It’s got a bit of a bad rep, with some mums slamming it as being too out-there because it supports baby wearing and bed sharing – and the baby calls the shots.
But Attachment Parenting (AP) seems to be on a roll, with an increasing number of mums and dads taking a liking to this controversial approach to raising a child.
The History Of Attachment Parenting
Although it’s become more mainstream in the last few years, Attachment Parenting has been around for 50 years – since psychiatrist Sir John Bowlby and developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth coined the phrase in the ‘60s.
“Bowlby proposed the idea that emotional bonding exists across time and space and was not simply dependent on who fed the baby but was based on the sensitive, responsive and loving behaviour of the primary carer towards the baby,” says Michelle Mattesini of Attachment Parenting UK.
The idea is that babies who experience lively, loving and stimulating relationships with their parents will be emotionally and physically satisfied – and ultimately happier.
In a nutshell, it’s all about instinctive parenting and responding to your motherly urges (such as giving your bub a big cuddle every time he cries).
The Seven B’s of Attachment Parenting
You may’ve heard of the seven B’s of Attachment Parenting. Developed by US paediatrician Dr William Sears, they’re indications of how you can fully support, and bond with, your baby.
1. Birth bonding
4. Bedding close to baby
5. Balance and boundaries
6. Beware of baby trainers
Note that they’re not mandatory. You can try out some of the seven points and ignore the ones you don’t get on with.
“Some people are not able, for practical, physical or circumstantial reasons, to follow all of the Bs and many of these can be considered as tools rather than rules,” says Michelle.
“The key factor in all of this is the parent’s desire to engage with their child and build a strong attachment and this is possible without bed sharing and without baby wearing and without breastfeeding.”
The Pros And Cons Of Attachment Parenting
From building trust and communication to supporting emotional resilience, there are plenty of advantages to the AP theory.
“With the parents sensitivity to the baby (supported by things such as co-sleeping or babywearing) they become more attuned to the child’s needs and can respond more appropriately,” says Michelle.
“The child develops trust and confidence in having their needs met and in return learns this language as a means of communication.”
You can also expect less crying from your baby if you’re using AP methods. “They cry less because their needs are met,” says Michelle.
Just like with any parenting technique, there are downsides to AP.
For one, you'll probably find you're pretty shattered. Responding to your baby's every need during the night doesn't leave you with much time to sleep.
And should you opt to co-sleep with your baby, you could be putting him in harm's way. Safe baby sleep charity The Lullaby Trust states that bed sharing with a baby increases the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
The charity advises that babies under six months of age sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in their parent's room.
There's also the worry that AP makes children more needy and dependant on their parents. And should the time come that you wish to phase our AP, you may struggle to 'break up' with your baby.
Celeb Fan Base
With a sizeable celebrity following, it’s not surprising that AP is becoming more talked about.
The likes of Kourtney Kardashian, who co-sleeps with her two children, and Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik, who’s big into public breastfeeding, have openly praised it.
And let’s not forget Clueless actress Alicia Silverstone pledging her allegiance to AP by posting a somewhat, er, bizzare video of her chewing her baby’s food and spitting it into his mouth.
But of course the big UK shout out came from the late Peaches Geldof, who openly debated it with Katie Hopkins on This Morning in 2013.
An advocate for breastfeeding and bed sharing, Peaches admitted she was a fan of the child-rearing movement but didn’t like the fact that it was given a label.
“It’s sad to me that this has a name because it’s all about a return to instinctive parenting,” said the mum of two, who died in April 2014.
“It's really not about strict rules – you can pick and choose what you like about it, it's all inclusive. You can really mix and match.
“It's been going on for generations since mothers were in caves. For years and years, especially in less economically developed countries, mothers sleep with their babies and have a wildly less instance of mental health problems and health problems in general.
"The reason is because they are doing this thing that says to your baby, 'I love you, I'm there for you’.”
[Attachment Parenting: Katie Hopkins And Peaches Geldof Debate Controversial Topic]
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Would you try Attachment Parenting? Let us know in the comments.