In developmental psychology, there is a theory of attachment which examines the dynamics of human relationships. It speaks to the importance of care giving in the upbringing of children. Dr William Sears first propounded the concept of Attachment Parenting based on his observations that the bonds a child forms with his care giver early in life, has lifelong consequences; that strong emotional bonds that develop during childhood result in better emotional wellbeing later in life.
The underlying principle of attachment parenting
It is human nature to seek closeness with other humans and this need is particularly strong during infancy and childhood. According to the attachment theory, the presence as well as closeness of the mother or primary caregiver is of vital importance, whereas their absence could result in hostility, aggression, depression and relationship problems later in life.
The theory is supported by various studies. One study detected a link between fear and aggression among primates on the one hand and a disruption between the child-maternal bond on the other. Experts believe that the type of attachments that a child forms during childhood impacts an individual’s functioning through life.
Features of attachment parenting
Breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth of a child is one of the first features of attachment parenting that can be put into practice. Not only is this a great way for babies and mothers to bond, it nourishes the child and also releases certain happy hormones within the mother.
A high degree of physical contact or touching between parents and children is recommended in this style of parenting. Baby wearing or using a baby sling or kangaroo pouch to keep a baby to keep the baby in physically close contact with the mother or caregiver, is recommended to make the baby feel secure and soothed.
Physical proximity is another important aspect of attachment parenting. It is recommended that the baby sleep in the parental bed (co-sleeping) or as close to the parental bed as possible. Being physically at hand and available for a baby’s needs is an important facet of this parenting style.
Not ignoring a baby when they cry is another central tenet. This parenting style pooh-poohs the theory that babies cry to manipulate their parents. Crying is just baby’s way of communicating; of telling the caregiver about hunger, boredom, pain, discomfort, tiredness or just the need to be cuddled.
Attachment parenting strongly advises against practices such as Ferbering, strictly regimented feeding and letting the baby cry it out.