Natural parenting = unnatural expectations

Apparently there is a new movement in parenting (like we needed another reason to judge each other) called Natural Parenting. I guess the idea is going back to the roots of raising babies before commercialism and consumerism took over. I’m not going to debate the merits of this style of parenting (barring the semantics of the word “natural” that suggests any other kind of parenting is “unnatural”), but rather I’d like to discuss this graphic I saw on their blog and how we all really need to read between lines before we buy into anything.

Well excuse me while I laugh my ass off chuckle politely at the litany of fallacies, oversimplifications and outright lies on this handy little chart.

Let’s start at the top.

Sleep
Where the hell are these people buying their crib for $1000? Sure, you can spend $1000 and plenty more if you want to, but you can also easily keep it under $200 and probably even less if you went used or borrowed from someone else. In fact, I’d argue this cost could easily be $0. But just to be generous, I’ll throw in $10 for a new crib sheet used in a hand-me-down crib.

Contrast with your bed for $0. Okay, that sounds good in principle, until you start sleeping with baby and realize your once-cozy queen isn’t as spacious with a baby, large dog, you and your husband squished in there. You begin to immediately fantasize about a luxurious king bed, particularly when you realize one day you might be fitting a kicking toddler and a newborn in there one day, as well. New beds are expensive. Let’s be generous again and say you’re looking at a minimum of $1500 for king-sized frame, mattress and new sheets.

Carry
Ha ha ha ha ha. Sixty dollars for a carrier? I know I’m not in the minority of babywearers who become obsessed with buying new carriers. First off, none but the most basic pouch carrier costs $60 and once you get hooked on babywearing, one carrier will never do. To date (and I hope my husband isn’t reading this), I’ve bought an Ergo ($120) with infant insert ($30), Moby wrap ($65), ring sling ($100) and Mei Tei ($110). That’s a total of $425.

And then there are your arms for $0. Are you seriously never supposed to put your baby down? I don’t know a single person who is a regular babywearer who doesn’t also own a bouncy seat or two and a stroller. Like c’mon.

Eat
Okay, I admit that I used to go in for the whole “breastfeeding is free” thing, but you know what? It’s not.

My breastfeeding supplies to-date:
-breast pump $200
-nipple shields (cause Alice wouldn’t latch properly for the first few weeks) $50
-reusable nipple pads $10
-disposable nipple pads (after the reusable ones gave me thrush) $30
-thrush medication $50
-bottles (because at the beginning, I didn’t feel comfortable nursing away from home and Alice was born around Christmas and we were out a lot, plus now I’d like to leave the house once in a while and let Matthew take some of the feeding duties) $50
-nursing bras $200
-nursing tank tops $60
-nursing cover $60
-various other nursing-friendly clothing so I can actually leave the house not looking like I just got out of bed once in a while $300 (and counting)
-oh hell, and while we’re at it, let’s add all the gas used and parking paid when I had to make a zillion trips to various lactation consultants and breastfeeding support groups around the city because I was having such a hard time getting it right $50

Total $1060 (compare that with the chart’s $1300 for bottles and formula and we don’t have much of a disparity here)

ETA: And how demoralizing is this for someone who can’t breastfeed? Sometimes these choices aren’t actually a choice. 

And then it lists $720 for baby food. Uh, don’t babies eat in Natural Parenting? Eventually you gotta buy food for them even if you are doing baby-led weaning. And besides, jarred baby food is actually very inexpensive (even the fancy organic stuff) and I believe making your own puree falls under the whole $120 for “your food”. So let’s call than one a wash.

Potty
Baby potty with reusable wipes? Uh, did we miss something here? That pesky period of infancy where you baby poops, oh, eleventy billion times a day? And I know I said I wasn’t discussing the merits of this method, but apparently we’re supposed to train our babies not to need diapers. Like ever. So I’m fairly certain that on top of your potty and reusable wipes, you’re going to be paying a buttload for dry-cleaning every item of clothing you own, plus professional cleaning of your carpets, sofas and mattress. Not to mention the water and energy used to wash those reusable wipes. So let’s assume $500.

Bathe
I didn’t even know bathing was an issue of good versus bad, but apparently it is. Again I ask where these people are buying their supplies that a baby bath costs $120? I borrowed mine from my sister-in-law. Cost=free. And soap and lotion is needed no matter what. Plus, I take short showers which use less water than filling a big bathtub. A tiny baby tub uses very little water. So again, I’ve got to consider the cost of water consumption here, so let’s assume $250* over a year just for fun.

So let’s put together my grand total:

Natural Parenting: $4350

Un-Natural Parenting: $3085

You see how it’s all in the interpretation? How a graphic like the one depicted above is completely misleading and self-serving?

Oh, and I forgot to add $12.99 to buy the Natural Parenting Book you’re going to need.

So let’s make that $4362.99 for the natural parent.

Sorry Natural Parenting. You might have some great information to share, but putting out propaganda to further your cause is not the way to do it.

*Does it seem like I’m pulling these numbers out of my ass? Oh, I kind of am. Kind of like the people who made up this graphic in the first place. 

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38 thoughts on “Natural parenting = unnatural expectations

  1. That graphic is just so ridiculous. Why, oh why must we insist on “right” vs “wrong” classifications in parenting? Why can’t it just be the way that worked for us =)

  2. I love your humor and viewpoint. Well said! It’s amazing how people can “spin” a topic and create all sorts of fancy-looking graphics to sell it when in fact it’s total made-up stuff. People will buy ANYTHING these days!

  3. I have honest questions: Have you read the book? Did I read anything else on (this one) NP blog before reacting to the graphic from this one post? Isn’t it unfair to lump the entire philosophy into this one post? This title, frankly, is equally unfair and inflammatory as the original post. How do these questions you raise promote less judgment? This is equally as unfair. I am disappointed.

    • Fair enough about the title, maybe I could have chosen better wording. But as for the rest, that’s exactly why I said I’m not criticizing the actual methods (as you can see I actually use plenty of them myself) since, no, I haven’t read the book, nor do I intend to.

      What I didn’t like was the oversimplification of the graphic because when a) viewed on its own, it’s incredibly misleading and b) I wanted to show how easily I could spin it the other way using the same “logic” they used. The point was more to remind us all to really examine what you see, rather than simply accepting what’s given to you.

      And maybe I did get a little judgy about the whole no diaper thing (hey, I’m not perfect), but there’s no skirting around the fact that whatever its merits, it’s gotta be a little messy.

      And as an aside, I can’t imagine how demoralizing this must be for anyone who can’t breastfeed.

      • I completely agree on the breastfeeding issue, as I know you struggled as did I. And while I agree on the graphic, I have yet to see a response to it that genuinely fosters a discussion about it and encourages a discussion from NPers like myself. I certainly didn’t agree with the graphic, but I don’t appreciate how responses characterize the whole group

      • I didn’t think I was characterizing the whole group–simply stating how silly the graphic itself was based on my own experiences, by being a bit silly myself. :)

        Also, I’d argue the graphic is also characterizing the whole group of people who don’t subscribe to NP parenting principles.

  4. Just wow. Who did the research on this?
    It reminds me of watching 16 and Pregnant and the girls go to a shop and its like $40 for an outfit… like what shop did they go to? and why didn’t they just go to Target or Walmart? SMH. Love how you pointed out the “realistic” view of it! Youre words are so true.

  5. So silly and ridiculous. And I noticed there wasn’t any mention of baby clothes. Are natural babies just supposed to be naked all the time- without diapers or clothes. Mmm hmmm.

  6. I was looking at the chart saying “WTF?!?” to all of the things that I went on to read you pointed out…. so I completely agree. Sure, lots of these ideas of natural parenting are great and I do loads of them myself…. but the chart is just ridiculous!!!!

  7. I adore you so much!!! I think our entire nursery set, including decorations cost $600. And at some point you need to buy the kid a bed of some sort unless you want a teenager in bed with you! The crib we got converts 4 ways, so we’re set for life in theory, just need new mattresses every so often. I breastfeed, but its not entirely enough for Reese so we have to use a bit of formula or she’d be losing weight! To date, we have had numerous things given to us and we bathe her in the kitchen sink so thats free. A lot of this graphic is sooooooooo off.

  8. Yeah. I didn’t like this post either.

    One thing that I never see is the cost of lactation experts who tried to help me. That would be about $5000! Not paid for by insurance. They helped me breastfeed for four months and honestly I don’t regret spending that $$ and don’t think it was a waste.

    But I don’t think I’m alone among twins moms who needed expensive supplies (hospital grade pump, $600) and expensive help just to try to breastfeed. I think the “natural” way can end up being much more expensive in actuality.

    Just sayin’.

    • Didn’t think of that! We spent about $300 on that. And I spent a ton on storage bags (which all went out the door with donations, we never ONCE used any frozen milk) and extra pump parts because I was almost exclusively pumping for the first two months and a ton of different breastfeeding pillows and assorted random things like the $34 on the bra-with-holes-in-it for hands-free pumping. Probably around $600-$700 total.

  9. throw in the fact that while you are breastfeeding, you are also eating more, so your milk itself is also not free. At all.

    And on the bathing topic – I dunno, since my baby poops eleventy billion times a day, I don’t think I can take a bath and NOT end up with poo floating all around us…

  10. I find this whole NP thing very interesting. When I first read about it, I clicked the link to the graphic that you discussed above and was stunned by what I saw. My first reaction was like that of most – $1,000 for a crib? Being perfectly open and honest here – I bought a fancy crib – but it wasn’t anywhere near $1,000. I’ve taken a lot of heat for the crib I bought (why so much judgement over a crib?!?!?!) – so it’s rather obvious that I am not the norm when it comes to crib buying – that most people spend way less than I did. Seeing that this graphic assumes that most mainstream parents spend $1,000 on a crib was the first tip to me that something was off here.

    What’s off is that this graphic that’s causing such an uproar is a blog post. It is no more factual than the drivel I post on my blog weekly. I’m not calling the author’s work drivel – I’m calling my own posts drivel (because that’s what they are – and I like them!). I think the issue is that the blog is linked to the main site that promotes TOBB – so it’s being read as the views and opinions of TOBB when really – it’s just a daily entry in a blog. YES – I know it was written by the gal who wrote the book, but still – it’s a blog post! No one is required to put in research and extensive studying for a simple little blog post.

    I totally get why the graphic got you all hot and bothered. It got me pretty riled up too, until I realized that it was simply a blog post :) No facts – all opinion!

    • I totally disagree with you on the idea that it’s just a blog post. On my blog and your blog where it is just about us rambling, yes, we don’t have to ‘get the facts right’. (Although we should still be trying.)

      The NP blog is about selling something. About selling a parenting technique and a book and the blog is simply a marketing tool to do that. It is not just someone’s personal opinion. It’s an opinion based on some kind of research because they wrote and published a book to go with it. (I assume they’ve got some kind of research to back up their claims in the actual book. If not, well then that’s a whole other can of worms.)

      There is a huge difference between a blog fostering a business and a personal one. And the graphic itself is branded with the businesses logo and philosophy, therefore they are not at liberty to spout misinformation without consequences.

      • As someone who contributes to The Other Baby Book’s blog, I take great exception to your assertion that the blog is designed to sell a parenting technique, or even the book. Perhaps my view is skewed as a blogger who writes weekly in that space, but I view the blog as a community space, where other like-hearted parents can gather for support. I did not author that particular post, nor did I have any input in the creation of the infographic. I do find that many costs enumerated in this graphic are not relatable to my own experience, but I also reviewed the graphic with the *context* of the book and the tenor of the blog And that context is this: natural parenting is whatever works for you, whatever feels “natural,” whatever resonates with you and your baby. The only technique being encouraged, if you explore the context of the blog and the book, is this: be authentic; trust your gut; honor your parenting instinct. I took the infographic to be an effective way (albeit exaggerated compared to my own experience) to encourage parents to explore alternatives to the big ol’ Commercial Baby Industry Complex, which all too often preys on our vulnerabilities as parents. I am not speaking for the blog, book, or author–only relating my own interpretation.

      • Hi there, thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate it. I can see there are a few more things to talk about on this, and a few things you’ve said I’d like to address. I’m going to work on another post to do that, cause it’s entirely too long for a comment!

  11. Hehe, I dont care where you pulled your numbers from, you’re still hilarious, and still make a very good point.
    Seems kind of strange to me that the natural parenting advocates are trying to win people over using dollars and cents. Is (supposedly) saving money really the best way to sell natural parenting?
    That said, we followed a lot of the principles on the natural parenting side. Not because we thought it would save us money, but because we thought it was best for our baby.

  12. don’t have much to comment about the issues/debate of the graphic and your post. But I did want to relay that my Mother called me up one day and said, “I was reading that you don’t need diapers anymore if you do this baby-potty thing” And I was like, um, no, I don’t have all day to watch my infant and try to guess when he/she is peeing or pooping. And her reply, the reason I want to share this, was this “Well, you’re going to be a SAHM, what else will you do with your time?” And that speaks to my point, and I think yours, it seems we are just programmed to judge each other in how we parent. And it’s total crap. When what we could be doing is focusing on the parents who are actually abusing thier children and advocating for those children.

  13. Pingback: On further discussion of Natural Parenting | The Prairie Plate

  14. Wow, can you say anything anymore without getting shit? You were clearly just making fun and commenting on the graphic not the actual parenting method???????

    If it helps, I appreciate your humor!!!!!!

  15. I do half of the “natural parenting” stuff anyways, but is this a cost analysis over the course of a single year? The “old way” side comes out to about $13.40 a day. I’d pay $13.40 a day for my sanity if that was what I needed to do.

    And man, that graph left out all the extra baby crap. I just spent almost $200 in the past week because the girls needed more summer clothes (cheapie tees and shorts, too), a few new toys, and some long-sleeved onesies for random cold days. Why do we always have either way too much clothing or never enough clothing??? I suspect Underpants Gnomes are somehow involved.

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  17. These comments made me laugh out loud. I think in general, everyone would benefit from a nice warm glass of, “Calm the eff down!” Too funny.

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