What is Attachment Parenting?
Many people have a preconceived notion of what Attachment Parenting is and what it isn't.
Attachment Parenting focuses on listening to your instincts as a parent to lovingly raise your child in a manner that is responsive, encouraging and balanced. Attachment Parenting encourages parents to do what feels natural, such as holding their babies, responding to their cries, and so on.
Attachment Parenting is supported by biology, psychology, and anthropology. Extensive scientific research has been done which supports that a healthy attachment between a parent and child has lifelong benefits for the child. When a child does not have a healthy attachment with their caregiver(s) it can lead to both physical and mental health problems which can affect them throughout their lifetime.
Attachment Parenting is an approach to parenting your child. It does not outline steps that you need to take, rather it empowers you as a parent to choose what feels natural and implement the concepts how you see fit. Attachment Parenting provides parents with tools for raising their child in a connected and nurturing way.
The information below outlines Attachment Parenting International's Eight Principle's of Attachment Parenting and will help give you a clearer picture of what it looks like to practice attachment parenting.
Prepare 4 Pregnancy,Birth,&Parenting
Attachment parenting focuses on being emotionally and physically prepared for pregnancy and birth. Become well informed about your choices in all pregnancy, birth, and parenting matters. Continuously educate yourself about child development, remembering to set realistic expectations and to remain flexible with what your child, and life in general, throws at you.
Feed with Love and Respect
While research shows that breastfeeding is best for a baby, the focus of feeding baby should be on the love and care that goes into it. A mother can "bottle nurse" their baby by adapting breastfeeding behaviors to the nursing sessions. Things such as the position the baby is held in, making eye contact, gentle caresses, following baby's feeding cues, and so on all encourage a strong bond and healthy attachment that begins with physical nourishment.
Respond with Sensitivity
Attachment parenting focuses on building a secure relationship with your child. A foundation of trust and empathy begins in infancy. Our response to them shapes their trust in us and in the world around them. When we respond in a caring manner, with empathy, sensitivity, and timeliness, it demonstrates to them that we are safe and can be trusted. As they grow they apply what they learn through our interactions with them to other relationships and to the greater world.
Use Nurturing Touch
Humans enjoy physical contact. Babies need physical contact to survive and thrive. By providing nurturing touch to our children, through skin-to-skin contact as babies, hugs, snuggling, back rubs, and so on, we help their brains and bodies to grow.
Ensure Safe Sleep
Ensuring safe sleep goes well beyond the surface that they are physically sleeping on. It is important to remember that our babies and children have nighttime needs that are just as important as their daytime needs. They rely on parents to soothe them, reassure them and respond in a caring way at night as well as during the day. Whether they are in their own room or co-sleeping, responding in a loving manner to the child's nighttime needs is an important aspect of attachment parenting.
Provide Consistent Loving Care
Children need to be provided with consistent and loving care. As parents it is our job to build loving relationships with our children. Additionally, children do best when things in their life are consistent and predictable. By providing this stability for our children we ensure that they can have trust in us and in the world around them.
Practice Positive Discipline
Attachment parenting focuses on positive discipline which is empathetic, loving, and respectful of the child. Operating from the viewpoint that we treat others as we wish to be treated, discipline focuses on the communication that the child is demonstrating through their behavior and working from there.
Strive for Balance
Finding a healthy balance between your personal and family life is important. If you do not take care of yourself you will not be able to adequately take care of those you love. Attachment parenting emphasizes striking a balance between work, marriage, family, and attending to your own needs.