Attachment parenting, according to the Attachment Parenting UK site is:
Building strong bonds by responding in a timely & sensitive way
Modelling behaviour & connecting with respect & empathy
Relationship quality built on physical & emotional closeness
Feeling your way with trust in your instinct and compassion for yourself
My interpretation of attachment parenting is being physically close to my baby as much as possible, day and night. If I can avoid it, I never let Elissa (my 10 month old daughter) cry when she is in need of something, and always respond to the needs of my children as soon as I am aware of them.
I co-sleep with my daughter, breastfeed her, wear her in a baby carrier or sling and pick her up whenever she cries. I strongly believe that you cannot spoil a baby by cuddling them or picking them up too much.
Here are my top 5 reasons everyone should adopt this gentle approach:
1. It’s great for their brain
Who doesn’t want a clever and intelligent child?! Physical closeness promotes the release of endorphins and oxytocin, nice happy hormones that make us feel good, feel loved and feel loving towards others.
This same hormone causes the brain to grow connections, good positive ones. I’m not a brain surgeon so how this happens is way beyond me, but all I know is, that’s a good thing.
And who knows, my intelligent children may become rocket scientists and I can retire early!
2. Babies who are attatched cry less
Do I really need to go into why this is a good thing?! No one likes listening to babies cry, good old Mother Nature made sure that the sounds of a crying baby makes us feel all horrible inside. She’s done this so that we respond quickly.
We’re meant to pick up our babies when they cry. And when we pick them up, they stop crying. Such a simple concept that so many people struggle with. I’m not going to delve into this too much because ultimately it causes too much drama, but don’t leave your baby to cry.
It’s not nice. If an adult cries, we try to soothe them, so why in God’s name do we leave helpless, confused little babies to cry their poor hearts out because we don’t want to spoil them?!
Aaarrrrgggghhhhh *pulls hair out*
Anyway, studies show that babies who are held more, cuddled more and are responded to quickly cry a lot less that those who are separated from their mother or left to ‘self soothe’. Studies also show that babies who are not being held, whether they are crying or not have massively high levels of the stress hormone in their blood. So your nice calm new born, lying in his plastic cot beside your bed, is actually not calm at all. She’s protecting herself by being quite (so she’s not found by the wild animals looking for babies to eat) and conserving her energy levels because she has no idea when you’ll be back to feed her!
3. Attachment parents are less stressed
By relaxing about your parenting techniques, going with the flow and holding your baby, you’re putting a lot less stress on yourself. Life is easier when you hold and cuddle and it make you release oxytocin (there’s that love hormone again!) which relaxes your brain and heart and flushes stress hormones out of your system. And we could all do with a little less stress.
A happy baby makes a happy mum!
4. Baby wearing makes your baby sleep AND you have your hands free!
Attachment parenting and baby wearing go hand in hand, by carrying your baby close to your body in a sling/carrier you are responding to your baby’s need to be held and close. There are endless advantages to carrying your baby in a sling or carrier whilst you’re at home or out and about and just one of these is the fact your baby will sleep
Having been inside you for 9 months your baby wont like it if he’s put down, he’s not used to it and his instincts are telling him it’s dangerous to be left alone, so he will cry! Putting him in a sling will provide him with the closeness, warmth and safety he desires and will relax into a lovely sleep, so you can get on with shaving your legs or cleaning the house or eating. (TIP: Eating will result in food being dropped all over your baby’s head, so makes sure its something yummy you can pick at later!)
5. Contrary to what your mother-in-law says, attachment parenting makes for an independent, confident and self assured, all rounded little being
People will LOVE telling you you’re creating a rod for your own back, your baby will be clingy, she’ll never sleep on her own, you wont be able to return to work, she’ll never learn how to cope in the real world, and not just your mother in law. Your friends will say it, your own parents will say it, even the bloke who cleans your office windows who doesn’t have kids.
But they’re wrong.
Baby’s who are held and cuddled and loved and responded to are being taught that they and their feelings are important. They are learning that help is always there when they need it and that they are safe. This makes your little adventurer more independent and confident, and more willing to explore their world with open arms.
You can view this as a positive or a negative!
I could list a THOUSAND more reasons we should all be attachment parents, if you’d like to hear more let me know in the comments section below, or share your own attachment parenting experiences, I’d love to hear them!