Is Natural Parenting All or Nothing?


baby momDuring both of my boys' babyhoods, I breastfed and co-slept with and wore my babies. But I also introduced solid food at five months, had them sleep whenever they would in a bassinet, and used a stroller for longer distances or outings. Of course, I made all my baby food, had them sleep in our room for a good long while, and made sure they wore 100% cotton. Then again, I also got epidurals during both inductions, used disposable diapers, and hated every mommy-n-me group I tried.

See what I just did there? That's my imaginary mommy scorecard.

When I look back at the years I was parenting babies, I wish I wouldn't have spent so much time trying to keep score of what I was doing right or wrong and just relaxed a little.

My boys were both happy, healthy, thriving babies, and that alone should have been enough proof that I was doing a good job. But of course, I was keeping some imaginary scorecard. Several of my friends had introduced me to attachment parenting and Dr. Sears, and I loved and naturally leaned toward a lot of his and his wife's thoughts on parenting; however, some of it just didn't fit into my life.

I was never going to be AP "enough." I think, at the time, my scorecard reflected lost points for that.

To yet another group of friends, extended breastfeeding was less highly regarded, and there wasn't much support. In their company, I felt like a hippie weirdo. I gave myself a few extra points on my scorecard for bucking the system and doing it anyway.

But then it came time to put my kids in daycare so I could return to work. Minus, minus, minus and guilt, guilt, guilt. And yet, at the same time, I enjoyed working, we counted on my income, and the boys both adapted well to childcare. So why all the minuses?

I'm not sure what it is about motherhood that has caused me to put more weight on an imaginary scorecard than on the reality before my own eyes. I mean, if I'm happy and healthy and baby is happy and healthy, shouldn't that be good enough? Shouldn't that be, in fact, perfect? There is no reason a mom has to fit into any one mold of parenting, especially if you're forcing yourself or your baby into a mold that just doesn't fit.

For all of you new moms out there, you don't have to be any one kind of mother. You just have to be your child's mother and true to yourself, whatever that looks like. Don't let anyone tell you differently. Look at your baby. Is he happy and healthy as a general rule? Now look in the mirror. Are you happy and healthy as a general rule? Then you're doing a perfect job. Keep it up!

What do you think? Does natural parenting have to be all or nothing?


Image via Sheri Reed

natural parenting, baby sleep, babywearing, back-to-work, breastfeeding


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I don't think it has to be all or nothing,  no.  Honestly,  even the "crunchiest" moms I know are not ALL in.  And that is fine.  Everyone needs to do what is best for them and their family.

imlena imlena

Judging from some responses I've seen on various blogs I would say that there is a die hard movement that believe all or nothing and this "fringe" group (I don't think of them as the norm because the majority are probably do some or most things but not everything) I do think the fringe tend to be sanctimonius and unfortunately give Natural Parenting a bad name...the scoffing, while I find amusing since their insecure and low self esteems shine in their posts...for the person that is struggling with breastfeeding or can't carry infants 24/7 because of medical problems then I would imagine the posts would cause distress. I think die hard anything is dangerous and quite frankly damaging to character...sometimes it's ok to have those homegrown organic carrots with a chicken the end of the day I'm willing to bet everything with that child will turn out fine.

Jessica O'Connor Lang

I love, love, love this post! You're absolutely right about keeping score. I have a natural & green parenting website and sometimes when I'm doing research I think to myself crazy things like, "am i not green enough....should i be using toilet paper and paper towels?!!!" lol...its crazy!
Jessica @

Prin D'fiory

I love this post, thank you.

Forge... Forget-me-not

I think to some it is but I am a member of a very AP, close knit group on here and am friends with them all I'm real life as well and we are not like that. I am never judged for being less than or doing something different. In fact I have called my super AP friends in almost tears during a stressful move and a teething toddler and had nothing but love and support.

Julia Boyett Uptagrafft

This is great advice for new moms! thanks, I love this post too.

Amyin... AmyinMotown

Very nice, Sheri. I think the very phrase "natural parenting" is off-putting, because it implies everyone who doesn't breastfeed or stops before age 2, doesn't co-sleep, doesn't babywear or does so intermittently, etc. are "unnatural parents." I resent that. Like you, I lean more toward attachment principles, but think Sears is very anti-working mother and find so many of the people who love to trumpt their natural parenting bona fides are so judgemental of others and yet lack critical thinking skills about Western medicine, education, etc.

Littl... LittleManMama

Actually if you read sears's book he isn't anti-working mother and explains how essential ap is in that case. He also stresses that some of the "baby b's" may not be for everyone but that you can still practice ap without adhering to all of them.

tyrel... tyrelsmom

I do some but not all. No scorecard here, though. I make the decisions that are best for my family as much as I can. Cant really do much better than that. Even if its not nearly perfect.

Carol... Caroline2010

lol to a lot of people im very natural in everything! my mother thinks im insane! but we all parent different and some are more natural than others! no point in keeping score!!

i LOVE to cloth diaper but at night i have to use pampers (ewww) or my dd makes a mess all over, ive tried tons of different cloth diapers and nothing works like the pampers (darn)! so minus points for me lol!  she just turned one and is sleeping all night and i wont dare wake her for a diaper change! lol

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