Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What is Attachment Parenting?

Whenever Annabelle meets someone new, rather than freaking out and having a tantrum, she instantly demands (as much as she can without language skills) to be picked up by them to get a better look. Time and time again people have responded in surprise at how friendly she is, how easy she is to work with, and how well behaved she is overall. Now, I know I can't take full responsibility for how she behaves, because she has been the biggest bundle of happiness since the day she was born. However, I'd like to think that choosing Attachment Parenting as a model to reference as a first time mother, had at least a little bit to do with it.

So, now I bet you are wondering, :

What exactly is Attachment Parenting?

Attachment parenting, is a method of parenting that focuses on nurturing and positive discipline. This is a short and general answer, but AP just can't be summed up in one sentence. Below I will go in-depth to explain what AP is by introducing the various branches.

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What is positive discipline? 

Rather than resort to physical punishment (negative) for a child's wrongdoing, AP parenting tries to understand the child's reasoning behind the behavior. For younger children who are not yet able to communicate their wants, and a solution can not be reached, methods of distraction and redirection are used. Physical punishment is NEVER used. AP parents view their child's cries as holding linguistic value, babies do not just cry for the sake of crying, the "cry it out method" is never used.

(I don't fully follow this method in cases where Annabelle puts something dangerous in her mouth or touches something dangerous, only to burn into her memory that those things are not okay. As a parent you have the right to reference different methods of parenting but only you can decide what is right for you and your child.)

What methods of Nurturing are involved in AP?

Many of the nurturing methods involved in AP are what most people would consider "spoiling" your child. Depending on the specific parent-child unit, the nurturing most often  involves one or more of the following:

  • Baby wearing: This is a trend that has become more popular in the mainstream as of late. It works exactly the way it sounds, by used of a carrier, or a sling, you "wear" your baby. Allowing for nearly constant skin to skin contact, this activity promotes bonding between parent (male or female) and child.
  • Co-sleeping: This was and is still my favorite method of nurturing. When we were still at the hospital, the nurses encouraged skin to skin contact, and having Annabelle (wearing only a diaper) lay on my chest under my hospital gown. When we finally went home this was a habit that had absolutely no chance of being broken soon. I followed the general consensus of how to create a safe co-sleeping environment : no heavy blankets, flat mattress with only a sheet, no pillows near baby. Now,I have to warn you that co-sleeping in the same bed, without some kind of device is not normally recommended as a safe practice. This is what I chose for my daughter, because I had the confidence that it was right for us. Now, after getting that cleared up, I have to say that I love co-sleeping with my daughter more than words can say. Aside from the fact that it removes the need to physically get out of bed throughout the night for feedings ( which is a godsend I might add!), it may also prevent your baby from entering into too deep of a sleep which may help prevent SIDS.
  • Breastfeeding: This activity works very much like the previous two, where it promotes bonding between mother and baby. Also, there have been countless studies that have proven that breast milk is the healthiest thing for a baby to eat up until about 6 months, but it is encouraged to be given alongside baby food up until about a year old. There are many other benefits to breastfeeding, let's not forget that doing so is one of the quickest ways to drop pregnancy weight! I myself can attest to this, I returned to my pr-pregnancy weight 3-4 months after giving birth! That's saying a lot, seeing as it was early in the year and I wasn't exactly jogging out in the snow.
  • Self-weaning: To follow up breastfeeding, we must of course look at how to go about stopping at whatever point you choose. Well, AP hands that decision over to the child, unless of course they go for so long that it just isn't practical, in which case you would have to wean them yourself. I implement this method, and it has been successful without any encouragement from me. Annabelle has gone from 8-9 feeding per day (as a newborn), to about 2-3 a day now (almost a year). She still likes to before bed and naps, but that is about it.
I have included in the post, some of the results of the different methods of nurturing involved in Attachment Parenting. My next post regarding AP will look at the positive and negative effects as a whole that I think my readers should consider before deciding whether or not to use AP with their own children.



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