Just Wondering If Anyone Can Share More Information on Attachment Parenting

Updated on June 06, 2007
R.M. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
6 answers

we've coslept w/ both children and I've heard of attachment parenting - think I even read an article on it specific to researching safe cosleeping and reading about the debate on cosleeping, but I've never actually read about attachment parenting as a larger picture - just a mom who believes in the 4th trimester (i.e. bathing w/ babies and nursing them during bathe, sleeping close) but also a mom who struggled w/ oldest who cried almost no stop for the 1st 7 months of her life - this and holding her all of the time was very stressful and overwhelming for me - try to be "nice" and nurturing in my redirection and requests but oldest is very very strong willed and I end up yelling to get her to listen - I often hear myself asking her why I have to yell to get her to listen as I'd prefer not to - and most often my yelling is purposeful and controlled b/c I know it will work - some days we just really but heads - she's almost 4 but has been a teen for some time - youngest seems to have a more gentle personality but is getting fiesty at nearing 18 months - of course, both are lovely, just different - just struggling w/ how different it is to parent one from the other - some I know is their personalities and some is my 1st vs 2nd time around

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answers from State College on

Non-circumcising, Non-vaccinating is NOT part of the definition of Attached Parenting (nor is cloth diapering, elimination communication, etc.). Those are more of a "natural lifestyle" that often end up following after the basics of AP are in place, but not always.

I consider myself very much an AP. I co-sleep, nurse and babywear. The most powerful tool I have is being willing to view any situation through my child's eyes to better help me help him. It sounds to me like you're doing a lot of it naturally (which is kind of the heart of the process!). I recommend two books for you to look at in order to get help with your more strong-willed daughter. The first is called, "Transforming the Difficult Child" (Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Transforming-Difficult-Child-Howard..., the second is called, "Try and Make Me!" (Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Try-Make-Me-Ray-Levy/dp/0451206452/....
Read both descriptions and see if one might be a better fit for you and your daughter.

Sounds to me like you're doing everything right but could use a few more tools to prevent having to yell to get your daughter's attention. Keep up the great work!!

A link with Dr. Sears' explanation/definition of AP (http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/t130300.asp)


Attachment parenting is a style of caring for your infant that brings out the best in the baby and the best in the parents.
1. Birth bonding
The way baby and parents get started with one another helps the early attachment unfold. The days and weeks after birth are a sensitive period in which mothers and babies are uniquely primed to want to be close to one another. A close attachment after birth and beyond allows the natural, biological attachment-promoting behaviors of the infant and the intuitive, biological, caregiving qualities of the mother to come together. Both members of this biological pair get off to the right start at a time when the infant is most needy and the mother is most ready to nurture (see Bonding)

"What if something happens to prevent our immediate bonding?"

Sometimes medical complications keep you and your baby apart for a while, but then catch-up bonding is what happens, starting as soon as possible. When the concept of bonding was first delivered onto the parenting scene twenty years ago, some people got it out of balance. The concept of human bonding being an absolute "critical period" or a "now-or-never" relationship was never intended. Birth bonding is not like instant glue that cements the mother-child relationship together forever. Bonding is a series of steps in your lifelong growing together with your child. Immediate bonding simply gives the parent- infant relationship a headstart. (See "Birth Bonding")
2. Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is an exercise in babyreading. Breastfeeding helps you read your baby's cues, her body language, which is the first step in getting to know your baby. Breastfeeding gives baby and mother a smart start in life. Breastmilk contains unique brain-building nutrients that cannot be manufactured or bought. Breastfeeding promotes the right chemistry between mother and baby by stimulating your body to produce prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that give your mothering a boost.
3. Babywearing
A baby learns a lot in the arms of a busy caregiver. Carried babies fuss less and spend more time in the state of quiet alertness, the behavior state in which babies learn most about their environment. Babywearing improves the sensitivity of the parents. Because your baby is so close to you, you get to know baby better. Closeness promotes familiarity. (Click here for more information on Babywearing)
4. Bedding close to baby
Wherever all family members get the best night's sleep is the right arrangement for your individual family. Co-sleeping co-sleeping adds a nighttime touch that helps busy daytime parents reconnect with their infant at night. Since nighttime is scary time for little people, sleeping within close touching and nursing distance minimizes nighttime separation anxiety and helps baby learn that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a fearless state to remain in.
5. Belief in the language value of your baby's cry
A baby's cry is a signal designed for the survival of the baby and the development of the parents. Responding sensitively to your baby's cries builds trust. Babies trust that their caregivers will be responsive to their needs. Parents gradually learn to trust in their ability to appropriately meet their baby's needs. This raises the parent-child communication level up a notch. Tiny babies cry to communicate, not to manipulate. (See Crying and Cry it Out)
6. Beware of baby trainers
Attachment parenting teaches you how to be discerning of advice, especially those rigid and extreme parenting styles that teach you to watch a clock or a schedule instead of your baby; you know, the cry-it-out crowd. This "convenience" parenting is a short-term gain, but a long-term loss, and is not a wise investment. These more restrained styles of parenting create a distance between you and your baby and keep you from becoming an expert in your child.
7. Balance
In your zeal to give so much to your baby, it's easy to neglect the needs of yourself and your marriage. As you will learn the key to putting balance in your parenting is being appropriately responsive to your baby – knowing when to say "yes" and when to say "no," and having the wisdom to say "yes" to yourself when you need help.

* AP is a starter style. There may be medical or family circumstances why you are unable to practice all of these baby B's. Attachment parenting implies first opening your mind and heart to the individual needs of your baby, and eventually you will develop the wisdom on how to make on-the-spot decisions on what works best for both you and your baby. Do the best you can with the resources you have – that's all your child will ever expect of you. These baby B's help parents and baby get off to the right start. Use these as starter tips to work out your own parenting style – one that fits the individual needs of your child and your family. Attachment parenting helps you develop your own personal parenting style.
* AP is an approach, rather than a strict set of rules. It's actually the style that many parents use instinctively. Parenting is too individual and baby too complex for there to be only one way. The important point is to get connected to your baby, and the baby B's of attachment parenting help. Once connected, stick with what is working and modify what is not. You will ultimately develop your own parenting style that helps parent and baby find a way to fit – the little word that so economically describes the relationship between parent and baby.
* AP is responsive parenting. By becoming sensitive to the cues of your infant, you learn to read your baby's level of need. Because baby trusts that his needs will be met and his language listened to, the infant trusts in his ability to give cues. As a result, baby becomes a better cue-giver, parents become better cue-readers, and the whole parent-child communication network becomes easier.
* AP is a tool. Tools are things you use to complete a job. The better the tools, the easier and the better you can do the job. Notice we use the term "tools" rather than "steps." With tools you can pick and choose which of those fit your personal parent-child relationship. Steps imply that you have to use all the steps to get the job done. Think of attachment parenting as connecting tools, interactions with your infant that help you and your child get connected. Once connected, the whole parent-child relationship (discipline, healthcare, and plain old having fun with your child) becomes more natural and enjoyable. Consider AP a discipline tool. The better you know your child, the more your child trusts you, and the more effective your discipline will be. You will find it easier to discipline your child and your child will be easier to discipline.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Hi R.M,

I practice attachment parenting but my children are younger. Good books on attachment parenting are available by Dr. Sears. I believe he has a book on dealing with older kids as well. Good luck.



answers from Pittsburgh on




answers from Philadelphia on

My experience with AP was quite a few years ago (19), and I have to say that it didn't work for us -- at least not when used strictly. Co-sleeping was a disaster, but there were three of us in an old-fashioned full-sized double bed, and my husband is 6'3". We simply didn't fit! We live in a very old home with very old-fashioned, small bedrooms, and we couldn't have gotten a bigger bed in that room, if we wanted. I had just quit my job, so there was no money for new furniture or renovations. My AP parenting group suggested that we set up for sleep in another room or set up on the floor, and I thought that was simply ridiculous. By 8 months, my son truly was losing interest in breastfeeding, as was I. My group, I felt, was pressuring me to continue breastfeeding. And while they didn't say it in so many words, I felt as if they thought I was doing something wrong by not nursing my baby until he was 3 years old. I also had/have two ruptured lumbar disks in my back from a car crash when I was 20. "Baby-wearing" didn't work for me, either, especially with my "monster" boy who weighed in at 32 pounds on his first birthday.
Now, this was just my experience many years ago with a particular group of AP moms in my town. When we had playgroups, there was soooo much talk from the other moms about how anyone NOT following AP was doing it all wrong. And I just didn't agree with that. I'm pretty strong-willed myself, and I voiced my opinion. After a time, I felt pushed out of the group, but I was also happy to leave.
In the end, I went to the foremost parenting authority I know . . . my grandmother! She raised four children during the Great Depression, and she did it with hardly anything. She had no special baby gear, and no parenting books to tell her what to do. Heck! In those days, she was lucky to have a roof over her head and food for her children's bellies! She told me,in her very matter-of-fact way, "You keep them fed, clean, and safe. Teach them right from wrong, and don't let them boss you around. And love them even when they drive you crazy."

All these years later, that's what's been working for me. I have great kids, ages 19, 17 and 17. They're creative, opinionated, happy, self-assured and respectful. I'm now receiving my rewards for all the years I've devoted to them. I receive many lovely compliments on what fine sons I have. I can't even describe the feeling that is building in me at this stage of my life. It's a feeling of a very important job well done.

The first year that I was a mother was very difficult because I was relying on what other people were telling me was right and wrong. But my grandmother had it right. She told me that I'd know what to do, because I was intelligent and loved my kids. She was my main support. Once she restored my confidence, I never, and I'm not kidding you, NEVER found parenting to be overly difficult; not a breeze, mind you, but not difficult, either. I mostly think that's because I never once allowed any of my children to talk back to me or even so much as roll their eyes, but that's a subject for another posting!

Here's the thing . . . AP didn't work for me because I did not feel supported. I think a lot of that had to do with the group I was with, and a lot of it had to do with the fact that deep down, I just didn't want to co-sleep, or nurse for years, or do many of the other things that AP promotes. At the time, my neighborhood was full of AP moms, and I just wanted to be part of their social group. That was totally wrong for me. What I did agree with was raising my children with respect, making their home and family a safe haven to anchor in, and of course, letting them know that they are always loved. On those points, AP and I agree 100 percent.

I think the most important thing is that you have support from people who build up your confidence as a parent. If AP does that for you, then your child, your family and your community will all benefit.



answers from Philadelphia on

I don't read stuff really on parenting, but i can tell you all three of my children are different so i parent each of them alittle differently but similar. i feel as parents you need to just trust your insticts and do what needs to be done.


answers from Erie on

AP has been furthered by Dr. Sears, but he didn't invent it.

Check out Mothering magazine. It's well worth the subscription price. You can also join their discussion boards at www.mothering.com. There are a ton of AP-related discussion boards out there, some are set up like this one (advice only) and some are more social in atmosphere. Mothering.com adheres to a strict posting policy, others are more lenient.

AP has been around at least since the 1960s. The philosophy is based on the natural needs of the child and baby. It focuses on breastfeeding as the best food for a baby, including extended nursing well past a year old. It insists upon gentle (no hitting) discipline which respects the child as a human with individual needs. It also teaches about natural birthing methods.

AP doesn't claim to create perfect parents or children. But it raises the bar on the expectations of how we, as parents, raise our children. There are many different parenting philosophies out there, and AP fit our family best. I had already been raised in a home where spanking was not the norm, and my mother breastfed both me and my sister in the 60s and 70s---not an easy time to do so!

You will find that many AP-practicing parents also strive to have a low environmental impact on the Earth. Many practice things like Elimination Communication instead of diapering (and many many use cloth). Home schooling is also common, at least the acceptance of HSing is. They also, across the board, consider circumcision abusive gentital mutilation (many tend to have sympathy for their jewish friends, and accept it as a religious ritual, though many do not).

If you want any more info or have any questions, feel free to message me here. Or you can email me directly at ____@____.com.

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