The term attachment parenting was made popular by world-renowned pediatrician Dr. William Sears. This parenting style, unlike most others, involves a movement backed by an international organization supporting parents who choose to practice attachment parenting. Attachment Parenting International is a non-profit organization aimed at providing resources, support and connections for parents and families.
Characteristics of attachment parents
Attachment parenting is guided by eight principles. The principles address the prenatal period and family support systems.
- Be prepared for and positive about pregnancy, the birth process and parenting.
- Feed children with respect and love.
- Respond to children in a sensitive manner.
- Touch in a nurturing manner.
- Practice co-sleeping.
- Be available for constant care.
- Use positive discipline.
- Balance life, work and family.
Each of the eight principles are vague, leaving parents open to interpret the principles as fits best within a particular family situation. For instance, co-sleeping may mean an infant sleeps in the same room with parents, but not necessarily in the same bed. Other parents may define co-sleeping as sharing the same bed.
Effects of attachment parenting on child development
Dr. Sears claims that attachment parenting teaches children from the youngest age that parents are there for them to support, love and nurture every step of the way. Bonding begins with breastfeeding, continues through co-sleeping and positive discipline. Parents are encouraged to stay with their child at home. For the first 30 months (or 2.5 years) of life children should not be in full-time daycare.
Despite the seemingly positive nature of attachment parenting, not all experts agree with the principles. Co-sleeping, if practiced as co-bedding or shared bedding, can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Parents are warned by most pediatricians to never allow baby to sleep between parents or in the same bed with adults or older children.
Other issues with attachment parenting include excessive stress on parents, dependency issues with children and lack of modernization. The theory of attachment parenting was established in the 1950s when the majority of mothers stayed home with children while fathers worked outside the home. Many mothers now choose to or have to work outside the home making constant care impossible.
Attachment parenting is an old parenting style, so updates to modernize the principles are necessary to help new parents support attachment without being required to stay at home or sleep in the same room with baby.