I was first introduced to the term “attachment parenting” (AP) through Dr Sears’ book The Attachment Parenting Book. According to Dr Sears attachment parenting entails 7 practices or 7 B’s as he calls it as being essential to attachment style of parenting.
- Birth Bonding
- Baby wearing
- Bedding close to baby
- Belief in language value of your baby’s cry
- Beware of baby trainers
All of this sounded so incredible and do-able. After all the culture I grew up in, many of the practices (bed sharing, breastfeeding) are the norm.So I wondered why did Dr Sears had to go to the length of writing books to encourage the practices.
Come our first child, Munna a very high needs child and that’s when I figured why he did write the book he did. One of the things which being very high needs meant that Munna not only demanded something but made sure his needs were met then and right then! And man did he give us hell if we couldn’t figure out what he needed.
As to popularly accepted notion, no we DID NOT “spoil” him. We soon figured out he was just wired that way. Everyone kept saying to leave him crying for sometime so he’ll become quiet on his own after sometime. But that just didn’t feel right. For the sake of maintaining the peace in our house we did just what we could to keep him calm. Despite what all the “naysayers” (as Dr sears calls the random advisers which I think is brilliant!) kept saying. “He will become spoilt,” “You are making him too clingy,” “You are taking away his freedom”. And the absolute winner which still makes me ROFL like seriously ROFL to this day “That baby wearing thing will widen his legs and he’ll walk like a penguin for the rest of his life.” Yes people actually say this ridiculous stuff and they mean it!
Anyhow there have been times and LOTS of them where I just wanted to give up this attachment stuff and get to what the naysayers said. Though it seemed more convenient but I was always instinctively more inclined towards AP.
From then on, it’s almost been a nonstop roller coaster ride. With all its ups and downs, its been very very crazy and not to mention hair pulling and nerve wrecking. But yes very thrilling and exciting.
You will find many articles on the benefits of birth bonding, baby wearing, breastfeeding on the internet. But here I want to share some real and raw facts what AP actually is all about.
Now that’s an understatement I tell you. It’s draining!!! If having a high needs baby wasn’t enough to suck the last ounce of energy from you, trying to be responsive and meet all the demands of your child can be very taxing. So if you are thinking of going this route, you really have to think it through. If both the parents (and other caretakers) are on board, it all becomes bearable if not easier.
You can’t do it alone:
It’s good to have a vision of what you want for your child and have it discussed it before hand how you want to raise him.Weather be it breastfeeding, baby wearing or co-sleeping, you can’t do it without a supportive partner. As much as I wanted to do all of these, none of it came easy to me. You need the support through sleepless nights, through mental and physical exhaustion. You constantly need affirmation in your strengths and decision.
When both partners have thoroughly talked it through, you can encourage and uplift each other when one is feeling run down. Because when you are on the verge of losing it, the last thing you want to do is argue and doubt your decisions.
It’s a balancing act:
Unlike believed by many, it’s not a martyr style of parenting. It doesn’t mean you have to put the child’s needs in front of yours ALL-THE-TIME! NO! It’s about being responsive to your own needs as much as the child’s needs. After all they say you can’t pour from an empty cup. It’s about finding a balance between when to give and when to hold back a little. Because sometimes giving regardless of your physical and psychological state can do more harm than good.
Realized the value of self care:
The first few months of motherhood I was miserable! There were times (many of them) when I detested being a mother. I was overwhelmed with the demands of mothering. There was sleeplessness and the whole pressure I put on myself for not finding the time and energy to pursue even the simplest of things which I liked doing. It came after a long time of self reckoning that to effectively give, I had to take care of myself first. Be it physically, psychologically and spiritually. I eventually learnt that things I do for myself will eventually reflect back on my kids.
It’s been a journey of self revelation:
Over the past 2-3 years I have learnt that AP isn’t as much as about the “B’s” as much as it’s about being conscious and responsive to your child. Being entrusted with the responsibility of a tiny human being, forced me out of the self absorbed yet controlling person I was. He literally forced me to let go of this constant itch I had to be always in charge of situations. When I felt frustrated and helpless I found it more hard to handle Munna. But when I was calm and felt more sure of myself, it felt as if Munna would give in too and respond to the peace I felt. So in essence Munna was mirroring my subconscious troubles and issues.
Being more conscious of my child has made me more conscious of myself. It has made me look deeply into myself and deal with my flaws and shortcomings. It has made me let go of many of my fears and doubts. I have learnt and grown with and besides my child. For me it’s been a journey of total transformation which has only come about being accepting of my limitations.
Sharpened our instincts:
Staying in constant close touch with our little one has made us very responsive to our little one’s needs. When he is perturbed, we don’t have to make any second guesses what might have ticked him off. Most of the time we know in a situation what to expect next. I am sure we wouldn’t have attained this level if we had left him to his own devices.
Strengthened our marriage:
Doing what we chose to do was very straining for our relationship. But as we have have matured, it has brought us closer and made us appreciate what we both are capable of doing for each other and our child. When one of needs their time, the other takes over. It has created a very synergistic dynamics in our family making us more acceptable of our weaknesses and appreciative of our strengths.
Made me count my blessings:
Often times people say if you have another one wouldn’t you ask for an easier baby? Frankly I wouldn’t ask for anything other than just for my baby to be healthy and fine. But one thing is for sure I have felt utterly blessed for having Munna in our lives. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a single thing in him. I believe he is a special gift that Allah chose to bless me with because He knew I could appreciate him and nurture him the way he was supposed to be nurtured (even though after much turmoil and drama).
Brought out the best in our child:
While the “naysayers” kept doubting our way saying that we were letting our Munna control us, over time we have actually come to establish the opposite. In being responsive to all his wants and needs, it has taught Munna to be equally conscious of what we want of him. Which in turn has made it so easy for us to discipline and mould him without being too strict and harsh. How AP has shaped our child for the better, I will talk in more detail later.
Despite all the frustrations I feel for being crazy exhausted and for holding off my studies and career, I never regret doing things the way I have done. When you see your child thriving before your eyes, it makes all the sacrifices and all the struggles worth it. There’s nothing more precious than a child growing up having trust in his caretakers and being calm and at peace with himself.
For more detailed dissertation on AP, I highly recommend Dr Sears’ The Attachment Parenting Book.
Disclaimer & Disclosure:
The purpose of this blog post was purely to document my experience with attachment parenting and raising a high need baby/toddler.
The information on this blog is not medical advice nor should it be treated as such or used in place of the advice of a physician or other medical professional or specialist. Please always consult with a physician or other qualified health care provider.
The blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. In the event that an affiliate link is used, I receive commission on the sale of the products.
I have written the blog purely for my own purposes and to share my experiences.