During my first pregnancy I read every damn pregnancy book on the market. I was up to my neck with “What to Expect” this and “Ferber Method” that. So by the time I hit the nine month mark, I thought I knew EVERYTHING. I think we all know how that works out.
One thing I was adamant on was doing things the attachment parenting way. I wanted to breastfeed exclusively, co-sleep, baby wear, etc. If you could label it “attachment parenting” then dammit, I was doing it. For the most part, I succeeded in doing the whole AP dance for well over a year. I even made my own baby food. I was like Martha Stewart, if Martha Stewart went to the grocery store in pajama pants. Thankfully I don’t do THAT anymore, and I also dropped a lot of the AP stuff the second and third times around.
That being said, there are quite a few things I wish I had asked myself before jumping into the attachment parenting pool feet first. Thankfully my loss is your gain, new moms!
10. What is attachment parenting?
Attachment parenting is also sometimes known as the Sears Method, but it’s more of a lifestyle choice if you ask me. it’s based on the attachment theory of developmental psychology. Sears believes that the physical bond that a child grows with their caregivers in infancy has a huge effect on them later in life. Like everything in the parenting world, it’s SUPER controversial. Because judgment.
9. WTF constitutes attachment parenting? What isn’t? Does anyone really agree on this?
Quick answer? NO. No one agrees. I had my oldest child before everyone and their grandma had the internet, and seeing as my partner and I were two poor college kids we didn’t even have a computer, so I didn’t get to witness the wonder that is attachment parenting forums. If you take a look at these forums (not something I suggest if you want to keep your dignity intact) you will see that there is a huge divide over what exactly constitutes being AP. Do you HAVE to co-sleep? Can you sleep train at all? Is nursing a must? What if you CAN’T nurse? Hardcore AP activists say you should homeschool and home birth, others say AP ends at toddlerhood. The list goes on.
8. Will attachment parenting turn my kid into an asshole?
Unlike what certain bloggers seem to think, NO, AP won’t necessarily turn your kid into a jerkface. People who think that haven’t read anything about AP beyond a few hysterical sounding articles like the piece Time magazine did a while back with the mom nursing her 3-year-old on the cover. AP is NOT simply answering your child’s every whimper with no thought to your own needs or what needs to be done. That would be insanity. The point is to have as much physical contact with your child as you can, like wearing him in a sling rather than using a stroller everywhere you go, or co-sleeping. You obviously still gotta do what you gotta do, be that taking a shower, making a cup of coffee or whatever. But even if you DID answer every whine, it wouldn’t matter because “spoiling” your infant won’t make them bad people. Nursing until the age of three won’t make them bad people. NOT teaching them to be good people makes them bad people. DUH.
7. Is AP for everyone?
Obviously not. Just like the Ferber Method doesn’t work for every family, or other various techniques, AP won’t work for every family. It’s especially hard if you need to go back to work, as I learned with my second daughter. It’s not always easy to pump at work, co-sleeping makes getting a good seven hours damn near impossible, and you can forget about making your own baby food when you’re too tired to make adult food. Not everyone is suited to the AP lifestyle, and it gets harder as your family grows.
6. Does it count as AP if you don’t do everything the book says?
It counts if you damn well say it count. It’s a silly label for darn sake. Who cares if you couldn’t nurse for three years, or even three weeks. It’s NOT the end of the world if you don’t want to make baby food. Your baby WILL live if you decide not to co-sleep (in fact many pediatricians advise against it). Don’t get caught up on the semantics when you could be doing you and enjoying your little bundle of
(Photo: Eric P. Olson)
5. Will AP make me miserable?
Honestly? Sometimes it can suck. But I loved co-sleeping and making jars of baby food and things like that. Baby wearing got old pretty fast, but it was nice to be close to my daughter during those early months. Breastfeeding was HARD at first. Cracked nipples ain’t no joke, for reals, but once I got the hang of it I enjoyed the bonding time. Parenting a newborn is never going to be easy, and I don’t think attachment parenting made it any harder for me, though it certainly didn’t make it easier either.
4. What do doctors think?
Like those pesky AP forum moms, the jury is out about a lot of AP tactics, especially co-sleeping. For the most part there doesn’t seem to be any negative data on baby wearing, or most of the other classic AP moves, and the CDC actually recommends that children be nursed until at least the age of 12 months and go as long as the child will allow it. So for the most part you should be all good, but I think it’s always a good idea to talk to your pediatrician. Hell, I call my kid’s doctor when they break a nail.
(Photo: Chris Kealy)
3. Who is Doctor Sears and why should I listen to him?
This jaunty fellow is Dr. William Sears a.k.a Dr. Bill (which his site swears he goes by, but that is legit the only place). While Doctor B might not have the flowing, luscious beard that Dr. Ferber does, he does have decades of experience and 30 books on parenting under his belt. Fun fact! Dr. Sear’s son is Jim Sears, co-host on the daytime TV show “The Doctors.”
2. When do you start AP and when does it end?
Unlike techniques like Ferberizing, where you have a particular goal like sleep training, AP is, as I mentioned before, a lifestyle. So you typically start from the moment your little bugger pops out. Hospitals have even gotten into the game, offering “rooming in” for new moms where your baby stays with you the entire time instead of going to a nursery. The hospital where I had my oldest and youngest actually only offered rooming in. The nursery was only for sick babies. As for when it ends, that’s up to you as parents. You can stop the moment your baby weans or go as far as homeschooling as part of your AP lifestyle.
(Photo: Sanders’ Photo Design)
1. Was it worth it?
As much as I DON’T regret NOT doing the whole AP with my second and third kids, I am glad I gave AP a whirl. I still have a strong bond with my oldest (not that it’s any stronger than with my other two, mind you) and I have wonderful memories of her milky little breath as she slept next to me. That being said, I still nursed my other kids, and occasionally made baby food, but I didn’t feel the need to be as obsessive as I was in the past, and for that I am even more grateful.
(Photo: Olesya Feketa)