Read Your Baby, Not the Book


I know I promised to blog more about the Eagle Forum Convention. Steve Russell’s talk was so amazing that I want to tell everyone about it. I also want to brag about how my 9 year-old won the Pinewood Derby (this is the second son in a row to win, I think we have the secret down), my 15 year-old daughter did a great acting job in her Shakespeare play, my little girl just turned five, and my baby is SOOO cute!  But I am going to take a break from being political and braggy to blog about babies in general and breastfeeding.





Sometimes I forget that not everyone thinks the way I do. I live in an attachment parenting world, where moms breastfeed on cue and keep their babies close by, in bed and during the day. The other day I was counseling with a mom, at her request, about breastfeeding. Her baby was about 8 weeks old. She felt her milk supply was going down and she wanted to know why. As we talked, it became apparent that she was into scheduled feedings. She kept saying, “The books say this or that,” and “the books say to feed this often.” Finally, I asked, “What are these books that you are reading?”


“Oh, one of them is Babywise…” Inside I screamed, “AARGH! No wonder she is having problems!” I squelched my desire to launch into an attack on that book. The author has been discredited by many organizations involving children’s health and feeding. Instead I mustered up my best communication skills and gently said, “Many mothers find that they have a lack of milk supply if they follow what that book says.”


As we talked more I discovered that she had been away from her baby for several hours-long blocks of time and had missed feeding and or pumping, in order to go to church meetings. She is in the YW stake presidency and had let her husband stay home with the baby and feed the baby her pumped milk, as well as for times she went to church. She had been barely nursing 7-8 times in a 24 hour day. I explained to her that many mothers find that in order to have a full milk supply, they have to nurse at least 8 times. That’s a bare minimum. Usually it’s 12 to 14 times in 24 hours, so that means going no longer than 2 hours to feed or pump. I really don’t count how many times a day I nurse my baby, or how much time goes by in between nursings, I just nurse him any time he fusses or even before he fusses sometimes.


I wish she would bring her baby to the church meetings and not separate, but I understand her concern about the baby getting sick if she brings the baby out in the winter. But I personally think the baby is much less likely to get sick if the baby is always within arm’s reach, if not attached to the mom’s body, through nursing, cosleeping, and babywearing. I encouraged the mom to sleep with her baby because then the baby is much more likely to get more nursing at night. The baby was sleeping in a crib in a separate room and sometimes going 6 hours at night. I encouraged her to wake up the baby after 2 to 3 hours and nurse. It’s no big deal to wake the baby up if you don’t have to get out of your cozy bed, but she said she didn’t want to cosleep. At least she is pumping and giving her baby her milk.



Yesterday Sheila Kippley, the author of Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, and founder of, sent me this cool article about attachment parenting. It explains how I have mothered my babies and how I wish all babies were mothered.  I am copying part of it here.



Why African Babies Don’t Cry
Posted By J. Claire K. Niala On December 31, 2010 (8:30 pm) In Culture

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.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 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.

(The article goes on, click on the link above to read the whole thing. It concludes with the following:)

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.

Article taken from InCultureParent –
URL to article:









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