I found The Continuum Concept difficult to read and wasn't sure how to apply the techniques in real life, The Attachment Parenting Book was far more accessible and easy to read. I understood straight away how to apply the techniques in real life, and liked the fact that it wasn't an all-or-nothing approach to parenting, but you could pick and choose what suited your lifestyle. The principles of Attachment Parenting are the 7 Baby B's which are:
Bonding at Birth - Holding your baby after it's born, having skin-to-skin contact and keeping him near you, (generally this in encouraged in UK hospitals anyway),
Breastfeeding - The nutritional benefits aren't rammed down your throat, it is more about the opportunity to bond and to become more attached to you baby, and for baby to become more attached to you. They say that you can still be an attached parent if you bottle feed, it's about the way you do it.
Baby Wearing - Carrying baby in a sling or otherwise, they encourage this for about 4 hours per day.
Bedding close to baby - Co-sleeping,
Belief in the language of baby's cries - Responding when baby's cries, learning what it's different cries mean,
Beware of baby trainers - Trying to take no notice of people who tell you to let baby cry, who encourage controlled crying, who tell you your baby will become clingy etc.
and Balance - Making sure you are happy with using the principles of Attachment Parenting in your own way, adapting it to your lifestyle, not following it like a strict regime.
I found some these principles easier to follow than others:
- Bonding at birth wasn't too much of a problem, the hospital encouraged skin-to-skin contact after Orren was born and fortunately I was able to keep him with me after birth, I held him for most of our first night together which was lovely, although I didn't get much sleep!
- Breastfeeding was OK once I got the hang of it (Read this for more on my thoughts about breastfeeding),I am still feeding him now, although am pretty tired of wearing frumpy old nursing bras.
- I have always responded to Orren's cries and have never left him to cry, I have not yet been able to understand the meaning of each of his cries on a concious level, but I think sub-consciously I must be responding correctly, because he rarely cries for more than a few minutes a day, and I seem to know what he wants and what to do without thinking too much about it. I am afraid I really cannot understand people who practice controlled crying, it seems cruel to me. I think you have to be very special parents and have a very special baby for the controlled crying technique to work without breaking your heart and that of your baby's,
- Being aware of baby trainers has been interesting because they come in the most unlikely forms of friends and family members. It can be difficult to ignore what they say when they are just trying to help, at times I have considered some of their suggestions, but fortunately not for long! And I have managed to stand my ground so far. I am always surprised when I speak to other mums who say they have used Gina Ford's techniques, I looked on her website and she said that she must be doing something right because she sells X number of books, but I just think parents want an answer to the complicated confusing, unpredictable thing that is a new baby and often realising that there isn't an answer helps you become more relaxed and to go with the flow of your baby instead of trying to fit them round your internal clock.
- Balance has been good and I am so glad that this is included in the baby b's, as it has enabled me to not worry too much about the fact that I haven't followed the principles to the letter, that's the whole point of it, the technique is designed so that parents don't get stressed out by it and so they don't feel ruled by it. Other parenting books make you feel like a falier if you haven't been able to follow through with some technique or other, but not Attachment Parenting.
Others I have struggled with:
- Baby wearning has been a bit difficult because I have found myself getting a bad back after carrying Orren for too long. It wasn't too bad at first because he was small and light and I could wear him on my front without him getting too much in the way when doing housework etc. But as time has passed I have found it more and more difficult. I need a carrier so I can out him on my back, but haven't got round to making one yet. However, I always have him facing me in the cot, and do try to carry him a lot during the day.
- Bedding close to baby has been difficult, we have Orren in a little cot next to our bed but he often ends up in bed with us from about 3.00am when he wakes. I couldn't have him in bed with us all night because I get really uncomfortable and have even ended up with a frozen neck! I don't feel bad about it though because he is right next to us and I always pick him up when he cries. My main concern now is that he won;t fit into his little cot soon and then he will have to go into his own room :(
As my parenting journey continues I have found a whole community of people who share my philosophy over at naturalmamas and I have found out more and more about ways to be a natural parent. At the moment we are having a go at Baby Led Weaning and I am reading up on gentle discipline in Unconditional Parenting. It's such an exciting journey and I am loving it. I am so glad I found out about Attachment Parenting. Don't believe they hype, find out about it for yourself, you will probably be pleasantly surprised to find that you are already following many of the principles.