(I did a few of these on Project M, and figured I’d offer another update for those who might be curious. I know that I love to hear updates from the bloggers I follow!)
Attachment Parenting in the Media
Before I do offer my detailed update, though, I want to briefly address the Time magazine feature on attachment parenting that caused so much hullabaloo a couple of weeks ago.
So. You may or may not have come across this cover, featuring a young mother breastfeeding her three-year-old son, standing on a little chair.
I didn’t have any very strong feelings about the picture. I don’t care for the unnatural pose – nobody breastfeeds like that, no matter how old the child, and it gives a false image of what extended breastfeeding looks like – but I don’t have a problem with the fact that a mother is publicly breastfeeding a child of that age. I think mothers and their children should feel free to breastfeed for as long as they both benefit from it. I don’t intend to continue breastfeeding quite that long, just for personal reasons, but I don’t see anything essentially wrong with it. I’m sure such an image wouldn’t shock most people around the world and throughout most of human history – it’s just us uptight Westerners who think there’s something abnormal about breastfeeding beyond the first year.
What did bother me, however, was the byline: “Are you MOM enough? Why attachment parenting drives some parents to extremes…”
What a sad misrepresentation of attachment parenting.
I’ve talked about attachment parenting in terms of Dr. Sears’ “Seven B’s of Attachment Parenting” before, mostly because it’s an easy jumping-place from which to discuss how we practice attachment parenting (AP). But really, AP doesn’t boil down to a list of things you can check off a list.
You can practice AP while bottle-feeding – Dr. Sears has a chapter on it in The Baby Book. You can practice AP without babywearing or bedsharing. You can even practice it as a working mom – Dr. Sears’ own wife, Martha, returned to work, at least with some of her later babies.
You aren’t “more mom” if you practice certain tenets of attachment parenting!
The way I understand AP is that it’s an approach to parenting based on TRUST. You trust that your baby knows when she is hungry or full, tired or alert, or has some other need, and that she will communicate her needs to you. At the same time, you teach your baby that she can trust you to help her get her needs met by responding to her cries. It’s based on the assumption that babies are equipped to express their needs, and mothers have a natural instinct to want to respond to those needs. There’s no need for scheduled feedings and rigid naptimes: your baby will tell you what she needs.
The idea behind AP is that if you just trust in these mutual instincts, keep your baby close, and respond to her cries, you will build a mutual relationship of trust that will make parenting easier.
It’s not about rules, but relationship.
There is no formula for building such a relationship (is there ever a formula for building relationships?), but there are a number of practices that can help make it easier – hence the 7 B’s.
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So, that being said, I still find the 7 B’s of attachment parenting to be helpful, and so I will continue to explore some of them as I discuss our experiences with attachment parenting.
(Here’s my first post on breastfeeding).
I still breastfeed Lydia several times a day and usually at least once at night, though she sometimes sleeps through the night. I still enjoy it so much that I can’t foresee us ending our breastfeeding relationship any time soon. To be honest, the thought makes me cry a little bit, so I avoid thinking about it at all costs.
I must confess that it hasn’t always been simple and wonderful. It was hard for a while when she just got her top four teeth, giving her a complete set of chompers (she had eight teeth by eight months. Youch!). It took her a while to learn how to suck without hurting me – for a while, I experienced constant pain as she nursed. To make matters worse, she once bit me so hard she broke skin, and for a week it was so painful I had to feed her only on one side and pump on the other. I wondered if it would ever get better, and how long I could keep it up if it hurt so bad.
My worries were put to rest after a couple of weeks when it just stopped hurting. Maybe I just got calloused? Anyway, I still usually nurse her to sleep and it provides some nice cuddle time every day.
We’ve also been practicing baby-led weaning since she was about six months old. Until recently, she mostly just played with the food, but in the last few weeks she’s suddenly become much more intentional about putting food in her mouth, chewing, swallowing, and hollering for more. I still never have any clue how much is actually making it into her mouth and how much is falling to the floor to get snapped up by our very attentive puppy, but it doesn’t concern me. Her main source of nourishment is still breast milk, with fruits, veggies, cheese, meat, and eggs supplementing (we’re still avoiding grains).
This combo of breastfeeding and BLW is great for travelling – we still don’t have to pack special food for her when we go out. She enjoys a little bit of whatever we’re having at restaurants or other people’s houses, and tops it off with some breast milk.
(Here’s my first post on babywearing)
After a few months of slowing down with babywearing, I’ve recently renewed my enthusiasm for it since discovering how easy it is to wear her on my back in the Ergo carrier. It’s so easy to get stuff done with her there! She often falls asleep that way, which is convenient. No nursing or rocking her to sleep. Bonus!
(Here’s my first post on bedsharing)
Yeah . . . she’s still in our bed. It’s just so easy with her there. Every once in a while she’ll sleep through the night for a few nights in a row and I’ll start to wonder if we should transition her to a crib. Not because there is any pressing need to, but just because I figure we’ll want to eventually. The thought always makes me kind of sad. But then she’ll have a few restless, wakeful nights again, and I’m glad we’ve kept her so close. Helping her go back to sleep is still as simple as rolling over and lifting my shirt.
And oh, how Ben and I delight in waking up to her charming smiles and laughter every morning! I can’t imagine the day when that’s not the first thing I see when I wake up.
(Again: this isn’t traditionally a tenet of attachment parenting, but I find it consistent with the philosophy. Here’s my first post).
First, the not-so-great: we still haven’t really gotten any better at catching pees during the day. We still only catch about five or six a day. But the number of times she pees in a day is always gradually going down, so that those catches now represents about 50% of her pees (as opposed to 15% in her earlier months).
I think I mentioned in an earlier post that for a while, she was able to sleep diaperless at night because it was so easy to catch all her pees in the potty at night. That’s not the case anymore. We have her in a diaper again, because even though she usually doesn’t pee at all at night (until first thing in the morning), sometimes she still pees before I’m able to wake up and get her on the potty, and cleaning that up is just too much work to be worth it.
But now for the awesome: we haven’t had to change a single poopy diaper in at least three months. Now that she’s eating solids, her poop is more solid, and she gives very obvious signs that she’s about to go (getting really focused, pushing and grunting a little bit, etc). A few weeks ago, I even got her to poop in the toilet in the Denny’s bathroom! It is SO GREAT to be able to give her bum a quick wipe and return to my meal, rather than having to deal with a big poopy mess.
Another great thing about poop-free diapers (aside from the immediate relief of not having to clean it up) is the fact that it makes laundering cloth diapers so easy. Since it’s just urine, I just run them through a normal cycle. No multiple hot rinses, no stink, no stains.
Do practice any of things? What have been your experiences?