AP and Crunchy Parents

Finding out about Steiner and anthroposophy leads you to some strange places – I am thinking clairvoyance, reincarnation etc. but also to some less fantastical subjects.

I am not up to date with the latest parenting techniques, but recently I have come across two. They orginate in the States; Attachment Parenting and the wonderfully named “crunchy” parents.

Crunchy parents turn out to be those who eat wholefoods (crunchy foods) and generally go for what they consider a wholesome, or natural lifestyle – which includes cloth nappies, breast feeding, home births, delayed or selective vaccination, home-schooling, natural remedies and wearing sandals.

Attachment parenting is co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, baby-wearing and being a stay-at-home mum.

Crunchy parents are basically just sticking to a lifestyle they like and which they think is best for their family, whereas attachment parents are firmly of the belief that there are reasons for adhering to certain rules about nurturing children; they believe that separation from the mother could harm a child (hence baby-wearing).

Steiner Waldorf don’t seem to have a problem with the “crunchies”, but from reading accounts there is some degree of surprise expressed by APs (attachment parents) who find their methods are not always welcome in Steiner kindergartens and baby groups, whereas on the surface they should be.

It seems there is sometimes a preference at these groups for parents to sit separately to the children and not to interfere in their play.

Sometimes APs are dismayed to find Steiner Waldorf kindergartens send home leaflets about techniques parents view as more akin to the RIE method of parenting ; this is an acronym for Resources for Infant Educarers.  It encourages parents to eliminate baby talk, throw out the high chairs, toys and lidded drinking cups and generally take a much more firm, no-nonsense attitude to parenting.  Steiner kindergartens can be quite negative about extended breastfeeding and can advocate letting babies cry and not holding them too much.

It is suggested these no- nonsense ideas conform to those expressed in a book by anthroposophist Joan Salter called “Incarnating child” in which she also provides advice on how to feed your child based on the size of his head. (I’m saying nothing.)

Anyway, these ideas are new to me, but no doubt familiar (except the last one) to younger parents. I will not provide links – the information is easy to find if you are interested. But I can’t resist including this quiz from an American mother’s blog for anyone who wishes to know if they are a crunchy parent!

How crunchy are you?  –  http://www.themoralesfamily.us/granola.htm

Adendum May 2015

The link above seems to have disappeared, but here is another quiz




  1. Helen

    My score of 52 puts me in the “sprinkled with granola” category. Not sure whether to be pleased or not – I think it was ” will not consider breastfeeding someone else’s baby” that let me down.

  2. MarkH

    Oh dear. I scored 75 – “pretty crispy”! Not that I am qualified to answer all the questions, despite being a very hands-on Dad.
    And I was probably the least crunchy parent at the Steiner parent/child group.

    There was definitely a preference for not interfering with (or even monitoring too closely) the activities of the children. Fights over toys were resolved without parental involvement, for example. I have to confess to letting my son discover for himself that a mouthful of dandelion seeds doesn’t taste good.

    • Helen

      Nothing wrong with being crispy! And being a hands-on dad can only be a good thing. Some of these latest ideas do seem quite sexist in my opinion.

  3. Al

    I don’t really recognise the Atttachment Parenting you describe as being close to any of the literature or lifestyles of people I know who do it. You seem to confuse ideas and choices with rules. Where did you get the weird lidded cup idea?

    Can’t say I’m pro-Steiner education but blogging on stuff you don’t know seems just a way of provoking more inter-parental arguments when there is a clear, specific issue of Steiner Free School funding in Stroud.

  4. Helen

    Hi AI
    Sorry if I offended you – I am not criticising any of the above mentioned parenting methods (except Joan Salter’s). It’s just a bit of fun really – certainly not trying to provoke arguments. Bringing up children is challenging enough without being judgemental of other parent’s style. My throwaway remark to Mark about sexism was just a comment on how fathers can sometimes be excluded.
    What was it about my description of AP that you don’t recognise?
    Maybe I didn’t make clear the lidded cup is part of the RIE method where babies are meant to be treated like mini adults. I can’t find the article I was looking at yesterday but here is one from the Daily Mail which also explains it.
    Yes there is a clear specific issue of the Steiner Free School, and I am glad you are interested in this. This blog is about Steiner in general, although I wouldn’t have started it if the free school had not been on the cards.
    I am interested in how Steiner Waldorf/ anthroposophy is perceived and how it is presented to the outside world, and I think the way Steiner parent and child groups react to various parenting ideas provides a window on this.

  5. Helen

    For what it’s worth, I breastfed, tried to use a sling for a while, was a stay-at-home mother, did without dummies, made my own healthy baby food and we used cloth nappies. Co-sleeping and extended breast feeding were not on my agenda though, but I have no beef with those who use these methods. It is personal choice.

  6. Jim

    We shouldn’t be surprised that the anthros are opposed to AP. All cults want to put attachment to the cult ahead of attachment to the parent.
    Equally it’s not surprising it surprises those parents who imagine Steiner to be all touchy-feely and child centred. It’s not.

    • Helen

      You are right; over – attachment to the parent is not compatible with how anthroposophy is supposed to work. In this creed the child is brought into the world physically by the parents, but has had a “pre-earthly existence” which is quite separate from them.

      “A kernel of enthusiasm from the sea of will is what inflames the individual motive to incarnate and begin a new life.” according to an article “Embryology from an anthroposophical perspective” by Bruno Calegaro MD

      The Waldorf Steiner teacher should be the strongest influence in a child’s life according to Steiner, and the parents’ role is incidental.

  7. Melanie Byng (@ThetisMercurio)

    I was an attachment parent – Steiner was an obvious addition. Wouldn’t have listened to anyone telling me to stop breast-feeding but was surprised to learn I couldn’t join in with eurythmy while I was pregnant. Some will say I should have been relieved! Great posts, Helen.

  8. Helen

    Thanks Melanie.
    I read that mothers are sometimes sent to another room or even outside to breastfeed. maybe this varies from group to group.
    Eurythmy can’t be too strenuous – too spiritually intense maybe.

  9. eyesbeingopened

    I got 66! Maybe the vaccinations bit let me down, I found it shocking that people don’t vaccinate, before moving here I had never met such people. Really interesting about the parenting styles and that Steiner don’t like AP.
    I thought the reason for giving the children china cups at group was because plastic was somehow frowned upon. Difficult to stop them smashing them on the table. I did notice that the activities for mothers were entirely separate from the children’s activities. No one ever explained why, but why didn’t I think to ask? I am normally irritatingly interrogative. All I can say is that there was an atmosphere that discouraged it perhaps?

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