Friction in Carrying

Friktion vid bärande är fokus i tredje avsnittet av Back to basics – babies, bodies and behaviour med Mel Cyrille och mig, Ulrika Casselbrant. Vi nördar loss i hår, svett och lager av kläder.

Mel Cyrille, är författare till boken In-arms carrying och precis som jag bärandekonsult. Podden är tänkt att beröra allt från bärande, babypottning, barfota,  föräldraskap och mer!

Lyssna till eller ladda ner avsnittet här. Du hittar det även där poddar finns, hos tex Acast och Podcaster. Se transkription av avsnittet nedan.

Länk till föregående avsnitt:
In-arms carrying – reflexes
Babies and Communication

Transkription Back to basics – babies, bodies and behavior
Avsnitt 3 Friction in Carryin

Mel:                 Hello and welcome to episode 3 of Back to basics: babies, bodies and behaviour. With Ulrika Casselbrant and Mel Cyrille. In this episode, we’ll be discussing the role of friction in carrying. So, let’s introduce ourselves first. I’m Mel and I’m an in-arms carrying and babywearing trainer and author of the book In-arms Carrying. I’m currently finishing up book number 2 which is focused on Science and theories behind in arms carrying.


Ulrika:             My name is Ulrika Casselbrant and I live in Stockholm. I’m a babywearing consultant and also worked with elimination communication, written a book about elimination communication and I’m as well writing about carrying and babywearing and I’ve finished my draft here I think, or will be today. So, but then I have to, it’s lot of work too than go through the text again and send it out and all those things but it’s really exciting.


M:                    Very exciting. I’m just sad that it’ll be in Swedish so I can’t read it.


U:                     Yeah, cause I really would like you to give me feedback on it but yeah, so it’s awful, I have to translate it later on.


M:                    Yes.


U:                     Okay, today’s subject. Friction in carrying. Exciting. And I know you have been into some research about skin and the small hairs that we got.


M:                    Yes, yes. Absolutely.


U:                     Maybe we should start up by talking about that.


M:                    Yeah. So yeah, the, little hairs, that you’re mentioning are called vellus hairs and I’m, rather fascinated with them because they, it’s yet another thing about our bodies that Scientists kind of think, maybe don’t have as many uses as they actually do. One of the really interesting things that I found out about these vellus hairs is that when we factor in these tiny little hairs, and I suppose I should really describe what they are first before I launch into all these other things. So, it’s the very fine short, translucent hairs that covers most of our body, pretty much invisible to the naked eye unless you’re looking closer for you know, shining the light, the light on them. So yeah, one of the, the really interesting things is that the hair follicles of our body, if we factor in the vellus hair follicles, then we have roughly the same density of hair follicles as you would expect to see on an ape of our size. So yeah, so it’s really interesting because obviously when we think about hair, we think about thick hair, don’t we? And I’m, you know, we’re told that humans have lost their hair as we became upright and so forth. There’s…we do have just as much hair, it’s just finer and thinner and shorter and not really seen as much. So, we’re covered in these tiny hairs and if you think about our skin, it wouldn’t be useful in carrying if our skin was completely smooth, would it?


U:                     That would be more difficult, yeah, yeah. Like when you have shaved, the skin is really smooth and more slippery, definitely.


M:                    Exactly. And, I mean, we, when we think about babies, yes they are you know, lovely and soft and smooth but they still have this texture on their skin and part of that texture comes from the tiny vellus hairs. So, in utero, we’re covered in lanugo and, our [inaudible 00:05:13] are shed we have the same hair follicles the whole time, it’s just that different hairs may start to grow out of different periods of time. So, after the lanugo is shed, this is when a lot of the hair is replaced by vellus hair.


U:                     And that is in the womb? Or-


M:                    Yup, in the womb. And some of those hairs will be replaced by terminal hair which is like the hair on our head and underarms and stuff like that. And obviously when children go through puberty then more, more terminal hair will appear as well. So yeah, so it’s really interesting ‘cause it all develops in the womb and once babies are born, they’re born with a ton of this vellus hair covering them as well, which helps obviously with making their skin more textured which in turn obviously helps in carrying, yeah.



U:                     Yeah, then I guess also, the sweat? Sweating also adds on the friction and maybe heat as well. I guess heat and cold also.


M:                    Yup.


U:                     What do you say? Would have an effect of the skin, on the skin.


M:                    Absolutely.


U:                     There have been more ways than just sweat, I don’t know.


M:                    Yup. So, yup, that’s right. Another thing that I’ve had been writing about is obviously when it is cold, what reaction happens to the skin? If we’re feeling cold.


U:                     They would get those bumps and the hair, hair rises up also yeah.


M:                    Yup, mm-hmm, yes. I mean we could talk for hours and hours and hours about all the amazing things that happen with skin but, yeah, we’ll keep on topic. So yeah yeah, you say about, about sweat, for one thing. So, we know that, that, there have been studies conducted into the frictional properties of skin when water is applied to the skin and we know that recently, wet skin, once it’s been dried has greater frictional properties than bone dry skin. So, you know, when we come out in the shower and we dry off, we’re dry but we’re not actually completely dry – we have still some dampness on our skin. So yeah, so obviously when, when we have more water on our skin, then that can become slippery but up to a certain point, moisture aids in friction. So, and that’s, that’s why when we think about sweat, we’re thinking about sweat on areas of our bodies such as our forearm or our hip, waist, what have you, and you know, baby’s thighs and everything. There aren’t places where we sweat profusely do we? This is where, yeah, this is where useful amounts of sweating happens. And, yeah.


U:                     No, that’s interesting, yeah.


M:                    It really is, it’s just like the, you know, you know how it is.


U:                     Because if you would sweat-


M:                    Everything is related to carrying.


U:                     Yeah, cause if you would sweat profoundly on your belly, saying you have your baby against your belly, it will become more slippery.


M:                    Mmm, yeah.


U:                     Yeah, hmm.


M:                    Exactly.


U:                     But then also if you stand on the shower with your naked baby, it will become some kind of vacuum between you, your skin and that baby skin. When it’s a lot of water then, I guess.


M:                    So, yeah. I spoke about this, this in the first book about the amazing effects in the shower on clinging action. And obviously, showers are man-made and everything but it’s very similar to rain isn’t it? If you think about it, the way water comes down and everything. I’m guessing in evolutionary terms this reaction is to do with rain but it’s in the shower where I noticed this reaction for the first time. So, it seems when you’re holding a baby or child, you know, dry skin to dry skin and then you enter a body of water or water is coming down onto your body, on the baby or child it triggers this reaction of tighter clinging but also the water on your bodies, it seems to create this kind of vacuum like you say this sort of seal. And you know, I don’t know the ins and out of how that magic effects happens, but it really does happen, and you know, you only have to try out to experience it yourself. So, it seems that, you know, this is yet another reaction of the body, another way in which our bodies are perfectly designed to carry babies and children, it’s just incredible.


U:                     Yeah, and I guess also when the babies have their knees tight around you or used, the smaller baby using his reflex to keep the knees up it will be more skin to skin, it’ll bit more, what do you say, amount of centimetres or inches that will be skin to skin then in case the baby would have the legs just down, not up.


M:                    Yeah.


U:                     Because it’s also depending on like the effect of the friction is also how much skin is there against another skin, yeah.


M:                    Yes, definitely. That’s why it’s, you know, a [inaudible 00:12:23]. If we go back to skin to skin as the starting point for understanding how carrying works, it shows us the blueprint of carrying basically because clothing, it’s man made, you know, skin to skin is the, the biological baseline isn’t it?


U:                     Yeah, and what we have lived in, when we go back to evolutionary history, it’s like we, we started using clothes probably about 50,000 years ago or something like that, we don’t know exactly but they can say like from the, when the, the head lice, the hair lice, mutated into clothing lice, gives some kind of a input for the researchers on like all these when we started wearing clothing.


M:                    That’s really interesting.


U:                     Yeah.


M:                    And disgusting.


U:                     Yeah. Some kind of [tight 00:13:25] clothing I mean we could have like, we wear loose like [inaudible 00:13:30], wear loose clothing without the lice mutated but, yeah, so through evolutionary history definitely for a long time we’ve been skin to skin and also they’ve, what I’ve found when doing the reading for my book, I’ve look a lot into like the evolutionary history, of course I wanted to get clues on how baby wearing could’ve look like, and then they think that we lost a lot of hair on our body or as, would be more correct, the hair would became much thinner as you said, probably around like, 1.2 million years ago. So, for like a million years, we been a lot skin to skin and then we don’t know like okay, what happened 1.2 million years ago is that we, our skin got darker, we need some more protection for the sun and probably before the, we have the protection from the hair. But I mean like if you look at some apes and monkeys. they might have like a lot of hair on their back but not so much on their face, on their breast. So it’s, I mean of course, we could have, the hair on our body could’ve become thinner at different part, different times in this, I mean, probably-


M:                    Yeah.


U:                     Maybe took like a million years for, kind of lose our fur the way we had it before so.


M:                    Yeah.


U:                     But it’s quite a lot in time that we probably also, or wearing, carrying skin to skin.


M:                    Yeah. I think it’s very interesting how language can impact our understanding of the changes through history. So, there’s been research on the effects of bipedialism. And you know, theories about, due to this, we then lost our body hair, and the extra energy that we have to use by carrying babies in arms, you know, meant that we needed it so invented baby carriers and everything. And it’s little things like that when you think well actually, we didn’t lose all of this body hair, it just changed. And you know, this research is coming from, an angle of “babies are really heavy to carry, oh my goodness, how much extra energy would we be expending, when we’re now having to hold them in arms?” instead of thinking about it from the angle of, you know, we didn’t lose our ability to cling, it just evolved, you know?


U:                     Yeah and I go crazy on those studies that they have made like there’s one study used in the babywearing world and in some literature about saving 16% when carrying in a sling compare to carrying in arms but I mean those studies are made on dolls, made of sand and they, I mean, and they’re walking on these, what do you call it? Like you don’t walk in outside, you’re walking on this treadmill, yeah. And then they’re trying to make like assumptions on how it was for, for the species living 3 million years ago, and it’s like, I mean you can’t compare their physique or carrying a sand doll or some kind of weight is, I mean it’s not like carrying a baby, even though the baby wouldn’t cling actively, it wouldn’t be the same thing, it would still be easier to carry a baby than carrying a sand bag. And we wouldn’t have the friction of the skin to skin like that they have and we’re with lesser hair, we’re thinner hair 3 million years ago which was like we have no idea actually on those studies. But, of course like depending on how you carry, you can also like save energy. I know they made the study between military, people and these women carrying, and I think it’s West Africa, you can look up, right now I don’t have the study in front of me, so I don’t know the name of it. But then they could see that the, the military people when they started put on weight in their rock sack and how much energy does they need to spend was correlating to how much was in the backpack. But when it came to these women carrying, they could carry up, but I think it was 20% before their energy, how do you say. the energy-


M:                    The output increase?


U:                     Yeah, yeah. So, so it’s pretty much on how you carry and like, if you were alignment and stuff like that, letting go into like what is the difference but they used that they saw that it was a difference.


M:                    Yeah. That, that is interesting, if you think biologically from that point of view. But also, we know the, that when a baby is clinging, when they’re an active participant, they do feel lighter because you’re doing less of the work, they’re not a dead weight, you know?


U:                     Yeah.


M:                    That, the more they’re working, the lighter they feel and you know, holding them, doing, us doing all of the work is gonna increase expenditure, isn’t it?


U:                     Yeah.


M:                    But, even putting them in the sling is going to increase expenditure, because what, what work are they doing in the sling, compared to when they’re actively clinging. So huge difference, huge difference, right?


U:                     Yeah, yeah. And also when you move, if you move they would cling tighter than if you would just stand and also it’s something about that their heart rate also goes down when you’re moving and they will be much calm, much more calm in their movement so they like kinda help out with you, if you have to move they will help out as well and I think that’s, together would like the friction and then becoming, and them becoming calmer and it’s much easier to carry them and they can cling and we use the reflexes. And how is it with the reflexes they are more active as well when you are walking? I guess they would be because they have to…


M:                    Yes, yeah.


U:                     Adjust themselves.


M:                    Yes, the effect of movement triggers reflexes doesn’t it? Because when we’re moving our body, we’re moving their body as well and we’re creating different contact points as we move backwards and forwards with like in our hip. Does that make sense?


U:                     Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah.


M:                    Yeah, yes.


U:                     And also like if you look at evolutionary history and us losing hair and all that, and also looking at some of the, the apes and monkeys, I can never remember what is apes and what is monkey but like gorillas and chimpan…


M:                    Chimpanzee?


U:                     Chimps. Chimpanzees?


M:                    Yes, chimpanzees.


U:                     Chimpanzees, okay. You could see that like for their survival, it’s so important that the carrying going on is a safe because the biggest risk for a small chimp or a gorilla is to fall and get and die that way. So safe carrying is like, is really, really important, I’m thinking it must’ve been for the, for the, for us as well, of course and also like the, the ones before, the, would you say species before us? No? Like, if you like early, early man before homo sapiens, like…


M:                    Early man?


U:                     Yeah.


M:                    I don’t know the terminology.


U:                     It’s frustrating, I’m not a native English speaker but we’re doing the best we can, I’m doing the best I can here. Anyway…


M:                    You’re doing very well.


U:                     And if you look to like gorillas and chimps, they, the small, the small one, babies, they can’t cling on to their mother because they’re not strong enough, they’re too heavy for holding the fur. So, then the, the gorilla and the chimp, the mothers are holding these small babies with their, the hands of the first 1 to 2 months and then they can start clinging on…


M:                    That’s an interesting timeline, when you think about, um, the carrying going on with humans as well in the first 3 months. It’s quite similar isn’t it?


U:                     Yes, yes, yes. Very similar, especially if you look like at videos and stuff, and you can really see like them, the gorilla mothers and the chimp mother’s being really really caring about their, about their babies, it’s not like the baby have to cling on and they wouldn’t, and they just go on with their lives, they really really recognize it ”Oh wow, there’s a baby here” and like doing a lot of bonding and stuff, they were smelling and looking at the baby and holding it and really really helping out. I think I had a point that was gonna come to but now I can’t remember, but it’ll probably come again.


M:                    Is it something to do with body hair? On them?


U:                     Yeah, I think it, no, it was something about the safe carrying and also for humans and the friction there has been really important like when not having as much as hair or a much thick hair [crosstalk] other ways for safe, safe carrying.


M:                    Exactly and yeah, we’re designed to carry them safely so much of our make-up, you know? The caregiver’s body and the baby’s body, so many amazing things. You know, the, you’d never even think to think of would be related to carrying, it’s just, it’s just beautiful, really is. Yeah, we’ve talked about skin and touch and hair and everything but obviously that’s not how we carry most of the time, it’s like skin to skin. We, we pretty much have to factor in some layers of clothing here and there and especially depending on the weather, don’t we? So maybe that’s next thing to move on to.


U:                     Yeah, yeah.


M:                    What we do to adapt that carrying blueprint to real life carrying, modern day carrying.


U:                     Start, start, but let’s start looking at the, the diapers. I’m really in favour of cloth diapering but it has a bulkiness.


M:                    Mm-hmm, yeah.


U:                     To it.




M:                    I’m like no we can’t say cloth is bad – it was so good but oh my God.




M:                    Yeah. I think it is, so the amount of bulk is not really, and I think a lot of the amount of bulk that comes from cloth is down to the, the expectation of trying to increase the absorbency to match that of disposables, rather than regular, you know, more regular changing of the nappies or at least back when I was using cloth as a nappy kind of thing, that was the focus back then, it was you know, how long can we go between changing a wet nappy, trying to increase the absorbency.


U:                     But usually, like if you combine it with elimination communication, usually you have like a thinner nappy, a lot of the time because you don’t need to have as much thickness and also, depen- if you carry your baby and it only has a nappy on and then it’s also depending on the material on the outside of the nappy.


M:                    Yes.


U:                     Cause wool, or linen would give more friction than say this, PUL fabric? I don’t know what to say in, in Britain.


M:                    Yeah, it’s P-U-L or PUL.


U:                     Yeah, yeah. If you have that [inaudible 00:27:34] to the layers I guess this different as well.


M:                    Yeah. Definitely. But this is again going back to the fact that you know, as a culture or as cultures, cause we’re talking about more than one culture here, it is our tendency to try and find ways of “bettering” and I say that in quotations because it really is not bettering our lives at all. You know, our cultures, they want convenience and we’re, it’s drilled into us from such a young age, you know? What’s the easiest way of doing this? What’s the most convenient way and it makes us more and more sedentary doesn’t it?


U:                     Yeah and I guess it’s drilled into our genes, [Crosstalk] it’s drilled into our genes which has make it so difficult like to save energy. But, I think but, as a parent, I think what could be really useful is to observe like what is happening. If you have your baby in your arms or even a sling, like okay, it has different kind of clothing from this day to another or like what is happening, like with the carrying like you could observe the observation of yourself and your baby on how it feels, to get more knowledge on your own and also what suits you and depending on like what climate do you live in and…


M:                    Exactly.


U:                     And stuff like that.


M:                    And this, it’s not saying oh, right and now you need to buy certain types of clothing to be able to carry your baby, it’s not as it’s looking out what we were to have and how different fabrics interact with other fabrics and…


U:                     Yeah but I, I thought that that…


M:                    Losing layers at times [inaudible 00:29:31].


U:                     But a thought has struck me says like okay what kind of companies is gonna start out of this, cause we have like this tendency of going commercial like… [laughter]


M:                    Oh, I know, I know.


U:                     Like is it gonna come these companies that made these clinging clothing kind of…


M:                    Oh, I can just imagine like Velcro.




M:                    I can relate to matching outfits, make clinging easier. And now it’s, it’s the funniest thing as well because in arms is like, it’s the most accessible, the freest, the absolutely everything you need, you do not need to mess with it, we’re perfectly designed that…


U:                     Doesn’t cost anything.


M:                    Yeah, you know, yeah. But you know, yeah, I think yeah, on the right track there. It won’t be long.


U:                     And then our baby’s gonna start like climbing the walls because we have this main thing fabrics that can stick to anything.


M:                    [laughter]


U:                     Yeah.


M:                    Outsourcing the work again.


U:                     Yup. No, let’s hope not. But also like to try out those also like, okay, what’s the difference between carrying a baby in a cloth diaper and in a more disposal diaper and then also in a, just a pair of underpants, like this, would be different.


M:                    Yeah.


U:                     There’s some research every parent can do on their own as well, just to see what happens.


M:                    Absolutely.


U:                     Alright.




M:                    I think as well, this fear of babies peeing or pooing on us is very much built into at least my culture, it’s like “oh my God, oh, yuck, disgusting.”




U:                     Yeah, I’m thinking before disposal diapers it wasn’t like that because the disposable diapers really really keep, or usually cloth as well, clip it in the diaper but…


M:                    Yeah and away from our experience. But as we know, babies and children are way less likely to just randomly pee or poo when they’re on our bodies and signals are so much stronger and everything, so yeah, there’s nothing to fear a bit of wee or poo. And if you’re scared about it then you can be more aware of their signals, there you go. [laughter]


U:                     Yeah, yeah.


M:                    But don’t get too hung up on it.


U:                     But then when it comes on the rest of the body then and then we got into a little bit that like natural fibres like linen and wool would be more, have more friction in them  than like fabrics made of the like polyester or these clothes or, stuff like that, they usually, or this goes like this is a process of how you, how you process it, takes down fiber so it can also be, I guess bamboo and stuff like that but I’m thinking more the like polyester and stuff like that, like in, you can have in overalls and in Sweden we say shell clothing like the other layer if you don’t want the, the baby to become, you can see it in this, in the sand or whatever when it’s raining and it won’t get wet and stuff like that. Those are much more slippery and usually much more bulky. And it’s much more difficult for the baby also to, also to cling on but also who like bend the legs maybe, really really, probably and you, probably have like bigger shoes on and stuff like that.


M:                    Mm-hmm.


U:                     And so, it’s, it’s more difficult.


M:                    Yeah. This is, this is the sort of thing that we have to work around don’t we?


U:                     Yeah.


M:                    And play around with, and it’s not just how the fabric behaves on the fabric, it’s also to do with how the skin behaves in relation to the fabric. You know, the fabric against their skin and your fabric against your skin, and how is that factoring into the clinging process.


U:                     So about clothing, it’s supposed the, the one carrying the child and also the child’s clothing that would affect the friction and I guess we can like play around with that, I mean, since we know among some parents is quite popular to use a lot of wool and that could help out a lot, I guess, but it’s not necessary, I mean depends on like what does your needs look like as well and when do you carry and usually these are the older kids, when you talk about bulk, when it comes to the outer layer of clothing like overalls and stuff because when it comes to babies that are not able to walk yet, it’s, it’s usually much easier to carry them inside your clothing but I guess, how would you solve that carrying in arms in the winter time with a smaller baby inside your clothing, then that would still be wearing I guess, baby wearing.


M:                    I think it’s personal preference really, isn’t it? Because, I mean it is possible to carry in arms inside of clothing without, you know, baby wearing, but obviously, it kind of complicates things a bit more. But it’s the same thing, it’s looking at what sort of clothing we’re using, looking at the age of the baby, are we, are they at an age where we’re wanting to carry them or in arms outside or you know, is this where we’re using the sling? And when it comes down to it, a lot of carrying that happens with, you know, babies and their caregivers, happens at home where it’s warmer you know?


U:                     Or the parent has to be in the pram or the stroller and it doesn’t wanna lay there and you have to pick it up kind of. I guess that’s scenario outside a lot.


M:                    Exactly. And it’s just, it has been one of the things that has made me think about you know, what about the different seasons and doesn’t that impact on carrying because babies are born all year round and everything, but it always seems to come back to the fact that a lot of in arms carrying is done during the day round the house, indoors and places or for short periods of time outdoors. And if we are going for a longer sort of distance and we may be using a baby carrier. As you know, that’s one of the biggest reasons that they were invented; for longer journeys. And as they get bigger and older, I think is when people tend to, if they are using active carrying, as they get older that they may carry them for longer distances and as they grow, you know, their length, the leg length, the torso length, everything comes into play in terms of how clinging works and how long you’re clinging for and so forth, you know? So, it does seem a bit like, oh, but how would that work? I think it happens very naturally and you know, we have ways around the time when you know, maybe too difficult or you know, we may still be doing it outside but maybe for less, less time, you know?


U:                     I think with that said um, we are ready to finish this subject for now and then probably in the future we’re gonna come up with more things to bring in about this.


M:                    Yeah.


U:                     I guess which is that should say bye then.


M:                    Yes.


U:                     Bye.


U:                     Bye.

Babies and communication

Här kommer äntligen andra avsnittet av Back to basics – babies, bodies and behaviour med Mel Cyrille och mig, Ulrika Casselbrant. I detta avsnitt har vi haft fokus på bebisars kommunikation. Vi berör bland annat hur fysisk närhet påverkar hur bebisar kommunicerar sina behov.

Mel Cyrille, är författare till boken In-arms carrying och precis som jag bärandekonsult. Podden är tänkt att beröra allt från bärande, babypottning, barfota,  föräldraskap och mer!

Lyssna till eller ladda ner avsnittet här. Du hittar det även där poddar finns, hos tex Acast och Podcaster. Se transkription av avsnittet nedan.

För att ladda ner avsnittet, högerklicka och klicka på spara.

Länk till föregående avsnitt In-arms carrying – reflexes

Transkription Back to basics – babies, bodies and behavior
Avsnitt 2 Babies and communication

Ulrika:  Welcome to Back to Basics Babies, Bodies and Behaviour and this is a podcast with Mel Cyrille and me, Ulrika and I guess we should start with introducing ourselves.  My name is Ulrika and I live in Sweden, Stockholm.  I am a babywearing consultant and also babywearing educator, I guess you could say.  I run a peer-supporting course, I have also written a book about elimination communication and I am a doula. And you, Mel, you want to say some words about you?


Mel:         Yeah.  I am Mel Cyrille.  I live in Ipswich in England and I’m a babywearing and in-arms carrying trainer.  I’m the author of In-Arms Carrying and I do some public speaking as well.


U:  Yes, great, and my book about elimination communication is in Swedish, so not many English readers yet.


M: Yes, unfortunately.


U:  (book name in Swedish), in case listeners are wondering what book that is.  And today’s subject for the pod is babies and communication and we have also got some questions about this.  I asked some of our listeners and asked some of our Facebook group that I am in about questions concerning babies and communication.  So, we will ring up some listeners about those questions during the pod.  I guess we could talk about what is communication when it comes to babies and what does it look like.  Do you want to say any words to start out with that one?


M: Yeah.  Well, it comes in different forms, doesn’t it?  So, we have physical and verbal communication and each type of communication can be more or less effective depending on how aware we are of that form of communication.  A lot of communication goes unnoticed, doesn’t it, especially with babies, as not all of their communication is understood by every caregiver.


U:  No, and I guess some of the communication can be very subtle and some more loud, and I guess what you first think about is, like, the sound of screaming and when reading books about child psychology it’s, the screaming is brought up a lot, but I think like all the other ways of communication for the baby is much more, would you say, versatile? Or like, important? It’s much more messages.


M: Definitely


U:  But something that would connect communication to the things we talked about last episode was reflexes and I think it’s so interesting how babies communicate through reflexes a lot in the beginning.


M: Yeah, definitely


U: Also, about the big, how do you say? their body, like movement, big movements like we talked about an the kind of the whole, the whole theme of the communication is like to the parents, ’take care of me’, ’hold me’, cuddle me’, ’stroke me’, ’touch me’, because it’s essential for the baby because they wouldn’t survive if we didn’t take care of them for the first couple of months onwards, but, of course, it is important.  But about the reflexes, there are also these sound reflexes that they have, that they use.  Priscilla Dunstan, do you know?


M: Dunstan Baby Language? Yes, absolutely.


U:  They haven’t done any research studies for this and this is obviously reflex sounds like ’meh’ for hunger and the sound of ’ow’ for and ’heh’ for not feeling comfortable.  I have seen this even with my older children (???) there was a lot of ’meh’.  ’Meh, meh, meh’ and ’ow’.  So I heard it quite a lot.  So, even though they haven’t had scientific studies on this yet, they have, I do think there can be something with this.


M: I agree


U:  And so it’s not just reflexes that the body uses for muscle contractions, like limbs, there is also reflexes when it comes to sound.  That’s a form of communication, but I don’t know if these reflex sounds, if there are more innate signals from the baby than early signals from the baby.  I guess it depends on the baby as well, so.  But, of course, there is also things like eye contact, giving the smile, posture as well.  They communicate with their posture, especially when you are holding them, and noise, other noise like grunting and stuff like that, of course.  Do you have anything more to say about that, about my explanation and what you can count as baby communication?


M: Well, I think you’ve covered it pretty well there.  I think also important to recognise that the communication is two-way as well, that we should be communicating with our babies as well and I think that comes up a lot in EC.  The focus being on the communication side of things kind of opens up a different sort of dialogue between caregiver and baby, doesn’t it? But not just verbally, recognising what they’re communicating to us and reflecting that back to them, and that’s important too, obviously, but also the fact that we can communicate to them with our bodies as well, sort of, a very basic example is, you know, when they’re needing to be held and the fact that the act of holding them to our bodies is communication in and of itself, isn’t it?  Yes, I think it’s very interesting.


U:  The act of holding, communicating, like, to the baby ”I’m holding you”, you are saying?


M: Yeah, yeah, the contact, the bodily contact is signalling to them through their skin, isn’t it? So, yeah, all very, very fascinating.


U: I think it’s so, I mean, they have done research on premature babies and the ? care and, like,  having the babies skin-to-skin helps with regulating the heartbeat, temperature and also that the child should remember to breathe, because the child might not remember to breathe at all times and it need to be reminded to breathe sometimes and use, like, the waterbed, so that the baby’s own movement would trigger, like, to remember to breathe.  Also, that the baby is held chest-to-chest.  That’s very much communication from the parent’s body through the baby’s body and I think that’s very fascinating and I guess also, like, the exchange of hormones going on or oxytocin from the baby triggers oxytocin in the mother and prolactin and stuff like that, so it’s also important, but we don’t talk about it as communication that much, but I’m thinking it must be.  One of the questions that we got from Gabriella ?? in Sweden was how babies’ communication changes over time from baby to toddler, generally and also, like, concerning elimination communication and breastfeeding.  And maybe if we just some words about what elimination communication is, if someone does not know that, but elimination communication means that you learn the baby’s routines or signals or you use your own intuition for when the baby is communicating that it needs to eliminate, pee or poop, and you can use a potty to facilitate this if you want to.  You are, like, answering the baby’s signals or routine by offering a place for the baby to pee or poop.  But it could be also be the diaper or the toilet or potty.  Usually you hold the baby in the spread squat position because it makes it easier for the baby to poop. Yes, so, back to the question, how does babies’ communication change over time?  Do you want to start with that one?


M: Yeah, well, as you touched on earlier, all babies are different with their communication.  There are a lot of things that babies tend to do, which makes becoming aware of what they’re trying to say easier to understand if you’ve got some point of reference, So for example we were talking about the reflexive sounds they make, you know, we hear these sounds anyway, don’t we? Regardless of whether we know what they mean or not. But having information which clarifies what they could mean opens up a whole new world, doesn’t it? Erm, so yeah, babies tend to communicate both verbally and physically. So physically in terms of body movements and eye contact and all of that, so over time it tends- over time it changes, it I think varies from baby to baby. Well it certainly has with my three, for mine, who I’ve practiced EC with, they’ve had things which were very similar. Um, especially, I think I’ve been more aware of the physical communication that they’ve…communicated by. Erm, so for example my *sigh* my thirds child [laughing] I can’t remember, I’ve got so many! [both laughing] He um, [coughs] something that he used to do as he, um, began exploring his environment when he was crawling, he would come back to me and hit me. And think it was basically his way of um… So I’d been signing do you want to got to the toilet to him, so he’d obviously learned that this meant toilet, and I think it was a friend of mine, actually, who made the connection. I was like, I sign to him, but he doesn’t make the connection, he comes and hits me! And she was like, “But it’s kind of like what you’re doing, it might be his, you know, less refined motor skills kind of way of signing back to you!” Because it’s kind of, it’s quite a complicated hand action by getting your finger into that position, so yeah what I’m trying to say with this is it’s interesting that when a baby’s not able to communicate with the words that you are communicating to them, because to them, when they’re babbling, I’m sure that they’re talking to us as we’re talking to them but it’s not making sense to us ‘cause they haven’t refined their speech yet and it’s interesting thinking about how babies interpret different ways of trying to communicate and come up with their own ways of doing it. And I think it can be difficult because you have to really be present to um, [tut] to how they’re communicating and make these links because when she said it, it was like “oh yeah, that’s actually really obvious!” but it’s never obvious [laughs] before someone points it out, is it?! Or it isn’t for me!


U:  Yeah I know I recorded my youngest son once when he was at the table eating when he was maybe 10, 11 months old, and I just recorded for fun because, you know, it would be fun to have later on, I thought. And when I looked at the video I was like “Oh, he is communicating so much and I didn’t see it!”, you know? I saw some of the stuff, but not the big dialogue he was carrying on, so…it was like, I sometimes tell that to parents that, film yourself with you baby and see if other stuff happens that…


M:  That’s a really good idea! Yeah.


U:  And I think we really should discuss the question of, like, er, how, what can make it easier for you to understand your baby. But I just want to say something about…sorry did you want to say anything more on that?


M:  No, no, no!


U: Erm, my, how I observe communication, when it comes to EC and also now I think a lot when it comes to general communication from the baby, it’s very much reflexive in the beginning, especially when it comes to EC and then communicating that they need to pee and poop because from the beginning they feel a sensation, like we do when we are grown ups. We can’t know how they feel it, how it feels in the body, but they feel that something is going on, something feels different and they will communicate that, and when, I know my son, when he was 2 or 3 or 4 months old he would signal to me that he needed to pee by, erm, by making eye contact and by making this sound – “EH!” – and then he could be kind of surprised when I took him to the bathroom and take off the diaper and he would pee, and he’d be like “what?! What are you doing?” You know? But he couldn’t choose not to signal – he would, like, signal without knowing what would happen next. But then when he got to about 8 months, he would stop this signalling. And he could more choose to signal or not to signal, and that was very frustrating! [laughs]


M:  Yeah!


U:  But then after a while he started to use the sign language for pee when he was about 10 months, I think, and he did it for about a week and I was so slow in getting, in understanding him, that then he stopped, and I was like, NO!!! [both laughing] But then…


M:  He was like, “You weren’t listening to me! You’ve missed your chance now!” [laughs]


U: Yeah! And then he was 11 months, and then he started to say “kkss”, like the sound I had be using with him when I was holding him over the toilet, I would say “kkss” and he started using that himself. And saying “kkssa”, “kissa” is the word in Swedish for pee. And then he could like, choose to say it or not to say it, so that was voluntary, and that’s like with the physical reflexes that get integrated in carrying, they also get like, they change and can be voluntary.


M:  Yeah definitely.


U:  But they’re still there, I can still, I can watch my 8 year old and 6 year old sometimes and they, I can see they need to pee, they have a very hard time standing still. [both laughing] So of course there are still reflexes but a lot of it is much more voluntary.


M:  It’s really interesting, the sound thingy you said, ‘cause both number 3 and number 4 did a similar thing, um, with number 3 it was at 8 months old doing a “pphhhh” sound and um, I think it was at 7 months for number 4, and it was like *gasp* Oh my God! This is like, MY communication! This whole like, WOW thing going on! Um but that, where I’m going with this is it leads into another, er, question that we had, and I don’t have the names…someone asked about, what do I do about my baby, um, protesting the potty, not wanting to use it and then when I leave them alone they then happily go and, and [get a nap 00:20:10] or what have you.


U:            You’ll give them a toy or something that distracts them. It’s, the question by [Inaudible 00:20:15].


M:           Okay.


U:            In Sweden, yes.


M:           Yes, so I said, I’m, when, when I read that question, I had a little chuckle because, um, obviously, it may, it may not happen for every baby but it’s very, such a common thing that I hear and I’ve experienced with my own children. Um, so how you were talking about that question, I don’t know if I’ve interpreted it in a different way. Is, is she asking about, um, distracting them when they’re, when they’re on the potty to, to go? Or is it that, that they, they don’t want to go in the potty and then they will go and they’re napping elsewhere when you leave them alone?


U:            Uh, it was both that if they’re on the potty and, uh, not wanting to, to go or they want to stand up or something and but you can distract them and then they will relax and pee or that you want them to come to the potty, you see the need to pee but they don’t wanna come and then you distract them or play or something and they will, uh, change their mind and have to come to the potty and relax and pee.


M:           Oh, okay. Yes, so I, I read that differently.


U:            No, I think it was my translation. Yeah, no, my English translation wasn’t that correct but it’s very very common, yeah. I think most people see it in different ages. Uh, I would interpret that as, that that baby is communicating, like I want stuff in another way. It could be for a young, young child, or it could be like it’s too cold or I don’t like the bright light shining into my eyes or, um, you you’re holding me in a way that’s not comfortable or I have air, I need to burp first or I need to, I have too much stomach in, food in my stomach so you can’t hold me in this way. So they might want to change or for the older child, I would usually say that, or as the parent like what interests the baby. Uh, right now, can you integrate what interests the baby right now into your potty routine like it could be like right now, sound is very fun so maybe to have something to, um, play like a drum, drum on something or is it just fun to open stuff, uh, or is it fun to, um, have a book with sound or is, is language focus right now so maybe you want to sign together with the child or doing stuff like that. Um, if the baby continues to protest, I would not recommend to keep the baby on the potty, it is better to do something else for awhile and you could try, if you really need, know that the baby needs to. And it’s usually the baby feels much more satisfied giving a poop on the potty, you could like carry your child for awhile and then you usually put signals again, and. ’Cause when you, when you carry the child, no matter what age, um, it will, the signals will be more clear and it can probably hold itself as well, it won’t pee on you, depending on the age and stuff like that but, uh, like if the baby is in a, um, doing like a phase of development, um, it will, it might pee on you but otherwise, usually they don’t, so.


M:           Yeah. Um, I think this is, uh, a good point to, uh, mention especially for U.K. listeners where, EC, isn’t as popular over here. The, um, the elimination communication, uh, is not a form of potty training. The focus is on the communication side of things and, um, I know with people who I’ve known over here who practiced it and myself as well. Um, a lot of the, the issues that we sometimes run into, um, can be surrounding our need to let go of being in charge, and putting our complete trust in this little person which can be very hard to do especially with, um, society telling us you know, who should be in charge and everything. And also the, the love-, lovely side effect of EC being the you know, we can catch pees and poos away from the body, less mess and everything. Um, there can be a bit of a, sort of, you enjoy that side of things, so you want it to continue sort of thing. So, so when communication issues do come up, it can be quite frustrating, you know?


U:            Mm-hmm.


M:           So, yeah. This for people who maybe…


U:            Yeah, and most, most people use, um, use a diaper on the baby as a back up.


M:           Yeah. Same here.


U:            Full time or part time or just, and you use, I think it’s important when it comes to elimination communication that you practice it as a level that’s, uh, functional for your family or like, um, some people only do it at home, some people only do it when they’re out and about because it’s easier if you’re carrying them a lot.


M:           I, I have a question for you, about this whole, the whole elimination communication thing, because, um, it’s very much, from all the information that I have read over the years , it’s very much, sort of offered up as this thing that you can practice as little or as much as possible and it won’t affect the baby or child in any way. Um, but for me, I’ve felt that each family obviously needs to practice it to whatever level is most beneficial for themselves as you just said, but, is there, is there an issue that comes up if we’re not keeping the dialogue going? Do you know what I mean? If, um, so…




M:           You know, if we’re saying, oh, we’re, um, I’m only going to it when I’m at home, I’m not going to do it when I’m out. Is it, is it detrimental in any way to then switch off and effectively ignore the baby’s signals when you’re out and about? You know, to, when they’re expecting you to communicate back to them, how do you feel about that?


U:            For most babies, I would say I don’t think there’s any like bad thing or so, because they would learn that okay, in this environment home, we do it like this. In another environment, being outside, okay, we don’t. And, and they can also be different like with, okay, the mother does it this way, and um, the, if she got a partner and does the Father or the other mother to the baby does it another way, and usually babies learn that, okay, different grown-ups will take care of me in different ways. Um, and they will be fine with that. But, if the baby is really showing clear signs that it wants to poop on the potty, it wants to poop in a position, spread squat position. Then it can be difficult not to listen to that, because it might, uh, give the baby constipa-, constipation if you don’t listen to those signals, Uh, but usually with those babies, you probably pretty motivated to facilitate opportunity to poop on a potty or a toilet, because usually it’s, I mean it’s much less mess to take care, take care of. And usually those babies will hold themselves for a bit also and they would be probably pretty loud and wanting communication. So if you, if you have a baby who’s really showing clear signals that I won’t, I’m going to poop in the potty, otherwise I’m not gonna poop. Then, of course, you have to facilitate that, otherwise.


M:           So what, what I’m kind of more thinking about is just, literally, just communication side of things rather than the act of helping them to eliminate. Um, and it’s just because, um, because I’ve, my observations, my limited observations, as not many people I know have actually practiced it over here and with my children especially, um, has been noticing the frustration when they’re trying to communicate and like we’re not responding back to them. So, like for example, um…


U:            Do you mean just with elimination communication? Or communication in general?


M:           Well, I guess communication in general but I’m specifically talking about EC at the moment. Um, so, what I’m trying to ask is, um, is it important to actually just keep the dialogue going? You know, if we’re seeing the communication happening. Um, or does it teach them when we’re not listening to them. So, for example, um…


U:            But you can listen, but you can listen and give another suggestion.


M:           Yeah, no this is why I’m saying.


U:            Like, okay, mommy doesn’t have time to take you to the potty right now so you can pee on your diaper.


M:           Exactly.


U:            So, yeah, continue communicating but then, I think if you then continue saying that, uh, I hear you, you can pee in your diaper, uh, of course they can continue for months on to communicate that they were peeing on their diaper but I think a lot of babies will stop communicating them, like we had the flu, the family had the flu, uh, and I was like too exhausted to do anything about listening to the signal. So I think it took maybe two days and my baby stops signaling, and my baby was about 6 months or something. And then after two weeks, I was like, okay, now I’m ready again. And then it took about half a day and he would start signaling again. And he didn’t seem like, it was like okay, you know, maybe we’re on again, you know and I think so much is happening in the baby’s development, continually they have certain like days or weeks when they make leaps in the development but otherwise they continue development all the time, so I think so much new stuff is happening and like their, their world are changing at these leaps. So I think, uh, I don’t, I think babies will learn okay, now we have a new routine, uh, but it’s, it’s like if you look at like attachment is important that like you try to listen to the baby’s signals and of course you can miss as well, it’s not like the baby’s gonna have a, the baby will still have a secure attachment even though you like miss a feeding or miss a communication but feeding, but like if you do it sometimes during the day you will answer the baby’s feeding signals and sometimes during the day you will be like oh no, you can just lay there and scream, you know.


M:           Yeah.


U:            The attachment won’t be secure. But I don’t think, since the baby will pee, it will pee in the diaper, in the pants they have on them, it’s not like when it comes to feeding it needs, this time it needs to get full, you know. But with the elimination communication they can still eliminate wherever they are, even though, I think it’s, I think it’s a difference compared to feeding.


M:           Yeah, yeah. I agree with that. Um, I think it goes back to, [again 00:33:29], doesn’t it the, every baby and child is individual, um, responds differently to different situations.


U:            Yea, and there’s something I would also like to add, yeah, something yeah, sorry.


M:           It’s okay.


U:            No, but something I would like to add as well is that when it comes to elimination communication if, if the parent or the, the caregivers giving too much focus on the elimination communication, getting too stressed or like able to catch every pee of stuff like that. Usually the baby gets tired of that and the parent gets tired of that as well and then the baby will start to protest…




U:            Not wanting to sit on the potty, so it’s like, um, it’s a balance there so, um…


M:           I definitely agree with that, yeah. The hovering and yeah, trying to…


U:            Yes, that doesn’t work so you need to have kinda like a relax, uh, you need to be relaxed but also at the same time be, you have to be attentive maybe, but also relaxed about it. So, um…


M:           Yeah, definitely. And they pick up on your stress don’t they, anyway.


U:            And usually, yeah, and usually was like for me carrying like baby wearing [Inaudible 00:34:45] and I was carrying is so much connected to a baby wearing because if you carry your baby in your arms where you have it in a sling or a carrier, self-carry, it makes usually elimination communication so much easier.


M:           Yes.


U:            But cause you don’t have to be attentive by looking at the baby or you could just, you have the baby in your body and you feel the baby’s expressing like grunting or not feeling well comfortable you feel it such, you feel the subtle, uh, communication from the baby and usually the baby will hold the pee and the poop if it’s communicating it will hold the pee and poop longer when you have it in your body, not for like hours but say for like 5 minutes or 15 minutes when it’s 6 months old.


M:           ‘Cause they don’t want to eliminate on you do they.


U:            Yeah, so there’s like, so I would say like to carry the baby is really really, um, using babywearing is very beneficial when it comes to EC.


M:           Yeah. So I thought maybe we can, um, answer another one of the question.


U:            Mm-hmm.


M:           Um, which will also tie in to, um, carrying and communication. So, if we cover a bit of that at the end as well about, um, communication when they are being carried in arms, um, we’ve talked a lot about EC which is helpful as well.


U:            Yeah, got a lot of…




M:           Yeah, it’s a fascinating subject isn’t it. Um, but yeah, maybe we can talk a little bit about the ways, um, babies and children communicate on body on the carrying process.


U:            Mm-hmm.


M:           Um, so, where should we start with that? Shall we start by talking about that or answer the question first, do you think?


U:            I guess we could say the question, it was the one with linear [Inaudible 00:36:46] and I guess with the, I would like to get suggestion on how to answer when people say my baby does not want to be in the sling or a carrier.


M:           Yeah, that’s one.


U:            And I guess we talk about that also last episode, uh, and then we referred to babies being about 4 months old and protesting and being in the sling and carrier and, um, you could try if you were sling and a carrier you could try with different position, I guess, uh, to see if the baby is more satisfied, maybe we can have in our [mouth 00:37:20] or sit on the hip or so. But, but also to take the baby out of the sling and a carrier is also a suggestion, so may-, because maybe the baby is communicating here that it wants to be more active and it’s carrying and then not to be restrained by a sling or a carrier.


M:           Yeah, so this, that kind of tends to be sort of the missing piece of information, generally doesn’t it? When it comes to this, um, this issue for [caregivers? 00:37:54]. Um, the fact that, there is another, another possibility, um, to resolve what’s going on here in terms of the, the active in arms carrying as it’s not well known, obviously. But yeah. So babies can and will communicate, they won’t be active participants in carrying. And when they’re communicating, this, it’s interesting because the type of communication that goes on between, um, baby and caregiver in active carrying is different to in slings and carriers. Uh, we’ve touched on this before, I think, um, possibly in the previous podcast or just, you know, in our general chats, so anyway, um, the active carrying, is something which happens during in active and alert state, the baby needs to be in certain state of alertness, um, to participate in this. And the communication that goes on between baby and caregiver at this level with the environment around them, tends to be fairly different to the communication that goes on in slings and carriers, isn’t it? Um, yeah, I think it was last episode wasn’t it? Where you mentioned somebody had mentioned to you, how they had noticed, you know, my baby is never bored when they’re actively being carried.


U:            Yeah yeah.


M:           Yeah. So, yeah. That’s, it’s really interesting way for communication there, you know, I don’t want to be in the sling or carrier. Um, obviously, sometimes we need them to be and need to work around that but if we don’t need to, if we don’t need them to be in there, maybe, uh, we can try meeting that need, um, in a different way and see if it’s that they want to be carried actively.


U:            If the baby are in the sling or carrier, and it’s frustrated like its being sleeping and then wake up and screams or wriggles and really clear with about wanting to get out. It can also be, uh, that it needs to pee and poop, uh, and it’s a signal and really clearly. So that’s also an answer to this question or something that you can try if the, if the baby doesn’t want to sit in the sling or a carrier. Try to let it out and if you practice elimination communication, you can put it on the potty or hold it over the sink, or if you don’t practice elimination communication, you could say like hold your baby in a spread squat position, you keep the diaper on and just hold it on your lap but you face the baby outwards. Could be something to try. and then maybe the baby is satisfied with, um, sitting tummy to tummy in your arms or to go back in the sling and carrier again after it has [Inaudible 00:41:07] possible to pee or poop. And if they need to poo, of course you have to change the diaper after that. I mean why it’s important to listen to baby communications has different levels and I guess at a very basic and very important level is when we answer baby’s needs like for feeding and do that as a routine, not once in a while, we do it as a routine. We always, as much as we can try to answer baby’s needs, uh, they are building a pathways of neurons in their brain that are making expec-, expectations of positive outcomes of their needs like I feel hungry, uh, okay, my mom and dad answer to this need in a certain way, okay. And then if they continues to answer in a certain way, a lot of times like feeding them, um, they will have a positive expectation of okay, my need is important and it will be met. And what also you could see when the baby grows older if you feel like use baby sign language to give the baby more opportunities to be able to communicate, you know, much less frustration. And, and I guess that’s also like why [is potty to be 00:42:31] important to listen to the baby’s communication when it comes to carrying, I think also because she could, how much, less frustration. And I do think, um, it’s difficult to understand baby communication for most of us, you learn as you kind of go on with your baby, the parent is the best one to interpret the baby, it doesn’t matter maybe, it can never be an expert on someone else’s baby. So it’s, always, the parents is the best, uh, at interpreting the baby but it can still be difficult, but, um, I think when it comes to carrying it’s important because it’s, um, you also are showing that okay, your communication is important to me, with you’re trying to communicate and I’m trying to understand. And then babies are okay also with being misunderstood and gave many many opportunities also but when it comes to EC, they gave many opportunities to try to understand. Uh, and if you don’t understand, they will start communicate in another way. Um, um, but it’s like if a feeding is a very basic level, I guess communication when it comes to carrying is also important but it’s not like, I’m thinking like when it comes building a secure attachment, you have many different. Um, 2 or so scenarios or situations in your everyday life that will help you with the secure attachment. So you don’t have to carry, you don’t have to use elimination communication to get a secure attachment but it can help out in your everyday life.


M:           Yeah, yeah. And I think it’s, um, it’s important to kind of, sort of flip it the other way round and, think about you know, why is it, like you say, why is it important to listen to and communicate back to your baby or child. Um, if we think about well, how would we feel? Or how do we feel if we try and communicate something, to someone and [Laughs] funny enough, uh, this is happening to me yesterday with my husband, going round around in circles trying to like, communicate something and he’s just, he’s, he’s not listening to what I’m saying, he’s hearing the words that he wants. [Laughs] And it’s so frustrating and we think oh, my goodness, can you imagine? You know, I’m being a-, I’m able to articulate what I’m trying to say and this is just [wilful 00:45:08] misunderstanding [Laughs] in this situation. But you think of a baby or child who’s having to communicate in all these different ways to you know, the caregiver, you know, may not understand and stuff like how, how frustrating it must be if you know, if we’re not making a conscious effort to communicate back to them as well because tha-, that’s not the thing where they say, it’s a two-way street, it’s not just about the baby communicating to you, you know, it’s reinforcing, yes, I did hear you, you know, when they made this like even as a newborn say oh, I hear you, you need to go pee, or oh, whatever, it’s building up a two-way, two way dialogue, isn’t it? So, yeah.


U:            Yeah. And as well when it comes to carrying to communicate with them verbally about what’s going to happen, uh, like I’m gonna put you up on my back or, uh, I’m gonna lift you up and do that communicate verbally will also help them especially when they get a little bit older to be prepared, okay, now I’m going back in the back, and this like, if you’re gonna, you’re holding the baby on a slide and it’s quite small and you maybe you count down and say okay, on three, I’m gonna put, you’re gonna go down the slide, um, for them to prepare their body. Uh, and I know you have written, write a blog post about that as well that you could give us a study that you could see that the babies prepare themselves to be lift up, because they see that you’re coming, so mean you communicate with your body language, um, but you can also, um, communicate even more clearly or in several ways by usually body language but also use your voice as well, telling them what’s going to happen.


M:           Yeah. Well, this is, as, as we thought, this is a really fascinating subject and we could do multiple podcasts on it. And, um, maybe in the future one, um, we can do one about, um, the, yeah, actually focusing on the communication in the carrying process.


U:            Mmm.


M:           Um, so maybe, maybe you listeners can ask now if that is something that you may want to hear from us about in the future.


U:            Yes and give us some questions as well, if you have certain questions about carrying in and communication.


M:           Mmm, mm-hmm.


U:            I think maybe now where I got more questions about elimination communication, when I ask for questions on like baby communication is, because it’s, it’s so clear, communication is so clearly connected to elimination communication for everyone, practicing it and maybe for the ones practicing baby wearing or in arms carrying, they don’t think that much about the communication, even though it’s such a central part of it.


M:           Yeah. You see it’s fascinating and I’m sure we will do many more podcasts, focusing on different aspect about it as well.


U:            Yes, everything is like linked together. And I’m, okay, so I guess we say bye for now.


M:           Yup.


U:            To this episode. Okay.


M:           Bye.


U:            Bye.

Back to basics – babies, bodies and behaviour

Tillsammans med Mel Cyrille, som är bärandekonsult och författare till boken In arms carrying har jag dragit igång en pod, Back to basics – babies, bodies and behaviour. Podden är tänkt att beröra allt från bärande, babypottning, barfota,  föräldraskap och mer!

Här kommer vårt pilotavsnitt. I avsnittet har vi fokus på bärande av barn i armarna/famnen och de primitiva reflexer som barnet använder för att hjälpa till vid bärandet. Vi kommer även in på en del annat! Lyssna till eller ladda ner avsnittet här. Du hittar det även där poddar finns, hos tex Acast och Podcaster. Se transkription av avsnittet nedan.

Transkription Back to basics – babies, bodies and behavior
Avsnitt 1 In-arms carrying – reflexes

Ulrika: “Welcome to this pod with Mel Cyrille and Ulrika Casselbrant and I guess we should start with introducing ourselves. My name is Ulrika and I live in Stockholm Sweden, and I’m a babywearing consultant and also elimination communication consultant. I wrote a book about Elimination Communication and I’m very much into babywearing and in-arms carrying as well.”

Mel: “I’m Mel, l’m from Carried, and I’m a babywearing and in-arms trainer and the author of in-arms carrying. My work has a very strong in-arms focus which I incorporate into my babywearing trainings too.”

Ulrika: “Yes, and we decided on that a pod may be good to be able to discuss some of the subjects and I guess we are probably going to start out with in-arms carrying today….”

Mel: “Yep” *laughs*

Ulrika: “….and maybe start out with like, a definition….

Mel: “Yes”

Ulrika: “….like, what is in-arms carrying?”

Mel: “Yeah”

Ulrika: “….if you want to take that one….how do you see in-arms carrying?”

Mel: “So…in-arms carrying is basically an umbrella term for anything from holding through to independent clinging, basically. It’s sort of, on body behaviours, basically, so we’re talking about a spectrum of how we support babies on our bodies.”

Ulrika: “Yes. And what about reflexes has to do with this?”

Mel: “OK, so, in the beginning, when babies are born they’re born with a whole host of primitive reflexes and these reflexes are for things like
feeding so they, they, they help babies to survive basically. So feeding reflexes and, like, the rooting and sucking reflex as it enables them to To ingest milk without being aware of how to do it….

Ulrika: “Mmm hmm”

Mel “….so with the carrying reflexes they enable the baby to sort of fit to our body and help with the carrying process before they are aware of how to do it voluntarily….”

Ulrika: “Mmm hmm”

Mel “….yes.”

Ulrika: “And there are a bunch of reflexes helping this and one of the most people notice without thinking about carrying or not, is like when you pick up a newborn baby, they pull up their knees….”

Mel: “Yep that’s right, yep.”

Ulrika: “….so that’s one of them.”

Mel: “Yeah.”

Ulrika: “And it’s very different to carry the baby if it has the knees up or dangling down….”

Mel: “Absolutely, yes.”

Ulrika: “….such a big difference, so they’re really really helping out with this reflex

Mel: “Yup that’s right.”

Ulrika: “But then, on the body something interesting is happening as well – like if the feet are pulled down or their they’re losing the foot down…. I’m sorry for my English, it’s going to be a bit rocky….I know!” *laughs*

Mel: *laughs* “It’s absolutely fine, we know what you’re talking about!”

Ulrika: “But, uh, Yes I think we’ll be able to manage if I don’t have to spell….”
Mel: *laughs*

Ulrika: “Yes, yes….But, yeah, when the foot slips down there is also a reflex or two and it do you want to talk some about that?”

Mel: “Yeah, so, basically, the different reflexes tend to be talked about as separate things and, sort of the reaction elicited by it and salt together but when we look at the reflexes in action, they they work together harmoniously, and they can sort of trigger a chain reaction sort of thing so the foot reflexes, the grasping and fanning actions of the feet, so we’ve got the plantar grasp reflex and Babinski’s sign in babies – these, these are normal reflexes to have and the grasping reflex helps with clinging onto the body and is one thought to be thought to be a leftover reflex from when humans had lots of body hair…. but we see it in action all the time on the body anyway, and it helps a clinging onto clothing and onto skin as well. It still is used in carrying and the Babinski sign is the sort of stabilising action so the toes fan out and it creates a wider surface to stabilize on the body with but also while, while these reflexes are happening if if the foot and leg slip down the body and these reflexes are happening at the same time you get this this reaction of the leg being brought up. So it’s, it’s a sort of a correctional sort of reflex this but it’s umm….but of course it is triggered by the foot, the, the….*sighs* *laughs* can’t think of the word now!”

Ulrika: *laughs*

Mel: “….but, yeah, it’s, it’s coming through from sensations from the foot. So it’s, its most commonly known as the Stepping reflex but when we look at it on the body, it’s what I like to call a clinging adjustment reflex, because that action of the sudden trigger of the leg and knee coming up and sort of forwards as well on the body is enabling them to cling onto the body and correcting their position from having slipped down, so coming back up….. I don’t know if if that explains it well enough I’m not really good with describing in words!” *laughs*

Ulrika: “Mmm….I can see them making this, like, really high…knees, and it doesn’t look like walking actually.”

Mel: “No!”

Ulrika: “It looks more like this military exercise….for I don’t know, some kind of, show or parade or something!”

Mel: “Yes, exactly! And it’s like, it’s been given this name, oh, well, it looks like a weird form of walking so we’re going to call it the “stepping reflex” but….when, when, for SO many reflexes, when you look at them in action on the body, it’s, it’s like, you know, you’re putting…. you just see, you see it from from a completely different perspective and so, so, so many of the reflexes primitive and postural reflexes are used in carrying. So, so many are linked to carrying, and it feels like I keep discovering more and more related to carrying and it’s so exciting!” *laughs*

Ulrika: “But why is this something that we’re discovering now? Why is this not something that the doctor is telling you when you go with your first appointment with your baby?

Mel: “Because….*laughs* it’s a couple of things….well probably more than a couple of things, but two big things that stand out for me are…. Patriarchy – so science and what have you, well, the recorded science that we have comes from a male perspective. You know, when these reflexes were being found and everything….

Ulrika: “It was men, you know, not taking care of babies and making the definitions.”

Mel: “….yeah, exactly. So it’s, coming from, from a different perspective again but also we, we haven’t been carrying our babies normally for a very, very, very long time. I mean, you know, you know how, how little there is, recorded history of carrying our babies and the, the little history that we have found, it is not to do with carrying as you and I have come to know it!”

Ulrika: “Yeah, yeah….”

Mel: “So we haven’t had any sort of, point of reference before, so that’s why, that’s why it’s so important for us to be getting this message out there and alerting the people who, who will then be able to take this further and, you know, talk to parents about this you know?”

Ulrika: “Yes and I’m thinking that this with carrying both babywearing and in-arms is….should be an interesting field to dig into for research. It’s like, it’s the biomechanics of two bodies, a lot of tissue, a lot of nerves, a lot of like, muscles going on. The needs of the one carrying, the needs of the one being carried, and communication, like cultural aspects and like how
cultural influences how we carry and what decisions we are making and what needs we have in the culture we live in and….such an interesting field to do research on. And how it affects our lives as well. Every day lives of mothers and fathers because everyone is carrying….” *laughs*

Mel: “Yeah, pretty much everyone does it every single day!”

Ulrika: “‘Cause it’s like, included in taking care of children and I guess it’s like, because it’s such an everyday thing people do that’s also a part of life. I have been recording and documenting some of, I’m going through this archive with a lot of like, old Swedish pictures of people, people have sent in, recording history, that’s like, thirty, thirty thousand, and in Swedish it’s called …….. I think, and I found a couple of carrying, but it’s not a lot like, it’s on Christmas trees and picturing people doing like, their everyday chores with their, with their babies.”

Mel: “Yes. And I think, as well, the lack of information and history, again it’s coming back to who was recording history, you know, so….it’s, it’s, it really wasn’t seen as something important, you know, the mother’s work and stuff and….. I have a book, I’m just going to check to see when it was written but I found this awesome book a while back when I was doing some research into elimination communication to, to try and find out a bit more about how we used to practice EC to a certain extent you know, over the ages, you know. It was common for babies to be potty trained by 1 so…. it was from 1964 but it’s, it’s going back in time as well, but, um, yeah! Nothing about holding or carrying your baby. Lots of interesting stuff about feeding and nappying and all that sort of thing, but nothing nothing about holding and carrying, and it’s just, it’s just not been thought of as a THING, basically, ‘cause it’s just seen as something we do to or for the baby. It’s not seen as a reciprocal thing is it?”

Ulrika: “Mmmm….so I guess back to the reflexes then as that’s been discussed about why we don’t know more about this, but looking into it, it gets more and more clear when you see it actually. But there’s also with the body alignment of the child with, it’s very different to carry a small baby that is leaning into you or if it’s leaning back, or, or, if it’s wobbly, it really affects how heavy it feels when you carry the baby. So even when it’s sleeping, and not really active, it’s still active with its body I would say with its posture.”

Mel: “Yeah absolutely. Yeah so you see it, so some, some reflexes are won’t be elicited in deep sleep but we see the….what do we call it? The squat reflex? I don’t know, but the, the knees up…..

Ulrika: “Yeah, the squat reflex could be a good name.”

Mel: “So, we, we see that reflect in Action even when they’re in deep sleep on the body don’t we, so it’s like it’s designed to help, help them bear some of their weight. I mean we, we played around with, with the demo dolls in Sweden didn’t we – feeling the difference between a demo doll which has been wired so that the knees are up and this has adopted that posture and the demo doll with legs down it affects both how it fits to the body obviously but also how heavy it feels, it’s all part…..

Ulrika: “Yes, I couldn’t imagine, I couldn’t imagine before trying that it will be such a difference but it really really is, definitely. So what do we have more when it comes to the reflexes? Because the one the doctors say is one of the strongest ones left over from history, from prehistoric time, the ones clinging to the hair, the reflex of the gripping of the, the fingers and the hands.

Mel: “Oooo, yeah, so that’s still seen in action in carrying, it’s still used, I mean you just all you have to do is just watch somebody hold their baby and you see, you see it in action – it’s not just about body hair at all, so yeah, it’s really interesting on the body – so many and one that I’ve been looking into recently actually, which isn’t a primitive reflex, it stays for life. It’s to do with boys and I’m not sure if I’m going to pronounce it correctly but…. I’m just going to look at the word to try and pronounce it * laughs* cremasteric [cree-masteric] reflex or cremasteric [crem-asteric], something like that but it’s, it’s to do with when, when either one or both testicles draws up into the body….”

Ulrika: “Ohhh yes! Ok then, yes, Katy Bowman speaks about that one….”

Mel: “Oh does she! Ah, awesome.”

Ulrika: “Yes. You shouldn’t wear underwear – men shouldn’t wear underwear because it can’t work properly….yeah.”

Mel: “OK, interesting, I’ll have to look that up.”

Ulrika: “And maybe there could be links to like, prostate cancer…..she’s just speculating, yeah, but yeah.”

Mel: “OK, so with carrying…. So I have this massive, massive thing about knots being tied under bums in babywearing, you know, just, just, just keep everything away from the bum, kind of thing because of the pressure created over time. So I got to thinking about carrying, you know, as I have boys, and I got to thinking about how, you know, what what happens with the testicles kind of thing and got to thinking about, you know, this reflex and stuff, and sort of kind of observed it in action with Isaac as well. It’s, and it’s elicited by stroking or pressure to, to the inner thigh and it’s like…. “oh my God we have another one!” ‘Cause I’d been thinking about um….’cause obviously I don’t FEEL his testicles when I’m carrying him, and you know, you’re thinking about where, where you’re carrying them and you know get to the bony part of the hip as well obviously, when, when they’re actively clinging it’s less of an issue about where they’re positioned on your body because they’re gripping as opposed to bearing all of their weight on to certain part of the body, but, but yeah this reflex is in action in carrying as well and I find it amazing….”

Ulrika: “What happens when it’s triggered?”

Mel: “The testicles are drawn up into the body.”

Ulrika: “….they are drawn up? And then they are heated up against….coz that’s like part of the muscle….”

Mel: “Sorry?”

Ulrika: “They lose…. part of their muscle use…reflex, they should be loosened when they are too hot so they can cool down, why they can move up and down.”

Mel: “So yeah, it’s just, yeah another, I mean like I always say we’ve only scratched the surface with carrying and just it’s amazing how, how many things that you wouldn’t think are linked to carrying actually are linked to carrying and, just yeah, how amazing….”

Ulrika: “But what happen if you carry the small baby on your hip, I can’t really, not having a baby here, I can’t really see where, like, the, the….the boy’s “package”, I don’t know what you would call it in English, but where is it, where does it, does it come towards like, your belly or….depending
on how they sit I guess? So if they cling actively, there is not the pressure on it, but they would still be pushed up by this?”

Mel: “So, um, when they’re sitting in a legs up kind of position then it kind of all comes up and onto your body if that makes sense, it just….squishes, basically! *laughs* So yeah, yet another very useful side effect of skin to skin carrying – you get to see what is actually happening, so yeah, and this is kind of where thoughts about what is happening with the testicles and stuff came from, when I had had a shower with him and observing where everything was. But yeah….”

Ulrika: “ Hmmm…Hello!!! We want some researcher to look into this please!”

Mel: “Yes! Please! Please!!!” *laughing* “But I guess also, we should mention what happens after the reflexes integrate – it’s not all about the reflexes is it? It all BEGINS with the reflexes….so maybe you want to take that one?”

Ulrika: “But you are the expert here on the subject! *laughing* I’m just coming with all these thoughts, um, you mean the reflexes are integrated? Yeah…umm and all reflexes are not integrated at the same time and some are not even integrated, they stay as reflexes, like sneezing or coughing if you get something in your throat it hurts like that, but sneezing and coughing it’s not that much connected to carrying, but who knows!”

Mel: “Oh don’t, you just put thoughts in my head about sneezing! What the body does when it sneezes….can you visualise that on-body, baby sneezing? And what the baby does? It’s linked to carrying – oh my God!” *laughs*

Ulrika: “Yes, it pulls itself forward! It does! So it makes a secure position being able to do that….”

Mel: “I LOVE Chatting with you – we have the best conversations!” *laughs*

Ulrika: “Yes that’s true, that’s….’cause it would be really bad for them if they did the opposite, you know? Throwing themselves back would be dangerous so it really is also an argument for, yeah, babies are used to be carried because in that position they would make themselves
safe….yeah…. But yeah, after a while these reflexes are integrated, like, the reflex. I don’t know what you call, I guess it’s like a combination of reflexes, like that they start to cling on your body with their, pressing their knees together, what reflex would that actually be connected to? Or is it like, several? Is it two, or several”

Mel: “Yeh it begins with that, yeah….”

Ulrika: “But is not just the squatting, it’s also they clinging of the knees together….”

Mel: “It’s umm…. I mean you can cling just down to the knees but depending on how they’re being carried, down the calf as well and all the way down to the foot, and it also depends on what they’re wearing as well doesn’t it, but like you say what what is the actual reflex? And the thing is I believe there’s a lot of undiscovered stuff out there. We’re trying to, sort of, work out what of the reflexes that have been discovered or whatever, what are related to carrying? But carrying is a completely different thing in and of itself isn’t it, and some of those reflexes are probably ones that we don’t know about, are probably ones which may, may not be seen elsewhere. Does that make sense?

Ulrika : “Mmm, yeah.”

Mel: “Yeah, so, yeah I’ve seen it as a combination of different reflexes. As as I said in the beginning, they they don’t tend to just work by themselves exclusively, only if we test them, they tend to work in sort of groups or pairs or you know, depending on what what’s happening so yeah I think we’re talking about uncharted territory here, basically. Because some of the reflexes ARE linked to it. Sorry….”

Ulrika: “No and maybe if a small baby also sneezes then it probably would press also the knees together so….I probably would imagine that would happen so….”

Mel: “They do! But yeah, so, this is why it’s so important to encourage the clinging behaviours, because a clinging baby feels LIGHTER than a non-clinging baby! You know, it’s like, I mean, I, I use a, my….”

Ulrika: “And the clinging, no sorry….”

Mel: “Sorry, no you….”

Ulrika: “So also, the clinging baby will also, it will benefit the building of muscles for the baby so the baby gets stronger earlier and can do….”

Mel: “But yeah….*sigh* it does, but at the same time, it gets stronger as it SHOULD.”

Ulrika: “Mmmm.”

Mel: “And that’s the thing, we’re, we’re not talking about, umm…”oooo let’s create some super babies, it’s literally just a normal part of their development, isn’t it, that a lot of babies are missing out on.”

Ulrika: “Yeah, we’ve lowered our minimum.”

Mel: “Mmmmm.”

Ulrika: “And that’s also like, expectations in different cultures, I’ve come across in reading as well, and some countries you expect a baby to be a much earlier crawler or a much earlier walker or steady, steady head and…these cultures they do a lot more carrying also more of baby massage and handling the babies in other ways. Not being really super careful….giving them more…..I can’t find the right…”

Mel: “Freedom of movement?”

Ulrika: “Yeah, yeah maybe and more like, challenges, more physical challenges.”

Mel: “Yeah, so like not treating them as….”delicate”, basically?”

Ulrika: “Yes. And of course then depending on like how strong they are and so on but not not expecting them to be really really super delicate.”

Mel: “Mmmm. So what I was saying about the thing with with slings…. so you know they, they feel lighter when they’re clinging that, that kind of leads on to the fact that what I call “active carrying” is where the baby is actively clinging but that’s also tied into their state of alertness as well isn’t it, it’s, active carrying is when is for when they are active and alert and in, in that kind of stage where they are wanting to move and interact with the environment and everything whereas babywearing is more of….can’t think of the word now….*laughing* Erm babywearing is more
passive, isn’t it, and erm, it inherently encourages sort of, stillness and calmness, doesn’t it?”

Ulrika: “Yeah and those times when the baby needs to be calmed or needs to sleep.”

Mel: “Yeah, so it’s obviously….you know, we can use carrying or babywearing for whatever we like, it’s just like, pointing out the biological baseline for it, isn’t it. It seems like this active carrying is intended for when they are at this sort of state of alertness, whatever point in time that may be, and that babywearing um, well if we look at cultures around the world where it hasn’t been um, where it hasn’t been lost in the culture, it tends to be very much “out of sight”, doesn’t it? Very very strongly linked to back carrying around the world and even in English history as well, back carrying is the type of carrying, babywearing we’ve seen in history as well. Um so it seems like babywearing has been used for freeing up the front of the body and we’re a bit strange in the fact we wear babies on the front, but we’re coming from a place of privilege where we can use babywearing as a bonding tool as well, you know, and, but it seems like, like babywearing was invented so, so that we can get on and do things without having to leave, leave a sleeping baby laying on the ground somewhere….so they’re still connected to us. So, but, like I say we can use either however we like. I mean I will sometimes carry my sleeping 2 year old, but, um, you know, in-arms, but I much prefer to put him in a sling, you know, because it frees up the front of my body and everything, but um, no we can use carrying when they’re tired and sleeping anyway, and we can use babywearing when they are awake and active as well, it’s just literally trying to work out this biological baseline as to what each, what each might have an intended purpose for. Does that make sense?”

Ulrika: “Yeah yeah definitely and something which really got my interest the other day connected to this was erm, it’s like ok, the mother or father carrying or someone else carrying, they have their needs, I need to do this and that and it would be convenient for me to do this, that’s one aspect yes. But then the baby has its needs as well, and a small baby has very few minutes of the day where it’s active and then those other minutes when it’s quite sleepy and it’s with a 4 month old much more nosy and have much more active time where it’s alert and can take in the world. And one one of the mothers the other day that I met and she said when I carry the baby and it is active in my arms it is never bored. And this is of course I think here is doing active stages also. It can be a bit
tricky though to have an awake baby at 4 months old in the sling. It wants to move its body and be out there and maybe it’s these 15 minutes – I have no idea of time here, I’m just picking a time – to let the baby be active then, and maybe it will go back to being more OK I’m at the stage where I need to cuddle and I need to recharge myself and then I’ll be OK with sitting in the sling.”

Mel: “Yeah and this is the thing, this whole “nosy baby” stage and forward facing out and everything, and erm, sort of in the sling world, the idea is kind of to fix this problem, in a sense. Not that the baby is a problem, but you’re having this problem that your baby wants to look around, so, so we’re looking at how we can adapt this to slings. Which obviously we still need to do because people will still want to use slings at certain times when their baby is doing these things, BUT….if we take a step back and look at the behaviours that are going on, if we can carry them, like you said, if you’ve got these 15 minutes or whatever where you CAN meet the need that they are signalling, then why not carry them in arms for a bit? Because active carrying is, OH! It’s interacting with the world and it’s movement, and they’re wanting to engage with you and the world as well aren’t they? So, yeah.”

Ulrika: “Yeh and move their body as well, so….”

Mel: “I fully agree with you that umm, if we do have time to meet that need, then just meet it, because as you say, they’re probably going to be more settled after that period of activeness, aren’t they? And um, and be more likely to settle in the sling or carrier after.”

Ulrika: “Mmmm. Maybe this is a good timeframe for, for an episode, I imagine, here.”

Mel: “Mmmm.”

Ulrika: “Yaaaay! Okay!”

Mel: “Woooo!”

Ulrika: “So this is a pilot thing we are doing to see if we can gather our discussions on record, and also share it with you listening and get your input and comments.”

Mel: “Yes. And ideas for future ones, because we have our own HUGE list!”

Ulrika: “OK, so bye for now!”