I'm not the most crunchy, but I'm still au naturale

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: What Is Natural Parenting?

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by 
Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our Carnival coincides with the launch of
Natural Parents Network,  a community of parents and parents-to-be who practice or are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living. Join us at Natural Parents Network to be informed, empowered, and inspired!

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I drive an SUV, I used disposable diapers, I bought baby food, and I occasionally use over-the-counter medicines; I serve frozen dinners and cheesy poofs for dinner; I vaccinated Hawk; I plan on sending him to public school.

These are all tenets that typically go against the "natural parent philosophy," but I'm here to tell you I'm still, most definitely and positively, a natural parent.

I choose to define myself by guidelines that fit my life and my lifestyle, my presiding beliefs, and because I do this I am confident and sure in my strides as a parent.  And, despite my implementation of some less-than-crunchy things, my life is mostly bent toward ecological mindedness, a healthy population, healthy bodies, and sharp minds.

I guess what I'm saying is, embrace the natural parts of your philosophy and identify with the greater natural parenting community for support, companionship, inspiration, and guidance.  And also because they rock.

For me, being gentle, respectful, and mindful are in the forefront of my mind throughout my daily parenting practice.  I'm always asking myself if I'm requesting developmentally appropriate things of Hawk, and how do his reactions to my requests fit in to my expectations of our relationship.  I don't hit, I don't shame; I don't ask his permission or treat him like an equal, either.  I am the boss, but it's a give and take relationship.  If it takes an extra hour of talking, attention, and hugs to get him to sleep at night, that's ok with me.

I wish that my way (a more "natural way") didn't seem so alternative to the mainstream. Yes, I have to dig deep into my emotional reserves on some days (we all do regardless of our approach), but the reward is worth every surge, every struggle, every strain.  What parents get when they have firm boundaries, flexible and appropriate expectations, and an eye for humor and opportunity far outweighs the effort it takes to make it all happen: you get a really happy, well-adjusted, interesting kid who never knows pain at your hand or your words.

So many parents look to a community like ours and think we're weird, "hippies" (as if that's such a bad thing), or think of ourselves as perfect because we choose the more laborious routes in most cases.  We're none of those things (though, certainly, they are among our ranks - bad apples and all that).  We're mostly parents who couldn't imagine doing it any other way after our babies were placed in our arms or on our breasts, or for some of us, the moment we got the pink plus sign on the pregnancy stick.  

How could we possibly cut our baby boys' penises?  How could we possibly sleep more than arm's reach from our infant?  How could we give them processed foods we ourselves couldn't pronounce?  How could we strike our child in anger?  How? 

I don't feel better than any other single mother out there -- not even the mother who makes directly opposite choices from mine -- I am just me and it feels natural.  And I support any father or mother who follows his or her gut, too.

Therefore, I am a natural parent.

And that also means, if you are doing what comes natural to you in whatever combination you choose, you are a natural parent, too.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaStop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone's posts,Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! and please visit a few to read more! Visit
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Three of the participants below will instead be featured on Natural Parents Network throughout the month, so check back at NPN!
This list will be updated by afternoon November 9 with all the carnival links. We've arranged it this month according to the categories of our NPN resource pages on "What Is Natural Parenting?"

Attachment/Responsive Parenting

Attachment/responsive parenting is generally considered to include the following (descriptions/lists are not exhaustive; please follow each link to learn more):
    • "Attachment Parenting Chose Us" — For a child who is born "sensitive," attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting "choice." Dionna at Code Name: Mama@CodeNameMama) shares her experiences. (
    • "Parenting in the Present" — Acacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.
    • "Parenting With Heart" — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.
    • "Sometimes I Wish We Coslept" — Sheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30.@agiftuniverse) (
    • "Unconditional Parenting" — The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)

Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature

Holistic Health Practices

  • "Supporting Natural Immunity" — If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children's immune systems naturally.

Natural Learning

  • "Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting" — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog@myzerowaste) values accepting and responding to her daughter's needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter's learning "challenges." (
  • "Let Them Look" — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.
  • "Why I Love Unschooling" — Unschooling isn't just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way — it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)
  • "Is He Already Behind?"Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at born.in.japan will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning — naturally — every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)
  • "How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning" — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child's natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)

Healthy Living

Parenting Philosophies

Political and Social Activism


  1. that's a nice (and very inclusive) way of looking at it. as usual, you somehow cut right to the heart of things.

  2. Thank you for sharing that! I agree that anyone who does what comes naturally to them is a natural parent - whatever that may mean.

  3. Your post is exactly what we meant when we said that we wanted NPN to support parents who "take what work for them and leave the rest." NP isn't some formula that we all have to follow to the letter, and if we don't we're NP failures. We love you - baby food and all ;)

  4. Wonderful! Thank you :) beautifully written and I love your methods of gentle parenting. I especially loved "If it takes an extra hour of talking, attention, and hugs to get him to sleep at night, that's ok with me."

    Not shaming or punishing our kids is so important and letting them feel validated and heard is one of the greatest gifts we can offer.

    You've reminded me too that I could be much more tolerant; that is what shines though in your words - your tolerance. I have a lot to learn - thank you so much...

  5. Lovely and witty. Thanks for writing about this!

    "I wish that my way (a more "natural way") didn't seem so alternative to the mainstream. Yes, I have to dig deep into my emotional reserves on some days (we all do regardless of our approach), but the reward is worth every surge, every struggle, every strain."

    That's exactly how I feel, too. I truly hope that one day the "natural" way of parenting will become the "normal" way. The difference is not about who we are as people, but who we are as parents. And really, using respect to parent our children isn't all that radical of an idea now is it?

  6. Thanks for this. I don't understand the whole "hippie" & "weird" thing either, and I agree that whatever feels natural to someone, is natural parenting.

    There seems to be a perception out there that "natural parenting" proponents, practitioners, whatever, judge all other parents and think that their way is the only way. As you so aptly put it, "...they are among our ranks - bad apples and all", and they exist in every aspect of our society also.

  7. I feel like I get such good nuggets of wisdom when I come over here. Things that certainly will come in handy once I have my boy.

  8. Yes! GREAT post! I always, always, always tell whoever asks me about this that being an attached parent, natural parent, etc, does not mean that you are perfect or that you have to fit into some specific mold. Everyone finds the mold that works for them. What does remain constant is that there is nurturing, respect, love and understanding within the family, that`s all that matters.

  9. Go, you!

    I don't believe that "Natural Parenting" is a checklist to follow. It's about figuring out what works for you, even if it's not the same thing that everyone else is doing. At least, that's how I reconcile my own public schooling, vaccinating, nanny-hiring ways. ;)

  10. yes...and yes to amber. as the months have rolled by with Z i've become much more comfortable with talking to the playground mamas about anything and everything. i'm totally comfortable with my mostly intuitive decisions, but i have no need to convince you of anything.

  11. Ah, great post! You have a great way with words. I totally agree that the stereotypes and assumptions people make about natural parenting are not true -- you don't have to be all or nothing. You take what works and go with your gut. Thank you!

  12. What a lovely post! There are plenty of things I do that aren't kosher with the natural crowd — except that there is no one consensus of what's acceptable or not within natural parenting. I love how what you've boiled it down to is doing what actually … feels … natural. So simple, so accurate.

  13. If I can just treasure my life at 50% of the capacity that you do, I'll consider myself a success. You are amazing...and so REAL. Thank you for sharing the real version of you. Those of us who live similar lives really treasure the honesty.

  14. Lovely post. I really appreciate it when mamas who may not look like the full on crunchy AP stereotype speak about some true values of natural parenting. Perhaps to someone who doesn't practice natural parenting, you don't seem condescending or superior. You seem down to earth and approachable. You are a perfect liaison to the community of not-so natural parenting.