Detachment parenting has less to do with co sleeping, baby wearing and breastfeeding but more to do with how responsive you are as a parent.
If you don’t answer your babies cries out of fear that you’re spoiling them, if you only feed to a schedule and if you refuse to comfort them past 7PM until 7AM then you are probably a detachment parent. I know plenty of mum’s who class themselves as AP and they don’t co sleep, baby wear or breastfeed. They respond to their babies cues, that’s all it takes really. There is this massive myth that if you’re an attachment parent then it means that you have your baby ATTACHED to you 24/7. (which to be fair I have had plenty of days like that, especially when Freddie was a newborn)
The word ‘attachment’ in the term Attachment Parenting is less physical and more emotional. It means attached in the sense of you and your baby having a good attachment and bond. It means your baby trusts you and knows that all their needs will be met and they will not be left to cry. It also means they feel safe to test the boundaries and occasionally cry for attention. Because crying for attention isn’t a bad thing, it’s normal and if they’re crying for attention then its probably because they need it.
Dr Sears (the King of AP) recommends breastfeeding as part of being an attachment parent however he also recognises that it isn’t necessary to be an AP. He suggests that if you do not breastfeed, then to ‘mimic’ the act by being the babies main feeder and cradling baby close to you whilst feeding them, as if you would whilst breastfeeding.
Attachment parenting is seen in such a negative light when in fact there’s nothing negative about it. You are simply attending to your babies needs and answering their cues no matter what time of the day it is. Whether you’re wearing your baby in a sling or cradling him, whether you’re breastfeeding or feeding your baby a bottle, whether you are co sleeping or settling your baby to sleep in their crib. If your baby’s needs are met and they are happy, then you’re probably doing Attachment Parenting right.
Some of my friends who class themselves as AP have never co slept, simply because they never needed to. Their baby settled fine in their moses basket or crib, so that was that. Whereas mums like me have found co sleeping to be an absolute life saver. (Read about our co sleeping adventures here.)
Another ridiculous misconception about AP is that we all walk around with armpit hair round our ankles, we stink of BO as we haven’t been able to take a shower without our babies crying and we don’t take time for ourselves. Whilst that may be true for some parents, most of us do not smell and our armpit hair is of reasonable length. Attachment Parents will be less likely to take time for themselves, especially in the first year or so, as their baby is their main priority and the first year seems to be the hardest to leave the baby. If your baby is sad without you so you do not leave them, then you are listening to their cues and desires. My ‘me time’ is when Freddie is in bed in the evenings or when Simon occasionally takes him out for a walk in the Tula. Yes, some days I probably do smell a bit worse than I’d like to, some days I cannot even brush my hair or put on my make-up, some days I barely even get dressed, some days I pee with a baby on my lap. But most of the time I still manage to shower (when my partner is home and can entertain Freddie), most of the time I do get to apply my make up (with Freddie on my back in the Tula or playing at my feet) and most of the time I can quickly run away for a pee in silence. (Sometimes.)
SO, detachment parenting. How can it harm your child and yourself? There has been a lot of research in the past 10+ years to do with parenting techniques and the effects on children. It has been proven that Cry It Out raises the cortisol levels so much so that even when the child does learn to fall asleep on their own, they found that they were equally as stressed as they were when they were crying themselves to sleep. Many parents practise this method in an attempt to not have a ‘clingy’ baby and to teach their baby independence. To many parents who practise this, this method backfires on them as their child grows older. Studies have shown that babies and children who have been left to cry often have insecure attachments to their parents and therefore are more ‘clingy’ with them when they are older and find it more difficult to part with them. Many victims of the CIO method have later on reported that this had a great effect on them too, yes this may be anecdotal evidence but isn’t anecdotal evidence enough to put you off leaving your child to cry? What if that adult who is still damaged by being left to cry was once your little baby?
It can harm you as a parent by living with the guilt of leaving your baby to cry. I’ve never met a parent who has said that they didn’t feel bad leaving their baby or child to cry. They all harp on about how guilty they feel, how do they think the baby feels? Your feelings are not more valid than your babies and your guilt is your instinct trying to tell you to answer your god damn baby. We are the only mammals who leave our babies to cry and the only mammals who purposely detach themselves from their babies and children. Why is that? Humans were once the same as every other mammal, we responded to our babies cries, we answered their cues and they were with us until they were securely attached and had the skills to move on and have their own family.
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