The concept of Continuum is a study that was developed by Jean Liedloff, an anthropologist who studied this concept among South American Indians. This 1970s approach to parenting recommends frequent skin-to-skin contact between parents and their children from birth to 12 months. Parents in various parts of the world have tried this method that promotes the ff methods of raising babies:
- constant physical contact between mother and baby or with another caregiver from birth;
- co-sleeping in the parents’ bed, with constant physical contact, until the child leaves of their own accord, which usually begins at 2 years of age;
- breastfeeding at the right time: breastfeeding the child in response to his needs and body signals;
- constantly carry the child in its mother’s arms or in contact with someone (usually the child’s mother), and the child is allowed to observe, sleep, or breastfeed the person holding it while that person goes about their business (usually ends in 6 to 8 months when the baby begins to crawl and crawl on his own impulse);
- Caregivers respond immediately to the child’s needs and cues, such as crying and squirming, without disgust, judgment, or invalidation of the child’s needs, and yet without showing undue concern or making the child the center of constant attention ;
- perceive and meet the expectations of the child’s elders that he is innately social and cooperative, that the child has a strong self-preservation instinct, and that the child is welcome and worthy.
Pros and cons
Despite the fact that several parents claim that this method of raising babies has developed and built a strong bond between parents and children, there are still advantages and disadvantages that need to be weighed before using this method:
Feed on demand or breastfeed at just the right time
Advantages: Consistent breastfeeding stimulates the milk supply, allowing the mother’s breasts to learn to produce the proper amount; the baby can be fed when hungry and is not dictated by scheduled feeding; Since babies are comfortable sucking, this method allows them unrestricted access to their mother’s breast.
Disadvantages: This part of the method is time consuming and not effective for working moms.
Phase in arms or constant load of the child
Advantages: Babies who are constantly being held always have their needs met instantly and get enough first-hand information about the adult world as they can observe adult activities such as cooking and cleaning when they are being held.
Disadvantages: In this method, the feeling of privacy or separation of the mother from her child is not allowed; Also, babies who are constantly held tend to be clingy, making the time to be separated from their mother a big ordeal.
Sleeping in parents’ bed
Advantages: This method simplifies breastfeeding at the right time and it is no longer necessary to buy cribs and cots and even set up a nursery; Also, less anxiety is experienced when checking whether a baby is still breathing or not as you can feel him breathing next to you.
Disadvantages: This method can be dangerous as there could be two adults in bed with the baby; Also the safety guidelines of using thick pillows and heavy comforters for babies will make co-sleeping restrictive; The transfer of the child to his own bed can take longer as he gets used to sleeping with his parents.
All in all, the methods promoted by the Continuum concept are indeed a great training ground for raising happy children, as their priority is to instantly meet their biological and emotional needs. Children raised with this method will experience first-hand the love, care, and support that their parents provide as proximity makes it possible. But if both parents are working, especially the mother, this may not be a practical method, making constant physical contact an impossible goal to set at times when the parents need to be away from home. But when weighing the pros and cons, nothing is more important than giving your children the love and support they need from the time they were born until the age when they can reclaim their own independence.