develop a basic sense of trust or an understanding of themselves as a causal agent, possibly leading to feelings of powerlessness, low self-esteem, and chronic anxiety later in life. 
Cortisol levels are a reliable measure of stress, and can easily be measured from a sample of saliva. Researchers have found that even brief separations of human infants from their mothers can affect the infants' cortisol levels. In one study, nine-month-old infants who were briefly separated from their mothers and left alone in an experimental situation experienced an increase in cortisol levels, indicating a physiological stress response. However, when the babies were left with a substitute caregiver who was warm and attentive, their cortisol levels did not increase as much. The researchers concluded that it is quite stressful for infants to be left alone.
When the caregiver is consistently responsive and sensitive, the child gradually learns and believes that she is worthy of love, and that other people can be trusted to provide it. She learns that the caregiver is a secure base from which she can explore the world, and if she encounters adversity she can return to her base for support and comfort. This trust in the caregiver results in what is known as a secure individual.
An abundance of research shows that regular physical contact, reassurance, and prompt responses to distress in infancy and childhood results in secure and confident adults who are better able to form functional relationships." Text taken from...

10. Pic on left - Unnatural position. Thigh not supported to knee joint. The resulting forces on the hip joint may contribute to hip dysplasia.
Pic on right - Seated position. Thigh is supported to the knee joint. The forces on the hip joint are minimal because the legs are spread, supported, and the hip is in a more stable position. 

11. Using a potty/toilet from birth. Watching and learning baby's elimination cues so you know when they need to go. Respectful to baby's needs, avoids uncomfortable dirty nappies.

12. Increased feeding. Sleep regression.

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