Just a girl from Dublin, Ireland, living in southern Germany with my German husband blogging about my experiences.
Thursday, June 28, 2018
How we've ended up attachment parenting
There's this new Netflix comedy series called The Let Down. It centers around a new mother of a two month old living in Australia. She's not coping that well. Her husband is busy with work, she has little support, her old work friends don't want to hang out with her anymore and her baby won't sleep! She joins a parenting group and makes some friends that way and the show is about her and the other families. It was really funny and relatable!
The reason I'm mentioning it, is that there's this one scene where she goes to a bookstore to buy a book on sleep training. She talks to the guy working there and says she's looking for a recommendation. He then asks what her parenting style is. She doesn't know and he starts listing the different types. Attachment, French, gentle, helicopter etc etc...it's a long list and she is left more baffeld than ever!
My impression is that there are two main types of parenting styles. Parent or baby led. It's really about whatever works for each family.
Parent led is where the baby should ideally fit in somewhat with their lives. The mother may only have a short maternity leave for instance and decide to use formula over breastfeeding. The parents may choose to do some form of sleep training, for instance the 'Cry it Out' method at some stage. They attempt to get a routine going for their child. Perhaps a feed only every 3-4 hours. They go for walks with their baby in a buggy and keep putting the baby down for naps. They are training their baby to be more independent you could say, getting them used to the world we live in.
Baby led is the opposite. It is driven by the baby's needs and encompases styles such as attachment and gentle parenting. Most likely breastfeeding on demand. Lots of babywearing. The parent tries to make the fourth trimester as easy a transition as possible for their child. There wouldn't be any sleep training but just knowing the child will eventually get there. Co-sleeping is likely. This approach tends to be much harder on the parents as it's more demanding and they rarely get any time to themselves. However research has shown that responding to your babies needs now helps them become more secure and independent later.
Most parents are a combination of the two I would say. They might baby wear but formula feed. Breastfeeding might not have worked out for a multiple of reasons. Some babies are also "easier" than others which can affect which parenting style the parents end up using. One of the girls from my birth preparation course is able to fed her baby then simply put her down somewhere and she will keep napping and then the mum has time to cook or whatever! Mini would only sleep in someone's arms so naturally we embraced baby wearing. Initially we had been misguidedly trying to space out her feeds (following advice from my Hebamme and doctor) which probably affected my supply. Once I switched to breastfeeding on demand, it led to a happier baby.
I guess we have ended up following attachment style parenting! There were times when I was tempted to give up on breastfeeding as it has made things much more demanding on me but I am glad I have stuck it out as it has gotten a lot more manageable now. At this age babies are more efficient at feeding and don't need to eat as frequently or as long. That said, in general Mini feeds every 2-2.5 hours which is still pretty often! And because she refuses to take a bottle anymore I also can't leave her for long. I was able to go to the hairdresser a few weeks ago though and that was nice, I just had to really hurry!
I am trying to get a bit of a routine going for Mini these days; wake, feed, play, sleep and I try to make sure she naps during the day as we have learnt the hard way that she gets very cranky when overtired! Lately I have also been attempting to get Mini used to the buggy and encouraging her to take some of her day time naps in there and not always on me. It works occasionally! Just this morning I got her settled and napping in the bassinet. However then someone rang the doorbell and woke her up so then I had to wear her in the sling and bounce on the fitness ball for a full 20 minutes just to get her to sleep again!
Now that she is almost four months and getting heavier the babywearing can be a bit harder on my back. Also there is heatwave here so you can end up even more uncomfortable and sweaty. I am gradually hoping to get a little more of a balance going so that I can occasionally have a little "me" time. It can be tricky finding that balance as a parent! That said, I realize this phase where my baby needs me so much will pass and then I'll look back and miss these days. Even though I talk about how challenging it can all be, I still really hate the thought of being away from her for so long once I go back to work.
When there are nights with bad sleep I try to remind myself that this will not last and it will get better. There was actually a few weeks where Mini was doing 4-6 hour stretches and even one night of 7 hours which was amazing but then the 4 month sleep regression started early and now she is waking up every 2-3 hours. Sometimes wide awake ready to party at 5am! If the sleeping still isn't great by around six months then we might have to think about doing some very gentle sleep training. Definitely not cry it out though! That wouldn't be something we are comfortable with. I have been reading a book called The no cry sleep solution for tips. I am hoping that when she is six months and we start solids that I'll be gradually able to reduce how often I breastfeed too.
I am lucky that I have a few more months before I have to go back to work so I am generally able to cope with the lack of sleep. Actually we are now co-sleeping, another attachment style parenting thing! The first part of the night I try to get Mini to sleep in her cosleeper cot next to me but then after her first feed I would often find that she wouldn't want to go back into it. There were mornings where I would let her sleep on me, but then I was too scared to sleep myself as I was terrified of SIDS. As time went on I started reading up on safe cosleeping guidelines and I decided to try it last month. Now when Mini wakes I bring her to me then feed her lying down. I lie on my side curled around her and make sure the blanket only goes to our waist. It took me awhile to get used to it but now I find that we both sleep better so that's working out well. It's ideally just a temporary thing though! I realise it could make things more difficult when the time comes to transition her into her own room but we'll face that then. Maybe when she's around one.
It's funny how you have some ideas about how you might parent but when you become one that can all change! I remember a friend telling me how her daughter would comfort feed and I thought at the time I wouldn't let that happen, instead I would give our baby a pacifier/soother. Initially I didn't try giving her a soother though as I had various problems with breastfeeding and I read that could make it worse. After waiting about six weeks I tried to offer her a soother but Mini just wasn't into it! She would make a face and spit it out and cry. I bought lots of different brands but nothing worked. Initially I was a little disappointed but now I think that at least we won't have trouble weaning her off it later on. My Hebamme was against comfort feeding. Her suggestion was that whenever Mini finishes feeding properly and starts sucking for comfort to take her off and put her down immediately so she learns not to do that. I tried that once and she got really upset and then I just ended up feeling bad! I decided afterwards that I'm fine with her comfort feeding if she needs to. When she's upset we may try other ways such as rocking or cuddling but sometimes only offering the boob will do and when it works it's great, it really calms her down, almost like a sedative!
The Hebamme also thought we should keep giving Mini one bottle of formula at night to help us sleep better. I decided not to do that as once I got my supply up, I wanted to exclusively breastfeed if I could. She told me I am making things harder on myself and she's probably right. Mini is such a happy smiley baby now though that it makes me feel more confident in our parenting choices. She's a really fun age now too.She's a lot more interactive, smiling at us and grabbing for toys. I also feel like we know her personality much better so we are able to calm her when she is upset. She has a lot of happy phases now though! I have been considering trying out baby sign language to try to teach her a few words. I'm excited for what the next few months will bring!
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I agree with everything you said here! My lil guy never slept in our bed mainly because he had reflux and also my milk never came in so I couldn't breastfeed. Now 2 1/2 years later as we transitioned him to a full size bed I end up sleeping next to him half the night because he wakes up and I just want to get some sleep! haha You just do whatever is best for you and your little one :)ReplyDelete
Yeah sometimes you just have to do whatever works! It's totally natural for kids to want to sleep near their parents where they feel safest anyway :)Delete
I think it's the sweetest thing in the world to have our little guy in bed with us... but it doesn't let us enter into deep sleep, so we alternate about half and half, in the bed and in the bassinet. Luckily he passes out cold after most night feeds, so it's pretty easy to get him into the bassinet, thankfully! At least once we got him a Love to Dream swaddler that keeps his arms up by his head.ReplyDelete
I'm also happy to feed on demand and just be whatever he wants or needs as much as possible since I have the luxury of being home now, and I can, and it makes sense that it'll help him be more secure later in life. I also have this fear that "independent" can be code for "emotionally dead inside." Being secure is very different from "not making a fuss when your wants/needs are ignored." I grew up just not thinking I mattered very much, and I wouldn't want that for my son. Our society is so messed up, and I wonder sometimes if all these rather cold, militaristic parenting styles that were in vogue for so many decades may have contributed.
Often tired but so very happy. And yes, I think the four years of fertility hell helped us to be so happy, because we know all too well what the alternative is! (Not that we're blissfully happy every single moment of course ;) )
Yeah I also try to get my daughter to start the night in her cot as well. I used to notice that at some point in the night her sleep would be really restless in her cot but if she was right beside me it would be a deep sleep. It's just so natural for them to be beside their mothers.Delete
And really sweet like you say.
I'm sorry you felt that way growing up. My parents let me cry it out as a child and I wonder if that contributed to my insecurities now.. I also wish more people realised that holding your baby won't "spoil" them, a comment I've gotten from some people!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Enjoy your little guy :)
Hey you are doing awesome! We are definitely baby led too although we do things like keep her up late sometimes if we are up late. Have no comprehension of families that have kids in bed by 7 or something lol. You might want to try the bottle again later. Dani did not like it much at first but now she will drink a full bottle.ReplyDelete
Oh that's great Dani will take a bottle now. We'll try again with Mini as it would be great if her Dad could feed her then sometimes too!Delete
Actually there have been a few times where I've managed to get her to sleep by around 8.30/9pm and then I've had a little time for myself before I go to bed!
Sounds like you are doing an amazing job.ReplyDelete
If I ever actually manage to get pregnant I fully expect to spend at least the first 3 months permanently attached to the baby and sleeping in only 2 hour stretches. I am hoping to be able to pump and have Jan give a bottle for some of the night feeds, but we'll see. Of course, that's all assuming I don't fail entirely at breastfeeding.
Yeah I think you are better off preparing for a challenging time at the start and then you might be pleasantly surprised. I had this idea that we would have an "easy" baby and that breastfeeding would just work without problems so was caught off guard. But it's all going so much better now.Delete
Yeah it's a great idea if you could pump a bottle to share the nights a bit!
Jan always comes to bed really late anyway so it would be good if he could make himself useful while he's up anyway ;-) - maybe he can at least do the first night feed while he's awake anyway.Delete
I think you're doing great! It's got to be such an adjustment, going from the "I want to do this" stage of planning to be a parent and then the reality of parenthood, which like so many things doesn't go exactly the way you'd thought it would, so I hear. I think you cobble together whatever works for you, and you sound like a great researcher so everything you're doing is totally intentional. There's so much pressure to be "perfect," whatever that means to whoever is judging, and it sounds like you are carving your own path based on what works for Mini, and what works for you.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much! Yes it's definitely a big adjustment. I think sometimes you hear about how it is for someone else and then you wonder what you are doing wrong, for instance when their baby sleeps 10-12 hours at night and mine wakes every 1-3 hours. And some people just always seem so on top of everything. It helps to manage your expectations and not compare yourself to others I find!Delete
Love your blog. Highlight of my day is reading itReplyDelete
Hey there! I ended up doing attachment parenting with BG, because it felt right to me. I could never let her cry! XOXOReplyDelete
I just caught up on your news, amazing! Yeah hearing Mini crying breaks my heart so attachment parenting just feels right for usDelete
I just cancelled my Netflix, but that sounds like a really good show! I would be just as clueless as I never identified a parenting style, until you broke it down and I’m totally parent-let, which is how my parents were with me. They told me when I was older “We fit you into our lives, not the other way around” I was back to work after 6 months, I take Kate on errands so she’ll fall asleep in the car for her naps, I bring her to my swim practices and the gym. We did CIO (because it worked for us) I didn’t know I had a type!ReplyDelete
I actually thought we would be doing more parent led so that Mini would fit into our lives but it hasn't quite turned out that way, haha! However, I still go out and about meeting friends during the day instead of staying home because of nap times. Whatever works for each family :)Delete
Probably I would do more attachment style. I want to create boundaries and rules for the child, but I don't believe in using affection as a method of discipline. I've seen too much of what that can do to children.ReplyDelete
I want the child to feel that the love is always there. I don't think they should feel like love is a reward for good behavior. I'd probably feed them like they wanted and keep them close.
Glad to hear you're doing so well.