What Is “Attachment Parenting”?

Maybe you’ve heard the term “Attachment Parenting” but haven’t really known what that meant? Maybe you are an “Attachment Parent” and never even knew it! Attachment Parenting is a term coined in recent years by Dr. William Sears, MD to describe specific parenting techniques that, when used together, are said to promote attachment and bonding between parent and child. Other terms for Attachment Parenting might be child-led parenting or instinctive parenting.

So what exactly are these parenting techniques? They can vary but most people agree that Attachment Parenting encompasses most of the following:

  • Proactive participation in the pregnancy and birth process: This basically means being an active participant in your pregnancy and birth experience, educating yourself and making conscious decisions that will enhance your health and well-being and that of your baby.
  • Breast is best: Attachment parents recognize that breastfeeding is not only the ideal food choice for human infants but also the quickest and most efficient means of bonding between mother and baby.
  • Respond to your baby’s cries: Attachment Parents don’t believe its “ok” to let their babies cry. They believe a baby’s cries are its only way of communicating its needs and that babies do not cry to manipulate their parents. A baby’s cries are always answered as soon as possible.
  • Nighttime parenting: Attachment Parents understand that their baby’s needs don’t end when the sun goes down and that it is healthy and normal for a baby to wake at night and need to be near his parents for food and for comfort.
  • Keeping baby close: Attachment Parents recognize that, by carrying a baby in one’s arms or in a carrier or sling close to her parent’s body, their baby will feel more secure and bonding will be enhanced.
  • Limit separations: Attachment parents believe that separation should, ideally, be avoided until the baby is ready to separate on his own. Attachment parents recognize that babies should be with one parent as much as possible and that prolonged separations should be avoided. Attachment parents who work outside the home try to find caregiver situations that are consistent and nurturing and will offer their babies the best possible environment outside of home.
  • Respectful and positive discipline: Attachment parents don’t believe in discipline techniques that will degrade, humiliate, embarrass or abuse their children. They believe children need discipline but that it should be approached in a positive and respectful way. Attachment Parents do not believe that spanking has any place in parenting.

While not specifically Attachment Parenting techniques, parents who practice Attachment Parenting tend also to be more likely to do things that are not within the mainstream such as having homebirths, delaying or refusing vaccinations, not circumcising male infants, using cloth diapers, feeding healthy or vegetarian or organic foods to their families, sharing a family bed and home schooling. Many people simply consider any parenting where a parent is in tune with their child’s needs and respects the child as well as being in touch with their own intuition to be a form of Attachment Parenting. There are Attachment Parents of every religious persuasion and every nationality. While the term was only recently coined, parents have been practicing some or all aspects of Attachment Parenting since the dawn of civilization. It is the oldest “Parenting Trend” on Earth!

Are you an Attachment Parent?