Friday, 23 December 2011

teaching fear

I took my 22 month old to see Santa last week. Last year she cried when she saw him so I knew it might not be a good reaction this time. She seamed ok when he can in to the room , but when I asked hr if she wanted to go to him she said " no afraid" and started to cry. Of course I reassured her and told her I was there and there was nothing to be afraid of. In the end she was happy to stand near to Santa with me but not go to him on her own.
What shocked me about this was not that she was afraid of sitting on the knee of a fat man that she did not know with a beard - if anything I thought she would be unsettled by this, it was that she knew the word "afraid" and used it in context.
As the mother of a young toddler I don't want her to be knowledgeable enough about negative emotions to be able to articulate them. I feel, and I'm sure most parents will agree, part of my job is to stop her coming across these feelings which she will have plenty of time to deal with when she is older.
Yet time and time again if I mention that we are lucky if my daughter managers 4 hours sleep I am advised to let her " cry it out".
I'm sure most of you will have read analogies such as just let her cry
The idea of being afraid and alone and knowing that sometimes there is no one to help you is something that as adults we will at some time have to face. It takes a lot to come to terms with it, its a feeling I remember when my dad died suddenly when I was 19 and I couldn't turn to my close family as normal because they had their own grief to deal with.
It is not a feeling a child should have to come across if it can be avoided.
While lack of sleep can be a horrible feeling for anyone ( I speak from experience of 22 month at a 4 hour block being a bonus, I'm writing this at 2am my daughter having gone to sleep at 1.30)surely it is something that can be enured a short time instead of teaching our babies to be afraid.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

advertising breast feeding in a formula obsessed world

There is a e-petition at calling for a ban on all advertising for formula.
I agree with this and urge everyone to sign it. There should be clear information to allow women to make a choice. A lot of people think formula is the same as breast milk when really its just cows milk with chemicals added, the adverts for formula reinforce this and stop people making an informed choice. One example of how they miss lead is the amount of iron in them, the iron in breast milk doesn't need to be in such high amounts as it is absorbed easily where as most of the iron in formula is not absorbed, but I know of people who have put their baby on follow on milk as they "need the iron"
While discussing this I was surprised to hear people saying they felt is pressures people to breastfeed.
Why is formula "advertised" but breast feeding "pushed".
Formula company have adverts on TV and in magazines,where they can be seen by everyone, that is seen as ok. If a breast feeding mother starts talking about the positives of breast feeding in lots of places she gets accused of pressuring others to breast feed, being obsessed, making others feel bad. Mums who formula feed think nothing of giving antidote tales of a formula feed baby who where never ill, really happy and a perfect size. Brest feeding mums are left in a situation where we have to think carefully before we state facts supported by scientific research in case we are accused of being "the breast feeding mafia". If we share breastfeeding blogs or information we are left in a state of worry knowing people are likely to accuse us of forcing breastfeeding on them.
We feel we can't talk about the risks of formula feeding in case people think we are saying they are a bad mother. Last week my own mother who had breast cancer last year, asked if she might not have got it if she had breastfed. I had to give the honest answer and say it would have reduced the chance of her getting it. However I hesitated before I told her, and felt bad afterwards. Why? I don't feel bad when I tell her smoking is bad for her health why should this be any different?
We live in a culture where formula is seen as normal and breastfeeding something we can choose to do. Formula adverts help to strengthen that culture.
Breastfeeding is normal, formula is something that should only be used when needed in which case there is no need to advertise it.