When we became parents for the first time, 5 years ago at the age of 24, I had no clue what "natural parenting" was. I used disposable diapers, fed my baby formula (breastfeeding failed), hugged him all the time, bought organic milk when he started on whole milk, etc. We did what worked for us and what we could afford. My husband started college a week after baby was born, so money and family time were tight.
This time around, we are older (29 & 30), and in a better place financially and emotionally. We are making conscious decisions to help our children thrive. I didn't even realize we were "natural parenting" because we are just doing what comes naturally to us and makes sense as parents, until I was in on a Facebook chat a couple weeks ago. Here's what we do that makes us "natural parents", sort of.
When I was pregnant my friend, Marie-Etta, (She's a super sweet gal with an adorable little boy), sparked my interest in using cloth diapers. All it took was a conversation one evening and I was hooked. She made me realize how easy it could be and that I could handle it. By the next week I had purchased my first cloth diapers! Why did I choose cloth? Well, why wouldn't you chose cloth?!? It just makes sense. It saves the environment, saves money, and is gentle on baby's bottom. Plus, cloth covered baby booty is adorable :) We only use cloth diapers in the evening and on weekends when I'm not working since my babysitter isn't comfortable with cloth, but hey, any amount of cloth we use means less disposables in the landfill!
Marie-Etta also got me hooked on the Ergobaby baby carrier....Can I just say that I love babywearing! I love to carry my kiddos around, so being able to do so in a comfortable, ergonomically friendly carrier, is a big help with this! It brings the baby close to me so I can attend to his needs while still giving his brother attention and meeting the needs of our family (cooking, cleaning, etc.).
We feed our boys wholesome foods as much as possible. Additionally, I breastfeed Jonathan. I tried so hard to breastfeed Carson, but it just didn't work for us. This time around, I'm much more successful. I'm breastfeeding him, with the encouragement and support of my husband. While Jonathan isn't exclusively breastfed, he is primarily breastfed and only gets around 3 bottles of formula a day while I'm at work. Even when we give him a bottle, we are talking to him, loving him. When he switches to solids, I will be making a lot of his baby food. As a family we try to eat fresh foods. It doesn't always work out that way, but most of the time at least our fruits and vegetables are fresh. We don't eat a lot of "junk" or candy. I plan to keep it this way with Jonathan, just as it is with his big brother.
We co-sleep (Gasp!) with our baby. I know that there are people who say this is a big "no-no". We do it responsibly, and we did with Carson too. Carson was in our bed until he was almost 4....yeah it was a long 4 years! Now, he has to have daddy lay with him every night to fall asleep in his own bed. Jonathan has a little co-sleeper that is structured, so he can't be rolled onto. He sleeps in between us at least half the night. We don't have a strict bed time for him and he doesn't cry it out. We hold him until he goes to sleep.
While we aren't over the top "natural parents", we are responsibly and consciously raising our boys. We may not do all the things that natural or attachment parenting includes, but we do what works for us. What was natural and sensible to the health, well-being, and happiness of our children.