Attachment parenting (AP) is a lifestyle choice many parents choose because of the value they place on developing a very
nurturing connection with their children. We all want to have a strong bond and close relationship with our children, and the attachment parenting style is a way to nurture this bond. While detractors claim it creates dependency, attachment parenting philosophy views that its nurturing techniques are ideal for raising children to be independent adults who are secure in themselves and empathetic. By believing in this philosophy, parents will care for their babies and raise them in a manner that creates a strong foundation of security and trust in the parents. With that secure foundation, the child to grow up to independently build strong relationships.
Remember that you are the parent and your choices are yours to make. If part of the philosophy of attachment parenting appeals to you, you don’t have to incorporate all of it into your parenting techniques. Take what you like and what works for you. When you have a baby, surprises are in store. Every baby’s needs are different, and you may change your mind on what you will and won’t try.
Keep an open mind and talk to other moms who ascribe to the attachment parenting lifestyle. Techniques that fall outside of the norm may feel uncomfortable at first, but when you hear first-hand opinions, those techniques may grow in appeal. While pregnant and preparing for birth, work to overcome any negative thinking and feeling. Learning to be positive prepares you for learning to act and speak in a positive manner to your child.
Breastfeeding. Attachment parenting prefers providing what is best and natural for your child. The bonding that occurs while breastfeeding is profound for both mother and child. Your baby’s nutrition is directly provided by you, and the sensations, along with the baby’s need and fulfillment, create an exquisite experience for both mother and child.
- Many AP mothers choose to breastfeed longer than the standard recommendation of one year. The World Health Organization recommends two years. Although the baby grows to eat solid foods as well, the nutrients in breast milk are still beneficial. AP moms want to nurture and maintain the bond that breastfeeding creates.
- Some moms will breastfeed for many years until the child is school age. Choose what works for you. Commit to a year or more of breastfeeding, then at the time, re-evaluate and recommit if it feels right.
- Feed on demand. Many parents try to get their babies on a strict feeding schedule that can ultimately cause timing issues and dissatisfaction. AP moms will feed their babies as often as needed and for as long as needed whenever the baby becomes hungry or craves the comfort.
Discipline is detrimental. Attachment parenting has a strong focus on cultivating healthy and happy emotions in the child. All of the child’s communications and variances in behavior should be responded to with sensitivity. AP parents do not let a baby “cry it out” and would not ignore the temper tantrums of a toddler. All expressions are efforts to communicate a feeling. The feeling should be understood and addressed. Your child should not learn to expect punishment or dismissal when expressing his or her thoughts or emotions. Instead, model positive behavior. Handle issues by guiding and redirecting your baby. As your child grows, continue to address the emotion behind the action and work toward a solution with your child as opposed to instilling your will or applying harsh disciplinary measures such as spanking.
Babies and young children thrive on the closeness gained through skin-to-skin touch. When possible, breastfeed without your shirt off and allow your baby’s tummy and your tummy to touch. Take your baby into the bath or shower with you (you may find it difficult to get time for a private shower anyway). Wear your baby as much as possible by carrying him or her in a wrap or baby carrier. Not only does this practice further your baby’s attachment, it allows you to keep your baby comfortable and happy while your hands and arms are free to clean, shop, etc.
Co-sleeping. In the attachment parenting philosophy, co-sleeping is recommended in order to provide a sense of security. If you co-sleep with your baby in your bed, it is much easier to breastfeed as needed since you can remain comfortably in your bed. Be advised that while co-sleeping creates a more secure and comforting attachment, it is said to create an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). You can alternatively co-sleep by keeping your baby in the same room to more easily feed and soothe your baby.
Stay with your baby. While it’s not possible for everyone, AP proponents say it is best for a parent to be constantly present in a young baby’s life. AP babies get to go where you go, whether to the store or to a meeting or to a get-together of other adults. Try to avoid childcare or keep it to the minimum that is possible for the first two and a half years of your child’s life.
Regardless of whether or you would adopt some or all of these parenting practices, if you want your baby to feel emotionally secure, then the attachment parenting style may be for you. By creating a nurturing bond, you are creating trust and security, and your baby will thrive on that.