Nikki from Earthway Parenting is writing for us today and she’s giving us the low down on a question that many people ask… what is attachment parenting? Let’s find out more…
What is attachment parenting?
Attachment parenting as defined by Wikipedia: “Attachment parenting (AP) is a parenting philosophy that proposes methods which aim to promote the attachment of mother and infant not only by maximal maternal empathy and responsiveness but also by continuous bodily closeness and touch.”
Following your intuition
Attachment parenting for myself and my husband has always been about creating a trusting relationship with our children I personally believe that this can be developed by following your intuition; Intuition comes from connection and connection with ourselves, our own feelings it is the essential ingredient for the beginning of intuitive parenting. The flood of natural hormones that are generated at and post birth, these are the hormones for connection- this is designed to help both parents to more easily attune to their new baby.
By responding to your baby’s cries; breastfeeding on ‘demand’ for an extended period; “wearing” your baby in a carrier or a sling; as well as using gentle ways to help your baby sleep, these are all ways in which you can approach an ‘attachment parenting aspect to your parenting journey.
I ‘accidently’ started co-sleeping with our first baby due to her oesophageal reflux and sleeping for only 2-3 hrs at a time both day and night, I was bombed. After trying numerous ways to get her to sleep like timed intervals of crying it out (as suggested by a local midwife), car trips at 3am, long walks so she would sleep in the pram, bassinette propped up and then Tresillian (sleep training), all of which I might add, shattered me in ways I never thought could. I didn’t know what crying it out was when I was a new mum, I did find out the most heartbreaking way possible unfortunately, whilst they ‘trained’ my then undiagnosed baby to sleep.
Not long later she was officially diagnosed with oesophageal reflux and that for me, was THE worst feelings of guilt that I could ever possibly explain. It was then that we ‘tripped’ into attachment parenting and safe co-sleeping and life with our then 3-month-old changed for the better. I finally felt like the mother that I wanted to be, that I knew felt intuitively right for me. It was that kind of sleep deprivation and post-natal depletion, the actual ‘breakdown’ that brought me to my ‘breakthrough’ and to a topic that is now very close to my heart, safe co-sleeping, a subject at times opposed in Western society.
As quoted by Jan Hunt author of -The natural child, parenting from the heart, ‘We are moving toward an artificial, mistrustful, and distant approach, especially in the Western world.’
When a mother sleeps next to her baby she is more able to use her instinctive responses that a new mother has to her baby’s first cry. This also prevents the need for hard crying that can be so stressful to the baby and the entire family. Dr William Sears a renowned American Paediatrician has quoted, ‘often times I felt ridiculous giving my seal of approval to what was in reality such a natural thing to do, sort of like reinventing the wheel and extolling its viruses. Had parent’s intuition sunk so low that some strange man had to tell modern women that it was ok to sleep with their babies?’
When babies sleep near their parents we are creating a sense of trust and security for them, acceptance and love. Co-sleeping with your baby safely, for example in a co-sleeper (you can buy these online or as an attachment to your own bed) and minimising the separation from your baby during the first few months is an absolute lifesaver in fact 50 to 80% of parents bed share in countries like Australia, US and the UK.
‘With increased maternal contact and feeding, crying is significantly reduced, and contrary to conventional thinking, maternal and infant sleep can be increased.’ James J Mckenna pHd
Putting our new baby into their crib in another room, isolated and alone felt completely wrong to us, for us a bassinette in our room and bed sharing made for much easier breastfeeding during the night and far more sleep!
Being with our daughter all the time and always closely connected allowed us to really get to know her needs. With an increased knowledge base, life with our new baby evolved into being an easier journey and we felt far more confident in the decisions that we were making.
As it was, it still took us a good few months with our first daughter to realise that all we really had to do was to follow her lead, and to trust our own instincts as parents, when we did do that parenting became less stressful, our expectations dropped completely, and we felt far more confident in our very new role, a raw and heart expanding journey called ‘parenting.
Infants that have their needs met early feel safe, secure and protected.
“Attachment to your infant is where your infant will use you as their primary caregiver as a secure base from which they can then explore and when necessary use you as a haven of safety as well as a great source of comfort.” Taken from The Paediatric Child Health Medical Journal
Reassuring your baby
As parents if you are consistently responding to your infants distress in sensitive and/or ‘loving’ ways, such as picking them up when they are upset and reassuring them that you are all there for them, your baby will feel nothing short of secure in the knowledge that you are always there, they will feel that they can freely express their negative emotions knowing that it will only elicit comfort and love from you. Infants whose parents are consistently responding to their baby’s distress in insensitive or even a ‘resentful’ way, such as ignoring, ridiculing or even becoming annoyed, and angry at them, these babies will then begin to develop upset toward you as their carer. They may cry more or even minimize any displays of emotion with time in the presence of you, their parent, their carer.
It can be demanding
Attachment parenting can be ever demanding due to all of the ‘holding,’ Therefore It is really important to understand that YOUR wellbeing as a parent is also SO essential to your baby’s emotional adjustment, their attachment. You need to make time for you too, a cuppa with a good book out in the sunshine, a walk on the beach with your little one bundled up in a carrier.
Make sure to Earth yourself daily, take your shoes off and feel the grass between your toes, go outside and get grounded. Journal, start a daily gratitude list, gentle yoga stretches and Time. Space. Connection with you, the human that was, before becoming the parent.
Attachment parenting to me is when we lead with love, but also when we have love for ourselves too, then we always have room to lead with love and attachment for our babies- we then also exceed ALL of our baby’s expectations from the very start.
Peace begins at birth, yes. But I do strongly believe that it starts more so within the initial post- partum period. This is your babies expected place within your arms, if your baby is always brought to your chest in upset as well as in happy times they know attachment, they know security and safety, they know love.
Image credits – 1st (Amber Murley), 2nd (Grace Mac Photography), 3rd (Earthway Parenting), 4th (Tara Samuelson Photography)
Earthway Parenting provides a safe place for parents to be. Nikki Smith is a Registered Nurse and a Qualified Child and Family Nurse. Nikki has created a distinctive space to begin your own unique journey as parents. Earthway Parenting is a space to come together and embrace the winds of change, to nourish your soul with education through partaking in workshops that have been developed with you in mind. Perhaps you are pregnant and would like more knowledge on the period AFTER birth? Or are you amidst the chaos of toddler-hood and would love some gentle parenting tools? Delving into further knowledge as a parent will create a newfound wisdom within. Welcome to Earthway Parenting, welcome to discovering conscious and intuitive parenting.
Nikki writes for us every month so be sure to keep your eye out for future posts. Previous articles include:
- Tantrums – an attempt to communicate – view here.
- Parenting Consciously – view here
- Gratitude Lists for a happier you – view here
- How to set positive boundaries for your children – view here
- Gentle approach to sleep and settling your baby – view here
- Infant care and connecting with your little one – view here
- They’re only young once – parenting with connection – view here
- Expectations of you and your baby with the cry it out technique – view here
- A letter to a new mum – view here
- 6 ways to gentle discipline & reconnection with your toddler – view here
- Tantrum – how to better handle them with emotional intelligence – view here
- Mama guilt, judging yourself and always being too busy – view here
eBooks & workshops
Nikki has eBooks, workshops & posters available. You can download them below
- Conscious Parenting eBook here (FREE).
- Or her Infant Connection eBook – here ($19.95)
- Tuning into your toddler here ($19.95)
- Affirmation posters here ($15.95 RRP or $5 each wholesale price)
- Postpartum Care workshop – sign up here
Nikki Smith is a Registered Nurse and a Qualified Child and Family Nurse. A mama of three beautiful daughters with a strong belief in raising our children consciously and intuitively. Nikki is the founder of Earthway Parenting and has developed and is facilitating Post Partum Care and Tuning into your Toddler Workshops on the Central Coast of NSW. Nikki also provides one on one consultations via skype according to the unique needs of your family focusing on gentle parenting for your infant and/or toddler. The Post Partum Care Workshop is available online as a comprehensive eCourse with videos and demonstrations as well as downloadable handouts according to each of the six unique modules and the infant care and connection ebook.
Are you pregnant or a family with a 0-12wk old infant?
*This workshop is for you if you are a family wanting to learn more about co-sleeping. And why it’s more than ok to do it.
*This workshop is for you if you are parents that want to set up long-term, successful breastfeeding habits.
*This workshop is for you if you want to learn about babywearing, wrapping your baby safely, & Gentle sleep routines. Nikki offers her Support with videos, audio & demonstrations. Let Nikki help you to gain confidence in this new journey as well as provide the education and information surrounding it.
*This workshop is for you if you value your OWN self-care and your relationship with each other.
Nikki writes for us here at the Baby Berry Collective and is a passionate mama of three strongly advocating the education surrounding intuitive and conscious parenting.
Together, let’s lead from an open heart space and create a magical journey into parenthood.
Location Online + on the Central Coast, NSW
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