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You better toughen up that baby or else

Another day, another manual on old skool parenting techniques from Jezebel and a million and four comments about how kids ruin your lives. The child-hating around here is always a treat! Where to start.


How about we start with what attachment parenting is. AP is not special snowflake syndrome. It isn't pre-chewing your child's food. It isn't sharing a bed with a 14 year old. It is the following 7 criteria set by Dr William Sears, unfortunately also prolific in his anti-vax ramblings. Most of these are pretty sensible and not the weirdo 'earth mama' things that Jezebel commenters like to make out.

1. Birth bonding: The first few hours after birth are regarded as very important to promote attachment.


2. 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.

3. Breastfeeding: This is regarded to have physical and psychological advantages to both mother and child.


4. 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.

5. 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.


6. Balance and boundaries: Appropriate responsiveness (knowing when to say yes and when to say no) is needed to keep a healthy family alive.

7. 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.


1. Obviously not always possible. For example I couldn't hold applet for an hour because I was in bad shape. But when possible he was given to me for a cuddle. This helps stimulate milk production, helps regulate baby's temperature and breathing, and helps feel like maybe that hell was worth it. These days this is standard. In the past, babies were whisked away and stored in a nursery where the mothers couldn't see them. We no longer do that because it's fucking awful.

2. Not all cries mean the same thing. Don't just ignore them. Know that the baby is trying to tell you something. Again, these days this is pretty sensible and not out of the norm.


3. Again, not always possible. I was very open on GT about my struggles on this and while ultimately I did get there, others don't. The medical value of breastfeeding is backed up by a significant amount of research and is supported by every national medical board around the world (that I've heard of). Of course, like I say, it's sometimes not possible and not always wanted, and in those cases the most important thing is feeding the baby. Bonding and nutrition can still be totally present. One thing being optimal doesn't make another bad.

4. This is a matter of practicality as much as anything. All around the world people don't have the luxury of stopping their lives to hold a baby all day. They strap their baby to them and get on with it. For a small baby this can help regulate their temperature and breathing and I found that having the baby close but letting me go about my life put fewer barriers on remaining a functional human being.


5. Sleeping near the baby is recommended by most (all?) medical orgs as a factor in reducing the risk of SIDS. This isn't a wacky suggestion. Often people bed share because it makes breastfeeding easier. I don't find that and am not really into bed sharing personally, though around 5am applet often ends up with us but he's in his own room now that he's big. And sharing a bed isn't some modern weird thing. It was and is the norm in many places around the world. It's fine if people (like me) don't prefer it, but it's a perfectly reasonable and sensible option.

6. This is the ENTIRE GODDAMNED THING that jezzies like to say AP is not. Half of the point of AP is to have a healthy family structure. That means boundaries and limits. So if you ever get the urge to blame special snowflake syndrome on AP, stop talking. Special snowflakes come in all parenting approaches.


7. Again, moderately well backed up by research, at least prior to six months. After six months it's a bit murkier. I get why people go down the 'cry it out' road. Applet had 5 months from absolutely hell, my sympathy is with those people even if it's not for me. But before 6 months the research indicates there's no real benefit. Babies don't understand that.

So you hopefully see that none of this is out of left field. People can choose to adapt or apply as it fits their lives, but we're not talking unhealthy things here.


Being a science-minded and evidence-based parent I look at these criteria and see only practicality and sensibility. You don't have to practice them, but you don't get to act like they're ruining the world.

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