For 40 years, I have been a mother, father and baby watcher. Attachment parenting is not new. – Dr. Sears
Attachment parenting, instinctual parenting, responsive parenting, are all in essence the philosophy that a caregiver and child can form a strong bond through constant love and care. It is largely about the mother trusting her instincts to make the best choices for the child.
The theory of attachment parenting began in 1958 when John Bowlby publicized with work, The Nature of the Child’s Tie to His Mother (1958), Separation Anxiety (1959), and Grief and Mourning in Infancy and Early Childhood (1960). He discussed that early childhood experiences affect our development and behavior as adults.
(Photo courtesy of My Karma Baby Sling)
Attachment theory surrounds the tenet that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for normal social and emotional development.
Along came Dr. William Sears who based his parenting philosophy on the attachment theory and came up with the 7 Baby B’s of attachment parenting.
1. Birth Bonding ——–>become educated about pregnancy and childbirth.
2. Breast feeding——–>feeding on demand and following cues from the child.
3. Baby wearing——–>babies are worn in a sling close to the mother facilitating the strong bond between the two.
4. Bedding close to the baby——–>meet the needs of baby at night and provide a feeling of safety and comfort.
5. Belief in the language value of baby’s cry——–>listen and understand the baby’s communication and sensitively respond.
6. Beware of baby trainers ——–> trust your instincts and listen to your baby’s communication
7. Balance ——–>take time for yourself
Moms who are part of the attachment parenting movement understand that children are individuals with individual needs and one-size-fits-all solutions do not work for everyone.
Some lifestyle choices of the attachment movement include:
Breastfeeding for as long as possible.
Wearing the baby in a sling.
Organic, local foods.
Remember the cover story for Time Magazine a few months ago? The writer, Kate Pickert, worked with mothers just like the mother/model, Jamie Grimmet on the cover to detail the attachment parenting movement, and it’s becoming mainstream.
(Photo courtesy of Time)
This style of parenting is the oldest form because it’s based on the tenet that the mother is using her instincts to respond to the baby’s needs. What is becoming a new phenomenon is breastfeeding and co-sleeping. Pickert, reports that 20% of mothers in America sleep with their babies.
In an interview with Dr. Sears, he explained that attachment parenting allows the mother and baby to evolve together. The point of it? Because it is instinctual and natural.
In our American culture where self-reliance and independence are highly valued, an adult’s need for a secure emotional attachment is often downplayed. But it is critical for a happy, healthy life.
Jean Landphair, MMFT, president of the Rutherford County Psychotherapy Association.
The benefits of attachment parenting are claimed to be kids who are secure, healthier, happier, smarter, empathetic, and independent, secure enough to explore the world.
The results of attachment parenting result in kids that are secure and adjusted, said Sears. They turn out smarter and have so much empathy and compassion. It is easy to spot an attachment parented kid, because on the playground they are asking the person who fell down if they are okay.
What about mom? What’s in it for her? Besides the healthy bond with her child, it is an ideal set up for mom to wear her child and be the source of love and support for her child. Moms can enjoy the many milestones of their children, and the children will enjoy the love they receive throughout.
(Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
Dr. Sears is targeted as being anti-feminist because expecting a mother to be so involved with their child around the clock is exhausting. What about sleeping? What about working? A mom can’t expect to work outside the home and still practice successful attachment parenting. However, Pickert points out that in her talking with other mom’s who practice attachment parenting, some are able to go to a regular job and come home to pick up on the bonding they have established with their baby, right where they left off.
Rubi Ludwig, Psychotherapist says, When you give a child the feeling that the whole world revolves around them, it’s not good training for the real world because the whole world doesn’t revolve around anybody.
A big concern with attachment parenting is that a child will be very demanding, less independent and too trusting of adults.
In addition, it is impossible to protect a child from all hurt and frustration that life brings. It is necessary for children to learn how to handle these experiences in a productive manner, because it is part of life.
The last tenet of attachment parenting is about balance, a key principle for moms. It might not be possible to wear your baby all the time, and that is okay. You might prefer to keep your child in a crib because that is what’s best for your marriage. It is also okay to set boundaries and foster their independence as they get older. Kids need that for healthy development as much as they need to be connected to their caregiver.
There are no one size fits all solutions and certainly are varying degrees of attachment parenting. What is best for your family is the most important thing, and you can incorporate some tools of attachment parenting and disregard others.
*Cover image courtesy of Patterson Maker