The Continuum Concept: It’s Pros and Cons in Raising Babies

Carmen D. Lade

Continuum concept is a study that was developed by Jean Liedloff, an anthropologist who studied this concept among South American Indians. This 1970’s approach of raising babies recommends frequent skin-to-skin contact between the parents and their children from birth to 12 months. Parents from various parts of the globe have tried this method which promotes the ff methods in raising babies:

  • constant physical contact between mother and baby or with other caregiver from birth;
  • co-sleeping in parent’s bed, with constant physical contact, until the child leaves on his own volition that normally starts at the age of 2;
  • breastfeeding on cue – nursing the child in response to his needs and body signals;
  • constantly carrying the child in his mother’s arms or otherwise in contact with someone (usually the child’s mother), and the child is allowed to observe or sleep or nurse with the person carrying him as that person goes about her or his business (normally ends at 6 to 8 months when the baby begins to creep and crawl on his own impulse);
  • have the caregivers respond immediately to the child’s needs and signals like crying and squirming, without displeasure, judgment, or invalidation of the child’s needs, and yet without showing undue concern nor making the child the constant center of attention;
  • sensing and fulfilling the expectations of the child’s elders that he is innately social and cooperative, with the child having strong self-preservation instinct and the child is welcome and worthy.

Pros and cons

Despite several parents claiming that this method of raising babies has developed and built a strong bond between parent and child, there are still pros and cons that needed to be weighed before using this method:

Feeding on demand or breastfeeding on cue

Advantages: Constant breastfeeding stimulates the supply of milk, allowing the mother’s breasts to learn to produce the right amount of it; the baby gets to be fed when hungry and not dictated by scheduled feeding; since babies gain comfort from sucking, this method allows them unfettered access to his or her mother’s breast.

Disadvantages: This part of the method is time consuming and is not effective for moms who work.

In-arms phase or constant carrying of the child

Advantages: Babies who are held constantly always have their needs met instantly and they gain enough first-hand information about the adult world, as they get to observe adult activities like cooking and cleaning when they are being carried around.

Disadvantages: In this method, the mother’s sense of having privacy or separateness from her child is not allowed; also, babies who are constantly carried around tend to be clingy, making the time to separate from his or her mother a great ordeal.

Co-sleeping in parents’ beds

Advantages: Breastfeeding on cue is made simple by this method and buying cribs and cots and even setting up a nursery is no longer necessary; also, there’s less anxiety experienced on checking if a baby is still breathing or not since you can feel them breathing beside you.

Disadvantages: This method can be dangerous since there could be two adults in the bed with the baby; also the safety guidelines of using thick pillows and heavy duvets for babies will make co-sleeping restrictive; transferring the child to his own bed may be prolonged as he get used to sleeping with his parents.

All in all, the methods promoted by the Continuum concept is indeed a great training ground for raising happy children, since its priority is having their biological and emotional needs met instantly. Children raised using this method will experience first hand the love, care, and support that their parents give 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 parents need to be away from home. But in weighing both the pros and cons, nothing is more important than giving your children the love and support they need from the time they were born up to the age when they can claim their own independence.

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