When I was first pregnant, I thought reading about parenting techniques was ridiculous. After a while, though, I started doing my research and noticed that I had, without intending to do so, adopted a plan to attachment parent. While this did sound appealing at first, when I was pregnant and though deciding how you want to parent was just "ridiculous," there are definitely some things I wish I knew before starting attachment parenting.
Attachment parenting (AP) is a parenting style all about developing a strong and healthy bond between parent and baby. It usually and consistently involves compassionate care giving, and while that might mean different things to different people, with attachment parenting it’s all about putting your kid first, sleeping close to them, feeding them when they want, and facilitating as much physical contact as possible.
My son was born with complications (persistent pulmonary hypertension to be exact), and his lengthy NICU stay made my attachment parenting plans more difficult than anticipated. My son was too sick to be carried in a the Moby wrap I’d gotten at my baby shower. The hospital staff would not allow me to feed him on demand, and it complicated my breastfeeding plans as well. While I did frequently sleep on a pull-out couch in his hospital room, we didn’t get to co-sleep the way I’d preferred until he was a bit over 2 months old. Still, regardless of all these hardships, I was able to attachment parent and, well, there were things I wish I would have known when it all started. Come to think of it, even if that hadn’t been the situation, there still would’ve been things about attachment parenting that I wasn’t expecting.
Some Folks Totally Won’t Get It (And They’ll Let You Know It)
Attachment parenting can sound incredibly overwhelming when you first read about it. Many AP parents get that and, to a certain extent, it’s understandable. What isn’t understandable, though, is having people constantly ask you or judge you as you breastfeed your toddler or allow your baby to sleep in your bed.
Co-Sleeping Can Be A Physical Pain In The, Well, Everything
While I don’t want other people commenting on how I shouldn’t be co-sleeping for x, y, and z reasons, that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to complain about it myself. I love my son to the moon and back, but having him in our family bed so frequently takes a toll on my back. Plus, he kicks and punches my husband and I while we sleep. Still, it’s worked well for the most part and we know it’s only temporary, so what’s the rush?
Breastfeeding Isn’t Easy For Everyone
Attachment parenting'a philosophy states that breastfeeding has numerous benefits and that those who are unable should at least attempt to “bottle nurse," which essentially means feeding the baby formula in a way that emulates breast feeding. Before I had my son, I thought nursing would be easy and didn’t understand why more people didn’t do it. Now? Yeah, now I know.
Feeding On Demand Isn’t The Terrible Thing Some Would Make You Think
Some folks will say that feeding a baby on demand will drive you batty, but if you have the ability to watch for your baby’s hunger cues, it really isn’t that difficult. It certainly isn’t going to spoil them, either. Although I didn’t get to do this at first, I fed my son on demand once I brought him home (and still do, though he’s pretty predictable now on when he’s going to be hungry).
Solo Showers Will Become Your Favorite Thing Ever
While co-bathing isn’t a necessary tenet of attachment parenting, it does fall into the same philosophy of staying close to your child. I used to bathe my little one in his own tub but once he reached toddler age, we thought mommy-and-me showers might be fun. They can be, to be sure, but I gotta say; I truly to relish those long showers on my own.
Not All Babies (Or Parents) Will Take To Babywearing
When I was pregnant, nothing seemed more beautiful to me than seeing new mamas carrying around their babies in their gorgeous wraps. I researched different kinds of said wraps and ooh’ed and ah’ed at all the ones available for purchase. When it came time to wear my son, however, babywearing proved to be a challenge. So much so that we only did it for a few months, and then it wasn’t a frequent thing. I wish I would’ve known it doesn’t seamlessly work for everyone.
You’ll Miss Having Personal Space
The name says it all. Attachment parenting. Not "take-a-few-hours-off-every-day" parenting. Not "take-the-occasional-weekend-off" parenting. And while you know it’s what’s working best for your family, sometimes all you’ll want is to be left alone.
People Will Say You’re Spoiling Your Baby
People are always going to make unsolicited comments about your parenting. It’s probably impossible for them not to do so, at this point. But if you mention you’re attachment parenting, or mention some of the AP-related things you do with or for your child, you’re bound to run into folks who will criticize the hell out of you. And to that I say: screw ‘em.
Sometimes Positive Discipline Doesn’t Feel Like It’s Working...
As your little one gets older, you’ll have to start learning how to balance between setting boundaries and positive reinforcement. With attachment parenting, parents are told to use more positive approaches to helping negative behaviors, like redirection and positive praise and talking things through. But once your kid is a toddler, you’ll wonder how the hell they’re ever going to listen to you.
...And Other Times It’s Hard To Keep Your Cool And Stay Positive
There will be people out there telling you that a light spanking won’t harm your child. However, studies have shown that spanking actually only makes children’s negative behaviors even worse. AP parents don’t believe in physically harming their kids, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard (sometimes) to keep our cool, especially when they keep doing things to piss us off over and over again.
At The End Of The Day, You Need To Parent Your Child The Best Way That Works For Your Family
What I wish I’d known the most before becoming a mom and adopting this parenting style is that you don’t actually have to abide by all the “rules." You can take what works from you from any number of parenting techniques, mix and match and add them all up, and do the best things that work for your particular family. There’s never any reason to feel guilty about “failing” at any one specific method or technique, because it’s not failure. It just means that one specific method or technique, wasn’t right for you.