Monday, February 8, 2010

Attachment Parenting

“Nothing is more important in the world today than the nurturing that children receive in the first three years of life, for it is in these earliest years that the capacities for trust, empathy, and affection originate.” ~ Elliott Barker, M.D


How could you disagree with this statement? For me, I completely agree with the first few years of life being the foundation for a well adjusted child. I know Kevin and I are big believers in what is called Attachment Parenting

If you had told me before I had children I would be a big believer in babywearing, nursing, co-sleeping, not letting our children cry it out, etc, I may have said, "yeah, right". My baby will cry it out, she'll never be in our bed and she'll be fine. When we brought Mairead home, she and I would fall asleep in bed together. We all slept better, and to be honest, it just felt right. For 9 months my child had been snuggled up inside of me with every need being met. She never felt hunger, cold, or alone; I was always there to meet every need before she even felt it. All of a sudden, she was born, and she started to feel hunger, cold and without her mommy. I certainly couldn't expect my child to all of a sudden be okay without me, she needed her mommy to be close with her.

I wanted to make sure I was sensitive to my children's cues. When my baby cried, it was for a reason, and I wanted to make sure we responded promptly to those cries. I firmly believe that a baby cries for a reason. I read the first 12 weeks an infant does not know they are now separate from their mother, so when they are put down (especially in a bassinet, etc), they may feel as though something is missing from them. It completely makes sense, and I think after having Clara, this was particularly true for her. She hated to be put down or away from me, and it is only until very recent that she can ride in the car without screaming, now, once she hears my voice, she knows she is okay. 

I never believed I would be an advocate of co-sleeping either. Like I mentioned above, it was after Mairead was born that I started to be a believer in it. Once Kevin and I realized how much better life was with more sleep, and a happy infant, we were sold. This is what people did hundreds of years ago; they slept with their baby. Mairead slept in our bed until recently (just in the morning), Lilah slept in our bed until about 10-12 months old (when she wanted to be in her own bed), and Clara currently sleeps with us. She falls asleep in her bed next to mine, and when she wakes the first time, she comes into our bed and spend the rest of the night there. It just feels right to us, and if it helps our child feel more secure, we are 100% on board with it.

We also love babywearing! We love our fleece and cotton adjustable couch from Kangaroo Korner, and have used it with all three girls. Whenever our girls were fussy and couldn't settle, all we had to do was place them in the pouch, and immediately they would settle down. It was our lifesaver. Not only did it help with a fussy baby, but it also gave you your hands back, which it vital when you have other little ones to take care of, too! When our girls got bigger, we used the Ergo Baby Carrier,  it is awesome. Babywearing felt so natural for me (and Kevin). It was a way our baby could feel safe and secure, and for us, that was important. 

Nursing is a vital part of raising my girls. I had always been a supporter of breastfeeding moms, but now that I am nursing, and have been nursing for almost 4 years consecutively, there is so much more to just feeding your baby. For me, nursing isn't just feeding my baby, it is bonding with them, and allowing them to feel secure. It is the most natural thing, and I feel so lucky to have been able to nurse my babies for so long. Nursing has been and is a very important part of my girls life thus far. Mairead nursed for close to 30 months, and even though she got little nutrition from my milk at that point, she was getting love and learning affection and trust. I love that Mairead has such fond memories of nursing, and now, with two younger sisters who are nursing, she is so supportive and loving. She nurses her babies, and talks about how good it makes them feel. It's an amazing feeling for me to hear her talk like that. 

There have been some tough times where I had felt like I wanted to let my baby cry it out, or not sleep with us, but I took a deep breath, and asked myself what was important. I thought about all the people in our life who were trying to have babies, or who lost babies, and I started to feel lucky. I had beautiful children, and if all they wanted was their mommy or daddy to hold, rock or nurse them, I felt lucky I could give them that, and we did.

I feel as though this style of parenting will give my children the extra boost to be caring, compassionate, connected, and confident children. I want my children to know that me and Kevin are always there for them. I know we cannot take all the credit for who our girls become, but I do know the way our children were raised in the first years of their life will help them become strong, independent individuals.


  1. I used to have very strong feelings (pre-kids) about things like co-sleeping, breast feeding in public, discipline, etc. Oh, how I think the Lord got a good chuckle knowing I would change so much about what was "right" for our family when we actually had a family. I think back to having Chiara and I can remember saying the word "NEVER" to letting her sleep in our bed-except for Saturday morning family time. Oh my.....hold on, let me nibble on my foot in my mouth! Mayah spent the first two weeks in our bed because I had a cyst on my tailbone and could only nurse laying down. It was peaceful and I loved it! Leah spent the first 2-3 months in our bed....just like you, usually after the first feeding. It did not affect my marriage or sex life (as most people think it does)-except make us happy because we were getting more sleep!!
    I would not classify us as using the attachment parenting approach, but rather taking ideas from a variety of parenting styles and making a D'Amato parenting approach. ;) It works for us and that is what matters-I can see that you know your family and what works for you!! Love that! Sick baby on my to go...

  2. i love reading your posts, i can relate to so many of them. We have done the same thing with our girls. When Rea was born I was almost made to feel guilty or wrong when other people figured out that she was sleeping with us. I could never let her cry and wouldnt have wanted to. It does work for us and that is all that matters. I am amazed how much more confident you become when you are a mom and with each child. Rea slept in our room for the first 15 months. Now she falls a sleep in our room and is moved to her room where most night she sleeps all night. Leah slept in our room for the first 3 months. Then was in her crib, then she got sick and Nick was traveling alot so she came back in our room about 10 months and is still here. :) I love it. It is all about what works best for your family!

  3. Girl, I loved this post. Well you know we do all the above and long term at that. Marshall and I honestly love having the kids with us in bed. And now that I have stopped night feeding I do not know if I will stop day feeding yet even if he is 22 months. I love the bond we have when he feeds. But I will say thank you for all your support and advice making me get this far through all the outside pressure that I did not succumb.

  4. Thanks, ladies!
    You know, they are little for such a short period of time...and I will do whatever it takes to help make sure my kids feel secure in their environment. I wish more people "got it" when it comes to having's not a part time job. When Mairead was young, people used to say "don't let her sleep in your bed, she'll never get out" - they were full of it...or "when is she going to stop her from doing that (nursing)?" - it was like I was forcing my kid to nurse.....puh-lease!

    As parents, you do the best you can, and that's all you can do....

  5. This is how we raise our girls as well. It's unfortunate that they had to give it a name, attachment parenting meaning that it's not the norm. We think it's what feels the most natural and take it for granted until people think we are crazy for sleeping with our children etc. Eden is 2 1/2 and I still wear her in a sling. She asks for it and I never deny her. Soon the new munchkin will be in it, that may be a problem ;) And crying it out, we tried one night and we both looked @ eachother and said this just feels wrong and scooped Lily up and brought her back in bed with us.


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