Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Healing Benefits of Coconut Oil

Ok, it's no secret ~ I *love* coconut oil! It has *so* many uses, and the really good raw stuff, is really good for you! I use it for so many things ~ a butter replacement on my children's popcorn, a skin moisturizer (I have eczema that flares up now and then), in my hair, on owies, you name it!

I came across this article I wish to share with you that explains some of the benefits of coconut oil. Yes, I know it's from a company (Vivapura) that carries a coconut oil product for sale, however, I have found it to be very accurate. As always, of course ~ do your own research and don't take my word for it ;) Of course, I personally stand behind this company 100% ~ they're a fantastic example of ethics, purity, and really tasty foods! I picked up some of their dried jackfruit once and *oh*my*yummers* =D If you get a chance, do check it out!

Coconut Oil Health Benefits

The Healing Benefits of Coconut OilCocopura Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has been used as cooking oil for thousands of years.

Popular cookbooks advertised it at the end of the 19th century. Then came the anti-saturated fat campaign and the promotion of polyunsaturated fats, such as flaxseed, canola, soybean, safflower, corn, and other seed and nut oils plus their partially hydrogenated counterparts (margarine, "I can't believe it's not butter", etc.) as the way to go.

Indeed, saturated fats have been supposedly causally linked to high cholesterol and heart disease, multiple sclerosis and other bad health conditions. I don't know how anyone came to this conclusion, since it would be hard to find a person in America who has a high saturated fat diet. Why? Because nearly all commercial foods, including bread, crackers, chips, dips, many candies, zero cholesterol coffee creamers, all mayonnaise and all salad dressings, many pastries and ice creams, most dietetic (for weight loss or diabetes) "foods", many cereals, and nearly all crunchy snacks contain either polyunsaturated or partially hydrogenated fats (which contain some margarine and some of the unsaturated fat mixed together).

These foods are often advertised as healthy "all vegetarian," "no-cholesterol" foods. Even the so-called saturated fat in commercial meat is partly unsaturated because most cows are fed corn and soybeans, both of which contain unsaturated oils. Are there any people who live on saturated fats who are healthy? Yes! People who live in tropical climates and who have a diet high in coconut oil are healthier, have less heart disease, cancer, colon problems and so on, than unsaturated fat eaters. Two such groups of people include those from Melanesia and the Yucatan. These people are slightly hyperthyroid because of the thyroid stimulating effects of coconut oil plus a diet which includes protein (fish) and adequate fruit (stimulates thyroid function).

Can you eat unsaturated fats and get away with it?

It all depends. The Eskimos ate cold-water fish, high in unsaturated oils BUT they also ate the whole animal, including the animal head, brain, thyroid glands, etc. and got the hormones from these glandulars. This caused them to become hyperthyroid, 25% higher than Americans, and they were classified as "pathologically hyperthyroid" by standard medical definition. However, this so-called pathological condition allowed them to burn the unsaturated fats in the foods they ate. If you are not an Eskimo and eat mainly an unsaturated fat diet, you may be in trouble.

Now you know why I wonder how anyone can associate high cholesterol or saturated fats with heart disease, multiple sclerosis or any disease. Over the past 40 years, Americans have increased their consumption of unsaturated fats and partially hydrogenated fats and have decreased their consumption of saturated fatty acids and butter. Lauric acid, the major fatty acid in coconut oil and breast milk, is rarely present in the American diet.

Yet saturated fats are still being called the health culprits while grocery stores abound with many kinds of seed and nut oils. Many have been told that if the unsaturated oil is unprocessed, it is safe. This is untrue. The harmful effects of unsaturated oil lie in their unsaturation, or the presence of many double bonds, which are very labile and easily peroxidized (become rancid inside the body). Details of this are given in the report on unsaturated oils. Here is a summary of the health benefits of coconut oil. In general, coconut oil stimulates thyroid function and has wonderful antiseptic properties.

The Stability of Coconut Oil

Unsaturated oils in cooked foods become rancid in just a few hours, even in the refrigerator, one reason for the "stale" taste of leftovers. However, according to Peat, eating fresh unsaturated fats is even worse, because once inside the body, they will oxidize (turn rancid) very rapidly due to being heated and mixed with oxygen. Not so with coconut oil. Even after one year at room temperature, coconut oil shows no evidence of rancidity even though it contains 9% linoleic (omega - 6) polyunsaturated acid. Peat theorizes that coconut oil may have antioxidant properties, since the oil doesn't turn rancid and since it reduces our need for vitamin E, whereas unsaturated oils deplete vitamin E.

Anti-Aging Effects of Coconut Oil

Many researchers have reported that coconut oil lowers cholesterol (Blackburn et al 1988, Ahrens and colleagues, 1957). In 1981, Prior et al. showed that islanders with a diet high in coconut oil showed no harmful health effects. When these groups migrated to New Zealand and lowered their daily coconut oil intake, their total cholesterol and especially their LDL cholesterol - the so-called evil one - increased. The cholesterol-lowering properties of coconut oil are a direct result of its ability to stimulate thyroid function. In the presence of adequate thyroid hormone, cholesterol (specifically LDL-cholesterol) is converted by enzymatic processes to the vitally necessary anti-aging steroids, pregnenolone, progesterone and DHEA. These substances are required to help prevent heart disease, senility, obesity, cancer and other diseases associated with aging and chronic degenerative diseases.

Weight Loss Stimulating Properties of Coconut Oil

In the 1940's farmers tried coconut oil to fatten their animals but discovered that it made them lean and active and increased their appetite. Whoops! Then they tried an anti-thyroid drug. It made the livestock fat with less food but was found to be a carcinogen (cancer causing drug). In the late 1940's, it was found that the same anti-thyroid effect could be achieved by simply feeding animals soybeans and corn.

Anti-Cancer Effects of Coconut Oil

In 1987 Lim-Sylianco published a 50-year literature review showing the anti-cancer effects of coconut oil. In chemically induced cancers of the colon and breast, coconut oil was by far more protective than unsaturated oils. For example 32% of corn oil eaters got colon cancer whereas only 3% of coconut oil eaters got the cancer. Animals fed unsaturated oils had more tumors. This shows the thyroid-suppressive and hence, immuno-suppressive effect of unsaturated oils. (Cohen et al. 1986).

When Albert Schweitzer operated his clinic in tropical Africa, he said that it was many years before he saw a single case of cancer. He believed that the appearance of cancer was caused by introduction of the European diet to the Africans. Many studies since the 1920's have shown an association between consumption of unsaturated oils and the incidence of cancer.

Antimicrobial (Antiseptic) Effects of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids such as lauric (C-12), caprylic (C-10) and myristic (C-14) acids. Of these three, coconut oil contains 40% lauric acid, which has the greater anti-viral activity of these three fatty acids. Lauric acid is so disease fighting that it is present in breast milk. The body converts lauric acid to a fatty acid derivative (monolaurin), which is the substance that protects infants from viral, bacterial or protozoal infections. This was recognized and reported in 1966.

Work by Hierholzer and Kabara (1982) showed that monolaurin has virucidal effects on RNA and DNA viruses, which are surrounded by a lipid membrane. In addition to these RNA and DNA viruses, in 1978, Kabara and others reported that certain medium chain fatty acids, such as lauric acid have adverse effects on other pathogenic microorganisms, including bacteria, yeast and fungi. These fatty acids and their derivatives actually disrupt the lipid membranes of the organisms and thus inactivate them. This deactivation process also occurs in human and bovine milk when fatty acids are added to them.

For further reading try the

Coconut Oil White Paper by John Kabara,

an internationally recognized expert in tropical oils.

Cocopura - Raw, Organic, Ethical

Monday, May 25, 2009

Take the Time

A few weeks ago I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. My dental hygienist is expecting a baby this summer and, between her scraping and my spitting, we chatted about babies and how expensive they are. She knew my second baby was born at home (see my previous post) and said she supposed I had saved money by having a home birth. I told her that since my insurance doesn't cover home births, I had not saved any money, but it was worth every penny and any more children I have will be born at home.

At some point she said "Formula is so expensive, but what else can you do?" My answer was immediately "Breastfeed." Neither of my children have had a drop of formula. Breastfeeding has saved me LOTS of money (and breastmilk is ideal for infants). I also told her about our local La Leche League.

I was telling my husband about our conversation and he interjected "So did you convert her?" Trying not to smile, I asked "What do you mean?" He said "You know what I mean." I had to admit that, yes, I did mention cloth diapers. One of these days I'd like to calculate how much money I've saved by using cloth diapers. It's not just about the money, though. I feel good that I'm not throwing away a lot of paper and plastic and chemicals. Nor am I exposing my baby to the chemicals in disposable diapers.

You never know when you'll have the opportunity to expose someone to new ideas. Take the time to talk with people. You may be able to impart some knowledge and, if you'll listen, you may learn something yourself!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Summer Activities

Several weeks ago Alex wrote about summer classes and programs for her 4-year-old. I've been looking into activities for mine here in Nacogdoches. For those of you who live elsewhere, your city may offer similar activities.

The Nacogdoches Public Library hosts a variety of summer programs for kids. These are things like puppet shows, yoga for kids, musicals, and plays. Last summer a local chemistry professor presented "Chemistry is Fun." It was like a magic show using chemistry. When we start homeschooling I'd like to re-create some of the things he did. Our library also has story time in English and Spanish. I've been thinking of taking Olivia to the Spanish story time. Young children pick up languages so easily - this would be the perfect time to expose her to it.

Our Recreation Center also offers a variety of activities for kids, including twirling, t-shirt workshops, painting workshops, dancing, drawing, sculpting, swim lessons (starting as young as 6 months), and gymnastics. We're signing Olivia up for gymnastics and she'll have her first class today. She's really looking forward to it. This will be her first experience with any kind of class.

Although we don't have a zoo, Ellen Trout Zoo is just down the road in Lufkin. If you want to travel a little further you can visit Caldwell Zoo in Tyler. I took the kids there Friday and met up with my mom, sister, and niece. They have two white tigers that are just beautiful! Olivia likes animals and going to the zoo. I wasn't sure how Jesse would react to it, but he had a good time. The first thing we did was watch one of the workers feed the penguins. Jesse walked up to the glass and watched them swim around. He laughed and squealed at them. Olivia and Jesse also particularly enjoyed the tigers and snakes. We'll be visiting Cameron Park Zoo in Waco in August.

Before you know it, it'll be time to pick blueberries and peaches. Olivia loves picking fruit...and eating it! Jesse loves eating fruit, too. We've been enjoying the blackberries. We haven't picked enough to make a cobbler, but we've picked enough to eat out of hand.

I'll be watching for more things for kids to do. If you've got some other ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What is in a mole?

March is our guest blogger this week, filling in for Alex. Here's her intro: "My name is March and I am a SAHM/Professional Volunteer. I have 3 boys, ages 8,4 & 2." Thank you March!!

James my 8 year old son has been growing his hair out almost all year. I really try to pick my battles and so let it get shaggy. I guess the heat finally got to him last week and so my DH took all 3 boys to get haircuts . When James came home with a partial crew cut, something stood out from behind his ear. A large mole that was not there when he started growing his hair last year.

Of my 3 boys 2 were cursed with my fair skin, but James has beautiful Olive skin like his dad. When he was a baby I was diligent about slathering him in sun screen, but as he got older and never burns it became more of his responsibility or when I remembered. James has had one sunburn in his life. So to see this rather large mole that had developed so quickly had me in a panic.

I called our Dr. The Dr already jokingly thinks I am crazy. Most people by the time they have a 3rd child have calmed down and don't call the Dr. at the drop of a hat..not me. My philosophy is that I would always rather the Dr. think I was crazy then not go and it be serious. When the Dr looked at the mole he told be I made the right decision by coming in. The mole was larger than the eraser on a pencil. He said that if a mole is larger then the eraser on a pencil it should be looked at . He used the ear scope to show me the shape and color.

As of right now the mole is fine but the Dr. has told me to watch it and asked if I knew the ABC's of moles. I didn't and I found them very helpful so I thought I would share them with everyone :

A-Asymmetry- Generally if the mole is symmetric there is not as much need for concern, but if it is asymmetric it should be checked out by a Dr.
B- Border- if it has an unusual border-scalloped or notched it is suspicious and should be checked out by a Dr.
C- different Colors with in the mole are suspicious and should be viewed by a Dr.
D- diameter- any mole larger than a pencils eraser or greater than 6 mm should be viewed by a Dr.
E-elevation-if the mole is elevated or raised from the skin it should be viewed by a Dr.

Also if you notice any sudden changes to any of these you should consult your Dr.
James' mole fits two of these criteria. The mole is larger then a pencil eraser and has multiple colors within it. It also developed quickly so the Dr. was very glad I had it checked out. He told me to keep and eye on it ( a 2nd use for my ear scope) to watch for any changes and feels that we will remove the mole probably when James is 13 or 14.
From now on 8 or not I am slathering him from head to toe is sun screen!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

HUGE SALE @ Crunchy Bunch ~ Up to 50% Off!

I'm having a Moving Sale! Yep, that's right ~ crazy ole me just doesn't want to lug as much stuff as I possible can across the country... weird, right?? lol

So help me out my friends ~ you get some awesome children's organics and babywearing at DIRT CHEAP, and I don't have to carry them around! It's a Win-Win =D

Here's the details (why do they call them de-tails? they don't have tails to begin with! anyone know??)

* ALL Bamboosa products are 50% off!
* ALL SOS From Texas items are 50% off! (Organic onesies, bibs, receiving blankets, etc.)
* ALL EclipseSpa products are 35% off!
* ALL Babywearing items are 30% off! (Kozy's*, Moby's, ZoloWears and more)
* ALL Earth Mama Angel Baby & Nature's Baby Organics are 30% off!
* ALL Under the Nile organic items (clothing, bibs, blankets!) are 30% off!
* Nurtured Little One organic hooded towels and shopping cart covers are 30% off!
* ALL Under the Nile TOYS are 25% off!

and much much more, throughout the store! Just add the items you desire to your cart to see the savings! I promise you, absolutely EVERYTHING on my website is at LEAST 20% off, and you don't even have to mess with any coupon codes!

Discounts are good through May 31st, 2009.

* Just a quick note ~ I just got an email from another rockin' retail momma who would like to buy out my stock of KOZY's ~ so if you're desiring one, get it TODAY, 'cause I'm letting her have them VERY SOON!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Baby's First Year

Today is Jesse's first birthday. I can't believe it's been a year since he was born. At that time all he could do was sleep, cry, nurse, and dirty his diapers. It's amazing to me how much babies change, grow, and learn in their first year of life. Jesse has learned to smile, laugh, and "talk." Although he doesn't say them perfectly, he can say "mama," "ball," "balloon," "bite," "dog," and "woof." He learned to hold up his head, roll over, sit, creep, crawl, stand, walk, and climb up the couch. As he gained more mobility he was able to explore more of his world and explore it faster. He's gotten six teeth (and learned not to bite Mama!), grown from 8 lb, 12 oz, to 20 lb, and from 22.25 inches to 28 inches. He's learned to hold toys, get his hand to his mouth, and get a spoon to his mouth. He can play peek-a-boo and patty-cake, pat his sister, give hugs, and throw balls (and anything else he can pick up).

As Jesse's mother, I'm proud of and impressed with how much he's grown and learned in the last year. I feel blessed to have had him, so I've done my best to keep him healthy and happy. At the same time, I'm a little sad that my baby isn't as much of a baby anymore. I've enjoyed his first year (well, not the sleep deprivation), but now that it's over I'll try to enjoy the next one...and the next one...and the next one...

Here's Jesse the day he was born.

And here he is today. (Still my baby!)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Okay, Mother's Day is not until tomorrow, but happy early Mother's Day anyways! The sun is shining, a breeze is blowing, and it seems like it's going to be a beautiful week. I am so excited to share this Mother's Day with my stepmother. She is a wonderful woman who is so kind and loving to everyone she meets.

My little brother and I were discussing what we were going to do for our stepmom tomorrow. We're both feeling the economic crunch so we decided to get creative but cheap.

Wal-Mart has tote bags that come in sets of three that would be perfect for three little grandchildren to paint. The bags are around $6 for a set of three and you can buy a set of fabric paint or markers for under $10. Especially if you go to Michael's to get the paint and use the 60% off coupon that comes in the weekly mailer or the Sunday paper. These totes are the perfect size to throw in the car and use to go shopping or the the grocery store. That's three less plastic bags you would be bringing home.

We also decided to cook dinner at home for her. Several grocers are having sales on meats, seafood, and various fruits. Lobster tails are $5 a piece at one of the stores by our house so we're going fancy and cooking lobster. I don't know any restaurant that sells $5 tails. Strawberries make a great dessert and are on sale all over the place this weekend. Like Rachel suggested with the blackberries, put the berries in a bowl with some cream and you've got yourself a mighty fine dessert. Simple, elegant, and heartfelt.

Moms always seem to do everything. That's why they're superheroes, but this year, why don't you give her a coupon book for a gift? Ideas of coupons could be a coupon for doing the laundry, dishes, cooking dinner, or even a coupon for watching the kids for a few hours so mom can get some relax and recharge time. These coupons could be designed and printed at home for very inexpensive. Or better yet, just do the things with no coupons. Let mom sleep in and then wake up to clean laundry and a yummy breakfast. Again, those berries and cream would make a fantastic breakfast! (I keep going on about them because the berries are starting to be so fresh and fragrant and so delicious! Thanks Rachel for reminding me that it's berries and cream season!)

I think this Mother's Day is going to be a great one. I hope you all have a wonderful day and get lots of snuggles and loves! Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Summer Fruit

It's getting to be time for fresh summer fruit. I'm not sure what that late freeze we had will do to this year's crop. We've been picking a few blackberries (they grow wild around our house), but they don't seem to be as abundant as usual. Maybe we'll have more in the coming weeks. We usually pick peaches in June and July and blueberries in June. I'll be looking for a place to pick strawberries this year.

I remember last year Olivia saying she wanted to go pick blackberries and asking me to come with her. At that time I was 39 weeks pregnant. I grabbed a couple of big bowls and waddled outside into the heat. We ambled along the road looking for berries. Olivia would holler "There's one! Mama, get it." So I would. Then she would eat it. I soon discovered she wanted me to do the picking so she could do the eating. In case you've never picked blackberries, they grow on vines that sprawl along the ground. LOW to the ground. And there I was looking like I'd swallowed a watermelon. I couldn't even see my feet. But, of course, I picked a bunch of berries for her.

There's nothing wrong with eating while you pick, but sometimes it's nice to do something else with your fruit. I don't know how many times we've filled our bowls with blackberries, poured milk over them (sometimes with a little cream), and made supper out of it. You can also make fruit smoothies with any fruit you want. Bananas, blueberries, and strawberries are a good combination. We go to a pick-your-own blueberry farm and pick LOTS of berries. You can put them in quart-size ziploc bags and freeze them. Later just get what you want to put in your smoothie (or yogurt, cereal, muffins, scones, etc.) and return the rest to the freezer.

Below I've added a couple of my favorite recipes.

Peach-Blueberry Cobbler
2 cups pastry whole wheat flour
2 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup milk

3 cups peaches
2 cups blueberries
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch (I use arrowroot powder.)
½ teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
Topping: Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter. Beat egg with milk and add to flour mixture all at once. Mix gently, just until combined. Let it rest while you make filling.
Filling: Combine peaches and blueberries in large bowl. In small bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add sugar mixture to fruit and stir gently to combine. Turn fruit into pan and sprinkle with lemon juice. Set aside.
Turn dough onto floured surface. Pat dough into a circle about ¾ - 1 inch thick. Cut with biscuit cutter and “cobble” them together over fruit. Sprinkle top with sugar, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees until topping is browned and fruit is bubbling and thickened, about 40-45 minutes.

Variations: Substitute 5 cups other fruit (or fruit combination). We like to use blackberries.

Blueberry Streusel Muffins
1 ½ cups pastry whole wheat flour
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup milk
1 – 1 ¼ cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Streusel topping:
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center. Place egg, butter, and milk in the well. Stir until combined. Gently stir in the blueberries and lemon zest. Fill each of 12 muffin cups ¾ full with batter. Make streusel topping by combining pecans, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and lemon zest with a fork. Pour in melted butter and stir to combine. Sprinkle topping over each muffin. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until muffins are browned and firm. Serve immediately. (These are good without the streusel topping, too.)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Importance of the In-Arms Phase by Jean Liedloff

The Importance of the In-Arms Phase

by Jean Leidloff

In the two and a half years during which I lived among Stone Age Indians in the South American jungle (not all at once, but on five separate expeditions with a lot of time between them for reflection), I came to see that our human nature is not what we have been brought up to believe it is. Babies of the Yequana tribe, far from needing peace and quiet to go to sleep, snoozed blissfully whenever they were tired, while the men, women, or children carrying them danced, ran, walked, shouted, or paddled canoes. Toddlers played together without fighting or arguing, and they obeyed their elders instantly and willingly.

The notion of punishing a child had apparently never occurred to these people, nor did their behavior show anything that could truly be called permissiveness. No child would have dreamed of inconveniencing, interrupting, or being waited on by an adult. And by the age of four, children were contributing more to the work force in their family than they were costing others.

Babes in arms almost never cried and, fascinatingly, did not wave their arms, kick, arch their backs, or flex their hands and feet. They sat quietly in their slings or slept on someone’s hip - exploding the myth that babies need to flex to “exercise.” They also did not throw up unless extremely ill and did not suffer from colic. When startled during the first months of crawling and walking, they did not expect anyone to go to them but rather went on their own to their mother or other caretakers for the measure of reassurance needed before resuming their explorations. Without supervision, even the smallest tots rarely hurt themselves.

Is their “human nature” different from ours? Some people actually imagine that it is, but there is, of course, only one human species. What can we learn from the Yequana tribe?

Our Innate Expectations

Primarily, we can try to grasp fully the formative power of what I call the in-arms phase. It begins at birth and ends with the commencement of creeping, when the infant can depart and return at will to the caretaker’s knee. It consists, simply, of the infant having 24-hour contact with an adult or older child.

At first, I merely observed that this in-arms experience had an impressively salutary effect on the babies and that they were no “trouble” to manage. Their bodies were soft and conformed to any position convenient to their bearers - some of whom even dangled their babies down their backs while holding them by the wrist. I do not mean to recommend this position, but the fact that it is possible demonstrates the scope of what constitutes comfort for a baby. In contrast to this is the desperate discomfort of infants laid carefully in a crib or carriage, tenderly tucked in, and left to go rigid with the desire for the living body that is by nature their rightful place - a body belonging to someone who will “believe” their cries and relieve their craving with welcoming arms.

Why the incompetence in our society? From childhood on, we are taught not to believe in our instinctive knowledge. We are told that parents and teachers know best and that when our feelings do not concur with their ideas, we must be wrong. Conditioned to mistrust or utterly disbelieve our feelings, we are easily convinced not to believe the baby whose cries say “You should hold me!” “I should be next to your body!” “Don’t leave me!” Instead, we overrule our natural response and follow the going fashion dictated by babycare “experts.” The loss of faith in our innate expertise leaves us turning from one book to another as each successive fad fails.

It is important to understand who the real experts are. The second greatest babycare expert is within us, just as surely as it resides in every surviving species that, by definition, must know how to care for its young. The greatest expert of all is, of course, the baby - programmed by millions of years of evolution to signal his or her own kind by sound and action when care is incorrect. Evolution is a refining process that has honed our innate behavior with magnificent precision. The signal from the baby, the understanding of the signal by his or her people, the impulse to obey it - all are part of our species’ character.

The presumptuous intellect has shown itself to be ill-equipped to guess at the authentic requirements of human babies. The question is often: Should I pick up the baby when he or she cries? Or should I first let the baby cry for a while? Or should I let the baby cry so that this child know who is boss and will not become a “tyrant”?

No baby would agree to any of these impositions. Unanimously, they let us know by the clearest signals that they should not be put down at all. As this option has not been widely advocated in contemporary Western civilization, the relationship between parent and child has remained steadfastly adversarial. The game has been about how to get the baby to sleep in the crib, whether or not to oppose the baby’s cries has not been considered. Although Tine Thevenin’s book, The Family Bed, and others have gone some way to open the subject up of having children sleep with parents, the important principle has not been clearly addressed: to act against our nature as a species is inevitably to lose well-being.

Once we have grasped and accepted the principle of respecting our innate expectations, we will be able to discover precisely what those expectations are - in other words, what evolution has accustomed us to experience.

The Formative Role of the In-Arms Phase

How did I come to see the in-arms phase as crucial to a person’s development? First, I saw the relaxed and happy people in the forests of South America lugging around their babies and never putting them down. Little by little, I was able to see a connection between that simple fact and the quality of their lives. Later still, I have come to certain conclusions about how and why being in constant contact with the active caretaker is essential to the initial postnatal stage of development.

For one thing, it appears that the person carrying the baby (usually the mother in the first months, then often a four- to 12-year-old child who brings the baby back to the mother for feeding) is laying the foundation for later experience. The baby passively participates in the bearers running, walking, laughing, talking, working, and playing. The particular activities, the pace, the inflections of the language, the variety of sights, night and day, the range of temperatures, wetness and dryness, and the sounds of community life form a basis for the active participation that will begin at six or eight months of age with creeping, crawling, and then walking. A baby who has spent this time lying in a quiet crib or looking at the inside of a carriage, or at the sky, will have missed most of this essential experience.

Because of the child’s need to participate, it is also important that caretakers not just sit and gaze at the baby or continually ask what the baby wants, but lead active lives themselves. Occasionally one cannot resist giving a baby a flurry of kisses; however, a baby who is programmed to watch you living your busy life is confused and frustrated when you spend your time watching him living his. A baby who is in the business of absorbing what life is like as lived by you is thrown into confusion if you ask him to direct it.

The second essential function of the in-arms experience appears to have escaped the notice of everyone (including me, until the mid-1960s). It is to provide babies with a means of discharging their excess energy until they are able to do so themselves. In the months before being able to get around under their own power, babies accumulate energy from the absorption of food and sunshine. A baby therefore needs constant contact with the energy field of an active person, who can discharge the unused excess for each of them. This explains why the Yequana babies were so strangely relaxed - why they did not stiffen, kick, arch, or flex to relieve themselves of an uncomfortable accumulation of energy.

To provide the optimum in-arms experience, we have to discharge our own energy efficiently. One can very quickly calm a fussing baby by running or jumping with the child, or by dancing or doing whatever eliminates one’s own energy excess. A mother or father who must suddenly go out to get something need not say, “Here, you hold the baby. I’m going to run down to the shop.” The one doing the running can take the baby along for the ride. The more action, the better!

Babies - and adults - experience tension when the circulation of energy in their muscles is impeded. A baby seething with undischarged energy is asking for action: a leaping gallop around the living room or a swing from the child’s hands or feet. The baby’s energy field will immediately take advantage of an adult’s discharging one. Babies are not the fragile things we have been handling with kid gloves. In fact, a baby treated as fragile at this formative stage can be persuaded that he or she is fragile.

As parents, you can readily attain the mastery that comes with comprehension of energy flow. In the process you will discover many ways to help your baby retain the soft muscle tone of ancestral well-being and give your baby some of the calm and comfort an infant needs to feel at home in the world.

Copyright ©1991 by Jean Liedloff