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Attachment Parenting

This simple guide explains Attachment Parenting at its simplest. Strip away the controversy and use only what you consider best for your own child. At the crux are practices that encourage closeness and bonding between mother and child.

Attachment parenting asks for whole-hearted devotion and sacrifice from the parents, it is demanding in terms of time and freedom. Tamper your routines with common sense and don't get carried away. It is possible to give children the benefits of long-term emotional health and well-being without becoming a slave to your own kids.

'The Baby Book' by Dr Bill Sears was never really big in Singapore like it is in the US. I didn't realize I was practising Attachment parenting until several years after I did it. Perhaps due to the influence of the book and Dr Sears, other books that I read advocated Attachment Parenting without really calling it that. I just found some of the practices that added up to Attachment Parenting really logical and... right. Others you have to adjust to your circumstances.

Breastfeeding

Breast is best! I breastfed on demand for my 2 girls until they were past 3 years old and my little boy until he was past 1 year (he chose to stop during a bout of illness). There is more freedom for the mother if the baby is bottle-fed, but the science is undeniable. Even the American Academy of Paediatrics advocates breastfeeding but the frequency and duration should be for mother and baby to determine.

There are mothers who breastfeed her 1st and 2nd child simultaneously. Nothing wrong with that if you can do it, but remember that the colostrum from the first 2-4 days should be drunk by the newborn baby as it contains plenty of anti-bodies that can protect your newborn. Within the first 6 months of a baby's life, the anti-bodies found in the mother's milk can be readily absorbed by the baby. This provides 'borrowed immunity' from the mother.

At about the 6 month mark, the baby experiences 'gut closure', and his digestive system can no longer absorb anti-bodies from the mother. From this stage onwards, the baby must gradually acquire his own immunity by fighting germs and winning (he doesn't fall sick but overcomes thes illness) or his body fights and loses (he gets sick for a while).

You may belong to the group of parents who believe in not giving any anti-biotics to your child. What is important is that the sick child be given the medication that is appropriate. Some doctors are quite trigger-happy and prescribe anti-biotics regularly, some hold off the anti-biotics for far too long and your child is suffering in the meantime. Find an excellent paediatrician who prescribes appropriately.

We used to let my elder daughter's illness run its course for as long as she could tolerate before starting any medication. My husband is a doctor so he could gauge when enough was enough. We really believed that we had to let my daughter's immune system build itself. Giving any medicine was in fact giving the body a helping hand. We aren't so merciless with our 2 subsequent children.

Responding to cries

Dr Sears advocates that parents should respond to all cries immediately. The science has shown that allowing the baby to cry for brief periods will not cause any harm, though doctors (like my husband) do warn of 'Learned Helplessness' if the baby is left to cry for too long and too often.

The intelligent child also knows that if he cries loudly, it will send mommy or daddy scrambling into the room, so some kids will take advantage of it.

Sometimes you have to wonder, who is the boss of whom? When a child can make you run around in a mild panic, I guess the child is the boss of us!

I have to admit that my 2nd and 3rd children are more 'balanced' than my 1st, though I spent much less time with them. They were also more independent and appreciative. I believe, in hind sight, that too much exclusive attention on your first child may not be ideal and may even be detrimental in certain aspects, what we consider 'spoiling' the child. If you are not careful, the child grows up demanding, jaded from over-stimulation and high-maintenance.

Co Sleeping with baby or Bed sharing

Co sleeping involves either having your baby's bassinet in your bedroom and close to your bed or your child sleeping in the parental bed. For babies, it is definitely easier to have the baby in the room with you if you are breastfeeding on demand. However, it is safer for babies to sleep in their own cots to prevent any accidents, such as a parent accidentally crushing or suffocating the baby or the baby rolling and falling off the bed.

It is not the most comfortable of options and doesn't really give moms and dads much private time. My super king-sized bed was not big enough for my kids and us to sleep on, especially when my kids sleep 'star fish' style. We landed up hanging precariously off the edge of our own beds. My hubby called it quits when he got kicked pretty viciously in the face by my sleeping daughter one night. So they were packed off to their own rooms after a flood of tears. They still run down and squeeze into our beds in the middle of the night sometimes though.

Sometimes, your child is sleeping in his own bed, but during a bout of illness, you soft-heartedly invite him into your bed. Good luck to you! Most smart kids realize how comfy and secure it is to sleep with mommy and daddy and never want to leave.

Just a warning that it is a big no-no to let your kids catch you making love with your partner. It really messes with their minds, so that's why it is better to get the kids out of the master bedroom after a certain age. Remember how when you were small, you would pretend you were asleep just so you could listen to your parents talking. OK, OK, I was guilty of that...

You can click here if you have a baby sleep problem. Whatever you choose to do, please keep in mind the basic safety rules for babies.

Baby wearing

Infants are literally attached to their mothers via slings (eg Babybjorn baby carriers etc). On the practical side, this is terribly hard on the mother's back. I carried my 1st child all over Singapore in a baby carrier. I wanted her to have a good view of everything, and I would be describing everything to her while I was walking about. At the end of the day, I would be prostrate on my bed, my back aching to high heaven. The next day, I would push my body to do it again.

This is not do-able in the long run, my 2nd and 3rd child did not get such a privilege. It was the stroller for them. I marvel that I could have carried my elder daughter all round the Singapore Zoo, or the Jurong Bird Park, or taken 2 hour walks in the forest of Labrador Park. Ah, but the body you have now is not the body you had after your 1st child and it is definitely not the same body you had prior to having any babies.

Those were the days when there wasn't a single ache in your body and you thought you were invincible and you couldn't die (I am a vampire, yah hahahaha...). Those days are well and truly over, I am happy when I sit down on the ground and I can get up without experiencing any pain somewhere in my body.


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