What is Attachment Parenting (AP)?

The question "What is Attachment Parenting” is becoming more and more popular these days. Parents are realizing that whatever is natural, common sense and intuitive is the best for their children.

Opening your mind and heart to your child’s individual needs makes you an attached parent. So learn how to read baby’s cues and needs and rapidly respond to them.

Attachment Parenting
  • What is Attachment Parenting based on?

  • The benefits of AP  (infographic)

AP is all about what fits best you and your baby. As certain practices are common to  Attachment Parenting, like breastfeeding, holding baby (baby wearing), co-sleeping, positive discipline, these are just tools to help you attach with your baby.

What is Attachment Parenting based on?

The base for AP is attachment theory studied by psychologist John Bowlby.
According to Attachment theory, an infant instinctively seeks closeness to a secure "attachment figure." This closeness is necessary for the infant to feel safe.

Attachment parenting is based on the idea that babies learn to trust and thrive when their needs are consistently met by a caregiver early in life. Children who never experience this secure attachment early in life - they don't learn to form healthy attachments later in life. They suffer from insecurity, lack of empathy, and, in extreme cases, anger and attachment disorders.

Dr. Sears is the pediatrician who popularized Attachment Parenting. He has summarized its principles into "7 Baby B's".

What is Attachment Parenting promoting?

Attachment Parenting challenges us, as parents, to treat our children with kindness, respect and dignity, and to model in our interactions with them the way we'd like them to interact with others.

Attachment Parenting International outlined 8 principles, which should help you in your Attachment Parenting Journey.

Principles of Attachment Parenting

1.Prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting

In order to have a secure attachment with your child you have to connect early. Get educated and know your options about the kind of birth you want. Prepare for it accordingly.

    -  Maintain secure and happy relationship with your partner. Discuss and decide on parenting philosophies before baby arrives.
    -  Be ready to be a parent. Mentally, physically and spiritually. Mostly, i say, you have to WANT to be a parent. Love yourself, eat good, exercise.
    -  Parenting starts when baby is in the womb. They feel everything and it impacts their development. Calm yourself down, avoid stress, BE HAPPY.
    -  Attend some classes related to parenting and childbirth. They are super useful not only for good information but also for strong support.

2. Feed with love and respect

Breastfeeding meets baby’s need for optimum nutrition and physical contact.
We all know that breast milk is the most natural food we can give to our children.

But mothers who are not breastfeeding can still practice Attachment Parenting. It is suggested that parents, who bottle-feed to use “breastfeeding” patterns such as  holding your baby when feeding, talking to your baby and changing positions during the feeding.

3. Respond with sensitivity

The main principle of AP is to understand and sensitively respond to your baby’s cues, needs and emotions.

Babies can’t talk, so the only way they know how to show that they want or don't want something - is through crying.

   Reasons for infant crying:

  • hungry
  • tired
  • uncomfortable
  • lonely
  • stressed from too much stimulation
  • feeling and picking up on mother’s stress
  • needs to be held or laid down
  • needs skin to skin contact to feel secure
  • gas/colic
  • wet

Babies are human. They need our honest attention. Yes, they want their bottoms to be dry and their tummies full, but they also need play, live interaction, so FALL IN LOVE  with your baby and have fun.

4. Use nurturing touch and Babywear 

Baby spends 9 months in your womb. He is used to your heart rate, your body warmth, your smell and a lot of other great things. It is natural that when baby is born, he would feel best and most secure NEAR YOU.

If you don’t “wear”, be aware:

1. To hold your infant as often as possible (especially if bottle-feeding)
2. Avoid the overuse of baby devices (swings, pacifiers, jumpers)
3. Babywearing facilitates easy outings and travel
4. Babies, who receive nurturing touch through massage, holding and other forms of loving physical contact, gain weight faster, are calmer and have better intellectual and motor development.

5. Engage in night-time parenting

Every parent knows that caring for a child doesn’t end at 9 pm. To be able to respond to  baby’s nigh-time needs we have to keep them close to us. Research shows that sleeping with or near children increases the quality of sleep for mothers and reduces risk of SIDS for babies. 

SAFE co-sleeping (bed sharing) means:

1. Not smoking
2. Not using alcohol or drugs
3. Firm mattress without fluffy sheets or pillows near baby
4. Using bed extenders
5. Avoiding gaps between mattress, bed frame
6. Never leaving a baby unattended in a family bed
7. Never putting a baby to sleep on a couch or chair

6. Provide constant, loving care 

Babies need our love and care. That is their nature. By caring for them with love we form secure attachments with our children.

Separations should be kept down to a minimum, because they can have life-long effects on the infant’s long-term psychological and emotional development.

If you must leave the baby:

1. Make sure the person, who is caring for your baby is super aware of baby’s cues and needs and is able to respond to them rapidly  with sensitivity and love.

2. Communicate well with baby’s caregiver to make sure they know exactly how do you want them to care for your baby. 

3. Transition should be done in advance and it should be a gradual process and as comfortable for baby as it can get.

      When reunited with baby - show a lot of love: touch, kiss, hug, play.

7. Practice positive discipline

It is important to set boundaries and limits to children. Using positive discipline methods we help our children to develop self-control.

Discipline is simply teaching. Positive discipline is teaching your child how to make good decisions as an older child and as an adult. Showing good examples is a big part of positive discipline.

Positive Discipline

In order to respond to a certain behavior of your child, it is very important to understand their development.

You should know what to expect at different ages and how to properly act and help your child.

8. Strive for balance in personal and family life

Having a baby is intense. His needs are high and it takes a lot of time and energy to take care of him.

In order to be a good, responsive, loving parent we need to feel good. Baby doesn't need mother who is restless, who does not smile or play silly peek-a-boo games.

avoid “burn-out” by: 

  • taking care of yourself,
  • exercising,
  • eating healthy nutritious meals,
  • doing something pleasant.

It is understandable that becoming a parent is a super special thing, but do not forget that just days or weeks ago you were a sweet couple that used to enjoy each others company.

DO not forget that and try to be creative about finding new ways how to spend quality time together with your partner.

  • Do not be shy to ask for help from close friends and family. 
  • Find support groups and meet new parents.
  • Sometimes the phone call to a mother, who told you she also hasn’t slept for the last 3 days, is all you need to feel better.

 PICNIC in the living room can be very helpful and it can be done without compromising the needs of your baby.


What is Attachment Parenting associated with?

Other common AP practices

Common AP practices

Cloth Diapering
Elimination Communication
Home Schooling
Eating organic food

There are several parenting practices closely associated with Attachment Parenting.

Attached  parents believe, that certain methods increase the bonds between parent and child and thereby set the stage for secure relationships later in life.

 Attachment Parenting, itself is not a checklist of practices but encourages parenting that promotes and are most likely to positively influence the parent-child attachment quality.

What is Attachment Parenting Doing to Your Child?

The Benefits or AP

There are so many benefits of Attachment Parenting. Some are obvious and some are based on scientific research.

One of the most important aspects of AP is forming a secure attachment with the child. Sensitive, responsive parenting will create that secure attachment which will result healthier and happier child. 

Attachment Parenting

* Attachment Parenting helps children become physiologically and psychologically healthy.

* Attached kids are more independent and explore on their own.

* Securely attached kids deal with positive or negative emotions much better. They have better moods and emotional coping. They are happier kids.

* Skin-to-skin, co-sleeping and positive discipline help kids reduce stress. According to the studies, infants of more sensitive mothers had lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone).

* They have better behavior. Study shows that securely-attached kids have less behavior issues.

* Breastfed kids (especially after 6 months) are healthier kids overall. They have less infections, sick days or allergies. Breastfeeding, especially long-term (extended breastfeeding), seems to protect children from infections and the development of allergies.

* Attachment Parenting practices such as breastfeeding or extended breastfeeding help children score higher IQ. They are more determined to learn new things and find friends easier.

* Attached kids have higher self-esteem. The baby, whose all needs have been met, feels  very special and trusts his parents. That later boosts his self-esteem and helps for the development of personality.

* Attached parents teach their kids to bond to people, not to materialistic things. This will later help with their adult relationships. Children will bond and have close relationships with their partners and friends, because they were always used to being close to parents.

The kids, who spent a lot of time by themselves in beds, cribs, strollers, playpens tend to have struggle in forming relationships to persons, instead they get attached to materialistic things.

* Being an attached parent will help your child be more sensitive and giving in life.

* AP makes discipline easier. Positive discipline teaches good behavior by correcting child's actions, by showing respect when listening to child's opinion, setting boundaries, consistency and cooperation.

What is Attachment Parenting being mistaken for?

AP has many rules to follow. NOT.

The main goal of an attached parent - is to build a strong and secure bond with their children.  AP suggests some tools like breastfeeding, babywearing, and co-sleeping to help create that secure attachment and help you feel naturally more responsive to baby needs. However, these practices are not a must in order for you to be an attached parent.

You can only be attached parent to a baby. NOT.

Are you worried that you were not an attached parent since your baby was born? Don’t stress it. You can still practice positive discipline, use nurturing touch and use encouraging communication at any time of your child’s life.

You have to  be a stay-at-home mother to be Attached Parent. NOT.

Yes. Your baby needs you, your constant love and care, but it can also come from another caregiver, who is able to respond to baby’s cries, understand his cues and respond to them.



What is Attachment Parenting

Attached kids:

1. Spoiled, bratty, whiny, “mama’s boys/girls”!
2. Will have hard time falling asleep all their lives if you don’t sleep train!
3. Will never be independent.
4. Will never walk if you baby wear (or will start walking late)!
5. They will never learn to self sooth unless you leave them to cry it out!
6. You will never get them out of your bed if you co-sleep!
7. They will be on your boob till high school if you don’t stop now!
8. But how will they learn if you don't hit them?
9. If you comfort them they will attach to you and will never let you go!

Attached Parents:

1. We are miserable people..
2. We have some physiological issues from our own childhood...
3. We are not happy in our marriages, because we do not go out on a date with our partners every weekend...
4. We are like “hippies”. Not educated about medicine, health and child development...


How do I respond to critics of Attachment Parenting

Parents who practice Attachment Parenting often receive criticism, warnings, and anti-attachment advice. It is natural that criticism may initially shake a parent's confidence, there are steps the parent can take both to respond in a positive manner and to strengthen their self-esteem.

Tips to deal with criticism:

  1. It is much easier to just acknowledge the criticism (or advice) and change the subject. You don’t have to turn it into a discussion.
  2. Be polite but firm about your believes. 
  3. Be knowledgeable and confident about the subject (ex. benefits of extended breastfeeding). A lot of times science-based information works wonders when participating in discussion about your parenting choices. 
  4. Accept criticism and advice with an open mind. Understand that most of the times (especially when it comes from loved ones) you are criticized because people care for you and your child.


What is Attachment Parenting beyond baby years?

What is Attachment Parenting when your baby is no longer a baby?  Parenting doesn't stop after your child starts talking and walking. The same is with Attachment Parenting.

  1. Educate yourself about child’s development

  • Find out what is his temperament, learning style (visual, auditory etc.).
  • Know your child’s abilities and don’t expect more at his developmental stage.
  • Find the best education that fits your child.
  • Encourage child’s learning by helping him develop his interests.

  2. Be sensitive

  • Respect and show a child that you understand his frustrations and worries.
  • Try to put yourself in your child’s shoes. They don’t think or do things like adults do, so understand child’s development stage.
  • Let the child always express his feelings.
  • Stay near them when child misbehaves.
  • Help your child to go through tough times - frustrations, tantrums.
  •  Stay connected and teach them self-control.

  3. Be healthy

  • Keep healthy, nutritious eating habits in the family
  • When your start introducing healthy foods  early they will more likely be healthy eaters in the future
  • Educate yourself about the best health choices for your child: immunizations, vitamins and other doctor’s recommendations.
  • Be a good role model by eating healthy and exercising regularly

  4. Keep close relationship

  • You can still touch, kiss and hug your older child. It is human and everybody needs it

  5. Sleep good

  • It’s ok for your older child to snuggle with parents before bed
  • Create evening routines for getting ready to bed, which includes taking a bath, reading books, talking about their plans for next day
  • Keep the bedtime hours pretty regular, especially on school days

  6. Be available for your child

  • Older children enjoy and need their parents too
  • Children want to feel safe and cared for
  • Be active in their lives by listening to their stories, making eye contact, knowing their friends. This will keep lines of communication open
  • Even teenagers need supervision

  7. Discipline Positively

  • Attached kids trust and love their parents and are most of the times easier to discipline
  • Attached kids are more likely to listen and please their parents
  • Always pay attention and listen to what your child is saying
  • Use natural and logical consequences instead of punishments
  • Keep in mind that your goal is to help your child develop inner-self control and self-discipline

  8. Balance family life

  • Let children be children by giving them enough free time for playing, imagining, doing nothing.
  • Eat together at least once a day
  • Do not overload them with different activities and practices
  • Spend some one-on-one time with every child. Children appreciate this special time. You will too!
  • Create family traditions. Have some family nights like “game night”, “movie night”, American Idol night. 
  • It is crucial for children to see happy parents. Try to keep a healthy marriage.
  • Develop some hobbies, interests, volunteer. If possible - include your kids into all of this. 


What is Attachment Parenting to me?

When I had my first child I did know there were names for parenting styles. I just learned about child’s development as much as I could and tried to follow my intuition.

Just years later I found out about Attachment Parenting and realized that I was an attached parent without knowing it.

I gave birth naturally, breastfed, co-slept, carried, used positive discipline and stayed at home with kids. This proves, that AP is common sense, natural, intuitive and true.

I simply do what is right for me and my baby. I follow my heart and …my child...I truly enjoy Attachment Parenting...

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