Attachment Parenting: Bonding with Baby

With a myriad of parenting choices available to us all, it can be difficult to establish which one will work best for you. Often it is a case of trial and error, and armed with all available information it is up to you as parents to decide what works best for you and your family.

An increasingly popular parenting choice for many new families is ‘attachment parenting’. This style of parenting focuses on the connection that can be built between a child and his parents and is often viewed as an excellent way to bring up children to be empathetic, secure and independent as well as enabling them to grow into understanding, caring and rounded adults.

What is Attachment Parenting?

The philosophy of attachment parenting revolves around giving you, as parents the tools that you need to provide a nurturing environment for your child in which their direct and indirect needs are understood and consistently responded to. It involves treating your child with respect, kindness and dignity so as to build a long lasting relationship – or attachment – rather than rejecting their needs, leaving a divide between you both.

  • Attachment parenting builds and strengthens an emotional connection between parent and child.
  • A child who feels secure will be more likely to become an independent and confident adult.
  • Parents’ should respond to their child in a physical, verbal and emotional way when they are sick, upset, scared, tired or worried.
  • Children who trust their parents when they are growing up will learn to trust others in their lives and have the confidence to explore their environment.

Attachment Parenting Practices

There are certain practices that are available to those parents who choose attachment parenting, but remember that this is not a check list that needs to be strictly adhered to. Attachment parenting is a lifestyle choice and as such has the ability to be moulded to your family’s specific situation. Some of the practices of attachment parenting include:

Breastfeeding: Recent statistics published by UNICEF show that in 2010, 81% of newborn babies were being breastfed. (http://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/about-baby-friendly/breastfeeding-in-the-uk/uk-breastfeeding-rates/) Breastfeeding is an excellent way of making an initial bond with your baby and taking the first steps to getting to know him. As he grows, you will be able to read his cues and body language and reinforce your bond. Breastfeeding not only provides your baby with every single nutrient he needs to grow and develop in his first few months, but also stimulates your body to produce oxytocin and prolactin (also known as the mothering hormone).

Baby-Wearing: Wearing or carrying your baby helps them to learn from you, gain confidence and be reassured. Evidence shows that carried babies are less likely to cry than non-carried babies, often reducing their crying by over 50%. (http://wrapsodybaby.com/babywearing-resources/baby-wearing-myths-vs-facts/). Baby-wearing also improves the sensitivity of you, as a parent. You get to know your baby very well and will really enjoy understanding their needs and wishes from a very early age.

Co-Sleeping: If you work during the day or do not get to spend as much time as you would like with your child then co-sleeping is an excellent way to reconnect with them. However, it is important to remember that the best sleeping arrangement is one that sees all the family getting the best night’s sleep. For babies, night time can be an unfamiliar and scary experience. Co-sleeping can help to relax and reassure them, helping them to sleep soundly. It is also beneficial to breastfeeding, as your baby has access to the breast whenever he needs it.

Understanding Your Baby’s Cry: Getting to know your baby means getting to know his cries. You will very soon realise that he has a different cry for each situation. Responding to those cries quickly and sensitively will help to build your relationship. Not only will your baby be comforted by you, you will learn to trust your mothering instincts when it comes to what your child wants or needs.

The Benefits of Attachment Parenting

It may be slightly overwhelming when reading through the practices of attachment parenting and wondering if it really is something that you can incorporate into your life, especially with all the stresses of bringing home your newborn. Thankfully, the benefits of this type of parenting will last a lifetime; so just remember that if you want it, you can achieve it and seeing your happy, content baby growing up to be an inquisitive and confident toddler and a respectful and independent child will reassure you that you made the right decision. For a little extra incentive, here are some of the advantages of attachment parenting:

  • Promoting independence: Attachment parenting will nurture your child’s mind. With the right tools, your child will develop a strong bond between you which will also help to provide a secure base upon which to explore the unfamiliar and gain confidence and independence.
  • Improving behaviour: An attached baby will cry less, be less fussy and less clingy. This all comes from how the baby feels and whether they feel valued and cared for. If your baby feels good then they will act and behave well; they will not need to ‘act up’ to get what they need, they will already have it.
  • Improving development: If your baby is not crying as much, then what are they doing in their ‘free time’? Well the answer is – they are learning. And with more time to learn, they are able to develop effectively and become more receptive to learning.

Follow Your Own Parenting Instincts

It is true that many parents begin to follow the principles of attachment parenting, not because they have researched and invested in it, but because they are just doing what comes naturally to them and their baby. The key to becoming a loving, caring and successful parent is to be relaxed, calm and receptive; so remember this throughout motherhood and your children will grow up to be happy and health members of the family.

 

Baby Yoga: tips for beginners

There are those who advocate time to yourself when you’ve had a baby. Resume your activities and spend time away from baby as soon as you feel comfortable. Take up that class you’ve always wanted to while you’re on maternity leave. Make the most of your babysitters when they offer to watch baby. And there are those who advocate brining baby along with you, no matter what you’re doing. For some new mums, the latter is the only option when it comes to getting stuff done, and these days there are plenty mum and baby groups you can go along too, so the second option starts to become slightly more realistic all round. One such activity is yoga. If this is something you enjoyed during pregnancy or before you were expecting, once your doctor deems you fit enough, its something that you can resume quite easily postnatally. And yes, baby can come too. Here’s a quick guide baby yoga: tips for beginners.

What is baby yoga?

Baby yoga is actually very different to the yoga that you may have been practising as an adult. It’s more of an activity which encourages interaction and communication between parent and child. It incorporates movement and relaxation into a relaxed, informal and playful situation, drawing on many principles of baby massage. The power of touch is, once again, a key feature and an essential part of encouraging that bonding process between baby and child.

Experts believe that baby yoga helps parents to become attuned to their baby’s needs and more able to calm them as and when it’s needed- by providing a sense of security and wellbeing essential to normal emotional development. Likewise, parents who practise baby yoga with their infants are also more able to recognise when baby needs stimulation and many believe their relationship with baby is strengthened thanks to baby yoga too.

Baby yoga incorporates the following:

• Gentle body strokes
• Specially adapted yoga moves
• Postnatal yoga moves for mum
• Playful moves with songs and rhymes
• Parent and baby relaxation
• Developmental practises- holding head up, rolling over etc

How to get started

You don’t need to know much about yoga itself to get started, but it helps to know the basic principles behind it all. Yoga is all about exercise, relaxation, breathing and meditation. Now why would you not want to pass on those principles to your baby? Here are some tips for getting started.

• Speak to your health visitor or local children’s centre for details on a class locally
• Go along to a class and speak to the instructor before you commit to classes. Ask if you can watch part of a class, or if there is any information you can take away
• Research online

Once you have your class, or you feel you want to try at home, make sure that you time it right with baby. As with baby massage, you don’t need any specialist equipment as such (a mat is useful) , but you do want to make sure that baby is happy, alert and open to new experiences. So if she is tired or unwell, postpone your session for now.

Outside of your class, there are basic baby yoga poses that you can practise at home. Here are three easy moves you can do with baby:

Downward dog

One of our favourite poses! Lie baby gently on your mat and whilst in downward dog position, gently lean down to kiss her, bending your elbows wide. This is great for core strength for you, and interaction for baby. As you exhale, return to dog pose and repeat as many times as you’re able. What a fun game!

‘Flying’

A favourite game! Lie on the floor, on your mat, and position baby securely on your shins. Gently bounce her, as if she is flying. When you’re feeling braver, start to straighten out your legs, and bounce baby up and down. You can sing a song to her as she flies.

Handstands

Your baby is going to love this! Having spent most of her time in the womb upside down, what’s not to love about a headstand? Headstands bring more blood to the brain and sends signals to the nervous system that tell the body to calm down and relax. This helps to fight fear and anxiety and instills confidence, strength and coordination too.

Make sure your baby can see you, and that you are in a safe space. Use a mat for cushioning and a wall for extra safety and support. Sit with your knees bent, with baby lying back on you. Hold on to her ankles and allow her lie back. For older babies, lie her down on the mat and lift her legs. Lots of praise is essential here, and make it fun too. Simple rhymes and lots of smiles will reassure and help her enjoy the headstand even more.