I love reading about parenting methods. I find them illuminating, educational, and fun. The parenting methods out there are as varied as the children with whom they are practiced. There are essentially four parenting methods I am particularly drawn to, and there are aspects I love and hate about each of them.
The first method I want to talk about is called Attachment Parenting. It is most widely shared by Dr. Sears, a well respected pediatrician. I think part of the reason his touting of this method appeals to me is the fact that he has a large family; if a person only has one child and says that his/her method of parenting was the “only” method, I would probably be skeptical. Here are some typical practices of those who parent using this method:
- Bonding after birth is incredibly important (the first few hours especially)
- They carry their babies in a sling or wrap, against their bodies
- They bed-share (sleep in same bed) or co-sleep (sleep in same room)
- They breastfeed on demand and do this for as long as the child desires
- They do not try to teach a baby to “self-soothe” or use baby-training methods
- They stress the importance of a parent staying at home with the child/children
This method is probably the one I needed most, when my baby was born. My little girl was high needs until eight months old, and most methods don't seem to be specifically designed for that kind of baby. I'll talk about the points one by one – what I liked about them, what I didn't like, and what I practiced with my own baby.
The bonding period, after my baby was born, was encouraged by my midwives, and I followed their recommendation to the letter: I was skin-to-skin with my baby a full week after her birth. All she wore was a diaper, and all I wore was panties. I loved that we could just be together. We had few visitors, I rarely even got out of bed, we got to know one another. I didn't like not being dressed for so long – particularly because I gave birth at the end of October. This was a minimal downside, however, and I highly recommend every mother do this if she is able.
I did carry my little one, when she would let me. She wasn't fond of the practice, however, so we didn't do it as often as I would have liked. She wanted to be held, but she wanted to feel grounded in my lap. I carried her often enough to warrant having two wraps, and it made going on walks possible, because I knew she would be warmed by my body heat. It made things much less stressful, and sometimes it was the only way I could get her to nap.
We did not bed-share, but we did co-sleep. Our baby didn't like being in our bed with us; she wanted her own space. I go into more details about that in my post specifically on co-sleeping.
I did and still do breastfeed. My little one has definitely been less sick than most babies, easy to comfort, and a healthy weight. I plan to breastfeed until she's done, with no particular length of time in mind. We had a rough start, but now we're pros.
Although we didn't do the kind of sleep-training most people seem to prefer, we used our own methods to help our little one. We put her down drowsy and wait until she quiets before we leave the room. She rarely does more than whimper, anymore, but sometimes she cries. We explain that she needs to sleep, and we won't get her out of bed until she does. We will pick her up if she's panicking, and stay in the room with her as long as she's crying. We don't wait until she is asleep to leave, because we don't want to her wake up and wonder where we disappeared to. If she wakes in the middle of the night, my husband goes in if her crying indicates she's upset, and I go in if her crying is because she's hungry.
We feel this is a middle ground between the extremes of “never let your baby cry” and “let your baby figure it out”. This is actually a recent practice, after a lot of time spent trying to figure out exactly where our middle ground was. It took about two weeks for her to adjust, and she sleeps 12-13 hours a night.
I am a stay-at-home-mom, and this was the plan from the beginning. I have much more time with her than other moms do with their little ones, and I think you can observe that in the way she interacts with me and with other people. She is confident and secure, she doesn't latch onto me except when she's tired or sick, and I can do a lot of things for her that working moms can't – like preparing all healthy, wholesome meals (never eating out and not eating prepare meals), making homemade cleaners, and keeping a tidy home.
I love this parenting method. A lot of it fits well into our lifestyle as we had it before our baby was born, so it made for an easier transition. I realize many things might not fit so well into other lifestyles, but I think it has the benefit of producing an incredibly sympathetic child.
What are some things you do or don't like about this method?
Next time: Gentle Parenting