Attachment parenting is one approach to raising kids that can easily be misunderstood. While the experience varies widely, this method appears to require parents (primarily mothers) to devote every single moment to the child with baby-wearing, co-sleeping, and on-demand breastfeeding. But as the common attachment parenting myths go to show, this particular method of parenting can be misrepresented. Attachment parenting can be adapted to fit many families' needs, because it isn't a one-size-fits-all set of rules.
Popularized by the publication of The Attachment Parenting Book : A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby by pediatrician William Sears and registered nurse Martha Sears in 2001, attachment parenting advocates deeply bonding with your baby. The six "Baby B's" that form the background of this parenting style include Bonding, Breastfeeding, Baby-wearing, and Bedding close to baby, as well as a Belief in the language value of baby's cry, and the warning to Beware of baby trainers. This intense form of attachment is seen as a nurturing way to raise a child in a seemingly detached world.
In the past few years attachment parenting has gained its share of advocates and detractors. For instance, attachment parenting (AP) has been criticized as needlessly exhausting to new mothers, as well as a privileged choice, as noted in Romper. However, the parenting approach still has its supporters as well.
"The bottom line is that when you separate the popular exaggerations of AP from the more objectively-oriented scientific studies, it’s a sensible approach that fosters physical and psychological health in children," wrote Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., ABPP, a Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in Psychology Today. To get a better sense of the parenting style overall, consider the myths about attachment parenting.
1. Attachment Parenting Involves A Lot Of Rules.
This approach to parenting isn't focused on following a set of rules. "Attachment parenting is a concept that is all about connecting and forming relationships between parent and child," Lisa Ricciuti, an Attachment Parenting International Accredited Leader, tells Romper. It's not as much about the tools and techniques, she adds, such as baby wearing, co-sleeping, or breastfeeding. Following those practices may help some families bond, but they aren't the most important aspect of attachment parenting.
2. You Must Breastfeed Your Kid For Years On End.
Although some caregivers choose to practice extended breastfeeding while following attachment parenting, it isn't a requirement. In fact, the entire weaning process is acknowledged as a personal experience that's a little different for every kid. "The current recommendations in the United States and worldwide are to breastfeed a minimum of 12 months, and preferably until the age of 2 or beyond," according to Attachment Parenting International.
In addition, bottle feeding can also be included in attachment parenting practices. Known as bottle nursing, it involves holding the baby close and providing undivided attention while feeding, as explained in Attachment Parenting International.
3. It Strains Your Relationship With Your Partner.
AP is all about balance, and this does not mean putting the baby before everyone else in your life. In fact, making time for your partner (or other important people) is a key component. "Take the time to nurture all the relationships in the family," says Ricciuti. "When parents are attached and connected to one another, the child will automatically feel that security and join right in." Maintaining those strong bonds even after the baby arrives is all part of the process.
4. You'll Never Sleep.
In some cases, AP parents see co-sleeping as a way to actually get more rest. "My 18-month-old son still sleeps with me. He still nurses at night, and he still needs parenting at night. Everyone gets more sleep this way," wrote attachment parent Kristi Pahr in Romper.
5. It Discourages Independence.
Attachment parenting seeks to encourage independence in children as they grow and develop. "With AP, however, parents don’t have to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, they need to find the balance between encouraging independence and autonomy while still allowing their child to feel safe and secure," wrote Whitbourne in Psychology Today.
6. It Eliminates Your Sex Life.
When the baby is co-sleeping with the parents, how exactly are the adults supposed to find time for intimacy? It's a fair question, but one that has been addressed many times in the AP community. For instance, the parents can slip away to another room once the kid is asleep in order to attend their own relationship, according to Attachment Parenting International's FAQs. A little creativity can help the adults in the house find the time and private space for their own needs.
7. Parents Must Follow All AP Guidelines.
AP actually asks parents to be deliberate in their choices. "Attachment parenting is conscious parenting. It is knowing or questioning why you do something the way you are doing it and being willing to change it up as needed," says Ricciuti. Instead of relying on old habits, or simply copying their parents' style of child care, AP is all about making deliberate choices as a parent.
8. This Is The Best Parenting Technique For Every Family.
There are so many different ways to approach parenting, and no single technique is necessarily best for all families. "When a person is exploring the different styles of parenting, I would advise them to follow their hearts," says Ricciuti. "To trust yourself to know that you are going to be able to meet this baby and to be with that child as best as you can." That trust in your own power as a parent is what's crucial.
Attachment parenting is one option, but it's far from the only choice. Finding the approach to parenting that fits your own family is what's important.