Beyond The Sling - A Review
I have finally got a chance to sit here and review quite simply, the most amazing ‘parenting’ book I’ve ever read.
It’s not really a parenting book as Mayim Bialik states at the start, but some would use this as a parenting guide because it does have a heck of a lot of useful information in it and helps guide you if you’re wanting to change the way you parent.
It’s a fairly laid back book but it gets straight to the point with all the topics inside it which is what I liked mostly about it, it doesn’t beat around the bush.
Beyond the Sling tells you to listen to your instincts more, as with most attachment parents they listen to their instincts more than other peoples experiences with parenting.
Mayim talks about how she struggled with her first child at the start, how she misjudged how hard it was going to be to be a parent and she talks about how her parents used to raise her.
At the start it also tells you what attachment parenting is based on;
Bonding through touch,
She tells you that you don’t need to do all those listed to be a proper attached parent, but those are the basic things that most attachment parents follow.
In the first proper chapter Mayim goes into the science of attachment and intuition, she says that even though she has a PhD in neuroscience you do not obviously need one in attachment parenting, obviously it comes in handy for her to have it as she understands how the human brain works, how it needs to feel secure, how we are born with undeveloped brains and how us humans need love.
Mayim explains how we have four types of attachment; Disorganized, Avoidant, Ambivalent & Secure. Each one is explained as children and as adults.
Two things I love that Mayim mentions that she has left out of her book thus far because they just are not needed are the fact that babies don’t need schedules; parents do and babies don’t need to be trained, I myself couldn’t agree more with those two statements and Mayim just tells it to you straight, parenting by your natural intuition will allow you to put a whole new concept on what your baby craves and how to make that happen so everyone is happy.
The third part of this book might offend some people, it shouldn’t and I’m sure it’s not supposed to, but when it comes to giving birth Mayim is very into ‘natural birth’ she talks about how animals in the wild have no medical intervention, how they are left to get on with it.
She talks about the many different pain relief that you can have during giving birth and how when her doctor mentioned to her how she should have a csection that her labor stopped progressing as soon as she left her doctors office.
She does go on to say that even if you do end up having a csection that your experience with birth still matters.
Mayim then goes into how you can have a natural birth, how you should go to classes, how you should read positive natural birth stories, how you should use a doula and to get medical - talk to your obstetrician about their attitudes of women having c sections and going past their due dates etc.
She mentions how you shouldn’t listen to people telling you about their negative birthing experiences (which I completely agree with here!)
Mayim then talks about her birthing experiences which neither of them to me sounded like easy births but they are an interesting read, she uses all different non medical techniques to help guide her through each birth.
We then read into chapter four which is all about breastmilk and breastfeeding. She talks about how breastmilk is the best food for a human baby, how it is good for human mothers and how it builds an attachment unmatched by anything else.
She talks about the six things she has learnt from breastfeeding, all of which were handy for myself to read and learn about, they make sense, I have friends who breastfeed and they always say similar to what Mayim has mentioned in her book. If you are thinking about breastfeeding and just need that extra little push to get you to do it, this chapter is perfect for you, it’s such an honest chapter, I haven’t ever read such honesty in a ‘parenting non parenting’ book before!
Chapter five talks about babywearing and how babies need to be held, she talks about some of the different kind of slings, wraps, carriers you can get for your babies (this section didn’t mention anything to me I didn’t know as we are a babywearing family anyway but it was still interesting nonetheless) Mayim talks about how before she started babywearing how she just couldn’t get anything done and the transformation in her life when she finally put her babies into slings was just incredible as she could do everything she needed to like shop and house work without having to stop cuddling her children.
She talks about the fantastic advantages of babywearing, such as it’s a great way to help your partner bond with your baby, good for discreet nursing (if you’re new to it all and want to do it privately) and how even if you have a bad back you can still wear your baby.
Chapter six talks all about night time parenting and co sleeping, she goes on to say at the start that as a family they all sleep together in one big bed.
She states that ‘children need just as much parenting during the night as they do during the day, newborns do not know the difference between day and night.’ She does not understand or agree with sleep training or cry it out methods (neither do I so this was an easy read for myself!) you just need to grin and bare these situations when your child does not want to sleep.I like how she says you can either moan about it and get upset or you could just roll over to your baby, smile and say ‘hello baby!’
Mayim also talks about the history of co sleeping and she has a disclaimer in her book stating that you should not do it without knowing the right way to do it safely.
Chapter seven goes into elimination communication. Now this was something I personally was excited to read about, I had heard of it before but never have done it with either of my two children, it has always sounded ridiculously difficult and really tiring, Mayim on the other hand made it sound - yes a bit exhausting but simple (eventually), she talks about how babies are born potty trained and it’s the parents who need the training.
She never used rewards or charts with her children when they weed on a potty or even clapped. She talks about how as parents you really need to learn and watch for the signs that your baby is going to need to use potty, she mentions how many African, Asian and Middle Eastern families do EC but it’s not called that, it’s just natural for them to do it.
This chapter is one of those chapters I can’t really go into without giving too much away as it would spoil the read, but it is highly interesting and has really inspired me to try it when I have another child (although I would miss using our cloth nappies if we had to do it!)
Eight goes on about how babies don’t need so much stuff, after reading this chapter I have noticed how Mayim is fairly anti stuff. Which when you read her reasons about it, it makes sense, obviously her children had toys etc, but they were always good quality, none plastic more wooden ones, she talks about how limiting ‘stuff’ helps show respect for our earth and our resources and how limiting stuff lets her have more money for things they really need.
Myself as a reader, I like stuff, but this chapter has taught me that my children don’t need thousands of toys, I have lately swapped a lot of their recent toys for wooden ones, I don’t tend to buy cheap tat now a days thanks to read this book/chapter, it’s helped me understand a lot about what babies actually need as opposed to what big chain baby stores tell you you need.
Chapter nine talks about how babies don’t need unnecessary medical intervention, she gives a list on what she hasn’t ever treated her children with with things such a Calpol etc, the list will shock/surprise you, well it did me anyway! She talks about some more natural things like plants and breastmilk - how they have helped her children feel better, this chapter I was a bit 50/50 on, I worry about my children a lot when they are in pain (just like any other parent), but I have treated conjunctivitis with breastmilk as opposed to eyedrops from the doctor as I have found it heals it much more quickly.
Chapter ten goes into how babies don’t need pressure, to let just be kids, I don’t think I even need to go into what Mayim says in this chapter, just because it’s pretty self explanatory, what I will say is that she is very much for encouragement rather than pressure, which makes complete sense once you read it.
Chapter eleven; Babies Don’t Need Punishment, Understanding Gentle Discipline, she states at the start of this chapter that it was not written to shame anyone or how you parent, but if you do feel guilty or bad reading it then maybe something within you is telling you that you need to make a change.
She talks about what gentle discipline actually is and what does not work for children, she talks about how sentences like ‘don’t cry’, ‘because i said so’ do not work, how the logic behind ‘time outs’ isn’t very logical at all (completely agree), threats and rewards aren’t such a great idea and how violence is never the answer.
Mayim then goes on to say how we should assume the best out of our children, how if the children are committing ‘bad behaviour’ then a need isn’t being met and how as a parenting it is okay for you to take a timeout, to take a few moments to calm down.
The final part of her book talks about what you as a parent needs and how to keep on top of things and how to balance work with children.
Then you have the typical resources part at the end of the book and it’s then the end.
Overall I have found this book to be one of the best attachment parenting books I have ever read, Mayim says this isn’t a parenting book, but it is, let’s face it, but it’s more of her experiences with her children and if you want some advice to parent like how she does then this is the book for you, it’s a fantastic read, as we all know, Mayim is a very witty lady so you can imagine the jokes in this book.
This is one of those books that I like to read over a couple of times because it has helped me as a parent and it’s a useful book to keep on the bookshelf for future reference.