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“Accidental” Attachment Parenting

Accidental Attachment ParentingBefore I had my daughter, I never imagined I’d allow her to nurse as much as she wanted—sometimes using me as a pacifier. I was staunchly against co-sleeping, and couldn’t imagine holding her nearly every waking hour.

I’ll be honest; my perception of “attachment parenting” was that it’s a new age-y concept designed for SAHMs who would raise clingy, co-dependent children. I couldn’t have been more wrong on every level.

As I read more about attachment parenting, I learned that attachment parenting actually helps to raise more trusting, confident children who are secure in the fact that their needs will be met.

I also realized that attachment parenting is not as challenging as it may sound. After all, who wouldn’t want to keep this bundle of joy as close as possible?

I like Dr. Sears’ views on the matter. On his Web site, he states: “[AP is] actually the style that many parents use instinctively.” That is exactly what I discovered in the first few weeks of motherhood, too.

My daughter isn’t comfortable in a carrier, probably because I don’t feel secure holding her in it, so we’re not completely “attached.” But I often work with her sitting on my lap, carry her around during chores, and do anything requiring two hands while she naps. Even when she’s not in my arms, if she’s awake, I’m doing something with her: Reading, playing, or feeding her. As she grows I’m sure we’ll transition away from this arrangement or become comfortable with the carrier… obviously, I can’t carry her in my arms forever. But I’m fortunate to be able to schedule my day to spend as much time with her as possible.

And co-sleeping? After taking all the necessary safety precautions, it turns out co-sleeping in the early hours of the morning when the baby wakes up and needs to eat, is just easier. She starts the night in her bassinet, but joins us after her four o’clock feeding, when we both fall asleep. Another confession? I rather like having her cuddled up next to me.

Feeding on cue became easy once I learned her hunger signals, and it just so happens she still has a hearty appetite that needs food about every hour-and-a-half. This can be harrowing, but I get through it by reminding myself that she won’t be nursing forever, and when I start her on cereal in a short six weeks, her belly will stay full longer.

I’ve also discovered that feeding her while I eat (especially in restaurants) is a great way to keep her quiet and happy through mealtimes. It’s even kept us from having to leave restaurants mid-meal, as I will never (I don’t believe in absolutes, but there’s no room for compromise with this one) be an inconvenience to other customers by permitting a crying baby to disrupt the entire room.

I’ve often laughed that our approach to parenting would upset the “diehard” AP practitioners as well as those who believe in strict scheduling. When I’ve mentioned my refusal to let the baby “cry it out,” I’ve heard comments like, “Oh, you’re not one of those ‘attachment parent types’ are you?” And AP practitioners probably feel I’m not close enough because I sometimes supplement with formula and don’t use a sling-style carrier or keep the baby with me during her daytime naps.

But I try to avoid extremes and excesses in every area of my life… why should parenting be any different? Maybe I’ll write a book and start my own parenting philosophy. I’ll call it “Do what works for you and your baby.”

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