The Dr. Sears Family seem to be everywhere these days! According to every blog, article and popular baby book, if you are not following their attachment parenting style you are damaging your baby...
November 2009 Issue of Baby Talk magazine features an article by Dr. William Sears with 7 points he calls the "Baby Bs":
1) Birth Bonding - this is the perfect time for 100% attachment parenting as your new baby transitions from a cozy life in the womb to a stimulating out of her control world.
2) Breastfeed - Without coming out and saying it Dr. William Sears promotes "on-demand" style of feeding, a notably controversial topic. While it is important to feed on demand the first month to help milk let down and ensure bond and trust between mother and baby, the continuation of this practice past the first month can severely disturb the flow of a well functioning family and set unrealistic life expectations for baby. An agreeable point is that feeding time should be an intimate experience between parent and baby, whether or not mom is breastfeeding and that bottle feeding can be great way for dad to be a part of this nurturing and bonding time.
3) Baby-Wearing - This is a great way to continue into the "fourth trimester", giving you and your baby the physical closeness you both need, and you, the parent, confidence that your love is felt. I am an absolute proponent of baby wearing over car seat carrying when out and about as it is much better for baby's proper physical development. Not to mention it is great for the baby to see life from your level!
4) Bedding Close to Baby - While Dr. Sears and most of his followers may be proponents of Co-Sleeping (a practice of letting the baby sleep in the parents bed, often called the family bed), he is careful to follow AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) guidelines of recommending separate sleeping accommodations. Sleeping in the same bed is strongly discouraged by the AAP as it increases the risk of SIDS. Where too put baby to sleep is a decision every family needs to make as they go, and adjust as baby becomes more and more capable of sleeping through the night.
5) Believe in the Value of Baby's Language - I DECIDED TO REWRITE THIS after hearing some feedback from AP mommies
Dr. Sears states that "babies cry to communicate, not manipulate..." True...babies do not have it out for you and they have a very limited mode of communication, so crying litterally "says it all" those first several weeks. But, I have spent countless hours with numerous babies and as they get older babies certainly can manipulate, and I have seen parents fall for it many times! Manipulation is a survival skill, and survival of the fittest means the more manipulative a baby can learn to be, the better his chances for survival! If you feel like your baby is manipulating you, he probably is. With that said, most communication from most babies truely is them experessing their needs, dislikes, and trying to get your attention.
6) Beware of Baby Training ????- The widespread nature of this very principle has nearly put me out of work! Parents are taught habits that keep them and their babies from sleeping through the night sometimes until a baby reaches 2 years old or older! How is this healthy?
How is this a realistic practice and life expectation for a child? Is he going to go to college and need sleep aide to get through the night, or not be able to sleep without eating every 3-4 hours??
Think about this... Is it not healthier for parents to promote sleep habits that naturally have babies sleeping 8-12 hours a night by 3 months of age? What if this would allow for better brain and physical development of the baby, emotional and mental stability for the whole family, respect for each's different needs, and appropriate societal functioning? I, like many other professionals working with families, babies, and parents will tell you that is exactly why helping "train" a baby and her parents to ditch bad sleep inturrupting habits and replace them with sleep promoting ones is vital to the health of the family. (side note, this should never be done by force or abandonment)
Lastly, 7) Balance and Boundaries - Attachment Parenting offers a lot of suggestions to promote bonding and trust between babies and their parents, but a parent could go into a depression thinking they are an utter failure for not doing them all. This is not the point. Not even Dr. Sears expects you to do all these things, but find the practices that fit your family and adjust the ones that don't. This is where I come in to help. A balanced approach to parenting with an allowable margin for human error is crutial for the mental and emotional health of parents, especially moms, when adjusting to each new baby.
Let me help you focus on the simple habits and practices that are in harmony with your parenting goals and forget about the rest! You and your baby will thrive and everyone will be asking YOU how to do it!