Resources for Continuum Learning

How do we set the foundation for lifelong learning?  In the early months and years of life, these five resources will help you practice continuum learning with your little ones.  Follow-Up to Attachment Parenting and Continuum Learning.  Scroll down for summary table of  Resources and Skills Learned.

Woman Breastfeeding Child

Painting: Abhishek Kumar.

1. Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding helps children learn a vital skill that they need all their lives:  how to eat.

Children’s first introduction to the flavors and feelings of food comes through breastfeeding.  As they gradually increase the variety and quantity of the food they eat, nursing serves as a safety net, allowing them freedom to try foods without any obligation to eat a given quantity by a given time.  Breastfeeding babies have time to acquire taste for a healthy variety of foods, while assured nutrition through mother’s diet.  Nursing also provides antibodies that help little ones as they explore the wider world and come into contact with more germs.  A partially weaned, breastfeeding child will often turn into an exclusively-breastfeeding child (ebf) when ill, and may require little or no other medicine to fight the illness.

I wrote about the relationship between breastfeeding, child-led weaning and learning in an article called “Weaning:  Fountain of Free Learning,” that appeared in Breastfeeding Toaday in 2011, and also in How Children Learn to Eat.

2. Sling.
Instantly recognized as a tool of attachment parenting, the sling was the single greatest influence that Jean Liedloff’s The Continuum Concept brought to the Western / Global Northern world.  Commonly used in traditional societies throughout the world, the sling, by making it easier to carry a child while doing other things, helps to maintain the continuum between adults and their young, and allows babies and toddlers meaningful access to the world of their elders.  The sling makes it easier for a parent to meet the baby’s expectation to be in-arms, included in key activities, and trusted with secure attachment and growing independence.  Senior Pediatrician Dr. Sears, whose early edition of The Baby Book referred in its subtitle to The Continuum Concept by name, instructs every new parent in his practice in the use of a sling, and has a full chapter on “Babywearing” in The Baby Book.  

You can use a dupatta to make one yourself or you can get a ring-sling, wrap or pouch.

More on Slings:

3.  Nursing Kurta
Breastfeeding is alive and well in traditional and modern societies in spite of persistent efforts to reduce its frequency and duration and to restrict it from public spaces, in the name of modernity.  Breastfeeding advocates defend breastfeeding mothers at home, at work, in doctors’  offices and in public spaces.  One tool in the hands of a nursing mother in the modern world is the Nursing Kurta.    I have said often and I repeat that you may nurse in any clothing you want.  If you want a nursing kurta, designed without zippers for discreet convenient nursing anytime anywhere, then you will be happy to know that you can get these in India.  See Nursing Kurta.

By helping you nurse anytime and anywhere, the nursing kurta allows little ones to be close to mothers on-the-go in diverse environments, and frees mother to go anywhere, assured that she can nurse uninhibited.

4.  Little Potty
Though diapers are making rapid inroads in India, the little potty is still available in most markets.  By tolerating accidents in the early stages and communicating with little ones and helping them go to potty when they need to, parents free children from the yucky condition loudly dreaded by diapered babies, that of wetting and/or soiling oneself, waiting, then being cleaned and re-diapered, and eventually accepting this sequence of events, only to be “trained” that this is in fact, not it at all.

Disposable diapers and heavy cloth diapers that allow for delayed response to baby’s hygiene needs tend to interfere with communication, with understanding one’s body, and possibly with related areas of learning.

To help practice diaper-free hygiene, you should also acquire some waterproof sheets to keep on the bed and other surfaces babies frequent.

More about Elimination Communication.

5. I would add an entry for the family bed, but I am glad to say that has not yet disappeared from modern India.  It is in the family bed or family bedroom that young ones learn to sleep, to breathe, to trust, and to share their feelings.

Table of Resources for Continuum Learning and Skills & Concepts Learned

Resource

Requirements

What Baby Learns

How Family Benefits

Breastfeeding

Well nourished mother, togetherness of mother and baby.  Can be met in part by expressed breastmilk during hours mother and baby are separate.

The world is a safe place.

How different foods taste

How food makes me feel

How I feel when hungry or full.

When I fall down, fall ill, or am sad, afraid or unsure, I have a home base where I can restore myself.

Mother believes in her body.

Whole family eats happily without stress.

Sling

Sling.  Caring person.

This is how we go about the day, talk, listen, cook, wash, garden, catch the train, etc.

I can observe and explore from a safe place.

I can communicate my needs without shouting.

I can get down and back up whenever I want.

Each member of my family has a different voice, gait, way of doing things.

Parent / carer is able to carry child hands-free.

Family includes child in their activities.

Variety of settings stimulate parent-child interaction.

Nursing Kurta

Nursing Kurta

My mother takes me to interesting places.

I am safe in the world.

Breastfeeding is normal.

I can meet my needs while my mother does various things.

Mother can go anywhere assured that she can breastfeed anytime.  [Can do with any dress, but some find it easier with kurta designed for discreet nursing.]

Elimination Communication

Potty, bowl or toilet area.

Waterproof sheets to protect bed, furniture, etc in early stages.

Simple cloth for baby’s bottom.

My bottom is normally clean and dry.

When I am wet or dirty, my adult will help me promptly.

I can relieve myself in a clean place.

My body works just right!

Feels good to respond to hygiene needs promptly.

See satisfaction when baby relieves himself or herself.

Supports healthy body image.

Enhances communication.

Family Bed

Mat on the floor or firm bed with space for family

I learn to breathe in my sleep by sleeping near breathing adults.

I am safe while sleeping.

I need not shout to be heard.

I can breastfeed while sleeping.

I can express my hopes and dreams, concerns and fears.

Comfort of child nearby.

Can nurse at night without getting out of bed or fully waking.

Chance to hear thoughts that may not come up in the rush of the day.

Note that none of the above is to be taken as mandatory.

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4 Comments

  1. 28 January 2014 at 2:18 pm

    […] See also:  Resources for Continuum Learning […]

  2. Chetana K said,

    29 January 2014 at 4:03 am

    This is beautifully put Aravinda. In my latest experience with slings when we go outside for walks, my LO wants to be carried initially, but then when she finds something that interests her, she wants to walk the rest of the way, secure in the knowledge that she can come back into the sling and our arms if she wants to. And this is so much better than me feeling tired or resentful for having to carry a child and walk around. Time and again I have learnt that fighting a situation does not help, one needs to go with a flow, find imaginative and creative ways to be happy.

  3. askamma said,

    29 January 2014 at 10:31 am

    Reblogged this on Ask Amma and commented:
    Work with the fundamentals of lifelong learning from birth

  4. 29 January 2014 at 2:12 pm

    […] Resources for Continuum Learning […]


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