What is Attachment Parenting?
Simply put, attachment parenting is a parenting philosophy that focuses on promoting closeness and empathy between parent and child. This is done through physical proximity and responsiveness to need.
The phrase was coined by American pediatrician William Sears in 1982 but the concept itself as a suggested method of parenting can be dated as far back as Dr. Benjamin Spock’s well-known guide “Baby and Child Care” in 1946.
Despite what it is called or who writes about it, the idea of attachment parenting centers around adjusting your parenting style to accommodate moments of bonding in order to create connection with your child and provide them a sense of safety and security.
One of the amazing things about attachment parenting is that these methods are not limited only to mothers! The methods I mention in this article (which are certainly not the only ones in the doctrine of attachment parenting) can be practiced by both mothers and fathers.
Co-sleeping is the practice of parents and young children sleeping in close proximity to each other. This is a common practice for parents of a newborn, since being close to the child during the night can help prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and make breastfeeding more convenient.
Co-sleeping is not to be confused with bed-sharing, which is an acceptable nighttime practice but is only recommended for babies 4 months and older. If you do plan on bed-sharing, be sure to follow necessary safety steps such as using a firm mattress and clearing the bed of additional pillows and blankets.
Otherwise, simply sleeping in proximity to your child is beneficial in fostering an attachment parenting style. Newborns can sleep safely beside your bed in a bassinet or you can invest in fancy co-sleepers that attach to your bed.
Giving your child the comfort and safety of sleeping close to you will help to create a positive perception of bedtime, making the transition to their own bed easier.
Babywearing is the practice of safely attaching your baby to your body in order to keep them close to you while you go about your daily routine. It provides freedom to your hands, making it easier to get things done.
In addition to the convenience babywearing provides, it has other benefits too that contribute to an attachment parenting style. Babies who are worn regularly have been shown to cry 40% less than babies who are not worn. Also, the closeness of parent and child strengthens their bond and creates a sense of safety and security.
There are many styles of babywearing devices, from large pieces of strong fabric that wrap around the body and baby to harness-type structures that the baby can easily be slid into.
Skin on Skin Bonding
As soon as a baby is born, it is recommended that the mother hold the naked baby against her skin. This practice is important because it helps to regulate the baby’s heart-rate, temperature and breathing.
Skin on skin bonding doesn’t have to occur only at birth – it can continue on during your child’s early life. This form of bonding helps to reduce crying, aids in breastfeeding and provides pain relief to the baby.
This form of contact between parent and baby can also help to contribute to their emotional and mental well-being by providing an easy transition from the womb to the outside world. A baby grows and develops in utero able to hear the sound of its mother’s heart and feel the warmth of her body. Skin on skin contact helps to provide the baby with those same feelings of comfort.