Why not do what comes naturally?

National Post

The National Post nine-part series on How to Raise a Child, written by seasoned parents, concluded yesterday. Several letters from parents have been published on our Letters page. Here are a few more responses.


It is with much fascination that my husband and I have read the letters you have received on children's sleeping patterns, most of them dealing with how long to let a small child scream in bed alone. Luckily for us, we chose to ignore the many well-meaning family and friends with their suggestions of Ferberizing (a technique that involves leaving a child to cry for ever-lengthening periods before comforting him).

When our child cried, we did what comes naturally to most mammals: We brought him into "our den." When people were shocked by this, our response was always, "Name one mammal that puts its newborn in a wooden crate in another part of the den by themselves."

When our son got older, he stated that he was sometimes cold and lonely by himself. We are glad we didn't let our cold and lonely baby cry for hours.

Jeannie Springett Sinder

via e-mail

This article was truly sick and you should be ashamed of yourselves for running such a thing. How can you print an article that advocates leaving an infant alone in the basement, a pantry or behind any heavy door to scream and cry for hours? That is just short of child abuse and neglect.

Kimberly Baltz

via e-mail

Children do learn to sleep through the night. When our third child was born in 1971, the bankruptcy of my husband's employer, Rolls-Royce, forced us to move when she was 10 days old. We also had a three- and a five-year-old and were going to a place where we knew no one. I was overwhelmed at how I would cope with this.

The hospital sister was wise and firm. She pointed out that our baby was a good size (8 1/2 pounds) and didn't need food at night. She told me to put her to sleep in a dark room (no night light) so that she would associate dark with night.

When she cried, I was to offer her water in case she was thirsty, but not milk. She woke for only two nights and then for only a few minutes. She was a very easy and contented baby thereafter. Of course, I got up to a sick child or for the occasional nightmare, but the children knew that nighttime was sleeping time and only interrupted in emergencies.

I hope this gives some young mothers the courage to try to establish sleep patterns that are kinder on themselves and their children.

Jane Cole-Hamilton

via e-mail

Research on early childhood experiences consistently shows that children who have enjoyed the most loving care in infancy become the most secure and loving adults while those babies who have been forced into submissive behaviour build up resentment and anger.

In our culture, we assume that crying is normal and unavoidable for babies. Yet in natural societies where babies are carried close to the caregiver much of the day and night for the first several months, such crying is rare. Babies cared for in this way show self-sufficiency sooner than do babies not receiving such care.

A baby assumes that whatever we, his parents, do is correct. If we do nothing, the baby can only conclude he is unloved because he is unlovable. No matter how deeply we love our baby, it is mostly the outward manifestations of that love that the baby can understand.

Ignoring a baby's crying is like using earplugs to stop the distressing noise of a smoke detector. As Jean Liedloff wrote in The Continuum Concept, "a baby's cry is precisely as serious as it sounds."

Babies deserve to be taught compassion by example. If we don't, who will?

Jan Hunt, director,

The Natural Child Project


I read Barbara Kay's article about raising good kids and I couldn't agree more. We have an eight- and a 10-year-old. We always said we wanted to have children that we wouldn't be embarrassed to take out with us.

I'm very proud of my two. We are often complimented on how well-mannered and well-behaved they are. When we introduced our children to adults, they were expected to call them Mr. and Mrs -- unless the adult tells them otherwise. It's a respect thing.

Manners need to start early. I think we started on Day 1 and it has definitely paid off. I've always been able to take my children into a store and know they won't damage a thing and have clerks comment on their behaviour.

It's not that much work and gets to be a habit. I don't think I've cramped their style by insisting on good manners. They are most definitely better people for it.

Mona Mahovlic

Cranbrook, B.C.


I was very offended by your illustration for the How to Raise a Child series on May 2. The child saying "Thanks" to a mother bottle-feeding is ridiculous. It is quite general knowledge that "breast is best" and it is a kick in the pants to those of us who endeavour to breast-feed our children in the face of cultural prejudice, medical inaccuracies and public perception. It is very disappointing to see that a publication like the Post cannot challenge public perception.

Michelle May

St. John's, Nfld.

I am enjoying your series but I was very disappointed to see the illustration you used of a mother bottle-feeding her child. How unfortunate that it is more politically correct to assume that this is the most natural and obvious way to feed a baby.

Small examples such as this perpetuate the myth that bottle-feeding is the "natural" way to feed a baby. It would have been a real delight to see you had used an image of a mother breast-feeding her baby.

Celine Gummer

via e-mail

Both the World Health Organization and the Canadian Pediatric Society recommend children be breast-fed for at least two years. Formula companies do a great job of making people think that their product is just as good as breast milk when all evidence indicates it is not. While formula has its place, it would be nice to see more positive breast-feeding images.

Tania McMartin

Tofino, B.C.

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