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The Ins and Outs of Attachment Parenting
Pregnant with her first child, Gaelen Billingsley spent hours handcrafting a beautiful wooden crib for her new baby.
That was before the mom-to-be heard about attachment parenting.
Once she had "devoured" several back issues of Mothering Magazine, a leading proponent of this parenting style, which is sometimes referred to as "instinctive care," she put her lovingly constructed crib aside. Instead, she decided, her baby would sleep snuggled close to his mom and dad in their king-size bed.
"It just made so much sense," Billingsley says. "It was a huge ah-ha for me. I remember thinking, ‘Of course, this is the way it should be done.’"
What Billingsley had discovered -- and what more and more parents across the nation seem to be tuning in to -- is an approach to raising children called attachment parenting. Often too narrowly understood to mean a set of specific parenting practices -- such as co-sleeping, carrying the baby for long periods of time close to the parent’s body and extended breastfeeding -- advocates define attachment parenting as a nurturing style of parenting aimed at creating an early, strong emotional bond that leads to a secure and enduring relationship between a child and his or her parents.
Attachment parenting is far from "one-size-fits-all parenting," says Barbara Nicholson, co-founder and president of the board of Nashville-based Attachment Parenting International (API), a nonprofit organization that promotes attachment parenting through networks of parents and professionals. The tools in the attachment parenting toolbox are helpful, Nicholson says, but not absolutely required for a secure attachment to develop between parent and child.
"Our goal is to help parents understand that it’s really about being responsive, knowing your own children, and knowing what works for your own family," she says. Deep Roots Anchor Attachment Research
Deep Roots Anchor Attachment Research
The roots of attachment research reach back at least 60 years to studies conducted in child development and psychology by psychiatrist John Bowlby and psychologist Mary Ainsworth.
The term "attachment parenting," though, was coined some 20 years ago by noted pediatrician William Sears, M.D. Sears is the author of more than a dozen parenting books, including The Attachment Parenting Book: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby and The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two, written with his wife, Martha Sears, R.N.