My Journey to Attachment Parenting

The focus of attachment parenting is on building a strong relationship between the mother and infant through responding to the baby’s cries, demand breastfeeding for an extended period, carrying or wearing your baby, using gentle ways to help the baby sleep, co-sleep and minimise separation from the baby during the first few years.

When I first became a Mum I knew nothing about babies or children.  I’d never held a newborn baby before, never changed a nappy, never even dressed a baby.

I like to research and the big things I remember from researching parenting whilst pregnant with B1 was, get your baby into a routine, don’t hold your baby or you will spoil him and words that now make me shudder sleep training.  I followed this all to a tee.  I have to say, it worked out really well for B1.  He was the perfect baby, sleeping through the night at around 2 weeks of age, reached all of his milestones early, I was an absolute legend at this mothering gig and therefore I will have millions of children. Then along came B2!

I tried to follow the same rules.  Bahahahahahaha.  As if that was going to work.  I see now that B1 was a fluke.  B2 is really what babies are like.  B2 was a challenging baby!!!! Actually, it’s a shear miracle that he has 2 younger siblings.  He would cry. All. The. Time. For no reason at all.  He was not the slightest bit interested in routine, and just when I thought we were getting close to a routine, he’d wake up the next day and want to do everything differently.  He knew, as well, he knew that he was difficult, I know this for a fact.  He would watch me pack up the car, his older brother ready to go to the shops and then poop just as I carried him out the door – and then he’d laugh.  Needless to say, we didn’t go out much!!!!

I suppose I kind of fell into attachment parenting after B2.  In between B2 and B3 I lost a baby during pregnancy (click here to read my blog post about this) so my entire pregnancy and early days with B3 were completely different, I was different.  I had a new understanding at just how magical and blessed I was to have 3 beautiful children, I had a new understanding that this doesn’t happen for everyone.

I had a lot of trouble breastfeeding B1 and was so traumatised by the experience that I didn’t attempt to breastfeed B2.  With B3 I was determined for it to work, once again I researched and found something that I didn’t find with B1 – breastfeeding on demand.  What was this, breastfeeding whenever the baby cried, using it to calm and nurture him as well as feed him.  I am a typical Type A personality and the thought of not having some sort of order or routine really didn’t sit well with me but I gave it a shot.  And it worked!!!  I successfully breastfed B3 right up until he self weaned not long after B4 was born, he was 2 1/2 years old. I never thought I’d be one of those women who not only breastfed a toddler but advocated for it, but here I am.

One of the greatest gifts I received for B3 was a baby carrier, I had bought one for B1 but never used it so gave it away to a friend.  With B3 though it was essential, I had 3 kids, one of them was a serial runner (get him out of the car, turn your back for a second and he’s gone) so the carrier was essential. I also enjoyed having B3 close to me and before I knew it I was wearing him everywhere, even when I didn’t have the other children with me.

I had him in my bedroom for convenience when breastfeeding at night, despite protests from my now ex-husband.  I delayed transitioning him into a cot because I knew there was no way my husband was going to allow it into our bedroom.  Eventually though he moved to his own room and there were many nights I slept in the rocking chair or the floor of his bedroom just to be near him.

My bond with B3 is no different to the bond I have with B1 or B2 but my parenting experience was completely different.  With B1 I was naive and scared that if I didn’t do things “right” someone might take him away from me, with B2 he was such a different baby there was no rhyme or reason to anything he did so I fumbled my way through the first 12 months.  With B3 I was relaxed, there was no schedule, there was no sleep training and there was no letting him cry it out.  There was me and him, bonding and enjoying our time together. I was a softer mother with B3 and even now as he’s going through the “terrible twos” my approach is still so much softer with him.

Then along came B4 and being a single parent this time around I don’t have that other “voice” telling me how to do things, it’s all my choice and I love it.  B4 sleeps in my bed (with appropriate safety measures of course), is with me all the time either in the baby carrier or being carried by me, is exclusively breast fed on demand.  And this has taken my mothering journey to a whole other new level. I don’t know, it’s difficult to explain but it’s completely amazing.

You might think that attachment parenting is not for you or your lifestyle but you can make it work. My tips for working some attachment parenting techniques into everyday life:

  • Invest in a good quality baby carrier.  It needs to be comfortable, with B1 I had a cheap one, it wasn’t comfortable or soft.  The one I use now is a more expensive brand but completely worth it.
  • Once you have your carrier, use it around the house, it’s a godsend to get housework done while carrying around a sleeping baby.
  • In the early days invest the time to establish breastfeeding and do it on demand.  Yes, this is difficult if you have other children.  Believe me I know, when B4 was born it was school holidays and I was on my own with 4 children.  We made it work though, there were plenty of movie days!  But we made it work.
  • Co-sleep.  If you don’t like the idea of having the baby in your bed then have your baby in a bassinet or cot next to your bed, this is recommended anyway by the professionals for the first 6 – 12 months. Or better still, invest in a co sleeper.
  • Most importantly remember that you can’t spoil a baby!!!!!

As far as attachment parenting goes if you are in 2 minds as to whether or not it will work for you, take it from me, a mother who has sleep trained two children and used attachment methods with two others – the children in the end will turn out the same, they have their own personalities and will go through the standard milestones and phases.  B3 still has separation anxiety although it’s not to the extent of B2 who still at 6 years old suffers at times but I don’t believe this is due to how I handled them as babies, it’s their personalities. My mothering journey is so much more fulfilling as an attachment mum!  Try it – I can assure you it will be worth it.

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37 Comments

  • So glad you followed your instincts and did what you felt was right. I’m going to be a first time mom next month and really enjoyed your article. Hopefully I can implement some of the things you mentioned! Using nursing as a way to soothe baby sounds like a great idea!

    • Congratulations! Savour every moment with your baby while they are little, it goes so fast. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy.

    • Thank you! I feel attachment parenting makes things so much easier and with 4 kids in the household I need easy 🙂

  • I’m still on baby number one, but I feel like I’m doing the attachment parenting thing with her. It’s just something that she needs, so I do what’s best for us. Thanks for the tips, because I truly need them lol. Great post!

    • It just comes naturally, doesn’t it 🙂 As I said in my post, you can’t spoil a baby. Cuddle and keep them near for as long as you can because it all goes so fast.

  • Love love love this! I lean heavily towards attachment parenting with my babe.. It probably came about because she wanted to constantly be held, cuddled, fed and I have a natural tendency towards it. I relate to so much of your post. Awesome!

    • Thank you. I found some very interesting information on the 4th trimester which kind of put everything into perspective for me and made me see my baby differently. I only wish this information was around 10 years ago when I first became a Mum but it wasn’t so readily available back then.

  • Following your instincts is so important. Both of my kids were so different, but I definitely used forms of attachment parenting, I just adapted things to work with their differences.

  • “Milk spoils. Babies don’t spoil.” I heard that quote recently and I loved it! My husband and I read a book about attachment parenting, and it’s definitely where our heart is. We are so excited to practice it with our baby (due in t-minus 3 weeks!). 🙂

  • This post is all me. I have a similar blog, but I’m all about this type of parenting.. You are awesome. I co parent with my sons father and its hard because he is super conservative on things like sleep training, letting him be independent and always saying that I’m spoiling him, when I just like to say I’m respecting him as a person.

    Also, do you have any co sleeping tips to safely do it when they’re more mobile?

    http://www.motherhoodgetsbetter.com

  • I love attachment parenting. I don’t really care what other books said that you should let the baby cry it out, sleep in their own cot, etc. My daughter grow up so close to me and trust me a lot. That’s all it matter to me.

  • hahah Oh I remember reading alllllll the books when I was pregnant with my first – my advice to first time moms is to pick one or two books and not try to figure it all out – it kind of all goes out the door anyway : _

  • We have so much in common! I’m a mom of 3 and practice attachment parenting as well since my first son was born. I struggled to breastfeed him and that led to me trying my best to follow my instincts in raising him. We’ve coslept, I’ve been nursing on demand for the last 5+ years and I’m practicing that whole self weaning thing with my girls who are tandem nursing. I too suffered a loss between my 2nd and 3rd child and it led to my pregnancy being completely different from my first 2 as well. I’m currently homeschooling, now that 2 of my kids are school aged, and enjoying the adventure of it all! Will be subscribing to your blog. Great post!

  • I did attachment parenting with my daughter who is now 14. She is so confident and independent!! Strong willed…yes! But out of all of my children (who I did not do AP with) she is probably the most confident. I loved parenting her that way.

  • It takes strength to be able to ignore the input everyone is so eager to give when it comes to parenting. I’m happy that you were able to do things the way you intuitively wanted to with baby 4. 🙂 I did a version of this with my little guy and he is *very* independent now. He has no problem hanging out with other people when we’re out and about and isn’t’ constantly attached to my hip.

  • Breastfeeding is definitely going to be very important to me, and I do like the idea of using a carrier whenever possible!

  • I love this, I am so glad that you did what felt right to you. It is so hard in society today to parent in this way but you are right-you cannot spoil a baby!

  • I completely agree with your experience with the first child which was far more anxious for me then my next. i used an attachment parenting approach with both my kids and loved every minute of it.

  • I fell into attachment parenting to because it just “felt right”. We co-sleep, baby wear, and nurse and she is now a toddler! But she is happy, confident, inquisitive, and independent. I love that you followed your heart and gut, sometimes that is hard to do as a mom!

  • While I don’t as yet have a child, my sister and I are the PRODUCTS of attachment parenting, so I guess I can vouch for the outcome. I truly believe that Attachment Parenting provides a sense of security from birth to age three, that is an essential key to forming a solid foundation of independence and confidence that will last a lifetime.

  • Each baby is definitely different and I am glad that you have found your way to a style of parenting that works for you. Thanks so much for sharing and I wish you nothing but the best in your parenting adventures.

    With Love Rochelle

  • Thank you for sharing your experience! I loved my ergo and used it everyday with my son until he was too big to carry anymore 🙂 I now miss those days!

  • I’ve switched to this parenting type as well with my second child. Do you find any resistance from relatives? My parents think Im too soft on my girl.

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