I’m on a roll with the parenting posts at the moment and finding it really nice, after two years, to reflect on our personal experience and “style” as parents. Luckily both hubby and I are on the same wavelength with our parenting style and outlook (well so far, so good anyways. So this week I thought I’d talk about something that some of you may have heard of, but some of you may not…attachment parenting.
Attachment Parenting – what is it?
I won’t go into it in great depth, but you can read a good synopsis here, but in a nutshell it’s a method of parenting that promotes a strong bond between parent and child, empathetic response and physical closeness and touch. All those lovely things.
As with everything on my parenting journey, I never set out thinking “ooh I’m going to practice a bit of attachment parenting today”…nope, I just sort of winged-it, worked out what felt right for us as a family and went with what came naturally. It’s only when I was recommended a book to read about attachment parenting, that I realised I related to the method and was indeed utilising it naturally. I mean anything that states “…mothers [are] advised to raise their infants according to their own common sense and with plenty of physical contact” is just fine by me!
For me and hubby actually, we’re both tactile, touchy-feely, cuddly, affectionate people. It made sense that we’d be like this with Flo and our responses to her needs, would be led from that. So when she cries, we cuddle and comfort her, when she’s upset, we kiss her and let her know we’re there, when she’s poorly, we snuggle up and co-sleep, spooning. I love it and she loves it.
Creating a bond
I feel that attachment parenting can really strengthen a bond that you’ve created with your child. It is about empathy and reassurance and I’ve found that Flo has really benefitted from this approach.
For some, things like comforting, co-sleeping etc, fills them with worry of “creating a rod for their own backs” or “encouraging a needy, clingy child”…when in fact, it does just the opposite. It strengthens the security your child has in you, making them naturally reassured and confident that you’re there. In our experience anyway and I can only talk from our experience.
Reflecting on my own childhood and my parents “parenting skills” and that of my hubby’s, it’s clear that in most parts, they to practised attachment parenting without evening knowing it. I was always showered with affection, love and praise. I remember warm cuddles with mummy and daddy and being tucked-up in bed and comforted to sleep. So I guess this is where our natural style or parenting stemmed from too.
How to practice attachment parenting
I must start off by saying I am no expert, this is just something I agree with personally, find naturally works for us as a family and feel there should be more education about, as it’s probably what most parents find comes naturally anyways!
But you can utilise methods of attachment parenting and some may be right for you, including:
- skin to skin contact (especially at birth) – I think this is quite widely recommended these days
- breast-feeding / close contact when bottle feeding (someone told me it’s always good to look into your baby’s eyes and swap sides when bottle feeding, as you would when breast-feeding, as it strengthens the bond and brain development)
- baby-wearing (sling, holder, whatever works – this is practiced day-to-day in many countries across the world)
- understanding and responding to a baby’s cry (always a tricky one – but again, offering reassurance and comfort in early life is so important)
- no sleep-training (I know this will be a controversial one for many, but there is a discussion that babies who undergo controlled crying don’t actually sleep better, but instead just resign themselves to the fact that they won’t be comforted – but of course, like with everything, there’s two sides to every story and every baby reacts differently)
- balance – ie. avoiding emotional “burn-out”, particularly for the mother as this method of parenting can be both physically and emotionally draining. Streamlining household chores and sharing between parents really helps)
I wanted to write about this as some of you out there may relate to these methods and find it interesting. But like everything else when it comes to parenting, I believe there are no rule books! No one really knows what they’re doing, you just work it out as you go along and do what’s best for you all at the time. But I would recommend considering some of the methods and the ethos of attachment parenting, as I truly believe it’s created a wonderful bond between us and our daughter.
Have you tried any of these “methods”?