Attachment Parenting Basics
So how do you get started with Attachment Parenting? There are no rules, just a few guidelines to help you make the minute to minute decisions as you meet your baby's needs. Contrary to some opinions (from folks who don't practice it!), attachment parenting is actually easier than parent-centered parenting, because it creates a happier, healthier baby who is more connected to parents, and therefore more cooperative, throughout his childhood.
1. Trust your own instincts. You're a mama lion, or a papa bear. You would protect this child with your life. Nature designed you and your baby as the perfect team. You may panic when you first hold your infant in your arms, but all you need to do is stay calm and pay attention to your baby.
2. Buy a snuggly or a sling. For optimal development, newborns need to be in nearly constant physical contact with a parent. Most babies will let you know this by crying when you put them down. Because you will need your arms free at times, slings and snugglies are invaluable. Some are better for your back than others, so ask experienced parents before you buy. When she’s a little older, you’ll find a backpack an invaluable alternative to a stroller. Babies love being safe against you and at adult height as they explore the world.
3. Lower your expectations about everything except parenting. Your child will be an infant for six months of your life. Who cares if you get nothing else done for six months? What's your priority, after all? Once you lower your expectations, you'll be amazed at how much you can get done with a baby in a sling. Babies love to watch you fold laundry, grocery shop, and chat with other parents with babies.
4. Nurse your baby. Don’t “hope” you’ll be able to breastfeed. INTEND to breastfeed and set yourself up with the resources and support you need before the baby arrives. Breastfeed “on cue” rather than a schedule. (See “Breast or Bottle?” , and Breastfeeding 101.) Don't hesitate to seek out La Leche, a doula, or other support systems if you have problems getting started.)
5. Sleep with or near your baby. You’ll get more sleep. There’s evidence he’ll be healthier. And if you nap when he naps you’ll maximize your sleep.
6. Minimize non-parental care. Set up the adult work schedules in your family so your baby has a parent or other permanent -- that means not an employee, who by definition is not permanent -- intimate other available as many hours of the day and night as possible.
7. Ask for help. This is the time to make yourself ask for help. And if you have family or friends kind enough to offer help, ask them for what you really need: dinner or laundry folding, not baby-minding. What you and your baby need is time to relax together. If you feel you need someone else to hold the baby because she’s been crying nonstop, by all means hand her over -- but do read the section on Crying and Colic on this site for some solutions that really work, and pick up Harvey Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block for some help calming your colicky little one.
8. Get support. Find other parents who practice attachment parenting so that you have a community of support. Otherwise, it can be hard to stand up to all those well-meaning folks who tell you just to put the baby down and let her cry, even though that goes against all your instincts.