Attachment Parenting is my parenting style of choice. I've been practicing AP with my babes for years, and I really do enjoy it, my kids seem to really enjoy it and it seems to have served my kids well thus far. I really don't have a negative thing to say about it.
I'm not sure who "invented" attachment parenting, it's probably been around since the beginning of time, honestly. I have two huge sources of information that I use for getting any information about AP that I may need. The first is Dr. Sears, which is where I actually first read about AP at. The second is Attachment Parenting International.
Since I'm quite often asked, I will explain the principals of AP. I'll be using the 7 Baby B's as Dr. Sears calls them.
- Birth Bonding. This is the way that Mommy and Baby bond in the days and weeks after birth. The idea is to being the attachment after birth with attachment-promoting behavior from the mother, which I personally believe comes naturally to all mothers after birth. If you've ever given birth then you know what I'm talking about. That pull you feel bringing you toward your newborn baby that is stronger than gravity, that feeling. It's really a continuation of what we, as mothers, experience during pregnancy. Birth just gives it a new reality, it feels a lot more real now and you want to be connected to your baby in a different way than while pregnant, and the baby to you. "Sometimes medical complications keep you and your baby apart for a while, but then catch-up bonding is what happens, starting as soon as possible. When the concept of bonding was first delivered onto the parenting scene twenty years ago, some people got it out of balance. The concept of human bonding being an absolute "critical period" or a "now-or-never" relationship was never intended. Birth bonding is not like instant glue that cements the mother-child relationship together forever. Bonding is a series of steps in your lifelong growing together with your child. Immediate bonding simply gives the parent- infant relationship a headstart."
- Breast Feeding. Now this is something that I wouldn't know that much about personally. I BF'ed both of my boys for as long as possible but with both I had issues with my milk supply, as I wasn't making enough either time despite my attempts to breast feed without supplementing. I am happy that I was able to experience BF'ing my babies for the short periods of time I was able to though. So I'll quote Dr. Sears here! "Breastfeeding is an exercise in babyreading. Breastfeeding helps you read your baby's cues, her body language, which is the first step in getting to know your baby. Breastfeeding gives baby and mother a smart start in life. Breastmilk contains unique brain-building nutrients that cannot be manufactured or bought. Breastfeeding promotes the right chemistry between mother and baby by stimulating your body to produce prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that give your mothering a boost." So I am the proof that you can AP without BF'ing exclusively for the first year or year and a half of babies life!
- Baby Wearing. This is one of my favorite parts of AP, because I find it not only practical for me but also soothing for my babies as well and improves the sensitivity of the parents also. I'm aware that some people take baby wearing too far, let's face it people wearing a 8 year old is just plain weird. Seriously. Being close to baby promotes familiarity, which let's you get to know baby a little better. All mothers know that baby is quieter when being held, the same goes for a baby who is carried in this manner as well. Since baby spends more time being carried (while wearing them) then that means baby spends more time in "quite alertness" which is " the behavior state in which babies learn most about their environment."
- Bedding Close to Baby. "Wherever all family members get the best night's sleep is the right arrangement for your individual family. Co-sleeping adds a nighttime touch that helps busy daytime parents reconnect with their infant at night. Since nighttime is scary time for little people, sleeping within close touching and nursing distance minimizes nighttime separation anxiety and helps baby learn that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a fearless state to remain in."
- Belief in the Language Value of you Babies Cry. Responding to the cries of your baby teaches your baby that you are sensitive to their needs and that you will be there to fulfill their needs. "View your baby's cries as a communication rather than a manipulation tool. Think of your baby's cries as a signal to be listened to and interpreted rather than click into a fear of spoiling or fear of being controlled mindset." Babies do not cry to manipulate you or just because, they cry because they have a need that should be met. Whether they are hungry, wet, over stimulated, under stimulated or bored, the tag on their shirt is itching them, gas pain etc.
- Beware of Baby Trainers. "Attachment parenting teaches you how to be discerning of advice, especially those rigid and extreme parenting styles that teach you to watch
- Balance. "In your zeal to give so much to your baby, it's easy to neglect the needs of yourself and your marriage. As you will learn the key to putting balance in your parenting is being appropriately responsive to your baby – knowing when to say "yes" and when to say "no," and having the wisdom to say "yes" to yourself when you need help." This is the one that I see people forgetting about a lot. AP doesn't mean that you just constantly give your baby or child what they want, it doesn't mean that the baby or child rules the home and dictates what is done in your home. What it means is that you parent based on your child's needs, not their every whim and want. You respond appropriately to their needs and do what is best for that particular child, not what is trendy or what other parents are doing for their child. Some things may be right or work well for little Johnny but that doesn't mean they'll be right or work well for my Jagger of your Ayden.
You do not have to practice all of the Baby B's! I didn't Breast Feed exclusively, because I couldn't. AP is not just about what is stated above!
I've had a lot of people say that I'm raising my boys to be pussies. I've had some people say that I'm letting them dictate to me how they will be parented. While the first part is not only about as ignorant as it gets, especially if you know my Aiden who got in his very first knock-down-drag-out-whip-your-ass fight a few weeks before his third birthday because his cousin grabbed his baby brothers head and hurt him a bit and made him cry, but it is also narrow minded. The latter part is true in a sense because I do let my boys dictate to me how they need to be parented. I let them lead me in my parenting.
I don't expect the same thing that worked for my first child to work for my next all the time, because all children are different. I believe that the most affective parenting style is the one that is tailor made and fitted to that particular child. Aiden needed to co-sleep in our beds starting at 9 or 10 months, because he had night terrors and still has night mares, he was scared to death of the dark and needed mommy to comfort him several times a night because of his dreams. Jagger at 9 months, while still sleeping right beside my bed in his pack-n-play, doesn't need that right now, so that's not what I do with him.
I'll be posting a part two to this post in a few days because I really want to be able to explain all of AP to anyone who wants to know, it's just far too much information to put into one post, so I'll put it into several. The next posts won't be so long, because I'll only be covering one or two topics at a time since I've already got the Baby B's out of the way.
I do not judge anyone for their parenting decisions, as long as they are not abusing the child verbally, physically or mentally, and as long as the child is well taken care of and fed. Aside from that I believe mothers should be allowed to parent their children in any way they choose. I believe that as parents we all make the best decisions we can for our children, and that's fine by me!