From natural births to co-sleeping, learn what defines this growing style of parenting in the book, Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way.
So what is attachment parenting really about? Attachment Parenting International (API) identifies AP as guided by eight principles. The practical application varies greatly but it often looks something like this:
1. Birth: Prepare for birth and become educated about natural birth options and their benefits for baby and mother.
2. Breastfeeding/breast milk: A human mother’s milk is the optimal food for human babies, and bottle feeding should mimic as many aspects of breastfeeding as possible.
3. Be sensitive: Respond sensitively to your children.
4. Bonding through touch: Use physical contact such as baby wearing, breastfeeding, and massage to convey tenderness, love, and affection.
5. Bedding: Parent your children at night as well as in the day, looking to safe co‑sleeping as an option.
6. Be there: Ensure consistent parenting by a primary caregiver or a trained and sensitive substitute.
7. Be gentle: Use positive discipline, forgoing corporal punishment.
8. Balance: Balance your needs with those of your child.
It should be noted that no one does all eight perfectly, nor do you have to subscribe to all of them to benefit from these principles. These are simply guidelines that can serve as a jumping-off place for your decision-making. There are families who differ in many aspects of these principles, and there are no “attachment police” who revoke your membership if they catch your child asleep in his own bed. In addition, attachment parenting is not, contrary to popular belief, a parenting style just for people who are wealthy or who are at‑home parents, nor is it for people with an abnormal or superhuman amount of patience. It is for people from all walks of life who seek to parent gently and who believe that an independent adult is one who was allowed to form a healthy dependence and attachment to her caregiver in her formative years.