Attachment parenting and sleep training? Now, those are two words that most parents would never put in the same sentence. However, can the attachment parenting approach and sleep training go hand in hand? Can both approaches be utilized for the benefit of both the parents and the child?
Most attachment parents are often hesitant to consider sleep training their children, as they feel that their values would be compromised. I know I used to feel this way. However, how true is this? Before we can address the above question, let us first start by defining the above-mentioned approaches: attachment parenting and sleep training. What is attachment parenting sleep training?
This is me and my son Oliver back in January 2017 when he was a newborn in the hospital. When he was born there were some complications so he had to stay in the NICU for a little while.
I was permitted to stay as well at the hospital, have my very own room and everything, with no “nurse” service of course. I stayed to breastfeed and give comfort to my son by doing lots of skin to skin contact. I spent all day, every singe day right after my son was born in the NICU nursing him, rocking him, holding his naked body under my shirt and doing skin to skin.
I had my own * nook * in the NICU, and when I would hang out with Oliver, the nurses would draw these big curtains around us closed for privacy and I would place my son on my naked chest directly skin to skin. The nurses would wrap a blanket around us and I would just lay like this holding him for hours. Nursing on demand. This promoted quicker healing and more bonding, and attaching. Which is the basis for attachment parenting.
There are numerous parenting approaches that parents can utilize while raising their children. There’s no one single parenting approach that is considered the best. Hence, parents often choose the one that is most suitable for them and their children.
For the purposes of this article, we shall be focusing on the attachment parenting approach. So, what does this approach mean and entail?
According to Dr William Sears, attachment parenting is a parenting approach that seeks to encourage a strong parent-child bond. This type of approach is said to help children grow up as empathetic and independent. Moreover, it will help the children develop and maintain healthy relationships throughout their lives.
There are eight principles of attachment parenting as specified by the Attachment Parenting International (API). Attachment Parenting International (API) is a global educational association that deals with and focuses on the attachment parenting approach. Below, are the eight principles that attachment parenting approach is based on.
Preparing for your baby by nurturing positive thoughts on pregnancy to better prepare the parent for raising the child. Approach the aspect of parenting as entirely one of *love* and nurturing.
Taking Lamaze classes. Doing Prenatal Yoga! Educating yourself by reading parenting blogs and researching childcare topics online to be better equipped rather than just “winging it” at the parenting game.
Always breastfeed your baby when you notice that they are hungry. Respond to your child’s negative feelings with sensitive love & care. Enjoying your child as an individual rather than a responsibility. Communicating honestly and openly to your child.
You should never be a disciplinarian or an authoritative parent. If you’re adhering to an attachment parenting principle, then no yelling or losing your temper ever with your child.
A good way to keep your cool when your little one is behaving in ways that are really upsetting you to the point where you think you might lose your cool, is to simply say to yourself, “Look at how little he is.”
This is where the parent is encouraged to engage in skin to skin contact with the baby as I did while I was in the hospital when my son was a newborn. Also, another way of doing this is through baby wearing which involves carrying the baby using a sling.
Here is a picture of me and my son when he was itty bitty; I was wearing a Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier in Grey. I used this baby-wearing carrier from the time my son was a newborn up until he was 9 months old. It was very durable, comfortable and was perfect for traveling.
This was also very handy since sometimes my son would start crying very loudly in his stroller, he was unhappy, uncomfortable or just simply wanted mama…. I would make sure I brought this carrier with me and in this situation I would whip it out, put my son in it, and he would immediately settle down and become calmer. Insta Happy Baby!
Then I could just simply push the stroller and carry my baby against my body. This “baby wearing” tactic is what people who practice attachment parenting do. It is very natural and people from other countries do this normally rather than push their babies in strollers.
Babies need to be close to our bodies to feel our warmth.
This helps encourage safe sleep both physically and emotionally, and actually takes the stress of both parents & baby.
This is where the parent is encouraged to take part in what is often termed as co-sleeping. People from other countries usually partake in a family bed, family bed sharing, etc.
This is normal and parents don’t usually put their baby in a separate bedroom down the hall. Parenting is viewed as a 24 hour / 7 day a week job, including nights
Parents are advised to develop a consistent presence when it comes to raising their children. To give the child guidance and support in which they need to grow up mentally healthy involves all the skills of parenthood: love, nurturing, guiding, sharing, protecting, serving as a model or example.
These skills should be understood and perfected by practicing them. Some will seem more difficult to do on certain days than on others. These are normal variations for raising a child, and no one is to say otherwise that they do make for a very challenging job!
This is where parents are encouraged to learn and understand where the child’s negative behavior is coming from. By communicating with the child, the parent and child can come up with an effective solution to the problem.
Some disappointments and failures are inevitable right? So your child needs to learn constructive ways to handle anger, conflict, and frustration.
Begin by handling your own anger and unhappiness in a mature way so that your child learns from example.
Set clear limits for them so that they understand that violence is not permissible, but at the same time let them know its normal and okay to feel sad, angry, hurt or frustrated.
Confusion does not help your child to mature. Consistency does, so make sure that everyone who cares for your child understands and agrees on the way that they are being raised and the rules that they are expected to follow.
Establish policies for all your child’s care providers to observe when he or she misbehaves, and adjust these policies along with the rules as they grow up and become more wise and more responsible.
Recognize that your child is an individual – different from everyone else – and appreciate their special qualities.
Discover their special needs and strengths, their moods and vulnerabilities and most especially their sense of humor, which begins to develop in early infancy.
Make sure you foster their sense of humor from the get go, by being goofy and lighthearted at all times. I composed a very clever list of 50 ways you can make a baby laugh here.
Let your baby show you the joy of play. The more you enjoy your baby and appreciate their uniqueness, the more successful you will be in helping them develop a sense of trust, security and self-confidence.
You will also more fun being a parent, trust me.
One of the ways your child shows their love for you is by copying you.
Remember imitation is a form of flattery and this also one of the ways they learn how to behave, develop new skills, and take care of themselves.
From their earliest moments, your baby watches you closely and patterns their own behavior and beliefs right after yours!
Your examples and the way you conduct yourself around your baby become permanent images, in your child’s early childhood subconscious; so remember that this will definitely shape your baby’s attitudes and actions for the rest of their life!
Setting a good example for your baby means to be responsible, loving, consistent not only with them but with all members of the family. Show your affection and nurture your other relationships.
If your baby sees her parents communicating openly, cooperating, and sharing household responsibilities, they will be much more inclined to bring these vital skills to their own future relationships.
It makes for an easier, calmer, decent way of living. People who have more wholesome childhoods where respect was emulated by their parents, usually grew up to have satisfying and meaningful relationships.
Emotional vampires and toxic people such as narcissists do not have such a cunning appeal or sway on these types of “strong-minded” people because growing up they know what to expect and what is not normal behavior.
Sociopaths behavior is easily noticeable and dealt with accordingly.
You can set an example by demonstrating tolerance and acceptance in an increasingly multicultural society such as the United States. I live in San Bruno, California. It is apart of the San Francisco, Silicon Valley Bay Area and is a melting pop of nationalities and cultures. I believe it is important to teach your child tolerance when relating to people of other racial, ethnic, and religious groups and alternate lifestyles.
Make an effort to help your child understand and to celebrate diversity. No boy or girl is born prejudiced, but it becomes “learned” at a very young age. Once a child reaches 4 years old, they are pretty much aware of the differences among people.
So the way you relate to people in your life will be a foundation for how your child will treat their peers and others throughout their childhood and adulthood.
So let your child know that there are many similarities among people and make an effort to dispel stereotypes that your child might be exposed to.
In such a case, replace those stereotypes with the belief that ALL people deserve to be respected and valued. This is the core value of attachment parenting.
Now, what is sleep training? Let us take a look.
Sleep training can best be described as the approach of aiding a child in learning how to fall asleep by themselves.
Sleep training works to help the child develop a healthy sleep pattern without having to depend on the parent to fall asleep.
There are two main approaches when it comes to sleep training. They include gradual extinction, also known as the cry- it- out method, and bedtime fading.
Each method entails a different approach, and just like parenting approaches, there’s no one single approach that is considered the best.
Gradual extinction calls for the parent to leave the baby in the room to sleep and ignore the cries. However, parents are encouraged to check on the baby at short intervals of time to ensure that the baby is fine.
Whilst checking on the baby, the parent can reassure the baby of his/her presence through touch, before leaving the room again.
This way, the parent can gently guide the child towards learning how to soothe himself or herself to sleep.
Bedtime fading is where the parents put the child to sleep when he/she is tired and drowsy.
This can help the child fight bedtime less and fall asleep faster. By keeping a diary, a parent will be able to note the natural bedtime of the child.
I kept a diary for everything of my son because that way I knew the last time I fed him, how much I fed him, when he slept, how long he slept, how many diapers he had, etc.
These all played a factor in how well he slept, how willing he was to go to sleep on his own, and for how long he slept.
Whilst putting the child to sleep during the bedtime fading approach, the parent can sit close to the bed or crib as the child falls asleep.
Over time, the parent should move her/his chair further and further from the baby’s crib or bed.
Ultimately, the baby should be able to sleep without having the parent in the room. Or having the parent checking in on them every five or ten minutes to soothe them to sleep.
Now, can these two approaches be used as one? Can they go hand in hand?
Indeed, attachment parenting and sleep training can go hand in hand, contrary to popular belief.
By bringing both concepts together, we have what is often termed as the attachment parenting sleep training.
This is where a sleep training approach incorporates all the eight attachment parenting principles.
Attachment Parenting Sleep training does not eliminate the love and emotional support.
Instead, this approach nurtures the core values by gently guiding and teaching the baby how to deal with their emotions. In this instance, the parent is constantly present in guiding the child to develop a healthy sleep pattern.
In other words, while training your child to sleep, you can stay in the same room with them; room sharing.
My son and I both share a room together. He sleeps in his bed and I have my own bed. Sometimes I will let him sleep next to me but most of the time he is in his own bed.
I make sure that the room is warm and comfy, and he knows that mommy is nearby. It has worked out quite well for me. In terms of security and the feeling of knowing my baby is close by while I sleep is worth it to me.
If your baby has their own room, you can still practice attachment parenting sleep training by constantly offering physical and verbal reassurance as you check on them.
The parents are advised to offer assistance and remain involved while trying to sleep train their babies.
However, the end result should be where the baby can fall and stay asleep without any assistance from the parent.
In conclusion, attachment parenting and sleep training can go hand in hand. In fact, attachment Parenting Sleep training approach can greatly benefit the parents and the family as a whole.
This approach can help establish a balanced life, where the parents can sleep and rest more after training the child. Moreover, the baby will also develop a healthy sleep pattern, which is a crucial, yet positive habit.
The best training program by far on getting your baby to sleep is The Baby Sleep Miracle, by Mary-Anne Schuler, a medical professional and Baby Sleep Specialist. She has a tailored solution for even the most stubborn baby!
So what do you think of this method of sleep training your baby? Do you agree that this is a more holistic, warmer, loving way of handling a tough situation, or do you believe otherwise?
Please let me know in the comments below how you handle your baby’s sleep problems. Also, what are your most important values as a parent? Let me know in the comments below!