T Rex Family

T Rex Family

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Attachment Parenting...

It seems that T Rex Dad and I practice attachment parenting. Although, it was never our intention when we began our parenting journey to be co-sleeping, baby wearing, and extended breastfeeding parents. It just sort of happened.

Before T Rex was born I declared there would be no babies sleeping in the bed. My rationale was for a variety of reasons but mostly I was terrified of SIDS and I just did not want to promote unhealthy sleeping habits. 

This declaration did not even last a night. Newborn T Rex wanted to nurse every 2 hours - probably because my milk was taking its time coming in. Thus, it was just easier to put him in the bed with us so I could nurse him on demand. We removed all pillows (neither of us uses them for our heads anyways) and blankets. We tried several times to move him to his crib but he was such a poor sleeper that it was so much easier on all of us to have him with us. 

Bebe Sister co-slept with us exclusively until she was about 3 months old. Then she was pretty much sleeping through the night and actually she would not fall asleep unless she was in her play-n-pack next to our bed. If she'd wake up, I'd put her in with me and she would usually go back to sleep for a couple more hours. This is how we still do things. She's not a really snugly kid at night - she really prefers her bed unless she's restless. T Rex - total opposite. We prefer co-sleeping but I think the kids will tell you when they are ready for their bed - some sooner than others. However, everyone still sleeps in our room - just not necessarily in our bed at the same time.

And am I worried that they'll be a teenager and still sleeping in our room. Nope. Kind of the same rationale as being worried about potty training. How many teenagers do you know that are not potty trained? But potty training is a whole other topic because we're into elimination communication and cloth diapering. I don't know if that's also an aspect of attachment parenting or not. Probably.

Bebe Sister carrying her bear piggy back style.
Baby wearing...again, a lot to do with a very fussy T Rex baby. He was a very touchy, sensitive baby. Those first few weeks were so tough. Eating and sleeping became a privilege. Think waterless shampoo to wash one's hair.  I had purchased a used baby carrier/chest pack at a local thrift store. I was not sure I even wanted one but I thought since it was $2 I could at least give it a try. T Rex LOVED it. And I actually could get some household chores done while wearing him snuggled on my chest with my hands free. 

Then I attended a new moms class on infant massage and learned about the benefits of baby wearing. The pediatric physical therapist told us about the many infants she treats for flat heads because they were "car seat babies". Her recommendation is that car seats should be for the car - period. But for those shopping trips or times when you need your hands free she recommended a sling or baby carrier with the baby facing toward the carrier's chest (or after age one riding on the back, too). 

I took her suggestions to heart. In fact, I think our infant car seat only ever came out of the car a total of 8 times in its two child lifetime (about 20 months total use). Yes - sometimes a pain when the baby is sleeping but I enjoyed the closeness of having the babies close to me and knowing the carrier would not fall off the grocery cart or the baby would not get a flat head. Again - this is very much in the style of attachment parenting but we just did not know it. It just felt right.

Breastfeeding. That's a post in and of itself. I was very skeptical about breastfeeding. I really did not have many women in my life who had had a positive breastfeeding experience. However, I felt very strongly that it was the best option for our child. I kept setting small goals and before I knew it I had hit the year mark and T Rex was still wanting to drink mom's milk. It was only at 19 months that I was forced to wean him due to some dehydration issues related to being pregnant. But for a couple months there I was pregnant and breastfeeding - boy, did I feel maternal - tired as I was! 

Bebe Sister is still interested at 14 months and I plan to allow her to nurse as long as we're both enjoying the experience which is about what the World Health Organization's recommendation for breastfeeding is. I know most people would consider this "extended breastfeeding". Honestly, I don't. However, I guess this is just another aspect of attachment parenting that we did not realize we were practicing.

In a nut shell, we're not in a hurry to rush through various stages of childhood development as our society seems to be pushing for these days. We hold our children close - literally. Our kids gain independence in due time. And when they do, I find them to be full of confidence because we've been at their side - again, literally - through all these stages. We embrace and enjoy every aspect of their growth because we know some day we will be sitting in our rocking chairs remembering what it was like to hold those tiny babes in our arms while we rocked.

Are you an attachment parenting family? Do you practice any or all of these - co-sleeping, baby-wearing, or extended breastfeeding? Was it a conscious decision or were you like us and just fell into the practice?


Kim said...

We're the same around here, didn't plan on it but it's what works for us. I loved having both kids sleep with me and my nursing experience has been wonderful. I can't say that doing any of these things helped the kids sleep but it sure makes me feel like I'm doing right by them.

JKMommy said...

soo interesting. I don't really consider myself an attachment parent... not yet! LOL. However, we cloth diaper, apparently I am an extended breastfeeder without intending to be (LOL), and I do baby wear on occasion. I guess I'm on the conservative end of the attachment parenting spectrum! :) I do some things but not others. I don't baby wear all the time (but will probably do more with Baby #2 - I just couldn't get comfortable with it at first b/c of my BFing pain), and we definitely don't co-sleep. Although sometimes I wish I had at least a LITTLE b/c my son is SO non-snuggly and I worry now that I didn't bond with him enough. Although he did sleep in our room until 6 months. So - I guess I do some of the things but not all... :)
Still trying to get into EC mode but... I guess maybe not this time? :) We'll see!
So fun to read about your parenting style! :)

Jenners said...

I swore up and down that I wouldnt let the Little One sleep in our bed...but that all changed when he actually arrived and we all needed sleep. And I was bound and determined to breastfeed but we had all types of problems and I stopped at 6 weeks. As with everything else, I think parenting is an organic process and you have to figure out what will work for everyone as you go along.

Camie said...

Finding joy in the journey. That's what it's all about. That and finding whatever works for you and your family :)

septembermom said...

I turned out to be an attachment parent too. Jillian sneaked in our bed just last night. I nursed all my kids for 2 years. Didn't plan on it, but I let them self-wean. Parenting is a beautiful and surprising journey often.

angie said...

My kids ALL co slept. Number 2 only did until she was weaned, but the others lasted longer. Number 4 and 5 still get in bed with me in the middle of the night occasionally.

Emily said...

Good on you, my dear! It appears that we enjoy a lot of the same 'non-conforming' parenting styles. It's liberating to do what feels right...regardless of what the world tells you you should.

Keep up the wonderful work of being a great mom!

Crunchy Beach Mama said...

I kind of am! We don't co-sleep at all but definitely babywear and extended breastfeeding. I hope the 2 of those last a lot longer. Sometimes I think oh no he's 1. It's all going to come to an end soon :)