It has been a long time since I have had the time, inclination, energy and content to actually sit down and write a post. (I know I still haven’t written any recipes, but getting a meal photographed is still beyond me just now.) Today we will catch up on a few things that have gone abandoned over the last three months.
When I decided to move N out of a cot at five months old, I wanted to do a load of research on floor beds: different ways you could set up the nursery, dangers people had encountered, things that seemed like a good idea at the time but turned out to be superfluous or silly, how a floor bed nursery could evolve with the developing skills of a child – that kind of thing. I found very little information along those lines, so I thought I’d figure it out along the way and try to blog about it regularly for others looking for similar inspiration.
At 10 months old, N walks, runs and climbs. Her bedroom is set up very similarly to how it started out, with a few key differences that have evolved along the way:
- Back in September, the floor was pretty padded: carpet, rug, two blankets. Now that N is very mobile I found that a lot of dirt accumulated on the large fleece blanket, so I removed it. The floor is still carpeted, with a rug on top, and decorated with a padded toy map of London and a quilt lovingly handmade by someone who cares for N very much.
- An old bedside table is now placed in front of the wardrobe, with a lamp on top of that. The table is padded with blankets to prevent injury, and the lamp wires hang down behind it. This stops N from playing with the wires or going into the wardrobe, which she had begun to be interested in. One wardrobe door can still be opened for access.
- A scratch map of the world used to hang above N’s mirror. We found that she was standing on the mattress and holding on to the mirror (pulling it away from the wall) to pull at the map; one day she accidentally tore it and so we moved it to the opposite wall, above her bookcase.
The toys along the top of the bookcase are constantly being pulled down and played with, which is just excellent. I have switched out the toys in the toy basket a few times now – every couple of months – to keep her interest in them, and have a few rotations of “upstairs toys” and “downstairs toys” to discourage mass migration. N can now reach the book sling on top of her chest of drawers and will pull out books for us to read to her.
Back in September, N was allowed access to her bedroom and the landing, but was carefully supervised in the bathroom and my bedroom. Now she has free rein of the upstairs, and we have baby-proofed along the way with her help. By this I mean we let her loose in our room, kept a close eye on her, and removed anything that was sharp or a choking hazard. I mentioned in November that the radiator in the bathroom was a concern, but by teaching N one-finger touching (see below) and warning her through language and sign that it might be dangerous, it is no longer a concern.
After publishing Attachment Child, Feminist Child this morning, I realised that we do a couple of other things that encourage N to be a feminist which are not explicitly part of attachment parenting. (They often go hand-in-hand with AP, in my experience, but they don’t really have much to do with it as a philosophy.)
One of these things is baby-led weaning, which I hope to go into in more detail one day. It’s a bit like floor beds in that there is not too much information out there about how it works in practice, but luckily it is a concept that is becoming more and more accessible. Baby-led weaning is skipping the purees and going straight to finger foods, and has been shown in many ways to be better for everyone involved. We add very little salt to food and will not use honey until N is one year old, so basically she eats what we eat. She had baked potato yesterday, and liver last week. Thankfully she is not allergic to anything so for us, there are no other considerations.
I love baby-led weaning for a variety of reasons, but possibly the biggest of these reasons is that I see it as a feminist way to eat, inextricably linked with Health At Every Size and fat acceptance and trusting your body.
A lot of women I know have had poor relationships with food and with their bodies, largely because of social standards of beauty and health. It is a massive topic so I’m going to focus on what I can do, as a parent of a baby, to try and combat a whole culture which tells people – women and young people, especially – that their desire and need to eat are wrong.
I believe that spoon-feeding a baby can encourage hir to ignore hir own feelings of fullness because the adult feeding them is saying “just one more spoonful!” Spoon-feeding can encourage a baby to ignore hir own feelings of hunger because “you just had dinner!” or “lunch is in twenty minutes, I’ll feed you then.” As a baby in charge of her own foods, N can eat as much as she wants (if she finishes what she is given, she is given more) or throws as much food on the floor as she wants. She can eat quickly or slowly, because we are eating our food at the same time and we like to all sit at the table until everyone is finished. She can eat however she likes, because she is not the focus of attention and has no need to feel self-conscious.
And the other feminist thing we do as parents is to never, ever touch N without her permission. We do not grab or tickle or cuddle or pick her up without asking, and explaining our reasons for wanting to do so. We do a running commentary of permission-asking throughout her nappy changes. We have a firm policy of never putting things in her mouth. We do not brush her teeth – she is given her toothbrush and sits in front of us while we brush our teeth, and every single time she mimics our actions and does a pretty good job. N’s body is her own and we do not have the right to do things to it without her permission.
A friend introduced me to the concept of one-finger touching last autumn, I think. I was worried that by putting a Christmas tree in our living room, we were essentially putting up a big, sparkly, attention-grabbing toy and then forbidding N to go anywhere near it. We tried to solve the issue by putting two soft knitted baubles at the bottom of the three (N’s baubles), decorating the top two-thirds of the tree, and talking to her constantly about how it was dangerous to pull on the tree, electricity can hurt, etc etc… We had no idea how to teach her to do one-finger touching, and I found the whole Christmas decoration thing pretty stressful with an eight month old in the mix. I spent a lot of the month on the floor, explaining and stroking and encouraging gentle touching and redirecting and yes, redecorating.
Of course, the key to one-finger touching came after Christmas. N received several touch & feel books for Christmas, and as we read them to her, we touched the textured part of the books with one finger. N automatically copied us! We praised her effusively for this – “good one-finger touching!” – and the concept transferred across to other things pretty effectively. We now encourage one-finger touching for things that a baby wouldn’t normally be allowed to touch, which means that N can explore her world and stay safe.