Guess what. I sleep-trained my infant. I am sure it will probably shock and offend many attachment parenting advocates that I chose baby sleep training.
I'm sure this will probably shock and offend many attachment parenting advocates, but with all the hype about co-sleeping and baby wearing out there, I think it's important to share my story about how attachment parenting nearly ruined my life.
Sure, after 6 years or so, I've restored my sanity (more or less) and my back has recovered after extensive rehabilitation, but I blame this “peaceful” parenting style for stealing years of my life via sleep deprivation and pain as well as imprinting me with an unattainable expectation that a good parent must be an ‘attached' parent. I also think the AP community deserves a smack on the wrist for unabashedly treating any other style of parenting with scorn.
Here's how attachment parenting led us astray…
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was clueless. My husband and I hadn't spent much time around kids since we were youngsters ourselves. As a holistic health practitioner, I knew I wanted to go the natural route in terms of birth, but that was the extent of my plan.
I did what any freaked-out newbie parent would do, and I began to research – I read Dr. Sears, chatted with midwives, poured over the internet, and generally immersed myself in learning the best ways to parent a newborn.
Not surprisingly, attachment parenting (AP) was the clear winner among the conscious-minded, crunchy-leaning parents and experts.
Attachment parenting, a term coined by William Sears, is a style interacting with babies that promotes development of connection, trust, and confidence between caregiver and child via skin to skin contact, breastfeeding, co-sleeping and baby wearing.
AP babies are said to have better behavior, development, and learning skills.
This all sounded perfectly reasonable and quite wonderful.
My son was born at home on a bright December day. My husband and I were in awe (you can read his story here). It was completely instinctual to want to be skin to skin with a newborn baby – our midwives had my husband remove his t-shirt to hold our son, and he fell quickly and deeply in love.
It also made perfect sense to sleep with our baby. We had weighed the pros and cons of co-sleeping, and were confident that we would not suffocate him.
I was particularly lured by the prospect of more sleep, and indeed, inhabiting the same bed with a small human that nurses every two hours ensured that I could at least get a full night of strung-together naps. After a few weeks, when we figured out side-lying nursing, I enjoyed full nights of sleep, only interrupted by the occasional roll-over-switch-sides.
As soon as I was cleared for exercise, I began wrapping the baby into my mai-tai carrier and marching on a mountain hike that was a few minutes walk from our home. While my friend's baby mostly slept through these hikes, my baby mostly screamed (despite trying different carriers, feeding schedules, bouncing, singing, etc).
Despite this, I was happy to get out of the house, and the AP-encouraged baby wearing made these outings possible. As time passed, however, my baby kept growing and growing.
By 4 months, he was beyond the 100th percentile in height and weight. My back began to ache, and I developed sciatica – a condition that makes sitting, standing, and walking excruciating. Over the next few years, my back “went out” three times, and I had to lay horizontal for nearly a week each time to coax my muscles out of spasm.
At around 6 months of age, my son began nursing non-stop throughout the night. No de-latching, just constant suck-suck-suck. I began to feel exhausted and dizzy from dehydration upon waking.
As part of our attachment parenting plan, my son was always nursed to sleep. If you've ever had the experience of having a milky baby snoozing at your breast, you know it's a precious thing. BUT the downside was that my baby would not go to sleep without nursing.
I would lay in bed with him for up to 45 minutes, and when he finally dosed off, I would try to gently detach him and tip-toe out the room. Most of the time, he would be awakened by my movement, and require my assistance to get back to sleep.
Needless to say, I spent hours most evenings trying to get my sweet boy to settle, leaving very little time for my husband and I to connect.
Nap time was a downward spiral, and I spent every afternoon for months in a rocking chair with my baby on my chest. Any attempt to “transfer” him to his bed resulted in the permanent end of nap time.
I grew more and more drained and emotionally frazzled. I looked forward to daily scheduled visits from friends, so I could hand off the baby to take a shower. My fatigue began to affect my appetite and I was washed with waves of nausea throughout the day.
By the time my son was one, he had all but completely rejected napping – leaving him (and me) exhausted and cranky most of the day.
Desperate for a solution, we finally decided that sleep training was the only way forward.
Now, I DO NOT recommend sleep training a one year old if you can avoid it (instead introduce a schedule no later than four months in most cases). Cry It Out is the stuff that makes skin crawl for attachment parenting advocates, and it is simply not pleasant for anyone.
On the first two nights of sleep training, I nursed my son on the sofa, and then we put him into his bed where he proceeded to scream for 30 minutes before he fell fast asleep. On the third day, he cried for only 10 minutes. From the fourth day forward, he almost always went to sleep without fussing.
After this, my son still nursed once per night until we did a similar screaming-in-the-middle-of-the-night intervention about 6 months later.
Nap time continued to be a struggle until he finally gave them up completely at the age of 2. Sleep schedules awry, our days often began at 4am (!) – an hour that both the sun and I never considered to be morning.
As for nursing, I deeply enjoyed the bonding and nurturing time until about 18 months, but struggling with sleep deprivation, I didn't have the energy or heart to wean. The last 4 months of nursing a feeling of resentment began to mount.
Not only had attachment parenting led me down a path to crazed sleep deprivation and chronic back pain, but I spend most of those first two years feeling guilty about my failures as a mother. After all, AP babies enjoy better behavior, development, and learning skills – but what happens when Attachment Parenting methods are a disaster?
Finally weaned and sleeping through the night, it wasn't until years later that he stopped screaming upon waking and frequently waking in the middle of the night needing to be consoled for no apparent reason. While only my opinion, I believe that his sleep patterns and feeling of “attachment” could have been greatly improved with earlier intervention sleep training.
When it came time for baby #2, I was determined to find a way of early parenting that was a better fit for me and my family.
My daughter (you can read her home birth story here) had a beautiful birth, lots of skin-to-skin time and was breastfed until 16 months – 6 months shy of when I weaned my son. While she still got plenty of snuggles and kisses, I carried her only minimally, and otherwise allowed her to explore from the floor whenever possible.
Without baby wearing or extended nursing, my back was pain-free and I never grew to resent nursing, but our biggest triumph with our hybrid-AP baby was sleep.
Using the sleep training plan laid out in Gina Ford's The Contented Little Baby Book (and ignoring her feeding advice), we began to gently guide my daughter to a schedule as soon as she regained her birth weight.
Admittedly, in the beginning I missed staying in my own bed through endless nights of nursing. But by only nine weeks, my daughter had begun to sleep from 10pm until 7am, and naps nearly always occurred like clockwork. At bed times my Contented Little Baby would lay down awake and drift off to sleep with a smile.
There was essentially NO crying involved with this process unless she had a dirty diaper. Occasionally she would make squeaky sounds, but never in distress. Now as a two and a half year old, she often sings herself to sleep.
Our entire family was rested and content. My daughter was good tempered, emotionally engaged, and physically thriving. Months and months of sleep deprivation and emotional exhaustion – circumvented. And absolutely no harm done.
Is attachment parenting evil?
In my clinical practice, week after week bleary-eyed parents (usually with babies 6 months or older) stagger into my office looking for advice about getting more sleep. These parents are faced with the choice to wait it out (usually until around 3 years of age) or the dreaded “cry it out” method.
It's my opinion that for most parents, the early days of parenthood would be much easier if healthy sleep patterns are introduced at a younger age.
Other moms and dads come in with chronic pain caused by baby wearing or awkward positions while co-sleeping. Parents need to know that they should not be suffering at the price of practicing attachment parenting.
Don't get me wrong, the message here is not that one way is better than the other, but in fact, the opposite.
Each baby has a unique temperament, and every child will respond differently to different methods. There is not one right way to parent a child. As such, each family needs to find the best methods that work for them. Hopefully this will include some attachment parenting principles such as skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding, but co-sleeping vs. sleep training as well as baby wearing are simply personal choice.
Let's help new parents understand their choices. What was your experience with your baby?
What parts of attachment parenting worked for you? Where did attachment parenting fail you?
Did you co-sleep, sleep train, or both?
Did you wear your baby? How long?
If you want more info on sleep, check out this post on co-sleeping vs. sleep training.
If you found this post interesting or helpful, please share it on Facebook, Pinterest, or your other favorite social media!
I think you totally missed the boat on what AP is about. Yes many people confuse it with the super-intense co-sleeping and baby-wearing style, myself included. But its really about having a connection to your kids and using that connection to guide them as they learn how to navigate life. I suggest all parents skip Sears and read Neufeld and Kohn. They get to the heart of the issue. Also, the one thing that jumps out at me about your story is that you NEVER mention individual differences in your children’s temperament. From talking with other mamas, AP and not, I have gotten the sense that temperament is more important than anything when it comes to those early years.
I have begun to dislike the label “attachment parenting” because it sets some people up for problems like the author describes above. To me, at its heart instinctive/continuum/whatever you wish to call it parenting is about listening to your heart, your own wisdom – you know your baby best, yourself and your family best etc.
I did practice “attachment parenting” with my 6 kids and though they all coslept and nursed through the night, I didn’t feel sleep deprived except during illness when I actually had to get up to help an older sick child. For me, AP was an extremely helpful paradigm that allowed me to listen to my baby and not to others.
I’m 37 and raising 7 kids, and I do not regret any time spent holding a napping infant. AP style parenting saved my sanity with my first who was a classic “high need” baby (in retrospect he probably had reflux and would have benefited from probiotics. You know better you do better.).
I believe that people who do not read parenting books, traditional cultures etc naturally gravitate towards frequent suckling, lots of in arms carrying, and co-sleeping. It’s something people all over the world practice when some authority figure isn’t telling them how to parent.
And yes, I agree that temperament is EVERYTHING. I know a mom of 11 who sleep trained all her kids, but it simply did not work with her son, who at 2 is still not sleeping through the night.
I am glad it works for you. I think it depends on what type of sleeper the parents are as well. My sister does complete AP style but she sleeps pretty heavily and her DH sleeps like a rock. If I was in those conditions we would night parent differently.
You’ve actually got me there. I did, indeed, assume she’d given birth to all 7. If Carrie did in fact adopt some or all of her 7 children, hats off to the lady for that act. I certainly did not mean to imply that adoptive parents are not legitimate parents, in case anyone else might have leaped to such an asinine conclusion from what I said. Thanks, A-Mother-Of-5.
Hi Gloria – Thanks for sharing! I love the idea of AP being more about connection than intensive co-sleeping and baby wearing. I guess that’s part of why I wrote this post. The connection of AP is beautiful, and parents should be shown various ways to achieve that. I will definitely check out the authors you recommend.
As for temperament, I mentioned this briefly at the very end, and I do think it is a huge factor. But even so, I think my first child with the more “expressive” temperament would have benefited from more structure early on. Just my theory though. 🙂
Anastasia Cherul says
A lot of comments and I’m not sure it has beenmentioned before but your sciatica is not from babywearing and co-sleeping. It’s some kind of imbalance in bone position and possibly nutritional deficiency. I would try to up my intake of cod liver oil, ghee or butter oil and overall better focus on nutrition and visit a chiropractor.
I have been babywearing and co-sleeping on the floor (I live in South Korea) with no mattress whatsoever for at least 4 years now and I don’t get sciatica pain.
I agree that the point of attachment parenting was missed. You do what is best for your family so that everyone is happy and gets a good night’s sleep and you have a close bond with your children. With my first I co-slept out of necessity… he was (and still is) a very horrible sleeper, but he gets all of this from me… I have constantly battled with sleep problems since I was born. My second, however, does not like to be touched when she is falling asleep. I nurse her and lay her down… the first time I kept checking on her because I was worried and I didn’t want her to have to cry it out (haha!) If I pick her up she screams, but when I lay her down she coos until asleep. Every baby (and family) is so different. I like the quote “Attachment Parenting is not a ‘style’ of parenting, but rather a philosophy on bringing up your children with love.” Sounds like attachment parenting did not fail you, you got so much out of it you didn’t even realize!
Completely agree that the author has totally misunderstood the meaning of attachment parenting. It doesn’t mean always being attached to your baby. Attachment parenting is about the importance of psychological attachment (look up Bowlby and Attachment Theory) in the mother infant relationship, primarily. Sleep training at best endangers that attachment, at worst actually causes neurological damage. A child learns that their needs are not going to be met because an adult uses a clock to determine whether those needs are valid or not. Attachment parenting, and gentle discipline do not mean permissiveness. They don’t mean never putting your baby down or allowing him or her to explore. They mean that if a child has a need, an adult responds to it. There’s nothing wrong, and everything right, with doing that. There are a myriad of reasons why babies and toddlers have trouble at night sleeping – and food intolerances can be part of that, as well as other kinds of pain. Dr Sears talks about burn out, and advises against how to avoid it. He does not advocate mothers completely neglecting themselves for the sake of parenting their children.
I have 5 (nearly 6) children. Actually my ability and willingness to attachment parent has increased and improved with time. I have fed all my babies to sleep until they stopped going to sleep that way. That age has varied with each child. We have never had to leave a child to cry or “train” them to sleep. I have had some bad sleepers but withdrawing comfort has never been the solution to helping them to sleep. The way I breastfeed, or settle babies, has nothing to do with their sleep patterns. Some of it is their sleep personality. I will continue to feed as needed, settle instead of expect them to self settle, and I less and less use the word “attachment” unless I am actually talking about Bowlby’s attachment theory, because as this article shows, it is widely misunderstood.
Agreed. This author seems to really not understand the difference between emotional and psychological attachment, and physical attachment. You have to be responsive, and not let a baby “cry it out,” but it doesn’t mean you give them everything they want either, and that you must sleep in constant physical contact. How did it get this convoluted? Being responsive and consistent is the key, not being “skin to skin” all the time at 1 year old.
It sounds like you and some I there’s on here haven’t had an extremely fussy baby. I mean there are no words to describe the intensity and demand babies like her son are. I had my first daughter, who was exactly like her son. When the nipple fell out of her mouth while sleeping, she went ballistic. Sleep training her at 6 months saved my marriage, sanity & made me a safer parent. Also, AP parents tell each other & everyone who’s different from them that you are damaging & permanently harming your child if they cry. That’s a constant thing I hear when on FB AP groups. I don’t think the author is missing what AP is…. I think she’s only speaking about the parts that didn’t work for her family. Because this isn’t a novel on AP style, it’s an article on a part of AP that wasn’t right for her. And she’s right, AP advocates use shame & guilt to insist that letting a baby cry for any amount of time, is damaging. There fore you are a failure as a parent. And, they’re only little for such a short period of time, it’s worth it to lose a little sleep. This comes from parents that have never suffered a child with this temperament. Like my daughter who’d wake every 30-45 min day and night screaming her brains out non stop. Even while cuddled to me, every time the nipple left her mouth. At times, I wasn’t a safe driver from this lack of sleep. I love AP style, but I’d would be nice if the enthusiasts would cut out the guilt.
Alexa Craig says
Totally agree, Brooke.
Actually, I understand perfectly well. My son is EXTREMELY high needs. We were able to stop the all night nursing sessions ( I got fed up at 18 months) without my ever leaving him alone to CIO. Did he cry? Yes, but I comforted him while he did. In three nights he didn’t need to nurse all night. My husband, and myself are both insomniacs, we both slept FANTASTIC after being sleep trained, then around age 6 we both stopped sleeping. So didn’t really work for us.
And my point would be, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. Anybody who follows any ‘type’ of parenting to the tee have doomed themselves to failure. In “Attachment Parenting” if co-sleeping and all-night nursing are making you lose sleep and stress, you can cut back night nurses. We did, and because he is High Needs, so it took a few nights. If babywearing is making your kid scream and your back hurt, buy a damn stroller! I have three strollers and had two carriers. If you co-sleep with one kid and the next one hates it, put the baby in the crib is that is were the baby prefers.
Brooke, so refreshing to read your comments. Thank you 🙂 It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach.
Well said, Brooke!!!!
I tend to run perfectionist… I stay at home with my kids and my life revolves around them. I gladly home school them just because that is what felt natural to me, not because i think it’s the ”right way” and I absolutely do not judge regularly schooled kids/parents at all. Still, I judged myself as not being good enough because ALL THREE are, what you’d call ”extra bright”…in other words difficult, willful and driving you crazy thinking you aren’t good enough or doing enough – mostly because they bicker and fight all day to beat the band and it makes me wonder where i went wrong lol
That said, I thought, well maybe I’m doing something wrong and I should try AP (even though as I look back i’m not sure how much MORE attached I could be, although there was not one nerve cell in me that could handle co-sleeping or constant baby wearing, so we did not do that stuff – all the other aspects of a good mother/child bond were there and i’m proud of that and now feel it was more than good enough. I nursed and laid them down to sleep in their crib and they always seemed perfectly fine with that and we all got sleep at night. shame on me, i know, right. lol
This would move into “peaceful parenting” as they got preschool age, as they suggest never punishing but only explaining them through every one of their 900,000 dialy conflicts. I. thought. I. was. going .to. die. lol I lost my sense of humor, had ZERO time to myself and didn’t know you- know- what from a hole in the ground by the end of the day. And the guilt and self shaming was at a maximum. I swear, the ones who promote the guilt ridden, parent shaming bend on this approach must be seriously damaged people from a really traumatic childhood and horrendously guilty themselves and find some kind of ” healing ” by doing absolutely nothing but emotionally coddling their kids every second of the day.. So thank you for your SANE words of wisdom here. High energy kids are high energy kids. I do a damn good job and since we all feel safe, secure and loved -even though there are plenty of kid and mommy tantrums through the week, that it’s good enough and I need to keep telling myself that everything will be fine.
My daughter is high needs and she was just like your daughter … waking every 30-45 minutes and screaming I’d the nipple would leave her mouth.. also screaming if she wasn’t being held. I did attachment parenting , I’m not gonna say it’s easy because it’s not , even Sears data AP is more demanding and exhausting. It is , but I don’t care, I helm my daughter till she was 14 months constantly, there just came a time we’re she was ready to be left in the floor .. I waited for HER to be ready. She slept all her naps on me taches on . She is 2 and she still does . Little by little after about a year and a half she would sleep for longer periods of time . When SHE became ready. I live AP, I don’t mind to give all of my time to my daughter. Now that she is 2.5 my husband and I have started to have date nights. I didn’t expect to have the same freedom and live style as before I had children.A lot of parents do, anda Lot of parents make their baby adapt to their life style instead of ya adapting to theirs. It’s basically 3 -4 years which you have to be constantly holding them and nursing them. You know… I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. It’s my little girl , she will never be this little again. I am always there for her and never ever ever would let her cry. And I don’t find it a sacrifice it is how it is and I enjoy it. In my opinion people are to soft there are not stuff. Having a baby is hard work! Moms should toughen up and stop complaining about how much their baby needs them.
Woah, woah, woah. There’s a whole lot of condescension in these comments. If AP was simply being responsive to a baby’s needs, it would be called… parenting. Just parenting. AP isn’t a special snowflake philosophy in that sense. The author (her name is Emily, whose blog you’re commenting on) clearly did her due dilligence, and guess what? AP methods — which DO NOT include “crying it out” — didn’t work for her and her kids.
Ayuh. Sometimes you need to put the books down and do what you need to.
EXACTLY. AP does not have the patent to “being in tune with your child’s needs.” That is ridiculous.
“To me, at its heart instinctive/continuum/whatever you wish to call it parenting is about listening to your heart, your own wisdom – you know your baby best, yourself and your family best etc”
This just sounds like good parenting in general. And actually, one could argue that if you follow a particular method, such as AP, you are prioritizing the method over your baby by trying to get your baby to conform to the principles of that method. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that (I worked hard to get my baby to conform to a sleep schedule recommended by a book, and it was not without success), but let’s cut the “AP is simply about being in tune with your baby and doing what’s best for her” crap. It’s actually condescending to say that because it implies that parents who don’t follow AP are not in tune with their babies. I’m pretty sure any mother would find that really offensive. It actually makes the hair on this momma-bear’s back bristle.
AP wouldn’t be called “Attachment” Parenting if it didn’t have something to do with prioritizing the exceptionally close physical proximity of mother and child, expressed through daily or exclusive practice of babywearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, primary caregiving etc. If it doesn’t prioritize those things, then there’s no point in calling it “Attachment.” Call it something else.
Great article, thanks for sharing your experience.
Emily R says
Okay, from reading these comments, it doesn’t seem like she misunderstood at all! Just this comment “Sleep training at best endangers that attachment, at worst actually causes neurological damage. A child learns that their needs are not going to be met because an adult uses a clock to determine whether those needs are valid or not.” totally turns on the pressure and mommy guilt. I have been severely sleep deprived now for almost 3 years. Because of pregnancy, 1st baby was a horrible sleeper and now baby no. 2 is 3 months. I am desperate. I am in a really bad way. I need intervention NOW and am going to see a therapist and probably take some kind of medication. (My worst nightmare, y’all. I never go to the doctor, I am totally against drugs in general. But this experience is really humbling me.) All that to say–I am agonizing over what to do with my baby right now. I’ve got to get sleep. And comments like that don’t help. I think a depressed, psychotic mother is worse for her children than even crying it out.
Emily R, I so feel for you. I appreciate the way you wrote that your painful, difficult “experience is really humbling” you. I am 39 with my first baby and have never worked harder in my life and have never been in more pain in my life. I was nearly crippled with pain (not an exaggeration) from adhering to all the physical AP recommendations (the emotional piece has been beautiful). Like you, I have been humbled and nearly came to the same place with going to a doctor. I have been broken twice and completely down to my last ounce of strength. We are actually now moving to live with my husband’s parents because I am not doing this alone anymore. It is too much- and I am one of the hardest, productive, creative workers I know. For me, the AP I read about from Dr. Sears has meant excruciating pain, psychological pressure and feelings of failure as well as nurturing, sweetness and provision. I agonized over what to do with getting sleep as well (co-slept with a baby who suckled all night long on my nipple for six months straight and who wouldn’t nap without my nipple) until I was completely broken. In total anguish and desperation I listened to my daughter’s pediatrician, who said my daughter needed better, deeper sleep, and tried to sleep train her. Did not work. Won’t even talk about those three days of hell. By GOD’S GRACE my daughter slept alone in a crib for 12 hours straight (never before!!!!) on Christmas night last year. Not kidding. She has ever since. At the time I would do a “dream feed” at 11 before I went to bed to ensure she would make it all night and then ended that in two or three months. You haven’t asked me to, but I am praying for you, that God will give you clarity and peace with the timing and way to get relief (even if that comes in part in the form of a doctor and a med). I know your hurt and my heart is hurting for you. I am still physically and emotionally recovering and naps in the crib have been more difficult (I nurse her to sleep for naps and at night, but if she wakes at night she falls to sleep within seconds- not so during the day). My daughter’s now 11 months old and I plan on doing things very differently with any future children. My eyes and mind are more open to parenting styles other than the physical demands of Dr. Sear’s AP.
Hi Emily R
I don’t like to label my parenting but I cosleep, breastfeed full term, baby wear.
After my first was born I had severe sleep deprivation problems. Long story short it was devastating. My mental health suffered in those first few weeks. I had n’t taken medication for a long time. I had previous issues with sleep deprivation but hadn’t fully understood that it might just be because i am a highly sensitive person and i would struggle more than most when adrenalin starts to run through my body. I had been eating only organic for years and i was resistant to taking meds but after the first 8 days my psychologist of many years convinced me that i needed to.
I was upset that i didn’t receive enough family support etc as i knew it would have meant that i might have avoided the meds. But now, 7 years later I have a lot of perspective and experience.
The meds my psychologist recommended (and that was prescribed by my psychiatrist) is olanzapine. In large doses it is used as an anti psychotic and it is used in small doses as a sleep med. It is given to breastfeeding mothers. I use it from time to time in small doses.
I understand that the problem with normal sleep medication like temazapan is that it is short lived and addictive. So after 4 hours or so you might wake up and not be able to get to sleep.
The olanzapine keeps me asleep all night. If I take too much too late I am drowsy the next morning. As I am sensitive I take a quarter of the 5mg dose about an hour before i go to sleep. It means i can still breastfeed through the night without waking up.
About 15% of the population is highly sensitive and i think are more likely to suffer from sleep deprivation related issues.
I know that i need to take this med when i feel the adrenalin running through my body. It is usually a stressful period or a period i have a lot on my mind and i don’t have enough down time before bed to switch off. Then i will take my quarter pill (sometime half if it is a really stressful period). I might only take the half pill for a day and then quarter pills for a few days or a week. But i wouldn’t hesitate taking a quarter pill every day if that’s what it takes to save my sanity.
My psychiatrist has seen how i use it and prescribes it PRN which means i decide how to take it.
Anyway i think a lot of new parents would benefit from this medication. The fact is birth stimulates a lot of hormones and emotions and most of us don’t have enough emotional or practical support so for some of us it manifests in sleep problems. We think it is the fault of the baby or parenting philosophy. Regardless of the triggers, it is an issue that needs addressing. Many parents focus on shifting the baby’s sleep patterns whereas i think that whilst the parents want to cosleep then meds are in order.
I hope you get the right help Emily R.
I just want to add that when I take this medication in small doses I am mindful of BFing and my infants needs, it just means I am dream feeding and when bubs stops i can return to deep sleeping. I also find that when I am sleeping well and not so stressed baby sleeps better so sorting out my sleep problems helps bub sleep.
Here are some links FYI relating to my previous post:
Sleep deprivation linked to depression in new mothers
The Highly Sensitive Person
Don’t know if you have heard of her, but there is a holistic psychiatrist, named, Kelly Brogan and she has a website. She is awesome and might have some info on her site to help others. God bless.
I took Olanzapine for several months and would never recommend it to anyone. Horrible medication. There are far better alternatives, in my opinion, so if you are prescribed it, do your research and think carefully before beginning to take it.
Yeah, that comment really bothered me too. Do what YOU have to do to survive the day … and the next day. Your baby will be TOTALLY fine if you let him/her cry it out! Your sanity is much more important. I hope by now you have some help – clinical, spouse, friends – SOMETHING. My son was an absolute nightmare … he never stopped crying. In addition, I had severe post partum depression. I went home for a month to stay with my parents for extra help and by the time I returned home (to a spouse that was NO help), I decided to sleep train my son so I wouldn’t kill myself. Literally. That was my choice.
As for this blog post, THANK YOU for being honest about what baby wearing, etc. was like for you. It absolutely killed my back with both of my big babies … I felt guilty for stopping but I was totally incapable of functioning with a neck/back in pain non-stop. Ten years later I still think it has a lot to do with my frequent neck pain.
I hope women who are struggling with this stuff read the blog and skip the condescending comments!
Not sure where you got that sleep training at best endangers that attachment, at worst actually causes neurological damage. That is totally wrong. I used sleep training because I had to go back to work 6 weeks after my child was born. Who has grown up without issues. We had and have no attachment issues. I know many other moms who use sleep training, and their kids are perfectly well adjusted. I see less temper tatums in those kids then I do in my step daughter’s 4 kids and she uses attachment parenting. Two of her kids are totally out of control.
Really agree with this!
There is something to be said for common sense.
My Son is so similar to yours, I decided to raise him as I see fit which means Co-sleeping and on demand breastfeeding. I also was wearing him on a sling when he was younger. Now he is two and I try to wean him without success, he even started Kindy but he can’t be there a full day cause he can’t fall a sleep on his own for naps. The situation become worse because he is obviously seem tired and even breastfeeding often doesn’t help. He start to nibble on the breast and using his teeth and even though I disconnect him when he does and explaining to him that if he bait he won’t get breast nothing seems to work.
He constantly ask for breast and I constantly refuse until he start screaming and crying and won’t give up till he gets what he wants.
Since I was sleep deprived from the day he was born I tried every trick in the book even the cry it out method, I was really close to send him to sleep school and in the end decided against it. At some point around 18 month I gave up. if he doesn’t fall a sleep for a nap he just don’t have one. if he doesn’t fall a sleep at a time that I chose fit at night he will fall a sleep exhausted on the couch around 10.30pm.
I still nurse him, only because I failed at weaning him. That is why I strongly believe it got nothing to do to the way I chose raising him and got everything to do with his personality and I also believe that the reason you had success with your girl is because usually girls are easier to handle (there are exceptions of course), and a second child the parents are much more relaxed and confident and the child sense that. even as we speak my son scream for breast……..HELP
Well I’m a mom of ten..yes all my own …I have had all of my kids in their own cribs and naps! Well I’m here to tell you that my 3 yr old…save me! This child has never slept a full night in his own room/ crib. He never ever naos( nap? Is that a foreign land somewhere?) I’ve tried it ALL!!! I’ve gone so far to ask the dr for baby Xanax, I never saw them laugh so hard! So do tell me wth does one do? Esp when he’s pretty much keeping you n dad sleeping separately of he’s got you both outta bed??? He gets no red dye this was one suggestion, no processed crap foods, zero pops koolaid a etc no juice as so many have dyes… Milk flavored water …ok HELP PLEASE!!!
look into melatonin. your child may not produce it. A friend of mine had a son with similar behaviors and he only slept 3 hours a day until he was 6. Finally he was diagnosed with not producing enough melatonin and the moment they started giving him melatonin he was able to go to sleep. Also- Autism Spectrum Disorder seems to go hand in hand with this sleep disorder. Which is why parents of Autistic children have it so damned hard.
Hope that this late reply is finding you with a kid who now sleeps through. If not- Melatonin!
Thanks glad someone said this, think the author probably took AP to the extreme instead of listening to babies needs which is what it’s all about
I agree people act as if attachment parenting is all or nothing, or they have to do these things to have a strong bond with their child. It’s not like that. If someone cannot breastfeeding, co-sleep, etc that doesn’t mean they are not an creating a good bond with their child or parenting in a gentle way in other ways.
Some kids just don’t sleep. Mine doesn’t. She slept on my chest for the first year, we slept in a recliner to keep her upright. When flat she would throw up and choke. She woke every thirty minutes to nurse back to sleep until about fourteen months. At that time we could start laying flat. Now with food allergies mostly figured out she only wakes every two hours. It is tiring, and painful, she has always been above the 100th percentile. So at 45 pounds and 21 months I am one of those parents waiting it out. Can’t say I would do it different because I just don’t have the heart for cry it out. I stopped baby wearing early on as it just killed my back.
Have you ever considered that the reason she choked and vomited was because you spent the whole first year holding her upright so that her body never adjusted to lying on her back and also just like us babies swallow saliva and if sick mucus, but if from the very start she was never put on her back then how would she ever learn these natural bodily functions without puking and choking. Some of you parents really make parenting so much harder than it is or needs be, just by not exercising basic common sense. Surly you had to know that sitting in a chair for a year so your kid could sleep was not very smart when you could have just put her down in bed the first night. What you do in the beginning to appease your children is what you usually have to do the first 4 yrs. So to the parents who drive their new babies in the car around the neighborhood to get them to sleep ask yourself will this be ridiculous in 3 years and the answer is yes just like sitting in a chair all night holding your baby.
Reflux is a real problem for many babies. It can lead to failure to thrive. No pediatrician will tell you to put a baby who has reflux on their back more. It does not work that way. And no, this is not defensive, neither of mine had it. Disagreeing with philosphy is one thing, but being factually wrong is another. I am so sad the OP is being treated contemptuously for some merit badge-worthy parenting.
We had a reflux baby and put her in the bed on her back from day one and she was fine. When reflux began at about 8-10 weeks, our doctor prescribed baby zantac and she took some and we never had a problem again. She’s passed that stage. You can also angle the crib a bit. There are plenty of things a parent can do if their kid has reflux besides sleep with them on their chest. If you don’t want to create bad habits, don’t start them.
Oh, yes, there are plenty of things you can do for a baby with reflux, and when none of them work…you hold them on your chest. I have had four reflux babies. Meds helped one, the second had milk running out his tear duct and his nose. Despite all we did, including a consult with a pediatric GI specialist at a major university hospital (who was flumoxed and told us to wait it out). We waited it out and held him and nursed him every 40 minutes.
I get so tired of the judgmental “well, it worked for me, so let’s squeeze your kid into MY mold. It HAS to work for you too.” We all want what’s best for our kids, and while I do agree that the author here missed the point of attachment parenting–it’s not JUST co-sleeping and babywearing– I do applaud her for giving other parents “permission” to try what works for their children rather than trying to squeeze them into someone else’s well-meaning program.
It’s so nice that after crying it out for a night or two, so many of you had babies that finally gave up and started sleeping. However, after four children who did not sleep no matter what we did, I’m all for doing what works. Think 30 minutes of screeching is awful? Try three hours, a brief respite when they pass out from exhaustion, then back up screeching within 30 minutes. It is so not worth it, and no one can say we didn’t give it long enough. 2 months of screaming heads off and never learning to sleep was too much for me. We’re in the wait it out camp, but hey, whatever works for you and your family.
The bad habit I would want to avoid is giving my child a prescription drug for every problem that might interfere with my sleep.
Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook says
So, did you never put diapers on your baby, to avoid teaching him that it’s okay to use diapers instead of the toilet? Did you insist that your baby walk on her own right away, because you didn’t want to be carrying her everywhere when she was 4? Come on. Newborns have different needs than 4-year-olds, or even 4-month-olds. Parents need to adapt as their children develop.
I’m sure there are some healthy, gentle alternatives to holding the baby upright all night–as later commenters mentioned–and a parent in this situation needs to hear about those options, not be attacked as “ridiculous”. I’m sure that RJ *did* try laying down the baby, again and again, and had good reasons for concluding that it wasn’t working. A young baby who can’t roll over is quite likely to suffocate and die if left lying down when she is choking and vomiting; it isn’t a situation in which you can just leave her to “make her learn”.
Words spoken by someone who clearly has never raised a ‘fussy’ baby, for example, a baby with bad reflux
This post made me roll my eyes and also just shake my head
My previous response was a reply to ‘Shamarra’, not the author of this article 🙂
I think u need to do a little research before bashing people. My daughter is almost 1 and still has to sleep in A upright position. Not because I prefer it that way. It is because she has severe acid reflux and has to take medicine everyday for it and spent almost 2 months in the hopital. Because every time she would drink she would throw up and choke and turn blue and quit breathing. I dont know who you think u are bashing RJ because he had to sleep sitting up holding his little one cuz they would choke if not. I would assume you’ve never ha dc a baby with severe reflux.
I would assume you’ve never had a baby with severe reflux. Or watched your own child choke and turn blue every time they weren’t elevated. I agree with the post that said disagreeing with parenting styles is one thing but it its a completely different thing when you don’t have your facts straight. People like you need to keep off message boards with you can’t produce the right facts.
Or offer to help in a meaningful way-like come over to my house and see what my reality is and then help me deal with it. That should be a caveat attached to “advice” giving. You give unwanted “advice”-you be prepared to help deal with the problem.
Catherine Pinder says
I love people who comment on things when they obviously have no medical or scientific knowledge… saying things like ‘ if u dont lie them on their back at night to sleep they wont learn to swallow! ‘ WFT! People who are selfrighteous about sleep training and being in charge as a parent have obviously had a child with a more easy temperament. A more high need child in my experience will not be moulded! My child was irratic from day one no matter what I did or didnt do. He had colic and in highnsight reflux too. After months of nights playing russian roulette, screaming for hours like he was having his fingernails pulled out. Two trips to A and E convinced there was something seriously wrong. Countless times trying to explain to Drs how horrendous it is, while they just look at u like u are a hyperchondriac! Coupled with horrendous sleep patterns and a tendency to vomit after very little crying.
By nature and not choice I have found myself to be more of an attatched parent, whatever that means. I have done what seems to have worked for my son.isnt that what we all do. One thing I have learned is there are no magic answers in a book, otherwise why are there so many out there claiming to have the solution. No health professional can tell u what is right or wrong. We are a individuals and that goes for your children too. Now has it been easy? …..not always no. But I can only conclude that comes with the territory. They dont often do what u want or expect them too…. but isnt that a bit unrealistic to expect, especially of a 20 month old in my case. He hasnt honed the complex art of manipulation yet, as some would have u believe. He just knows what he wants and isnt afraid to communicate it. No one has all the answers and as parents we are all learning every day!
Re: babywearing and back problems, I recommend Katy Bowman’s site, Aligned and Well. I am not affiliated with her in any way other than being a fan! She is not an advocate of using slings but encourages parents to use their arms to hold their babies, as well as changing many of their daily habits, to avoid/cure back pain.
Her tips were enormously helpful to me during my last pregnancy and I had zero back, hip or pelvic pain when I followed her advice.
Thanks for sharing Katy’s site, Carrie! Hopefully some moms-to-be will hop over there and save themselves a lot of pain. 🙂
Sandra Mort says
I look forward to checking out her site!
As for my experiences, I think that sling and wrap wearing saved me a huge amount of back pain. I’ve got degenerative disc disease and found that a properly fitted, supportive baby carrier was easier to hold the baby than in arms, not to mention freeing up my hands for dealing with the older kids. And yes, I suppose strictly limiting in arms time could have saved me some work, but I can’t comprehend why I would want to detach from my child in that way. They spend enough time independent when they’re ready.
I also am one of those people who found cosleeping to be an easy way to get plenty of sleep. I’d be inclined to think it was the first baby’s personality, rather than your parenting, that led to the frequent wakings. I love Elizabeth Pantley’s books on sleep, if you feel the need to do a little gentle nudging, rather than books by the the emotionally abusive Ezzo and Dobson.
I completely agree with you – I put my 95th percentile daughter in slings & carriers & it completely saved me. I too have had back problems for years and never had a problem wearing her. Elizabeth Pantley has also been a resource for me – especially her book on attachment issues. I also agree with others that AP is about doing what is right for you and your child. Even Dr. Sears says this many times in his books. My daughter & I coslept till she was 3 (3.5 now) and I found that with her energetic personality and poor sleep patterns since infancy that waiting till she was older to put her in her own bed in her own room worked for us….Again any credible AP promoter *should* tell anyone interested in the AP style that one must do what works for one’s family, living situation and child(ren).
I also really dislike the “AP” label. I think it’s misused, overused, misunderstood and confusing! I came to recognize myself in AP ways without realizing that is what I gravitated towards. It came through trial and error. It certainly did not fail me in any way – I think that is why I’m not in to labels – with it comes expectation and thus disappointment. Yup, temperament IS everything.
I really enjoyed reading your post, thank you so much for sharing so openly your experiences. If I have another child I will do some things differently for sure. The first is kind of an experiment 🙂
I am a rabid advocate for baby wearing! I recommend it to EVERYONE and I believe it was why my colicky terrible sleeper of a child was as happy, content, secure and relaxed as she is despite our circumstance. It allowed me so much freedom to go places and do things, compared to my friends with big strollers and piles of stuff. However some babies really seem to not like being in a carrier too.
I wore mine until she was 2 3/4 years and reached the weight max for our Ergo. It was a sad day to pass that along.
Sleep wise we went from baby hammock to co-sleeping to sleep training back to co-sleeping and then at 2 1/2 she just decided she was sleeping in her own bed alone and told me to go to my bed 🙂 I still nurse to sleep and sometimes in the middle of the night. I have my reasons for it and it works for us.
I think that is most important. It has to work for your family. There is no prescription for the perfect child or perfect parent. All kids are different, all parents, all family dynamics.
I would hope new parents would take what they like from many different parenting philosophies, instead of getting stuck on trying to follow one book or website to the “t”.
Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE says
I’m glad you wrote this. Personally, I’m not a fan of Attachment Parenting.
We sleep-trained our daughter at 4 months, thanks to a wonderful book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” The author, Dr. Weissbluth, says that babies and children who are sleep-deprived have MORE trouble going to sleep.
So we followed his advice, set strict nap and sleep times, and we did not take her out on car trips and stroller rides when it was time for sleep (contrary to popular belief, babies don’t sleep well in strollers or car seats). She slept beautifully after that — from 12-14 hours per night — and she was a lot less cranky. No more crying and screaming at 4 pm.
Most of the AP moms I know are totally exhausted. I just don’t think it’s necessary to go to those lengths.
Thanks Ann Marie! And thanks also for the inspiration to write this post! 🙂
Stephanie Hsiao says
Good words! I’m glad to see this other much maligned perspective put out there. We had beautiful results with set wake times and nap times. Everyone is happier when well rested. You can still be attached to your kids during those waketimes without sacrificing nighttime sleep and naps. Babies need sleep, and sleep begets sleep as dr weissbluth says!
I just want to note that there’s absolutely nothing in “AP” parenting that says you can’t have set sleep times. We co-sleep, but we’ve also had our son on a pretty steady sleep schedule for both naps and bedtime for a long time now. He fusses and complains sometimes, but I don’t have a problem with letting him cry *with* me. I’m quite firm about bedtime. And I usually nap with him, so we all usually get enough sleep.
I am not 100 percent satisfied with our routine– if I could go back in time I might work on teaching him to fall asleep without me. But it’s not an issue of sleep deprivation in our household at all, just a bit of frustration for mom sometimes.
Sandra Mort says
I was shocked to learn that sometimes babies DO just cry to sleep. I was frustrated that I couldn’t settle the third and fourth to sleep without the inevitable tears. However, just because they wanted to express themselves or unwind in that way doesn’t mean I needed to leave them alone. I’m not 100 percent satisfied, but I’m not sure I’d do things differently if I had the ability to go back and change things.
I’m surprised to see you saying this Ann Marie when you said on one of the talks on the Healthy Life Summit that your 5 yr old still sleeps in your bed because she’s scared and that it just feels natural to do that. It sounded as if you would be in favor of a lot of the AP stuff.
So true! I was co-sleeping and nursing baby to sleep up until he was 5 months. I thought he was a horrible sleeper by nature. He would never take naps unless I lay down with him and nursed him to calm him down. I thought I was doing everything right by never letting him cry, or responding to him right when he fusses.
When he was 5 months, I started trying sleep-training out of desperation. I was shocked to find out that he is actually a great sleeper. I thought he was one of those babies that just throws a fit every time he sleeps, but I realize now that he would get fussy and angry because he was tired and there was someone around bothering him and disturbing his natural falling asleep process. I have him on a flexible schedule now (flexible meaning every day he might vary a little bit, but usually falls within 30 minutes of the same time). It’s amazing how well and how much he sleeps. I always assumed he was one of the “high needs” babies that doesn’t need as much sleep that Dr. Sears talked about not because he showed all of characteristics that Dr. Sears described. What I now know is that he was just sleep-deprived and over-tired. Now at the first sign of him rubbing his eyes I know he needs to be put down and alone. I put him in his crib and leave him alone, and he is out within a minute or two, no more tears. He takes 3 naps a day, and sleeps at night from 9pm-7am. My high-needs fussy non-sleeping baby turned into an amazing sleeper with a happy disposition with just a little bit of scheduled napping and sleep-training. After this, I definitely think twice about stuff I read on Dr. Sears’ website.
Hi Ivy, just curious if you would say 5 months is a good age to do what you did or if you would have started earlier? My daughter is 2 months old, takes a bottle every 3-4 hours and only sleepsfor about 3 (4 on rare occasion) straight hours once first asleep for the night. Then will get up for a bottle, sleeps for maybe 2 hours, up again for a bottle, then lucky to get another 40 min of sleep in before she’s up for the day. This timeframe is roughly between 10pm – 7am, lucky to get 6hrs of sleep in that window, but usually its only 5hrs. I think she needs much more sleep through the night just not sure how to go about making that happen :/
Ryannsmom, Your daughter is completely normal for her age. Babies do not consolidate their night sleep until four months of age. Even hard core sleep training advocates recommend not sleep training until 6 months, or 4 minimum. By responding to your daughter you are doing exactly what she needs right now at her stage of development.
Actually hard-core sleep training people recommend beginning at 5 weeks. Baby-wise wants babies sleep trained by 7 weeks. It’s quite insane.
Wow, 7 weeks! I thought Weissbluth was pretty hard core. That is just sad 🙁
I don’t know if this will do anyone good, but I’m a sleep trainer parent and did it from the first nights we came home with our babies. Yes, letting my boys cry was tough. But much tougher would have been having me non-functional due to sleep deprivation. I don’t know that this would work for every kid and certainly not for every parent, but it works for us. I think guilt and shame have no place in discussions about parenting styles. Seems like too many care what others think.
Clearly others will disagree, but the “Baby Wise” book helped save my sanity. Really. Not an exaggeration. I was in the grips of tremendous pp depression and sleep was key to getting me healthy.
I had much the same experience, of not having a solid foundation for parenting and getting sucked into AP ideology. I had severe back pain with slings, and co-sleeping worked well for my first baby but not at all for my second. I wasn’t able to nurse at all despite having the best support possible. I tortured myself for years about these things. I felt like a complete failure and this lack of confidence negatively affected my skills and relationships. I’m not totally anti-AP; it’s a fine basic framework for parenting, because it encourages closeness and responsiveness in response to conventional advice that seems aimed at separating parents and children as soon and as brutally as possible. But the obsession over fine points can be destructive, especially in the communities that spring up around AP.
I know the more I read about parenting, the worse I felt. I always felt like I was doing it wrong or I was not good enough. Finally I ditched all the parenting books and magazines and winged it. If I encountered a specific problem or phase, I consulted my mother first then the internet for possible solutions, but mostly I trusted my gut. Every kid, every parent, every family is different. If it works, it’s all good!
Hi Jill – Thanks for your comment! I like to ask my mom first too. 🙂
Katherine Brown says
I know! And they are constantly coming out with new books so you can never win. I’m considering ditching all parenting books as well. I like to talk to women who have grown kids that seem well adjusted and go to them for advice. I also like to remember that no matter how hard I try I WILL make tons of mistakes because I am human. But I love my babies like crazy so I’m sure I will do lots right as well.
Lisa Q says
I am a part time nanny and oftentimes babysitter. (Also a Mom of two grown daughters.) I tend to be willing to try anything reasonable and keep an open mind as I see many different styles/theories of parenting. Remembering how important my beliefs were when my girls were young, I work hard to honor the beliefs/theories of the parents who I help.
That being said, I have finally had to write on the web site where I often find work that I can no longer provide care for children in AP homes or in homes where they have a Family Bed. It is not that I reject these ideas, per se, it is that I cannot provide comfort, as an outside caregiver, to these children. One time I was caring for 2 girls. I put the 6 year old in bed and said, I will be right back, I need to go get a bottle for your sister (of breast milk her Mom had left) and change her diaper. The 6 year old became extremely concerned to the point of crying. I looked for some sort of ‘lovie’ to offer her, a stuffed animal or something, but she had none. I keep running into this: the child has no transitional object for comfort and furthermore, is completely incapable of any sort of self-soothing or self-comforting, even for a short period of time. So in these homes, I often find that I have screaming, terrified, inconsolable children and I leave feeling like some sort of monstrous being for not having been able to comfort them.
That’s too hard for me emotionally and it’s way too hard for those children. So I had to say no, I can no longer accept those particular assignments. I have a strong maternal, grandmother thing inside of me and love to get down on the floor with babies and hold, rock and cuddle….I love the feeling of the melting of their tiny selves into my heart and my arms…I was a Montessori-trained preschool teacher and have a Mary Poppins type bag of tricks to keep any toddler happy for hours..I can do super heroes, talk pro sports with aspiring young athletes, hold my own with any 6-9 year old in conversation…I am nurturing, kind and loving…yet this particular set of children, I can offer nothing to. Or perhaps more likely, they do not seem capable of receiving what I am giving. Repeatedly I have run into this issue and it is only with those children whose families practice AP. The thought I finally had was maybe it is a fine way to raise children but only if you never ever ever intend to be away from the child. I wonder if these children attend nursery school and if they do, how they fare?
I find that very interesting- thanks for sharing!
This is interesting because to me, a six year old exhibiting that behaviour was NOT parented AP style. My understanding and experience has been AP builds a confident, independent, secure child. I could see in a 1 or 2 year old, maybe, but six?? That’s something else, from my outside perspective.
Hi Cath – IMO that is one of the misconceptions of AP. Just because one practices AP, it’s not a guarantee it will yield a confident, independent, secure child. That said, my son is now 6, but his sleep issues were resolved around the age of 3. Thanks for your comment!
Joanna Steven says
I wonder about that too. I had the classic high needs son, who woke every 30 minutes and hated napping and falling asleep. The last thing I wanted was associate negative feelings with sleeping. I carried him, rocked him, sang to him, kept him on me while he slept until he started loving sleeping. Sure, I won’t do that with the next one unless it’s possible to do it without neglecting #1, but he was my only child and I worked from home (which I did during naps when he wasn’t on me). When I felt he was ready, I nightweaned him, and when he wakes at night, it’s for a very valid reason — he’s usually thirsty.
As for attachment, he trusts that people are good and looking out for him, which I think is due to my parenting style. He never had separation anxiety, and at 18 months was waving “bye!” to me and going with a baby sitter. He becomes friends with our adult friends easily and never minds being babysat while we go out and about, even with people he only met a few times.
At parks, he becomes friends with other kids easily, and many parents have marveled at how playful their child is with mine, saying it’s not typical.
I will try a different approach to sleeping next time IF it is possible re: temperament of #2. Of course, I’d rather have pick up/put down etc. work and have the child sleep through earlier/with less grief. But a lot of it is personality. I have friends who co-slept and didn’t want to hear of anything else, and carried the baby, etc. and their kids slept great early on.
I was a breastfed carried kid who slept through the night. So was my sister, who didn’t sleep through until she was like 3, and was totally weaned.
You know what they say, sleep training is something parents do to keep themselves busy while their kids sleep through when they’re ready 😉
Joanna Steven says
Oh and at age 2, he’s in his own/bed room, and it all happened pretty suddenly. About 6 mo/1 year before that, I thought he’d still be in my bed at 5. He also naps 1 1/2 hours daily and actually asks for it because he now knows that sleeping makes him a happier boy. 🙂
I like hearing your story with a happy ending :-). How did he start sleeping in his own bed? That sentence gave me hope 🙂
Very interesting, Lisa Q. You are certainly not the first nanny who’s shared similar opinions with me. Thanks for sharing!
Sandra Mort says
Sounds like the kids weren’t ready to be away from their parents, not that you were doing anything wrong. I’ve got four AP’d kids and they all do just fine away from us when they’re ready.
Exactly. My kids had no problem being left when they were around 1-2. They had no transitional object, and this was fine because I didn’t WANT to leave them with another caregiver before they were ready.
All kids are different. There is no way my kids would have acted the way the nannie above described. They loved playing with a mommy’s helper!
Lisa Q., you said that you “leave feeling like some sort of monstrous being for not having been able to comfort them.That’s too hard for me emotionally and it’s way too hard for those children.” I think that is at the heart of why many moms do AP. In the end, it is more important the child is connected to the parent than a care taker who is only occasionally in their life. Also, I know a ton of Attachment parented kids and they are all extremely happy and independent.
I have seen this too. A friend of ours AP here kids and the oldest cannot handle any type of discomfort at all. I blame his mother for over smothering him. The were at our home one time and he was jumping on our couch ( when I asked him to sit down please.)and fell off. Our couch is very low and he was not hurt in the least, he is a larger 3 yr old. Her response was to run over to him grab him up and look him over frantically for bruises and then nurse him. He hadn’t even made a peep until she did that. Then the wailing started, which also started her 7 month old baby wailing. Then she was nursing both of them. It was the most ridiculously over indulged display I’ve ever seen. He also throws his food on the floor because he doesn’t like to eat anything. and she just nurses him when he doesn’t like the way things go. This is the 3rd friend I have that does AP and all of their kids are very whiney. It’s like they have no coping skills at ALL. It does little to convince me of the merits of AP-ing exclusively.
this is not AP parnting. and one can abuse any type of parenting, not just AP.
My daughter is sort of AP parented. She doesn’t like to sleep, sure, but doesn’t need me to comfort her if she falls. I ask her if she’s ok after she’s picked herself up. I only go if she cannot extricate herself. I wore her when I took her on the subway. Stairs with stroller or sling.. Stroller or sling…hmmm! Or for shopping. I wore her when I had to do laundry – I live in an apartment, so I have to go to a different floor for it and the room is tiny. I stopped using it as soon as she could walk reasonably well. She makes friends just fine. How do I know? Her daycare teacher says that she plays with everyone, with stress on every. And that she is very well-behaved there. She awoke as we spoke, came out of the room. And is saying good morning to me.
Oh she is 3. I almost never comforted her for falls unless she asked me for comfort, though.
I agree with you Sue. I have the same experience. Guess what, life is not comforting all the time and nursing a 3 year old for comfort can be so damaging, especially when the whole act of nursing brings all kinds of unhealthy behaviors. I believe breast feeding is perfect for babies, but when a 2 yr old screams and cries if he/she doesn’t get it the second he/she wants it, there is something wrong there. The AP kids I know can not be in a room by themselves or play by themselves. They hang on their parents 24/7. It doesn’t seem healthy to me. Unfortunately, you are not supposed to voice your opinion if it differs from these AP parents. The 3+ yr. old I know is now being “sleep trained” to sleep in his own bed now because a new little one will be sleeping with mom…..so, you guessed it, he’s now sleeping with dad. How is that training? If you put the baby in the crib right off the bat, there’s no sleep training necessary. These parents are not open to any other suggestions. That’s too bad for the child. At least, that’s my experience. I would not recommend it.
Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook says
My son was AP’d and had a parent lying next to him until he fell asleep until he was 6. However, during my working hours he went to childcare. Until he turned 2 he went to a lady who cared for a few children in her home and was willing to rock him to sleep for every nap–unless he fell asleep on his own while she was tending to another child, which sometimes happened, just as he sometimes fell asleep while I was carrying him in the sling doing errands or whatever. At age 2 he started going to a larger childcare center where the children napped on mats. For 3 days he resisted this and wanted to sit and talk with the teachers; then later in the afternoon he’d become so exhausted he would curl up in a corner and conk out. The teachers accepted this but each day encouraged him to nap. On the 4th day he began napping on schedule and continued until age 5.
We had a few problems when we left him with sitters or grandparents at night because he was not accustomed to being separated from both parents when going to bed at home, but also because each of the sitters refused to stay with him until he was asleep–they listened to our explanation of his routine and said they would do it, but then they wanted to leave the room after stories while he was still awake. Of course he resisted this–not only was it not what he expected, but it was breaking a promise he’d heard them make in his presence a few hours earlier!
A child with a sibling who can’t tolerate you leaving the room for a few minutes to care for the sibling, though, is something I can’t explain. It seems that their mother would have to do this at times so the child would be used to it. I have only one child, but I often left him alone in bed for a bit when I’d go to the bathroom or something. He certainly did prefer companionship at all times (still does, at age 8) but well before a year old he’d learned to accept that he sometimes has to be alone for a moment.
It makes sense for you to refuse future work with families where you’ve had problems, but I think it’s a bit much to reject families who “practice AP” without learning more about them. Some AP mothers are very intensively involved with their children, who then have a hard time functioning without the mother, but this is not true of all AP families.
Certainly dealing with this exact thing now, I sent my 29 month old daughter to montessori school twice a week, and because of our co sleeping and extended breastfeeding habits she has no transitional comfort item that she has attached heraelf to, cannot self-soothe, and was simply erratic without me there! She is such a confident and capable child, and is extremely independant from me at home, so I expected her to do well. After 5 days of montessori school with her crying almost the entire time, I had to take her out and bring her home. I now feel as thougn I was completely mislead with AP and I will be spending the next year weaning, transitioning to independant sleep. I will be doing things much differently with my next child. I will respect their natural development more, and allow them the independance of doing things, like, sleeping on their own, at an earlier time when they are naturally open to it, instead of the stage of resisting change between two and three years old.
I had this same exact issue with the baby I nannied for. This baby would only sleep if you were holding him, which made things extremely difficult with the older children.
Trina H says
I’m a little late finding this article but I am glad it was written and even more glad that a nanny has voiced opinions similar to my own. I have a home daycare business. The ONLY kids I have had these types of issues with are AP kids. I have personally come to the conclusion that AP parenting seems to be for families that intend to stay home.
I breastfed all three of my girls. My last one nursed until age two. I allowed them to sleep with me up until my husband expressed it was interfering with his sleep and his time with me. I respected that. However, I did not wear my children day in and day out. I did not sleep with them every night for years. I did love them, cuddle them and respect them. I gave them their own space and even in my home daycare I allow the little ones room to explore everywhere. (within my view of course) I, too, adopted a Montessori style preschool program for my daycare and I have raised a lot of babies over the years and they have come out healthy, well adjusted and educated. I couldn’t love my job more. I have recently encountered AP kids in my home and have just had a really hard time trying to soothe them or get them to respond to my own methods. They do eventually do ok but it is many many months of a lot of frustration on both sides and it leaves me feeling emotionally drained and feeling inept. So, I really appreciate I am not alone in this assessment.
It is really interesting to hear from an outside caregiver perspective! Thanks for sharing. I have noticed with my friends that did more AP-style parenting, their kids are less confident with outsiders or anyone other than their own parents. Not sure if this applies to all AP kids, because AP is SUPPOSED to create more confident and secure children, but from my observations, I agree with you that the AP-raised kids are more needy of parents and don’t learn to self-soothe as well.
‘Loveys’ and transitional objects are incorrect attachments. Attachments should be made to the caregiver, not to an object. I’ve been a nanny too, and have experienced how hard it is for a child to switch from one attachment to another. Children that were not AP raised might have had an easier time transitioning or being left with a stranger, but ended up very insecure, afraid if the dark at older ages, etc… The children raised AP style formed strong attachments, and we’re very secure and confident. With my own son, I vowed not to ever hire a nanny after those experiences, and we raised him fully cosleeping, Alfie Kohn , Neufeld style, even with no punishments, etc… when the time came for him to attend preschoo at 4, he was the most confident and secure child there, even offering comfort to other children who had a hard time separating fom their parents. The teacher commented on how easy he was with transitions, and how mild mannered. Our pediatrician has commented several times how confident he thinks our son is, at the age of 3, he would voluntarily climb on the doctors table, open his mouth, talk to the doctor, even submit to painful throat swabs without a fuss. Our pedi said he was years ahead maturity wise. We ascribe all that to AP, and are very grateful for all the information out there. It does work, we had our doubts too of course, sleeping has not always been easy, but what they say is true, your children come out as extremely confident and mature after about 3 years or so. Close to the age of 4, we also rarely have any behavior issues, he listens well, is compassionate, shares well with others (we don’t make him), and hardly ever gets into trouble and is very self reliant, dresses himself, gets how own food from the fridge, etc…. It’s like a behavior of a well behaved 8 year old. It works!!
Interesting experience you have had with these supposed AP children. Considering that we belong to a class of mammals called “higher primates” and as such our children are designed to nurse frequently and be at arms length or on their mothers bodies for the first few years, your experience with these children do not strike me as odd. Some children take longer and studies have shown that those children who are in the parental bed longer adapt to many of life’s challenges “better”-whatever that means, just saying;)) That said, even though we are designed through millions of years of evolution to be within close proximity to our children, humans are extremely adaptable. That is one of the reasons why some children do well with sleep training, separation from parents, etc., and others not so much. I personally do not want my baby sleeping in another room than the one I am in-and billions of mothers outside of the western societal norm feel the same way. Yes, it is hard, often I feel like ripping my hair out. There is no magic cure all-only what works for each individual family….and we need to support each others choices. Researchers have proven that there is no magic cure all-no method of sleep training works better than any other. I suspect for whatever reason these children are just not adapting to you very well, or maybe picked up on the vibes their parents had leaving them with you. I also suspect your experience with these children and subsequent association with AP is temporal rather than causal as in, the timing, association, etc., versus any hard evidence that AP had causing the children’s behavior towards you.
I work at a child care center and I have a one year old that is raised with attachment parenting and I strongly recommend that young children not be put in a daycare center, especially a large one. The needs that a child need with attachment parenting can not possibly be met. I have been doing everything I can and this child has come a long way. She has no tools to comfort herself or handle emotions without being held. Now she knows she is safe and can think to herself, “Im okay”. In my 15 years of working in childcare I have never seen a child more scared and insecure in my life. This childs mother follows the teachings by the book and does not want her child to cry…at all. If she drops a tear she wants her to be tended too. In a childcare setting this is impossible to do and I feel aweful about that. The mother became very upset because another teacher had her and rocked her for 5 minutes until she slept. She cried but was sooo tired. I work at a center where all the teachers have a degree and are very educated in their field and the school of thought it that they need to work though their emotions. I could go on and on but in the end I myself would not practice attachment parenting as I have taken care of hundreds of children and the most confident children had parents that were confident themeselves and raised there children with a balence. I find that many parents practicing this style seem to be insecure people themeselves.
Meghan @ Whole Natural Life says
I loved reading this post. I don’t have any kids yet, so I can’t say I’m an attachment parent, but it seems like that’s what you always see talked about on real food/natural living blogs. It was so nice to hear this different perspective! I especially like your point that parents should not be suffering to practice AP (or any other parenting philosophy, really). Ideally whatever choices you make should work for the whole family. I will definitely be checking out your resources in the future.
i have three kids, with three totally different experiences in terms of ap. of course, with the first one i was gung ho and wore him all over. the second is a fiery spirit and was walking at nine months. she had no patience for the sling. my third is a lovely kapha baby who loves nothing more than to look up at the ceiling fan and coo. they are all sweet. honestly, after my first experience, i felt as if ap parenting is often more about healing the wounds of first time parents (not being parented well themselves, children of divorce, etc…)than the baby. just my two cents a mere seven years into this parenting gig. thanks for your post.
I know this post is a little older, but I wanted to comment, Shannon, that I find your thoughts – about healing yourself etc. – very interesting. There definitely seem to be a lot of AP parents who are trying to do everything differently than how they were raised – often with good reason. But of course, there are probably just lots of people who had difficult childhoods in various ways… There are those AP parents whose own parents also used AP-style methods – but they do seem to be in the minority (again, though, this may just reflect the general population – I’m really not sure).
On a more personal note, I definitely feel that there were things I was working out myself when my first daughter was born, in connection with my mother and my own mothering abilities, that contributed to me trying to be as close and attached and “immersed” as possible. Now that I am expecting my second child, I feel very differently on many levels – of course, I still want to be close 🙂 but I also find that I am less ready to sacrifice *everything* for that end. Practically speaking, I would love my new baby to sleep better and sleep by himself at a much earlier age, and I am going to try some (gentle) sleep techniques I would never have even considered with my daughter. I often wonder why my expectations and wishes have changed so much (and it sometimes makes me doubt myself as a mother). Your idea, Shannon, gives me something new to think about. 🙂
Emily, I can understand where you are coming from! I think it is a shame that there is so much guilt connected to the choices we make as mothers. Glad to hear you found something that worked for you!
I like your two cents!
Thanks for sharing! I scheduled my kids, I know it helped me enjoy them more. I had 3 in 3 years and I struggled with PPD, I honestly believe I would have killed us all if I did typical AP. I do wish I had held them more, but having them sleep saved my life and since they had a good routine, they weren’t thrown back and forth emotionally with me.
Megan Alton says
Thank you so much for writing this post. We had a very similar situation with my son, who hated being in a carrier for more then 10 minutes as an infant and totally refuses as a toddler. I actually did a blog post on this subject too: http://ourtenderlife.blogspot.com/2011/09/self-soother.html
The part that I most agree with Emily about is the guilt I felt when I decided to sleep train. Thankfully my husband is supportive and trusts my instincts as a mother.
AP seems awesome if you can swing it as a parent/child team and I envy those who find it easy. What I’ve learned form experience is that I am a better mother when I get regular sleep and my body isn’t broken. To those parents who don’t think you can have an intimate relationship with your child if you don’t practice AP, it’s just not true.
I’m also curious about how you weaned your kids, since it’s becoming obvious that I’m ready to be finished breastfeeding, but it’s so hard to stop. Thanks again!
Hi Megan – Weaning sounds like another fun post. 🙂 With my first, we did night weaning much in the way we did the sleep training – not fun. Then my husband took him to the UK for 2 weeks and he came home weaned. Pretty easy! With my daughter, at 16 months I went to conference for the weekend, and when I returned she was done. She asked once or twice in passing, I told her the milk was all gone, and she was fine.
Great post and great responses.
I agree with one poster – all situations, children, families, dynamics are different – have to take from many philosphies and make what works for all of you.
I did AP with first and had a very difficult time similar to you. DD was attached to the breast ALL night – and if I moved, she woke up – and woke up every 43 minutes LOL ( I can laugh now, not then)! That was 9 years ago.
The next three I have made sure that they don’t become attached to the boob. I will let them suckle – but not fall asleep. It has helped immensly. I have also had them cry it out as we/they have needed to work for our family.
I feel that to be a good parent (nurturing, loving, teaching, available) then you need to be a well rested home as well. I still am not perfect, but much better than when sleep deprived, or have sleep deprived kiddos. I think this is important enough to let a little one cry it out if needed.
I find that I feel more and more comfortable with this with each baby. My older kids seem to be well adjusted even if they have cried it out.
It also seems though that a lot of “AP” children seem to be a little bit of “spoiled brats” that get away with anything. Maybe this is just my own perspective, but I think one can be AP without letting their kids basically do anything they want.
Dawn @ Small Footprint Family says
I’m always a bit frustrated with posts like these because AP has never been a set of “rules” or “standards” that parents are supposed to live up to, or else they are failures. AP is a philosophy of parenting that offers a variety techniques that foster attachment with your child. These techniques are means to an end—NOT an end in themselves.
Attachment parenting philosophy continues long after your child is too big to be carried or breastfed, and offers other techniques later, like active listening, positive discipline, etc. but no one ever complains about that part of AP. Let’s face it, caring for newborns and babies is just HARD in the 21st century.
I think temperament means more than technique. Some babies are just high needs or “spirited.” Some have undiagnosed allergies or colic that make it hard for them to sleep no matter what you do. My child gave me no other choice but to AP. She absolutely refused to be put down. Ever. until she was about 7 months. Cry it out? Yeah right. She can cry for many HOURS, and work herself into an increasingly horrifying frenzy (just like her mom).
She slept on my or her papa’s chest or back till she was two, including naps. It was hard, but without an Ergo, it would have been much harder and I wouldn’t have been able to get much done. I chose an Ergo because it was the most ergonomic, and considered the chiropractor a necessary part of parenting.
Turns out she was in extreme pain in a horizontal position, and openly terrified of being alone (as is evolutionarily natural for small children). She was also very colicky and turned out to be allergic to over 50 foods that she was getting from my breastmilk. These gut allergies also affected her brain chemistry, and therefore here mood, sensitivity, and ability to sleep. (As a result of cutting them out of my diet, I later found that I was also allergic to those same 50 foods.)
She rejected a bottle of pumped breastmilk despite several dozen tries over many months, preferring the warmth of actual nursing. She wouldn’t touch solid food at all until she was 15 months old, and had a lot of food issues for long after that as we learned through trial and error what she could and couldn’t eat, so I breastfed until she was 30 months, simply so she’d get enough nutrition. And since she’s allergic to soy, all forms of dairy and beef, formula was never an option.
She’s almost five now and still has an irrational fear of being alone anywhere anytime, and she is still a very spirited, sensitive child. But she sleeps very well now as long as she hasn’t eaten something she’s sensitive to. In fact, all the sleep deprivation and back pain I endured were not caused by AP at all; they were simply the result of having a child with severe undiagnosed food sensitivities and a very high-need temperament. If anything, AP made dealing with these problems easier since conventional parenting had absolutely NOTHING to offer.
AP is not a set of rules. It’s not one size fits all. It’s a philosophy that offers a bevy of techniques for accomplishing the goal of raising children are close to their parents, that trust in the world and believe in themselves. And while you don’t have to use all of these techniques to be AP, they are a clear antidote to the obvious dysfunction created by conventional childrearing.
Hi Dawn – Thanks so much for sharing your experience. You raise a very good point that babies with health issues may need and demand a much more “attached” style of early parenting than babies without health issues. That said, it is also essential that moms (and dads) take good care of themselves while parenting high-needs kids. It is my wish that the AP community would be more inclusive than exclusive in sharing their techniques (that really come off as rules) so that each parent could find the right way of raising confident healthy kids that works best for their individual situations.
This is also true of children who are adopted. AP is highly recommended in the adoption community, especially for children not adopted as newborns, to help facilitate the ability to attach for a child who may not have had any attachment during the first weeks or months of their life. In fact, the required reading about attachment disorder among adopted kids is pretty scary and convinced us that we had no other option by AP methods. I agree that it is hard and exhausting and wish it could have been easier. But I’m not sure I would have done it differently, given my children’s “special needs.”
I love your comment Dawn. So true. Now I know why I like your blog/FB page so much:)
Robin @ Thank Your Body says
Great post, Emily. I think it’s an important one for people to hear. Like you said at the end, each child is SO different… as is each parent, and each situation. I, like you, read all the books and was so in the mindset of AP… and I agree that the principles about connecting with our children are great, but that too often the practices become rigid concepts that leave parents tired and frustrated. We need less labeling and more support… no matter what choices parents make.
I have some questions. This is a very timely post for me and my little one!
I am a new mom – my little one will be 3 months old next week. You mentioned that you would suggest sleep training before 4 months if possible and that’s where I’m at – so this is perfect. I’m open to sleep training. But, how do you know whether it’s “working” or not? I’ve let my son cry it out for 30 minutes, even 45 minutes before but he hasn’t fallen asleep and at some point I have to conclude that it’s not working and try something else. It also hasn’t gotten any better after 3 or 4 nights of trying the few times we’ve tried going this way. What are your thoughts on how long to leave a baby and how to tell if it’s working? He doesn’t take a pacifier – how can I help him to learn to soothe himself? At night he only goes to sleep nursing or sitting in my lap while I play the piano (random, I know, but sweet) and during the day it’s even harder – he gets tired and fussy but can stay awake for hours this way because he can’t put himself to sleep. I’ve tried every way of soothing I can think of and combination of soothing and then laying him down, etc.
I have also realized that we need to take from different styles of parenting the things that work for us and leave behind the others but I still haven’t been able to find something that meets my little family’s needs in terms of sleep and I can tell that it’s so often very hard for my little guy since we haven’t yet discovered the perfect hybrid of methods to give him the help that he needs. Any suggestions?
June @ Coffee Under The Umbrella says
Alicia – in my opinion, 3 months sounds a little young to sleep train. You’ll know when it works – when it works, it works by the next night. My son, at 4 months, cried for 2 hours the first night. The next night, he cried for 20 minutes. Then 10, and by the 4th night, he was sleeping through one of his 2-4 feedings. But all babies, as I’m sure you’ve heard only an infinite number of times by now, are really different. Plus, there are several methods of sleep training. We did a modified Ferber approach ourselves because we didn’t have the stomach to do a straight CIO. That worked like a dream for us.
You’re a musician (I’m a violinist, btw) – have you tried playing a recording of piano music for him as he goes to sleep? Someone above mentioned the Weissbluth book, Healthy Sleep Habits Healthy Child – it has a lot of scientific mumble mumble (I KNOW why sleep is important for our brains, thankyouverymuch), but it helped tremendously. Honestly, as far as your last paragraph goes…we didn’t find that “hybrid” til my son was sleep trained to sleep all night around 6-7 months. And then his sleep habits changed. And they’re still evolving at 3 yo. Raising a kid is one big trial-and-error experiment.
It’s also important for mothers who haven’t yet had babies to know that sleep training **does not always work**. Your baby could be put through the stress of crying for long periods … for nothing.
My husband’s first wife sleep trained their daughter (my stepdaughter). He absolutely hated the experience and was opposed to it. He said his gut twisted in agony listening to hear her cry every night for weeks and weeks. And then the CIO method never really “took” for her because she still woke up in the night and cried repeatedly!
When he met me and found out how I had parented my 4 kids, and then we had 2 more together, he was totally relieved and supportive of our loving approach to helping babies sleep. Neither one of us can stomach letting a baby cry alone, we feel it’s just not natural or healthy. We just discussed and revisited this issue over the weekend.
This obsession with kids getting enough sleep is somewhat unique to American culture and is an offshoot of two centuries of parenting advice that said that babies were inherently evil and needed to be controlled so they didn’t become dictators in the family. Read Robin Grille’s Peaceful Parenting book for a history. In many other countries (save France) nobody worries about baby’s sleep and are relaxed about the whole thing.
While I have empathy for parents who feel sleep deprived, I believe there are other ways to get enough sleep without resorting to cry it out methods that go counter intuitive to a parent’s deeply felt instincts to protect their children. Babies don’t have to cry to sleep. And there is a huge difference between letting a baby cry themselves to sleep and a baby “fussing out” with a loving parent’s arms around them.
And all 7 of my kids except the baby are out of the family bed and they sleep just fine 🙂
I also give a thumbs up to Elizabeth Pantley’s book on gentle no cry sleep methods.
Sandra Mort says
I agree wholeheartedly. The only thing I wish I had known beforehand is that despite the best efforts, sometimes babies DO cry to sleep. My third and and fourth simple would NOT go to sleep any other way. We coslept, nursed on demand and when all was said and done, they cuddled in bed with Mommy (or Daddy when the crying was too upsetting for me) and cried to sleep. It was a nightmare. We tried chiropractic care, tracked down allergies and other stuff… but in the end, that’s just how they unwound. I firmly believe that it was even *more* important to be there to parent them to sleep than it was for the first two that easily nursed down.
Hi Alicia – I am certainly not a sleep expert – only a parent and a health practitioner with my own experiences and opinions. As you can see from the responses to this post, every child is so different. That said, if I were in your shoes, I would probably find out what Gina Ford would suggest via her books and online forum. She is not a fan of cry-it-out, but instead, gradually guides babies to a sleep routine. It sounds like your little one is pretty tired, which only perpetuates less sleep.
She typically has you find the routine that most closely resembles your child’s current sleep pattern and start from there. So if your baby is still waking every 2 hours, you start with the routine for a newborn and gradually work up as he/she gets the hang of it.
One of the things I found with the sleep routine and baby self-soothing is that it seems like it’s not working at all and this goes on for what seems like forever, and then one day “like magic” (as my friend and sleep training friend told me) the routine sticks and baby can lay down awake and fall asleep happily on his/her own.
Wishing you and your baby many peaceful, sleep-full nights!
I clicked through to this post because I’d seen AP mentioned but had no idea what it was. Turns out I AP’d my daughter, now 8, for roughly her first 2 years. Who knew? I agree with the previous posters that every child/parent/situation is different, but I do think there are some underlying truths to keep in mind:
1) You have to care for yourself so that you can care for your family. That means you need sleep, privacy, a sense of your individual self, and sex with your partner every so often. Those can be pretty hard to achieve if you’re attached to your kid 24/7. (I speak from experience.)
2) I worry that our culture puts too much emphasis on only the parents raising their children. What happened to “the village”? I spent too much time feeling guilty after my divorce at the times when my daughter was cared for by other people–until I realized those diverse influences made her a more complex, resilient, and wise person. Look at the traditional cultures in that fantastic documentary “Babies”: those babies spend plenty of time with other people. Sometimes with other kids!
3) Growth only comes after struggle. My natural instinct as a mom is to coddle. Circumstances forced me to be a much more “hands off” mom than I would otherwise have been, and I now have a confident and capable little girl because of it. If a baby’s always carried around, when does it get the chance to move freely and explore? When does it struggle (which is not a 4-letter word!)?
AP was GREAT for my youngest and HORRIBLE for my oldest. I was determined to make it work for everyone but for my first child I can now look back and admit it was a DISASTER. I stuck with it, though, and with my youngest it has been a gift. We’ve done it the same way each time. I wish I had given up on the AP stuff earlier with my son and I’m happy I tried again with my daughter. Each kid and family has different needs.
Hi Jennifer, I realize that this is an old post but I am interested in understanding why it was a disaster for your son? (and in comparison why you think your daughter did great with AP)
I am the mother of a 4 months old leaving in one of the mecca of AP (park slope brooklyn) so lots of friends around AP but I am naturally more inclined to go for the schedule and routine option- as someone mentioned above, as a French person I am very focused on getting my baby to sleep 15 hours a day naps included..- None of my AP friends have babies under 2 who sleep through the night, the only couple who does had to go through a difficult CIO at 8 months old (and break up with their AP rules on that one). The other 8 moths old still wakes up every 2 hours to nurse at night (I have to say I find it completely crazy, the mother is obviously suffering and the baby herself has purple shadows under her eyes, clearly not sleeping enough) .
My 4 months old still wakes up once between 8.30pm and 8 am (nowadays at 5 am) , and when I tell my friends that I am working hard on eliminating that last night feeding they look at me as if I was a monster. I don’t CIO though, my hope was that by starting a schedule on day 1 I would actually avoid CIO. The way I wean my baby off her night feedings is by working on each night feeding, one after the other, to get her progressively to sleep longer stretch without eating. I gently rock her, comfor her in her bed, if possible without picking her up, and do my best to get her back to sleep. It is actually more tiresome than feeding her because she can take an hour to get back to sleep (if she starts being really upset and screaming I stop, feed her, and try again a few days later. But if she is just complaining and drifting in and out of sleep I keep trying, sort of ferberizing I guess). But for me the key is having a good schedule during the day, that impacts the nights so much. She naps after being awake 2 hours, ends up usually with 4*1 hour nap a day and her meals are at 8am-12pm-4pm-8pm. I really resist and distract her if she asks for food at other times, will give her a tiny snack only if I cannot avoid it, but at 4 months it is rare, caveat: I can do that because I know she is getting 6-7 ounces at each meal and has enough food (I weighed her after nursing and she takes bottles during the day as I work).
Hum, this short question is evolving into a very long post. I guess that’s because I am so puzzled as to why AP seems so attractive to all of my very educated friends (seems like a pattern around me, the brainier the more AP focused) . I consider myself very much on the geek and intellectual side and find parenting philosophies facinating but AP seems to me in the end to be an intellectual trick : a perfect intellectual justification smart mothers have to prevent themselves from cutting the cord with their babies. The father normally plays that role, helping separate the mum from the baby to leave the space for relationships with others, for society rules. In the couples I see, it is always the mum advocating for AP and the dad silently approves when she says “oh yes my husband is fully on board”. In the couples I know, I can feel that even though the dad is intellectually convinced AP is best, he feels deep down something is off.
I am not saying mothers shouldn’t stay very close to their baby, but there are a lot of drawbacks in a prolonged fusion with the baby. Not only bad sleeping habits. But as the nanny above mentionned, less space for others in the child’s life (a secret dream for a lot of mothers actually, be able to stay the only one…). And the “nature” argument bothers me too: we want to teach our kids to eat well, sleep well, treat other wells, be respectful, practice self restrain etc .. And that implies not letting them follow their instinct all the times. So why is it cruel to teach a baby not to eat every hour or whenever they want but at mealtimes? That’s something they need to learn right ? (albeit when their body is ready and they can eat enough in one meal of course..) .
Ok now I am rumbling sorry 🙂 but I guess that’s the bottom line, I am a bit tired of The superior looks my friends and acquaintance give me, implying they really love their kids and want to do the best for them while I am just a selfish disciplinarian. I am convinced some children actually need AP and do fare better thanks to it. But for a lot of the ones I see, a bit more discipline and regulation of their natural inclines wouldn’t be a bad thing..
And forgive the approximate English, not my mother tongue.
I have totally loved reading this! I did (son =20yrs & daughter =11yrs) totally a combination of both, but can say that temperament of the child dictates! I was 24 when I had my son and had NEVER held a child before they handed him to me! What a learning curve but I went with the ‘nature will out’ principle and also NEVER read anything!!! LOL!!! But TBH he was the perfect baby re sleep & temperament but was born a vegan from an allergy point of view though didn’t find this out until 6 mths at weaning! I was 33 when I had my daughter & you couldn’t get a more ‘different’ child…..but again we have muddled along…..making it up as we go & loving it!!!! Though both slept with me I was a strict they need to sleep on there own (you never know what is going to happen! my son @ 6 mths) & strictly between you & me (shush don’t tell the daughter! ;)) she still prefers sleeping with me! LOL…..I did the sleep training with her at 10 mths & she will go anywhere & sleep on her own!!! honest! 😀 XXX
I completely agree that attachment parenting is great but you have to take what works and leave the rest. We did baby wearing and still co-sleep(kids are almost 7 and 4). We were kind of lucky I guess, our daughter slept 8 hours straight the first time I think at 8 weeks(could have been because vaccines). Both kids can sleep thru anything. I always thought it was because we never made it quiet for them to sleep. We weaned night feedings I think around 6 to 8 months with my husband holding/walking till baby was asleep…so I could rest. It was a compromise to the CIO method. At least, they were being held and back in bed with me. My daughter weaned herself at 13 months. My son seemed to want to nurse forever. It got to the point that he was yanking my shirt down in public and it drove me nuts so I had to ween for my sanity. I am happy that we made it to 17-18 months. As far as baby wearing, we did almost exclusively. We had some times in a stroller to give us a break but as soon as they were walking which were both about 11-12 months we let them walk as much as possible. I really enjoyed carrying both and they did too. My baby pouch was a perfect fit…had issues with the other slings but finally found the fit.
” It got to the point that he was yanking my shirt down in public and it drove me nuts so I had to ween for my sanity. I am happy that we made it to 17-18 months.”
That is a **discipline** problem, not a breastfeeding problem. It is good and normal for a nursing mom to set LIMITS with a nursing toddler. It’s a relationship and toddlers benefit tremendously from learning that mom and I are two separate people with different needs.
I have nursed mine well into toddlerhood/young childhood, but it was not all about them… I set limits and nipped this behavior in the bud!
I guess it’s the hardest thing in the world to be balanced, eh? Child led nursing doesn’t mean catering to your child’s every whim. Attachment style parenting does NOT mean no discipline.
Thank you for sharing! Our family had a similar experience with the sleeping and we recently (within the past two months) let our daughter cry it out. She’s 16 months and now gladly walks to her room & lays down for naptime & bedtime. My husband and I both get sleep and we’re all much happier, healthier & can enjoy each other more.
I remember the extreme guilt I initially felt, but we’re so glad we did it. I wouldn’t change anything we did because we learned so much, especially from the hard times! Cosleeping was good for a time but after a certain point, we were all suffering from lack of sleep and not getting complete rest.
Every parent’s experience is different. It’s great for other parents to be there to share stories simply to share – not to say one way is right or better. Everyone has their opinion but no two families are identical so what works for one family may not work at all for another.
Again, thank you for sharing!
You’re welcome, Sam!
Nichole George says
AP is simply treating your child with respect and responding to their needs. That’s it. All the other things are just tools to help you do that. You can be a bottle feeding, stroller pushing, crib using mama and still be AP. A lot of parents are AP without even realizing it.
Hi Nicohle – I completely agree – the principles of AP are wonderful. That said, I don’t think AP should not be practiced to the detriment of the parents’ health and well-being.
If “AP is simply treating your child with respect and responding to their needs. ” then how in the world could you practice it to the “detriment of the parents’ health and well-being.”
I think Sears himself would say that AP is about meeting the family’s needs. I really don’t understand the hate on the term “AP.”
It really bothers me when people say that AP makes them feel guilty. Own your own guilt issues please.
Hi Rachel – There are plenty of parents who think they are treating there children with respect and responding to their needs, but do so in a way that is completely draining to themselves. I see it all the time in my practice, at the park, in mom’s groups, and in playgroups. It is their right to parent how they wish, but their children are walking all over them.
I understand that you are bothered by me blaming my guilt on AP. For my part, I was bothered by the way the lovely principles of AP are passed along as dogma by its disciples. After years of severe sleep deprivation, I feel entitled to that blame, and completely respect if you don’t like it.
It’s these parents calling it ap but it’s not. Informtion and informing oneself is key. 🙂
I think if you are doing it to the detriment of your family, then you are not practicing AP. Don’t blame AP. One of the eight AP principles is striving for balance in personal and family life. NOT letting the kids run the show. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, or so the saying goes. And sleep training doesn’t have to be anti-AP. AP asks you to ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally. You can sleep train in a way that is not emotionally damaging and that is totally AP if that is what you feel is right for your family. Also I think you need to really think hard about temperment instead of blaming AP for the differences in your children’s sleep habits. I know it is easy to do, to lay blame or take credit. My first three children were fabulous sleepers. I easily got them all to sleep 12 hours through the night by 3 months old and we had only some minor sleep disturbances after that. I thought I had it all figured out when it came to sleep and was pretty proud of myself. Silly me. Then I had my fourth baby. I did everything with her just the same as with my other three. But this baby just wouldn’t sleep. It was her temperment in fact that led us to AP and not the other way around. I found that I got more sleep just rolling over and nursing her in the middle of the night than I did when I struggled to try to get her back to sleep in her own bed numerous times per night. Was I sleep deprived? Oh yeah. Was it ideal? No. But it got me a heck of a lot more sleep than trying to put her in her own bed where she was NOT happy. And when she got older, about a year or a year and a half, we tried working on sleep habits again and had much more success. She was older and she was ready at that point. So I would say just because you had your tough sleeper first and your easy sleeper second doesn’t mean it was AP’s fault. And really, the principle about family balance is one of the most important AP principles. It really supercedes all of the others. Stick to the principles, not necessarily copying how other people are living the principles, and you’ll do just fine.
Nichole George says
Dr Ferber himself warned never to sleep train a baby before 6 months, so please be weary of the advice you give.
Hi Nichole – Thanks for your comment. There are many different approaches out there, Dr. Ferber being only one. When done properly and early enough, sleep training does not need to involve cry it out. Personally, I would avoid the cry-it-out method if at all possible.
Babies survived before Dr. Ferber and they’ll survive after he’s dead and gone. Really, this hysteria about allowing a baby to cry for ten minutes at a time is just crazy.
Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers didn’t worry about this stuff. Nor should we. Seriously, there are bigger issues.
Actually it kills your babies brain cells so we should worry a little. 😀 There’s a reason you shouldn’t just let them cry. You can sleep train gently without all the tears. Our grandparents didnt worry because they didnt know any better, we do…and so we do our best with the knowledge we have.
I know this is years old but mothers will find this and read the comments and believe what you have said, Brittany. There is no truth to the idea that sleep training kills brain cells or causes neurological issues in children who are well-cared for. Those studies specifically referenced children who were in orphanages and suffered from the results of real neglect, not imagined neglect.
A huge Australian study recently that sleep training has no negative impact long term. Further, lack of sleep long term significantly raises cortisol, probably more than the short term raises involved in a few nights of crying.
Every baby and parent is different. There is no “magic method” that makes kids automatically better off than kids raised another way. (I’m obviously excluding kids who are abused or neglected–just “regular” parenting methods.) If there was a magic “trick,” those kids would be obviously “better” than other kids, and that hasn’t happened yet in history.
I am not an attachment parenting fan myself. My five-year-old so far seems to have turned out fine. She is very mature and well-behaved and loving. I’m sure there are AP kids who are the same way. It depends on a lot of factors. The one thing I think is clear is that stressed-out parents are not good for anyone.
I had my son 5 years ago and did AP for similar reasons. All of the arguments for training babies for sleep and feeding just seemed so parent-centered that they often seemed really distasteful. That whole vibe didn’t resonate at all with me, and so I pretty much dismissed all of their ideas. After all, I was perfectly ok with sacrificing my time and energy if that meant that my kid was going to thrive.
Anyway, long story short, 5 years later my health is in absolute ruins! (I think my experience was more extreme than others because I know lots of AP mamas who didn’t lose their health.) What I think happened was that I did an extreme version of AP coupled with preexisting nutritional deficiencies and major stress during pregnancy and for at least 2-3 years after (involving my lovely and well intentioned MIL- need I say more?!) that was like some kind of formula for a health meltdown. In short, my weight has ballooned 40-50 lbs since his birth (due to adrenal fatigue, leptin resistance- I’m still not exactly sure what’s wrong with me) and I suffer daily from extreme fatigue, brain fog, and physical/mental/emotional depletion. I eat RF and do acupuncture but the recovery is so slow and often thwarted by inappropriate food cravings and insomnia.
Fortunately, my boy turned out to be sweet, smart and very healthy, robust and strong. But also incredibly demanding. Thinks he is the center of the universe which at age 5 now is very irritating, annoying and tiresome. I find that I get angry a lot which probably undoes some good of my earlier AP. Oh and did I mention? He is an only child. The first 3 years of raising him were so intense and so depleting that I couldn’t stand the thought of having another child. I’ve since started thinking about having another one and for the last year and a half have been trying to get my health back only to find it slowly getting worse. It is nice to hear Emily that your 2nd child wasn’t as hard and stories like those give me hope for myself. But unfortunately I’m neck deep in a hole that I must get out of before conceiving another child.
Thanks for writing this because it finally gave me a chance to write my story!
Hi Abby – Thanks for sharing, and I really understand your suffering. Be patient and loving to yourself – years of sleep deprivation take awhile to recover from. What is RF? Raw food?
@Abby – lol! Thank goodness. 😉
Abby where do I find you online? Our stories are SO similar!
Hi Abby, I hope you don’t mind me commenting about the health aspect – I’m sure suggestions get old quick. I thought it better to say something than not in case this happens to be the answer for you. Have you considered that you might have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity? Brain fog is a very common symptom, as is fatigue, etc. Pregnancy and stress are both common triggers. I’ve been gluten free for over 10 years and its helped significantly. But it took a *long* time to figure out and I was glad someone suggested it to me. Good luck to you as you figure everything out and try for a 2nd child.
On the AP front, I consider myself an AP parent, but I do believe in taking what works and leaving the rest. As a single mom, AP has made things much easier and (for me) lead to significantly less sleep deprivation. But each family is different, as many before have said.
I’m sorry to hear, Emily, that you had such a bad experience with other AP parents judging you. I don’t think that’s universal (hasn’t been my experience), but I’m sure it was a miserable experience. I have experienced judgy parents, just not in the AP community personally. I think there is a lesson in that for all parents – I wish we saw ourselves more as a unified group, regardless of parenting styles, rather than so often judging each other.
What a great story Emily. I practiced AP with Mia and it went smorrth. I cried when she outgrew the Ergo.
That said, my BF could no way in H-E-double hockey sticks, carry her big boy around after 6 months. Having one child I have no siblings to compare to, but my guess is it really depends on your kid’s vibe. All said and done I do have a Family Bed with a now nine year old in it. While she is the most Indy kid I know, when it comes to sleep, she has to be with one of us in bed. I need to start to make the transistion, but I’m too damn tired to lose sleep. Zzzzzzzzz
p.s. I told Mia this morining she should really start to try and get back in her own bed. Her reply, “Don’t judge me”.
Sylvia – LOL! I love that girl.
Sandra Mort says
Each of my kids has moved to his or her own bed at different times, occasionally returned for a while and left again. We’re currently going through some serious stress as a family, so the 4 and 7 year olds join us in the middle of the night most of the time, but the 7 year old started putting himself to bed last year and the 4 year old is pretty close. Now all we need is employment *sigh*
As for weaning, I strongly recommend _How Weaning Happens_ and _Mothering Your Nursing Toddler_. I wanted to do child led weaning but it never really worked out for us. Sometimes even with the best intentions, life has other plans.
Every person’s experience is different, but it is sometimes very helpful to hear how others handled them. I have four children. The first 3 I guided into loose schedules for eating and sleeping. Those three sleep beautifully. Always have. Number 4 is different. I knew she would be the last. We wanted to make everything about her last. We brought her into our bed, thrilled at the idea of more sleep. I loved having her next to me, snuggled in, beautiful. But….she is four now. And I am more sleep deprived then I have ever been. As an infant she nursed all night. All night. When she moved to her sister’s room and into a crib she would wake up several times a night and did learn to put herself back to sleep. When she moved to big kid bed….well. She comes to our room most nights. Usually 2-3 times. We send her back usually, but sometimes hours go by before I realize I am uncomfortable…..she is in my bed. Every kid is different, but this one really makes me wish I had stuck with my original parenting style.
My story is very similar to yours, Kaylin. I also have four kiddos. My older three (who have slept wonderfully since they were very young) were loosely scheduled with naps and bedtime, but my youngest (15 mo) will be my last. My 3rd was 5 when #4 was born, so it had been a few years since I dealt with the baby thing. I brought him into our bed, nursed through the night, held him through naps, etc. Guess what? I’m still nursing him to sleep in our bed and whenever he wakes up. Luckily, he is sleeping mostly through the night, now. Sometimes he wakes up to nurse, but usually when my husband snores too loudly and wakes him up. (that’s another story!) Needless to say, my husband and I are ready to have our son sleep in his own room.
Honestly, I’m not sure that co-sleeping this long was what we intended when we started down this road. Our older children co-slept when they were newborns, but we transitioned them to their cribs fairly early. I’m kind of wishing we would have done that with our youngest.
Oh, he is also one of the more clingy ones, but he’s getting better… So, as of now, I’m ready to transition him to his own bed and completely ween. If I would have stuck with the same parenting style as my older ones, life would be a lot less stressful.
I loved this post! It is a perfect example of how we humans clamp onto a single path in groups and start spreading it everywhere before it’s really been tested out to see if it works every time for everyone. On Facebook right now, I get a lot of AP posts from friends, and some of them just make me want to scream that they are ruining their children! I don’t, because I’m sure the posts just sound more extremist than the people posting them really are, and I would sound like the other extreme if I said anything. For example, I saw one yesterday that said a 3 yr old is built for playing and assured the reader that they are learning when they refuse to sit still and in my mind, behave like a nice little 3 yr old. My first thought on that was that as parents, we’re supposed to choose what our children are learning, and we should choose that they at least learn how to sit still for when it’s necessary.
Like you said, the earlier you start (as appropriate for each child), the better. It makes the transition more smooth for each member of the family. Also as you said, each child is different. I have seen some methods widely promoted as AP simply spoil and ruin one child, while being perfect for another.
My two girls are 12 & 13 now. My oldest was the normal easy first child who rarely cried, cried quietly, and still pretty much always does what she’s told. We used a pacifier solely to get her sleeping schedule righted to nighttime, and when we were ready for her to stop using it (when she started walking), I put it up somewhere where she couldn’t see it, and it was never a bother again. My second was a COMPLETELY different story. She still is more selfishly prone than her sister, and I have to keep much more restrictions in place for her physical and emotional safety because of her adorably impetuous nature. She needs more cuddling, which I give when I can, but I’m now a single mom, and can’t always give her what she needs in that dept.
Life is disappointing, and as their parent, I believe it’s my duty to prepare them for that sooner rather than later so that they are horribly surprised when they get out on their own.
Thanks for saying we can’t all do it exactly the same.
*aren’t horribly surprised.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Kari!
Brett M Judd MSW says
As an attachment focused Social Worker, my practice centers around the concept of healthy attachments and the development of resilience. The father of attachment, John Bowlby, discussed it it as creating a secure base for children to learn to explore and return to the safe haven of the parent who welcomes loves and nurtures them.
Our second daughter was unlike the other 3, and screamed at bed time, not wanting to go down. She was affectionate, but not cuddly. She refused to be held and rocked. Despised getting sung to. From the beginning she showed her independence. To have had her strapped to my wife would have made a terrible existence for both of them, and me.
Good attachment focused parenting will encourage a healthy co dependence without lack of individuality and independence. The child knows they are supported but allowed to be independent. This instills in the child the resilience to explore and grow knowing they are nutured and supported at all timed, but not dependent in the parent for all their direction and will. It develops both the internal strength and the external support network.
I love your blog and I what you share.
Any “parenting philosophy,” especially when you’re a first-time parent comes with it’s own set of challenges, victories, and sanity-breaking experiences. And since every child is different, no philosophy is a perfect fit or one-size-fits-all. We have one child right now, a 2-year old daughter. I learned quickly that the best parenting practice is to observe and listen – to tune in to the messages coming from your child and use a combination of inner wisdom/intuition and research from a variety of tested “tried and true” approaches that support the development of a healthy relationship between parent and child. Does that mean we are perfect parents? Not by a long shot! And when we have a second child I know we will do things differently – hopefully better – because we are wiser and more experienced now and because the second child will be unique in her/his own right. We did plenty of skin-to-skin contact, held our daughter while she slept, co-slept (used a co-sleeper right by my side of the bed until she was about 4 months, transitioned her to her bed and then shared our bed on an as-needed basis and still do), breastfed (just weaned about 3 weeks ago), and babywearing (and fortunately our daughter was petite so we could wear her for much longer than some parents with those 100th percentile babies – ours was in the 10th, and perfectly healthy!). Sleep was always a challenge for us. She almost never napped unless it was on me. I feel like I tried everything in the myriad collection of books out there and everything but sleeping on me always resulted in a screaming, tired baby and exhausted, frustrated mama. Surprisingly, she will nap just fine for others most of the time! Now, at 2 years old, we have quiet rest time – I roll out a cotton mat on her bedroom floor (always offering her the choice between her bed and the mat for rest time – bedtime we just use the bed), she collects some books and I set a Tibetan bell timer for 90 minutes and she knows to stay in her room until the bell chimes (of course if she falls asleep past the bell, I do not wake her up!). And she sleeps 10-12 hours a night and only occasionally wakes up needing comfort from her mama or daddy. As far as I’m concerned, sleep has been fairly successful.
Could it have been better? Maybe, but it’s hard to know. We attempted sleep-training and abandoned after multiple times of 90 minutes of piercing screaming. Sleep training is supposed to be about self-regulation and soothing and I could hear none of that in my daughter’s cries. And as one mother mentioned much earlier in these responses – some babies just aren’t big sleepers or need more comfort when they sleep.
Part of me wishes we nursed longer. I did set a goal to nurse to two years and we nursed for 25 months. By the time I weaned her (and yes, it was me the mama who put the end to nursing and for a very good reason), she mainly nursed only in the morning upon waking. But did I mention that she nursed for 45 minutes? My daughter has always been a long nurser and reluctant to delatch and I was fine with this when breastmilk was her main source of nourishment. But at 2 years, when she’s pulling off every 4 seconds distracted by every sound and sight, when she’s doing yoga on my belly, when she looks up sweetly at me and says “Still nursing, Mama,” even though it clearly feels like she’s not, and when (and here comes the very good reason for weaning) this process completely disrupts my morning momentum and rhythm and I lose the energy I had for the day, spend all day trying to get that rhythm and energy back which can sometimes trigger mild depression and completely disrupt my child’s rhythm, then I decided it was time to be finished. Now we have a new rhythm that includes some short snuggle time and then a morning circle during which we sing songs and dance. Very energizing, gives us a predictable routine and absolutely strengthens our attachment. As another mother said, attachment parenting goes far beyond the skin-to-skin, cosleeping, breastfeeding and babywearing.
For us, we understand the core of attachment parenting to be about developing mutual respect, setting safe boundaries, and finding immense share joy in each other. I am very thankful that Emily wrote this post and for the responses because this discussion reminds us that there is no one right way to parent and no parent deserves to be demonized just because they do or don’t follow whatever style happens to be trendy at the time (thank you TIME magazine). I believe that everyone who has written a response or simply read this post is the mother or father of a beautiful relationship with their child/children – otherwise you probably wouldn’t have read this in the first place. The most important lessons I’ve learned since becoming a mother are:
1. Always be gentle and kind to yourself.
2. Connect with your sense of adventure.
3. Combine your wisdom/intuition with knowledge gained from a variety of outside sources.
4. Tune into your child – by observing and listening with your heart, you and your child will develop a beautiful dance of communication that will always guide you through the whitewater rapids of the family river.
Melanie Christner, NTP, CGP says
Thanks for the article. This is a hot topic and somewhat controversial. I have raised four good sleepers and it all started with training them very young to put themselves to sleep. I think I did it best with my fourth:) I had her sleep with me for 2 weeks, then I transitioned her to a bassinet in our room. That way she transitioned gently from life in the womb, she slept good and I held her to sleeping patterns when she went to the bassinet. She was sleeping through the night by 4 months and transitioned to a room with her sister with minimal upset.
If one of my babies had to “cry it out” I was still there to comfort, check in on them, tell them gently to go to sleep, but be just slightly more stubborn than they, until they could learn that YES they were capable of putting themselves to sleep. This was usually a night or two of crying for 15 minutes.
They slept good, I slept good. All four of my kids have taken naps well past 4 years old and sleep at least 8 hours at night. They all have different personalities but there has to be something to the early sleep training that is not just coincidence.
I appreciate this post. I have noticed moms and dads in general need to feel validation that they are good parents, so they create the ideal parent in their minds eye, then strive to be “that” parent. Maybe they have put attachment parenting on that pedestal, maybe they put parents who seem to have magic sleep tricks on that pedestal… it could be anything, really. If they can do all the right steps to be walking in the shoes of their “ideal parent image”, they feel pretty good about them self , and if they don’t, they feel that they have failed. Parenting is about our children, it’s not about us! If something doesn’t work, it’s not a big deal. We can make changes, and that is ok. Unselfishly loving your kids and connection with them is a mind-set, not a specific method that looks one way. There is nothing to prove to anyone in parenthood, only children who need to hear the message loud and strong that they are unconditionally loved. If we stick with this as parents, our kids will have the best mom and dad that they could possibly have, and you will be a success. The only danger I see in attachment parenting, or any other parenting style is when parents do it for the wrong reasons, and become in-flexible. I have seen people attachment parent in beautiful ways, where there is deep, and healthy connection, but I don’t think attachment parenting has to look like the Sears family. Maybe since he coined the term, his family portrait is the pedestal which parents strive to attain. Maybe another term needs to be invented like “Loving Connection Parenting”:)
Great idea, Elisha! Loving Connection Parenting sounds perfect. 🙂
Shara Harper says
This is our exact story, only I felt really comfortable with AP in the first year, but my son is now 19 months and our life has been crumbling since just after his first birthday. We did sleep train our first and he is a super happy confident boy of 4.5 years, however when pregnant with #2 I was introduced through new friends to AP. I though it sounded wonderful and totally what we were looking for. Now I have been there, I know I will never co sleep or extreme babywearing again. All that has resulted for us is chronic sleep deprivation ( hubby moved to another room as I refused to budge on the violent co sleeping we were experiencing with our son), extreme back pain due to a big 10lb 8oz bubba who just kept growing, with all that good breast milk he was getting every half hour 24 hours a day! I’ve also had periods flat on my back unable to move due to sciatica. Now I am working through horrible depression and resentment issues towards my beautiful boy. He hit, pinches, bites (particularly my breasts) and screams if I move more than a metre from him… 3 weeks ago we moved him back to his room, implemented a strict evening routine, and now he walks in to bed himself, I still lie down with him, but he falls asleep within moments and the last 4 nights he has slept from 730 till 5!! I feel better already! I felt like I couldn’t talk with anyone about our issues, AP friends kept telling me our situation was normal, and non AP friends had no sympathy, you’ve brought it on yourself type of advice… A very isolating time for me. I agree AP is a whole parenting philosophy that encompasses a lot more then co sleeping and babywearing, however I really felt that it is touted as the answer to all parenting issues and this is just not true… If, and I hope we do, have more babies, I will be doing it very differently, a good dose of both with very relaxed and flexible ideas!! X
Thank you for sharing that!!
I loved this. I completely agree with this statement, “I also think the AP community deserves a smack on the wrist for unabashedly treating any other style of parenting with scorn.” While most of my parenting has been AP style, I feel too much emphasis is placed on following all the tenets, including and emphasizing co-sleeping, babywearing and “following the baby.” It’s like if you even attempt to take the lead and guide your child in a predictable routine, or to get them to sleep through the night before they are 2-3 years old you no longer can be considered an AP parent. I also think much of AP thought is that their parenting style is the most compassionate and beneficial for the child. I disagree with this assumption, as well. The truth is, AP takes a major toll on parents, much more than any other style of parenting I have been exposed to, and I don’t necessarily believe it is the most compassionate approach, either. I believe it is very compassionate for a child that comes into this world chaotic (as all babies do) to have a loving parent guide them in ways that they can trust and predict, including limiting breastfeeding (nursing every hour is not compassionate unless a baby has some serious development needs that require it), encouraging good sleep habits (crying for hours is not necessary for a baby to develop the ability to sleep through the night before the age of two years), and allowing them free time to move around on their own and practice their movements, muscle development and brain function, rather than having them strapped to an adult constantly.
I can’t even say how often I have listened to parents lamenting over severe exhaustion from sleep deprivation, poor nap habits and night sleeping, etc. While this is the story of every parent in the very beginning, this story continues for a good year to three years beyond the experience of parents that do not practice AP dogmatically. I agree with Anne Marie, it just is not necessary to go through this.
I feel that many folks exit the AP style bewildered, dazed, frustrated, resentful and exhausted, all the while looking for all those supposed benefits that are always painted so beautifully. It took me more than a year to realize it was following AP that was causing so much stress in my life, and not just because I got a “bad sleeper.” I am convinced that if I had followed a more structured routine, the majority of my first year – two year ills would have been eliminated. And I wouldn’t have spent a year recovering from the physical toll it took on my body.
I know everyone says, “Well, every child and family is different.” Which is true, but it may be way too late in the game once you realize it is not working for you (like the parents that walk into Emily’s practice 6-7 months in) to change course easily. A baby that is used to co-sleeping and nursing on demand all night long will not easily let go of that without hours of screaming, which no parent wants to do. You end up exhausted, frustrated and feeling stuck, not to mention guilty if you do resort to cry it out methods that you originally thought you would circumvent by your compassionate parenting choice.
So Emily, you mean my ranting and raving about AP almost ruining MY life didn’t inspire this post? 🙂 Thanks for writing. People need to hear it.
Of course our rantings and ravings inspired this post, JoAnne! I was thinking of you the whole time I wrote it!
“(nursing every hour is not compassionate unless a baby has some serious development needs that require it)”
And yet this is exactly how women in traditional cultures breastfeed… without watching the clock. Women who do not reading parenting books nurse this way in other words.
Nursing every hour is baby wants/needs it is a good idea. A good percentage of babies DO need to nurse frequently because they have an undiagnosed frenulum issue – so many Pediatricians are ignorant of this issue and as parents we don’t recognize it either. A baby who is struggling because of this could easily slip into failure to thrive if their mother tried to schedule their feedings.
AP is designed to raise happy, healthy, compassionate and kind children. I am sorry to say, I do not see any of that in your posts. Please remember that by debating every point another makes, you are ostracizing them from the AP community.
To blanket say pediatricians, who have the highest level of education possible, are required to do CEU’s and would lose their license by a lawsuit in a heartbeat do not understand childrens needs is irresponsible.
I can only continue to point out that by taking such an extreme stance and argueing every point made with people on this board is NOT representative of us AP parents who believe in what is best for the child.
I have been a preschool teacher for 10 years, and I have noticed that children who were raised in the strict AP style (according to what their parents tell me) are often less independent and less confident than other children. They seem quieter and more afraid to be on their own. Of course temperaments vary widely, and this is by no means a scientific study, but I have noticed this time and again!
That’s interesting, Michelle! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
I have noticed this too!
It’s a valuable discussion, thanks for sharing honestly. I have no doubt that so many of us can share perspectives and experiences, both positive and negative, from both ends of the “parenting” spectrum (I know I can, LOL). Like one of the commenters above, I don’t like the label “attachment parenting…” I don’t think it really embraces the heart behind the practices and traditions. But we have to call it something, so AP it is. As I think through this issue, I see the potential for parents to take reactionary measures against a frustrating…even exhausting…experience. They may tend to (forgive the horrid idiom) throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Babywearing and cosleeping are natural, traditional practices…they are beneficial for baby and for mama (and dad, too). Babies need and deserve the close nurturing, the intimacy and security, that comes from both. I don’t think we need “studies” to tell us what our instincts tell us. It is easier for baby to sleep with mom for night nursings; babies tend to sleep better next to a parent (heart and breathing patterns). It is not natural (nor even completely safe) for a baby to sleep alone in her own room. Scheduling nursing can (and has) lead to malnourished babies, as it doesn’t take into account each child’s unique needs and physiology. I’ve seen (and experienced) attempts to sleep train that simply didn’t work…after nights of torment for both child and parent, the attempt was abandoned (but this, I think, is due to misunderstood health issues in baby).
Of course we need balance. Moms need sleep, too. Naps for baby/child are a good thing! And maybe a bassinet by mom’s bed helps mom to tend to baby at night but also sleep without developing “nursing neck” (you know what I mean, ladies! LOL) Moms shouldn’t be so extreme that they are wearing themselves to a frazzled nub, unable to function and mother, and we also shouldn’t expect a baby to be an autonomous being devoid of the crucial need for contact nurturing. One extreme would be wearing one’s baby all day and most of the night, not bathing, not peeing, hardly eating, and not liking it. Another extreme is always having baby in a high chair, bouncy seat, stroller, crib, etc. Neither scenario is desirable. I went through four different baby carrier styles with three children to find what worked best for me (and baby). After using a sling, mei tai, moby wrap and ergo carrier, I found the ergo to be the most comfy for me and it worked for baby, too. I loved wearing my babies…I made the mistake of wearing my toddlers when I should have put them down. We all learn where we need to draw the line. But I don’t think we should or would advise moms to never wear their babies…it feeds our heart and soul as much as theirs.
In my experience working with parents and children, I have seen many babies needing physical healing, often unbeknownst to parents. I’d suggest that AP isn’t the enemy, but that some cases of “frazzled mom” are due to a child really needing systemic healing. A constantly fussy, unhappy baby isn’t “normal.” Colic and baby acne are not “normal,” they are the manifestation of food sensitivities/allergies. Even in breastfed babies…they can react to ANYthing in the breastmilk. Overlooking the signs that your baby is reacting poorly to foods or is suffering gut dysbiosis will certainly make both baby and you miserable. If you are desperately using AP methods with a fussy, unhappy, uncomfortable, sleepless baby, you need to seek healing for the baby…you’ll see a big improvement in behaviour, comfort and your sanity level. I learned through personal experience and in working with others that it is crucial to identify these issues early on.
My concern is when I hear moms talk about making parenting lifestyle choices based only on their needs…what makes them comfortable. That isn’t the right perspective, any more than it would be to do everything all the time to please baby at the expense of your genuine health. But we need to recognize that parenting requires sacrifice. If I was thinking only of myself, I certainly wouldn’t do much of what I do…I wouldn’t extend breastfeed, I wouldn’t prepare from scratch traditional nourishing foods, I wouldn’t homeschool. We all chose to do things that are right and good for our children even when it makes our lives more difficult.
I don’t think AP itself is the problem, I think we can find balance. Our society is becoming increasing “detached” and dehumanized. We need more connectedness with one another, more intimacy with our children, not less. And we need our sanity and our health. I think we can achieve both. Babywearing and cosleeping and nursing without a schedule (and beyond 1 year) are healthy for both mind and body, for both mom and baby. Our goal should be to practice these natural processes with wisdom, balance and love.
Thank you, Gabi, this was everything I was thinking but didn’t know how to share 🙂
Discussions about controversial issues always bring to my mind the swinging pendulum of a clock. To one side, there is the radical view. To the other side, there is the opposing radical view. And in the middle, where the pendulum rests, is balance. We all swing to one side and then to the other when confronted with ideas that challenge our previously held beliefs, but the goal would be to eventually come to a resting and peaceful place in the middle!
We had a totally different experience having twins. It’s worked out that ALL forms of parenting styles have helped us in some way throughout the past 16 months. You name it, we’ve done it or tried it (well, except spanking). Not being held captive by any one “theory” or “expert” but reading a ton and taking what was right for our family at that particular moment in time was lifesaving. Babies change so much and so quickly, and it was important to allow ourselves as parents to change and grow with them, instead of getting preoccupied with making them fit into a certain mold that a parenting guru espoused.
I decided early on that I would not give in to mama-guilt, as much as I was able, and I’ve begun to sense/observe that many parents’ abhorrence of a certain parenting style is due to an insecurity or wound in their own life. Probably not true for everyone, but certainly true for me. Just a thought.
Hear, hear! Beautifully put.
Heidrun Matthies says
Thank you for sharing your journey and struggle with attachment parenting. I really appreciate how thoughtful you were about choosing a path that works for your family and that you are wanting to help other families! When you write “These parents are faced with the choice to wait it out (usually until around 3 years of age) or the dreaded “cry it out” method.” I would like to add that there is a 3rd method which is the “Crying in arms approach” which is promoted by Hand in Hand Parenting as well as Aware Parenting. Here is a link to an article who describes it: http://www.awareparenting.com/cryinginarms.htm and here is a link to a short broadcast http://www.handinhandparenting.org/uploads/media/16_Helping_Baby_Sleep.mp3. Unforunately, this approach is not widely known yet. I had a similar challenge with Attachment Parenting when it comes to sleep. The cyring in arms approach is based in Attachment Theory which is scientifically researched & backed up. Unfortunately, “crying it out” tends to be psychological harmful to babies and children. I hope this is helpful.
What a great post. Thanks for being so open and honest.
I’m curious, what feeding strategy did you use with your daughter since you said you didn’t use Gina Ford’s?
I look forward to hearing your answer. Thanks!
Hi Holly – Thank you. I breast fed both my babies on demand. It just so happened though, that baby #2 demanded a lot less feeding since she was sleeping more. 😉
I feel that the point needs to be raised that the article contains 1 bias – a LOT of parents are “unseasoned” with their first child and do things differently (or better) the second time around. Which means that perhaps it was not the “AP” method that was the problem, but just our natural naivité. We made a lot of mistakes with our first that we won’t repeat with our second child.
Hi Sarah – Very true.. Parenting the first time around is certainly like a walk in the pitch-black dark!
Great post, thank you! I sleep trained my son, he took about 6 months & a lot of help to learn how to go to sleep. I carried him as often as practical b
But he slept in his own cot most of the time. We are all happier for it now at 9 months & he is very well attached & thriving.
We practice quite a bit of AP around here. My 2.5 year old co-sleeps, is weaned and gets put in a carrier only if he is sick and really needs comfort when I have to do something like make dinner. He has always been on the high end of the charts and though I am very petite I was able to wear him just fine for as long as he wanted. My husband and I have a great sex life (there are plenty of places other than a bed to enjoy your spouse) and though I am not a heavy sleeper I am plenty rested. My kid takes naps almost every day, sometimes by himself and sometimes someone stays just long enough for him to fall asleep. He was breastfed to sleep until about 13 months when he dropped that feeding and then weaned himself at 15 months. AP has not been detrimental to his, or my, sleep patterns and in fact I think it made him a more confident sleeper. He has his own bed to use when he wants to but he seems to have some pretty intense (scary) dreams, just like mommy, and so he sleeps more soundly in the same room with us. We respect our kid, his feeling and his choices. We respect the fact that he is 2 years old and does things sometimes because he can’t not do it, not because he’s trying to make our lives miserable. We practice positive discipline and responsibility for one’s actions. Honestly, he is the most friendly, outgoing, adventurous, kind kid I know. He says please and thank you without being asked, he apologizes to other kids without prompting and shares what he has quite readily. I have never told him to apologize or made him use manners. We simply model the behavior we would like to see, respect him enough to make his own choice about when to use the behaviors and let things be. The respect is key. AP is really about allowing your child to be their own person, without you making a ton of decisions for them. It is not my responsibility to put my kid to sleep, it’s his. What is my responsibility is to create the conditions for yes and to pay attention to the signs that my kid is putting out. All of the things my kid is capable of may be his temperament or maybe the AP style that we naturally gravitated too, you never know. But I think the one thing that is very important is that people stop blaming AP for creating problem children or kids who are shy, sleep training could very well be blamed for these same things on the other end of the spectrum. Beware the judgments folks, there may be a lot more going on that you know and it may have nothing to do with someone’s parenting style.
I am ALL about it 😉 I am floored at your guts to put this out there! And I completely agree.
Sometimes I feel like because I’m a part of the real food world that maybe some look at me in disgust that I sleep trained my girls…like they will not be well adjusted and have self esteem. I have grown to experience this is not true. My girls are polar opposites 🙂 I did things differently with each one of them according to their needs. I’m thinking that is what AP is all about? Listening to them? All I know is that I needed to have order and sanity in my house. Working on a little sleep training at the approriate age gave me that sanity. *That age* was different for each girl 🙂 I embrace many aspects of AP, and some I just can’t agree with. I baby wear…but I sleep train….I take a whole foods approach…but I discipline. Gotta do whats in your heart and what works for your baby 😉 Congrats on the fantastic post – you deserve it!
Our kids slept through the night early (ranging from 8-12 weeks), but we didn’t have to do any cry-it-out (and we weren’t willing to, especially when they were so young). I knew there was a window of opportunity around 3 months or so. So our kids slept in our room, next to our bed in bassinet for the first 2 1/2 or 3 months. Then around 3 months, we moved them to their room, in a crib.
Around 4 months, naptimes in their cribs began. Before that, they were sleeping in my arms during the day, or in a bassinet in the living room.
I liked some babywearing, but it got to be too hard on my neck even with an Ergo (childhood injury) when they got bigger.
I like at the end how you said each baby will respond differently. We definitely shouldn’t try to force our children to fit a certain mold or philosophy that we believe it. Sounds like your baby didn’t even like the baby wearing if he cried the while time. We tried with all our might to have our boys cry it out-epic fail. I don’t know why, but they only responded to co-sleeping. I’m glad we were flexible enough as new parents to find what truly worked the best for our babies and our family. I think we practice the emotional side of Attachment Parenting, but we certainly don’t feel like we have to follow all the standard AP “rules”. But I will say this, I feel that our local AP group is more extreme and every time I voice my more moderate flexible ideas, they are shot down if they go against those “must follow rules”. It’s too bad-I don’t think that’s how Dr. Sears explained AP at all. And it gives new moms a strange perspective on parenting that can bring a lot of stress.
Kendahl @ Our Nourishing Roots says
I love this post. I think we can be so cruel to ourselves and even to others when we get hung up on the right way to _______. It happens with food, parenting, relationships, belief systems, etc. I’m glad you shared your story here and were willing to open up about how this all looked for you. I think other people will find comfort and validation in it, and I know that it made me feel like I am not alone.
Oh, and I recommend the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child book, too. I really liked that I was about to balance loving my sons and being there for them, but also valuing their brain development and well being with providing tools and space and support for them to get adequate sleep. Whew! They’re both good little sleepers now 🙂
Autumn Harrison says
I have co-slept with all of my children at one point or another. My son, now 4.5, slept in our bed from the start until he was a year old and we did CIO to transistion him to a crib, similar to how you described and it was heartbreaking and took over a week to get him to sleep in under an hour. We transistioned him to a twin bed at 2 so we could lay with him for nap and bed and he would be out almost instantly. We still lay with him each night until he is asleep. 4-5nights a week we wake up with him in our bed. He nursed for 18months due to pregnancy. He was worn constantly as a newborn/infant and it still continues now at 4.5 on a weekly basis.
My daughter, now 3, never liked the idea of co-sleeping until she was 2. She wanted her space and did not like to be snuggled when she was tired. I would nurse her and she’d push me away. I’d lay her in her crib and she wouldn’t fuss but drift peacefully to sleep, no crying at all, again similar to how you described but it wasn’t by my choice. She nursed for 32months. She was worn daily as a newborn and infant and had created her own schedule by 8weeks of naps (sleeping 2-3hrs for both daytime naps) and sleeping 8pm-6am, waking at midnight, at 6weeks. When she was 2 we moved and she started wanting to be in our bed and we let her. We still lay with her daily for naps and bedtime.
My 2.5m old is rarely put down. I’d say in a 24hr period she is down, out of my arms, MAYBE 2hrs a day aside from bedtime where she sleeps from 8pm-3am without waking. She is worn almost constantly, because that is where she is the most content, and she sleeps with us, in our bed. She is also breastfed.
There are struggles to the whole co-sleeping, breastfeeding, baby wearing but for me personally the pros outweigh the cons. I sleep great and though my back is sore at times, a quick trip to the chiropractor helps so much. For me, personally, “AP” is what makes sense, keeping my children as close to me as they want to be and meeting every need they have as soon as I can. Letting my child cry and not tending to it, is not something I can do. Now that doesn’t mean my child doesn’t cry, but there is something to be said about meeting their needs right away, even if that need is just to be held.
No judgement…I am just sharing what we do.
This is what happens when a parent “pretends” to not know what to do with a baby. Follow your instincts firstly. Why do you think you have them? And if something doesn’t seem right, then it isn’t. Attachment parenting somehow got confused with the child development idea of creating a child that is attached. Look up Magda Gerber to find out a little about what attachment is about.
Although with instincts, in my working with families and children I have many a parent say to me, ” I know nothing about babies and children. I wouldn’t know a baby’s bum from its mouth”. I have seen some children show signs of failure to thrive and some developmental delays because the parent’s ‘instincts’ failed to kick in. And these people were from all walks of life.
Why do parents have to ‘choose’ a style of parenting? Just parent the Child you have been blessed with in the way that you and he/she need. It’s like the ‘natural/home-birth’ verses hospital/assisted birth. There is no one way that is ‘best’ for all. And please don’t judge another parent for his/her choice, put their methods down to praise your own, but rather support them. I have worked closely with children and families for over 25 years and do not see that children who were AP have any greater advantage in any area of their development to those who were not AP. In fact, I have seen the opposite in some areas of development and can often pick an AP infant/young child out. Some times I think that some aspects of parenting methods arise out of the adults insecurities, in which we place onto our children. If our children have different personalties to us, they may not respond to our perception of what is the ‘best way’ because it is not the best way for them. One of my 4 children would not be cuddled to sleep by any one or nursed to sleep. It just didn’t work for him and he actually fought it. And now as he has gotten older he prefers a ‘no fuss, leave me alone to go to sleep by myself’ approach to bedtime. But, one of my other kids loves to be cuddled to sleep from the first hour he was born until now being 4yrs old. Your child will not care whether you practised AP or some other approach, what they will remember is whether they felt loved, secure, fed and watered, sheltered, given time and attention, listened to, accepted, and had a warm and caring connection with you. Relationship is key, no matte how it is achieved.
I agree with you, so much! Why can’t being a present, intentional, loving parent be enough? Why does a label need to be attached? It seems like alot of these “philosophies” are more for the benefit of the parent and justifying one’s decisions, than for the benefit of the child. “Relationship is key…” That has always got to be the bottom line.
While wearing your baby may not be for everyone, I wanted to add that it is entirely possible for most people to properly wear a baby, toddler, or even preschooler with no pain, provided proper technique and an appropriate carrier are used. There are trained babywearing educators throughout the country who can assist with this. I’m sorry you weren’t able to have a pain free wearing experience but I wouldn’t want your experience to discourage anyone else from trying b/c they think a heavy child or their physical attributes or condition automatically prevent them from doing so…
I’m the mother of a 23 month old fantastic little girl. DF and I AP’d from the start and I’m just now hearing about RIE and related practices. I stopped babywearing because it Killed my back and hips. No guilt over that but I’m in a really tough spot with the other AP type decisions we’ve made. This article really hit me. DD and I cosleep in a king size bed while DF (he was kicked out around DDs 8th month due to a move w a queen being the only option) Dd nurses constantly. 3-4-5 times a night. 2-3 in the morning. And through out the day. She will NOT sleep without nursing and I have to lay with her for 30-60 mins at night.
This is not working anymore. I’m getting angry. My back hurts from being squished in this bed. Me, 5’2 100 lbs and a tiny toddler, smushed like a cosleeping sandwich all night. I’m tired. I’m sick of nursing at night. I have no idea what to do. She screams absolute bloody murder if I try and change the routine. DF is clueless on how to care for her because I completely took over.
She’s very smart, sensitive, attentive, funny and has no problem if I go out for a bit while DF, nana or grandma watch her. She knows I’ll come home. She has no health issues. I credit her this to breastfeedinh.
Any advice on sleep training a toddler?? Please. Pleeeease
Of course she will scream “absolute bloody murder” if you try and change the routine. Unfortunately, if you want to change the routine and rules of sleeping and feeding, then you must accept some (maybe a lot) resistance. You are changing everything that she has known for the past 23 months of her life. Try changing only one part of the routine to start with, so you only pick one battle to fight and your toddler still has the security of the rest of the familiarity of her routine. I have heard of parents making up a bed on the floor at the foot of their bed to encourage them to sleep on their own but they are still close to you. It can be difficult for a breast feeding mother to wean her child because as she tries to offer other forms of comfort but the child smells her and her milk, so perhaps DF will need to help with this process. Perhaps you can try and stretch out the length between the feeds during the night first and leave her to access you to feed during the day, instead of going cold turkey on the breast feeds. You may need to stay home quite a bit for a few weeks while you work on this so you don’t have too many distractions and interruptions. I have never fed any of my 4 babies in my bed or had them in my bedroom to sleep, with the exception of the morning feed once they are older babies. I have always gotten up and out of my bed and fed them in their room or the living room. For this very reason – bed is for sleep, not food, no matter how sleep deprived I have been, and I have been extremely sleep deprived for years (3-4 hrs broken sleep a night). Perhaps you can try getting up and feeding your child in a chair or introduce them to a bed so you can lay with them and then leave their bed. My son wanted to be fed every 1 to 1.5 hours day and night from the first hour he was born and wanted to be cuddled or right next to me to sleep. So he went into a king single bed at 15 months because it was big enough for both of us to sleep on and I gradually removed myself from him over a period of months until I could leave him sleeping. So start with a cuddle, then just an arm around their body, then move your body away slightly, then try cuddling without getting into bed with them, so you gradually over time are removing more of your physical self from them but still remaining there while they learn to sleep without you. Keep doing this until your child can lay in their bed with just your hand on their back (so they can still feel your warmth and presence, slowly lessen the pressure of your hand on them, until you can leave the room. Some times, they may need you to be in the room for a little while so that if they wake you can immediately assure them that you are still there for them, until you can leave the room. I use to fold washing in my kids bedroom, then I would move to just outside their door way, and then up the hall way a little, so they cold hear me nearby, but were in their bed by themselves. It sound like a long drawn out process of more sleepless nights but my kids are extremely strong willed and this approach worked for them. However you may find that it doesn’t work for you. Try to minimise eye contact and talking with a simple but firm, “its sleep time now, you need to go to sleep in your own bed”. Hopefully something here might help you.
Sandra Mort says
I strongly recommend The No Cry Sleep Solution (either the orginal book or the one for toddlers, depending on the age of your child). I don’t personally believe it is ever okay to walk out of a room and let a child scream alone until he throws up, as some of the so called experts say to do. I won’t say my none of my kids ever cried, but none of them were abandoned to cry alone in a dark scary room.
Great post, Emily! I’ve actually been down this same road, but not as a parent – as a professional. I’m a postpartum doula and my journey along the parenting continuum has led me to a Place of balance, where you can be in tune with your kids without being slaves to them. So many parents think a feeding and sleep rhythm means forcing your baby into YOUR way, by making them scream until they submit. But your experience is far more the norm – start gently from the beginning, and you won’t have these issues at all. Now, some kids don’t go so easily, and in those cases the whole family sleeps better co-sleeping. I always say, give them what they need – no less, no more.
I’m looking forward to reading more of your stuff!
Carol Lovett says
I’m not a mother but one of these days I’ll be one and your post and these comments have given me a lot of think about.
Jayadeep Purushothaman says
Baby wearing is the norm in this part of the world and only recently people are using other methods(prams etc.) for carrying their babies. Most of the mothers are also very used to handling babies from a relative or friends’ babies. And needless to say the right posture is needed to wear your baby. I used a baby wearing bag(?) for sometime and abandoned it because it was hurting my shoulder and moved to the traditional way of wearing the baby with the hand. While it was not comfortable when our daughter became a bit heavier – she was a lean beauty from birth btw ! You may want to check the Gokhale method for back pains and understand the right posture of the traditional baby wearing methods – http://gokhalemethod.com/
Emily, I’m surprised that no one recommended chiropractic or magnesium supplements to you. Your symptoms sound a lot like a magnesium deficiency from the sciatica to the sleep issues (and your son’s sleep issues) and resulting symptoms as it tends to snowball. CALM, magnesium citrate and Magnesium Oil have been helpful for me since my acupuncturist (and seasoned AP mom) recommended them when DS was a baby.
I hope that you will pass along this information to similarly distressed parents along with your advice to sleep train. It doesn’t have to be wait it out/suffer or sleep train. I find it unfortunate that you did not find a good balance with your son but as a holistic counselor I hope that you would take a more balanced and *holistic* approach to counseling parents through this difficult phase of parenting rather than advocating extreme, either/or choices.
Hi MissMaryMac – Thanks for your comment.
I certainly did chiropractic care and magnesium supplements as well as a whole slew over other holistic measures to counteract the damage of sleep deprivation. but my fatigue primarily had to do with the fact that I was only getting around 4 hours of broken sleep for a very long stretch of time.
Unfortunately there is no substitute for sleep, and while I support a parents’ choice to parent how they see fit, there is not amount of bodywork or supplements that will magically make chronic sleep deprivation not detrimental to health.
I do not scorn someone who chooses co-sleeping or baby-wearing, I just think that there should be more info out there to support parents who choose to use different styles of parenting – hence this post.
Right, there are no supplements or bodywork that will replace a good nights sleep that’s why the magnesium supplements should be used as a proactive measure to promote restful sleep, not make up for lost sleep. The idea is to help the parents sleep stay even so that they do not wake fully through rooting to nurse or other movements in the bed. Magnesium deficiency can make us sleep lightly and be especially sensitive to those things, as well as effect our moods and patience during the day.
oh dear says
i cannot believe the amout of people on here who think its ok to not feed your baby during the night at such a young age!! 9 weeks!! poor child! they NEED to eat at night as that is when they grow and especially breast fed babies, your milk contains more fats and goodness at night than in the day, that is why they need to feed then.
Also how often do you have a drink in the night?? why make them go 9/12 hours without one?? whenever i hear people brag about how long their babies sleep i cringe, its not normal, why have a child if you only want to care for it 12 hours a day?? its a life time thing 24/7!!! not from 7am till 7pm and ‘he only cried for 2 hours’ WOW that poor baby, can you imagine YOU crying for 2 hours with no comfort?? how awful 🙁 the stress levels in him would be so high so so sad. Dont even say ‘well he only cried 20min the next night’ …..its because he knows there is no point, hes scared but doesnt want you now….brilliant parenting that!!
I really hope that other people who come here reading this because they are struggling with AP can see its just an attack on AP because it didnt work for the writer, I dont fully AP myself but i do work with the basic principles unlike this lady who has gone from one extreme to another with her kids, it doesnt have to be that black and white. If you have a child it means less sleep FACT if you cant hack it dont have one??! pretty simple!
ps – my daughter is the most happy content child, she is the most independent of all the kids at her playgroup and she barely crys you know why?? because she has never been left to starve at night or cry, so she knows that every time she needs me i am there so she doesnt have to guess if i will attend to her that time or not and scream to just make sure.
Dear oh dear,
It is exactly because of comments like this all over the AP community that I felt the need to write this post.
There are many ways to raise a child correctly, and as far as I can tell, you do not have the patent on proper parenting.
I sincerely thank you for sharing your thoughts here, and I am completely supportive of you parenting in the way that you see fit.
Likewise, I would deeply appreciate if you would respect the path of other parents that choose other methods.
We are all doing our best, and in most cases, children turn out just fine on either end of the AP spectrum.
Wishing you the best…
Love this, thank you! I think the sounds ideas of attachment THEORY have been sorely misapplied in the practice of attachment parenting. I love that you point out that there are simply different styles of parentng for each kid.
I coslept with my baby for 6 months when that was the best way, and then sleep trained him. Sleep is SO difficult, and I’m so tired of hearing AP parents suffering hugely for their babies rather than figuring out another way that works better for everyone in the family.
I really appreciated this post. In the crunchy, natural-living circles I run in, I sometimes feel like the outcast because I don’t co-sleep and actually sleep train my children (gasp). It’s just assumed that because I love whole foods, breastfeed, delay vaccination, and give birth at home that I obviously must co-sleep and wear my baby 24/7. (I do use a sling when I’m out and about b/c I need my hands free to wrangle my other kiddos, but at home he plays on the floor.) And people sometimes respond with shock and condescension when they find out I don’t.
All four of my boys, each with a unique temperament, have slept at least 10 hours nightly around 10 weeks, give or take. We started them off sleeping in their own space, falling asleep on their own, so we never had to do any cry-it-out. And if they did cry in the night, we knew something was wrong or they were hungry from a growth spurt. No, my children weren’t ever starving, nor were they left to cry for hours on end. They’re loved, healthy, well-adjusted and sweet. 🙂 That’s the way we do it, and it has worked for us.
But the thing that bothers me is a lack of respect towards others’ parenting decisions, even in some of the comments. I don’t need nor am I asking for everyone to agree with me or adopt my chosen method. If asked, I can tell you what worked for us and you can decide if that will work best for you. And if co-sleeping and nursing all night works for your family, I applaud you. But is it too much to ask for the same respect for those of us who choose to gently teach our children to sleep at night? Because at the end of the day, nobody’s out to screw up their kids. We’re all just mamas (& daddys) who are trying to parent with our family’s best interests at heart.
April @ The 21st Century Housewife says
Thank you for an honest heartfelt post about your own experience. As you say, every baby is different and will respond differently to different methods. There is no one way to raise a child, and you have to do what works for you. I wasn’t aware of attachment parenting when my son was an infant, but there seemed to be an awful lot of ‘rules’ about what I was supposed to do which often left me feeling that I was falling short of some unattainable ideal parenting model. My son is now a healthy, happy 19 year old and most of the ‘rules’ that made me feel inadequate and miserable are considered completely outdated and ‘wrong’.
Andrea Olson says
Wow, mama, this is an awesome post! I did practice attachment parenting with my son, who is now almost 2.5 years old. And I do have a bad back and I do think that, for the most part, I did what felt the most right for me, but as a new mom, I definitely adhered to AP, thinking that it would make everything easier. What I found is that my son actually needs more boundaries, more discipline, and actually I saw your baby’s blue vein post and I’m gonna go read that next because I think that might have something to do with it. But yeah, I think attachment parenting failed for me, and then I breastfed for about 6 months longer than I had actually wanted to. I co-slept but I moved my son into his own bed at 2, which felt good for me.
Sleep training a baby is kind of a scary topic for me, I think because of all the AP stuff I read, but now that I am hoping for a second baby, I am going to look into it, I’m going to read your other post.
I did wear my baby for about 18 months then I moved to my mom’s house and she had a stroller and it was awesome. My son was actually much happier and so was I. But I’ve gotta say that the months on end that I wore him as a baby were awesome for me. I had a really good carrier.
But anyway, I think you’ve inspire me to write my second book. My first one’s on elimination communication and I added in all sorts of things to this book about bringing a balance to the practice, because it also has very, very extreme views in some realms of the EC world. A lot of my readers are asking for a book on attachment parenting but one that will actually solve their sleep problems and things like that, and so, I think you’ve inspired my second book. I just wanna thank you so much!
Andrea Olson says
Sorry! I was really tired when I posted my above reply…I meant “I DON’T think attachment parenting failed for me, ALTHOUGH I DID breastfeed for about 6 months longer than I had actually wanted to.” :o)
Thanks Andrea! Glad you appreciated it, and thanks for sharing with your readers. 🙂
Uh. Ok I think some people take AP way to literally. They think that if they just do the Bs perfectly for like two years it will all be great. What is more important is the overall philosophy of AP, you know, responding to your infant and toddler, not using coercion or punishment, being respectful, treating kids like they are the humans they are. If you read up on it, like actually read Dr. Sear’s book cover to cover, you find that he’s actually very open to doing what is right for your family, which might mean skipping some of the Bs. Personally I did very little baby wearing, it just hurt my back too much and my son was born in summer, so it was too hot to hold him that way. We got a stroller and it was amazing. But I still consider myself an AP mom, I didn’t flunk out of AP momdom because I rarely babywore. You can formula feed and still be an AP mom. Not EVERY AP mom bedshares. The Bs are just tools for in case you are feeling disconnected from your child, you can go back to them to help that connection. I loved AP when I read about it because it was so open, it was the first place where I saw anyone write about how it’s OK to bedshare, in fact it might make your life easier. Not everyone’s life, but I think I got more sleep than most moms for that first year of my sons life because I coslept, not in spite of it. AP is made out to be this exclusive cult but if you actually read the books and go to the parent meetings and play groups, you find that it really is not. Everyone is different, everyone does things slightly differently, and we ALL make plenty of mistakes.
Ashley Van Otterloo says
Thank you. It’s generally the rabid, wild-eyed first time mamas (many who are still in the identity phase of their OWN development) who are so hyperbolic about what THEIR family will/won’t do (AP snobbery)…and the same mamas a year or two later who are so wrung out and bitter that life isn’t formulaic…who end up giving AP a bad name.
Most of us who are still practicing AP aren’t talking about it much because we’re doing it pragmatically, in moderation, and too busy life to crusade for/against it. ;oP
Well stated! Amen!
I consider myself an attachment parent. I love AP philosophy. I love my AP mom friends. The AP’ed kids I know are pretty cool, too! But I gotta agree with you about the sleep thing. Similar to you, I ended up sleep training when my son was about 13 months old. It was very hard, but the hard part lasted only one night. And it was done, and my husband and I were both in bliss. We had been spending an hour each night getting him to bed… and I had been busy running up and downstairs when he wanted a snack before I had gone to bed. I still nursed on demand and I didn’t wean until he was past his second birthday. I never felt any resentment over those things; these are things that I loved and cherished.
I never sleep trained my daughter. Instead I just expected her to figure it out because I now had two young kids to take care of in the daytime, I needed to sleep at night! She was sleeping through the night at 3 or 4 months old. She’s never had to cry it out, well, not for more than one minute anyway! I think that is what APers don’t get – set your kid on the course in the beginning and it is not necessary to CIO. It is also not necessary to be sleep deprived. I think it is hard though, to set down a sweet sleepy nursling. With my daughter I only did it out of necessity. It’s all worked out quite nicely!
Leah H says
Kudos to you for braving this terrain. I looked into AP with our first child and I think we took a more hybrid approach too. Some things just DIDN’T work for me eventually, so I had to drop them/modify them. Both of my kids slept with us as newborns because frankly, it is easy, they are unwiggly and you get a lil more sleep. But once they became movers, and I became VERY uncomfortable with them in the bed, I moved them to their own bassinet right beside me. They were still close, I still responded, nursed (and many times fell asleep with them latched, only to wake up and move them) and WE BOTH got more sleep.
With our first, we started with The Sleep Lady’s (Kim West) method of sleep coaching around 4 months. You are still with them, so no screaming it out, and they learn they are safe and can go back to sleep on their own. Introducing this at a young age was SOOOO worth it! With our second, we used her method around 6 months. I wore both of my babies for awhile but they simply got too heavy before they were even one!
Sometimes I feel bad that I didn’t let them sleep with us more, or that I didn’t have them latched and attached more, but at the same time, I was home with them 24/7, they learned how to explore and interact in the most secure place they could be. My 2 year old is still a super-momma’s-boy, but when the back starts aching, we go find other things to do together, like tickle-time, or read a book, etc. I think if something is making you stressed, in pain, or angry, then you should reevaluate and adjust for everyone’s good. That’s a great parent! Real attachment means and includes so much more. I absolutely know that AP works for so many people and is a great movement, but when it’s taken as “rule” and not as “guide” it can become quite unattaching!
Just wanted to share this as an FYI. Take what you will from it. I have enjoyed reading all of the comments.
Wow your post about your first child and his sleep is almost identical to my story. We are still nursing at 28 months but it’s very painful and I want to wean. He still isn’t a great sleeper and I have had to resort to CIO with him. Please take the time to read this if you get the chance, I think you will appreciate it! http://beautifulinhistime.com/2013/01/24/my-slow-journey-away-from-attachment-parenting/
Ashley Van Otterloo says
I’m always really confounded when I meet people so bitter/disillusioned about something to the point they feel the need to make a public statement about it. It genuinely puzzles me.
I sleep share, breastfeed, baby wear, and discipline my kids non punitively…but that doesn’t define me as a parent. :shrug: I don’t baby wear around the house constantly; as soon as they can play on the floor, they do. They fuss sometimes. If I go running, someone watches baby or she rides in a stroller. (and, for seriously…how CAN you hike without wearing your baby? ;oP Unless you’re hiking a paved trail, which isn’t really hiking XOP) I’ve nursed children up until 3.5 years old, but they have definite limits so I’m not at all at their beck and call by toddlerhood.
I think the thing that will drive us absolutely MAD as parents is an inability to be at peace with our own moderate choices. Flexibility is invaluable. I can’t demand that my life be exactly the same with all the freedoms I possessed before parenthood, and I also can’t demand that I “practice” any philosophy to the point that it damages our relationship/my health. There’s a happy medium to be had…by baby #4, I really don’t even think twice about my “parenting choices”. It’s just LIFE, you know? <3
I really enjoyed your comment thanks for sharing! I am certainly not defined by babywearing breastfeeding or cosleeping even though most of the things I do are “attachment parenting”, for me its just life. I had a colicky baby and the only way he would sleep is on me or nursing or being bounced, I wasn’t about to just let a refluxy baby cry. But I also enjoy being close to my babies. But I don’t wear them constantly, when they are capable of crawling around or sitting and playing I let them do so! I am still nursing my 4 yr old and while he does need more limits and it has drained so much of my energy at times because of he is high needs, I am not blaming AP, I chose to do those things with him.
I found this post really interesting! I have a 14 month old that we primarily AP, but for us it’s been following our gut and doing whatever works for all three of us, not about what any book/website/family member says we should be doing. She was an incredibly high needs baby and would get so upset if she was left to cry it out on her own for any reason, she’d get so stuffed up she literally couldn’t breathe, let alone sleep. Alternately, I could wear her and she’d be an angel. It was better for everyone’s sanity and sleep to hold her constantly and share sleep for the first six months of her life. She learned to sit by herself at four months and was crawling by six, so it certainly didn’t delay any development, and as soon as she could move around she was much more content to be on the floor exploring. Now at fourteen months, she’s still not a great sleeper, but she’s one of the happiest and most content babies I know, and we hear our friends with kids say this about her repeatedly. I honestly think that it’s mostly her temperament, but I do believe she would have shut down if we had tried to schedule her too early. She was just too needy. We are reaching the point where we are starting to discipline. I’ve found Dr. Sears’ The Discipline Book to be extremely helpful. AP is NOT about not disciplining your kids! It’s about doing it in a positive manner. Big difference. That being said, Dr. Sears’ is just the first of many books on my list to read and take what I want and leave the rest.
The biggest thing that stuck out to me in this post is that you mentioned that neither you nor your husband had any baby experience. That’s huge! I’ve seen countless parents, including several close friends, go to parenting extremes (AP or CIO) based on books rather than instinct. Sometimes I wish that all my mom friends were more like me, but I think my approach to parenting is much more balanced than if we all thought alike.
Thanks for sharing your experiences 🙂
I think any form of labeling on parenting creates barriers between mamas, when we should just be supporting each other. It’s really amazing how much information is out there, and I feel this causes un-necessary stress among new mothers. I practiced AP, but never called it that, because I didn’t read any books about it. It was completely intuitive for me. So, on the outside, my parenting styles were similar to AP’s…Co-sleeping (only because of practicality, i was living in guatemala, our house was the size of an american bedroom!), baby carrying, etc.. But I think the big difference between me and AP mamas was the fact that I set boundaries, never gave choices or explanations, and changed our routine when it was no longer working. (at the age of 2 I bought my daughter a little wooden bed, where she sleeps, without a problem). We really need to be less rigid and gaging our children;s needs. I heard of a mother whos 3 yr old would hit and bite her constantly as she nursed, and demanded it 10 times a day. How is that healthy? And just like the woman who wrote the article.. how is baby carrying and nursing on demand (after 6 months) healthy for you and baby IF the parent is stressed! MORE important than any parenting “STYLE” is being present with your child, and validating them as human beings. It really does not matter if you push your child in a stroller or have them in a basinet as an infant.. what matters is that you are paying attention, and creating new scenarios with each developmental stage. Nursing a grown child who keeps you up all night is of NO benefit to the child or mother. Lets move away from rigidity and begin to slow down, and do what feels intuitively correct for us and our children. <3 blessings to all the mamas who are just trying to do their best~
I have 3 kids & we have raised them the exact same way. Nursed them to sleep & they slept in our bed until they could roll over, at which point, I’d nurse to sleep, then when they’d wake in the middle of the night (if they did), I’d take them back to bed with me & either nurse to sleep (or if weaned), or let them snuggle next to me in my bed. This had 3 separate outcomes:
#1: My firstborn son – I weaned him off of that last night time nursing by 10 months. He started talking really, really early (6 months – I’m not making this up: he said “nilk” and “boobie” by 6 months), I was new at babies & this freaked me out. He took great naps, and slept through the night around 4 months or so. After this point, he never needed to come back to bed with us except for the occasional 5am-er, when I was NOT going to wake up & he was content to snuggle in bed for another hour & a half. This boy napped well and consistently, and eventually only gave it up at around age 3.
#2: My daughter – screamed her lungs out from birth until around 2 years old. BUT she’d sleep through the night almost immediately. she’d sleep until 5am, then need to be nursed, then would go back to sleep for another 2 or 3 hours. She transfered to her crib when she could roll over & it was no problem at all. She just stayed asleep. Later, she had a hard time going to sleep (at around age 2 and a half) – but once she was asleep, she was asleep. She would not nap after the age of 1. Unless it was in the car – at which point she wouldn’t go to bed until midnight or so.
#3 – My youngest son – Absolutely would not sleep unless a body part (foot, finger, arm, elbow, back, tushie, head, etc) was touching me in some way. It was very very very tricky getting him to sleep in his crib. I weaned him at 14 months or so. I had to wean him completely because he WOULD NOT EVER sleep for a babysitter with a bottle, and I play music – so babysitters are necessary mostly at night. Now he goes to bed without a bottle (at 22 months) in his crib, so long as I wait next to him until he’s asleep. He could wake anywhere from 11pm – 6am depending on Lord only knows what. Sometimes, he’ll fuss for a few seconds & go back to sleep, but usually, he still needs to sleep next to either me or my husband. This is a boy who is terrified of being alone. He also doesn’t nap well, unless he is held or is in the car.
I think that it all comes down to personality: yours and your baby’s. Each of my three kids was parented exactly the same way, but were 3 different adventures. The youngest is by far the most outwardly loving. Gives the most kisses & hugs – and he is incredibly easy-going…. except when it comes to night time. We tried cry it out (against my better judgement), but it didn’t work at all. He’d cry for 45 minutes & still not go to sleep. I take him back into bed with me still, because with 3 kids, by god I need my sleep 😉
Everyone’s different. I’m really glad you’ve found what works for you 😀
YES, YES, YES! I could not agree more with this post! I absolutely think parts of AP part of the time were fabulous for our family, but I too would have gone insane (and in pain!) practicing it all, all the time. It’s like most things in life, you take what works for you and yours, and leave the rest. For example, I’m all for nursing on demand…within reason! And I adore co-sleeping…for about 6-8 months! And baby wearing has only ever worked for me when they are tiny, and even then only for short periods of time. Thankfully, I am easily the “crunchiest” of my friends, so I didn’t have a lot of pressure to fully conform to AP, but I greatly appreciate you sharing your against the grain view point, and I appreciate the validation from a professional in the crunchy world 🙂 As a side note, I highly recommend the book Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West of http://www.sleeplady.com/. She offers a fabulous alternative to the old CIO method, while still getting your baby to go to sleep on their own in their own bed. Her methods may take more time and effort on the parent’s part, but in my experience, it was more than worth it for my little Love. Her methods of sleep “coaching” are gradual and gentle, and really sit well with my degrees in psychology and counseling. 🙂
Tiffany C. says
I just found your blog through Stephanie and Mama and Baby Love. I love your blog. I’m having a great time checking out your amazing posts. Your blog will be a great tool as I slowly transition my family to a real food, non-toxic, chemical-free, more natural lifestyle.
Aw! Thanks Tiffany! Glad to be part of your transformation. 🙂
Sarah P says
This is so interesting and thanks for being so honest about your experiences. I suppose I view AP as not a set of prescriptions that you need to follow but more an attitude to parenting. In between having my first and second child I read a lot about RIE – which many AP parents hate. I think they are both facinating and definatley not mutually exclusive. Even though AP suggest co-sleeping and babywearing and RIE suggests encouraging babies to sleep through as early as possible and allowing freedom of movement. But even though the tools are different – it is essentially all about listnening to your babies particular needs. I think we all need to look beyond any one “type” of parenting and be the parent our child and ourselves need us to be. So if that means not co-sleeping so be it! We have a definate combi approach here. Co-slept in the very early days (till 4 months each time), breast fed first but due to many problems my second was bottle fed (but in many ways fed more respectfully, one on one time with no TV on!) I babywear and love it – but my second spent large amounts of time on the floor learning how to entertain herself (and very happy she was to!). No one single approach works – and thats ok….
I about cried from reading this entry. My first I didn’t use AP style with and I felt so guilty. With #2 I dove in AP style and now at 19 months, the resentment, sleep deprivation, and the body pains are slowly taking over my body and psyche. I’m done with the all night nursing, wearing my almost 30 lb baby, and the GUILT!!!! I’m sad to read that I’m pretty much screwed in getting my kid to sleep alone without some crying. I am however glad you wrote this. I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in feeling guilt and that AP parents are very opinionated in their perfect child rearing style. I’m relieved to see that a hybrid of this style can work!
I didn’t have a “plan” for how to parent our first child and didn’t know the term “Attachment Parenting” until he was 2 or 3, but sure enough, we attachment parented- to our and our childs own detriment! He nursed round the clock- 20+ hours per day for months. I would be a break for the bathroom and meal prep, a shower maybe and if he could be coaxed into falling asleep in a swing. I had a surgery which left me unable to lift him for several months so I would hold him for hours and since i didn’t want to disturb my husband several times a night to put him in and out of the crib, he slept with us and nursed all night. When I could carry him again, he loved being in a sling. He nursed all night until 20 months when he HAD to be weaned because he was nursing so much at night that I had a threatened miscarriage at 12 weeks into my second pregnancy. He ended up sleeping with us until he was 2.5 and had a baby brother in the other room in his own crib! After moving to his own bed he still required my arm to stroke to go to sleep, often taking upwards of an hour at nap and bedtimes before I could slip it out of his hands and leave the room. Well, with #2 I was determined to do things differently! I read a book called “On Becoming Babywise”, and it made ALOT of sense to me- sometimes babies NEED to cry- to relieve excess energy, but mainly they DO get used to sleeping on their own and quite happily. I still nursed every 2-3 hours during the day and 1-3x per night but it wasn’t constant and I could sleep for decent stretches of time at night! I have used the same practice with my 3rd and still nurse him at night at 22 months but have had so much more rest and better health with my 2nd and 3rd babies. Now at nearly 6, nearly 4 and nearly 2 they are all healthy and well adjusted but the first fellow is still the neediest and I directly attribute it to his first 2 years, he just doesn’t have the same level of self confidence and self reliance.
I often feel quite shamed by the communities I frequent, for having let my kids “cry it out” but really it hasn’t been much crying and has made a huge improvement in our quality of life.
THANK YOU!!! This is seriously the best post about AP I’ve ever read…
Arielle Curtin says
A very refreshing post and follow-up comments. So nice to get away from the orthodoxy! I nursed till my daughter was three (now 18!!!) but son only til a little after 2 (when he lost interest). Every child is different. I remember feeling that I was in a fog the entire time that I was nursing and never knew whether it was the nursing or the sleep deprivation. But of course would never seriously consider any other way of feeding a baby. I think that we need to go beyond the sort of outward manifestations of AP, like baby-wearing and co-sleeping, to really forming an emotional bond with them. Being now a mother of teens, I would simply like to add that attachment parenting continues as my babies go further out into the world but are attached by sensible bonds of love to the adults in their lives who keep connected. Share the love.
Thank-you for this article! It was great to finally see someone say the middle road is OK! I like some aspects of AP, but I can’t stand the “greater than thou” attitude I get from most people who practice it. Just be a PARENT, spend time with your kids and babies and they will develop just fine!
As a health-minded momma I was just as clueless before having my baby boy. I thought it would all come naturally once the baby was in my arms. And most of the people I looked up to or from whose websites I read because I admired them, were AP advocates, so the little bits I knew, were from AP. My son was born in a hospital, through a very traumatic birth, which caused us to have problems breastfeeding. This led to our first hurdle of new motherhood: when I had to stop breastfeeding I had to deal with the feeling of inadequacy brought on my unfulfilled expectations, placed by myself before his birth and deepened by other people’s downright anger against me for ‘bottle-feeding’ my baby. In the middle of researching and switching from commercial formulas (which were destroying his little tummy) to homemade formula (from a WAPF mom’s blog) we had been dealing with zero sleep, I was falling fast into the vortex of PPD and was missing my family and could have begged anyone for help (i had no one). So when some of my AP online acquaintances started running down ‘Babywise’, I had to find out what it was, and once I did, we bought the book and applied the principles to our little 9 week old baby. He took to it so well: first night he cried for 15min, second night for 5min, 3rd night he didn’t cry. Now he’s nearly a 2 year old who sleeps 12 hours at night and takes a 2-3 hour nap in the middle of the day. Happy, obedient, well-mannered child. When my AP acquaintances were looking down on me for being such a “horrible parent” I felt I was horrible, but when they’d complain about how their 2 or 3 year old still doesn’t sleep through the night or how their 18 month olds still needs breastfeeding 2 or 3 times per night to make it through, I am grateful I chose the route I chose. I am with you in believing every child and mother is different and there are different strategies for parenting, nobody should be looked down for their choices as parents, we should encourage and understand the hardships innate to this journey and offer help when needed (not advice, but help). This coming from a momma who was at the end of all the brunt malice of others because of my parenting choices (scheduled naps, bottle feeding of a non-white liquid, amber necklaces, and essential oils, oh my!). Loved this post, I wish I had found it sooner, because it makes me feel a bit vindicated, and hopefully more mothers out there who’s AP attempts aren’t working realize they’ll continue to be wonderful mommas even if they stop. At least they read books and tried something for their child’s benefit…. others out there don’t. <3
It sounds like you did the right thing, and like you are a wonderful momma! Your son sounds lucky to have you as his mom 🙂
I didn’t have the time to read through all the responses, but what I did read offered some great points for me to think about, so thanks for sharing, everyone.
For me, AP is all about compassion, consciousness, conviction and solutions. What is my desire to give and my beliefs of what is best for my son? This love and these beliefs have led me to come up with some amazing solutions for us (I believe I’ve benefited immensely from meeting Pono’s needs) and a far greater love and acceptance of others around me with this new perspective of the relationship between nature and nurture- its laws and principles (how others were nurtured as children, their needs, my needs, my son’s needs). I’ve been able to overcome SO MANY of the boundaries and restrictions, excuses and weaknesses that so plagued me when I was not fully responsible for a miraculous and dependent little baby- though I fall short all the time! It’s a journey, for sure. I realized that I needed to love myself to love him and love him to love myself. I need to love my neighbor to love him/myself and love him/myself to love my neighbor. It has been one of the most beautiful journeys to CONNECT me to that crazy world out there- motivation to understand others and where they come from, their unique needs, temperament, preferences, just like our babies. I definitely agree with those saying that each has his own path and best/right answer! I do some of the attachment practices bc I am CONVICTED that they will be best for us both in the long run- sometimes I just go through the motions, sometimes I sacrifice temporary enjoyment. I don’t KNOW that these things are the BEST for Pono, but I have the desire to give it a shot. At the end of the day, it’s about whether WE feel at peace with how we nurture our children and ourselves- because we are the ones responsible to love our child for the rest of their lives, no matter who they become. I am so excited to get more experience with Attachment PRINCIPLES and learn more about child development, so, again, thank-you all for sharing your perspectives! Parenting is a huge overhaul of one’s life, especially if you haven’t spent a LOT of time with children, like myself before baby. From my perspective, living in the midwest right now, our culture does need some major changes, some leaders in that, and we are all going to have diff. paths- love the principles of AP and hope that they can help us all be more connected/unified/compassionate. There are just SO MANY elements involved in the way we nurture and set examples for our children of life. As adults, learning to love and heal ourselves is a big part too- I just imagine what the world would be like if there wasn’t such a barrier between the interests of children and adults- if power struggles needn’t be had over candy and tv etc. because unhealthy things/habits were never brought in the home or modeled by parents-true deep needs were met by priority. these are the major things I think about every day in my conscious parenting- it’s a confusing and distracting world out there! Love the openness and connecting gone on here. Much love!
I didn’t read ALL the comments above, but I have to say that we had a good experience. Before I had my daughter I planned to do the contented baby route by gina ford. When she was born I dove in full force with the schedule. The schedule was nice at first. It told me what to do at what time. Then I began to stress over times when the schedule didn’t work with our plan for that day or when she was hungry before the next feed. I then decided to use the schedule as a suggestion and just go with it. I often wore my daughter in a baby carrier because we are on the go type people and it was nice not to be bogged down by a stroller. My daughter slept in a cot next to our bed until she was 8 months. At that point we made a move from hawaii to London and due to all the travelling and different sleeping locations, she started sleeping in our bed. She did wake up a ton at night to nurse. Then i discovered Aware Baby (book) and slowly began to implement those principles…. I will say that she was waking up 3-5 times a night until she was 2. I got pregnant and she weaned from at least 8 feeds a day down to 2 (nap and bedtime) and she stopped waking up at night.
I find that Attachment parenting is really just a way of looking at the relationship with your child. You have to do what feels right for you. I’ve had a good experience but I have also done a hybrid of different parenting methods that work for my daughter and my family. I think that’s what it’s really all about. I learned early on that setting up restrictions and rules for your parenting never goes well.
At the risk of sounding like a real meanie, I had twins who are now 12 years old. Born by c-section (it was that or all three of us would die) and being prem and rather small, I spent the first three weeks doing the feeding when hungry thing, though NEVER the co-sleeping thing. My husband being a 6’3″ giant and the babies being 5 pound fragile wee bundles, co-sleeping never sounded like a good idea. There were two of them for goodness sake!
So, the babies were put down in the cot, (together, top and tail), and left to go to sleep. Well, that was the plan. After three weeks of no sleep, crying babies, crying mother and father on the brink of insanity, I finally turned to a plunket nurse, (plunket is a baby and child development service in New Zealand, been around for about 60 years).
I was desperate at this point, but what a relief when the nurse took one look at my son and said “this child is tired, too tired to eat properly and too tired to sleep. What time does he go to bed?”
What a question? “When he’s sleepy” I answered.
“My goodness! Who runs your house? You or the babies?” And that was the vital question I had to ask myself. Who really was in charge? Me, aged 26, educated and able to look after myself? Or two prem infants aged -1 week at this point, unaware they even had arms and unable to roll over?
She asked me if I’d been raised “on the clock”? I said yes, all kids were in the 70’s in NZ. She asked about my own mother, I said of course! She was one of six! And Gran? Yes, she was a clock baby too.
The nurse looked at me and said “Well, I can see it didn’t kill them !”
From that day on my babies were raised on the damn clock. They were fed every three hours. Fed, burped, changed, swaddled and back into bed. Then the other one was treated to the same efficient care. During the day there was kick time and cuddles and kisses, BUT they were up for an hour. That was it, ONE HOUR, then back to bed.
It took 24 hours to sort them out. Sometimes they’d cry a bit, but no much. They knocked off their own feeds in the night. At 9 weeks they slept form 10 to 5, by 12 weeks 7-6.
Both children grew well, are socially well adjusted, well ahead in there schooling and are pretty happy kids.
The point is, whatever parenting style you prefer you have to ask yourself “who’s in charge here?” and consider that making choices about baby care styles have to be choices about the WHOLE family, not just baby. What good is a mother on the edge? Dad going around the twist? A relationship that dissolves through lack of attention? Is the baby part of a family? The WHOLE family must be considered.
Human beings are adaptable creatures, we’ve had to be just to survive. Most of us were raised on the clock, and it didn’t kill us or make us axe murderers. Mum’s and Dad’s! Get a grip!
I love this! Well said! I have worked with families and children for over 20 years and have seen this dilemma many times. A baby needs to have a good full feed to have a feeling of a full and satisfied stomach. It can’t get that from snacking constantly. A baby can’t get the solid blocks of sleep it needs in order to meet the demands of its massive growth spurts when waking all the time to feed. A tired baby will not feed properly or sleep properly, I see that in my own 4 children. If we have been out all day and the children haven’t had their usual sleeps, people say “oh they will sleep well tonight”, but they don’t! They are difficult to settle and wake during the night and difficult to settle the next day. Hurray!! At last I am hearing some people with wisdom to use their head and not their emotions! you are so right when you point out what the nurse said about who is in charge, you or the baby. Why can’t people see that a newborn or child of any age does not know more about life than the adult. I have seen children fail to thrive because the mothers ‘instincts’ never kicked in. Some babies do not cry and seek nourishment and comfort when they need it, most do, but not all. Once again, I love what you have shred here with us.
Love this! :).
Vanessa - Natural Family Today says
I really appreciate your perspective on this, and I’m glad you found a “hybrid” form of AP that fits your family and keeps you all healthy and happy. But, I want to point out that THAT (fitting what works with your family while being mindful of your baby) is what attachment parenting is, not making sure you cosleep, babywear, etc. I like babywearing, when we are out and about for an entire day as a family. But, for everyday things, I simply can’t babywear all the time, for the same reasons you mentioned. I have back problems. The same with cosleeping. I love cosleeping, and I actually had the same issue when my 3rd son turned one and we wanted him to go to his own bed because it was no longer working. But, that’s what we did. We transferred him as gradually as possible to his own bed, something that would keep us all happy and healthy. It wasn’t tear-free. In fact, there were a lot of tears. The important thing was that we did it mindfully and with love, making sure he knew we were close and that we were there if we needed him. So, don’t discount attachment parenting. Sure, blame those who gave you false assumptions about it. But, you’re still a loving, attached parent. That’s what matters.
Can we then just call it Parenting? Period??
OH MY WORD! Thank you for this article…I am an older, ‘seasoned’ Mommy of 7 (6 are mine, 1 is a step) ranging in age from 23years-9 months and this is completely relevant to me. Not one of my babies ever slept through the night before 2 years old, no matter what I tried. My youngest is no exception…he is up AT LEAST 5-6 times every single night. Strictly for survival reasons, I have continued the co-sleeping because I could not get out of the bed that many times a night and survive. Like you, I also have major back problems (sciatica, back “goes out” all the time, extreme lower back weakness) that is only exacerbated by carrying my 20 + pound chunkster around. And like you mentioned about the morning dizziness, I realize the INCESSANT night-time nursing is literally sucking the life out of me. I wake up dizzy, exhausted, and feeling sick (and, to be quite honest, I seriously thought I might have some kind of disorder before I started thinking logically through the whole thing…I’m a registered nurse in the ER, so the fact that it took me awhile to clue in is quite dismaying!). But now I know I am just completely dehydrated and exhausted every single morning. This has to stop. I seriously dislike the whole “cry it out” idea, but I seriously dislike having not slept through the night for thte last 5 years even more. I am so exhausted some mornings I feel like I am going insane. I had 3 babies in 4 years (2008-2012) AND I work nights in the ER…something’s gotta give. Will work on this for the next week and see what happens.
Everyone has to find what works for them, but i suggest checking into the aware baby book. It’s not uncommon for 9 month olds to wake at night, but I understand that you don’t want them waking unnecessarily. The book talks about other reasons for night waking (being a build-up of stress) and how you can help them to release that stress and hopefully get some more sleep. I hate that you are having problems with dehydration and such. I slept with a nursing tank on and would sometimes not feed them when they woke and snuggle them back to sleep instead… It’s not crying it out if they are being held lovingly, arent hungry, and are comfy. Its hard the first week or so, but helped for me and my daughter. good luck.
Elli Smith says
Amazing how we managed to survive as a species without sleep training and contended little books? I hope that anyone that is into ‘sleep-training’ have done their research on what excess cortisol does to a baby’s body.
Hi Elli – Cortisol is not a problem unless it is elevated for extended periods of time as in the case of chronic stress. Crying during sleep training is nothing compared to the stress of being under-rested and miserably tired with strung-out parents who haven’t slept either day after day after day for years.
One should only practice AP, or any other parenting method for that matter, if it’s working for you and your children. If it’s not, then it’s not right for you. I practice almost all the points of AP and we’ve had some really hard times with sleep with our now 2 1/2 year old daughter. But so many other parents have had similar issues who are not practicing AP. I don’t think it’s right for AP proponents to make parents think “it’s all AP or nothing” and I also don’t agree with people who say that AP is evil. Just as so many comments before mine have said, AP helped SAVE their sanity and actually made for a more peaceful family. That being said, I think I’ll try a few things differently if we have another baby and have definitely learned some things with doing AP on our little girl. But looking back, I don’t regret the way we’ve chosen to parent and see how happily adjusted she is, secure in our love for her, and empathetic of others. Could that have been accomplished without AP? Maybe so. But we all have to choose the route that works best for us, and our child.
What a wonderfully written article – I’ve forwarded this to several of my girlfriends who were so relieved to hear about somebody else going through the exact same guilt/pressures that they had. I felt the same guilt myself with my last baby, and now pregnant with our second, I dread the “disapproval” from others over not baby-wearing, co-sleeping, etc all-of-the-time…
I have had an all to familiar experience as this one with my child. I’ve been researching this subject for a long time and the cry it out method just was not going to wok for our family. My boy is a year old now and finally i found the perfect method on about my millionth forum. http://drjaygordon.com/attachment/sleeppattern.html
Every forum I’ve seen just about is one extreme or another, but this is a good middle of the road approach. This is a good one for families who want to co sleep but want more sleep. I’ve only been doing this for about 2 weeks. He’s gone from waking 10 to sometimes even 15 times a night to waking on average about 2 times a night. I highly recommend this method for anyone wanting to co sleep.
Heather Phillips says
I am late to reading this post but so grateful to have come across it. I am a mental health therapist and the mother of an 8 month old boy. I have to say the term “Attachment Parenting” has always bothered me. It seems to imply that those of us who raise our children in any way that strays from their prescribed method isn’t going to have a healthy attachment relationship with their child. In my work I sadly see many children who have serious issues related to attachment that have nothing to do with whether or not they were sleep trained or worn as babies. Attachment when it comes to childrearing is a much bigger issue, and I believe Dr. Sears has taken away from people’s real understanding of a serious issue by adopting that term for what is really just a philosophy about parenting. Personally, my baby just isn’t an “Attachment Parenting” style child. Although there were many parts of the “Attachment Parenting” philosophy I had hoped to adopt, they just didn’t work with my son. I was sadly unable to breastfeed despite all the best support and interventions, so I pumped and bottle fed. He didn’t sleep well in the co-sleeper, and began sleeping like a dream when we moved him to his own crib. And, the carrier – he is also off the charts for height and weight and he really just doesn’t like being strapped in to anything. But, he is incredibly outgoing, loving and bright despite all this, and yes we did have to do sleep training with him. He is just a dream. 🙂 All babies, children and families are so different. I am glad my training as a social worker taught me that there is no one method or prescription that works for all people or families, and that we are all the real experts in our own lives. Thank you for this post! and PS my son has those same knit booties your son is wearing in the photo and I adore them!
Callie Sutiffe says
I think I’m doing this post right – it’s my first time to post on your website. I hope I’m posting on the blog about AP parenting!:) Anyways, this post mean a lot to me. I am a first-time mom and I have always wanted to experience having a baby, at least once. My baby was born with GERD and was placed on a feeding tube because of aspiration and reflux issues. She also has a hard time swallowing. I am a firm believer in nursing and was excited about the feeding aspect of parenting; it has really caused so much emotions for me and is very heartbreaking to not be able to comfort your own baby that way. I have been dealing with so much worry and guilt because I don’t get a lot of attachment opportunities. She feeds from a pump and does sleep through the night (she is almost 3 months). I do deal with a lot of crying but for so many possible reasons that its sometimes difficult to decipher why. I have always considered myself healthy until recently since I have discovered how awful the food in our grocery stores actually is. I can’t seem to stop blaming myself for her GI issues and reflux since everything I’ve been reading discusses how the way our food is presented to us now days causes these issues in our bodies and babies bodies.
Anyways thanks for the post – it helps me knowing that AP is a foolproof method and my child is doomed because I can’t breastfeed her. She also seems to prefer being left alone sometimes – although she does need to be held when she’s in pain. Usually at night she will cry and then go to sleep in her rock-in-play after a few minutes. She self soothes with a pacifier already. My husband and I deal with a lot of exhaustion still but probably not as bad as some. We still have to get up during the night to refill her pump and administer medicines.
So thanks again for the post!
Callie Sutiffe says
*I meant AP isn’t a foolproof method – typo
I am very old fashioned about parenting. I raised my kids just as my mother raised me and my sisters. On the bottle. Both my children teethed early, common sense prevailing, teeth mean a child needs more than just breast milk or formula. At 4 months I put a cross cut in the nipple on the bottle and included rice cereal with the formula. No child who is hungry can possibly sleep through the night. My kids slept through the night by 4 months of age. I wouldn’t dream of risking my child’s life by having them sleep with me. They slept in a crib next to my bed until they were a few months old, then I moved them to the bedroom next to mine. I have heard it said babies should sleep on their backs, horse hocky I say. Placing a baby on its back and letting them spit up and have it go back down their throat and up their nose risking strangling is just plain stupid. I placed my babies slightly on one side with a rolled towel behind their backs and one in front, and rotated them from one side to the other periodically as they slept (so the soft skull would not go flat). My kids are healthy – yep both alive and well. We bonded just fine too. My kids also potty trained easily and never wet the bed. I’m 60 years old and don’t get what all the fuss is about.
With all the literature out there it’s hard to read them all, especially since my first child came nearly 8 years ago. The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg greatly helped me with my first two. Now I have a hybrid going between AP and baby whispering with my third.
Debra Ogilby says
OMG Im tired just reading this. My baby was put in her own bed from the day she came home from the hospital. I wasnt able to nurse her cause I never had much milk. She was the healthiest baby while all my breast fed friends babies were constantly sick. Why would any parent put themselves through all of this.
My 7 month old daughter has two sets of “rules.” She cosleeps with us when I’m home, but if she’s with just daddy, at daycare, or has a babysitter, she has no issues going to sleep after a bottle of breastmilk, or napping in a pack and play. Will she do that with me? Nope. Never. She’s smart and knows when mommy is around, she gets to cuddle and cosleep, and when mommy isn’t around, she sleeps by herself. I tried baby wearing and really, really wanted to do it, but she hated it and cried almost every time she was in the carrier…I tried a Moby, an Ergo, and a Beco. She just did not like it. We may try some gentle, no-cry sleep training after she hits one year, but for now, our hybrid style of AP is working. Most of the time, everyone is rested and happy.
Erin H. says
I’m so glad I had no clue what Attachment Parenting — or Babywise or any other “method” — was when my daughter was born. I spent much of my pregnancy reading pregnancy books and sort of forgot to study up on breastfeeding and parenting … oops! I assumed it’d just all come naturally, with some trial and error and many bumps along the road, course.
While, this *might* have been a detriment to me in the breastfeeding department as I floundered a bit in my lack of knowledge when my daughter was born with a tongue and lip tie, in general, it helped me to have a no-expectations approach to raising my little newborn. Don’t get me wrong, I had many moments of freaking out, doubting my abilities and wondering what in the world I was doing wrong, but I had no perfect parenting method selected so no idealistic standard looming over me and marking my failures. This was a blessing and allowed my to rely on prayer, to trust my God-given instincts and to seek advise from my friends — many who had birthed and raised four-plus children, gaining along the way the healthy realization that different kids need different things and that there is room for much grace in child rearing. Their counsel, encouragement, prayers and often hilarious anecdotes were worth gold in comparison to a one-size-fits all parenting technique.
I swaddled my daughter daughter from birth. She slept a five-hour stretch the first night in the hospital and maintained at least that stretch from then on. By about 9 wks she was sleeping 10 hours at a time. This, I assumed, was not due to my own accomplishments or my all-mighty parenting book, but because that’s the way God made her. I kept her in a bassinet by my bed most of the time until she outgrew it at three months, but on some nights, when I was particularly exhausted, she would spent time sleeping in bed with me after we both fell asleep during nursing. Sometimes she fell asleep while nursing, sometimes not, so I’d bounce or rock her to sleep. Sometimes she napped in her crib, sometimes in a swing, sometimes in a carrier while we were going for a walk. There was no hard, fast rule or judgment-loaded parenting dogma. Sometimes my little one didn’t nap for more than 15-20 minutes and screamed and cried and I cried, too, but we got through it. When she started rolling onto her tummy, I stopped swaddling her because that seemed to make sense. That’s also when it became hard to lay her down asleep, so I started laying her down awake because that seemed to make sense. After a few rough days, she embraced her new-found rolling skills and began sleeping soundly on her tummy.
I did take my pediatrician’s recommendations into account in , and I did end up researching many things on the internet and eventually ran across most all of the parenting and sleep training methods out there, but they became tools enable my parenting not straight jackets to enslave it. I’ve so thankful for that! My next child (God willing) will probably be totally different and the story of how I cope and parent will be unique and beautiful and hard and a rollercoaster all the same. At 9 months old, my daughter is doing great and, despite having many ups and downs and most mothers do, so am I! My girl is still breastfed and I plan to breastfeed as long as we see fit. I feel free of judgement from others around me who’ve done differently in their parenting or who raise an eyebrow because I know I have only one Judge, and as long as I’m raising my child under His counsel and to His glory, I have nothing to fear.
When I had my first child 19 years ago, AP was still largely unheard of. I was a single mom and had mymidwife, my Sears guide and pretty much just did as much as I could and as much as fit into my life at the time and my son grew up great and we are very close, but I feel like I did it in a bubble since there wasn’t really internet sites devoted to the topic of parenting, or millions of books, blogs, vlogs, etc. Flash forward to 4 years ago and I’m having my twins and again got my Sears guide but now there is this thing called the internet, and a million websites, books, magazines, etc. all trying to get you to do it their way while buying their products. Parenting today is waaaaaaaaaay harder than just 2 decades ago! Thankfully I have the perspective of my younger self so I parented my twins much the same way as my first. I did the best I could. I didn’t breast feed (tried but had issues), I did co-sleep, I wore them as much as made sense but also loved my stroller. I think the take away is to get some good information (but not too much), relax, listen to your baby, listen to your body, listen to your heart, trust yourself, DON’T COMPARE yourself to other parents, and just try and enjoy the process as much as you can because believe it or not, they grow fast and soon you’ll be sending them out into the world.
We have always done family centered parenting. The child is joining a family, a family where everyone has needs. I feel some APers view this as selfish and that unless your lives are miserable (sleepless, exhausted, sexless, wornout) because of your baby, you must not be connected to them. We are on #3 now and try to combine a variety of methods that promote peaceful lives for everyone. We used cry it out with #1 and less so with each. Not sure that #3 has ever cried it out. One of the most helpful things we started implementing was to keep trying methods, not just give up so easily. I find it fascinating when parents comment, “My child would absolutely not sleep without nursing through the night every 10 minutes, etc”. I think the AP method expects too little of children at their developmental ages. I also think very strict adherence to any one method and not listening to your inner-mother can damages everyone.
I have only witnessed very whiny, ill-behaved, center of the universe APed children (toddler and preschool aged) with exhausted parents and am always amazed this method is so popular. Having lived abroad, it is the method that seems to be most naturally accepted and conformed to. And yet it still puzzles me since all those children were completely indulged and entitled as well, with exhausted parents. Just because a method is so well adhered to, doesn’t mean it is “the best”.
To offer my two cents (I didn’t read all the posts as too numerous-so this may have been addressed). I have 3 sons born 21 months apart – a singleton and a set of fraternal sons. My husband and I embraced attachment parenting. I breastfed my boys until they weaned themselves, they toilet trained when they were ready, we had a family bed when the kids chose, they were never left to cry, they were never left with unfamiliar babysitters, etc. Now they are 24 and 23. They are the most respectful, delightful young people. They are very close, have never said one disrespectable thing to their Dad or myself. Their Dad and I have divorced but our kids are better adjusted than a lot of kids we know with two parents. Were we perfect parents – no – but we instilled faith in our kids that their security was important. They are doing well at University, have amazing long term girlfriends, work partime and are headed to be contributing members of society. Sorry for the long post but I feel very passionate about attachment parenting. It works. I would love to hear from anyone who has adult children who have been attachment parented or those interested in it email@example.com
I am an AP mom by inistict, not by research. However, reading all of the comments on this post has turned me away from the AP community rather than towards. I do not understand the proponents of AP taking this article, which was written extremely well, as a personal attack.
I understand being passionate about your parenting style, but to attack another becuase of a different view is to do the opposite of AP parenting.
How are you going to teach your child compassion, if you have none for those different than you? How do you teach your child kindness and understanding of others if you attack those that are different from you?
Unfortunately, AP parenting has a bad rap with most people I know. It’s not the philosophy or information that causes the issue, but rather the parents who attack anyone who is different.
This makes me sad. Sad to see mothers attacking other mothers who are doing all they can to have a happy and serene home. Shame on you for making new moms feel that they aren’t good enough. If you doubt what I am saying, have someone read aloud your comments to you. Not an AP person, but a nuetral person so you can hear how you sound.
No one should attack a mom who is doing her darndest to make herself and her child happy. If you don’t want to co-sleep, breastfeed or baby wear, so what? Do what is best for you, and please do not judge all of us AP parents out here due to the rude ones.
Thank you Lisa, very well said. As for me, I am really interested/curious about AP but the self-righteousness of some moms just make me cringe .. It almost seems like a religion for some people, with the impossibility to take a step back, be critical and accept others’ ways as ok that it entails..
Angela Keller says
I am glad you found the mix of patenting styles that worked for you! I do somethings that would be considered in the area of AP, like extended nursing and baby wearing. But I have always made my bed, my bed. My husband is a sleep walker so having my baby’s in my Bed would have been a safety issue. My kids nurse to sleep. I sleep trained my first but not my second. I feel like I got rid of the idea of “what I should do as a mom with my second.” I enjoyed your post!
Hi. Thank you for writing this! I felt the same way when I started because I thought AP was a list of rigid rules that I had to follow. Many of my AP mommas are all or nothing types and it was very hard to keep up. I was exhausted. And then an awesome momma introduced me to AP international. I realized I was missing the 8th principle to AP and probably the most important. strive for balance! It should really be first! AP is a philosophy of child rearing that focuses on attachment. An exhausted painful momma can’t be fully present to attach. I am sorry you had such a bad experience with what should have been precious memories.
AP is 8 simple guidelines…. Prepare for childbirth and parenting, Feed with love and respect, respond with sensitivity, use nurturing touch, ensure safe sleep both physically and emotionally, provide constant and loving care, practice positive discipline, strive for balance….. how you accomplish that is a deeply personal thing and is directly related to your circumstances and personality and you baby’s needs and temperament. It’s about looking deep inside yourself and identifying how you can be nurturing and present with your child. Co-sleeping is how some parents address #5. It’s not the only option. sleeping with baby in the room, or with a monitor in their own room are all still options. Perhaps daddy cuddles with baby to sleep in the rocker and transfers them into a crib in their own room and they use a monitor to respond to babies needs at night.
I feel like you, I consider the years when my kids were small “The Lost Years” I carried the first full time for the first 6 months, dh didn’t get it about co sleeping so she was in a different room mostly crying for me most of the night. I slept while holding my baby in a cushy arm chair. A LOT. She is now a mostly happy peacesful 13 yo. But still sleeps terribly.
The second one I only carried when we were out of the house, Nursed for 2 years. I night weaned at about 22 months. It was so easy that when we gradually weaned completely 2 months later it was painless. She is a bit more dramatic but sleeps like a rock. She was nudged from the family bed at about 4 and today is my best sleeper.
My third I nightweaned at 10 months but I coslept with him till he was about 2. Weaned him at 2 when he started biting for entertainment. This one has and has always had a sunny sweet happy helpful personality. Most of the time.
Bottom line, I understand the sleep trainers way better now. If I had to do it all again, Idk if I would do it all the same!!!???
Here’s a plan for gentle nightweaning including if you wish to continue with the family bed. He recommends 10 months at the absolute earliest.
Hi Dora, you forgot to add the plan?
Jill Bontcue says
Thank you so much for writing this! I am the mother of a 4.8 year old ( breastfed until 26 months) and a 20 month old ( still breastfeeding/ co-“sleeping”/not sleeping at all ) . I have to say that in my heart I am all for AP but for me it has be a complete disaster for our family. In my heart and mind it seems that it should be the way but we have suffered for years as a result and in my desperation I am going to have to sleep train my son.
My 20 month old weighs 15kg, he rarely naps and at night cannot sleep more that 2 hours without waking. On an average night of 8 hours in bed he wakes every 45 min to 1 hour and takes 15 min to 30 min to return to “sleep”. He would like to nurse without limit all night. He has an extremely nutrient rich, processed food free diet, spends most of each day outdoors, no media stimulation,super healthy and he is an adorable great big crier. He wants to be nonstop carried, has to be nursed to sleep and screams and cries mommy mommy mommy if I try to shower, pee or cook.
Honestly it was the same with my daughter until I stopped breastfeeding her at 2.2years and she starting sleeping through the night.
My son is suuuper attached to me, its nice but my objective is to help him to be healthy, happy, confident and independant and what I have created looks more like an unhappy, unfulfilled, overly attached, nervous boy who NEEDS his mama. I still cant bring myself to let him cry it out at night. I am trying to slowly pull away and its extremely difficult for both.
I dont know that I could have done it any differently but I can say from experience that in my case attachment parenting gave me two extremely attached kids.
I share this because I find comfort in hearing other peoples eperiences and so I like to share.
My children have some extraordinary qualities and are wonderful children and I would like to think that some of the AP sleepless nights and physical exhertion contributed also to their finer qualities
I know that LLL and Doc Sears and all the followers like to consider themselves the absolute most righteously attached parents and children, but honestly, I could do certain parts at certain times and I still considered my self to be an attachment parenter. Most people are not perfect, they most likely are not being totally honest even with themselves. The title of the article might be a hair sensationalistic. I doubt the author really ditched AP completely.
Sammy Greer says
I have to say, this sounds almost identical with my story, except happily I changed parenting styles before ruining my back. I didn’t know what to do, and the attachment parenting sounded normal. My mom co-slept with all of my siblings, so that’s what was normal in my family. But when little Amelia was a couple months old, she started hating the carriers, waking up every time I moved, and nursing nonstop all night. I had really bad post-partum depression, so something had to give. sleep deprivation was only making me worse. So, at 5 1/2 months we sleep trained. It broke my heart, but it was one the best things I’ve done. She needed sleep, but most of all she needed a mom who didn’t want to kill herself. Sleep deprivation was pushing me to the edge of sanity, and in the end I needed to do what was best for the whole family.
I was just wondering if you could clarify how you separated the sleep scheduling from the feeding schedules in the CLB routines? I just finished the book and it seems like the two are pretty dependent on each other, so I’m curious exactly what you did! I too did AP practices extensively with my first and I can’t stand the thought of reverting to that sleep deprived, physically and mentally exhausted state again (I’m due in 3 months). CLB sleep routines do seem like a gentle way to introduce a routine early with little crying, so I’m going to give it a try.
I have the exact same question!!! Bfing is extremely important to me and going through the book, I have a hard time imagining how you didi this… any insights would be great!
Dang, as I read this I kept thinking, “talk about dogma and legalism!” Dr. Dears is the first to say in many of his writings that it’s NOT about rules, its about connection. That looks different for every family. I wish people wouldn’t get so obsessed with the “rules” and just enjoy being attentive, bonded, connected parents.
When my daughter was born 7 years ago I didn’t even know what AP was. I was determined to breastfeed although we had issues but had never considered sleeping with her. Until…we had our first 3 hours of solid sleep together at 2 months old. Yes, you read that right. My first 3 hours of solid sleep after her birth took 2 months to happen and only did because we fell asleep nursing on the bed together. After that, I devoured all the info I could find. I had already read every sleep book out there but all of a sudden a new world opened up and I found it was OK to sleep to with her, OK to keep her close, wear her for naps, do what I needed to do.
This was great and all but like you, I became exhausted. My daughter was a very high-needs baby who likely had reflux and possibly even milk protein issues. I know better now but at the time, had no clue. She would not sleep without me and so my evenings were spent with her lying on her boppy asleep with me until it was time for me to go to bed. As she reached a year old, I began being able to lay down with her and then sneak away…if I was lucky. My husband and I had next to no time together and our marriage suffered for it.
I toyed with sleep training around 8 months old. Can’t remember the name of the book now but it was an involved method where you don’t leave them alone to cry. You remove yourself gradually from the room over time. I felt somewhat OK with that option but without any support, couldn’t bring myself to execute it. I had AP mommy guilt.
Long story short, my daughter slept with me until she was 5 years old and nursed until 4.5. In retrospect, for my own sanity, I should have sleep trained. I should have stopped nursing when it began to feel ‘icky’ (around age 3), I should have moved her out of my room because I knew she was ready earlier than 5. There were extenuating circumstances mind you (I ended up separating from my husband when she was 3.5) but I should have listened to my gut. Isn’t that what parenting is all about anyway? If we stopped reading books, and just did what our instincts told us to do we would be happy well adjusted parents and our kids would be as well.
I love my child but I didn’t love her early years. I believe my experience with AP actually impeded my attachment to her. I was so tired, depressed, withdrawn and in turn emotionally unavailable to her that we didn’t bond the way we could have. We are very physically close to this day, lots of cuddles and snuggles but there is something missing. I feel traumatized by her early years. What parent should feel this way?
Thank you for this article. My friends all do AP and I feel a lot of pressure to follow their lead, but it just doesn’t work for our family. thank you for showing me that I’m not the only one uncomfortable with AP style parenting in the natrual living realm : )
Emily, this post is amazing. I believe everyone should do what is best for THEM! I had feelings of guilt for not co-sleeping, but I couldn’t sleep with my son in the bed, and neither could he. We also had to fuss it out at about 16 mths old since he started waking up more than 2x a night. I felt judged by the AP community, and while I believe in extended nursing and babywearing and home-birthing — every parent needs to decide what’s right for themselves! New follower and I love your blog!!
Hi Amy, thanks so much for sharing your story with us. You’re absolutely right and thanks for the kind words. I hope you enjoy our community.
Stacey Rainer says
My first was born 20 years ago. I nursed her, took her to bed with me and carried her lots. I didn’t even know there was a parenting style to define what I was doing. I was a single mama and it was just easier for me to do these things. I married when she was 4. At that point, she moved to her own bed. Tearlessly. She has a very calm, even temper. Later, my husband and I had a baby and he insisted she be moved to a crib at six months and directed me to wean her at 19 months. I wasn’t ready for either of those things, but, being the good submissive wife, I did his bidding (my relationship with her was greatly damaged and it took me YEARS to repair that damage…finally, at age 15, I feel connected to her again). Then came twins. Every notion of any parenting style goes out the window. At that point, it’s just a matter of survival.
With my next pregnancy, I had discovered AP while I was looking for a home birth provider. It was then that I was introduced to baby wearing in earnest. And I LOVE it. I still wear my almost three year old. In fact, I have more back pain if I carry her in arms than if she’s on my back in the ergo. I could often be caught with a toddler on my back and an infant on my front in a mei tai. With 4 year old twins, a toddler and a newborn, it was the only way to ensure everyone was safe. I wore two and had two hands free for the twins.
Moving a toddler to their own bed was always an event. It typically happened as I was expecting the next addition and needed to prepare the bed for the baby, so had to boot the toddler. But, since I’m done having children, the last one needed to be moved for other reasons (I took a full time night shift RN position). But, it was pretty painless. Even now, I will go lay with her until she falls asleep, and then slip out. Takes about 10 min. of my time, and she then sleeps through the night. I love that 10 min. to snuggle with her and make her feel safe as she drifts off.
Do I sometimes wish she would just go to bed? Sure. But this is just a season her in life and soon enough, she will be the 20 year old with her own baby. Or the teenager who hangs out in her bedroom all the time that I have to snag in passing to get a hug. Soon enough, I will have an empty nest and will long for the days that I got to cuddle my sweet toddler to sleep.
No single parenting style is right for every parent or child. Mostly, I wish parents would ditch all “styles” and just get back to instinctual parenting and just do what works for their families without apology.
Interesting! I read most of the comments. Everything was about the kids. There are two people in this relationship, each needs to be respected. I am an incredibly light sleeper and any baby noise or movement would awaken me. It was an easy decision for me. I had 3 kids. I let all “cry it out”. It’s rough, but when you get your sleep back, you are such a better parent and a better person. It is so worth it-for everyones health.
I became a mom for the first time when I was 50 years old, through adoption. The adoption was completely unplanned. Through circumstances, a young acquaintance got pregnant, her boyfriend dumped her when he found out, and she, having come from a broken home with alcoholic parents, decided that she wanted much more for her baby than she could offer. She asked if hubby and I would adopt her baby. In addition, she had kept her pregnancy a secret from just about everyone. Her family still does not know that she had a baby. At the time that I found out about her pregnancy she was 6-7 weeks from her due date. However, she became very ill with pre-eclampsia and almost died, along with the baby. To save them both, the baby was delivered 4.5 weeks early via emergency c-section. We then spent a week in the hospital with the baby until the doctors were sure that she was eating, breathing, and gaining weight properly (she was extremely healthy- just a little bit small at 5 lb 4 oz, then lost a few ounces). The point of all the backstory is to say that it was only 2.5 weeks from the time I found out about the pregnancy until we had physical custody of the baby in the hospital.
I tried to read everything I could find on the internet about parenting, including AP, but we simply did not have enough time to take it all in. My biggest fear was that our daughter would not bond with hubby and myself, and I was trying to find ways to ensure that she would. Ha! In the end none of it mattered. We just muddled through as best we could and hoped that we would not wind up ruining this perfect little child who had been entrusted to us.
The doctor put C on a preemie formula which gave her very bad gas. And because she was so small, she was initially only able to drink half an ounce or so at a time. My routine (I did all of the nighttime feeding because hubby cannot go back to sleep once he is awakened during the night) became- feed for 20-30 minutes or so; spend the next 45-60 minutes trying to burp the baby; baby sleeps for 30 minutes or so; repeat; repeat; repeat until morning. I wound up spending almost every night on the couch with my daughter parked on my stomach or chest. Then I worried so much about smothering her or dropping her that I hardly slept myself. This went on until she was around 7 weeks old. I have never been so exhausted in my life. I was about to cave in and ask my sister in law for help (she was chomping at the bit wanting to help), when C actually slept for almost 7 hours one night. I was able to catch a few hours sleep as well, and that got me over the hump. A few nights later the same thing happened, and before I knew it C was sleeping mostly through the night every night, or at least, from one meal time to the next, and by that time she could go several hours between feedings.
Once I was able to start getting some sleep we decided that C would be better off sleeping in her own crib in the dressing area just off our bedroom. She had no problem with that. I still napped with her during the day, on the couch, but we never had a problem putting her down in her crib. When she was around 12-14 months old we decided to move her into her upstairs bedroom. We transitioned her by putting her upstairs for naps, but keeping her downstairs at night (we had two cribs). After we were sure that she was comfortable upstairs we started leaving her up there at night. We never had any problems at all, the kid was a little rock star!
As for carrying/wearing, we did purchase a couple of different types of slings, and a couple of backpack style carriers, but as it turned out we never really used any of them. C was so tiny that it was really just as easy to carry her, and, since hubby and I are both retired, and full time at home parents, we usually went everywhere together anyway, so one of us carried and one was the “extra” set of hands.
Truthfully, I was in such shock over the fact that we were C’s parents that I never really wanted to put her down, lol. I had to make a point of not hogging her and giving hubby a chance to hold and carry her when he wanted to.
Around the time she was 12 months or so, it hit me that she and I were really bonded, to the point that I cannot imagine being any closer to a child, even one that I bore myself.
C has just turned 2yo, and in all this time we have never had a babysitter. Hubby and I either go places together, taking the baby along, or one of us stays at home with her while the other runs errands, or, whatever. One time, when C was around 18 months old I needed someone to watch her for a couple of hours while I worked on some paperwork. Hubby was away form home that week, so I asked our neighbor across the street if I could take C over there. That neighbor, and her husband, have known C since she was a week old and consider themselves her surrogate grandparents. They have visited our house a number of times, and I have taken C over to visit them at their house, so I was pretty comfortable asking to leave her with them. Plus, I told them to call if C could not handle it and I would pop over and get her. Well, 2.5 hours later I went to get her, and she had hardly noticed I had left her. She was so busy running around, playing with the dog and the cat, and exploring that she never missed me.
A few days after her second birthday, hubby’s father had a stroke and was taken to the hospital in the middle of the night. Hubby went over, then called me at 4am and said I should come as soon as I could because his dad was not going to survive. I waited till 5am, then called another neighbor, one who watches a sibling group of three, the youngest of whom is just a few months older than our daughter. Our daughter had never met this neighbor, but I called her because I knew that her house was already set up for kids and that she was used to having them around all day. I dropped C off, then headed to the hospital. She stayed there all day and, again, hardly noticed I was gone, though she did mention me a few times, but not with any kind of distress. A few days later, on the day of my FIL’s funeral, I had to leave her with a THIRD neighbor, again, one she had never met, but again, she was happy as a clam and spent several hours there.
So it would seem that, in spite of my occasional doubts, we have managed, by following our instincts along with what little we were able to glean from the internet pre-adoption, to raise a daughter who is completely confident, has no issues with separation anxiety, or anything else for that matter. She is smart, outgoing, is comfortable meeting strangers, and is a lot less anxious about babysitters than her mom is, lol. In fact, I wish that I were more like my daughter sometimes. Even at the tender age of 2 yo she is already someone who I admire. I am convinced that all those nights spent sleeping (or, not sleeping) on the couch with her helped the bonding process, even though I was not aware at the time that that is what was taking place.
Obviously we have a lot of years ahead of us and we’re not out of the woods yet- we could still mess up and “ruin” her, lol. But at least right now I can relax and stop worrying so much about the fact that we were not able to follow any prescribed “method” of parenting and that our daughter, or our relationship with her, would suffer as a result. I guess now it will just be a matter of worrying about all the normal things that parents worry about.
Ask me in another 14 years how it’s all working out, lol!
Thank you for writing this post. I’m struggling with cosleeping my 13 month old. With my now three yr old, we coslept until 15 months. I wish I learned my lesson with her. Countless interrupted nights as a pacifier, husband sleeping on the sofa, and sleep deprivation really took a toll on us. I felt like a failure and was determined to “do it right” with the next one. At first, it is really nice to cosleep as like you said, you can just roll over and pop them on and off. I missed the window of opportunity and he is still sleeping in bed with me, and we are back to the constant tossing and turning. Even with a king sized bed, by husband has to sleep in the guest room (ironically next to the empty crib…). The tiredness is taking it’s toll on all of us, and I have low energy and high stress levels. On top if that, I now have chronic back pain that will not resolve. Carrying my huge baby was awesome for being able to get out and about…but the back pain!!!! That aspect of AP is not working for us, as much as I’d like it to. I’m happy that it works out for lots of mommies, and wish it did for us. Next baby I will have to reevaluate and create a system that works for everyone in the family. Thank you for pointing this out, glad I’m not the only one with these feelings.
Thank you for this. I was very attached to AP principals as promoted by Sears and felt confused and like somewhat of a failure when my first son didn’t enjoy being carried as much as I would have expected. He also was a frequent waker (like every hour) and because of my own health issues I ended up doing a bit of sleep training with him when he was 7 months old. We were very gentle and gradual with changes, and they did make a HUGE difference in our family. He slept much better (still one or two wakings a night, but so much improved!) and became a champion napper. With my second son, I decided to do gentle training much earlier. He turned into a great sleeper because of this and is a very healthy and securely attached boy now at age 3. Thanks for writing about this. I do think we have to think about the needs of our whole families, moms and dads included. And I have come to understand that babies need a lot of sleep and will also suffer if they are not getting it.
Megan S says
There are many similarities between your experiences and mine, and we don’t practice AP (or maybe we do . . . I get confused when some friends say I’m very similar to AP and other friends say we do many things differently than AP, haha). Due to many things that went wrong during my pregnancy with my son, I was in a hospital bed for a lot of the pregnancy and he was born at 30wks. My body was a mess from lying still so much, along with a lot of lost muscle and gained fat.
My son, who had many health issues, didn’t sleep longer than 20-40mins/day for over two years. For the first 6mos, he had to eat/nurse every hour, even through the night. Thanks to my boobs growing 7 sizes while pregnant, causing permanent nerve damage, I could barely nurse, but refused to give up since one of the health issues my son had was not making enough white cells. So, every hour was me trying to nurse, then bottle-feeding, then pumping, then cleaning, then him puking, then cleaning up, then him dozing for about 8mins, then it starting all over again.
I wore my son in a Mei Tei (it was the only carrier that did not further injure by weakened back, from the hospital bed) 24/7 out of survival. Once his white cells were up, around 5mos, we were allowed to leave the house and see other human beings. He had hernias and projectiled across the room 12-14x/day for over a year, then 5-8x/day for another year. We only drove the car once every other day, because being in the car always resulted in another projectile.
He was in a crib in a dormer attached to our bedroom until 14mos, when he started climbing out – that’s when I made our room bed-sharing safe and moved him in my bed (which was also good timing, since I dislocated my hip when he was 18mos – we were home alone and it took me over an hour to crawl to a phone for help), where he stayed until 28mos and happily moved to his room. This was also when he’d moved past his health issues, and I was able to start sleep training him, which I did with Elizabeth Pantley’s No Cry Sleep Solutions. He started out at 2hrs at a time, then up to 4hrs, then night terrors started (confirmed by Children’s Hospital) and lasted for over a year. Mr. Vegas, aka Mr. Crack o’Clock, started his day bright, early and happy at 4am every day. Did I mention that I work nights until 2am?
My husband does manual labor all day and has not helped out at night. Ever. We have no family/friends in positions to help.
He turned 5yo last month and just started to sleep through the night, until two weeks ago when he started sleep walking at 3am every morning.
Families need to do what works for them – sometimes they figure out what works with their first child, sometimes it is later down the line 🙂
Hugs to all the mamas!
Cheree (Natural & Frugal: raising 6 kids) says
I would never tell any mom they are wrong for not doing AP, not breastfeeding whatever, because as a mom & parent we must find what works for our families & us. I did all 6 of my kids AP & let me tell you all 6 are different temperaments even at birth, but I slept better with them with me, they scheduled their nursing’s during the night, they were happy babies all but the one who got a touch of colic, they wre great sleepers great to move to their own bed at around 18 months to 2 years old, always napped well no issues at all doing AP, but I am a stay at home mom with multiples in diapers at once, I can see how not everyone could AP. All my kids now 17yrs down to 8 yrs are well adjusted great kids who get complemented on behavior, all still sleep well & love sitting with me & sharing me time with me as close as they can get & I love it, but that’s just me
And I never felt the pressure to be perfect, as a matter of fact everyone who knows me said I was a very laid back mom, so not sure where people get the idea of perfect from, but maybe that is just me
Wonderful to hear from a momma who practiced AP and her children thrived with it. Thank you for sharing. I imagine if your oldest is 17…. we are probably similar in age. I have a three year old…and I find that older mommas who practice AP are way more laid back about it and it is more of a lifestyle choice over a higher standard. I get so sad when I talk with many young AP parents… in many ways I think they have missed the point. AP should make your life easier, it should be in balance with our momma instincts. AP really is not new…. it’s very similar to the way children were raised in traditional cultures and they did not have a list of rules or the guilt that is associated with AP today. AP should be as much about developing a gentle spirit in yourself… as it is in developing one in your children, Recognizing that AP is not really a checklist….but more of a beautiful lifestyle. We practice AP as it is laid out by the AP international group…. not as it is presented by doctor Sears in his more recent books. I think the reason older mommas are different in practice of AP is because they were exposed to AP in a different context. The newer books are much more dogmatic the older books offered a different gentler approach but not so much as a list of must dos. 🙂 We practice the 8 principles of AP each tailored to our family in a way that makes life easier, enjoyable and peaceful. I am so thankful for finding AP because I get to fine creative ways to guide my little one through life while building a closeness I never knew was possible. I am a better person because of AP because I am learning to be gentler in all aspects of my life.
Vanessa Brundidge says
Parent in whatever way works best for you and your family! That’s how I feel! 🙂 Happy for you!!
I feel each family ought to figure out what methods of parenting work best for them! I would never try to push my habits / schedule / parenting methods on anyone else. But I will share my own experience:
I have always carried my son whenever he wanted me to (or my husband has). The Ergo Baby Carrier was a GREAT item to have, especially for the first 16 months. I have been dealing with hip and back pain, but chiropractic, good nutrition, acupuncture, exercise, and massage have helped me tremendously. And now that my son enjoys running around independently, I rarely carry him in the Ergo anymore, but I do when he needs me to (maybe once or twice per week now).
I am still breastfeeding him at 19 months old, on demand, 24/7, and absolutely still enjoying it tremendously – I have no complaints about this. He sometimes will drink from his sippy straw cup some water or tea, but still breastfeeds quite often. I am happy about this and hope he doesn’t choose to wean himself for a long time. 😉
Co-sleeping at 19 months is going quite well. He likes to go to bed around or before 10 pm and wakes up around 9am – 10am. So I don’t consider myself sleep deprived (though the first 16 months were challenging at times)! I LOVE and adore the morning snuggles. And I love knowing that he can nurse on demand in the night (if he needs to, but this happens rarely now).
I don’t like the idea of subscribing to any labels, such as AP; and I absolutely believe that each family and each child has unique needs, and we all find different ways of getting those needs met. I am happy for any mother who feels good about her choices!! <3
We were never dogmatic on a *type* of parenting, and just used what fit our style as a couple. We were cafeteria style parents for sure. I highly recommend a similar approach. In retrospect, maybe less attachment/more independence would have helped our first born who was more ‘challenging’, but I don’t think so. She didn’t like closeness as a baby but has become a child who enjoys the warmth of closeness. The second born thrives with attachment. Our second is almost 6 and when he’s not sleeping with us, he’s much more aggressive. Co-sleeping softens him. There are so many factors at work in creating an independent, secure, loving child – not just sleeping and baby wearing.
I had to put our 2nd in a cart much earlier also because of my back. It was wrecked after the 2nd kid as was my thyroid. I was falling apart. It was 4-5 years before I started to get strong again, but only because it took that long to find a way to exercise with 2 young kids. That was the hard part as I’m a pretty active trail runner and I was working on getting my black belt.
Ultimately, we think our sacrifices will be soooo worth it. We knew for 5-7 years that we would have less than normal/desired levels of things like sex and exercise, but we figured if we could set up the correct trajectory in those first 5 years, that the kids would be able to maintain a good course going forward. So far, so good. We always say, “we let you know how it works out in 20 years’. Both kids are amazing us with their abilities, independence, joy, confidence, spirit and heart. They inspire us to be grow in so many ways.
Striving for balance always seems like a good plan, no matter the goal.
I enjoy reading about parenting, because well like all of you I am one;-) I have three beautiful daughters 5,4, and 2 years. I enjoyed the vulnerability of your post, and I think what you shared is important. My education and background is in psychology and counseling, but even with all that head knowledge I struggled as a first time mom. My baby had severe reflux and couldn’t be laid down for up to 30 minutes after a feeding or it all came up. Trusting my mother and other women in my life who raised children in the typical American traditions I followed their advice to no avail. It didn’t work for my high needs baby. When I heard about attachment parenting I found it as a relief that I wasn’t messing her up because she didn’t sleep in her own bed. Thankful to learn that carrying my baby around all day was not going to spoil her. Glad to learn techniques that actually worked for her. My support system didn’t agree with my choices. The bottom line is she was not their responsibility. We need to love each other as struggling parents. We need to shift our parenting outlook on advice or parenting theories. One good thing my psychology background did was to teach me about theories. They are just that…theories. They are not absolute truth. In my masters program I was encouraged to choose a guiding theory or theories that overall matched with my counseling style, my personality, and my beliefs. No one theory fit the bill entirely. Two were standouts and most agreeable to me. But honestly if another theorist has a good idea I don’t throw out a technique because of who thought of it. We should think of parenting advice in this way. Flawed theories capable of helping us on the journey, but certainly not able to answer all the questions for us. Attachment parenting is in theory my best fit. The ideals are wonderful. I practice many of its concepts, but not all of them have worked for me. I personally find our countries need for our small children to be autonomous at such young ages quite ridiculous. To all of you frazzled moms and dads out there, babies are just hard. There is no way around it. There is no easy answer to our sleepless nights. I hope you find a way that makes you feel like you are not failing, successful even. I hope you have a support network. I hope you forgive yourself for your mistakes. It’s ok to be AP, it’s ok not to be AP, and it’s ok to just be yourself. If it feels like you are doing yourself and your baby a disservice, if you feel like a failure, if you feel like your pretending to be someone you are not… just stop. Be yourself.
Chrystal @ Happy Mothering says
Wow, so much opinion and experience here! I never intended upon co-sleeping, but it was the only way my older daughter would sleep – at all! So she slept with us. Our younger daughter slept in a bassinet until she was 4 months old and decided she needed that close comfort. I thought it would never end, but the week before her 5th birthday, our older decided to sleep in her own bed. Our younger daughter is still in our bed, but I envision her gaining her choice for independence before too long. I try to tell myself, “this too shall pass,” and it will. It does. It always does. Our modern expectations don’t always match up with traditional living. It all depends upon what works for your family.
I wrote a long post on your FB page about this so here I will constraint myself to your questions. I love the article and also feel that AP doesn’t work for everyone and most of all AP has some strict followers who instead of supporting other parents make them feel guilty and horrible…
What parts of attachment parenting worked for you? Baby wearing until 12 months. No use of it after she started walking, she didn’t want it. She was also never a big fan of the trolley, so wearing was great in the early months, it was the only way she would relax when we were outside and at home it helped her with naps and it helped me to work at home.
Where did attachment parenting fail for you? Sleeping never worked fine. Co sleeping would help sometimes but not always. My daughter is now 4 y.o. and I still lay down with her to put her to sleep but we don’t sleep together since she is 7 m.o. We needed our privacy back, it felt very strange to recover intimacy while she was watching us from her bed next to ours….for us our relationship is as important as the one with our kid, an unhappy couple can never make happy parents.
Did you co-sleep, sleep train, or both? We tried everything, eventually we stayed with her for hours, next to her bed until she fell asleep. Sleeping has been always a struggle since day one until she reached the 3 y.o. However the cry out method was not good for us, I tried it a couple of days but it just broke my heart, I could not keep it up. I chose to be tired than to feel guilty.
Did you wear your baby? How long? Up to 12 m.o., then she was just too heavy and she didn’t want it.
Thank you for sharing your experience in your own words and impressions. I think its important to be ‘real’ with the fact that parenting and having children isn’t just beautiful but a bloody hard and messy endeavor. Each child is definitely different, in a sibling sense & beyond. However, I think your impressions are clouded by the pretty steep learning curve you encountered with baby number 1 versus the rather novice approach employed for your daughter’s rearing. I agree with combining different techniques for child rearing, sleep training, etc. I am actually experiencing a backlash with my AP approach and rowdy two year old. Perhaps finding the right balance is the most crucial part in modern day child rearing.
I think the most important rule of parenting (also for most aspects of life) is follow your instincts. Reading a book or talking to others is very useful for advice and ideas, but in the end, do what works. If something’s not working, try something else.
I wish people wouldn’t judge everyone else so much, but since people aren’t likely to change in that regard, you have to be happy in your own skin. And that includes how you parent.
Misha.. Eads says
There are no set rights and wrongs for raising a baby. The baby needs food and love. I raised five and each one was a completely different experience. Baby five was a light sleeper and started to wake and nurse all night. I moved her out of our bed and dad, mom and baby all slept better.
I can relate to this article… Sleep deprivation and breastfeeding took a toll on my health– both emotional and physical. What I found most difficult was on how easy it is for people to “suggest” or tell you to do different things without knowing your child and the family’s dynamic in a whole. I feel that as parents we have to use our instincts, find some guidance that makes sense and the best book to read is ___________ (insert baby’s name) 🙂
This post was the most amazing thing for me to read. I’m sitting here typing this pregnant with my second child. I practiced hardcore AP with my daughter while my husband was deployed! Needless to say, there was NO SLEEP. When he came home when she was just shy of one, he could not believe how much she woke and how completely sick and exhausted I was. After much arguing, he convinced me to let her CIO. We did it one night and she only cried off and on for maybe 40 minutes. Slept a MILLION times better after that. I agree that AP needs to be more about doing what is right for your particular child. Each is different. I’m curious to see how this new one will be come December. I can say tho, I will definitely be doing things a bit differently. 🙂 Thanks again for the candid post. I love your blog!
Girls are easier than boys. Im a mom of B/G twins and my baby girl has always naturally been the better sleeper, eater, better behaved. So this difference between your kids is more related to gender than parenting styles in my view.
I am a little sad to read this. AP parents are supposed to take what works for them of the Baby B’s, not all of them are even physically possible for all mother’s. I have not/will not home birth or natural birth, but baby wearing has never been an issue (except on really hot days). I have next to no breast milk at all, but pump at the expense of my sanity and bottle nurse instead. There are as many interpretations of AP parenting as there are parents and children. I know children who are sleep scheduled and did not sleep until three years of age also. I know babies (such as my own) that are AP slept and slept nights from day one. The sleeping and eating and the amount they need to be help is determined by the individual baby. Ap is about honouring that individual baby, and letting them lead you, some will be easier than others. I personally have allowed my children to “cry” once they are about 2.5 years and fully understand the night time routines and stuff. Never past the five minute mark though…too bad to read this. Hope that it does not steer too many expectant moms off of AP. You do not need to be completely crunchy and silly to be AP, you need to just simply respect your child and childhood.
You make some excellent points Sarah. With a few years to look back I have come to the conclusion that I definitely had mommy brain, (read exhausted to the point of irrational) and I certainly could have ramped it down and still got good results, ie happy baby and happy mommy.
For me it was trial and error + instinct. Although attachment sounded better to me than detachment, I had no idea what the official AP line was. I’m still a little fuzzy on it (still haven’t read the books, just heard people talk about it.) But it never occurred to me to let the baby cry, for any reason. It felt bad so I just didn’t do it. It also didn’t occur to me that I should suffer. That felt bad too, so I tried to avoid *that* as much as possible. So. Due to a traumatic birth and breastfeeding troubles and having absolutely no examples of mothering to guide me, I tried this and I tried that and eventually ended up like this:
Hold the baby whenever the baby wants to be held. Sit down if necessary for own comfort, whenever possible (it usually was. I sat down everywhere, and breastfed everywhere.) Put off housework or other activities if necessary to facilitate that. Put baby down whenever baby is happy to be put down (on a mattress, in the bouncy seat, in the stroller, whatever.) Use a sling for convenience purposes. (I didn’t use a sling until the baby was sitting up, btw; I found it too difficult before then, and the baby didn’t like it.) Breastfeed the baby whenever the baby wants it. Utilize firm mattress (makes rolling away easier) and white noise. Sleep during the day whenever I feel like it; sleep when the baby sleeps. Get husband-wife time in other ways than at baby’s bedtime; make big effort to connect throughout the day, in any free moment possible (which turned out to be really lovely, and sometimes pretty exciting if you know what I mean.)
I found it really stressful to try (and I did try, initially) to structure things so that I could separate from the baby so I could go do other things. My life got a lot sweeter and easier when I just said, the hell with the other things. Now, obviously I had the luxury of doing that. I didn’t need to work outside the home, and there was no pressure on me to have a clean house and dinner on the table. If there had been I might have needed to make different choices. But the way it got to be, it was a pretty darn good gig. It felt GOOD. It’s supposed to. For me, that was always the point.
Wow. Your story is so similar to mine in so many ways. My 1st, now 3.5 yrs co-slept and breastfed for 2 years, and didnt sleep through the night till she got her own room at 2y3m, and still now has issues with going to sleep without someone laying with her in her bed. My 2nd, now 11 mths breast feeds till nearly asleep then goes in her cot in the ‘girls room’ out of my room. She sleeps nearly through the night, unless teething badly (rarely) for a few days here and there. We ‘wear’ her in the Ergo, some times, and for day naps she sleeps in the pram – I take her for a walk, and she looks up at the trees to drift off. I couldn’t bear sleep deprivation to the extent of the 1st time (waking up 10x at night at 1y old) it was so full on, so I decided to just let her be capable of being safe and loved in a different bed then a different room alot earlier (6m).
It’s as if you’ve watch my life from pregnacy to toderdom and wrote an indepth report on what you viewed….thank you so much for fearlessly putting this out there. You’re amazing I have just discovered your blog and am obsessed. Thank you for all the amazing work and information you put into it!
Hi Nicole, thanks for your comment and kind words! I am so glad that you’re enjoying reading Holistic Squid! I hope you’ll continue to enjoy it!
My first baby is a gastroschisis baby. We spent 5 and a half LONG weeks in the NICU. All of which included lots of skin-to-skin contact, cuddling, and holding. When we finally brought her home, she did sleep at nighttime in a little bassinet that allowed her to sleep with her head slightly raised. She had VERY bad relfux. She spent many a nap in my arms or asleep on my chest. It was comfortable for both of us, and helped me bond with her. She slept next to our bed in a bassinet until about 5 months of age when her feedings decreased to about 3 or 4 times a night and had been sleeping flat on her back for at least a month or two without any reflux issues. She definitely spit up in her bed a lot, well into 6 or 7 months of age, but she always dealt with it very well. I did not practice baby wearing religiously, (she spent lots of time in my arms though) nor did we co-sleep with our daughter. Don’t get me wrong, we certainly tried it, and if she’s sick we make exceptions. But neither my boyfriend or I ever get any sleep with her in our bed. She’s now almost 14 months, just recently stopped breast feeding, and also began consistently sleeping through the night after realizing that midnight feedings were no longer an option. I know a lot of people who love the AP style, we just kind of went with the flow and did whatever worked best for our baby. I think that if AP works for you, go for it!! I couldn’t baby wear as often as I would have liked because of my bad back even though my daughter is quite small for her age. (Seriously, she will probably be wearing 18 month clothing well into her second year.) She still is very “attached”,waning that she loves to be where ever mommy is and always enjoys a good cuddle. On the other hand she’s also very independent and has no trouble entertaining herself for hours. Every child is different. I like to think that a combination of different parenting styles and incorporating different ideas (and common sense) can help people to raise a very healthy, happy, well-behaved, and independent child.
I consider myself AP and I agree with you. I was expecting to scoff at this article, but when I get over the trying to be controversial tone, it actually makes sense. I enjoy breastfeeding, cosleeping and picking up my baby when she cries but I had a bad back and babywearing hurt my back. I thought I must be doing something wrong and kept trying and it just hurt worse and worse. I felt horrible at first carrying my daughter in a stroller or even just in my arms instead. I felt I wasn’t “mom enough” to hold her in one of those pretty baby carriers. Thank goodness for a woman on the baby wearing forums…she told me don’t feel guilty bringing out a stroller, wearing shouldn’t hurt, do it when you want to! I hardly ever wear my daughter, she doesn’t really liked to be worn except for naps. I don’t mind that because then you can put her down…she wakes up if I’m not next to her but it’s ok I should probably nap with her anyways! Or at least lay in bed to meditate or read a book. She sleeps through the night with co-sleeping, yes she nurses through the night and I end up sleeping on my side a lot. But I am a deep sleeper, so if in the middle of the night she wants to nurse and my body knows that it does not want to be in that position anymore, my husband has witnessed her either crawl up on me and eat while i’m laying on my back, or she will cry/whine until she falls asleep next to me again. I do kind of feel like she when that happens, but I accept it because most of the time I do turn over, just my body knows whats right for it so I follow it.
Anyways I don’t believe anyone should do CIO unless they tried everything else first. Thankfully my baby slept through the night since birth and I nap with her so I never got sleep deprived. I do agree with you that if you don’t want the work of co-sleeping, then guide your baby gently when they are younger. Co-sleeping can be easier in some ways and harder in others and parents should really think about that before they pick which to do. My husband has always been home with us and he bounces my daughter to sleep. He always has and she will not go to sleep without it now she is one….but we accept that we made it that way because he was too lazy to get into any of those schedules and my back hurt too bad to do side-lying when she was young (babywearing again >:( ). Yes our sex life isn’t what we wish it could be, and I wish I could just lay her down instead of bouncing or not worry about nursing at night. But we know she will get older soon and we won’t have to do any of this. I have learned a lot about patience while being a parent.
I plan to space my children so I have some breathing time in between. I think that helps a lot to keep your sanity even if you have a high needs child. Another thing is that I do believe attachment parenting is what is best for our children…I just think its HARD because its not best for the culture we live in. I think that there should be more than one caregiver for the child available at all times. I believe in trusted roommates and living with your parents when you have a kid. I did. I am so glad my husband could also stayed home the first year because raising a kid…especially one that is high needs AP style..its hard! I believe we are meant to parent as a village and we are meant to parent ap style, its what is best mentally and physically for everyone, kids and parents. Babywearers always talk about how old the act of babywearing is, how mothers did it in very ancient time and its just natural. Well so is the village mentality of raising a child, and If there were plenty of people to care for the child, there are plenty people holding your child that you actually probably won’t need to wear her that often! I could never do this by myself. Ever. It’s not your fault that our society doesn’t have maternity leave past 6 weeks, and that it has no maternity leave for fathers and that living with parents is considered something only to do in bad circumstances. That is why I do believe do whats best for you, as close to AP as possible. That is basically what your article says. I am glad you found what works for you! 🙂
I really appreciated this article! I fancied myself to be an AP parent as well…. co-sleeping being the main part. When I got to the point that my 11 month old was nursing 8-10 times a night, and I was suffering from severe post partum depression and exhaustion, I had to finally sleep train him! It was not as hard as I thought it would be… while I hate hearing him cry, it only took two-three nights and he was sleeping all night in his bed.
I have felt so guilty that someone who is a pretty “crunchy” mom couldn’t just “deal with it” and suffer through. I simply could not. I was becoming suicidal and a total horror to be around. I did what made me a better, healthier mother for my son.
Thank you for writing this! It has made me feel like not so big of a creep after all.
Anne Perry says
We co sleep…. 36 month old and 9 month old.
We breastfeed 36 and 9 month old.
I wear them both… at the same time. Grand total of 50 lbs.
My boys have never “cried it out”.
I don’t see your point of stating these things about yourself. Are you trying to get a medal or some congrats? I think a better place for that would be on many of the facebook pages for AP/ Babywearing?Breastfeeding, etc. This article is about how this woman COULDN’T babywear because of a back injury. It seems like you just want to be holier than thou and rub salt in the wounds.
Anne Perry says
No… I was simply answering the questions at the end of the post. Not judging how anyone else chooses to parent… this works for me.
Seriously? She answered the bloggers questions! Defensive much..?
Amber C says
Great comments on all sides. I didn’t breastfeed (couldn’t) or co-sleep (chose not to). However by no means does that mean I don’t have a “connection” with my children and that I don’t use that “connection to guide them through life”. If those are the definitions of AP…then hey guess I am!…go figure!
I have 4 children…the first two were put in their own beds the last two were co sleepers. There was a big age gap between the first two and the second two. I would say that the second two are must more adjusted and happy…tho I also have not worked with the last two. So, I don’t know. I think if you LOVE on your children, you are okay with what you choose…because they know they are loved.
Uh… Ok. LOL Biologically, children shouldn’t be sleeping through the night that young. Babies have needs. Can’t hang? Don’t have one.
Sorry not sure i understand: Who are you talking to Sarah? Responding to the original story? Her baby was one year old and still not sleeping through the night? 🙁 At what age should that happen then?
My baby slept through the night at 4 months old, when I stopped the last 5 am feeding and without CIO, just a gentle comfort and wait approach. Her growth curve is perfect and she wakes up super rested and happy to start the day. I strongly believe it is better for a baby to learn to sleep through the night early (healthy sleep habits happy child is a great book by the way) and definitely by 6 months, no pediatrician would argue that a baby NEEDS to eat in the middle of the night at 6 months .. And yes, sleeping can unfortunately be an acquired skill, not all babies learn how to do it on their own…
Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook says
It seems to me that this is not the story of “why we ditched attachment parenting” but the story of “how attachment parenting worked out for our family, and some adjustments we had to make.” I knew before my child was even conceived that I was going to return to work outside the home when he was 12 weeks old, and a lot of people told me that was “not AP” and/or told me I’d change my mind when he was born, but I didn’t and we found that the core principles of AP were very helpful to maintaining our (not just mom’s, but also dad’s) connection with the baby when we were apart. All his life (he’s 8 now) I’ve encountered people who assume I am an at-home mom because they see how connected we are–it’s kind of sad.
There’s one part of your article that I don’t think anyone commented on:
Now, I DO NOT recommend sleep training a one year old if you can avoid it (instead introduce a schedule no later than four months in most cases).
From everything I’ve read, a one-year-old is much more likely to comprehend sleep training and adapt quickly–like your son did–than is a four-month-old. Younger babies are still developing their understanding of object permanence (you still exist when you’re out of sight) and time/memory (you will be back in the morning; this present moment is not all that will ever be) and they may have a genuine metabolic need to nurse a few times during the night.
Here is our experience with developing sleep habits. One of the choices that worked best for us was setting up the family bed in the kid’s room, rather than bringing him into our bed–it had scads of advantages and no downside.
“sanity” is being kinda rude. I could say “cold hearted parenting…what a bunch of cold war crap” but I won’t. I have 4 kids….first two “normal” parenting. Second two AP kids…who are much better adjusted. They do not mind being away from me b/c they are very secure. I am just as attached as they are btw:)
I think the most important thing to remember is that EVERY child is different and each parent has to decide what personally works for them. My first child was colicky, I was exhausted from running down the hall, getting her out of the crib, nursing, getting her tucked back in so I could race back to my bed and sleep for 20 minutes. My Mom told me that if I let that baby sleep in my bed “I would make her weird.” I feel like I didn’t sleep for 2 years. There was not a lot of information about co-sleeping then, I’m 42 I had 6 children, bed sharing is the only way I could get sleep. Some of my babies wanted to sleep right in my bed, some in a “moses” basket next to the bed. Depends on your baby. Some I proudly nursed until the age of two. Some needed to be weaned by 13 months. When I nursed my now 7 year old daughter after 18 months she started pinching my legs with her toes. I had bruises up and down my thighs. We cut out night nursing after I figured out where the bruises were coming from. Then I have this funny 4 year old, I weaned her at two. She has decided that she is still comforted by rubbing her hand across my chest and sometimes if I’m carrying her she will pull my neckline back and look in there I don’t know why but then she smiles and says I love you mommy even though I’m a big girl.
Gonna chime in here saying I think you are confused about what an attachment parent is. I baby wore not because I wanted to be a good attached parent, but that it felt right. I did it until it was uncomfortable and stopped because it started hurting my neck badly. Tried 5 different wraps, tied then correctly, still drove me nuts. My sister still can wear 2-3 year olds and I gasp in shock:) I co slept with my son from infancy, and even though we finally had to do a little tough love and gently guide him back into his room after waking for the 5th time that night for one reason or another(at 4 years old), he still has a hard time going and staying to sleep at 4 1/2 years old. Those early years with him were very tough, but it never felt right to me to let him cry it out when I could tell something was going on…(yes it was tough on our marraige, but we made it through and are closer and more connected than ever now) Didn’t know what but finally have learned he had some SPD/ADHD symtoms and has since infancy. Explains a lot. It would have felt heartless to let him figure out how to settle himself as an infant. At least he knew that I was there for him, even though I couldn’t fix all his problems. My daughter who is 2 now was an excellent sleeper early on and is still nursing at 27 months. I don’t feel imprisoned by nursing her still and she can settle and go to sleep without it if I’m not around. She sleeps in a crib and has since about 4 weeks. Never had to let her cry it out. She has always preferred to sleep alone! Every child is different !
You unvoluntarily epitomize what seems wrong with AP.. You had to do a little “tough love” and guiding at 4 Years old to get your son to sleep through the night in his bedroom? Well, had you done a little guiding between 2-6 months old ( no “though love” and crying required at that age, that’s the added irony, just a good schedule, patience and persistence ), your son would probably have been able to learn to sleep earlier. And according to this NYT article, a lot of “ADHD” diagnosis are in fact children who don’t sleep soundly at night.. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/opinion/sunday/diagnosing-the-wrong-deficit.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Your daughter did better on her own, thankfully a lot of kids don’t need that much guidance, but for those who actually do, AP (for sleeping behaviour) is a disaster..
AP is probably great for a lot of things (not my cup of tea but I understand the appeal), but its major flaw is turning parents against all type of “sleep training” as it equates it with CIO. Kids need to learn, you need to teach, and this doesn’t need to be an ugly battle when you do it early, gently and consistently.
I LOVED this post. LOVED it! We adopted our first two children, siblings, from the foster care system when they were 19 mos. and 7 mos. old. Not only did I want to be the best mom ever to these kids, but they’d already had interruptions in their attachment and I wanted SO much for them to be able to heal from that. We exhausted ourselves trying as many of the attachment parenting things as we possibly could. Looking back, I actually think it delayed my attaching to them because I was so worn out, we were all unhappy, and I felt myself becoming resentful. When we finally relaxed and did what came naturally to us – more structure, more autonomy, etc. – our relationship with them began to blossom. We snuggled on the couch to read and just enjoyed being together instead of me feeling that I must put in a certain number of hours baby-wearing. With our next child, adopted as a newborn, we did the things that had worked for our family and she was happy and content, a great eater and sleeper from the beginning. Attachment was never even an issue. We are expecting our first biological child in the next couple months, and although I will finally be able to breastfeed (YAY!), we are still planning to sleep train and use a stroller. There are lots of ways to love on your kids and I agree that you don’t have to deprive yourself of all bodily comfort and sleep to achieve attachment.
I find some principles in AP work for me, others do not. Just as all other parenting methods or advice, I take what I need and leave the rest. There is no one size fits all parenting method. I take a little from here a little from there, and trust my Momma instincts, and it all works out.
Carissa Shaw says
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I feel like you were telling my story when you talked about your first child’s sleep habits. My daughter was an absolutely TERRIBLE sleeper! By 7 months old she never slept more than an hour at a time and usually woke several times an hour all night long to nurse. I was an extremely sleep deprived half lunatic having hysterical crying spells, deep depression, and panic attacks. Most days I went to work on 30 minutes of sleep. We broke down and did what we swore we never would and sleep trained her. The improvement was remarkable! By one year old she was sleeping through the night and I felt like a new person. Since then I’ve been literally terrified of getting pregnant and having another baby. Reading about your experience with your second baby gave me hope that it can be better!
At any rate, I have a beautiful two year old daughter who is the love of my life and I have learned so much about life, love, and sacrifice. I might just be crazy enough to try for one more…
Thank you for your honesty (and bravery!). Moms need stories like this to encourage, empower and relieve guilt. We are our own people and can still be wonderful mothers without practicing AP. Subtle scorning by AP supporters for choosing other styles of parenting is close-minded, obnoxious and may actually be harmful. I’m a public health professional, doula and RN who prefers natural approaches to health. I always tell clients, as long as it’s healthy for baby, do what works for you!
Excellent point re back pain. I am a long time sufferer of lower back pain. Strapping a baby to my back is out of the question. When I’m having acute muscle spasms and sciatica, all I can do is lay in bed until the muscles relax and inflammation decreases (about 1-2 weeks). I’m no good to anyone at that point, so if you suffer from back pain or have that tendency, please do not do anything that will exacerbate it. You can actually cause more damage!
Skin to skin is evidenced based and improves outcomes, bonding, breastfeeding, stabilizes baby’s temperature, calms and relaxes mother and baby, and overall is a wonderful experience. The only aspect of AP that is worrisome is co-sleeping. I think its beautiful but why risk it? I disagree with the authors statement, “We were confident that we would not suffocate him.” You can never be too confident. I’m an aware sleeper but when I’m extremely tired, sleep can be deep or restless. You cannot predict this. Ask yourself, are you truly 100% certain you’ll never roll over too close to your baby or that a blanket or sheet won’t get too close to baby’s face? That’s a big assumption!
The thing to remember here is that the author is faulting a method that was poorly understood, and then saying that other methods were better for her family. She doesn’t once consider that she may have misunderstood the point of attachment parenting in the first place.
Attachment is an emotional process, not a physical one. To be securely attached, the infant has to be responded to consistently and compassionately, not given everything he needs and wants and to have physical “attachment” at all times. Skin to skin contact is very important in the first stages of life, but diminishes in importance as they grow. I think it’s being taken too far here and the implication is that even a one year old must be skin to skin all the time. That’s not supported by literature.
Attachment theory says that babies must learn that when they have a need, someone will notice and respond and that they’re not alone and adrift. It doesn’t say that they get everything they want when they want it. Crying it out is a bad idea because it abandons the baby, not because the baby’s wants aren’t appeased. If you responded to his crying by coming in, showing him that you were there, but still not nursing him, that would have counted as the “consistent responsiveness” of parenting this way. It’s still attachment parenting to say no.
I’m deeply concerned that the wonderful ideas of Bowlby and his successors has become something that forces parents to literally touch their child physically every moment and give them everything they want. All you need for a secure attachment is to communicate to your child that their needs are important and that they’re not alone trying to get them met. A hungry child should be fed. But a hungry child can also be responded to with “soon, but not yet honey” information and the same goal is achieved. The emotional need of caretaking is met, and the food need will be met when it becomes logistically more appropriate.
Attachment parenting is no excuse for permissiveness, as this author seems to believe.
I really appreciated this article, and I’m glad that you shared your experiences. I diligently adhered to Dr. Sears’ attachment parenting protocol and found that I was simply driving us both crazy. My daughter and I have an incredible bond, but she is completely a child of “a little of column A and column B.” I greatly enjoyed cosleeping and babywearing, but she showed us signs that these things were no longer working for her. On the verge of pulling my hair out, there was a point when I had to ask myself, “am I doing this because it is good for her or because it’s good for me?” I wish that more parents were accepting of a hybridized style of attachment parenting. I wish someone had said to me that sometimes it is okay to use a stroller or that it is okay to let your child throw a tantrum, alone in a safe environment rather than trying to reason with a strong-willed and inconsolable toddler (Actually, on that note, after months of using Dr. Sears’ method of holding a child close during a tantrum, I now have a little girl that yells, “help! help!” so that when we are in public, it appears that I’m kidnapping a frantic child! My family and friends find it hilarious…me, not so much).
I’ve found that my little one’s personality is mostly incompatible with attachment parenting, but there are certainly aspects that have been helpful to us. I know that it works for many other families and I think it’s wonderful. However, for my daughter, I genuinely feel that it’s not right for her temperament. She’s now two years old. Looking back and evaluating the months of self doubt and feeling like a failure as a mother, I’ve come to realize that I actually have a lot to be proud of: I have a beautiful bond with my daughter, and although she prefers her own autonomy, we always have plenty of hugs and kisses. She’s physically healthy, smart, and still loves to be held, read to and sang to sleep at night–in her own bed.
It is simply unrealistic to generalize baby mentalities. Will my girl be any worse off because she wasn’t breastfed until she was two or held 20 out of 24 hours of every day? Will she experience cognitive deficits because of my shortcomings as an attached parent? I don’t know, you tell me: I was a stroller kid, occasionally enjoyed processed foods, watched TV and slept in a crib. Not to toot my own horn but my brain has taken me all over the world, and I’m currently working toward my PhD while raising a beautiful daughter. Instead of stressing over the details of attachment parenting, let’s listen to our hearts and intuition to help us raise our children. Nobody is perfect, just like no babe is exactly the same. We should be rejoicing that we all love our children enough to have these conversations in the first place. THAT is what is TRULY special.
I had a very similar experience. With my 1st, I was totally clueless and tried the attachment parenting route and almost lost my sanity after two years of sleepless nights. He rarely took a nap and nursed until I became pregnant with my 2nd (fourteen months). With number two, I still carried her in the sling, but began sleep training at 8 months. She now is a happy, healthy and well-adjusted nap-taker and through-the-night sleeper. It’s like clockwork. And mom is happy too.
erica @ expatria, baby says
There’s so much in here to which I can relate. I just read this going, omg, me to! Yes! And me! Yup! ME TOO!!!
Our experiences with AP sound remarkably similar. My daughter didn’t sleep; she woke up hourly for the first year of her life; naps and bedtime required 90 minutes of bouncing and rocking before she’d sleep (for 20 minutes at a time). I feed constantly. I wore my kid for ever and always, despite pain. While I didn’t have to endure the pain of sciatica, I did put my back out (thankfully only once.) I was exhausted, burnt out, and totally spent. I had no free time, no sense of self or identity outside parenthood. And I felt guilty 100 percent of the time for not being the picture perfect AP parent, despite the fact that I was giving (literally) everything I had to my kid!
Now I’m expecting my second baby, and I’m going to be doing things a lot differently. I’m sure that I will still babywear and co-sleep (for a while). I’ll feed on demand, and respond to my child’s cries. But you can bet I’ll be sleep training this one. Hooooooo boy, the moment I’m able to, this kid is going to be nudged towards a schedule. I look forward to checking out that book you recommended. It sounds interesting!!
I just wanted to say THANK YOU for this post. So many people make me feel bad (myself included) that AP with co-sleeping didn’t work for us. Sleep training worked, and it worked well! My baby started sleeping really long stretches as soon as I switched him to his own room. He’s a nap fighter, but I think that’s just his personality. His night sleep is great and uninterrupted since he was 6 months old (11 months now). My baby has been in the 100th percentile for while now too, so baby wearing went out the window when I started getting bad back pains like you did when my baby was five months old. I was going crazy trying to hold my baby all the time. I felt like I lost my sanity as well. When I finally gave up and just put him down, he started exploring on his own and became a much happier baby.
Mommy wars are horrible, and I’m sorry for all the comments you’ve received on here with people attacking you. You did what was best for you, your personality and your children. You need to be a happy mom, not a drained mom trying to do all these things people say you should do.
Thanks for posting this to help the rest of us that gave up AP get rid of our guilt.
I was first introduced to “baby wise” and appreciated the logical nature of it. It seemed to be a balanced way to get everyone’s needs met: mind your milk supply, don’t schedule feedings, and don’t always assume the baby meeds the boob (mayne it’s snuggles, gas or somethig else.
My reality was the physiologically “rare” case of chronic-low milk supply. Because it is so “rare” and does not respond to conventional wisdom (feed on demand/cue, pump, eat oats, fenugreek, domperidone, etc) I took “baby wise” testimonies too far, convinced my milk would be abundant, eventually and that she needed to be on a “routine.” Unfortunately, we had a tragic day of not enough wet diapers. For the next few days, I bawled my eyes out when I had to use a bottle for donor milk, and watched her GUZZLE it. Eventually, another tearful day arrived when I ran out of donor milk amd began hsing formula.
Now, I would say BW “failed” me because the testimonies from other moms & dads really reflected CIO and SCHEDULES. Because of my milk issues, schedules didn’t work for our family. Since, I recall tearful nights of CIO as a child, I knew that this didn’t work for us either.
Due to the pressure & guilt from failing in so many ways (the horror amd shame of my sweet one falling asleep in my arms!-gasp!) at BW and my goal to EBF, I caved and read the AP book by the Searses.
I found it to be a lot of fluff, repetition and I found many of the tricks to attachment unhelpful since I never had the ability to nurse my daughter to sleep, she always needed supplementation. What I did find was that I did not need a parenting style.
I needed my instincts. I am glad for the wealth of information out there, and evidence behind lots of AP practices. I think though, that the way we parent is imperfect, sometimes I am impatient with toddler naps, sometimes I get frustrated and yell. It’s not how I want to be, but I am human. I ask for forgiveness, move on amd try to do better.
At 21 months, we sometimes let her fall asleep in our bed. The. To save our neck muscles we put her in the crib. Will this work for baby#2? Probably not, we habe a good sleeper (9-11 hours since 4 months) who doesn’t usually go to sleep without snuggles. I have been assured that our next baby will be the devil amd will never sleep at all, by loads of (well meaning?) friends.
How will we proceed? With lots of support from other low-milk-supply moms, and no expectation for perfection. Yes, I want the best for this baby too, but I now see the humanity of myself as a parent. Sometimes, the extra snuggles are what I need, and sometimes the “i have to put you some where safe so I can chill out and regain my composure” is what I need too. I’d like to be balanced and meet everyone’s needs without having to priorotize one person/need over another, but it’s hardly realistic.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll joyfully set aside wants for my children, but sometimes the Baby Wise parent seems to me too cold, and the AP parent seems too perfect. I’ve failed at both methods, so I will just make up my own.
I think doing what is needed for your child and family is the best route, i wish it were bump-free and fail-proof, but it’s not.
An odd post. I am an AP parent with both my children. My first child stopped daytime naps at 1yo too. I suspect I just didn’t have any parenting skills (the ones where you look a child and can tell they are tired or hungry), it is funny how much you just don’t notice or understand with your first child, you are busy learning the basics that the harder stuff is too much… at least that is what I found.
My second child was baby-worn even more then my first (despite being huge) but I had better parenting skills with bub #2 and she is a good sleeper (yay!!).
I do agree that it can be hard to go against the AP crowd. I know when I bought my first pram at 6months old the AP crowd came down hard on me. I wanted to walk to town and buy shopping, they told me to buy a granny trolley instead… I bought the pram and used to push her in it to town and carry her home (with the groceries in the trolley).
It is hard to find balance isn’t it. But no need to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Wow! It seems you really had a hard time with your first!
However, I don’t believe it is the AP that is to blame… You don’t know what would have happened if you had chosen another parenting style. The backache is from poor posture and muscle imbalances, rather than from the baby wearing I believe. But it is a common complaint among my baby wearing friends though….
It also depends on the child, they are different personalities. My second is so much more independent than my first, and she is a lot less worn/carried in general.
The sleep deprivation as a serious thing, and I would consider sleep training , if I couldn’t sleep at night with my babies.
So you are saying that she should have been able to easily do baby-wearing if only she had better posture and had her “muscle imbalances corrected”? For one, are you aware that the author is an acupuncturist with extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology? I also have a feeling that she is aware of the importance of posture. I’m certain she was aware of any pre-existing issues with her back. “Muscle imbalances” in your back are extremely difficult to correct even with yoga, Pilates, PT, chiro, massage. Physical stress will exacerbate any old injury. You sound like someone who has never dealt with real chronic back pain.
I find it courageous that the author and others spoke so honestly about their experience. Exposing themselves to the possibility of critism. I wonder if you would like to share you OWN parenting experience….or more of what you have “read”.
To answer your 2nd question:
When I started parenting, AP mothers I met were mostly into
“crying very “bad” and comfortfeeding”:
In AP baby should never “left to cry”, was their opinion. I agree on that, as in: never alone. (Though it can happen off course).
But.. I also knew a baby could safely cry in arms, before I even started parenting (I was a bit more aware and informed than most, so I was quite clear on wht I wanted). But mothers started telling me: that’s not what wedo in AP. So first I thought that I was not so AP after all.. But then it turns out that many mothers just use the term AP for things that aren’t nessecarily AP, but they just made up in their mind or misinterpreted. When you read the books that are called AP, they mention that babies need to release stress by crying, assuming they are fed and diapered etc.
None are saying: you should latch on all night, make sure your baby never cries. No. In fact, Sears himself mentions how baby cried in his arms while Martha needed to sleep. Marta wasn’t latching on all night.
That’s what the writer of this article made of it. And with her many other moms. But it’s not AP. So I’d say: use another label or no label, because it is only misleading (and frustrating) other parents. Some parents give up on their so called AP, never even actually informing the selves if it was actually considered AP!
Considering wearing Sears (i quote himsince he invented the label) also writes moderately.
If you go running around with a crying baby in your carrier all day, then YOU clearly didn’t get the point, but I don’t see anything courageous inblaming a label that you didn’t get in the first place, misinforming others, making them think they’re not AP when they don’t carry their baby 24/7.
Though yeah, such bold statements DO generate a lot of readers and comments. I wouldn’t call it courageous though.
There’s my take on it.
Hello. It does make sense to let the baby cry in arms. I made a lot of mistakes in my early parenting. Now my daughter is 14 months and she still needs to be bounced to sleep while wearing her and then on the boob during the night. It is quite exhausting. I don’t mind so much the boob, but I wish she could get herself down to sleep instead of having to bounce her in her carrier. Do you think she could cry in my arms now or is it too late to change her sleeping habits and she just has to grow out of it? Thanks!
Sorry for posting twice
It is never too late to allow your daughter to cry-in-arms.
It might be a little more tough to start later, since she might be used to suppress her feelings with something. It’s often confronting with ourselves too, with our own assumptions about crying.
It’s important to realize it’s not a method or training and therefor it takes some practice, just like abnything else in parenting. And if you feel like giving boob, you give boob offcourse.
I found the following books helpful to understand more:
Naomi Aldort – Raising our children, raising ourselves
Aletha Solter – tears & Tantrums (though Solter is more Aware Parenting, a seperate form of AP)
Also Pam Leo & Patty Wipfler have info on this: books & audio talks.
Naomi Aldort has some youtube videos and articles on her website.
I found this website very extended on explaining:
Aha parenting has shorter articles on dealing with emotions & tantrums but very handy too.
Also parenting with presence explains well and is very loving, but is more aware parenting.
Terms that go along with this:
Validating (vs invalidating).
Wishing you all best! 🙂
I mean Ashley
Sorry for the typo!! 🙂
I admit to not reading all these comments, so sorry if I’m reiterating something. My husband and I have used basic AP principles to parenting our three daughters. And I can relate to many of the moms who have run themselves ragged with some of it. I don’t regret any of it, even the toughest, when our first was “colic-y”. But with our third, now 7 months, I’ve been going back to work while my husband stays home with the kids. This has been an accidental blessing on the nursing-dependency issue. I still express milk; in fact, she’s barely had anything else. But since there’s not an option of nursing to sleep when I’m not here, she’s much more open to either being laid in her bed (where she will cry for a couple of minutes, because she’s tired- that’s why she’s there!), or mostly falling asleep while being worn by daddy. When I get home from work, I am so in love with my little ones all over again- it’s a blessing every day. I’ve been the stay at home mom who didn’t have anything but the children and lost my identity. For my family, my gong back to work has been a wonderful balance for us all.
AP is not a set of rules where you check each thing off and then you get your AP badge. It’s a list of TOOLS to use, you use what tools work for you and discard the ones that don’t. THe whole idea behind AP is that you listen to your baby, hold them as close as you and baby can handle, most importantly, though is to respond to the baby’ cues- whatever that means for you both. You learn from being near your baby-not by forcing your baby near you even though she’s crying to be put down- but you learn from listening and growing TOGETHER. You learn by listening to your own instincts. You learn as you go along. The idea behind AP is that you become ATTACHED to your child, it’s not about forcing your child into the carrier even though baby is screaming and you’re in pain. That doesn’t work. If something in AP is not working for you, change it. If it isn’t working for baby, change it. The author clearly did not read the books all the way through because any good AP book states this- you take what works and throw away the rest. It is NOT RULES,people!! It’s a list of TOOLS!!!! TOOLS!!!!!!! Stop putting down AP and take responsibility of your own choices.
One thing that really confuses me, is all the comments about babywearing and extreme pain. What carriers did you guys use, and were they properly fitted/used? The basic cheap carriers are notoriously horrible for mom’s back, as well as, the carries often used in the earlier months (on mom’s front) will be killer on your back with heavier weights. I have herniated disks and horrible misalignment, and babywearing bring me great pain relief, but I did have to be taught how to do it correctly, first. I also started with one of the cheapo carriers, and it was hell. But a good back carrier, or wrap took away all the pain!
I’ve practiced AP, unknowingly with both of my kids. I say unknowingly because I didn’t read to much about it – just did what works for me and my babies and what feels natural to me as a mom. I’ve found a lot of that goes hand-in-hand with AP. I don’t judge those that let their babies CIO during sleep training but I’m just too much of a softie for that. I know because I unsuccessfully attempted it with my first born but caved because of pulled heartstrings. I’ve also found that co-sleeping = more sleep for me because of nursing – especially during growth spurts where they’re constantly at the breast. Otherwise, my little ones just felt comforted knowing that mom and dad were there and slept soundly knowing they weren’t alone. I also love the nighttime cuddles with my babies and morning kisses/raspberries and goofing around in bed.
I didn’t wear my first very much because I didn’t like my carrier or know but I have three different carriers for my second – all of which I use. I don’t know how we managed without carriers with our oldest. I think they’re a necessity now. Although I’ve taken the same parenting approach with both of my kids; both of my kids are very different people. My first born is really independent and always has been. He has also always been very sociable with friends/family and could be handed off to anyone with ease. My youngest is a Momma’s boy first and foremost. He prefers me but dad and big brother are a close second. He only wants his immediate family and has a very strong attachment just to us. He also doesn’t like being held by strangers or friends/family he doesn’t know that much and never has. He likes everyone but from afar and only those he sees regularly will he tolerate being held by.
My second-born is also very clingy and more demanding than my first born. There are times when he wants to be held a lot – even now that he’s twelve months so slings/carriers have been a godsend for us because they allow us to get things done when he’s sick or just being ornery. I use the sling for cuddles and breastfeeding, the side carrier when I’m out shopping and he gets fussy and my back/front carrier when I need to use both of my hands but he wants to be held. The carrier I had with my first born just didn’t work for me but the ones I have now are invaluable. Getting one or more that fit properly, give back support and support your child properly is so important.
I guess my parenting philosophy is that they’re only young once. I will never regret cuddling, carrying or nursing my babies to sleep. It really doesn’t last long so I don’t rush it. I know that they’ll become more independent from me on their own and on their own time. Kids in college don’t still sleep with their mommas! My oldest self-weaned to bottles at six months. My twelve month old is still nursing but also uses bottles. My oldest co-slept until 2. Putting him in his own bed was an easy transition because we all knew it was time and he was ready. My 1 year old is still sleeping with me at night. Both of my kids can/could fall asleep in a variety of ways because I don’t/didn’t just rely on one method to soothing to sleep. I switch it up and do whatever they need at the time.
I say just do what works for you and your babies. The most important thing is to love them. I’m happy and confident in my parenting choices and my kids are happy and well-adjusted. That’s all that matters to me.
One person’s experience. That’s all this is, one person.
I practiced AP, got lots of sleep, had a healthy happy boy, who was sleeping 10 hours straight at 9 months and was not at all overly dependent.
Did you ever consider maybe your babies just had different needs and wants?
I’ve known 2 different families who tried AP. They spent all this time glued to their child 24/7, and now that those children are 3 years old , the parents act as though they barely exists Each of those families now have new infants and are devoting all their time to the new baby, and the first child is getting the short end of the stick, and neither seem too concerned that their 3 year olds are suffering due to negligence and a lack of love. You can’t just devote all your time to your newborn and forget about your other children. Makes no sense.
Faye Carlisle says
I believe that forming a strong attachment with your baby is really important but the principles of attachment parenting go beyond what is necessary to form an attachment. Psychologists believe that forming a secure attachment is related to sensitive communication between a baby and its caregiver. It is not related to breastfeeding, co-sleeping or baby-wearing. I have written a blog post discussing why attachment parenting advocates are too extreme. http://wp.me/p29Oas-lK
Midwest Mama says
From the Continuum lady herself, who I think inspired Dr. Sears. i wish I’d seen this article much sooner in my parenting. http://icpa4kids.org/Wellness-Articles/whos-in-control-the-unhappy-consequences-of-being-child-centered/All-Pages.html
Amen. Thank you, thank you, thank you for such an honest portrayal of attachment parenting. After nine months of strict attachment parenting my firstborn, I was no longer a person. I was getting at the most three hours of sleep a night and could barely function in the world. Not only that, but I was racked with guilt every time I didn’t follow Dr. Sears guidelines. I was plagued with postpartum depression, which didn’t help. I appreciate all of Dr. Sears thoughts and agree with them, but when his words became my bible, I lost the ability to listen to my instincts. I think it’s important to learn to trust myself as a mother. Learn as much as I can and then make my own decisions. Thank you so much again. I am not alone.
I´m sorry to hear. It sounds like you had a fixed idea in mind of what AP was. I wonder if you have ever read Dr Sears his books? He writes about moderation (1 whole chapter in his attachment parenting book), following your instinct, that you should always see what fits your family, etc. He even has a section of formula in his Baby Book. Did you realize natural parenting/ attachment parenting (etc.) is all about balancing the needs of parent AND child? Some people mistake AP for permissive parenting without limits, suffering parenting, that the baby should never ever cry, breastfeeding 24/7 with a baby latched on, etc.
Good luck with loosing the dogma´s!
Courtney Swartz says
Goodness, people. It’s okay, really. Let’s all just follow our instincts and ‘natural parent’, shall we? It’s a combo of all the good stuff and focuses on each individual child.
Wow, it must have been so rough for you to not be able to enjoy the first year or two of your son’s life. No one should ever feel pressured to follow anyone else’s ideas of the best way to parent because every single parent & child is different. I am passionate about attachment parenting & it worked really well for my two kids AND myself. For us co-sleeping & breastfeeding on demand meant I was rarely sleep deprived when they were babies/toddlers, in complete contrast to most other mums around me. Babywearing meant I could be up & about more & my babies just snuggled down & enjoyed the cuddle. So AP obviously worked for us, it made parenting a baby easy.
But if certain parenting approaches/techniques are making someone in the house miserable, then it’s obviously not working…whether that’s the mum or that baby! Trusting your instincts is so important. So I’d say it’s best to avoid making sweeping generalizations about AP. It doesn’t work in every family situation, everyone has different needs & abilities.
It’s been my experience that any critique of AP brings up a flurry of defensive emotions. Well don’t worry, that’s not what I’m here for. I think AP is necessary when adopting a child from a 3rd world orphanage, a child who is at risk for Reactive Attachment Disorder. Otherwise, I think it’s overkill and certainly not worth your health or sanity. Glad you saw the light & I’m sorry for all the guilt you experienced. Believe me, I know. When I was expecting our first, our AP neighbor asked me how big my bed was. Then when I gave birth, she called & grilled my husband for 20 minutes, ultimately asking whether I had an epidural. She never brought a meal. I think people are so defensive about their use of AP because they want to think that all those insane sacrifices they made mean something and that their child will be better than yours. Parenting is hard enough; why make it harder? You’re doing a great job.
What bothers me is that AP parents assume non-AP parents (or so they make it sound like) don’t have a connection with their children. There is no way in all of this world * I * could do AP type parenting. I’d lose my mind. I sleep trained my now 5 yo and my 10month old twins. They are all 3 very connected to me but we never nursed or shared a bed. I think you can achieve connection with whatever you do. You just do what you gotta do. Frankly, I can’t do the wake every 2 hour thing for 4 years. Not gonna fly with me. I need sleep or I’m not gonna function properly. And my kids all STTN early and still do. And we are all happy!
I know this is an old post, but thank you for sharing your experience. My 12 month old son has part-time co-slept with us since birth and I always nurse on demand. This type of parenting was instinctual and I later learned was attachment parenting. Since about six months he was nursing throughout the night and would often have hour long crying fits and would refuse to nurse. I tried many different things but he still wouldn’t sleep well. After three nights in a row of barely any sleep for all of us do to his constant waking and crying fits/refusal to nurse, we knew we needed a change. We did his bedtime routine, explained to him that we would let him put himself to sleep and then put him in his crib while we sat by him. To our surprise he only cried 10 minutes! I was so afraid to try this because I thought it was so cruel. Now he seems better rested and less fussy. I am so happy that co-sleeping did work for us for a time. But, all of us needed a change and he was ready to sleep on his own.
Very brave to tell the truth. Mothering is guilt-provoking enough and we judge too harshly, too quickly. We lost our first son to SIDS so when our second was born, we were very intense, scared, and for nearly 2 years, were on 24-7 “death watch.” Some can call it “AP” if they want. It led to a child who could not sleep on his own. I still recall the hours and cycles of trying to get him to sleep, transferring him to his crib, only to start the process all over again, ending with me heaped on the floor crying for him to “just go to sleep.” We tried everything, including “sleep training” and failed at it all. Now, nearly 7 years later, I can count the number of nights he has slept ALL the way through (lets say, 8pm-6:00am ) on a single hand. He respectfully visits nearly every night (“mommy can I come into your room?”) and provides the “leg” of the H that links us all together. And there is a closeness that I actually cherish; he awakes in the morning (still too early) willing to tell me things he’s doesn’t mention the day before. He shares his dreams, his questions, his fears. And I realize that there was no way to “teach” a baby to sleep or bond; they are who they are and they need what they need. It’s up to us to throw away the books and listen to them… thanks
Good for you! I put my first baby on a schedule right away. So many people looked down on me for that — even the doctors in the hospital. They wanted me to nurse for hours, and would wake me in the middle of the night to nurse! I couldn’t wait to be home. Because my children were on a schedule, I knew when they were hungry vs. tired, they slept through the night from a very early age, and I knew what foods in MY diet would cause them stomach aches. It was so much easier to plan my day. Lastly, it doesn’t hurt my feelings when other moms bash my parenting style because my babies and I are happy, and I can see these other women feeling like how you felt with your first. I congratulate you for breaking out of the mold and not giving in to other parent bullies!
I’m so confused by this story, it sounds so exhausting and horrifying bit at the same time not like AP at all! More like, over doing it! I AP my 15 month old, well, not according to a check list but I do what nature wants me to do. I breast fed, baby wear and co-sleep. But I also have a very loving relationship with my stroller, have plenty of bottles at home and have never been sleep deprived! To me attachment parenting is more about being chill and not pushing the baby away, do what’s easy which most of the time is nature’s way. You don’t give brith to the newborn in the Pamper’s commercial, you give birth to a koala-leech cross breed. Life is so much easier if you don’t insist on own beds, own room, feeding schedules etc, just be lazy, keep the beautiful parasite close and enjoy motherhood! My son was breast fed but I didn’t nurse to sleep after 6mo. I knew that was just a bad spiral plus he’d end up sleeping before he got full. We co-sleep but my son has still been on a strict sleep schedule since he got a proper sleep rhythm, a schedule based on his own body schedule. Whenever I’m tired I sleep with him, a luxury I won’t have when my second arrives in May though.
My AP baby likes to be held and likes the stroller. He was breast fed and then formula fed. He shares bed with us but goes down at 6:30pm. When he wants to be carried, I carry, when he wants to explore on his own I set him free. He’s soon 15 months old.
Thanks to chill AP I feel completely relaxed about my second coming in May, they will be 18 months apart. I will tie mini parasite to my chest with boob out and tend to my very independent but still mommy loving big parasite 🙂
Hi. I am currently an Infant teacher as well as a night Nanny to 4 month old twins. The problems you had with your oldest not sleeping sounds so familiar! My best friend went the opposite extreme of AP with her first…to the extent that if baby fell asleep while nursing, she had to wake him up before she put him in bed. Let me tell you that it was awful to watch! Mom and baby were constantly exhausted and the whole time was one huge fight between mom and baby. There was no connection with each other and it was heartbreaking to watch. Most of “my” babies have those exact same issues and NONE of the parents AP. The twins I Nanny have a two year old brother who will not sleep through the night. The twin’s schedule is tons better than his! I have been incorporating AP with the twins to what extent I can, but don’t rush to them every little whimper they make during the night. I don’t like cry-it-out but a baby can be left to cry for 10 minutes. Left longer I feel they get too worked up and don’t sleep as well the rest of the night. I just think it’s interesting that the sleep issues are being blamed on AP when I’ve seen it more with non-AP babies….
This is a very interesting post and comments. I have three little ones and did practice some “AP” techniques with them such as nursing, some baby wearing, and co-sleeping. I actually started out with my first in the crib at all sleep times, and he was such a poor sleeper that I gave up and tried co-sleeping out of desperation. Long story but it turned out that he had multiple food allergies and internal bleeding, much bigger issues. But the night we started co-sleeping was when I first started to regain my sanity. Anyway, after experiencing a lot of sleep deprivation at different times with all three, I feel somewhat conflicted about whether or not I made the best choices by co-sleeping. Sometimes I wish I had given sleep training more of a shot. I did try it with all three of them at different times between 4-8 months with very poor results. I kept waiting for the time they cried to dramatically increase in subsequent nights and it didn’t, furthermore they would wake remembering that they went to sleep crying and immediately start up again. That just didn’t seem healthy. I did night wean all three of them, but toughed it up until I felt they were ready. In regards to some of the comments about AP families. and ill-behaved / ill-adjusted kids, I will say that I have worked very hard at is encouraging independence when I believe my children are ready. They have gone off to preschool without any tears and have all been sleeping independently for years with zero night waking. All I can say is, what works for one child won’t necessarily work for another, and it’s good to remain open minded about what choices others have made; sometimes you can learn a thing or two. I know I have learned a few things from friends who did Babywise or methods like that that I wouldn’t personally try…but I still have great respect for their dedication to their children.
I am so glad to have found this post. It could not have come at a better time. I’m currently (out of desperation) letting my sweet boy cry it out. It’s a horrible sleeper and I’m beyond exhausted. I have tried the AP lifestyle and feel that I’m not living up to it. Mommy guilt is the worst. I absolutely love to nursing, rocking, and baby wearing, but bedtime has become unbearable. This post was exactly what I needed! Thank you, thank you!
Great article. Very helpful for me to read because I have been absolutely inundated with information and opinions on everything about parenting since I’m 6 months pregnant with my first. I am horrified by certain forms of sleep-training mainly baby-wise since it calls for it so early (5 weeks). It seems like child abuse and the person I know who does it/did it doesn’t ever adapt or alter she goes by the book and it’s white horrifying.
I am naturally drawn to attachment parenting since I’m a very “earthy” person as well as highly educated and know about the theoretical dangers of CIO at too uoung of an age. I began following a group on FB called “evolutionary parenting” and within a week I was very very turned off. I was mainly turned off by the fact that nearly every single post and comment described horrible situations and behaviors of children. Parents can’t get their 3 and 4 year olds to sleep in a bed alone, women so sleep deprived from years of nursing 5 times a night, horrific tempter tantrums (I realize all kids have them). It just didn’t seem like this “perfect” and “ideal” and “natural” form of parenting was achieving any of the goals it had intended. At least not with this group. It was a horror show I’m sorry to say. All of my friends have children and none did AP and not one has ever complained of such problems. (Behavior, sleep deprivation, no alone time ever etc…) I had been fairly judge mental of their sleep training too. I thought it was cruel I guess. I think a bit differently now. I think there could be a time and place for it like perhaps starting some routines around 4 months like Emily did.
I also have a bad back from sports injuries and scoliosis so I am going to have to be reasonable about baby-wearing.
My parents did AP with my sister and I and they say that they never ever had to sleep train us. They also slept well with us in bed with them. My sister and I shared a bed from age 2-3.5 (she was 5-6.5). That probably helped the transition. Neither of us ever sucked our thumbs, used passifiers or had blankies, teddy bears or dolls. I never wanted one or was attached to one. I can’t say that being raised this way made me a better person or not. My mother ended up abandoning us when I was 2.5 and my personal trauma mostly stems from this. She was all there and then gone and when she came back she was mean, abusive and cold. I think that consistently of affection and a mom that appears to be genuinely happy and in love with her children is more important than if you were breast fed and baby-worn. Babies nevous systems are shaped by the signals they pick up fr their mothers during infancy. I wonder if perhaps I picked up on this stuff even though I was AP.
Anyway sorry to ramble! Such interesting stuff.
Ps “in the realm of hungry ghosts” by Gabor Mate explains the neurobiology of what I was talking about above
Sarah, thanks for sharing your story. I am on that FB page also; I agree some of the situations parents find themselves in sound horrible! It is my belief that this is more because some parents have difficulty setting limits, maybe even more so with AP. Although I could never leave my baby to cry, I probably set more sleep limits than a lot of AP parents. I don’t practice baby led sleep and sometimes she cries with me (she is on a sleep routine based on when she naturally gets tired), we do bedshare but she naps solo in a crib (I sneak out after she is asleep) and it has taken a long time, but I have gently taught her to put herself to sleep using The No Cry Sleep Solution for better night sleep. I think that there is a middle ground in all this that you will naturally find. Everyone has their opinion about how to raise children but I think if we threw out all the books and disregarded all the advice and just followed our gut instincts we would do a pretty good job parenting!
I agree with you about throwing out the books! though I will probably take a look at the No Cry Sleep Solution :).
I like your middle-ground, rational approach to all of this. That is what I plan to do. I want to be as attentive to my Son’s needs as possible while also cultivating helpful routines that keep us all happier. 🙂
Hi Sarah, thanks for your comment. I’m so happy you found it helpful. 🙂
After reading your article, it seemed to me that you were blaming Attachement Parenting for the difficulties you had with your first child. I mean, you didn’t have to carry your child all the time if it hurt your back. Co-sleeping may not have been the actual cause of your back pain (the size of the bed could)…
They say there is no right on wrong way to parenting, you try different things and adapt with your situation. As long as you do what is best for your child, you and your family. I am glad you have finally found what is best for you all, after the experience with your first child. However we need to stop looking for that perfect parenting style (which I believe was your mistake starting off as a first time mum). I personally think no parenting style is a one size fit all, they all need adjustment and wisdom according to our personal circumstances.
I don’t understand AP as a cult where one MUST practice EVERYTHING. Some parents are physically stronger, their babies are lighter, baby wearing could work well here. For others, it would be harmful to beastfeed (health issues) for exple, and no advocate of AP will/should force them to do it; the same goes for baby wearing.
I didn’t find it inadequate that you titled your article “Why we ditched Attachement Parenting” (as if the whole of AP to be ditched), then at the end admitting that there are benefits to other aspects of AP. I find that a bit misleading and confusing for those that want to know what AP is about.
Having said that I am not an advocate of AP. I simply found myself instinctively raising my child in an emotionally sensitive manner. It is much later (when my child was already a yr old) that I realised that what I was doing (breasfeeding, co-sleeping …etc) had a label: “Attachement PArenting”. My first reaction was “Wow we here in the West are proper academic; this thing has a Name, 8 Principles, Research studies for evidence , Books written about it”. At the same time I don’t baby wear all the time because I’ve always had back problem (I sometimes do it out of necessity if I can’t get somewhere with my buggy).
My son is a super high need baby! And sleep training didn’t work well with him. It would have worked, if I had let him cry (couldn’t purposefully let him cry for a long time). With my next child I plan to start with sleep training too. If it works, Yay! If he/she is not settling with the sleep technique (all babies are different), I hope I can listen to his/her need. This may mean bringing the baby to my bed until he/she reaches the milestone of sleeping through the night. I believe sleeping through the night is a ‘milestone’ because I have heard of many parents that do not co-sleep, yet the baby does not sleep through the night, sometimes wakes every half hour!
One thing I have learnt though, is that the baby waking or sleeping through the night, heavily depends on the way he was put to sleep. With that, I will not make the same mistake of nursing my next baby to sleep, or letting him fall asleep in my arms. Then again, I had tried that with my son, but he would cry so loudly when he is bothered the slightest… typical high need baby!
That’s just nasty, Andrea. I actually find AP types – the ones who think they are gifting us with the presence of their children – are the same kinds of parents who park their toddlers in front of “educational” TV, allow them to wildly roam and run freely in stores and restaurants, and end up reversing all the benefits of their proud 2 years of breast-feeding by packing “lunchables” because they don’t have the discipline to provide these spoiled brats the structure, rules, and some resemblance of respect and civility to the rest of society. It’s why you have three year olds with ipads, 5th graders getting pedicures, and 19 year olds with no initiative…
Really Marsa? Who exactly are “AP types” Marsa?? All children are a gift. Until people realize this simple truth and also that different parenting styles ought to be supported not ripped down without any understanding or comprehension of what these different parenting styles actually are, women will suffer from lack of sleep, etc., and their children along side them. I sincerely think that people who cannot comprehend that not everybody it going to do things their way nor do they want to or should have to are not really in a position to be rearing any child. And that’s just my opinion. We are the proud parents of an AP child and for us that means ”attentive parent” not “attachment parent” but either one I personally think is better than the majority of parenting “styles” adopted by people in the last few hundred years. I am more in line with how billions of women world wide-aside from western women-raise their children and as a species we have raised children for thousands of years. And there are many studies to back these methods up- Dr.James McKenna’s recognized as the world’s leading authority on mother/infant co-sleeping relating to breast feeding and SIDS. Check out what they do at The University of Notre Dame Mother/Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab-http://cosleeping.nd.edu/about/. I wonder if women are aware that sleeping with their baby regulates the baby’s temperature and breathing rates? I wonder if women are aware that it is thought that babies who are put to sleep at a young age in cribs go into deep sleeping patterns from which they are unable to rouse themselves when they experience a bout of sleep apnea and that is one of the hypotheses of how SIDS occurs? I wonder if women are aware that even while sleeping their bodies can respond to their babies needs such as moving slightly when their baby’s breathing is a little uneven. I also wonder if women are really aware that raising a child takes a village and that it is really hard work and that may mean constant feeding round the clock if your baby needs it(they are growing a brain for gods’s sake!). The only reason that some babies do not need to be fed often or can sleep in cribs without their parents is because humans are adaptable, they have no choice and they can feel the vibe from their mother that is the way it is going to be- for some families that is the way it has to be. I do not want my baby to learn to adapt without me and his father without first being allowed to be a baby. For us that means- he is the baby, and we are the adults…. what he needs we will figure out how to get it for him as this is the only time in his life he can be cared for completely.
Back to your assumptions-Baby Einstein videos? Ya, anyone and everyone knows it is garbage- in fact I am sure that the majority of mothers are aware that sleeping is more stimulating for their child’s brain than watching TV. Either way we are AP parents, we never allow our child to watch TV, eat sugar, or miss out on the basics of functioning in civil society. Keeping in mind that he is a child and we ,the adults, should be a little forgiving of mistakes because that is how a child learns what works for themselves and what does not. We also make all of his food from scratch and yes, it’s all organic, we have a variety of outdoor activities for him on a daily basis, same goes for indoor activities, he is connected to his family, community and world. We don’t think much about discipline-we teach him why, for every action deemed unacceptable, we would like him to not continue a particular behavior. And ya, even as a one year old he listened because we took the time to explain. And no, we do think corporal punishment, i.e. child abuse, is acceptable in our family and any way to discipline a child. As for your idea that somehow AP parenting leads to “19 year olds with no initiative” I don’t think much of it. That probably has more to do with the “type” of home life, society and education a child is living with. And sorry, but a parent that is focused on their child in a healthy way like AP parents for the most part are, are not likely the “type” of parent who breeds “19 year olds without initiative”, if we are to go by your line of thinking. I think that parents who are focused on “disciplining” their children may be the culprit regarding “19 year olds with no initiatives”.
Um… Really? Every child I know who watches educational Tv was not raised via attachment parenting. And what is wrong with watching an hour of Sesame Street? Conversely I’ve never known someone who practices attachment parenting to give their kids lunchables since they are generally quite concerned with being natural and organic in food and lifestyle choices. It seems like you are very specifically angry at someone and attacking them.
We accept your apology for calling someone you don’t even know “lazy” – after all, “different parenting styles ought to be supported not ripped down without any understanding or comprehension of what these different parenting styles actually are.”
Most people would consider your style self-righteous at best.
Sorry-who exactly are you responding to Marsa? What apology are you referring to that “we” accept and when did I call anyone “lazy”? You are really seem to be all about assumptions. Once again I’ll ask you another question-although at this point I would be surprised if you answered it but still-who are these people you refer to when you write that “most people would consider your style self-righteous”. Tell me in simple terms what is wrong with supporting the many different parenting styles in existence? Having an opinion contrary to another person’s opinion on any particular subject is perfectly normal. Not supporting what others choose to do with their children(unless it involves abuse, harms the child, etc.,) is not normal, or decent, in my opinion. Making assumptions about people and their parenting choices, in your case AP parents, about the way they raise their children is ludicrous yet damaging.
I’m just not seeing how your response is anything more than smug, defensive, self-righteous and reflective of insecurity of your own choice. And it oozes with judgment that somehow AP parents know the “right” or “better” way to parent and that others who CHOOSE other styles (like listening to their instincts and finding a routine and structure for their child) don’t care about their children, or aren’t as “aware” as you and just allow their “vibe” to force their children to adapt. See how easily you sound ludicrous?
And you are ignorant when it comes to SIDS; babies have died as a result of SIDS in the arms of their parents, in their car-seats, and very often in their parents beds (which is usually suffocation not SIDS). SIDS doesn’t choose race, nationality, ethnicity OR parenting style, and in fact, has been documented since biblical days when there was no such thing as parenting styles.
Finally, I referred to parents who don’t have discipline themselves; those who think that they are somehow parenting better because they baby wear while gabbing at Starbucks or “date night”, when in fact it’s a selfish response to the fact that a child on a schedule would put a wrench in their social life.
OK-I see now that it comes down to a basic reading comprehension issue with you Marsa. I wrote-clearly-that all different kinds of parenting should be supported. Then I wrote of my personal experience AP parenting our son. Followed by some up to date information from current studies and a leading authority on mother/baby co-sleeping, as it is relevant to AP parenting. If you want to contest this info-be my guest and argue it out with anthropologists, neurologists and child development researchers. If you think I came off as smug, defensive, insecure, etc., that is fine with me. You wrote a bunch of assumptions about “AP types”, made a host of judgements regarding other parents and how they raise their children. You continued and had the audacity to place more judgement on whether or not these “AP types” possess the “discipline” to teach or provide their “spoiled brats” the “structure, rules, and some resemblance of respect and civility to the rest of society”, and you have the gall to say I ooze judgement?? You take the cake, icing and all;)) In case you were not aware “vibe” is another way of saying energy, and it has been proven that the mother’s energy or vibe clearly affect’s her child health, behavior and state of being. By the way, your assumption(again with the assumptions Marsa) that I am ignorant of different o]ideas of how SIDS occurs is, in my opinion, another example of your lack of basic reading comprehension skills. I wrote that it is “thought that babies who are put to sleep at a young age in cribs go into deep sleeping patterns from which they are unable to rouse themselves when they experience a bout of sleep apnea and that is one of the hypotheses of how SIDS occurs”. Important part being “one of the hypotheses of how SIDS occurs”……. of course we all know there is debate on this subject and much disagreement. Just so you are “aware”, Dr. James McKenna is one of the primary spokesperson’s to the media on issues pertaining to sleeping arrangements, nighttime breast feeding and SIDS prevention in the U.S.A.. He advises the American Association of Pediatricians. Oh yeah, we baby wear-first a body carrier, then a Kelty carrier and now a Deuter hiker….our baby is top percentile for weight, height, I have a back injury that I deal with everyday, etc.,-AND our son is on a schedule. In fact I think we “gabbed at Starbucks” and a few other coffee shops this past week AND went on a date night last week!! My god, what heathens we are eh? How’s that for blowing a hole in your assumptions? Did I mention we bike with our son, ski with him(yes, in a Chariot with him locked safely into a five point harness and an expert skier at the helm) and swim in the ocean….and all in his first year? We “AP types” really are something eh. And no, not everyday was perfect by any means….and that is the point I tried to get across. Parenting is really hard, the most rewarding and difficult job, and we must support each other not tear down each others efforts no matter how different they may be to our own parenting choices or style.
First of all, thank you Elizabeth for your lovely personal story. I recently discovered your blog and am enjoying it very much!
And boy oh boy, if there is one way to start a heated debate amongst Moms, it’s to talk about how to get babies back to sleep! As a Mom of three girls and several years space since being in that stage, I really feel for everyone struggling with this. I remember pouring over Dr. Sears’ book trying to see if I had missed some key component on trying to get my own child back to sleep. I was resolved not to repeat the same “mistake” with child #2, and lo and behold, I had exactly the same problems again.
Ultimately, it really depends on the nature of the parents AND the baby. I think co-sleeping is particularly challenging for Moms with limited maternity leave. I’m not sure I could have done it if I didn’t have a whole year Mat leave.
So, I don’t know if my advice will help any bleary eyed Mothers out there, but here is what worked like a charm for me with child #3. I used the Arm’s Reach co-sleeper, and that was a HUGE improvement over actually having my baby in bed with me. I didn’t have to sleep in weird positions, and sometimes I wouldn’t nurse the baby but just gently pat or rub her back when she would wake. She would often times just fall back to sleep. I liked that I had my own bed space but still had my baby so close. I would never attempt co-sleeping without a co-sleeper baby bed now knowing the difference.
As far as daytime, I tried to let my baby fall asleep in as many different scenarios as possible, sometimes while wearing, sometimes next to me in the kitchen in her baby bouncer, sometimes in the stroller, and sometimes just in my arms. I tried very hard to nurse her when she was alert to avoid the nursing/sleep connection. Also, I didn’t use a pacifier with her, so I didn’t have to put it back in her mouth every time she woke up and it fell out at night. That saved me a lot of sleep and also the issue of when to take away the pacifier.
I think one thing for people to keep in mind is that we all try our hardest to do what is “right”, but there is no one right. We do the best that we can in a challenging time in our life. It’s very normal to get caught up in the intensity of those early months (especially if it’s your first child) and feel that every decision is hugely important.
If someone is disappointed that their birth plan or their early parenting style wasn’t what they wanted it to be, it’s really important to find some way to let that frustration or guilt go and move forward. Your guilt about something that is partially out of your control will do more damage than whether you nursed your baby to sleep or let them cry for 2 minutes in a crib of their own.
I had many challenges with my second child, starting with a 4 day separation right after delivery so that she could have a heart procedure in another city. I was depleted from the birth of her older sister (just 17 months before) and didn’t take the time to build myself up again before getting pregnant, and I didn’t have the same amount of energy and patience to give to her that first year, but I did my best. AND guess what? Of all three kids, she is the one who is the closest to me. While I do believe that our 4 day birth separation DID have lasting effects, she is a stable, healthy, and loving child. So Moms, give yourself a hug, give your kid a hug, and know that your lifetime of love for them will smooth out the edges.
Hi Ariella, thanks for your comment. I’m happy you’re enjoying the blog. 🙂
I am pregnant with our 6th child after a long hiatus in between this baby and the last one. I’ve been debating these questions once again but thought I’d tell the story of our oldest child. When she was born, she spent most of the time sleeping in our bed. This wasn’t really the plan, but it’s what seemed to work best. Every evening, I would go to our bedroom to try to get her to sleep, but like the author here, as soon as she fell asleep and I tried to detach, she would wake up just enough to want to nurse again. That meant very little time with my husband as I waited for the chance to go visit with him in the living room but often fell asleep before that happened. We had a crib, but it mostly sat unused. At about 4 or 5 months, though, my mom said it was silly that she didn’t sleep through the night. What did I know? I was a first-time mom. I read the book by Ferber on getting your child to sleep through the night. His method was basically to lay the baby in his crib, tell him its time to go to sleep, and leave the room, coming after 5 minutes to offer some comfort, then 10 minutes, and then every 15 minutes until the baby fell asleep. He said that most babies would “get it” after just a few nights, but a very strong-willed child might take a week.
Well, for her temperament, it was awful. She would scream bloody murder for hours on end every night, and rather than taking a week, it took months quite literally. I would have to leave our apartment and leave the process to my husband because listening to her crying made me cry too. I remember going in one night after she had stopped crying to find her actually standing in her crib asleep with a tear-stained face. It’s so hard to know as a parent whether something you are doing isn’t working and won’t work or if you just haven’t given it a long enough time. I never did that with our other children and never would. It was just too awful for our little dolly, but again, as a first-time mom, I had only other people’s advice (my own mom’s), lots of conflicting parenting books, and my own instincts. I wish I had gone with my instincts instead.
With our other children, the baby went to bed when we did (while the other children went to bed earlier), and we would visit or watch a movie or read a book together in bed with the baby contentedly nursing and falling asleep. I have never had a child sleep through the night until he or she was close to 2 years old, I am sorry to say, and at that point, my husband’s job became getting the 2-year-old transitioned to his own bed, which hasn’t always been easy. Still, I think I got more sleep with a nursing baby in our bed than I would have getting out of bed several times a night to nurse in a rocking chair and putting the baby back in his crib. I’m not sure though.
I definitely agree with all the comments that said that temperament is everything. My oldest had a very sensitive temperament, and the horrible cry-it-out method surely made that worse. Overall, she was a happy baby, but clearly she was more high-needs than many. If I had it to do over again, I would have abandoned the Ferber method very quickly and just let her fall asleep nursing in our bed. With the four children in between our oldest and the baby who is due in another 5 weeks, I would say that the “method” that we used worked quite well. It isn’t the easiest thing for sure, but the babies were happy and healthy, and while I was tired from interrupted sleep, I wasn’t exhausted from getting up in the night.
My hoped-for plan with this baby who is soon to be born is that he will fall asleep in his crib (if he can do that without crying), but when he wakes in the night, I’ll just bring him into bed with us. That way (hopefully–depending on temperament), he will know how to put himself to sleep, but he will also know that he can trust us to take care of his needs. However, all my plans will be contingent on his needs.
Wow, thanks for your honesty as to your decision and the resulting great debate. Your article brought back so many emotions I felt like I was reliving those really difficult days as a new mom. Wow, it was really hard. And there were all these cultural, generational, medical, and self-imposed opinions at every corner- it made it hard to filter, especially for a first time mom who was probably “scared”, “stressed” or whatever the word is to describe that first-time mom state. At the end of the day, I think it’s safe to assume EVERY mom wants a happy child/family and will do WHATEVR it takes to make that happen — and there are as many paths to get there as there are children. If you want to be an AP-type, great, if you want to ditch AP, great. And you don’t have to explain why or justify anything, especially when kids are more hard-wired than we would like to think…If I had heard more of this line of thinking, I wouldn’t have felt like everything I was doing or not doing was wrong. Fortunately, I have two great children who have great attitudes, manners and diets, but I credit them more than any particular style I tried to embrace or ditch…
I think most people really miss what AP is all about – it’s not about always wearing a baby, co-sleeping with him, nursing him till he is 5… it’s about following his cues and letting him develop into his own little person. There are no ‘rules’ for attachment parenting. You don’t HAVE TO wear the baby all day long or co-sleep or even breastfeed if that makes you miserable! No baby need a miserable mother. You don’t want to end up resenting your child.
I have three kids and practiced AP with all of them. My first one was the hardest, he was very high needs baby and contrary to what babies are ‘supposed’ to do (“nurse and sleep all day”), he wanted to explore the world around him all the time. He hated the sling, he wouldn’t let me just sit there and nurse him (although it worked well when he became a toddler to nurse him when he was too overwhelmed). We did co-sleep, and I loved it, since that’s was the only time when we would actually cuddle 🙂 Now I definitely see the benefits of AP – following my child and what was best for our family rather than what other people said I ‘should’ do. My boy is 7 years old now and is the most loving, caring and kind big brother to his siblings. He is still my most intense child. But thanks to AP, I have a great connection with him and we can resolve any issues that arise through communication.
My second son was compete opposite – he is a very introverted kid, likes his space and gets overwhelmed by too much activity. Again, AP was great for raising him, since instead of trying the same ‘tricks’ that worked for his brother, I followed his cues. He loved being held (and still is very happy to sit with me and cuddle as long as he can), he started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks and has been a very good sleeper (except when teething or not feeling well). Because he is such an ‘easy’ kid compare to his older brother, we actually had to work harder to ‘read’ him. He is not as outspoken and is easy to ‘shut down’. But again, I know that about him, because of the early attachment connection we developed when he was a baby.
My little princess is 20 months old. She is an outgoing, easy going girl. She didn’t like the carrier too much, since she wanted to just follow her older brothers and do whatever they do from the early age. We co-sleep and I LOVE it. She is my last and now knowing how fast kids grow and become independent, I cherish these night cuddles with her. Soon she’ll want to join her big brothers and me and my hubby will have our bed all to ourselves… but for now I treasure this closeness with her…
I guess my point is, attachment parenting is not a set of rules that you need to follow to be a perfect parent. Attachment is about responding to your child and learning about them, building a life-lasting relationship. Who really cares if you co-sleep or not, who cares if you breastfeed or bottle feed or do cloth-diapering? If you find that co-sleeping is not for you, by all means find a different sleeping arrangement and DON’T FEEL GUILTY about it. You can only give as much as you have. No one is asking you to forget all about yourself and your own needs and pour all your life into your child… you child doesn’t need it. He needs a happy, well-rested Mommy, not a cranky, sleep-deprived “hero” who fulfilled all the ‘rules’ 😉
AP saved my life, but now I feel the strain. I have 3 children my littlest 11m is very demanding, she was born with reflux and me, not knowing. Comforted with milk, skin to skin & days in bed just trying to soothe my screaming child.
Eventually 3 weeks down the road, in tears I take her to the A&E as I feel there really must be something wrong. I get medicine it does help slightly but already we have a huge habit of only sleeping on my breast. I would continually have to break latch just to have two moments to nip to the toilet and things 🙁
Then I discovered wraps & baby wearing. It helped my life enormously. I could try laces & comb hair without my little baby getting herself worked up. It was giving her comfort & cuddles but instill had my arms for the other two children, school runs, & housework.
Tonight fir the first time I have out my baby down and ket her cry for 20 mins. I feel awful but she is on me constantly. If I am 10 steps away she screams. I really gate myself but now I get to go & have a bath & maybe an hour before she wakes up for more milk, when I end up co sleeping.
I feel a huge closeness to my little darling, but on the other hand I really am appreciating this space too…
I brittle fed my first two, (young mum) but really wanted to make sure I embraced motherhood fully thus time round, I can’t help but compare. 🙁 even my husband has said that he wished I never started breast feeding as he felt pushed out & unable to help. Even though just taking the other two was amazing help.
We are a unsupported serving forces family. Who move country to country every 3 years.
I feel I’ve done the best I can, it’s just… If I could sort this sleep problem out. I would be so much more ready for the other two children.
I know this is an old post but I’ve been there and wanted to share that my whole life and my family’s life improved when I reassured my little ones they were and are safe and they can sleep without me. I have to have the time without them in order to recharge and be ready for the next day. I give a lot and need that recharge time to be ready to do it again.
You may notice that once the habits have changed you are all much happier.
I had the completely opposite experience from this. With my firstborn everyone had instilled a fear in me about holding my son too much, letting him sleep in my bed, and that if I didn’t get him on a strict schedule and train him to sleep on his own that my life would be ruined. I tried DESPERATELY to sleep train him. I had consistent routines. I was told that if I let him cry it would gradually taper off like you explained. It didn’t. Life was hell for a good year trying to make him do things he wasn’t going to do. When I had my second son I learned more about AP and it made so much sense to me. Following his cues and being much more flexible made for a happier baby and a less sleep deprived mama. Sure, there have been phases where it hasn’t been great. But at least I don’t have this burden of feeling like I failed because “Super Nanny says it only takes 5 days” Well, it didn’t work for us. I completely appreciate your perspective about different strokes for different folks. And I totally appreciate your honesty about your story. But I think some points of your story could be dangerous for new parents reading this. They might be completely turned off to AP because they don’t want to go through what you went through even though it may be perfect for them and their babies. And I don’t think AP needs to be a checklist and you must do everything on the list to be the perfect parent.
Great article Emily, I totally agree, and as for the crazy comments, I think some people are just a little too obsessed and a little grumpy due to LACK OF SLEEP…. lol
Hi Marisa, thanks for your comment. I’m glad to hear you liked the post. 🙂
I’m late to the party and obviously didn’t read every comment, but this reminds me of something I read recently about wanting off the “team” because the second you label yourself as part of a specific title you open yourself up to criticism. If there were a team I wanted to be on, it would be the “research until you’re blue in the face and do what works for you.” My baby kicks me if he’s in my bed (21 month old toddler) so he was moved to his crib before a year and I generally avoid sleeping with him in my bed if possible, in spite of the fact that I know the benefits of cosleeping. The benefits to sleeping outweigh them, so totally guilt free I don’t do it anymore! I’m definitely crunchy…he gets organic whole milk and wears cloth diapers and is still breastfed, but I also vaccinate. I’ve discovered that no one can make you feel guilty for something you feel good about doing…kinda like the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Just don’t give consent! Know why you chose A over B and be able to back it up and you’ll be able to tell your aunt why you’re letting your son eat bacon without getting defensive. You’ll see moments like that as opportunities to educate rather than attacks. It doesn’t mean I don’t do things I don’t agree with, because I’m human and we all have our areas we’re working on, but I can honestly tell anyone who questions (note, not judges) me that I’m either working on it or feel good about what I’m doing and this is why. And I believe feeling good about what we do is the only way to stop the mommy wars.
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Irina Lynn says
It seems like the author had a lot of anxiety and was trying too hard vs relaxing and truly enjoying what AP is all about. If you are forcing yourself to do all these things that aren’t working and your child is screaming, that is not AP. I think the author might not have truly experienced AP after all. AP is easy and rewarding.
AP provides general tips for parenting but one should customize what works for your family. I have always AP but had to customize along the way so I am not with a screaming/unhappy baby. There is no one shoe fits all system, however general principal of AP is the ideal method. I worn my son going on walks or shopping, but I also used a stroller too. I also didn’t hold him all the time. He had a good amount of alone time daily in his swing, playpen, floor gym and so on. I don’t think AP teaches to wear your child all the time, but you balance it and wear as needed. My goal in AP was just making the best of each day, bonding and enjoying. If you and your child sleep better co-sleeping then this works, but there are AP families which crib sleep because their baby may prefer the crib for rest. You just follow the demand of the infant whether its wearing or strolling, or crib and cosleeping. Their stages and phases are quick lived. Sure, it is tiring at times when you might have some sleepless nights but it gets easier.
I am personally thankful to many of the AP practices I followed, many were just natural instinct in the mama gut. I have never let my son cry to sleep because my instinct didn’t allow it. When he cried, it was because he needed something, swaddled, milk, overtired, one of those days when its harder to fall asleep, not feeling well, teething. I did/do give 100% as a mom. Knowing I am doing my best gave me confidence making me a relaxed mom and my son a secure boy because all his developmental needs at each phase were met. Now he is over 3 yo. He is smart, mature, thinker and listens well. He cares for people and animals that is not typically seen in 3 yo from my experience. He is a solid sleeper, eats well, always eager to be productive and to help out, plays independently and with other kids. I am happy with the AP results. I still consider myself an Attachment Parent even though we haven’t baby worn in a long time and only co-sleep occasionally (these two methods don’t mean you’re AP). Many of the AP principals are natural parenting practices that get forgotten nowadays. Emotionally available parenting helps the child to form a secure attachment style which fosters a child’s emotional development.
I have been an infant/toddler caregiving specialist for over 20 years now, along with being a single mother of my two sons, now 12 and 9 years of age. I have seen and heard many parenting styles and stories, and “Attachment” parenting always seems to cause a flurry of opinions, as well as the topic of “crying it out”. It seems there are a lot ideas about what healthy “attachment” is, and how to get it. As well, many ideas about “crying it out”. Why we gravitate toward one particular style/philosophy/ideology really says more about us as the parents, than there being one particular “way” of doing it. I love that the author abandoned her “plan” and what “experts” or friends or culture were telling her and listened to her own body and it’s needs and made those just as valuable as her child’s, therefore making her better able to actually give her child what he really needed, uninterrupted sleep, which modern research has shown vital to development. What a beautiful thing to model as well, self respect and self care. We have a culture that is such a hodge podge mix of parenting and so over flooded with this way and that, with a strong surge now towards reaching back towards tribal models as larger numbers of us reach toward more organic lifestyles or to heal our own wounded childhoods and aren’t sure where to look. We also have a strong collective energy of sacrifice when it comes to the topic of being a mother. But if a model for parenting arose that has taken the label “attachment” and it has captured the attention of so many, then somewhere there must have been some strong fear that babies wouldn’t naturally “attach” that drove all this into being. The idea that babies and mothers would not naturally attach and needed to follow something other than their own inner knowing says more about the larger issue we face as parents than any parenting style or theory can offer us. First let me affirm through years of observation of infants and toddlers that they are incredibly capable from their earliest days and will naturally grow in confidence and attachment when seen with those eyes. Their cry is something more to get to know and understand than to suckle away or pacify. Sleep is incredibly misunderstood and vitally important. That until we take the time to observe and understand ourselves, especially our own fears and insecurities, we are destined to imprint them on our children. The observational and research work of Emmi Pikler and Magda Gerber is groundbreaking in terms of understanding natural healthy “attachment” as well as seeing and understanding infant toddler movement, development, all the cues they communicate with, and what they truly need to thrive. We must also begin asking ourselves what we need to thrive, and perhaps why? As we grow in our own knowing of ourselves we grow in compassion and respect for ourselves, and therefore have more of that to offer our children, others, and the planet. I would say respect and compassion are the heart center of healthy “attachment”. I offer deep gratitude to the author for compassionately respecting herself and her child, and by so doing giving that vibration out to our world.
So I agree with you and have had the exact opposite experience as you at the same time. We were NOT going to co-sleep. We tried to get my son to go to sleep on his own, early on- tried not to hold him early on- no such luck. He is one and often sleeps with us still probably a good 5-6 nights a week. I joke that he will never self wean because he loves nursing. and so while im not trying to officially wean him, im just trying to get him to nurse less. Which sometimes works…..and some days not so much. I wish I would have used my slings more often to get more done. Some days I wish my son was weaned, and on those days I totally feel like a guilted crunchy parenty. but we tried sleep training and my son was not having it. so it really does just depend on the child.
It is so refreshing to read something that speaks to parenting in a way that works best for both the child and the rest of the family. I think we – modern moms – are setting ourselves up for failure by subscribing to labels with such specific requirements that do not take our own individual child into consideration. We might all do better to read less, and parent more. Thanks for sharing your story!
This right here is the reason I feel so guilty about everything I do with my 1 month old baby. Every mom needs to do what she thinks is best for both herself (because if we don’t take care of ourselves first we cannot be a good parent) and her baby. From here on in I will try really hard not to buy into any kind of “parenting style”. I think I’ll find my own style and rely on my common sense and how I was raised. My parents did a great job with me and there were none of these “styles” around when I was a baby. My mom followed her instincts and took advice from her mom who raised her. I’m ditching this crap. This guilt-ridden, he says, she says crap. My baby is well loved regardless of whether I try to get him to sleep on his own vs I calm him every time he cries. I won’t add anything about what type of parenting I’ve tried because it’s to each his own. If someone asks what I did, I will tell them. I will not shame them into thinking that my way is the only way. Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.
I think that each parent is different as well as every child. A mother was blessed with something we call mother’s intuition. Of course, it’s commendable to educate oneself on the different ways to parent children – parenting is a major responsibility! But at the end of the story, a mother who feels after trying that co-sleeping isn’t working for her, then DON”T co-sleep, or whatever the case may be. A tired and irritated mother will NOT effect her baby in a positive way. The same mother can have two children and co-sleep perfectly with one and not with the other due to the baby’s needs OR to the mother’s changing needs.
Basically, get to know yourself and your child and find out what methods of parenting will work best for you this time!
Good luck to all of you moms out there – you’re doing a great job. Keep it up!
Goodness me. Some folks just totally over-think things. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, as babies can have different needs. But in general, I find the caveman approach to be the most natural and healthy… its how we evolved. Cavemen slept with their children close-by, probably huddled together as a family – they didnt stick them in a separate cave, for obvious reasons. And they didnt “wear” them either. That is just overboard ridiculousness. If there was travel required, sure they built back carriers or got them to walk as soon as they could. But they didnt “wear” just for the sake of “wearing” them.
But I will say, stay away from the Rockefeller-funded bad “advice” designed to weaken families — that is to stick your child in a separate room as early as possible; total garbage and very bad for the child’s sense of belonging. I cant think of a better way to create a society of sociopaths with a never-fulfilled sense of belonging…. and neither could the Rockefellers, who prefer ’em that way, so its easier to get them to see the State as their “parent”…
My twins were both sleep trained from very early on. My son was in NICU for 8 weeks and the sleep training method follows the same routine as NICU (eat, play, sleep. For those parents with children with reflux the issue is laying your child down right after sleep. If your child was playing or awake after feedings this would eliminate much of the discomfort. Both of my children were sleeping through the night at 10 weeks. At 2.5 years old now they are both and have always been very laid back children. They are free spirits that thrive when we have a schedule not necessarily a rigid a schedule but one that can fluctuate depending on what we have going on during the day. The AP children that we play with are all very fussy and have issues with playing with other children. My children have been pushed and hit when the AP child wanted to play with something they had. Granted it could be that my kids constantly have a playmate. As suggested earlier if you create sleep aids to get your kids to fall asleep you deprive them of learning to do it on their own. Sleep that goes through the REM cycle is what energizes you and enables you to grow. If you or your child are waking every 45 minutes-1 hour you are setting yourself up for getting sick. If your child has a full and complete feeding they should need to be fed every hour. Every cry shouldn’t be met with the boob. Different cries mean different things and an involved parent should learn these cries such as a wet or soiled diaper or maybe not feeling well. Crying isn’t bad because it is the way your child is communicating with you.
Meagan Novak says
I got tired of reading all the comments, but I just have to say, I know exactly where you’re coming from! Now, I HAVE read some things that suggest that Attachment Parenting is less about specific rules and practices, and more about listening to your child and trusting your instincts. But I have also read some blogs by attachment parents who do exactly as you say: “unabashedly treating any other style of parenting with scorn.” They talk about what they do, then say how not doing that will permanently damage the child. But I think the sin is in the attitude of people who claim the label; not the actual parenting techniques.
My son sucks at bed sharing. He wiggles around all night long, kicks his dad in the head, then sits up at 2 am and starts talking and pointing at things and moving my hand to indicate that he wants me to do something for him. But I kept trying, because I liked the idea behind it, driven by attachment parents, and also I would do ANYTHING to get some sleep! We also use a pacifier. I remember reading once, by an attachment blogger, that pacifiers are terrible, not natural, etc… But for me, it was the difference between laying my son down, or holding him all night while I sat upright and he slept. Attachment Parents tend to hate all baby furniture as well, and I love it. High chairs are great, because I read that sitting down and eating is important for all ages in aiding digestion. That being said, sometimes I have to let my son graze or he simply won’t eat.
I think the important part is that we make our parenting decisions thoughtfully and with research and knowledge. If I have a good reason for the decision I’m making, then I feel no guilt, and I feel confident telling others about it. Attachment Parenting is close enough to my parenting style if I need to sum it up in two words for some people, but I try not to let it box me in.
Aaah, mommy guilt…
My son was high needs. BIG TIME. He’s 3 1/4 now.
So maybe this will help some mamas…
Are things easy all the time? Of course not. You’re raising a human being, not a dog who can go lie down whenever you’re tired, or who will stay home nicely while you go to the spa. Please. No parenting method will make parenting easy. But, making sure your child has a great connection with you, trusts you’ll be there, etc, will make it at least enjoyable, and sometimes, yes, even easy.
My son never slept from the time he stopped having jaundice. Actually even with jaundice he didn’t sleep that much. I still have the logs I kept, and laugh at how ridiculous it was. It wasn’t about him being spoiled. He had just been born. He just didn’t sleep, EVERYTHING fascinated him, every movement, every noise. Everything woke him up. He has always been very sensitive and couldn’t stand peeing himself. At month 7 he was peeing in the potty. At month 8 he’d poop in the toilet. He’d wake up at 5 am, being he had to poop. We’d go in the dark, poop, go back to bed, and I’d hope he’d fall asleep at the breast. He didn’t fall asleep at the breast for 4 months, though, so I’d be up at 5 with him. I’d have a routine of emptying the dishwasher, drinking nettle tea, eating chia pudding, cleaning up the house, while bouncing him in the baby carrier. Then, we’d go for a walk if the weather was good. He never wanted to be put down, never wanted to sleep on his own, and slept for 15 min (naps) or 30 min (night) at a time. What a nightmare it was…
I decided he was my only kid, and screw the housework. He slept on me with a boob in the mouth, and managed to sleep longer that way. Big deal. I got a tablet, read books, and actually wrote a book myself which made me a few thousand $. Otherwise, I probably would have been cleaning the house and stuff… I also finished my Masters in Psych that way. Try to turn things around… Find the positive in it, even though you’re sleep deprived and it sucks.
He’s 3 now. He never missed a nap in his life. Now we go to bed after lunch, and we play a game like, oh I’m the doctor and need to do surgery on your foot, but you need to be asleep while I do it. He sleeps in no time. Or, while you sleep, the chocolate fairy will make you a treat. I make sure he knows it’s pretend. In 5 min he’s sleeping. No boob.
Weaning him was a nightmare, I’ll give you that. 3 weeks weaned and still asks for boob in the AM. I’m pregnant though, so I’m not giving in. With the next kid, I’m thinking of feeding a bottle when the child wakes, just so we don’t have that association, and someone else can cater to the child after naps, so I can go somewhere, maybe a yoga class or something, or be with my big kid.
He’s a sweet, sweet boy, and everyone compliments me on how well behaved he is, and how well he talks, and how polite he is. His baby sitter, who definitely is the CIO/Time out type (though not with him of course, and she’s otherwise great), says he’s the easiest toddler she’s ever worked with.
He loves reading books with me, and we read books for hours every day. What a break it is for me.
People… You can make yourself crazy thinking you’re doing something wrong. Or, you can see that each child is different. They have specific personalities. Some are really difficult, and some aren’t. The good thing with the difficult kids is that you get to really spend a lot of time working for them, and develop a strong, strong bond.
Follow your heart… And if something works with #2, don’t assume it would have worked with #1, ever. They’re all different.
And, chill out, get some rest if you can, get a housekeeper instead of take out and Starbucks coffee, take a bath with the baby (they usually love water), and just sit down when you can.
One thing I regret is not paying attention to my relationship with my husband as much as I should have. Well, we survived it, and now we know what to do with the next one, hopefully. 🙂
A point to add is also understanding priorities of the family. I wonder how this would work for children in large families? Also, what are the hopes for each child when they are without us. How to clearly and appropriately communicate that it is ok to be apart.
You are very blessed to have had a husband who was loyal to you through this. Many, many would have had a difficult time.
You crystalized my feelings in this post. Luckily for me i didnt feel the need to be militant about attachment parenting. I used what worked for us and so neversuffered the problems you did. I get really frustrated about how people act like sleep training issome kind of child abuse. Just the opposite. Would they rather i scream at my kids and be mad all the tome and get into a cat accident due to my own sleep deprivation? Also, i did different things with my two kids since yhey had different personalities and needs
And i will do whatever works for my future children too. The main take away point is that any thong can get to extreme and you have to remain flexible as a parent so you can gave the best outcomes possible. My kids still both take a three hour nap during thhe day and sleep or rest in bed from ten to twelve hours a night at three and a half and eighteen months. That is peace in our family that money cant buy.
Sorry for all my typos there.
Thanks for your fun website and interesting posts! I think there is no perfect method to raising kids. Just love them, and when they grow up they will love you back. Enjoy and relax … Our oldest is 19 and our youngest is 8 months, and there are 12 of them, and we have learned to just enjoy them like they’re grandkids. If you feel like lugging your child around all day long, do it, but if you don’t, then don’t. Every person is different, and your personality has to live with theirs until they roar off into the sunset. Enjoy your life; it gets better the further you step back and let them take the reins.
Also, the chance to chime in is so important! From what I’ve read, it seems each mom is trying her best. Go moms!
Very interesting article, thank you for sharing your story. I carried my baby in a sling. I didn’t even own one of those car seats that unclip; it stayed in the car all the time. If I ever have another baby I will not do that. It would have been helpful to have the car seat carrier for a hair appointment or just so the baby wasn’t put in a freezing car seat (I live in Canada). But I would still carry my baby as much as I did with the first. I loved carrying her. I was nearly 27 when my baby was born and 5′ 9″ and I didn’t have a problem carrying her. I’m not sure when it stopped. About 18 months? She was at least 15 months before we bought a stroller, and it was a McClaren (basically a fancy umbrella stroller so she was pretty old).
I used the Baby Whisperer method. She was my guru. I practically memorized her book and watched the DVD at least 10 times. I never slept with her and I put her to bed when she was drowsy but still awake so she fell asleep in her own crib. The baby whisperer said that way if she woke up in her crib it wouldn’t be shocking and she would mostly likely just drift back to sleep (unless she was actually hungry or uncomfortably wet). She was the ‘perfect’ sleeper. I could have friends over and it took 7 minutes to put her to bed inher crib. This lasted until it was time to switch her to a bed. I royally screwed that up, and it took a couple years before she was happy in her bed. Next time, I might get a crib that converts ot a toddler bed. Perhaps that will make the transition easier.
Rose Penchansky says
Glad to read this. I actually got lucky and unlucky all at the same time. I have low supply, and was not able to fully feed my son. He was essentially starving, and spent the first month of his life pretty much screaming, no matter how long I held him. So early on we had to begin bottles. I used to hold him to sleep, and do skin to skin and suffer that I wasn’t sleeping. At 6 weeks I said screw it and began dream-feeding. By 9 weeks my LO slept 8 hours through and napped amazingly through the day. By 12 weeks he was sleeping 10 hours a night, and now by 20 weeks he sleeps 12 hours a night. He does sleep in his own crib in my room – but that’s more so out of necessity. We don’t have room yet for him to have his own room. All my breastfeeding, attachment friends actually ask me for advice on what I did to have such a calm baby who sleeps amazingly. I do walk with him in the carrier for an hour each day, and I lay next to him when I let him play on the floor or my bed. But I let him play alone as well, I let him know I am always nearby and when he is crying I am there in a flash – but he cries just because something is wrong and that’s it.
I had so wanted to do attachment parenting in the beginning, be that all day baby wearing, breast feeding on cue, co-sleeping mama – but with a baby that cried for his first month, not being able to breastfeed, and almost passing out while doing more than one middle of the night feed- I was about to crack. My husband and I decided to find some way to sleep train and schedule his day. At 20 weeks, he is still pretty consistent with his eating/napping schedule, we all get sleep and are all generally much much happier. My LO is constantly smiling and cooing.
So that’s my story, thanks for yours – I felt guilty for a long time that I couldn’t hack the attachment parenting lifestyle. But now I feel, to each his own- if it works, and baby is happy then go for it.
Wow, such a heated topic! I have had four babies and while I mostly sleep trained them all, it was never the same for every one of them. I think people assume that sleep training a baby means parents ignore their needs just to get some sleep. If attachment parenting is all about being in tune with your baby, then I think I would call that just parenting in general. I was pretty rigid with sleep schedules with the first two, but then I had a miscarriage, and it changed my views a bit. When I was pregnant with the next baby I couldn’t wait for middle of the night feedings and rocking it to sleep. And, I had a 3 year old and two year old at the time, so sleep was important! We co-slept a little, but by 4 months I started gradually putting her down awake, but sleepy, in her bed. The next baby was the same; she had reflux too, so most of the time she slept at an angle in her bed beside me, but many times I just kept her next to me in bed. She transitioned very well to her own bed at 3-4 months. It wasn’t a big deal at all, and I ‘wore’ my babies when I could, but I was a bottle feeder, so I didn’t really fit the mold. Anyways, it was a blend of both I guess, and I liked it and they liked it, and they are great sleepers at ages 11,10,8 and 4 🙂
Thanks for writing this! I went through an almost identical first year with my daughter and was feeling very afraid about what to do once baby no. 2 arrives (in July) Your article has helped me release some guilt about exploring other nursing/sleeping styles and for that I’m truly grateful!
I am a mom to a nine year old, who was full on attachment parented. I did not actually even know there was a term for what i was doing and thought…I was like the only woman in usa doing it…until at about six months someone said,” oh, you are attachment parenting.” and i looked it up and came to find out that half of california was right there with me!
Anyhow, I totally agree that a good birth is one that the mom feels best path (as opposed to just homebith/natural birth, which I myself did do) and that parenting style is same. I do have a thing where I think breastfeeding should be much more supported for all women. But beyond that, I feel its very much impossible to tell what is best unless it is you and your family.
This to me is a deep part (the hardest part) of what it means to become a parent…to go deep inside and truly lead your family life. Beyond all advise and ideas, which can be tools for the leadership you provide.
I have a question, wondering if anyone in this forum has insights:
My girl has all the great benefits that are touted from attachment parenting. The one area i held back on being totally oh-naturale was diapering. I did cloth diapers instead of elimination communication. I made the decision consciously and on purpose. at the time but looking back…I am wondering about it. my girl still has a hard time planning ahead for potty time, although its gotten much better. Also, she pees in bed while sleeping reasonable often and it has not gone away yet.
Anyone have thoughts/insights into this, especially any good suggestions for what I could potentially do now to support her in this? I already suggest she not drink right before bed and try to go to potty before bed….
For me, the one spot where I chose a practice that…factored in societal things…is the one area that I may not have provided a right fit for my girl.
Thanks in advance for any insights shared!
Oh, I so agree there is no one way to perfectly parent all children just one way.