Recently I came across a lovely fellow Hippie Momma's blog, (The Happy Hippie Homemaker) while searching for blogs to follow and the first two words that popped off the screen to me were Attachment Parenting, or AP for short.
Had no idea what it was. Never heard of it. But it sounded intriguing and I've been reading about it ever since!
Giving something a label is usually overrated to me and puts things into categories that can separate people, cultures, etc. And I have to admit that the first thought that came to mind after reading about it a little was.... "Isn't AP just Parenting, and shouldn't the alternative to Parenting be "Detachment Parenting"? But there's still just something about knowing that the way we naturally parent actually has a name and definition that gives me the warm and fuzzies.
AP is more of a philosophy and less of a "style". It is a lifestyle by instinct to those of us who usually practice baby wearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping or bed sharing, choose natural foods and read labels, shop local, labor naturally and are all around Hippie Mommas (and daddies) at heart (none of that is criteria of course).
For example, since I began writing this post I have stopped to play, nurse, change a diaper, play some more, rock and even took a walk because the sun came out for a moment (Sure it was raining on us a little bit while we walked, but we take what we can get up here in Washington).
We feed our babies when they give the signs of wanting to eat and we allow them to sleep when they feel like dozing off. When one parents in this way, parent and baby live in harmony within each other day to day, taking away many stresses or worries that they would have otherwise if they'd chosen to follow a rigid schedule.
Here are the 8 basic principles of AP:
Studies have found that attachment-parented children grow up into more secure adults who handle the stresses of life, relationships and pressures of life better than children who were not attachment-parented. The studies have also shown that AP children usually have healthier relationships with both friends, acquaintances and lovers than the non-AP children.
- Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
- Feed with Love and Respect
- Respond with Sensitivity
- Use Nurturing Touch
- Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
- Provide Consistent Loving Care
- Practice Positive Discipline
- Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
With AP, the baby can trust that their caregiver (the parent, guardian and even baby sitters) will comfort them when they need it, eliminating doubts or fears of the new world around them far before they ever have time to form. The AP child has a great respect for their parents, a bond that is based on trust and love, and generally aim to please their parents, being less likely to wanting to risk disappointing them.
AP parents take any opportunity to turn a situation into a learning experience. This holds true even with discipline.
AP children are disciplined with what is called Positive Discipline (PD), focusing on helping the child learn and grow and on helping them handle their current situation. The opposite of this would be to respond to a situation in an angry (or violent) fashion, punishing them without teaching them anything in the process.
Practicing PD means to have reasonable expectations of the child according to their age and to discipline the child in a loving, caring, encouraging and firm manner.
There seems to be a confusion in modern society that when a baby cries, they are trying to manipulate their caregiver, and trying to somehow control their surroundings.
Before the age of 1, babies do not cognitively have such an ability to give them any sort of thought process, and it is psychologically impossible to spoil them. That is a fact! When a baby cries, they simple need comfort and care. It is their primal way of requesting care in order for them to survive.
All of their "wants" are actually also their vital needs during the early stages of life, and they cannot even comprehend they are a separate being from their mothers for months after birth. Because of that... baby wearing, bed sharing and breast feeding all contribute to their security, which gives way to a more secure and independent toddler, adolescent and adult.
So often you hear of "baby training" where the parent is trying to teach their newborn to be more independent and sleep through the night right after birth, when really... a baby needs the opposite of that.
The reason a baby wakes up every 2 to 2.5 hours at night is all a part of that primal request of "PLEASE TAKE CARE OF ME! PLEASE TEND TO ME! PLEASE HELP ME!".
Babies need to eat every few hours for several months after birth and should NOT go more than 4 hours between feedings, as recommended by midwives, doctors, nurses, studies, etc. Baby is simply reminding you of this when he wakes in the middle of the night.
Babies should also not sleep with a wet diaper all night long. Baby is asking for a clean, dry one when he wakes you up at night.
Obviously AP evolves over the years as the child gets older when bed sharing ends, breastfeeding is in the past and the parents are still in tuned with their child; all of their needs, body language, etc.
To Attachment Parent is to be bonded with your child closer than you could ever imagine. Read about it... Learn more about it....
I recommend a book .... The Attachment Parenting Book: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby. It has validated so much for me and I wasn't ever really looking for any validation.
Disclaimer: This post is simply that of my own "Hippie Thoughts", is reflective of how I personally feel and is in no way meant to be demeaning those who do not parent in this way. I just feel that maybe if we, as parents, simply surrender to parenthood and NOT parent at a distance, letting go of rigid schedules, ignoring any outside pressure of what we "should" be doing for our baby/child and just follow our own natural instincts, enjoying our children and nurturing them as they need us to, when they need us to... We could raise more secure adults who have something to contribute to society. After all, our children are our future.
Sure, Attachment Parenting is a "label", but I will accept it. It is a good set of guidelines, so to speak, and the very topic could awaken new parents who may be unsure of their self to a truly beautiful world of parenting.