The theory of attachment
It was coined by an English psychiatrist, John Bolwby, who observed that “the infant is endowed with a behavioural system to secure the closeness of the primary caregiver, usually the
The baby’s goal is to set an optimal distance from the parent in which it can grow up safely. We may find that when the distance increases, the attachment behaviour system “signals”, but it is also heightened by the internal needs of the little one, for example in the event of an illness. And in close proximity, the activity of the control system is reduced. The more synchronised the communication between mother and child, the more satisfying the relationship for both parties.2
The importance of this is most marked in the absence of bonding. It was first observed in war-orphaned infants that the lack of early attachment regresses infants’ development. Long-term research has revealed that in extreme care settings, attachment disorders can occur. In simple terms, this can manifest itself in the form of a longer period of self-discovery that is likely to lead to the development of healthy relationships in an individual’s adult life.
Is it a fad, a recent fad or what is this ‘attachment parenting’?
Attachment parenting, based on the above theory, promotes anything that increases the closeness of the mother or primary caregiver to the infant. Most often, this involves sleeping with your baby, carrying him or her non-stop and breastfeeding on demand.
There is no doubt that if we can be close to the baby, smell each other, feel each other’s skin, listen to their reactions, we will get to know their signals first. Breastfeeding on demand, as the name suggests, focuses on meeting the baby’s needs. But you need to know that if for some reason you decide not to breastfeed your baby or not for as long as you think is right, you will still bond. Nor is breastfeeding a prerequisite for attachment parenting, it is merely a “tool” if you like, because the bond between you is nurtured by your care as you are present in every moment, holding her, smelling each other, and nourishing her in the warmth of your body.
That’s why carrying is recommended, not some new fad, nor is the newborn’s need to snuggle up to your heartbeat. Perhaps it is our generation that is brave enough to rethink the directives of necessity in this area too, without confining itself to new clichés. You don’t have to have a home birth, be raised in a Waldorf school or be a ‘hippie’ to enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of babywearing. It’s not a question of either-or – just carry, just stroller – but rather a win-win situation if we always choose what is in line with our needs.
The language of the child is play
There are many ways to play, but the best is with mum and dad. Luckily, there’s no upper age limit in the world of Fisher-Price. We can be kids together anytime. Because play is something every human needs. And our toys know that.
Connecting after the baby shower
I’d venture to say that what comes after that is just as important in the evolution of our relationship. When our understanding and compassion will make way for the turmoil that rages inside our couple-year-old child – just to put our wonderful parenthood under the microscope from that aspect too.
Here I must mention a way that can help families to maintain an intimate relationship with their child beyond the baby stage. Patty Wipfler, and the American Hand in Hand Parenting organization she founded, have been providing information, training and counselling to families with young children for nearly 30 years,” says the Connected Parenting Association website. As the national flagship of the organisation, the Association emphasises that “attachment is formed when two people are regularly CONNECTED”.3 Adding to the insights of attachment parenting, “Attached parenting identifies an important basic need that, if we are not aware of it, we will rarely have a peaceful, well-adjusted child if we do not try to parent in an attachment way. This is the need to release tension “4 , which is the purpose of the 5 tools described in the recently published book “Listen to me”, published by the association.
They used to do it, they just didn’t call it that