When I became a first time mom 3 years ago, I began wondering what kind of parent I would be. I knew I wanted to do what was best for my child and what would feel the most natural to me, but because I had no idea what parenting styles existed, I had no clue what to do. I spoke with friends, family, and conducted my own research on the subject. I knew I wanted a close connection with my child and incorporate many of the same techniques and elements my own mother used in raising me such as bed-sharing and baby-wearing. When searching for information on these characteristics, I stumbled upon a style known as “Attachment Parenting.” Because this was a style I had not heard of before, I thought I would pass on the information I have learned over the last 3 years and have incorporated into my own life with my first child, and continued to use with my second child.
Attachment parenting is a style of parenting developed by Dr. William and Martha Sears, a husband and wife team. Dr. Sears is a pediatrician and father to 8 children. Together, he and his wife have written more than 40 books on parenting, family, and child development. This style of parenting is characterized by the use of close contact through different modes which create a close bond between child and parent. There are 7 main traits to the attachment parenting style; birth bonding, breastfeeding, baby-wearing, balance, belief in the language value of your baby’s cry and beware of baby trainers.
Birth bonding is that idea that bonding should begin during the birth process. The birth should be as soothing as possible with little to no medications, allowing a natural entrance into the world for the baby. It is thought this will strengthen the bond between mother and child from the moment the baby is born. In addition, the child is placed directly on the mother, skin-to-skin for a minimum of 90 minutes following the birth.
Breastfeeding the baby is greatly encouraged as the best method of providing nutrition for the infant. This facilities what Dr. Sears calls “baby-reading” which allows the mother and baby opportunities to learn to read each others body language.
Baby-wearing allows for further bonding by allowing more opportunities for skin-to-skin contact and the baby is able to be continually cradled and soothed by its mother or other caregiver. Babies enjoy the sensation of being hugged as it feels most like the womb.
Having a positive attitude is essential to attachment parenting. This is achieved by encouraging balance within the home by making a solid effort for parents to take time for themselves as needed. This allows each parent to decompress and better attend to the needs of their baby.
Attachment parenting believes in the value of a baby’s cry. Crying is a baby’s only form of communication and is a signal to its parents it is in need of something. Thus, the long used method of “crying it out” is discouraged completely. The method of “crying it out” tears down the trust between baby and parent, leaving a child to grow up with the understanding that crying is “bad” or their parent will not come to their aid in a time of need.
Inevitably, parents will be given advice on nearly all aspects of raising their child from a multitude of sources such as doctors, friends, family, websites, and so forth. While attachment parenting consists of specific characteristics, it also allows for modifications based on each parent’s needs and feelings. However, parents should beware of baby trainers, or other sources of advice and instruction. They should be encouraged to make sound and informative decisions based on their own beliefs and needs.