Modern parenting is split into so many different groups and philosophies, it's difficult to keep track. From "crunchy" moms to "silky" moms to the combination "scrunchy" moms, there's an endless list of ways to categorize your parenting choices. I've always combined different parenting styles until I find what's right for myself, my baby, and our family, but if I had to pick one "style" that best describes me it would be attachment parenting (AP). In fact, there are more than a few things AP moms do that every mom should try, if you ask me.
If you consider yourself an attachment parent, you're probably a fan (and advocate for) extended breastfeeding, babywearing, responding to babies cries immediately, co-sleeping, and gentle discipline. Not every single aspect of AP parenting works for my family, though, so I don't think it's too far fetched to assume not every single aspect works for other AP moms, too. That's why it's always worth noting that most parents don't fit into neat little groups or follow every single "suggestion" within a group. For example, some AP moms use strollers, some silky moms (who enjoy the conveniences of modern technology) breastfeed, and some stay-at-home moms have found a way to work inside the home. Moms are flexible and fluid, so we can change our practices and routines to suit our babies needs at any time and for any number of reasons.
I have also found out that we can always learn more from other moms, especially those moms who make different parenting choices. With that in mind, here are a few parenting practices AP moms usually utilize that we should all try:
Whether or not you choose or are able to breastfeed, skin-to-skin contact is an amazing way to bond with your baby. This practice, also called "kangaroo care," involves holding your naked baby to your bare chest. Just how magical is this decision? Well, it's been found to improve life expectancy for premature babies. That's magic, my friends.
It doesn't matter what type of mom you are or end up being, skin-to-skin is arguably the best cuddle you'll ever have.
Using a wrap or baby carrier is incredibly convenient, especially when your baby is small. It frees up your hands and allows you to hike, go up and down stairs, and move around with ease.
There's no reason why you have to baby wear 100 percent of the time, either. I have two strollers (one for running and a small one that travels well.) I just have a soft structured carrier or wrap always at the ready, too.
Co-sleeping is a popular part of attachment parenting. Advocates claim it increases bonding, leads to better sleep for all, and is safe practice when done correctly. It isn't without controversy, though, and bed-sharing in particular has many doctors suggesting it isn't a safe sleep practice. For example, the March of Dimes suggests all babies sleep in their own bed.
Even if you don't wish to co-sleep, napping with your baby can still be a lovely experience. My suggestion? Just be sure to follow safety rules. Don't drink alcohol, don't smoke, don't take narcotics or a sleeping aid, and don't put a bunch of covers and pillows on your bed.
Trusting Your Intuition
In my experience, AP moms listen to their intuition and believe they know what their babies need the most. There are so many parenting experts with conflicting philosophies and beliefs, so listening to that gut feeling that guides you towards your own choices is easily the best thing any parent could do.
It's a good reminder to us all that we are experts in our own babies. We have what they need and we know them better than anyone else.
Use Anatomically Correct Names For Body Parts
Attachment parents believe in body positivity and teach their children the correct names for their body parts. In my opinion, we should all be teaching our children to use anatomically correct names for all of their body parts.
An eye is an eye, an arm is an arm, and a penis is a penis. The New York Times reported that by providing children with the correct language to describe their bodies, we can make them less vulnerable to abuse and help them to develop a positive body image.
Practice Gentle Discipline
Physical violence is never the answer. One of the things that appealed to me about AP is gentle discipline. Children need the opportunity to talk about their feelings and have emotional support to cope when they can't control their feelings.
As parents we're role models, and can show our children how to work through difficult emotions without resulting to spanking.
Spend Time Alone
OK, AP moms aren't really known for taking time away from their kids to concentrate on self-care. Still, being alone and taking the time to nurture your own self interests and talents, essentially being more than a mom, is so important for our self-worth and identity.
AP moms, like all moms, often neglect their own needs for the sake of their children. That's not necessary. AP moms, like all moms, need some time to focus on themselves, and only themselves.