Interviewer: 60 Minutes presents a live interview with The Modern Day Mother author, Andi Lew.
Interviewer: Andi, welcome to our live online chatroom :)
Andi Lew: Thank you for having me tonight. I'm looking forward to speaking to you parent to parent and can help with questions about you concerns.
Interviewer: Lets get straight into the questions from our guests...
Robbie asks: There are numbers of reports each years of babies being smothered when sharing beds with parents and siblings - how can you ignore this known danger?
Andi Lew: Most of the coroners reports are from incidents that have happened when a parent that is bed sharing with their child has been under the influence of alcohol or medication, which shuts off the body's natural response to be able to attend to the baby. There are safe ways to co-sleep and co-sleeping does not have to be in the same bed, it can be in a side cart next to the bed, in a bassinet in between the parents, a mattress on the floor or a cot in the room. The theory is to be within arms reach. We are the only mammals in the western world that don't keep our young close. You can find safe ways to co-sleep in my book "The Modern Day Mother" - "Babies and sleep from womb to One". www.themoderndaymother.com is the website.
Robbie asks: When did you first become interested in attached parenting?
Andi Lew: When my son turned approximately 5 months old, he became a very wakeful baby and I was in a very dark place, sleep deprived, emotional, confused and thought that I had failed as a mother if he wasn't sleeping "through the night". I then rang the Australian Breast Feeding Assoc. 1800 MUM2MUM helpline for support and advice, they are trained counsellors who are real mothers and pointed me in the direction of the research of Prof James McKenna who appeared on the show, presents. I educated myself on just how natural it was for a baby to wake and crucial for neurological development to keep him close. When I tried to breastfeed on a schedule, like some other books suggested, I got very sick with mastitis as I later learned that he controlled my supply not me and that if I didn't feed him when he asked I would either bank up or dry up. I surrendered to trusting his primal needs. And some people call this style of parenting attachment parenting. I prefer to call it parenting instinctively as our bodies are hormonally and biologically designed to respond to you babies cries and cues.
red_chick asks: I would like to know how attachment parenting works as far as the mother leaving the child? Do you never leave the child?
Andi Lew: By responding a child's cries and this is their last sign for help, not their first - it sets up a trust that the child knows it feels safe and you are there for them because they do need you. Every child will have an attachment to their parent but with attachment parenting you creating a secure attachment not an insecure attachment this means that the child is more happy to explore on their own and is more emotionally available to the world and may come to you for an emotional refuel now and then with a cuddle or a breastfeed and happy to go off on their own again. Research shows that it doesn't create a clingy child in fact quite the opposite because they know they don't need to scream or cry to get attention. When you do leave a child it's important to create a village that raises that child with grandparents, family members, friends but more importantly neighbours within the community. In the western world we live in big houses far away from each other and sometimes family members are in other States or countries so we need to get a little more creative because it does take a village to raise a child. However sometimes only mum will do wearing your baby enables them to fall asleep keeps your hands free for housework and keeps you fit.
lizandal asks: Hi! More of a positive feedback comment rather than a question. It was wonderful to see all the yummy mummys feeding their toddlers :) It was an encouragement to me to see that what feels right is scientifically backed too. I have been either pregnant or breastfeeding since 1996 and I am just starting to finish up feeding baby number 5 (she is 3). I was actually feeding her to sleep as I watched the report tonight! Anyway keep up the positive image and thanks for breaking the stereotype that attachment parenting produces spoilt clingy children.
Andi Lew: Wow thank you for sharing your story, I hope that you can feel more supported in doing what you instinctively feel. Hopefully natural mums won't be as judged now as they understand the benefits of full term breastfeeding and how normal and natural it is to sleep near your baby as well as learn about the compelling science on how crucial it is for neurological development.
red_chick asks: I was wondering at what age you would start telling the child "no", if at all?
Andi Lew: In all fairness we do say "no" to our children, I'm not sure why the story came out that we don't, because what this style of parenting is really about is acknowledging the baby as an individual who has needs and that their feelings are real and valid. when I asked for permission to change my son's nappy as a certified infant massage instructor, we are taught that it is imperative to teach a child about appropriate touch and that for just one time in their life they have the right to say "no" because a child always wants to please an adult and is rewarded for good behaviour when they comply.
4from4to25 asks: Hello Andi. Congratulations on finding a parenting style that suits you. I wonder though: could you sit in a shopping mall and accurately pick those people who had been breastfed or co-slept as babies?
Andi Lew: Thank you for you support. I actually can ! Perhaps not in a shopping mall but certainly in a playground, an AP child is usually the one who goes to nurture a child who falls over. There is also extensive research in "The Science of Parenting" by Margot Sunderland that shows allowing a child to cry it out can cause psychological damage in adults like depression, feelings of abandonment and relationship issues.
momohana asks: I'd like to know what to do if you ask the "can I change your nappy now is that OK" and the child refuses? My friend's child never wants his nappy changed. I think if he had it his way he would stay in a dirty nappy all day. How would you approach this?
Andi Lew: It's important to create a good communication and explain why. Use you instincts to make it fun, a game and I'm sure you're really good at that. Once again, it's about educating the child about appropriate touch.
EmilyK asks: I was wondering how do i know what is right for my Baby, should I go by what I think is right or follow the books?
Andi Lew: It depends what books you are reading, the best are ones that explain how the baby's brain works and books by experts in breastfeeding like lactation consultants. for example, Pinky McKay and the Australian Breastfeeding Association is a wonderful resource for current research on sleep. Please be aware of "experts opinions" giving information disguised as science and trust your instincts. Does it feel right? Is it respectful? It has to be respectful.
Stuart asks: What do you think the repercussions of this style of parenting when the child goes into the workforce and is unable to adapt to authority being taken away?
Andi Lew: Research suggests it's the opposite because you are assisting a child's brain to develop optimally until about the age of 5 the rational part of a child's brain isn't fully integrated with the mamalian and reptilian part of the brain, therefore parenting responsively allows healthy neurological development which means they can then adapt to the world better.
fee_100 asks: How do you and your husband find the time (alone) together, especially of you are also co-sleeping with you child?
Andi Lew: You can create time to be intimate together during other times of the day and different parts of the house, however co-sleeping doesn't have to be full-time. Our son falls asleep in his own room and when he wakes he comes to our bed which allows us to have a few hours together before he is unsettled again. I think everybody has co-slept at one point in their life especially when we allow our children to climb into bed when they have had a bad dream. It’s just about being empathetic. If you were crying, I'd give you a hug.
Nessika asks: Hi Andi! As a Melbourne AP mum myself i struggle to relate to other parents. I was wondering if you knew of any AP playgroups in Melbourne that i could meet other parents with parenting styles similar to my own.
Andi Lew: I felt the same too and found some Steiner playgroups that were supportive of natural parenting. The Aust. Breastfeeding Association also has regular mothers group meetings.
Buttermouse asks: What are the differences you see in your children compared to those of "Mainstream" parent's?
Andi Lew: Every parent does what they feel is right for their child as every child is unique and every family dynamic is so different. As long as you acknowledge the research surrounding the psychological ramifications of controlled crying methods and the benefits of full-term breastfeeding you will understand how this can set up a healthier, happier and smarter child.
blueseahorse asks: Question about co sleeping. My step-children co-sleep with their mother at age 4 and 6 (both since birth). In our house they sleep in their own beds. They seem to be more independent, well behaved and polite and calm with us. We have definitive boundaries and they include sleeping in their own beds. What age do you suggest putting them in their own beds?
Andi Lew: Only mum knows best and as long as the child is happy to do so, then there isn't a problem sleeping in another room, it's more for the children who's only desire is to be close to you that I would suggest mothers surrender to this and enjoy their babies. They have not failed if their children do not wish to be in another room. It's natural and it's the cliche that time passes so quickly they are only young for so long, so enjoy your babies more and do not worry so much about the future. They will eventually want to go into another room, or share a bed or bedroom with their siblings which is also natural
krispylee asks: hi andi, just a few questions, i have a 10 month old who i have pretty much attachment parented from birth. Now he is waking every few hrs at night to feed, then gets quiet unsettled and want settle after his feed, staying awake for for up to an hr. Im getting tired and so is he, do you have any suggestions?
Andi Lew: I remember this phase, it's very hard, your child is so lucky to have you as it's mother. Please remember he's having a hard time, not giving you a hard time. He may be teething, fighting immunity or going through a growth spurt even developmentally. Please try to have a lie down sleep breastfeed where you are both lying down on a bed falling asleep together while breastfeeding because you release the CCK hormone which puts you both into a deeper sleep. A 20 minute nap will feel like 2 hours and a 2 hour sleep will feel like 8 hours. It's the only way to cope during this hard time. It's a phase and it too shall pass.
RealDad asks: Check out the real world. look at how nature raises their young in the wild & on the farm. Parent animals detach themselves from their offspring at a relatively early age & direct them to face the real world.
Andi Lew: The human species are prone to predation and therefore we need to keep our young close. If a baby cries in the wild it is under threat. The child doesn't know that we now live in big safe houses away from lions that could come and eat them, even though we have evolved as a western world the way our brains are designed are still the same. It is stressful for a child to be away from it's parent as the rational part of the brain isn't fully integrated yet and it may as well think that you are in another country, not another room. This is in my book The Modern Day Mother, subtitle Babies and Sleep from Womb to One - www.themoderndaymother.com
shelle asks: My husband and I are both GP's and we are constantly battling the backward thinking of many new parents: fathers mostly, who feel threatened by the bond between mother and child. WHO recommends feeding until 2years and The Australian Breastfeeding Association recommends child led weaning or sustained feeding. what are your thoughts as we always recommend child led weaning
Andi Lew: The WHO has a new statement and it is 2 years and beyond. Once fathers understand the breastfeeding bond they can support the mother by offering her a glass of water each time she feeds and can be involved in the attachment to parenting practices by offering to wear the baby. It is important to empower parents to feel supported and nurtured as a family. I recently learned from a lactation consultant that the antibodies in your breastmilk doubles from 12 months onwards. Breastfeeding is more than just food it's immunity analgesia for teething and supplies all nutrients that a child needs when introducing solids. The delicate digestive system is still developing. Child led weaning is a gentle way of supporting optimal health.
Interviewer: Andi, thanks for joining us tonight however we are out of time, any comments before we finish up?
Andi Lew: Please get more information from www.themoderndaymother.com ... I'd like to thank 60 Minutes for the opportunity to be a part of this story and appreciate being able to connect with parents who care deeply about this subject. They have done a wonderful job in alerting us to the extensive studies surrounding babies and sleep from Prof James McKenna and Paediatrician Dr Bill Sears. Who has been in practise for over 40 years. Please continue to trust yourself and enjoy your babies. Thanks for having me.
Interviewer: This concludes our chat with Andi Lew, Sunday July 22, 2012.