Oh, blog how I have missed thee! I apologize for my recent hiatus. I’m taking classes right now to finish my degree, and this semester hit me like a freight train! I have papers due and finals to worry about, and in one week it will all be over. Whew. I realized I couldn’t write for my blog while I should have been writing a paper, so I apologize dear readers! I’m back now.
This entry is the final installment in my three-part series on Attachment Parenting. You can read each entry by itself or you can read part one and part two with this one as one large continuous entry.
Doctors and advocates alike will agree that the most healthy start to any tiny life is with breastfeeding. Nursing provides nutrients and antibodies to the baby that formula- even the best- just cannot provide. If your baby was born prematurely or underweight, breastmilk is the best “medicine” to get them up to weight and build their tiny immune systems to face the world. There is nothing like nursing for a child’s health. With breastfeeding, every tiny bit makes a difference, so even if you only nurse for a few weeks, you’ve provided your baby with that special colostrum which contains the most valuable antibodies.
Nursing not only provides amazing amounts of nutrients for babies, it also provides a one of a kind bonding experience between baby and mom. What better way to obtain that precious skin to skin contact than through breastfeeding? For those of you who have difficulty producing milk, you can talk to your breastfeeding consultant at your hospital or call your local Le Leche League and ask them about a breastfeeding supplementing device. This little gem attaches to your breast and has a tube or container with formula in the other end. Baby nurses, but receives the formula through the tiny straw that’s attached painlessly to you. Women are smart- there are ways around our physical limitations should they be needed!
I’ve been asked before for tips on successful nursing and I would easily say that the biggest tip for successful nursing is CONFIDENCE and SUPPORT. New mothers need all the confidence they can get, because it’s so easy to doubt those natural instincts when you receive advise from everyone around you who has ever held or seen a human baby. You must remember, they may have some valuable advise to offer, but this is your baby. And your baby is different from every other baby who has ever existed. So take it with a grain of salt and believe in your own instincts and abilities! I tackled breastfeeding head on when LB was born. I didn’t even wait for the consultant to get to my room! It was something I’d studied and read closely about, and I talked about my desire to breastfeed with Travis throughout my entire pregnancy.
Support is a HUGE factor in nursing success. I would have to say that save for a medical issue with mom or baby, the number one reason mothers stop breastfeeding earlier than they would have liked is because of lack of partner support. Our partners play a huge role in our nursing success. I remember Travis helping me get LB positioned correctly those first few times. He helped me when I was tired and frustrated and crying. He made sure that the baby’s mouth was open in the right position. Without his support and hands-on help, I honestly don’t know what I would have done. It was definitely a team effort, and I’m so grateful for his contribution and encouragement. So talk to your spouses about your desire to breastfeed before the baby even arrives. It can be a wonderful experience for your relationship as well.
Because of the recent heightened awareness of SIDS in infants, this issue has become somewhat controversial. Many parents who share a bed with their babies choose to not speak out about their choices for fear of being labeled reckless or irresponsible by friends, society, or medical professionals. However, it can be done safely, and when it is taken on with care, it can be a wonderful bonding experience for baby and parents.
Co-sleeping can mean a number of different sleep arrangements. Sometimes it means the baby sleeps in bed with his parents. Sometimes it means the baby sleeps near mommy in a cradle right by the bed. Sometimes parents invest in a co-sleeper, a small mattress designed to connect to the side of the bed as an extension of the parents’ bed. Whatever the arrangement, make sure it is a safe one for your baby.
Baby should always sleep on his or her back with little “fluff” in the way of his head or body. For instance, bumper pads are not recommended for young infants (newborn to 6 months old), nor are pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals. Clearing away these objects from your child’s sleeping area will prevent possible suffocation.
Parents who choose to sleep with their children in bed should be very aware of their own sleep patterns and the patterns of their spouse. If you or your partner have a tendency to toss, turn, or roll in the night, it is wise to not place your baby in bed with you.
The safest form of co-sleeping utilizes either a cradle, bassinet, or co-sleeper mattress. These items can be purchased at any baby supply (or super-center) store, and will provide you with the closeness you desire in the night.
Co-sleeping with your infant can create a wonderful nighttime bonding experience. It puts you very near your child to check on them throughout the night, easing you of the fears that every new parent has about their babies. It also places you near the baby should they need a diaper change or a midnight feeding.
Some people worry that co-sleeping will create a dependent child who is unable to sleep in his or her own bed. On the contrary, co-sleeping creates a secure confidence in the child that nighttime is safe, and that it is not a time of separation or banishment but rather a time of rest. By meeting their needs throughout the night in an efficient manner, these children don’t feel they have to resort to extremes at an older age (between 6-12 months) to get attention from their parents in the night.
I know of one child who slept in a room at the opposite end of the house from his parents. When he woke up in the night, his cries were ignored and he was often left to “cry it out” both morning and night. As he got older, this child developed a fear and anger towards his bedroom and his bed, and would go to drastic measures to gain attention such as smearing his dirty diapers on the walls of his room. This example is extreme, but in any case, it isn’t one that we wanted to deal with in LB’s infancy.
When LB weaned at 15 months, we decided it was time for him to make his way to his own room. We took him to the store and let him pick out his own bed set (Thomas the Tank Engine), and we made him a soft pallet on the floor near our bed. He took to it very quickly and with excitement. After a month or so, the pallet was on top of his toddler bed in his room, and he was sleeping there through the night. We realized early on that the walls of his crib were too scary and confining for him, so we took one wall down to convert his bed into a toddler day-bed, and he’s slept there ever since. When he wakes up in the morning, he comes to our room.
I hear of parents struggling to get their children out of their beds at the age of 6 or 7, but I have to wonder what approaches they’ve tried to get their kids out of their room. Making it an exciting experience and directly involving the child in this transition worked wonders for us. My son loves his “choo-choo bed” and knows that sleeping with mommy and daddy is a special thing that is reserved for when he’s really feeling yucky.
Attachment Parenting has provided us with wonderful experiences with our son, and I know it will continue to create a bond between us as he gets older. I’m always excited to give parents tips and help on how to create an attached relationship with their babies, so if you have any questions regarding any of the things I discussed in this series, please feel free to contact me.