This post was originally published on December 14, 2010, and was updated on March 11, 2020.
If ever I needed affirmation or example of the benefits of attachment parenting, I received it tonite.
My husband and I attended a special dinner tonite put on my our local church. Of course, we took Naomi with us.
Throughout the evening, Naomi sat in our laps. She played with toys, she snuggled with us, she smiled and giggled and shook hands with her many admirers. She ate mashed potatoes and played with a spoon (6, actually, as she kept dropping them). Manu people came up to us and said she was beautiful, lovely, a blessing. And quite a few remarked “And she’s so good! My son/daughter/niece/nephew/grandchild is never so well behaved!”
Let me start by insisting that Naomi is the same as any other baby out there. She gets diaper rash. She has a fussy period in the evening. She gets frightened by the kitchen appliances. She doesn’t like to sit for long periods of time. She wants mommy and cries if I’m out of sight.
So why is it that she’s so good? And does that mean other babies are bad?
I have always been bothered by the phrase “a good baby”. It implies that there are “bad babies”, and I do not believe that is so. There are definitely babies with high needs. This does not, however, make them bad.
My belief is, there is a vital and underrated factor in what makes our daughter “good”. And that is her father and I. We are not going to be held up as “Parents of the Year”, and have no intentions of tooting our own horns here.
What we do, however, is the most basic and fundamental rule of any relationship: we listen.
Our daughter’s cries are responded to. If she is vocalizing, we assume she is trying to tell us something. She is nursed on demand. She is put down to nap. She is changed, cuddled, carried, held, left alone, talked to, sung to, played with, helped out, and any other method of attention we can think of. Our daughter asks for our attention and we listen to her. She is not left to cry alone for longer than is absolutely necessary (say, while she is forced to sit in her car seat when we have to drive somewhere). Even in such situations, we calmly explain why it has to be those way. Naomi knows us and trusts that we will respond to her requests as quickly and accurately as we can.
Does that mean that we get everything right? Nope! Does that mean she only cries when she has a fixable need? Nope! Does that mean she never gets on our nerves? Nope!
But we have made a commitment to her and ourselves, from Day 1, to do what is best for her. And for us, that meant building a strong, attached bond with Naomi so she knew she could trust us to do right by her and each other.
For us, that means breastfeeding on demand, dressing her in safe cotton clothes and unisex designs, having her sit with us at meal times, bedsharing/co-sleeping, taking her to family events and social environments, responding to her cries and requests (not demands, requests), teaching her how to communicate with us, wearing her at home and outside, letting her interract with other babies,ta and showing her that her parents love and care for both her and each other by showing affection (hugs, kisses, doing nice things, compliments) in front of her.
Tonite, when she started showing signs of fatigue, I put her in her car seat and rocked her slowly until she was out cold. She slept for half an hour this way, til the congregation’s applause awoke her. When she started grabbing at my plate, I gave her a small spoon of mashed potatoes and let her munch on that. When she started to fidget with boredom, I handed her toys and cooed and talked to her. When she squirmed in my lap, I passed her to Daddy. When she was restless, I put her in her sling and we walked around and rocked near the back of the room. Throughout the 2.5 hour event, she never uttered a peep.
It takes careful planning, too. We had completed the majority of our chores and I had made sure she’d had a good restful nap throughout the day before we tried this trip. Our success was apparent in the cheerful grins and bright eyes she showed to all the others in attendance who stopped by to admire our beautiful girl.
Is being an attached parent easy? No, not always. We have had tear-filled, sleepless nights. We have had angry, frustrated rants. We have had guilty, disappointed moments.
But the benefits? Restful sleep. Increased love and friendship. A strong, united family. A cheerful, healthy baby. Oh it is so, so worth it.
Do you have any attachment testimonials? Tell me about it!