I hadn’t even heard of attachment parenting before I had a child and in fact didn’t come across it as a notion until very recently. After having my second child and moving to a new area, I was browsing through one of those scary Mum web sites to find out about local activities in my area and saw a post from a local Mum who wanted to meet ONLY other mums who practiced attachment parenting – breastfeeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping and so on.
Oh! I do all that, I thought (I didn’t want to meet her though. She sounds like a knob).
You learn a lot about yourself when you become a Mum. I did buy a couple of books before the birth of my first child and found them useful to reassure me in those early days but as soon as the baby arrived I realised they are just that, reassurance. Your baby writes the rules and you work out any compromises together.
I didn’t know if I’d be a Gina Ford-type Mum, and feed my baby at set times and be under constant instruction to break wind no later than 2.30pm while climbing the stairs, or whether I’d be a more go-with-the-flow kind of Mum but it turns out I’m the latter. I have my own routines and schedules but they are relaxed. This doesn’t suit everyone and that’s fine too.
“Include them in everything you do”, my future father-in-law said, on hearing that we were pregnant for the first time. Great advice from a great father, and one that seems to keep them happy. And happy children, surely, are easier children to be around. I found it useful to ask myself what I would do in any given situation if there were no books and no internet – and then I did that.
I even imagined myself as a cave woman with a baby to care for. I know that’s silly and that we live under different circumstances now but for me it just felt natural to keep them very close. For others it is important to breed independence and self-soothing techniques. Whatever works for you.
This happy hippy approach is of course facilitated by the fact I haven’t returned to paid work since having my first child and the fact that I have breastfed them both. So I’ve never had the faintest idea how many fluid oz they drink per day or what their napping pattern should look like – it changes every day and he sleeps when he is tired – he yawns, we cuddle up and he drops off before I put him down, usually at the same sort of time every day until that changes. Sometimes at night if he wants a feed he ends up sleeping with us. In the early days, they slept in their carriers or slings. A lot.
This of course means he needs me more than a baby who will just drop off in his cot but it also makes him very portable – we go everywhere together so it’s not a problem for me. And they’re placid, happy children, most of the time, so it works for us.
And this is attachment parenting, apparently? And there are books about how to do it! I feel a little sad that we need to be reminded of our babies’ need to be close to us. It just makes sense, doesn’t it? Or does that make me a knob too?