Studies show that people with good attachment as babies, are more self confident, emotionally stable adults. They do better at school, have more friends, have increased coping skills, do better academically, and are more compassionate than babies who are forced to be independent from birth.
We are born the most dependent species, yet are obsessed with independence from birth, so much so that we will ignore every instinct and motherly urge we have to let out babies cry themselves to sleep, alone and unable to do anything about it. It is insanity. It is so so sad. And very Western. Its just not like this in so many parts of the world – where unity and community are paramount.
For a brief account of the two main facets of Attachment Parenting (AP), please keep reading.
AP is about to responding to baby’s needs and keeping them close. There are degrees of intensity here, like with anything, ranging from responding to cries immediately to the Continuum Concept (CC) model. Dr Sears lists 7 Baby B’s of AP. These are a great guide to start with. I also found this to be an interesting article on Attachment Parenting.
It seems crazy to me that people think I am going to some kind of extra effort, wearing my baby. Ive seen the pram rigmarole and frankly it scares me. Bigger cars, bigger boots, bigger muscles, bigger pain in the…
The basic idea here is to keep baby close. Depending n the level of baby wearing you aspire to, this can include all naps and feeds and day time hours, or just the occasional of each. There are so many options out there once you start looking and there are some general guidelines when it comes to wearing your baby.
- age appropriate positions. Personally i look to nature for the examples here and chose to wear my baby on the front for the first 4 or 5 months, then moving to a mix of front and back carries. Some people back carry from much younger and some only front carry.
- stretch slings, woven wraps, structured carries…the options are endless and come down to personal choice. For advice on how to baby wear and the best carrier for your needs, there is a baby wearing workshop help regularly in Adelaide, click here for details.
The practical advantages
- you can go anywhere, interstate, overseas, public transport, the beach, trekking, markets, hills, rocky paths, the list goes on.
- Your arms are free to do what you need to do, shopping, ironing, washing, walk the dogs, walk to school pickups, paint, write, cook, work. Again, the list is endless.
- Breastfeeding on the go. If you front carry or side carry your baby you can feed on demand or during nap times give a top up feed allowing babies to sleep longer and sounder.
- You don’t need a bigger car. A wrap is like a shawl, and a structured wrap like a small backpack. They fit in your handbag or on the back seat.
- You can match them to what you’re wearing and dress up a special occasion. Below I used a special pashmina to make a ring sling for a an event.
The health advantages
- There is growing opinion amongst professionals (and non professional traditional wise ones :) that wearing your baby is better for their brain developmentand emotional well-being. While at our level they feel safe and secure and can take in the world around them, absorb and learn without being in a constant state of stress, wondering if they are safe as they cannot see or feel a parent. The brain is developing at a greater rate in a baby than at any other time of their lives so using that precious brain space worrying takes away from what they can be experiencing at ‘our’ level.
- The “4th Trimester” – babies are said to be born 3 months too early, (google Dr Harvey Karp, and Meredith F Small to learn more) and so at least for the first 3 months holding the baby close at all times is the best we can offer on the outside.
- Posture is a concern for babies and toddlers in prams for extended periods.
The emotional advantages
- Being close to mum or dad fosters such an important feeling of safety and bonding.
- Helps baby and new parents through the 4th trimester. Babies sleep better, cry less, feed on demand. All these factors in turn help the parents through the toughest first 3 months.
- Face time – amidst the new and scary realities of life with an infant, or the testing times of the toddler years, having baby so close allows face time, to reconnect and cuddle and kiss. For babies, when they sleep they can hear your heartbeat, feel the motion and hear the muffled voices…jut like in the womb. Lying still in a quiet room is not what they are used to. For toddlers, feeling close and having ‘time in’ with mum or dad can settle them or prevent ‘pram planking’. It also encourages them to walk – fancy that!! And if they get tired they can jump on and have a rest.
Be wary of
- Baby carriers that dont support baby’s posture, spine or hips.
- Cheap rip offs from the internet being sold as the real thing. They are not safe.
- Wearing incorrectly for your body and not giving yourself the support you need.
- Public pressure to “put the baby down”. Its their issue, not yours.
- These are held at The Birth Place. Contact me for details– flyer will be available to download here soon.
Once Isabelle grew out of her bassinet at 4months old i thought it was time to transfer her into a cot – just assumed that’s what u do!
Her bassinet always was alongside my side of bed so I could reach her, stroke her head during the night and hear her breathe.
The cot being larger Is at the foot of our bed.
So into the cot, across the room she goes.
After a week of tears, no sleeping, screaming, breast refusal, restlessness, anxiety, her trying to reach out, roll over, grab something, anything…I started comforting her in bed with us.
I began feeding in bed laying on my side – why hadn’t I done that before,?
& slowly night after night she started sleeping next to us.
She will rouse from sleep for a feed, curl over and both of us will go back to sleep.
Nights are now calm.
I feel more of a bond with my baby.
She is the happiest she has ever been.
During the night her little hand will stroke my arm or face, and then she will breathe peacefully.
She gravitates to my side & feels my warmth.
Stress free sleeping.
No more waking up crying.
& I get woken up in the morning with raspberry blowing kisses.
- Fiona, with Isabelle, 6 months old
The practical advantages
- No getting up in the middle of the night. Stay warm and cosy and keep baby asleep – because you know when she is hungry you can feed right away without her fully waking up to cry out for food.
- Neither of you need to fully wake up for feeds
- You can regulate temperature and check nappy while staying in bed
- You don’t need a cot or a bassinet or extra sheets or another room
- Co-sleeping is practiced in most countries of the world and in the animal kingdom. Its the natural place for baby to sleep.
The health advantages
- Co-sleeping reduces SIDS. Your baby learns to breath by hearing you breath; by feeling you breath. You are also close enough to be aware of breathing difficulties. Co-Sleeping article, by James McKenna
- Mum is able to regulate body temperature
- Baby gets increased antibodies through increased milk – both in terms of occurrences through the night and over extended months. Babies who breastfeed through the night get more hind milk (brain milk). This results in fewer illnesses for baby.
- If baby does get sick, sleeping on mum, skin to skin aids in faster recovery.
- Studies show that the more women breastfeed the lower their risk of breast cancer.
- There is much less crying
- Both mum and baby get more sleep
The emotional advantages
- Baby feels safe, secure
- Bonding is not broken overnight
- Dad gets the opportunity to feel baby close and watching her sleep is restoring for both parents
- Parents have a greater sense of compassion for what the baby goes through in the night
- The baby is not left to cry alone. There are many who feel that by leaving a baby to cry alone at night (even unintentionally – there are cases where the mother just doesn’t hear) they physiologically and emotionally shut down. As opposed to having learnt to ‘sleep well’, they have learned that no one is coming for them, that they are alone in the world, that they must attend to their own needs, self sooth, be independent, rely on no-one. Brain scans show that areas of the brain literally shut down.
- Further…a baby who is responded to learns that they are heard, that they are worthy of response, that they are not alone, that they are loved. Study after study show that babies left to cry it out grow into children with increased emotional needs, with difficulty learning and making friends and with an array of other social habits. Some may appear sturdy, independent, hard.
I recently overheard 2 (pro-attachment) midwives talking to a new mother. The new mother asked, “so when can I expect to sleep well again through the night?” they both responded, “when your baby is about 2”. This is mothering, its part of it. Its unrealistic to expect to have undisturbed sleep within a few weeks or months and while some mothers are ‘lucky’, most are taught to teach their child, ‘don’t cry, I’m not coming’.
Be wary of
- Co-sleeping rules. Its best not to co-sleep or bed share if:
- you are a smoker
- you or a partner have been drinking, medicated or are overly tired
- you have toddlers in the bed
- you are obese
- Sleeping on the couch together poses higher risks, as does a bed right up against the wall
- bedding; keep it simple, especially if you don’t go to bed at the same time. make sure you use a monitor or very plain bedding that cannot get tangled or suffocate baby.
- A US Study showed that all cases of co-sleeping fatalities were bottle-fed babies.The natural positioning of a breastfed baby with mum is conducive to safe sleep.
Alternatives (if the above is relevant to you, or if you just don’t feel confident)
- Use a cot side car to the bed so baby has their own surface
- Sleep baby in a cot/bassinet within arms distance of you