Attachment Parenting Sleep Training – An Overview
What’s Attachment Parenting and How Does It Relate to Sleep Training?
You probably never thought you’d hear the words attachment parenting and sleep training together in the same sentence. Believe it or not, these two concepts can be combined together and if utilized correctly, can benefit both parents and children alike.
Even though most attachment parents are usually hesitant to even consider something such as sleep training, they can actually work quite well when paired together. Before we dig into that, let’s address something first. Let’s start by breaking down these terms. What exactly is attachment parenting?
Even though there are various different kinds of parenting, as well as sleep training approaches that parents can choose from when raising their children, there isn’t a universal option that’s considered better than other choices. It’s simply a matter of trial and error, and some methods work better than others. This is why parents usually pick one or a few, and go through them and then decide which one is most effective for them and their children.
What Exactly Does Attachment Parenting Encompass?
Attachment parenting can be thought of as a type of parenting that tries to encourage a strong bond between the parent and child according to Dr. William Sears, who is an expert pediatrician and the author/co-author of several popular parenting books. He believes that having a strong parent-child bond helps children grow up to be independent and more empathetic. It’s also believed that it will help children be more likely to develop and keep happy and strong relationships throughout the course of their lives.
Attachment parenting is based on eight principles that are specified by the API (Attachment Parenting International). API is a global association that educates people on attachment parenting and focuses on the approach. Attachment parenting according to the API, is based on 8 principles and you can read about them below.
Making Preparations for Pregnancy, Your Baby’s Birth, and Parenting in General
Other than preparing financially for an expected pregnancy, you should be trying to nurture positive thoughts and make your mind as positive and open to pregnancy in preparation for raising your child. Start by looking at parenting as an entirely positive aspect – one that is full of nurturing, love, and uniqueness.
Educate yourself on the things to come by being informed, well-equipped, and ready to tackle whatever comes your way. Other than the parents who try to “wing it” for parenting, it’s thought that if parents are well educated and informed on these topics, that they’ll be much better equipped to handle their child and all of the curve balls that they throw at them.
Always Feed with Love and An Open Heart
Always breast-feed when you think that your baby is hungry or when they are showing signs that they are hungry. Try to be loving and caring, even though breast-feeding can be exhausting. Try to think of them as an individual instead of a responsibility. Maintain this while at the same time, be honest and open to and about your child.
Never discipline your child with force or be an overly authoritative parent. If you’re trying to fall attachment parenting where the book, then it also means that there is no yelling or losing your cool with your child.
Try to remember that at the heart of it all, they are still growing up and learning, and even though it can be frustrating, your child/baby is still so new to the world and there’s a good chance that they don’t even understand why whatever they did is upsetting to you.
Gentle and Nurturing Touches
It’s encouraged that parents have regular skin on skin contact with their newborns throughout the baby’s life. You can achieve this by “baby wearing” which is a way to hold and carry your baby with a sling.
If you’re looking for something along those lines, I recommend the Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier. It’s a really comfortable and cute little thing that’s great for traveling with your baby and it makes them comfortable and snug.
It’s also pretty handy because my daughter seems to be happier in this carrier for some strange reason! When she’s crying or upset, it seems to cheer her up pretty fast. I highly recommend it! I left a link above.
You also have the option of simply carrying your baby. By essentially wearing your baby, you’ll be able to practice attachment parenting in a natural and simple manner instead of pushing your baby in a stroller. By being close to them, babies feel warmth and are more comfortable and create a connection this way.
Sharing the Duties and Responsibilities of Nighttime Parenting
Nighttime parenting is a wonderful way to encourage safe, effective, and well needed sleep in both a physical and emotional manner. Plus, it’s another great way to take off some stress from both parents and their babies.
Parents are encouraged to co-sleep with their babies. If you’re not familiar with the term, some other countries call it things such as “family bed sharing”, or sleeping together in the family bed and things of the sort.
Co-sleeping is much more common than you think, and parents typically don’t put their baby in a separate bedroom or in a secluded part of the house away from them. Parenting is a strenuous and exhausting job that requires 24/7 attentiveness, care, and vigilance.
Providing Loving and Constant Care
By being a constant presence of love and positivity throughout your children’s lives while raising them, you’ll be able to give your child the support and guidance that they truly need to develop in a healthy way. The various aspects of parenthood include nurturing, protection, guidance, sharing, love, and affection. These are wonderful traits to have and you’ll be ensuring that your child is exposed to as much of them as possible – simply by being a wonderful role model that your child loves and cares for.
These skills obviously will not be mastered and achieved overnight. Practice makes perfect, and things like being patient and understanding are easier said than done when dealing with a cranky child. Sometimes on some days, your child will give you no room to breathe and will make just about every aspect of your day 10 times as challenging as it should be. If anything, think of raising children as one of the most difficult challenges you’ll face in your life.
Discipline – In A Positive Way
By being able to focus on and learn why your child has negative behavior, as well as figuring out where it’s coming from, parents will be able to come up with a solution that directly addresses the problem. It’s very important to be open and communicate in a positive manner with your child.
Life is full of unavoidable failures and disappointments. Your child needs to be able to have the tools needed to learn how to constructively deal with things such as frustration, pain, conflict, anger, etc.
By showing examples and dealing with your own unhappiness or frustration in a mature, healthy way, your child will learn to do the same through learning from their parents and their own experiences.
Let them know and understand that violence is not the answer to anything, but remember to let them know that simultaneously, it’s perfectly normal and natural to feel angry, frustrated, hurt, sad, and a whole other plethora of emotions.
Being consistent is also enormously important. You can’t expect your child to learn how to deal with something in a specific way if you constantly change how you yourself deal with it. Make sure you set rules and boundaries while raising them and at the same time, follow those rules with your partner too.
If your child is currently at daycare, ask them to follow your rules as well. This is something that you can communicate with your daycare provider and have them act in a similar way that you would if your child misbehaves or something similarly. They need to learn how to be responsible for their actions and by having your daycare be aware of your own policies that you set for your child, your child will be able to better practice them throughout their developmental early stages.
Balance Is Key
By understanding that your own child is unique, different from other children, special to you, you’ll be able to appreciate them even more.
By finding out what they specifically need, as well as what they excel at, their general mood, what they’re afraid of, what they enjoy, their sense of humor, etc., you’ll be able to capitalize on these earlier in life and have a healthier and stronger bond.
Make sure that even though life has plenty of downs, make sure to hone in on their sense of humor as soon as you find it – by making them laugh and be as happy as possible.
Let your child/baby show you how much fun they have when they’re playing. Truly enjoy their company and appreciate how unique they are. By doing so, you’ll be able to much better to develop a sense of trust, reassurance, and security from them to you. Plus, you will definitely be a much more enjoyable parent to be around.
Being A Good Role Model – Even Through the Toughest of Times
Children are so susceptible to everything they are around, and believe it or not, children show their love for you by copying each and everything you do.
One of the ways that babies learn to behave, take care of themselves, and develop brand-new skills is to essentially mimic you in the things you do. If you noticed, your baby will start copying little things you do right from the beginning of their lives.
Babies are so susceptible to copying people that you should always keep in mind that when you’re around your baby, they subconsciously copy everything you do, which is why it’s so important to set a good example with just about everything you do physically and mentally.
Setting positive examples through means of care, showing affection, and being consistent you’re your actions throughout your entire household (and environment in general) is a wonderful way to get your baby to learn, grow, and get the best out of your strongest qualities.
Childhood is so important for the development of people in general. We often look back at our childhood constantly throughout our lives, regardless of how good or bad it was. This is why it’s so important to develop positive communication between your partner by cooperating with them, taking turns sharing the difficulties of life, and so much more. By doing so, you’ll be teaching your child a valuable lesson that they’ll never forget. These lessons will change them for the better.
Toxic people and others who don’t know how to work out their problems usually end up passing some of that negativity to their child whether they want to or not. Children are very susceptible to copying others, both directly and indirectly. Many children who grew up in abusive households also end up forming some sort of abusive behavior in the future. This is why it’s so important to show good examples and behavior to your children when they’re growing up and learning from you.
Culturally Tolerant and Accepting of Others
In most cases and just about any part of the world, you’re going to be interacting with people of different cultures and different races. It’s so important to teach your child to be open-minded and tolerant of other cultures – which includes ethnic, religious, racial, and various different lifestyles that people have in comparison to yourself.
Teach your child to come to love and enjoy diversity. Nobody is born prejudiced or racist, but depending on the habits of their parents and what they learned, children can learn those same bad habits at a fairly young age. At around four years old, children will start to pick up on these subtle and obvious differences that people have in comparison to each other.
Once your child old enough, try to let them know that even though people can look different, they are more similar than you think. Try to erase stereotypes that you think your child might be exposed to and possibly forming assumptions about.
Try to reassure your child and swap those stereotypes out with the universal belief that everyone, despite their race, nationality, etc., deserve respect, value, and happiness. This is one of the most core values of attachment parenting.
Now that we’ve covered what attachment parenting is, let’s move on to what sleep training.
Sleep Training – An Overview
Sleep training, in the simplest of terms, can be described as a method of helping your child fall sleep all by themselves.
By helping your child develop a healthy sleep pattern, they’ll be able to fall sleep by themselves without having to depend on you to get them to fall sleep.
Even though there are many different kinds of sleep training methods, there are two main approaches which are the Cry It Out Method, and the Bedtime Fading Method.
Each method is similar, yet different in the sense of how things are approached, and there isn’t one universally accepted approach that is considered superior over the other.
Bedtime Fading – involves putting your child to sleep when they start showing signs of drowsiness. This method is beneficial because it can help your child fall sleep faster because they’re already at the point of trying to fight bedtime. It’s suggested that parents keep a diary so that they can slowly start to note the natural bedtime that their child falls asleep at.
I decided to keep a diary for my daughter because it was easiest to figure out when she would fall sleep naturally this way. Plus, I kept track of how long she slept, when she slept, and other small things that would help me in general.
A diary is a good idea because you might note something down in there that you actually wouldn’t have seen or been aware of otherwise.
If you are using the bedtime fading approach, make sure that you sit close to the bed or crib as your child is falling asleep. Gradually and over time, parents should move their chair further and further away from their child’s crib/bed as they progress with the training.
The end goal is to have your baby be able to fall sleep without you intervening or being in the same room as them. You also shouldn’t have to check on them every few minutes just to make sure that they’re asleep or soothe them to sleep.
Gradual Extinction – this method entails having the parent leave their baby in a room to sleep, but ignoring their cries. Parents are encouraged not to completely ignore their baby, but rather check on them at short intervals to ensure the safety of their baby.
Upon checking on them, parents are advised to gently touch them before leaving the room once again when the crying ceases.
The goal of this method is to gradually over time, teach your child how to learn how to soothe themselves to sleep.
You might be wondering if these two different sleep training approaches might be able to be combined into one. Can they complement each other?
Sleep Training and Attachment Parenting
These two concepts actually can go synonymously with each other, despite popular belief otherwise.
By unifying these concepts, we have what is usually called attachment parenting sleep training.
This approach incorporates all of the above principles of parenting together. Another great thing about this method is that it does not eliminate any emotional support for the child.
What this method does entail is that it takes the core values of parenting and laser focuses on them. It helps them grow by teaching your baby how to deal with their emotions in an effective and positive way. In this case, the parent or parents are allowing their child to develop healthy sleeping habits which will greatly benefit everyone in the household.
You can even stay in the same room as your child when you’re trying to sleep train them as well.
Both my daughter and I share the same room. She sleeps in her bed and I have my own bed with my husband. Sometimes, I’ll let her sleep next to me but for the majority of the time, she sleeps in her own bed.
Always make sure that the room is a comfortable temperature, and that your child knows when you are nearby. It helps them feel more secure and comfortable. Plus, it gives you a sense of security knowing that your child is right next to you in the event that anything happened.
If your child has their own room, or isn’t staying in your room, and this still can apply to them as long as you consistently check on them and offer touches and emotional reassurance.
The end goal should eventually be having your baby fall sleep and stay asleep without any intervention from either parent.
To conclude, attachment parenting, as well as sleep training, can synergize each other. It can lead to wonderful benefits that can help the family as a whole.
The best part about this approach is that it can help balance just about every aspect of the baby’s life, and the parents can capitalize on the added sleep that they’ll get once training is complete. Not only that, but the baby will develop their own healthy sleep patterns, which will benefit them physically and mentally.
What do you parents think of this particular method of sleep training? Do you have any objections or think that there are better methods? Maybe you agree and you’ve even done this method yourself!
Whichever the case, I want to know in the comments below! How do you handle the common issues of your baby’s sleep problems? What are some tricks that you think would be helpful for other parents to know? What are some of your most valuable ethics as a parent? I’d love to know in the comments below!