Family Magazine

Attachment Parenting - It's Not Right For Everyone

By Refriedhippie @Refried_Hippie
Attachment parenting is all the rage for today's hip mommies. The concept seems sweet enough. Parents wearing their babies in harnesses and co-sleeping are the top two applications. There are a number of techniques applied in attachment parenting that are criticized for their bad track record. Specifically, the idea that co-sleeping greatly increases the risk of S.I.D.S. and "roll over" deaths.
Attachment Parenting - It's Not Right For EveryoneIdeally, the concept of attachment parenting allows children and parents more time to bond and increases the "closeness" of the family. You can define "closeness" however you wish, I define it as a feeling of inseparability. Often times I wonder why some families choose to take it to such extremes. Many APs were raised in an AP environment as children themselves. It's what they know and what they saw modeled for them. This is a small percentage of APs.
Most new APs are coming to the movement with no prior experience. They are learning of AP through social media, the internet, news and watching their friends pick up a few AP traits. They are falling into a "monkey see monkey do" pattern, a trend of new movements and social media input. Probably, without actually conducting research on the pros and importantly, the cons associated with AP. This is not claiming that AP is a new concept. It should be understood that AP is an ancient concept and has been practiced all around the world.
Attachment Parenting - It's Not Right For Everyone
So what is this Attachment Parenting all about? There are different ways of implementing AP into a family, but there are also a number of common methods.

Attachment Parenting - It's Not Right For Everyone

I'm NOT Mom Enough 

Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience for both parties involved! It can also be a nightmare for many mommies. Different complications arise making it difficult to enjoy the experience. An AP mother might consider breastfeeding as one of the most important/necessary aspects of raising a child. Bottle feeding poses it's own problems, specifically the lack of "proper" nutrition and "closeness". AP parents decree that breastfeeding is the most appropriate way of feeding a small child.
I must mention the length of time and the age at which stopping breastfeeding should be considered. We've all seen the Times magazine cover of the breastfeeding mom. What is an appropriate age to quit breastfeeding? Many APs would say that breastfeeding is beneficial to children as old as 8. Realistically, a child would stop breastfeeding well before turning 5. Parents that do not practice AP are likely to stop breastfeeding at 2 years, possibly extending to 3 years.

Baby Wearing

A wonderful concept with a chance to accessorize. There are many different styles of baby carriers. Backpacks, slings and front loaders, babies (and moms) have many options for how to travel together. Baby wearing is something I can support. It's often very convenient, small children can easily be kept an eye on when they are literally clinging to you. When it comes to "closeness", baby wearing is about as close as you can get.

Attachment Parenting - It's Not Right For Everyone

Different Styles

Occasionally, especially as the baby grows into a larger child, many moms can't take the weight of baby wearing. Either medical conditions, or growing aches force moms to put baby down, often before the baby is ready. One problem I see with baby wearing, and see in other AP subjects, is that these routines become hard for both parties to break. In this situation, if a mom has to retire her carrier, the child could have a hard time adapting. Something to consider when starting any parenting practice.

Co-Sleeping/Bed Sharing
Co-Sleeping and Bed Sharing definitely come with some issues. A lot of APs believe it is easier to breastfeed while the baby is asleep next to them. There is also a common belief that co-sleeping and family bedding is a more natural way and keeps the family close.
There are three common arguments we hear about bed sharing. The first is that baby will have a hard time transitioning into their own bed later. Understandable. If baby likes sleeping with mom, and this trends into toddler years, it may be hard for a child to understand that they are supposed to move into their own room. Secondly, it is hard to nurture your partnership (have sex) with your spouse. Bedtime between adults should include adult bonding too! If we are too focused on our child, our relationship with our spouse can and will suffer. The third argument is a whopper. As mentioned in the introduction, bed sharing leads to a number of roll over deaths and S.I.D.S. deaths. This doesn't happen very often, but it certainly is not a myth. Parents must be very careful not to suffocate the baby.
There are a few quick tips I have as far as safely sleeping with your baby:
    Attachment Parenting - It's Not Right For Everyone
  • Never, ever, ever, ever do this while under the influence of alcohol or sedating drugs.
  • Keep all pillows and fluffy blankets away from baby.
  • The best scenario is if baby can sleep between mom and a bed rail. Not between mom and dad.
  • Don't swaddle baby if he is not in a basket like the one pictured above. Baby will not be able to move to tell you that you are too close.
  • Use a breathing monitor such as a Snuza for extra precaution. I have one of these and love it! It monitors the up and down movement of the chest and alarms if the movement stops. 
  • If you are at all nervous about bed sharing, get a cosleeper. 

Bottom Line

Attachment Parenting - It's Not Right For Everyone


The bottom line is pretty self explanatory, Attachment Parenting isn't for everyone. It takes commitment and a lot of parents have other priorities. You're not a good or bad parent either way. Literally, this is an extreme form of parenting when taken too seriously. I wouldn't say it's "niche" but it's not the "norm" either. If you choose to adopt some of the techniques of AP, that is wonderful, don't feel pressured into diving completely into open water.
When applied in the right context, AP can be a very enjoyable experiences. Beware, there is a line that can be crossed, that leads to episodic over protective APs. Anyone can take anything too far. Playing with your child, teaching them and interacting with them are of real importance. Wearing your child (physically attached) is only one method of great parenting. Overall, take AP lightly, enjoy it, revel in it, experience your child closely. Don't make it a contest and remember that each child is special, no matter what "method" is used!

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