New parents frequently approach attachment style parenting as a list of rules. Nurse on demand. Co-sleep with your infants. Don’t let them cry. Carry them in a sling. While there is definitely a list of parenting behaviors that can be categorized as “attachment style”, attachment parenting is anything but a set of rules. Each individual family must decide how best to meet their infant’s needs given their circumstances. But for those who are looking for a place to begin, a set of guidelines to start exploring in taking care of your infant, here is a list of Baby B’s, as he calls them, from the Dr. Sears website.
Bonding begins at birth. Having a non-medicated birth experience, when possible provides the best start for breastfeeding and bonding. If medical complications get in the way of you and your baby bonding right away, that’s o.k. Bonding should be looked at as a ‘series of steps’ rather than a one time done deal.
I have talked at length about the importance of breastfeeding. It is the best food for your baby. It does promote an intimate bonding experience with your baby. It also helps you learn to read your baby’s cues better.
“Wearing” your baby is a very common practice in many cultures. Carrying your baby around in a sling helps your baby transition from the womb to the outside world and makes baby calmer. There have recently been studies that even suggest that since baby spends less time crying, baby wearing actually helps make babies smarter.
Bedding Close to Baby
Commonly known as co-sleeping, or the family bed, having your infant sleep in close proximity to you also helps promote bonding–largely because it helps promote breastfeeding. Personally, we have found that co-sleeping is one way that we are able to get lots of sleep–relatively speaking of course. Also, co-sleeping reduces night time separation anxiety for your infant which will help him learn to fall and stay asleep on his own (in his own timing.)
Belief in the Language Value of your Baby’s Cry
Babies cry as a means of survival. They have no other way to tell us what they are thinking, feeling or needing. Responding to your baby’s cry will help build trust with your baby. It also helps you be better able to read your baby’s cues. (Think about a mother who knows the “hungry cry” vs. the “wet cry” vs. the “something’s wrong” cry.)
Beware of Baby Trainers
Letting your baby “cry it out” isn’t necessary. Every child has a different developmental time table. While Suzy next door may sleep through the night, your little guy might not sleep through the night until much later–and that’s okay. Sleeping through the night is not a badge of good parenting.
Don’t neglect the rest of your family either! It is easy to become consumed with meeting all of your baby’s demands on cue. However, mom’s still have to meet the needs of the entire family–and not just the baby. Getting as much sleep as possible (by co-sleeping if you can) and slinging the baby when possible, will help you meet the needs of the whole family.
Do you have to follow every single one of these guidelines? Of course not. As any parent will tell you, parenting is not a science. It is a practiced art with many, many good days and a few bad days as well.
Do you tend to see yourself as an attachment style parent?