What is Attachment Parenting?

We take an in-depth look at this often controversial style of parenting


Attachment parenting is an approach to parent coined by Dr. William Sears and his wife, Martha. This style of parenting emphasizes the connection between the parent and the baby, focusing on physical and emotional closeness. Parents practicing attachment parenting are encouraged to hold their baby as much as possible to establish a strong bond and understanding of their child. Breastfeeding and co-sleeping are also promoted by attachment parenting enthusiasts. Parents will carry their baby on their bodies, using a sling or baby carrier. This meets the baby’s need for close contact with their parent.



Spending lots of time in close contact with your baby comes with the benefit of getting to know your baby.  Parents who practice attachment parenting and able to understand their baby’s needs, and use this as a guideline for feeding, changing, sleeping, and so on rather than a more structured schedule based on the clock. Parents will also not be inclined to let their baby “cry it out”.  Attachment parenting recognizes crying as a communication tool, and stresses that parents will be able to understand why their baby is crying through the extra attention they give.  The parent responding to the baby’s cries is said to strengthen the parent-child relationship in the future.


Dealing with Discipline

The attachment parenting movement also approaches discipline in a different way. Parents who have a strong understanding of their child are able to set realistic boundaries for their children. These boundaries are also age-appropriate, which sets the child up for better behaviour. Any discipline given is gentle discipline; attachment parenting is not a supporter of corporal punishment. Gentle discipline includes punishments like time-outs or the removal of a privilege. Attachment parenting is also a big supporter of positive reinforcement methods, such as praise and rewards for good behavior.


Finding Balance

The modern version of attachment parenting focuses on balance. Parents need to eat well, exercise, and take care of themselves in order to be a good caregiver. A support network is also emphasized as a necessity for successful parenting. Spouses need to spend time together to focus on their marriage to balance parenting with other aspects of life. As modern attachment parenting emphasizes balance, parents may not follow certain attachment parenting guidelines if they do not work for their family. For example, the child may sleep in a different bed so the parents are able to get enough sleep. Finally, modern attachment parenting recognizes that this method can be successful for a wider age group. Previously, it was believed that attachment parenting methods needed to begin in the first few weeks of life, as this is an important developmental period. However, attachment parenting now recognizes that these methods can be applied to older babies, such as adopted or foster children. Attachment parenting is meant to be used as a tool, rather than a strict set of guidelines.

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