I’m not what most people would consider a crunchy, hippie mom, but when I parented my babies and young kids, I did it in ways that just seemed natural. I fed them when they were hungry, I listened when they wanted to talk, and I cuddled them when they had trouble sleeping. I didn’t read any parenting books and I sort of winged it, but my kids ended up being pretty great. When asked how I raised two well-adjusted kids with anxiety running through every branch of their family tree, I always answered, “Dinners together and consistent bedtimes.” I said this jokingly, because the truth is I had NO idea why they turned out the way they did. But upon further investigation, I was right. The family meals, bonding, and consistent bedtimes that were important parts of my daily routine are also important parts of a parenting method known as attachment parenting.
Say the words attachment parenting to a group of parents and watch them lose themselves in visuals of a hippie mom breastfeeding her 5-year-old, while he hangs off a papoose from her neck. Although this parenting style has been around since the dark ages, there are still so many misconceptions about what it actually means to raise kids this way. The truth is, it’s much more common and easier to implement than you think. You’ve probably even unknowingly used some of the techniques on your own kids!
Most parents claim that the practices used in attachment parenting are instinctual and just “feel right.” The great news is studies show that our instincts are doing our kids some serious good, not only in real time, but also into adulthood.
So, what exactly is attachment parenting?
Coined by Dr. William Sears and his wife, Martha, attachment parenting is an approach to raising children that promotes a secure bond between parent and child. It places the child’s needs for trust, empathy, and affection as the main priority. What attachment parenting is not about is indulgent parenting or being a “helicopter parent” — it’s more about creating balance when responding to a baby’s needs (i.e., using your instincts to know…