Hear the term “attachment parenting” and it’s likely that images of parents wearing their babies in slings or sleeping with their little ones in the same bed would pop up in your head. But is it all that? What really is attachment parenting and can it work for you? Here are some thoughts that may shed some light.
What is attachment parenting?
Originally coined by American paediatrician Dr William Sears4, attachment parenting recommends that parents create a closer bond with their children by being more responsive, gentle and affectionate both physically and emotionally4. This style of parenting is believed to help children become more independent and able to form healthy, emotional connections with others through their lives2.
Attachment parenting: a natural way of parenting
Baby wearing and co-sleeping practices aside, what needs to be understood is that many attachment parenting followers are really seeking a more natural way to raise their kids 3.
Here are a few popular ones:
• Responding to your child’s needs naturally
Parents who practice attachment parenting are encouraged to be kinder and more responsive to their children’s needs2. For example, babies should be picked up immediately and attended to with love and sensitivity when they cry1. They should also not be trained to feed or sleep on a schedule that’s unnatural to them1.
• Wearing your baby close
Dr Sears believe that infants should be carried in a sling or carrier for as many hours in a day as possible. Not only does this make babies feel happier, parents will also be involving their kids in everything they do5.
• Co-sleeping with your child
Contrary to popular belief, co-sleeping can simply mean being within an arm’s reach of your child – not necessarily in the same bed2. Bonding benefits aside, many see it simply as a more practical and convenient way to raise their kids1.
• Breastfeeding your baby
Everyone knows that breast milk is best for babies, which makes it one of the most mainstream attachment parenting practices adopted by many2.
How to make attachment parenting work for you
As with all other styles of parenting, attachment parenting has its fair share of pros and cons and it may be challenging to decide if it’s the right way for you. Ultimately, it is about building a natural bond between mother and child that is strong and lasting. Interestingly with this principle in mind, rather than take an all-or-nothing approach, many parents are now choosing to adopt only selected practices that make the most sense to them3. You may want to consider approaching attachment parenting in this manner by following only what feels comfortable to you.