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December 6, 2010

Scientifically conclusive long-term effects of horizontal parenting

When I first began horizontal parenting, I admit that I was far more lazy than I was confident. For seven months, my child would only nap whilst lying on me, and I wondered if I was setting myself up to become a doormat (albeit a mattressy one). For ten months, my child spent most of many nights in bed with me and breastfed like a drunkard, and I wondered if this was going to be the rest of my life (plus, my shoulder hurt, but it was better than not lying down at all). Though I gave my child everything she demanded of me (because I was too tired to challenge an indomitable infant, and whenever we made it into a power struggle, she won every time), I wondered what kind of pattern we were be setting. Would I be that mother with the screaming toddler in the grocery store pleading for a small piece of our power-share? Was I falling down as a parent in failing to set boundaries with my six week old? Shouldn’t I be encouraging her to be an independent six month old?  Was this the precedent, and now forever I’d give her everything she demanded with a screech?

The thing is though, and I know this now and I didn’t know it then, that your six week old is a whole other person three weeks later, and that six month old is such a more completely evolved amazing being in comparison that you can’t remember she was ever small. And then six months starts being small, because your baby is a year old, and a year and a half old, and she’s walking, and talking, and pouring you endless cups of imaginary tea. And you’re now negotiating with someone altogether different than that screaming newborn, and it is here where setting boundaries and discipline does become important, but now you’re dealing with a(n almost) person rather than a helpless creature. It’s a whole different game– certainly not an easier one, but one that is not very much affected by anything that came before.

When my daughter was six weeks old and I was racked with guilt over my desire to buy an infant swing rather than rock her to comfort myself, somebody told me to do “Whatever works” and thereby set me on the road to horizontal parenting. I trusted the advice because it was easy, but eighteen months later I can now report with scientific conclusiveness that she was right. There are no harmful long-term effects to taking the easy way out in babyhood and shutting that screaming kid up however you can manage it. Hooray for soothers, and co-sleeping, and baby swings, and long walks in the stroller. Hooray for putting the baby to sleep in a sling, having her eat only avocado for a week, and for having the baby nap on your chest while you lie on the bed gyrating your hips to put her to sleep with the motion. (It works. How did I discover this works? I don’t remember. It was a long time ago.)

May 6, 2010

Horizontal Parenting Vol. 2: Sleep Solutions

My self-published book (via about my parenting method Horizontal Parenting (TM) was a huge success when it came out last Fall. Built around the tenets of The Five Ls, it showed parents how to care for their babies while exerting the bare mininum of energy (and fitting in a little yoga at the same time).

Well, now I’m pleased to be taking my Parenting expertise one step further with the latest volume in the Horizontal Parenting series, Sleep Solutions.

How to get your baby to sleep through the night? It’s simple, with these three easy steps. It’s called (somewhat confusingly) the TWO process.

1) T is for Take it easy and do whatever you can to remain horizontal at night. When your baby cries, bring her to bed and feed her. Sometimes she will eat all night. Don’t worry about this, even though books will tell you it’s causing tooth decay and that you will be feeding her this way well into her college years. If you happen to wake up again, stick her back in her crib. At some point, she will refuse to be put back in the crib. So just keep her in bed with you. Buy a bedrail so she doesn’t fall out. Don’t feel too bad about being a dairy bar. The alternative is being upright, which makes you want to kill yourself at three in the morning.

2) W is for Wait. This is the hard part. Dr. Sears (as we all know) had a child who did not sleep through the night until he was three. When your baby only sleeps for two hours at a time, the prospect of “through the night” is unfathomable, and you will think everybody whose baby does this is lying. People will propose “sleep training”, but you disagree with this on a philosophical level, because it is impossible to sleep train in a horizontal position. Cry It Out is reprehensible, because how could a mom expect to sleep through that racket? Sleep training requires will and discipline, and horizontal parents are lacking in both of these departments. So you wait. And it’s hard, and it sucks, and sleeping with the baby beside you has done something weird to the alignment of your shoulder. But at least you’re lying down. And then…

3) O is for One day it will happen. Baby will sleep through the night. WITHOUT YOU DOING ANYTHING TO PROMOTE IT (though it may have something to do with her learning to crawl and finally deciding to roll over onto her tummy to sleep). She won’t do it every night, but she’ll do it most nights, and she’ll also decide she doesn’t like sleeping in your bed because the cramped space prevents her from doing her 360 degree spin all night long. You will be reluctant to announce this too widely for fear of jinxing it, but now that it’s been a month, you think you really might be onto something. That your child wasn’t necessarily not sleeping properly because you’d failed to teach her good sleep habits, and maybe you don’t even control everything in the universe after all.

In all my sleep agony over the past eleven months, I wanted to read somewhere that the problem would fix itself without me bothering to do anything about it. Because, of course, I am a horizontal parent and therefore profoundly lazy (particularly come the middle of the night). But to all you other lie-abouts out there, let me send you a message of hope– Take it easy. Wait. One day.

Everything is going to be okay.

November 13, 2009

Horizontal Parenting

I am very excited about the Parenting Method I have devised, and subsequent book I am going to self-publish about my Parenting Method (via My method is called Horizontal Parenting, and I’ve been practicing it for about six months now. Its core tenets are the five Ls– 1) Lie down to breastfeed, 2) Lie down to soothe your crying babe by gently rocking your hips, 3) Lie down to have your baby sleep on your chest (contrary to everything the Back to Sleep people will tell you), 4) Lie down to play with your baby– a popular game is lying on one’s back and throwing a soft ball up to the ceiling again and again. The fun never stops. 5) Take time every day for yoga practice– but only the savasana pose. (This last tenet doesn’t start with L, but that’s because it’s the exception that proves the rule.)

The jury’s still out on the advantages of horizontal parenting on child development, but my child seems to be developing fairly normally (save for her new, disturbing penchant for pinching the fat on my upper arms). For me, however, the advantages are multifold– I never have a sore back, I get to sleep at night (albeit sometimes uncomfortably on my side), I get to lie on the couch and read or nap frequently throughout the day, and I get many opportunities to breathe in the sweet smell of my baby daughter’s head.

As soon as I figure out how to cook dinner from a hammock, then I will really claim to have it all figured out.

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