How Attachment Parenting Builds a Strong Parent Child Bond
If you are an expecting mama, you’re no doubt reading parenting books in your preparation for baby. And one of the books that may come highly recommended is The Attachment Parenting Book : A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby by Dr. Sears and Sears. Both Dr. Sears and his wife Martha Sears are in the pediatric field and wrote this book as a response to the previous trend of rather strict, distant and cold parenting.
They based their book on their understanding of Attachment Theory and developed a term “7 Baby Bs” which include birth bonding, breastfeeding, baby wearing, bedding close to baby, responsiveness to baby’s cries, not using baby trainers, and balance. (More detail on this later in the post).
But before you consider purchasing yet another parenting book, you may interested in finding out what Attachment Parenting is really like and if it’s for you.
What is Attachment Parenting?
Attachment Parenting – focuses on developing a secure connection between parent and child through being responsive towards the child’s needs.
Attachment parenting was based on the “attachment theory” brought forth by a psychologist John Bowlby’s studies on animals and maternal deprivation. In a nutshell, Bowlby theorized that infants instinctively seek closeness to a “secure attachment figure”. However, that figure does not necessarily have to be a mother. It can be any caregiver capable of providing this security. Dr. Sears was the one who popularized modern day attachment parenting and came up with the “7 Baby B’s” or “Attachment Tools”.
The 7 Baby Bs of Attachment Parenting
- Birth Bonding – a very crucial part of attachment parenting. But if a child doesn’t have a good attachment at birth, not all is lost. Sears believed that kids that go into the NICU, foster or adopted kids can form healthy attachments later in life.
- Breastfeeding – the preferred way to feed a child as it provides benefits for both mother and baby. It may improve bonding by producing prolactin and oxytocin.
- Baby – wearing – is highly encouraged to promote attachment, allow for frequent touching, and help parents become more sensitive to their infant’s needs
- Bedding close to babies – Dr. Sears encourages parents to sleep close to baby but also acknowledges the parents’ need for sleep
- Belief in the language-value of your baby’s cry – Dr. Sears strongly advises parents to respond to their baby’s cries and not let them “cry it out”
- Beware of baby trainers – Dr. Sears is strongly against “convenience parenting”. He believes that convenience parenting puts the parents ease above the needs of a baby for food or comfort. For example, he advises against scheduled feedings
- Balance – Dr. Sears advises parents to focus on balancing their roles as parents, partners and also their own physical and emotional needs
The Main Takeaway from Attachment Parenting
When you really look into it, Dr. Sears advocates for parents to take the time to learn about their children and create an environment that is responsive to their children’s needs. It’s not an easy task but a very important one. Even though we grow these beings inside our bodies and care for them long before we meet them, they are strangers to us when they emerge. We know almost nothing about them and in order to succeed long term, the onus is on us to get to know them.
You may disagree, but I think a family is a team. There is a team leader or two and there are team players. Our children are the players and need to learn to be on this team. That however, doesn’t mean that their views and opinions don’t matter. As the team leaders, it is our job to know everything we can about our team and ensure our team’s success.
Take the time to get to know your infant and it will become second nature to keep getting to know them as their grow into being a child, then a teenager, then an adult. I hope that even if you find that you can’t do everything that Attachment Parenting advocates for, that you are able to take away the main principle of it: listen to your child’s needs and be sensitive to them. This does not mean you have to cater to them all the time. Just keep this in mind: when you operate within their limitations, everyone’s life will be much easier. And when you realize their limitations it’s so much easier to truly bond with them. You see them as human, with their own temperament and quirks. And when you realize that both you and your child are human, the real bonding happens.
A Bit of Caution Around Attachment Parenting Style Implementation
As I said before, I do very much think that Attachment Parenting is a very responsive and warm approach to parenting. It takes into account the needs of babies and makes sure that those needs are met. It destroys the notion that babies are required to adapt to some sort of “expert created” schedule based simply on their age. But it’s not a parenting style that is right for everyone.
For one, the strict adherence to this style may cause anxiety for some moms and worsen it for those who are already suffering from PPD (Post Partum Depression) and PPA (Post Partum Anxiety). Moms can become so focused on doing all the 7 Baby Bs correctly, that they will become consumed by them. And these all consuming thoughts can interfere with creating a secure attachment with their baby.
Furthermore, by focusing too much on meeting baby’s every need every second of the day can lead to mom burnout. Because no mom can meet her basic self-care needs with baby firmly attached to her 24/7. And every single mom needs to spend at least some time away from baby to be able to eat, bathe, or take a breath.
So if you feel Attachment Parenting is for your, just remember – Balance is perhaps the most important Baby B out of them all. Without Balance, you (mama) will be frazzled, exhausted, irritable, and unhealthy. And when you are out of Balance, you are not able to truly connect and foster a secure attachment and real bond with your child.
And whenever you feel that you are not doing enough to foster this relationship just remember this – you only need to respond correctly to your child 30% of the time in order to have a secure attachment! The rest of the time, just fess up to your mistakes and fix them. Your children will forgive you as long as you show up and are there every day.
Quote of the day:
“I don’t think it matters how many parents you’ve got, as long as those who are around make their presence a good one” – Elizabeth Wurtzel
Mental Health Tip of the Day:
The early days and months of parenting are hard and demanding. Finding balance will be next to impossible, so stop beating yourself up about it. Find something you really need to do to make yourself feel human and do it. If it’s a nap, a shower, a conversation with a friend – ask your partner to watch the baby and give you some breathing room. If it’s some alone time with your partner, then get a babysitter or ask someone you trust to watch the baby for a few hours.