What is Attachment Parenting?

I’m not going to take sides in the debate about Attachment Parenting, but I do think it is important that expectant parents at least be aware of the concept. When I was pregnant, I thought I was going to be 100% on the Attachment Parenting bandwagon., but when it all boiled down I would say I ended up somewhere in the middle. I took the aspects of the concept that worked for me and Gigi and I ditched the rest. We are both very happy, so I suppose it all worked.

Attachment parenting is a term that was first coined by Dr. William Sears (who wrote some great books on the high needs child). The most basic premise of the concept is that infants seek closeness and that bonds are build from day one through proximity.

The parent who chooses attachment parenting might choose extended breastfeeding, nursing on demand, baby wearing (or, using a sling to carry the infant close to the body for most of the day), co-sleeping, and gentle disciple.

One detail in support of attachment parenting is that in civilizations much older than our Western world, babies quite literally never touch the ground. They are held constantly, be it by the parents, grandparents or other friends and relatives.

Of course, most of us have heard about the developmental delays that babies in orphanages often suffer due directly to lack of contact. It’s a proven fact and quite often once these children begin to feel regular human touch, they make great strides in catching up developmentally.

Attachment parenting does put a lot of expectations on the Western parent, since we tend to live in households without extended family nearby. When deciding to adopt this parenting style, one must take into consideration the sacrifices in time and personal space you will be making.

As I said, I went into my first days of motherhood with the expectation that I would use total attachment parenting. Within the first week I found out Gigi liked to be constantly held, but did not like the sling. This made holding her while doing housework and other activities difficult. I did continue to hold her almost constantly for the first couple of months, but then took her cues and moved to using the swing for times I needed to be doing other things.

I did succeed in extended nursing, though. Gigi nursed exclusively or nearly six months and even up to nine months of age, she preferred breast milk over all other foods. I continued to supplement heavily until she was three. I would have allowed her to nurse longer, but we were separated for two weeks at one point and that was the end of that!

I also would have enthusiastically allowed co-sleeping, but in out particular case Gigi actually showed a preference for sleeping alone. I sure wish that were the case now that she is four, but she seems to be making up for lost time.

Anyway, my point is that attachment parenting is filled with wonderful practices, but you can tailor your own routine to meet the emotional and physical needs of you and your child and still see the amazing benefits of the philosophy. I urge all new and expecting parents to at least consider the practices and then go from there.

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