Love the Skin that You're In!

'Love the skin you're in' watercolor painting by Rachel Toll, Devon England.

Three good friends went for a swim. 
The one who was fat wished she was thin. 
The one who was curvy wished she was clever. 
The one who was clever wished she swam better. 
The really great swimmer wished she was witty. 
The one who was witty wished she was pretty. 
All three friends thought the other two were just fine. 
If only they could let their own bright light shine. 
So throw on your swimsuit if you're fat or you're thin. 
Enjoy fun and friendship...
Love the skin that you're in!

-Author Unknown


10 Things Everyone Should Know About Babies

Have you noticed all the stressed babies? Maybe 1 in 30 I see has glowing eyes, which I take as a sign of thriving. What's up? Perhaps ignorance about babies and their needs. Here are 10 things to know.

1. Babies are social mammals with social mammalian needs. Social mammals emerged more than 30 million years ago with intensive parenting(a developmental nest or niche). This is one of the many (extra-genetic) things that evolved other than genes. This developmental nest matches up with the maturational schedule and thus is required for an individual to develop optimally. Intensive parenting practices for babies include years of breastfeeding to develop brain and body systems, nearly constant touch and physical presence of caregivers, responsiveness to needs preventing distress, free play with multi-aged playmates, and soothing perinatal experiences. Each of these has significant effects on physical health.

2. Human babies are born "half-baked" and require an external womb. Humans are born way early compared to other animals: nine months early in terms of mobility and 18 months early in terms of bone development and foraging capacities. Full-term babies have 25% of adult brain volume and most of it grows in the first five years. Thus, the human nest for its young evolved to be even more intense than for other social mammals because of the underdeveloped newborn, lasting for three to five years. Humans also added to the list of expected care a village of positive social support for both mother and baby. (Actually, human brain development lasts into the third decade of life, suggesting that social support and mentoring continue at least that long.)

3. If adults mess up on the post-birth “baking,” long-term problems can result. Each of the caregiving practices mentioned above has longterm effects on the physical health but also the social health of the individual. For example, distressing babies regularly or intensively (by not giving them what they need) undermines self-regulatory systems. This is common knowledge in other cultures and was so in our past. In Spanish, there is a term used for adolescents and adults who misbehave: malcriado (misraised).

4. Babies thrive on affectionate love. When babies receive food and diaper changes and little else, they die. If they receive partial attention and stay alive, it is still not enough—they won’t reach their full potential. Urie Bronfenbrenner, who emphasized the multiple systems of support that foster optimal development, said that babies do best when at least one person is crazy about them. Others have noted that children grow best with three affectionate, consistent caregivers. In fact, babies expect more than mom and dad for loving care. Babies are ready for a community of close, responsive caregivers that includes mother nearby.

5. Babies’ right hemisphere of the brain is developing rapidly in the first three years. The right hemisphere develops in response to face-to-face social experience, with extended shared eye gaze. The right hemisphere governs several self-regulatory systems. If babies are placed in front of screens, ignored or isolated, they are missing critical experiences.

6. Babies expect to play and move. Babies expect to be “in arms” or on the body of the caregiver most of the time. Skin-to-skin contact is a calming influence. After learning this one of my students when at a family gathering took a crying baby and held it to his neck, which calmed it down. Babies expect companionship not isolation or intrusion. They expect to be in the middle of community social life. They are ready to play from birth. Play is a primary method for learning self-control and social skills. Companionship care—friendship, mutual responsiveness, and playfulness—builds social and practical intelligence. Babies and caregivers share intersubjective states, building the child’s capacities for the interpersonal “dances” that fill social life.

7. Babies have built-in warning systems. If they are not getting what they need, babies let you know. It is best, as most cultures have long known, to respond to a baby’s grimace or gesture and not to wait till crying occurs. Young babies have difficulty stopping crying once it starts. The best advice for baby care is to sensitively follow the baby, not the experts.

8. Babies lock their experiences into procedural memory vaults that will be inaccessible but apparent in later behavior and attitudes. Babies can be toxically stressed from neglecting the list of needs above. They won’t forget. It will undermine their trust of others, their health, and social wellbeing, and lead to self-centered morality which can do much destruction to the world.

9. Culture does not erase the evolved needs babies have. Babies cannot retract their mammalian needs. Yet, some adult cultures advocate violating evolved baby needs as if they do not matter and despite the protests of the baby. Everyday violations include baby isolation like sleeping alone, “crying it out” sleep training, infant formula, or baby videos and flashcards.* When violations occur regularly, at critical time periods or are intense, they undermine optimal development. These violations are encoded in the baby’s body as the optimal development of systems is undermined (e.g., immunity, neurotransmitters, endocrine systems like oxytocin). Surprisingly, some developmental psychologists think it fine to violate these needs** in order for the child to fit into the culture.

The rationalization of “culture over biology” reflects a lack of understanding not only of human nature but of optimal development. This has occurred in laboratories with other animals whose natures were misunderstood. For example, Harry Harlow, known for his experiments with monkeys and “mother love,” at first did not realize he was raising abnormal monkeys when he isolated them in cages. Similarly, at least one of the aggressive rat strains used in lab studies today was first created when scientists isolated offspring after birth, again not realizing the abnormality of isolation. Note how the cultural assumptions of the scientists created the abnormal animals. So it matters what cultural assumptions you have.

The culture-over-biology view may be doing the same thing with human beings. By not understanding babies and their needs, we are creating species-atypical human beings. We can only know this to be the case in light of knowledge about human beings who develop under evolved conditions (the "developmental nest" described in point 1): typically, small-band hunter-gatherers. They are wiser, more perceptive and virtuous than we humans in the U.S. today (see note below).

Thus, the final point:

10. Experiences that consistently violate evolution undermine human nature. When species-atypical childrearing occurs, we end up with people whose health and sociality are compromised (which we can see all over the USA today with epidemics of depressionanxiety, high suicide and drug use rates***). Such mis-raised creatures might do all right on achievement tests or IQ measures, but they may also be dangerous reptiles whose world revolves around themselves. A lot of smart reptiles (“snakes in suits”) on Wall Street and elsewhere have been running the country into the ground.

What to do?

  1. Inform others about the needs of babies.
  2. Be aware of the needs of babies around you and interact sensitively with the babies you encounter.
  3. Support parents to be sensitive to the needs of their babies. This will also require many more institutional and social supports for families with children, including extensive parental leave which other developed nations provide. It's an uphill battle right now but raising awareness is the first step.
  4. Read and learn from books that convey the evolved principles of caregiving.

*Note that sometimes violations (e.g., formula, isolation) are required under emergency conditions that are matters of life and death. Also note: In a way, U.S. culture forces parents into these violations because there is no extended family or community support to help provide for all the many needs of a baby.

**Of course they don’t think it’s a violation because they don’t take the set of mammalian needs seriously.

***In the U.S., everyone under 50 has numerous health disadvantages compared to citizens in 16 other developed nations (National Research Council, 2013).

Note: Of course, every human community is not perfect but when you provide young children with their basic needs, they are less aggressive and self-centered. They are less preoccupied with what they want because they got all they wanted when they needed it in early life. The baby nest described above makes for a smart, healthy, well-functioning body and brain, with high emotional intelligence and self-control. They are more socially skilled and empathic toward others. All this makes getting along with others so much easier. All this will have to be explained more thoroughly in another post, citing the anthropology research that shows what people in small-band hunter-gatherer communities are like.

Related Reading by Dr. Narvaez at Peaceful Parenting: 

An 'On Demand' Life and the Basic Needs of Babies

Where Are All the Happy Babies?

The Dangers of Crying It Out

10 Things Everyone Should Know About Babies

5 Things NOT to Do to Babies

12 Ways to Nurture Babies at Conception, Birth, and Beyond

Are you treating your child like a prisoner?

Are you or your child on a touch starvation diet?

Conspiracy Thinking: Understanding Attachment and Its Consequences

Psychology Today: Circumcision Series

Learn More from Narvaez:

The Evolved Nest Institute

Kindred Media

Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom

💜 Peaceful Parenting Community

💙 Peaceful Parenting on Facebook

💗 Peaceful Parenting on Telegram

Research everything!

I'm Intact - Do NOT Retract Soft Baby Bands

A handy little soft baby band reads: Do NOT Circumcise / Do NOT Retract for those birthing in a U.S. hospital or birth center (and reusable for clinical visits or babysitters as a reminder going forward to not retract). These small bands come with intact care materials which Peaceful Parenting families have found to be incredibly useful for hospital charts and staff.

Found at Etsy here.

Intact Care Resources:

Safe space groups:

Photo courtesy of Elana at the Intact Jewish Network

12 Ways to Nurture Babies at Conception, Birth, and Beyond

By Dr. Darcia Narvaez

We foster human potential and optimal relationships from the beginning of life.

Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology (PPN)*

Understanding our earliest relationship experiences from the baby’s point of view and how these experiences set in motion life patterns have been the intense study of the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology (PPN) for over 40 years. The PPN field uses the baby’s point of view to focus on our earliest human experiences from preconception through baby’s first postnatal year, and its role in creating children who thrive and become resilient, loving adults.

Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology incorporates research and clinical experience from leading-edge fields such as epigenetics, biodynamic embryology, infant mental health, attachment, early trauma, developmental neurosciences, consciousness studies and other new sciences.

The Origins of PPN 12 Guiding Principles

In 1999, Marti Glenn and Wendy Anne McCarty co-created the first graduate-level PPN degree programs and opened the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute.  Leading-edge prenatal and perinatal psychology-oriented therapists collaborated in an academic community grant project (funded by the Bower Foundation) to create a set of principles that arose from decades of PPN findings and clinical experience. 

The 12 principles are offered as a beacon to help guide parenting practice, professional practice, theory and research. They support human potential and optimal relationships from the beginning of life, laying the foundation for a new movement in welcoming and caring for our babies. All of us have a part to play.

The 12 PPN Guiding Principles:

1. The Primary Period

The primary period for human development occurs from preconception through the first year of postnatal life. This is the time in which vital foundations are established at every level of being: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and relational.

2. Forming the Core Blueprint

Experiences during this primary period form the blueprint of our core perceptions, belief structures, and ways of being in the world with others and ourselves. These foundational elements are implicit, observable in newborns, and initiate life-long ways of being. These core implicit patterns profoundly shape our being in life-enhancing or life-diminishing directions.

3. Continuum of Development

Human development is continuous from prenatal to postnatal life.  Postnatal patterns build upon earlier prenatal and birth experiences.

Optimal foundations for growth and resiliency, including brain development, emotional intelligence, and self-regulation are predicated upon optimal conditions during the pre-conception period, pregnancy, birth and the first year of life.

Optimal foundations of secure attachment and healthy relationships are predicated upon optimal relationships during the pre-conception period, during pregnancy, the birth experience and the first year of life.

4. Capacities and Capabilities

Human beings are conscious, sentient, aware, and possess a sense of Self even during this very early primary period.

We seek ever-increasing states of wholeness and growth through the expression of human life. This innate drive guides and infuses our human development.

From the beginning of life, babies perceive, communicate, and learn, in ways that include an integration of mind-to-mind, energetic, and physical-sensorial capacities and ways of being.

5. Relationship

Human development occurs within a relationship from the beginning. Human connections and the surrounding environment profoundly influence the quality and structure of every aspect of the baby’s development.

From the beginning of life, the baby experiences and internalizes what the mother experiences and feels. A father’s and/or partner’s relationship with a mother and baby are integral to optimizing primary foundations for a baby.

All relationships and encounters with a mother, baby, and father during this primary period affect the quality of life and the baby’s foundation. Supportive, loving, and healthy relationships are integral to optimizing primary foundations for a baby.

6. Innate Needs

The innate need for security, belonging, love and nurturing, feeling wanted, feeling valued, and being seen as the Self we are is present from the beginning of life. Meeting these needs and providing the right environment supports optimal development.

7. Communication

Babies are continually communicating and seeking connection. Relating and responding to a baby in ways that honor their multifaceted capacities for communication supports optimal development and wholeness.

8. Mother-Baby Interconnectedness

Respecting and optimizing the bond between a mother and baby and the mother-baby interconnectedness during pregnancy, birth, and infancy is of highest priority.

9. Bonding

Birth and bonding is a critical developmental process for the mother, baby, and father that form core patterns with life-long implications.

The best baby and mother outcomes occur when a mother feels empowered and supported and the natural process of birth is allowed to unfold with minimal intervention and no interruption in mother-baby connection and physical contact. If any separation of a baby from the mother occurs, continuity of the father’s contact and connection with the baby should be supported.

The baby responds and thrives best when the relationship with the mother is undisturbed, when the baby is communicated with directly, and when the process of birth supports the baby’s ability to orient and integrate the series of events.

10. Resolving and Healing

Resolving and healing past and current conflicts, stress, and issues that affect the quality of life for all family members is of highest priority. Doing so before pregnancy is best. When needed, for optimal outcomes, therapeutic support for the mother, baby, and father provided as early as possible during this vital primary period is recommended.

11. Underlying Patterns

When unresolved issues remain or less than optimal conditions and experiences occur during conception, pregnancy, birth and the first postnatal year, life-diminishing patterns often underlay [subsequent] health issues, stress behaviors, difficulty in self-regulation, attachment, learning, and other disorders over the life-span.

12.  Professional Support

These early diminishing patterns embed below the level of the conscious mind in the implicit memory system, subconscious, and somatic patterns. Professionals trained in primary psychology (prenatal and perinatal psychology) can identify these patterns and support babies, children, parents, and adults to heal and shift these primary patterns to more life-enhancing ones at any age. When parents resolve and heal their own unresolved issues from their child’s pregnancy and birth, their children benefit at any age.

The Association of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) endorses the 12 Guiding Principles.


This article comprises excerpts from the official 12 Guiding Principle brochure and position paper co-written by the authors:

McCarty, W.A., Glenn, M., et al. (2008, 2016, 2017). Nurturing Human Potential and Optimizing Relationships from the Beginning of Life: 12 Guiding Principles. [Brochure]. Natural Family Living–Right from the Start: Santa Barbara, CA.

McCarty, W. A. and Glenn, M. (2008). Investing in human potential from the beginning of life: Keystone to maximizing human capital (pp. 12-14). (White paper available at

For bibliography, please see:

For more information and to obtain the position paper and official 12GP-PPN brochures: see hereBrochures are currently available in English, Spanish, Italian and German and can be shared freely. For other uses of the 12 Guiding Principles content, please contact Dr. McCarty.

*Primary Authors:

Wendy Anne McCarty, PhD, RN, HNB-BC, DCEP, was the Founding Chair and Core Faculty, Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology Program at Santa Barbara Graduate Institute and author of Welcoming Consciousness: Supporting Babies Wholeness from the Beginning of Life–An Integrated Model of Early Development. She currently is a global consultant/educator for professionals and families to optimize human potential from the beginning of life and repair of earliest life experiences at any age.  See: and

Marti Glenn, PhD is the Clinical Director of Ryzio Institute, offering professional trainings and intensive retreats to help adults heal adverse childhood experiences and trauma. A pioneering psychotherapist and educator, she was the Founding President of Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, known for its graduate degrees in prenatal and perinatal psychology, somatic psychology and clinical psychology. In her clinical work and trainings, She is an international speaker and trainer, emphasizing the integration of the latest research in behavioral epigenetics, PolyvagalTheory and affective neuroscience with attachment, early development, and trauma.

Both authors are recipients of the APPPAH Thomas Verny Award for excellence in the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health.

Related Reading by Dr. Narvaez at Peaceful Parenting: 

An 'On Demand' Life and the Basic Needs of Babies

Where Are All the Happy Babies?

The Dangers of Crying It Out

10 Things Everyone Should Know About Babies

5 Things NOT to Do to Babies

12 Ways to Nurture Babies at Conception, Birth, and Beyond

Are you treating your child like a prisoner?

Are you or your child on a touch starvation diet?

Conspiracy Thinking: Understanding Attachment and Its Consequences

Psychology Today: Circumcision Series

Learn More from Narvaez:

The Evolved Nest Institute

Kindred Media

Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom

💜 Peaceful Parenting Community

💙 Peaceful Parenting on Facebook

💗 Peaceful Parenting on Telegram

Intact Care of Elderly Men in Nursing Homes

By K.L. Damon, NP  © 2010
Medical Professionals for Genital Autonomy

The majority of men worldwide are happily intact for a lifetime, and these numbers continue to rise each year with education and awareness raising among the United States' population. Today, not only do most parents keep their children intact regardless of their nationality, but also more Jews, Muslims, and Christians opt to protect their sons as they come into this world - perfectly intact. 

Because most men have normal (intact) genitals across the globe, male development and intact care is also taken as a given - almost commonsense. Parents know not to retract until a child does so on his own, physicians are not engaged in premature or forced retraction of their patients, and the foreskin is left alone to do its job. There is no more meddling with a male child's foreskin than there is with a female child's foreskin (her clitoral hood). Neither is disturbed with retraction, soap, or "cleaning." The foreskin is regarded as useful - some say "the best part" of the genitals. And as a result, children grow into adults who are able to enjoy their full, functioning genitals for a lifetime. In most of the world today, when a man becomes an older adult it is common knowledge that care of his genitals does not change - a warm water bath or shower is sufficient for cleanliness. Should he enter assisted living care, his nursing staff is familiar with the foreskin, as it is something all humans have, and it is seen as just another normal body part.

In the United States, however, we tend to observe a different picture of nursing home care for our elderly, intact men, than the rest of the world sees. Here, nursing staff working in assisted care facilities are not routinely trained in the correct care of an intact man, and have often grown up in the midst of a cutting culture, where foreskin is yet to be well understood, known, or appreciated. As a result, this organ is seen problematic and U.S. based nursing personnel come up with a host of bizarre, mythological notions about its care. 

After working for 14 years at a well respected nursing home facility outside Madison, Wisconsin, I've come to find that the vast majority of these rumors about intact adult men are quickly put to rest with some very simple, very basic, facts on the care of elderly men. I am writing here to share these with the hope that it will make things easier for nursing staff, and the men in our care. 

How to clean the intact genitals of an elderly man in assisted living

1) Have the patient enter a warm water-only bath or shower in your facility.

2) Gently run warm water over the outside of his penis and scrotum. Using the hand cloths typically used for baths in your care facility, without soap, run your hand cloth along the groin, scrotum, and exterior of the penis to ensure it is fully washed with warm water only.

3) Gently retract the penis while it is either submerged in warm water, or while warm (not hot!) water is running over it. This keeps the tissues relaxed and does not cause a sudden change in temperature for an elderly gentleman who is sensitive to such things. While the foreskin is retracted, run warm water (no soap) over the interior parts of the penis for about 5-10 seconds, or gently 'swish' in warm water if this man is submerged in a bath, for the same 5-10 seconds.

4) Gently move the foreskin back down over the end of the penis, keeping it in warm, clean water (or under warm running water if in a shower and not a bath). Keeping the penis in warm water allows the tissues to remain relaxed and easily moved.

5) After this is complete, move on to using soap for the buttocks and scrotum, and other parts of the body where soap is justified. Soap does not need to come into direct contact with the intact penis, and the foreskin does best when it does not have soap applied to it. Soap interferes with pH and microflora of the penis and foreskin, and increases the likelihood of future issues, especially when it is placed inside the penis (i.e. when the foreskin is retracted). Ensure all soap used on other parts of the body is rinsed clean with warm running water at the end of the bath -- be diligent that a man is not left unrinsed, or sitting in soap suds.

That's it! Task complete.

If this warm, water-only rinse for 10 seconds is done once or twice each week, the foreskin will maintain its normal form and function, and all will be well. If you notice irritation or inflammation occur on the genitals, or other parts of the body, Calmoseptine is the best choice of ointment to quickly soothe and alleviate such things. Apply through gentle dabbing on any red, irritated, or inflamed areas of the genitals. If the sore area is on the penis itself, apply Calmoseptine to the outside only of the penis -- do not apply under the foreskin. It will work its own way inside. 

One quick note should be added about the difference in care between an elderly man who has been retracting his entire life, versus a pediatric patient. If you switch your location of nursing care to working with children, instead of adult men, know that retraction should not take place in the normal care of a baby or child. For an infant or child, wash with warm water (or a wet wipe) only on the outside of the penis and foreskin. Never retract a baby or child. The foreskin is tightly adhered to the glans (head) and shaft of the penis through most of babyhood and childhood. Only later (average age 10.5 years) does retraction begin to naturally occur. If a child has his foreskin retracted by someone else it can cause tearing, bleeding, scarring, adhesions, and problems later in life. This is more often the case if retraction is a repeated occurrence. Retraction is a sexual function, and it is not something that need occur before puberty. Some young men do not retract until even later (or never fully retract at all) and this is also within a normal range of development. Find further intact care information of children from four of the major pediatric health organizations at the bottom of the Physicians' Do Not Retract page at Saving Our Sons

Nursing Home Myths and Facts

Myth: Elderly intact men need to be circumcised at alarming numbers because it is so difficult to clean, and/or the foreskin becomes problematic in older age. 

Fact: Only in the United States do we hear such nonsense. I have served with Mercy Ships overseas, as well as in elderly care settings as a volunteer aid worker in three other (primarily intact) nations, and not once did someone suggest that the intact man was difficult to clean, or that his foreskin would ever become problematic. In fact, when I brought this up on a couple occasions to see what my fellow care givers responses would be, they looked at me as though I had two heads. Across the rest of the globe, elderly care facilities (what we typically refer to as nursing homes) are present, but never are nursing staff heard complaining about the normal male body, its care, or its (mythological) demise. 

It is true that nursing programs (and medical school programs) in the United States have a long way to go in teaching proper intact care and development. In fact, it was not once mentioned throughout the programs I attended, other than a brief "retract when you need to clean if a pediatric patient is not circumcised" (false information, by the way). However, a problem with care, and lack of training in nursing school, is not a problem with foreskin. Instead of demonizing the normal male body, we can simply take an easy step in teaching staff at nursing homes proper intact care --- and then all will be well, and these mythical problems will not arise. 

It is quite problematic given the above points to consider amputating the prepuce (an organ that holds purpose) from a baby boy who has yet to arrive into this world, based solely on nursing home rumors and myths in the United States. We know the numbers of boys remaining intact today are on the rise. Surely by the time my son would reach "nursing home age," the cultural climate and nursing know-how in the United States will catch up with the rest of the world.

In addition, it is very likely that my son will never even reside in a nursing home. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, just over 5% of the population in the United States age 65+ occupy nursing homes, congregate care, assisted living, and board-and-care homes; and about 4.2% of those age 65+ are in nursing homes at any given time. [Source: 65+ in the United States Census Report] This is not very many!

If, by some chance, my son is in the 4-5% of men who reside in a nursing home, it will likely be 65-95 years from now. Consider for a moment just how much the world has changed in the last ~75 years. Life is significantly different in 2010 than it was in 1935. Surely, we will continue to progress in our quality of care going forward, especially with the countless numbers of medical professionals for genital autonomy who are speaking up and taking steps to educate fellow colleagues, and medical and nursing school students who come after them. We will see new care facilities, new training, new technology, new standards, and protocols and ways of doing things.

Trust that your son's body knows how to function perfectly for a lifetime, and that elderly life in the U.S. will continue to improve (not decline) in the next 65-100 years. Trust that just as intact men enjoy their full genitals in 70+% of the world today, so will your son enjoy his for a lifetime.

Related Reading

Intact Care Resource Page
Adult Care of the Intact Penis

How to put a condom on an intact man

Registered Nurses on Circumcision (Resources)
Medical Professionals for Genital Autonomy page

Intact: Healthy, Happy, Whole Community

Saving Our Sons Community

Peaceful Intact Education group


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