Our experiences of bringing up a child adhering to Natural Living principles
(to the extent Possible)

We have been trying to bring up our son Krish, adhering to Natural Hygienic principles to the extent possible.  This started with his birth at home in 2002..  Now in 2010, he is eight years old...  am sharing in this article, how he is doing, what things went right, what went wrong... so that the readers who may be thinking of raising their kids in a similar way, can get some inputs..

What exactly did we do (and not do) to bring up Krish in a natural way?
The first thing we did is tried to practice what we preached. Ie both me and my wife Rita tried to live in the same way, eat the same food that he did (more or less) and the same rules that applied to him applied to us as well.  So he began seeing all this as a normal way of life for the family, not something that was specially designed to restrict him and deprive him of things he would enjoy.

His Diet
Krish eats a vegetarian diet just like us  -no meat, no fish, no eggs– with one exception – he does not drink milk.  We have never fed him milk beyond the breast milk when he was nursing (until the age of three almost).  He does have yoghurt and buttermilk and at times paneer (cottage cheese)  though.  The only  possible negative effect of this that we can see is that he is a bit skinny for his age compared to his peers.   But we did a blood test some time ago and found that everything – calcium, iron, vitamin B12 etc was normal

He loves to eat fruits and eats a lot of them.  Along with meals he likes to have raw salads- mostly cucumber and tomato – which is rare for kids of his age.  

We do not feed him packaged food  and he does not like it much with a few exceptions (eats a very occassional pack of Chips – say once in a few months, and at times some Glucose biscuits.

He does not eat much of fried food either – except an occassional pani-puri that he loves – and at parties at times he may eat a samosa, or once in a month or so, he likes to have a vegetable burger at McDonalds

He does not have a sweet tooth and does not like cakes,  chocolates, sweets, dessserts  etc and does not eat them at all. He has no attraction for them and refuses them when offered even if we are not around.

He does not drink tea or coffee , except a rare glass of herbal tea. Until six months ago, he did not drink any aerated drinks like Coke or Pepsi.  Now he does have a drink of Fanta or Sprite once a month  or so during his McDonald's visit.

He does eat some nuts (mostly almonds, in the form of almond milk) and some pumpkin seeds when we remember to feed him.

We have  not given  him any vitamin or mineral supplements so far

I think we have been fairly successful in feeding him a healthy diet, and I think the reason for that is twofold – firstly we ate it ourselves as well, and secondly, we never made a big deal out of it – so if he wanted to eat a packet of chips or drink a Fanta, once a while,  we let him do it .. and often found that he did not like it much.. he found sweets and desserts too sweet for his liking, his palate was most adjusted to the more subtle sweetness of fruits I guess

Vaccinations
Krish has not been vaccinated. In fact, except for one tetanus shot after an injury, and a anaesthic injection during tooth extraction,  he has not had any other injections till date

Health
Overall his health has been very good.  He falls sick very rarely ... once a year or so.. or perhaps even less.  Mostly when he falls ill -  it is cough/cold/fever, nothing more serious. Leaving out visits to the dentist,  we have taken him to the doctor only four or five times in eight years.. mostly he has got better at home , mostly with no medication, at times with homeopathy, and has had to take allopathic medication only three or four times since he was born, mostly for a ear/throat infection– the exception has been dental care.. see below.   Besides that he has had chicken pox, from which he recovered without medication in a few days like all kids do and about four years ago, he had a skin infection (impetigo) which required an anti-biotic ointment to be applied.

Energy Levels
His energy levels are great – he is running around all day. Once he gets up in the morning he does not sleep until bedtime at night.  If he is sleeping in the day it must be because he is ill.  He has come along with us (much against his will) for 3 or 4 hour treks in the mountains a couple of times.

Weight
This is one area where we are not happy.  His height is ok, same as that of his freinds, but he seems very skinny compared to his peers.  We dont know if this is a problem or not.  But like we said, he seems healthy, active and blood tests etc were normal... so We are keeping our fingers crossed that he will put on weight later. But this is one area of concern to me.

Dental Problems
This was a complete disaster.  We dont know why, but he keeps having trouble with his teeth.. cavities and what not.  He has allready had one extraction, several fillings, root canals etc.  We dont know why this is happening.  He does not eat sweets nor drink aerated drinks as mentioned earlier.  What we think is, he was breast feeding for a long time and breast milk is sweet, and perhaps he used to go to sleep after the feed and the milk on his teeth caused decay. Plus as parents we are probably guilty of not brushing his teeth properly.  Or maybe it was calcium deficiency.. we are thinking about starting him on calcium supplements

Mental development
Looks fine to us.  He is smart, picks up things fast,  is doing well at school, he has good maths skills and  an excellent vocabulary and what seems to us as advanced argumentative skills. He plays all the usual video and computer games, Playstation, Nintendo DS etc like the rest of his friends. Has just learned to solve the Rubik's cube (in under seven minutes)

Sports
We are not a sporting family but he has learned to cycle. And is learning swimming at school but not liking it one bit and tries to wriggle out of it giving any and every excuse you can think of (and some that you cant think of as well). Unfortunately he does not play any sports.  I dont think one day of skating lessons counts.

Arts and Crafts
He likes gardening, and handwork (knitting etc as taught in his school). He draws and paints better than both his parents and his handwriting is much neater too.  He does not have much of a musical ear however and struggles with the recorder (a musical instrument like a flute that he has to learn at school).  To our surprise he has started learning the guitar and we are keeping our fingers crossed he continues.  He does not like to sing much and joins his friends for dancing though.

Sleep
He sleeps well -  goes to bed at around 9:30 pm and wakes up @ 7:30 am after much prodding and cajoling on school days

Bed-wetting
This has lasted longer than usual- he stills wets his bed occasionally at the age of eight but it has become very less now. We don't make any big deal out of it when he does.

Motion sickness
He has acute motion sickness whenever we go for a holiday in the hills and drive on winding roads. We have tried everything but nothing works except a tablet called Avomine. Regretfully we have to give him this and it knocks him out for the duration of the journey.  Needless to say he does not ride roller coasters and on that count our visit to Disneyland was a bit of a waste.

Computer and TV
We tried to keep him away for as long as we could but have now given up.

Summary
What we are saying is that we seem to have a normal kid on our hands, and it is possible to bring up a child, adhering to a natural lifestyle as far as possible, without too many problems.