This is a guest post written by Tina from babysleep.help
Attachment parenting. When I first heard about this notion, I was 7 months pregnant. Back then I thought that was some fashionable thing among hippies and vegans or something. Me? I was something different. I was a modern woman with a great career, more pairs of high heels than she admits in public, and I was all about following the trends and being cool on all fronts.
I had already bought 2 (TWO!) baby prams, one of them boasting as being “the ultimate baby travel system”. My husband had already spent several hours assembling (and reassembling) our cute baby cot and matching nursery furniture. My arsenal of baby bibs would make even Princess Charlotte turn green with envy. I thought, “Hmm, parenting… It can’t be that tough with all the conveniences of modern life”. Besides, I have a Bachelor’s degree and TWO Master’s degrees, how harder can taking care of a teeny tiny baby can be??
If only I knew how strikingly wrong I was.
Fast forward 2 months. There I was, trying to soothe my bloody-murder crying baby pushing him back and forth in his pram. In our living room. At 3:00 a.m. because he won’t sleep in his cot. For the record, he was 2-weeks-old. And his father? He was standing in the farthest corner of the room, holding a hair-dryer with the ON button pressed as if his life depended on it because I read somewhere that the sound would soothe him. The baby, not his father.
The next morning, I had my “Aha” moment. Things couldn’t go on like this. I had to do something. Better yet, I had to stop doing everything I was doing based on what my mother, her sister, mommy forums and Facebook groups said was right. It obviously wasn’t working for me. Or for the baby.
So, I found my own right things to do. I covered my ears anytime anyone shared parenting advice and started listening to the only voice that actually mattered – the one inside me. It was not until the hardest first few months have passed when I realized me and my husband were actually practicing attachment parenting without putting this label on the way we survived as a family.
Here’s exactly how attachment parenting actually improved my life and helped my husband and I survive this tough period:
What do you do when all your good intentions of putting your baby to sleep in his own cot from day one fly out the window like Tinker Frigging Bell? I mean, how many sleepless nights and baby sleep regressions do you have to survive to figure out there is an easier way to bring some actual sleep both to your sleep-deprived brain and your baby?
Co-sleeping came to me as a crazy thought just about when I figured out that breastfeeding does not necessarily include a chair, my smartphone, and a bag of nuts to keep me from going, well, nuts.
Thanks to co-sleeping, my baby had a better-quality sleep. It also helped both me and my husband more easily cope with severe sleep deprivation as new parents. Of course, we followed the ground rules for safe bed-sharing.
If I have to be completely honest, I am sorry I hadn’t started co-sleeping with my baby even earlier. My friends often ask me if it isn’t uncomfortable. Well, I don’t know. Some mothers may prefer to get up a hundred times at night to attend to a crying baby next door and others, we just flip out a boob in our sleep and end the argument before it has started.
Breastfeeding on demand
Do you want to hear a crazy thought? I breastfed my baby on demand almost 2 years because of a very simple reason: I am lazy. Just the thought of setting alarms and feeding him by the hour makes me puke in my mouth a little.
I knew I would breastfeed my baby even before I got pregnant. I know there are mothers who have physical issues (or their babies have some) that don’t allow the breastfeeding to happen and that’s what formula is for.
As a creature of logic, however, I have always thought that breastfeeding is the norm, not the exception to the rule. How I know this? Well, in my life, I have never yet come upon a fox giving formula to her pups. Or a stray cat checking the time before feeding her kittens. Or a bear saying to her cub, “Honey, it’s been 15 minutes, it’s time to switch to the other breast”. And I watch Nat Geo Wild A LOT.
Breastfeeding drastically improved the quality of my life as a new mom. I landed not one or two contracts with my baby blissfully sleeping while latched on. This could not have happened with a crying baby in the background. I cannot even count the times in which he was asleep in his sling while nursing and I was either working or doing the dishes, making dinner, etc.
Breastfeeding on demand is what I consider the easiest way to raise a baby. No schedules, no bottles, no pacifiers. You can take the baby wherever you want, knowing that your body literally has everything he may want. He was exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of his life so I still have no idea how exactly boiled water works for babies or how much milk a 4-month old should have. Sorry, but I see no measuring lines on my boobs.
Babywearing came to me as naturally as the rest of the attachment parenting techniques. After I couldn’t make my baby settle in his crib, his baby swing or the pram, I knew I needed an alternative. I clearly remember one day when we were out for a walk. I was not a pretty picture, pushing the empty pram with one hand and holding the crying baby with the other.
Right in this moment, as if out of a fairy tale, another mom passed by me, a baby in her sling, her BOTH hands were free and she even had the impudence to talk on the phone. While her baby was sleeping. If at least one of my hands was free, I would steal that thing her baby was wrapped in, right then and there, I swear to God.
Unfortunately, my both hands were busy navigating an empty pram and holding a fidgety baby so the only thing I could do was get a glimpse of the brand on the blanket-y thing. The next thing I remember doing was frantically Googling baby slings. Later that same afternoon, my chocolate-colored swing was already on its way to save me from my misery.
Needless to say, it took me a while to figure out how the darn thing works. Once I got the hang of it, however, baby wearing became my favorite activity. Right next to drinking wine on a moms night out but I digress.
Even to this present day, I cannot even imagine how I would have survived without my sling. Thanks to baby wearing, my son’s crying no longer rang in my ears and I was able to actually get stuff done. Not to mention the convenience it gave me when breastfeeding in public.
Self-weaning and baby led weaning
Another attachment parenting technique I applied out of pure laziness was self-weaning, followed by baby led weaning. They were both something that just happened in our lives without any stress or additional scheduling. Thank you, common sense.
Once we passed the 1-year mark, our breastfeeding was pretty much following the rules of “I am not offering unless you ask for it”. As for cooking special baby meals and pureeing broccoli, I knew that was not going to be my thing right from the start. After my son’s first attempts to grab a bite out of my plate, I got the clue that he wanted to have something different from breastmilk. So I spent one evening pondering how to let him do this without having to cook separate meals for him. Because there’s only 24 hours in a day, ya know.
The next morning, my infernal plan was ready. It had only one step in it: cook only stuff that the baby is allowed to eat. Voila. I proudly presented my plan to my husband and he approved it. Probably because deep inside he knew he had no other choice anyway.
The result? My husband and I immensely improved the quality of the food we had. I did not spend even one additional minute preparing baby food. And, at 16 months, my baby was already picking spring onions and eating them right from the garden.
For the record, I still don’t know how to properly puree a carrot but anytime I treat myself to a nice steaming cup of broccoli with Parmigiano, my son steals at least half of it. If mommy is eating it with such a blissful expression on her face, it can’t be bad, right?
In conclusion, I want to tell every parent out there that attachment parenting is not some fancy trend. It has been around for thousands of years and I consider it the most natural approach to parenting. For me and my family, it provided a life balance that we so much needed as new parents. It helped us live a healthier lifestyle, cope with stress better and kept us away from parenting burn-out. It not only improved our lives, but it also helped us grow stronger as a family.
Do you practice attachment parenting? How did you discovered this parenting style?
Tina is a mother of a toddler boy and a busy work-from-home freelance writer addicted to gadgets and cool baby gear. She is crazy about attachment parenting, homemade food, and strong coffee. Having survived the torture of parenting sleep deprivation herself, she is now an expert on baby sleep and shares her tips and advice on the site babysleep.help.
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