Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Attachment Parenting Book by William and Martha Sears

I heard about attachment parenting a few years ago and assumed it was something that only...well...how do I put this? I thought only weirdos practiced attachment parenting. All I knew about them was that they breastfed their kids until they were old enough to ask for steak and that they all slept in a family bed. I was kind of a jerk and idiot because this is the most extreme of attachment parenting. It turns out there is an attachment parenting spectrum and not all advocates are quite so hardcore.

It also turns out I've been practicing some aspects of attachment parenting for the last 19 years and didn't even know it.

I've always been the type of person who wants to read the material of the originator. While there are dozens of other books on attachment parenting, this book is by the pediatrician Dr. William Sears, who was the first to coin the term "attachment parenting." 

Because I started reading this book with such preconceived ideas about what attachment parenting was, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the original concept wasn't quite so "crunchy granola" for a lack of a better term. Dr. Sears explains his philosophy on attachment parenting and backs it up with science. He expands on the seven basic principles of attachment parenting which he calls the B's:

1. Birth bonding (Rooming in after giving birth and continuing to bond in the early weeks and months)
2. Breastfeeding (However, he respects the choice to bottle feed. In fact, he lacks the Nazi-like attitude that breastfeeding must be done to be a good mother. In fact, Dr. Sears says "Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for not breastfeeding.")
3. Babywearing (Wearing your baby in a carrier or sling)
4. Bedding close to baby (I was surprised to find out that Dr. Sears is not an advocate of the "family bed." He explains that his children did co-sleep with him and his wife but all did so one at a time and eventually moved to their own beds.)
5. Belief in baby's cry (This simply means understanding that a baby's cries are how he communicates his needs. A baby does not cry to manipulate the parent.)
6. Balance and boundries (This means taking care of yourself, your partner, and the rest of your family in balance with taking care of your baby. Boundries means you don't give your child everything she wants, just what she needs and you practice discipline while respecting the child.)
7. Beware of baby trainers (This means you adapt to your baby's schedule as opposed to making your baby fit yours. You feed on demand and avoid methods such as crying it out.)

I was highly impressed with this book. It was a great introduction to attachment parenting and wasn't so hardcore that it completely scared me off. Dr. Sears even explains that you don't have to practice all of the principles to be an attachment parent. Parents will use these different tools to different degrees that works best for their family. I loved how Dr. Sears emphasized that if you don't take care of yourself along with caring for your child, you won't be the best parent you can be. This is truly a holistic approach that takes into consideration every family members needs.

My only complaint is that it doesn't have as much detail about how to practice some of these tools. For example, there are several different types of slings and baby carriers. It takes some practice to learn how to use a sling or carrier safely. This information was not included in the book. Another example was there wasn't any information about where Dr. Sears stands on issues such as cloth vs. disposable diapers or when to start feeding a baby sold food. I would have liked to have seen topics like these included. Perhaps they are in his other book titled The Baby Book. I would also like to know how to apply the principles of attachment parenting to older children which I believe are addressed in The Discipline Book and Creative Parenting.

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