What Is NP?
“Natural parenting” is based on a desire to live and parent responsively and consciously. While no two families who practice natural parenting may define it the same way, there are several principles that are widely agreed to be part of this lifestyle. These are ideals that natural parents tend to hold — even if we don’t always live up to all of them, we keep them in mind as goals.
Please click on each topic to find links to and descriptions of resources for each natural parenting category.
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):
- Prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting: parents and parents-to-be research parenting philosophies; maintain a healthy diet and active lifestyle; educate themselves about healthcare providers, birthing options, and the risks and benefits of medical interventions; research breastfeeding and routine newborn care procedures (circumcision, etc.);
- Feed with love and respect: practice exclusive and full-term breastfeeding if possible, and feed with love and respect regardless of whether it is at the breast or with a bottle; parents continue to nurture when introducing solids, and strive to offer healthy, wholesome foods when babies are ready;
- Respond with sensitivity: parents understand that babies cry to communicate needs, and that physical contact is healthy and natural. Parents continue to respond with sensitivity into toddlerhood and beyond, embracing big emotions and helping children learn to communicate gently (rather than stifling emotions or punishing “tantrums”);
- Use nurturing touch: this category includes babywearing and skin-to-skin contact for infants, and hugs and physical play for older children;
- Ensure safe sleep: parents take steps to make sleep safe both physically and emotionally; this category includes bed sharing and co-sleeping, responsive nighttime parenting, and no “crying it out”;
- Provide consistent and loving care: Parents do not attempt to put babies on strict feeding or sleep schedules. When parents must leave children with alternative caregivers, they find caregivers who respect the children’s needs and are supportive of the attachment principles;
- Practice gentle/positive discipline: Parents do not discipline to control, manipulate, or put fear into their children, but to teach. Parents strive for communication and mutual respect and avoid harsh/physical punishment;
- Strive for balance in personal and family life: Families seek to balance the needs and wants of each family member.
Above all, natural parenting is making the choice to develop a deep bond with your children and family based on mutual respect. An attached child grows into a mature and interdependent individual who understands how to develop healthy, secure relationships with others.