Parenting these days seems to come with so many prescriptions—both literally and figuratively. Between gender-reveals and sex-specific clothes or toys, to clockwork doctor’s visits and comparisons to the 98th percentile, sometimes it feels like we’re put into a parenting box that feels anything but natural.
Don’t get us wrong—we’re still advocates of vaccines and proper medical advice; but aside from responsible decision-making, it is indeed possible to break free of the strict parenting chains we’re expected to abide by. “Holistic parenting” doesn’t mean going full hippy, non-conformist and ignoring the best parenting practices… it just refers to a philosophy that embraces non-toxic living, non-violent communication, and an open-mind that considers all aspects of your child’s development.
If you’re curious about what holistic parenting means and what it looks like to explore avenues alternative to the mainstream agenda, here are some topics to reflect on.
Make Your Own Informed Decisions
Many parents are simply told (or rather, strongly persuaded) what to do and how to act in terms of child labor, breastfeeding, education, and so forth. Holistic parenting encourages you to conduct your own open-minded research to find the best solutions for you and your family’s unique needs. That might look like a water birth, doula service, or homeschooling—the important thing, is that the decision is yours and reached after careful consideration.
Be Mindful of Your Breast Milk
Whatever you put into your body—including medicine—ends up in your breast milk, which is super important for breastfeeding mothers to understand and be wary of. After childbirth and the accompanying sleep deprivation, new mothers are extremely vulnerable to viruses that lead to coughing, congestion, a sore throat, and achy pains.
If you come down with a postpartum cold, take the holistic approach with treatments that are safe for both you and baby. Some natural choices many nursing mothers prefer over long-acting cold medicine include honey, salt water, and black tea.
Natural Remedies all the Way
Holistic parents prefer to seek natural solutions when it comes to both medicine and nutrition. From constipation remedies to teething salves, anything that comes from the earth is prioritized over goods which are processed and packaged. Essential oils are said to work wonders for treating different ailments or soothing sour moods in babies at least three months old—but it’s always wise to seek your doctor’s opinion beforehand.
Say No to Chemicals
It’s not only what you and baby consume that you need to be mindful of; everything you touch has the potential to seep through the skin and enter the bloodstream. From natural laundry detergents to BPA-free sippy cups, holistic parents task themselves with learning the ins and outs of all of their products—including what chemical ingredients they’re made with—in order to avoid toxins.
Take the Nurturing Approach
Breastfeeding, baby-wearing, and co-sleeping are positive attachment practices encouraged by holistic parents. Attachment parenting (AP) promotes the attachment of the parent and infant through maximum empathy and responsiveness, as well as continuous bodily contact or closeness. Anything that strengthens your connective bond with baby, the better!
Cribs with Natural Fibers
Almost all babies fight sleep, but once they outgrow these intermittent phases, they might spend up to 16 hours per day sleeping in their crib! It only makes sense to buy a crib mattress made with organic fibers such as cotton and wool. Many big-store, brand-name manufacturers use synthetics which, although may be cheaper, expose your child to off-gassing materials.
Be Picky with Paint
On the note of your child’s nursery, remember to only use low-VOC paints (which stands for volatile organic compounds); the fumes from traditional paints have been linked to respiratory illness, so safeguarding your little one from these toxins is absolutely imperative.
Low-VOC paint can get a little expensive (as can all these safe suggestions that steer clear of cheap, chemical filler ingredients), but the good news is that the quality of your paint can take your little guy or gal to tweenhood. If a little sibling joins the mix, no need to repaint. Holistic parents tend to reject arbitrary sex codifications and instead opt for gender neutral tones over “blue for boys” and “pink for girls”. (As an added bonus, shopping gender neutral saves money in the hand-me-down department, too!)
These approaches only scratch the surface of holistic parenting angles… but as you can see, they’re not as far out or farfetched as you might have believed!