What is Attachment Parenting?
There are a lot of different philosophies out there about how to childrearing. One philosophy that’s been around since the beginning of
time but has recently been publicized a lot in the past few years is attachment parenting. Many people don’t understand exactly what it
is. Attachment parenting is based on decades of research that shows that babies and toddlers who form close attachment to
their primary caregivers develop strong, healthy, secure relationships in the future.
While there are many ways to develop these strong bonds with young children, Attachment Parenting International, a non profit organization
dedicated to supporting parents who choose this path, has published a list of 8 ideals for attachment parents. It is important to realize
that these are something to strive for, not a list of "rules" that parents must follow. Each family is unique. The ideals are:
* Preparation for Childbirth - This involves educating yourself so you can be an active participant in your pregnancy and
delivery. An active parent will want as much control over their birth experience as possible, seeing birth as a natural family and social
event, not a medical emergency.
* Emotional Responsiveness - This is probably the most important philosophy in attachment parenting. It involves being aware of and
fulfilling your child’s emotional needs. It stresses comforting your baby when they cry instead of letting them “cry it out” on their
own. A parent should develop the ability to interpret and fulfill your child’s needs by spending quality time with them.
* Breastfeeding - Breastfeeding is not only the most nutritious diet for babies; it also
promotes bonding between the mother and child through closeness and hormonal responses in the baby's and mom's bodies. Attachment
parenting encourages breastfeeding until the mother and the baby are both ready to stop. It also advocates breastfeeding behaviors even if
you’re bottle feeding your baby.
* Baby Wearing - Wearing your baby in a sling can have many positive benefits. It allows your
child to feel safe and secure, stimulates their neurological development, and helps stabilize their biorhythms. It also brings a sense of
closeness between the wearer and the baby.
* Co Sleeping - Sleeping in a bed with the parents can make a child feel safe and secure at night
because their needs are being met. If a baby has to cry for a while before a parent arrives, it can shatter their feeling of nighttime
security. With co-sleep, mom is always there to respond to needs immediately. It also make breastfeeding easier and further
strengthens that bond.
* Avoiding long separations from your baby - Try not to be away from your baby for long periods. Research shows that babies can
become despondent and depressed when separated from their mother. This can emotionally damage a child and the bond you have with them. If
long absences are unavoidable, try to find one consistent caregiver who will treat your child as you normally would (for instance, being
emotionally responsive and practicing babywearing and cosleeping), ensuring continuity of care.
* Positive discipline - Attachment parenting helps you form a close bond with your child which helps them to trust
you. If they have this trust, you can guide them to make good choices with reasoning and natural consequences instead of a focus on
punishment. You can keep this trust by trying to understand and empathize with your child’s point of view.
* Balance your family life - Parents who have a solid support structure and care for themselves will be better equipped to care
for their children.
The goal of attachment parenting is a happy, independent, and well adjusted child. Although attachment parenting has gotten a lot of
media coverage in recent years, many of the practices mimic what native peoples do naturally while relying on their inner wisdom or mother instinct, without parenting "experts" to sway their opinions. For more information you may want to read a transcript of
an interview with Attachment Parenting International co-founder Lysa Parker.