Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Attachment Parenting: The Science Behind the Style

Okay, attachment parenting it is!

Attachment Parenting is the special bond between you and your baby. It means the mother (and father) are in harmony with the needs of the baby. It usually refers to the mother more because the mother-infant attachment can be stronger than that with the father mostly due to breastfeeding and the care given to the baby. Not to exclude the father, but the mother is often more attached with the newborn. Attached children play better with peers, are better lovers, better students, better parents, have higher IQ's and faster motor skills, and they are more resilient. There are 7 B's to attachment parenting as formed by Dr. Robert Sears that I have outlined below. Click here for more information at Dr. Sears' website.

The mindset of attachment parenting starts at birth. In the initial hours following the birth, it is suggested to avoid separation to allow the initial bonding with both parents. Healthy, normally birthed babies (without special needs directly after birth) should be placed on the mother's chest immediately after birth until the first feeding is finished. The first exam may be done on the mother's chest. Ideally, the baby should stay with the parents throughout the recovery period until the parents go home. In order to ensure this happens, it is suggested that the parents visit with the caregivers prior to the birth.

If a baby achieves breastfeeding in the first hour of life, he/she will be more likely to exclusively breastfeed for longer. Breastfeeding helps you read your baby's cues and understand his/her body language. Breastfeeding provides the hormones to give you a "mothering boost".

This lets you develop your own instincts with your baby. Babies in slings are more attached to their mothers that those in baby seats. More attached babies become more independent children. Playpen babies have been shown to develop skills at a slower rate. Babies carried in 3-D (side, back, front) cry less and their brains grow faster.

Sleeping with your babies and children in your "safe" adult bed has been shown to promote more attached, independent, and secure children. Three times as many babies die in cribs as die in adult beds. Bedsharing is safe. Half of Americans co-sleep with their babies and children about half of the time. Bedsharing actually decreases the rate of SIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends room sharing to lower the rate of SIDS (except if one or both of the parents are smokers or abuse alcohol, which increases SIDS if room sharing by 25 times!) Solo sleepers or babies who sleep alone are shown to startle more often, have higher anxiety, have increased heart rates, and have interfered sleep. SIDS is lowest in countries that routinely practice co-sleeping. When you have small children in your bed, you should take your bed off the frame, have no cracks, no water beds, take no sedatives, and have no really soft, cushy linens. And, if you do not want to bedshare, don't do it. It has to be something you want or you will become resentful of sharing your bed. *When bedsharing, it is important to note that newborns/infants and small children should not be in the same beds.

Your child's development is most importantly influenced by the mother's response to the cry. When you respond to the babies cries, you meet his needs and he will know he is loved. "Crying it out" babies are shown to cry more and more annoyingly because they are insecure. The more babies cry, the more stress hormones circulate which suppress growth and immune function.

Watch out for rigid, extreme parenting styles that suggest schedules and watching the clock. This promotes a short-term gain and long-term loss and Dr. Sears suggest it is not a wise investment.

Your marriage is still very important. Figure out and gain the wisdom of when to say "yes" and when to say "no".

Attachment Parenting is NOT:
Ignoring your marriage, ignoring your health, self-sacrificing, being critical of others, or insisting your way is best.

For more information see


Smits Family said...

ohhh... can I disagree with a few :)

Bedsharing... it is hard enough finding time and energy to be with your husband that I think adding this to the mix would be BAD for a marriage... from my experience, being a SAHM to two young ones is emotionally and physically draining and it takes effort/intention as it is to make the time at night for your husband...I like our bedroom and our bed being OUR area (my two have been in a pack in play in my room for the first two months).

Scheduling...I did it and I LOVE it! I was a babywise person (Just got some people ticked with that :)) My boys (even my 6 week premie) both gained weight like champs, and never did I not feed them when they were hungry... after the first few weeks you organize their bodies to have a system for when the are hungry (like us as adults), I was not crazy hard core with it.... I loved the consistency and so did they!

Now, like everything in parenting... there is not much black and white... a whole lot of gray! So to each his own!

Hannah Reasoner said...

Thanks for your input! I love the diversity with parenting. You are right, to each his own.

Nancy said...

I love the input your first commenter made, because we've had the same experience at our house. Anything, attachment parenting included, taken to the extreme is probably unhealthy. While tending to the needs of a newborn obviously take top priority, as the baby becomes older it becomes the well being of the FAMILY that is priority... not just the small members of that family. If bedsharing is healthy and works well for your family, then by all means do it! If everyone in your house is most comfortable following baby's lead (after the first crucial weeks, of course) then that's what needs to be done. However, if that's not what is best at your house, then there's nothing wrong or shameful about letting baby sleep in a safe crib, or riding an infant carrier at the grocery store, or having baby in a beneficial daily pattern. Parenting styles don't raise babies. Nurturing, loving parents do!

Hannah Reasoner said...

Love that Nancy! Thanks.

Michelle said...

I run a local AP group in my community. Right now we have 25 regular families that attend once a month, most are military. For them, they get support from other moms and women. Not all practice all aspects of AP, but everyone is welcome. We have parents on both sides of issues like birthing, training, circumcision, vaccinations,co-sleeping, even baby wearing.I am glad that I have the opportunity to educate other women in my community on the benefits of AP, as well as offer them support while away from their families and friends.

We are an Attachment Parenting Family, and we love it,I would not have it any other way. We have our days of frustration, but what family does not? For us, havening the family bed was a great experience, and now that my four year old sleeps on his own, I have to find excuses to get him to snuggle with me for a single minute, lol. Attachment Parenting came naturally for my husband and I and we have seen all of the great advantages already of having a child reared in such a way. It makes my heart proud to see such a happy, independent, well adjusted, empathetic, loving child. We are expecting our second child and we can not wait to go through the whole process of bonding, and breastfeeding, and sleeping with our new baby. I also wanted to add, that Attachment Parenting is not an all or none style, that you don't have to practice all of physical aspects of AP, that more than anything it is simply love. Raising your children out of love, forgiveness, understanding, and realizing that even though you are the grow up and have been here much longer, you can often learn from your children.

Kendi said...

I now have 2 kids and my parenting style has been different with them due to their own unique personalities. My first was so much more needy and would not sleep well at night or naps. He needed me with him at all times. My second is so much more content to play on her own and go to sleep by herself. Scheduling did not work for my 1st, but seems to do well for my second that is now 8 months old. I still tell everyone, it depends on the child!