What is attachment parenting? It may be a new term in the history of parenting theory but much of its essence goes back to prehistory. It generated a great deal of controversy in the last five years, when a Time cover and accompanying story may have given an exaggerated idea of a “no boundaries” style of raising children attachment parenting.
There’s more to attachment parenting than rearing spoiled preschooler, who won’t let go of his mother, as depicted in the Time photos and article. Attachment parenting has a unique set of potential benefits and disadvantages. Learning the basics of this child-rearing method may help you decide if it’s best for your child.
Attachment Parenting Core Practices and Benefits
What Is Attachment Parenting?
William Sears identified seven major practices within this child-rearing method, and called them the “Seven Baby B’s.” The last three (beware of baby trainers, balance, and birth bonding) have something to do with the value of attachment parenting.
The remaining four B’s have to do with specific methods:
- Breastfeeding. Sears says that the nutrients in breast milk, as well as the act of nursing, are crucial in a baby’s development.
- Baby wearing. Keeping a baby close, whether in a sling or just in your arms, allows her to feel secure. Babies gain valuable brain stimulation, as her parent or caregiver goes about his or her daily routine.
- Bedding close to a baby. Also known as co-sleeping. This practice is what it sounds likes — bringing your child into the bed with you at night. This minimizes separation anxiety in the baby while allowing the parents and child to bond.
- Belief that each cry has its own meaning. This practice runs counter to the more discipline-oriented method of “crying it out.” In attachment parenting, parents respond each time the baby cries. Parents are believed to learn the “language” of each cry and respond accordingly.
Attachment Parenting Perceived Drawbacks
Critics believe that attachment parenting style leads to less independence for a child? If a child never has to go without parental attention or immediate comforting, he or she will never learn to self-soothe. Attachment parenting can lead to a state of narcissism because the child’s needs are always met first.
Along with an emphasis on nursing-only, the method also seems to result in mothers acting as the main “baby wearers” and soothers. That means parents, who believe in long-term attachment parenting, will decide Mom’s potential career may need to be put on hold for several years.
Establish some basic boundary-setting. You may choose to change your parenting style as your child reaches toddlerhood or preschool age. Make sure you still set limits on such privileges, such as snacks and toys.
Tell your child that parents make the decisions in the household. Although you care about your child’s feelings, he or she can’t dictate how the family operates as a whole.
Parenting-career conflicts, consider ways in which the principles of attachment parenting can still be applied without sacrificing personal goals. Find a caregiver who is familiar with baby-wearing, feeding on demand and other practices. If you’re breastfeeding, use a breast pump so dad, grandma or the caregiver, can still bottle-feed breast milk while you’re away.
Watch this video from TIME and learn more about attachment parenting:
As with any other parenting style, attachment parenting definitely has its fair share of pros and cons. What matters is committing while still being flexible, and always bearing in mind what you feel is best for both you and the baby.
What are your thoughts on attachment parenting? We’d love to hear from you, so share your thoughts in the comments section below!