Last Updated on August 22, 2021.
Attachment parenting has been gaining popularity in recent years as a way to promote wellness in families. Parents who practice attachment parenting have different approaches, but what they have in common is that the focus of caregiving is on maintaining physical closeness and emotional responsiveness with their children. These parents believe this leads to healthier babies and happier parents; what’s not to love?
What is attachment parenting?
The idea behind attachment parenting is to bring your baby as close to you as possible and to respond to their needs quickly. The classic example of what this might look like in a family setting would be nursing on demand, carrying the child in a sling or carrier all day long, sleeping with them when they’re afraid at night, responding promptly if they wake up during the night with a cry, and taking them for errands in your arms or on your back.
In order to understand what’s behind attachment parenting, it’s helpful to look at the science behind attachment theory.
Attachment theory is a well-researched theory that has been studied for over 50 years. The central focus of attachment parenting is that an available and responsive caregiver allows a child to develop a sense of security. Engaging your baby from a place of attachment is beneficial to both the child and the caregiver.
The Basic Principles
Feed with love and respect
Attachment parenting encourages parents to feed their babies with love and respect. Breastfeeding is a major component of this parenting strategy because it provides what the baby needs for optimal health.
Respond with sensitivity
When babies cry, it’s because their needs are not being met. Attachment parenting encourages parents to respond with sensitivity and meet the needs of their babies. This might mean carrying them around all day, breastfeeding on demand, responding promptly when they wake up at night or during naps.
Use nurturing touch
Physical touch is critical in attachment parenting. This might mean holding hands, skin-to-skin contact, carrying the baby in a sling or carrier. It also means responding to their cries with nurturing touch and meeting their needs promptly.
Ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally
With attachment parenting, safe sleep includes physical and emotional safety. It’s natural for babies to sleep with their parents, so this parenting method encourages what is called “bed-sharing.” It also ensures that the caretaker pays attention to what’s happening with their baby at night.
Provide consistent and loving care
Babies are helpless. Attachment parenting means providing consistent and loving care. This might mean taking time to bond with your baby through close, physical contact, responsive feeding, and caring for their needs promptly as they arise throughout the day.
Practice positive discipline
Attachment parenting encourages positive discipline, which is what we call an authoritative parenting style. Positive discipline means parents are respectful, responsive, and nurturing to their children while still maintaining control of what’s going on in their lives.
Strive for balance in your personal and family life
Attachment parenting encourages parents to strive for natural balance in their personal and family lives.
How important is attachment?
So how important is it really? Well, children who are raised in an attachment style of parenting have better outcomes for a variety of things, including physical and emotional health. They are also more likely to express empathy as adults.
Benefits of Attachment Parenting
Parents and children both benefit! Here are the major pros to using this science backed parenting style.
Benefits for Kids
- is more trusting
- feels more competent and confident
- shows more social competence
- get along with others better
- benefits from a secure attachment style in adulthood
- gets what he or she needs to thrive as an individual.
Benefits for Parents
- are more confident parents
- read baby’s cues better
- find discipline easier
- are less likely to be depressed
- benefit from what’s called “parental competence”
- have a better long-term relationship with their kids
The Bottom Line
Attachment parenting encourages parents to bond with their babies, feed them love and respect. It also means responding sensitively when they cry and providing what the baby needs for optimal health. And it includes safe sleep practices, positive discipline, and striving for balance in one’s personal and family life. Children who are raised with this parenting style tend to thrive.
What You Should Do Next…
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