America's Parent Series: Attachment Parenting and Our JJ Approach

*Disclaimer for following blog: I am FAR from a perfect parent. Every parent is entitled to raise their child as they see fit. I am not “bashing” or “discounting” any parenting style.*

Since I’ve been a newly designated “stay at home mom,” (at least, for now) I’ve had a unique opportunity to observe other parents and how they interact with their children. I believe I’ve been looking for tips or tricks on being out and about with a baby, perhaps how I can make an outing more enriching or productive for both of us. The answers to my inquiries are far from resolved but I have noticed one consistent thing with all of the parents: Every single one is drastically different. I’m incredibly interested in the many different styles of parenting and will start with my own.

My parenting style is very simple: I do what feels right. I haven’t read a single baby book, I haven’t committed to a single parenting style, and I haven’t ever, EVER ignored my instinct. The mother’s instinct always conquers trouble. I never researched attachment parenting styles until recently and was surprised that a lot of the practices in our home fit in with this particular parenting approach.

I’m only going to address the areas in which I have experience, considering that my baby is only six months old. Much more information exists on a wide array of attachment parenting, most of which I haven't even read.

Attachment parenting encourages breastfeeding
I desperately tried to breastfeed and failed miserably, and it was right for both of us to switch to formula. I did everything I could to keep the breastfeeding going, but all of us were at our wits end and for the sake of all of our sanities, we had to switch. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but we were happier in the end, so that is all that matters.

Attachment parenting encourages co-sleeping
We tried co-sleeping but JJ slept much better without me tossing and turning all night long. Then we tried sleeping in the same room for a while, but JJ still woke with the tossing, turning, and noise that Jerry and I made in our sleep. When I switched him to a crib, he slept like, well, a baby. I am still amazed and very thankful now that he's sleeping in his own crib.

Attachment parenting encourages baby wearing
This one I can do. Other than today, I can’t remember a time when I pulled out my stroller out in public. Sure, I use the stroller when we’re going out for a jog, but when I’m out, JJ is usually in the Mei Tai or the Moby wrap. He loves it and its super comfortable, even for a 22 pound baby. When he gets tired of the baby wearing, or I need to bend or pick up a bunch of heavy objects, he’s in the cart, armed with his seat cover and toys galore. Today was the exception: I injured my knee yesterday and didn’t think that carrying 22 extra pounds on it was a great idea. I felt a little guilty about JJ being in the stroller and missing a lot of the sights, but my knee needs to be healthy for him.

At home, I wear JJ while I’m vacuuming, loading the dishwasher, folding clothes… pretty much anything that doesn’t involve the use of chemicals that he could breathe in, or a lot of bending over. He loves it.

Attachment parenting encourages natural sleep
Just the thought of sleep training makes me cringe. In my opinion, sleep training breaks a baby’s natural cycle of sleep and adjusts it to fit that of the parent. I have quite strong opinions on this: It’s selfish. It’s unhealthy. It crushes a baby’s confidence and trust in mom and dad, even if the training only takes a few days. Its future consequences far outweigh the short term benefits. When JJ is tired, I put him to bed. When he is awake, we do other things. We fell into a natural rhythm of sleeping at night and being awake during the day because we were so close when he was tiny. He’s made his own schedule and I stick to it faithfully. Granted, when he goes back to daycare, it will change again. We will adjust when the time comes.

He never cries when he wakes on his own after confidently getting just the right amount of sleep that his body needs. He falls asleep soundly on his own, because both he and I have learned what to do when he’s tired. We never miss an opportunity to nap. Ever. Even at daycare, the natural sleep cycle prevailed and he slept well there.

Another important thing about sleeping: I always respond to JJ’s calls at night. In fact, I always promptly respond to all of his calls and cries. He feels confident that if something is wrong, I’ll be there to fix it. If he wakes up and nothing is wrong, he goes back to sleep. I did nothing to encourage this cycle; it just happened naturally on its own. As it should. He sometimes sleeps 13 hours at night and usually takes three 45 – 60 minute naps a day. Sleeping is not painful or uncomfortable, so no crying involved.

All of these things worked for our family, so that’s what we have done and are currently doing.

Attachment parenting as potential prevention of Post Partum Depression
This one surprised me. Several resources out there have pointed to Attachment Parenting as prevention and even treatment for post partum depression. The reason for this is that attachment parenting builds confidence in the parent to do the instinctive thing for the baby. I can say from personal experience, a major symptom of PPD is extreme paranoia about unintentionally neglecting your child or not doing the right thing. With increased confidence that communication with your baby is at a premium, the paranoia eventually withers away, leaving a secure baby and parent.

Yes, some parents reading this will think “She’s lucky to have such an easy baby.” I believe there are no such things as “easy” or “difficult” babies. All babies are the exact same when they come out of the womb. They all have the same basic needs (with the exception of preemies, colicky, or other special needs babies, of course.) It’s the parent that makes or breaks the “easy baby” blessing, not the other way around.

Like I said earlier, I am not discounting any styles of parenting, nor am I endorsing attachment style parenting. I’m merely exploring the different types of child-rearing practices, including those in other countries. I’m amazed at the diversity of each parent and with this exploration; I’m hoping to become a better one.

1 comment:

Starla Rae said...

Each parenting style is different and each baby is different. My philosophy is "If it works great! If it doesn't work, change it." If you guys are going to have another baby just keep in mind that not everything that worked with JJ will with the new baby. Somethings will, but be prepared to be flexible.

Brittany was a hands off baby. Part of that was because she stayed in NICU for almost 2 months. Vincent was a hold me until I sleep baby. I spent many nights on the couch with him because he would wake if you tried to put him down. Chelsea is a mommy's girl, but she refuses to be carried around now that she is mobile. I never tried to get Britt to sleep. If I put her down she would just sleep. Vincent we went through a period of having to let him cry it out because we just couldn't do it any more with him sleeping on the couch with us. We needed him to adjust to the bed. Chelsea slept in the swing a lot, but now is easy to transition to bed.

It would be an interesting book to write about narratives from a parents perspective of their child. Not advice, but just the what has worked and what doesn't for their child.

PS I am glad you are getting in the one on one time with the little one.


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