Saturday, January 9, 2010

Being an attached parent

I think part of the reason I am such a fan of attachment parenting is because it gives me an excuse to hold my baby constantly.

As I am sitting here typing, my beautiful son is napping in a Mei Tai carrier on my chest, listening to my heartbeat, attached to me in the most literal sense. Keeping him close to me is the most natural part of motherhood, and in my opinion has had a major impact on his personality. Even now, when he is sick with bronchialitis and an ear infection, he is a calm, happy little guy, and I am happy to hold him any time he wants me. Shopping is so easy when your baby is strapped on, no worries about the car seat taking up half the cart, or trying to hold the baby in your arms while pushing a cart. Social events and church are a breeze, I can strap him on and easily navigate crowds without worrying about dropping him or having enough room to get through with the car seat. And of course, there is the added benefit of making it much more difficult for anyone to take him from you to give you a "break" from holding your baby. I really don't mind other people holding my son, I just want to be in control of who holds him and when, and babywearing makes that possible.

Another tenet of attachment parenting that makes my life easier and keeps Hunter happy is co-sleeping. I'm sure we've all heard the "dangers" of having your baby in your bed, but the thing that most of those studies leave out is the ways to co-sleep safely. If you do not smoke, are not obese, and are not on drugs or drunk when you go to sleep, your chances of not waking up when your baby needs you are almost non-existent. I have also noticed that when a baby dies of SIDS while co-sleeping, there is almost always blame placed on the fact that the baby was in the parent's bed, but when a baby dies alone in a crib, there is no blame placed on anyone. I would love to see a study comparing those who co-sleep following the safety rules, and those whose babies are alone in their cribs, to see whether there is any difference at all. For now, I will just enjoy being able to feed my son without getting up or even being fully awake, being able to check his breathing any time I happen to wake up, and being right there to give immediate attention if he starts to wiggle, choke, cough, or fuss. 

My newest form of attachment to Hunter is one that has been "normal" all over the world since the beginning of time, and goes by many names, including Elimination Communication, Infant Potty Training, and Diaper Free Baby. Most other countries can not afford to use disposable diapers, and cloth needs a lot of washing, so your other option? Taking the baby to the potty when he has to go! It is not nearly as difficult as it seems, and contrary to popular belief does NOT require your baby to be naked all day. I use cloth diapers as my backup, and any time Hunter starts grunting, fussing, etc., with no obvious reason, I take him to the potty and turn on the water (or make a psss sound), and most of the time he goes! No washing the diaper, it just goes right back on. It fascinates me how much this one thing has taught me about my son; he refuses to go to sleep until he has emptied his bladder, and generally goes a few times in a row about 20 minutes after he wakes up or after he eats. As little as he cried/fussed before, it is even less now, because I know that most of his fussing has a reason behind it, and once the need is met, he stops crying. I have known people whose children were fully trained by 7 months with this method, and 99% are out of diapers before age 2, with few or no potty training fights or tears. To me, that is completely worth taking a few minutes out of my day to take Hunter to the potty.

There are so many options out there for parenting, but I can't imagine changing any of the things I do when I see benefits from them every single day!


  1. Someone in the Alaska Department of Public Health just looked at safe co-sleeping and couldn't find a single death, not even SIDS. My LC (who works for public health and actually knows the researcher) was telling me that he could not find a single death certificate for a baby that had died under safe co-sleeping circumstances. I'm not saying that co-sleeping eliminates the risk for SIDS, but this certainly seems to back up the idea that co-sleeping lowers the risk for SIDS.

    If I ever remember the guy's name I'll let you know.

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