Attachment Parenting: Is It for You?


“Attachment Parenting: Is It for You?” explores the modern parenting philosophy known as attachment parenting. This article examines the origins of attachment parenting, the principles it entails, and the pros and cons associated with this parenting style. Attachment parenting emphasizes the importance of creating a strong emotional bond between parent and child through empathy, responsiveness, and physical closeness. The article provides a comprehensive overview of the seven principles of attachment parenting, such as birth bonding, breastfeeding, and baby wearing. It also discusses the potential benefits of attachment parenting, including the development of secure attachments and reduced stress. However, the article also acknowledges the potential challenges and drawbacks, such as the pressure to breastfeed and the limited opportunities for breaks. Ultimately, the article recognizes that every family’s parenting approach should be determined by their unique beliefs and circumstances, with safety and best practices always in mind.

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What Is Attachment Parenting?

Attachment parenting is a modern parenting philosophy that emphasizes the importance of forming a close bond between parent and child. The main principles of attachment parenting include empathy, responsiveness, bodily closeness, and touch. This style of parenting is often referred to as natural parenting, as it encourages parents to rely on their instincts when it comes to raising their children.

The Origins of Attachment Parenting

The concept of attachment parenting emerged after World War II as a response to more traditional and detached parenting styles. Benjamin Spock’s handbook, “Baby and Child Care,” which advocated for a more hands-on approach to parenting, laid the groundwork for attachment parenting. William Sears, a pediatrician, further developed the principles of attachment parenting and popularized the term itself through his books.

The Seven B’s of Attachment Parenting

Attachment parenting can be defined by the seven principles known as the Seven B’s. These principles, outlined by William Sears, serve as a guide for parents to create a strong and nurturing attachment with their child. The Seven B’s are as follows:

  1. Birth Bonding: The first six weeks after birth are crucial for forming a healthy parent-child attachment. Skin-to-skin contact, constant presence, and nurturing from the mother are emphasized during this period.

  2. Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is seen as a critical element of attachment parenting. It encourages close physical contact between mother and baby and creates early bonds when the mother responds to her child’s hunger cues.

  3. Baby Wearing: Baby wearing involves keeping the baby close at all times by using slings or wraps. This promotes physical closeness and allows the mother to provide constant touch, comfort, and nurturing while going about daily activities.

  4. Bed Sharing: Bed sharing is encouraged by attachment parenting, as it reduces separation anxiety and provides easy access for breastfeeding. Families should, however, consider safe sleeping practices and make informed decisions regarding sleep arrangements.

  5. Baby’s Crying Is Communication: Attachment parents view a baby’s crying as a means of communication rather than manipulation or misbehavior. They pay close attention to the cries, try to understand their needs, and respond appropriately to foster a strong bond.

  6. Beware of Baby Trainers: Attachment parenting discourages sleep training methods that involve leaving a baby to cry. It emphasizes the importance of responding to a baby’s needs, as opposed to ignoring them, to maintain a strong attachment.

  7. Balance: Attachment parenting recognizes that no one can be a perfect parent all the time. It encourages parents to find a balance between their own needs and those of their child, acknowledging that they won’t always get everything right.

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Pros of Attachment Parenting

Attachment parenting offers several potential benefits for both the child and the parent. Some of the pros of this parenting style include:

  1. Promotes Secure Attachment: Attachment parenting focuses on developing a strong and secure attachment between parent and child. Research suggests that children with secure attachment experience benefits such as better problem-solving skills, increased independence, empathy, resilience, positive relationships, higher self-esteem, and lower risk of depression or anxiety.

  2. Supports Breastfeeding: Attachment parenting encourages and promotes breastfeeding, which aligns with recommendations from organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization. Breastfeeding provides numerous health benefits for both mother and child and can help normalize breastfeeding as a natural and healthy way to nurture and bond with a baby.

  3. Reduces Stress for Positive Development: When parents are responsive to their child’s needs, it reduces stress chemicals in their body. This can have a positive influence on the child’s brain development, helping them become more resilient and better able to cope with stress and regulate their emotions as they grow.

Cons of Attachment Parenting

While attachment parenting has its benefits, there are also some potential downsides to consider. These cons include:

  1. Pressure to Breastfeed: While breastfeeding is encouraged and supported in attachment parenting, there can be societal pressure or stigma if a mother cannot or chooses not to breastfeed. This pressure can impact a mother’s self-esteem and well-being, potentially exacerbating breastfeeding issues or difficulties.

  2. Risk of Bed Sharing: Bed sharing, which is promoted by attachment parenting, carries a potential risk of suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against bed sharing due to these risks, but safe sleeping practices can mitigate some of these concerns. Each family should assess their own situation and follow safe sleeping recommendations.

  3. Not Enough Chance for a Break: The constant closeness and attention demanded by attachment parenting can be emotionally and physically exhausting for some parents. This may leave little opportunity for parents to establish their own sense of self, engage in self-care, or maintain healthy eating and sleeping patterns.

  4. Leaves Dads Out: Some aspects of attachment parenting, as advocated by William Sears, place a greater emphasis on mothers as the primary caregivers. This dynamic may not suit families where fathers play a more significant caregiving role or in same-sex households. Excluding or minimizing the role of dads in parenting can hinder their bonding opportunities and place additional pressure on mothers.

In conclusion, attachment parenting is a modern parenting philosophy that emphasizes empathy, responsiveness, bodily closeness, and touch. It emerged as a response to more traditional parenting styles and gained popularity through the works of Benjamin Spock and William Sears. Attachment parenting offers potential benefits such as promoting secure attachment, supporting breastfeeding, and reducing stress for positive development. However, it also has potential downsides, including pressure to breastfeed, the risk of bed sharing, limited breaks for parents, and the exclusion of dads. Ultimately, the decision to adopt an attachment parenting style should be based on individual family needs and circumstances, while also considering safety recommendations and personal well-being.

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