There’s a Pause Button, Just in Case

“It’s green. Really green,” said my midwife just after my water broke. The amniotic fluid was meconium-stained, and my mind went to the worst.

“So he’ll end up with some in his lungs?” I asked. 

She threw out a percentage of babies who aspirate meconium, and I don’t recall the exact figure, but it was in the 20s. And she said of those, not all babies have problems from meconium aspiration.

That was enough to keep me from worrying. After all, I had work to do.

My midwife told me that she would have the neonatal team at the ready, just in case. Of course, I wasn’t focusing on much of anything at that point, except getting the baby earthside.

When my sweet boy was born, there was no cry. Nobody in the room smiled. Instead, there was a mix of hesitation and silent commotion. Everyone faced the warming table, where the neonatal team was hard at work trying to stabilize him.

The nurse came over to tell me that I could hold him briefly, but that he would need to go to the NICU right away. When she handed him to me, I held him for just a moment, gave him a kiss and willingly handed him back. He was struggling, and I didn’t want to waste another second. I wanted him to go wherever he needed to go to get better.

We later found out that my baby had a collapsed lung and had to stay in the isolette under oxygen therapy. I couldn’t hold him for three days and I couldn’t nurse him for four.

I worried that the separation would tamper with our biological bonding mechanisms. I wondered whether he felt secure and comforted. I wondered how this would affect my hormones and my milk supply. I worried that he felt abandoned.

I wondered if it hurt to have a hole in your lung.

For my baby’s first few days, I would sit near his isolette, occasionally reaching in to trace his little fingers with mine.

On the third day, the nurse told me that the doctor thought that kangaroo care (holding the baby skin-to-skin) would help him make some strides toward recovery. I tried hard to keep it cool, but I failed hard – I burst into tears right then and there. I had waited so long to hold my baby boy.

When the nurse handed him to me for the first time, I felt that rush of love you hear about – that same surge of emotion that I felt right after the birth of my first two babies when the nurses handed them to me.

All this time, I thought I had missed my window. But it was there, waiting for our little reunion.

There was no doubt that that feeling was our bonding hormones at work. I knew because it was familiar. I had felt that before with my first two babies and it is an indescribable feeling that cannot be replicated. As for more concrete evidence that the hormones were in working order, I had been pumping 0.2 or 0.3 mL of colostrum at a time (drops!) and after I held my boy I filled a full 3 mL.

The next day, the doctor suggested I try to nurse him. I expected a learning curve, as he had gone days without learning to breastfeed instead of initiating within minutes of birth. But I was wrong. The little champ latched like a pro right away.

My sweet boy is now off of the growth charts, strong as a bull and he’s the happiest and most loving baby I have ever seen. All you have to do is make eye contact with him and he’ll give you a big cheeky toothless smile that just puts you deeper under his spell. And I have every reason to believe that we have established a secure attachment that we will build upon for a lifetime.

I hope I’m not diminishing the importance of bonding immediately after birth. Mother and baby are primed for bonding during this time and should make the most of those short minutes and hours if they can. Just know that if you have to wait a few hours or days to begin getting to know each other, it will be okay.

 

 

The Bili Baby

Teklo bili lights
flickr/Grandellion

“Pack up the bili baby. He’s going across town,” barked the charge nurse to my newborn baby’s nurse.

I raised my eyebrows at her a little.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Are you the mom? I thought you were one of the students. That top totally hides your postpartum belly…” She continued trying to flatter me. But I couldn’t hear a thing.

Pack up the bili baby. 

She said what she had to say to get a quick message to the nurse. But what I heard was, box him up and throw him in the back of the van.

She struck a nerve. He’s not The Bili Baby. He has a name. He has a family. He’s a little person who just started a brand new life, and he has a mother who is worried about him.

He is not a shipment to be boxed up.

I understand that newborn jaundice is common and treatable, and that his numbers were low enough that we were no longer throwing around scary-talk, like blood transfusions and brain damage and such. I understand that we had to move because he was the biggest and healthiest baby in the unit, and they needed the resources for a little guy who was in really bad shape.

I understand that we were the lucky ones in that situation.

But all of this – the cords, the wires, the beeps and the instruments – the NICU was a foreign land to me. And oh, did I mention I just became a mother? A mother. Which means I now have to protect someone. At minimum, I should make sure the ones I’m trusting with his life see him as, you know, a person.

The ambulance driver arrived and without saying a word, without so much as an introduction or a hello, pulled out the restraints and started strapping my sweet baby’s tiny limbs down. He wouldn’t look at me.

We walked toward the elevator. I was desperately trying to keep up, but I was recovering from birth and trailing behind. They all filed in, and the door almost closed without me. I had to wave the nurse out of a daze before she held the door. I was almost separated from my baby and I would have no idea where to stop to get to him.

We stepped out of the elevator into a cold garage, where the ambulance was waiting for us. The driver walked ahead of me, wheeling the bassinet. He seemed annoyed by the fact that I had to have my hand on the incubator. Irrational? Maybe. It was just my way of letting my baby know I was still there. He wore goggles, so he couldn’t see me, and he certainly couldn’t feel my hand on the glass. I was feeling helpless, and my hand on that incubator made me feel like I was mothering. I hadn’t had a chance to do much of that yet.

No sleep, unstable hormones, worry, and the sterile environment got to me. I broke down a bit.

“Why are you crying? They’re just going to keep him under the lights. It’s like sunbathing,” the NICU nurse said to me in the elevator.

“Oh, I haven’t slept in four days. I’m just really tired,” I lied, since she was telling me that I was wrong for being upset. After all, you sunbathe on vacation so this must feel like a vacation, right? One shouldn’t cry on vacation.

This trickle of a tear down my face, this quivering lip…that wasn’t crying. I wanted to cry. I wanted to bury my face into someone – anyone – and just sob. And be hugged. And be told that this isn’t fair – that I should be at home in my PJs with my new little man, flipping through Netflix and eating freezer casseroles and getting to know every little finger and toe and hair, every coo and whimper. That it’s not fair that I had to worry about him wiggling around with an IV needle in his head, or wonder why the beeps on his monitors were getting faster, or slowing down…

This wasn’t what we talked about at my baby shower, at the tables strewn with the pink and blue lollipops and coordinating napkins. This didn’t fit my image of the smiling, sleepy mom with her days-old baby in her arms, both drifting off into a blissful snuggle.

Instead, we were in a hospital unit that shrugged us off because my baby wasn’t all that sick.

I give the hospital staff credit for trying to reassure me that my baby would be fine. But, there came a point when I didn’t want to hear that this was no big deal. My baby may have been the least sick, but he was still sick and spending his first days in intensive care. Sick babies make mamas worry. Worried mamas get sad, and need comfort. They need empathy.

At the very least, they could do without the comments that make them feel like they’re crazy for being upset.

A Message and a Means

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on appearing in a short documentary about Attachment Parenting, which aired on a Pittsburgh-area public television station. You can watch it here if you missed it or if you’re out of the station’s range. Enjoy!

 

“I’ve been asked to do this TV interview about Attachment Parenting. Should I do it?” I asked my husband.

As blog editor, interviews aren’t something I normally do. I was unsure. My concern wasn’t that I’m a nervous person in the sense that I fear being judged. It was more that my thoughts and my words are often out of sync. When I’m writing, I cut, I paste, I make liberal use of the delete key. But when I’m speaking, I need time to process what I want to say, especially when I’m being careful about it. So I expected a lot of uhmmmmmms and errrrrrrs and where was I going with this, among some stuttering….

My husband has known me long enough to know what my concerns were. And he knew there would be editing, so he shifted my focus to where it needed to be.

“It depends,” he said. “Is there anything you think the world should know about Attachment Parenting?”

This conversation happened just weeks after the media storm resulting from the TIME cover showing Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her 3-year-old. So yes, I felt that there was plenty of misinformation that needed to be straightened out about Attachment Parenting.

“You’ve been given an opportunity here. Either you can say what you think the world needs to hear about Attachment Parenting, or someone else can say what they want to say,” he said.

He knows his way around my head. I had made up my mind.

I wanted to tell the world that anyone can parent this way, regardless of lifestyle. I wanted to say that it’s not a competition. That we don’t think we’re doing things the one correct way, or the only way, or better than anyone else. I wanted to show that it’s so much more that what onlookers see – it’s more than a sling, more than where we sleep.

I had a message, and I had to step outside of my comfort zone to put it out there. I had to do it.

The day came. When the producer, Alicia, arrived, we started talking about our three-year-olds, mom-to-mom. I could tell that I was in good hands. I decided her cameraman was a nice guy too, even though he was holding a big scary camera with a movie screen-sized lens. With teeth. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but the camera intimidated me a bit.

He turned the monster camera on, and Alicia and I continued chatting. That’s it, we just talked.

The uhmmmms and errrrrs I was all worried about? I did plenty of that. Had I known how magical editing would be, I wouldn’t have given it much thought at all.

In the end, a few tripped words here and a pause or two there didn’t really matter.

Welcome Attachment Parenting Month, and the New Blog of API

For the time of day when you pour yourself some tea, put your feet up, and want some lighthearted reading by parents just like you. For those days when you just need a few tips and tricks to get through a tough stage. For those times you could use a little assurance that what feels like madness is actually normal and okay. For those moments of triumph when your efforts are rewarded and you just have to share your story…

Welcome to the new home of Attachment Parenting International’s blog, APtlySaid.org! Today marks the beginning of Attachment Parenting Month, and this year’s theme is Relax, Relate, Rejuvenate: Renewed with Parent Support. APtly Said is a treasure trove of information, stories and tidbits that add to your parent support toolbox. Perhaps you’re looking for a quick, relatable and helpful read, or you need ideas to share at your API Support Group, or maybe you want to help your playground friend with a difficulty she’s been facing. You’ll find plenty to read, share and discuss here.

All of your favorite stories and writers from API Speaks are right here, and we’ve welcomed some new faces as well.

We’re looking forward to what’s in store at APtly Said. Throughout AP Month, we’re featuring guest posts from some big names in Attachment Parenting! Make sure to subscribe or check back so you don’t miss a thing.

Also: we’re getting a makeover! Watch for our new look, coming soon!

 

 

Enough with the ‘mom enough’ stuff…Can we just talk?

There’s little more demoralizing than being told what we’re doing is wrong, or that there’s a better way, or worse – that we’re in some way harming or damaging our children. We take it very personally, especially when the criticism centers around our parenting.

That’s why the TIME cover and tagline, “Are You Mom Enough” exploded over the media as it did. Their job was to get attention and ultimately sell copies. Unfortunately, to do so, they resorted to playing on mothers’ emotions and spotlighting the negative, competitive vibe around a conversation that should be supportive, encouraging and helpful.

pathways magazine fall 2012The Fall 2012 issue of Pathways magazine features the cover mom herself, Jamie Lynne Grumet, sharing her thoughts and clearing the air about the TIME cover photo and the media storm surrounding it all. Grumet tells Pathways, “I think the hate that comes from some mothers is from defensiveness and that they believe what we are saying is that what they do is less or they are hurting their child, which is totally untrue. There are so many ways to parent.”

It’s not just TIME. It happens all too often. Some parenting practice is framed as an us vs. them, a red team against the blue team, a this-way-wins-over-that-way or this-group-is-better-than-that-group issue. Then we, as parents, end up divided.

Sadly, when this is the arena we’re given, we’re left with little choice. We either risk getting into a debate, or we stay hush-hush about how we parent. Parenting becomes one of those off-limits topics, like religion and politics. We don’t want to offend anyone, fuel the mommy wars, or create guilt. As a result, we miss out on conversations that inform us, ease our fears and give us new ideas or perspectives.

It’s a shame, because we want to reach out, to get support. To give support. Instead, we miss out on the kinds of discussions that benefit our children.

We can’t control what the big media outlets will do. All we can do is try to create an environment for healthy conversation within our own circles. When you find yourself discussing parenting, here are some things to keep in mind to keep it friendly and supportive:

Remember, the AP principles are adaptable. For example, “feed with love and respect” applies to parents who breastfeed as well as parents who bottle-nurse. “Respond with sensitivity” is about as non-specific as it gets and applies to all kinds of interactions. Each of the principles is written very broadly and can be adapted to every family situation.

We never know the whole story. So we can’t possibly judge without all of the details.

We all make mistakes and are doing our best. We all want what is best for our kids and we’re working with what we’ve got. Nobody can be faulted for that.

Change the subject if you must. Some people just want to be right. And that’s okay. When the conversation takes a turn toward competitiveness and winning or losing, and that uncomfortable feeling sets in, it may be time to move to another topic.

Respond with sensitivity (sound familiar?). Always assume the other person’s feelings are easily hurt. This is advice my husband and I were given right before we got married, and it applies well here. If you assume the other person is sensitive, you won’t say anything wrong.

Want to open up a discussion with other parents who share your goals? API Support Groups provide a nice, level playing field that encourages helpful discussion and avoids judgment and competition. Find a support group in your area.

Also, coming soon: Jamie Lynne Grumet and her family will be featured in the next issue of The Attached Family!

What’s the Word? Child Communication and Frustration

As adults, we’ve all experienced a language barrier at some point or another. You try and try to understand each other, but for some reason, your wires keep crossing. Depending on what the goal was, you may have just given up, politely disappointed, or angrily thrown your hands up in frustration.

Now, consider preverbal babies and toddlers. Imagine having a language barrier when you can’t do much for yourself.

It takes a while for babies to learn how to express that they’re tired, hungry, dirty, wanting a hug, or upset because big brother took away a toy. Until they can do that, we have to expect the occasional emotional outburst.

I embedded a video that I think shows exactly what’s happening when children are having a hard time communicating. I was recording my daughter, hoping to catch her new word and baby sign for “more.” I also happened to catch her doing something pretty remarkable. Watch the change from frustration from being unable to get her idea across, to complete calm and control.


She starts getting frustrated, she screams and is about to cry, until I remind her how to ask for more grapes. The moment she realizes she can effectively communicate what she wants, the panic goes away and she calmly asks for “more.”

I didn’t catch the part where I gave her the grapes she asked for – she giggled at her success!

It’s easy for us to get frustrated and short when our children throw tantrums. It takes effort to quiet those negative feelings, and instead try to figure out what the child needs. But it’s our job as parents to try as best as we can to understand them, especially when they don’t yet have much language to work with.

In my experience, Attachment Parenting has helped us in the communication department. Our kids’ father and I use the earliest weeks to really get to know the baby, so that we can start to understand cries and cues that will help our baby tell us what she needs. Throughout the early years we use plenty of interaction and play to keep those nonverbal lines of communication wide open. (We’re still in the early years, so I can’t comment much beyond right now!)

We may miss the mark from time to time, but nobody’s perfect. We’re all doing our best.

 

 

What Is Attachment Parenting?

API invites you to understand what Attachment Parenting is really about, and hear Dr. William Sears (featured in Time magazine) in his own words, along with other experts on the topic of Attachment Parenting, in this two-hour API Live Teleseminar, available for listening online or for download.

What is Attachment Parenting?

Maybe you never knew there was a name for it – the unique way you raise your child – but it’s in tune with your child’s needs and with your own needs, and your family lives it out daily. Or, perhaps, you do know there is a name for it, with many synonyms and variations, but you live it out without being defined.

It’s hit the news, blogs, social media, and forums where parenting approaches are more contentious than politics or religion.

Some may know what they know about it from a critique or a comment. But, every day, growing numbers of parents find the name and the communities that come with it – and breathe a sigh of relief to find welcome, encouragement, information, and freedom from judgment.

From professionals to media, it’s not just parents who are discussing Attachment Parenting.

The Latest Fad, or Something More?

The international dialogue about Attachment Parenting is enveloped in confusion and opinion; meanwhile, parents who practice it, knowingly or unknowingly, are simply following their instincts for attunement with their child.

Nearly 17 years ago, Attachment Parenting International was founded by two educators and mothers, Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker in Nashville, Tennessee. Both were teachers who noticed a growing need among their students for, greater family security and caregiver availability.

This was the generation of latch-key children – the first generation of dual-income families where both parents work outside the home. It was a dynamic change to the family structure in the United States, one that was not supportive of parent-child relationships. Attachment Parenting International was founded as a way to bring information and support to parents through a centralized collection of resources.

At the time, “attachment parenting” was a term known only to a small percentage of parents – many mothers learned about attachment-oriented parenting techniques, like breastfeeding, through La Leche League International and books authored by Dr. William and Martha Sears. Other parents sought out the support of Attachment Parenting International when cultural childrearing advice conflicted with their natural parenting instincts. Steadily, Attachment Parenting International grew, now stretching its reach around the globe, and awareness of attachment parenting has blossomed.

Today, “attachment parenting” has become a buzzword. The Attachment Parenting movement is well established in our culture and influences more and more of our parenting – though not often identified as so. More parents recognize the power of touch, positive discipline and other practices associated with “attachment parenting.” While a secure parent-child attachment remains just as beneficial now as ever, the essence of Attachment Parenting has been muddled. It is often confused with such parenting styles as permissive parenting, helicopter parenting, and natural parenting. API approaches parenting in ways that can be adapted by any parent with the mutual goal and desire of helping children reach their fullest, individual potential.

What is Attachment Parenting?

Attachment Parenting is an approach to childrearing that promotes a secure attachment bond between parents and their children. Attachment is a scientific term for the emotional bond in a relationship. The attachment quality that forms between parents and children, learned from the relational patterns with caregivers from birth on, correlates with how a child perceives – and ultimately is able to experience – relationships. Attachment quality is correlated with lifelong effects and often much more profound an impact than people understand. A person with a secure attachment is generally able to respond to stress in healthy ways and establish more meaningful and close relationships more often; a person with an insecure attachment style may be more susceptible to stress and less healthy relationships. A greater number of insecurely attached individuals are at risk for more serious mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety.

How parents develop a secure attachment with their child lies in the parent’s ability to fulfill that child’s need for trust, empathy, and affection by providing consistent, loving, and responsive care. By demonstrating healthy and positive relationship skills, the parent Provides critical emotional scaffolding for the child to learn about essential self-regulatory skills.

Attachment Parenting International’s Eight Principles of Parenting are designed to give parents the science-backed “tools” – valuable, practical insights for everyday parenting – that they can use to apply the concept behind Attachment Parenting. These tools guide parents as they incorporate attachment into their individual parenting styles:

  1. Prepare for Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting — The overarching message within this principle is the importance of parents to research their decisions regarding pregnancy care, childbirth choices, and parenting styles; childbirth without the use of interventions shows the best start to the parent-infant bond. However, there are ways to modify the initial bonding experience for mothers who do encounter complications.
  2. Feed with Love and Respect — Research shows unequivocal evidence for breastfeeding for infants along with gentle weaning into nutritious food choices. Breastfeeding is the healthiest infant-feeding choice. The physiology of breastfeeding promotes a high degree of maternal responsiveness and is associated with several other positive outcomes. In the case breastfeeding is not possible, bottle-nursing — attentive bottle-feeding — should emulate the closeness of breastfeeding.
  3. Respond with Sensitivity — This Principle is a central element in all of the Principles; it is viewed by many parents as the cornerstone to Attachment Parenting. It encompasses a timely response by a nurturing caregiver. Baby-training systems, such as the commonly referred-to “cry it out,” are inconsistent with this Principle. The foundation of responding with sensitivity in the early years prepares parents for all their years of parenting, by modeling respect and caring.
  4. Provide Nurturing Touch — Parents who “wear” their babies in a sling or wrap are applying this Principle. Infants who are opposed to babywearing enjoy being held in-arms. Touch remains important throughout childhood and can be done through massage, hugs, hand-holding, and cuddling.
  5. Ensure Safe Sleep — This principle is the basis for one of the more controversial subjects in parenting. Many attachment parents share a room with their young children; those who exclusively breastfeed and who take necessary safety precautions may prefer to share their bed. However, this principle can be just as easily applied to crib-sleeping situations. The point is not the sleeping surface but that parents remain responsive to their children during sleep.
  6. Use Consistent and Loving Care — Secure attachment depends on continuity of care by a single, primary caregiver. Ideally, this is the parent. However, if both parents must work outside the home, this principle can be applied by ensuring that the child is being cared for by one childcare provider who embodies a responsive, empathic caregiver over the long-term; for example, an in-home nanny versus a large daycare center with rotating staff.
  7. Practice Positive Discipline — There is a strong push against physical punishment in recent years, but research shows that all forms of punishment, including punitive timeouts, can not only be ineffective in teaching children boundaries in their behavior but also harmful to psychological and emotional development. Parents are encouraged to teach by example and to use non-punitive discipline techniques such as substitution, distraction, problem solving, and playful parenting. Parents do not set rules so that their child obeys for the sake of structure, but rather to be the teacher, the coach, the cheerleader, and the guidepost as the child develops his or her own sense of moral responsibility within the construct of the family value system.
  8. Strive for Personal and Family Balance — Attachment Parenting is a family-centered approach in that all members of the family have equal value. The parent is not a tyrant, yet also not a martyr. Parents need balance between their parenting role and their personal life in order to continue having the energy and motivation to maintain a healthy relationship and to model healthy lifestyles for their children, for this reason is important to know how to prevent yourself from getting into christmas debt.

Attachment Parenting is not exclusive. Every parent – every socioeconomic class, every ethnicity, every culture – can incorporate attachment-minded techniques into their childrearing philosophy. Moreover, while the basis of Attachment Theory is rooted in studies involving infants and toddlers, research in adult relationships is increasingly showing that attachment quality is an important feature of development and the effects persist over the lifetime, beyond these early years. Children of all ages and developmental stages can benefit from parenting that takes attachment into account. For example, school-age children and teenagers benefit from sit-down meals of nutritious foods over which family members discuss the happenings of the day or play a game. Frequent hugs or shoulder massages or even a light touch on the shoulder can provide moments of sensitive responsiveness that only deepen as children mature and parents’ connection with their children remains critical for providing them guidance.

Attachment Parenting May Be Different, but Not Necessarily Difficult

It’s important to remember that the relationships established and maintained through Attachment Parenting are healthy parent-child relationships; any relationship based on secure attachment is healthy, but it can seem to require more energy than a relationship developed out of unhealthy patterns. A common misconception of Attachment Parenting is that it is time-consuming and a child-centered approach that neglects the needs of the parent. In fact, Attachment Parenting may be different, sometimes very different, from other approaches to childrearing but the level of difficulty is a matter of subjectivity. Providing for a child’s emotional, as well as physical, needs requires time and energy as any healthy relationship does. The difference between a parent-child relationship and an adult-adult relationship, such as marriage, is that the child is at a dissimilar developmental stage and is psychologically unable to provide equal relationship give-and-take. For this reason, Attachment Parenting can seem more intense than other parenting approaches.

Most parents who incorporate attachment-orientation into their parenting style comment that Attachment Parenting actually makes their lives smoother: Attachment Parenting requires more time and energy than other parenting approaches during the infant stage, or the initial period of time if this approach is introduced to an older child, but the results are actually an easier relationship long-term because the parent and child are cooperating rather than engaging in power struggles. Even with infants, many families report more sleep and less crying – without sacrificing a parent’s sense of satisfaction – with breastfeeding, babywearing, and cosleeping. When it comes to a parent’s happiness, the role that parenting plays is a matter of subjectivity, as well: Attachment-minded parents are happy to give their children more attention than not, whereas parents of other parenting approaches may argue that a child seeking attention is being manipulative; attachment parents simply do not view children, or their choices, in this way.

There is a wide spectrum of what Attachment Parenting looks like within each family. Attachment Parenting International encourages parents to embrace all of API’s Eight Principles of Parenting, but there is no one way within these Principles to apply the attachment concept. Parents are advised to “take what works and leave the rest,” meaning that not every attachment-minded family must choose all of the parenting practices within a certain Principle. For example, some families may prefer homebirths and midwives; others, birthing centers or hospitals and obstetricians. Most families strive to breastfeed, but there are fortunately alternatives when this option cannot happen. Many families enjoy babywearing, and others would rather forgo the sling. A lot of families fight for the right to cosleep, but for others, other sleeping arrangements work best. Many families prefer to have one parent at home full time, but others rely on attachment parenting practices as beneficial family supports when both parents are employed full time. Some families are more structured than others.

What differentiates Attachment Parenting from other childrearing approaches is the parent’s desire to treat children with equal dignity, love, and respect as he or she would afford an adult. To put this in everyday terms, parents treat their children as they would a new coworker or employee, a new member of their church or community club, or their friends and adult family members – they would come from a place of great compassion, forgiveness, and patience as the child is learning about their place in the world.

There are some parenting choices that Attachment Parenting International does not take a stance on. Vaccinating, cloth diapering, circumcising, educational choices, elimination communication, and others are often quoted by some parents as part and parcel to Attachment Parenting. Attachment Parenting, itself is not a checklist of practices but encompasses parenting that promotes and are most likely to positively influence the parent-child attachment quality.

Ways to Incorporate the Benefits of Attachment Parenting

Attachment Parenting practices can be incorporated by any parent. Here are 10 ideas to incorporate more attachment-minded principles into your home life:

  1. Research all of the types of prenatal care providers and birthing options in your area, as well as tests and procedures considered standard or voluntary for prenatal checkups, childbirth, and newborn care. Make your choices based on what’s best for your baby, as well as yourself. Take a pregnancy/childbirth education class.
  2. Learn as much as you can about various parenting styles and approaches, and then discuss them with your parenting partner to work out differences. Read books and articles, visit websites, attend teleseminars and support groups, and talk to other parents to learn more about adding attachment-minded principles into your parenting techniques.
  3. Plan on breastfeeding, and get support early on to head off any problems that arise. If you will need to return back to work, try to pump your breastmilk to be bottled in your absence so you can reconnect with your baby or toddler after the workday. If breastfeeding is not an option, bottle-nurse – meaning that you hold your baby and give him or her eye contact and interaction while bottlefeeding, as a way to simulate breastfeeding behaviors.
  4. Feed your infant, whether breast- or bottle-feeding, on demand. This means that the baby eats when he or she wants to eat, rather than on a parent-mandated schedule. On-demand breastfeeding actually stimulates a stronger supply.
  5. Have a sit-down family meal as often as possible. It may be the only time that you’re able to reconnect with a busy teen.
  6. Cosleep – if not in the same bed (which is advised only for exclusively breastfeeding mothers taking appropriate safety precautions), then in the same room. If this arrangement doesn’t work for your family, create an atmosphere where the child feels welcome to seek comfort at night.
  7. If you use spanking, punitive timeouts, logical consequences, or other forms of punishments, try to move toward non-punitive discipline. Because discipline is often emotionally charged, it may help to take a parental “timeout” when you feel stressed, such as closing your eyes and taking deep breaths or counting, or even going to another room until you’re calmed down (only briefly if your child is an infant or toddler), to discuss the situation. Learn effective conflict resolution skills, such as Nonviolent Communication and playful parenting. Learn child development and try not to expect more from a child than he or she is developmentally able to give.
  8. Learn to see infant crying as his or her communicating of needs, and then learn how to decipher those needs. Learn to see a child’s tantrums as an expression of a need for understanding, rather than manipulation, and then learn how to teach your child how to handle his or her strong emotions through example. Know your child and learn to anticipate and help them express their needs.
  9. Honor your child’s separation anxiety. You are likely feeling pressure to separate from your child, as a test of independence and healthy development. However, outside of unusual circumstances, you will find that if you wait to leave your child in the care of another person until your child is developmentally ready, you won’t second-guess this decision.
  10. If you’re working, consider ways to work from home or to work part time. If this isn’t an option, seek out a childcare provider that will provide consistent, loving, and attachment-minded care in your stead.

For More Information

Attachment Parenting International’s Eight Principles of Parenting
Attached at the Heart by Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker
API Live! Teleseminars

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