Attachment parenting is quite a controversy in the parenting circles and as a parent, I can understand why. I’ve learned that parenting is about instinct and mostly winging it. There is no rule book. Only a million parenting opinions, and growing babies and children. My instinct told me to carry my child whenever she seems uncomfortable and attend to her every need. I am only recently learning that this parenting style is called attachment parenting. Parenting was a hard enough reality for us. It was hard enough trying to navigate around our newly found schedule.
The concept of attachment parenting (AP) centers around constantly responding to your child’s needs as and when they arise. This refers to feeding, comforting, and bodily closeness. An example of this kind of parenting is feeding your child when they show signs of being hungry as opposed to feeding on a strict schedule. Another simple example is comforting your child whenever they cry instead of leaving them to cry it out and move on.
People criticize attachment parenting on the basis that it takes away the child independents. These are the same people that argue that parents should not respond to a child’s cry immediately as this might spoil them. Some of the criticisms for this kind of parenting is based on the idea that AP creates dependence, spoils a child, limits autonomy and crafts separation anxiety.
People argue that AP kids have limited capacity to make decisions on their own because they have grown dependant on their mothers making the decision for them. It’s said that a child that grows up in an AP setting, gets their way as they know which buttons to press to get away with murder because AP encourages gentle discipline. AP babies have limited time to be on their own and explore as much as possible when they are still infants. This is because the AP philosophy encourages parents to hold the baby and be as close to them as possible.
Separation anxiety is a reality for most moms and babies when mommy goes back to work. This reality becomes a lot more overwhelming for both mother and child with AP. Another disadvantage of extreme close attachment are children who refuse to interact with other children or family members if their parent isn’t close by or beside them.
These fears and criticisms are genuine and valid but there are greater advantages to balanced attachment parenting. Balanced AP is attachment parenting in moderation. Comforting your child without coddling them too much. Feeding your baby outside of a schedule when necessary. Guiding your child but giving them enough space to explore on their own.
I’m part of the AP team. I’ve used this parenting method on my 1-year-old daughter and it hasn’t failed us yet. Attachment parenting creates a close bond between mother or father and child. It’s a parent’s way of making your child feel safe and secure. Can you imagine you’ve been a nice warm place for 9 months, and all of a sudden you are in the big world and expected to be independent? It just sounds like a harsh way to aid an infant to develop. Children need to feel safe, and nothing screams you are safe than being attended to by a parent.
According to a blog named Everything Tiny: “As the child grows and feels more secure in her relationship with her mother, she is better able to explore the world around her and to develop strong, healthy bonds with other important people in her life.”
Another form of AP is “baby wearing”. This is wrapping your child close to you whether you use a blanket, a wrapping cloth or carrying your child on your back. There is no place as safe as mommy and daddy’s chest/body. This is the reason why maternity clinics and hospitals encourage skin-to-skin after the birth of a child. Baby-wearing, like skin-to-skin, is both beneficial and convenient for both mother and child. It’s convenient for mommy as it frees her hands to do other stuff like cleaning up or doing some shopping. Mommy can also nurse very accessibly. You can read all about my breastfeeding journey here. Not only does it encourage a special bond between parent and child, but kids that are carried in slings are also always much calmer and cry less.
An independent infant is an external requirement. There is no parenting rule book. We all raise our children the way we all see fit. There is, therefore, no rule that says you must leave your child howling for 5 minutes for them to learn independence or get into a convenient sleeping schedule. Attachment parenting also has no rule book but encourages a healthier bond between infant and mother.
-Babywearing using a sling
-Feeding on demand
-Attending quickly to crying
This article was published on The Saturday Citizen on the 26th of January 2019.
Edited by Thando Bella Khoza and Thami Kwazi