In the early days with Munchkin, when she wouldn't sleep, wouldn't settle and I didn't know what to do - I found Attachment Parenting International on the internet one night and cried - there were other people who felt like me! Their eight principles should be handed out to all new mothers in my terribly humble opinion.
Now, API have a wonderful new site with a blog and forums and all sorts of wonderful information. Head over and check it out. I laughed though because already debate is starting on their forums and in their blog comments about the very sensitive definition of attachment parenting. Its very easy for people in attachment parenting circles to become precious about 'how to do it', and for mothers to end up feel like they aren't 'AP' enough to belong.
To me, being an attachment parent is about an attitude, and a belief - rather than a set of ‘have tos’. Attachment parenting is wanting to develope a very strong bond with your baby, to give your baby as many of the proven benefits of having a strong primary attachment.
The core AP practices according to William Sears who developed the AP approach are ‘birth bonding, babywearing , responding to your baby’s cries, breastfeeding, sharing sleep (which can be sleeping in the same room) and balance'.
AP doesn’t have to mean breastfeeding for-ever, but it does mean weaning gradually with love rather than cold turkey. For a lot of AP mums, this will mean child led weaning at whatever age this happens. But if you want your body back and feel exhausted breastfeeding your two year old, this doesn't mean you are not 'AP enough'.
AP certainly doesn’t mean no boundaries or discipline, but it does mean no smacking or harsh punishments. Think 'loving guidance' not 'anything goes'.
AP doesn’t mean no routine, but it does mean feeding on baby’s cues especially in the early days, and working gently towards a routine that suits everyone.
AP doesn’t always mean no bottles, although it is strongly pro-breastfeeding. But you would give the bottle lovingly, holding your baby gently and close. You can ‘fail’ at breastfeeding and still get an ‘A+’ in Attachment Parenting.
AP definately doesn’t mean no-nappies (or cloth nappies). But no-nappy people find it makes them feel they know their babys better - not something I have done though!
AP doesn’t even have to mean no strollers. Strollers can be really handy. But AP parents also want to spend time with baby close, especially if they are upset, so AP parents are likely to use a sling or baby carrier especially for the first six months or so until they can crawl!
AP does stress the importance of a happy baby and wider family, so BALANCE is the most important Attachment Parenting principle.
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