Alright, I’m just going to be honest here. I used to be a staunch member of the “I Believe Attachment Parenting Parents are Nuts” club. In the few years preceding my first baby, Attachment Parenting (AP) was becoming a very popular parenting practice among particular groups of families. When I became pregnant with my first baby (my Angel Baby), I had made up my mind before the pee dried on the stick that I was going to be a working mom who raises my baby to be independent, yada yada. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to test out my plan with that baby; however, my plan and my beliefs held steadfast when my oldest daughter arrived in 2008. I vaguely remember carrying her in my good ole’ Baby Bjorn on approximately 3 1/2 walks around the neighborhood as a newborn. I vaguely remember attempting to breastfeed her a few times here and there. I vaguely recall her sleeping on me in our bed on two occasions (primarily because I was so sleep deprived I fell asleep before I put her in her crib), and to be honest again… I vaguely remember holding her on just a few momentous occasions. Now don’t get me wrong, I held my baby! BUT when I held her I was doing it because it served a purpose. I held her because she was too little to be put down, or because I needed to feed her a bottle, or because we were walking somewhere where the stroller wasn’t convenient. I did not do skin-to-skin with her, nor did I do baby massage. Bath times were a “hurry up and get this done because we have too” kind of event, and I let everyone hold her and keep her from me for long periods of time because I felt obligated too. I really didn’t breastfeed much (although I did pump my little heart out for 3 months in order to bottle feed her breastmilk). Even with all of these things I didn’t do that I wish I had, I continued to look at AP parents with judgement and criticism.
When my son came around in 2010, I had grown more used to the idea of wanting to “baby” him a little more than I did my daughter but I truly feel that stemmed more from his medical issues than a desire to parent a different way. For some reason, I held onto the belief that I should not spoil my child and that I needed to do everything I could to raise them to be independent and to maintain my independence at the same time. Again, most of my memories from his infancy were related to his medical trauma and very few from just being close to my baby. Let me tell you all something…. you can never get that first year back.
Fast forward to 2012 when I began my training as a labor/birth doula. After being exposed to a whole new viewpoint regarding pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, I came to the realization that I had missed out on soooooo much. Over the next 5 years of working in the birth and postpartum field, and familiarizing myself with infant development research in my doctoral program, I decided to QUIT THE CLUB!!! I was sold on the Attachment Parenting model and most of their philosophies. I say most because you don’t have to be a perfect match to be an AP parent. You are allowed to just practice some!
Now, I’m not going to say that I am a 100% over-the-top all-on-board Attachment Parenting parent; however, I have seen the positive impact this parenting style has on the mother-infant dyad with regards to bonding and attachment and I was more than thrilled to have another chance at this parenting thing when my youngest daughter arrived this past October. I am very aware that there are extremist’s when it comes to this style of parenting and I don’t totally agree with their ways; yet, I have no right to judge them. Also, there are extremist’s in every parenting style practice. So while I may not be the mom who breastfeeds my ‘baby’ until they are 4 yrs old, or the mom who kicks her husband out of bed for 5 yrs so the kids can bed-share with her, or the mom who completely devotes my entire life to my child…I AM the mom who NOW remembers millions of moments of holding, breastfeeding, and caring for my baby girl and THAT is more than I could ever ask for. If you are an avid “I hate Attachment Parenting” supporter, I hope my reasons will help you at least ease up on your stance. If you are an avid AP supporter, I hope you appreciate my progress and don’t judge me if I’m not fully in the deep end of the pool. I’m doing the best that I can. Hell, I’m doing a thousand times better than I did the first two times. Most importantly, I am ‘doing’.
I’m not going to sit and discuss every single practice of AP. There are some I do and some I don’t. The one thing I’ve done with this baby that I didn’t do with my first two is to ‘baby wear’. I wear her everywhere! I use a variety of carriers, in a variety of positions, and for a variety of reasons! So here are MY top 10 reasons for choosing to babywear my little one:
- Closeness- That’s it, plain and simple, she is close to me. I am her momma and I can protect her easier, and respond to her needs quicker when she is that close to me.
2. Breastmilk Production- Wearing your baby close keeps the hormone Prolactin up
which increases milk production!
3. Breastfeeding Convenience- Ok, I fully disclose that this is challenging in the
first few weeks but once you get the hang of breastfeeding while babywearing it is a
4. Convenience- You can go anywhere! No hassle of having to get the stroller in and
out of the car and then maneuvered around tiny little spaces (let’s face it…it’s 2018
and department stores still haven’t figured out how to widened their spaces and
move god damn clothing racks out of the way!). You are hands free. You can eat (no
really, you can. It is possible for moms to eat believe it or not!).
5. No People Zone- Yep, that’s right. I’m selfish and I don’t really want other people to
touch my baby or reach out and grab her. When I’m wearing her it’s a way of telling
people “no thanks”, I’m the only one snuggling her today! (P.S. this isn’t just to keep
strangers away… it’s ok to have times when you don’t want family or friends to hold
6. Naps On-The-Go- I don’t know about you but my little one will not nap simply by
being held, and rarely in the car seat. However, as a newborn she would knock out
for many naps while I went about my business.
7. Social-Emotional Regulation- Distraught newborn, stranger danger fears, cranky,
etc. Babywearing has helped me tremendously with these issues and more! When
your little one feels you close to them, they have an easier time with social-
emotional regulation, as they feel comforted by feeling mom, hearing her heartbeat,
and feeling/hearing her voice and voice vibrations.
8. Tummy Hider- Yup, I said it. I’m not ashamed. Sometimes those carriers and wraps
serve the purpose of hiding that fantastic flab most of us earned from pregnancy.
Score. Mom life is grand.
9. Bonding and Attachment- You can’t deny it. Babywearing fosters positive feelings
of bonding with your baby and helps build secure attachment. My bonding
experience with this baby is so amazing and something I missed out on with the
first two. Carrying your baby on your body really impacts your relationship with
warm and fuzzy feelings and that is HUGE!
10. Baby Visual Exploration- Babies are able to feel safe visually exploring the world
around them from the security of being attached to mom (literally).
These are just some of the reasons why babywearing has become one of my favorite Attachment Parenting practices. Some of you may also be wondering what type of carriers I use. I have numerous and I use different ones depending on what I am doing. My collection consists of the Baby K’Tan, Ergo (regular model), Baby Bjorn (original model), Infantino Front Carrier, Sukurabloom Ring Sling, and a handmade Ring Sling. I also have experience using a Moby Wrap and Ergo 360 with some of my doula babies. Hands down my favorite carriers are my ring slings… for all stages of infancy and toddler hood. I don’t like to leave home without them!
So now that I have admitted I was a closed-minded freak of a parent who remembers nothing of their first two children- I will share some photos of me babywearing my 3rd baby…. the “spoiled” one who gets to love on me whenever she wants and be as close to me as much as possible!