From experience, I think practicing attachment parenting (AP) principles has had a positive impact on my children and my family as a whole. I believe in it so much that I’ve become an AP Advocate to help spread the word about how awesome this form of parenting is.
You may come to realize after reading the principles below that you are indeed practicing this. It is what comes NATURALLY! Nothing is forced, nothing is weird, nothing is crazy. Below I have listed the principles as stated on the Attachment Parenting International website and my own interpretation of what each means. This may be a good post to bookmark since you may want to refer to it often.
“The long-range vision of Attachment Parenting is to raise children who will become adults with a highly developed capacity for empathy and connection. It eliminates violence as a means for raising children, and ultimately helps to prevent violence in society as a whole.”
- Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting – Educate yourself and set expectations that are realistic for you and your family. For example, don’t think that taking care of a newborn will only require that you feed it and then you’ll get countless hours of sleep. It’s quite the opposite. Expect that your newborn will need you and will want to be near you all the time. Your child will need you from the moment s/he is conceived until they are well into adulthood. Be prepared to be there with them and to guide them.
- Feed with Love and Respect – Every mother wants what is best for her child whether it is breastfeeding, using donated milk, formula, etc. The basic idea of this principle is to provide the best and healthiest option available that works for you and your family. Although I would advocate breast milk be the number one choice, I completely understand that this isn’t always possible. I had to supplement with formula for several months because that’s what needed to be done. I chose to do this out of love and respect for my child.
- Respond with Sensitivity – Being able to be sensitive and attune to your child’s needs is key. It builds confidence and trust in each other. Babies do not come equipped with the ability to self-soothe or to calm themselves, you are there to teach and guide. If they need a hug or comfort, give it to them. Don’t let them cry it out!! One way that has helped our family is teaching babies sign language! Give them the ability to communicate and you’ll be able to respond more effectively and efficiently to their needs.
- Use Nurturing Touch – I love the way my little ones’ skin feels. So soft and pure. Touching your child in a loving and nurturing way fulfills so many needs they have including affection, security, stimulation and movement. From the start we did skin-to-skin contact and we were lucky enough to find doctors, nurses and a hospital that encouraged breastfeeding and IMMEDIATE skin-to-skin contact as soon as baby came into this world.
- Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally – Co-sleeping is an amazing experience. Our family co-sleeps because it works for our family (and it is so much easier with night nursing!). By having our children close to us at night gives them the comfort they need and to ensure they know we are close by to respond to any sort of fear or discomfort they may have during the night. A lot of families have given up their beautiful beds that are 4 feet off the floor and opted for mattresses on the floor so that baby doesn’t roll off the bed and fall.
- Provide Consistent and Loving Care – There are times when my kids are ALWAYS at my feet but I remind myself that they want to be close to me. They have a need to be physically near me. By providing a response to their needs (not always immediate), they know that I love them and are confident that I will give them what they need. When my husband and I are not available, we use one babysitter who my kids trust as well as us. Allowing our children to help us choose a sitter was extremely important because we were able to find someone who would care for them and respond to their needs the way we would.
- Practice Positive Discipline – We are still working on this one. The ability to figure out what causes a specific reaction or behavior from your child can sometimes be very difficult. However, understanding your child and communicating with them can help move you in the right direction.
- Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life – Stressed and sleep deprived parents aren’t effective parents. Find time for yourself whether it is going out on a lunch date while the kids are at home with your trusted sitter. Or sneak away after the kids have gone to bed for the night. Another option is to take turns going out with friends. Whichever way works best for your family, make sure expectations are set for everyone in the family and the everyone in the family gets a break. Working full time, owning my own business, being a military wife, and a mother to two toddlers is hard work but being able to get away for a couple of hours to get a massage or read a book does wonders.
My daughter is one of the most loving people I know. When she’s sitting next to you she will rub your arm, give you hugs and kisses without being asked/prompted, she is motherly, and so much more. My son is becoming the same way with random kisses and huge smiles while looking directly in your eyes melts everyone’s heart. These children rarely hit (except for the times when they were testing their boundaries) and opt to share their things. It is amazing.
I hope you’ll share your AP experiences with us too.
Remember to become educated before making a decision or listening to an “expert”. Knowledge is power.