Advertising
Advertising

Why Attachment Parenting Is About Nurturing, Not Spoiling

Why Attachment Parenting Is About Nurturing, Not Spoiling

If you have had a baby, you know that babies are a lot of work. Not just a little bit of work. They require round the clock care and they will take over your life as you know it. No joke, a tiny human being can turn your life upside down in a heartbeat. It’s not just that they need constant physical care, but they need emotional care too. Physically they cry, poop themselves, need constant changing, and they need to be fed every couple of hours, even during the night! That is just a normal baby. Imagine a baby with reflux or colic that cries for hours on end. It happens.

Babies require an enormous amount of physical care, but their physical care affects their emotional well being for a lifetime. An entire body of work on Attachment Parenting, also know as AP, has proven that the level of care for a baby affects their social, emotional, intellectual, and mental abilities for the rest of their life.

If care for an infant does not involve the appropriate care required for attachment to happen with a caregiver, then the rest of that baby’s life can forever be affected. It is a huge responsibility for parents and caregivers. Attachment and creating a bond between a baby and a caregiver is just as important to a baby as providing food for that baby. The attachment and efforts to bond come from the caregiver, as babies are helpless. However, babies are born with an innate need to bond and attach to someone, typically the person who is the primary caregiver.

Babies are born to emotionally and physically attached to someone in order to survive.

John Bowlby is the developmental researcher and theorist who coined the term “attachment theory” back in the 1960’s. This theory proposes that a baby must be emotionally and physically attached to at least one care giver in order to develop normally. The theory, which has been heavily researched by thousands over the years, has overwhelmingly pointed to the overall benefits of Attachment Parenting practices. These benefits go far beyond infancy and childhood. A child who is “attached” will benefit from their early care for a lifetime.

The Aha! Parenting Website provided some great commentary on this body of research on the Attachment Parenting theory:[1]

Advertising

Is “Attachment Parenting” a science? Yes. Decades of research, including longitudinal studies, shows that as securely attached babies get older, they form better relationships with others, have higher self esteem, are more flexible and resilient under stress, and perform better in every aspect of life, from schoolwork to peer interactions..

Please don’t panic and worry if you don’t know about the theory and you assume because you don’t know what it is that you didn’t practice Attachment Parenting methods. Many parents use attachment practices and don’t know about the theory at all.

It is important to understand that these methods are not only helpful, but essential to creating well adjusted children and adults. Infancy is such an important phase of development and the level of care of an infant should not be taken lighly.

Without significant attachment, babies have social connection problems later in life.

There is plenty of research that has proven Attachment Parenting to be effective in helping babies become more well adjusted, emotionally stable adults. There is also a down side for those babies who do not attach to a caregiver. There are extreme cases such as babies in orphanages who are not held in infancy who end up very detached and have serious emotional and social connection problems later in life. That is an extreme example, but babies in regular households can experience problems if attachment is not made with a parent or caregiver. The practices and patterns of Attachment Parenting are essential for normal childhood development.

New York Magazine has a great piece on the Attachment Parenting theory.[2] Here is a quote from that article about how a lack of Attachment Parenting practices can cause major problems:

Advertising

Researchers believe this pattern of attachment, assessed as early as one year, is more important than temperament, IQ, social class, and parenting style to a person’s development. A boom in attachment research now links adult attachment insecurity with a host of problems, from sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety to a decreased concern with moral injustice and less likelihood of being seen as a “natural leader.”

Obviously, there are clear benefits to practicing Attachment Parenting methods. The sake of the development of all humans is dependent on it. It is up to parents and caregivers to provide the proper care of their infant in order to ensure that attachment happens.

Attachment parenting is one way to ensure that attachment happens.

Researchers have been trying to pin down the exact methods of proper Attachment Parenting practices. Here are six of the most widely accepted and research proven Attachment Parenting practices for infants. Keep in mind that researchers have shown that you do not need to do all of these in order for a baby to attach. Just doing several of these practices is enough for a baby to attach to their caregiver.

There is no such thing as spoiling a baby. That has been proven to be a myth. Therefore, the more of the Attachment Parenting practices you utilize, the better it is for the attachment and overall development of the child. You are not spoiling a child by doing these things. You are creating a well adjusted human being by utilizing these Attachment Parenting practices.

1. Sleep near the baby

Safety is foremost in the care of an infant, but sleeping near a baby is possible with safe methods. There are co-sleeping units on the market that allow parents to sleep near their child and touch the child as they both sleep. Sleeping near the infant allows the caregiver to easily feed the baby at night and also soothe the infant when he or she cries. The Mother How Website has some practical tips for safely co-sleeping with an infant.[3]

Advertising

    2. Feed on demand

    Back in the 1950’s the primary theory regarding baby feedings was that you put the baby on a strict feeding schedule according to a timed schedule. Babies were only to be fed at the scheduled feeding times, regardless of the babies crying or hunger cues. The Attachment Parenting theory proposes that babies are to be fed on demand. When they cry or indicate they are hungry their care giver is to feed them. Schedule or timing does not matter, it is more important that the baby’s needs are met.

    Attachment Parenting International also specifies that breastfeeding is the best way for a baby to attach to the Mother.[4] If breastfeeding is not possible, or does not work out for one reason or another for some moms, just always try to create a physical bond with the babies. The Attachment Parenting theory is all about physical bond which creates an emotional connection between Mom and baby.

    3. Practice empathetic care

    Babies do not need scolding or harsh treatment. In fact those things have been proven to be detrimental to their development. Babies need sensitive care and love. It is essential to healthy development. Attachment Parenting International provides specifics on this topic of treating infants with sensitivity.[5]

    4. Ensure physical closeness with touch

    Keeping baby close by physically touching and holding the infant are essential to Attachment Parenting practices. Babies need to be held and cuddled. A practical way for busy Moms to do this consistently is by baby wearing. Using a sling or baby carrier to attach baby to Mom (or caregiver) is a great way to create physical closeness between Mom and baby.

    Advertising

    5. Be attentive to baby’s needs

    Good Attachment Parenting practices include being attentive to the baby’s needs. If the baby is crying the caregiver needs to be prompt in trying to assess why the crying is happening and to remedy the problem. It’s about meeting the needs of the baby in a timely fashion. Baby’s needs come before all else. It is detrimental to babies, especially in early infancy, to be left to cry. When a baby cries and someone repeatedly ignores those cries, chemical brain activity is altered and can have long term damaging effects.

    6. Show consistent care

    This is tough for many families, as both parents are working and child care is needed. However, consistent care means that the primary care giver, typically a parent, does most of the care for the baby. This gives the opportunity for that baby to then attach. If the baby is cared for by a multitude of people on a regular basis, it becomes more difficult for the baby to attach to at least one person. If at all possible, it is best for a parent to stay home and take time off work, ideally at least six months, for the benefit of the child. Attachment is much more likely to be successful when their primary caregiver is there during the day and night, especially in early infancy.

    Babies are only babies once. There are no do-overs.

    The time goes by so quickly and those first months of life affect the entire rest of their life, as major mental and emotional developments happen in the first year of life. The primary care giver of an infant has a huge responsibility. It’s possible that some working moms face challenges in being around their babies every single minute, and it’s okay because the main point is to maintain the bonding with their babies no matter what.

    Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

    Reference

    More by this author

    Dr. Magdalena Battles

    A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

    Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting a Marriage Counselor How To Stop Insecure Attachment from Wreaking Havoc on Your Love Life 7 Reasons Why You Should Find a Life Coach to Reach Your Full Potential 15 Ways to Practice Positive Self-Talk for Success How to Cope with Empty Nest Syndrome and Stop Feeling Lonely

    Trending in Psychology

    1 How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind 2 How to Handle Rejection and Overcome the Fear of Being Rejected 3 8 Powerful Reasons to Love Your Enemies 4 20 Things Only Parents Of Children With Dyslexia Would Understand 5 How to Find the Purpose of Life and Start Living a Fulfilling Life

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Published on November 28, 2018

    How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

    How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

    The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

    So how to do meditation?

    The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

    Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

    From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

    You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

    1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

    Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

    The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

    Advertising

    The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

    Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

    2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

    Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

    Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

    Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

    • Living things, such as plants
    • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
    • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
    • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
    • Furniture away from walls
    • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
    • Incense or something else that smells good
    • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

    Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

    3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

    In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

    However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

    Advertising

    In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

    Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

    Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

    4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

    Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

    Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

    Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

    5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

    At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

    Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

    Advertising

    We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

    This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

    6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

    As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

    Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

    If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

    If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

    7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

    What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

    Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

    Advertising

    1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
    2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
    3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
    4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
    5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

    As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

    Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

    You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

    Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

    You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

    Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

    You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

    You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

    As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

    Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
    [2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
    [3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
    [4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

    Read Next