Tracy Cassels transcript

Written by Christopher Kelly

Sept. 13, 2016

[0:00:00]

Julie:    Hello and welcome to the Paleo Baby Podcast. As usual, I am Julie Kelly, and today I am joined by Tracy Cassels. Tracy is the founder and primary writer for Evolutionary Parenting. Her academic works have been published in many peer reviewed journals including Psychological Assessment, PLoS One, Personality and Individual Differences, Midwifery, and more.

    Tracy serves as an adviser to the Children's Health and Human Rights Partnership, a nonprofit agency dedicated to ending routine infant circumcision. She previously worked at the Canadian Council on Learning. Tracy also writes on the side with a group of researchers and gentle parenting advocates who hope to expand awareness of the science and importance of attachment and evolutionary parenting. Tracy, welcome.

Tracy:    Thank you.

Julie:    It was a mouthful but I got through it. I think it's important. It was all really important things and I left a lot, all of your educational background, everything out. Otherwise, we'd be here all day. But I'm really happy to have you. I've been following your site mostly through Facebook. That's how I discovered you anyways and then I discovered your website. Evolutionary parenting. What is it? What does that mean?

Tracy:    It really refers to the idea that we have evolved and co-evolved with respect to infants and their caregivers in certain ways throughout history and over time and that that evolution and co-evolution predisposes our infants and us as parents to behave in certain ways in order to thrive, so to speak. And that currently, because culture has a huge influence on everything, we are actually parenting in a very non-evolutionary manner that the things that our infants expect from us, because of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution in biology, we are no longer doing.

    And so it's kind of a callback to people to look at why babies do the things they do, why they seek out the behaviors they do from their caregivers and what effect that has on the development, and just to be aware of it in terms of making their own decisions about parenting.

Julie:    Yeah. That is a great synopsis. You're really good at doing that. I read that a few times on the website. I mean, it makes sense to me because one of the main reasons I reached out to you to come on the show and to speak with us was because I think it's interesting. I love looking at things from evolutionary perspective because that's what we do in our practice as functional medicine practitioners. It's kind of where we start, from that perspective, when we're trying to get someone back to health.

    And so it was kind of a no brainer to me when I had my daughter and my husband I were talking about certain parenting decisions, always kind of asking that initial question first: What would we have done? What would we have done before? What did people do before we had all these gizmos and gadgets and sleep timers and breastfeeding apps and all of the stuff? How do we get back to basics? It seems like there's this constant battle, this constant butting of heads almost of this modern world with this evolutionary perspective. Where do you see? I mean, I could go on for hours about all those different intersections, but where you do see, what are the main issues where you feel yourself needing to reeducate people or open their eyes to this perspective?

Tracy:    This is something that I could go on for ages on about. I think the most basic is quite simply an understanding of infant biology and development. We have moved so far away from understanding our babies and children and really no longer as a culture viewing them as human beings with their own needs and rights and everything. I think getting parents to understand what infants need, how immature, for example, their neurological development is.

    I mean, there are many babies who really struggle with self-regulation at the most basic physiological level much less -- I mean, emotional self-regulation comes way later. But we're putting all these expectations of older children, adult, et cetera, on our young infants and getting frustrated when they don't match that. And, I think, that leads to a lot of parents seeking more modern gadgets, this and that, to try and help change something that really isn't very changeable, which is their infant's biology.

    So, if we start there with what an infant should be doing or what we can expect our infants to do and to need from us then we can kind of go forward and then you can branch that off into the areas of sleep and to the areas of breastfeeding, into skin to skin contact, close proximity, lots of touch, the idea of routines getting away from schedules, circumcision, all these different topics that all come into play once you start looking at why babies are as they are and why even, especially mothers but even fathers too, as caregivers, but especially mothers, why we often have very visceral reactions to things with our babies too because that's what I mentioned, co-evolution.

[0:05:08]

    We've co-evolved with them in certain ways to respond in certain manners to them. So, this complements each other. We respond in one way. But there's also friction at times between babies and mothers. That's also very normal and has to come into play in terms of reproductive rights and next babies, et cetera. So, really just having this global understanding of everything, I think, then leads you down the path to the more nuance topics that come into parenting.

Julie:    One thing that just came to mind while you're saying that just in terms of the breastfeeding, I mean, a great example I can think of is I'm a part of a couple of different moms groups on Facebook. Breastfeeding questions come up so frequently. Are they getting enough food? My doctor thinks I should supplement. And then when you -- I love the little, I don't know if you've these, the lanyards that some nurses and doulas and lactation consultants are carrying now about showing that the size of an infant's stomach at each stage of development so that the mom can get a real visual impact of the basic physiology and understand that you probably are okay.

Tracy:    I've showed similar images and articles and stuff that I've written on breastfeeding because it's true. People panic. And when you see exactly how little they actually need to fill their bellies then you know, okay, you can calm the panic the parents have. And, of course, it doesn't mean there aren't problems. It doesn't mean that there shouldn't be someone supervising and helping. And historically, that would have been other members of your group who had gone through everything before and usually elders who had a sense of, over time, learning what to look for and then sharing this knowledge over generations and generations of people.

    There was always someone who had the knowledge of what to look for with infants who might have been struggling. So, yeah, it doesn't mean it's not there but it's really getting parents backed down to understanding this information that is just so lacking in our culture. And the fact that a lot of that information means changing behaviors that counter the way our culture currently works. And that's really difficult for people to both adapt to with respect to work and everything but also just to accept because we've lived so long with a certain way of living. And when you're saying I need you to throw that on its head to accept the way your baby needs to be it can be really jarring for a lot of families, I think.

Julie:    I wonder always where the root of this miseducation comes from, if it's purely the lack of tribe, purely that kind of social isolation that our culture currently breeds where we no longer have these big communal families and groups and tribes and we don't have this information passed down anymore. Do you think that's where it comes from or is it more complicated?

Tracy:    I think it's a bit more complicated. I think that's a huge element of it. Because when you look at a lot of historical tribal culture and stuff, it's not so much that they somehow know better. It's that there really aren't other options. You have to live in a way that allows you to thrive, that gives babies best chance and that gives you the best chance of survival. And so those behaviors all naturally fit into this in many ways. And so you have that option. Everyone knows that. You don't really move beyond having to think about more.

    I think part of it is the lack of the village. Part of it is there are far too many options. We have so much information at our fingertips and so many choices. And just like we say with young children, when you have a toddler who's really struggling, you say break down the choice to two. Do you want to wear X or do you want to wear Y? But when they have a whole closetful they often struggle to make any decision because it's all overwhelming. To the same degree we're doing that to parents who are adults but still struggle with the same too much choice is too difficult for us. Too many things to do when we can narrow it down to smaller chunks. It's easier.

    And then I also think you have to go back to the rise of the industrial era, the onset of science thinking it knows everything, and kind of an arrogance that came with modern development, that somehow modern meant better. And we've kind of really adhered to that spirit in our culture. Like you look at the newest technology, of course, the new iPhone is better than the last iPhone. Of course, whatever new gadget we have is going to be better.

    So, we always view this idea of modernity and of -- what's the word I'm looking for? And the gadgets and the newer what we call scientifically backed, which I also do, [0:09:52] [Indiscernible] but mainly because there's such a demand for it. But everything has to be science-based and backed in modern for people to actually accept it. And so, I think, all of those kind of collaborate together to create a perfect storm of where are now.

[0:10:07]

Julie:    It's interesting because we run up against this in our practice all the time. My husband runs our other podcast, the Nourish Balance Thrive podcast, and he talks to experts all the time. But honestly, one of the parts of his full time job just running the functional medicine practice that we run is reading research and trying to sort through all the crap and really, okay, yeah, this is the latest greatest paper on this topic, but do you even understand how to read the evidence? Do you understand that the evidence is actually not evidence at all, if anything?

Tracy:    Yes. Well, I had to write up that last big sleep training paper that came out. Media lapped it up. It's okay to leave your babies to cry. The methodological flaws in that paper were so huge that really there was no, not even close to being able to claim anything of the sort. And it's not that the research was useless. I think it actually opened up an area of exploration that would be really interesting.

    But from a statistical perspective, and from a methodological perspective, they really could not be making the conclusions they were making. So, there's all sorts of flaws. And then even the modern science, I mean, we have to look at this way, but modern science focuses on one outcome that's purely defined. And so when I deal with people worried about sleep and whatnot and they talk about all the science that support sleep training, I always have to point out that it supports it in so far as -- and even then it's questionable actually.

    But what they've read supports it in so far as the outcome is mom sleeps longer or dad sleeps longer. There is no other evidence of baby sleeping longer. There's no evidence -- There's a baby being in bed and not crying out. Yes. No evidence of baby sleeping longer and no evidence of a shift in any other type of relationship around it. So, you're not talking about other outcomes of emotional well-being, social well-being, attachment status, et cetera.

    Those are all absent when we looked at the research and what really, when you really look at the research despite claims to the contrary by other people. But there really isn't anything. And so I have to be clear with people that when you're looking at science you also have to be careful of what they're saying their outcome measure is. Saying something works doesn't necessarily means saying it's good.

Julie:    Exactly. Yeah. It's like this. It's difficult because, I mean, this is kind of one of our main tenets of our business, is trying to help people learn how to evaluate these things for themselves. Because not everybody has gone to grad school and had to learn how to assess research. And even if you have, it doesn't necessarily mean that when you switch disciplines or you look at another body of research that you're familiar with the research methodology or you're familiar with it.

    

    But, I think, there's some basic things that people can learn how to do when assessing research. And also, more than anything, making sure that they're going to the paper itself, not waiting around for somebody to interpret it for them. Just because a media outlet is reporting on it doesn't necessarily mean that they've interpreted it properly either.

Tracy:    Exactly. I mean, you look at who our scientific journalists these days and many of them have degrees in journalism and no advanced degrees in any scientific realm. That's a really big problem. And as you said about, even going to grad school. I tell people my Ph.D. is in developmental psychology, which is great and it's helpful for understanding the basics of development, but my ability to critically evaluate data and research did not come from that part of my degree.

    I also happen to really love statistics and did a graduate minor in -- they call it psychometrics. So, it's all the different statistical methods, research methodology, et cetera. So, I did a full complete set of courses in everything in that as well. And that is what gives me the tools to look at the researches I do. I did not get that from my actual PhD course work in developmental psych. It was actually having to do separate work in quantitative methods that allows me to look at that.

    So, I can meet other people who have PhDs who are still making some fundamental errors in the way they're approaching data or the way they're approaching research papers in terms of the conclusions. And it's not that somehow my degree is better in developmental. It's that I just happen to have this additional work with psychometrics that allows me to make these conclusions.

Julie:    Yeah, I think that's really important. I think that's definitely something that I hope the message gets across loud and clear. Because whatever decision you have to make, if you are looking to research to answer that question somehow, if you don't have the ability to properly weigh the evidence then it's going to impede your ability to properly make a decision.

[0:15:00]

Tracy:    Sorry. Just to jump in and add there is there's not only that but then you have people who have the problem of having to believe that somehow everything has to be represented equally to be fair. And I always want to scream at that because I get a lot of comments when I write about breastfeeding or sleep training or whatnot that they're saying, "Well, you're not -- you're just biased. You're not presenting both sides."

    And I always want to go like, "Because I started off actually not feeling the way I do." I started off doing a lot of research and has come down to, no, I'm sharing what really is the valuable research. You don't have to give stuff equal value when they are not inherently equal. A study that tells me one thing that really doesn't answer anything but says it supports sleep training, for example, is not something I want to be sharing as somehow having equal weight to the studies that I take a look at holistically that inform me of a different conclusion about sleep training.

    So, it's just people have this view that it has to be equal to allow people to make a decision and I just don't -- I'd rather dissect the research for people and help them understand why one's wrong, why it's not giving us the conclusions we want, and why the other maybe or why taken as a whole, a group of research may tell us more than just one individual piece on its own.

Julie:    Yeah, I think that's huge and, I think, it's good work to do that for people because, I think, as you've said now multiple times, there's so much information out there. It's debilitating, I think, a lot of times especially for some of the topics that you focus on most of the time. I think it's so diversive and it seems so black and white when you look at it. When you find yourself in the gray area, it can be very, very difficult to find your way.

    I'd love to turn our attention though to the topic that I want to spend more time talking about because this is something that I get pushed and prodded on a lot. I want to talk about sleep training and infant sleep in general, I think, is a good place to start. Because, I think, like you said in the beginning, understanding the basic physiology and the basic needs and the biology is important when we talk about the larger issues and this one being sleep training. What does an infant need? What's normal for infant sleep?

Tracy:    Well, really, I almost say it's not so much. Almost everything is normal depending on the individual. I try and focus on what's not normal for families so that they can kind of get out of trying to see does my child fit this one view of what's normal when really there's so much variability? And I say that just to preface this because, for instance, a baby who's born prematurely may need to nurse every hour on the hour to get caught up as they're basically reaching their gestational age.

    And then even beyond that, just because of certain needs that happen with premature infants. Infants with health conditions may need to wake and feed more frequently than a normal child. So, when you say, well, what's normal is children often wake, whatever, five times a night or they do three-hour stretches, it causes panic in a lot of families because they have children that don't match that.

    Whereas if I say what's really abnormal and what I always ask people to start looking for is what's abnormal is then they have kind of this grass root, "Well, my baby doesn't do this. So, this is okay." Really, what I find generally not normal -- and again, as I just gave you an example of what still might violate that -- is an infant who is waking probably, well, waking every hour can be normal at the beginning.

    You really want it to change somewhat quickly to see them start consolidating sleep cycles. So, the very frequent often waking can be a sign if it doesn't resolve itself in the first couple of months. But really, it's waking with the kind of waking screaming, waking crying all the time. And that's what I often talk to families about because I work one on one with families as well. That's the real concern, is when you have a baby who every hour is waking up screaming throughout the night or inconsolable for periods.

    They wake up and they're up for three hours crying their eyes out uncontrollably. That's often a sign of something else. That's really what you're looking for. Now, I also add to this, because you have to be aware, that sometimes the infant sleep is within the realms of normal for infancy but it's still a problem for the family. So, if you have parents going back to work at six weeks and they've been told, they've got their baby in another room, they're waking to nurse multiple times a night, and they're running on two, three hours of sleep a night, that's not safe or functional for the family as a whole and something has to change.

[0:20:16]

    What that something is may look very different talking to someone like me or someone like you than if you were to go and look at sleep training. But the acknowledgement is that it doesn't have to be that the infant sleep is abnormal to seek changes that work for your family. But definitely you should be looking into things when you're seeing this kind of constant in pain screaming behavior, if the baby is nursing nonstop.

    That's a big one people get. They say they're basically up all night because their baby won't unlatch, either won't unlatch at all or will nurse for 20, 30 minutes, unlatch for 20 minutes, latch back on for 20, 30 minutes, and they're not getting any sleep at all as they go through this frequently, these frequent nursing sessions. So, those are the kinds of things that I often look for.

    Part of what I have to remind people about the normalcy and where we have a bit of an evolutionary mismatch with baby and adult for a period is that infant sleep cycles are much shorter than adults. So, when we think about normal behavior, infant sleep cycles are around 45 minutes, just to take an average. It can be a bit less and a bit more, just like with adults. Adults are, on average, about an hour and a half.

    And so when you have a baby who might rouse between each sleep cycle then you can see the problem for adult sleep because you can't even get into a full sleep cycle if your baby is rousing every 45 minutes. This is where a lot of parents struggle because they're struggling to even lump together a sleep cycle over the course of a night. And their babies really are normal -- I'm doing air quotes with my hands even though no one can see me -- because it's still probably indicative of some other problems when they're waking up that frequently.

    But in between sleep cycles is when we are most likely to rouse. It's just that an infant that has to rouse and signal because the environment isn't conducive to them being able to link these sleep cycles, that's the problem for the parents and why they perceive their infant has a "sleep problem." The second fact I always talk to parents about in terms of normal sleep is that when their children are struggling, and you have a kid that's waking screaming or not going down easily, I always tell them that sleep itself is often not the problem.

    So, we're treating sleep problems with -- Sleep trainers, basically treat sleep as sleep problems. And I prefer to look at sleep as the canary in the coal mine. It is one of the first things we see problems with when there are other problems. so, for example, the baby that nurses all night long and won't unlatch or latches only sporadically to get back on, probably has troubles with either a lip tie, a tongue tie, improper latch and is struggling to get satiated. They cannot feed full enough that they just have to continuously feed to make up for that lack of calories in a given feeding session.

    We really want to be looking at sleep. And what's happening in sleep is a cue to tell us where else we should be looking for, what is actually happening so that we can help the infant by treating the problem, if there is one, versus the symptom.

Julie:    That's so fascinating. Because it's literally exactly what we do in functional medicine. It's true. We're always looking for -- People always come to us with the specific problem. I know I have a thyroid issue so I want to treat this thyroid issue and this is my symptom. And I was like, "Okay, is it really your thyroid? Or is there something else going on? Do you have a hormonal imbalance? Do you have a gut infection?"

    Usually, the smoke is not the fire. So, I mean, it's just such an interesting parallel to think of -- I mean, sleep is in the same way. Because usually, when we can get someone sleeping through the night, everything else falls into place. So, I think that's a great parallel and why I love this perspective so much, is because it just seems to make a lot more sense when you take a step back and try to approach things from this way. And I love also looking at, not looking at them as sleep problems but as cues. I think that's really great.

Tracy:    And I just want to add one more thing just about what you said about getting people a full night sleep. I think the other problem in our society that comes is that we ignore that maternal hormones are different for a reason at birth because, again, we've [0:24:42] [Indiscernible] with our infants. Our bodies are not expecting to sleep eight hours straight anymore through the night. Because our infants don't. They need us. We need to be there for them.

Julie:    Which we kind of are trained for during the pregnancy.

Tracy:    Exactly.

Julie:    Because I don't know any pregnant woman that like by the third trimester isn't up multiple times a night already.

[0:25:00]

Tracy:    I always relish the welcoming of my babies because I actually sleep better right afterwards. Because I have a bladder the size of a pea, anyway. I'm up many, many times in that third trimester and then it actually improves once they're born. But, yeah, I think people have to remember that it's not -- you should not be thinking of eight, ten hours straight for you as the holy grail. In fact, it wasn't even normal biological sleep for humans until recently.

    When we look at the history of sleep for human beings for adults, we used to sleep in two chunks with a large wakeup period in the middle of the night because we followed -- We would go down with it got dark or at a certain time, if you live on the northern or southern hemisphere, like deep in the northern or southern hemisphere. You have longer periods of light and dark. But humans did not sleep eight hours straight. They would sleep four or so, wake up for two, three hours, and then sleep another four.

    And it was the advent of electricity that changed that for us. We were able to keep ourselves awake longer changing our circadian rhythm and, thus, sleeping longer throughout the night period. So, I remind parents of this that this period of waking is actually quite okay as long as, again, we go back to the real important thing is getting these completed sleep cycles. That's where we see troubles in terms of cognitive functioning and everything down the line.

Julie:    Where do you see -- I mean, in your practice in working with people and just in research in general, I feel like there's two camps. I feel like just like nursing and it's -- I hate the term mommy worries but I feel like with each of these issues there is one side versus the other side. Clearly, I am of a certain opinion. I'm not trying to be biased. I get it. There's people who don't have, just like you, seems to understand that our modern society forces different conversations about what is normal, what is necessary, and what is the best solution for each family.

    But I have to wonder about the dangers of some of these things. Because clearly, we have biology and physiology at play in child development. And so some of these practices, and I'm going to go back to sleep training here, some of these practices are contrary to our biology and our physiology. And so I just wonder at what point -- I keep wanting you to do breastfeeding as an example. The fed is best argument. I'm not a fan. Because we know that breastfeeding is better. Without a doubt--

Tracy:    I am actually going to correct you. Breastfeeding is normal.

Julie:    Breastfeeding is normal.

Tracy:    That is what we have evolved to expect. And for good reason. I hear you. And so there's a difference.

Julie:    So, I guess, what I'm saying is when it comes to the sleep training, and there's lots of different modalities, there's lots of different methods and we can bring some of those up to be more specific, but in this topic, where do you kind of draw the line? Like if somebody is wanting to sleep train because they, not necessarily because they need to but because they think they're supposed to, what kinds of things do you point out to them as for the biology and the physiology to show them that it's kind of contrary to what we would have done?

Tracy:    Well, I rarely get families that actually -- The families I work with come to me because they don't want to do what we would traditionally call sleep training. So, all the families are like, "Thank you. I don't want to do cry it out. I don't want to do controlled crying. But we're struggling. Can you help us find something?" Most often, sometimes it takes a long time to work with families. Sometimes it can take months if the problem is really bad and the kid is older and you have to work through a lot. And sometimes it's actually very quick that they start seeing improvement right away. But often what I try to tell them, I first remind them that part of it is changing expectations.

    So, I always include, when I work with families, education on what is normal, what to expect, or rather what isn't normal and, therefore, oftentimes telling them what your baby is doing is actually normal. We're not trying to harm you. There's a reason for this. I talk about the evolutionary mechanisms by which we used to handle a lot of these problems. For example, if you have a child that's going to growth spurt, teething, learning to crawl, cognitive leaps all at once and you're seeing a rapid deterioration of sleep at around this nine-month marker,  and often all these things start to happen or happen coincidingly.

[0:30:06]

    It used to be we sleep close to our babies and we breastfed on demand. Those two things alone, breastfeeding offers pain relief for babies when they're struggling. And the second action as we now know, thanks to work by Dr. Stephen Porges, actually halts the or pulls off the brakes of the vagal nerve and, therefore, it can actually calm them and help them lower the stress levels when they're experiencing this distress.

    So that breastfeeding act alone offers kind of twofold help to what they're experiencing. It also provides, because our nighttime breast milk contains melatonin, contains dopamine, serotonin, amino acids, all these things that is necessary to create this wellbeing in our infants and help them feel better during these periods of distress. Now, on top of that, when they're sleeping in close proximity to us, as we use to always basically "bed share" although not always with bed historically, that close proximity also helps regulate the infant both their physiology as well as just their sense of comfort and wellbeing.

    They feel safe when they're close to someone who is caring for them. And this also, all of these things combine to actually improve sleep during these really difficult periods. So, when people understand that we have really coevolved with our infants to give them ways, to help them and in turn help us, they can kind of see why sleep training really goes against all of those things, that this idea of leaving a baby to cry, which is really the most prominent form of sleep training that is proposed by people and taken up by people, has the opposite effect of this.

    It's not providing any of the comfort. It's not providing relief. It's not providing a sense of security. And I don't know what the long term implications of that are. Imagine there are some. I think it would also differ based on the personality of the child, the temperament. More sensitive children are going to be more negatively affected by that than those who are having more robust temperament.

    So, I like to focus on making sure families understand why we evolve the way we did. And then I like to talk about the ways we've moved away from this in our society. So, we have all sorts of ways in that our society and what we do is not conducive to sleep or even infant sleep. Our infants are highly affected by screens. And whether they like it or not, we often have blue waves coming out of light bulbs, TVs, et cetera, that affect their circadian rhythm. And they need us to understand that this is actually sometimes inhibiting their ability to sleep.

    Yeah, exactly. But we don't think about ourselves in all of this. When your baby is screaming because they just can't get into that state, you're wondering do I just leave them? I also then like to mention to parents that when you look at the research on emotion regulation, the common myth is I need to do this to help my baby self soothe. This really seems to be this big push nowadays.

    Self-soothing is really just a term for emotion regulation. And as we get older, our kids develop it, et cetera. I often include with families a discussion when they need it. Oftentimes they do get this part already by the time they've come to me and read enough on EP about this. But if they don't, I talk to them about how when you look even at the data we have on emotion regulation, nothing supports leaving a baby alone to cry as any development, of any self-soothing. In fact, what we do have shows that that's actually the last thing we should be doing if we want to develop emotion regulation in our children.

    The very basic premise of emotion regulation development stems from modeling. That we regulate for them initially. Soon their very first stage of seeking help is actually looking for co-regulation. They realize they're upset so they seek their caregiver to help calm them. And that's the first stage of emotion regulation right there. And that's what our infants are trying to do when they're calling out for us. They're saying, "I recognize I'm upset. I can't fix this and I need you."

    When we ignore that, we're not actually building any path in the brain that leads to self regulation. We're building paths that basically shut down. And so, as I go into that and then I talk to families about how long it can take when you think about how the brain lays down its neural pathways through repeated exposure unless it's a very fearful or traumatic stimuli then the path gets laid down much faster. And so by the end of it, then we start talking about the different ways in which you can, if needs be, try and mimic what our infants would expect of the environment if it's not possible to give it to them directly.

[0:35:07]

    And so that way parents see certain tricks and tips they can do to help their baby feel that sense of safety, security, et cetera, at night time. And that's what often works.

Julie:    I'm curious about, because I get this, I want to be able to answer because I know some listeners have lobbed to some of these methods as necessary for them because of their situation. They work. They have to go back to work at six weeks, 12 weeks, whatever. Or they just, if they're sleep deprived, or they're dealing with other health or mental health issues because they're lacking sleep and they feel this is necessary, I need to get my baby sleeping through the night.

    I guess, I want to address a couple of things clearly. What are the dangers? When they say, okay, I'm doing cry it out or I'm doing controlled cry, which I think are really essentially the same thing, what do you, how do you, what would somebody like me, what can I say to help them understand why that might not be a good idea and get them to invest and investigate in methods that you are recommending or getting help like the type of help that you provide instead of just thinking that this is the only way, this method is tried and true and this is what all my friends are doing and this is what all the "parenting experts" are recommending? How do we get sort of from that place of this is common knowledge, this is what everybody does, to there's another way, there's another option, there's lots of other ways?

Tracy:    Yeah, I hear you. It's changing the minds. I think the first thing -- I just want to mention this because, I think, the first thing when you're going in with someone who say has to do it and is already in this really negative place, I always say the very first step there is to try and get, usually it's moms, so I say mom automatically but I can be dad, is to get mom a night of sleep. Because everything seems far more bearable and approachable when you had just one night.

    I often talk to families right off the bat about what is their support network to be able to have someone they know and trust and care for come in or if they can afford a night doula to come in for one night and take baby throughout the night, while baby is awake, bring baby in for some feedings. But be constantly loving, attentive, touch, et cetera to this child, so that mom can just get her bearings back again.

    And if she can get her bearings back again then you can sit down, say, "Okay, now that you're not in a state where everything is kind of flashing panic to you, what do you need first off?" And so the first thing is getting them to acknowledge, "Okay, do you need eight hours straight?" No. Let's be honest about it. Do you need to get three or four sleep cycles going through? Yes. That's reasonable. And once you get that, we can go from there.

    So then I try to mention. And it depends on the person. Some people are more science minded. And they're really swayed by this idea of what I just mentioned about this emotion regulation. Some are swayed by just thinking about it, taking the perspective of their child. So, understand, how would you feel? So, imagine, you're in strange country, you have some people that are trying to take care of you, everything is terrifying because you really don't know this world very well at all, and you can't communicate. They all speak a different language. You're starting to understand them but they don't understand you at all.

    One night, they lock you in a dark room. Are you going to feel safer and more trusting with them? What is that going to do with your relationship with those people? And when you think of it that way, a lot of people start to say, "Oh, wait a second, that actually wouldn’t be very helpful to my relationship." For some, it might not damage it entirely. But is it going to do anything good for you? And do you think if you scream and cry and try and get them to come and they don't and you eventually fall asleep you're sleeping really well? No.

    So, some people respond to that. Some people will respond better to thinking about how we would not treat any other person in our society that way. If elders were being left in the room and not being cared for, it would be elder abuse, rightfully so, and we would call it as such. And then you just think, and I always bring it up, if your baby has a problem, and this is really a symptom of a problem, how are you going to feel if you discover what that problem is a year from now and realize you did nothing for it?

[0:40:00]

    Because let's face it, it's almost inevitably, there's something. And sometimes you don't actually get to figure out what it is. Sometimes it can be something transient especially if it's gut related as the gut develops with time. But you need people to realize how would you feel? How would you feel if you went to the doctor and they just said, you knew something was wrong with you and they just kept treating the symptoms of what was wrong instead of actually trying to discover what was wrong?

    And so a lot of perspective taking work, I think, comes into it to try and get people to really realize what it is that's happening. And then you bring in the science of, like I said, I will always bring in the science of the emotion regulation. I will ask them to read -- There's one case study in Dr. Bruce Perry's book, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog. Have you read that book? I strongly recommend it.

    Because he's a neuropsychiatrist. He's brilliant. And he's worked with all sorts of children who have undergone extreme abuse and trauma. And he's amazing at working at trying to change the way they approach the world, at least to a degree to get them functional given some of the horrors that they've experienced. And one of the case studies in that is about a boy who, as an infant, his parents left him with a sitter. And during the day, and this is classified abuse, the sitter left him in his crib all day long.

    His parents were loving and attentive but when they handed them over it was something like 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., he was in a crib left alone. And he suffered severe trauma and abuse from it. And when you think about that, okay, that's nine hours. If you flip that and put that at night, why is that different? He's a baby. He doesn't really know the full night-day distinction yet. So, he suffered immensely despite having loving wonderful family who came home and doted on him when they were there.

    So, that bit, because as he points out so often, is that we don't know when trauma can occur. The fact of the matter is that humans are not as resilient as people would have you believe. We build up our resilience through our relationships with our primary caregivers. So, we are instilling this resilience for our children to be able to face things later in the world. If we're not building that up properly, then they don't have that down the line.

    Trauma can occur. They haven't worked it out yet but the same event can happen to two different children who are very similar but at different times, and just based on what's happening in their life, it will be highly traumatic for one and not for another. And we don't know why. But are you willing to take that risk with your infant? I likened it in one thing I wrote to a car accident. People go through car accidents, unfortunately, all the time. Some people develop PTSD from them afterwards and some people don't. And do we know why? Not really. We know the degree.

    And we're talking about similar degrees of trauma in each. There's so many variables that are still left as unknowns to us that we need parents to realize that your infant has the same number of unknowns. So, you're playing a risky game. And oftentimes I get why parents want to do it because they think there are no other options. So, my goal is then to make clear there's lots of other options. Not that we'll try and get you your ten hours of sleep at night but you don't need your baby to be asleep for ten hours straight without calling you.

    And even when you look at the efficiency of these methods -- There is a great study out of Canada looking at how well families actually perceived controlled crying to work based on how long they had to it and how often, and it's quite interesting that the vast majority of families did not have it work right away the way experts tell you it's going to work. The vast majority of them -- There were families that did it for over a month straight with babies. And a lot of families that did it three, four times because something would change and babies would go back.

    And I tell families that's usually a sign. It's kind of a house of cards. If you can remove one card and the whole thing topples and your baby goes back to needing you and wanting you more and crying, it's because you're not doing something in line with their biology. When sleep is actually built into a healthy way where they learn like sleep -- I want my kids to love to sleep. I love to sleep. I want them to love to sleep. And when that's the frame that you're building up for them, then long term, you don't see bumps in the road. You don't see travel, meaning a step back to square one. You don't see different caregiver meanings step back to square one. Because sleep is no longer a touchy issue. You haven't built their sleep on a house of cards. You've built it on a solid foundation.

[0:45:00]

Julie:    I'm thinking of that because that's definitely something that I've seen with our daughter because we've traveled quite a bit since she's been really tiny. Whenever she was going through transition, some kind of developmental change, I always see kind of a backslide towards nursing more often at night and things like that and then travel would always, always bring that on because it's just a different environment. It's a lot to take in. It's over stimulating different time zones, what have you.

Tracy:    Exactly. But then going back to the nursing more, that's their comfort. You're still there so they can take it. They learn how to adapt to that and they learn methods of some regulation there and feel safe in this newer environments too, which is great for longer term kind of independence and branching out, is that our infants have this kind of secure sense of you're the base. And they can explore the world from that base.

Julie:    I'm guessing I should probably get to some kind of more specific questions and more kind of, okay, so what do I do if -- because that's what people like to hear. We don't want to preach to the choir too much. But I've asked a few people if they had any specific questions related to this, to any of the sleep training and whatnot. And one of the questions is: Do these methods, does 'cry it out,' does controlled crying, do they work? And, I think, that this is a great question because you've kind of already answered it. I feel like I know the answer but I'm curious to see how you answer that question.

Tracey:    Well, from a research perspective, it all depends on what you mean by work. So, there's a lot of meta analyses that will claim, yes, they work. And the definition of work has always been done by maternal report of infant sleep. So, I found this really interesting topic because we're finally getting to greater research on this. So, parents report after doing it, oftentimes, otherwise, I brought up the other study done at home. It's not quite as successful as that.

    And people need to remember when a study says success, as long as it occurs significantly, statistically significantly more often than you would expect by chance, that's what it means it works. it doesn't mean it works for everyone. In many cases, you're looking at maybe about working for 40% to 50% of people. And so, by no means can you expect that even by this definition it works. But the original definition was always maternal report of infant sleep. "I can now put my baby to sleep and they sleep for ten hours and it's great."

    And what I love is all these parents often will sort of put, "No, I can see a difference in my baby. My baby is sleeping better." And rightfully so, researchers are pointing out, "Well, wait a second. We don't actually know babies are sleeping more." We're using this as a big caveat. They're telling you your baby needs better sleep and this is the way to get it. So, a lot of parents do this because they actually think they're doing good by their baby.

    And so we luckily have something called actograph. They've invented them or modified them for babies so that they actually take into account the constant movement that babies have in their sleep. They have been running studies on babies now including the actograph. And there's been two that recently came out. Both of them, although parents reported babies were sleeping better, in both cases, when they looked at the actograph data, babies' sleep had not improved at all. And, in fact, in one case, the baby's sleep had slightly decreased the amount of time the baby was asleep after the sleep training.

    So, this idea that babies are somehow improving their sleep or that it works on infant sleep is completely misguided. We have no evidence to suggest that it works in that sense. In fact, the evidence we do have suggests it does not work in that sense. What it gets is parents having babies who don't call out to them anymore. That is how it works. Babies, when it works for the 40% to 50%, the babies stop calling out. For the other 40%, 50%, 60%, really, babies are still crying and calling out to them. And they're giving up and then trying it again later and then giving up and trying it again later.

    And then when we look at even, again, the status by which it "works," when you have controlled studies that have a controlled condition -- because many of them didn't have controlled conditions initially -- and then you look at long term follow-ups, initially, it works in the first same month or two weeks. But if you look at three months down the line, is it still showing any improvement? And it's not. The groups are often no different from another. We really have to be cautious when we're telling families it works as to what that means.

[0:49:59]

    And we also have -- Exactly. When we look at even statistically significant differences -- There is a big study out of Australia by a sleep trainer there who tried to claim that his research shows it increases the amount babies sleep without increasing their fuzziness. What the results were is parents reported getting an initial over 24-hour period, it was close to, I think, 50 more minutes of sleep in a 24-hour period. So, this included naps as well.

    But the babies were still crying for the exact same amount per day as the babies that did not sleep train. And I couldn't help but think, okay, so you've got about 50 more minutes of the child in a bed, you now know probably not sleeping anymore, but they're still crying the exact same amount. So, proportionately speaking, you actually have fuzzier babies. Because if my kid is only awake ten hour and crying for over an hour of it, versus 11 hours and crying for over an hour of it, I'm at least getting some more happier times with my baby when they're awake without this. So, I'm not sure we can say, maybe it didn't -- I would have expected the crying to decrease proportionately the amount they're awake. But apparently not.

    So, all these ideas of what works really have stemmed by this definition of my baby does not call out for me. And it's still a research definition of work. It is not working for every family by no stretch of the imagination. And as we now know, it's not even actually getting infants to sleep better.

Julie:    And also, I mean, there's other psychological implications of that.

Tracy:    Yeah, we're not even -- And that's not even, the working, that's the side effects that aren't even being studied properly. So, we really don't even know. Or how it interacts with temperament or what happens when we're looking at families who later discovered there was a health problem and they've undergone this? How did that affect the child in terms of a long term health issue? Or trauma, yeah.

    One of the firsts thank yous I ever got from a family was one who wrote when I had the blog, just the blog and I wasn't even working with families at that point. They had a child who was waking and nursing all night long. And the mom was a wreck. She was now, I think, the baby was six months old and she was just down to virtually no sleep. She was a zombie. She started considering sleep training. The family was all pushing on them. But it was her husband who's like, "No, we're not doing this."

    It was something I wrote, and I still don't even know which piece it was, but she read it and immediately went, "Wait a second, tongue tie." And lo and behold, her child had a tongue tie. And so they spent the money, got it clipped, and within a week, he was sleeping four hour stretches. And she was suddenly like, "Oh my god." And luckily she spoke to, I think it was a lactation consultant, who had told her, basically, what would have happened is -- and I don't know how many women experienced this because I know I've heard this story often enough. She said, "You would have sleep trained."

    And because of the tongue tie, your nursing no longer would have been enough to fulfill. You would have seen your son lose weight and you probably would have hit failure to thrive. And you would have been with the doctors. You would have been supplementing with formula and you would have been on a strict regimen of following his growth in panic. You probably would have seen the end of your nursing relationship after a while. And instead, by acknowledging that the sleep was a symptom of the problem and getting to the root of it, they addressed the root of the issue, nursing remained, sleep got better, everyone is happy.

Julie:    That's so important. I mean, I think that in of itself, I wish I could just -- We should make a tee shirt that says that. The sleep as a symptom is a clue as to what could really be going on, what's the root cause. It's so important. It's not something I hear anybody talking about.

Tracy:    It is so unfortunate because there's so many -- There's different health problems that can be happening too that you look at intestinal issues, especially with baby's guts that are just developing. I always tell families there's actually research out there that the introduction of probiotic early on helps improve colic symptoms and sleep.

Julie:    Yeah. I mean, we're looking at an adult population of people who -- I mean, nobody has bifidobacter anymore because they've had too many antibiotics or they've just eaten a very non-healthy diet for too many years and they're not getting enough sleep, they're not taking care of themselves. There's a bazillion reasons why. Or they were born via caesarian and they don't have the same gut bacteria that they should have.

    There's loads of these little tiny things that it's easy to dismiss them because they seem so insignificant or so small but when you put them all together it can mean the difference between, like you were just saying, a healthy nursing relationship and healthy sleeping relationship and, therefore, healthy mom, healthy happy mom, healthy happy baby and family.

[0:55:06]

    I mean, looking into those things and really truly getting to the root of these problems instead of just turning to the "experts," as we were talking about, and going with the method, some method that seems to solve everybody's problems. Are they really solving the problem?

Tracy:    Probably not. And one of the other things we have to remember is that experts often become experts in a very narrow field. So, a sleep expert is looking only at sleep and they believe, because that's their life focus, sleep is the most important thing that you can do. And if you're not getting enough sleep, oh my goodness, there's all sorts of problems. But I always caution people, you want to be looking at this holistically.

    Yes, sleep is important. I'm not saying it's not. But so is your attachment relationship with your child, so is your breastfeeding relationship, if you choose to have one, so is the bonding that happens with your child and others, so is a host of other things, or your other kids, so is your relationship with your spouse. And you have to kind of take all of that into consideration when you're looking at even just sleep.

Julie:    Yeah. That's incredible, incredibly important. In terms of sleep, again another question. I get a lot of questions about co-sleeping. Clearly, it's not a sleep training method. It's almost the opposite of that. I think there's a lot of fear around co-sleeping for various reasons because it's inflamed by the media. I think there's also concern not just about the dangers of sleep training. Clearly, there are situations where people shouldn't be co-sleeping. There's also just fear around what it's setting you up for in the long term. My husband is terrified that our daughter is going to be sleeping with us until she's ten. And I don't know how to assuage that fear.

Tracy:    Well, I think the first question I would ask is why would that be terrible?

Julie:    Right. That's what I say.

Tracy:    What is it that's so terrible? I mean, because when you look historically around the world at other cultures, and I actually have a piece that did look at this, at bed sharing beyond infancy, that is the norm, actually. Often, the boys will move away from a kind of bed sharing environment in tribal societies earlier and create their own. I mean, of course, create their own is just setting up a bed ten feet away. You're not even really talking about this big separation here.

    But they will do that earlier, often kind of ten to 12 year of age. And the girls, it was very common to see mothers and daughters sleeping together at 14, 16. This was kind of par for the course. So, I always ask people what is so awful about that? So, you have to first understand is it your cultural bias that is really indicative that my child needs to be independent and that means being away from me? As opposed to interdependent where they're working with you while also going off on their own but you have a good relationship whereby they can come back to you if needed? And night may be that time.

    Night is the time where we can, we need to feel safe. And so feeling safe with their parents is a very normal thing for children to have. I would say, though, that even with that, most kids before ten do seek a bit more independence in the house and want to be a little bit separate and have their own space. So, chances are, if you went by pure statistics, your kid would actually be asking for their own space before ten. But they might not be. You'll never know. So again, you go, okay, well -- But if it's really a problem, guess what? You can gently work with them to move them towards their own space. Because what people forget is that what we do now, there's this big belief that somehow if you do something now you have to continue it forever.

    And I don't know where we got that because I certainly am not spoon feeding -- well, I actually don't spoon feed. My children feed themselves. My son currently is eight months old and uses his pincer grasp for all his eating. I do not give him spoons and forks because he'll poke himself in the eye. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to give him spoons and forks. I'm not concerned that because he's eating with his hands now he's going to be a 30-year old who can only eat with his hands.

    I'm really quite aware that development works in the way that we develop. And the same goes with sleep. And the same means that we have to understand that our children will develop over time and they will change. Because that's inherently what we do as human beings and what we do when we're developing from one stage in our lives to the next. If we're not worried about it with respect to feeding, if we're not worried that our children aren't walking right out of the room, because, oh my goodness, what if they get used to sitting on their butt? Or what if they get used to crawling?

[1:00:00]

    We don't worry about these things because we know there's an internal motivation towards something different. Because it's not better or worse. It's just different. And the same goes for sleep. There's an internal motivation to eventually separate for many people. But for many, not. Look at Japanese culture where many families sleep in the same room? They have the mat. They don't separate. Co-sleeping doesn't end. And that's common around the world.

    This idea we have is still very cultured notion of what sleep should look like. But I do think people fear, and I think the fear though of not sleeping on their own is somehow it's a fear of my child will not be independent in other ways. And I can say that all the research we have on that completely counters that. There are couple great long term studies that have actually looked at the question of independence in children who co-slept beyond infancy. The ones when they looked at it before infancy often those children as toddlers and pre-schoolers are more independent than their solitary sleeping counterparts.

    But beyond infancy is hard to get a lot of data on. But there are actually three studies that looked at it. The best one is an 18-year longitudinal study done in the States where they looked at families across who now get kids who are now in the university. And at their various time points, at no point did the children who were bed sharing beyond a year of age ever end up less independent than their solitary sleeping counterparts

    At some points they were actually more independent. And by the 18 years, you couldn't identify who had done what. So, in earlier time periods they had, there were some stages at which they did actually seem to be more independent, at younger age especially. But then as they got older, everyone seemed to be independent enough. There are couple others where they did find the opposite that the people who bed shared, the kids who bed shared beyond infancy were again more independent at a later time. Again, not as late as 18 years though.

    It does seem that actually possibly it can confer, it may confer some benefits with respect to independence especially in the early childhood kind of years. And so that is good news for people who are worried about their children being independent. And also, it's important to note that families realize that actually when you look at cultures that accept, even western cultures where co-sleeping is not the norm but it's still accepted. So, for example, in Sweden, co-sleeping isn't huge. It's kind of on par as it is here. But they're much more open to it. They kind of have the view of whatever works for your kid.

    And there's a study that track co-sleeping by age starting at birth up to age five years. And there's a peak at birth of it and then it drops. But then it slowly rises. The rates of kids that co-sleep rises to about five years of age and then drops down again. It seems to go along with the onset of nightmares, social anxiety, huge changes neurologically and socially, and just the need to return to that safe place to go for. And so I even tell parents even if you plan not to, chances are, you're going to end up doing it down the line. If your kid has a nightmare--

Julie:    And then for new moms. Yeah, I mean, for new moms, it's one of the things that just independently, personally, like among my peers, when I'm asked about that and then making the transition into new motherhood, I mean, honestly, there's -- if you want the easiest possible solution it's bed sharing.

Tracy:    Bed sharing and breast feeding. You will sleep.

Julie:    Exactly, yeah. Provided there are no other issues. But even when there are. I mean, my daughter had an undiagnosed lip tie and I just kind of rolled with it, that she was nursing. She was the one that nursed all the time, all night kind of thing. And I was okay with it because we mastered the side latch early on. She would just nurse and I'd sleep. And take naps with her during the day if it was a particularly bad night. I got my sleep. I don't know how I would have coped if we weren't bed sharing. I think I would have been a complete wreck.

    My son, on the other hand, did also have a tongue tie and lip tie but we caught it very early and he had it released and I've seen the huge difference. I'm like, this is how a baby is supposed to nurse, very efficiently. And a lot still. He actually goes much longer at night without nursing. He still nurses throughout the night but it's not a big deal. Really, I do wake a bit because of it to get them latched on but that's it. So, it's been a godsend for me. I'll take that.

Julie:    One of the other questions I get is: At what stage can a baby physically go through the night without milk? Is there a developmental marker? Is there an age? Is there something biologically, physiologically that goes with not needing to nurse at night?

[1:05:09]

Tracy:    I always struggle with that because -- No. Well, at some point, yes. There is a point for each baby at which you will discover your child can go through the night. What that stage is for each baby is completely different. And it's hard to tell people that because we are a culture that really wants answers. We want this kind of uniformity amongst children. By this age, every child does this. By this age, every child does that. It just doesn't work that way, unfortunately.

    So, our kids don't -- will do it. I mean, my daughter, eventually did it. But with her lip tie, it was not until she was close to three that she slept through the night. And even when she was just waking up. And even now. She's six. She still wakes up in the night to go pee. So, this whole sleeping through all the time, I'm not even sure how often many of us adults actually sleep without waking to go pee or have a sip of water or do anything of the sort. That's kind of a normal thing for us to do. And I don't know why we would expect differently from our children. So, there's that to consider.

    For some babies, it's early. Some babies quite early actually sleep a good chunk of time. That's great for them. Don't tell anyone because other parents will hate you. But for many, it's often later, sometimes over a year. We have this idea of -- We also have to remember in the research, sleeping through the night is actually a five-hour period. Initially, when people start researching infant sleep, sleeping through the night was five hours between midnight and 5:00 a.m. And, yes, it was prescribed to be midnight to 5:00 a.m. for some reason.

    So, that's sleeping through the night, not eight hours, not ten hours, not 12 hours. It's five hours. When we look at what babies are doing, people may find, when you tell people that, some families realize all of a sudden, oh, my seven-month old is sleeping through the night. There you go. That's five. You've got it. It shouldn't need to be any more or less. But also what people forget is that I think there's been a big push for a piece of research that I have heard some of our so-called sleep experts claim.

    There's research that shows that by three months of age, something like 60% of 70% of babies were sleeping through the night. Now, this research comes from the '70s, I believe it is, quite a long time ago, on predominantly formula-fed babies. And, yes, they found a large number were sleeping through the night, which was midnight to 5:00 a.m. So, already there is but no one ever mentions that. The sleep trainers don't say that. They kind of let you believe that's a 12-hour stretch or something.

    But what they don't mention is that the follow-up with these same babies at six months found that the vast majority of those that were sleeping through the night were no longer doing so. Because things shift. I always tell parents three months is going to be your ideal time. Be happy with what you got at three months. For many families, that is the peak. Because after that, you start with teething, you start with cognitive leaps, you start with big growth spurts that cause pain, and you have motor development.

    And all of these things cause a lot of stress on the baby and the body. They need a lot of comfort and a lot of soothing and sleep will naturally be disrupted because of them, just as it would be for an adult. If any adult, I'd tell people if you ever experience growing pains as a teen and remember how painful they were, go back and think that this little baby in the first year has to pretty much double their size. And you were just growing a fraction of your size and you experienced intense pain. That's what it's like for this young child almost all the time.

Julie:    Yeah. I mean, I think that's -- Just the whole part of just approaching, just taking a step back and looking at it from some other perspective and remembering that there's always probably a better way or a better way for you or if something doesn't sit well with your instincts knowing like this just isn't the right way to go about this, this isn't safe for me, this isn't -- I need a solution but this isn't the solution for me. There are other more gentle solutions than these methods.

Tracy:    A lot of different -- yeah. I mean, like I have, I offer with families like my consultations but there's also books that are great out there that parents can first go to if they think they help. The Discontented Little Baby Book is is wonderful, the Gentle Sleep Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith is wonderful, Sleeping Like a Baby by Pinky McKay is wonderful. There are a lot of different options that are available to families that I wish--

[1:10:00]

    But those are, like all books, they're limited in that it may not address your particular situation. But that's why you have other people like myself, like Sarah Ockwell-Smith, that offer individualized work with people so that we can actually tailor everything to you and your child.

Julie:    Yes. It's hugely important.

Tracy:    Yeah. And it is for a lot of families. Sometimes the little trick that you read will work for you and that's wonderful. I love it when that happens. Because that's easy. It means it's easier for the family if they just have it. But sometimes it really does need a lot of one-on-one work to try and really get at what's happening and find out what's happening in the family dynamic, what's happening with the expectations about sleep, and just to help build up the confidence.

    I have so many parents that just feel like they don't know what they're doing when it comes to sleep. It's so overwhelming and those voices are nagging from every direction, society, family, friends, that they should be doing something different. And it's really hard to counteract that. And so having someone that you can talk to regularly, who can assure you, "No, you're doing okay," is often a really big piece of the puzzle for families, is feeling that sense of support for something that does feel right for their baby even though everyone is telling them they're wrong.

Julie:    Just hugely, hugely huge. I mean, even as somebody who prides myself on knowing a lot, I still -- and having helped raise my three brothers and been through it all nannying my whole life and feel like I had a little bit of an edge going into this parenting game, I mean, when it's just you and your partner and that baby or just you and the baby, it's very overwhelming and terrifying at times. So, having support is of huge importance.

Tracy:    Especially when you throw in another one. You have a lot of families that suddenly have their second. And especially because they're having them earlier. Typically, evolutionary speaking, we would because we can in our society due to wonderful advancements, you can have a baby a year or two after and have two kids under two. But that is hugely taxing for an individual to be able to handle that. You really need a proper support system in place. And often you need a physically present support system in place. But even if you can just get emotional and social support online through groups, that can also be of great help to families too.

Julie:    Yeah. That's huge. Well, we could go on for hours and hours and hours. I'm going to have to have you back on because I feel like we've only scratched the surface.

Tracy:    I know. I would love to.

Julie:    Awesome. Well, where can people find out more about you, get connected with you if they think that they could get some, need some help on getting on track with anything related to evolutionary parenting?

Tracy:    My site is evolutionaryparenting.com and I do everything on the consultations, coaching, et cetera, is all there, as well as the blog that has all the articles. And there's a lot. There's something like 400. So, good luck wading through it. We're also on Facebook. There's a Facebook page and I post parent questions. Sometimes, when families don't have the resources or aren't sure if they want to seek one on one with me, I let people write me questions and I'll post it on the board to get help from all sorts of other moms around the world. So, that can often be a source of support for people too, trying to get a bit of information and help for their particular situation.

    Yeah, those are really the two. I should mention, when it does come to families and support, I do them over the phone is how I work with families and over Skype and stuff. I work with everyone around the world. Time differences don't matter. If you're in Australia, don't worry. I've spoken with a lot of people from Australia. We just make it work because luckily, with technology, we've crossed that barrier to reaching people around.

Julie:    That's fabulous. Well, wonderful. Thank you so much, Tracy. It's been a pleasure speaking with you.

Tracy:    You too. Thank you so much.

[1:14:03]    End of Audio

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