Isa is seven weeks old now and she's changing gradually but noticeably. She's smiling now! Real smiles! When she's in the right alert mood and we smile at her, she smiles back. The first time she did this for sure was at Grandma and Poppy's house in front of her Aunt Lindsey and Grandparents -- we all enjoyed seeing her huge grin.
She's spent the last two weeks or so in Chicago getting to know her extended family. She slept most of the way on both plane rides (there and back) and was an excellent traveler overall. We've figured out that as long and she's being held she will be happy and the main trouble we have with her is if she's stuck in a car seat or stroller without being picked up -- she can get majorly fussy.
She really enjoyed being held by everyone in Chicago, and everyone just fell in love with her. She also got to meet many other kids including Amelia Schultz, Charlotte Siefert, Stella Fry, Molly and Craig McShane, and Abby Kollpainter.
I have also been reading Jared Diamond's new book The World Until Yesterday, and in it there's a lot of information about how hunter-gatherer societies raise their children differently from us. I tend to look to the practices of hunter gatherers for information on so-called "natural" practices, only because human beings were nomadic hunter-gatherers for the vast majority of our history as a species, so it would only make sense that our bodies are set up to live our lives as hunter gatherers do. Many of the ailments of modern man are a result of getting away from those original practices. Obviously, I wouldn't want to return to the days of infanticide or average death at age 50 or so, but there are plenty of very healthy practices that hunter-gatherers do that I'd love to try to emulate. A few of the child rearing practices I'm going to try to incorporate include:
- Picking up the baby within 10 seconds of her beginning to cry (HG babies cry half as much as western babies)
- Holding the baby a lot, and/or wearing her when I can
- Nursing her on demand, not on a schedule
- Extended breastfeeding, at least beyond one year if not longer (the average age of weaning throughout the world is between 2 and 3 years old)
- Co-sleeping or sleeping with the baby in the bed with me at night (this is the norm throughout the world, including many European and East Asian countries)
- Having many different adults hold and care for the baby
- No physical punishment
- Having an environment available where the baby is free to explore without being told 'no' constantly
- Having the baby play in multi-age playgroups
- Letting her play be educational -- that is, not giving her toys made for children exclusively, but encouraging her to imagine and practice adult activities through play (this is also common in Montessori education)
We're hoping these things will help Isa to be a secure, imaginative and loved baby and person!