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Why Attachment Parenting Works for Our Family

By Emily |

Wearing my daughter in a ring sling

I realize this topic is all over the blogosphere right now, and I really don’t want to beat it into the ground. But, I was talking with some friends over the weekend, who all practice some style of attachment parenting in their own way, and I’ve just been thinking a lot about that conversation, and about my own parenting journey over the past four and a half years, and I felt the need, the urge, to talk about why my family does things the way we do.

When I was pregnant with my daughter 5 years ago, my husband and I didn’t intend to be an attachment parenting family.  I’m not even sure I knew what the term “attachment parenting” meant.

Like many parents-to-be, we talked about how we wanted to parent and had ideas of how things would be, and what we would definitely do, or not do, once our little bundle of joy arrived.

How naive we were to think we could really plan anything ahead of time!

We said no co-sleeping – we didn’t feel comfortable with sharing our bed with our baby, and had heard all of the warnings about it. I was planning to breastfeed, and we received the obligatory Baby Bjorn carrier as a shower gift. But, we also said that if we needed to, we would put our daughter in her bed and let her cry herself to sleep.

Oh, how everything changed once we actually held that precious baby in our arms and brought her home, sleep deprived and bleary-eyed, and honestly, just a little bit overwhelmed. It seemed like everything that we thought we should or shouldn’t do just flew out the window. And after just a few days of newborn bliss, we entered survival mode.

So we adapted, and changed our thinking, and tried different things, and ultimately found the way that worked best for us as parents, and also seemed best for our baby girl.

And what we found was that most of the things labeled as “attachment parenting” actually made our lives as new parents easier.

One of my friends said during our conversation this weekend, “I think of attachment parenting as the lazy parents way of parenting.” And I totally agree. It’s not that we’re actually lazy parents, it’s just that for us, it really is the easy way to do things when you have a baby.

Here’s how it happened. After a few weeks of trying to stay awake and nurse my daughter at night, falling asleep sitting up, and waking up with a stiff neck, I realized I could side-nurse her and basically go back to sleep while still feeding her, and so something we said we would never do — co-sleeping — was all of the sudden the best way for me to get much needed sleep while still feeding my daughter at the same time. I felt rested for the first time since we brought her home, and that was a huge thing for me as a new mama.

And speaking of nursing, I am a firm believer in breastfeeding, but it’s not just because I think breast is best, I also think it’s the easiest way to feed your baby. No measuring, warming up bottles, having to make sure you have enough formula when you go out, or having to mix up bottles in the middle of the night. Breastfeeding worked for me because it was easy, I could feed my kids as much as they needed, whenever they needed it, no matter where we were.

And finally, baby wearing. We started with the Baby Bjorn when our daughter was a newborn, but I also had a pouch sling and ring sling that I had received as gifts, and quickly realized that she was super content in the sling, either just being carried around, or easily falling asleep, and that it made life easier for me to have my hands free and be able to get stuff done while still caring for and soothing my baby.

I went back to working part-time when my daughter was 3 months old, and my job was so great and flexible that I could bring her with me, but wearing her in a sling made it possible for her to sleep through meetings, and even for me to feed her while working on the computer.

And what worked for us at the beginning continued to work as our daughter got older — nursing her as a toddler through the winter months meant that she got fewer colds, wearing her meant she was content and happy and cried less while I was able to do the things I needed to do, like running errands or cleaning the house.

And when those things didn’t work so well anymore, we moved on. Like when she was around nine months old, she got too wiggly to sleep in bed with us anymore, so we moved her to her crib, so we could all sleep better at night. Or when rocking her to sleep became too much of a struggle when she was 15 months old, and so we used sleep training to help her learn to fall asleep on her own.

Then, when my son arrived on the scene, we pretty much did all the same things with him, because we had already learned what worked the best for our family.  And although the transition from one to two kids was definitely hard at times, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and baby wearing also made it so much easier, in so many ways.

So, I really don’t see what the big deal with attachment parenting is. And in talking to my friends, we all agreed that the aspects of attachment parenting that are coming under fire, didn’t hold us down, or make us feel like bad mothers. They actually helped make our lives easier, and helped us to be the best mothers we could be.

A quote from the Time article states, “It’s called attachment parenting, and its rise over the past two decades has helped redefine the modern relationship between mother and baby.” And while the article talks about attachment parenting as so demanding of mothers and all about parental sacrifice, did they ever consider that maybe it’s on the rise because it actually works for many parents and makes their lives easier, even better?

We don’t do attachment parenting because we worry about damaging our babies, instead, we are actually trying to fit our children into our lives and continue to do the things that we like to do – get enough sleep, be active and on the go, work on projects around the house, and take care of our older children, all with our babies in tow. I’m confused why that is such a bad thing?

I don’t feel like I have given up my life, or sacrificed some big part of me, because I follow many aspects of the attachment parenting philosophy. I mean the reality of life is, when you have children, everything changes. And in fact, attachment parenting enhanced my life in so many ways because of the bond I was able to form with my babies, while still maintaining my sense of self.

I just feel like we found the parenting approach that worked the best for me as a mother, for us as a family, and for our kids because they were happy and content, and that it all around made the transition of adding children to our family a positive experience. And really, that’s what all parents should do — find what works for you, your family and your kids, and stick with it, without ever feeling bad about the choices you are making.

I cherish the memories of snuggling my little ones in bed, of staring into their eyes as I nursed them, and feeling them close and secure as I wore them in a baby carrier. And I am really looking forward to doing all of those things once again, and I know they will help with the transition, as we welcome Baby #3 into our family in just a few short weeks!

Emily writes about green and natural living at Live Renewed.
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About Emily

emilym

Emily

Emily McClements is passionate about caring for creation while saving money at the same time. She is a blessed wife and mama to three young children, and blogs about her family's journey toward natural and green living on a budget at Live Renewed. Read bio and latest posts → Read Emily's latest posts →

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14 thoughts on “Why Attachment Parenting Works for Our Family

  1. Rachel says:

    For me, Attachment Parenting is a “Lord, save me from your followers situation.” I don’t have a problem with the basic tenets of it and a lot of the practices (slings, breastfeeding, etc.) are things we already do for practical reasons. What I have a problem with is the attitude I’ve encountered with a lot of the people who adhere to it. I’ve met people who do AP who seem to think that the rest of us are somehow not interested in forming a deep attachment with our children, or that they somehow have better relationships with their children. I think that’s what turns off a lot of people.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I agree with this article. I didn’t start out AP-ing my son. I was unable to breastfeed and my baby carrier was extremely uncomfortable to wear so we didn’t do either of those things. I didn’t intentionally co-sleep either (my husband was/is a restless sleeper and we were afraid he would roll on my son in his sleep), but we found that if I laid my son on my chest he would sleep for hours where if I put him in his bed it never lasted long enough for me to get any rest. So we will continue these things with our 2nd child, if they work this time around. I hope to breastfeed this time (partly for health reasons, but mainly for financial reasons) and I hope to have a much more comfortable carrier this time around so that I can get things accomplished while still holding the baby.

  3. Anon says:

    You’re not an AP parent. You’re at best a hybrid. AP does not promote or condone sleep training. Even for a 15 month old. Most AP parents I’ve known don’t move the baby from the family bed to a crib. They wait until the child chooses to sleep alone. (Often it’s much later!) Or they put the baby on the floor on their own mattress.

    Lots of non-ap parents co-sleep. Lots of non-ap parents breastfeed. Lots of non-ap parents use slings and carriers. I did two of the three! It’s the attitude that the child needs to choose the time for all transitions that bugs me. I’m the parent. I can decide when it’s time for the baby to sleep in the crib and when it’s time for night feeding to end.

  4. Anna says:

    I became and AP parent much the same way, by default. One thing I DO notice in my now 17month old son how when we let him advance to things in his own developmental time it flows so easily. He decided at just after one year he was done breast feeding. He willingly sleeps his 2 daytime naps in his crib and still co-sleeps with his dad and I at night. He tries all kinds of new foods because we just give it to him to try, no pressure to eat or like it. I am in awe of his willingness for all new things. I was raised when babies were weaned as soon as possible, kept at arms distance and forced into new developmental stages, and I know for myself and other’s of my generation we are all admittedly overly resistant when external circumstances attempt to force us to “comply”. Just my thoughts.

  5. mk yarwood says:

    Attempted AP, here: used co-sleeper attachment bassinet, weaned at 20 months, sleeping in her own bed at 2. When you have a colicky kid, I don’t think there’s another choice.

  6. The Mommy Psychologist says:

    As a child psychologist and a mom, one of the things that is so misleading about attachment parenting is the name. It is only called attachment parenting because of the theory it was based upon. It is not called this because it is the only form of parenting which allows parents to develop a secure attachment relationship with their children. There are numerous ways to develop a secure attachment relationship with our kids. I explore more of this myth here for anyone who is interested:
    http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/04/15/what-does-the-mommy-psychologist-have-to-say-about-attachment-parenting/

  7. Jessica says:

    I guess I’m an old school mom! I had my son 14 years ago and did most of these things(also did them with my daughter who is now 12). Back then we just called it “parenting”! If the Lord blesses me again with a little one(He has a great sense of humor!) I will do the same things:)

  8. casey says:

    I’m so with you! The only thing I didn’t do is use a baby sling but if I could’ve afforded one,a good one, I would’ve done that too. Thank goodness for co-sleeping. I tried for 2 months to get her to sleep in her bed and nursing in the rocking chair at 3 am. It did not work and I was very sleep deprived and struggled to stay awake even when driving. So dangerous! When she started sleeping with me….Wow! I could sleep more than an hour at a time! She sleeps in her own bed now but she still comes in my room when she wakes which is understandable since she has obstructive sleep apnea due to her large adenoids and she stops breathing in her sleep. I would imagine that would be scary for a little one. I breastfed on demand til she was about 15 months and then it was twice a day and also when she was sick or got hurt and needed comfort. I tried to wean at around 18 months and she was not having it. She threw an awful fit,crying for hours and refusing to sleep. That lasted a day. I tried again at 29 months and she let it go with very little protest so it was much better timing for her. She chose when she wanted to potty train also. She came to me one day,after many months of discussion and said mommy I want to pee on the big potty and training started that day. My daughter is independent and wants to,as she says, “I’ll do it myself!” She will try and try until she is sure she can’t do it without help and then she comes to me. She is a shy child but that is her personality and whether I practiced attachment parenting or not,I’m sure that would still be a part of her personality. People who think attachment parenting makes kids spoiled are just making assumptions.

  9. Kara says:

    The only problem I see with the term “attachment parenting” is that it exists at all. This is simply Human Nature. Has been done this way since the dawn of time and will continue to be done, because it works. What is all the hoopla over every single thing that any one else does, needing to have a title? Why can’t a baby just be a baby anymore? Too much over analyzing and not enough “living” going on in the world today. Slow down people. Just enjoy it! Let nature take its course. Be Human and for the sake of Humans everywhere, Let your poor babies be Human too!

  10. Theresa says:

    Attachment parent = nursing while in a board meeting, or working on your computer? I think I will pass. My kids did just fine with my full attention with bottle feeding in a cozy setting one on one without technical or strange voices arguing over budgets or the like. In the end, this is the beauty of parenting. Doing what works best for you and your family. Carry on!

  11. Amy says:

    There are many different forms of attachment parenting. This mother is picking and choosing the ways that best fit her family and children’s needs. I, myself, choose to extend breastfeed and babywearing, but found that co-sleeping didn’t work for us. The “Are you mom enough?” stereotype gives attachment parenting a bad name and makes other moms not interested to hear about it for fear of being judged. But the “laziness” bit confuses me: I would find it excrutiatingly tiring and certainly not lazy to have to lay in bed with my child for an hour until they fell asleep and then carefully crawl into bed for fear of waking them when I wanted to have my rest, my own personal time (speaking from talking to a friend and her experiences). But that’s just me.

  12. Joanne Anderson says:

    I don’t agree with attachment parenting at all i am a mother of 3 boys and i certainly would spend my day with my baby attached to me they need to be put down in a cot or pram to sleep properly. it is not good for you or baby to be permantly stuck together babies need to learn to content theirselves. my bed is mine and my partners not my childrens they have their own bed i would rather sit in their rooms with them when they are unwell or have a bad night. We are not only parents but people too who need time and space too. children need to be able to amuse theirselves. i love all my boys deeply and they are all very much mummies boys. but i am a great believer in swaddling and putting them down whilst still awake so they learn to fall asleep on their own. as i said i have 3 sons aged 14, 11 and nearly 3 and they are all content well adjusted kids. i don’t believe that we have to change everything in ourlives when we become parents it should be a compromise .

  13. Susannah says:

    Attachment Parenting is not an all or nothing form of parenting. You can consider yourself an attachment parent even if you do variations on the beliefs to make them fit your needs. I was unable to make enough breastmilk on my own so I supplemented with formula using a SNS. I also did rooming in for the first six month with co sleeping in addition. At 6 months we did a combination of having my son sleep in his own crib and cosleeping as needed. We also sometimes use a stroller even though I prefer to carry my son. I don’t consider myself any less of an AP mom because I modified it to fit my life. Even Dr. Sears talks about how attachment parenting is adaptable to fit each family’s needs.

  14. holly berry says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. I had two under 2, so things were slightly different with the second than the first. But, in general, the attachment parenting ideals were simply things that made our lives easier.

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