What is Attachment Parenting?

Attachment parenting is a parenting philosophy that has gained the attention of new parents with vocal celebrity advocates including Mayim Bialik (actress from Big Bang Theory) and Alanis Morissette (solo singer Jagged Little Pill). What is the philosophy behind this style?

Dr. William Sears is the pediatrician who came up with the phrase “attachment parenting” based on the developmental psychology theory in which the child needs to form a secure attachment with the parent during the critical period of six months to two or three years. This period is when babies exhibit signs of separation anxiety. When children feel neglected or insecure, it can lead to a variety of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, or eating disorders. The purpose of attachment parenting is to increase the child’s development of secure attachment through the eight principles that increase a parent’s sensitivity to their infants needs.

Attachment Parenting

The Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting, as identified by Attachment Parenting International, are:

  1. Preparing for pregnancy, birth, and parenting

  2. Breastfeeding is feeding with love and respect

  3. Respond with sensitivity as expressions of emotions (positive and negative) are efforts at communication

  4. Use nurturing touch such as skin-to-skin touching and baby-wearing

  5. Engage in nighttime parenting such as co-sleeping arrangements

  6. Provide constant, loving care

  7. Practice positive discipline with techniques including distract, redirect, and guiding.

  8. Strive for balance in personal and family life, such as a support network and a healthy lifestyle

Parents have interpreted these principles in different ways, with some more extreme methods under scrutiny in mainstream society. Criticisms include concerns with co-sleeping and SIDS as well as a lack of conclusive research that the attachment parenting is better than other methods including traditional parenting practices.

Mimi Rothschild is a veteran homeschooling mother of 8, writer of a series of books called Cyberspace for Kids, and passionate advocate for children and education that is truly worthy of them. In 2001, Mimi and her late husband founded Learning By Grace, a leading provider of online Christian homeschooling Academies.