I’m probably not alone in stumbling upon attachment parenting! I really don’t think you know exactly how you’re going to parent until you’re actually there.
We, like most parents, had everything in place ready for Isabelle. We had the cot, the pram, the moses basket, and we even had the bottle feeding stuff despite having no intention of actually using them. Funnily enough, we’ve barely used any of it. Apparently, we’re pretty much fully down the route of attachment parenting, and it wasn’t even a choice we made all that consciously, it was more like a serendipitous stumbling upon something which just ‘felt right’.
It all happened quite gradually. The first thing to go was the feeding equipment. My wife took to breastfeeding rather well, and despite the early difficulties she faced, and probably the similar ones most mothers face, she kept going. It’s always a little disheartening when mothers say they gave up so early. I love seeing my wife breastfeed, and she absolutely loves doing it.
The early day struggles are well worth seeing the two of them bond so amazingly. I understand that some women physically can’t do it, but others do it purely for their partners to help with feeds. I get it, it is hard doing it by yourself, and being the one who will always have to get up can be tough going, but the benefits are incredible, and far too numerous to start listing here.
Second, the basket went. Isabelle very rarely naps in the day, and when she does, she likes to do so on us. It’s something that I think a lot of people won’t really like. Having the baby only be able to sleep on you during the day can be a hindrance, I’ll admit that. But it’s one I fully embrace. On quite a few occasions now I’ve simply stood somewhere swaying gently whilst singing to Isabelle, and she’s drifted gradually asleep. Yes, I can’t do anything when she’s like this, but I love it all the same.
As for the night, we shifted from the basket to the next-to-me crib. It was the best choice we’ve ever made. Having her so close to my wife makes night time feeds much easier, and also enables her to have Isabelle fall asleep whilst still being touched if needed. Does she sometimes fall asleep whilst feeding her? Yes, she does. But it’s fine. It can still be a perfectly safe thing to do if done correctly. And as long as drink, smoking, drugs and all the other harmful things are avoided, as well as following all the usual advice, then it’s all ok. This is how we’ve been sleeping with our babies for hundreds and thousands of years, so there’s no need to change things now.
As for the pram, the last time Isabelle used that was when she was two months old. She’s now almost five months. It’s bulky, takes up the majority of the boot of the car, she can’t really see that much, she isn’t in contact with us and we can barely talk to her. If that’s not a strong enough list to ditch it then I don’t know what else you need.
Instead, we’ve opted for baby carriers, and we haven’t looked back since. I love taking Isabelle places now. I have her front-facing in the carrier so she can see everything that I can see. I talk to her the majority of the time and let her hold my fingers whenever she wants. When she finally gets tired after all the stimulation, I can simply flip her around and off she sleeps on my chest whilst I continue on with the shopping. In lieu of a carrier, we would often just carry Isabelle in our arms. Admittedly this was harder work, but as a fairly light baby (just under 14lbs at 20 weeks old) it isn’t really that difficult.
Sometimes, the thought comes to me that people are too quick these days for their babies to grow up. They quickly forget that their baby is a fragile, dependant, needy creature, and it’s ok for them to be attached to you. They want them to learn independence before they can even crawl, and are worried they’re going to create a child that is never going to be able to be on their own.
For me, I love this choice we’ve made, even if we stumbled into it. I suffered with postnatal depression for the first 12 weeks of Isabelle’s life, and getting into attachment parenting was something that really helped me. Having that close bond with her and being able to connect with her as often as I can, made my depression dissolve, and instead it was replaced with a love that I was dying to feel when she first came out.
For those about to become parents, and even those who already are, this approach to parenting can shift so many of our conditioned ideas. I’ll admit, it will take some adjusting. At first I often saw Isabelle as a burden, which is an easy mind-set to find yourself in. Having them on you almost all the time is incredibly hard work, but if you surrender yourself to it, and fully absorb yourself in this new role, it’s one that you can love just as much as your baby will.
Written by Ross Hunt