When you talk with a parent who practices attachment parenting, most often you will find a rested, confident parent and a happy, healthy child.
Parents who AP (attachment parent) have found out that our “standards” of caring for children under the age of three have become needlessly complicated and unsatisfying. Society today tends to separate parents and child as early as possible. By bringing parents and their babies closer, a stronger bond can be built and raising infants and toddlers can become even more relaxed and enjoyable.
Attachment parenting has a few basics to follow. The main ideas behind AP are keeping the baby close, breastfeeding, family bedding, and responding to the baby in a positive way. At first, many parents may balk at these ideas, but once a parent uses these techniques they will find them more comfortable. By following the basics, a parent will oftentimes find themselves in a more relaxed environment and have a very content baby.
Attachment Parenting, a term coined by renowned pediatrician Dr. William Sears, is also known as Natural Parenting, Mindful Parenting, or Peaceful Parenting. Oftentimes, however, Attachment Parenting is misunderstood, or mistaken for Permissive Parenting. So what exactly is Attachment Parenting? Here are several ideas embraced by those who practice Attachment Parenting.
1. Childbirth Preparation and Birth Bonding
There is much more to preparing for a baby than simply taking childbirth classes. Parents should use this time as an opportunity to strengthen their own relationship and discuss their parenting philosophies, in addition to preparing for the birth itself.
Natural childbirth gives mother and baby the best start in life and allows both mother and father an opportunity to bond with the baby right from the start. However, not all AP parents decide on natural childbirth.
Whatever their decision, most AP parents insist on holding their baby immediately after he or she is born, and on being allowed as much as an hour or two afterward. Assuming that everyone is healthy, all of the usual newborn procedures can wait.
Breastfeeding provides the baby with the perfect nutrition and helps satisfy his or her needs for physical closeness and sucking. AP parents who are unable to breastfeed remain close and attached during feeding times. They hold their baby close, talk to their baby, and interact with their baby nonverbally while feeding. Whether breast or bottle-feeding, Attachment Parenting encourages parents to feed according to their baby’s schedule, not the clock. A baby knows when he is hungry, and AP parents trust the baby’s feeding cues.
Wearing a baby in a sling or soft carrier keeps the baby close, and also helps meet his or her needs for security and stimulation. Additionally, many babies are soothed or even lulled to sleep by mom’s or dad’s motions while in the sling. Additionally, carried or worn babies cry less and tend to be happier.
4. Emotional Responsiveness
This is one of the core tenants of attachment parenting. Parents who are attached to their babies believe that their babies’ cries are a form of communication, and they respond to this communication. AP babies are not left to cry alone in their cribs. Even though, at times, there is seemingly nothing that a parent can do to soothe baby’s crying, parents who practice attachment parenting realize that they can at least make sure that their baby does not need to cry alone.
As parents get better at anticipating baby’s needs and interpreting baby’s cries, the baby learns that he can trust his parents to respond to his needs. Many parents who practice attachment parenting notice that this responsiveness often results in less crying over time.
Emotional responsiveness is more than just responding to baby’s cries, though. It also involves spending time interacting with the baby on a daily basis. A parent is a baby’s favorite toy!
Parents who practice attachment parenting recognize that parenting is a 24 –hour-a-day job. They tend to prefer to put baby to sleep in their own bed so that they may more quickly and easily attend to his or her needs. If parents are not comfortable sharing their bed with their baby, they might consider having baby sleep in his own bed that is placed next to their bed.
6. Avoid Separation
AP parents recognize that babies have a strong need for the physical presence of one or both parents. Strong attachments are formed through day-to-day contact and interaction. If at all possible, families who practice attachment parenting arrange for one parent to stay at home full-time.
7. Gentle Discipline
As children grow, they need boundaries and limits. Many parents who practice Attachment Parenting believe that these boundaries can be enforced with positive methods and without the use of physical violence or yelling.
Maintaining balance helps parents avoid burn-out. While caring for a baby’s needs can be a full-time job, it is essential that parents make time to care for themselves, as well. Eating a well-balanced diet, drinking enough water, exercising regularly, and having some quiet time each day are important for all parents. AP parents often switch off, with one parent giving the other a break from the baby for an hour or two to allow that parent to recharge and refocus.
Maintaining balance in the family life also means that parents take time for each other. AP families find creative ways to do this without compromising baby’s needs – perhaps a late-night movie after the baby has drifted off to sleep, or even a candlelit dinner at the kitchen table during baby’s naptime.