The 6 Most Unconventional Parenting Practices

Featured Article, Growth and Development, Parenting Styles
Newborn baby

Helicopter parents and tiger moms? How passé. And snowplow parents, who clear their children’s paths of opportunities to fail? Yeah, they exist too. And despite controversial, unconventional parenting practices, all of these parents invest themselves in raising healthy, happy and successful kids. But the unusual childrearing options don’t just stop there. Check out these 6 parenting practices that are gaining in popularity regardless of their nay-saying counterparts.

Of about 2 million homeschoolers, one-third could be considered unschoolers. “As long as it’s child-led, it’s unschooling,” says Laurie A. Couture, author and unschooling coach. “Ideally, unschoolers have the freedom to learn naturally — through play, exploration and following their passions and interests….” Without mandatory books, curriculum, tests or grades, parents provide experiences that encourage those passions. “Parents should trust that children will learn all that they need,” adds Couture. Proponents tout less-stressed, more social kids, but findings don’t indicate any socialization advantage, and although homeschoolers achieve higher standardized scores than conventional students, unschoolers score lowest (Concordia University, 2011).

Pioneering research out of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, reveals that new mothers practicing placentophagy, which is the scientific term for placenta consumption (yes, seriously), is increasing. The reason? Since the placenta provides essential nutrients from mother to baby, the same benefits should apply to the mother post childbirth. Despite unsubstantiated evidence, moms report that consuming placenta cooked, raw or dehydrated and encapsulated for preservation, improves lactation, energy and mood.

Breast Milk-Sharing
Breast milk is in demand and available via online donors and milk banks, which last year dispensed 2.5 million ounces of the ideal infant nutrition. Illinois mom Marissa Grossenbach became a donor after giving birth prematurely and discovering the NICU didn’t offer donated milk. Grossenbach, who’s delivered frozen breast milk to needy newborns, explains that many moms can’t breastfeed because of “illness, stress or particular medications… in some instances, babies are intolerant of formula.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using formula or pasteurized milk from banks that test donors. “Some fatal diseases – HIV – can be transmitted,” says Grossenbach. “Pasteurizing brings that risk way down.”

“It’s not something I’d recommend,” says Dr. Maria King, a board-certified pediatrician in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., about infants sharing beds with parents—a trend that’s doubled within last 20 years. Instead, King offers a safer option. “Co-sleepers are little beds that attach to the main bed. Then moms don’t have to leave bed to nurse, but the risk of suffocation is limited, especially when parents have had cocktails with dinner.” Bed sharing also increases the risk of SIDS, according to a government study.

Lotus Birth
Lotus birthers care for newborns with placentas and umbilical cords attached, waiting two to 10 days for natural detachment. An intact cord, they believe, allows complete transfer of nutrient-rich, infection-fighting blood to the baby. Though new analysis proposes that delayed clamping for about a minute improves newborn iron and hemoglobin levels, there’s insufficient data to confirm or refute potential benefits (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2013).

An old study linking the MMR vaccine to autism is why many parents delay childhood vaccines (aka “slow-vaxing”), or skip them entirely (“non-vaxing”). Though the study has been debunked, the fear lingers. The CDC currently advises up to 24 inoculations before age 2 when children are most vulnerable to disease and respond best. Under-vaccinated children are nine times more likely to get chickenpox, 23 times more likely to get whooping cough, less likely to visit doctors, and more likely to be admitted to hospitals than fully immunized children, according to current research conducted by Kaiser Permanente.

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