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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