Friday, September 10, 2010

Why African Babies Don't Cry

By J. Claire K. Niala
Read more from Niala at In Culture Parent

I was born and grew up in Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire. From the age of fifteen I lived in the UK. However, I always knew that I wanted to raise my children (whenever I had them) at home in Kenya. And yes, I assumed I was going to have them. I am a modern African woman, with two university degrees, and a fourth generation working woman – but when it comes to children, I am typically African. The assumption remains that you are not complete without them; children are a blessing which would be crazy to avoid. Actually the question does not even arise.

I started my pregnancy in the UK. The urge to deliver at home was so strong that I sold my practice, setup a new business and moved house and country within five months of finding out I was pregnant. I did what most expectant mothers in the UK do – I read voraciously: Our Babies, Ourselves, Unconditional Parenting, anything by Sears – the list goes on. (My grandmother later commented that babies don’t read books and really all I needed to do was “read” my baby). Everything I read said that African babies cried less than European babies. I was intrigued as to why.

photo by Andy Graham

When I went home, I observed. I looked out for mothers and babies and they were everywhere, though very young African ones, under six weeks, were mainly at home. The first thing I noticed is that despite their ubiquitousness, it is actually quite difficult to actually “see” a Kenyan baby. They are usually incredibly well wrapped up before being carried or strapped onto their mother (sometimes father). Even older babies strapped onto a back are further protected from the elements by a large blanket. You would be lucky to catch sight of a limb, never mind an eye or nose. The wrapping is a womb-like replication. The babies are literally cocooned from the stresses of the outside world into which they are entering.

My second observation was a cultural one. In the UK, it was understood that babies cry. In Kenya, it was quite the opposite. The understanding is that babies don’t cry. If they do – something is horribly wrong and something must be done to rectify it immediately. My English sister-in-law summarized it well. “People here,” she said, “really don’t like babies crying, do they?”

It all made much more sense when I finally delivered and my grandmother came from the village to visit. As it happened, my baby did cry a fair amount. Exasperated and tired, I forgot everything I had ever read and sometimes joined in the crying too. Yet for my grandmother it was simple, “Nyonyo (breastfeed her)!” It was her answer to every single peep.

 photo by H. Anenden

There were times when it was a wet nappy, or that I had put her down, or that she needed burping, but mainly she just wanted to be at the breast – it didn’t really matter whether she was feeding or just having a comfort moment. I was already wearing her most of the time and co-sleeping with her, so this was a natural extension to what we were doing.

I suddenly learned the not-so-difficult secret of the joyful silence of African babies. It was a simple needs-met symbiosis that required a total suspension of ideas of what should be happening and an embracing of what was actually going on in that moment. The bottom line was that my baby fed a lot – far more than I had ever read about and at least five times as much as some of the stricter feeding schedules I had seen.

At about four months, when a lot of urban mothers start to introduce solids as previous guidelines had recommended, my daughter returned to newborn-style hourly breastfeeding, which was a total shock. Over the past four months, the time between feeds had slowly started to increase. I had even started to treat the odd patient without my breasts leaking or my daughter’s nanny interrupting the session to let me know my daughter needed a feed.

Most of the mothers in my mother and baby group had duly started to introduce baby rice (to stretch the feeds) and all the professionals involved in our children’s lives – pediatricians, even doulas, said that this was ok. Mothers needed rest too, we had done amazingly to get to four months exclusively breastfeeding, and they assured us our babies would be fine. Something didn’t ring true for me and even when I tried, half-heartedly, to mix some pawpaw (the traditional weaning food in Kenya) with expressed milk and offer it to my daughter, she was having none of it.

So I called my grandmother. She laughed and asked if I had been reading books again. She carefully explained how breastfeeding was anything but linear. “She’ll tell you when she’s ready for food – and her body will too.”

“What will I do until then?” I was eager to know.

“You do what you did before, regular nyonyo.” So my life slowed down to what felt like a standstill again. While many of my contemporaries marveled at how their children were sleeping longer now that they had introduced baby rice and were even venturing to other foods, I was waking hourly or every two hours with my daughter and telling patients that the return to work wasn’t panning out quite as I had planned.

I soon found that quite unwittingly, I was turning into an informal support service for other urban mothers. My phone number was doing the rounds and many times while I was feeding my baby I would hear myself uttering the words, “Yes, just keep feeding him/ her. Yes, even if you have just fed them. Yes, you might not even manage to get out of your pajamas today. Yes, you still need to eat and drink like a horse. No, now might not be the time to consider going back to work if you can afford not to.” And finally, I assured mothers, “It will get easier.” I had to just trust this last one as it hadn’t gotten easier for me, yet.

A week or so before my daughter turned five months, we traveled to the UK for a wedding and for her to meet family and friends. Because I had very few other demands, I easily kept up her feeding schedule. Despite the disconcerted looks of many strangers as I fed my daughter in many varied public places (most designated breastfeeding rooms were in restrooms which I just could not bring myself to use), we carried on.

At the wedding, the people whose table we sat at noted, “She is such an easy baby – though she does feed a lot.” I kept my silence. Another lady commented, “Though I did read somewhere that African babies don’t cry much.” I could not help but laugh.

My Grandmother’s gentle wisdom:

1. Offer the breast every single moment that your baby is upset – even if you have just fed her.

2. Co-sleep. Many times you can feed your baby before they are fully awake, which will allow them to go back to sleep easier and get you more rest.

3. Always take a flask of warm water to bed with you at night to keep you hydrated and the milk flowing.

4. Make feeding your priority (especially during growth spurts) and get everyone else around you to do as much as they can for you. There is very little that cannot wait.

Read your baby, not the books. Breastfeeding is not linear – it goes up and down and also in circles. You are the expert on your baby’s needs.

photo by E.B. Sylvester

Dr. J. Claire K. Niala is a mother, writer and osteopath who enjoys exploring the differences that thankfully still exist between various cultures around the world. She was born in Kenya and grew up in Kenya, Cote d'Ivoire and the UK. She has worked and lived on three continents and has visited at least one new country every year since she was 12 years old. Her favorite travel companions are her mother and daughter whose stories and interest in others bring her to engage with the world in ways she would have never imagined. Read more from Niala at In Culture Parent.

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114 comments:

  1. Simply beautiful. The way nature intended babies' first months/years to be - close to their mama's heart and with easy access to her milk, her warmth, her safety.

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  2. Love it! My 2.5 year old and I are still in a nursing relationship. He does not sleep through the night nor am I concerned about it! He's close by me all night and nurses on demand. It's a fleeting time in our lives and I'm more than willing to enjoy it :)

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  3. Both my babies have grown up now, weaned and although will sometimes join our family bed (we bought a king size) those few short years of feeding and cosleeping disappear into the vastness of the rest of their lives, but what an amazing difference it makes to them as people and their perceptions of the world. Knowing they are safe and that comfort is always at hand!

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    1. Love this! So simple & beautiful!

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    2. My kids nursed until 4 and 3 (about) respectively (while I was working full time and commuting for the first year 1.5 hours each way) and stilll 10 years later they come to my bed to sleep sometimes. I too bought a king size at birth instead of a crib - seemed a much better investment. Way to go Dr Niala!! Thanks for publishing your story.

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  4. This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing the wisdom. At times I felt self-conscious that my children were wanting to nurse so frequently… like it was wrong when I put myself in the place of the society around me. Of course I enjoyed nursing my babies and rarely let it affect my actions. But this article will definitely help out women feeling the same uneasy tug from their society.

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  5. I loved reading this article! I knew this wisdom, learned it slowly with my first thanks to La Leche League here in the US where these ideas are not part of our culture.

    I am so glad I tuned into my children’s needs and nursed often and all the time.

    I love your Grandma! Everyone needs a grandma like that. Mine said quite opposite things to me. Thank goodness I knew not to listen to her but to my babies. My oldest is 13 and so self confident and I attribute much of it to nursing for 6 years. My third child is just 2 now and so this wisdom is a good reminder. I have wonderful memories of all three of them, especially the younger two, just nursing whenever they had any need. I have had many others comment “how good they are” like at church or a public event- and they usually did not realize I nursed them during the event:)

    Good for you for listening to your grandma, and your baby!

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  6. This is so sweet! Thank you! I agree 100%!

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  7. thank you for sharing your story and a lovely example from a traditional cultural perspective. I have shared this on my Facebook page, my business Idibidi Kids. Kind regards, Natalie

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  8. Very interesting. I had been told about african women babies having colic much less. Then I was researching probiotics and discovered that there may be an additional reason that african mother have less problems with colic. There is research that has shown that friendly bacteria are passed to babies during a vaginal birth and friendly bacteria populate the breasts on mothers, which helps babies estabilsh health gut flora. Less use of antibiotics and less use of caesarean sections may account for more peaceful babies. Thus another method of treating colic is use of probiotics. If you are interested in reading more about probiotics...checkout my blog post: http://happydeviant.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/probiotics-say-hello-to-your-little-friends-part-2/

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  9. Classic, love the last line... "Read your baby, not the books. Breastfeeding is not linear – it goes up and down and also in circles. You are the expert on your baby’s needs..

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    1. agreed agreed! We sometimes treat our babies as if they are one size fits all rather than enjoy their uniqueness from day one. THEY ARE ALL DIFFERENT WITH DIFFERENT NEEDS!
      From a gramma who breastfed on demand as God intended. :-)

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  10. This is wonderful... Thank you for sharing... It reminded me of my nursing duties to my 21 month old... I have not been "reading him" like I should be. Thanks!

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  11. This and many more things I have read have helped mold me into the mother I am today. I have always loved this post... :)

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  12. This is an amazing article. Coming from an African background, I never realized how women were having/raising their babies. Now that I am a mother, having done lots of research, and listening to my mom and my babies, i appreciated this article. I wish i had read it sooner. It would have appeased my worries of not being a good mother because i don't let my baby cry.

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  13. Totally agree, I guess Latin American culture is really similar and attachment parenting is the way we were raised and raise our kids; mine moved from our bed when they were ready and it was quite fast (around 1 year old) and sometimes they still visit us when they need us. They ate all day until they just didn't and we enjoyed every second of the process, because now that it's over we know, it's not coming back and we enjoyed their infant age fully :o)

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  14. This is such a wonderful article! I'm so glad I found this, my son is just about 5 months now and is still breastfeeding on demand but so many people seem to be against breastfeeding especially as frequently as the baby wants. I can't even tell you how many times different family and friends have told me to "put him on a schedule", and at times it's difficult to disagree when not only family but doctors and baby books all seem to push you to do things the "right way". I'm proud to say that I have ignored everything I've been told and listen to my child and I am constantly told by everyone that I have the happiest baby. This article was such reassurance to me, thanks for sharing!

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  15. Beautiful.......wish i read this before I started my 3rd child on solids at 6 ,months, he know only breast feeds at night when he is half asleep. Yet My 2nd child did not have solids until she was 9 months and she loved the breast!!

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  16. This is simply beautiful. It brings sunshine to my heart. I shared it with the mother's board I am on in hopes to inspire other women into this mindset as I had already found myself in. Lovely. :)

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  17. Loved this article. I agree...feed, love, hold often and there will be little need for them to cry.

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  18. Wow, I love this! I have a four-month-old and plan to keep breastfeeding as long as possible. But the culture here in the U.S. is crazy: "You're nursing AGAIN?" What business is it of theirs? No wonder women stop nursing so early here -- general society doesn't really encourage it.

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  19. I decided to do this with my 4th baby. I really didn't understand much about this until then. My son still nurses quite a lot, he just turned one and we just found out we're expecting again. He does eat because he wants to even though he has no teeth. I don't think he'll be weaning himself anytime soon. He loves it too much!

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  20. Thank you for sharing this. I really hope that I am able to do this for my future baby. I am sure this child's attachment will be strong and secure as her basic needs are met. She will probably be so very healthy as your body has what she needs specifically created for her development. Nothing a scientist can replicate.

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  21. I'm currently tandem nursing my 2 yr 8 month son and almost 4 month son. My older son LOVES to nurse at the exact same time as his little brother and will say so! The only negative/unsupportive comments I've received about nursing were from close family and it was while publically nursing my firstborn, at 15 months old, at a baby shower of all places! I think my older son would nurse every single time the baby did, but I found it neccesary to start limiting his feedings while I was pregnant~it really, REALLY hurt!! I'm proud that I stuck with it though and can tell that he's not ready to wean~he will eventually. This has had the extra benefits of 1)helping his adjustment to little brother and 2)making our morning, naptime, and bedtime special together times for him and I (esp. if the baby is still/already asleep).
    When my first was just a few months old, my sister commented to me (after a family dinner), "I noticed you or Chad (my husband) pick up Elijah as soon as he cries. Aren't you going to spoil him, doing that all the time?" Granted, she's childless and single, but she was the LAST person I expected that comment from! Goes to show you how pervasive that idea is here in the USA :P We also co-sleep and, even though older brother stays in his own bed most of the night now, all 4 of us are in the same bedroom. We also babywear with wraps. A friend of mine spent about a year in Kenya. After returning home, a group of us got together with him. It was the first time any of them saw me get out, and wrap on, my son (13 months at the time). One friend asked what I was doing; another asked if it was a tunic. After explaining what I was doing, my recently-returned friend said, "You know, mothers in Kenya carry their babies like that everywhere, in something really similar to your wrap." I got the feeling he was pleasently surprised to see me caring for my son the same way the African women did that he'd spent a year around.

    Thank you for the re-affirmation that listening to my children, who are the experts anyway, is the best that I can do to care for them. I've birthed both in a freestanding birth center (the only one in MI) and have found a wonderful community of families through that place. Loved reading this!

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  22. Wish I had this info when I was pregnant and maybe breastfeeding wouldn't have been so hard

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  23. Thank you so much for this article. I loved and agreed with every word. My daughter is 10 months and we're still nursing on demand and going strong. It's so important - and yes, everyone comments on what a happy baby she is!

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  24. This makes so much sense, it's so true, listen to your baby! I follow this motto for the most part, but wish I had read this a few months ago. My son was crying almost all the times when he was not feeding...turns out something was horribly wrong and he was extremely sick and dehydrated!

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  25. LOVE IT!!!!

    And the pictures are gorgeous.

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  26. I followed up the comment I left as green mama with a post reflecting how your article hit home for me, http://www.happygreenbabies.com/attachment-parenting/why-my-baby-cried/

    Thank you!

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  27. What a fabulous article!!! I did most of this with my kids - I love the 'Read your baby' idea - just great :) Makes so much sense!

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  28. I always hear about the babies needing tummy time so they learn to push up and crawl. I've heard concerns about carrying a baby around too much keeps them from having this necessary tummy time. How do the African families you know address this issue or is it even an issue? When do you stop carrying the babies around so much and what's the babies average crawling/walking ages? just curious Lisa in Michigan, USA

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  29. A great story! My first baby is due in 3 weeks and have received so much advice in this area. Thank you for reassuring me with what I have felt all along- to trust nature and not some book ;)

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  30. Brilliant piece, I am going to share this on Facebook. It makes me terribly sad to know just how many people would read this and think "They're making a rod for their own back" - I've blogged about just this recently in my yesterday's cosleeping blog and one a few weeks ago called a labour of love. Training a baby to self soothe is so sad and awful - the Africans have it spot on, here. I wonder if that's why, as adults, you seem such a friendly culture?

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  31. I put my daughter to the brest constantly as a newborn/baby, but she had reflux and it sometimes made things worse. I was advised not to feed her as much, because her reflux would get worse. However, I ignored that advice and just kept breastfeeding. It didn't fix her poor little tummy, but at least she would stop crying and hopefully feel some comfort, even just for a little while. Now whenever she hurts herself or is sad, she asks "Mama's milk to make it better?"

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    1. Wearing babies provides the neck and trunk exercises the babies need in and of itself. Worn babies dont need tummy time.

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  32. Your grandmothers "Gentle Wisdom" is right on target and exactly what I did. At the time my reasoning was simple... it was easier to nurse my daughter than to do anything else and it always worked. I had heard the advise to change diapers, etc. before feedings. Huh, just nurse; the diapers eventually got changed.

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  33. Lisa in Michigan, I can't speak for African babies, but I can tell you that my children (born in California!) were worn quite a bit and never did traditional tummy time because it stressed them so badly. We did, however, lie on our backs and put them on our chests, and simply held them without a wrap supporting them, and both developed strong necks very quickly.

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  34. Beautiful! Though my son is now weaned (self led), I have often wondered if the reason he is such a happy toddler is because I nursed on demand. Whenever he cried, my first solution was to offer him my breast. People warned me against it, but it seemed like the natural thing to do. All of his night feedings were done with me asleep on my side, my snoozing little guy latched on. There were days of wearing nothing but PJs, my hair not brushed, and the house a mess, but I treasure every single memory of it. I am 9 works pregnant with my second, and plan to do the exact same thing again!

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  35. Deedee - my son asks for the same thing whenever he is hurting, sad or scared - "Momma milk to make it feel better?" It is empowering to have the solution to all the days troubles right here, so handy. And it always works! :)

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  36. I am surrounded by my friends whom I do not judge but do listen to on a daily basis talking about how their child is progressing onto solids at 4 months because they are so hungry and can't eat anymore formula. That now they are now sleeping through the night as the parents have introducted their babies to eating baby rice and porridge and no matter how much I hear this in my heart I know it would feel wrong for me. The closeness that I feel with my child through the physical and emmotional connection we share when she nurses is immeasurable and beyond anything I have ever felt before. This article has made me realise that what I am doing is completely natural and the way things should be. Thank you for sharing it with us and for ensuring I do not give up my breastfeeding for the sake of having a few more hours sleep for that time will come all too soon and the moments we share together at night will be lost in forever, but of course never forgotten. x

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  37. I have three questions:
    1- What are women who have to go back to work supposed to do about breast feeding on-demand?
    2- What is the father's role in all of this?
    3- How do you address mental health issues for new moms who are trying to breast feed on demand? Are those needs not as important as nursing the baby everytime he/she cries?

    thanks,
    Anon

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    1. 1-if she can find a lactating mother to watch her baby, that would be great. if not, it's not a perfect world. babies are designed to nurse on demand for healthy growth, there's no getting around that, but babies are adaptable. many grow up fine despite having cried to nurse x number of times as babies.
      2-it's in there; get everyone around you to do stuff for you. that would include fathers. it worked well for us. in due time, the intimacy between father and their children grows stronger. thankfully my husband allowed all the time my babies and i needed together.
      3-if mental health issues prevent a mother from breastfeeding on demand, she should get help. i didn't feel all that well emotionally when either of my kids were babies, but i can't see how refusing to nurse my babies on demand would have made it better. quite the contrary.

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  38. Nothing beats a la natural.

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  39. In response to Anonymous' three questions:

    1- What are women who have to go back to work supposed to do about breast feeding on-demand?

    The author of this article gave up her job to be a full-time mother. If one is unwilling or unable to do this, perhaps one should postpone having a baby until one no longer has a job commitment.

    2- What is the father's role in all of this?

    The father obviously impregnates the mother. Other than that, he can do some household chores to support his wife.

    3- How do you address mental health issues for new moms who are trying to breast feed on demand? Are those needs not as important as nursing the baby everytime he/she cries?

    Why anticipate mental health problems? A woman may have a problem and concerns about breastfeeding, or other birth-related matters which need to be sorted out, but that has little or nothing to do with "mental health". She simply needs someone who is experienced to help and advise her.

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  40. In response to Anonymous' three questions:

    1- What are women who have to go back to work supposed to do about breast feeding on-demand?

    Breastfeed on demand for as long as you can! There are many laws that protect and help you with pumping once you go back to work. Make sure that your child's care-giver snuggles with your Baby while feeding the breastmilk from a bottle. Bed-sharing is helpful, too. You are able to breastfeed throughout the night with little sleep disturbance. This can help make up for the time you don't get to be with your Baby. (I share a bed with my 13-month-old and some days I barely remember waking up to nurse. I am well-slept and we have cuddled together all night.)

    2- What is the father's role in all of this?

    The father is very important in that he is the physical and emotional support for the mother. When my daughter has days where she needs to breastfeed more than usual, he picks up household duties that I normally take care of. He also spends a lot of time wearing our daughter and carrying her around, just as I do. I don't know how I would have gotten through the last year without his support.

    3- How do you address mental health issues for new moms who are trying to breast feed on demand? Are those needs not as important as nursing the baby every time he/she cries?

    When you breastfeed your body releases hormones that create a calm and happy feelings in Mama, just as the breast milk calms Baby. After I gave birth I did have to address mental health issues and I found that cuddling with my daughter and breastfeeding made me feel the happiest. I was able to go to doctors and therapists with her attached to me and it wasn't long before my hormones regained balance.

    NOTE: When you think about "on demand" I think it has a negative connotation. I prefer the term "on cue". It's not as if Baby starts screaming and demanding that you feed her. Baby just does whatever is it that she does that lets you know that she is ready to nurse. Nursing on-cue has been wonderful for us.

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  41. I lovethe comment that there is very little that cannot wait...

    I will have to keep that in mind when I start feeling like I need to do XYZ.

    Babywearing is wonderfull. My LO has a wonderful nap in the mornings in the carrier while I go about the day with the older two... It is wonderful!

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  42. I love this! So beautiful! :) I agree 100% :) I am one of the very lucky ones who was able to quit my job to take care of my daughter. I'm enjoying every second of it! Yes it can be tough and time consuming (especially when I have VERY little help from my husband and my family lives 6 hours away), but I just remember this time will not last forever, and it goes by so quickly! I am truly blessed :) And I constantly get complements of how great and happy my baby is! I don't feel I am spoiling her, I feel I am taking care of her and giving her everything she needs :)

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  43. I so seldom read anything that echoes the gentle wisdom of your grandmother. This post was such a blessing in my day. Just afte my husband and I married we were blessed to move to an area where other were women were mothering this way, so 20 months later (when my daughter was born) when my instincts told me to do the things your grandma told you I was supported by like minded moms ... I hate to think what might have happened to my mothering if I had not moved to the area i did. I too read anything I could get my hands on by Dr Sears and today I have an incredible, strong and confident 16 year old young woman as my eldest daughter. Her brothers and her baby sister have been raised in this same way and i would not trade a minute of it! Bless you for sharing with the world!!

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  44. My DS is 17 months old and still nursing all day long- each feeding seems to be the absolute highlight of his day. :) It has been harder lately b/c he seems to want to do all kinds of acrobatics while nursing but it is so wonderful to share that special time with him. I saw the movie "Babies" that came out a year or so ago and noticed that of the 4 or so children featured (I think one each from America, Cambodia, Japan I think, and maybe Kenya?), the African child was by far the happiest and seemed to reach major milestones earlier. And I do believe that if I could have my breasts exposed most of the day as those women seem to, my son would just be the happiest child on earth! :) I think most of the time people (especially older people) think that I'm being silly and spoiling him by catering to his needs to nurse all the time. I think that denying him something which is so perfect and healthy for him would just be unnecessarily cruel. Why bother? It's easier for both of us!

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  45. I feel so emotional about this article. This was sincerely the best article I have read about breastfeeding, in a very long time. It is so hard to encourage women to actually DO this. They do not believe me when I tell them to breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed. They do not believe when I tell them "babies shouldn't cry." Because we have a huge generation saying "let them cry or you'll spoil them." Women really do not know who to believe anymore. They want the books. They want the docs telling them what, when where and how (but never ask why). I wish this was a pamphlet. I would pass it out everywhere I went. Especially Target or the grocery where I see and hear babies crying while strapped into a carseat on top of the cart - every time I am in there. Thank you for your wise words.

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  46. Someone once said that things spoil because they aren't used and are left on the shelf too long.

    I used to tell my childbirth students (I always thought it sad that a culture/society had to be educated about birth and mothering) that there are three ways to feed a baby: bottle feeding, breast feeding and nursing.

    Bottle feeding and breast feeding differ only in that they have different ingredients and use different containers. Nursing is a way of mothering and makes for more contented babies and mothers.

    If a child has a need it is far wiser to satisfy that need when it first comes up. To ignore/deny it makes the child needful for a greater amount of time. A child denied that kind of attention will often end up using mothering-substitues. How sad.

    I like the end of the old adage,"...cobwebs be quiet, dust go to sleep, I'm nursing my baby and babies don't keep."

    Babies are a gift of God and come with a full book of instructions---the Bible. They are a blessing to be enjoyed, nurtured, not made to fit a schedule. Yes a baby will stop crying if you let him/her cry for hours or ignore her/his needs in any other way. But, what are they learning? American and other "modern" women don't seem to understand this. Very sad.......

    Enjoy your babies,
    A grandma

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  47. Oh my goodness, what a beautiful article. I feel as if I have quoted the title of this article for three years now. I breastfeed "on cue" with my daughter (who is now 3) and now my 5 month old baby boy. I co slept with them both, and carry them all the time and hold them when they're fussy. My daughter RARELY cried. I know I could be considered "lucky" but I truly put it down to the fact that she never needed to cry because I held her constantly and breastfed her whenever she wanted. Even if it were just for comfort. I am now doing the same with my son and love every second. He is such a happy baby and doesn't cry much either (granted, he does cry more because of the demands of his older sister! ;)

    This was not something that I researched or made a decision about, it was just something I did, because it came naturally to me. In fact, before I had my daughter, I remember telling my husband, "it's okay if babies cry, it's normal." Well, that's before I gave birth to her and couldn't stand to hear her cry and held her all the time.

    I also just don't understand why other people don't get this. Wearing your baby constantly and breastfeeding, to me, is the most natural thing in the world. It has been done for hundreds, no, thousands of years. I also don't understand the Western idea that having your baby "sleep through the night" is such a big thing - like it's a huge accomplishment and something to strive for. They're tiny babies that need food and comfort. It's such a strange thing to want your child to do.

    Anyway, thank you for posting this article and reinforcing what I am doing is right for my family and my children.

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  48. Love this piece. In a society where breastfeeding is not understood, I wish could distribute this piece in both English and Spanish. For some reason many parents have been led to believe that leaving baby to cry, makes them more independent and better adults. But look at what happens as they become toddlers and adults. People can't stand to be around them! I'd love to see a study about babies who were breastfed and co-slepted and how they turned out as adults.

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  49. I read this post while my son was about 3months old and it transformed the way I parent. I now nurse him any time he squeaks and hes a big happy calm 6mo old now who has hardly cried at all since I took this advice to heart. I wish i had read it sooner. Huge thanks to the author and to peaceful parenting.

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  50. Really enjoyed this. My son will be 2 years old in 5 days and he is still nursing. He has no desire to stop. He had colic the first 12 weeks of his life and the only thing to stop it was nursing, it seemed as he needed to suck to help him feel better. My doctor told me at a certain age that I could quit night feedings because he didn't need it, but I just didn't listen ( as I normally do not do to 'professionals') and did what was best for my son. We've had no illness for these 2 years other than one ear infection, no allergy issues, etc. ALSO, my son does eat regular food now, but only started around 22 months - he at baby food before that, he was not ready for big people food yet. The labels on babyfood should not be there. Many children have oral sensory issues and cannot handle the chunks in babyfood until they are much older than the stated age on the label. The best sentence in this writing was about not reading books, but reading your baby!! I have 5!

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  51. fabulous post! my 2 year old son is still nursing.

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  52. thank you for this article! After reading tuns of baby books and preparing life for scheduled feedings, and separate sleep space, I found that baby and I were much happier after I started co-sleeping, and feeding on demand. Even though family and friends 'cant believe that I would do such a thing!' It is nice to know that there are many people that support the decision to "read your baby". thanks agian.

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  53. I love this. My 'babies' are in their twenties and happy I mothered them the way I did. As I was reading your beautiful article, I realised there is a time to introduce routine: when your child can read a clock and understand what routine means to you (if anything) and to the world we live in. That worked for us!

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  54. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    My daughter is just over 8 months old and I am still almost exclusively breast-feeding. She does take part in our meals, but never actually eats more than two or three bites of anything. We do BLW this way.
    JB is also half-Kenyan which makes your post speak to me even more. I have had a number of comments from neighbors how they don't hear her cry or see the lights go on at night. We co-sleep and I nurse whenever need be.
    JB just had a growth spurt this past week and we've managed pretty well even though we don't have much help as her dad chose to not take his role and my family is busy with themselves most of the time nor understand why I parent JB the way I do.
    Altogether, she is a pretty happy baby and crying is not a problem for us at all. :-)

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  55. This is a beautiful story. Why do we neglect and sometimes disregard our own motherly wisdom that is inside us. I love this story. I want to just pass it out to my friends! Well Said!!

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  56. I love this just about more than anything I have ever read on the newborn/infant period. So much simple, simple wisdom. I was blessed to have, yes, read accounts by Dr. Haim Ginnot about "African babies rarely cry." That was my goal as a new mother 22-1/2 years ago, to meet my baby's needs so much that she did not need to get to the point of crying to get my attention. And, so it was. I did not have to go to Africa. I lived in Seattle at the time. I had read that African babies nurse 50+ times a day. So did I. I had also read that Ganyan babies walk and talk so much earlier than Western counterparts. I was blessed to have learned the art of Infant Massage. Daily massaging my baby, nursing her truly on demand, co-sleeping, wearing her . . . She rolled over at 6 weeks, sat up by herself at 3-4 months, crawled at 5 months, walked at 7 months, said her first clear word at 8 months, spoke in complete sentences by one year. I marveled at her daily. People always stopped me in grocery stores and marveled at my baby too. I love this article. Thank you so very much for sharing. Do you have a blog or website Dr. Niala? I would like to, yes, read more that you have to share and will be incorporating this article into my new parent packets.

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  57. I LOVE this article! It makes total sense and echos what i naturally did with my dd. Its so simple - if you meet a babies need the need goes away and you gain a confident baby who trusts you!

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  58. I fed my daughter all the time and was highly criticized for it. "Didn't you just feed her?" "How much can she eat?" One person even said, "I'm beginning to think you do that so often because YOU like it."

    I just did it because it calmed her and it seemed like the right thing to do. I was also criticized for allowing her to have a binkie until she was three. (She gave the binkie up herself) But I look at this way: babies are born to suck. Watch them sleeping and their little mouths still make the sucking motion even with nothing in them. And if they want to suck on something, I say let them do so. I didn't have the terrible twos with my daughter because when she got stressed, I gave her a binkie and it calmed her right down.

    I had a girlfriend who took binkies and bottles away from her 1 year old because she said he was too old for them. He struggled with that sooo much and it broke my heart to watch him go through it! People are always so critical of those who breast feed too long, or those who offer binkies, but look around: They are the quietest kid in the room!

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  59. Beautiful Momma! Thank you for sharing.

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  60. Question? I have done that same thing with our daughter Journey for almost 2 and a half years now. Breast feeding her on demand, co-sleeping, and she is still really dependent on nursing and now with her extensive vocabulary, asks to nurse all the time. She still needs to be nursed to sleep and wakes up frequently to nurse at night. Do you still recommend nursing on demand at this age?

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  61. This is awesome! I live in Puerto Rico where there are many mothers doctors and people who don't understand why I never gave my daughter rice cereal in a bottle or before her going to bed. They don't understand that she still feeds at least once a night. I was told to give her rice cereal at six months in a bottle. We tried it once and she refused the bottle. She wanted the breast. The rice cereal constipated her and we never gave it to her again. Inconjuction with whole food I made at home, we continued to breastfeed and not bottlefeed. I listened to what my daughter wanted and almost a year into breastfeeding her, she tells me when she wants her TeTe which is breast in Spanish.

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  62. i really tried to take an attachment approach with all of my kids. the third is my best 'experiment' so far...followed BLW with him, still BF on demand and whenever he is sad lonely scared or just crawls up into my lap and throws himself into 'nursing' position. I never let them cry, would pick them up whenever they would. my oldest was the only one who was left as a baby with anyone other than myself (i worked from when he was 4 months) i also didn't really breastfeed him as long or as much as the other 2.

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  63. I wish I had realized this when my daughter was young. She is 4 now but she had bad colic and I was constantly letting her "CIO" which made things worse. I was exhausted in everyway imaginable. Had I not given up BFing & tried co-sleeping, I know realize things could of been different.
    I do want to add though, that my Mother is British and she had a lot of good wisdom which I kept brushing aside. She would FREQUENTLY tell me "Stop being so American and trying to do everything "by the book". She would tell me to quit reading books also. She would constantly tell me "So what if she needs this or that now, she won't be doing/needing that in college will she?"
    I wish I had listened to my Mother's wisdom. I hope with my next baby I can do things different.

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  64. I nursed my last baby until he was 3yrs old and got so much grief, but I had previously nursed twins for almost as long and knew better. My twins and my last baby are all in college now, they have never had medication or been ill, I truly attribute this to them being breastfed, not allowing them to cry and letting them sleep in the bed with my husband and I. I believe that the support of a husband is key to being able to breastfeed, since the ability to calm down is key. I wish I had this knowledge with my older daughter, I was instructed to give her formula and include rice in the bottle within a month of her birth, she is now obese and I feel so bad, my poor mother did not have the knowledge I needed to grow a healthy child, breastfeeding seems so basic you would think it would be a natural progression, but quite the opposite, my mother-in-law would constantly ask why are you nursing for so long and if we were in public she would cringe if I would feed my babies, I was always careful in not revealing my breasts, maybe this sounds crazy but I think we could make GREAT changes if we could start a revolution and REALLY push breastfeeding, it would create a more civil, calm society

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  65. I whish I had read this 6 yrs ago... I just gave up thinking I was not making enough milk and it just hurt sooo much. To make matters even worst, my mom did not support me and I felt alone in this, so after 3 months of my dd been born I gave up BF her. I still have so much guilt I did so. I am co sleeping still with her even though she has her own room we started sharing the same bed since she was 10 months old. Now with my 3rd child things have been way different, I have listen to him, 2 yrs later still BF and co sleeping, and I do love the relationship we have stablished, and this goes against everyone telling me of the harm I am doing for not having a feeding schedule and because we all co sleep.

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  66. I have tears. Both from the beauty of Grandmothers words, and from the relief of reading my very own baby stories written by someone else! Beautiful, accurate and important words shared. Thank you!

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  67. Thank you for this beautiful and inspiring post!

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  68. 23 years ago, my first son was born six and a half weeks early. Rather than breastfeeding, we were tube feeding at first, but by two weeks later he was breastfeeding. He made it quite clear that he needed to be breastfed often and carried always. When put down, he would cry. Plenty of people advised us to let him cry it out. There was no way that this was going to work for him OR for me. If I'd listened to those well-meaning people who told me to let him cry it out, I would have had mental health issues! As it was, I was a happy mother and he was a happy baby. When his brother came along three years later, the same routine of breastfeeding often and carrying always worked nicely for him, as well.
    Human babies aren't all that different than kangaroo joeys. Their need for connection doesn't end at birth.

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  69. My son is 13 months and will at times eat little bites here and there but nothing of any significance. He only wants to breastfeed. At what point should I worry. My heart keeps telling me to just breastfeed and not worry about it. He only has 4 front teeth and chewing is not something he has down pat yet. Also he can not swallow whole pieces of food he gags on it. I put bites of food on a tray for him but he won't pick it up and put it in his mouth. I have to put it in his mouth. How long should I exclusively breastfeed. He seems to only want to breastfeed.

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  70. I loved this article. I still read plenty of books, just as reassurance because in today's society there are always people telling you that your baby nurses too much. I try to gather as much ammunition as I can to educate them! Read the books, and your baby is my motto!

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  71. I like this. My approach has been the same as this "grandmother's wisdom" even though no one told me to do such things (nurse whenever baby is upset, co-sleep). I got the impression that that was against the grain but it seemed to make sense to me without reading books etc. My baby is 8 months and so content. I hope to keep nursing and co-sleeping as long as he needs to.

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  72. And potty the baby. Read Diaper Free baby :)

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  73. I absolutely loved this post!
    My daughter I only breastfed for 4 months and regretted my decision to stop although I had no choice ultimately, however with my son I said I would breastfeed as long as he would take it.
    We breastfed exclusively for 12 months aside at the 6 month mark where I was felt to feel like a bad mom by friends for not introducing foods! They bought him cereal for Christmas and urged and FORCED me to give it to him. So for 3 days I gave him some and my normally very content baby became very annoyed with life it seemed. I decided to STOP the cereal and voila I had my delightful babe back!
    We did not truly co-sleep but I spent more nights in the double bed in his room with him beside me suckling all night long then I did sleeping in my bed!
    My dream of being able to nurse him till he weaned completely was cut short when I had to go on HIV meds for an high risk exposure to full blown AIDS blood while at work. I was HEARTBROKEN and until the night I came home from work and the exposure he had never tried to get into my shirt to nurse, that night he came up to me and put his hand dowm my top and said num nums. Num nums was what we called nursing and he would just say num nums when he wanted to nurse.
    I know there was a huge difference in the amount my 2 children cried but I never thought about it being the way the 2 were handled differently in regards to breastfeeding!
    When they say "Breast is Best" it truly is!!

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  74. I love this article it holds all of my own values (and I'm in the uk) I am constantly being asked when I'm planning to stop breastfeeding and co-sleeping. The answer is I really don't know and yes my baby is very happy :)

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  75. GREAT post!! Been wondering why my almost 6 month old has been waking up at night so frequently for the past few weeks - now I know I shouldn't worry, just follow her lead. We started giving her finger foods (BLW) about 2 weeks ago - she seems to enjoy the experience, but doesn't ingest anything yet and that's fine by me! We partially co-sleep so the night wakings doesn't impact to much on me even though I work fulltime - if my baby needs me, I'm there for her.

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  76. This is an amazing article! People comment on how good my son is, and I do all of these things. It just feels natural and I feel like I'm abandoning him if I try to do it any other way. He is 9mos now, takes solids occasionally, and doesn't nurse for comfort as much anymore; he's content with being held. Literally the ONLY time he cries is when he gets in the car seat, and sometimes he's fine even then.

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  77. I really loved this article, especially the wisdom of the grandmother. So contrary to what most women experience in our society. I nursed on demand with each of my children, in fact I still nurse my 4,5 year-old, but this didn't solve the problem of crying. They both refused to nurse, probably because I had an oversupply which caused them to get too much watery foremilk. I had read all about the benefit of on demand breastfeeding before having my first, and it was quite the heartbreaker to have him refuse the milk he needed. I'm glad it works this well for many other moms though:).

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  78. Wow great advice! I've done this with my 4 month old from day 1, completely on instinct! and you know what? He's the best behaved baby and hardly ever cries! Very interesting :) I am American and my husband is Mexican, and both sides of our families often comment on what a good baby he is and marvel at how he never cries! I'm glad I listen to my instincts (and common sense) instead of what seems to be the popular take on child rearing, in the US anyways - co-sleeping is taboo and "dangerous" and babies should cry or you'll spoil them...of course not everyone here feels this way :)

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  79. Wow, i loved and appreciated this! I also home birthed and breastfed my baby girl until she was 15 months until she just suddenly decided one day to reject it...i was relieved but glad i didnt have to go thru the weaning torture...my baby told me she was ready for hard foods...

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  80. I love it, "Read the baby, not the book." Even with older children I find this to be true, if we slow down and pay attention to our children we can learn so much more about what they need than the books can tell us.

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  81. I totally agree with the sentiment "read your baby, not a book" and breast feeding is so simple and wonderful for baby once mother and baby get the hang of it (it does take perseverance sometimes at first). I totally agree to trust your instincts and give your child comfort rather than worrying about setting boundaries from day one, and the baby carrier has been a God send for us. As a mother of a pretty spirited baby I have just trusted that things will start to fall into place and to give him love and comfort.

    However, the message behind this article is pretty fundamentalist, if it works for some people then fine. I personally do not feel that it would be good for my child to use me as a human dummy and to feed him as soon as he tries to communicate something that might not be hunger (yes I understand that breast feeding also gives comfort but I can provide this with other ways too when that is what he needs). As I said my little boy is pretty spirited and gets bored easily. He is nearly 5 months old and sometimes he cries because he wants to interact or kick about to exercise. We all know babies have different types of cry depending on what they are trying to communicate. and I wouldn't dream of stifling my baby's way of communicating! Sometimes babies need more comfort than other times, i.e. if they are feeling under the weather, and when this happens we tend to have a breast feeding day where I lie with him and he feeds frequently. And of course dads can provide comfort too!!

    Also the suggestion that babies that don't cry at all are good babies, well how negative is that! Are we really judging mothers and babies to this extent?!

    As I said, I totally agree with "read your baby, not a book" and that is what I intend to do. I want to understand what his needs are, but they are definitely not to be breast fed every time he cries. The person that asked the question, "and what about the mother's mental health" had a very important point. Happy mother goes a long way to helping to create happy baby.

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    1. Thankyou for a wonderful comment. Whilst I loved the sentiment of the article, especially “read your baby, not a book” (and I have just about read them all!) I too have a spirited child and understanding what she is trying to communicate has been crucial from day 1....she is 3 now and really understanding her needs is still key. As a baby she also had reflux and screamed blue murder with every feed, far worse if I fed her too much or too frequently. Learning to read what she really needed was the big lesson for us, and is still key today. I persisted and breastfed her until almost 2 years of age (stopped because was having difficulty conceiving #2) but can’t quite accept that “just give her the boob” is the answer every time.

      In actual fact, with both my children when they are unsettled 99% of the time the problem is tiredness. If I know my baby is well fed, and she has been awake for approaching 2 hours, she needs SLEEP, not food. If the boob is how you get sleep to happen that is just fine too, but so often it is the sleep they need. I firmly believe overtiredness is a huge cause of crying and unsettled behaviour. The beautiful smiles, babbing and laughter after waking from a long sleep have me convinced of that!

      There is certainly a lot to be said for babywearing (promotes both that warm closeness and SLEEP) and how wonderful that dads can do it too! but it’s not always practical. Fortunately I haven’t needed to wear my second child as much because it is very difficult to do when you still need to lift a large, at times willful toddler! That said, I wore my first child for many hours every afternoon in the first months and it was the only thing that soothed her and got her the rest she needed. Having bub on the breast all the time is also tricky with an older one around who still needs your attention and feels left out by the demands of the new baby taking all of mum’s time.

      I also feel strongly that we mustn’t judge babies as being “good” or “bad” just because of how much they cry. My second daughter rarely cries, sleeps anywhere anytime......much less intense than her sister and people say “what a good baby” but she is just a different person. Was her older sister “bad”, simply because she was harder to soothe? She simply found the world harder to settle into, and we needed to work harder to help her, but she was not “bad”, nor was I any less good as a mother (although on the days she cried in pain despite nursing, cuddles, carrying and babywearing I tell you I felt pretty inadequate!). She was just in pain.

      I’ve barely used my sling or front pack with number 2 because she rarely cries, although she loves being carried close, too. That way I can put her down quickly to attend to toilet training, overly adventurous toddler climbing activities and the like. She is 6 months now, never had anything but breastmilk and is just starting to look fascinated by my dinner, so we will gently start some food, at her pace. I plan to breastfeed her as long as I can, too. But she is not at the breast all day and night, she gains comfort from closeness to both parents, not to mention sucking her thumb!

      It is indeed a lovely sentiment, “read your baby, not a book”.......but REALLY read her and work out what her needs are because it is not always just the breast. And if your child can gain comfort from something other than the breast, that can be lovely, too. Dads feel very empowered when their touch soothes their much loved child ! Take the time to get to know your child, her different moods, different cries, and different needs and then you can REALLY read her.

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  82. I was brought up in Africa as the daughter of missionaries. I remember women always had their babies with them. Solid food was fed by the mother masticating food and introducing it to the baby. I tried to follow this pattern of having my babies around me all the time.

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  83. I am an American with children who are half African and can say I brought my children up this way ~ and it was the best time of my life and have very content teenagers and one more newborn (3 month old now)~! With my newborn, I have just learned about elimination communication aka infant potty training and it is AMAZING!!! To add to the criteria of what makes a baby fussy/cry... if you look up elimination communication or IPT you will find books, blogs, etc... on it and find that the infant gives very good ques/communication on needing to go the bathroom ~ so it is not just breastfeeding on demand..but this also. I wish so much that I would have known about IPT with my first two. For example, my new baby and I, again, co-sleep,an when he wakes to feed, he enjoys...we rest...but if he keeps squiggling and literally hitting me in his sleep, while eating, it means he needs to go potty!
    If I move in time, he goes on the baby bjourn, otherwise I have another dirty diaper that needs changing...

    it is really all about if I can keep up with him - sometimes I am in such a deep sleep it is hard...but his remakable communication is AWESOME - everytime he makes it in the potty (really...if I make it there for him...) it is so excitng - just about everytime!!

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  84. Thank you for sharing!!!! I will bookmark this amazing story and will share with others!! God bless you!

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  85. I have six children, nursed each for 6-8 months, and noticed that my last two, unvaccinated, never ever cried!! I truly think this also has a great deal to do with the calmness and peacefulness of babies.

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  86. What a lovely article. Thank you. Wish I'd known this better with my first. My second I did much better on listening to my baby and my intuition and shutting out all the other talking heads around me. Much better results and much happier baby and Mamma too.

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  87. What would you suggest for adoptive mothers? If I were able to have my own children this would be the way I would want to raise my own children. I am unsure what I should do create that same bond and provide similar comforts for my future children.

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    1. Many adoptive mothers do induce lactation to nurse their babies. Others use a supplemental nursing system (like the Medela SNS or Lact-Aid) so they can nurse at the breast with donor milk or formula. There are many ways to bond and meet needs for all babies - no matter if they are our sweet bundles through birth or adoption.

      Here are a couple mothers' stories:

      http://www.drmomma.org/2010/10/my-adoptive-breastfeeding-journey.html

      http://www.drmomma.org/2009/08/special-gift-breastfeeding-adopted.html

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  88. My favorite words in this blog post are: "Read your baby, not the books." That is excellent advice that can be applied to almost any situation. Thank you for sharing your story!

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  89. Thank you for a beautiful look into anoter culture that we can learn so much from!! :)

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  90. So much pressure is put on have one's child sleep through the night and to start babies on solid food. Health officials are not advocating that a baby's first foods include beef, chicken and fish, before grains and vegetables. ????? Reading your article was very comforting to me. I am doing all the things that you are suggesting. Society seems to be wanting us to pull away from our babies and have them be independent at earlier and earlier ages. I now feel better about not being able to sleep through the night because my child wants to nurse. It is OK for me to hold my child throughout his entire nap and if he only wants a little cereal and a lot of breast milk, that is OK also. Thank you again for your words of encouragement.

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  91. This is so true. I am not African but I follow this style of parenting. I trust my instinct and listen to my babies and no body else. My babies are my everything and I love it that way. They are with my 98% of the time and that is the way it should be. I am a stay at home mother of two and love every minute of it.

    Here is my blog if anyone would like to check it out. It is all about natural parenting and listing to your little ones. http://amothersvoice2012.blogspot.com/

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  92. So... is it the act of feeding (actually drinking from hunger) or is it the connection to the mother through breastfeeding that satisfies the child? Because as an american woman I expect that I will not have the time to constantly feed my child. I love the idea of having this close interaction with my child contantly, and elderly african women have always told me that nothing but breastfeeding will do, but can I also have the lack of crying with maybe formula?

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    1. Often babies comfort nurse where they are suckling, but no milk is coming out. If you are formula feeding you can offer the baby a pacifier, but it is just not the same. I would recommend trying breastfeeding in the beginning. The first 6 weeks can be hard, but worth it. Then make your decision after 6 weeks if it is the right path for you or not.

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  93. Breastfeeding is less about food than it is comfort for my lil one. He nurses because he's frustrated, or tired, or sad or he missed me. Even if you formula feed you can still nurse. With a baby that will,

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  94. Beautiful story! I only wish I had an opportunity to breastfeed. I was only 25 weeks along when I gave birth to my sweet 1 pound 8 ounce baby boy. He was not able to feed due to his prematurity. The only thing I could do was pump. And, because of my hormones not being ready, as well as the lack of stimulation with tge pumping... I dried up within several weeks. But regardless.... he is now an 11 year old wonderful growing boy, and we are just as bonded as ever!

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  95. This is so nice and encouraging to read. My grandmother asked me when my son was not even five months old "don't you want more for yourself than to just sit around and be a breastfeeding mother?" and also commented "how could you let your son sleep like he's in a third world country" when she saw I had put my mattress on the floor. I think she feels she grew up with very little and has a lot of insecurities about being seen as poor and inadequate. I knew there was no more valuable way to spend my time than to care for my baby as I had been but it was still very hurtful to receive these attacks and similar comments from other family members. Thank you so much for posting this article, it felt like a much needed hug :)

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  96. My only problem with this oldest daughter I tried nursing, she did good at latching, she nursed every 30min for about 30min at a time. She lost weight...over a pound in two weeks, and was not gaining it back. By the time she was 4wks old she weighed 2lbs less than when I had her...she was put in NICU with failure to thrive. My milk was the problem, it wasn't giving her what she needed. She cried ALL the time. My dad was one of the only people to be able to get her to calm down. I was the problem in my childs life, not the solution. Once we figured out she was intolerant to my milk, lacking nutrition, and had acid reflux disease we found a formula to use, it took 6mths of trial and error to figure this out, and in the meantime she cried, A LOT. She was (being honest) the worst baby I have ever met/seen when it came to being fussy,many times I felt like a failure because I couldn't comfort her. I was prepared for the worst when we had our second daughter. She was easy, barely any crying, nursed like a pro, grew crazy quick! Anyway...the point is I agree that nursing, and wrapping/wearing your child helps with comfort level, but sometimes that's not enough. It took medical intervention with my oldest to figure out what was going on. If I would have continued to nurse her she may have very well died.

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  97. I just have a question for the author. I am American and I parent this way and I love it. My son does cry when he is teething though. What do African mothers do for teething? I do offer the breast for comfort, but if he starts biting... I unlatch him for a moment. And sometimes with a hurting little mouth he doesn't want to nurse.

    And to answer the question to the anonymous person about going back to work... I work part time because I knew how difficult breastfeeding and full time work would be. I go to my son on my lunch break and nurse him. It works for us. That said, I hope to stay home with future babies. It is just too hard for me emotionally to leave them. My husband feels bonded to him through other ways. My husband sees how easy it is to settle and comfort my son through nursing and my husband is grateful we can keep our son happy so easily.

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    1. I'm in the US also for teething I use an amber necklace, a lot of my friends use then also there awesome

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  98. my baby #2 was a very settled baby. I exclusively breastfeed her till she was almost 8 months old. Was the best time of my life. And the time slips away so quickly. She is now a very self confident 5yr old. She is extremely healthy and hardly ever at the doctors. I wish I had been more settled within myself with baby #1 and trusted my milk. Great article. great to see mum's from all countries sharing and empowering each other. I live in New Zealand.

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  99. :-) Thank You my son is 2yrs old and some family members and husband want me to stop. He is happy so what is the problem

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  100. Love this article. I find it unatural and alarming that so many women never entertain breastfeeding and go immediately to formula. I nursed both of my children, on demand. They never wanted pacifiers and were very happy and content. While they nor I slept through the night, I now question "why is that some sort of norm that parents try to attain with newborns and infants?" I have also seen numerous very overweight babies who are formula fed and who are sick often. On the subject of co-sleeping, there is a lot of new research which shows that when babies hear and sense their parents nearby, they do not go into a deep sleep that often precedes crib death. How could it ever have been natural to put a baby in its own bed in another room? Having co-slept with my two children, I cannot imagine anything else. Yes, you lose sleep but you get used to it.

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    1. My daughter also does not like the pacifier but just last night she grabbed one of them to play in her hands while nursing/suckling to sleep. She rarely puts things in her mouth, the pacifier is not one she puts in her mouth lol. She is able to sleep through the night though since we are co-sleeping. When she's on active sleep, I instantly offer her the breast even while only half-awake. She drifts back to deep sleep without the need to wake and cry. At times when I think she's having nightmares because she I hear her crying in her sleep, I immediately offer her the breast. She would then quiet down. I feel it's the natural thing to do.

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      (To everyone else)
      I think the stress of new mothers is not just on the tiredness and pressure of the society, it also comes from expecting the ideal but that ideal never comes true. So, to new mothers, they should never expect anything to reduce stresss. It would also be great to stop comparing your child with someone else's because that only gives additional stress. So what if you have an easy baby? So what if you have a formula-fed baby? So what if others' babies aren't like yours trained perfectly or always causing mischief? I say relax and enjoy your child alone. Do not concern yourself with other children or other mothers preaching here and there.

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  101. I think not just African babies. We are neither of African nor European/Ameriacn descent. My baby was exclusively breastfed for 6 months and still breastfeeding (on only one breast since at month 4 she started having a preference) now at almost 15 months. She was delivered normally. She never had stomach problems, never had diarrhea, cried only when something is really wrong and never had colic. She burps on her own when she was still an infant. I started co-sleeping with her when she was 4 months, when her feeding demand got more frequent. She's on the safe side of our bed so I was able to sleep with her through the night. I'm a light sleeper so I can sense any movement and wake when she does but she usually sleeps through the night. (Actually sleeping while suckling so we can sleep through the night.)

    I also breastfeed her in public but a little more discreetly than I normally would at home. In some malls we go to, there's a breastfeeding station. One mall has a family lounge where the breastfeeding station is more private and has a cubicle and couch. I like going there, it's comfortable.

    Where I live, babies who cry should immediately be carried and comforted by the mother. Whenever my daughter complains to me or can't get her point across, I offer her the breast and she gets comfortable on it. When I come home after doing errands, she would be really excited to see me and hug me and I carry her around. She's a pretty much independent child but she sometimess wants me to carry her.

    I am very thankful to be blessed with a low maintenance first-born.

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  102. Your heart speaks beautifully of you. Your experience took me back thirty years when fortunately, I had three years, of unparalleled joy, love and completeness, as women are generously given. My baby was love and full of such goodness from that day and continues to grow in her each day. Friends can attest to the spirit she had then and now. They always commented that "she has no reason to cry, you never put her down". What I would do to see a glimpse of my heart, of our love. She is birthing at home early May. My heart brimmed with love, real deep love, intimacy and wholeness our universe freely shows us. I know your universe is much greater today than the day you two met. That was the time I met a kind, loving woman who naturally and kindly, poured out of me. Peace and love to you, sweet dear. Keep showing the pureness of your mother and grandmother's love they poured abundantly expressed by your beautiful and gentle soul. You never know the condition of another's heart. Your share cares for someone you will never meet but I know you now and take you into tomorrow's day. Very soothing words my heart heard today. Your share reminded when my of life with my "sweetness and light". Thank God for our soul's. . The beauty I carry inside needs to come out again, I find myself strangled in pain that always leaves when I turn it inside out. It is time for me to stop hurting, by giving. We all need to connect our heart's to others, you never know the condition their heart may be . You gave me a picture of my good woman buried deeply, that robs me that I am good and kind. . Thank you very much!

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