While it’s easy to get caught up in the material preparation for parenting (so many cute little clothes to buy…), attachment parenting stresses the need to prepare both physically and emotionally

Attachment parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between with your child through kindness, respect and dignity. The parenting style was given its name by US paediatrician William Sears, who is renowned for his advocacy of responsive parenting.

Attachment parenting is based on the psychology of attachment theory, and brain research that shows early responsiveness positive effect on lifelong effects on social and emotional development.

These guidelines can be adapted to many family situations and range from preparing for pregnancy, birth and parenting to practicing positive, non-violent discipline.

Being prepared

While it’s easy to get caught up in the material preparation for parenting (so many cute little clothes to buy…), attachment parenting stresses the need to prepare both physically and emotionally. As well as eating right, exercising and avoiding stress, it’s about learning about your birth options, parenting philosophies, normal infant development, and exploring your own beliefs about parenting. You’re also encouraged to set up support networks so that you can create a peaceful, welcoming environment for your baby.

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Attachment is a 24-hour process that doesn’t stop when your baby sleeps

Feed with love

In attachment parenting, feeding your baby is more than providing nutritious food. Attachment parenting recognises it as a time for loving interaction that can strengthen bonds. The idea is to respect and respond to your baby’s early cues of rooting, grimacing and sucking that may show they need food, rather than feeding according to a schedule. This way you will get to know your child on an intuitive level.

Respond with sensitivity

Although there is a lot of pressure to ‘train’ even tiny babies to self-soothe or to avoid ‘spoiling’ behaviours, the immature state of babies’ brains means they are unable to soothe themselves or manipulate you. By responding sensitively to their needs, you teach your child about trust and empathy, and lay a foundation for healthy relationships.

It’s normal for newborns to need almost constant holding, but the upside is that by keeping your baby close, you’ll become attuned to their signals. This will mean less frustration and distress for both of you, and creates a strong attachment to your baby.

Use nurturing touch

Nurturing touch can be as important a nutrient for your baby as food. As well as satisfying baby’s need for physical contact and security, touch has been shown to stimulate growth hormones, improve intellectual and motor development, and help regulate temperature, heart rate and sleep/wake patterns.

Ensure safe sleep

Attachment is a 24-hour process that doesn’t stop when your baby sleeps. With attachment parenting, your baby needs to have their needs met responsively at night just as during the day. The easiest way to meet your baby’s night-time needs is to share sleep with him. This will make night-time feeds easier and some studies suggest it can also increase your milk supply.

If you want to, you can either ‘co-sleep’ with your baby’s cot next to your bed or, as long as you follow safe sleep guidelines, bed-sharing is a lovely way to stay connected with your baby during slumber.

In attachment parenting, feeding your baby is more than providing nutritious food

Give loving care

Babies and young children have an intense need for the physical presence of a consistent, loving, responsive caregiver: ideally a parent. If neither parent can be a full-time carer, it’s important to choose a loving, responsive carer who can form a close bond with your child, and that you and your little one reconnect with cuddles and play after any separation.

That’s the WHAT and WHY. For the HOW, contact lauren@earlyinspiration.co.za.