Breaking Down the Attachment Parenting “Baby Bs”
Dr Sears who coined the term “Attachment Parenting” suggests “7 Attachment Tools: The Baby Bs”. Note: These are Tools. Not Rules.
Think of them as tools you have up your sleeve that you may be able to use to help foster a safe, secure, loving attachment with your baby and just use what works for you and your family.
The time immediately after your baby is born – and the first weeks of their life – you are primed hormonal to bond. Both mothers and fathers experience hormonal changes that help them bond and connect with their babies. Breastfeeding as soon as possible, skin to skin time for both parents, touching your baby, talking, eye contact – all of those lovely things can help you bond with your baby from their very first moments of life.
However, bonding is not “now or never”! You can still bond with your baby even if early bonding is interrupted – if you’re separated from your baby for a period of time after they’re born. It’s never too late to bond.
Breastfeeding stimulates oxytocin and prolactin which are hormones that assist bonding. Breastfeeding is more than just food and drink; it’s comfort, pain relief, security and love.
Breastfeeding certainly is a big deal, but it’s not a necessary part of AP. Breastfeeding does not make or break attachment. You can absolutely still use bottle feeding as a bonding experience; you hold your baby close, make eye contact, even incorporate some skin to skin time with bottle feeding.
I personally believe that babywearing is the BEST bonding tool in the Attachment Parenting tool box. Babywearing helps ease baby into the world, especially in the early days which is essentially “the fourth trimester”. Babywearing can emulate a womb-like environment, where they have warmth, security, movement, they can smell their parent – they can have their needs responded to immediately. Babywearing can make breastfeeding easier, especially when you have other children to attend to or you can breastfeed on the go.
Some babies don’t like babywearing and so while it’s a great tool, it’s still not essential for all bubs. Also Attachment Parenting certainly doesn’t mean you can’t own a pram!!! (I’ve had 11 prams!)
Bedding Close To Baby
Firstly, “Close” doesn’t necessarily mean bedsharing; in the same room will work fine for some babies. Though when it comes to babies and bedtime it’s important to remember they haven’t changed in 200,000 years. You have a cave baby in a modern world. That is why most babies will cry if you so much as think about putting them down in a cot or bassinet, because for most of human existence babies have slept in their parents arms.
Belief In Your Baby’s Cry
This is the only non-negotiable “tool” in my mind. Trust your baby. Believe them. Respect them. They are not spoiled. They are not manipulating you. If your baby is crying – they need something. Unfortunately they’re not always able to clearly communicate what that need is! Even if you can’t work out what they need – or you can’t fix the problem for them – the most important thing is that they know that they can trust you to at always be there for them when they need you.
Beware of Baby Trainers
Beware does not mean never ever ever ever use or follow any kind of strategy or techniques to try to settle your baby to sleep or encourage them to sleep longer. Just… be wary. Not all “baby trainers” are the same or use the same approach. I love Pinky Mckay’s advice on the topic – always ask yourself “Is it safe? Is it respectful? Does it feel right?” If it does – go with it. If at any time it doesn’t feel safe, respectful or right – stop and reevaluate.
Balance reminds me of another “B” word; Burnout. Parenting IS hard. Parenting IS exhausting. Parenting IS overwhelming at times. No matter how you approach raising your baby, balance is essential. Balance could mean getting a babysitter occasionally so you can go out. Or handing baby to their other parent, grabbing some ear plugs and getting a solid block of sleep in another room. Or even just putting baby in their cot or a safe space for a few moments so you can catch your breath – even if for those few minutes you’re not actively responding to your baby, sometimes you just need to step outside and cool down.
So, I hope my perspective on the “Attachment Parenting Baby Bs” helps and makes sense. Again, the important thing to remember is that these are tools not rules. Find what works for you and your baby. As long as you are responsive, respectful and trusting your baby – and yourself! – you are on the right track!