February Carnival of Natural Parenting

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Essentials

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials that they could not live without. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I cannot imagine parenting without my instincts.

It seems that everywhere we look, there is someone aligning a particular parenting practice or belief with a label.  Are you a breastfeeder?  Bottle feeder?  Working mom?  Stay at home mom?  Attachment parent?  A Babywiser?  The labels go on and on.  Each label can lead to assumptions about other parenting beliefs and practices that “go with” a particular decision.

Those labels and assumptions don’t work for me.  I have three children, and I have made different decisions with each child based on each of my sons’ individual needs.  Throughout our parenting journey, my husband and I have maintained our belief in responding to each child’s needs with sensitivity and allowing each child to be respected and maintain dignity especially in their more difficult moments.  However, each of our sons has had a different personality and different needs.  Breastfeeding, cosleeping, and nurturing touch have looked different with each child.

The beauty of natural parenting is that while it encompasses a variety of topics and philosophies, it isn’t a list of dos and don’ts.  In fact, instead of telling parents how to raise their children, natural parenting holds the philosophy that each parent knows his/her child best and is the expert on that child.

Being a new parent can be hard.  Reading all the parenting books, magazines, blogs, articles, and columns doesn’t always make life easier.  In fact, for some people (like me), it can make parenting even harder.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I read both Babywise and the Baby Whisperer on the recommendations of friends.  As I was reading them, I thought they sounded like good, manageable plans.  I was worried about knowing what to do when my son was born, and both of these books gave me a (seemingly) easy to follow and (seemingly) practical plan for parenting.  Great, right?  Well, apparently not for me.  As soon as my son was born, the plans began to fall apart.  We dealt with pre-term birth, jaundice, and a sleepy baby who had trouble latching.  Almost as soon, I realized that those books weren’t going to work for me.  For quite a while (and even once in a while now), I still struggle with the feeling that I’m not following “the plan.”  I know it’s silly, and I know that it didn’t work for us then, and it wouldn’t work now.  Once in a while, though, I still feel a twinge of doubt about my decisions.

Then, I remember what I’ve heard again and again from others who also choose natural parenting.  “Follow your instincts.”  “You know your child/children best.”  “Your body was meant to birth and breastfeed.  Trust your body.  Trust your baby.”  Over and over, I have been reaffirmed by the natural parenting community in my ability to parent my children.  Natural parenting and its emphasis has supported me where techniques and plans did not, and it was through natural parenting that I learned that my instincts are good.  I need to trust them in order to parent.  Without them, I would be lost!

This doesn’t mean that I’m perfect, that I always make the right decision, or that I don’t need any other help.  When those times arise it’s essential to have friends, family, blogs, and resources to consult, but in the end it comes back to my instincts.  Having experienced the benefits of using my instincts to parent my child has been invaluable to me, and I know that as my children grow and we encounter new experiences, challenges, and trials I’ll be calling on them again and again.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Not Without Him — The love Starr at Taking Time shares with her husband is the foundation of her parenting.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without B(.)(.)bs — From an uneducated dreamer to a breastfeeding mother of a toddler, nursing has forever changed Kristy at Strings to Things’s relationship with her daughter and her outlook on life.
  • Raising a Child in the Internet Village — When Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has a question or concern about parenting, she turns to the Internet. What did parents do before Google?
  • Partner in Crime and ParentingBethy at Bounce Me to the Moon can’t imagine parenting without her husband’s sense of humor – he brings her laughter and love every day.)
  • I Make MilkPatti at Jazzy Mama can’t imagine trying to mother her babies without her breasts, but she could do it if she had to.
  • New Perspectives Bring New BeginningsMJ at Wander Wonder Discover, who is a former authoritarian mamma, has gained perspective via parenting.
  • Time Out!Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog explores how time apart can increase your capacity to give unconditionally.
  • Unimaginable Without HimKristina at heyred designs is celebrating her amazing partner, without whom none of her parenting experience would be possible.
  • My Parenting NecessityClaire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl needs “me time” in order to be the Mama she wants to be.
  • Babywearing As a Way of LifeDarcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the benefits of babywearing in everyday life.
  • Parenting Partnership — Sometimes Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter doesn’t appreciate her husband enough, but she definitely couldn’t imagine parenting without his help.
  • Parenting EssentialsMomma Jorje loves her parenting products, but she needs you even more.
  • My Parenting Must-Have: SupportJoella at Fine and Fair wrote a letter to her daughter about the role that support from friends and family plays in her mothering.
  • It’s More Than Just Hair — Think doing hair is full of fluff? Too girly? Useless? Karli from Curly Hairdo Ideas used to think so too.
  • The Minimalist Parent — The parents at Living Peacefully with Children embrace a minimalist perspective when it comes to baby gear. A good sling is all they need.
  • Without My BreastsCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama can’t imagine parenting without her breasts; here’s why.
  • Loves Books, Loves PeopleSeonaid at the Practical Dilettante discovers that the library is a perfect fit for her family’s needs.
  • An Ode to the Maya WrapRevMama’s next child might be named Maya, because of her fondness for the sling.
  • Avoiding the Padded RoomPecky at Benny and Bex is here to testify that it takes a village to raise a child.
  • My parenting essentials, from Tivo to battery-operated monstrositiesLauren at Hobo Mama presents a list of parenting essentials you didn’t even know you needed (and probably don’t…).
  • Attachment Parenting Through Separation: It Makes It a Little BetterJessica at This Is Worthwhile talks about how she couldn’t survive her separation without attachment parenting and the bond it’s afforded her with her 3 year old son.
  • Parenting EssentialsDeb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the principles she used to parent her children from infants to adults.
  • My Parenting Essentials — The things that are truly essential to Kim at In Desperate Need of Entertainment aren’t things at all.
  • I’m No One Without My Sling — How baby carrying is essential to the parenting of Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without…Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about what she needs to raise her children.
  • February Carnival of Natural Parenting — Through her experiences over the last five and a half years, Casey at Love What Is has discovered her most important tool for parenting is using her instincts.
  • CNP: I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without __________.The Artsymama discloses the one thing that gave her back control of herself as a parent.
  • Laugh Until I Cry — Laughing with her sons keeps Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes connected and grounded.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting WithoutLuschka at Diary of a First Child realizes what the one thing she can’t imagine parenting without is, and it turns out it’s not a thing after all.
  • It Takes Two — Here are a few of the reasons why Jenn at Adventures Down Under cannot imagine parenting without her fabulous husband.
  • Stopping to Listen — Though it wasn’t easy at first, Knocked Up – Knocked Over cannot imagine parenting her daughter without listening first to what she is telling her.
  • The Essence of Parenting — There are many wonderful resources that make life easier for Michelle at the Parent Vortex to parent, but the essence is the relationship between parent and child.
  • What I Cannot Live WithoutSybil at Musings of a Milk Maker considers her computer to be a parenting lifeline.
  • True Blessings: White Noise and GrandparentsKat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment can’t live without her white noise machine and the support of her parents.
  • The Necessities! — What “stuff” does a natural parent like Lily, aka Witch Mom really need? Not much, it turns out.
  • Mama Showed MeMama Mo at Attached at the Nip writes about how parenting wisdom is passed on by example.
  • Ode to the Loo — For Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch, the bathroom is her safe place, where she can take a minute to calm down if she is feeling touched out.
  • Go, Mama. Go!Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has been able to integrate her many roles through her get-up-and-go parenting essential, exercise!
  • My Other HalfBecky at Old New Legacy realizes what a relief it is to have her husband parent alongside her.
  • Grace, Love, and CoffeeMrsH at Fleeting Moments realizes that lifelines can take the form of the profound, or the mundane. Both are ok.
  • Supportive Spouse, Check! — There are so many parenting tools and gadgets that are superfluous, but the one essential, for Danielle at born.in.japan, has been her supportive spouse.
  • Why I’m a BabywearerMeredith at Becoming Mamas reflects on the ways babywearing has enhanced her mama baby relationship…and made life easier to boot.
  • It’s Marvelous Out Here, Kiddo!Rachael at The Variegated Life can’t imagine parenting in the big city without the marvels of Prospect Park to share with her Critter.
  • Yes, Thank YouAmy at Anktangle offers tips on how to ask for and accept help, an essential for successful parenting.
  • Parenting Essentials Checklist: Mom’s Inner Rebel and Her Kids’ VoicesOlivia at Write About Birth reflects on raising global citizens and saying no to societal norms.
  • Eco-Mama Online! — An Eco-Mama living in the mountains of a nature island, Terri at Child of the Nature Isle finds it essential to connect to nature and to connect online.
  • Sorry, We Just Sold the Last OneNev at The Adventures of Lime confesses she missed out the day they handed out patience.
  • LaughTashmica at The Mother Flippin’ Blog reveals her super power, her talisman agains mean mommy.
  • My Priceless Parenting Resource — What do books, a magazine community, my mother and the local playgroup have in common? Lucy at Dreaming Aloud tells us…
  • The Gift of Shared TimeTree at Mom Grooves strives to experience the world from her daughter’s perspective.
  • Follow the GigglesDionna at Code Name: Mama can’t live without the sound of her child’s giggles – come watch her video and you’ll agree!
  • Can I Mommy Without Boob?Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama shares her fears about weaning and losing part of that the mother/child bond.


  1. Lovely post! Instincts have really been essential to me as a parent as well. And I find that I grow stronger in my confidence as a parent the more I trust them and the less I think I need an outside expert to tell me what to do.

  2. That is terrific that you had such amazing instincts. Things were different for me. It took me awhile to separate the difference between intuition and instinct. After starting out as an authoritarian parent, my intuition had been warning me that my instincts were all wrong. I am happy to say I am rewriting my instincts now :).

  3. I so agree with you! I read Baby Whisperer when I was pg with Kieran, and it sounded so nice and neat. Then reality hit 😉 No one can understand that “mama instinct” until they have that baby there. Unfortunately, so many parenting books take away that instinct. Baby crying? Ignore it = ignoring your instincts. Why would that ever be desirable?!

  4. Wonderful post! I couldn’t agree more; I wish every new parent (and old!) would listen to and trust themselves 🙂

  5. Oh, this is wonderful.

    I also have three kids, and I have found that I need to flow with what comes. They are all different, not only with sleeping, eating, and how they learn, but what they are good at, what they enjoy, and what they need. I have to learn with each child, because although the principles might hold up, the details change. Sometimes daily. 🙂

  6. I completely agree with you. I saw myself in your words. I dealt with a lot of what you went through with your first with Little Man. Nothing “fit” us either so we just went with the flow and found happiness finally when we stopped listening to everyone else and started listening to each other. Great post!

  7. I had those same books recommended to me while pregnant, but just reading excerpts online, my instincts kicked in and said no way! I think trusting your instincts and treating each child as an individual is key – afterall, we would all balk if there was a book entitled, “How to be a good 30 year old” that detailed a rigid sleep schedule or worse, outlined the one way you would be allowed to interact with others, with complete disregard for your thoughts and feelings!!

  8. What a great post that reminds us there is no one answer, no one philosophy, no one truth, but that we are all individuals and as such our instincts will never fail us. I loved your line “The beauty of natural parenting is that while it encompasses a variety of topics and philosophies, it isn’t a list of dos and don’ts. ”
    Thank you!


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Casey, Lauren Wayne. Lauren Wayne said: Her plans for #parenting her kids feel through, but @CBerbs fell back on her instincts. #CarNatPar http://ht.ly/3SeF3 […]

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