I'm an attachment parent who didn't co-sleep or baby wear — and that's okay!

July 16 | Guest post by Daxle C.
By: Nico NelsonCC BY 2.0

I'm not certain when exactly I became convinced that I would be attempting Attachment Parenting. I do know that I started out by researching obsessively. I researched whether to have a kid. I researched how to get pregnant. I researched how to best take care of myself when I was pregnant. I researched my birth options. So, of course, I researched how to take care of a baby.

I've always been the kind of person who is afraid to do things "wrong," and having a kid seemed like the most important thing in life not to mess up. So researching seemed like the best way to keep moving forward, rather than being paralyzed by fear. Yet, it turns out that research doesn't exactly secure the future.

I didn't get pregnant until the second month of trying (yes, I did cry, but please laugh instead of hating me!). Then, I ended up with high blood pressure despite my perfect diet (eye roll) and regular pre-natal yoga practice. Then, I was kicked out of my birth center and sent to the hospital where I asked them to please just disregard my short-sighted, idealistic birth plan.

"Ok, fine," I thought, "but I am still going to raise my baby according to the advice of my friends Dr. Sears and Dr. Greene." I'd watched all the videos on breastfeeding and felt thoroughly confident that it was going to go smoothly for my newborn daughter and I. By now I'm sure I don't need to tell you that it didn't go smoothly at all. Short version: poor latch, bloody nipples, multiple lactation consultants, nipple shields, pumping, finger feedings, leaking bottles, and lots of crying.

It got a little easier, but it never got easy. We also planned to co-sleep. My daughter would toss and turn, grunt and groan, all night. Nobody got any sleep. When I moved her to a co-sleeper next to the bed, she slept a little better. When I moved the co-sleeper to the next room over, at eight weeks, she slept much better. I felt terrible guilt. The books said she would want to sleep next to me, skin to skin, but she obviously didn't.

The books said that I could nurse her side lying and practically sleep through it, but it just wasn't working for either of us. At about three months she only woke around 4-5am to feed and otherwise slept through the night. Instead of being overjoyed at my luck I was drowning in guilt. I got my period back and my milk supply dipped, as if to affirm my failure at co-sleeping and nursing through the night.

Ah, and then there were the baby carriers. I was so sure that the Moby Wrap was going to work out that I didn't even try anything else. But every time we put her in it, she wailed. And yes, before you ask, we tried it every which way. Different holds, different tight-nesses, different positions, different times of day, different clothing, different levels of wakefulness, different ages. We really, really tried.

So, what did I do? I researched, of course. I started blaming my choices around her birth. Maybe if I had done hypnobirthing, maybe if I had hired a doula, maybe if I had stuck with my resolve to refuse an epidural, then maybe she'd be properly attached to me. New mothers, please do not do this to yourself! Step away from the internet forums if they start making you feel like you're doing it all wrong.

Then, at around three-and-a-half months everything started to turn around. It became apparent that my daughter was quite happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. She still didn't like to do any of the things Dr. Sears said she would most certainly like, and yet she was fine. Over the next few years, my guilt would come and go, but my daughter never showed any signs of being "improperly attached."

She was happy to breastfeed or take my milk from a bottle for the first year, and easily transitioned to goat milk after that. She never cared much for a carrier and refused the stroller as soon as she could walk on her own. She's always loved having her own sleeping space and was over the moon with excitement when we bought her first twin-sized bed at 20 months. She's been sleeping through the night since six months.

She potty trained easily at two years. She's very open-minded about new foods and eats a balanced diet. She's confident, outgoing, and very clear about her likes and dislikes, though still open to negotiation. By any standard, you could call her an easy kid to parent. It turns out that nothing was wrong besides me expecting her to conform to some ideas I had read in books and on the internet.

I share my story because I don't want other new parents to go through what I went through. My advice is simply to trust yourself and trust your child. You know what's best for your family and your child knows what they need. Babies are born with personalities and preferences that can't be accounted for in a one-size-fits-all parenting philosophy. Children are more resilient than we think. If Plan A doesn't work, keep trying until something does.

Based on reader feedback, the title on this post was updated.

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  1. See, here's the thing, attachment parenting is about creating a relationship with your child. It is about listening to them and understanding them. Mama, that is exactly what you are doing! The breastfeeding, the cosleeping, the babwearing, etc.–those are all ways that we know can help foster that relationship–but they are no be all end alls. You sound exactly like an attachment parent to me.

    120 agree
    • Yup. The OP said: "I've always been the kind of person who is afraid to do things "wrong,"…" and that's pretty revealing.

      Attachment parenting isn't about The Stuff (wraps, cloth diapers, I don't know) or The Things (co-sleeping, babywearing, etc.). It's about rollin' with your kid and doing what they feel like doing and not being afraid to foster a close attachment between you, however that happens.

      OP, it seems to me that your parenting plan was having a List of Stuff and Things and as they all got unchecked, you though, "Gosh, I'm failing at this Parenting Method(tm)!" But your child was happy and attached and you were going along with her wishes and you were a success!

      My son wasn't into being worn, either. If he cried when I put him in the wrap, I assumed he was just saying, "Not today, Mama!" so I just took him out again, no big deal. Periodically, I'd try again, just to see where he was at. He actually ended up quite liking being worn around the 6-8 months stage.

      He also hated being swaddled from about 1 week old. He'd struggle and cry and get his limbs out and be miserable. When I unswaddled him, he'd calm down. So I didn't swaddle him, even though Swaddles were Things you did with newborns. I was the mom with the newborn asleep like a little starfish, his limbs thrust out as far as they could go in each direction.

      You can't *try* attachment parenting and fail. The whole point is trying.

      23 agree
      • This entire post made me giggle, I have to admit. "You're not doing it wrong, but you're doing it wrong." Ok, thanks :)

        8 agree
      • The only real example of "stuff" that she gave was the Moby wrap. And I think anyone who reads Attachment Parenting books can come away with the impression that ONLY THE MOBY will allow you child to feel close to you.

        I, like other moms, tend to think of "failing" at something – breastfeeding, a parenting technique… but like the author says, not every kid is going to love a given method or wrap or stroller or whatever. It's not failing if a kid doesn't like something. It's also not necessary to try – especially if you feel like a technique won't work for you right off the bat.

        10 agree
    • See, I don't know if I would call that 'attachment parenting'… I would just call it straight up 'parenting'! Doing what works best for you and your child, finding the happy place that works for your specific situation and personalities. That is how you parent!

      42 agree
  2. Attachment Parenting isn't about a checklist! It is doing what works for your family while respecting the needs of your baby. She likes to sleep on her own? Great, go with it. She can take breast or bottle? If you are OK with that then do it. That is meeting the needs of the family and baby. To me that is what AP is all about.

    40 agree
    • So, how is that different from just plain old "parenting"? I'm asking in all seriousness. Because it seems like you are using "Attachment Parenting" to describe what all parents do, which is making decisions about what works best for their family.

      31 agree
      • IMO, non-AP parenting (or mainstream?) focuses on pushing the child to independence for the convenience of the parent/caregiver regardless of the needs of the child. So we end up with people advocating for CIO, not holding a child that wants to be carried for fear of spoiling it, etc. To me (and many in my AP circles) meeting the needs of the child is the focus, rather than blindly following current parenting norms.

        24 agree
        • Most parents don't parent with any kind of title or philosophy, they just parent. That doesn't make them AP or not AP; it simply makes them parents. And I would guess the majority of parents do a little bit of everything, depending on what works for their families. Saying that "mainstream parenting" focuses on "pushing independence" regardless of the child's needs is a strangely reductive way of looking at life. Most parents do their absolute best to parent their children, without slapping titles on it, and to say that anyone who doesn't claim to be AP is "blindly" following anything sounds very smug.

          33 agree
          • I agree with your comments, most parents don't need a title and will do what works for their family. For some that includes doing things just because that is how they are done. But the premise of the article is that there IS a difference between AP and non-AP parenting. I was explaining how I see the difference. As I said in my comment "to me" this is how things seem.

            3 agree
          • I would disagree about the "most parents" part — where do you live? Is it a relatively progressive place? My experience with "most parents" is that you do certain things, regardless of the child's wishes, because that's how things are "done." Baby sleeps in its own bed, they can cry it out if they don't like it. Baby gets pushed in a stroller, not worn. Babies are bottle-fed or if they must be breastfed, it should be done out of the eye of the public or even relatives. Babies wear disposable diapers, not hippie gross cloth diapers. Etc etc. Instinctual parenting (which is what I think the OP is doing) doesn't really take priority among a vast majority of parents. It is my preference too. I would never force my child into a AP slot any more than I would force her into a 'mainstream' slot. But I don't think a lot of people parent by instinct, they do what a book or relative tells them is 'right'…

            8 agree
          • You're right in saying that most parents don't claim a title or philosophy for their parenting. However, in some places, it is more common for parents to pursue a convenience-style of parenting that all but ignores the needs of babies. And pretty much anything that ISN'T that traditional method is labeled AP.

            Some parents who would be more instinctive in their parenting are advised against it (by family, friends, even doctors and childcare providers) because they are told they will "spoil" their baby. Some mothers literally force themselves to ignore their instincts in order to fit expectations.

            I remember reading on a parenting forum a mother who wondered if letting her baby (less than a month old) fall asleep in her arms after feeding was "bad parenting." She had been told that he would never learn to sleep through the night (which was apparently expected by 6 weeks or so) if she EVER held him while he fell asleep. Her question was "Should I wake him up before I put him in his crib?" She was afraid to follow her instincts because it's not "how it's done."

            So yes, many parents do parent by instinct without putting a label on their parenting "style". But in some communities, that is a radical departure from the norm and is likely to get labeled anyway ("hippy" parenting, "permissive" parenting, etc.)

            According to how I read the AP books, the "tools" – swaddling, co-sleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding on-demand, etc. – aren't a one-size fits all package. You choose what works for you and your baby, whatever helps you build a healthy, trusting, respectful relationship. The tools are recommendations that work for many families, but not a check-list to see how well you fit some "ideal."

            5 agree
  3. I'm right there with you. Before the birth of my twins I researched the hell out of parenting philosophies and styles. I decided and spoke loudly about how I was going to be the Earth mama type who breastfeed (exclusivly), co-slept, cloth diapered and organiced everything.

    Then my twins were born. Their personalities and medical needs had different plans. After months of stressing I realized my dream parenting style was not our actual parent-child life.

    17 agree
  4. Thank you for this! I wholeheartedly agree that as first time, new moms, we often want to "do everything right," and when one thing/a few things/everything fails to conform to what we imagine it should, we feel like inept parents. Even though I had a "we'll see what happens" approach to breastfeeding (and was completely open to the boob or formula), when my son and I couldn't make nursing work, I felt like a failure. I can only imagine what moms who really want to nurse feel like! I second your advice — trust yourself, and your child — together you will figure out what works for you as a family unit. Hooray for letting go of what we think things "SHOULD" be, and embracing what we ARE. <3

    9 agree
  5. I think you missed the whole idea behind attachment parenting- and were actually were successful. Attachment parenting is about gentle parenting and NOT forcing baby into anything- ie crying it out, forcing them to learn independence dispute them not being ready for it. Every child is different, my first hated babywearing, and loved strollers. My second could care less but enjoyed being worn, and my third is alway wanting in a wrap. That doesn't mean my first isn't raised AP. It means i did what was best for her. Forcing a chid into babywearing is actually the opposite of AP. I think attachment parenting is so misunderstood. its about a philosophy of showing your child the respect you want in your life (you would want your husband to lock you away in another room to cry, so you can learn to not be so needy) its about babies needs being met. As well it doesn't mean they get no discipline or consequence, it means that we teach children with a loving hand, guide them and treat them with respect so they can show us respect in return

    47 agree
    • I agree, there's a lot of confusion about what attachment parenting means. But when you read attachment parenting stuff, they tend to take the tone you used in this statement: "you would want your husband to lock you away in another room to cry, so you can learn to not be so needy" with stuff like breastfeeding and babywearing. Articles online and books tend to say things like "Your baby wants to be close to you, not in a bouncy seat/exersaucer/baby holder. How would you feel if you were new to this world and the person you wanted to be closest to was always trying to put you aside?" Statements like that are why I was so puzzled that my baby didn't seem to want the things she was naturally "supposed" to want. I feel lucky that I never had to question whether to do "crying it out" or not, because my daughter was perfectly happy sleeping on her own. But I am not going to judge those who say it worked for them, having been through what I've been through.

      50 agree
      • I agree Daxle. The stuff I read about Attachment Parenting certainly DID read as if the only way to do it was to carry the baby with you, sleep with them etc etc – it was all about never leaving them alone.
        To then be told that we are all just misinterpreting it is confusing for me.

        43 agree
      • I need lots of physical space, and I actually do prefer to be alone when I'm frustrated, especially if I'm crying. No need to lock me in another room. I'll do it myself 😛 You may have a baby INTJ on your hands lol

        18 agree
      • Geez those questions are definitely in the 'emotional blackmail' family (not saying all AP material is, I've never read any of it, just these particular examples)

        6 agree
    • Yes. Totally. I read the AP stuff as, 'here's a philosophy [be responsive to your baby], here's some tools that might help you with that'. I've always read AP stuff as sort of being a response to some ideas about parenting that were prolific back in the day – maybe they aren't so much now, and that's why AP can be hard to define.

      But I think about some ideas that my mom's generation seems to have about parenting – which can seem something like "plop the baby in a swing, stick them in front of the TV, feed them formula on a strict schedule, don't hold them too much or you'll spoil them, let them cry it out to sleep as soon as possible, start solids at 3 weeks, if you need to move them from point A to point B, you strap them in a car seat 'carrier' and cart it around". That's pretty much how I was raised. So I've always taken AP as a response to that. It doesn't mean NEVER formula feed, NEVER put them in a swing, NEVER put them in a car seat, etc. It says that holding your baby won't spoil them.

      AP doesn't mean you never put them down, but that you do sometimes pick them up!

      5 agree
  6. Just because you didn't do those two things doesn't mean you weren't being responsive, which is the source of healthy attachment.

    8 agree
  7. I LOVED this. I researched everything, and I mean everything and had this picture perfect idea of attachment parenting. Well, I got an epidural, failed at BFing and couldn't sleep a wink during co-sleeping. I hated myself and it's taken me 7 months now to begin to forgive myself for not being perfect. My son is healthy and the happiest baby I've ever seen. And that is all that matters.

    10 agree
  8. Here here! It hasn't been easy for us either!
    I've been afraid that if we weren't co sleeping/wearing/breast feeding, we would have an unhappy child, but trying to force anything on this kid is a straight shot to Meltdown Central. I'm now wondering if its ME who needs all these things, and not my baby. As long as we can establish trust and love, i think we'll have a happy little dude.

    9 agree
    • Exactly! The other day my friend who is a new mom was putting her baby in her moby wrap. I had told her how my daughter freaked out when we put on the moby. Her daughter whimpered a little and my friend asked, "Like this?" I laughed and said, "No, it was more like I was trying to kill her. Screaming at the top of her lungs." Meltdown central indeed! Babies know what they want!

      4 agree
  9. I personally don't like labeling and terms like "attachment parenting." In the end, it's all just parenting, you don't have to categorize it, and you learn very quickly to just do what works for you! My babies hated the wrap and it made for incredibly stressful outings so I use a double stroller and now that my middle one is almost two and good at sticking by us and listening, we let him walk on his own. He has always known exactly what he wants and has been the easiest child in the world since we figured out to take our cues from him. For example, sleeping through the night. He didn't do it for the first year of his life and I stressed out about it and read about all of the "foolproof" things I was "supposed" to be doing to foster good sleeping habits. None of them worked but he got it on his own around or just after his first birthday. I was never much for co-sleeping, it makes me nervous and I'm a better mother when I get enough sleep. But I do it out of convenience when my babies are newborns and move them to their own beds when they start getting wiggly and rolling at 3 or 4 months. My daughter is also the type to grunt and toss and turn and if she is near us and can see us, she wants to be interacting with us, not sleeping. But she is perfectly attached to me and a snuggly little koala bear of a baby so I'm not worried. Our middle child is fiercely independent and doesn't like to be held and cuddled unless he initiates it. One method of parenting definitely doesn't work for every kid, there are no rules to this thing! I am glad there are stories like this one to let new moms know that : )

    13 agree
    • I don't like these parenting labels either! In previous conversations, I've heard the definition of attachment parenting become so broad that it barely has meaning anymore. We're all just trying our best to be responsive to our babies' needs and doing what works :)

      8 agree
  10. I find this really interesting. I went into parenting not wanting to attachment parenting. We had a nice stroller, a nice crib and lots of other nice things to put the baby down. My son did not want to be put down. We never used the crib. We barely used the stoller. He wouldn't sleep unless he was snuggled with us, so we stopped fighting to put him in the crib and just let him sleep with us. We bought carriers so we could wear him everywhere. I think that these experiences teach us that we just have to do what's best for our children and try to get over our own expectations.

    14 agree
    • My sister was an accidental 'attachment parent' lol. She is definitely not 'that type'. My nephew is 5 years older than my niece, and he was always very independent. Loved his cot, loved his bed, loved his pram, his space. Then my niece comes along, and my sister turned into one co-sleeping, baby wearing Mama. We both find it hilarious!! I would never have guessed I would see my sis that way, but it suited her :) Baby #3 JUST came so we'll see how that goes haha.

      2 agree
  11. I was STUNNED when neither of my twins would tolerate the Moby. All babies want to be snugly held next to mom!!!! I realized pretty quickly that mine were just mad that they couldn't look around in that position. Even at 2 days old my older twin's big eyes scanned the world any time she was awake. And I LOVE how obsessed she is with trees and sky from her stroller. I, too, felt guilty putting them in their swing, until I realized that they wanted to be there. I reminded myself that the only parenting technique I believed in was the one about listening to my children and doing my best to give them what they need. I have to remind myself of it often, actually. Forcing them to be close isn't really different from pushing them away.

    12 agree
    • Absolutely. My babe was so much happier being in a carrier when she was old enough to be held facing out.

  12. I totally agree (but have a hard time doing this) about taking a step back from all the parenting blogs and forums out there. Sometimes more information only serves to make us feel inadequate, because it's impossible to do ALL of the things we read about. Then we beat ourselves up for not being the kind of parent we thought we wanted to be. As long as our kids are happy and healthy, the way I see it, we are being the parent *they need*, and what could matter more?

    7 agree
  13. This will be me when I have a baby! LOL I don't know if it my engineer background but I will have to learn that there's is no "by the book" and to be ok with that! Thanks- for this!

  14. I love that the author compared that feeling of just letting go regarding childbirth with the letting go regarding parenting styles. It's so similar! We read and read, we decide what's best, and then if it doesn't work out… what then? What is quitting vs. letting the inevitable happen? And is "quitting" even a bad thing when it comes down to it? I'm not sure when we all got the idea that having and raising babies has to be so hard and self-sacrificing – even I'm guilty of thinking about it that way.

    I guess, in the end, happy babies matter most. :)

    5 agree
  15. High Five!!!
    I am soooooo sick of the guilt tripping "holier than thou" "ours is the only true way and everything else is child abuse" attitudes that are subtle but powerful in the way that "natural" "positive" "attachment" parenting books/blogs/sites/facebook pages present their messages. So good for you for expressing what so many of us feel – that we do not deserve to be judged a failure for listening to our children's needs because not all children and not all families fit the model that is pushed by these approaches. Its so hard to block it out and not feel like you are somehow a bad mother because you don't do it they way they say… but so many of the approaches and instructions also really only suit middle class wealthy non-working mother couples… which leaves the rest of us out in the cold.

    28 agree
  16. My husband's first day back to work after our daughter was born (she was about two weeks old) was a fantastic one. I woke up to make him breakfast, saw him off, nursed the baby, and got the entire house clean between nursings. The second day made me look at the first day and think "wtf was I thinking?" In the weeks that followed, I "failed" at breast feeding (my anatomy simply didn't keep up with the demand) and sobbingly sent my husband to buy formula at 3AM because I was pretty sure she was starving. I managed to pump a full half ounce once – most I'd ever manage. I felt like the worlds biggest asshole. When we transitioned her to her own room, I felt like I was giving up the possible connections we might have. When I started working a great job (with typical 13 Hour days) so my husband could stay at home full time, I felt like I was severing something between my daughter and myself. But she loves me. I'm all hers before work, when I get home (thanks to a carefully planned nap schedule on my husbands part), and on the weekends. Things may change as she ages, and so may my choice of employers, but for right now things, though not perfect by many standards, are fantastic.

    It always helps to hear stories like yours, though. It lets me know I'm not delusional. Thank you!

    7 agree
  17. HOLY CRAP. Our experiences are almost identical. (Care at a birth center, ended up birthing at the hospital – with an epidural – check. Breastfeeding idealisim, and the bloody, tube-aided, super-frustrating reality – check. Co-sleeping suckitude – check. Babywearing dreams foiled by a baby who hated being worn – check. ) The only difference is that it took me NINE MONTHS of misery before I started letting go, starting with letting the baby sleep in a crib.

    4 agree
  18. While I do not have children of my own, I am a firm believer of doing 'whatever works.' Whatever keeps you sane, the baby happy and healthy, and the roof on the house up. For some people this is attachment parenting, for others it is not.

    We are in the process of adopting a child and I am not doing that much research into the nuts and bolts of taking care of a baby outside of keep him/her alive. From watching family and friends have children and each of them using different styles, I learned that each child will be different and you got to be willing to be flexible to work with the kid. At the end of the day the child will grow up just fine and any issues the kid does have when they are older won't be because you didn't co-sleep with him/her or use a Moby wrap.

    5 agree
    • THIS THIS THIS!! Thank you 😀 Congrats on knowing it pre-baby. It'll save you so much stress and I definitly did not go about things that way haha

      1 agrees
  19. I read this yesterday but didn't have time to comment. It sounds like others have already said what I was going to say. AP really comes down to listening to your child's cues and following their lead to help shape them. Not every child WILL like the same thing. And, honestly, nobody can live and die by the book(s). Parenting won't ever be that simple. All we can do is the best we can to provide for our children and show them we love them. And the fun will start all over again if you decide to have more children, because they can be completely different and YOU can be completely different as well. For example.. I couldn't pump worth crap with my daughter, but this time around, with my son, I am able to pump a decent amount and even have a glee inducing little stash of milk in the freezer. You never know how it'll go.

    1 agrees
  20. This is so close to my experience that I could have written this myself (except the balanced diet part – my 2year- old still won't eat meat- and I did everything "right" by introducing him to a variety of food early on). I tortured myself believing I was doing something wrong until I realized that listening to my baby and not the books was the right thing to do.

    1 agrees
    • You weren't asking for advice, so pardon me for offering it, but in my experience a lot of toddlers have trouble chewing meat, even if it's finely minced, and don't like it for that reason. I think that's why a lot of kids get stuck on processed meats like hot dogs and chicken nuggets. Meat muffins (think meatloaf in a mini muffin pan) or mini meatballs are sometimes a big hit with toddlers. Other protein options: organic nitrate-free deli meats (turkey, ham, beef, etc), tuna salad, egg salad, and tender/light fish.

      2 agree
  21. I was a firm believer in many things before I found out I was pregnant with twins. There goes my natural birth center experience. However the everyone at the hospital was great, my babies were born healthy and my c-section and recovery went smoothly and I'm very happy with the experience. My twins didn't like the Moby either, they wanted to look around! and after a few weeks would wiggle out of their swaddling (or cry if it was the velcro type). The hardest thing was the failure of breastfeeding. It was hard at first but I grew to enjoy it but sadly I never made enough so they've mostly been formula fed. My babies now pretty much "sleep through the night" (bassinets in our bedroom) and have since about three months. (that is sleeping a 5+ hour stretch that has grown over time).

    3 agree
  22. this is so me! I have such an easy baby (6 months now) who will sleep anywhere, do anything, is reaching milestones, out going, friendly, loves me but loves her dad and her grandparents and aunts and uncles, who just wants to get on with things! But i really want to co-sleep and full time bf and carry her etc. It took my husband to make me realise i was being selfish by trying to make her fit into that mold. I should just be happy-dancing that my 6 month old sleeps through the night in another room and is happy to play on her own and be passed around at parties!

    7 agree
  23. I think a pitfall of attachment parenting is it can attract people who are already tuned in, loving, compassionate parents and cause them to doubt their own judgement and martyr themselves in an attempt to take it that little bit further. If you're at all self-doubting (and what new parent isn't) you can really distort some of the recommendations into all or nothing scenarios (I still sometimes feel as if I'm "neglecting" my daughter if I don't focus on her pretty much 100% when we're together, which is NOT the same as leaving her crying in another room, just as an example. What I'm wondering is, is "AP" sometimes an invitation to already conscientious parents to question themselves and their parenting and launch into a bit of a guilt fest? Im still working it out now my daughter is one and I'm not even an official attachment parent, just agree with the philosophy that babies needs are important! Good for you for writing this.

    12 agree
  24. It's funny, before I had a baby I was wary of the attachment parenting lable, because media and anecdotal sources had me thinking all attachment parents were like Maggie Gyllenhall in Away We Go. I didn't want to breastfeed my kids until kindergarden, or have them in my arms for nine months straight without a break or never use a stroller.

    Now that I have a baby and actually know what attachment parenting is, I strongly identify as an attachment parent. I also failed at the Moby (though love the Ergo), my son loves his stroller, and we only half co-sleep (my son is sleeping in his crib as I type this, though whenever he cries I just bring him to bed with us for the rest of the night). For me, attachment parenting is about showering my son with love, respecting and striving to understand and meet his needs, making conscious parenting choices, and making sure my son feels safe and loved and supported so that he can go out into the world and be independent. The rest is just details.

    3 agree
  25. Thank you for this! I too am struggling to let my ideals of 'perfect' parenting go and instead do what works best for our household. Sometimes that means we make 'baby-led' decisions, sometimes that means we make 'parent-led' decisions. And both are ok because our family is an organism made of many parts. Having a healthy, loved baby contributes to the family organism. But having rested parents who each get their alone time also contributes to the family organism. It's a balance I'm striving to let myself have without the guilt in either direction.

    4 agree
  26. Wait, goat's milk, WUT? Daxle could you pretty, pretty please share your experience with this?? I would LOVE to hear more!!

    • Sure, what would you like to know? I am somewhat dairy intolerant, so I was concerned that my daughter might be too. I did some research and read that some people tolerate goat dairy better than cow, so I experimented on myself and found that it was true for me. As my daughter was nearing 12 months, I was having to pump like crazy (and reek like fenugreek) to keep up my dwindling milk supply. She wouldn't nurse directly anymore. So from 12-14 months I pumped less and less and alternated bottles of breastmilk and goat milk. I felt worried and guilty, but she took to it immediately, surprisingly because goat milk is a lot less sweet than breastmilk. She was less gassy as well, which was awesome. Later on I read about why raw milk is better than pasteurized, so we switched to raw goat milk, and later, raw cow milk. I realized that both of us tolerate raw cow dairy better than pasteurized, and it tends to be cheaper than goat stuff. We still do goat yogurt though. We stopped giving her milk at all at 3 (if I weren't compromising with dad, we would have stopped at 2). Now we do cheese and yogurt, and get protein and calcium from other foods.

      • My little one just turned one and I am burnt out on pumping all. the. time. I didn't know that you could transition them to goat's milk but your post gave me a "Hallelujah!" moment.

        Ideally what I would like to do is what you described – some breastmilk and some goat's milk. Anything to lighten the load, so to speak. It seems like there is actual goat's milk formula recommended by Dr. Sears but it sounds like you just got regular goat's milk? Did you supplement at all with a vitamin? Some of my reading is mentioning the folic acid content of goat's milk.

        I am very happy to hear that she was happy with goat's milk, and that you both made a good transition.

  27. I find all these comments saying "oh you didn't actually know what attachment parenting is" and "OP I think you're confused about attachment parenting because you did it!" to be extremely condescending, though perhaps they were meant to sound encouraging. I may be touchy about the subject because I have had a similar experience to this author and found that those who did practice attachment parenting were very quick to judge and label me lazy/selfish/a convenient parent. All the things that have been mentioned about letting your child lead you in your decisions on how to parent are just decent parenting. Not attachment parenting. Contrary to what has been said in defense of it, I think the 'things' do make the label, the methods make the label, and personally I find the label off-putting and unnecessary. It's nice to know that others have found AP unsuccessful and understand that it feels like a failure, but that doesn't mean it is.

    10 agree
    • Yes, thank you. I can't stand the label "attachment parenting" because I find it extremely smug, self-serving, and judgmental. If you're not an "attachment parent" then you're what? An unattached parent? A parent who doesn't care if their babies cry for hours, feed them soda in a bottle, and hand them off to the first babysitter they find so they can go bar hopping?

      There are a lot of encouraging things being said here, but most attachment parenting books and websites ARE about the methods and the equipment. If you don't breastfeed extensively, c0-sleep, babywear, and stay with your baby at all times, then by AP standards, you are a selfish mother who is doing it wrong.

      I reject the idea that motherhood = martyrdom, and AP seems very much about the idea that the biggest, most self-sacrificing martyr wins the game of parenting. And I think once you get off the internet and talk to a variety of women, you'll find that most of them don't slap labels onto everything they do. They're women who happen to be mothers, in the variety of permutations that entails. Listening to your baby's cues doesn't make you an "attachment parent." It makes you a person who is parenting.

      10 agree
      • I try not to judge other parents and their choices, but as a self-identified attachment parent I am feeling super judged right now. I understand it doesn't work for you, and that's cool, but just because it does for me doesn't make me smug or judgmental. I feel like people who were saying, "hey, you were doing attachment parenting by listening to your kid" were being encouraging. Even if you disagree with them, it felt like they were generally saying, "Way to listen to your kid, great job!" Whereas the people who were calling attachment parents smug, etc. were the only people who seemed judgmental on this thread. I am sorry you've had negative experiences with attachment parents, but please don't lump us all together.

        3 agree
  28. Good gravy, I hope my baby is like yours. She's due in 2 months exactly, and I'm already worrying about things like, "She can't cosleep forever — how the heck are we going to transition?" "How do we start getting her into a routine by 3 months so that day care isn't a living hell?" And doing research on it is, as you said, super confusing and frustrating and downright depressing. I'd very much like to not have to worry about any of the research and just let DoughBall tell me how to parent her.

    It doesn't help that I'm doing a home birth, and around here home birthers are also attachment parents, so everyone assumes that's the philosophy I want to follow. It isn't. I refuse to let Mom be my all-consuming identity and I'm thrilled about DoughBall going to daycare (she can make babyfriends and I can meet mommies!). I refuse to follow any parenting mindset that's focused on guilt… and everything I've found re: AP is verrrrry guilt-driven.

    Don't get me wrong — I want so badly to co-sleep and BF on demand for the first few weeks, and I'm PYCHED to spend a week in bed with my DoughBall. I already can't believe how much I love her and want to keep her close forever – and she's not even an outdoor baby yet! But I won't deny that I hope she has a personality that makes the necessary transition from co-sleeping, feeding-on-demand newborn to flexible, happy-away-from-mommy infant easy.

    3 agree
    • One thing I didn't mention in my article, that might be helpful to you, is that I was surprised how my daughter's needs kept changing. For the first 2 months she'd fall asleep by breastfeeding. Then when that didn't work, she'd fall asleep by sucking on one of our fingers (but wouldn't take a pacifier). Swaddling worked until 5 months (fairly late). Then she used a pacifier from 6 months to 2 years. We bounced her to sleep for awhile. Rocked her in the rocking chair to sleep for awhile after that. Now we just lay with her for about 10 minutes after reading a couple of books (since approx 2 y/o). An essential aspect of parenting my daughter has been learning to recognize when something isn't working for either her or us, and then experimenting with different solutions until something does work. And sometimes the new thing takes a period of adjustment for one or both parties. Sometimes you have to let yourself grieve a little. IMO, as long as changes are made with love and kindness, there's no lasting harm. I think your self awareness and flexibility will be excellent assets in your coming parenting journey.

      4 agree
  29. Thank you so much for this article. I had these grandiose plans – all natural birth! Breastfeeding! Cloth Diapers! Huzzah!

    Well, 24 hours of contractions 3 minutes apart and I got the epidural (she was born 12 hours after that!). Breastfeeding was so painful that I didn't even want to hold her for fear of her grazing my poor, bloody nipples. Also, in less than than 3 weeks we've dealt with mastitis AND thrush. I'm ready to just strictly formula feed her at this point, even though I'm pumping around the clock. I can't keep up with laundry (plus she sleeps through the night, and I don't want to wake her every hour to change wet diapers), so she's in disposable diapers.

    I was crying every. single. day because I felt like a failure. At 3 this morning I made an emergency run to the store to get disposable diapers and had an epiphany. This infant stage? It's a "run out the clock" situation. Once we get through this I'll have a kid with a personality, who is (hopefully) healthy and happy. These frustrating infant days will pass, and the only important thing is that she's being fed, changed, and loved. It doesn't matter if I failed at breastfeeding. She's still getting some breast milk, but the important thing is that she's getting food. Cloth diapers? We can still go back to them once I'm in a better rhythm. The epidural? It happened. And it's ok.

    I happened to hear Amy Grant's "Takes a little time" this morning while I was wandering around in a new mommy haze. The lyric "It takes a little time sometimes, to get your feet back on the ground…" really hit home for me. Even if I'm not the picture perfect crunchy mama I envisioned, everything is going to be ok.

    5 agree
  30. When my son was born I started co-sleeping just to make nursing easier, and held him all the time just because he'd cry if he wasn't held. I didn't know what attachment parenting was until he was a few months old, then I realized I'd been doing it. Now with my daughter, who is 5 weeks old, things are completely different and it's been nice albeit odd. She sleeps better on her own and sleeps longer than he ever did. She loves swinging in her swing instead of the constant holding my son wanted. All babies are different. There's really no right way to do things. Why is it no matter how many times we hear that we feel guilty or feel like we're parenting wrong?

    1 agrees
  31. My son and I are JUST like that! We both enjoy sleeping alone and he's been sleeping through the night since he was 2 weeks old (he is 3 now). Neither of us love to cuddle for too long and breastfeeding wasn't an option. He's lactose intolerant and I have personal space issues. Attachment parenting would have been a NIGHTMARE. Especially since my mother recalls me being the exact same way as a baby. It's like we were made for each other :)

    I personally think you can do all the research in the world, but no one has ever had anyone like your baby before, so you have to do what feels right for the two of you! I love this article! Good job, Momma!

    1 agrees

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