Nov 9, 2007

Attachment Style Parenting

There is a fantastic book called The Baby Book written by Dr William Sears and his wife, Martha Sears (an RN). They have 8 children, he is a pediatrician and she has worked in L&D, is a certified childbirth educator & a breastfeeding consultant. If anyone knows what they are talking about when it comes to children, it is this family. Their book has been called "the baby bible of the post Dr. Spock generation."
I love reading their book (and used their "The Birth Book" as I prepared for labor & delivery with Scotty) because they are proponents of the parenting style they dub "attachment parenting." They have set up the "7 baby B's of attachment parenting" with the goal to:

* know your child
* help your child feel right
* enjoy parenting

1. Birth Bonding-connect with your baby early
* I missed out on the immediate birth bonding with Scotty because he was taken to the NICU but I feel the second I could, I was able to create a strong bond with him. After I fed him each time, I would hold him close to my chest and do skin-on-skin kangaroo care. It is there he would fall asleep before we put him back into the incubator and anxiously awaited the next feeding, 3 hours later
* "The early weeks and months are a sensitive period when mother & baby need to be together and this early closeness allows the natural attachment-promoting behaviors of a baby and the intuitive biological caregiving of a mother to unfold."
2. Belief in your baby's cries-read and respond to your baby's cues
* Every time Scotty cries, if I am not holding him already, I pick him up. As I respond to him and become more aware of his cues, I am able to anticipate his needs before it reaches full on crying. Especially this week, we are at a point where he makes a certain noise, I know what it means, and am able to respond to it before it turns into an out of control cry.
* "Pick up your baby when he cries. As simple as this sounds, there are many parents who have been told to let their babies cry it out, for the reason that they must not reward "bad" behavior. But newborns don't misbehave; they just communicate the only way nature allows them to. Imagine how you would feel if you were completely uncoordinated - unable to do anything for yourself - and your cries for help went unheeded."
* "Meeting your baby's needs in the early months means solid communication patterns will develop."
* "If nothing else, consider responding to your baby's needs an investment in the future; you'll be glad for good communication when he gets older and his problems are bigger than being fed or getting off to sleep."
3. Breastfeed your baby
* I absolutely love feeding Scotty. We go into the 2nd room, sit in the rocking chair together, pull up the boppy and have the Baby Mozart CD grandma bought us playing in the background. I avoid all distractions (phone, TV, books etc) and enjoy this special time I have with my son. I look at his adorable face and am in awe every time at how perfect he is, how beautiful and sweet, and ponder on the Plan of Salvation and this gift that Heavenly Father has given to me.
* "The benefits of breastfeeding in enhancing baby's health and development are enormous, but what is not fully appreciated are the magnificent effects of breastfeeding on the mother. Here's whats in it for you: Every time your baby feeds, hormones (prolactin & oxytocin) enter your system. These mothering hormones help form the chemical basis for what is called mother's intuition."
* "New studies show that breastfed babies turn out to be smarter children"
4. Babywearing-carry your baby a lot
* This is my absolutely FAVORITE "b" of attachment parenting. I love wearing Scotty. He is what has been dubbed a "sling baby." I carry him around with me all day in what is called a moby wrap. I bought it at the LA baby convention back in April the week after we found out he was going to be a boy. After we purchased it, I had dreams for the next month about wearing him all day. He does everything with me and is close to me at all times. We do the dishes together, vacuum, write thank you notes & letters, blog (yup, I'm wearing him right now), check email, make dinner, take out the trash...everything. I LOVE having him close to me and I think that is the way it should be. How impersonal it is to leave a baby lying in a crib all day to stare at the ceiling and not be a part of the adult world?
* "As we were doing our parenting-style research, we attended an international parenting conference where we noticed that mothers in other cultures wear their babies in slinglike carriers as part of their native dress. Impressed by how content the babies were and how attentive their mothers were, we asked these mothers why they carried their babies. They volunteered two simple but profound reasons: Its good for the baby, and it makes life easier for the mother."
* "Good things happen to carried babies and their parents. Most noticeably, carried babies cry less, as if they forget to fuss. Besides being happier, carried babies develop better, possibly because the energy they would have wasted on crying is diverted into growth. Also, a baby learns much in the arms of a busy parent.
5. Bedding close to baby
* The first week, Scotty was in the NICU but would fall asleep on my chest every time before we left. The next week, he slept in his bassinet next to our bed. The following week, I didn't burp him well enough so he kept grunting in his sleep. Each noise he made, I would jump up and check on him, getting NO sleep until the following feeding. So, I picked him up and into bed with us he came. It was incredible! He slept much better! 4 hours before the next feeding! He didn't get back in the bassinet again...until 2 days ago when my arm fell asleep from his heavy head sleeping on it :-( To my sadness, we decided it was best for him to sleep back in the bassinet so he & I could get a better rest. But, after his 6:30 feeding, he's back in bed with us and will sleep until 9:30 or 10 and wakes up as happy as ever, cooing and smiling and charming us to tears.
* "Wherever you and your baby sleep best is the right arrangement for you, and it is a very personal decision."
* "Sleeping with your baby makes nighttime parenting easier and enhances the development of your baby."
6. Balance & boundaries
* This one focuses on mother burnout- -to be appropriately responsive to your baby, knowing when to say yes and when to say no, and also having the wisdom to say yes to your own needs. Basically, when mom & dad are doing well, baby will also do well. A baby needs a happy, rested mother.
* I cherish the time when I can shower and Scotty can happily play with his leaves both of us refreshed and relaxed and happy to be together.
7. Beware of baby trainers
* I don't take any advice from others too seriously. This is my time to be a mother and other peoples opinions don't matter to me. For example, some people have pushed the "cry it out" method on Tyler & me. That just doesn't work with our style of parenting. If you're a die-hard cry it out-er, that is fine, it just isn't our cup of tea. Other things we have heard is "get him on a schedule," "don't pick him up so much, you're spoiling him" We'll politely listen to ideas and suggestions & discuss it together later on, but if it doesn't work with our style of parenting, we're not changing.
* "If carried to the extreme, baby training is a lose-lose situation: baby loses trust in the signal value of his cues, and parents lose trust in their ability read and respond to baby's cues. As a result, a distance can develop between baby and parent, which is just the opposite of the closeness that develops with attachment parenting.

I love this book, I love the research they have done and the experience they have. I love it that their "attachment style parenting" matches the nurturing nature that Tyler & I feel works best for our son. And the most exciting thing of it all is that Dr. Sears has his family's pediatric practice IN San Clemente and Scotty is going there on Monday for his 2 month well-child visit!
I am thrilled that the author of the book I feel best represents our parenting style will be our son's doctor.
If you too are an attachment style parent, check out their website at
If you like the moby wrap I use to carry Scotty around in, check out
The Sears Family Library has other books as well including: The Pregnancy Book, The Breastfeeding Book, The Fussy Baby Book, The Discipline Book, The Family Nutrition Book, The Attachment Parenting Book, The A.D.D. Book, and The Successful Child


  1. Hi Erika-
    I LOVE my moby wrap. My sister-in-law bought me one as a gift. Her daughter is almost a year and she still uses it all the time. It is wonderful to have. Yes, I have vacuumed too with Kaitlyn in her moby. I use it more than the stroller when I run errands. Sounds like you already have the parenting thing down! Scotty is a blessed little boy. ~Melissa

  2. That sounds like a great book. Isnt nursing the best now that I'm starting to ween them I really try to enjoy it. So I used the super nanny book and she says you cant spoil a baby if there crying they need something. We didn't let the girls cry at night until just recently since they arent sleeping through the night. You sound like you are doing great.

  3. thanks for sharing your philosophy on parenthood; it helps me to understand where you are coming from. i think that as parents we often get caught up in our way as "the right way" and it is so good to remember that we all have the same goals and desires to be good parents--and that there is more than one way to get there, based on our own personalities and perspectives. i appreciate all the research and thought that you have put into this, and i respect the decision that you've made. please be patient with me if i sometimes offer advice that you don't need. you may find down the road that it is nearly impossible for a mother to not offer advice to another mother!:)
    you both are great parents and scotty will always be well loved.
    isn't motherhood amazing? it is such a blessing in my life, and i am so grateful for my little tykes.
    love you--and i can't wait to hold and kiss scotty again next week.

  4. p.s.
    that is so cool that you are going to have your guru as a pediatrician. very cool.


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