This post is part of the Attachment Parenting Month blog carnival, hosted by Attachment Parenting International. Learn more about how you can stay “Attached at the Heart Through the Years” by visiting API Speaks, the blog of Attachment Parenting International.
I’ve touched a little on the fact that Trevor and I are practicing Attachment Parenting with Sadie, but I haven’t really had a chance to go in-depth about it. October is Attachment Parenting Month, and I think it’s a good time to write about how it works for us, and how it is helping us get through the major transition we are going through right now with me starting a new job and Sadie starting at daycare. It’s only been three days, but it’s a huge change from having been home with her full-time since she was born six months ago. And I think the fact that we’re Attachment Parenting her is making, and will continue to make, a big difference in how we work through this transition.
So! The Eight Principles of AP are as follows:
Feed with Love and Respect:
This doesn’t have to mean breastfeeding, but that’s what we’ve been doing from the start. Sadie has nursed on demand since we took her home from the hospital. Now that I’m working, I am pumping at the office so Sadie can continue to be nourished primarily by breast milk. My new workplace has a “Mother’s Room,” which is outstanding; it makes it so much easier to pump at work than I imagined. And the folks at work are super supportive of it, so nobody makes a big deal (not so far, at least) about my having to disappear for 20 minutes to pump. When Sadie and I are together, she still nurses as often as she wants. And I’ve decided to quit making it a goal to get her to sleep longer stretches at night. I figure, if she wakes up to nurse every two hours throughout the night, that should help keep my supply up since she I can’t possibly pump as often as she had been nursing. We recently started testing some vegetables out on her, and we’re taking this new aspect of her nutrition seriously as well. All summer long, I bought fresh vegetables and fruits from the farmer’s market to make and freeze baby food.
Respond with Sensitivity: I worked very hard in the beginning to tune in to Sadie and her cues. She still rarely escalates from a fuss to a cry, and I think having her needs met quickly has a lot to do with that. We were mindful of her need for sensitivity when we selected our daycare provider. They love babies, and they don’t expect her to self-soothe.
Use Nurturing Touch: We give Sadie as much of this as she’ll let us. She’s a total busybody, so sometimes it takes a fair amount of effort to get a cuddle out of her. I’ve been trying to teach her to cuddle by scratching her back when she’s being cuddly. I wear her as often as it is practical, and I’m thinking of caving and getting an Ergo baby carrier so I can extend babywearing (She’s getting a little heavy for her weight to be all on one shoulder, like in the sling.). It would be nice to have her on my back when I’m prepping dinner in the evenings. Also, I can’t wait for nap time tomorrow, because she’ll finally get to take a nap on my chest–something I’ve missed dearly the past three days.
Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally: This is a big one for us. As I mentioned above, Sadie and I often co-nap. We’ve had her sleeping in our room since she we came home from the hospital, with the exception of four nights recently. I wanted to see if having her crib in her own room would change her sleep quality for the better. It didn’t. While it didn’t make things worse, and it was certainly nice not to have to sneak into the bedroom at bedtime and to read a little in bed with an actual lamp on, we moved her crib back into our room. It’s where she is used to sleeping, and it gives her easy access to nursing, which is especially important during this time of transition. We aren’t avid co-sleepers, because I have a hard time getting and staying comfortable with her in bed; but she does end up in bed with us somewhat frequently. We do not believe in sleep training and will never let her cry alone.
Provide Consistent and Loving Care: Saving up money so I could stay at home with Sadie for her first six months was possibly the best gift I could have given myself. I had no idea how long I was going to be able to do it, and I wish we’d saved up even more; but six months was twice as long as I would have had if I had stayed at my former job. I was able to really get a handle on learning to be a parent to her. Now that I’m working full-time and she’s at daycare, I’m comforted by the fact that her daycare providers are wonderful women who seem to just love her. Every day this week they commented on how great she is, and I can tell they really mean it. Because of Trevor’s work schedule, Sadie will get to be at home with her dad on Tuesdays. And he’ll be bringing her up to my work to have lunch with me–hopefully every week! Trevor and I have even worked out our weekday routines so that she gets relatively equal time with each of us. Trevor goes to work later and so is mostly “on-duty” in the mornings as I get ready for work; he also takes Sadie to daycare. I get off work earlier, so I pick Sadie up from daycare, and I feed her dinner and put her to sleep. Saturdays are Sadie-and-Mom time, and on Sundays we all get to be together.
Practice Positive Discipline: This principle is one of the main things that drew me to AP. All of the principles above come mostly naturally. I would probably have been doing them anyway without much premeditation. But discipline is an area that I am going to have to be very mindful about. My early childhood with my parents involved a lot of negative discipline and a lot of punishment, to put it mildly. If I were to default to the discipline styles that might come “naturally” to me, I am afraid I might fall into some negative practices. While Trevor had a much more positive upbringing, there is always room for improvement. Of course, Sadie hasn’t needed disciplining quite yet. Although we have been practicing redirecting her away from undesirable activities (you know, like playing in the pets’ water bowls). I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading about positive discipline, and I certainly intend to do more as she gets older. I want to be very intentional about how we discipline her–to choose specifically what we want to do and to always know why we are carrying out a certain technique.
Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life: I think we’ve been doing this pretty well. We do our best to put Sadie’s needs first, because they truly are needs and not wants. We’ve stayed in touch with my emotional well being: getting me back into therapy right after Sadie was born and going on an antidepressant when I was about to hit a major low point. We have also been good about not neglecting our social lives or our time with extended family. We give each other room to take a break from the family–for me to go to book club, or for Trevor to ride his bike, for example. We spend time with my family fairly regularly, and I took Sadie to be with Trevor’s family in Tennessee for a while this summer. We have a fantastic support network of friends and family, and that has truly helped us have the energy to have fun with being Sadie’s parents. I’m not sure how our recent transition will change these things, but I think we’ll stay on track, because it’s more important to seek balance than ever.