Episode 52: Babies & Movement, Part 2
Katy and Dani deliver Part 2 of the Babies and Movement episode, and isn’t it a cutie? Katy follows up on some listener questions conceived during Part 1, and then discusses breastfeeding and baby ‘exercises’. Oh, and Did you know you are probably WEIRD? It’s okay…we are, too.
DANI: It’s the Katy Says podcast, where movement geek, Dani Hemmat – that’s me – joins biomechanist Katy Bowman, author of Move Your DNA, for discussions on body mechanics, movement nutrition, natural movement, and how movement can be the solution to modern ailments we all experience.
KATY: Thank you for that. That was fantastic.
KATY: That was well done.
DANI: Thank you.
KATY: Okay. So this is part 2 of the Baby Episode. We did part 1 –
KATY: I really enjoyed recording the first one, so thank you for that.
DANI: It was fun.
KATY: And I think the 2nd one is going to be awesome, too. We’re going to deliver (ding!) part 2 today. Gosh – we’ve got – we had a lot of questions from the first show. So for everyone who gave them to us via social media, thank you. Did anyone come up to you on the street and give you a question in person?
DANI: No, but I wear a scarf and sunglasses when I go out so that people don’t recognize me.
KATY: Don’t ask me anything!
DANI: Yes. Don’t look me in the eye! No eye contact. No, this was good – this was a popular episode and we did get some great feedback and questions on it.
KATY: Yeah. So here’s what we’re going to do: so we had a structure for the 2nd half of the show, the topics that we didn’t get to cover, like, breastfeeding and – gosh, what else? Diapers.
KATY: Hanging – and like movement type stuff, but what we did was we tried to incorporate a lot of the questions into the body of the show, and also, I’m going to say this big hunk right up at the front, because a lot of the questions that were coming at us, I think, will be almost self-answerable by considering some of the things that we’re talking about. So I want to start with that if that’s cool with you.
DANI: That is fine.
KATY: Is that fine? Okay.
DANI: That works for me today.
KATY: So I think that I’ve touched on this many times before – it’s in Move Your DNA if you haven’t read it. It’s in Alignment Matters if you haven’t read Alignment Matters. It’s really in every single one of my books. It’s this idea – it’s been implied in some of those books, and it’s been said – is it implicitly or explicitly?
DANI: If it’s implied, it’s implicitly.
KATY: Okay, I’ve implied it, and now I’m going to say it explicitly.
DANI: There you go.
KATY: Oh my gosh, thank you Grammar Girl. Bing! Research – the bulk of research on human development – one of the things that I’m really passionate about, I think, as far as education is regarding human movement, the use of science as a sounding-board for decisions that you’re making, is to understand that a lot of research that is used to gather facts – air quotes around “facts,” about humans, is essentially research on a population that is weird. Capital WEIRD. So have you ever heard of WEIRD before? I posted a couple articles about it before.
DANI: I think you had me at WEIRD, but that’s the first time you typed something and I was like, this girl’s weird. I like her.
KATY: I like it.
DANI: No? Is this not where we’re going with that?
KATY: No, we’re not going to go with it this way. I mean, it’s that kind of weird, too – you and I are weird. I would say that most people listening to this podcast – and all podcasts – are WEIRD. And WEIRD is an acronym that stands for – are you ready?
KATY: Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic. Okay, so it is a category – so this kind of sort of coming out, like, there’s all this research where like, if you want to understand colonialism and science and how those two are related there’s a great book called Science and Colonialism.
DANI: Aptly named. Well done.
KATY: Yes, but you can also just google – like, we tried to open a lot of peoples’ eyes to a lot of different things and that’s a big one: this idea that you can’t really do science above the culture that’s doing it, right? So as it relates to babies – I’ll get back to the baby episode – so much about “normal human development” is really what babies that grew up in our habitat and environment did, and then we put that as norms, and then we kind of perpetuate that, because we’re like, no, this is what babies do.
KATY: And as opposed to like, I would say, I don’t know if it was maybe the ‘80s or ‘90s when there was a cross-cultural awareness. There’s certainly a cross-cultural awareness in some sciences, but not in all of them. And because we all come from our own culture, it’s like, it doesn’t always occur to us that people are doing things differently. It’s the norm, it’s like what every single other human you know is doing, so therefore it becomes a human norm instead of – and I think I heard the best analogy of WEIRD populations in this great article – I can’t remember what it was called; I’ll see if I can find it. It’s like, “Are Americans WEIRD?” I don’t know if it’s Americans in the title, but anyway, it’s essentially that a lot of data was collected on this WEIRD population that is so different, like radically different, radical outliers of behavior compared to what most humans on the planet right now are doing. And it was like looking at penguins, studying penguins and believing that you were studying birds.
DANI: So it’s in reference to Americans.
KATY: This was in reference to a WEIRD population – I’m trying to recall the actual title of the first article that was ever written on it where I became aware of like, oh yeah, that makes sense. Like, even basic things that have been used in psychology and human development for years, it’s like, here’s how the brain works. It’s like, here’s how a WEIRD brain works, and when you start from that data, pulling out recommendations – medical recommendations – and your parenting books are based on WEIRD data, right? So that’s why some of the things that I’m talking about, you’re like, what? That’s not what all 17 parenting books that sit on my shelf say, and it’s like, well, because the data – and it’s not – like, the science is accurate. But the science is only as good as the questions that are asked, or the populations that are studied. Or they’re only as relevant to, I guess. So when this was a noted error of going, oh, we didn’t really consider very many populations when we were going, “here’s what babies do and when.” So all your milestone charts – we talked about this in the last milestone charts. Normal behaviors. Do you like how I said that?
DANI: That’s like your voice air quotes.
KATY: Normal behavior. That’s my air quotes. That is so good. That’s my new air quote voice.
DANI: It saves time. Not right now, because we’re talking about it, but it saves time because –
KATY: Going forward – going forward.
DANI: Going forward, you don’t have to say, “I’m doing this in air quotes.” You can say like, eeeexxxxercissse.
KATY: Let’s talk about it some more, and spend some more time.
DANI: And I just like to tell everybody, do not type in capital – all caps WEIRD into your search engine. I was going to look up this article because the first thing I get is a guy wearing a watermelon on his head and a girl with sausages wrapped around her neck. Just – don’t worry about it; I’ll find the articles later.
KATY: Here’s a cool article. Here’s a good article for everyone if you just want to type it in: Weird – capital Weird, which is E-I, not I-E. Weird walking: cross-cultural research on motor development. If you just wanted like one – if you wanted to spend a whole entire day doing nothing else that needed to be done, it would be to start with this article and then read every reference and similar article from it, and then now you know what it’s like to be me.
DANI: There you go. Okay, we’ll put that in the show notes.
KATY: Yes, so that’s a good way to go like, what is she talking about? So essentially, this article is talking about, you know, what we haven’t really considered is how environment is really influencing these things. I, of course, can only speak to the mechanical environment. That’s what I spend all of my time speaking to. You know, the limitations of movement and how that affects development – keeping in mind that I do not – I just consider human development, and I think that human development has been broken down into cognitive development and physical development and the – you can see how well the mind performs, and sometimes we will set the benefit as how well you do on an academic test as something separate from how well you do on a physical test. We’re not necessarily interested in cultivating the whole being as much as I think we’ve really set a cultural preference for maybe the academics because the academics specifically – linear thinking academics has become the gold standard for doing well. So all of these things are really – they’re not really to say one is better than the other; only to give you context for the data that you are using and for where these questions are coming from. The bulk of the questions that were coming from, like, well, what about tummy time? Well what about this, or what about that? And I’m like, well, what about crawling, isn’t it required – you know, like all these questions and I’m like, well, these – if you just go look through that article, you are going to have your eyes opened, perhaps; there’s probably a ton of people listening to this who have also realized that – how WEIRDos do it. “WEIRDos” – is sim – is different – is not a stand-in for how everyone is doing it. So anyway.
DANI: When you talk about these questions, are you talking about a point of reference of just humans, what we are working with reframing our understanding of “humans” instead of “WEIRDos?”
KATY: What I’m just trying to – I’m answering basic biology. My perspective is, again, ecology in humans. I want to understand how the habitat that I’m dwelling – in the same way that you would be like, hey, these zoo gorillas, right? Did you see the article on zoo gorillas? Now when I do my zoo gorilla voice it just sounds like I’m doing air quotes. Dangit. So zoo gorillas are like, hey, zoo gorillas are having heart attacks in captivity and it’s like, we need to do some research to figure out why.
DANI: Oh, my gosh.
KATY: It’s like, okay, well, here’s their diet, right, you know? So it’s like, okay, when you’re – when you think about something in the zoo and it’s not flourishing, you understand that the fact that it’s in the zoo should even be put on the table as a place to look. We don’t understand that as much – or didn’t for a long period of time – it’s emerging, I think, with the ancestral health movement. We never really considered that environment was unsuitable or a contributor to these diseases, that we are all like, that are normal for WEIRDos.
KATY: You know. So that’s what all of this context – that’s like, context for really the podcast – this podcast, the Katy Says podcast, everything that I’ve written, everything I think. That’s the bigger context. So now you know me. Now you know, like, my ol’ ticker. What’s in my ticker. Okay. So anyway, let’s get to some things that actually – some application of it.
KATY: So what’s the #1 question that I get all the time, do you know what it is?
DANI: Are we talking about babies? I’d say it’s probably breastfeeding is one of them, and then the whole –
KATY: Yes. So the #1 question that I get is, what’s the best position for breastfeeding? So – also what’s cool about the things that I’ve put out there is that it should be, at some point, it will be, at some point, easy to answer like, the more things you read, even if you’re only like, well I’m only interested in breastfeeding, I’m not interested in natural movement. I’m like, breastfeeding is a natural movement, and breastfeeding, again, is something that we’ve pulled out that happens separately from life, that you’re supposed to sit down and take 40 minutes or 20 minutes out of your life and only get breastfeeding done, right? That it’s happening without context of a natural – of the world outside of the rocking chair.
DANI: You’re only just looking at the gorilla’s diet if you do it this way.
KATY: You’re just looking at that you have the luxury of only doing that, right?
KATY: I posted a beautiful picture – one of my favorite family pictures – of me breastfeeding my son, which you can link to in the show notes – in the middle of a photo shoot because, as we’re going to talk about it, I was a particular type of breastfeeder, and I’ll get into the breakdown of that in a second. But I – I never really thought of like breastfeeding as this thing – like, from an ergonomic perspective, right? So this goes back to that ergonomic discussion from the last baby show, which is like, well, what’s the ergonomically best position to breastfeed? That’s what you’re asking me, and that is – if you refer back to that last show, like, ergonomics is kind of like, its assumptions are based on, like, what’s the best way to sit still and breastfeed? What’s the single best position? What’s the position that doesn’t hurt my back or whatever? The reason breastfeeding is hurting your back has more to do with how little you are moving and how little you use the same position for everything: baby carrying, baby breastfeeding. Because it’s always done outside of doing anything else.
KATY: So for us, and again – this is not a parenting show. I’m just trying to give some examples that I have lived through to kind of illustrate my point. It’s not to say that you have to do these things. Like, natural movement, moving through nature is something that we value and by valuing it we prioritize it as making up a large part of the day. It would be a huge drag if we had to sit down and nurse every couple of hours for 20 minutes, you know, when everyone else – the collective – is moving. So I would just walk and breastfeed. It wasn’t – I didn’t sit down to do it. So is walking, walking is a breastfeeding position for me, as is we’re sitting down and eating lunch now, everyone is stopped from their walk and we’re all sitting on the ground, and maybe a baby would hop into my lap and breastfeed – right? Which is different than sitting in a chair, right? Because you’re engaging more core muscles when you’re sitting down and holding yourself up as opposed to like, relaxing back in the chair where your body isn’t doing anything muscular-wise. Sometimes I’d be in the middle of gardening or moving things around or something else and was being requested to nurse and I would just bend over to my standing child and put my boob in their mouth.
DANI: Gardening boob. Awesome.
KATY: Gardening boob. Right, which is not as muddy as you’d imagine. So it’s just like, I would never use a single position; I was just moving through life and put them on the breast. But – keep in mind – that that was something – because I’ve said, like I couldn’t people have said I could never carry and breastfeed because I’m not strong enough. It’s like, yes, I understand that. That’s really what the bigger issue is: your options are limited by kind of an overall weakness. So that’s why I really don’t even enjoy doing a book about breastfeeding or a show about breastfeeding and a show about this, because people tend to pick only what they want to know about.
KATY: Where the whole thing influences it. Like, the fact that I carried my kids is what allowed me to breastfeed them on the go. The fact that I don’t have furniture is what allows me to squat down and nurse for 90 seconds, because I did short-duration breastfeeding, as we’ll talk about the different types of breastfeeding. So people are also going, we need to talk about breastfeeding next because they’re like, “well, I nursed for 20 continuous minutes, I can’t squat for 20 minutes,”
DANI: Right. I need my Boppy because I need to do it for 20 minutes.
KATY: Of course, of course.
KATY: So that’s the next thing, I think, that we should talk about.
DANI: Well, let’s go there, then. You want to talk about, like, frequency, duration? I know that –
DANI: Where should we go?
KATY: Well, let’s start with food first. We talked about the reason – what is the value of breastfeeding beyond a way to get, you know? Remember that?
DANI: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The whole orthodontia thing was part of it. That was kind of definitely my third time through Move Your DNA, I’m like, oh, yeah, I never saw that before, and it was all about our teeth. You kind of brought that to my attention to a podcast that early jaw and bone development has changed as we’ve developed from a hunter-gatherer population to more agricultural people, and that’s why we need more orthodontic intervention. And so our genetics are saying, well, here’s how many and what size of teeth you’re going to have, but then the development of our jaw bones isn’t really going to accommodate that.
KATY: Well, it’s like the same thing – if your – the shape of your bones – so it’s a lot of homework for this show. You’re going to have to go back and listen to the Bone Show. The robusticity of your jaw, which is the density but also the shape of it, that facilitates the number of teeth that you are predisposed to genetically, is dependent on these other mechanical forces that have been alongside human development forever, which is the fact that you have to chew your food and that people would be breastfeeding for an extended period of time. By extended I mean anywhere between 3 and 5 years, at least, maybe even later. 3 and 6 years, I think – every culture is different. The thing is that there’s no single culture that does it a single way; it all depends on food availability and really the availability of weaning foods and things like that. So anyway, we have outsourced – this is a good way of thinking about it. We have outsourced our childrens’ in a lot of cases, the need for them to do the work that is the exercise – like, you can think of breastfeeding as exercise for this show. We have – we’ve removed the bulk of it that would have been occurring naturally, and so they are left with the shape that doesn’t really align with other aspects of their genetics, and so we have the technology of orthodontia to take care of that issue. But you know, it’s like one of those things that you just culturally accept that everyone will have this face where they just go in and if you go back and listen to the Food Show and the Bone Show together, it’s not only breastfeeding. It’s like other things and nutrients and whatnot. But right now, we could just consider the loss of those forces. And so – what I like to highlight because we’ve done talks on this before, and someone will say, “but I did breastfeed.” And I’ll say, well, breastfeeding is a category like squats. So a lot of people will think, they’ll say, like, well, I squat, because they’re doing squats like in an exercise class. But they’re not the same squats that another person would be referring to if they do a full elimination squat. And then you have things like the frequency of squats. Do you do like 50 squats all at once? Or do you distribute them, those 50 throughout the day? Because each one of those is going to elicit a different response. And so – I don’t know if most people know that mammals are classified by feeding type.
KATY: So mammals suck, that’s one of my favorite. I would love a book – I would love to publish a book called Mammals Suck by someone who is an expert.
DANI: I would buy it not knowing anything about what it is about.
KATY: You’re like, bring it! Bring it! Mammals are either continual feeders or spaced feeders. Continual feeders are always – like, proximal is how I think about it. They’re either attached or trailing after their parents. There’s very little distance between them and their parents at all times, and then there are spaced feeders. Spaced feeders leave their babies, so feedings are farther apart. So those are the 2; and then there’s kind of anything, those are the extremes and then there’s kind of a continuum because we’re always evolving and changing, and so we can make categories that consume most, but then there’s those people who are between some of one and then some of the other. But the type of feeder that you are affects milk composition, right? Because if you’re feeding – so a continual feeder will have a particular milk type that kind of supports shorter feedings, so the nutrient composition will differ between the two. The percentages of fats found in each one. Also the flow rate, so I don’t know if viscosity is the right word, so let’s use thickness for right now. It’s the thickness of it – all that is different depending on how you feed. Just so you know, it’s not like a single thing that ever single mammal is experiencing the same. We call it breastfeeding and when we do that we just tend to say, I breastfed! And you don’t really think of the more nuanced loads of it all and the facts that it’s very different across the board.
DANI: It’s fascinating.
KATY: I think so, because I love – if I could probably do anything else it would probably be like a research specifically on breastmilk and breastfeeding. I just find it – I find it fascinating. I don’t find the data to be very prolific, and so I would just like to like live in there, like many of you, surrounded by breasts all of the time. And their milk, and what they can do. It’s just, like, very cool. And anyway, so what was I talking about? The different types.
DANI: Space, proximity.
KATY: So I would say that many people would probably call themselves – well, okay, let me say it this way. So the only parenting book – and it’s not even a parenting book, it is a collection of research articles, cross-cultural research, is called Hunter Gatherer Childhoods. That’s the only thing that I used to inform – besides a bunch of other, unrelated articles. It was a really great book if you’re interested n a cross-cultural perspective on what non-WEIRDos do. It’s a really great book. It is research, so it’s kind of dry, but I found it fascinating and I imagine that a lot of other people would as well. So this is in that Paleo Parenting: if we think about breastfeeding as exercise, in the same way that if you walked – like, say I walk 5 miles a day – if you walk 5 miles in the morning and that was it compared to walking 5 single miles distributed out through the day, you are coax – you would coax a different shape. So the same thing is with breastfeeding. So when you are a continual breastfeeder, you end up, I want to say it’s like 2-3 times an hour that you nurse. I was a continuous feeder. I was a continual feeder, so you’re nursing 2-3 times an hour. It feels like that’s all you do, but it’s also no big deal because it’s like 2 minutes.
DANI: Yeah, it’s not a huge chunk of – you’re not sitting down, getting the Boppy.
KATY: No, no. It’s none of that. They run over, they get their milk, or they crawl over, crawl on you and get their milk, and then they pop off and go off and do it. It’s not – it’s very – it’s way less sedentary for the child and for the grownup, which makes sense because in the natural world there’s a lot of things to get done, right? So if you have this kid on you all the time, and they’re nursing for a second but you are working and foraging and doing your thing, so that’s like, it’s just a –
DANI: Sure, and you just see it with animals, too, like cows while the calf is nursing.
DANI: It’s not like she’s like, okay, let me check my voicemail and email while you do this. She’s got to make herself get her nutrients, too.
KATY: Yeah, and moving around, you know, so that’s kind of how the spacing goes for a continual feeder. When you are a spaced feeder, you are usually feeding for a longer bout every 3 hours, right? So it really is much more of a commitment. I think that’s what a lot of people are like, I’m on this schedule, so it’s like much more of a long-term positioning requirement, you know what I mean? You’re actually thinking about, how can I be comfortable, because I’m going to be here for a half an hour? So that is one type – that’s one way of looking at breastfeeding, and then there’s this other way, which is just more dynamic overall. It affords other positions that you might not feel comfortable in for 30-40 minutes because you’re not in them for 30-40 minutes; you’re in them for 2 minutes. So that’s just to delineate between those two. So in hunter gatherer childhoods, what they’re saying is that the data shows that WEIRD mothers – which is most of us – really have become spaced feeders, which is not the way that it is for all other primates, including the bulk of hunter gatherers, you know, keeping in mind that people are making the transition, right? Because we’ve got this work requirement that’s new, and that work requirement due to globalization is – there is an effect on some certain modern hunter-gatherer populations, too. I want to tell you - I just don’t want to imply that, like, here’s how everyone does it this way and we’re the only ones who like – everyone is trying to do the best they can in the environment they have. The problem I don’t think is what we’re doing so much as what we don’t consider and also the impact of the environment, and also the society and the way that we’ve got society set up. And so anyway. WEIRDos are spaced feeders, and then now we delineate breastfeeding. So keep in mind that we’re spaced feeders; we’re breastfeeding ourselves as on-demand or scheduled, which means that you’re either trying to set a schedule and get the baby to feed on your schedule, or you’re like, I’m an on-demand feeder and they feed when they want. But really, because of the way that we live in the modern world, it’s not – I think that for a while, there were many people who believed that on-demand WEIRDo breastfeeding was the same as being a continuous feeder. But in looking at the actual number of breastfeeding sessions and the duration of them, it’s not matching. It’s much more – you’re just doing an on-demand format of spaced feeding. So I like to delineate between those two, because I find that fascinating. So like okay, I was a continuous feeder, and it required that I significantly altered my life for years, because they’re with you all the time, you know, there was no bottles or no pumping. It was just there, all of the time.
KATY: So I don’t want to imply, like, yeah, everyone should do it! Because it’s not – it’s certainly not feasible without some major changes and investments and transition of how you thought your life was going to go. But that’s all parenthood, right?
KATY: Okay, so. That was a super long answer to my positions question, and I think that we’ve already touched on the difference between bottle and breastfeeding.
DANI: Yeah, yeah, I think we did.
KATY: Do you think that you could regenerate that answer for me? Like, could I give you a pop quiz?
DANI: Oh my gosh. No.
KATY: Okay, so then I will – like the difference between the two, when they’ve hooked up –
DANI: It’s like that dream I had, in class with no pants and a test – what?
KATY: Could you not get your locker open? I could never get my locker open – I’m like, I don’t know what my – 24-0-25. That was my high school locker if anyone wants to break into it. Isn’t that weird, the stuff that you keep in your mind? So just real short in case this is the only show that you’ve listened to and this is your entry portal in, when they hook up baby faces to EMG, which is electromyography, and I don’t recommend that anyone does that. It doesn’t hurt the baby, but I just like – here, put some pads and stickers on your face – you’re measuring which muscles are doing what and when. Nursing is milking, it’s not sucking. It’s milking. You’re using your tongue to like – if you’ve ever milked a cow, I feel like I’ve already said all this before, but if you’ve milked a cow, you’re grasping and rolling, right? You’ve got this, like, rolling. So you’re doing all of this work with your tongue, and if you’ve ever sucked on a Jolly Rancher you know, like, you’re like fatigued by the time you’re done. You’re like, augh, because you’re working these muscles that we don’t really work that often. So the baby’s got this built-in exercise program that they’re doing 2-3x an hour, a lot of hours, for 3-5 years. All right? That’s – that was what the human jawbone kind of – that was what the experience of the human jawbone has been as humans have kind of evolved is that clunk. It’s only in a very short period of time – that’s why it’s WEIRD – that we’ve done something to remove all of that work for the baby. We’ve just removed it. So either in breastfeeding for a shorter period of time or in bottles where the bottle – you are not having to work – you’re having to work, obviously, a little bit – but it’s a different set of muscles and motor patterns, and they’re essentially – the milk is coming out right as you invert the bottle, you’ll see that it’s coming out. They’re just stopping the flow with their tongue so it’s easier for them and thus –
DANI: Less motion.
KATY: All of it – it’s a different motion, it’s easier, and then the frequency is much less, the distribution is much less and the duration is much less. You get a significantly different set of loads in those two scenarios. So that’s what I have to say about breastfeeding.
DANI: And I couldn’t answer that because I was doodling a breast on my notes with teeth.
KATY: You and so many. You and so many right now are doodling that exact thing.
DANI: That’s my excuse. Yeah, we kind of touched on that in Food Forces, but when you – you personally – and I know you’re just illustrating some differences – when you start feeding solids, when did you do that? I mean, was it like, kind of baby-driven?
KATY: Yeah, it was baby driven.
DANI: Because I know you breastfed until, gosh, until what, yesterday?
KATY: I breastfed for 3 ½ years – yeah, I’m doing it right now. Yes, 3 years and 3 ½ years. 3 ½ years and 3 years, oldest to youngest.
DANI: Wow, well, you get my respect, lady.
KATY: Well, and that’s fine – and also, to be clear: with the availability of food, I believe that there’s like this weird phenomenon with the word, “should,” going on. Like, this is – well, this is how you should do it, this is the right or wrong way. And I don’t feel that way.
DANI: No, and I certainly, just so you know, didn’t mean like, I respect that you did that, but that’s a lot of work.
KATY: It’s a lot of work, and you know what? It’s not about that. It’s more about – I think of these things as nutrients, right? So there’s this judgment – I mean, there’s a lot of people who are unable to breastfeed. And I’m really just talking, I’m talking to everyone right now: the point is not what individual people are doing. The point is to change the scientific body of knowledge, right? We really need to be asking better questions for the technology we have and the money that’s going to these studies, to continue to ask limited, you know, ethno-centric questions – like, I don’t feel like that’s the right use of funding. What I meant more is that it’s one thing to say that breastfeeding is the best thing and to do it this way is the right way to do it, and it’s another thing to say that doing it this way might be what creates the nutrients to not need things later on. That’s more my perspective. It’s like, here are some ailments that everyone is paying for, that taxpayers are paying for. We don’t see orthodontia as an ailment, but here are side effects of behaving in a particular way. I just like a really clear picture of like, behavior and consequences is not even the word. Outcomes. Behavior and effect. Behavior and effect, behavior and effect. That’s what science is, is studying nature to see how it works. And that’s really my interest; it’s not that people do anything differently. It’s to go, here is how it appears to work. Now, for me, my choices were like, okay, well, if I could change my life right now to do it like this, to see if – to not have these effects later on, then I will try it. But that’s just a personal decision for me, Katy, not necessarily the biomechanist, you know. I don’t know. I just like to –
DANI: No, that’s cool. I want to go back to my food question.
KATY: Nope, I’m not. Okay, what’s your food question.
DANI: I’m going to lasso you in. When you started – so you fed for 3 ½ -
KATY: But not exclusively. They were eating – I mean, they were – I was introducing whole foods when they were 6 months old, you know, like egg yolks.
DANI: Was that pretty much them doing all the food to mouth movement?
KATY: Yes, I never fed them. I didn’t do any – like, no baby food. They just ate baby versions of what we were eating, or pre-masticated food which is a less creepy way to say I chewed it up and gave it to them spitted, you know. It’s the same thing – again, hunter-gatherer childhoods. I just used that as –
DANI: There’s like a thing on the Internet, I think it was Alicia Silverstone -
KATY: It was.
DANI: - with the chewed up food and she fed it to her little baby, and people, they flipped.
KATY: Dude, people flip –
DANI: People flipped like it was the most repugnant thing. At least the reaction on the internet, as you know, is sometimes overblown.
KATY: I’ve had biologists at my house flip, and I was like, have you heard of a microbiome? And they’re just like, but they’re – they’re, you know – again, their culture where they’re trained does not include, it’s like, no, no, I, like, work with trees. I don’t do any of that weird parenting stuff. It’s like, this is a person who was educated extensively in the – and it’s just, it’s not about – it’s about culture. It’s not about education, it’s not about smart or stupid or informed. It’s about culture.
KATY: And so, yeah.
DANI: Do you want to talk about either barefoot babies, which we’ve kind of talked about foot development a lot. Or how about hanging for babies?
KATY: What do you want to know about barefoot babies? I love them.
DANI: Well, I mean – I remember you wrote a thing about how you cut their little PJ bottoms off?
DANI: When they were starting to walk and stuff like that. I mean – we all know why barefoot matters, but on so many planes, I guess, for a baby’s development, it matters.
KATY: Okay, so all these questions that people had, what about this, and what about that, and what exercises did you do with your kids? Like, that’s what I think people are wanting to know, because they’re trying to figure out – they’re trying to figure out what to do instead of what not to do. Do you know what I mean? Like, what corrective –
DANI: Yeah, we get a lot of those questions.
KATY: Like, what 3 things should I be doing every day for my kids? That’s the mentality, because we are in the corrective exercise mentality, not the change your lifestyle mentality. So what I did with my kids was not – so I guess, like, I’m going to read one question that we got. It would be interesting to hear more about what you did with your kids for their motor development besides the videos (that I posted with the baby exercise and some of the hanging videos. Fill in the blanks – what else did you do, and what age? So that is not my – that was not my approach to parenting. My approach to parenting was not the exercises that we did. My approach to parenting was trying to mitigate or become aware of first and then see if I could eliminate the negative impacts – or the limitations that were placed on human development – that are culturally handed down from one culture – actually, handed down from one WEIRDo to another is a better way of saying that. So that – what you just brought up was an example of that. I didn’t do foot exercises, necessarily, with my child. What I did was one day, and also, okay, keep in mind, that a lot of this stuff that I’m talking about now, I wasn’t primed with it going into parenthood. I just – because I’m an observer of movement, by nature, and also through training, I was like, holy crap, here’s what’s happening right now: my child, I put my child in onesies. Onesies are amazing. They’re cozy, they’re warm. I love them. But when my child – I didn’t know when my child was going to go from crawling to walking. But one day I noticed, oh, he’s trying to get up on something. And then I noticed – to my horror – that his contractions of his legs – all this – all this stuff that had been intrinsic with him, which was the timing to then start pushing – his brain and his mind had met this point where now it had occurred to him in the same way a 2001 shoutout, Arthur C. Clark, where this flash of insight comes in –
DANI: (sings theme from 2001)
KATY: Oh my gosh – it’s still – I put a quote – it’s such an influential book on me. It just shows that nerds love sci-fi. Anyway. You know, like there’s this moment of, I’m going to try to stand up. And it’s not – like, he has 10,000 billion seconds of watching us be upright, and one day he just realizes it’s something he can do, too, and he goes to push against the floor – this kitchen floor – and his foot, I can see his foot sliding, and I realized to my horror, that what I had put on my foot, because it kept him warm and cozy and healthy and feeling a certain way – was eliminating the natural response to what he was doing, which would be a feedback loop for him to continue to do it.
DANI: So you ran at the baby with scissors in your hand.
KATY: I did. They were in my hand, and I ran, pointed towards the baby, right? So then I was like, this is it, this is exactly what I’m constantly trying to see, is some blind spot where something that I – like, I assumed that they just needed to be bundled or warmed or whatever – hadn’t been paying attention, it’s like, oh, he’s just not strong enough to get up! And I was like, no, I was like, that’s not the case, the case is friction. This is friction and traction, and I created this scenario. None of this would exist if it wasn’t for our house and Costco, you know what I mean?
DANI: Linoleum and onesies.
KATY: Exactly. So then I cut off all of the feet. You can look at it – and I’m with people all the time, you know, and they’re just like, oh, he’s like, oh, he’s going to go through this huge stumbling phase, and you know, and then he has a hard time getting up, he’s just not quite strong enough yet, and I’m like, no, that’s not what’s happening! What’s happening is the interface between a onesie and linoleum has turned off, basically, the strength of his skin to facilitate that movement. So I cut all the feet off all of the pajamas, no more socks, you know. It’s like little things like that – that’s more what I did. Also, what I did do, though, to answer your question about hanging – and if you read this WEIRD article that I mentioned, a lot of cultures – and I use the WEIRD article as a source for many other articles. If you can only read that one, read the other 120 because that will give you more insight as opposed to the summation. A lot of other cultures, part of their baby-tending regime is infant exercise in the form of massage and stretching, where they touch. You know, they’re washing or massaging or oiling and then sometimes just with a purpose directly of stretching them out – which we talked about in the last show – it’s part of their culture, and in response, they walk sooner. You know, and I guess the big debate is – is sooner – at what point is it – are we rushing it or are we delaying it?
KATY: Those are perspectives. I don’t know if there’s a right answer to that, so the only – you know, it can be kind of arbitrary, where you choose to draw the line, and for me, where I drew the line was, well, I’m going to assume that anything that’s limited by my modern habitat is a delay. And so instead of introducing a bunch of things to speed up, I’m just going to remove the delays. And by doing so, I feel okay – because as a parent, you just have to pick the line where you’re going to feel okay –
KATY: I feel okay, like, I’m not rushing nor am I hindering this – I mean, the fact that I live in a modern place, you know, and time – I’m a WEIRDo, I’m a WEIRDo, you know, that this was where I felt okay about it. So that is more like what I did with my kids. I didn’t do hanging exercises – I did do hanging exercises, but I didn’t approach hanging exercises like, here’s what I need to do to keep my kid healthy. I was like, here’s what I do, and then, here, get on my body, and you start hanging on my body. I was always trying to put it into a natural context, right, of just making it functional in the same way that we make exercise functional, my parenting practices were functional. And that included –
DANI: I love that video of your daughter, it’s one of my favorite videos that you’ve done, and she was so little, it was like she hardly had any hair or anything.
KATY: She was hanging, she was 11 months old.
DANI: She was learning to hang. But you could totally tell by the way she was looking around that she only wants to hang because everybody else around her was hanging. You know, the adults, the kids that were older, it’s not like you were standing over her, you know, with your checklist, going, okay, you have to hang now.
DANI: You can tell just from the way she was looking around, she was like, huh, I want to do that. And then that whole progression of her doing that is – is – it’s also an Arthur C. Clark moment, because it’s awesome to watch that happen. I’m actually going to link to that in the show notes if that’s around. Is it around?
KATY: It is. It’s actually a blog post –
DANI: All right, okay. I’m going to get that because that is a good one.
KATY: And I think part of that natural environment – to go back to other shows – is them being around children of all ages. You know, it’s like – we’re at this point where it’s the single parent’s job to provide impetus for all these things. It’s like, give us a list of exercises, and it’s like, well, being around children of other ages outside of your own immediate family exposes your child to lots of different skill sets. I mean, I’m not overly fixated on, you know, like academics – because I am an academically successful person. I am a linear thinker – and what’s popping in my head right now are things like crawling, like, isn’t crawling – so that’s another thing, crawling. Crawling – I say this over and over again at movement workshops. Like, everyone needs to crawl, that’s how you learn – crossover, and that’s the full way for the brain to develop – and I’m like, there are a lot of cultures that don’t have crawling phases. Putting your child down for an extended period of time on the ground is not safe in a lot of places, and it’s like, it’s not safe where most humans came from and lived for a long period of time until now. So sometimes we confuse being successful in an academic – in a linear thinking, academic setting – as what humans should be doing. And I really kind of hold space for this idea that humans are like pack animals. Humans are tribal, but similar to packs, people have different strengths, and those strengths kind of serve their roles and you need people of different roles. I don’t know if everyone needs to achieve the same milestones in the same way, or that we all need to be forced into a particular set of milestones that bring about a particular way of thinking that is successful right now in this world, and I think you could even say that the success is limited to a very specific evaluation of, like, money, and not success in terms of other things like sustainability or happiness, right?
DANI: And it’s slowly shifting, slowly, slowly.
KATY: It’s slowly shifting. And I always come across as some cross-cultural weirdo, instead of what I am, which is just a WEIRDo who is trying to keep an eye on my weird-ism. Like, I’m really trying to be mindful of things that I do – I’m like discovering myself. I am my own ape, and Dian Fossey at the same time.
DANI: I know. Now we just have to make sure that whacko and WEIRDo are not interchangeable in this conversation.
KATY: No. Whacko – I haven’t figured out what whacko stands for. But whacko is a WEIRDo who is aware that they’re weird, maybe. So I’m fully aware that I’m WEIRD, and in many cases I am grateful that I am WEIRD – like, maybe I don’t – I am very fortunate. However, I just like to consider everything all of the time. The end.
DANI: And just in summation, kind of, for all these questions that we got and people that followed up on the Babies Part 1 show is just all the stuff that you read about and that we share in the show notes, that kind of answers all these questions in a way. I mean, there’s no real specific, bullet-pointed list that answers these, and I think that going – I think that the more time that you spend with this material, I think at least for me, personally, the more I’m able to reframe everything.
DANI: And not so much look back on, oh, I really messed that up, or I should do this – but it’s more like, huh! I never thought about it that way. And then it gives me a different path to consider, you know. It may not be the right thing, but it may be. So I think a lot of these questions that we got – like, if you sent in a question and you don’t feel like it got answered here, look at your question, and then maybe go back through, you know, listen to some of the things that we have in the show notes for this episode. Or don’t put it in the context of, ‘what should I do for my baby?’ but look at it like, you’re a WEIRDo, and your little ape – you know – you’re Dian Fossey and you’re the little ape, and it might help if you’re feeling frustrated with your question.
KATY: Or with us.
DANI: I think at some point – at many points – everybody feels frustrated with us.
KATY: Yes, definitely. And I think that – here’s the thing – like, I can’t – I can’t – and you don’t want me to – think and decide for you. What you really want of – of really your educators and your people putting out information is to put out information in a way that allows you to think about it, that helps you to think about it. Because these are personal decisions.
KATY: And there’s no right or wrong. You’re already nailing it.
KATY: And it’s really just about you choosing a particular trajectory. If it’s different than the one that you’re on, that you’re armed with what it takes. Like, there is no going backward, there’s only going forward. So you just go, oh, where would I like to head now? And then you just go. There’s nothing really to come from lamenting; there’s only something to come from actively choosing.
DANI: Right. And just, the more you know, the more you know. That’s all I have to say about that. And I’m just going to do a short plug for our appearance in Boulder.
KATY: We’re just going to appear. We’re just going to show up and then we’re going to leave.
DANI: No, Katy is going to come visit me in Boulder and she’s going to go to the Boulder bookstore, with me, and we are going to talk to people and answer questions, and that’s on May 21st at 5 in the evening at the Historic Boulder Bookstore in the Pearl Street mall, which is awesome if you’ve ever been there. If you like the way bookstores smell like old bookstores with the wood banisters and – ah! – it’s heaven. Anyway, you can get your tickets in the store itself or – should I give the number out, or is that weird?
KATY: It’s not weird.
DANI: You can also call – they don’t have them online. So you can call the store at 303-447-2074 and get your vouchers. Like, $5 and you get to apply it towards a book purchase. Boom. There you go.
KATY: Boom. Well, thank you, Dani, because you’re awesome.
DANI: Thank you, that was a fun conversation.
KATY: Thank you! And thanks everyone, for listening. For more information, books, online classes, etc., you can find me at NutritiousMovement.com, and you can learn more about Dani Hemmat, movement warrior, with the upper body strength of a baby. I don’t believe that for one second – hey! Thinking back to your goals show, how are you coming along on your pull-ups?
DANI: Just so you know, I did take a picture of my breasts, which I will show you at the end of the year, so you can see the difference.
KATY: Oh, goodie! I was like, is Christmas coming early?
DANI: Somebody posted on Facebook the other day, like, Dani, I was thinking about your breasts the other day, how are they doing? It’s like, back down, it’s all right.
KATY: You and everyone else!
DANI: I’m working on it! I have – what – 8 months until I have to fully report. But.
KATY: All right, I’m sorry.
DANI: No, I’m glad you asked. I work on it almost every single day in some form or another.
KATY: All right, well, you can harass Dani Hemmat about her breasts and her upper body strength at MoveYourBodyBetter.com.
DANI: All right, thanks for listening.
DANI and KATY: Bye!
We hope you find the general information on biomechanics, movement, and alignment informative and helpful, but it is not intended to replace medical advice, and should not be used as such.