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Elimination Communication

This is also referred to as Infant Potty Training, Natural Infant Hygiene or Nappyless Babies.  The basis of this gentle practice is the appreciation that infants do indeed have an awareness of the need to wee and poo.  Parents respond to their babies cues or their timing and usually make a cueing sound as they do.  Over time the baby will begin to recognise this cueing sound and will actually toilet when prompted to.
Obviously this has benefits of not allowing your baby to sit in a wet or soiled nappy - but also will strengthen the bonding process through communication and of course, will aid the environment by reducing (or eliminating!) disposable nappies and reducing the amount of washing of cloth nappies.  Studies have estimated that the average child will go through almost 6,000 disposable nappies in their potty training lifetime, and that could cost over £1,000.  
There are 2 very helpful books which you will find links to on the Book Recommendations page.
But I can't recommend enough the ecuk forum (link below).  There are wonderful, kind, friendly and helpful people on the site who will give you all the help and guidance you need, as well as ensuring you don't feel alone if you don't know anyone else trying this out.

Elimination Communication Discussion Forum - full of wonderfully caring and helpful mothers

Check out a great range of washable nappies from this site run by some lovely Mummies
www.motherschoicenappies.co.uk

Baby Wearing

Baby Wearing is the art of carrying your baby with you in a sling.  It has been practised around the world for centuries. 

The many benefits of baby wearing include:

  • Mothers' progesterone (mothering hormone) is increased through physical contact with the infant, leading to a more intimate maternal bond, thus lowering the incidence of postpartum depression and psychosomatic illness
  • Infants who are carried are calmer because all of their primal/survival needs are met. The caregiver can be seen, heard, smelled, touched, tasted as well as provide the motion necessary for continuing neural development, gastrointestinal and respiratory health and to establish balance (inner ear development) and muscle tone is constant.
  • Infants are more organised. Parental rhythms (walking, heartbeat, etc.) have balancing and soothing effects on infants.
  • Infants are "humanised" earlier by developing socially. Babies are closer to people and can study facial expressions, language & be familar with body language.
  • Independence is established earlier.
  • Decreases risk of positional plagiocephaly ("flat head syndrome") caused by extended time spent in a car seat and by sleeping on the back. Sleeping on the back is recommended by some to decrease the risk of SIDS. However, cranial distortion resulting from non-vehicular time in car seats has shown to be more severe than that from back-lying on a mattress. Concern over plagiocephaly has also led the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend that infants “should spend minimal time in car seats (when not a passenger in a vehicle) or other seating that maintains supine positioning. None of the babywearing positions require infants to lie supine while being carried. Infants can even be worn while they sleep, also decreasing sleeping time spent in a supine position.

They also allow the carer to have both hands free allowing them to, for example, do the laundry without putting the baby on the floor or in bed, or do the shopping without having the baby in a car seat.

Also they can aid bonding with additional carers (fathers, grandparents) and with mothers who formula feed.


Baby Led Weaning
The accepted norm in this country is that young babies are unable to handle food that isn't pureed (even up to 12months) and that they are definitely unable to decide what they'd like to eat.  Baby Led Weaning does not make these assumptions and instead assumes that babies know they are hungry as much as they know they are cold or unwell.  But it also goes further and assumes they can decide what they would like that day - some even say what they need.
A phrase to bear in mind, which helped me is that Baby Knows Best; and also (in stark contrast to my Health Visitors advice) the mantra of "Food is for fun until they're one".  If you are breastfeeding, your child will be getting all the protein, fat, calcium and vitamins they need from that - provided that YOU are eating well too!  You must look after yourself. 
As the name suggests, you let your baby lead you.  If your baby cannot sit up on their own, or if they can't hold a piece of food and bring it to their mouth, then they're not ready for solids.  If you think in terms of nature, I think this makes perfect sense.  If your child is showing great interest in what you are eating, then let them try it: so long as its not something that could be potentially harmful.  Things to avoid would be anything of a size they could choke on (eg. whole grapes, nuts, seeds; eggs for a very young child; shellfish; anything very spicy).  I'd also avoid anything sugary.  The best things to start with are plain vegetables or cheese.
I firmly believe that if your child is used to all kinds of food from an early age, food that isnt pureed so it all looks the same, food that has its own flavour and texture, varied and interesting, then you will not have a child who is fussy about food.
Below are some great links for information:
Co-sleeping:
In other parts of the world, co-sleeping is the norm.  One study found that in India, 93% of children co-slept.  In this country though, its a whole different picture - and its quite a contentious issue. 
There have been plenty of studies on both sides of the argument.  The advantages are:
Better sleep for both
Reduced risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
Better bonding
Facilitating breastfeeding
They also cite research that suggests co-sleeping regulates a baby's breathing, body temperature and even heart rate (due to feeling safe and secure).  In long-term follow-up studies of infants who slept with their parents and those who slept alone, the children who co-slept were happier, less anxious, had higher self-esteem, were less likely to be afraid of sleep, had fewer behavioral problems, tended to be more comfortable with intimacy, and were generally more independent as adults.  Interestingly, they also found different results if co-sleeping was initiated only after nighttime awakenings.
Another study investigated the relationship between sleep arrangements and claims regarding possible problems and benefits related to co-sleeping. Data were collected through parent questionnaires. Early co-sleepers (who began co-sleeping in infancy), reactive co-sleepers (children who began co-sleeping at or after age one), and solitary sleepers were compared on the dimensions of maternal attitudes toward sleep arrangements; night wakings and bedtime struggles; children's self-reliance and independence in social and sleep-related behaviours; and maternal autonomy support. The hypothesis that co-sleeping would interfere with children's independence was partially supported: solitary sleepers fell asleep alone, slept through the night, and weaned earlier than the co-sleepers. However, and more importantly, early co-sleeping children were more self-reliant (e.g. ability to dress oneself) and exhibited more social independence (e.g. make friends by oneself).  Reactive co-sleepers emerged as a distinct co-sleeping sub-type, with parents reporting frequent night wakings and, contrary to early co-sleepers, experiencing these night wakings as highly disruptive.
The arguments against centre on an increased risk of SIDS; strange as this may seem.  They also cite that children will become unhealthily dependent on the parent, especially for sleep. 
It is not contested that co-sleeping is dangerous if the co-sleeping parent(s) smoke, have drunk alcohol that night or taken any drugs (prescription or non-prescription) that can affect alertness or prompt drowsiness or deeper sleep, and if the family bed is anything other than a standard (not water) firm mattress.
Therefore its important to be well informed before making a decision on whether you will co-sleep.  Below are some good links for information.
UNICEF have a "Baby Friendly" initiative that produce this helpful fact sheet:
I love this site - for all sorts

To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate?
This was a big question for me personally and there is a lot of information out there to search and its very difficult to get a balanced view.  There seems to only be evangelical views on either side.  The resources I found most useful were:
www.arnica.org.uk
The Yahoo Group:  http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/arnicaparents/
And 2 books written by Medical Doctors (see
Book recommendations).