Trying to sway an opinion when it comes to our parenting method – in this case, attachment parenting – is about as easy as getting a two year old to simultaneously eat their vegetables, use the potty and sleep through the night without an issue. While that is a dream scenario for any parent, it isn’t that far-fetched. (If they are done individually, on different nights, and the parent has a lot of patience)
Changing someone’s mind, or their beliefs, is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreo’s. While these situations and how we parent are inclusive to each of us individually, I do hope that I can offer some suggestions that will change your perspective and mindset in some areas.
We want to raise our kids with values, expectations, manners, and awareness. As parents, our goal is to raise amazing humans so when they leave the nest, they are capable, well-adjusted adults who can make it on their own. From childhood we shape them into the people they will be in 20, 30 and 50 years in the future. We provide them with the basics they need; food, clothing, housing, and most of all, involvement in their lives. There is no better gift we can give our kids than our time.
It comes as no surprise that we take these decisions to heart, and are very serious in how we parent our children. Advice from others often goes in one ear, and out the other.
Many people follow an attachment parenting plan, and while I see the appeal in it, it is not the way I have parented my children, though I am interested in learning more.
Attached at the Hip…Literally
The Ideas Behind Attachment Parenting
As parents, we first and foremost want our kids to know we love them, without fail no matter what. We want them to learn they can trust us and come to us with any issue.
We instinctively shower them with affection, hug them often, hold their hand, and protect them with every ounce of our being ready to take down anyone who dares to cause angst to our precious cargo.
If you have not heard of attachment parenting, it is a philosophy that was popularized in a 1993 publication called “The Baby Book”, written by Dr’s William and Martha Sears. To summarize, the idea is creating maximum closeness and responsiveness with your baby. You wear your baby whenever possible, if baby cries, you are there immediately to console them, they sleep with you during naps and through the night. If baby is hungry, you breastfeed or bottle feed on demand.
In theory, this attachment plan will create a strong bond between mother and baby, which will result in a well-adjusted child/children who grow up to be happy and healthy members of society who contribute in positive ways.
These theories have been debated endlessly, and not without a lot of passionate debate, though there is no strong evidence where attachment parenting is better or worse than any other style of parenting. If you would like to delve further into attachment parenting, Google search that term and you will be provided with many articles with an abundance of information that will keep you busy for the next ten years.
However, this is not the full purpose of today’s discussion. We are debating whether attachment parenting and sleep training are mutually exclusive.
The Seven B’s of Attachment Parenting
Attachment Parenting Ideology
- Birth Bonding
- Baby Wearing
- Bedding Close to Baby
- Belief in the Language Value of Your Baby’s Cry
- Beware of Baby Trainers
Some of my clients are big believers in attachment parenting ideology, though some have also confessed that they are not exactly following it “by the book” so to speak.
You have seen the “Seven B’s” listed above, and let’s be honest, some of them took a little more liberty to be part of the B’s, but he’s a doctor, he isn’t winning any prizes for being a match for Robert Frost.
The first three really don’t have much to do with sleep training; breastfeeding is necessary to feed your baby, bonding with your baby is important during all wakes of life and if you want to be a candidate for back surgery in 20 years, wear that little lug up and down Red Rocks if you please. (I know a lot of Chiropractors if that is your jam!) I’m just trying to be funny. I love baby wearing and did it with both of my boys! However, if that is the only way your baby will sleep – let’s talk! The next three that follow are the “B’s” that may give our avid attachment parenting folks a brief time out.
Bed sharing, one of Dr. Sear’s favorite B’s, is the same as sleeping with baby. Many people think pediatric sleep coaches are firmly against parents sharing a bed with their babes, and while we are not against it per se, I for one feel that both you and your sweet dreaming bundle of joy sleep better when you’re not fighting for pillow space. Just like too many cooks in a kitchen spoil the dish, too many limbs in a bed make for a restless night for all.
Is there a middle ground? No, not really. If you’re constantly within reach of your little one, it is not allowing them to learn to sleep independently. We are not all that rigid, there are a lot of parents, many first timers, who sleep better with their babies nearby and with that, I say compromise! What about a crib in the room, instead of baby in the bed? Of course. There are always solutions we can work around.
Crying and Baby Trainers
Let us talk about crying, and the reasons for it. Most of the time it is how babies show that something is amiss. Tummy upset, wet diaper, hangry (who isn’t near tears when you are starving?), regardless the reason, it’s our wee one’s way to show us who’s boss. Be wary, not all tears are legitimate. Babies learn very quickly what works to get your attention and use it to their advantage.
This does not mean that with sleep training I urge you to let them “cry it out” until they are exhausted. I like to allow no more than ten minutes before you tend to baby. It is a good idea to see if they will fall asleep on their own, though I do not suggest leaving them until morning without checking on them. That is not a sleep training technique I follow. It just isn’t necessary. Also, if you want to hold your babies hand through the entire process, cool! I can work with that as well! Again, let’s meet YOUR needs as the parent as well!
“Beware of Baby Trainers”, Dr. Sear’s most feared B, if there ever was one! As a Pediatric Sleep Specialist, I can say with certainty, we are all passionate about helping families. As parents ourselves, we too have been in your shoes, skeptical of the money hungry “sleep professionals” who have time to brush their teeth AND their hair and somehow also wear matching shoes. Trust us, we feel for you, and we do what we do because we want to help you. We really do.
This brings us to the last of the B’s…Balance.
This B is only feasible if you have a cook, a nanny, a housekeeper, a King Size bed, and woodland creatures to dress you in clean, spit-up free outfits fresh from the laundry daily. However, it is possible to find a balance that works for YOU. There are no right or wrong ways to go about your day, if you are finding a balance that is sustainable for you and your family. Stop comparing yourself to the mom’s on social media. Find moms who are there for you when you need to cry and when you have an amazing moment to share. That is balance.
So, to circle back when I said attachment parenting is not for me. It is the stigma associated with it that is not for me. Making sure my children’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met day in and day out while also meeting them with endless cuddles and teaching them how to process emotions appropriately is my parenting style. I am on a mission to end mom guilt and mom shaming and from my position, attachment parenting comes with far too much of both of these!
Denver Sleep Help for Your Baby
If you need help getting your baby to sleep, reach out to Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby today! We love to help tired parents and babies get on track with their sleeping and learn new sleep skills. We help families in Denver, Colorado, Kansas City, and throughout the United States! Contact us today!