Time magazine’s cover that launched a thousand blog posts (well, probably more) and added more fuel to the fire of the so-called “mommy wars” did it all with a single question: “Are You Mom Enough?” The implication was that the style of parenting explored in the article — attachment parenting — was an exercise in extremes that only the most selflessly dedicated mothers even attempt.
The truth is that the tenets of attachment parenting — breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, the use of natural products, and gentle discipline — can actually make a parent’s life much easier. Here’s how:
Breastfeeding is a natural, easy, and inexpensive way to feed your baby. You don’t have to mix formula or heat up bottles. You don’t have to traipse through your living room, stumbling over toys on your way to the kitchen when you wake up in the middle of the night to go get a bottle and heat it up on the stove.
When you breastfeed your baby, you can feed your baby anywhere, any time. It is more convenient, it is less expensive (you can’t get much cheaper than free!), and it is the best food for your baby.
More Restful Nights
Young babies need to wake up multiple times in the night to eat. When you are co-sleeping and breastfeeding, you don’t have to get out of the bed, make a bottle, or even pull your baby into your arms to nurse. You can just pull your baby close to you and nurse while lying in bed. Your baby will fall back to sleep more quickly, and you will get more rest.
Babies who are breastfed benefit from antibodies that protect them against illness. As a result, breastfed babies are sick less often — even when they are in daycare — requiring fewer visits to the doctor and less missed work by their parents. A sick baby makes for more stressed parents and a more stressed baby.
A Calmer Baby
Babies who are kept close to their parents — through practices such as co-sleeping and baby wearing — are often more calm, less fussy babies. Such practices help foster a greater bond between parent and baby (thus, “attachment” parenting). Babies who feel secure in their attachment to their parents cry less and feel more confident in new situations and around new people. A calmer baby helps parents become more calm and more able to adapt to other stressors that parenthood can bring.
A Better Relationship
By developing this early bond with your baby, then continuing to practice gentle discipline that encourage mutual respect, you will develop a strong and happy relationship with your child. While there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to skip the Terrible Twos or other tumultuous developmental phases (like those dreaded teen years), you can help minimize the struggles you’ll face during these times.
The whole goal of attachment parenting is to make your child feel attached and secure in those early years to foster a greater sense of independence, respect, and cooperation as he grows into a young adult.
Rather than make your life more difficult, attachment parenting can actually make those early years much more manageable. Co-sleeping and baby wearing can make it easier for you to care for your baby and can help your baby to be more calm and less fussy. Breastfeeding and using natural products can promote your baby’s health and reduce your family’s expenses. All of these practices, as well as gentle discipline, can help you to develop a stronger bond with your child that will minimize power struggles and other limit testing.
Have you tried any of the practices of attachment parenting with your children? Did you find that they made your life easier or more difficult? Tell us your thoughts on attachment parenting or your reaction to the Time article in the comments!
Maria Magher is a freelance writer (www.mariamagher.com) who blogs about parenting, sustainable living, blogging, and more. She is also the mother of a happy and contented baby girl. In her spare time – between blogging and changing diapers – she dreams about what she would do with more than five minutes of spare time.