What is Attachment Parenting?

What is Attachment Parenting?

In continuation of the topic of parenting styles, I want to talk about Attachment Parenting. It has become the new “it” parenting style for many new parents. Let’s talk about what Attachment Parenting is and how it gets implemented.

Attachment Parentingfocuses on developing a secure connection between parent and child through being responsive towards the child’s needs. This parenting style primarily focuses on caring for an infant but I think that when you look closer at it you will find a similarity with it and one of the classical parenting styles I talked about in the previous post.

Attachment parenting was based on the “attachment theory” brought forth by a psychologist John Bowlby’s studies on animals and maternal deprivation. In a nutshell, Bowlby theorized that infants instinctively seek closeness to a “secure attachment figure”. However, that figure does not necessarily have to be a mother but any caregiver capable of providing this security. Dr. Sears was the one who popularized modern day attachment parenting and came up with the “7 Baby B’s” or “Attachment Tools”.

  • Birth Bonding – if a child doesn’t have a good attachment at birth, not all is lost. Sears believed that kids that go into the NICU, foster or adopted kids can form healthy attachments later in life.
  • Breastfeedingthe preferred way to feed a child as it provides benefits for both mother and baby. It may improve bonding by producing prolactin and oxytocin.
  • Baby – wearingis highly encouraged to promote attachment, allow for frequent touching, and help parents become more sensitive to their infant’s needs
  • Bedding close to babiesDr. Sears encourages parents to sleep close to baby but also acknowledges the parents’ need for sleep.
  • Belief in the language-value of your baby’s cryDr. Sears strongly advises parents to respond to their baby’s cries and not let them “cry it out”
  • Beware of baby trainersDr. Sears is strongly against “convenience parenting”. He believes that convenience parenting puts the parents ease above the needs of a baby for food or comfort. For example, he advises against scheduled feedings.
  • BalanceDr. Sears advises parents to focus on balancing their roles as parents, partners and also their own physical and emotional needs

When you really look into it, Dr. Sears advocates for parents to take the time to learn about their children and create an environment that is responsive to their children’s needs. It’s not an easy task but a very important one. Even though we grow these beings inside our bodies and care for them long before we meet them,they are strangers to us when they emerge. We know almost nothing about them and in order to succeed long term, the onus is on us to get to know them.

You may disagree but I think a family is a team. There is a team leader or two and there are team players. Our children are the players and need to learn to be on this team. That however, doesn’t mean that their views and opinions don’t matter. As the team leaders, it is our job to know everything we can about our team and ensure our team’s success.

Take the time to get to know your infant and it will become second nature to keep getting to know them as their grow into being a child, then a teenager, then an adult. I hope that even if you find that you can’t do everything that Attachment Parenting advocates for, that you are able to take away the main principle of it: listen to your child’s needs and be sensitive to them. This does not mean you have to cater to them all the time. Just keep this in mind: when you operate within their limitations, everyone’s life will be much easier.

Quote of the day:

“I don’t think it matters how many parents you’ve got, as long as those who are around make their presence a good one” – Elizabeth Wurtzel

Mental Health Tip of the Day:

The early days and months of parenting are hard and demanding. Finding balance will be next to impossible, so stop beating yourself up about it. Find something you really need to do to make yourself feel human and do it. If it’s a nap, a shower, a conversation with a friend –  ask your partner to watch the baby and give you some breathing room. If it’s some alone time with your partner, then get a babysitter or ask someone you trust to watch the baby for a few hours.

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What is Attachment Parenting?

14 thoughts on “What is Attachment Parenting?”

  1. It’s so important to be aware of a healthy attachment to a child because it can impact them for life! I just read “Parenting from the Inside Out” by my favorite author, Dr. Daniel Siegel (and he wrote it with Mary Hartzell). They have an entire chapter on attachment and not just the secure attachment which I was aware of. They walk you through what your attachment may be based on how you were raised. And wow! did this open my husband’s and my eyes to our challenges in our marriage.

    I wasn’t really parented and left alone or left with my older brother (who was murdered later in life) for most of my first five years of life. I didn’t think it affected me because I don’t have rage or issues with parenting but I do have an avoidant attachment for sure! I have a tough time being emotionally available to the people closest to me and don’t have fears about something happening to my children like most of my mom friends. And my husband has ambivalent attachment which is very fascinating if you dive into that. He craves closeness but can never trust or feel like he can depend on others. Once we figured this out, it has helped our relationship so much and our understanding on how to create this secure attachment with our three boys.

    1. Adriane, thank you for sharing. Your experience sounds incredible and you are very aware of different attachments. I love Dr. Siegel. He wrote some of the best books I read while doing my Masters in Psych.

  2. Wow! This was an amazing read. As my pregnancy is coming to an end and my baby girl will soon be earth side I needed to read this. Its a huge reminder to myself of things I can do to feel more connected. Also, the last tip really spoke to me. When I had my first daughter I struggled with postpartum depression, I never really took care of myself and life for me became all about my daughter. Going into this pregnancy I always had a fear of losing myself again. I now know that its OK to take a mental break, its OK to have time to myself every now and then. With becoming a parent its so easy to get tied up into routine and forget to take a step back and breathe. So, thank you for sharing.

    1. Kristin, thank you for your comment. I’m glad you found this information useful. I know what it’s like to have PPD and lose yourself. I also had it with my first child. And even this time around, I don’t have PPD but still struggle to find a balance. But definitely feel more at peace taking breaks. Excited for you and your baby girl. 🙂

  3. This is how I raise my little one! Some people constantly tell me, I should not constantly hold him or to walk away when he cries, but I I’m just not that person. Thank you for the information!

    1. Do what you feel is right, mama. Holding and cuddling never spoiled a baby. None of us have ever been spoiled by cuddles.

  4. I love Dr. Sears. I read his ‘The Baby Book’ when I was pregnant and really aligned with what he talked about. I do wish I would have practiced more attachment practices like baby wearing.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Annette. I think it’s ok to not hit all the points. I didn’t really baby wear either of my kids but still ended up spending so much time in physical contact with them, that they were still physically attached. But baby wearing would have made some things easier.

  5. I love the idea of attachment parenting! I recently read an article about why African babies don’t cry. Apparently in Africa, baby wearing and breastfeeding on cue is a common practice for moms. It gives the babies a strong sense of security which cause them to cry very little. Thanks so much for sharing.

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