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Attachment Parenting

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Have you heard or attachment parenting or know what it is? Before conceiving their first child, most people don’t put much thought into the type of parent they’ll be.  Other than rolling eyes at children running riot and swearing their offspring would never get away with that kind of behaviour, the majority of people don’t really think about different parenting styles.  However, log onto any parenting website or forum and it won’t be long before you encounter the term ‘attachment parenting’.

Never has there been more interest and comment in this method of parenting. Attachment Parenting UK’s Facebook page has almost 7,500 fans and with the likes of Mayim Bialik, star of Blossom and The Big Bang Theory, not only endorsing it but going as far as publishing a book on the subject, awareness is set to keep rising.

Where did attachment parenting start?

The ideas behind attachment parenting are not new.  In fact, most of them hark back to how our ancestors raised young children, with breastfeeding, baby wearing and bed sharing key (but non-essential) factors.  The basic idea is that under-threes are cared for solely by parents who are almost always present and respond to their needs in a quick and sensitive manner, with a view to raising children to develop an instinctual capacity for empathy, affection and emotional bonding.

Keeping baby by your sideattachment parenting

Nurturing, sensitivity and respect are fundamental aspects of attachment parenting.  By keeping your baby close, you will become tuned into her needs and will intuitively know what she wants without her getting too upset while you try to guess why she is crying.  Carrying your baby around in a sling rather than using a buggy ensures she knows you are present and helps her feel safe when you are out and about.  Co-sleeping means you stay close to your baby overnight and are able to soothe and feed her without too much disruption.

Feeding

While breastfeeding is the ideal when it comes to attachment parenting, formula is also accommodated, with parents being encouraged to feed on demand rather than follow a routine.  This allows children to eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full, teaching portion control from a young age.  As babies start solids, baby-led weaning is recommended.  Whereas traditional weaning involves parents feeding their child spoonfuls of mush, baby-led weaning allows the child to pick up food and eat it at her own pace.

Recent criticism

Attachment parenting may seem like an idyllic lifestyle but like everything, it does come in for some criticism.  A recent BMJ Open study claimed the risk of SIDS in young babies was increased fivefold by bed sharing.  Health visitors and attachment parenting organisations do provide advice for safely sharing a bed with your baby but current NHS guidelines advise, “the safest place for your baby to sleep is on their back in a cot in a room with you for the first six months.”

There is also the concern that extreme attachment parenting can lead to over-dependent children who have trouble doing things for themselves and struggle to cope in social situations. However, advocates of the method believe that by treating children as you would like to be treated you are raising them to know how to interact sensitively and compassionately with others.

However…attachment parenting

Attachment Parenting UK’s website states; “The essential part of attachment parenting is a willingness to know and nurture your child – through every developmental change and every challenging behaviour, with trust in your instincts about what you and your child needs.”  Surely every parent strives towards this and no matter how you would describe your own parenting style, perhaps we all use at least some of the values promoted by attachment parenting.

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About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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