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#1 of 50 Old 05-18-2006, 09:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sometimes, somewhere, someone, raises a concern about waldorf education and breastfeeding or Steiner and breastfeeding or anthroposophy and breastfeeding. Just want to clear up some confusions.

The Anthroposophical Society doesn't have an official position on the subject.

Steiner's statements, at most, discourage extended breastfeeding.

I worked for the Anthroposophical Society in America (not North America, Canada and Mexico have their own, completely independent Anthroposophical Societies) for 6 1/2 years. The ASA has NO authority over waldorf schools. None. Nada. Furthermore, the ASA is completely legally separate from the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America. AWSNA has faint power over waldorf schools, due to owning the name waldorf. Someone at AWSNA may, sometimes, even speak out against extended breastfeeding. No one has to listen.

At the Chicago Waldorf School (where I worked for 3 years), the wife of one of the teachers used to sit around the school offices breastfeeding her little one who was well over a year old. The teachers would be wandering in and out, as would be the parents, the children and the administrative staff. Right there in the core of this well-established school which had many long-term waldorf teachers, many of whom were (gasp) MEMBERS of the Anthroposophical Society in America. The only comment was about how cute the little girl was. Breastfeeding was common in many locales at the school and there were no "police" going around checking to see if the children were too old to still be nursing. Never happened.

Waldorf teachers and anthroposophists are pretty free and easy about disregarding what Steiner "said." Especially about something like breastfeeding.

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#2 of 50 Old 05-18-2006, 11:34 AM
 
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Hi Apwannabe. This is in response to your questions in the safe haven thread, but I'm replying here to ensure that thread doesn't start debating, as it is support only.

I'm new to homeschooling and Waldorf as well, you can read my experience in some of the recent posts in the safe haven thread.

Oak Meadow has been termed mainstream education with a Waldorf flavor by many, rather than being doggedly Steiner, so I don't think you have to worry at all about using Oak Meadow in terms of their support for breastfeeding. They don't claim to be pure Waldorf, rather they say they are Waldorf- inspired.

That said, I think most Waldorf communities kind of ignore or downplay Steiner's original statements about extended breastfeeding because the type of people attracted to Waldorf these days tend to be pro-breastfeeding and extended bfing. Not saying that there aren't some Waldorf folks out there that take everything Steiner said as gold, and this can cause serious problems in some schools, but for the most part I think extended breastfeeding is accepted nowadays. If you were considering a Waldorf school this is something you would definately want to verify before you enrolled, but since you are homeschooling, you don't have to worry about that as much. Although if you plan on joining any Waldorf homeschool co-ops or whatnot you would want to inquire about their philosophies and how strictly they interpret Steiner's works, of course.

I think the majority of homeschooling parents, myself included, don't want to associate 100% with ALL of Steiners ideals (many of which are clear products of the culture of his time), but find that many of his ideals were revolutionary, inspiring, and useful. I see it this way, you have to take the inner truth from his works and adapt it to fit today's cultures and attitudes (especially easy to do if you are homeschooling). I'm speaking mainly of the attitudes towards race and breastfeeding which were much different in the 1920s than they are today.

Here is an interesting article that I just ran across on the Waldorf Without Walls website:

Anthroposophical Medicine, Breastfeeding and Weaning

Okay, well enough of my ramblings......
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#3 of 50 Old 05-18-2006, 11:42 AM
 
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I just posted another response on the other thread, I guess I should have done it here...
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#4 of 50 Old 05-18-2006, 12:53 PM
 
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DD and I are currently in a waldorf parent child class. Most of the mamas (including me) breastfeed. Our babies are all pretty little but I wouldn't be surprised if I wasn't the only mom who plans to do ebf. Its never been discussed in class because it simply isn't an issue. Breastfeeding is a given, totally taken for granted. Regardless of what Stiener's take on bfing was, my waldorf experience with bfing has been positive and supportive.

A nice bfing memory from a recent class:At the end of class we sing a lullaby. This week, I looked around the room during the lullaby and most of us were nursing our babes. It was a special moment. Peaceful and warm.
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#5 of 50 Old 05-18-2006, 01:10 PM
 
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What? Neither the ASA nor AWSNA issue dictates about how "true anthroposophists" are to behave.

It's a complete mistake to believe that either organization serves in some role as fundamentalist purist watchdogs forcing people to conform to everything "Steiner said". Not that these sorts of "fundies" don't exist anywhere, but criminy...it's not like this is in any sense desirable within the ASA or AWSNA.

There is no *party line* against extended breast feeding. Where this resistance persists is just habit and tradition, not dogma. Anthroposophical doctors have regular medical degrees, and mainstream medicine has been kind of backwards toward extended breast feeding too, but thankfully, attitudes among both are changing with the times.

Here's an interesting discussion by Risë Smythe-Freed, who is an RN as well as an anthroposophical nurse. She's widely respected by "true anthroposophists" in both Waldorf education and anthroposophical medicine, at least by all appearances.

Extended breast feeding article
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#6 of 50 Old 05-18-2006, 02:19 PM
 
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Deborah

Do you know, does AWSNA have much relationship to early childhood educational centers? I was under the impression that AWSNA handled the elementary and high schools, while another organization, WECAN, concentrated on the early childhood education. Is WECAN a part of AWSNA?

Linda
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#7 of 50 Old 05-18-2006, 07:58 PM
 
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Yeah, I've heard this go round and round in several contexts, but don't think there's much truth to it. In fact, I don't think Steiner ever said anything explicitly about nursing that I've been able to locate.

My good friend is in Waldorf parent tot classes with her 2.5 yo and when she got fussy, the teacher noticed that the child was saying "nana, nana" and encouraged my friend to take a break in a rocking chair and nurse her. In the middle of the classroom. Definately not a discouraging action on the part of the teacher.

Not everyone in the Waldorf community subscribes to all of Steiners athroposophical philosophy. I.e., there are families who watch TV (a lot of it!) and still send their kids to Waldorf schools.
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#8 of 50 Old 05-18-2006, 08:50 PM
 
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Our children's Kindergarten teacher who is Waldorf trained breastfed both her babes until around 4. Lots of slings and breastfed babes at our school.
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#9 of 50 Old 05-18-2006, 09:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaCl
Deborah

Do you know, does AWSNA have much relationship to early childhood educational centers? I was under the impression that AWSNA handled the elementary and high schools, while another organization, WECAN, concentrated on the early childhood education. Is WECAN a part of AWSNA?

Linda
No, WECAN is a separate organization.
Deborah
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#10 of 50 Old 05-18-2006, 09:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wisdomkeeper wrote:
Quote:
I think the majority of homeschooling parents, myself included, don't want to associate 100% with ALL of Steiners ideals (many of which are clear products of the culture of his time), but find that many of his ideals were revolutionary, inspiring, and useful. I see it this way, you have to take the inner truth from his works and adapt it to fit today's cultures and attitudes (especially easy to do if you are homeschooling). I'm speaking mainly of the attitudes towards race and breastfeeding which were much different in the 1920s than they are today.
Yes, this is my approach to Steiner too. I've been a member of the ASA since 1978. I wouldn't have remained a member if I had to affirm agreement with everything Steiner ever said. Among other things, it is an impossibility as his complete works run to about 350 volumes, much of it still not translated from German (which I don't read).

It is up to individual anthroposophists to decide what, if anything, they want to affirm or turn away from. I've known anthroposophists who didn't want to have their children in a waldorf school, for example; others who weren't interested in anthroposophically extended medicine; huge numbers who disregard Steiner's dietary suggestions; some who can't stand reading his philosophical works; others who only like his philosophical works and find his more occult writings and lectures hard to deal with.

We are actually a diverse and fairly argumentative lot.

To give one example. When I was living in Chicago I was active in the local branch of the ASA. This branch owned a building, which had a lot of space. One influential member argued that the rental portion of the building should not be rented to an anthroposophical initiative of any sort because that might imply endorsement. Further, he argued that window displays promoting waldorf education, or biodynamic farming or anthroposophic medicine or any other related movement were inappropriate. Why? Because the Branch should not appear to endorse anything within Anthroposophy beyond offering people the opportunity to read works by Steiner. Going beyond that stance might confuse newcomers and make them think that anthroposophy was a package deal and had to be swallowed whole or not at all.

He didn't convince everyone, but his thoughts were taken seriously. They certainly made me reconsider my attitude towards the daughter movements of anthroposophy.

Sorry, this is probably more than anybody wanted to know.
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#11 of 50 Old 05-18-2006, 09:42 PM
 
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It just proves they are human too. I have often found, that getting people to come to a consensus at our Waldorf school is like herding cats. Everyone is stepping all over themselves so as not to offend anyone. It can be difficult if you are used to a work situation where decisions have to be made.
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#12 of 50 Old 05-18-2006, 09:56 PM
 
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My twelve month old and I just finished our parent/toddler class. It was very common and natural to see the other mothers breastfeeding their toddlers. I believe on one occasion the tearcher actually put a blanket on us so we were more comfortable. If anything, I believe the school was one of the most comfortable and nurturing environments I have bf'd in public.
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#13 of 50 Old 05-18-2006, 10:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deborah
No, WECAN is a separate organization.
Deborah
I thought so. I can't imagine why this subject of extended breast feeding would come up at AWSNA. It's not an issue that grade or high school educators would have any role to play.

It would probably be cool to start a thread to talk about AWSNA and the role they play in Waldorf education. It might help clear up a lot of questions and misunderstandings about what they do and don't do.

Linda
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#14 of 50 Old 06-19-2006, 05:40 PM
 
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I don't have much experience with Waldorf, since we will be starting in the fall.

But as part of our interview process, the teachers sat down with me and asked all kinds of questions, wanting to get an idea of my son's personality and needs. They asked all about his birth experience and how he was as a newborn. When I told them about how he was premature, had trouble latching on and how I had to pump for 6 weeks while working non-stop on his latch .. they both smiled, gave me pats on the back and said what dedication that took. I found them very supportive of breastfeeding. I have no idea how they feel about extended bf'ing since my son is weaned, but I have the feeling it would not be an issue at all.

Candacepeace.gif, Married to dh   guitar.gif, Mom to ds (8) biggrinbounce.gif , Gavin candle.gif (9/30/10 - 12/19/10) and cautiously expecting our rainbow1284.gif 4-29-12

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#15 of 50 Old 06-19-2006, 08:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Candace. What a nice story.
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#16 of 50 Old 06-21-2006, 02:33 AM
 
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This is an interesting thread, even though I didn't see where it came from and I just stopped in to see what the forum was like, having never visitied it before. I just wanted to mention that my DD was in a Waldorf parent/tot program last year (transitioning to waldorf preschool this summer with one day a week with parents and one day without) and all but one of the 5 mothers with children over the age of 2 in that program were still nursing thier children. Two of us are tandem nursing. I never heard any critisim from the teacher or staff about extended nursing, in fact most were openly very supportive of the bennifits of extended breastfeeding.

Mama to three - DD : 1/03, DS 2/06, and DS 6/09.
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#17 of 50 Old 07-05-2006, 11:45 PM
 
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It was suggested at my dd's interview for 3 day nursery to start weaning my dd over the summer so she could transition into school well. I stopped the teacher short of finishing her sentence. I asked them to stay out of my breastfeeding choices and that dd (almost 4 at the time) would wean when she was ready and only then. We had attended playgroup and dd would ask to nurse when she saw any other baby/child nursing, I never denied or redirected, I feed on demand at any age.

Most of the teachers at our school are cool with extended nursing but a few have a problem with it as do some very pro breastfeeding moms. It's the extended breastfeeding that some folks have a problem with because they are under the impression that it interferes with independence after xx age.
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#18 of 50 Old 07-06-2006, 09:04 AM
 
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Sounds like you handled it quite well cuqui. I think it does have more to do with individual teacher feelings on the subject. My friend's 4 year old still nurses and the Kindergarten teacher hasn't mentioned it once.
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#19 of 50 Old 07-06-2006, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd like to remark in passing that most of the folks I encounter seem to be doubtful about extended breastfeeding, even here in Vermont where bf is very common. I've never seen anyone bf in public a child over say 18 months and even that is exceedingly rare.

From the comments on this discussion and my own experiences of waldorf, I'd say that it is actually one of the more bf friendly environments in the U.S. Interesting.

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#20 of 50 Old 07-06-2006, 09:56 PM
 
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I have been at our local Waldorf school for 5 yrs now, my oldest is going into 2nd grade. I have never been surrounded by so many slinging, co-sleeping, extended nursing mamas with babes in cloth diapers, lol! Out of 16 kids in dd's class, 10 were breastfed at least a yr, 2 were nursed over 4 yrs. 2 were HB, one a HBAC, one dad is an ND, 2 doula moms, 1 reiki practitioner, I could go on and on.

I know 5 LLL leaders in the school.

When I visit other Waldorf schools, I always see toddlers breastfeeding and many slings.
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#21 of 50 Old 07-30-2006, 11:27 AM
 
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ah, I've heard this go round and round in several contexts, but don't think there's much truth to it. In fact, I don't think Steiner ever said anything explicitly about nursing that I've been able to locate.
In 'You are your child's first teacher' I remember reading something about 9 mos being an ideal time to wean. I don't recall exactly what it was. I remember reading it and it obviously didn't resonate with me so I just kind of skipped along.

That being said...we attend a parent-tot program and I have felt very well supported as a tandem-nursing mama!
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#22 of 50 Old 07-30-2006, 10:35 PM
 
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Hi Deborah,

Don't worry... I don't get into "fights". (You may have had to edit your original post by this point, but I am referring here and below to what you originally said.)

I think my background may help in this situation:

I am a five year member of the Anthroposophical Society (both in this country and with the headquarters in Switzerland), a member of an Anthroposophical Study Group (founded by the first members of the ASA, originally in Spring Valley/Chestnut Ridge, New York/SunBridge), an early stages student of the School of Spiritual Science (first class level of the Anthroposophical Society), a founding parent and teacher of a Waldorf school, graduate student (Masters Degree) at Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, California for Grades Teacher-Training, a grades teacher in a Waldorf school, as well as French teacher there, and served as a Kindergarten Assistant in the early years.

I will elaborate on my original statement, once. I haven't read beyond the first post on this thread since I don't make a habit of going into pro-Waldorf threads, out of an attempt for mutual respect :

Rudolf Steiner lived in the era before the invention of formula, to the best of my knowledge. So, yes, he certainly couldn't say "zero formula" is appropriate for individuals evolving into "I AM" consciousness..

However, what I DID say was that the Anthroposophical Society, which does not stay stagnant in the past, but evolves and interprets their dogma into present-day life, states what you quoted me as saying (in the Safe Haven thread) regarding discouraging breastfeeding.

This is my direct experience: heard, read, and discussed with other members within the Anthroposophical community.

So, you may disagree with me Deborah, and I don't take issue with that.

But as I said, the statements about breastfeeding are fact from my direct experience. When people study Anthroposophy, which takes years if not a lifetime, many, many have drawn the same conclusion.

Blessings on your journey,

Beth/Beansavi
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#23 of 50 Old 07-30-2006, 10:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Beansavi. Obviously, we have spoken to different people.

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#24 of 50 Old 07-30-2006, 11:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wanted to give my background, just in case anyone is wondering who I am in relation to all this anthroposophy stuff.

I'm 56 years old. I joined the Anthroposophical Society in 1978, when I was 28 years old, but I had been studying Steiner for several years already. I attended Highland Hall, a waldorf school, for two years as a teenager. My daughter attended the same school for 10 years, from nursery to the end of seventh grade, and later attended the Toronto Waldorf School for 3 years, from 10th through 12th. My granddaughter is going into the 1st grade at the Orchard Valley School in VT next year and my grandson is in a waldorf home day care run by my daughter.

I was employed by the anthroposophical society for 6 1/2 years full-time in the 90s and 2 more years as a consultant. In that time I attended many conferences and talked to hundreds of anthroposophists from all over the U.S. and the world.

Three years working at the Chicago Waldorf School as business manager, including attending weekly faculty and elementary level meetings.

I also taught in the Arcturus Teacher Training Program in Chicago for several years (handwork) and served on their board. I also served on the Board of the Rudolf Steiner Branch in Chicago (so many times I've lost count).

Lots of study groups over the years and plenty of other activities in many different contexts. My current work includes serving on a grant committee for the Rudolf Steiner Foundation.

Outside of my anthroposophical activities, I'm a handspinner and knitter, employed as a public librarian in a very small library in a very small town in VT. Did an undergraduate degree in history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master's degree in Library and Information Studies at McGill University (Montreal).

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#25 of 50 Old 07-31-2006, 09:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Beansavi wrote:
Quote:
However, what I DID say was that the Anthroposophical Society, which does not stay stagnant in the past, but evolves and interprets their dogma into present-day life, states what you quoted me as saying (in the Safe Haven thread) regarding discouraging breastfeeding.
Beansavi, I'm certainly not accusing you of making false statements, however, I'm quite puzzled by this one.

First, in many years (28!) in the Anthroposophical Society, I have yet to encounter any dogma at all. When I joined, I was asked to agree to a statement supporting the existence of an organization to conduct spiritual research. That is the only thing I have been asked to commit to in 28 years. Currently, new members don't even have to subscribe to that statement.

Certainly, many members take strong positions on a variety of subjects. Problem is the strong positions frequently are in direct opposition to the strong positions taken up by other members. This makes for lively debate and sometimes even painful debate.

Returning to the original issue--breastfeeding--I read my newsletters, I meet with and talk to other members in person and online and I haven't heard anything about opposition to breastfeeding within the ASA.

Please--who said this? When did they say it? Where did they say it?

If this really is a new dogma of the ASA I'll have to resign.

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#26 of 50 Old 07-31-2006, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Beansavi wrote:
Quote:
Rudolf Steiner lived in the era before the invention of formula, to the best of my knowledge. So, yes, he certainly couldn't say "zero formula" is appropriate for individuals evolving into "I AM" consciousness..
Formula use was common by the 1920s and Steiner died in 1925, so he could certainly have recommended artificial feeding if he had thought it important. He didn't do so.

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#27 of 50 Old 07-31-2006, 04:46 PM
 
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Anthroposophical medicine and Steiner are in favor of breastfeeding babies. In fact, the position given in the anthroposophically influenced book "Guide to Child Health", which is a recent publication and one of the most widely referenced of the genre, pushes it heavily. As Deborah says in the OP, there may be a debate among some about extended breastfeeding. If so, it's not a very big one, not that I see now. Besides emphasizing the need to gradually introduce other foods besides breast milk (though not in the first six months), the Guide doesn't take a position either way, although it does claim the majority of babies will wean themselves by twelve months.

There are BF mamas all over our Waldorf community, including extended BF mamas.
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#28 of 50 Old 07-31-2006, 11:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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http://www.waldorfresources.org/read...es/weaning.php
Quote:
RSF:
It would be more true to say that human breastmilk is more heavenly, more angelic, closer to the Christ than any other form of available nutrition. Human breastmilk, especially from the child's own mother, is the perfect nutrition. I say especially from the child's own mother because of the very close, intense and necessary communication between the being of the child and the being of the mother. The even measurable composition of the mother-baby specific milk varies from nursing to nursing and is dependent upon the communication between these two unique individualities. The baby's individuality, although still largely living in the spiritual world, is communicating with the Mother's individuality, which is also in connection with the spiritual world. It is essential for the development of the child and the development of humanity that this relationship not be disturbed.
from: Waldorf and Weaning
Risë Smythe-Freed, RN
copyright © 1999
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#29 of 50 Old 08-01-2006, 12:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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http://www.sophiainstitute.us/First%207%20Years.htm

An early childhood conference that was held this summer:
The First Seven Years Summer Intensive

June 26 — 30, 2006

Location: Three River School located in the historic North side of La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA

Understanding Waldorf Education for children ages birth through seven

One workshop:
Quote:
Nutrition with Anne-Marie Fryer Birth—Three Years. We will focus on healthy breast feeding, the introduction of solid foods, self-help issues-sippy cups & high chairs, and toddler eating habits. Three Years—Seven Years. We will discuss the importance of food presentation for young children, and how to establish reverence and ritual at the table.
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#30 of 50 Old 08-01-2006, 12:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journa...les/GW3902.pdf

From an interview with Joan Salter
Quote:
JS: Yes. And then, you see, you’re dealing with the most practical, down to earth things. Steiner didn’t
write much about babies because it was such a natural thing. We have to remember that he was writing
about one hundred years ago. You know, when I think of my mother, it was just something you did! I
haven’t found anything Steiner has written about bringing up babies, but he did write on incarnation and
reincarnation.
LM: Can you say more about how we can assist children with incarnation?
JS: Can I start with babies?
LM: Of course.
JS: I think that in order for parents to help the child incarnate, they need to know that the child has more
than one body, for example. It brings you to the most practical things, such as warmth. The ego incarnates
by joining itself to the blood. So the child needs to wear a woollen singlet. One thing about doing infant
welfare centre work in my old age is that in old age you go back to your second childhood. I can’t hold
my body temperature. I have to wear a woollen singlet every day. So warmth is frightfully important for
the baby.
And, of course, breast feeding and the introduction of food. Breast feeding is much more than the
nutritional value of the milk. Although formula and breast milk have the same amount of protein,
carbohydrate, and so on, formula lacks life. It is the life forces or etheric forces that the baby needs.
I think that is enough to go on with.

One other thing is that I am a member of the "First Class" also known as "The School for Spiritual Science." I'm familiar with the material shared during these classes and there is nothing there that is in anyway relevant to this topic.

Deborah
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