I’ve learnt that parenting is about instinct and mostly winging it. There is no rule book. Only a million parenting opinions and growing babies and children.
My instinct told me to carry my child whenever she seemed uncomfortable and to attend to her every need. I am only recently learning that this parenting style is called attachment parenting.
Attachment parenting is quite controversial in parenting circles and I can understand why. The concept of attachment parenting (AP) centres around constantly responding to your child’s needs as they arise. This includes feeding, comforting and bodily closeness.
An example of this kind of parenting is feeding your child when he or she show signs of being hungry, as opposed to feeding on a strict schedule. Another simple example is comforting your child whenever he or she cries instead of leaving them to cry it out and move on.
People criticise AP on the basis that it takes away the child’s independence. These people argue that parents should not respond to a child’s cry immediately as this might spoil them. Some of the criticisms are based on the idea that AP creates dependence, spoils a child, limits autonomy and crafts separation anxiety.
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People argue that AP kids have limited capacity to make decisions on their own because they have grown dependant on their mothers making decisions for them.
It’s said that children who grow up in an AP setting know which buttons to press, so get away with murder because AP encourages gentle discipline.
AP babies have limited time on their own to explore as much as possible when they are still infants. This is because the AP philosophy encourages parents to hold the baby and be as close to them as possible.
Separation anxiety is a reality for most moms and babies when mommy goes back to work. This reality becomes a lot more overwhelming for both mother and child with AP. Another disadvantage is that children may refuse to interact with other children or family members if their parent isn’t close by or beside them.
These fears and criticisms are genuine and valid but there are greater advantages to balanced attachment parenting.
Balanced AP is attachment parenting in moderation. Comforting your child without coddling them. Feeding outside a schedule when necessary. Guiding but giving your child enough space to explore.
I’m part of the AP team. I’ve used this parenting method on my one-year-old daughter and it hasn’t failed us yet.
AP creates a close bond between mother or father and child. It’s a parent’s way of making a child feel secure. Can you imagine? You’ve been a nice warm place for nine months, and all of a sudden you are in the big world and expected to be independent?
It just sounds harsh. Children need to feel safe and nothing screams “you are safe” than being attended to by a parent.
According to a blog named “Everything Tiny”: “As the child grows and feels more secure in her relationship with her mother, she is better able to explore the world around her and to develop strong, healthy bonds with other important people in her life.”
Another form of AP is “baby wearing”. This is wrapping your child close to you, whether you use a blanket, a wrapping cloth or carry your child on your back. There is no place as safe as mommy or daddy’s chest/body. This is the reason why maternity clinics and hospitals encourage skin-to-skin contact after the birth of a child.
Baby wearing, like skin-to-skin, is beneficial and convenient. It frees Mommy’s hands to do other stuff, like cleaning up or shopping. Mommy can also nurse accessibly. Not only does it encourage a special bond between parent and child, kids carried in slings are always much calmer. An independent infant is an external requirement.
There is no parenting rule book. No rule says you must leave your child howling for five minutes for them to learn independence or get into a convenient sleeping schedule. AP also has no rule book but encourages a healthier bond between infant and mother.
How to establish AP
- Baby wearing using a sling
- Feed on demand
- Attend quickly to crying
Karabo Motsiri is the founder of the website blackmomchronicles.com