NATURAL parenting is proving a success in Cheltenham – but the emphasis is on choice.
New mums have been heading to the town's first natural parenting centre since it opened its doors this week.
Blue Skies, in Knapp Road, has been holding free taster sessions for families.
Activities have included introductory workshops for slings and baby carriers, and sensory play for children and toddlers.
Bosses at Blue Skies believe parenting is all about finding a balance between the mother's needs and the baby's needs.
Nicole Hastie, organiser at Blue Skies, is very supportive of any choice in parenting, natural or otherwise.
And while people turning to natural parenting are still in a minority, she said more parents were realising that advice was available.
Among the activities being run by Blue Skies are classes for families, including an art science class called Tiny Adventure.
"We offer guidance and parenting that is as gentle as possible," said Nicole.
"There are online support groups and forums. There is no pressure for mums to use natural parenting. We respect parents and support all choices."
Natural parenting has been the centre of debate in recent years.
It can come under a number of guises, such as putting babies in a sling instead of a pram in order to have the child physically close to the mother.
But the biggest controversy has centred on breastfeeding, particularly in public.
Caroline Bamford, community midwife, said mothers were given all the information about the options at the birth.
She said breastfeeding had become a fashionable thing for mothers.
"It lets the mother get in touch with the baby's needs," she added. "Parents want an attachment to the baby."
Gloucestershire Community Midwives encourage breastfeeding whenever it is safe and possible to do so.
"There is very good information given about breastfeeding to all pregnant women," said Caroline.
"It is up to the parents what path they choose."