I never intended to be an Attachment Parent, but it started looking that way for a while. However now as we hit the six month mark, I’ve come to realise that its simply not going to work for us – as much as I may have wanted to be an Attachment Parent, he doesn’t want to be an attachment child.
According to William and Martha Sears in their book “The Baby Book”, Attachment Parenting has all of these things.
- Birth bonding: The first few hours after birth are regarded as very important to promote attachment. Unfortunately the first few hours after birth were spent quite out of it, as me after C Section was quite enamoured with the drugs given to me. There wasn’t skin to skin, and unfortunately very little has remained in memory of the first day of his life.
- Belief in the signal value of your baby’s cries: Parents are encouraged to learn to understand their baby’s cries and respond quickly and appropriately to them. While I’m pretty sure “Ning” is “Feed me woman, dammit!” and “Ang” is “I’m severely uncomfortable”, we’ve yet to progress past this. And at 3 in the morning, they kind of all sound like “Yes I’m awake again. Yes I know you just got back to sleep. Ha. Ha. Ha.”
- Breastfeeding: This is regarded to have physical and psychological advantages to both mother and child. We lasted nine weeks. The poor pet wasn’t gaining weight, we barely managed to latch without those blasted shields, and he became a whole lot happier (as did Mama) when bottles took over full time and he started gaining weight and being satisfied. I found it horrible giving up but it was for the better; regardless of the Mammy guilt, it just wasn’t for us and I can rest easy knowing that we did try our best.
- Babywearing: The term was first used by Dr. Sears and it means carrying the baby in a sling or other carrier, close to the body of the caregiver. We adored the Moby sling when he was a tiny 5 lb dot. It was a lifesaver, when he refused point blank to sleep or to be put down. However as he has gotten bigger, he wants more room to move about, and is one of those babies who actually loves his buggy. We’ve attempted soft structured carriers rented from the Babywearing Ireland library, but he’s having none of it, so I’m very thankful we haven’t splurged out on one – there are enough things gathering dust because he’s never liked them without something else super expensive joining the party.
- Bedding close to baby: Sleeping in the same room and preferably in the same bed as the baby is encouraged, as is frequent (breast)feeding at night. He’s now in his own room, since the 5 month mark, not to say he doesn’t wind up in the bed with us, but we’re happy out when he spends the vast majority of the night in his own bed and not taking over my pillow. He likes to sleep in a full on starfish – and in his own room Mammy’s snoring doesn’t wake him up!
- Balance and boundaries: Appropriate responsiveness (knowing when to say yes and when to say no) is needed to keep a healthy family alive. Not entirely sure how much boundaries you can have with a six month old – we know to say no when he wants to go clubbing, or stay awake through the whole day, but there isn’t much else – he’s a pretty independent little dude and all we can do is guide him the best way we can. (Though I’m pretty sure the No to Clubbing will continue for a few years at least).
- Beware of baby trainers: Instead of taking advice about how to ‘train’ the baby to make it cry less and sleep for longer stretches, parents are encouraged to listen to their own instinct and intuition. I’m willing to try anything. This waking every hour craic is not for me.
So despite our best start, despite our best efforts, we’re not AP after all. But at six months old, I’ve got a little man who is an independent spirit, mad to get moving and going, who gets super excited when he gets to do new things himself. He’s well adjusted and happy out, if a bit drool covered. So in my book, I’m thinking job well done (so far).
Now to figure out the rest of it…