Actual, Real Basics

In the best-case scenario—or even a less-than-best-case scenario—when it comes to babies and parents, love is a given. The basics of babies aren’t about how to carry them or where to have them sleep or which diapers to use. I think they are about how to show up and remain present. And as a parent to teenagers, plural, I’ve thought about those childbirth classes as a colossal waste of time on the knowledge front. I mean to say that there was way more I needed to know more about than breathing over the course of a few hours. Labor is finite. Teenagers seem infinite.

I digress!

I became keenly interested in infant development and how kids move their bodies simultaneously when I had an infant and a first grader. Amongst the people I got to know through her working with my kids is Lenore Grubinger. She’s a specialist in infant development. I’ve learned a great deal about tummies and tummy time, about how much more intricate babies’ movements are than simply roll, crawl, sit, stand and walk, because there are all these levels and movements to master to get from big-ticket popular milestone movement to the next big-ticket popular milestone movement.

More than anything, Lenore encourages parents to slow down and observe their child. If you had to boil it all down to a sentence, that is what you’d say and that’s the very shortest version of the basics of babies—and all parenting.


I’ve written about baby basics, as in some nuts and bolts here and here. I feel rather passionately about tummies—and more so, I am probably on a mission to share information a lot of professionals who work with parents and small children tend to discount. I feel this way, full disclosure, because it’s helped me so much.

Yesterday, I had a couple of babies, plus moms, a dad, a soon-to-be mom and Lenore over for a baby class. Saskia made an appearance, as well; she demonstrated that babyhood is ephemeral.

Even though my babes aren’t babies any more, I took away the notion that change isn’t abrupt. Rather than muscle it, instigate shifts in very small increments. I was reminded that to take the time to absorb our learning, our growth and even incremental change is necessary to the process. To honor all of this works very well applied to teens! And to kids! And to parents!


I did enjoy childbirth classes, by the by. Most importantly, I made one of my best friends there; her son and my son are forever friends. Amongst the things I stand by is this: you can’t raise a family in a vacuum.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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