Recently a few news segments, blogs and articles have reported on Attachment Parenting, making it seem a little bit…out there. “A new age way of parenting with no diapers, no cribs, no strollers, no daycare and no bottles” was how one news show summarized it. Now, I have been parenting three children based on the AP principles for six years so I’ll understand if you think I’m biased, but really Attachment Parenting is not about choosing a carrier over a stroller, not using diapers or some long list of “Can’ts” it’s much more than that:
So let’s see about these false assumptions on no bottles, no crib, no stroller, no daycare and how they fit with attachment parenting:
If you don’t breastfeed you can’t say you practice Attachment Parenting. False.
Breastfeeding is the optimal way to nourish an infant, science shows us this over and over again. However, there are many a situations where the breastfeeding relationship between mother and infant just doesn’t work, and those mothers are not somehow booted out of the AP club, for one it’s not a club, and two, because you can lovingly and gently feed a child a bottle while gazing at them and emulate the closeness of feeding at the breast. This is called “bottle nursing” and is totally in line with AP principles. Although I have been able to feed all three of my children exclusively at the breast I know plenty of mothers that have used pumped milk, donor milk and formula that are very much practicing attachment parenting.
If you choose a stroller over baby-wearing you better turn in your Attachment Parenting badge. False.
Well, there are no badges in this parenting thing anyways, and strollers, yep, really it’s ok to use a stroller. Yes, even if you are an AP parent – I mean seriously have you ever tried to trek through a 4 mile long zoo with an infant, a toddler and a preschooler? I’m guessing even the mama gorilla would think it’s a bit much to wear all three of those at once! Never mind an airport or train station or running errands with multiple children or lugging around a heavy purchase. Plus there will be times when you are just oh so tired, or maybe you have troubles with back pain or shoulder pain, whatever it maybe. Baby wearing is phenomenal, it’s how I got things done in the last five years, from peeling potatoes to long afternoons at the playground to breastfeeding on the go…but a stroller ride here and there…not a deal breaker.
If you work full/part time and/or use a sitter or day care you can forget Attachment Parenting.
Providing our children consistent loving care is one of the guiding principles of attachment parenting. Yet, another principle is striving for balance in personal and Family life. If pursuing a career, taking a college course, doing yoga or even taking a day for pampering yourself at the spa is important to you, that is really totally ok. Although I wouldn’t sail away on a cruise for 10 days and leave my children behind as they are still very little, whenever handsome hubby spends a week traveling for work, I am more than happy to take a few hours for myself without the kids – this makes me regenerate and have new energy for parenting full time. The key is providing consistency in the care and entrusting your little one to a chosen caregiver that will promptly respond to the child’s needs, someone that wishes to create a real bond of trust and develop a relationship. If you work full time, making the time to connect with your child in the hours you are not working, spending special one on one time together and so on are perfectly fine ways to keep your connection strong.
If you don’t practice Elimination Communication or exclusively cloth diaper baby you are disqualified from the attachment parenting circle. False.
Elimination communication (EC) is a very interesting concept where babies do not wear diapers and many attachment parents choose the EC route. I practiced part time EC with all my babies but I also used disposable diapers as I would rather spend my time in the playroom and be far, far, really far away from the laundry room. One family I know chose to do EC in the morning, disposables while doing activities or errands away from home and cloth in the evenings. Plus even though there are AP leaders – which are mentors and help facilitate area meetings for parents that are practicing attachment style parenting, these “leaders” don’t do spot checks at home or investigate your diaper pail so if you are feeling overwhelmed with Mt. Laundry, or just plain rather not deal with cloth or EC seems too far-fetched then by all means, choose what works for you and your child’s needs.
Unless you practice co-sleeping you better not call yourself an attachment parent. False.
Well, you can call yourself whatever you want, a connected parent, an attachment parent, a “I just want to do right by my child” parent, today I’m going with polka-dotted glittery happy parent. As for co-sleeping, sure , done safely it can provide fantastic benefits to an infant and mother, it facilitates a breastfeeding relationship, for some it maximizes sleep and also regulates infants heart beat and breathing. Some parents are scared of co-sleeping, some parents might feel like they don’t get enough sleep, other parents just might not like having tiny toes shoved into their eye sockets while they try to sleep. Providing consistent and lovely care to your infant/child day and night is key. For some families that may mean having a family bed, for others it may mean that baby starts the night in the crib and then transitions to the family bed in the wee hours for nursing and continued sleep. Whatever you choose, be safe and be kind.
Practicing attachment parenting IS all about creating strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and parents.When we choose to meet our child’s need for proximity, protection and predictability, then our child’s emotional, physical, and neurological development can be greatly enhanced, really, science backs this up. Attachment parenting isn’t about following strict rules and it’s not one-size fits all, it’s perfectly alright to take what works for your family and leave the rest.
For more information on the Eight guiding principles of Attachment Parenting you can visit API International’s website here: http://www.attachmentparenting.org/principles/principles.php
Let’s discuss….Do you practice Attachment Parenting? Are there one or more of the guiding principles you don’t quite follow? Did you ever think AP just wasn’t for you because you didn’t or couldn’t follow one of the principles?
Ps – I don’t claim to be an expert or to be providing medical advice. These are just my opinions and experiences as a mother and parenting educator who strongly believes in the benefits of practicing attachment parenting.
Peace & Be Well,
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This post has been submitted to the Attachment Parenting is For Everyone Blog Carnival hosted by Attachment Parenting International. Learn more by visiting API Speaks, the blog of Attachment Parenting International.