Monday, April 16, 2007
I thought I would post about attachment parenting. It is a way of life more than a step to take to lead a healthy life but I have chosen the lifestyle for myself and my daughter and I believe it is a better way physically and emotionally.
What is attachment parenting?
It is a method of parenting that involves close if not constant contact for the first year or so of life and then evolves based on the parents and child's individual situation and needs. This means natural pregnancy, natural childbirth, co-sleeping instead of using cribs, breastfeeding instead of bottles, slings or carriers instead of strollers, elimination communication instead of diapers, genital integrity, and many attached parents also choose to avoid vaccinations and other questionable medical practices.
Dr. Sears coined the phrase attachment parenting and if you are interested in learning more about the specifics of how to practice attachment parenting you probably should visit his site first for a general how-to.
In my experience attachment parenting really makes sense if you think logically and trust your instincts. I like to assume that babies instinctively know what they need. That is why they scream and yell when they are hungry or wet. It is a primitive and effective means of getting their needs met.
So why are we taught to ignore them when they scream from their crib for human contact? Parents get so upset when their babies can only be rocked to sleep. Is this rocket science people? Rock your baby to sleep! Isn't life short? Don't children grow up so fast? Why on earth would I avoid holding my baby if that is what she wants?
Granted some times you need to get things done. That is where the slings come in. As a single mother I have to say that the one thing I could not do without is my sling. I use a New Native sling and after almost two years it is still going strong. When my daughter was young I also used a Baby Bjorn but if I am lucky enough to have another baby I will stick to slings and wraps. The Bjorn was nice but apparently it is damaging for an infants spine to be hung by their crotch and of course it is too hard on your shoulders after only a couple of months. My daughter loved the New Native, it freed up my hands, and was easy on my back. My daughter is 23 months old and still rides happily in the sling. Please go to Dr. Sears site for great information on the benefits of baby wearing.
Then there is breastfeeding. I think that is the cornerstone of attachment parenting. I am just so incredibly grateful that I am still breastfeeding to this day. It gives me an excuse to hold my daughter at least a few times a day and as I mentioned already, I savor her in my arms. I know someday she will be 12 or so and I will get the occasional hug but no more snuggles in my lap. I never want to look back on my life and wish I would have held her more.
Breastfeeding is also bonding. Make no mistake about it. I think we strengthen our connection each and every time we connect. My daughter is secure and confident not to mention still getting the best nutrition she can possibly get. I do understand that some women absolutely cannot breastfeed. Sometimes it truly doesn't work and I am so sorry for them. I am honestly grateful that it worked out for me because it could have easily gone the other way and I would have stopped after six weeks or so and thought it was normal.
Suffice it to say however that 99% of women can breastfeed successfully. In some European countries like Norway the initial breastfeeding rate is indeed that high. I truly doubt Norwegians have different nipples than Americans. I am not dissing women that bottle feed but I think that many more women would choose to breastfeed if they had all the facts. Even if they had a couple of the facts. Please go to militantbreastfeedingcult.com, kellymom.com, askdrsears.com, lalecheleague.org, or breastfeeding.com before you make the choice to bottle feed. Take a few minutes to get some facts and then do your best.
Breastfeeding, as the cornerstone of attachment parenting makes the decision to co-sleep a no brainer. You can roll over and feed your newborn without sleepy trips to the refrigerator to make a bottle......It made all the difference in the world for my sleep. Yes it is perfectly safe. Visit askdrsears.com for safety precautions. It is actually substantially safer than crib sleeping but that is another post. In addition to being safer and more convenient, it is much more rewarding and cozy than crib sleeping. Am I talking about snuggling with my girl again?? Carpe diem people. Carpe diem.
Breastfeeding and babywearing also go hand in hand because if you are nursing then wearing your baby close to your breast makes sense. Again the sling is much better for this than the Bjorn and affords privacy so you can breastfeed as you walk through the grocery store and not a soul will know.
Breastfeeding and baby wearing also go hand in hand with elimination communication. EC is about recognizing and responding to your babies signals for elimination rather than letting them soil themselves. The benefits are obvious....it is obviously cleaner, substantially cheaper, and of course saves the environment a ton of hazardous waste filled landfill fillers. It is amazingly easy. I read about it online when my daughter was about a month old and could not believe it. I thought it was a joke. The basic jist is to hold your newborn over a bowl or sink and make a psssss sound and they will pee. Its insane but it works. Now think about it. Is it really that insane? What do natives in other countries do? Disposable diapers are a relatively new invention. Have babies always sat in their own filth or is there a better way?
I have to admit that I did EC part time which many parents do. I still use diapers but only as a backup. My daughter has always known what to do on the potty. She used the Baby Bjorn little potty and could sit up at a few months old (long before she could sit up on her own) so she loved being able to sit up and play (and not in a dirty diaper). If I get the opportunity to do it again I will go totally diaper free now that I know how easy it is and how wonderful.
Attachment parenting also usually involves natural childbirth which unfortunately I did not have. In fact had a rather horrific medically induced birth that went awry and I am still suffering the consequences. Again....if I am fortunate enough to do it over I will have my child at home, alone, without the interference of people who do not have my or my child's best interest at heart.
I did and do practice infant massage and infant sign language (even though my daughter can no longer qualify as an infant). She is now asking for her own massages and signing has been such a wonderful gift of communication for all of us.
Attachment parenting is really about respect. Respecting your child. Respecting who he or she is and their needs and their opinions. Even a one day old baby deserves respect, kindness, and consideration. I think detached parents have to detach emotionally to a certain extent just to be able to ignore their child's pleas for contact. I am so fortunate that I found a better way in time.
Peace to all.