What is Attachment Parenting?
Dr. William Sears and his wife Martha Sears coined the term 'attachment parenting' (AP). By definition you could call it instinctive, responsive or natural parenting. Sears outlines eight basic ideals or guidelines of attachment parenting:
1. Preparation for Childbirth- Have a strong loving bond with your partner, take childbirth and breastfeeding classes, prepare your mind, body and soul and be alert at your child's birth. The fewer interventions there are the better.
2. Emotional Responsiveness- Understanding and responding to you child's needs is the core of AP. Your child's cries are his way of communicating a need or a stress. Fall in love with your child; you can not 'spoil' him. A childís needs are his wants; heís not manipulating you by crying to get his needs met.
3. Breastfeed Your Baby- Breastfeeding simplifies your life, fulfills your child's need for nutrition and physical contact and provides countless health benefits for mother and child. (I could devote all 2 gigs of my web space to this topic)
4. Babywearing and Nurturing Touch- By holding or using a sling carrier that keeps your child close, you can meet his need for physical contact, security, stimulation and movement; all of which promote optimal brain development. Carried babies cry less, are smarter (higher IQ) and develop strong bonds with their parents. Nurturing touch such as infant massage is a wonderful way to calm your child.
5. Bedsharing- Being responsive to your child at nighttime is imperative. Co-sleeping or the 'family bed' is the best and safest way to take care of your child's needs at night. This allows everyone to sleep well and sleep more, establishes good breastfeeding habits and helps regulate infants breathing, which reduces chances of SIDS. Children who are left to cry-it-out will suffer from failure to thrive and or infant shut-down syndrome.
6. Avoid Frequent or Prolonged Separation- Your young child (infant to four year old) needs constant care and the physical presences of a loving parent or consistent caregiver. Long or frequent separation causes stress and grief in small children, which can effect their attachment to parents. It is important, if you need childcare, to avoid 'caregiver roulette', consistent one on one care is necessary for strong attachments to form.
7. Use Positive Discipline- Discipline means to teach. You should teach your child values such as empathy, trust and self-guidance. A loving, supportive parent instills trust in a child, who is then easier to teach. Know what to expect from your child at his stage of development.
8. Maintain Balance In Your Family Life- Make your child part of the family; involve even infants in daily life activities and interactions of adults, they thrive on the stimulation and feelings of belonging. Do not over schedule, make time to spend with friends and other family members, take your child with you when you go out and get support from friends, church or other organizations.
Other Useful and Informative Links About Attachment Parenting
Ask Dr. Sears
The Continuum Concept
Kidz Are People, Too!
Whatever Happened to Mother?
FAQ About Attachment Parenting
What AP is *not*
The Natural Child Project
Breastfeeding and AP Twins
Babes in Arms