This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.
From the moment Dylan was born, he liked to be held. He was happy and would sleep soundly as long as he was in someone’s arms. During the first few weeks, I’d spend hours on the couch at home with him nursing on my nursing pillow. He’d slowly drift off to sleep and would have long, lovely naps as long as he remained on the pillow close to me. As soon as I tried to move him and put him down, he’d immediately wake up screaming.
I was very confused! We had purchased all these “holders” for Dylan. He had 2 pack n plays, a crib, a bouncy seat and a swing. And let’s not forget the very expensive stroller! Everyone told me that we NEEDED all of these things. And I naively assumed they were right! I thought that I’d feed Dylan, put him in one of these holders, he’d fall asleep and I’d have time to do whatever I wanted. Boy was I ever WRONG!
Dylan was in my arms, in my sling, or right beside me 24/7 for the first few months of his life. He demanded it! And it felt natural to me. While it may have seemed natural and right to me, it didn’t appear that way to others. On a daily basis I’d hear comments such as:
- You have to put him down when he sleeps. Otherwise he will never learn to sleep on his own.
- He needs to self-soothe.
- Why do you carry him around all day in that sling? He looks squished. It’s not good for him.
- He should sleep in his crib. Get him out of your bed now or he’ll be in there til he’s 12.
- You’re nursing him again? You must not have enough milk. Give him some rice cereal.
- Put him down already! You are spoiling him!
Most of these comments came from well-intentioned family members. They truly believed that both Dylan and myself would be better off if we weren’t attached all day long! They thought that Dylan would learn to become independent and I would be happier because I would have some time to “myself”.
I believed that what I was doing was right, but I needed some evidence to back up my beliefs. I started poking around on the internet and realized that I wasn’t the only one who thought that holding and nurturing a baby is absolutely vital.
Dr. Sears was a great resource for me:
New parents often ask, “Won’t holding our baby a lot, responding to cries, nursing our baby on cue, and even sleeping with our baby spoil her?” Or they ask if this kind of parenting will create an overly dependent, manipulative child? Our answer is an emphatic no. In fact, both experience and research have shown the opposite. Attachment fosters eventual interdependence. A child whose needs are met predictably and dependably does not have to whine and cry and worry about getting his parents to do what he needs.
Kellymom was another:
My heart aches for the baby left alone to learn to “self-comfort”, to “cry it out”. Experts have told moms “not spoil their babies” and to “let them cry”. This is a good thing? What are we accomplishing? Babies need nurturing and it is not spoiling them to provide it. Spoiling means “ruining” and you cannot ruin a child with love and affection.
With Dr. Sears and Kellymom on my side, I began to trust my instincts. Dylan is now 2 years old and is fiercely independent! I guess we are doing something right!