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Why Attachment Parenting Is About Nurturing, Not Spoiling

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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]

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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:

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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]

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    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.

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    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

    [1] Aha! Parenting: Secure Attachment: The Research
    [2] The Cut: Can Attachment Theory Explain All Our Relationships?
    [3] Mother How: A Co-sleeping With the Baby – Is There a Need to Share Bed?
    [4] Attachment Parenting International: API’s Eight Principles of Parenting
    [5] Attachment Parenting International: Respond with Sensitivity

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    Dr. Magdalena Battles

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

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    Last Updated on February 11, 2021

    20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About

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    20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About

    Dreams — Mysterious, bewildering, eye-opening and sometimes a nightmarish living hell. Dreams are all that and much more.

    Here are 20 amazing facts about dreams that you might have never heard about:

    Fact #1: You can’t read while dreaming, or tell the time

      If you are unsure whether you are dreaming or not, try reading something. The vast majority of people are incapable of reading in their dreams.

      The same goes for clocks: each time you look at a clock it will tell a different time and the hands on the clock won’t appear to be moving as reported by lucid dreamers.

      Fact #2: Lucid dreaming

      There is a whole subculture of people practicing what is called lucid or conscious dreaming. Using various techniques, these people have supposedly learned to assume control of their dreams and do amazing things like flying, passing through walls, and traveling to different dimensions or even back in time.

      Want to learn how to control your dreams? You can try these tips:

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      Lucid Dreaming: This Is How You Can Control Your Dreams

      Fact #3: Inventions inspired by dreams

      Dreams are responsible for many of the greatest inventions of mankind. A few examples include:

      • The idea for Google -Larry Page
      • Alternating current generator -Tesla
      • DNA’s double helix spiral form -James Watson
      • The sewing machine -Elias Howe
      • Periodic table -Dimitri Mendeleyev

      …and many, many more.

      Fact #4: Premonition dreams

      There are some astounding cases where people actually dreamt about things which happened to them later, in the exact same ways they dreamed about.

      You could say they got a glimpse of the future, or it might have just been coincidence. The fact remains that this is some seriously interesting and bizarre phenomena. Some of the most famous premonition dreams include:

      • Abraham Lincoln dreamt of His Assassination
      • Many of the victims of 9/11 had dreams warning them about the catastrophe
      • Mark Twain’s dream of his brother’s demise
      • 19 verified precognitive dreams about the Titanic catastrophe

      Fact #5: Sleep paralysis

      Hell is real and it is called sleep paralysis. It’s the stuff of true nightmares. I’ve been a sleep paralysis sufferer as a kid and I can attest to how truly horrible it is.

      Two characteristics of sleep paralysis are the inability to move (hence paralysis) and a sense of an extremely evil presence in the room with you. It doesn’t feel like a dream, but 100% real. Studies show that during an attack, sleep paralysis sufferers show an overwhelming amygdala activity. The amygdala is responsible for the “fight or flight” instinct and the emotions of fear, terror and anxiety. Enough said!

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      Fact #6: REM sleep disorder

      In the state of REM (rapid-eye-movement) stage of your sleep your body is normally paralyzed. In rare cases, however, people act out their dreams. These have resulted in broken arms, legs, broken furniture, and in at least one reported case, a house burnt down.

      Fact #7: Sexual dreams

      The very scientifically-named “nocturnal penile tumescence” is a very well documented phenomena. In laymen’s term, it simply means that you get a stiffy while you sleep. Actually, studies indicate that men get up to 20 erections per dream.

      Fact #8: Unbelievable sleepwalkers

        Sleepwalking is a very rare and potentially dangerous sleep disorder. It is an extreme form of REM sleep disorder, and these people don’t just act out their dreams, but go on real adventures at night.

        Lee Hadwin is a nurse by profession, but in his dreams he is an artist. Literally. He “sleepdraws” gorgeous portraits, of which he has no recollection afterwards. Strange sleepwalking “adventures” include:

        • A woman having sex with strangers while sleepwalking
        • A man who drove 22 miles and killed his cousin while sleepwalking
        • A sleepwalker who walked out of the window from the third floor, and barely survived

        Fact #9: Dream drug

        There are actually people who like dreaming and dreams so much that they never want to wake up. They want to continue on dreaming even during the day, so they take an illegal and extremely potent hallucinogenic drug called Dimethyltryptamine. It is actually only an isolated and synthetic form of the chemical our brains produce naturally during dreaming.

        Fact #10 Dream-catcher

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          The dream-catcher is one of the most well-known Native American symbols. It is a loose web or webs woven around a hoop and decorated with sacred objects meant to protect against nightmares.

          Fact #11: Increased brain activity

          You would associate sleeping with peace and quiet, but actually our brains are more active during sleep than during the day.

          Fact #12: Creativity and dreams

          As we mentioned before, dreams are responsible for inventions, great artworks and are generally just incredibly interesting. They are also “recharging” our creativity.

          Scientists also say that keeping a dream diary helps with creativity.

          In rare cases of REM disorder, people actually don’t dream at all. These people suffer from significantly decreased creativity and perform badly at tasks requiring creative problem solving.

          Fact #13: Pets dream too

            Our animal companions dream as well. Watch a dog or a cat sleep and you can see that they are moving their paws and making noises like they were chasing something. Go get ’em buddy!

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            Fact #14: You always dream—you just don’t remember it

            Many people claim that they don’t dream at all, but that’s not true: we all dream, but up to 60% of people don’t remember their dreams at all.

            Fact #15: Blind people dream too

            Blind people who were not born blind see images in their dreams but people who were born blind don’t see anything at all. They still dream, and their dreams are just as intense and interesting, but they involve the other senses beside sight.

            Fact #16: In your dreams, you only see faces that you already know

              It is proven that in dreams, we can only see faces that we have seen in real life before. So beware: that scary-looking old lady next to you on the bus might as well be in your next nightmare.

              Fact #17: Dreams tend to be negative

              Surprisingly, dreams are more often negative than positive. The three most widely reported emotions felt during dreaming are anger, sadness and fear.

              Fact #18: Multiple dreams per night

              You can have up to seven different dreams per night depending on how many REM cycles you have. We only dream during the REM period of sleep, and the average person dreams one to two hours every night.

              Fact #19: Gender differences

              Interestingly, 70% of all the characters in a man’s dream are other men, but women’s dream contain an equal amount of women and men. Also men’s dreams contain a lot more aggression. Both women and men dream about sexual themes equally often.

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              Fact #20: Not everyone dreams in color

              As much as 12% of people only dream in black and white.

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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