My husband and I, like most parents, had no idea what we were getting into when we brought our first daughter home from the hospital. After nine months of minimal sleep during the nighttime hours, I decided to bed-share with my infant daughter. I can honestly say that the best nights sleep I had during those nine months was the first night I put her in my bed. From then on, I picked up practices that encouraged attachment parenting. Here are the eight basic principles of attachment parenting:
- Be Prepared: While you can certainly become an attachment parent supporter after the birth of your baby, being prepared even before you get pregnant is a practice they teach.
- Feeding Your Child: While Attachment Parenting International is a teacher of breastfeeding, in today’s age there are other alternatives if breastfeeding doesn’t work for you. However, the ideal is to teach your children to eat when they’re hungry, and stop when they’re full, allowing them to listen to their own bodies.
- Nurture Empathy and Trust: Infants can’t be expected to self soothe. A baby needs to feel secure to nurture a calm personality. Learn what your baby/child is trying to say, and respond accordingly. By keeping yourself calm and empathetic, you will teach them to be calm and empathetic as well.
- Use Stimulating Touch: You can never outwear a child’s need to be loved. In infant’s, skin-to-skin contact while nursing, bathing or during gentle massage can greatly improve a baby’s mood. In older children, child/baby wearing, hugs, cuddling and tickling can satisfy this need.
- Putting Baby to Bed: Babies and young children need to feel safe to sleep. Co-sleeping or bed-sharing can give them this security, especially as infants. *This also makes nighttime feedings less interruptive, and allows mom and baby to get optimal sleep.
- Be Consistent: Children need to know what to expect in almost all situations. Routine and schedule are especially helpful for children with developmental or behavioral issues. If you give them a consistent routine, which includes consequences, they will be better able to handle themselves.
- Maintain Balance: This one isn’t always easy to manage, but with effort you can learn to control everything from work, to school, to family life. Fostering a balance within your own life will help you better care for your children’s needs.
While I don’t subscribe to every detail of the Attachment Parenting philosophy, I can say that it has made a world of difference with my three girls. My oldest, who has issues with her emotions, loves routine and knowing what to expect next. While my middle daughter thrives on spontaneity, and loves to be tickled and played with. My infant is blossoming under my bed-sharing, breastfeeding, and baby wearing structure. While I give them limits and discipline, I’ve found that they are improving every day, and as a mother I couldn’t be happier.
Sources: Personal Experience