In past generations, parents held their children to strict routines and schedules. After birth, babies were put on a sleeping and feeding schedule that helped parents without necessarily serving the best interests of the child. Recently, an entirely new parenting has taken hold. Attachment parenting is the complete opposite of older theories; children are the center of the parent’s decisions.
Rather than placing a child on a strict eating and sleeping schedule, attachment parenting involves following the baby’s cues as to its needs and wants. Whenever babies show signs of hunger, they are immediately fed. Typically, proponents of attachment parenting endorse breastfeeding. This can mean that newborns eat twelve or more times per day.
Attachment parenting often goes hand-in-hand with baby-led weaning. Instead of starting a schedule of solids at four or six months of age, parents follow the cues of their baby to determine when solids are appropriate. Signs of food readiness include reaching for food, watching the parents eat, and smacking their lips at the sign of food.
Cosleeping is an incredibly important part of attachment parenting. Instead of placing a baby to sleep in their crib or bassinet, they sleep in the parent’s bed. This is typically called the family bed. Cosleeping helps night breastfeeding, since the mother can lull the baby to sleep by feeding them and feed them as they need throughout the night. This is a fairly controversial topic in attachment parenting, since many believe it is unsafe and provides a suffocating risk for babies.
Another important component of attachment parenting is babywearing. This has become very common, even amongst those who do not breastfeed or cosleep. Baby slings, soft carriers, backpack-style carriers, and wraps are some of the many options for babywearing. They are often touted as an alternative to strollers or carseats.
Attachment parenting is a very effective type of parenting. Children that feel safe grow up to be more independent, more affectionate, and kinder than their peers. This type of parenting encourages what is known as a “secure attachment.” That means that a child knows that their caretakers will meet their needs, be available to them, and return whenever they leave. Although they are upset upon their parents’ leaving, they are quickly calmed because they feel secure in the knowledge that they will return. A secure attachment paves the way for healthy relationships and a healthy life.